Below, you’ll find one of the most inspirational videos ever to come out of Youtube. Randy Pausch, a respected professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, had only 2-6 months left to live at the time of giving his now famous ‘last lecture’. Watch the whole thing below!
By Emmett C. Murphy, Written for Leadership Expert.
In 2003 Lego lost $238 million due to overly complex designs, failed forays into new markets, and costly licensing ventures. In 2004 they took previously untried steps to restore integrity and profits. Lego engaged a group of devoted fans to help them redesign a lagging product—Mindstorms, the company’s customizable robotics kit. This move broke with the creative team’s history of privacy and exclusiveness. The “Mindstorms User Panel” wanted to be paid in Lego blocks. They purchased their own tickets to Denmark for meetings. They routinely replied to single-line queries from the company with multi-page emails. They enabled the creation of wildly new and unconventional robots, such as toilet scrubber robots and bulldog robots. After experiencing the pitfalls of insularity, Lego’s decision to partner with the customer was an act of humility. It was also an act of responsibility. Leaders who admit they have a lot to learn, that they make mistakes, and that they can’t run the company alone earn respect and engender responsible attitudes in others. Three key practices of good leadership stem from humility—and inspire responsibility.
Partner with the Customer—Achieve a Shared Vision
Before Lego partnered with its customers, it was at risk of alienating them. Users had begun losing interest in products they considered too complex. Leaders who do not believe in the partnership model often act out a predatory model, subordinating the customer’s interests; Lego was heading in that direction. Instead Lego executives traveled to the world outside the organization to guide the customer to the center of organizational life. This act overtly recognized the organization’s dependence on the outside world and helped build a stronger ethical relationship between customer and organization. By “traveling outside” to gain new knowledge, Lego executives created a dynamic organizational model that embraced the “constant” of change and the need for continual adaptation. By working in close back-and-forth contact with their customers, the leaders at Lego also found that partnering with customers meant achieving a consensus. Rather than compromising or seeking to win, the customer-partner model describes a synergy that comes from achieving a shared vision.
Connect with the Frontlines—Learn From Those Who Know
Leaders who act with humility aim to achieve a shared vision with everyone in the organization. They want to understand the perspectives of those at the frontlines and adapt to accommodate those perspectives. Recently Brian Dunn, the chief executive of Best Buy, expressed his faith in following the frontlines—he had been a frontliner himself once. As a teenager working at a grocery store he had interacted with customers on a daily basis. His manager regularly asked him what he thought of new policies—for example, the store’s policy of having customers load their own groceries. “I know it seems simple,” Dunn said in a recent interview with The New York Times, “but just that notion of learning from people who are actually doing the work, and the encouragement he gave me to tell him exactly what I thought really stayed with me.” Leaders motivated by fear or arrogance remain aloof, removed from their employees. Those motivated by humility remain physically present and personally connected; they fear ignorance more than they fear confronting mistakes or problems. Humility drives responsibility: when leaders focus on customer needs, they train others at the frontlines and elsewhere to move beyond self-interest too.
Understand Work Roles—Don’t Place Blame
Strong leaders respect the careers of others as much as they respect their own. Rather than assuming they know what’s going on in the workplace, leaders driven by humility make a practice of asking questions to understand what others do and what they need. They practice active listening and seek out quiet environments to interact with others without distractions. They empathize with their associates and ultimately empower them by reinforcing strengths and resources. When problems arise, worksheets and scripts can help a leader chart an individual’s work life in a pragmatic and open-minded way. The work-life map then serves as a tool for learning what changes need to be made. When a leader finds misalignment in an individual’s work-life map, he or she practices humility by avoiding blame. The goal of assessments is to transform problems into opportunities and to encourage others to take responsibility for their work, not to engage in a blaming game.
The most responsible leaders don’t let pride get in the way of progress. They seek a purpose for leadership beyond self-interest, which helps them create partnerships—with customers, frontliners, and associates. You might say that when Lego solicited its staunchest fans to help with product development, it pioneered one of its best designs yet.
Emmett Murphy, Ph.D., is Founder and President of Murphy Leadership (www.murphyleadership.com), a global leadership consultancy. Murphy is the author of several books including Talent IQ. He is currently at work on his new book, Entrepreneurial IQ.
History has presented us with plenty of examples of poor leadership. Some notable recent examples of poor leadership:
2. Sir Allen Stanford – Showed a blatant disregard for integrity and commited fraud on a vast scale via his corporation Standford Financial Group. The SEC has recently described the scandal as a ‘Ponzi Scheme’
3. Rick Wagoner – Displayed a lack of strategic oversight while CEO at General Motors. The period of time he was at the helm – GM’s stock price plummeted by 90%. His strategies were simply not forward looking – and GM fell behind competition vastly in terms of cost cutting and product innovation. Rick was forced to stand down as CEO in return for receiving government aid in 2009.
Examples Of Poor Leadership Traits
Impatience. Leaders who don’t fully appreciate that good strategy takes time to implement, and that iniatives need room to develop and mature, invariably will frustrate and increase the stress of those beneath them. Constantly unrealistic demands will demoralise and sap away loyalty.
Aggression. There is no place for fear in the boardroom, and yet it still persists in badly led companies across the world. Women as well as men are perfectly capable of being aggressive torwards their collegues, and let me assure you that there is little else you could do that would cause a such a rapid loss of respect.
Insincerity. Insincerity is the underminer of all policy, all intiative, all strategy and all success in leadership. A word you speak without conviction might as well have not been spoken at all and may even cause damage. A leader might be able to bluff for a few months, but once they’re found out – the stack of cards will fall and your ‘greatest asset’ will be grabbing their pitck forks before you can say ‘lynch’.
Incompetence. Using the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie as an example – you do not have to be expert in your companies field to be able to lead a company brilliantly. Andrew famously praised his management team as knowing more about steel than he did – and this honest admission not only motivated his team, but reflected his own culture of respect.
At contrast to this however, is pretending to be an industry expert when you still have much to learn from the ‘Dumbies Guide to your industry’. Your secret will likely be discovered at the companies most critical time, and your employment prospects won’t look too peachy thereafter.
Simon Oates – Leadership Expert
If you’re looking for a review of “The Pursuit Of Something Better” then you’ve come to the right place. I’m currently reading an advance copy, and will be publishing Leadership Expert’s official review within a week, so stay tuned!
‘The Pursuit Of Something Better’ follows the story of US Cellular – a regional telecoms company, through its journey to becoming home to one of the most vibrant and motivated cultures in the USA. As an underdog in the telecoms industry – US Cellular has to fight to survive in the modern world, but the employees fight for it, due to their extreme loyalty and pride.
On one day every year, the managers from across the organisation leave their positions to attend a conference that announces the results of something very dear to them – the annual employee satisfaction questionnaire. Grass-root staff rise to the challenge and the company ticks over just fine without them. The atmosphere at the conference is likened to that of a concert – not an annual review. What on earth has happened at this company to drive such enthusiasm?
Well, you’ll have to buy the book yourself to find out!
Review is coming soon!
This title was released on the 15th of August 2009.
You can pre-order this book on Amazon UK here
‘Generation Y’ is the affectionate name given to the demographic cohort that was born between 1980 – 1995, although specific definitions do vary. This group hence forms today’s teenagers and twenty-somethings – a group highly sought after by large recruiters, and whom form the solid base of employees for many multinationals. The problem of how to lead this generation is a hot topic.
What Are Businesses Doing To Attract Generation Y?
As competition has increased among the large graduate recruiters to attract the best ‘Generation Y’ talent, they have been fighting among themselves to paint the best picture of their own workplace. Of course, promises have to be met, and so in painting their company in this brighter way, they have indirectly led to progressive changes in the workplace. These new changes to the working environment include:
1. More flexible working hours for a better work/life balance. (Example – ‘The Big Four‘)
2. Guaranteed acceptance onto management training programmes after preconditions have been met. (Example – Enterprise Rent a Car)
3. Extensive induction training.
4. The opportunity to rotate round departments and roles. (Example – Unilever, P&G and Johnson & Johnson)
5. Higher reliance upon internal promotions to fill vacancies.
It is clear that the recruiters believe that generation Y care less about salary and traditional benefits, and more about the pursuit of an interesting, fulfilling and and less stressful job than their parents. This trend definitely seems to be following the general shift away from Fordism factory workers, and towards independent, respected and empowered workers, that has been taking place in the last century.
What Are Businesses Are Doing To Lead Generation Y?
When it comes to leading ‘Generation Y’ – new leadership styles have evolved to compliment the new ‘people -orientated’ workplace. These have manifested into:
1. Annual reviews taking a more personal development focus, rather than productivity. Managers are trying to adopt more of a ‘coaching’ and ‘supportive’ role. Managers are told to encourage and train employees so that in the future they are able to take their place.
2. A more democratic and team-based way of working – where ‘on-the-job’ training is becoming more popular, and instructions on how to actually ‘get the work done’ is now coming from from experienced teammates more often than the manager.
Do These Methods Actually Work?
The evidence isn’t very clear on this issue. Despite all these new initiatives and opportunities that ‘Generation Y’s parents dreamed of, these young workers are extremely likely to leave a company they join after a short period of time (every 4-5 years on average), which is a far higher rate of turnover than their parents, the ‘baby boomers’.
I believe that this is happening for 2 main reasons. Firstly – only a fraction of companies are actually fulfilling the promises made to potential job candidates. The hype that recruiters drum up is unsustainable and almost impossible for companies to deliver on. This it doesn’t surprise me one bit to discover that graduates are continually drawn to the ‘greener’ grass on the other side of the hill.
Secondly, and this is linked with the first reason, managers are going about implementing these initiatives in a reluctant way and unsatisfactory way. Either managers are attaching too many ‘novelty’ initiatives to rudimentary and menial jobs – such that the employee feels like it’s all a show, or managers are only introducing leadership techniques as part of a ‘token’ effort.
For instance, I’m in disbelief at the number of times I’ve heard managers undermine their human resource counterparts with phrases such as “Now, I’ve been told by the people above to tell you that …”. This sort of attitude in implementing policies if effectively negating any positive effect they were supposed to bring.
Therefore I would argue that, while it appears that ‘Generation Y’ workers are extremely unappreciative of the benefits and perks that exist today – these so-called perks only exist in policy and paper and aren’t created or supported with sincere intention from managers. In fact – this move towards pseudo-policy is alienating our Gen Y workers, and this may be able to explain why they are constantly on the move.
Changes that companies have made to their leadership and human resource strategies have been well thought out, and do add good value to the role a company could offer a graduate. However I believe that to be able to lead Generation Y effectively, the focus must then be on educating and training managers to sincerely back these new efforts.
As a Marine Aviator, business owner, and consultant, I have dedicated many years to honing my leadership and development skills – both organizational and personal. In my experiences I discovered three simple principles that, when properly applied, will make your leadership journey incredibly rewarding.
• Number One – it is all about you
• Number Two – it is all about them
• Number Three – it is all about the organization
I confirmed these proven principles in interviews with over one-hundred successful leaders. Here is an overview for you.
Organizational Leadership Principle Number One – It is all about you.
You must make the conscious choice to accept the leadership role. It is not enough to occupy a position of leadership (as defined by a box on the organization chart with your name on it). In fact, many people have made the choice to lead, exercising vast influence, without being in a so-called “leadership” position. In making the choice to lead, you take responsibility for yourself first, which means you must commit to working on your own personal and professional development. If you cannot, or will not, lead and develop yourself, you cannot lead and develop others. You must recognize that you will take some hits in your visible leadership role but you must also not shy away from them. You must realize that your decisions may not always be popular, but understand this comes with the territory. You will discover the rewards of leading are well worth it..
The three essential elements of this first principle that you must master are:
• Integrity – Do you deliver on your commitments?
• Technical competence – Do you understand the tasks?
• Setting the example – Are you a proper role model?
Once you accept the first principle and embrace these three elements you are ready to move on to the next principle.
All excellent organisational leaders regularly invest in themselves. Leaders have often sought out useful leadership books and learning material that will help them along the path to happiness and leadership. See Leadership Training and Leadership Coaching for details of programmes help mere managers become highly effective leaders..
Organizational Leadership Principle Number Two – It is all about them.
In this case, them refers to those we lead. Your purpose as a leader is to engage and motivate your employees to bring 100% of themselves to work, every day. As their leader, it is your responsibility to create the right environment for them to motivate themselves and to exceed your expectations. Your focus should be on helping people perform more effectively and efficiently. This helps them become more productive and advance in their careers. It also shows them that you care about them.
The three essential elements of this principle are:
• Self-awareness – Do you know what you do well?
• Taking care of people - Do you look out for them?
• Developing new leaders – Do you help people advance?
Applied properly, this principle will help you in the long run as your employees become more efficient, more productive, and more effective. They will require less supervision–which brings us to principle number three.
Organizational Leadership Principle Number Three – It is about the organization.
There are unethical and misguided bosses who think the organization exists to support them. This arrogance ultimately brings failure. We come together in associations or businesses to accomplish something that we could not accomplish alone. Your employees give you their time and you compensate them with standard benefits. As a leader within your organization, you must recognize that you are part of the organization, but not the organization itself.
Investing your ego and ambition in your job is fine–to a point. In the extreme, this creates an overbearing autocratic leader. The truly effective leader knows he or she is an active member within the team and always works to better the team. Real leaders have a forward looking orientation and work to build the culture of their group. It is the insecure leader who wants their successor to fail. Any leader who fails to support an employee–for any reason–hurts the organization, therefore violating Principle Number Three.
The essential three elements of this law are:
• Commander’s intent – Where are we going and why?
• Culture and Values – What makes this place tick?
• Practice – Do we work to get better at what we do?
Clearly, there are many layers to each of these laws. But the first step to higher leadership effectiveness is to make the choice to be a leader. Then, focus on your people and help them succeed. Together, you can successfully advance your organization into the future you articulate. Once you embrace these three laws, you are on your way to becoming a truly successful leader and you will create a thriving organization as you navigate your way through the tumultuous sea to the land of new opportunities – new opportunities not seen by many.
Author: Wally Adamchik, Founder of Firestarter Speaking and Consulting, helps organizations apply the leadership philosophies he learned in the Marines, and refined in business, to their pursuit of excellence. Read about his book at http://www.noyelling.net and leadership development.
You may be looking for: The Ultimate Leadership Guide.
Transformational leadership is leading by motivating. Transformational leaders provide extraordinary motivation by appealing to followers’ ideals and moral values and inspiring them to think about problems in new ways. These followers have felt trust, admiration, loyalty, and respect for them and were motivated to do more than they thought they could, or would do. In essence, transformational leaders make tomorrow’s dreams a reality for their followers.
Perhaps the most important characteristic that transformational users possess is their ability to create a vision that binds people to each other. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech galvanized a generation to support the civil rights movement in the United States. But transformational leaders must have more than just a vision, “They also have to know which path to follow in order to attain it.” The followers are attracted to the vision and the leader has to have the plan to energize them to reach it.
All excellent transformational leaders regularly invest in themselves. Leaders have often sought out useful leadership books and learning material that will help them along the path to happiness and leadership. Alternatively they seek Leadership Training Courses or Leadership Coaching.
Vision plays a crucial role and leaders who are totally committed to their vision and course of action are often called charismatic. Charismatic leaders have an unshakable belief in their mission, are confident for their success and have the ability/talent to convey these certainties to their followers. They are in turn, awarded with unquestioned loyalty and obedience.
In our society, we carry a common notion of the leader as a person with the vision, who then gets people to buy in, to align themselves with that vision. This notion is bankrupt and dangerous, because the leaders who have done well for their communities and organizations are not the ones who came up with the vision. If we picture them as the conductor of the orchestra, they are good at embodying the soul of the music. These leaders are good at articulating the transcendent values of the organization or the community. A leader’s vision has to have accuracy and not just appeal and imagination. Articulating a vision for an organization or community has to start with an awful lot of listening, a lot of stimulating of debate and conversation, to distill, to capture the values. It has to start, as well, with carefully diagnosing the current problematic environment to which one needs to adapt.
When changes in the environment occur slowly, usually managers fail to recognize them as threats to their organizations. To become aware of environmental changes, transformational leaders have to frame their vision by providing employees with a new purpose for working. Framing is a process through which leaders define the group’s purpose in highly meaningful terms. In organizations, framing often involves identifying the core values and purpose that should guide employees. For example, at Walt Disney the core purpose is simply “to make people happy.”
Impression management involves an attempt to control the impressions that others form about the leader through behaviors that make the leader more attractive and appealing to others. Impression sounds manipulative and sometimes is. On the other hand, it is also a natural and sincere expression that reveals to followers an alignment between the vision and the person. Integrity, for effective leaders is just that. Revealing how the message the followers hear is related to the personal experiences of the messenger. Telling a story or stating a clear example, can become a particularly effective way to manage impressions-according to some it is the essence of charisma.
With or without the authority, exercising leadership is risky and difficult. Instead of providing answers as a means of direction, sometimes the best you can do is provide questions, or face people with the hard facts, instead of protecting people from change. Often you need to make them feel the pinch of reality, otherwise why should they undergo a painful adaptive learning process? But, people often resist doing adaptive work and painful learning. They resist in a number of typical ways. If you want to lead others, you need to understand how to counteract these types of resistance.
Transformational leaders are more effective when the company is new or when its survival is threatened. The poorly structured problems that these organizations face call for leaders with vision, confidence, and determination. Such leaders must influence others to join enthusiastically in team efforts and arouse their feelings about what they are attempting to do.