Last Of The Series – Leadership View #13: Balance Your Life

Last Of The Series – Leadership View #13: Balance Your Life

I began this series as a tribute to my friend, Marsh Carter, whose leadership has been an inspiration to me for at least 25 of the 45+ years covered in his View of Leadership. As I have written these blogs each week, using Marsh's topic lines, it has been interesting to me how relevant Marsh's large company experience is to the entrepreneurs  I work with each day. For the final post in this series, I decided it is fitting that Marsh author the post, drawing this time from his experience rather than mine.  Leadership View #13:  Balance your life – 3 legged stool analogy (balance between work, family and a strong outside interest for yourself) Many people we've all known, including ourselves at times, have a tendency to regard our careers or jobs as the most important aspects of our life---this is especially true the last few years where hand held devices link us 24/7 to the office, our bosses, our employees and coworkers.  It may...
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Leadership View #12:  Watch For (Perhaps Unintentional) Malicious Obedience…

Leadership View #12: Watch For (Perhaps Unintentional) Malicious Obedience…

Leadership View #12: Watch for (perhaps unintentional) malicious obedience... Early in my career, I learned this valuable lesson. I had the opportunity to lead a transition of a client reporting group from a fully manual process to a fully automated process. This area was the last functional area to be automated in this company (guess that tells you how long ago this was). When the previous manager left in the middle of the systems conversion, I was asked to take over. As those of you who have led systems conversions know, it is never a smooth process and there are many long hours that are just part of the process. On one of these long nights, the senior person on the team came up and asked me how to calculate a certain number. I didn't know the answer, and I didn't ask him if he knew the answer, I simply guessed. And, I ass-u-me-d, he would tell me if I was wrong. See...
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Leadership View #11: Hardest Task

Leadership View #11: Hardest Task

Leadership View #11: Hardest task – changing your leadership and management styles as your company grows or you go up the ladder.  I often hear entrepreneurs say, "I don't want to lose the culture as I grow this company" or "We are like a family, I want to keep this feeling as we grow". And yet as the company grows the culture inevitably changes and the owner no longer knows the name and the family of every employee. And, what the company needs as it moves from "go-go" to "prime" (to quote Vistage speaker Gerry Faust) is for the leader to change. In the go-go period, everyone is equal and it is all about getting the job done, getting the orders out, meeting the customer needs. Typically the owner is the chief sales officer and innovator. And, then as a company adds more people and moves to prime, management becomes necessary and terms like "building a leadership team" come into play. Suddenly the owner is...
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Leadership View #10: Take The High Risk…

Leadership View #10: Take The High Risk…

Leadership View #10: Take the higher risk / higher reward job. Much like when choosing investments, the higher risk choices lead to higher returns. And much like with investments, intentionality is the key. If you truly want the higher reward (or greater leadership role) and are willing to take the risk to modify both your behavior and your choices, go for it. And, along the way, gather feedback from your manager, your peers, and your subordinates so you know where your blind spots are and the modifications you will need to make. A great place to start is with Marshall Goldsmith's book, What Got You Here, Won't Get You There. Elisa K. Spain  ...
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Leadership View #9: An Absolute Skill Of An Effective Leader…

Leadership View #9: An Absolute Skill Of An Effective Leader…

Leadership View #9: An absolute skill of an effective leader is the ability to grow and adapt. So often we find that what has made us successful in the past, is not working for us today. From the entrepreneur who built a successful company what I hear is, "I got here because I know my product, and I know what my customers need. Along the way I added a team and now they need leadership and management and I don't have any experience doing that." From the key executive I hear, "I got to this level on my business knowledge; I have always been the expert. Now, I know I need to develop the experts below me, how do I do that?" For me the skill of an effective leader is first recognizing the need to grow and adapt and then finding resources to help us get there. Vistage members recognize this and look to their fellow members and chair to support them on this...
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Leadership View #8: Merging Two Organizations…

Leadership View #8: Merging Two Organizations…

Leadership View #8: Merging two organizations gives a leader an opportunity to form a new culture / leadership team / operating style.  A common mistake is to adopt one or the other, thereby creating winners and losers.   This leadership view is actually a continuation of Leadership View #7 where I talked about getting buy-in during a merger. Once we have that buy-in from the early majority, the next question to answer is:  what will be the culture, leadership and operating style of the combined group? Remembering that a "merger" can mean combining two companies, two groups, or simply adding a significant number of new team members. In my experience the culture bends. Last year, I added several new members to my Vistage CEO group and most of these new members came from other CEO groups where they had been members for some time. The groups they came from had their own culture, operating style and formal and informal leadership. Here is what I learned from...
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Leadership View #7:  When Merging Or Combining Two Organizations..

Leadership View #7: When Merging Or Combining Two Organizations..

Leadership View #7: When merging or combining two organizations, it has been estimated that 60% of the people will be relatively indifferent, 20% will be strongly supportive, and 20% will be strongly non-supportive.  Focus on the 20% that are strongly supportive and converting the 60% who are neutral. It is so easy to be drawn to want to "convert" those who are negative. Whether it's the one customer we can't seem to please; or the one person sleeping when we are giving a presentation; or the one person on our team of 25 who always has a negative comment. And the same applies when combining organizations. There is an old adage that mergers succeed or fail based on cultural fit. My experience when combining organizations or adding a significant number of people to an existing group, is the culture bends. The core of the culture remains and it bends to accommodate and subsequently grow from the additions or the merger. Those who are supportive...
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Leadership View #6: Some Problems Can’t Be “Solved”

Leadership View #6: Some Problems Can’t Be “Solved”

 Leadership View #6: Some problems can’t be “solved” (and, hopefully, made to go away) – they must be managed and may require the leader’s repetitive attention and time. As leaders and managers, we have been taught to find the root cause and fix the problem. This Leadership View seems to fly in the face of that. What do you mean "some problems can't be solved"? For me the key word here is repetition. For anything to be sustainable, it must be repeated. We humans get distracted, forget what we learned and have to be reminded. This is what Vistage is all about. Our members hear from a speaker 8 times a year. Do you really think each speaker brings something new to the table? Rather, they often are reinforcing a similar message. And, we hear the message differently depending on where we are in our lives and our businesses at the time. An entrepreneur leading a start-up will hear a leadership message differently 10 years...
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45 Year Leadership View #2: Sometimes, The Most Effective Techniques…

45 Year Leadership View #2: Sometimes, The Most Effective Techniques…

Marsh Carter's Leadership View #2: Sometimes, the most effective leadership techniques are the simplest. We often strive to find a method or a framework that we can employ to become more effective as leaders. Sometimes, as Marsh reminds us in his Leadership View #2, it's the simple things. Sometimes, all we need to do as leaders is simply ask questions, listen and respond accordingly.   Elisa K. Spain  ...
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A 45 Year View Of Leadership

A 45 Year View Of Leadership

This past Thursday was the first day of spring and while here in Chicago it still feels like winter, I did see a crocus today. Spring, for me, represents new beginnings. With that in mind, I am launching a 15 week series entitled "A 45 Year View of Leadership", honoring my friend, Marshall Carter. Marsh is the current Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and retired Chairman and CEO of State Street Bank. In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Marsh was a military leader and received the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart. The last time I saw Marsh, he shared that he is a regular reader of this blog and he gave me a document entitled, "A 45 Year View of Leadership".  He said "do whatever you want with this". The document is a list of 15 points. Although I wanted to write a book of his stories, this wasn't something he wanted. So we agreed that I would write this...
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