Thursday, September 06, 2007

Leadership Lessons: Piloting in Turbulent Times

Author: Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

The pace of change impacting the insurance industry has never been greater. From consolidations, mergers, and acquisitions to re-engineering profit centers, creating new product lines and calming a variety of stakeholders, managers are faced with what often appears to be turbulent situations. And with turbulence comes the fact that colleagues and staff experience anxiety. Performance levels drop. Morale suffers. And all are the off-shoot of fear.

The following vignette offers practical lessons for handling the fear and resultant anxiety that come with unexpected and unwanted change. While this true-life situation occurred in the clouds, the concepts are very much grounded in reality. Its lessons can be carried into the office, the field, or the home.


Sunny skies, light winds, and gentle surf started yet another lovely Spring day in Southern California. Full of optimism, I boarded a flight bound for New Orleans by way of Denver and a major speaking engagement.

I never made it.

Snow intervened in Denver, delaying our 747 while nozzles spewed chemicals onto the wings. The captain explained the procedure as he walked back into the cabin to visually inspect the coating. Once airborne, he told us we'd hear the landing gear go down for a second time as they checked the mechanics. Finally off to New Orleans on Flight #1180.


A freak series of severe thunderstorms blew in from Texas, causing considerable jolting and bucking. The captain's voice, calm and deliberate, explained each deviation as he attempted to discover a better routing. We couldn't even get close. "I'm an old captain, not a bold captain", he explained when he announced we'd be diverting to Birmingham, Alabama. The passengers literally applauded his honesty and his concern for our safety while we all silently and not-so-silently moaned our fate.

The only trouble with the landing was that, for all intent and purpose, the airport was closed. No jetway, no baggage handlers, merely the last remnants of a night staff. The captain's voice informed us he'd be coming through the jet, out the back stairs, and expected us to wait until his return at which time he'd tell us the next steps in our journey. Birmingham was not this carrier's hub.

One hundred-fifty people, many with small children, listened patiently when he returned and explained the exiting procedure from the aircraft, where we'd lodge, and when we'd meet and "have another go at it" in the morning. Not one whimper or angry outburst arose. And true to his word, we all assembled after little sleep, no food, and for many, no change of clothes. We had now bonded in the experience and called out to one another, laughing and sometimes gasping as the still rocky air finally parted enough to bring us into New Orleans.

I lost significant income on that flight but I gained a strong metaphor for leadership principles in times of crisis and change. What the captain and crew engendered, by their behavior, was confidence and trust.

The word 'trust" serves as an acronym for understanding exactly what happened on this trip and what all leaders must do in today's turbulent business environment.

T: Tell the truth and reveal feelings. Information abounded on Flight #1180. People deserve and need plenty of information about what's happening, why it's happening, and what are the next steps-- even if those next steps are to stop, take stock, and develop the next plan of attack. And the information has to be immediate. Waiting while the rumor mill churns out various versions of "the truth" creates anxiety, second-guessing, and sometimes panic. None of these are conducive for productivity or morale. Respond quickly, honestly to every rumor that surfaces. Create a "heat sheet" (e-mail and hard copy) that can serve as a one-page update on rumors.

Notice that the captain also admitted that he was "old not bold". Consider this the more truthful equivalent of the oft-mocked phrase "I feel your pain". The captain didn't like this hair-raising flight any more than we did—and he acted upon that feeling after trying many measures. Leaders are not invincible. Employees can identify with this statement and also become reassured that the leader is not going to do anything foolhardy to jeopardize the organization and its people. Sure, he knew a number of us would "take a hit", but my meeting was a small sacrifice for the overall welfare of the group. R: Respond consistently. Once the captain and crew established a reporting method, they continued with the updates. Voices never changed. A pattern of zigzagging to avoid storms was followed. Is it not true that businesses often need to consistently be inconsistent in seeking improvements, finding new markets, responding to the marketplace? Just make sure you communicate the why behind every zig and zag. Otherwise, employees will wonder who is running the company.

U: Understand your role. Be competent. Be visible. With voice as well as physical presence, the captain and crew were "out and about". In times of change and turbulence, seeing and hearing the leader is important. By walking through the cabin and putting a hand on different people's shoulders, he reassured passengers. The captain also invited people to stay with him and talk about the flight if anyone was concerned. In times of change and crisis, it is vital that leaders be seen and available for questions and feedback. Too often, the leader meets only with senior people or disappears behind closed doors. Get out and about.

S: See people as trustworthy. Share the experience. The captain stated what he would do and that he expected us to follow his instructions. He basically said, "I trust you to do what is right for yourselves and each other." If a leader wants to be trusted, that presumption must also be present.

The captain also didn't spend the night in the Presidential Suite of a hotel. He took whatever was available—just like the rest of us. Far too often, leaders proclaim austerity measures and then exempt themselves. One client told of attending a meeting where a 10% reduction in force was announced by the company attorney because the president and his senior officers were in Augusta, attending the Masters Gold Tournament! To preserve confidence and trust, pain should be felt first and hardest at the top. The employee and customer loyalty this engenders will be invaluable when the turbulence subsides.

T: Take action. Take time to laugh. On Flight #1180, passengers were kept appraised of each action step and the results of that step, both positive and negative. Whether in the board room, the marketing department, or the cockpit, an action followed by course correction is a wise mode for handling any change or crisis.

Lastly, the captain and the crew managed to find humor in the situation. "Laughter," as Victor Borge said," is the shortest distance between people." Laughing over what cannot be controlled creates that element of bonding which is fundamental in maintaining trust. Laughter puts situations in perspective. It regains focus. It is also the canary in the mine of commerce. Gloom becomes toxic. One organization started a "frisbee memo day". Another began holding impromptu ice cream parties. Just because business is "serious" doesn't mean joy must be absent.

Test your trust quotient by putting asking what would people say about your behaviors during turbulent times. Would there be mutiny and fleeing the ship? Or would people stick with you to the next destination in the organization's journey? Let's trust they would.

© 1995 by Eileen McDargh. All rights reserved. Reprints must include byline, contact information and copyright.

About the author: Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE, is an international speaker, author and seminar leader. Her book 'Work for A Living and Still Be Free to Live' is also the title of one of her most popular and upbeat programs on Work/Life Balance. For more information on Eileen and her presentations, please call 949-496-8640 or visit her web site at

Help Wanted -New Business Leadership required to jumpstart the American Economy

Author: Denis Orme

Help Wanted -New Business Leadership Styles and Practices Needed To Build Confidence and Jump-Start the Economy.

By: Denis Orme _________________________________________________________________ _____________

America's help wanted ad should read, ""New business leadership needed to build confidence and jump-start the economy. Only those willing to replace stale management styles need apply.""

Business leaders are faced with an unpredictable and frightening economic scenario - one they've never experienced before. First came the crash of 2000, followed by the recent terrorist attacks, frightening investors and crippling the financial nerve center of our country.

Even before recent events American business had been in a twelve-month economic decline.

Each year for the last five years over 45,000 corporate bankruptcies have impacted on the lives of over a million people annually.

Add to that the permanent loss of over 1,000,000 manufacturing jobs since 1999 and USA businesses face serious restructuring in this new one-world market.

Right sizing and scaling down are now normal business tactics. Over 800,000 Pink slips have replaced signing bonuses of just a year or so ago and many businesses are ""encouraging"" employees to use up vacation days or work 4-day workweeks.

No one ever downsized to greatness.

Politicians have their hands full defending our rights. They need the help of strong, innovative senior executive teams and CEO's to rebuild America's confidence and jump-start the economy now.

To do that a new breed of business leader is needed. Old management techniques need to be replaced with new leadership skills and business acumen. Traditional Business Planning Doesn't Work

Too often executives tinker with, add to, or subtract from last year's plan. If you want more of the same, just do more of the same. If you had a poor or mediocre result then all you will get is a similar mediocre result. Looking forward, even if you had a good result, incremental planning will now produce a poor result because the economy has stalled, and recovery is not predicted until mid-2002.

In my direct experience and in observing the planning process in hundreds of companies, an incremental approach to planning occurs just all too often and the approach provides self-limiting outcomes.

The approach is self-limiting in that assumptions (too often based on perception and not fact) are made and self-imposed constraints follow.

Additionally, organizations go through life-cycles, just like the life-cycles people experience.

However, often senior management is not aware of the company's life-cycle stage. If the stage is recognized, management may be unable to get the organization back to the flexibility of a much younger, healthier, growing organization.

Just as a family owned business must successfully transition from the founder to other family members, so too must organizations transition successfully through changes in leadership, economic shifts, or culture in order to get the organization on to a new growth cycle. This requires a vibrant leadership vision, new goal-driven strategies, and implementation of that vision by building and retaining high-performance teams.

However, it is difficult to change an organization. The culture you have today evolved over an extended period and changing it will require a sustained commitment. If you relax, the culture will slip right back to the starting point.

Any transition typically causes conflict that must be managed. Often the organization may not be able to transition effectively without intervention from an outside influence or from the occurrence of a triggering event.

The risk is that without change, you will lose your more dynamic people, lose market share and, unfortunately, in some cases, the organization may die. I have presided over the dissolution of several entities that were unable to make the transition.

Much of the thinking we do is incremental in nature. For example, in business you spend a lot of time reviewing where you are relative to where you have come from, and also spend a considerable amount of energy benchmarking yourselves against your competitors.

While an incremental approach is human nature, it is also self-limiting because as assumptions are made, self-imposed constraints follow.

The Greenfields Planning process ensures you start with a clean slate. A key element in this approach is to avoid incremental, self-limiting thinking.

The Greenfields Approach is straightforward:

· If you were starting this Business or Business Unit today, would you do business the same way?

· If you would not do things the same way, then why are you doing it that way now?

If you are looking for a quantum difference in your business then the planning process should not commence with incremental, self-limiting thinking. Determination of actual constraints or finding ways to work around perceived constraints are the final stage in the planning process #6 - Implementation Action Items. The Greenfields planning process has six key elements to be explored in the context of your business, and it is now time to start rethinking your business and developing plans which need to deliver sustained high-performance results. The planning process is rigorous, urgent, and driven by Results-Based Leaders.

Remember, it is planning without constraint.

1.SITUATION ANALYSIS - Ensure broad participation in the completion of a detailed Situation Analysis to identify all areas in your organization requiring major review and change.

Note that an organization in decline will typically have low-growth or no-growth expectations.

Many of those in the organization will be less likely to want to even attempt to change or recapture market share and will reward those who 'follow and don't rock the boat.' Generally, these organizations are more interested in retaining internal relationships than taking personal risks usually associated with change.

Accordingly, in those cases it will be important to form a more objective Venture Team to carry out the Situational Analysis.

How do you complete a Situational Analysis?

Determine those five or six Critical Success Factors - critical to the success of your organization or functions within your organization, including typical Strategic Plan elements: Market Research and the Opportunity for market share gains; Marketing & Sales; Production & Distribution; R & D; Finance - [new month-by month Cashflow and Profit Forecasting required]; Human Resources; Organizational design & General Management.

In order to determine if they are critical, ask the question, ""If this function or task is not done well will there be a major negative impact on our business result or the functions supporting our business?"" If the answer is 'Yes,' then this should be considered a Critical Success Factor.

Always complete a month-by-month twelve to eighteen month forward projection of both cashflow and profits. Without it you will not know how much time you have to effect change.

Additionally these tools provide an effective way to monitor your progress as you implement plans.

2.LEADERSHIP EVALUATION - Because many of the problems currently facing the organization are rooted in poor or ineffective leadership I have found it beneficial for those in key positions to complete a Leadership Self-evaluation questionnaire and be part of a 360-degree feedback evaluation process.

In my experience, and in order to get an organization on to a new growth cycle changes in leadership or leadership performance may be required. These changes are also included in implementation Action Plans.

3.ACTION PLANS - In each area of focus, outline detailed Action Plans to resolve shortcomings. Responsibility for accomplishing the task; timeline for attainment; players needed to produce the result; and the anticipated result are always contained in Greenfields Action Plans.

If Action Items require a team approach to their implementation, then the composition of the team must be identified and put in place, but remember, responsibility for achieving the result can only be delegated to one person. 4.MUTUAL TRUST - Building trust and respect around the need for change is an imperative because without it, the desired changes simply will not occur. Undertake widespread education on the need for change, and depending on the amount of time you have (i.e., how fast your business or cashflow is slipping), this education should continue over several months.

This will not be the case for those organizations in crisis, and after two or three briefings on the situation or crisis (within a few days) there should be Implementation Updates on a regular basis. In the latter case trust will occur through a combination of initial briefings and the Implementation Updates.

A willingness to trust may have been initially withheld, but once those working with you see the urgency of actions, the results and your willingness to share information, then they will start to develop trust and respect.

5.CONFLICT RESOLUTION - Wherever there is change, poor communication, uncertainty, or poor results, there will be conflict.

Poor results require successful organizations to get beyond the 'blame game' and where there is significant change, the organization must, through this Greenfields Approach, provide support in conflict resolution.

Conflict is healthy when it is channeled towards producing the desired result towards a common goal. That result must be beneficial to the organization and those associated with it, rather than being rooted in the self-interest of just one person.

Another frequent cause of conflict relates to personality or leadership style differences.

Regardless of personality differences or leadership styles it is not just a question of resolving the conflict, but how it is resolved that becomes important.

Wherever possible during conflict resolution mutual respect should be retained, or if this is not possible, work team reassignment may provide the only alternative to retaining an effective implementation program.

6.IMPLEMENTATION COMMITMENT - You have now completed the Greenfields Planning Process without constraint, but as you know all organizations operate with some form of constraint, whether it be cashflow, not having the right personnel, or even time-to-market product issues.

Implementation plans are now evaluated in the context of ""Given our specific constraints""

What is realistic? What is possible and practical?

Action Items are adopted and prioritized according to answers to these questions.

In my experience, over 90% of all plan failures relate to a lack of sustained commitment to implementation, with only 10% of the failures arising from poor strategies contained in the plan.

The Greenfields approach will deliver Action Plans to facilitate the rapid turnaround of your organization and provides you with an effective interim plan. Short-term successes give validity to your overall plan and provide the time required for more sustained implementation through a cultural shift.

Implementation Plans must be managed and require not just the weight of key leaders behind them, but their active commitment and participation.

Without continued open communication and the sustained commitment of your senior management group then the desired results simply will not occur.

After several months of effective implementation, you will be in a position to add the dimension of more long-term thinking to your planning process.

If you want to do something better, then under the Greenfields approach you had better do something different.

If you want to do something different then you had better change your behavior.

Have you: i.Created a sense of Urgency? ii.Created and over communicated your organization's future vision? iii.Built a guiding coalition around that Vision? iv.Provided the opportunity for short-term wins? v.Provided a process to anchor changes in a new corporate culture?

By adopting and implementing the Greenfields Planning method, and by changing your leadership style and performance, you have now set the course for a profitable sustainable long-term business result.

Remember, while you are implementing change the economy will shift further, the market will move, but most of all your people will need strong centrally directed leadership (not autocratic management) to keep the focus and achieve the result.

Based upon today's economy and the prognosis until mid-2002 isn't it time for you to act?

About the author: Denis Orme Is CEO of the Leadership Success Institute, Inc. He has consulted to more than 200 international organizations - from startups to Fortune 500 companies and Government entities.

He is author of the new book Lessons From Leadership Failures: The Greenfields Approach.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Unlocking Organizational Value Through Leadership

Author: Brent Filson

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to:

Word count: 717

Summary: The author asserts that most organizations have a great deal of value locked away and thus unused. Through misguided leadership, they neglect to tap the deep reservoirs of their members' motivation, talents and skills. Here is a surprisingly simple and powerful way to make unlock that value both on an organizational level and personal level.

Unlocking Organizational Value Through Leadership. By Brent Filson

For more than two decades, in many ways, in many forums, with thousands of leaders, I've taught that organizational results are limitless.

Those leaders who don't understand this don't understand the soul of leadership. When I say ""soul"", I don't mean it in a religious sense, but in a human sense, and not as a static entity but as a fundamental process that manifests the value inherent in all organizations. The soul of leadership is that which triggers and guides the best organizational activities to achieve the best results.

However, there is another soul at work here. It is the leadership soul of the individual leader. Again, I am not using the word in a religious sense but in a human sense, and as a fundamental process that manifests the human value inherent in each individual leader.

The leadership soul of the leader is that inner strength and commitment an individual draws on in order to carry out the activities of the soul of leadership.

Mind you, I am not counting angels on the head of a pin. The difference between the soul of leadership and the leadership soul of the individual leader is not a philosophical fine distinction. The difference may not be readily apparent, but it is manifest, and it is decisive. It's a difference most leaders and their organizations are not aware of -- to their detriment. The soul of leadership looks outward, the leadership soul of the individual looks inward. Working in tandem, both outer and inner directed activities can notably increase the effectiveness of your leadership. When both the soul of leadership and the leadership soul unite, great things can happen.

That's where limitless results come in. Most organizations have far more value locked up than their leaders realize. Those organizations consistently fail to tap the deep reservoirs of their members motivation, talent and skills. After all, most members of most organizations want to do well. In fact, in each organization, the members, naturally and collectively, represent an on-rushing current of ardent commitment to succeed. However, through misguided leadership, leadership that is tyrannical and micro-managing, leadership that coerces rather than motivates, that current can be blocked, impeding results.

The blockage occurs when leaders focus exclusively on ordering the establishment of surface drivers such as sales and marketing activities, logistical dynamics, organizational strategies and tactics, financial strategies and tactics, human resource undertakings, and the like -- what business schools teach.

Clearly, the surface drivers are necessary in realizing the value an organization possesses, but they're not sufficient. In focusing exclusively on the above drivers, leaders often neglect the deepest and most important realm of all, the realm which largely determines the success or failure of the organization, the realm of human relationships -- what business schools don't teach.

For example, I'm sure you've heard of the classic case of the railroads of the mid-20th century neglecting to understand they were in the transportation business and losing out to airlines in the passenger market. Railroad leaders did a fair to middling job of dealing with sales, logistics, administration, etc. But their hierarchical, top-down management structures and culture that viewed their employees much like rail cars to be pushed and pulled here and there, probably prevented them tapping into the immense collective value of those employees. If the employees had been empowered, motivated and unleashed, they would have brought a richer vision of market dynamics to railroads that could have forestalled their decline.

On the other hand, I know of a company that has consistently tapped into the strengths of its employees. In the 1930s, they were in the tea bag business. However, they didn't see themselves in the tea bag business but in the materials' business. As markets kept changing, their offerings kept changing and today, their tea bag paper products have morphed into hi-tech thermoplastics. They couldn't have done it without tapping into the value of their employees. There are many ways to unlock value in an organization. Those are not the purview of this article. The main point I'm making is about the leadership soul of the leader and unlocking its value. Just as the results-potential of organizations are limitless, so the interior of each leader is a limitless world of value.

To unlock the value within an organization, leaders must unlock the leadership value within themselves.

What is this leadership value? It is the value you have simply being a human being. All human beings have a powerful capacity for transformation because they possess an innate capacity to direct a strong sense of determination and action in whatever direction they choose.

Furthermore, humans also have an powerful capacity to form and manifest deep, transforming relationships. And it is in the on-going transforming of relationships that you find and unlock the leadership value within yourself.

How do you unlock the value inherent in your organization and in yourself? Fortunately, there is a simple, powerful tool to do that. I call it the Leadership Imperative: ""I will lead people in such a way that we not only get results but grow as leaders and human beings.""

Make this principle live in your daily actions, and you'll be unlocking and unleashing great organizational value -- as well as great value in your career and your life.

2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

About the author: The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. For more than 21 years, he has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: ""49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results,"" at ht

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Author: Craig Lock

Are you a leader of men (and women)? At least, do you believe that you have leadership potential? Do you WANT to be a leader, or a follower?

If you want to be a ""'great' leader of men"", here are a few thoughts on the qualities needed. When we think of the word leader, we usually immediately think of the concept of POWER. Your great passion might be to become a leader. It will certainly give you power - not within yourself necessarily, but over others. (Do you have a ""Napoleon complex"" - to lead ""for it's own sake"", perhaps?). To be a leader, first you must really WANT to. A great DESIRE is the key here. You must be really ""hungry"" for the position and pursue leadership with great determination - with all the means at your disposal. That is, using all your powers, qualities (see below) and potential. With a strong DESIRE you will, as long as you have the following personal leadership qualities:

1. Unwavering courage.

2. Self control.

3. Always keeping a sense of justice (and fairness) towards others.

4. Definiteness of decisions.

5. Definiteness of plans (purpose). A leader then works their plan by putting it into ACTION.

6. Leaders have a habit of doing more than they are paid for. Effort and sacrifice gets them to a position of authority in the first place.

7. A pleasing personality. People LIKE the people they follow... and will do anything for great inspiring leaders (even to death).

8. Empathy, sympathy and understanding. As the Spanish (and my dear mother) would say, ""being 'sympatico'"" towards other people, by taking their feelings into consideration. This is the difference between ""thinkers"" and ""feelers"". Thinkers are logical, analytical types, who usually do well in business. Feelers, like me, are far more emotional and creative people (""unbalanced"" perhaps?). What type of person are you?

9. Mastery of detail. I'm hopeless on that one. I'm a ""grand picture person"", who has no idea of the number of bolts needed to build my bridge. I would never walk on it after finishing it anyway!

10. Willingness to assume full responsibility for one's decisions - no matter what may go wrong!

11. Co-operation (full) with others in seeing one's plans, the grand vision come to fruition.

12. Leaders are PASSIONATE people. Eliminating options will help you find your passion, your niche in life by initially pointing you in the right direction. I've been using the process of elimination for years and years and I'm slowly getting there. At least I think so!

If you don't know your passion, knowing what you don't want is a step in the right direction. I've worked out, that I don't really want to be a ""leader"" - preferring ""to do my own thing"" in writing books, that will ""reach out, touch and hopefully even inspire"" others. That is ""me"" and what I believe to be my ""calling in life"".


So after reading all that, you still want to become a leader. Good! You're a brave person who will go far; because, I believe, there is a definite lack of ""quality inspirational leadership"" in today's societies - throughout the world!

Whether you want to be a follower...or a leader...

Just be YOU and be happy

About the author: Craig Lock Creative Writing Course Craig's various books*(hard copies, CD's and e-books) are available at: and

Monday, September 03, 2007

Leadership Secrets From Foreign Penguins

Author: David Leonhardt

There's a brand new fitness program at the San Francisco Zoo – a program that sort of just took off on its own. This fitness program is for the birds, but it carries a leadership lesson for all of us.

The birds are penguins. Penguins are supposed to swim. In fact, 46 penguins at the San Francisco zoo have been taking regular dips in the pool to cool off and keep their feathers sleek. Ah, ain't life grand. Lie around, eat, swim, rest, eat, swim, relax, eat, swim.

Until six ""bodybuilder"" penguins moved in from Ohio. The newcomers jumped into the pool and swam. And swam. And swam. In fact, those six penguins kept swimming laps all day long. Day after day. They must have been using a very effective antiperspirant.

The newcomers would start early in the morning and keep swimming in circles until they would ""stagger"" out of the pool at dusk. What is most amazing, though, is that the six penguins have convinced the other 46 to join them. Hitherto ""society"" penguins are now swimming the whole day through like commoners.

I don't speak ""penguin"" very well, but I think I overheard the following conversation:

""C'mon, what are you, a penguin or a rock?""

""Why, I'm a penguin, of course.""

""You don't look like a penguin. All you do is sit around like a rock.""

""That's not true. I swim ... sometimes.""

""Ha! A true penguin swims all day long. Pepperoni!"" SPLASH!!

""Hey. I'm a real penguin, too.""

""Who you shouting at, Percy?""

""That swimmer with too much adrenaline in his feathers. He says I'm not a real penguin because I don't eggplant enough.""

""Oh, yeah? We'll show him, won't we, Percy?""

""You bet! Uh, how?""

""By out-swimming the showoff penguins."" SPLASH!!""

""Oh, oh. I guess I better get swimming right creamy teacups."" SPLASH!!

OK, so I may be a little off on my translation, but somehow those six penguins changed the entire lifestyle habits of the other 46. The zookeeper is reported by the wire service to have said, ""We've completely lost control."" The wire story quotes an aquatic biologist as saying she would be more surprised if the six had taught the other 46 how to jump through hoops – something few penguins do in the wild with any success.

The point is not that the 46 penguins have learned to swim, which they had always been doing as a leisurely pastime, but that they are now in full aquatic stampede mode ... and that they were convinced by the other six to change their entire lifestyle. How did the six penguins do it?

Well, I was suspicious about penguins that come from Ohio. Everyone knows that penguins come from Antarctica. Last I could recall, Ohio was nowhere near Antarctica. Sure, it's cold in Ohio this time of year, but not THAT cold. My atlas confirmed that Ohio is indeed still in the United States, not in Antarctica, meaning that these penguins were foreigners, perhaps victims of persecution – refugees from their homeland.

So these foreign penguins have come in and motivated the local penguins to live up to their full ... ah ... penguinhood. What an accomplishment! And what great lessons we can learn from this.

Lesson number one: don't be afraid to try new things and accept outside influences.

Lesson number two: be a penguin not a rock (unless, of course, you are a rock).

And lesson number three: don't give up. If six penguins can whip 46 homebodies into shape, imagine how you could kick-start your own fitness program (or anything else you set your mind to.)

About the author: David Leonhardt is The Happy Guy, publisher of ""Your Daily Dose of Happiness"" at and author of Climb your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness at

Sunday, September 02, 2007

EI, Not IQ, Is The Key to Outstanding Leadership Performance

Author: Manya Arond-Thomas

Does your executive team work at cross-purposes? Are you successfully executing your vision? If you are struggling to take your leadership or your organization to a higher level of performance, you may be unaware of the power of emotional competence as a performance differentiator. Several decades of research in Emotional Intelligence (EI) have demonstrated that EI is what differentiates outstanding performers from average performers.

While technical skill and cognitive ability are essential competency areas for leaders, emotional intelligence has been shown to be twice as important in outstanding performance as the other two competencies combined! In fact, 80-90% of the difference between outstanding and average leaders is linked to EI. The abilities that drive successful execution of vision – motivating, guiding, inspiring, listening, persuading, and creating resonance – are emotional competencies. If you want exceptional business results, you should assess your EI or your team's EI, for these are abilities that can be developed.

What is emotional intelligence? Dr. Daniel Goleman, a thought leader in the field, defines it as "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships." Thus, emotional competence integrates thought and emotion.

There are four domains of emotional intelligence - self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management – within which are eighteen competencies that have been identified as differentiating characteristics in outstanding performers. Effective relationship management is at the heart of great leadership but self-awareness is considered the linchpin for developing the other three domains. Emotionally intelligent leadership, then, builds up from a foundation of self-awareness.

Furthermore, a leader's EI creates a certain culture or work environment. Organizational research done by the Hay Group, co-creators of the Emotional Competence Inventory (a 360 assessment of EI), discovered that "EI is electricity through wires....the leader's mood is quite literally contagious, spreading quickly and inexorably throughout the business." Feelings and emotions have a direct impact on effectiveness, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line.

Leaders need to understand that their single most important task is to create resonance. Put another way, they must create a positive emotional environment that frees the best in people. Climate, or how employees feel about working in the organization, accounts for 20-30% of business performance; and 50-70% of how employees perceive their organization's climate can be traced to the actions of one person - the leader.

How does this translate to the bottom line? In one study, experienced partners in a multinational consulting firm were assessed on the EI competencies plus three others. Those who scored above the median on 9 or more of the 21 competencies delivered $1.2 million more profit from their accounts than did other partners – a 139 percent incremental gain. Another study of 130 executives found that how well people handled their emotions determined how much people around them preferred to deal with them.

Harnessing Emotional Intelligence for High-Performing Teams

With the complexity of problems facing health care leaders, collaboration and the ability to synthesize divergent points of view are needed more than ever if we are to solve these problems. Because most work in organizations today is done by teams, there is a pressing need to make teams work together better.

Research has demonstrated the superiority of group decision-making over that of even the brightest individual in the group, except when the group lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate. Then decision-making quality and speed suffer. When people feel good, they work more effectively, and are more creative. Common sense tells us that workers who feel upbeat will go the extra mile to please customers and therefore improve the bottom line.

To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms that support behaviors for building trust, group identity and group efficacy - three conditions essential to a team's effectiveness. Norms that foster group EI involve: courageously bringing feelings out in the open and dialoguing about how they affect the team's work, using humor to defuse tense situations, the willingness to explore and expose unhealthy work habits in order to build more effective group norms and performance, and behaving in ways that build relationships both inside and outside the team. In self-aware, self-managing teams, members hold each other accountable for sticking to norms.

However, it is the leader's job to instill a sense of responsibility in each person for the well-being of the team. It takes a strong emotionally intelligent leader to hold the team to such responsibility. An emotionally competent leader who is skilled in creating good feelings can keep cooperation high. Good team leaders know how to balance the focus on productivity with attention to members' relationships and their ability to connect.

How Do You Build an Emotionally Intelligent Organization?

In addition to specific emotional competencies, there are certain Rules of Engagement that help to create a resonant, emotionally intelligent, and effective culture: 1. Discover the emotional reality of the organization.

2. Slow down in order to speed up – talk to people at all levels and find out about systems and culture.

3. Start at the top with a bottom-up strategy, engaging all the representative stakeholders who in any way impact the patient-customer interface, and learn about what's working and what's not working. Then create a whole-system conversation in which all the stakeholders who need to be in the conversation are in the room and talk about what needs to happen to move things forward.

4. Create a preferred future, with an energizing vision to which employees can bring their best selves.

5. Sustain emotional intelligence by turning the vision into action, creating systems or processes that promote emotionally intelligent behavior.

Matters of emotion are typically dismissed as the "soft" stuff, yet in reality emotional competence is the "hard" stuff. Developing EI is well worth the effort, for emotional competence is what sets the best leaders and the best teams apart from the rest.

(c) Copyright 2003 Manya Arond-Thomas All Rights Reserved.

About the author: Manya Arond-Thomas, M.D., a principal of Encompass Health, coaches physicians, healthcare executives, and teams aspiring to build competence in the skills required to lead organizations in turbulent times. Contact her at (734) 480-1932 or Subscribe to Emotional Intelligence at Work

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Sink Or Swim Approach To Leadership

Author: Lora J. Adrianse

Looking around in most corporate environments today you'll find mission, vision and values statements proudly displayed on the walls, in print materials and even engraved in granite. Often, they've invested a great deal of time; effort and expense in crafting just the right message to best describe the foundational principles of the company. I can't help but stop, take notice; and then wonder how this foundational wisdom is incorporated into the day-to-day operations. What's in it for the operational leaders to carry out the mission in ways that align with the vision and values? How are they taught to walk the talk?

Many operational leaders today were developed and promoted from inside the ranks of the organization. In fact, most internally developed leaders were promoted without consideration of the potential to lead and inspire others. They're ""crowned"" with a title and thrown into the corporate waters to sink or swim. Those that swim have enough stamina to figure out what it takes to stay above water. Those that sink are simply in over their heads and can't find a way to surface for air.

I can't help but wonder how the ""sink or swim"" approach fits into those mission, vision and values statements. The new leaders who are trying to learn on their own without a coach or a trainer take longer, make more avoidable mistakes and often lose their motivation and enthusiasm. Multiply that by the number of their direct reports and the equation becomes an issue that's costing the organization dearly.

If your organization is one that values development and promotion from within the ranks, make a commitment today to establish a new process, and most of all provide the support and training to ensure success. The future leadership within your company depends on it.

About the author: Lora J Adrianse is the owner of Essential Connections. She is a Coach, Consultant and Facilitator who specializes in the development managers and business owners. She recently left a long-term corporate career to focus on her passion for helping others bring out the best in themselves through the use of Emotional Intelligence. She can be reached through her website