A Look Back …


50 Years of Me

While the rest of you were celebrating what is being termed “The Soggy Fourth” in the Midwest, I took some time out to travel north to the little town of Memphis in Scotland County up by the Iowa border.  This is farming country …

The occasion was the 50th anniversary of our high school graduation and I was there to reconnect and catch up with some very dear and “somewhat” old friends.

Some folks not as far along on the road might not appreciate how quickly 50 years can flow by, even with all the twists and turns of life.   I was a very callow young fellow in 1966, full of enthusiasm, spirit, and optimism… The times were changing.

We were a small class from a small town, by most people’s standards.   Less than 70 graduated and 16 have passed on since we burst forth with excitement after completing what I now know was a pretty good basic education.   Over 30 of us were able to join together this weekend to remember, laugh, cry, and catch up.

Class of 1966 - Tom Fender

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these folks and the evening went by far too quickly.   As I drove back to St. Louis through the dark night rain, I had ample time to think about all this  and came up with a few thoughts to share.  Some of this relates to those with whom I grew up and some of it relates more broadly to my home community.

Be warned – this is a ramble, rather than a polished essay:

WE KNOW HOW TO CONVERSE WITH EACH OTHER ….

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Guest Post: Leaders Ready Now


Leaders Ready Now bannerAnother launch week, another useful and well-written title on effective leadership development …  

This post is an excerpt from the chapter 1 of Leaders Ready Now.

 

Whom Should You Accelerate?

Of course, acceleration can dramatically energize a culture, but that’s not its principal purpose. As we mentioned at the outset, the goal of making more leaders ready now is most urgent for those businesses imperiled by inadequate or insufficient leadership. For that reason, the fear that a new system will damage the culture must be answered with a clear business case and a strong communication plan to counter perceptions of exclusion. Leaders Ready Now will outline how to make that business case and how to make choices about whom to accelerate in a way that creates positive energy in the organization. Meanwhile, having gained a consensus that acceleration is a business necessity, you can anticipate at least some of the following general acceleration needs:

CEO and C-level acceleration: Naturally, having replacement plans in place for the CEO and members of the senior team is essential; nearly every organization with more than a handful of employees has considered the issue of succession, at least at the very top. But the replacement pool may be shallow, and again, the best way to ensure a strong succession plan is to set up an Acceleration Pool to develop and prepare potential replacements long before a position becomes vacant. Accelerating the growth of a small cadre of executives who can develop readiness for these critical roles is crucial to organizational stability and success.

Executive acceleration: The most common crisis that acceleration addresses is the absence of leaders capable of taking on executive level roles. Because the responsibilities and required skills in these roles increase so dramatically, the transition represents one of the most significant and challenging jumps in the career of any leader. And because the feeder pool for these roles is often stocked with individuals several levels below the necessary levels of capability and experience, failure is common, heightening the need for effective acceleration.

Mid-level leader acceleration: Some organizations also create pools that prepare individual contributors and frontline leaders to fill mid-management roles, where much of the organization’s execution energy resides and where many organizations have trouble building strength. Because population sizes are larger, these pools tend to be built and managed somewhat differently than executive-oriented pools, often with more cadre-based learning and growth options that equip leaders with core skills to apply to the challenges of mid-level leaders.

Global/Regional/Business unit acceleration: Multinational, multibusiness, or multidivisional organizations often establish pools for each unit to meet the needs of the separate groups. In some instances these disparate pools are managed totally independently of one another; others build in review sessions to create insight into talent across boundaries and to find opportunities to share and grow leaders who have awareness and capability across the enterprise.

Critical role-acceleration efforts: Not all acceleration efforts should focus on traditional leadership roles. Many key positions are technical or functional in nature or require a unique brand of creativity or insight that gives the organization a competitive edge. These positions might require special project leaders or innovators of new concepts, products, or methods. They might have typical leadership responsibilities, or their leadership might be more nontraditional (such as thought leadership) or lateral. Acceleration efforts should target these roles as well and take a pool or individualized approach based on the nature of the role and size of the group. For example, one global social services organization established an Acceleration Pool for its Country Manager position. In another case, a technology firm cultivated the development of three high-potential players for the role of Product-Design Executive—a highly creative role without traditional leadership responsibility

Given that not everyone can (or wants to) be a leader, generating more leaders ready now requires you and your senior team to determine which individuals and groups will be the focus of your acceleration investments. Executives must make difficult choices about whom to accelerate and when. Some organizations struggle with this basic point of departure, maintaining that differential development is harmful to the culture because it excludes some people from participating. This point of view is a nonstarter, because acceleration is not an investment in the culture; it is an investment in the business.


Matthew J. Paese, Ph.D., is Vice President of Succession and C-Suite Services for Development Dimensions International (DDI). Matt’s work has centered on the application of succession, assessment, and development approaches as they apply to boards, CEOs, senior management teams, and leaders across the pipeline. He consults, coaches, speaks, and conducts research around all those topics and more.

Audrey B. Smith, Ph.D., is Senior Vice President for Global Talent Diagnostics at DDI. Audrey’s customer-driven innovation and global consulting insights have helped shape DDI’s succession, selection, and development offerings, from the C-suite to the front line. She has been a key strategist and solution architect, encompassing technology-enabled virtual assessments and development aligned to current business challenges.

William C. Byham, Ph.D., is Executive Chairman of DDI. He cofounded the company in 1970 and has worked with hundreds of the world’s largest organizations on executive assessment, executive development, and succession management. Bill authored Zapp!® The Lightning of Empowerment, a groundbreaking book that has sold more than 3 million copies. He has coauthored 23 other books, including seminal works on the assessment center method.

 

Life Goes On …


For Sale Sign - Presenter MediaYou may have noticed that this blog has been rather inactive of late …

Several good reasons exist for this and a big one is explained in some detail over at the Lead Change Group blog, as I wrestle with one of life’s “Why On Earth Did You Do That?” moments.

Check it out HERE and please feel free to comment, react, or make light of my latest change:)

Meanwhile, rest assured that I fully intend to resume regular posting as soon as possible, incorporating some new and interesting perspectives around life changes, the role of selling in life, and so on.

I hope you will hang around for the next chapter ….

Enjoying life, change, and all that jazz, but busy as all heck right now in the steamy Heartland ….

John

Image:  Presenter Media

Being The Truth …


Mask - Presenter MediaDuring her WBECS presentation (best value on the planet for leadership and business coaches), Lisa Bloom, the Story Coach, was talking about the importance of having stories that reflect our lives.  

At one point, she made this powerful statement:

“AUTHENTICITY CANNOT BE FAKED.”

 

First thing that popped into my head on hearing the above:

“The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

Wrongly attributed to Jean Giraudoux , George Burns,  and Arthur Bloch, and probably first uttered by an anonymous actress (see footnote).

 

After giving myself a good Gibbs Headslap for that snarky initial response, I gave this seemingly simple statement some more thought.

OPERATIONAL DEFINITION:  Authenticity is when you speak, act, and think in ways congruent and consistent with your values, beliefs, and attitudes

YES, YOU CAN …

If someone else believes that you are telling the truth and acting honestly when you are not in fact doing so, you have fooled them.   This happens regularly in politics, business, and the entertainment industry.

Some business models are built on the assumption that you can, in fact, fake sincerity and convince people you are sincere in spite of reality.

NO, YOU CAN’T …

The above examples and statement aside, we are left with our own internal sense of consistency.  We may be able to fool others into thinking we are sincere in a particular context, but we really cannot fool ourselves.

Yes, we can have internal dialogues or stories which justify what we do and say as right, appropriate, or necessary.  We believe many things to be true of ourselves which are not so.  This is a paradox of sorts:  We falsely believe we are not being false.

The reality is that if we search deeply within ourselves in an honest manner, we always find that we know when we are faking it and when we are making it.

WHY IT MATTERS …

Probably to some people, this is not an important consideration.

The politician who desires power, the businessperson who craves wealth, and the actor whose livelihood depends on making you believe something is so when it is not, are driven by strong motivations.

Notice I have said nothing yet about the value or relative worth of those motivations.

Desiring power or wealth is not something inherently bad, but our actions in pursuit of power or wealth and our use of both may be very negative.

Simply put, what drives us determines what matters and how it matters …

We are at our best when our actions and behaviors match what we feel inside AND our motivations are altruistic and benevolent.

The politician who desires power to control others and for personal gain, regardless of impact, is not authentic …

The politician who desires power in order to promote the general good and improve the welfare of all because they believe that to be the right thing to do is being authentic …

Or so it seems to me … 

What makes you authentic?

How does this works in the real world?

How do we do the wrong things for the right reasons or vice versa?

Tangling myself all up in philosophical knots in the Heartland ….

John

 

 

 

Getting It Right …


No MistakesGoing back to my roots for this one …

At one time, I was quite enamored of all things Richard Bach … yes, even the seagull:)  It was a thing we did, if we were of a certain age at a certain time in certain places and contexts.  

However, Bach wrote more than just Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.  This quotation comes from one of his other works, as I remember.

So to business …

NO MISTAKES?  This seems a bit much to accept, doesn’t it?

I can list a number of events from my life that definitely felt like mistakes, at the time and usually long afterward.   I have hurt others with my words and actions.  I have cost myself and others money, time, and energy.  I have failed to do what I know is right on more occasions than I am comfortable thinking about.

Over the course of things, I would imagine most of us make more “mistakes” than we get it right.

This is not surprising when you take into account a reality:  

EVERYONE IS LIVING THEIR LIVES FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME

Unless you ascribe to reincarnation or some other philosophy that allows multiple changes to get it right, we only get one chance to do each thing.  Now we might get another chance tomorrow to do that same thing, but it is not the chance we have today, but a new round at the same issue or topic.

Bach’s main point seems that we learn from our mistakes, so they are not mistakes in the eternal sense of the word, but rather “life adjustments“.  You know, those conversations that usually begin with some form of “I’m sorry …” or “You know, that didn’t work out like I wanted it to …”

Those of us who have attempted to create strong and intimate relationships through marriage, alliance, parenting, or friendship should welcome the news that we get to make adjustments.   The mistakes we make with one person or situation are part of what allows us to get it right in another situation or with another person.

I know of NO perfect relationships or situations, so we are all works in progress.

A quick note to the younger folks in the audience:

AGE DOES NOT EQUAL ABSENCE OF MISTAKES

I know older folks often seem like they have achieved that blissful state where all goes well every day because they know how to live without problems, but that is an act in itself.

We’re just calmer about making our mistakes now, because we recognize they are continual pop quizzes on how to do life and are essential to getting the right answers at the end.

How have you made and how are you making mistakes?

What are you learning from your mistakes?

What mistakes do you wish you had made?

You can catch up with Richard Bach HERE and you will not regret spending a few minutes with this thoughtful truth seeker.

Trying both to remember and forget all my past and current mistakes at the same time in the Heartland …

John

Image:  Gratisography.com – A great source of creative and unique photographs