Uncertainty to Chaos

What do you do when faced with uncertainty?  Consider for example that you are scheduled to arrive at a meeting location where you have never been and are uncertain about the length of time it will take to get there, what do you do?  If you are like most you leave a bit earlier, just in case.  Or consider you are not quite sure exactly how many ceramic tiles you will need when remodeling your kitchen, what do you do?  If you are like most you order a little extra, just in case.  I could go on, but I think these two examples are sufficient. Continue reading

Leadership…Who Cares

Given the prevalence of a results oriented focus, leadership development is very often means leadership skill development for results.  The premise is that an individual could get results—the measure of effective leadership—if he/she just acquired the right skills. This operative paradigm casts a leader as a skillful mechanic of the business machine, that if equipped with the tools and techniques he/she can keep it running—just like a well-oiled machine.  Why else is it so common to hear MBA programs and leadership development workshops promote how they provide their participants with the skills and tools they need to be effective? Continue reading

Mismanagement of Costs

We incur costs when performing an activity, when expending energy.  Therefore a business enterprise that produces a product or service also produces costs, naturally.  Not only are costs unavoidable they are necessary! Moreover, there’s an optimal level of costs both below and above which an enterprise renders itself less viable.

So why is it that most managers or leaders want to minimize, not optimize, costs? Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #6

In a May 7, 2010 New York Times Corner Office interview with Sharon Napier, CEO Partners + Napier, Sharon explains how athletics, specifically basketball, is her source for principles to manage/lead by.   A key principle for Sharon is that every person on the team has a role to play.  While most would agree with this, at the same time most also likely focus on ‘the stars’ or those with ‘potential star power’, while investing little in the rest.  Who does the company send to training programs, everyone or just the one’s with promise?  In most organizations, experience will show that ‘it’s the brightest and the best’ who are chosen.  Sharon contends that it is not about the starting five rather it is about the strength of the entire bench—every person has a role.  Sharon adds, “…we don’t have the starting team and the not-starting team.  We have a bench, and everybody has to be strong.”

What’s the hidden lesson here? Continue reading

Time is More than Money

Would you invest your money with an institution/organization that didn’t recognize the value of your deposit and that didn’t enable it to synergize with that of other depositors?  Of course you wouldn’t!  Why?  Likely you expect to have returned what you’ve put in plus interest.   In fact, you would probably choose that institution/organization that provided the highest interest. Continue reading

Subverting Progress

Many of us find our quality of life to be less than it was decades earlier.  Oh sure there are some who are quite well off!  In particular the top income earners live as they always have, but the majority of us are struggling.   And it is getting worse, as many are finding it harder and harder to keep from drowning in debt.

In the U.S. evidence of this is reflected in the fact that two-thirds of the income growth between 2002 and 2007 went to the top 1% income earners.  In a 2008 study, The Wall Street Journal reported that the top .01% of American families held claim to 22% of the wealth, where as the bottom 90% held only 4% of the wealth. Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #5

A recent New York Times interview with Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic, reveals an orientation and practice that reflects often overlooked qualities and expectations of leadership.

First and foremost quality is being human.  Oh many might say, aren’t we all human!  Would this not mean that everyone provides leadership? Continue reading