Tag Archives: leadership

The Fierce Urgency of Now


I wish I could go to this event this. It’s Conscious Capitalism – The Fierce Urgency of Now: Building Fully  Human Organizations.  I don’t think I can make it happen in 2014.  Looks like some very cool stuff, including:

Accelerating Business Growth through Conscious Leadership

The Art & Science of Sustainable High Performance Fueling Human Capacity in a World of Infinite Demand

Elevating Your Business through Employee Engagement

From Insight to Action

Industry leadership, Strategic Storytelling and the Humanity of your Brand

It will definitely be on my agenda for 2015. Maybe they need a blogger because NOW I really want to attend!

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Leadership lessons from the Yellow Brick Road

This is the funniest thing I saw on Facebook this week.


From the archives 8-8-2010


Leadership Archetypes in the Wizard of Oz

I am convinced that an archetype for almost any life situation can be found reflected in the film “The Wizard of Oz”.    I know, that sounds  weird, but go with me on this for a moment.

For example, here is everything you need to know to be successful in leadership,  framed in the archetypes that are found in the Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy, the Ingenue, is young and endearing, dewy-eyed and innocent.  She is pretty much lost in the new environment of Oz, relying on the kindness of strangers to help her find her way around.  According to Wikipedia, this term comes from the French adjective ingénu meaning “ingenuous” or innocent, virtuous, and candid. The term also implies a lack of sophistication and cunning.

You will not survive long in Oz or as a leader if you stay in this state, but it is a good starting place, heading bravely off down the virtual yellow brick road trying to get where you want to go, just like the plucky Dorothy.

The Cowardly Lion, or Courage, is a strange combination of confidence and cowardice.  Ostensibly, the King of the Forest, the Lion turns out to be a coward, until he confronts numerous trials and challenges, learning self-confidence and bravery along the way.   By delving into the mysteries of work, spending some time dealing with people, you will become more confident and brave in your approach.

The Tin Man, or Heart, is the emotional archetype.  He embodies the things that we are passionate about.   You can be passionate about people, or work, or your career, but that is not enough by itself.

The Scarecrow, or the Brain is the archetype for knowledge and learning.  This should not be confused with expertise.  The scarecrow becomes smarter as he travels through Oz with the group, but he is still physically challenged and frail.  His brain is only part of the total story, just as expertise is only one part of the total equation of leadership.

The Wizard of Oz, or the Answer Man, the guy who can solve all problems turns out to be just a guy who got lost when his balloon malfunctioned.  He has no real magic, and no super-powers.  He is just a dude who can talk his way around the room, selling snake oil.   He may be the perfect archetype stand-in for the social media guru of today, but he is not sufficient to lead an organization successfully.

The Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch of the East, a pair of counter-balancing characters who do have magic powers, but are still unable to to effectively accomplish their goals, or deliver a simple complete solution.  They represent the villian, and the guide respectively.  These are factors in leadership, but not solutions.

Toto, or the faithful companion, who stays at Dorothy’s side through thick and thin, providing comfort, loyalty and support.  This is another important archetype as a support figure.

So, here we have eight characters representing eight archetypes, none of them able to lead with their singular style or strength.    So what is the lesson of the film? It’s simple.  The ability to accomplish the goal, or overcome the obstacle is found in the combined strengths and skills of all the archetypes working together towards a common goal.   This is the true lesson found in the story of the Wizard of Oz.

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Fortune Cookie Leadership

Photo of an open fortune cookie
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Management wisdom for the ages

I had lunch at Ling’s Chinese Buffet yesterday, and finished the meal in the traditional way you end meals at most Chinese restaurants, with a fortune cookie delivered with my bill.     Everyone loves cracking those bland cookies open to see what the enclosed slip of paper will say.

Personal Leadership insights

You know, profound leadership insights like:

“You were born with the skill to communicate with people easily.”

“Keep in close touch with what your competition is doing.”

“Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded.”

“Your skill will accomplish what the force of many cannot.”

My personal leadership epiphany

My own personal fortune was just as profound as those above:

“The one rowing the boat doesn’t have time to rock it.”

In other words, if you are busy engaged in doing the work required to get something done, you won’t have time to think about how the work is being accomplished.   The fortune cookie implies that you can’t provide leadership and do things at the same time.

Obviously, I am not meant to multi-task.

Thanks fortune cookie for simplifying my life!

What was your favorite fortune cookie saying?  Share it in the comments!

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From Bud to Boss launch day is tomorrow

Help for making the move from worker to management

One of the most basic challenges any person entering management, or any leadership position for that matter, is making the transition from being a member of the core workforce, and assuming the rule of “boss”.

Last week, I received a preview copy of a new book that offers some great advice on how to tackle this very basic problem.   The book is From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a successful transition to remarkable leadership, written by Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris.  The title is a mouthful, but the book is a pretty easy read, and packs in a lot of meaningful information that will be useful, whether you are a newly minted supervisor looking for some self-development,  or a trainer looking for a new resource for your organization.

The book breaks down into several different sections, including:

  • Succeeding in your transition into leadership
  • Change
  • Communication
  • Coaching
  • Collaboration
  • Commitment to success

The authors are using social media to promote the book in some interesting ways, including the creation of a Bud to Boss community around the book that extends the reader experience, and a Bud to Boss workshop.   I highly recommend the book!

Special Offers are available if you buy the book on launch day, just click here.

This is launch week for Kevin and Guy’s new book, From Bud to Boss.

We hope you’re ready to celebrate with us.

The best celebrations include gifts, right?

We’ve got plenty of gifts prepared for people who buy our book on launch day.
Click to learn about the gifts you receive for purchasing today
Because you’re interested in leadership, we’ve asked other leadership experts to partner with us. As a result, we have an impressive list of resources from these experts available to you when you buy our book.

When you buy multiple copies, you will be able to access even more gifts.

These gifts include exclusive e-books, audio content, videos, consultations, webinars,  and more. When you buy a book, we’ll even enter you into a drawing for a chance to win other gifts, including a Kindle (loaded with From Bud to Boss and Remarkable Leadership.)

Visit our launch page to see the gifts available when you buy the book during the launch. The gifts are available for a limited time.

They will be up through Wednesday and possibly all the way until Friday. To claim your gifts, order today.

The buzz is building and we’re glad that you are joining us for the celebration. We hope you’ll invite all your friends, fans, and followers to celebrate with us!

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Leadership Experience: Guest post by Kevin Eikenberry

Albert Camus, french writer
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Leadership Experience

The Nobel Prize winning author Albert Camus once noted, “You cannot create experience, you must undergo it.”

This points to a problem inherent in most all training programs, and perhaps especially in leadership development programs; workshops and seminars don’t provide experience (and therefore don’t prepare people with skills).

To build your leadership skills (or to build these organizational leadership skills in others) you must give people the opportunity to have experiences – and practice.

Knowledge (a strength of traditional training – whether face to face, on-line or through some other medium) is an important component in the process, but it is neither the be all, or end all for leadership development.

To maximize the effectiveness of leadership development the process must be a combination of knowledge acquisition with the chance to use those ideas to convert it into skills (read you must
undergo experience.)

In deference to Camus though for our own (or others) leadership development training, we can create processes that allow people to create experience.

All of this leads us to the fact that the best results to your leadership skill improvement efforts will include: training, opportunities to integrate knowledge into practice, and leadership coaching.

Determine what skills you need to improve as a leader, and do more than read another blog post, buy another book, or take another workshop. Find ways to put your ideas to work – create opportunities to practice and undergo an experience!

Kevin Eikenberry is a author, speaker, trainer, consultant, and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. His new book, co-authored with Guy Harris, From Bud to Boss – Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership publishes on February 15th, but the Free Bud to Boss Community is open and available now.  Check it out!

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The “Human Cliffs Notes” of Leadership

John Spence is a leadership consultant you should know

One of my favorite speakers at HR Florida the past two years has been John Spence.  John is professional speaker with a deep expertise in leadership.  He is also one of the most prolific readers of leadership books that you will ever encounter.   He also acts as an interim CEO from time to time.  He lives in Gainesville, Florida.   If he isn’t on your radar yet, he should be!  If you want to know anything about a leadership book, you can check it out at John’s web site.  If you know a good leadership book, he says he is always looking for recommendations.

Either way, you should see the site, check out this slide deck, and definitely follow him on Twitter.  He wrote a pretty good book  called Awesomely Simple too!

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A man among women

Symbol of the planet and Roman goddess Venus, ...
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Some guys have all the fun

Being the first male contributor to the Women of HR site was something  of a humbling experience.   The post I eventually submitted was one of the more difficult pieces that I have put together in the past few months.

Let’s just say that I was a little nervous writing this article!  You can see what I came up with below, if you haven’t already seen it over at the  other site.

The Gender of Leadership

I am very excited to be taking part in the “Women of HR” effort.   When I told Trish McFarlane that I wanted to be a part of this project, I was both excited and perplexed.   I knew I wanted to try to write in this venue.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I would have to say.

For this initial piece, I did what I always do when I am unsure of what direction a topic should take.   I decided to write about myself and my own experience.   Not as a woman, of course, but the experience of working in a field that has become increasingly female dominated over the course of my career.  Recently I was listening to HR Happy Hour,  and China Gorman shared that 72% of SHRM members are female, for example.

The Gender of Leadership

Over the years, the gender of managers I have worked for has been almost equal, about 50% male and 50% female.   The odd factor here is that I didn’t work for a woman for the first ten years of my career.   This means that over the last 15 years, most of the people that I reported were women.

I haven’t experienced that much difference in working for a woman versus working for a man.  At a high level, it has always been about the work and the results.   Probably the most noticeable differences in styles would be in the area of communication.  Generally, my female supervisors have been more accessible and open in their approach.    There was also a discernible difference in the approach to investigating and reviewing harassment complaints of any sort.   The men were all about getting it done and discipline and legal mitigation.   The women were about looking at the personal aspects of the case – how the parties felt, identifying the root cause, and what was being done systemically to prevent recurrences as we moved forward.   I think this is a better approach, and may be a simple way of illustrating some of the gender difference of leadership.   Your personal experiences and perspectives shape your leadership style, right?

My Personal Leadership Gender

Over the course of my own career, I have been told some version of this statement at least a half dozen times:

“You approach HR and the way you manage like a woman.

At first, I didn’t know how to take it.   Early in my career, it would have been a personal dig.  Today, I take it as a very high compliment, since many of the best HR professionals I have worked with have been women, and I like to think that I learn something from everyone I work with.

Here is what that statement means to me today:

  • Not all problems are nails, and you don’t have to bring a hammer to fix them.
  • Taking the time to listen and then consider is an essential part of effective leadership.
  • Try to look at all sides of the problem, including the underside, where the roots of the issue may still be buried, waiting to grow back, and deal with them.
  • Business is teamwork.   Teams require cooperation and support, more than they do cut-throat competitors.
  • Just because you are soft in demeanor doesn’t mean you are soft in getting results.

See you next month!

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Be a better leader by communicating

A casual conversation between two people.
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Three leadership skills to develop

Anyone out there had a candid conversation with their employees lately?

Not a discussion about business objectives, or water cooler conversation, or even that performance appraisal that you had to do – you know, the one you dreaded because you had to tell someone that they aren’t getting a raise again this year.

It’s tough to be a leader in tough times.  That is why you are still making the big bucks!    So what should you be doing as a leader for your employees in tough times?

Help them by helping yourself.   Here are three skills you can work on right now that will help you grow as a leader, and that will also benefit the people you lead right now.   All three skills blend together into one unified skill set.

  1. Be candid
  2. Be conversational
  3. Be a communicator

Why is being candid so important? Your employees are probably experiencing a lot of insecurity and fear right now, despite the recent announcement of an improving job market.   Their wages are stagnant,, advancement opportunities limited, and many face the ultimate fear – loss of their job.

As a leader, they need you to be aware of these fears and provide assistance to your employees during these difficult times.  One of the best ways to do this is to practice being honest and candid when you talk with them, or when they seek information.  They need you to be as open and honest as possible when discussing concerns.   It is often easier to try to deflect such concerns, but you will help your people deal with their concerns more effectively by practicing candor.

Why is being conversational important? Employees want to talk to you, but they may afraid to do so.  Not all, but some, and those are the ones you need to reach out to.   By doing so, you can gain insights into what they are thinking – both good and bad.  This provides insight and helps to address the concerns that could be impacting your workforce.  Understanding of these issues is critical to being successful.

Why should you be a communicator? Communication is the lynchpin of leadership.  When you fail to communicate, your staff may falter. If they are insecure or afraid, they need you listen to them, and tell them the facts about what is going on.  They look to you to be their two way conduit within the organization.

These skills may seem simple and obvious, but they are critical.  All too often,  leaders choose to abdicate their responsibilities in these areas because it is easier and less stressful.   Don’t be one of these types.  Be a pro-active leader. You owe it to yourself, your employees, and your organization.  It will make your role and that of your employees more meaningful, and your organization will benefit in the long run!

Note: this piece was originally published over on Make Work Meaningful, so if you think you read it already, You probably did! – Michael

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Leaderpalooza 2010 with Mike Henry Sr. – Fort Lauderdale

Intersection of Las Olas Boulevard and A1A, Fo...
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Leaderpalooza Unconference

Lead Change is a group I belong to on LinkedIn Groups.  The founder of that group is Mike Henry.   They are planning a leadership uncoference for February in Fort Lauderdale.  It is called Leaderpalooza.
It looks like it might be worth checking out. Here are some details from the webiste:
LeaderPalooza 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010 8:00 AM –
Saturday, February 20, 2010 5:00 PM (Eastern Time)
Ft. Lauderdale Hotel TBD
Estimated Room Price $125.00 plus tax per night
Hotel Details will be Complete by 1/8/2010

Have you ever been to a conference and left without getting exactly what you were looking for?  Maybe it didn’t get specific enough to YOUR needs.  Maybe the content wasn’t exactly what you thought it would be.  At worst, you just got another binder, and at best, you have wonderful ideas, but you’re helpless and powerless to actually execute and implement those ideas.

That’s all about to change…

The Lead Change Group is pleased to announce LeaderPalooza 2010 – an “un-conference” gathering of some of the nation’s most passionate leaders and practitioners who apply character-based leadership to make a positive impact in their organizations and communities.  Those who attend will be intentional leaders coming together to reap the benefits of collaboration with other motivated people who want to make a real difference.

This is not your mama’s leadership conference!!

Let’s build solutions and grow together —How can character-based leadership make a difference at your job or in your community?  How can it be applied?  What happens when a gathering of people who care about that common goal harness the power of collaboration?  What are the possibilities…and what could be the impact? 

Posted via web from michaelvandervort’s posterous

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Leadership Skills for Future Leaders

Business Sector Blogs

Many of us who do human resources and social media work have a list of favorite blogs. Many people who fiollow business like to read blogs in their field or industry.  I’d like to recommend one today.

If you work in the food service industry, whether that be retail grocery of food processing/production or even the restaurant industry, I would recommend that you check out the Morning News Beat blog. Morning News Beat describes itself as “Retail News in Context, Analysis with Attitude” and is mostly written by Kevin Coupe, with contributions from his colleague, Michael Sansolo.

It is a source of news covering a lot of different topics, including good wine discoveries and where to get good cheeseburgers. You should check it out.

Leadership Skills for Future Managers

What caught myattention today was a piece written by Michael Sansolo in which he discusses working with the food industry to build the skill set of the next generation of managers and leaders in the food industry.  It seems to me these are skills that are applicable to any industry, including human resources.

I’m getting a taste of that this week at the food marketing Institute (FMI) Future Connect conference, a project geared at building skills for the next generation of leaders in the food industry. (If you haven’t seen this full disclosure before, let me say it again: I have a huge bias on this issue. I helped FMI conceive and plan the entire meeting and I’m currently in Dallas helping FMI run it.)

Management’s challenge as we move into the next decade – amazingly, the second decade of the 21st century – is much like mathematics with a graphing calculator: it is a mix of the old and the new. The old is pretty straight forward and as challenging as ever. Tomorrow’s leaders, much like today’s and yesterday’s, have to master a range of skills as managers. They have to learn to hire, to train and to mentor. They need to master feedback, communication and decision making. And, of course, they need to learn flexibility to make their skills constantly fit the changing needs of the market, the competition, the workforce and the times.

That’s just the beginning. As students traverse the Future Connect agenda they are also learning about the emerging skills that promise to challenge them daily into the future.

For instance, they have to learn to master the new forms of communication to both employees and customers. Ad Age reported recently on the growing power of independent tweets and blogs to influence the success and failure of movies to a larger extent than traditional reviews. No doubt every business and every manager will learn this truth too. It’s now on the agenda.

They’ll have to learn to master the intricacies of complex issues such as food safety, nutrition and the changing value equation. They’ll need to understand the shifting tastes and fashions of every day to make sure their business is current, relevant and important. And they’ll need to master issues many of us today cannot even conceive of, much as we couldn’t have predicted so much in the past.

It’s a challenge that’s not for the weak. Lucky for me, I get to travel to many meetings at many companies, where I’m getting to see the beginning of a generational shift. Though it bothers me that I recently had an audience more conversant with Miley Cyrus than Led Zeppelin, the truth is that shift is overdue.

Hopefully as these new leaders come along, we Baby Boomers can teach them about management skills and they can help us understand the new tools. Together we’ll do better.

What skills are missing?  What skills  need to be added to this list for our future managers and leaders, especially those in Human Resources?