Focus Under Fire

The ability to focus on the right things during times of apprehension or overload is a leadership differentiator of the highest magnitude. One reader’s comment at HarvardBusiness.org struck me as the simplest definition of leadership under pressure I’ve ever encountered. Wally Bock writes:

Those that “don’t panic” are concentrating on what to do next.
Those who do are concentrating on what will happen.

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Transparent Leadership Drives Results

Would you be brave enough to publish your devastating failures to the world?  When Jack Welch wrote Straight From The Gut he was determined to openly share his business experience – everything from successful long-term strategies to his worst mistakes.   Jack’s unselfish sharing is his attempt to save the rest of us from taking the same painful paths.  In my estimation this is a stunning example of transparent leadership.  This is recommended reading for leaders in any industry.

There is beauty in admitting mistakes.  It sets the tone for honest relationships.  A leader who can create an environment in which people feel free to be wrong will take his/her organization to higher levels of innovation, productivity and results.

Another element of transparent leadership comes from identifying our own hidden agendas and making intentional decisions about their usefulness. Are we truly present with others or are we silently reinforcing an unexpressed belief that is rolling around in the back of our mind?  One way to test these sideline thoughts is to employ perception checking by asking:  “Would you like to hear something I’m thinking right now?”  Sharing these insights in a respectful way gives both parties a chance to examine alternate paths of thought.  It also serves to bring your internal musings out into the light where they can be further developed or quashed.

If you are intrigued by perception checking as a leadership tool, I recommend Susan Scott’s book Fierce Conversations.  Don’t be put off by the title – according to the author a fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real.

 

Focus Management In The Information Age

Focus management has become the most elusive – yet most important – life skill for our day.  At no time in our history have we had access to so much information, knowledge and business intelligence.  We are bombarded daily by a widening variety of data streams and communications.  And for those of us who are naturally curious the Internet beckons with promises of bright, shiny bits of new information.  So how do we navigate this sea of unending data in a way that keeps us on course?  Continue reading →

Personal Brand — It’s Even More Important in a Tough Economy

Individuals with clearly defined values and goals are highly esteemed by employers as these people tend to be more focused and make better-informed decisions.  If you can demonstrate that you have moved beyond understanding your own value system and show that you operate with an intentional personal brand, so much the better.

What makes this a differentiator?

Managing your personal brand requires a higher level of maturity as branding involves moving beyond self-awareness and out into the world of perception.  It’s all about understanding and managing how others experience you.

Articulating your personal brand means you have the ability to decenter — you’re showing that it doesn’t have to be all about you.  You are capable of seeing things from others’ perspective and you can adjust according to the situation at hand.

Using Social Networking to Develop Tomorrow’s Leaders

Each social networking tool has its own demographics. Facebook tends to be populated by younger users while Twitter is fast becoming the preferred tool for the professional crowd in the 45 years old and over category.  These are broad statements which of course do not reflect 100% of their user communities but it does illustrate one important point: social networking is being adopted by nearly every demographic.  According to Adam Ostrow writing for Mashable, the number of social networking users has doubled since 2007.  Continue reading →