Archive | April, 2010

TED Is More Than the Name of a Defunct Airline

27 Apr

An important ingredient in leadership is having a global and wide-ranging base of knowledge.  Mostly this comes from deep reading of books, Journals, magazines and high-quality newspapers.

Recently a colleague directed me to the web site for TED Conference. The site offers is a fascinating collection of short (about 6 –22 minutes) video presentations from past conferences by talented speakers who are thought leaders in their respective areas.  Such a site offers an in-depth view of a key area by someone at the top of her class.

Here are three examples.  The first (The rise of cricket, the rise of India) is interesting and entertaining.  The second (Why are we happy?) is timely and provocative.  The third (Richard Dawkins on “Our queer” universe”) is profound and thought provoking.  Or go to TED and browse.  For those of you who enjoy a short, dense, well-presented chunk of information I am sending you to heaven.  Watch on!

Listen to an interview with John about Beyond Luck.

Mary Kay and Self-Test #2

21 Apr

Last week we introduced the principle of exemplary communications:

The better-informed people are, the better they perform.

The second core management principle is decision-making that involves key people, especially managers:

The closer a decision to the work, the better the decision.

This is somewhat more complex because there are four distinctly different types of decision making: authoritarian, authoritative, consultative and consensual.  And the term that describes the process continues to evolve:  participation, involvement, empowerment and most recently engagement.  Some simply call it “getting buy-in.”

Mary Kay Ashe, who put lots of women into pink Cadillacs, said, “Peoplesupport what they help create.”  This idea summarizes the essence of the above principle.

The problem for managers and executives is how to build ownership without losing executive function (control of decision making).  The above principle guides in the decision of when, who and how others should be involved in a decision. Of course decision makers who try to include more than a handful of people (7 ± 2) are going to have problems.

The self-test question is:

Do I have the right people involved in this decision?

Check out Mary Kay’s book – it’s full of everyday common sense about managing people.

Listen to an interview with John about Beyond Luck.

Communication Practices Self-Test

14 Apr

Last week the say/do ratio and the 6 Word Rule were considered.  These are key self-tests to assure your integrity is sparkling.

In an information-driven economy, management practice with knowledge workers must be trust-based.  The first of two core management principles in a trust-based system is exemplary communications:

The better-informed people are, the better they perform.

You can cast this principle into a self-test to assure the quality of your ongoing communications:

Do my internal customers have the appropriate information to do their jobs capably?

This principle is easy to state and hard to practice. Consider that communications move up and down as well as sideways in organizations.  This is largely driven by the information needs of your internal customers.  Who needs what information when?

The most basic and necessary information  is timely, accurate communication about job performance.  Go to , click on Preview The Book and scroll to pp 14 “One-on-one feedback is vital to your employees” for a practical process.

Consider this.  In a recent survey by Gallup of thousands of employees, nearly 70% said they had not had feedback, positive or negative, from their immediate manager in the past six months.  Satisfying this information deficit is potential source of huge productivity gains.

Maintaining a consistent stream of information is a day-to-day challenge.  Keeping your people informed is an essential ingredient to employee satisfaction.

Listen to an interview with John about Beyond Luck.

The 6 Word Test

6 Apr

Integrity is one of the essential ingredients necessary to exemplary managing and leading. But how do we manage our integrity on a day-to-day basis?  The use of self-questions that force us to pause and consider our actions can be of immense value.

The Say/Do Ratio is one self-test tool:

Do I do what I say I will do, when I say I will do it?

–      If something changes do I inform people asap?

This is a powerful tool and we know that employees are sensitive to this behavior.  Doing this well is trust building.

Having lunch with a colleague last week I learned of another powerful self-test tool he and a valued co-worker have been using for many years in an organization with a fine reputation for integrity – The 6 Word Test.

What good will come from it?

Both the 6 Word Rule and the say/do ratio are excellent self-tests, however The 6 Word Rule can also be used publicly.  It is easy to see how posing this question in a meeting would re-focus the group on what is important and in the best interests of the organization.

Do you run these or similar self-assessments to guide your ethical behavior?

Food for thought.

Click and scroll for 3-minute video review of Beyond Luck.