Solution = Conflict + Collaboration
~ John Baldoni
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.
I have watched quietly, curiously, and with great interest the intense emotions surrounding the controversy with regard to recent comments made by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson in the January issue of GQ. In today’s column, I question whether or not there should have been a controversy at all.
I don’t want any outside help.
That comment summarizes the attitude that Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has about seeking the help of a “quarterback guru.” As Stafford said, “It’s not something that I feel would be my style or beneficial to me.”
Stafford’s indifference to seeking help puts him in the mainstream of many successful people. One of the characteristics that achievers demonstrate is an ability to go their own way and figure things out for themselves. But, as my friend Marshall Goldsmith reminds us in his book, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, too often high achievers fail at the highest level, not because of their intellect, but because of their ego. It is simply too big to allow anyone – or anything – else inside.
Failure often leads you down the road to success.
~ Joel Garfinkle
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›
I’ve always believed leadership exists to disrupt mediocrity, but I’m afraid in recent times many leaders are losing that battle. Somewhere along the way, they threw in the towel and settled for a weak-kneed, watered-down version of leadership – they have rationalized and justified themselves into an acceptance of mediocrity.
The sad reality is that in many cases, the education, training and development leaders receive today is woefully inadequate. We are producing analysts and risk managers and labeling them leaders. We’ve taught them to be practical, analytical, and risk adverse, but have failed to equip them to lead.
Is it me or has Thanksgiving been overrun by our national pastime–holiday shopping? Apparently, we are too busy to spend a single day reflecting on our blessings. It should come as no surprise; gratitude went out of fashion years ago. But more accurately, as most of us became removed from the challenge and hard work of producing our bounty, our gratitude diminished and like most things that come easily, we began to take it for granted.
This change of attitude is not just a cultural problem; it’s a leadership problem too.
As leaders, we can become removed from the team’s challenge and hard work and in turn; our gratitude can wane. We get too busy to acknowledge the hard work being done on our behalf. Perhaps our leadership gratitude has gone the way of our cultural gratitude—squeezed out by other priorities.
As a Soldier, I was lucky to lead in an Army that takes gratitude seriously. As an officer, I was empowered to express gratitude on behalf of my unit and our Nation. I could give awards for service and achievement that expressed my gratitude as well as that of the chain of command. As a general, I had the sad, sacred duty of expressing the gratitude of a grateful Nation to the loved ones of our fallen.
I have lots of experience saying thanks officially and I have witnessed the power of formal gratitude; still, no token of appreciation resonated like an unexpected, sincere and personal expression of gratitude. As my responsibilities increased, I too became removed from the challenges and hard work of my Soldiers. Yet, my rank didn’t diminish my duty to understand their sacrifice or excuse me from saying thanks. I had to make getting to the right place to say thanks in a meaningful way a standing priority. I visited people, wrote notes, called meetings, planned events and used every power at my disposal just to say thank you and you should too.
Don’t let your professional gratitude go the way of Thanksgiving—squeezed out by other priorities. The privilege of your position will only insulate you from the challenges and hard work of your team, if you let it. Keep your leadership priorities straight. Make time and take time to say thank today and every day of the year.
Follow me on Twitter @brianlayer
I do quite a bit of work on matters of board composition, selection and succession, and what I can tell you is this; board diversity is simply smart business. You’ll never hear me recommend diversity solely for the sake of checking a box, but when diversity in the boardroom offers so many benefits to the CEO (and to the entire organization) it’s nothing short of irresponsible for chief executives not to place their board composition under the microscope. In today’s column I’ll share with you the top 10 reasons why diversity is good for the boardroom.
It is important for a leader to include people in his inner circle whose power does not derive solely from the leader.
That is the gist of a comment that David Gergen offered as one of the reasons President Obama has stumbled managing some of the major challenges facing his administration, namely the launch of the Affordable Care Act and the intelligence-gathering activities of the National Security Agency.
Gergen, a veteran of four White House administrations, noted that the president’s inner circle of aides, while all very capable, owed their positions to him. While that ensures a degree of loyalty, it cannot make it easy for them to raise tough questions or challenge the president.