Monday, July 30, 2007

Arizona Memorial - Team

Spent the weekend doing the sights with my mother who has never been to Hawaii. Took her to two special places.. Punch Bowl and the Arizona Memorial. These places always give me pause and instill a respect for those who fought in WWII. So much courage and commitment to a greater cause. I always feel something special and there is always something I didn't see the last time that jumps out at me. This time it was the commitment to each other among those serving on the Arizona. Of the survivors.. and there were only a few.. 20 or so of them decided to be interned with their shipmates at the bottom of the ocean. It speaks to the connection between those who have faced a crisis together. It describes a loyalty that few companies have and most want.

What is the leadership lesson. Maybe I am stretching, but when a team or company is facing crisis, there is a sense of commitment that brings good teams together. That commitment can be built on, and once the crisis is over be a source of great accomplishment. The key is ensuring that you have a good team prior to the crisis and showing respect for the team members.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Charisma Does matter!

I agree with much of what Jim Collins espouses in his book Good to Great.. especially about Level 5 leaders being humble and focused more on the work than themselves. I am also in agreement with what Anthony Smith says in his book The Taboos of Leadership about leadership being also about Charisma! The following excerpt says it well:

"It's hard to argue against the charisma of some of our most heralded and successful leaders, inside and outside of business. Gandhi had charisma; so did Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan. These people were known as leaders because of their vision, conviction, and tremendous influence over others, as well as their appealing mystique. In business, few leaders have been as notable as these public figures, but those who transcend their organization are often undeniably intriguing. Whether Jack Welch, Richard Branson of Virginia, Herb Kelleher of Southwest, or Warren Buffett of Berkshier Hathaway, we want to know more about them, and we want to know more about the secrets the possess. "

He continues... "People who are impressive have special qualities. Some of that impressiveness has to do with technical competence, but there is also the impressiveness that comes with good looks, communication skills, or aura..."

Even Jim Collins might have to agree with this. If you read my earlier post.. if you have seen him speak.. I have to say he is Level 5 Leader.. and he also is rich with Charisma.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gen X, Gen Y, Failure of T&D?

I had a profound fear strike me on the issue of differences across the generations. Anyone who has read on this topic knows that there will be challenges in leading a diverse workforce made up of different generations. I alluded to this in an earlier post. The short issue statement is that generations differ on values due to the significant events we experience. Examples include the depression, WWII, Vietnam, Columbine, 9/11. The earlier post goes into it more, but an example would be G.I. Generation was known for their selflessness and commitment to society.

So what was so profound.. that I am now feeling inadequate as a leadership development expert. First what lead me to this thought... I have been reading and listening to famous speeches, stories and history on WWII, the pacific & D-Day for several days(See my last post). Coupled with some additional reading I had been doing on Martin Luther King and his Birmingham letter from prison... it struck me as strange the impact these stories had on my sense of who I was. I was too young or not even born then, but somehow I was able to relive these events. My sense of sacrifice.. what someone should face for the good of others was changing. Through study and experience with history, I was embracing the same values of the GI Generation.

My Fear: Are we missing this in programs we offer to young employees?

We know that these events helped form the value system of their generations. Values that future generations do not necessarily understand. For example, WWII vets came home with a new sense of citizenship. I am reminded of the story of John Brady, one of the flag raisers at Iwo Jima. He came home believing he an obligation to others because he survived when 1000s died taking the island. The question is why shouldn't other generations be exposed to these stories in a way that instills in them the same sense of citizenship. The same sense of it is not all about having fun.. or being able to do what you always want.

These significant events have taught their generations what is important to success and happiness. They have raised a consciousness among the generation.. but the lessons should be shared. Are we digging deeply enough in the personal development of these young employees? Will it will be years before they go through a leadership program where they are challenged by these sorts of stories? Are we even considering how important these stories are in our current leadership programs?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Boys of Pointe de Hoc

I have been rediscovering great speeches and letters over the past few days. Part of my journey begins with the great speech by President Reagan on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. The Boys of Pointe de Hoc speech, written by Peggy Noonan, is a vivid reminder of the courage and selflessness of an earlier generation. The video (look to the left) posted this week on the blog gives you a short part of the speech. For a transcript of the speech, you can find it on this page put up by the Regan Foundation. Douglas Brinkley has also published a great account behind this speech that gives an clear understanding to the importance of this speech in American history. I encourage you to read this book, but at minimum, listen to the speech. All of us, Gen Xs, Ys, etc.. need to recommit ourselves to a higher cause.. something greater than our own personal interest. This speech inspired me to this end... I hope it does the same for you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Brigadier General Leo Brooks.

The Leaders Vault blog has an excellent video clip up with Brigadier General Leo Brooks discussing what the military is doing to develop leadership. After the introduction, it starts a little slow, but once he begins giving examples of what he means by "strategic thinking" and other principles, it it is very insightful.