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Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

Multipliers and diminishers

In leadership on July 19, 2010 at 1:19 am

An elegant way to put it.  Management styles run the full spectrum.  We can all identify people we have worked with on both extremes and likely we can precisely pinpoint that one manager that was the ultimate multiplier, drawing out talents we did not know we had and catapulting our career.  I know I would not be where I am today had it not been for such a manager I had almost 10 years ago.

The book is well researched and practical, aiming to spot and correct diminishing behaviors we all are guilty of at one point or another.  Self-awareness as always is half the answer.  Bringing attention to behaviors that will bring out the intelligence in others in a culture dominated by superhuman CEOs , is in itself a welcome addition to the conversation about what makes a good leader.

Some of her tips I found to be particularly practical:

– On restraint: If you tend to talk a lot in meetings and put forth too many strong opinions, two practical tips:

1. Give yourself a few virtual talk time chips, each worth between 30 seconds and 2 minutes of talk time.  Use one up each time you make a point.

2. Label your opinions: soft opinions where you have a perspective to offer and ideas for someone to consider; hard opinions where you have a clear and potentially emphatic point of view.  This gives others an opportunity to disagree with your soft opinions and establish their own views, while reserving the right to have “hard opinions” to where it really matters.

– On leading discussion: three simple ground rules (b-school case method suddenly makes sense !)

1. the discussion leader only asks questions and cannot answer own questions

2. participants asked to supply evidence for the views put forth

3. everyone participates; the role of the discussion leader is to make sure everyone gets airtime, restraining the stronger voices and calling on the quiet ones

– On asking hard questions: multipliers ask big questions that create “gaps” for the organization: between the answers they have and the ones that they don’t, a creative tension that inspires the search for the answer instead of being handed the solution.

“The number one difference between a Nobel prize winner and others is not IQ or work ethic, but that they ask bigger questions” – Peter Drucker

– On ownership: when the leader steps in to get the team unstuck, that is the scope of their intervention, not solving the entire problem. Give the pen back.  This ensures ownership, the leader of the task knows they are still in the lead and accountable for delivering the final solution.

Find out if you are an “accidental diminisher” and more on the book website here.


Hiring the right people

In leadership on May 12, 2010 at 8:58 am

Orange Code the story behind ING Direct is a great read through and through.  CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann tells the story of how he started ING Direct, from creating the company’s famous 12 point “orange code” to how he built the team at ING Direct.

His hiring advice resonated most with me, as it centers on motivation, which I believe is the single most important predictor of future performance, once capabilities and skills have been ascertained.  Kuhlmann’s advice:

Motivation and character are the things that separate loyal, enthusiastic workers from paycheck-collecting journeymen. Demand competence but look for character.

Hire people who have experienced rejection and have something to prove to the world. Real heart and commitment come from someone who has tasted failure and injustice.

The need to achieve something is imprinted on one’s personality. If you have it, you can easily recognize it in one another. The best want to leave a mark that says: “We were here and we made a difference”

Another interesting point is on building a team vs. hiring an individual.

Don’t just hire – assemble a cast. Competence is a commodity. Sure, you need everyone in an organization to be able to do his or her job reliably and efficiently. But competence is table stakes for any employable candidate, and that means that it’s equally available to your competitors. Companies will look at resumes and decide that the more years you’ve gone without screwing up, the more valuable you mustbe. But there’s no profit in that. Not losing isn’t the same as winning.

A great summary of the book can be found here.

Also Arkadi Kuhlmann and his branding consulting Bruce Phillip, talked at Google about the book – great video to watch to get a sense of Kuhlmann as a person.