In the card game of poker, a bluff is a bet or raise made with a hand, which is not thought to be a winner. The objective of a bluff is to induce a fold by the opponents who hold the better hands. The size and frequency of a bluff determines its profitability to the bluffer. By extension, the term is often used outside the context of poker as in leadership to describe the act of making promises one cannot execute. Having the pokers bluff in mind as it relates to the behaviors of leadership, strategy and execution, I couldn’t help but to think about the hallmarks of change – disruption and the use of Crisis Leadership as a means of disrupting incumbent marketplace decisions.Read More›
So you write, produce and star in a hit TV sitcom, what do you do next?
If you are comedian Louis CK you walk away. As he told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, “I wanted the show to feel new again. I felt like I did three seasons that were all one spurt, and that felt good and I wanted to forget the show, so I took time to forget about it. I aggressively forgot the show existed for a few months.”
Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?
Legend – as well as Shakespeare — has it that Henry II said something to this effect in fit of pique directed toward his one-time good friend and loyal civil servant Thomas a Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. The King was vexed over Becket’s refusal to subjugate church authority to the state and Henry sought to limit Becket’s influence. In time, Henry’s henchmen travel to Canterbury thinking they are doing the King a favor and slay Becket in the cathedral.
I cite Henry’s behavior frequently in my coaching with senior executives as a means of cautioning them to watch their words. Its theme resonates today in the unfolding drama of Governor Chris Christie and traffic jams near the Fort Lee entrance to the George Washington Bridge. At the moment it appears as if loyal aides conjured up the traffic jam as a means of getting back at the mayor of Fort Lee who was not a supporter of the governor in his re-election bid last fall. One of whom, Bridget Anne Kelly, his deputy, has been axed.
Marissa Mayer is in trouble. Information recently spilled through the Yahoo firewall that she is habitually late. Evidently she has the tardy gene, a degenerative marker that becomes symptomatic with a little authority and can become chronic with a lot.
She is not alone; many bosses do things they shouldn’t when they can. In fact, more authority makes many people less responsible. But to be fair, managing time is a difficult task that increases exponentially with each promotion. Regardless, senior executives who cannot manage themselves are incredibly disruptive to their organizations and the best leaders work hard to get it right.Read More›
“Beware how you take away hope from another human being.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
This week, the Miami Dolphins stole headlines from their NFL competitors. Unfortunately for the league, the Dolphins, and the rest of us, the way their players talk and not the way they play invited the scrutiny. Words are unique to the human condition and the thread that connects us to this quilt of humanity. The right words strengthen; the wrong words fray.
The problem became public when a player left the team after a more experienced player and designated leader spoke, wrote, and broadcasted words that were both demeaning and threatening. A handful of players and observers have reminded those who sit outside the lines that theirs is a warrior’s world where toughness matters and where words like those are just part of the language of toughness.Read More›
If you ever wonder why we’re in a crisis of leadership all you have to do is to watch and listen to those in positions of leadership. While there are clearly many aspects of leadership that must work together in harmony in order for leaders to be effective, everything breaks down when leaders don’t understand how to engage effectively.
Let’s start with what leadership is not: Leadership is not a monologue, a speech, a lecture or a filibuster. Leadership is not talking at or over people. Leadership is not sequestered, does not live in a bubble or operate in a vacuum. Leadership is not exclusive or arrogant. Leadership is not about the leader.
Corporate America’s dependency on consulting firms is nothing short of substance abuse in the purest form. The fact is most CEOs suffer from this very dangerous addiction and they don’t even know it – they are clearly in need of an intervention.
Addicts don’t often admit they have a problem. They tend to rationalize and justify their behavior as normal. Here’s the thing – normal doesn’t always mean admirable or correct. In fact, normal most often means mediocre. Just as addicts are in constant search of a quick fix, misguided CEOs are in search of a perceived easy solution. It’s easier to throw money at the symptom rather than do the work to solve the problem. Don’t look for the easy solution – look for the correct solution.
“Creating an undesired stalemate is the height of stupidity.”
This anonymous quote sums up how many feel about the political stalemate that has shut down the federal government. The American people are frustrated, and even downright angry, that representatives they elected – and pay for through their taxes – act more like middle-school brats than responsible adults. Anger aside, the real question is: what do we do next?
While today’s column could focus solely on the government shutdown or various components thereof, a lack of leadership isn’t just a problem in the United States; it’s a global problem. It’s also much more than an indictment on global politics; it’s a systemic problem that pervades every level of society. I don’t think there’s much debate the world is ensnarled in a crisis of leadership. The question becomes what do we do about it?
When I’d consider following someone down a dangerous path in my formative years, my Mother would ask: “Would you jump off a cliff just because he did?” More than once, I earned a lecture about thinking for myself and leading others up the high road. As a young leader, I translated that lesson into a phrase I picked up in the Army: “If it’s stupid, it’s not our policy!”Read More›
The noise around CEO term limits is loud enough, and the debate contentious enough, I felt the topic worthy of practical examination. There’s no denying every chief executive has an expiration date. There should also be no argument that prudent planning should take place around the inevitable. But never should said date of expiry be arbitrarily defined – it should be made in the moment based on the facts at hand.
If you want to know why there is a perceived crisis of leadership you have only to look at the behavior of Edward Burkhardt, president of Rail World, which owns the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MM&A) railroad. It was a runaway train owned by MM&A that destroyed the little town of Lac Megantic in early July.