Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting More Interested in Twitter!

(I borrowed the image above from http://lonewolflibrarian.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/libraries-using-twitter-list022009/ )

I have to tell you, as I am working on the social networking aspect of what I want to share with people and learn from people, I find Twitter to be more and more interesting.

There are many types of "tweeters" out there:
  1. People who are new to Twitter and haven't even figured out how to put their picture up
  2. People who are new to Twitter and think that by following everyone and contributing nothing they can create some sort of following for some sort of "get rich quick" scheme
  3. People who have paid others to tell them who to follow and how to get the biggest audience so that they too can profit by the "get rich quick" route
  4. People who love to watch TV shows and tweet in real time with their friends (Big shout out to the #criminalmindssb in the #twitterdayroom. Hey!)
  5. People who actually have something to say that is worth reading
I like the last group best. I confess to wanting to someday leverage my social network to support me on projects I believe in, but it is not my reason for creating a presence on Twitter.

I like the immediacy of being able to tweet to friends and have them respond. I like being able to support others with great things to share. And I like the sheer humongous possibilities of having such contact with one tweet!

Tweet on Peeps!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

No Excuse, Sir!

Just wanted to take a minute to tell you about a great read I have added to the carousel today. I am about half-way through the book on my Kindle and just loving it!

It's called "No Excuse Leadership: Lessons from the U.S. Army's Elite Rangers" and was written by a classmate of mine, Brace Barber. Here's the link to his site:

(gotta love the domain name grab, eh!?!)

Brace has hit the nail on the head with this one. The main premise of the book stems back to the four responses we were taught as the only acceptable answers for a Plebe at West Point: "Yes Sir!" "No Sir!" "No Excuse, Sir!" and "Sir! I do not understand!"

Think about living your life for one year and those being the only words you could utter to your boss...or anyone with authority over you. In simple terms, that's what we were required to do for the duration of Plebe year. In their base simplicity, they helped us to revise our paradigms of personal responsibility and develop a foundation for becoming pretty darn good leaders.

You see, if you just think of your "reasons" and "explanations" in the terms of "Excuses," it give you a whole new perspective on just how often you justify your own short comings and failures as "Not really my fault." That is not the position a leaders takes. A leader is accountable for his actions and decisions, regardless of how they turn out. You can delegate responsibility, i.e. who actually has to pull the trigger, but you cannot, as a leader, delegate the accountability, i.e. who sent him out to shoot and gave him the instruction as to what to shoot at!

Read the book. If you are a grad, you will have a deep understanding already and this will be an affirmation of all we have been taught. If you are not, you will gain some insight into the lessons taught in two of the most intense crucibles for leadership development: West Point and the US Army Ranger School.

Great job, Brace!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kids on Leadership

Found this very cool clip and thought I would share with you:

I think sometime we, as adults, have a tendency to over-complicate things. Leadership and good leader behaviors are not that difficult to understand or articulate. They are tied to right principles: Integrity, compassion, fairness, consideration, kindness....and much more. children, especially at the age of the children in this video, have a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong.

In our grown-up world, sometimes the line between right and wrong seems to get cluttered with a lot of stuff. We sometimes lose the notion that right and wrong are black and white...no wiggle room. Either you do the right things or you do the wrong things. We think we can use our grown-up intelligence to argue about degrees of right and wrong. We "quibble" over nuance and "shades of grey."

Kids, in their purity, remind us that to be good people, we must act in good ways. To be good leaders, we must act with integrity and serve those we lead.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Leader in Me Program Changing Lives

As I was checking out Twitter today, I found this awesome post by Stephen Covey about the impact the leadership training program "Leader in Me" recently had on a Charter School in Utah.

Can you imagine the impact on the world at large if we were to teach our children to...be proactive...begin with the end in mind....put first things first....think win-win....listen to others first then seek to be listened to.....synergize.....and to sharpen the saw in their daily lives?

If you kick around youtube, you will see many such stories as this. It's amazing to me that such a program can be installed in a school for about $50 a child, yet we are more interested in paying for much less productive things with our tax dollars.

I have actually often thought of working with the Franklin Covey organization to make a difference in the world. I am glad I came across this as I will be getting in touch with them to see what it would take to be apart of this awesome organization.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Diary of a West Point Cadet

Found this book the other day on Amazon and thought I would share with all of you this very funny piece from the Colbert Report:

Enjoy and click the link to the right to purchase from Amazon!

I can't review the book yet as I just bought it to read, but wanted to recognize Preston Pysh's work and innovation.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Some Good Thoughts Around Good E-mails

Dr. Brinkman makes some very good points on when to, and when not to, use e-mail.

In today's fast-paced digital age, I think we often forget the importance of face-to-face communication and use e-mail as a kind of crutch to keep from having to interact personally, especially when said interactions may be difficult.

E-mail is a necessary evil, but don't let it reduce the effectiveness of your communication with others important to you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Self-Serving Leadership

Who are you serving as a leader? Are you serving yourself or those you lead? I am exposed to many leadership styles daily in the consulting work that I do and it is often good to sit down and reflect on my observations, and do a little introspection. I came across this recently from Ken Blanchard:

Interesting concept on the "self-serving" leader. I have often been viewed as someone with strong opinions and a rather defined viewpoint when it comes to leadership. I have also been guilty of the defensiveness that Dr. Blanchard describes. What I have learned over time is to take a breath and try to get past the emotional reaction to criticism and look at the comments in context. And yes, that is easier said than done.

I have worked for some folks who were very good at this, but they number on one hand. On both hands and feet I count the number I have worked for that really suck at it and it is always a challenge to have the strength to speak up when you can tell by their words and body language that you are probably better served talking to the chair they are sitting in. It is easy to get discouraged by this. But if you care about that leader and your relationship with him or her, keep at it. Taking the time to listen with an open mind to feedback is not an easy task, but it will yield dividends for you and those that you lead. Listening to feedback with a desire to understand and improve is the only way a true leader can become better at serving those they lead.

It is a challenge that you will have to face often before you can become better at it, but don't give up. Keep at it and try your best to be as understanding of the criticism you receive as you are of the criticism you give.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Believing in Right Principles

When I think of believing in right principles, I think from a core perspective...or, as in the image above, from the roots of why we do things.

I believe that too often we find ourselves doing a myriad of things for a myriad of reasons. "This boss wants that, that client doesn't want this, If we do this thing, it'll make a quick impact, if we force the issue, they won't have a choice..." on and on and on it goes.

In order for something to truly have value to an organization, it must first be aligned to the right principles. In a recent interview, Dr. Stephen R Covey was asked to define principles:

“To expand, a principle is a natural law like gravity. It’s different than a value. Values are subjective; principles are objective. Gravity… if you drop something, gravity controls. If I don’t tell you the truth, you won’t trust me-that’s a natural law."

Natural laws. Objective. Black and White. Interesting in these days of everything being subjective (if you believe the media), that we should be discussing principles. those things that at our core influence the development worthwhile values.

This is not to say the we are perfect in living in concert with our principles day to day. We are human and we make mistakes. I am more concerned with how we strive to live in a way that is true to right principles in both our personal and professional lives.

In our personal lives, i think it is more clear to us the impact of not living in concert with right principles. If we lie to our significant other, the impact is usually very immediate and very painful. So I believe most people are more honest in their personal dealings with the people that matter most to them.

It's the professional lives that are most concerning to me when it comes to people acting in principled ways. It is often easier to gloss over or side-step the true motivations for a change we advocate than to delve into the hard work...finding the root causes and working to eliminate them. Getting to the bottom of the issue, regardless of the pain it might cause, is the right and principled way to go about solving a problem...not going with the easy answer because it will be accepted more readily than the harder right answer.

Back at the Academy, part of the Cadet Prayer was: "Make us to choose the harder right over the easier wrong and never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won."

Simple. Forthright. Honest.