So in a knowledge, service, and interdependent environment, if you are not actually telling people what actions to take, what is it that leaders DO to get results?
The following are seven leadership ACTIONS other than telling someone what to do: exemplify, acknowledge, articulate, frame, follow, facilitate, and presence. (Yes, the latter is intentionally used as an active verb - read on to see why...) Read More...
Modern research challenges these notions. Read More...
Unconventional Wisdom About Management
by Jeffrey Pfeffer (2007)
Pfeffer’s wisdom is unconventional, with a preponderance of common sense that is often lacking in organizations both great and small. The author says in his introductory chapter that he focuses on “common mistakes I see in how companies manage their people and their business, and also on how to do things better.” Read More...
“Out of the Box” is a cliché, a phrase that’s been around for decades. Everyone knows what it means, but it’s hardly a trigger for ideas that are fresh, creative, and original. I encourage people to focus on Edge of the Box thinking – especially if you need ideas with a high potential for useful application.
Edge of the Box thinking is based on viewing the world at the boundaries of your organization and experience, where inside and outside perspectives can be combined, and where fresh ideas most likely will emerge. In today’s knowledge-based world, useful innovation typically arises out of combining core competencies with ideas taken from places outside of your industry or field, but not so far out as to be inaccessible. Read More...
Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't
by Robert Sutton (2007)
Sutton's book is based on an article originally appearing in Harvard Business Review. While other terms for the problem people he describes might be jerks or bullies, Sutton said he would write the article only if it retained the word asshole. He was surprised HBR agreed. More... Read More...
Destroying the Barriers that Turn Colleagues into Competitors
by Patrick Lencioni (2006)
This recent book by Patrick Lencioni tackles some of the most insidious challenges of larger organizations: silos, infighting, and turf politics. Lencioni’s solution comes in the form of the ever-popular business fable to make his case that leaders must create time- limited “thematic goals” to unite all parties – much as a crisis often does. He cautions that care must be taken to differentiate but integrate the ongoing work that always has to get done, with the efforts required to achieve the thematic goals. Perhaps not as impactful as his previous books, it’s a quick read and makes some valuable points nonetheless.
Quote from book:
Silos rise up not because of what executives are doing purposefully but rather because of what they are failing to do: provide themselves and their employees with a compelling context for working together.
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14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer
by Jeffrey K. Liker (2004)
Toyota is doing something right, and this book elegantly lays out in 14 principles what that something is. While Toyota basically invented “lean” production, Liker emphasizes Toyota’s success is based on more than simply implementing lean tools. In addition to process (focused on adding value and eliminating waste), Toyota gives attention to philosophy (look at the long-term), people (emphasizing a culture of teamwork with both employees and business partners), and problem-solving for continuous improvement. This book has something relevant to say for all businesses, and I’ve recommended it to several clients that are not in manufacturing.
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by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz (2005)
As books on networking go, this one is very good. Effective networking is always a two-way street, as much about helping others as making connections to people who can help you. The authors first cover the all-important mindset of clarifying what you want and what you have to offer. The second part of the book delves into the networking skill set. Even master networkers will find useful tips to improve skills and bring better focus. Recommended.
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The machine continues to be the dominant metaphor of the workplace – meaning we tend to relate to our working world as if it was a machine. We have plenty of experiences each day that reinforce this perception of life-as-machine: We step on the gas pedal and our cars move faster. We push a button and documents get efficiently copied – maybe even on both sides, collated, and stapled.
I continue to be approached by executives looking for that metaphorical lever, pedal, dial, or button that will motivate people, get them to change, or increase morale. It’s the wrong thing to be looking for because it’s the wrong metaphor. Read More...
by Zander and Zander (2000)
Over the last few months I have been speaking and writing about using inquiry to develop a positive verses a deficit perspective in organizations, and so I was delighted when a good friend and colleague clued me in to this remarkable book. The authors are a husband-and-wife team: he the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and she a talented family therapist. This is a book of stories around 'practices' the reader can use. The practices are not for self-improvement, but "geared instead toward causing a...shift of posture, perceptions, beliefs, and thought processes" – including not taking yourself too seriously. Although the book has been around for awhile, I consider it one of my best finds this year.
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