Friday, August 30, 2013

Mentoring the Next Generation of Women Leaders

Women in the World Foundation - Next Generation Leadership Academy
[Rachel] Sterne Haot talked about launching her first startup and about the importance of getting over the fear of failure that often holds young women back. “I was full of fear throughout most of the process, but I felt so passionately about it,” she said. “What’s the worst that could happen? I could fail [but] at least I’ll learn something. Every moment in my career when I’ve made a big change, I’ve felt fear but it’s been the good kind of fear.”
[Debora] Spar countered, “I didn’t have that confidence at 6; I’m pretty sure I didn’t have it at 22 either.” She shared her teenage struggles with an eating disorder and ruminated on what might happen if women took all the energy they used to focus on their bodily flaws and focused it outward—“less on themselves and more on the issues of the world. We’d have an energy here that is ripe to explode.”
“Be OK with dreaming big,” said [Kavita] Shukla. “You do have something valuable to offer. You do have something interesting to say,” added Hathi. And above all, Matthews said, “it doesn’t have to be perfect to get started. You don’t have to have it all figured out.”
The article World, Meet your Future Leaders culled terrific perspectives and quotes, such as the foregoing ones,  from the July 29th gathering for the Next Generation Leadership Academy, Women in the World Foundation.

I've said this before, and I'll say it here again:  Women figure prominently in the success of an organization and country.  There is converging evidence to this effect - for example, Leadership Through the Crisis and After, by McKinsey.  In general, their more relationship-oriented, engaging leadership style has a direct link to hard results, such as topline growth and shareholder value, according to longstanding research by Gallup.

There are even more perspectives and quotes, so please have a look-see.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lessons and Cautions on Body Language

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Our nonverbal messages definitely matter a lot, as Holly Ellyatt relates in 7 Things Your Body Language Is Telling Your Boss:
Body language and nonverbal communication can have a big impact on your professional life and can ultimately make or break a deal, business relationship or even your financial success, according to a legion of body language books.

"In business, one of the most important things is the impression you give people," Eliot Hoppe, an author and expert on body language, told CNBC.
In its communications, Western culture tends to focus on the content and precision of what we say.  Non-Western cultures, such as Asian and Middle Eastern, pay attention much more to body language and context (i.e., situation, position, and relationship).  So while the former is low-context specific, the latter is high-context specific in its communications.  Put differently, in Asia or Arabia, who you are, whom you know, and what position you occupy can "make or break a deal" for you.  In the US, the merits of what we do and what we say are the key.

The main caution I offer, however, is to avoid simplistic or pat interpretations about what a certain body gesture or posture means.  What Hoppe shares is vital information, but I sometimes cringe at generalized advice like this one:
For most parts of the world, a handshake in business is the norm and just from that you can get an idea if the person is being dominant and aggressive or passive.
In the Middle East, for instance, an Arab man make shake your hand in a friendly manner and may appear reserved otherwise.  But whatever dominance he intends, if any, can be muted or hidden altogether.  Furthermore, there is sociocultural protocol that you do not shake an Arab woman's hand, unless she initiates the handshake.  So "For most parts of the world" is a key thing to keep in mind.

To Hoppe's point, in the US, we probably can tell a lot about a colleague's personality and intentions by his or her handshake.  But the variance of meaning may be relatively wide here, too.  One friend stands about a foot taller than I do, and his handshake is like a vice grip.  Yet, he's one of the friendliest I know, and I tease with him about his handshake and other things.  Over time, I've come to conclude that he's simply not aware of his own size and strength, but otherwise his strong handshake does not mean desire for dominance or aggression.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lingering Positive Emotions Lead to Results

It goes without saying that we are only human, and as human beings we have all sorts of emotions course through our day.  In one way or another, positive or negative, these emotions figure prominently in the work we do and the results we aim for.

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Here are key takeaways from Daniel Goleman's short article on LinkedIn - How Moods Impact Results:

  • The effects of an emotional outburst can linger long afterwards, and the mood in the office are low-keyed but ongoing after-effects of similar outbursts.  So it stands to reason that, if anyone in the office is going to have an outburst, it be (a) positive and (b) short-lived.  
  • There is an optimal level of emotion vis-a-vis work.  For example, no anxiety about anything may mean there is a lack of push or prompt to do a task.  Too much anxiety, however, can work counter-productively on a task.  What that optimal level is may be very different from person to person.  So reflect on it, and determine what it might be.
  • Emotions can be self-perpetuating and contagious.  If you feel happy, you're more like to see and do things in a happy light.  As others respond in kind, you feel happier or feel happy longer.  Others are more apt to join in the positive contagion.  
Beyond this perceptual skew, the stew of stress hormones secreted when a person is upset takes hours to become reabsorbed in the body and fade away. That’s why a sour relationship with a boss can leave a person a captive of that distress, with a mind preoccupied and a body unable to calm itself: He got me so upset during that meeting I couldn’t go to sleep for hours last night. As a result, we naturally prefer being with people who are emotionally positive, in part because they make us feel good.
So if you're a manager, engender positive emotions among your staff and facilitate their lingering effects.  This way, the mood in the office is conducive to achieve results.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Avoid Marketing Disasters

What were they thinking?  Like me, you were probably asking this question more than once, as you watched this video of Top 10 marketing failures. It's a complicated, tenuous balance, I think, to take bold steps in your marketing yet avoid potential disasters with your efforts.

At the end of the day, we are all human.  Careful thinking-through and testing-out make sense, of course.  Does it make sense as well to have checks-and-balances in the marketing department?  For example, a trusted senior manager in another department may offer his or her fresh set of eyes on the campaign before launch.  The bolder the effort, the more crucial it is to be sure that it will indeed serve business priorities and uphold company values.  

Still, as with anything that goes awry, the quicker you 'cut bait,' the better the damage control.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chronic Fiscal Imbalances a Major Global Risk

The World Economic Forum and Marsh & McLennan Companies partnered on this survey of 1000 experts across fields and countries. It's no surprise, really, to find that chronic fiscal imbalances is a major global risk, and so is the water supply crisis. Moreover, experts say these are likely to have a big impact!

But how do we manage such serious macro-issues within the necessarily micro-worlds of our day-to-day lives and work? What responses can we deploy to deal with them?  How do we ensure the results we're tasked with achieving?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How are your People Doing?

How mighty do your people feel?

How often do your people bang heads?

How diverse are your people as a whole?

Navigating the Risky Waters of Social Activism

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When Companies Become Social Activists speaks to business research by Booz & Co.
In joining a boycott, and thus “acting as activists themselves,” companies turn the situation to their benefit, the study shows. Besides “forging alliances with otherwise hostile stakeholders,” companies attract positive media attention and “save face while…pressuring their peers to follow suit.” According to one former executive interviewed for the study, they even build goodwill that can buffer them from reputational crises down the road.
On the one hand, this is a no-brainer decision for a top leader:  If some conflict, incident or practice seriously harms the company, he or she must do something.  On the other hand, what that something actually is may be a tough, complicated call.

It calls upon the company to truly examine its heart and soul - its values, that is.  Because the company is not an abstract entity, it calls upon its people to deeply reflect on what matters the most to them.  In both cases, they have to make a very careful decision and take measured action.

A boycott is one thing.  A group of people voice their disagreement or disgruntlement, and they do so peacefully and rightfully.

A riot is another thing.  I imagine the prospects of a boycott going terribly awry are always there.  It doesn't mean a top leader should categorically halt all forms of social activism.  Rather, it bears upon him or her to weigh possible scenarios and outcomes, before moving forward.    

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Big Data, Explained

How much about Big Data have you heard? To what extent are you engaged in it, i.e., for your business or profession? I'm working on a handful of articles on this, and welcome your views, insights and experiences on this. In the following video, Patrick Schwerdtfeger explains Big Data in a user-friendly language:

For your reference, here's a Forbes video on firms, big and small, that "play" in this $18 billion industry that is Big Data:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Coaching Improves Emotional Intelligence

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This is really a good article from Harvard Business Review - Can You Really Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?  The good news is, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can be improved, but it takes time, effort and good guidance.  The article offers well-supported, well-reasoned perspectives on how leadership coaching can help:
Good news for all you coaches and your clients; bad news for the skeptics. While no program can get someone from 0 to 100%, a well-designed coaching intervention can easily achieve improvements of 25%. Various meta-analyses (quantitative reviews that synthesize the findings from many published studies) suggest that the most coachable element of EQ is interpersonal skills — with average short-term improvements of 50%. Think of it as teaching negotiation and social etiquette — what the great Dale Carnegie called "how to win friends and influence people." For stress management programs, the average improvement reported is around 35%. Even empathy can be trained in adults. The most compelling demonstration comes from neuropsychological studies highlighting the "plasticity" of the social brain. These studies suggest that, with adequate training, people can become more pro-social, altruistic, and compassionate. [emphasis added]

What Does it Take to Succeed?

Probably the best, and most accurate, answer is, It depends. There may be common traits, competencies or behaviors among successful leaders. But what may actually work for you, in particular, will depend on who you are, what you prefer, and what aims and challenges you face.

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Jack and Suzy Welch offer three qualities, in their LinkedIn article What it Really Takes to Succeed:
We’re not saying that authenticity is the only quality you need for professional advancement. Everyone knows that to succeed in today’s competitive global marketplace, you also have to be smart, curious, and highly collaborative. You have to be able to work with diverse teams and ignite them as a manager to excel together. You need heaps of positive energy, the guts to make tough yes-or-no decisions, and the endurance to execute—get the job done. And, indeed, you do have to possess self-confidence and humility at the same time. That combination is called maturity. 
We would also add two other qualities to the must-have list. One is heavy-duty resilience, a requirement because anyone who is really in the game messes up at some point. You’re not playing hard enough if you don’t! But when your turn comes, don’t make the all-too-human mistake of thinking getting ahead is about minimizing what happened. The most successful people in any new job always own their failures, learn from them, regroup, and then start again with renewed speed, vigor, and conviction. 
The other quality we’d mention is really special but quite rare: the ability to see around corners, to anticipate the radically unexpected. Now, practically no one starts their career with a sixth sense for market changes. It takes time to get a feel for what competitors are thinking and what product or service customers will eventually want - once they know it exists. But the bottom line is, the sooner you develop this acumen, and the more you hone it, the farther you will go.  [emphasis added]
I'd argue that each of us cannot help but be ourselves, that is, to be authentic.  Some of us may feign a certain personality with others, for example, caring and patient, when we may be more self-absorbed and irritable in general.  If we can actually come across as caring and patient, then these are a part of our genuine personality.  But if we still lend an air of self-absorption and irritation, then that very effort to feign may in fact be a part of personality as well.

So to the Welchs' points, once we can take honest stock of our personality, the good and the bad both, then we can gain self-insight, clarify our purpose or aims, and decide what it is we want to do about our leadership.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Turnaround Artists in Top Leadership

What can you distill or extract from these turnaround "artists," which can help you with your own leadership challenges and aims?

Steve Jobs
Several U.S. companies have been on the brink of disaster only to be brought back to life under new leadership. From Apple's Steve Jobs' demanding personality to Marvel's Isaac Perlmutter's frugal methods, these sometimes-controversial CEOs weren't always popular with employees, but they earned the respect of shareholders.

"Futurists" as Better Thinkers for Corporations?

”It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future," so quipped Yogi Berra

The future makes for a fascinating study in its own right, doesn't it. The word "futurist" seems to be gaining popularity in corporate circles, but in essence what they need are better thinkers. For example, to believe that we can inject a large dose of certainty in our strategizing, planning and decision-making is not only conventional thinking, but it's misguided thinking, as Peter Bishop implies in Why Every Corporation Should Employ a Futurist. 

Even then, this point about certainty is a complex one. In a baseball game, for instance, we can predict with 100% certainty that there will be a winner and there will be a loser. Not the case in NFL football, where you can have a draw as an outcome. But sports is what I call a fabricated reality, with a fabricated future. If the New England Patriots are up by three touchdowns with 30 seconds left in the game, we can predict with virtually 100% certainty that they will win the ballgame. 

In a way, however, the corporate world is as real as it gets. Can anyone truly predict where Facebook will be in five years, and how Apple will do in this time span? Yes, perhaps to some extent, but with a great deal more uncertainty. So, what corporations need more of is better thinking about their often complex, even unpredictable realities. This is what Jim Collins identified as one hallmark of a great leader, that is, one who takes a straightforward, unvarnished view of reality.

"The future ain't what it used to be," bemoaned Yogi Berra
Says Bishop: "We're encouraging companies to spend a little bit of time thinking about the future, single digit percents. They don't do it because they don't know how to do it so they think it's a waste of time, and the reason that they don't know how is because nobody in their schools has ever taught them how to do it."
So what are the keys to thinking like a futurist?
Futurists think in terms of "multiple futures" rather than one. Not only does this increase the chances that one will have a plan for the actual future, but it also "intellectually conditions" one to adapt to change.
Futurists also see value in challenging basic assumptions.
"What we do now is basically assume," says. Bishop. "Then we go on and make plans, and those assumptions are fine. The problem is we don't challenge those assumptions, and what we've been taught in physics class is to state your assumptions. We were never taught to say, 'and what if those assumptions are wrong? What's different about it?'"

The Higher You Go, the Less Your Stress?

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This is very useful, informative research from Booz & Co. - No Sweat: Less Stress in Higher Ranks - as reported in their strategy+business journal. It makes sense that as leaders progress up the ladder, the greater their sense of control and influence, and thus the lesser their stress. But still I do wonder, How true this is, in your personal case as a top leader?
This study suggests that those who manage others actually experience less stress - measured through both biological and psychological assessments - than non-leaders. In fact, the stress level seems to go down as executives climb up the corporate ladder. Leaders with more authority, and more freedom to delegate day-to-day oversight, do better on this front than managers below them. In particular, the authors report, the pressures associated with leadership are offset by the fact that upper-tier managers feel a heightened sense of control - a psychological component that is known to reduce stress.
“The stress-buffering effects of leadership are not necessarily conferred to those leaders responsible for managing many people,” the authors write, “but rather, those leaders who occupy a position characterized by many total subordinates and... who feel that they have substantial authority over those subordinates.”
In other words, it is the blend of power and delegation afforded to higher-ranking leaders that makes the difference, the authors argue. Day-to-day oversight of subordinates via a coterie of direct reports insulates these leaders from stress while it also instills a deeper sense of control.
The authors point out that they are not necessarily claiming a simple cause-and-effect link. For example, people with low anxiety levels might be well suited to be leaders, and may be more inclined to aim for top-tier jobs. Presumably, though, even those managers will get a boost from the many psychological benefits that come with top leadership roles.
As researchers are wont to say, This warrants further investigation.  But these findings are intriguing, indeed.

OnStar Results Keep People Safe

OnStar, on the rear view mirror
The general idea was to marry wireless communications with automobiles; it was up to [former OnStar CEO Chester] Huber to figure out what that meant. Primarily the GM leadership was looking to justify GM's earlier multibillion-dollar acquisitions of Hughes Aircraft (which included commercial satellites) and Electronic Data Systems (which specialized in information technology). "At some point there was financial pressure from Wall Street," Huber says. "Why did we own these things?"
According to Huber, he was chosen for the initiative because, as a locomotive guy, he had no preconceived notions about EDS, Hughes, or the automotive division. "I was a neutral third party, the human equivalent of Switzerland," he says.
Fortunately, the team decided to focus Project Beacon on driver security and safety. Unknowingly, they were employing Christensen's now-famous "jobs-to-be-done" theory, which posits that customers essentially "hire" products to perform a particular job, and that it behooves companies to focus on the job rather than the product. For Project Beacon, which would become OnStar, that job was to provide peace of mind.  [emphasis added]
OnStar also stayed alive because of the team's sustained belief in the importance of the job-to-be-done. "We start this business and we goof up, and every once in a while someone's hair catches on fire," Huber says. "But at the end of the day, what we realized was that if we figured this out, we could save people's lives."
Reference: Lessons from Running GM's OnStar.

Ways to Build Resilient Organizations

Five ways that your organization can become more resilient:
  • Focus on different time cycles 
  • Embrace cognitive diversity 
  • Value middle management 
  • Have a small bet culture 
  • Optimize efficiency in smart fashion

Leading Change, Following Change

It is of course crucial to be proactive around change, as we truly live in a fast-evolving world - technology, politics and economics. But because this pace is often so rapid and unpredictable, leaders must also be nimble and agile at following change. Sometimes all we can do is fasten our seat belts and enjoy the ride, while someone else or something else drives!

John Kotter
Based on our research and work with hundreds of organizations, here are five characteristics of senior leaders capable of creating organizations that are able to recognize, adapt and capitalize on rapid-fire changes in the marketplace:
  • Be the change
  • Recognize and confront complacency and false urgency
  • Win hearts and minds
  • Leaders find leaders - everywhere 
  • Celebrate small wins 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Driving Value with Big Data

I've been thinking a lot about Big Data, and weighing my position on this, and I plan to write quite a lot about this.  Suffice it to say, for now:  (a) Big Data will, in time, be a must-do for companies, in order to compete (or else they fall behind) - as suggested in this video.  (b) Yet, Big Data, as big as it truly is, is an incomplete paradigm for what companies need to raise their game. Those who are keen on it, but focus too narrowly on it, are likely to encounter problems, if not failure.

Hear Frank Pörschmann, Member of the Board - CTO and Head of CeBITat Deutsche Messe, AG, talk about the three managerial prerequisites a company must fulfill to drive the most value out of big data.
  1. Understand the value of your data for your future business
  2. Recognize that your data provides answers to yet unasked questions and unknown needs
  3. Find the right "layers" in your organization to discuss big data and analytics

Business Lessons from Film Critic Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Business lessons drawn from renown film critic, Roger Ebert, who passed away a few months ago: 
  1. know your identify
  2. know your consumers
  3. own your work
  4. embrace rivalry
  5. embrace the future
  6. be transparent
  7. be a mentor
  8. be great

Instilling Hope among your Staff

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How do you instill hope among your colleagues and staff?

Gallup excels at researching what makes companies truly successful, then providing evidence for its conclusions and recommendations.  So it is with Making Hope a Business Strategy.

Why?  Because hope does in fact help companies prosper - The Business Case for Instilling Hope:
Business is work, numbers, performance, results -- things that can be done, counted, improved, then done again. If a business relies on hope, according to conventional wisdom, then things have gone wrong, because hope, like luck, is thought to be the opposite of action. 
Shane Lopez, Ph.D., would say that's a gross mischaracterization of hope. To Lopez, hope is an attribute that can be measured, increased, and deployed. And he contends that hope plays a central role in business as it drives persistence, motivation, goal setting, and innovation.
I see a fair amount of focus on, and encouragement to live in, the present.  We are reminded, too, that all we have is the present.  I beg to differ.  Whatever it is we may have in the future, it is what drives us.  We have our hopes and dreams, and in the workplace we certainly have our vision, aims, and Key Performance Indicators.  

Lopez offers the crucial framework, research and grounding around hope, which companies need.  But quite simply it's believing, and having confidence, in a better tomorrow.  So the work that the staff do isn't just a job, but also something that matters to them personally and something that they want as much as the company does.
Help employees understand how they can use hope to make the workplace better. 
Hope can be taught. People need to get in the habit of knowing they have the power to make the workplace better -- and taking the time to do it. But it might take some reminding. "So, with permission, give intrusive support," Lopez says. 
Intrusive support is a kind of complementary partnership. If you are a manager and your goal is to spend more time with your best performing team this quarter, for example, give a fellow manager permission to badger you about it. That will ensure you're more likely to work on that goal rather than responding to everyday problems created by disengaged staff. That kind of support can help you and your colleague stay accountable, and it makes realizing your goals more probable. 
And that's the power that comes from strategizing hope: The more you do it, the better it works and the more you can do it. "It's hard to be successful without being hopeful," Lopez says. "When you think the future will be better than the present, you start working harder today."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Organizational Success with People Analytics

HR has, to some extent, lagged in making more informed, rigorous decisions.  Their value then falls short of what the organization may need, in order to succeed.  People analytics offer a potential lift in HR value.  

What is the current state of analytics use and where is it headed? Brian Kelly, Partner, Mercer, and Haig Nalbantian, Senior Partner, Mercer, discuss key findings from the survey including opportunities for organizations to improve use of analytics to drive impactful decision making, use of predictive analytics, and improving the alignment of compensation and HR functions to bring greater value to the organization.

Why Mitt Romney Lost the Presidency

The results were clear as day, as the US Presidential elections wound down at night.  According to this Wall Street Journal discussion, the Obama administration had alienated US businesses. So they were united behind Mitt Romney. Yet, the latter lost. Why?  Perhaps because business was not exactly in good order with the American public.

Entrepreneurship Lessons from Jack Dorsey

It's one thing to have a 'hit' company, and another thing altogether to have two such 'hit' companies. We already know that Twitter is among The Big 5 in social media. Square is apparently big, too, and I imagine getting bigger.

But what makes for a successful entrepreneur? Maybe it's Jack Dorsey's zen-like personality yet ponderous demeanor. Maybe his belief that everyone in the organization has a right to know what's going on.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Problem: Sleep Deprivation. Solution: It Depends

Sleep deprivation does look to be a very serious problem in the workplace, as it's costing companies $63.2 billion in lost productivity among its sleepy workers, according to Harvard Medical School. This article - Go Ahead, Hit the Snooze Button - does a good job of describing the organizational impact of sleep deprivation and companies' responses.  The figures are staggering, indeed.  

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But, at the same time, it's terribly incomplete. In what way? It covers very little, if at all, of the nature and causes of sleep deprivation. To implement a costly and time-consuming solution, companies ought to be certain that they've fully understood why their workers are sleep-deprived and that their solutions are indeed targeted to their varied reasons.

Forbes' Most Powerful Women Offer Gems of Insight

From Oprah Winfrey to Meg Whitman, from Ann Curry to Arianna Huffington, and many more, this short video is full of insightful gems.  For example, from Whitman:
Have the right person, in the right job, at the right time, with the right values and behavior ... The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake. 

A Balancing Act for Leaders

Leaders, like everyone else, are only human. They may be heads of countries or multinationals, but they're all prone to the best and the worst of being human. But while I agree that it's quite fine to show frustration, uncertainty or weakness - all of this is inevitable, of course - on balance leaders have to show good control, strength and knowledge. Balance is the key, I suppose, but where this balance lies depends on each leader's preferences, situation and staff.

Reference:  To Be a Good Leader, First Be Human, by Deep Nishar, Senior Vice President at LinkedIn.  

Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo da Vinci 
Many leaders believe that they need to be in control all the time. Their teams look up to them for answers and if they display any weakness or waver in their resolve, then the whole organization can crumble around them. 
Nothing can be further from the truth.
Far from true, is right.  At best, such control is shared among people in the organization,  keeping in mind, however, that leaders are appointed a high measure of authority and power.
It is incredibly powerful for your team to know that you can get frustrated, happy or concerned and that you are even stumped by professional situations. It encourages them to seek ways to succeed even as they experience these emotions themselves. It reduces self-doubt and increases our ability to reach out, collaborate and generally become better professionals and human beings.
Again, it's about balance and reasonableness.  Emotion is an inviolable part of ourselves, so to believe otherwise is to dismiss reality.  Yet, on balance, leaders must show greater steadiness, optimism and knowledge, over the episodes of frustration and uncertainty.   
It takes the focus away from ourselves and puts it on the problem at hand.
A leader who is fundamentally self-absorbed may very well call attention on himself or herself, and some staff members may be inclined to reinforce that self-absorption.  But there must be a collective (shared) effort to focus on the problem at hand, instead.  The balance between being steadfast and showing emotion, which lends itself best to such focus, depends on the people in this collective.  
Being human is not a sign of vulnerability, it’s a mark of strong leadership.
Being human may be a sign of strength or a sign of vulnerability, depending on the leader and depending on the situation.  Regardless, it is a fact that being human is a mark of leadership.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

What Google Looks for in People

Senior VP on People Operations Lazlo Bock on "How Google Decides on Hires"

Four broad factors:
  1. Ability to solve problems
  2. Emergent leadership
  3. Fit with culture
  4. Dealing with ambiguity
Staff members' relationships with their managers are arguably the most important to cultivate and sustain.  It's about engaging them, mentoring them, and holding them accountable.  Managers may ask simply:  What are you doing well, and what can I do to help you do more of it?  But its the spirit of care and attitude of accountability that must be evident in their day-to-day work.

Business, Sports and Moneyball

Sports is multi-fold excitement + multi-million dollar business. Here are the numbers for the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. Staggering, eh.

But success in sports is more complex than just investing money into top talent. Yes, teams need talent, but analytics has offered those on a tight budget some ways to win.

The Failings of CEOs

The failings of high-profile CEOs, as Bloomberg Business Week reports, ought to be good lessons for the rest of us top leaders. We have the benefit of learning from their mistakes, which I hope prompt us to self-reflect and, of course, self-correct as needed.

Former Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn
Declining stock price, cratering same-store sales, loss of market share to more nimble competitors, and an addiction to share buybacks that cost the company $6.4 billion with little to show for it—that’s why [Dunn is] on the list.

Possibilities and Realities of Emerging Markets

If they're not already, senior executives need to be thinking about emerging markets very seriously, if they're truly serious about growth, so says McKinsey. The possibilities should make them salivate, just by thinking about these.

The realities, however, aren't so easy to grasp, let alone take advantage of. Think about this: Suppose you were to dispense with your CEO moniker, and don spandex Ts and shorts and pursue a qualifying spot in track-and-field at the next summer Olympics. A daunting proposition, right? But think about pursuing a spot on the decathlon. That's 10 events you'd have to be good at, instead of just 1. In one evocative metaphor, McKinsey gives us the lowdown on the challenges of actually capturing these emerging markets! 

McKinsey research shows that the largest companies headquartered in developed economies currently derive only 17 percent of their revenues from emerging markets, even though these markets already represent 36 percent of global GDP.

In this video, McKinsey experts Yuval Atsmon, Peter Child, Richard Dobbs, and Laxman Narasimhan offer an overview of the opportunity—and why executives are paying attention to this driver of global growth among new consumers. Find some of our best thinking on emerging markets in "Winning the $30 trillion decathlon."

Unhappy, Underperforming Staff?

It may be a boss issue for your staff, more than a salary grievance, as this article suggests. But it may also be a host of things that you, as the boss, ought to look into. My advice: Don't assume. Instead, ask your staff, show interest, look broadly.

Workers Would Rather Have A Better Boss Than A Salary Increase

These findings support the latest research from Gallup, which found that trouble with an immediate manager is the No. 1 reason people leave their jobs.

Leadership is not Personality

Leadership is not personality, so says Jim Collins.

If I might rephrase:  Leadership is not defined by personality alone. The best of leaders have a mélange of personalities that defy single categories.

Things to Avoid Saying to your Staff

This should be common sense advice, but unfortunately I've had previous bosses who've said a number of these things (sigh). If you're one of them, then this article gives you a chance to do better with your staff.

9 Things A Boss Should Never Say To An Employee
#7 Don’t Say – “We’ve always done it this way”. This statement is a sure way to squash innovation. A better statement is to ask “What do you suggest we do to improve?” In all likelihood, employees do know what can and should be done to enhance any task. Our job as managers is to encourage workers to find creative solutions to age old problems and to reward them for their clear thinking.
Forbes writer Alan Hall apparently received such an overwhelming response to his article, that he wrote a follow up one - 9 Things A Boss Should Never Say, Part 2: "My Boss Is A Jerk. What Can I Do?"

Business Lessons from Kathy Ireland

Forbes positioned Kathy Ireland as having transitioned from super-model to super-mogul. But she relates that design and business were always her passion, since she was a little girl. Modeling seemed more of a detour, a very successful one at that, but her path had always been business.

In this video, she talks at Google, and shares some hard lessons learned: Each day, she asks, for example, do we break down or do we break through?

Kathy Ireland will share her journey as an entrepreneurial child, whose unexpected detour as a model, delayed rather than opened, the doors of her dreams: motherhood, philanthropy and fashion CEO.

Kathy recently was featured on the cover of Forbes Magazine. In 2011, she received the Phenomenal Women of the Year Award from the YWCA and received the American Heritage Award from the Anti-Defamation League. 
Today, more than 100,000 items carry her label.

The Imperfect, Humorous Effort at Results

How do we manage projects or serve customers, when our colleagues may have such different notions about how to go about it and when our communications with others may be imperfect at best?  How do we produce results, when we're not always or entirely sure what results we ought to be produce?

Natalia Van Veen just shared this on Google+:

I commented, I've seen this a few times, and every time I laugh! It's also been framed as project management. Sometimes there is such wisdom in humor, isn't there. 

Here's a related version:

As you see, there is a credit citation on this image:  Apparently some clever and enterprising person ran with the original idea, and developed it into a modifiable e-template and into an apparent e-commerce.  

From either a project management or customer service perspective, this is an awesome development!  

Monday, August 5, 2013

En Route to Revenue for Yahoo!

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Alok Sawney posted the following in the Business community on Google+:
How do you think Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's CEO, did in her first year?
As one of only a few women CEO's to run a fortune 500 company, the stakes were high for both Yahoo! and Mayer in her first year. During this time, she led a number of acquisitions as well as focused on the people and the culture of the corporation. 
As the stock has about doubled since Mayer has taken the helm, my favorite quote from Marissa Mayer regarding her company's strategy for future profitability is "People then products then traffic then revenue”.
Sawney also posted this balanced, well-written article - Marissa Mayer's Yahoo! - one year on.  

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I commented, So far so good for Marissa Mayer, and "still here!" means a lot, after a revolving door at the top. She has analysts in her favor, as Yahoo! stock performance has been on a steady climb in the past year, as you noted, Alok. Managing expectations + producing results remain crucial for her, going into Year 2, as is her apparent mantra: "People then products then traffic then revenue."

I am glad to see that my focus on Leadership > People > Results echoes the sequence that Mayer emphasizes.  

But training our eyes on numbers, for the sake of this article, here are some choice quotes from Mayer from the article Sawney posted:
This beautiful magazine like reading experience [i.e., Yahoo! Mail app for tablets] has contributed to daily active users being up 120% across our mobile mail applications.

We also launched our redesigned Yahoo! app for iOS and Android complete with some integration. As a result of this launch we saw a 55% increase in daily active users and a 60% increase in time spent using the application.

We see 250,000 blogs being created new each day on Tumblr. Those are largely being driven by new user sing-ups. We also are seeing more than 75 million posts every day on Tumblr.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tweetchat: From Leadership, to Performance