Saturday, June 2, 2007

Leaders Must Be Inspired to Inspire

Good leaders are inspired leaders. Without inspiration, leaders cannot inspire others. I think this is a lesson all economic developers can take to heart.

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right. --Henry Ford

You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?' --George Bernard Shaw

Within each of us lies the power of our consent to health and sickness, to riches and poverty, to freedom and to slavery. It is we who control these, and not another. --Richard Bach

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. --Maya Angelou

There is no use trying, said Alice; one can't believe impossible things. I dare say you haven't had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. --Lewis Carroll

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. --George Bernard Shaw

The journey is the reward. --Chinese Proverb

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. --Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Friday, June 1, 2007

Solid Advice on Leading During a Climate of Change

I like Arvind Devalla's advice on how to give leadership in a clinate of change. It very much applies to economic development.

Here are some simple tips to provide leadership to bring about change:-

1. Embrace change as a positive feature of today’s business world and see it is a positive thing. A simple review of new industries that have developed in the last decade will demonstrate that change is here to stay. Change is more rapid then any other time in history, it is not going away and is a completely natural process. See it as a renewing cycle for organisations and individuals. Reframe and rename change into renewal and you can create more buy in.

2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, as any time we try something new, we feel awkward and uncomfortable. It is part of what it takes to change. It helps to reframe the feeling. Instead of feeling uncomfortable you and your staff could decide to feel excited, jazzed, energised or renewed.

3. Create a clear vision and define where you want your business to be. Do the work necessary to fully believe in and commit to the change. Develop and sustain your belief in the change effort, and communicate that belief with your actions and words.

4. Build a case for change. Understand where you are now and decide where you need to be. Present and outline the facts as a clear compelling reason for change. Build excitement for the future in order to overcome the discomfort created by change. Build commitment and awareness of the need for change.

5. Build a powerful guiding coalition within your business by identifying who you need as sponsors of your plan for change and gain commitment to the change effort by communicating your compelling case for change. Think together about alternative strategies to achieve the change, create transition plans and think about how you will overcome barriers.

Assemble groups with enough power to lead the change effort, working together as a team. Make sure that each person fully understands their role in the change process and feels appreciated for their contribution.

6. Identify the people in your organisations who are early adapters and change agents. They are the visionaries, forward thinkers and influencers. Work with them and they can bring up the rest of the staff, including those who may be inclined to be negative and resistant to change.

7. Remember that organisations are people - just as your organisation is changing so are your people. Each individual is going through his or her own personal process of change. Remember that motivation usually involves recognizing employees for their contribution; having some power over a certain amount of decisions; and acknowledging them for the strengths they bring to their work.

8. Put the change into perspective. Explain why things must change - link the change to world events, business trends and other themes, so that your staff realize that they are part of something much larger than the change that you are presenting to them.

9. Be up front about the consequences, if any, if they don’t adopt the change - people need to know what their options are. At the same time people need their hands holding, at least temporarily. No one wants to look stupid. When you ask the people in your organisation to change, they need a certain amount of training and a short time where errors are allowed.

10. Be patient while people reposition themselves after first learning about the change - the body and mind simply takes time to do this, so don’t assume a sluggish response is resistance - it’s just human. Also, reward curiosity and alternative ways of thinking. Often, simple acknowledgement or recognition can be enough reward.

11. Be up front and fully honest - change is scary enough, but when the other person feels like they don’t have all of the facts/information, expect a strong reaction. Just as soon as you or the situation changes in some way, let others know immediately - don’t wait for the right ‘time’ or ‘place’ to tell them as waiting only makes it harder for everyone.

12. Create a climate for questioning how and what is done. If your style is autocratic, but you want valuable, creative change then learn to value input. It doesn’t mean that you always have to use the new ideas, but it creates an environment where things can and do change.

13. Encourage constant open communication. Regular communication is vital to the change process. Feedback needs to be ongoing in all directions - up, down and across. At the same time, encourage risk taking and brainstorming. Respect differences and test out new ideas and methods. Keep what works and let go of what doesn’t.

14. Most change efforts fall far short of their potential. Usually that’s because the leadership fails to address the deep behavioural changes they are seeking.

Be prepared for the normal emotional reactions to change. Change can create instability, anxiety, conflict, nostalgia for the past, and fear of the unknown. Help people move through these responses by expressing empathy and using a coaching leadership style.

15. Celebrate success. Acknowledge short term gains and communicate the connection between new behaviours and corporate success.

To conclude, reframe what change is and see it as new opportunities for companies to capture large markets. Whilst change may be seen as a stiff challenge, it also represents an opportunity for inspirational leadership.

Source: Arvind Devalia's Thoughts and Words

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Power of Poetry to Business, in the Words of Dana Gioia

Dana Gioia (pronounced Joy-a) claims to be the only person in history who went to business school to be a poet. Having earned a degree from Stanford's graduate school of business, he worked 15 years in corporate life, eventually becoming vice president of General Foods.

In 1991, Gioia wrote an influential collection of essays titled, "Can Poetry Matter?" in which he explored, among other themes, the nexus between business and poetry. Since 2002, he has been chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts where he has overseen programs aimed at making Shakespeare and poetry recitation more popular in the U.S. Gioia, who is a speaker at the Wharton Leadership Conference in Philadelphia on June 7, talked about these ideas with management professor Michael Useem and Knowledge@Wharton.

Read and listen to the interview here.

A piece of the interview:

Useem: Let me reverse the question. From your own experience, can business managers themselves benefit the other way around from poetry?

Gioia: Oh absolutely, but I think that my own theory on it may surprise people. I think that if you come into the business, with an arts background, you have a tremendously difficult time initially. This is because it's a very different world, it looks at problems differently and by and large, they don't necessarily respect your background.

For that reason, I did not let anyone I worked with know that I was a poet. This is because, let me ask you a question, if you had a poet working for you, wouldn't you check his or her addition? So privately I went through a very difficult time. That being said, as you rise in business, as you get out of the lower level staff jobs and the quantitative analysis, and you get into the higher level of problems, I felt that I had an enormous advantage over my colleagues because I had a background in the imagination, in language and in literature.

This is because once you get into middle and upper management, the decisions that you make are largely qualitative and creative. And, most people who do really well in the early quantitative stages are grossly unprepared for the real challenges of upper management, at least in marketing which was the industry that I was working in, marketing and product management.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Team-Building Resources

Economic development occurs in teams, or at least it should.

Team building - having the ability to work with staff, volunteers and board members to develop strong, focused, high achieving and happy working group - is an outstanding skill for leaders in the nonprofit world. The websites listed below provide information about different aspects of team building.

Information on the Web

Finney, Russ. The Mythical Team Leader (1999) This is a breezily written but useful intro to the challenges of team building.

These are two short articles about the key components of team-building from the Australian consulting firm Team Management Systems. The first outlines the basics of team management; the second outlines basic roles that team members can play to make a successful team.

Ron Jungalwalla. Transforming Groups into Teams. and McCann, Dick. Creativity in Teams.

Goleman, Daniel. Leading Resonant Teams. Leader to Leader, No. 25 Summer 2002. This article focuses on various styles of team leadership noting when each may be appropriate.

Source: Voluntary Sector Knowledge Network

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Peter Senge: Quick Talks

Those of you with a passion for Peter Senge's work will enjoy these short recorded sessions with the master.

In early October 2006, the Targeted Learning Corporation worked with Peter Senge to record a series of nine short recordings, three of which are now available on SoL's website in MP3 format.

Each quicktalk provides a glimpse into Peter's current thinking on some of today's most pressing organizational issues and offers refreshing perspectives for exploration.

Impact of Globalization 5 minutes

Organizational Culture and Learning 5 minutes

Transformational Change 3 minutes

Monday, May 28, 2007

Traits of a Good Leader

What are they? According to the Santa Clara University and the Tom Peters Group:

Honesty - Display sincerity, integrity, and candor in all your actions. Deceptive behavior will not inspire trust.

Competent - Your actions should be based on reason and moral principles. Do not make decisions based on childlike emotional desires or feelings.

Forward-looking Set goals and have a vision of the future. The vision must be owned throughout the organization. Effective leaders envision what they want and how to get it. They habitually pick priorities stemming from their basic values.

Inspiring - Display confidence in all that you do. By showing endurance in mental, physical, and spiritual stamina, you will inspire others to reach for new heights. Take charge when necessary.

Intelligent - Read, study, and seek challenging assignments.

Fair-minded - Show fair treatment to all people. Prejudice is the enemy of justice. Display empathy by being sensitive to the feelings, values, interests, and well-being of others.

Broad-minded - Seek out diversity.

Courageous - Have the perseverance to accomplish a goal, regardless of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Display a confident calmness when under stress.

Straightforward - Use sound judgment to make a good decisions at the right time.

Imaginative - Make timely and appropriate changes in your thinking, plans, and methods. Show creativity by thinking of new and better goals, ideas, and solutions to problems. Be innovative!