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Adapt Archives, Page 1 of 1
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Jun21
Pat Riley's Leadership Brings Championship to Miami

Midway through the fourth quarter of game three of the NBA Finals, it looked as if the Miami Heat were finished. The Dallas Mavericks led by 13 points and the Heat appeared to be playing at their best. The Mavericks had already vanquished the Heat in games one and two.

I would guess that it looked like the end of the season to everyone except Heat Coach Pat Riley. I could not read Coach Riley’s thoughtsPat Riley.jpg but as he stood on the sideline, he appeared to be his calm yet determined self. And I wondered, what does he say to his team in this timeout? He has been in so many big games; can he do something in this desperate situation? Is he disappointed or frustrated enough to accept this defeat? How would being swept by Dallas affect Riley’s coaching career?

We may never know many of the answers to these questions because Riley did not let it happen. Instead in the final six minutes of that game, he inspired the Heat’s odd collection of misfit veterans and wunderkind and Finals MVP Dwayne Wade to eke out a win. It was as if Riley magically transfused the energy from Dallas players into the Heat players. The Heat went on to win three more (four consecutive NBA Finals games), becoming only the third team in league history to win despite an 0-2 deficit.

Riley has indeed a magical way of inspiring and leading. Could his job be harder? How do you motivate and inspire millionaires, egomaniacs - players that seem to have everything and need nothing? How do you bring together players that Mike Wise from the Washington Post fondly called resurrected "Reprobates," "former knuckleheads" and a "second-chance club." What are the leadership tools Riley could use? 

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May18
Leadership Traits Honed at High Altitude

I am always fascinated by opportunities to experience leadership and learn from the simple occurrences of daily life.

So I found this course offered by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Undergraduate Leadership Program of particular interest. 

The course is a week of learning and living the challenges of mountaineering and from that experience -- drawing lessons in leadership. The course takes place in northwestern Wyoming in Grand Teton National Park.  

The Tetons rise forgrand teton.jpg more than a mile in a single sweep to a peak of 13,770 ft. The leadership training occurs as its participants spend a week in “group experiences, readings, evening discussions, guest speakers, a team-based service project, and personal reflection” and of course an assualt on the summit.

Activities focus on developing leadership skills in a spectacular and challenging environment. The venture focuses on the development of key team leadership skills including

“working effectively as a member of a small group, demonstrating individual and mutual accountability, developing a vision, articulating it and inspiring others to achieve it, communicating complex information clearly, learning new and unfamiliar skills in a challenging environment, setting a significant team goal, making rapid decisions, giving and receiving feedback, and managing individual and team outcomes.”

It sounds like a great experience. Just on more reason to wish I was an undergraduate.

Have you learned leadership through these types of experiences? Let me know about your adventures that taught you important leadership traits.

Apr 3
Learning Leadership in Moab
There is a something magical about riding a bike. And there is something beyond magical about riding a bike in Moab, Utah. Last week, I joined seven longtime friends on a two-day adventure of mountain biking across the sand and slick rock that is uniquely found in Moab.
moab 1.JPG
Between the sore muscles, scrapes, steaks, Gatorade and near constant laughter, I found glimpses of inspiration on the Porcupine Trail (that is me in the yellow sleeves). These glimpses reminded me of the importance of good friends, trust, balance in life, community and teamwork.

Moab is one of those special places on the earth and perhaps mountain biking mecca. It is not just its beauty, but the feeling it engenders among its inhabitants and visitors. There is a shared joy and sense of community among those we met on the trail, as if we were somehow linked together in a common quest to not only survive but conquer the elements, rock and gravity.

Don’t get me wrong, it is mostly fun and laughter but I also observed some important leadership lessons from the experience as we rode one of the top rated mountain bike rides in the U.S.

I came back with this:

Adapt – Going uphill requires patience, balance, perseverance and burning legs and lungs. Gravity owns you. Suddenly, gravity which has been your enemy, turns friendly as you reach the summit and start downhill. The skill set required to successfully ride changes. While you no longer work against gravity, you can’t relax too much lest you find yourself in a heap from too much speed. Arms, back and shoulders are required to guide the bike as it hurls over rock, drops and turns. Terrain also causes one to adapt as your bike and required effort changes as you ride on slickrock, sand, packed trail or loose rocks.

Vision - Like skiing or snowboarding, you look for a “line” when you ride downhill on a bike. You must constantly look ahead and adjust your speed, steering and position on the bike to account for changes in the trail and terrain. Look to the side or directly in front of you (not out ahead) and you may get severely hurt. Your fellow riders may attack the trail differently or take a different line. It is not so much that there is one perfect line, you just have to find your line and commit to it. Not planning or looking ahead and a crash is the likely result.

Risk – Throughout a ride, there are many risks. Taking risks is part of the experience and admittedly part of the fun. Attempting to conquer more difficult and challenging terrain is the only way to improve. However, foolish and cavalier riding may result in serious injury to you and others on the trail. In one section of our ride, it may have resulted in death as we rode near cliffs. Assessing risk and measuring it against one’s ability is critical.

Teamwork – On one of our rides, a rider from our group had a broken chain thatMoab Teamwork could not be repaired. Finding ourselves several miles from any aid, the choices were few. Fortunately, we were near the summit. He was able to use gravity over much of the terrain to get down the hill. As we hit a flat dirt road that led us back to our vehicle, we still had miles to go. With the disabled bike and rider in the middle, two riders pushed from each side forming a “flying V” that enabled us to literally fly down the road and return to our vehicle. Incrementally, no one person expended much more energy but the combined cooperative effort resulted in a great solution.

Adapting, having vision, measuring and taking risks and utilizing the strengths of a team contributed to a great time for me in Moab. These same principles can make us all better leaders and successful in our professional endeavors.

Thanks to David K, Hondo, the Beav, Smiley, Cousin Todd, Gordo and Red Leader for the great time. I appreciate your patience, friendship and sense of humor. Good luck Tara – don’t forget the salsa next time. Thanks to Chile Pepper bikes. And what about Pat and Terry? Doik a merle.
Mar27
Plan, Prepare, Practice
I was at a community event last night. The topic of discussion was emergency preparedness and response. Since 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, this has been a frequently discussed topic among government, education and business.

One of the speakers offered a simple recipe for emergency preparedness and response. It is..........

Plan, Prepare, Practice

This concept resonated with me as I thought about my own personal preparedness. It also seemed like excellent advice for leadership of any organization, activity or event. I also thought of the words of John C. Maxwell who noted that “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

Leadership is rarely successful by adhering to a set of strict rules. Leaders tend to be creative and flexible, capable of balancing many competing forces. This holds true for planning, preparing and practicing. There is no secret formula. Rather, what follows are concepts that require you to think, act and assess – and use your unique experience and expertise to lead.
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Mar 7
JetBlue Faces a New Challenge
Last month JetBlue announced its first quarterly loss since going public in 2002. The AirlineHub detailed the specifics of the loss.

I point it out here because I have written about JetBlue – and its CEO Dave Neeleman – before. Neeleman is a dynamic leader that approached the tradition and bureaucracy-bound airline industry from a completely new angle and in the process set a new standard for air travel.

Five years into it, JetBlue is facing its first true crisis. Fuel costs, which skyrocketed in 2005, and the impact of the fall hurricanes on travel to and from Florida were a big part of the loss. The airline is also facing maintenance costs for perhaps the first time as its fleet starts to age. Neeleman expressed disappointment but not excuses while the naysayers piled on.

The USA Today reports,

“Since JetBlue's launch in February 2000, the skeptics have said making money in the early years would be easy but that it wouldn't last. At first, its maintenance spending would be next to zero, and its employees would all be at the bottom of the pay scale. But that cost holiday someday would end, they warned. Now some of those skeptics are whispering, ‘I told you so.’"

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Feb10
Greenspan Used Data Not Dogma
I have been meaning to offer my review on an article in the Wall Street Journal on former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan. It was written on January 31, Greenspan’s last day as Chairman.

Greg Ip, the article’s author does a great job analyzing Greenspan’s leadershipgreenspan listening.jpg style. I think there are some important tenants of leadership that Ip has drawn.

The title and subtitle of the article are revealing.

“Greenspan’s Legacy Rests on Results not Theories”

Results Not Theories – In a position often driven by theory, hypothetical models and forecasts and political agendas, the former Fed Chairman understood that performance was his measuring stick. Great leaders in any arena know this. Results matter. Coaching style, game plans, strategies are meaningless if they do not put a mark in the win column. If you can’t deliver the goods, you will not succeed, be remembered or have a legacy. Beyond just results, true greatness is delivering results in a crisis or under difficult circumstances. Take a note from Michael Jordan who everyone knew – including the opposing team, that he would find a way to win in every big game.
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Jan31
20 Years Past...
I can’t remember everything in the past 20 years but certain things stand out. Some of the most memorable events of my career track the challenges faced by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

One was the stock market crash of October 19, 1987. I had received a degree in finance a year before and was working for a finance company. I was a year from entering the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago and a hoping for a career on Wall Street.

1987 was the year President Ronald Reagan appointed Alan Greenspan as the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve. In my mind, as a student of economics and finance, it seemed impossible to replace the towering Paul Volcker who in the early 80s had reigned in the worst unemployment and inflation since the Depression.

Greenspan was tested immediately as he faced the largest stock market crash since the crash of 1929. The Dow dropped 508 points and 22% -- only 69 days into Greenspan's tenure. On day after Black Monday, Greenspan signaled the Fed's commitment to keep financial institutions afloat pledging "to serve as a source of liquidity to support the economic and financial system." Following the crash, the Fed injected roughly $6 billion dollars a day into the economy.

Journalist and author Peter Hartcher wrote,

“The challenge that came within a couple of months was the black Monday Stock Exchange crash of '87. When he handled that flawlessly he became enshrined instantly as a Wall Street hero and national hero.”

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