It’s a seldom discussed fact that Christopher Columbus nearly missed his chance to make the history books in his 1492 discovery of the “New World.” Had his ship sailed on yet one day longer without sighting land, they would have turned around and headed back to Spain on the 12th of October. The truth is, he had a slight followership problem to contend with—and his own deception nearly cost him historical immortality. Along the way, his crew had grown unruly and restless, which prompted him to start “cooking the books” and keeping a separate set of records: one for his eyes only and the other he shared with his crew.… Read the rest
A bad leader lacks talent and skill, a destructive leader lacks character.
Leadership can be destructive. I mean this in the sense that poor, weak, or harmful leaders exist and can do great and lasting damage, not only to the organization but most importantly, to the people.
Great leaders use meaningful connections, shared values and mutual understanding to bring people together. ~ Linda Fisher Thornton
Lately, I have been very focused on the rise in destructive leadership in the lives of those I intersect with. A leader’s responsibility is many-fold but destruction is typically not one of the verbs used.… Read the rest
“The single most important element of success in war is leadership.”
Gen David Goldfein, USAF
As a young officer our formal leadership training consisted largely of learning our military specialty and a few vague lessons about balancing “mission and people.” They were lessons born of, simultaneously, thousands of years of military tradition and 20th century industrial mass production. In fact, our leadership classes were called “management” classes–which brings me to my point. Twentieth Century management theory and practice has it’s place, but management is no substitute for leadership. We manage things and processes, but we lead people. In the modern military as in modern business, we require agility–and we achieve agility only through good leadership.… Read the rest
“If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.”
I am always on alert for positive and effective communication practices at work. After diligently observing the first few weeks of the 45th President’s administration, it seems like now is exactly the right time to talk about broken communications and their effect on the leadership outcomes of an administration, organization, team, or office.
A change in leadership is not a change in mission. -Military maxim
The focus of January is the transition of leadership in the White House, so it’s a good time to talk about how successful leaders transition. I believe we do leadership transition well in the military, so there’s some lessons there for others. Every two to three years, commanders swap out, so being able to make that transition smoothly while continuing the mission is crucial.
Always Teaching Others
A good transition begins with a good culture—and the military culture is a learning culture. Because we work in a dangerous business with a highly mobile workforce, we’re always teaching someone else to do our jobs, and we’re culturally primed to think about how to hand off our work to our successor.… Read the rest
“Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.” -Gen George Patton
Planning for greatness is very important, but just like the surfer sitting in the lineup at some point you have to actually drop in and ride the waves. For leaders, this idea means we have to implement the plans we make. Perfect plans don’t accomplish anything–implementing them does!
That surfing maxim came home to me in the deserts of Kuwait of all places. January 2003 was cold and wet in Kuwait. We’d been planning for months and now it was “go” time.… Read the rest
“I don’t know whether this is the best of times or the worst of times, but I assure you it’s the only time you’ve got.” – Art Buchwald
Standing in front of the assembled group of more than 150 staff to tell them they were being reorganized–again–was a little daunting to say the least. Everyone was clearly nervous about the change, but the leadership team assured them we would seize this latest change as an opportunity. However, embracing the change and looking for opportunities to make that change work for us was key to turning a potential disaster into success. Using a three step process we turned the reorg into an opportunity to chart our own future.… Read the rest