Leadership Talk

The Leadership Minefield!

Sep 13 2011
By: Doron York
Categories: Leadership Talk
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As part of developing yourself as a leader, you want to explore some of the “land mines” that are hidden in the landscape of leadership. It is very useful for a leader to watch for what robs them of power. Understanding the dynamic of what NOT to do is just as critical as knowing what TO do.  I say it is more powerful to discover what something is. Not than what it Is.

The point of this conversation is to introduce you to the some of the most critical and dangerous “minefields” that lie ahead so that you will be able to navigate your way effectively. The hard knock (the reality) of leadership is that followers sometimes enjoy seeing a leader go down in flames.  It keeps them in their comfort zone, hiding as a spectator, watching – you.

What rob a leader of her/his power?

  1. Being a legend in your own mind.  Ego, the mighty killer of effective leadership. Ego to leadership is like gas to a fire.  Remember – there is a distinct difference between arrogance and confidence!
  2. Believing in your own assumptions.  The source of all screw ups. Maybe, just maybe, other people have different (and valid) interpretations.  Leadership lives in the community, out in the world, not in a vacuum.  If for some mysterious reason your assumptions are wrong, change your mind!
  3. Driving an “Agenda”.  It is not about what you want; it is about what is needed. Your “plan,” as glorious it might seem to you at the time, may not always be the best one.  Leadership is designed to serve a purpose that is bigger than just you.  Do what is right, and not the right thing!
  4. Being defensive and upset.  If you are on defense, who’s on offense?  Defense is the way to lose the battle.  It temporarily assigns the circumstances to be the guardians of your power.  So you are upset.  Who cares?  Compose yourself, the world is watching!
  5. Lack of Integrity.  You do not do what you say, they do not do what they say, no one does what they say.  Integrity to leadership is like water to the fish.  Honoring your word is all that you’ve got.  You can’t hold anyone to their integrity if you do not hold to yours!
  6. Putting trust first.  Putting too much emphasis on trust can get you in trouble. You want to consider that trust takes time to build, and you may not have it (time, that is). Focus on workability and integrity, not trust. Trust is overrated.  You can be effective without it!
  7. Speaking no possibility.  The people that “vote” for you want hope, or as I say, to be enrolled into that which is possible. They want you to tell them that everything will be all right, and if you lose sight of the future, what do you think happens to them?  People have their own doubts; they do not need yours!
  8. Being serious and significant.  Leadership is serious business, but no one said that you have to be significant about it. We are living in a serious world.  It doesn’t mean that you need to be a comedian, but a bit of lightness never hurt anyone, and it can ease the pain!
  9. Lack of communication.  In the absence of communication, people’s minds go places you do not want to know about. They need to know – otherwise they will make things up as they go.  It is much easier to face reality than to clean up the mess of the alternative!
  10. Pushing too far.  You can push as far as the safety net will allow you to. Fear can be a great motivator, but it cuts both ways. You can get extraordinary results – or paralyze a nation. You need to provide a safe environment for people to take risks. They will do something because they can see it, not because you say so!

If you make mistakes as a leader (and trust me, you will), make sure you make “worthy” ones.  Do not sweat the small stuff.  It is a waste of a life. Make the kind of mistakes that will be impossible to hide or sweep under the rug.  That way, you will have to deal with what it takes to tackle it head on, publicly, taking the world on with no fear, as if your life is depending on it (because it really is).

Don’t commit “petty crimes.” If you are going to go down or be judged on your leadership sins, at least be judged for something worthy of your life, for what you stand for and are willing to die for, in glorious flames that will not be forgotten for generations to come!

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Is your Executive Branch Ready for the Aftermath?

Oct 13 2009
By: Doron York
Categories: Leadership Talk
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The most evident observation that can be made is that significant numbers of executive branches in many companies were not ready for the current economic crisis. The $64,000 question is this: are they ready for the aftermath?

Although most executives I meet do not care for the analogy, if you look at a military operation, officers are trained consistently and repeatedly.  They are trained again and again for the entire life of their service. The thought process is that ongoing preparation is the only way to condition them to be ready at all times.  Another example can be seen with football teams who do not stop training and developing their players based on the team’s win/loss record.  A key part of being ready is to invest in training & development. Training and development is what keeps the team competitive.

So why then does Corporate America relate to the training of its leaders and executives as a monetary option and not as a strategic necessity?  Is this not at the core of the issue?

In my opinion, I think Corporate America is far from ready for the aftermath. Training is not a financial issue, but fundamental and strategic. We have all heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Can you imagine what would happen to the quality of leadership if leaders and executives were to practice the art of leadership more often?

I have heard more times than I can count companies proclaiming, “We will start training again when business starts to pick up.” This is a dangerous approach because if you are not investing in developing your leadership team now, they will not be ready for what is to come. The military does not stop training in war time; the opposite, in fact, is true: they intensify training.

My assertion is that most executive branches in Corporate America were trained and developed in booming economic times, which made many of them unable to deal with breakdowns i.e. “bad news”. It is not that they were unwilling to; it is just that they were not conditioned and trained appropriately, and as we have seen, they have often responded ineffectively as a result.

The training and development of an organization’s leadership team is the most critical element in order to prevail in times of crisis and to excel in the emerging economy.

Remember, your products and services do not make your management team, your management team is what drives your products and services.

Is your management team ready for the aftermath?

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The Shareholders Myth!

Jun 13 2009
By: Doron York
Categories: Leadership Talk
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For the past decade, we have witnessed corporate America going downhill and with it all of our precious principles that this great country was founded on. Is it the sense of entitlements or pure arrogance? (I will leave it to you to answer that).

About a week ago I have watched a brief interview between a TV reporter and a former exec in one of the crumbling financial institution powerhouses. The question that was asked was “what do you have to say to the people that lost their money or their homes?” the exec reply; “Look, it is just business. It is not personal. We could not predict that it would turn out this way” – GIVE ME A BREAK! Do not insult my intelligence, please. The writing was on the walls for at least 1-2 years, even I could see it. My research leads me to find out that this exec made $126M in the past 8 years. One Hundred and Twenty Six Million Dollar! (Just for the records). How much did you make?

I correct myself, we did not lose our principles, and we have lost our minds! There is a very distinct and obvious difference between Capitalism and Narcissism!

Look, I am capitalist and I enjoy very much the ability to have free choices about my life and to have the ability to afford and even indulge myself with the goodness of life, why not. I work for it, yes WORK for it.

But here is the question, how much it enough? There is pure greed and there is capitalism. There are CEO like those how run Tyco, World Comm., Enron, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stern who are pure Narcissists, and there are people like Bill Gates, Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens and Warren Buffett – Mr. Buffett still lives in the same home he bought in Omaha, Neb., in 1958 for $31,500. He drives a Cadillac, prefers burgers and Cherry Cokes to a pricey steak. When a waiter once tried to pour him some rare, vintage wine, Buffett covered his glass and said, “No thanks, I’ll take the cash.” True Capitalists.

And who the government (your government) of the people and for the people bailed out, with your money? It is the definition of insanity. Penalize the innocent and reward the guilty… we say, Dose this make you proud?

Here is my two cents; “What is in the best interest of the shareholders (short term) is not always what is in the best interest of the company. But if you always do what is in the best interest of the company it will always benefit the shareholders (long term)” What a paradox.

We ether stand for free market and free enterprise or we do not. If we are, let the market work itself out. What dose the government have to do with it? Let those who made the mistakes (crimes more accurately) pay the price.

Give the money to the people not to the criminals! We keep making the same mistake over and over again and expect different results.

Is it madness or insanity? You decide.

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