DMS was recently featured in the Central Penn Business Journal in a article titled “Program Aims to help small-to medium-sized businesses grow. Read the entire article here.
Archive for July, 2011
“In a world where so many people now have access to education and cheap tools of innovation, innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart. Innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb.”
-Curtis Carlson, CEO, SRI International, as reported by Thomas L. Friedman inhis NY Times column, June 2011
Boss Mode Vs. Leader Mode
Friedman went on to write, “… the role of leaders today-of companies and countries-is to inspire, empower, enable and then edit and meld all that innovation coming from the bottom up.”
The big challenge for so many executives is that they have been reared in “boss mode” rather than in leader cultures. Bosses too often believe that they have to come up with all the innovative answers. Consequently their people will sit and wait for the boss’s next epiphany.
Most entrepreneurial ventures are born because people at other levels in companies have good ideas, but their bosses didn’t listen. In some instances, new entrepreneurs ultimately put their former employers out of business…so much for the “boss” culture.
When companies instead have leaders of the ilk defined by Friedman above, they continue to flourish and evolve toward the next wave as opposed to becoming stifled and destined to expire. Even bosses eventually run out of creative ideas.
Extreme Bosses and Reluctant Bosses
With some bosses, in extreme cases, there’s not much that can be done. They build a cadre of “yes men” around them and everyone waits for their command or their next crazy idea.But at least the “yes men” have jobs (although sometimes at pay beyond their true value because of blind obedience and loyalty).
Right now, in these recessionary times, there are a lot of enterprises stagnating because their people are waiting for their “boss” to paint the picture of what it will look like going forward. These reluctant bosses don’t know any better. They’ve grown up within certain organizational cultures and, even though they probably detested waiting for their own former bosses to innovate, they now perpetuate the syndrome themselves.
Good leaders don’t set themselves up as innovators. They build up the confidence and talents of people around them and nurture their creative ideas. They realize that a lot of half-baked ideas, if watered properly, can become sizzling ideas. Also, even though their people may not readily latch onto a new trend, they will coax, nudge and educate them until the light bulb goes on.
Let’s consider three suggestions which will enable reluctant bosses to become leaders:
Education and Learning
Good leaders have a great appetite for learning, especially regarding cultivating more effective ways of motivating people and building positive and innovative environments. Good leaders will seek out insightful books, quality seminars and/or worthy mentors,and the insights they discover will be taken seriously and then applied as assiduously as possible.
Bosses, on the other hand, participate in little of the education and learning aspects because they believe they know it all already. Bosses rarely want to learn about fresh approaches or inspiring their people unless they’re truly in between a rock and a hard place.
In this writer’s estimation, when executives stop learning, their leadership prowess begins to wane.
Focus on Your People, Not Yourself
Traditional bosses are generally described as people with big egos. In other words, they’re more focused on themselves and their own prowess and generally have scant regard for the capabilities of their people. Their sentences are full of “I.”
On the other hand, smart leaders focus on building up and encouraging their people. They invariably have people around them that they respect and appreciate. Humility is more likely to be a key value rather than their own egos. Take, for example, Thomas Jefferson, who always gave far more credit to individuals around him for his success. In turn, they did their best for him.
Let People Make Mistakes
Once you take a leadership posture toward people, you will be open to letting them learn from their mistakes. From this, they will discover and innovate. As their confidence grows, they will explore opportunities and take reasonable risks; always knowing they will receive encouragement and reinforcement whichever way it goes. Who knows, one out of every ten interesting ideas may bear real potential.
As their leader, you will help facilitate the assembly of resources and talents, as well as the creation of a vision-picture to give the innovation full life. Whatever setbacks occur, you will encourage the innovator to hang in there. If you were still acting as just their boss instead of their leader, you’d probably just trample and take over, and potentially cause some innovative people to leave and do their own thing.
Where does innovation come from?
It comes from all those talented people operating within your organization, which is now well-led.Your people probably have many unrecognized talents, which, when harnessed properly, could put your enterprise on an exciting new track.
So give up being atypical boss and try leadership instead-it’s worth it.
by Peter Arthur-Smith, Leadership Solutions, Inc.®
Author can be contacted at: Peter A. Arthur-Smith – New York- 212-332-8907 or via email
©1994- 2011Leadership Solutions Inc.® (MALRC). All rights reserved.
Want to boost your confidence, mental toughness and resilience? Enhance the performance of your team? CCL’s Bill Adams says the mental models used by elite athletes can be used to manage your mind for peak performance at work.
“Your thoughts affect your performance – and the performance of the people around you,” says Adams. “Olympic athletes as well as superstars like Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus and Sugar Ray Leonard understand this connection well.”
A former career military officer, Adams directed the Center for Enhanced Performance at West Point for five years, developing the full potential of more than 4,000 student-athletes and leaders through applied performance psychology training. At CCL, Adams’ focus is designing and delivering leadership programs for senior military and government officials.
According to Adams, improving performance begins with the idea that your thoughts – the words that you say inside your head day in and day out – are the cause of your performance, not the result of your performance.
“Let’s say early in your career, you flubbed a presentation,” says Adams. “You now have a train of thought that says, I get so nervous giving big presentations, it’s a weakness, I’m just not good at them.”
“These thoughts stir up negative emotions before every big meeting or presentation, including a physical reaction: blood pressure goes up, muscle tension increases, you feel flushed,” Adams continues. “Those reactions hamper your performance, and the negative cycle continues.”
So how do you stop a negative, self-fulfilling prophecy? You start by replacing the storyline in your mind. “When you change your thoughts, you turn the self-fulfilling prophecy around. You can actually use the cycle of thoughts-emotions-performance to your advantage,” says Adams.
Putting the self-fulfilling prophecy to work for you requires practicing four skills.
- Selective perception. Focus on what you do right. Develop a mental filter that allows you take in errors, setbacks or criticism (as well as praise, success and achievements) and then focus on lessons learned. Give your attention to events within your control. Look for the small successes in everything you do. Write a list of your strengths – physical, mental and interpersonal abilities – and build on this list every day.
- Controlling self-talk. The narrative in your mind runs at 600 to 800 words per minute. Known asself-talk, this storyline is typically subconscious, evaluative and usually negative. So what can you do about it? Adams says, “Stop. Cope. Take control.” When you become aware of negative thoughts - I hate meeting with clients - do something. Snap your fingers, clap your hands, tap your wrist. Next, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. This releases anxiety and stress. Then argue with those negative thoughts and change them to positive: I am well prepared for this client meeting.
- Affirmations. Talk to yourself about what you want as if you have already achieved it. Identify a goal you want to achieve or a change you want to make. State it as an affirmation that is personal, powerful, positive, present-tense and precise: I am a marathon runner. I lead the No. 1 sales team. Then write down your affirmation at least 10 times every day.
Adams tells the story of a young woman who trained to compete as a runner. She told herself every day, I am an Olympic athlete. She pushed herself, stayed motivated and ran her personal best at two Olympic qualifying finals. She narrowly missed making the Olympic team. Adams later asked her how she coped with not reaching her goal. She saw that her mental training allowed her to perform at her very best and have the experience of running with some of the best in the world. She then set her sights on another goal: I am an orthopedic surgeon.
- Visualization. Picture yourself succeeding. Imagine yourself giving a presentation, solving a problem, negotiating a difficult agreement, gaining recognition or accomplishing your goal. See it, hear it, feel it. “Rehearsing” an important event helps you build technical skills, practice responses to changing circumstances and achieve emotional readiness.
Adams recognizes that trying these four practices may seem awkward or unnatural or silly. “But they work!” he says. “These ideas are not new. We just understand the process better than we did years ago and can boil them down to specific skills that truly improve performance.”