Leadership Rules

A Job or a Responsibility?

I am currently reading Jim Collin's book How the Mighty Fall. A must read for any leader. A must read for any employee.  Collins lays out five principles for why the mighty fall, based on research done by his amazing team in their Boulder, CO research "bunker." His second principle on why the mighty fall is "the undisciplined pursuit of more." In this chapter, he talks at length about making sure you have the right people on your team, which is crucial to making sure you are staying on track and disciplined as an organization. 

As he writes, "any exceptional enterprise depends first and foremost upon having self-managed and self-motivated people- the #1 ingredient for a culture of discipline.... If you have the right people, who accept responsibility, you don't need to have a lot of senseless rules and mindless bureaucracy..... When bureaucratic roles erode an ethic of freedom and responsibility within a framework of core values and demanding standards, you've become infected with the disease of mediocrity." 

Wow. The right people on the team vs. the wrong people on the team. And as Collins states, a notable distinction between the wrong person and the right person is the way they view their role in the organization. The wrong person sees their role as a "job," while the right person sees their role as a set of "responsibilities." It is not about your job title, but more about your personal sense of ownership.

"I'm the one person ultimately responsible for X and Y. When I look to the left, to the right, to the front, in back, there is no one ultimately responsible but me. And I accept that responsibility." 

This is what you want your key people saying. A crucial ingredient to creating a culture of discipline within your organization.

Being Creative

Creating an environment for "being creative" takes work. It takes energy and preparation. You don't just show up and flip the creative switch on immediately. There is a reason that certain groups and organizations are ultimately more creative than others- it's because they are on purpose when it comes to creating the right kind of environment for creativity. They are intentional with creating the creative environment.

Here at Catalyst, we are very intentional about our creative process. It's part of our DNA. See this post from last year about "turning ideas into reality."

When it comes to creating the right kind of environment, we've established some "rules" (suggested behavior) for our "creative" meetings:

1. set the expectations for the meeting up front. be very clear, even if there are no rules.

2. there is no bad answer

3. "yes, and" and never "no or but"

4. respect everyone's participation and their thoughts- no one can dominate the conversation

5. allow for movement- standing up, walking, sitting down, whatever works for people- especially those with shorter attention spans!

6. provide creative "extras", such as toys, sports items, collectives, visual effects and other "enhancers"

7. Take mental breaks every 30-40 minutes, and physical breaks every 90 minutes

8. take VERY detailed notes. capture everything. gotta have a dedicated notetaker.

9. always allow for rabbit trails, but have a facilitator who keeps things moving.

10. Keep the fun meter above 50%. If it drops below that, stop and re-establish the fun factor. 

Hopefully these are helpful as you create in your own environments.....

The Millenial Worker

A good friend asked me the other day my thoughts on how to lead the millenial generation, basically those born after 1980. We gather thousands of leaders who fit in this category on an annual basis, have several on our staff, and really gear what we do towards an early stage millenial/late stage gen X'er. 
So what are some thoughts on leading Millenials? 
  1. give them freedom with their schedule
  2. provide them projects, not a career
  3. work, family, social are all intertwined, so make sure the work environment is experiential and family oriented. 
  4. tie in compassion/justice oriented causes and opportunities to their projects or environment
  5. embrace social media.
  6. embrace the reality that they grew up with technology such as texting, XBox, laptops, and ipods as the norm
  7. lead each person uniquely; don't create standards or rules that apply to everyone; customize your approach
  8. provide authenticity and honesty as the norm for the corporate culture.
  9. millenials are not necessarily interested in “climbing the corporate ladder” but instead interested in making a mark and making a difference
  10. not willing to wait- want to make a difference now; so give them opportunities early with major responsibility. 

Leadership Lessons from Band of Brothers

It's Memorial Day weekend, and the History Channel is showing all of the episodes from the award-winning Band of Brothers series, an HBO film series created back in 2001 with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as Executive Producers.  One of my favorite movie series of all time.

In the series, part of the main storyline is the leadership of Captain Dick Winters. He is a straight laced Quaker, starts out as a lieutenant, continues to progress in leadership as a Captain and then Major, who leads well and wins over the hearts of his company, E Company, otherwise known as EZ Co., part of the 101st Airborne. 

There are several lessons from the series and from the individual story of Captain Winters and his tour of duty during World War II worth mentioning.

1. Leaders lead the way. They make the right decisions, and even if it is not the right decision, they are always decisive. Always.

2. Leaders seek to understand and have empathy for the people who follow them.

3. A leader is always first. They never send someone else in their place. And no job is "below" a leader. Especially in battle.

4. Those you lead always come first. No matter what. And because of this, your team will follow you anywhere. 

5. Leaders follow the rules unless circumstances deem necessary to not. 

6. Leaders invest in their long term team players. And trust them implicitly. In the case of EZ Co. and the US Army, it was the NCO's, or non-commissioned officers. These were basically "middle management" and the key to maintaining morale and focus with the troops. 

If you haven't taken time to watch this series, do yourself a favor and watch this weekend or go out and rent or buy it.