ENCORE: “Help Them Grow or …” – “New” Career Development Resource


This is one of the best book titles ever:) ….

I said the following about this book exactly one year ago and it’s just as true today …

Career development is not an extra or a “nice to do”.   Career development is an essential and important function of an effective manager and leader.

Do for others to do for yourself.

The most effective career development program for someone who aspires to be a great leader and an effective manager is to develop the careers of those for whom they are responsible.

If you have employees who need or want to grow …

You have hit the gold mine.   Motivation and desire are the starting points – nurture and use employee’s interest in growing in their current positions and preparing for future roles.

If you want to develop your own leadership and management ability …

If you are a leader who cares about those for whom you are responsible, you want to help them grow and succeed.  Their triumphs are your triumphs.

If you want some very useful tips on how to do this …

The nitty-gritty of this is that we know more today about what is effective and what is not effective when it comes to helping people grow and blossom.   All we have to do is find the information, consider how to use it, and then do it … fortunately, this easy-to-read book does most of the work for you.

Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Guilioni have created “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go” on Amazon – check out this book.   Buy it, read it, reflect on it, and then read it again.   Make the ideas and strategies your own.   Use this book:)

Making notes in the margin as I reread my already dog-eared copy in the Heartland ….


Disclaimer 1: I was provided a complimentary copy of “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go” for review purposes.
Disclaimer 2:  I have happily purchased another copy to share with others who will benefit from this book.   I will also be happily purchasing additional copies as needed to continuing sharing this little gem.

Learning Through A Firing …

image-300x300I have had several great mentors during my career …

One of the best was the guy who fired me …

 Ken took over the leadership of our department midway through my tenure at the college.   He replaced a person who was, shall we say, less than ideal.   No, let’s say someone who lacked courage in many aspects of his leadership and management behavior.

This had created several conflicts between us over time.  I, being young and real eager to “do things right”, was aggressive and tried to be hard-nosed.   He was complacent and did whatever was necessary to avoid confrontation.

Did I mention we both worked in student development on a college campus … try avoiding conflict and confrontation in that setting.

So I welcomed Ken’s new approach with open arms.  He was a very experienced administrator, had deep feelings and a sense of history for the institution as an alumnus, and dedicated to moving programs and people in a progressive direction.

I gained much in the way of experience working with Ken.   He handled students and colleagues in an amiable, yet no-nonsense fashion.  Taking full advantage of being the “new broom” on campus, Ken confronted several challenges and some misconceptions left hanging by his predecessor.  

I loved the feeling of proactive and courageous movement and connection with this new and exciting leadership …

Sometimes, when you are rolling along, on top of the world, you are tempted to take advantage of situations, of authority, of freedom.

The day when Ken called me into the office was one of the hardest in my memory.  He asked one simple question, to which I had no choice but to honestly reply “Yes”.   This brief conversation was later followed by a longer discussion in which I was informed that my employment contract would not be renewed at the end of the spring semester.

This was not good news for a young man with a mortgage, a wife, four children, and a crappy old mini-van …

The interesting thing is what happened next.   Ken and I continued to work as before, with the knowledge of my new status kept between us.  To the outside world, life just rolled along.

My internal life was something else …The next few months were painful, as I grappled with what I had done, sharing that knowledge with select family and friends, tried to secure a job somewhere else, and worked to restore my credibility with Ken.   We engaged in many long and difficult conversations around the situation over time.   At these times, Ken was a testing board for my thoughts, and not a boss with judgments to make.  I wanted to leave on a higher note than I then was at.

It was a dark, painful, and very reflective time …  Continue reading

Thinking About Thought Leadership …

Looming Leader

“Thought Leadership”

This is a fascinating term, isn’t it?

Such a popular term these days.   Many want an identity as  thought leaders and some just come right out and declare themselves as such.

Let’s chat about this …


LinkedIn identifies thought leadership as one of their “Skills & Expertise” categories with this definition:

”Thought leader is business jargon for an entity that is recognized by peers for having innovative ideas. Thought leaders often publish articles and blog posts on trends and topics influencing an industry.”

Pretty cut and dried … but wait … there’s more.

Forbes provides a fascinating article about what thought leaders are and what they are notInterestingly, they apply their two-part definition (see below) to both people and firms.  This sounds way too much like the debate over whether a corporation is a person for my taste.

Here’s the full definition used by Forbes inWhat is a Thought Leader?”:

Definition—Part One

A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.

Definition—Part Two

A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.

The bottom line for Forbes is that thought leadership has to involve “monetizing” the thinking.   From a business viewpoint, that probably just makes sense.

Fast Company, however, gives us The Golden Rules of Creating  Thought Leadershipand the first two are interesting, to say the least, when compared with Forbe’s approach:

1. Don’t sell anything except ideas.

2. Always give it away.

Just for fun, here’s a link to an enjoyable discussion about thought leadership and sales around ideas from Daniel Pink‘s new book “To Sell Is Human“.

Hmmm … we seem to have some disparity here.


What makes a thought leader different from someone who is just spouting their thoughts out?

Can you really lead thought or are you just influencing thought?

Can a group be a thought leader?

BONUS QuestionCan you be a thought leader if you have to tell people you are a thought leader?

Wondering how and whether leadership applies to groups in the Heartland ….


Strength-Based Poetry …

Do not think of your faults, still less of others’ faults; look for what is good and strong, and try to imitate it. Your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes.

John Ruskin

The strength-based approach and its cousin, Appreciative Inquiry, both come from the same perspective:  

We become more effective more easily and quickly by focusing on our strengths, and not on our weaknesses.

I am particularly fond of the application to leadership development, as outlined by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie in Strength Based Leadership.       

In general, I agree …

However, I have several questions for us to ponder this bright and crisp fall morning:

1)  Is focusing on strengths always the best approach?

Situations may exist when you have to focus on the weaknesses,  perhaps during an organizational crisis or when the bleeding simply has to be stopped first.  How do you know when this is necessary?

2)  How does a strength-based approach fit with your corporate culture?

Some cultures welcome an approach which focuses on things which are going well, while other cultures would resist this.  How does your culture treat this?

3)  When you focus on strengths, what do you do about weaknesses or failures?

You can ignore your weaknesses, downplay them, or rationalize them away.  What options have I missed?

DISCLAIMER:  Before someone has a fainting spell, let me reaffirm that I believe strength-based approaches ARE the most effective approach for either personal or professional growth and development.  

I just want us to think it through, and not simply climb on the bandwagon and start singing the praises.

In case anyone is interested:

My StrengthsFinder 2.0 Top Five are:  Learner, Intellection, EmpathyIndividualization  and Input.

My Strength Based Leadership Report profile includes the strength of Connectedness  in the Relationship Building theme and the strengths of  InputIntellection, Strategic, and Learner  in the Strategic Thinking theme.

No surprises, but much to consider.  I’ll write more about this another time.

Thinking in terms of what I do well and letting go of what I do not in the Heartland ….


Book Review: 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role

I was not impressed …

I have seen this format and this topic before.   Another book on how to be a leader in short and easily digested chunks …

The Topic:  How to succeed in a new leadership role … others have covered the subject in some depth and from multiple viewpoints.

The Format:  String together a flurry of short and pithy advice about how to be a better leader … yes, I have read other books which opt for this format over the more traditional narrative or text style.

The Track Record:  I know that Pam Fox Rollin hit the Amazon best seller list first time around.  I also wondered what she could possibly have done to make a second edition that would meet the expectations for a strong reissue.

I am now very impressed …

Pam has not just updated her materials, but made them even more useful than the original version.

One reason is the attention to mindsets paid by 42 Rules   Other “how-to-do-it” volumes focus on the nuts and bolts of being a leadership, which is certainly important.  Pam also talks about the attitudes and perspectives that mark effective leaders.  Follow her guide about how to think and visualize like a leader and you will be ahead of the game before you actually do anything else.

An additional value of 42 Rules is that the book works for you and with you.   If you are a new leader or simply aspire to be in a leadership role in the future, you will find plenty of useful and down-to-earth advice about how to present yourself as a capable leader, regardless of current position or title.

Example:  Number 4 ~ Draft Your Strategic One-Pager (page 14)

Points of view are not something you develop as a leader.  You need to have them from day one, as this section affirms.  Take the time to write down your strategic impressions of what is in front of you.   You have just moved ahead of most people in managerial and leadership roles.

If you are already in a leadership position or moving from one level of leadership to another, you will also find much of value here.   The strategies Pam offers are timeless and apply nicely whether you are a person leading a very small group for the first time or are a seasoned leader in charge of many and much.

Example:  Number 16 ~ Get Over Yourself (page  42) 

This section directly faces one of the most potentially devastating issues for a Leader On The Move.   As we grow and gain confidence, a very real possibility exists that our ego will take control.  Down that path lies very little that will help you be a more effective manager.   42 Rules helps you combat this by a relentless focus on others with whom you interact.

A third compelling use of this book relates to others.   The most gifted and effective leaders recognize the value of helping others achieve and grow.  You just cannot build effective teams or a viable organization without doing so.  42 Rules provides the groundwork for personal coaching, small group development, and large-scale corporate leadership development.  You may want additional information about some specific issue or topic, but you will not find that anything has been overlooked.  42 Rules has it all.

Example:  Number 29 ~ Make The Most of Screw-ups (page 72) 

I had to include this one.   Mistakes are the real crux of leadership effort.   Nothing is quite as dangerous or as potentially rewarding as the dynamics around your response to a major mistake, whether your own or someone else’s.  How we handle this leadership challenge reveals our seminal nature.

Originally published in Spring 2011, Pam Fox Rollin has refreshed and updated her  first book.  The 2nd edition of  42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role: The Manual They Didn’t Hand You When You Made VP, Director, or Manager  is a real gem and easily worth the cost.

Rereading my favorite passages and annotating like crazy in the Heartland ….


Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of 42 Rules For Your New Leaderhsip Role for review.  I was under absolutely no obligation to say anything positive about the book.  I found it easy to do so and can openly recommend this book to new leaders, seasoned leaders, and leaders who are growing other leaders.  If they called today, I would happily buy the book for a lot more than they are asking.