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Values Archives, Page 1 of 1
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Oct27
Leadership Traits Include Empathy and Integrity

I appreciated some excellent comments from yesterdays post about a survey identifying the Top Ten Leadership Skills.

What would you put in the list? What skills or qualities do you think are most important for a leader?  Leave a comment below and let us all know.

One comment suggested that empathy was an important trait. I would agree. I think that empathy is embodied in the two skills listed in the survey – integrity and relationship building. Empathy is understanding and understanding builds relationships of respect.

Integrity involves making judgments and taking actions that are not self-interested but that are best for the whole of the group. While fanatics have uncompromising zeal for a goal or cause, leaders with integrity have uncompromising commitment to judgments that are best for their community of followers.  This judgment cannot serve the needs of the community of followers without empathy.  Leaders must solicit, respect and value the views of others. Leaders cannot allow these views to carry more weight in a decision if they are accompanied by money, power or political influence.

I think it is interesting that the word “integrity” is often used to describe not just people or their behavior but also objects. For example, a computer system is described as having integrity as long as it is not breached or corrupted by error. Integrity represents wholeness, intactness and purity in objects. Likewise, these same qualities can and should apply to leaders. Leaders with integrity cannot be breached or corrupted by outside influence. Their character is impervious to external pressure and grounded in morals or ethics that are immovable. By standing for something, leaders with integrity draw followers because followers know where their leaders stand at all times. Followers draw strength and confidence from this assurance.

If you are unsure about this principle of leadership, think about the recent scandals. In each case, whether Enron, WorldCom or how the Mark Foley situation was handled, the people in these cases let an external influence (political advantage, money, power, prestige) breach their character. In most cases of corruption, I would suggest that the people around leaders convince them that their behavior is justified or acceptable. Accepting any outside influence or opinion to justify your personal actions is a sign that your integrity has been breached. Beware, this pressure may come from your boss, shareholders, the competition, stock market analysts, a board of directors or your spouse.

At Enron,enron stock.jpg the words "Respect. Integrity. Communication. Excellence." were found in many places, the least of which was the company’s stock certificate. Despite its well thought purpose, the integrity of the Enron system that included "Respect. Integrity. Communication. Excellence." was breached.

From the blog “Moving at the Speed of Creativity,” came this quote from a Tulane professor, “Good people do horrendous things in the workplace because they don’t see the situation as an ethical dilemma. They see it as a business problem to be solved.” 

Integrity looks beyond the business problem to judge right from wrong. The best leaders and those that follow them know this.

 

 


Oct26
Top Ten Leadership Skills
It was no surprise to me that in a recent survey that asked what skills or traits are most important for effective leadership, integrity and ethics came out near the top. Given the recent corporate scandals and dismal ethical record of many business and government leaders, the trait of integrity is and should be at the top of every leaders mind.

The survey was conducted and published by the Center for Creative Leadership. Results showed that the majority of respondents overwhelmingly indicated that "ethics/integrity" (60%) and "interpersonal openness/relationship building" (61%) were the most important skills for leaders today.

  1. interpersonal openness/relationship building (61%)
  2. ethics/integrity (60%)
  3. Organizational skills (31%)
  4. Commitment (30%)
  5. Positive attitude/optimism (28%)
  6. Decisiveness (27%)
  7. Technical skills or knowledge (26%)
  8. Persuasion /negotiation (23%)
  9. Confidence (16%)
  10. Patience (6%)
leadership skills graph.jpg
Oct 5
Are We Missing Mark Foley's Real Leadership Story?

We know … or are quite certain that … Congressman  Mark Foley …

1. was raped by a man who said he represented the gospel – and then sexually abused others …
2. claimed to represent American voters - and then sexually abused young men…

Why are we stopping there … though … when this story is packed with wisdom opportunities for leaders everywhere and for humanity today…?

Foley’s story is one that should inspire leaders and the rest of us to consider opposite viewpoints in questions about leadership… and the human brain….

Leaders … rather than focus on constant coverage of Foley’s choices … might ask  

1. What do we believe ... and how do others see us living those stated beliefs…?
2. Who do we represent when we make choices about how to treat humanity…?

Focus too much on Mark Foley’s erroneous choices and the human brain blocks out inspired lessons from it.
Focus instead on how the human brain helps leaders to restore community… let’s look past Foley … keep his mistakes in mind and imagine a new design for living…. To do so we ask…

1. How can we rewire a brain from focusing on Foley’s flaws to avoiding these mistakes  in our own choices…?
2. What would it take for new neuron pathways that prosper people around us … rather than abuse other humans…?

The media gives us the stories … and that’s their job. Ours is to ask the questions that reflect for personal and leadership growth. Let’s not stop with Foley’s constantly repeated story and miss its less obvious gateways to inspire our minds and lives. What do you think?
Oct 1
5 Questions Successful Leaders Ask to Stem the Snipers!


There are 5 two-footed questions that reflective leaders … who are interested in building goodwill … tend to ask when others are sniping at them…. These questions will also help to guide a business out of the path of sharpshooters and into the vaults of profit. The reason there is still mind-bending profit waiting there is because so few leaders have followed responses to these questions to get there…. blocktree question.jpg

1. What have we done in past to anger these people and how can we amend it and build goodwill among even those who disagree?

2. Why did dialogue break down in the first place … and
what peaceful tactics would restore mutual communication now?

3. What lessons can we learn from the best practices of this opponent and how will it help to restore mutual respect?

4. What would allies of that sniper say about our tone and collaborative leadership in this situation?

5. How are we being perceived as caring leaders who build with others … by our own people … how do we rate with other world leaders in this situation … and what areas do we show
reflection and growth that others might recognize as inspirational?

Can you see how 2-footed questions could change leadership from … arrogance … greed … exclusion … narrow-mindedness … and stubbornness … to positions of mutual trust and respect… ? Only then can a nation move forward with much that any of us want from it! 
Questions grow new brain cell connectors for further success that this nation lost in the past decade….

If you could get genuine answers to these 2-footed questions… where would you send them…?

Jul 5
Kenneth Lay of Enron Dies

Former CEO of Enron and convicted felon, Kenneth Lay, died suddenly of a heart attack in Aspen, Colorado.

Lay was scheduled to spend the rest of his life in prison and has become a name synonymous with corporate abuse and fraud. His death brought to a close the legal drama that was initiated after the collapse of the energy giant Enron.  Lay takes credit for Enron’s rise as one of the largest corporations in the United States. A court also gave him credit for its collapse and the loss billions of dollars in employee pensions. Thousands of employees and shareholders suffered financially from the demise of Enron. Many find death is not enough punishment for Lay.

First his character failed him and then his health. 

Pholospher Soren Kierkegaard once said,

“The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.”

Read the entire story at the Washington Post and a commentary of many views at FunnyBusiness.

 
Jun30
Leadership Interview and the Statue of Responsibility

Thanks to Kevin Hall for sharing his thoughts on leadership in the following interview.Kevin Hall.JPG

Kevin Hall is an accomplished author, speaker, consultant and serves as Chairman for the Statue of Responsibility Project, a $200 million project inspired by Dr. Viktor Frankl. Kevin has been featured in Forbes Magazine, Restaurant Business, Nation’s Restaurant News and Worth magazine. He is co-authoring a new book series titled The Power of Words. The first book, The Power of Words for Leaders, will be available in book stores in 2006, followed by The Power of Words for Health and Healing in late 2006/early 2007. He was a partner in Franklin Quest which became Franklin Covey.


In your experience, what are the traits or characteristics that all leaders share?
 
Humility is the “magna cum laude” of leadership traits.  I’m not talking about the dictionary definition of being meek, lowly, or timid. Humility originates from “humus”, which is that rich organic part of soil that allows for growth.  In fact, we won’t grow or develop, and we won’t allow others to grow and develop without sufficient “humus”, or humility, in our lives.  Great leaders are constantly learning, improving, and planting the seeds of personal growth as they journey along their path in life...they are teachable.  All other traits of great leaders emanate and cascade down from humility.  In short, humility is the one single characteristic that separates great leaders from good leaders.

Without true humility we can easily get caught up in the the unquenchable cycle of “having more¸ acquiring more”.  We think we have to “have” more, to “do” more, before we can “be” more.  This “Have-Do-Be” pattern of behavior is a treadmill that leads to nowhere fast.  The “humus” path of personal growth and learning, focused first on “being and becoming”, leads to a “Be-Do-Have” pattern of behavior that is both fulfilling and sustainable.  We will know that we are on the true path of leadership when we start asking questions like— “What do I need to become to have what I most value in my life?”

Our relationships, our businesses, our health, our finances, even our impact in the world...will all grow in direct proportion to how much we grow and what we become in the process.

How does language relate to leadership?

Continue Reading
May26
Business As Usual Fails for Lay and Skilling
It came down to character. Clearly Enron executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling were smart enough to lead Enron to rank 7th on the Fortune 500 list of US companies in 2001. However, some of the qualities that enabled them to succeed – keen intelligence, confidence, salesmanship, charisma, vision – may have ultimately led to Enron’s historic fall and now a guilty verdict. Yesterday, a jury upheld the charges of fraud and conspiracy against the two executives.

Leading a company that has a market value of $60 billion and nearly 6,000 employees must tempt a leader to imagine that he is invincible, beyond reproach and due some spoils for such genius and hard work. In the case of Enron, this attitude was brought on by the power, money, and prestige of such success and proved to be the poison that took $60 billion to zero, left the employees without a job or pension and now finds Lay and Skilling headed for an extended stay at the big house. Enron, Lay and Skilling have come to represent corporate greed, wrong-doing and deceit.

The aggressiveness, commanding presence and intellect that carried them to the executive suite contributed to their conviction. Viewed under a different light, many leadership and character traits did not impress a jury of middle-class citizens. Such smart capable men, suffered from a lack of credibility. The Washington Post reports,

“Jurors in the Enron trial made it clear that it would have been better for former executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling if they'd kept their mouths shut and stayed off the witness stand. Speaking shortly after a federal judge read their verdict, jurors said Lay's indignant outbursts while testifying in his own behalf made him seem "that he very much wanted to be in control -- he commanded the courtroom," said Wendy Vaughan, a Houston business owner."He was very focused, but he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder that made me question his character," she said.

As for Skilling, who spent days explaining the tedious financial inner workings of the once high-flying energy company, the jurors couldn't understand how he could know so much about that and not be aware of illegal business maneuvering, whether or not he was responsible for it personally.”

Character and integrity. They matter. Despite genius, hard work and an ability to attract followers, a leader cannot ultimately succeed with out them. The following found its way into the trial often. It sums up the case and the man.

“Rules are important, but you shouldn’t be a slave to rules either.”

                                                          - Kenneth Lay

The Moderate Voice provides some excellent commentary. Read more at the New York Times.

Feb24
Joey Cheek Press Conference
Several readers have asked me if I could publish Joey Cheek's press conference from February 14.  I think this is his complete statement.

"I have always felt if I ever do something big like this I want to be able to give something back. I love what I do; it's great fun, but honestly, it's a pretty ridiculous thing, I skate around in tights. If you keep it in perspective, I've trained my whole life for this but it's not that big a deal.

But because I skated well I have a few seconds of microphone time. And I know how news cycles work. Tomorrow there will be another gold medalist. So I can either gush how wonderful I feel or use it for something.

So I am donating the entire (winning) sum the USOC gives me ($25,000) to an organization, 'Right to Play,' that Johan Olav Koss (the Norwegian icon who won three gold medals in 1994 in Lillehammer) either started or gave to in 1994. It helps refugees in Chad, where there are over 60,000 persons displaced from their homes. I am going to be asking all of the Olympic sponsors if they will match my donation.

In Sudan, there have been tens of thousands of people killed. My government has labeled it genocide. Hopefully, if we can stabilize the region, with U.N. or U.S. pressure, we can go in and start programs for refugees there.

Johan has lived his life in a manner I hope to live my life. I can only hope to fit in his large shoes."
Dec14
Following Values
As you can probably tell, LeaderNotes is published by Know More Media. Today, Know More Media officially launched its network of business blogs.

This is an exciting opportunity for anyone affiliated with Know More Media and I think for business people looking to “know more” about business. I was part of the process to describe who Know More Media is and what it is we do and hope to become. You can read all about it at KnowMoreMedia.com.

Blogs offer unique publishing features like giving a writer the opportunity to express herself without an editor or to engage others in the conversation. That also makes it a challenge to bring together diverse thoughts, ideas and information under the brand of one network.

A set of common values and vision are tools to promote unity and a sense of purpose. To not only guide us, but all writers that will eventually join our network, we identified values that we hope to promote on Know More Media. These are listed as 11 statements that all begin with “we believe…” These statements will serve as our guiding light and be the values that we strive to follow. For us to succeed, everyone that represents the network will follow these values. I believe that if we follow these values a reader will be able to recognize a "Know More Media" writer and have certain expectations of quality and editorial integrity. 

I wanted to mention one of these values that we hold sacrosanct:

“We believe that truth and knowledge will be better revealed with transparency, community scrutiny, and robust conversation.”

Establishing values and creating a culture that promotes these values enables diverse individuals to forge a team that can be unified toward a goal. We invite readers, writers and anyone with something to contribute to join us in establishing truth and knowledge about business.

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