Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

The ‘Yes-And’ People

June 7, 2019

WhatTheySay

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a translator sometimes? If we ask a direct question, sometimes a ‘yes’ response means ‘no’, a ‘no’ means ‘perhaps’, a ‘but’ could be good and could be not-so-good! Here’s my attempt at translating.

  1. If someone says ‘yes’, sometimes they mean ‘yes’, no problem. That’s easy.
  2. But if someone says ‘yes’, and it doesn’t feel good, maybe it means that they said ‘yes’ only to be polite and nice. If this is the case, and you can confirm it, take their ‘yes’ to actually mean ‘no’.
  3. If someone says ‘yes’, and adds a ‘but’ to it, that means that there are conditions involved. It’s often more important to look at the conditions behind the agreement, and the motivation for the other party to ask for those conditions. Often, it’s not worthwhile to accept those conditions.
  4. If someone says ‘yes’ and adds ‘not now’, it generally means that they are would be happy to do it, but at a different time.
  5. If someone says ‘no’ and means ‘H*CK NO’, it means don’t ask them for something similar in the future, unless something changes. Consider whether you’d like to have this person to be in your network, and also at what recent (or OLD) acts might make them have this mindset.
  6. If someone says ‘no’ and adds a ‘but’, it generally means that they would like to do it, but need a specific condition to be met in order to do it. I’m generally more inclined to make this agreement work than it they say yes with conditions).
  7. If someone says ‘no’ and adds ‘not now’, it means that they can’t now, but they can at a different time. I treat this much like a ‘yes but not now’ response.
  8. If someone says ‘no’ and adds an ‘and’, it generally means that they don’t want to do this, AND there are other things they don’t want to do, or want to be part of. Look closely at what recently has happened, especially if this is a new response. Perhaps a fence can be mended, an ego soothed?
  9. The best case is when someone says ‘yes’, knowing full well the breadth of the agreement and the bigger picture of the project. Moreover, that person has the vision to see a picture beyond what you can see yourself, the drive, energy and skills to make it happen, and the willingness to include you in the ride.
  10. I’ll end by asking you some questions:
    1. How can you get more people with #9 responses in your network?
    2. Who in your current network are giving you the direct and supportive responses to help you grow?
    3. Who else can you include in your network?

What does it take to lead?

May 1, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 4.47.24 PM

I am not the typical ‘leader’ – the distinguished, white, male, ivy-school graduate with the privileged background and

exclusive network. And yet I’ve been asked to speak on leadership and innovation for the past two decades. This week, I’m speaking on the topic of – What does it take to lead? I’m profiling an early experience, an early memory, to help everyone think deeply about what it takes to lead, how they are leading well, and what else they can do to fearlessly lead.

When I was five, I lived in Hong Kong and we were assigned so much homework it took me four hours to complete it. So I charmed my uncle into doing it for me. When my teacher asked who did my homework and why, I responded that my uncle did my homework because I thought that four hours of homework was excessive. I got sent back to my seat without a comment. We got much less homework. Everyone looked at me differently after that.

From this example, what does it take to lead?

  1. Self-Awareness.
    • It starts with knowing and understanding yourself and your fit with the circumstances of other people and things around you.
      • Be introspective enough to know yourself well – complete with motivations, strengths and weaknesses. Be curious enough to know others well, complete with motivations, strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Independence.
    • Leaders can think like everyone else does, and act like everyone else does, but they also have their own independent way of thinking and acting.
      • See the possibilities beyond following the status quo.
  3. Idealism.
    • Leaders don’t settle and accept circumstances which they feel are unjust. They are more likely to make a stand for a better world.
      • Which injustices do you face day-to-day? What are you doing about it in big and small thoughts, words and actions?
  4. Empowerment.
    • Leaders are empowered enough to believe that their thoughts, words and actions make a difference – one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time.
      • Change is never a given, but feeling empowered to make a change provides hope for a better world.
  5. Courage.
    • Leaders make a courageous stand for change, and are willing to accept the consequences for their role in fostering change.
      • Courage is not always in-your-face. It’s a subtle charm, a persuasive dialogue, an emotional appeal. Courage may or may not mean overcoming fear – but it does mean thinking, speaking and acting despite any fear you might have.
  6. Engagement.
    • Leaders care about others. They are engaged in the community, passionate for the greater good. If they weren’t they would not act on behalf of everyone else.
      • Be engaged – really care about what you do and who you do it with, regardless of what your leadership responsibilities are.
  7. Collaboration Mindset.
    • Leaders know they can’t do it themselves. They enlist allies, supporters, partners and seek win-for-all solutions.
      • Everyone has a piece of the puzzle. Welcome perspectives that stretch your own view of the problem set.
  8. Resourcefulness.
    • Leaders think outside the box to get ideas, resources and support necessary to foster change.
      • Invite people to complement the resources, plans, technologies you have in place.
  9. Commitment.
    • Leaders are committed to their community, to their cause… in their thinking, in their speaking and in their actions.
      • When you make a decision, be All-In. Don’t waffle and second-guess yourself. Be committed to the cause, unless it no longer makes sense to do so.
  10. Strategic Thinking.
    • Leaders think strategically about the problem, the people, and the solutions. They collaboratively work with players across the ecosystem to resolve the issue.
      • It takes an ethical leader who thinks broadly about problems and empowers a wide range of others to address that same problem from different fronts. There are so many moving pieces and so many players and resources involved. The leader *has* to think strategically on their feet.

What are *your* thoughts on what it takes to lead?

How will you push your *own* leadership potential?

How will you empower *others* to do the same?

Embrace Your Creativity

April 1, 2019

EmbraceCreative

This month’s post is a follow-up to last month’s post on Awaken the Creative in YOU – Part One, Why? and talks about the HOW. I’ve always been a bit of an original… a little bit ‘edgy’. But I’ve been trained and conditioned to streamline my thinking so that I can better communicate and understand what others mean.

This thinking inside-the-box is very efficient and useful – a standard to which most of us conform. But there are times when we need to embrace that creativity within us – times when breaking out of that box actually helps yourself and others think, speak and do things differently, in a way which would be embraced by all. Below are some tips for Embracing the Creative in YOU – Part Two, How?

  1. Accept that there are times to think ‘inside the box’, and times to think ‘outside the box’. Manage your creative releases accordingly.
  2. If you’ve been rewarded for thinking inside the box, it’s often hard to think outside that box. Try rewarding yourself (and others) for thinking, speaking and acting differently within specific contexts.
  3. Bring people from different backgrounds together on a common project and watch the magic unfold. How are they more similar than they thought and more different than they thought? What new idea, concept, occurrence took place when you combined them?
  4. Combine two different processes or solutions in solving a complex problem.
  5. Leverage a success from one circumstance and apply it to a completely different scenario, which might actually make sense.
  6. Combine elements of ‘wrong’ solutions might bring you closer to one that’s ‘right’.
  7. Bask in the people, processes, circumstances etc., which make you feel uncomfortable. Consider them learning opportunities – a chance to stretch and grow in new ways.
  8. Recall some early memories of judgments for those who aren’t following the rules, and how others respond to them. This ‘over-socialization‘ is likely impacting your creative edge. Choose to stretch your own boundaries if it would give you an edge.
  9. Shift your own perception about the creative people who have touched you in your life. The less you judge them for being ‘different’, the more welcome you will be to the parts of you who also want to be ‘different’ – in a good way.
  10. Embrace that creative spark in yourself. It’s not just for people who ‘live on the edge’.

Have fun with it, while you’re also solving problems with it!

Awaken the Creative in YOU – Part One, Why?

March 1, 2019

Creative-Why

After decades and decades of rewarding that left-brained, analytical thinking, the pendulum is swinging to again embrace the creative. This is part one of a two-part post which will cover the research on why the creative will benefit people, teams and companies. Next month’s follow-on post will cover how to embrace the creative.

  1. Creative leaders outperform their peers on key financial metricsCreativity’s bottom line: How winning companies turn creativity into business value and growth, McKinsey, June 2017
  2. In one survey, creative leaders scored 16 percent higher than the average consumer-facing company on an Innovation Performance Score –  Creativity’s bottom line: How winning companies turn creativity into business value and growth, McKinsey, June 2017
  3. A McKinsey study reported that, technology upgrades would lead to a decline of 375 million employees worldwide by 2030 in positions such office support, predictable labor, and other jobs, but there will be an increase in creative jobs, teachers, care-providers and technologists. What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages, McKinsey, November 2017
  4. In another study, fifty-eight percent of survey respondents reporting high creativity had 2013 revenues exceeding their 2012 revenues by 10% or more. In contrast, only 20% of less creative companies performed similarly.  The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  5. Of those reporting market share leadership, creative companies outnumber their less creative counterparts by a factor of 1.5.  The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  6. In the same survey, respondents who identified their firms as ‘creative’ were three times more likely to have received national attention. The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  7. There are four types of innovation: Incremental Innovation, Disruptive Innovation (also known as stealth innovation), Architectural Innovation, and
    Radical innovation.  Creativity helps innovators to create and sustain high risk, high reward innovations. https://info.innocentive.com/open/innovation
  8. Disruptive innovations are caused by changes in market and business phenomena, not technology advancements. It takes analysis and creativity to understand these changing business model and business phenomena. Clayton Christenson, The Innovator’s Dilemma
  9. According to neuroscientists John Kounious and Mark Beeman, insight is a product of a relaxed brain. The more we concentrate and strain for inspiration, the less likely we are to get it. It follows that the more creative and relaxed we are, the more likely we are to see an insight. The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain, by John Kounios and Mark Beeman
  10. The four stages of idea generation according to Graham Wallis include Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification. Once you decide to do it and think about it, the clarity through creativity may come, as part of the idea generation process. The verification follows that step. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400419.2015.1087277?journalCode=hcrj20

Next month’s post will brainstorm how to embrace the creative within yourself.

The Leader in YOU

February 1, 2019

intelligenceopennessindustrious

At our January 13 When She Speaks event, we talked about the importance of Communicating with, then Connecting and then Engaging people. Certainly these are all actions which leaders do well. But it had me thinking, what does it take to be a leader?

  1. There are projects where you’re not involved and your leadership is not necessary. You’re not a leader there, and shouldn’t be.
  2. There are projects where you’re not involved, but your leadership would make a huge difference. Which projects might they be? What value could you bring? Is it a priority for you to actually get involved?
  3. Some say that it’s intelligence alone which makes the leader.  But I say that if you’re intelligent, yet not open to other ideas, people and viewpoints, if you’re intelligent but not willing to work hard, you’re not a leader. You’re more a ‘Prima donna‘. I mean that in the nicest way, and I want to have compassion for people who are in this category, because I’ve been guilty of being that way before as well. It’s people who think that they are right and always right and too good, smart or superior to be open and hardworking. They are people who may not want to learn a new and better way of doing something, or people who use the data to prove that their own ideas and methodology is hands-down the best way with no exceptions. The rest of us, may not be as intelligent, but we are better leaders.
  4. It’s clear that being open and curious makes one more receptive to change and therefore better learners. But being open to all change and all learnings every time, all the time is going overboard. That’s like being a flag in the wind. It’s what my friend from Colombia calls an ‘Eggplant‘ – someone who takes on the flavor of the dish, without her/his own taste. You will need to be intelligent about what to integrate and how to implement changes. You need to work hard to make sure that the change is the right one, that the change will stick.
  5. In addition, it’s great to be hardworking, but being hard-working by itself is not sufficient, unless you also have intelligence and open. Consider the ‘Worker Bee‘. They are industrious working on someone else’s plan, without much thought, and without necessarily being open to a new way of doing something. This adds great value and has its place. There are times when what you need is mostly worker bees…
  6. Now to combine the qualities above. If you’re intelligent *and* open, but not necessarily hard-working, you’re a princess. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It feels good to be smart and open and powerful and privileged. But sometimes, you also need to be hardworking.
  7. If you’re hard-working *and* intelligent, but not open, then you’re a ‘Steward‘ – someone who has learned from many past successes and works hard to maintain these successful processes and systems. The down-side is that sometimes, these best practices no longer apply. So people must be open to new ways of doing things when change happens.
  8. If you’re open *and* hardworking, but not being intelligent, then you’re a ‘Wanna-bee‘. Again, there’s nothing wrong with being that way. You’re open to others’ ideas and plans and work hard to implement them. But sometimes you have to be intelligent and courageous enough to speak up and provide feedback and input and ideas to the current plan. Leaders reach for that bar, at the appropriate time.
  9. The Leader brings all three together – the intelligence to understand opportunities and challenges, the openness to learn and integrate new information and circumstances, and the work ethic to make something happen, despite impossible odds.
  10. Nobody is always any one thing all the time. But I hope that this post helps you understand your current mindset and the mindset of those around you. So that we can reach more strategically, more consciously to be the Leader in each of us.

Hope for a Better World

January 1, 2019

HopeBetterWorld

As the last whispers of an eventful year wind down, reflect and make plans for the new year.

  1. Find commonalities with others and seek common goals.
  2. Put the needs of others in front of your own, if the greater good is served.
  3. Strive for continuous improvement, never settling for ‘good-enough’.
  4. Be grateful for what you have, rather than pining for all you wish you had.
  5. Be more curious than instructive, more open than judgmental.
  6. Forgive others for their perceived transgressions, but forgive yourself first.
  7. Embrace the uncomfortable as opportunities, the unknown as gifts.
  8. Rise above the details and focus on the intentions and the goals.
  9. Take pride in your own skills and talents, while also learning from all others.
  10. Have faith that your own hope for a better world becomes contagious.

Best wishes for a peaceful, fruitful, successful new year.

Filled with Thanks

December 1, 2018

ThanksgivingPlacesetting

In a land at the heart of a grand tech dynasty, in an industry poised for additional astronomical growth, there was a company which offered a solution destined to succeed.

And in this company, there were Leaders with the vision to create a community of high-performing, high-integrity collaborators, who pushed their own personal abilities, and therefore the technology functionality, to help ensure access by the Multitude of others across the globe.

And working with these Leaders were high-performing Teams of developers, managers, specialists and engineers, dedicated to improving the technology and proactively serving their Customers. They were hard-working and driven, yet easy-to-please, humble yet exceptional, attentive yet independent, resourceful AND collaborative.

To celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving, the growing company barely fit into its cafeteria, in eager anticipation of their annual multi-course feast, complete with linen table service and fine China.

As a backdrop to the dinner filled with chatter and laughter, there were slides of thanks for each staff member, which brought additional smiles, laughter and the occasion misty-eyed sniffling and good-natured ribbing.

To culminate this grand affair, the Leaders stood as one, and each spoke sincerely of the gratitude they had for the people, the company, and the opportunity. And the microphones were then sent around to Others, who also voiced their thanks. The feeling of thanks permeated the room, radiating warmth and good cheer.

And the future will show that the People, the Teams, the Management will work together for many Thanks-Giving celebrations to come.

Journey of the Soul

November 1, 2018

FirstGuru

Journey of the Soul, by Linda Holroyd, August 26, 2018
Written on the hardwood deck outside our bedroom in the mottled sunshine
just before sending off a child on yet another adventure
Written also for all parents with children not-like-them

Journey of the Soul

Day
Time
Sunlight
Breeze
Wheezy

Warm
Filled
Glowing
Marvelous
Wheezy

Peace
Laughter
Smiles
Fullness
Wheezy

Full Circle
Perfect Being
Calm and Powerful
Wheezy

Life from my Loins
Power to my Strength
Embodiment of All that’s Glorious to me
Wheezy

From Radiant Magnificence
to Humble Powerlessness
from Obstinate Glory
to Overflowing Gratitude
Wheezy

The World sits beneath YOU
the Stars above applaud YOU
the Waves around you bask in your LIGHT
Wheezy

The path opens for you
your carriage approaches for you
your entourage awaits you
Wheezy

So prepare for your journey
the trail of Enlightenment
the Majesty of the Moment
the Balance between the Hope and the Fear
Wheezy

Go blindingly, trustingly, courageously forward
as is your way
Immersed in joyous abandonment
Daring to Laugh at the Impossible
Trusting in the Wisdom of Powers Bigger than even Thee
Wheezy

For the People around You
so need
your power
your strength
your vision
your purity
Wheezy

And I in the shadows
from the security of my mansion
Cheer louder than ALL combined
when you are revealed in full Magnificence
for ALL you Represent
for all that you SERVE
for the HOPE that’s entrusted to You
my Wheezy

Mentorship Best Practices

October 1, 2018

Mentorship

Few would argue that Mentorship is a key to personal and professional success. I hope that the mentorship best-practice thoughts below are helpful to you, whether you’re a motivated, hard-working, coachable, flexible and capable potential mentee or a seasoned, accomplished, committed mentor, ready to give-back, or a connecting and passionate executive implementing a program for your company.

  1. Mentorship should be integrated into the ongoing culture, not just inserted as an afterthought. From the top-down, from the bottom-up, all must think, speak and act in ways which would support the success of a mentorship program.
    • This means providing the time and resources to ensure the ongoing success of the program.
    • This means commitment from the top in thoughts, words and actions, and follow-up from all ranks to ensure exceptional implementation on an ongoing basis.
  2. Let the mentees drive the cause and the conversation, and let the mentors guide the conversation and learnings, within a specific timeframe.
    • Problems occur when mentees aren’t the initiators or when mentors aren’t the right guides.
  3. Agree on specific, measurable goals, objectives and timelines.
    • Do it for the right reasons, the intangible results, but report on the measured results to build momentum, credibility and impact.
  4. Report on the specific, measurable impact of the program.
    • Learn from what went well and what didn’t go so well and respond accordingly.
  5. Focus on building specific and transferable soft skills, but apply the learning to a specific project.
    • Common leadership soft skills include: communication (for clarity, succinctness, written, assertiveness), confidence, decisiveness, negotiation, delegation, empathy and humor, embracing change.
    • It’s best to learn any of these transferable leadership skills in the context of specific work projects as it would have clear impact today’s project, and develop transferable skills for tomorrow’s project.
  6. Adopt mentorship projects in alignment with larger team, product and corporate goals.
    • In fact, mentorship programs can actually be instrumental in the success of the larger product, team and corporate initiatives!
  7. Optimize the matching of mentors and mentees.
    • Sample guidelines include connecting people:
      • within or outside the company, but not part of the local team,
      • with similar overarching values,
      • with similar interests
      •  with similar experiences
      • with different perspectives
  8. Have a back-up plan when things don’t go as expected.
    • Commit to showing up for meetings, but have a plan when life happens.
    • Be prepared to shift mentors or mentees into other relationships if necessary.
    • Have a program director to act as a resource when mentors or mentees need additional information, resources or support.
  9. Be inclusive. Engagement a large community of dedicated mentors and mentees. With that said, don’t force someone to engage if they aren’t committed participants, if it’s not the right time for her/him to get engaged.
    • It’s easy to engage those who raise their hand eagerly and more challenging to approach the shy, reserved, quiet others who would also greatly benefit – as a mentee or a mentor.
  10. Celebrate your progress.
    • Change doesn’t happen overnight. Progress is what should be celebrated. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Best of luck with your mentorship program. Showing up and speaking and thinking about implementing one will put you ahead of most people!

Ode to a Hat

September 1, 2018

The summer, the year, she has passed so quickly, so eventfully, with the highest of thrills, the darkest tragedies of loss; the indulgent and sinful decadence of time well spent, laughter well expressed, and the regret of time not taken for and with others.

So I find myself reflecting on the transiency of time, the joy of hope, the importance of faith.

So this month, as we enter into a new school year, and also come upon the anniversary of a fire which touched my family deeply, I will honor a poem written by my brother-in-law, who so eloquently expressed his thoughts following that fire last year. I hope that it touches you deeply as well.

CalicoHat

Ode to a Hat 

 It was down in the hold of the ship: 

 I crocheted It in the half light of crew arguments and 

the stomach-bending pitch of the vessel,

While far away, my mother wondered if I still Loved her. 

 It was colored the give and take of Calico–

and I realize now I must have borrowed the yarn 

 (after all, I didn’t board with any). 

 And its Presence insulated me from where I was, 

 And from who I have become. 

Afterwards, I did mail it to her…my Mother. 

 Then, much later, it appeared in photographs – 

in scenes of her 

studying Chinese, playing piano or some such thing — 

in those cold Northern California days, bathed in Hope.

 There was always that special Covering, 

an Object Captured, yet rarely mentioned… 

 Well… then… “The FIRE”: 

The FIRE, She took the HAT. 

 The FIRE took almost everything–even the piano I learned on. 

 Plus… …that silly bit of spindly, mottled poly-thread covering which 

Most likely had believed Itself safe. 

 Safe in a box where it had been deliberately placed so as not to be Worn to Death. 

 Safe where it might continue–as all Love Hopes to. 

 Safe, where, when the Flames finally found it, 

 It told them it had already served a Greater Purpose. 

 Greater than all its Adversaries possessed.

 And it spoke the Truth to that Flame:

 “I’ve mattered more in this world than you could ever possibly Hope to. 

 I have done my Work. 

 Now take me Home.” 

 – Ladd Holroyd