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If you want to improve Leadership, read these posts

Posted by Mark Bennett on August 7, 2011


So let’s start from the succinct definition, via Seth Godin, of Leadership as: “the ability to create positive change.”  Well, the last few weeks have been exceptionally disappointing then, if you were looking for leadership from figures in power, both public and private.

What can we do? We can be resilient and work at developing leadership, for which Dan McCarthy’s Leadership Development Carnival, this month hosted by the inimitable Jason Seiden, has itself demonstrated that very definition.

Jason has assembled an excellent collection of over 40 posts submitted from a wide variety of sources, all towards the goal of helping you build leadership and be a better leader. He read each one and has written a brief introduction to each to help you focus on the ones that could best assist you.

That’s still a lot of posts to digest, and while they are all excellent (I read them all as well), I’ve selected a few that struck me as being especially insightful, new in perspective, or inspiring. If you’d like, start with these, and then continue on with the rest. I normally try to get to five, but these ten stood out:

1. Adi Gaskell’s Is your chief exec suffering from the God Complex? | Chartered Management Institute. This applies to all leaders at all levels, so don’t let the title trigger the cynic in you (i.e. “Show me one who doesn’t!”) The excellent Tim Harford’s TED talk applies to each and every one of us –  gods only exist if they have worshippers. You already know how much importance I put on the “how” of thinking vs. the “what.” This supports that notion (although it needs to be tested, if you get my drift.)

2. Jason Seiden’s 4 Ways to Become a More Emotionally Mature Leader. Our emotions influence our thinking to an extent more than we’d care to admit and we’re less able to shut them off than we’d care to admit as well. The good news is that it’s okay; it’s more about understanding our emotions and how to handle their influence that really matters. In the end, it will enrich our lives as well as those of others.

3. Linda Fisher Thornton’s Ethical Leadership Context. The effort in thinking the ethical context is key here. It’s so easy to just say, “Profit” or “Shareholder Value” are all that matter, but that’s the God Complex again, claiming in the face of the incredible complexity of today’s world that There is Only One Answer and I Know It.

4. S. Chris Edmonds’ The Five Disciplines of Servant Leadership. The word “Servant” is a turn-off for many, which is too bad. These principles are key if a leader wants to see positive change actually happen.

5. Miki Saxon’s Ducks In a Row: Who Cares? A classic example of one of Jason’s favorite (and my) cognitive biases – the Fundamental Attribution Error (i.e. Self-Deception, etc.) “It’s them, not me.” The God Complex has its roots in this as well.

6. Amy Wilson’s Why Business Leaders Should Conduct Talent Reviews. An excellent, concrete example of really creating (and achieving) positive change through a practical tool that should be used more frequently in organizations.

7. Michael Cardus’s Yearly Performance Reviews SUCK! Managers Can Change That. Another example of creating positive change by simply viewing differently what is frequently a loathed process.

8. Dan McCarthy’s Which Change Model Should You Pick? Solid, practical advice on which of the many change models available you should consider in order to enact positive change.

9. Michael Lee Stallard’s Starbucks’ CEO’s Broken Heart. A seriously moving example of how leaders can accept our emotional nature in a mature way and as a result, be honest and true to ourselves and others.

10. Bret L. Simmons’ The Most Important Social Business Metrics. Of course, I had to include this post in that it helps you focus on what measures you need to keep an eye on if you are looking to see if your social business efforts are creating positive change.

Finally, our own Sri Subramanian has written a series of five superb posts that focus on the particular needs/challenges of technical folks who are looking to develop themselves as leaders. Her guidance is geared to the technologist’s typical pitfalls, mindset, etc. but they still apply in many ways to the broader populace. These posts have received huge accolades, so check them out, especially if you have had challenges in the technical leadership area (a very common circumstance):

·         Technical Leadership – An Introduction

·         Technical Leadership – The First Transition

·         Technical Leadership – The Leadership Transition

·         Technical Leadership – Impacting The Customer Experience

·         Technical Leadership: The Technologist

5 Responses to “If you want to improve Leadership, read these posts”

  1. I appreciate the kind words about my blog post. Thanks! Bret

    • You’re welcome, Bret. I think it’s vital for people to identify the measures they’ll use to help figure out and improve the effectiveness of their social business initiatives and you put forth a great guideline.

  2. Great summary of the top posts from the Leadership Carnival, Mark!

  3. Amy Wilson said

    Thanks for the shout out Mark!

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