Monday, April 30, 2007

Where in the World are YOU!

Just a reminder.. if you are a regular reader of this blog, I would love for you to join our Attendr page.. so we can get to know you geographically. It will not take you long and I will owe you one! Just go to the Lead2020 attendr page! Then add your name to the list of those who have already join the page. I plan to continue asking this periodically.. hoping to eventually build a visual of who is reading my blog.

Instigator Blog: Productivity Tips

Ben over at Instigator Blog has instigated an activity that could prove to be productive. He’s encouraging people to post Productivity Tips on their blogs. He’s even got a banner image to go with the theme. Here is my tip:

True productivity is goal focused. You have to know where you want to be in the future.. or at least have a target for where you want to be. Your goal needs to be concrete.. measurable.. (CEO of a $200M company; Lead in a broadway play, etc) then when faced with conflicts in time, projects, or other matters.. you can ask yourself a simple question.. Which choice ultimately drives me closer to my future goal? When I do personal coaching, the most important part of the process is helping the person find their goal... Once they know what they want to be when they grow up.. the rest is not easy, but at least you know you are heading in the right direction. And managing the setting priorities becomes much easier....

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shackleton's Legacy

I have been reading McCain's book "Character is Destiny" at night before going to bed. Regardless of your political leanings, it is a must read. McCain and Mark Salter do an excellent job of presenting the reader with profiles of great leadership. Each is only a few pages (quick read - great for one story a night) and is attributed a theme. Last night I read about Sir Ernest Shackleton.. who tried three times to go to the South Pole.... The third trip became a testiment to his leadership skills. Nova has a short clip that touches on the challenges he and his team, but is simple terms... nothing went right. It took luck, courage, and great leadership to save his men. While McCain and Salter use the theme loyality, and it is a fitting, I perfer to use the theme selflessness! Here are three lessons I have gained from reading about Shackleton:

  1. The mission is important, but never use the lives (careers) of your subordinates to achieve a personal goal.
  2. Walk the walk.. do not ask of anyone, anything that you would not do yourself.
  3. It takes optimism, courage, and a willingness to endure conditions that most would not, but even in the worst conditions, one can achive great things.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Nurture the Villagers- King Kamehameha

Nurture the Villagers Lesson - King Kamehameha

As I shared earlier, King Kamehameha was the first to unite the islands of Hawai'i under one rule. The name Kamehameha (pronounced kuh-may-ha-may-ha) means "the one set apart." A great ruler, he also was not the heir to the throne on his own island, but through training and leadership, he ultimately lived as the greatest ruler of the Hawaii. If you study his legacy, there are several lessons that Business leaders can apply to today's world. Here is one of my favorites:

Nurture the Villagers. Culturally, in Hawai'i, rulers were known to have both warriors and villagers. Warriors were simliar to the roman army. They lived good lives, but were in a constant race to develop their fighting skills so as to help their King rule successful. While warriors fought, the majority of those under the rule of kings were villagers who farmed and helped the King sustain their rule. During battles, the villages were often the spoils and while some Kings would burn these villages and kill the villagers, King Kamehameha sought to reassure villagers. He was quite successful in getting them to accept his rule and quickly get back to their role of producing food for his warriors.

So, what's the leadership lesson. If you are in a merger or say you were recently promoted over a others you work with, this lesson should guide you. Seek to embrace the culture of the villagers. Seek to reassure them and encourage them to continue producing product just as though no change has occurred. This is the 2nd lesson of King Kamehameha.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kevin Gamble has an interesting post on his blog about two word strategies. Interesting technique.. I plan to use it during my next strategic planning strategy. Check out the original post on the Small Business Trends blog.

Kevin suggests that using tools like may enhance consensus building. I have facilitated groups who could not describe their mission in 27 words after two days of face to face debate. Note: The 27 words rule comes from Covello's 27/9/3 rule for crisis communication (more on that another day). So this is challenging for a host of reasons. But I also know that good process can overcome most situations. Using might be one process tool... almost a pre-strategic planning tool. With the right group ( literates), it might make for an interesting experiment?

Now Kevin's idea of using to get a team together is interesting, but I found my mind wondering to another place.. and another question.. one that Web 2.0 could help organizations to answer as well.. This is prompted also by the excellent exercise on David Armano's blog Logic+Emotion. He took his reader on an visual exercise that explores how companies could allow their customers' to define their brand.. well these two posts come together for me and encourage the question: "What two words would your customer use to describe your business?" ...and could you, using Web 2.0 tools, create a community of buyers who would define your organization using a positive two word purpose. I can think of one example off the top of my head. Harley Davidson has a huge community of buyers, who define their brand and purpose.. They might agree to a two word brand like "Express Yourself." At least, that is what their Rider's Group uses as a rally cry.

So what is the leadership lessons:

Do you know what two words your team uses to define their mission?
Do you know what two words your customer might use to define your organization?
Is there commonality.. among your team? (Team Focus)
Is there commonality.. among your customers (Brand)
Is there a disconnect between your team and your customers?

All good questions.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Moodle from an Industry Perspective

We love to talk about open source in the educational community, and as you can see from some of my earlier posts (Check out Who Owns Your Ideas?) I believe in the ideals of standards and open computing). I also believe that as humans, we often do not know what we don't know. Case in point, there are a number of groups that are exploring the use of Moodle in the creation of e-learning systems. Moodle is the leading (IMHO) open source LMS on the market, but it was born primarily in an academic world. While a great place for discovery and innovation, academic environments are not always the best place for implementation. Now I am not against the idea of moodle.. I have used my share of freeware... but it has been my perception, that we are slow to look at commercial solutions when we can safe a buck. It has also been my experience that good stuff costs. The reality of life, is solutions are not always free. So, when I saw a posting by Justyn about moodle on his blog, my interest peaked. Justyn is a experienced E-learning expert with They are one of the leading (IMHO) commercial LMS companies out on the market.. Take a look at his post on moodle. It is perspective we need to hear regardless of what systems we install.

So, you might say.. what is the leadership principle in this post. This one is very abstract.. but over the years, I have discovered that as we gain insight and leadership authority, we lose our interest in divergent viewpoints. We join camps and these camps often isolate themselves from those who disagree. We go to great lengths... develop surveys, consult experts, and yet we still segment our views. What transpires is leaders who make quick decisions instead of informed decisions.. who look to to control expectations instead of exceed expectations... We all need to be more curious, we all need to explore.. To steal a phrase from famous photographer and speaker Dewitt Jones, "We need to find all the right answers."

Leadership: What do you see?

I know there are not too many of you out there reading this blog, but I wanted to engage you in some sort of social activity. If you will spare the time, add a comment that defines what you believe is real leadership... but do it by describing how the picture below explains your definition of leadership. If you like the picture, there are more to be seen at: mckaysavage's.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The creative mind.

David Armano has a great post on creativity and how one needs to have a young brain. He describes his interactions with "two of his favorite thinkers: Author and inventor Roger von Oech and BusinessWeek's Bruce Nussbaum and then cites four key traits:
  • A curious mind: Always asking questions..why?
  • A Tinkering Mind: A need to play with things, explore how they work
  • High Standards: Not easily impressed.
  • An ability to unlearn past habits and shape new ones.
I am sure their are more nuggets. I just found this blog (Logic+Emotion) , but I have a feeling I will be reading this one often.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Who Owns Your Ideas?

One of the lists I read has had a huge debate about how do you deal with individuals who steal your work. I think it is fitting to address this in a leadership context. Leaders should have a set of principles for how they deal with others people's stuff.. and how they deal with others who take their stuff. There are typically two schools.. The Disney School: procecute anyone that infringes on your stuff; and the Red Hat Rule: The Open Source Movement. Much of life is about balance. Here are some principles I live by that help me balance the two:

Principle 1 - People who steal are lazy.. They are not your competition.. they will not take your market share.. If they steal from you, their clients will soon learn they steal from them as well.

Principle 2 - Even good people do things that are wrong. They need to know the boundaries. They need to be warned. It is best done up front, before they copy or use your work.

Principle 3- People want me for what I can do for them. Not just the words I write, but the experience and knowledge behind them. You can't steal me from me..

Principle 4 - People deserve credit for their contributions. Leaders never use someone's work with out attributing. Scholars need to know what your writing is built on.. who came before you.

Principle 5 - If you give something away... it will multiply and be returned to you... Every time I have given a colleague something, I have been rewarded..

Principle 6 - New ideas are built on other ideas. Be careful what you claim as your own.. you may learn someone else owns part of it. Refer to Principle 3!

Principle 7 - Over the long term, stealing never pays off! Over the long term, sharing always does.

I would be interested in your thoughts. Would you omit any of these principles? Would you add any new ones? Or, maybe you just want to improve one of these principles....

Friday, April 20, 2007

We are all Hokies today!

"We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid... we are better than we think and not quite what we want to be... we are alive to the imagination of the possibilities.. we will continue to invent the future, through our blood and tears, through all our sadness.. we are the hokies, we will prevail, we will prevail, we prevail, we are Virginia Tech!"

-- Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor, poet, activist

Thursday, April 19, 2007

10 hopes from Virginia Tech

Here are my 10 hopes from the Virginia Tech tragedy.

  1. The families of the victims will find peace in the memory of their loved ones.
  2. The people of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech will become closer to one another.
  3. We will gain insight into the needs and treatment of the mentally ill college student.
  4. New practices will emerge to improve the safety of college students.
  5. We will build stronger bonds between college students and their parents.
  6. We will all be more responsive to the lonely, the outcast, the excluded.
  7. Technologies and practices will emerge that improve our ability to communicate quickly with large groups of people.
  8. Funding for security, student well being, and support services will grow.
  9. Through new education efforts, mentally ill individuals will be more likely to seek help.
  10. This will be the last college campus tragedy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Prisoners of our Stories

This is a previous post to my old blog.. but it may be helpful now during the crisis at Virginia Tech. It is about moving toward hopefulness... despite the pain and sadness of a lost. I thought I would repost it today... especially after listening to the memorial service at VT yesterday...

Prisoners of Our Stories

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." - Victor Frankl

I have been rereading some of my books on
Viktor Frankl lately. His life and work are remarkable and I often find it is helpful to reach out to his writings from time to time. This week I have been reading one of his student's books, Prisoners of Our Thoughts by Alex Pattakos. Pattakos does a wonderful job of translating Frankl's work into actions for living. One of the best exercises in the book relates to the story you tell yourself when something bad happens. Quick, think of a situation at work or in your personal life that is or was stressful or challenging. Write down ten positive things that could result or did result from the situation. For me, it went something like this:

We couldn't have children through birth
- We have each other
- We have our health
- There are other ways to have children
- There are children born who need parents
- and on and on...

The long-term result was a son named Nikolas who joined our family in 1999! But the intitial impact of this exercise was one of deep optimisim instead of dispair. One of hope and possibilities instead of sadness. Oh, we were sad about the situation, but we also were hopeful about the goal. The implication for you in your leadership journey is to be prepared to be hopeful regardless of the route you take on this journey.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech

Vincent Covello, an international expert on crisis communication, teaches an important lesson on leading when a crisis occurs. He calls the principle CCO. Compassion, Commitment, and Optimism!


"We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on. We are embracing our mourning. We are Virginia Tech."

-- Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor, poet, activist


"I told them that my administration would do everything possible to assist with the investigation and that I pledged that we would stand ready to help local law enforcement and the local community in any way we can during this time of sorrow."

“As such times as this we look for sources of strength to sustain us, and in this moment of loss, you are finding these sources all around you. These sources of strength are in this community, this college community… you came together… even as these events were unfolding, you found yourself.”

-- President George Bush

"Commonwealth has a meaning, the meaning is… what we have… the god given and man made resources are held in common… the world was watching you yesterday, in the darkest moment in the history of this university, the world saw you and saw you respond in a way that built community... I pledge to do all I can… President Singer, members of the community and my team as well , to be with you, to be alongside you in difficult times… you have a remarkable community, look around you.. this is a remarkable place, do not let go of that sense of community which is so powerful in this room.”

-- Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine


"We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid... we are better than we think and not quite what we want to be... we are alive to the imagination of the possibilities.. we will continue to invent the future, through our blood and tears, through all our sadness.. we are the hokies, we will prevail, we will prevail, we prevail, we are Virginia Tech!"

-- Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor, poet, activist

Good Night VT.. we are all Hokies tonight!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Eight Positives that emerged from Imus

Now that the dust has settled on the Imus mess. I think it might be safe to actually try a positive post.. Here are the eight positives that came out of the situation:

  1. We would have never gotten to know these wonderful, distinguished, and intelligent young women!
  2. All of us, especially the parents, are going to be more observant of what young minds hear and see.
  3. Imus had already been evolving... from a drug shock jock to a pretty good interviewer of who's who.. The past week he evolved even more.. all of us can be good people...
  4. Once again, we learned who we can trust, who will grandstand, who really matters.
  5. Just like our momma taught us, we were reminded that it is not just what you do, but who your associate with.
  6. Many of us had conversations in the office and learned from each other. New knowledge was gained, everyone had a chance to learn about themselves.
  7. Despite the crisis, people turned out to donate to Imus sponsored charities last week.
  8. No one ended up on higher ground, except those wonderful young women.. everyone else (on both sides of the issue) got a wake up call that we are all guilty of not doing enough.

Max De Pree on Teams

Max DePree lists 8 essential rights that all team members should have a right to expect in his book Leadership is an Art. While maybe not an exhaustive list and you could argue some are close to be redundant, it is a pretty good list to review when leading a new team:
  1. The Right to be Needed (Can I contribute?)
  2. The Right to be Involved (What can I own?)
  3. The Right to a Covenantal Relationships (Will our relationship be meaningful?)
  4. The Right to Understand (What is the mission? our strategy?)
  5. The Right to Affect One's Own Destiny (Can I influence my own destiny?)
  6. The Right to be Accountable (Will I be able to see how I contribute?)
  7. The Right to Appeal (Can I protect my rights?)
  8. The Right to Make a Commitment (Will they let me do my best?)
Leadership is an Art is a good read. I recommend it as a self-study tool in exploring your own leadership journey.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jim Casey on Management

"There was a time when I thought I had to do everything myself. When I found that impossible, I learned that astonishing results could be accomplished if a group of people agreed on what our objectives should be and then set out to reach them....

...I have felt embarrassed at times when publicly given credit for achievements that should have been credited to others. Perhaps such erroneous impressions were due to a misconception of management as practiced by our company. Some people may regard all management as pyramided, mechanical, or autocratic. No such terms should apply to us. Management in our company is the work of many people through objective cooperation.

As it was from the beginning, the prime interest of our management should be helping people help themselves. We know they will respond."

Jim Casey - CEO of UPS, 1962

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Every bit of my past 25 years of studying Leadership tells me the foundations of everything can be linked back to Integrity! There are many different styles of leading because we are all a little different and different situations require different leadership skills. But I can think of not one situation when Integrity is not critical. Max DePree, author of "Leadership is an Art," writes "Integrity is one of the preserving principles of the free-market system... it is not a quality that changes to keep those in positions of leadership comfortable. Our media is replete with stories of the consequences of leaders who have failed to hold themselves accountable."

So.. I sit back and watch the media and wonder.. why don't these leaders get it. Just pick up the paper.. any paper, and you will find stories of leadership failure. In many of them, if not all, there is a sense that Integrity was not a high priority. Take the Duke lacrosse case.. I am sure you can see many examples of failure where integrity was not important. We must do better.. integrity should be the first principle of every leader.


Friday, April 6, 2007

Twitter - Just a start

I have been playing with twitter now for a couple of weeks. Although it is still in the toddler stage (I believe there will be a host of enhancements), it has the potential to change how we network with existing teams. I encourage you to explore it. Here are my first observations.. and remember I am a newbee..

- Instead of seeing it as a tool for meeting new friends.. expanding my network, I now see it more as a tool for enriching existing relationships. For example, in June I will go to a huge conference.. There will be 1000s.. of people there, many sessions.. Twitter will help me keep in touch with all my friends and yet, allow me to be where I want to be when I want to be there.

- There is a certain level of vanity in telling other people what your doing. It seems there are way more productive uses of this technology. Areas like group learning, shared understandings of a speaker, and other knowledge areas come to mind. With so many people online.. it will be interesting to see if norms evolve... if group theory also applies..

- I have a small number of friends so far.. I am wondering what happens when your numbers increase. The structure of other ways I work seems to drive me to compartmentalize my friends into working groups. To share revelant information with certain groups so I do not overwhelme others with content. Still wondering about this one..

Well.. I invite you to join me on Twitter. Join and then make me your friend.. see you there...