Three Pillars of Great Branding (and Leadership)

One thing that truly defines great leaders is that they “create an expectation”. Not just meeting the expectation (that’s management), but setting an expectation. Leaders paint a vivid picture of a future state and promise positive change. That is the starting point of leadership irrespective of whether you are leading an organization or improving a small process to ease execution. People want to know where you are taking them along.

But creating an expectation means delivering on that expectation. Leaders deliver a meaningful experience to match the expectation. Not just the outcome, but an experience with touch of humanity. The way outcome is delivered, the mindset and intent behind how it was all put together is a key leadership differentiator. This journey may have its peaks and lows – times when tough calls have to be made and times where difficult conversations have to be made. It only leading others was easy. But, the point of delivering an experience is staying completely true to the intent. Actions become powerful when driven with intent.

And when outcome is delivered with right mindset and intent, it resonates with others. The experience of delivering the outcome is as important as the outcome itself. When the experience resonates with people, it builds an emotional connection and people would want to work with leaders to repeat that experience.

This post is inspired by an excellent post on three pillars of branding by Bernadette Jiwa. When I read it, I found parallels between the essentials of branding and essentials of great leadership.

Here is a quick sketch on three pillars of great branding (and leadership too).

Leadership: Start With Trust

Leadership starts with influence and influence starts with trust. Ability to truly connect with others is vital for leaders to build an environment where a leader is trusted for the intentions before being respected for competence.

I once worked with a new CEO who came on-board, took charge and immediately got into action. I remember when he first met a group of senior folks, he started with his introduction and talked at length about his past experience, competence and all the great things he had accomplished. Soon after requesting a short template introduction from all of us, he started off with his grand plans about the organization. He clearly failed to build a non-threatening space for other leaders and came across as someone who was ego-centric and hard-nosed.

Our first instinct as human beings when we assume a leadership role is to show our strength, competence and skills and prove a point about our fitment to the role.

I was reminded of the CEO (and many other leaders I worked with) when I read the classic Harvard Business Review article titled “Connect, Then Lead” which says,

A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence—and to lead—is to begin with warmth. Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas. Even a few small nonverbal signals—a nod, a smile, an open gesture—can show people that you’re pleased to be in their company and attentive to their concerns. Prioritizing warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them.

I think of the CEO again who was, through his aggressive show of strength, able to generate dispassionate compliance to his decisions. One of the biggest challenges for leaders is to create an ecosystem where people exercise their discretion (tapping into intrinsic motivations). Trust is a good place to start.

I strongly recommend that you read the HBR article “Connect, Then Lead” by Amy Cuddy, Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger for rich insights on this topic.

Here is a short summary of key insights that stood out for me from the article in a sketch note form.

Related Resources at QAspire

  • Graceful Leadership 101: Free PDF Book

  • Taking Charge of a Team? Avoid These 4 Mistakes

  • Leading Others: How NOT to be in Control

  • Leadership and Building Emotional Infrastructure
  • Hidden Strengths – Unleashing The Leadership Skills You Already Have

    Most people ascend to leadership positions based on their areas of natural strengths. Tools like SWOT analysis also focus excessively on two things: strengths and weaknesses. So, our natural response as leaders is to leverage our strengths and improve on areas of our weakness. Yes?

    But there is a large space between our strengths and weaknesses that which is hidden. Authors Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell calls this space as “Hidden Strengths” in their new book by the same name. About 70% of our skills fall in this hidden space where we are neither excelling nor failing. And according to authors, our focusing on our hidden strengths provide a very fertile ground for our leadership and professional growth.

    The book points to research which states that,

    “Effective leaders evolve and grow throughout their careers, whereas failed leaders get stuck in a pattern of overusing their strength to the point of staleness.”

    After a while, overusing our strengths may just turn out to be one of our weaknesses. And therefore, it is vital to first know the hidden strengths and then work to develop in those areas.

    Our natural strengths are an intersection between our talents, knowledge and skills. However, the possibility of having natural strengths is only to an extent of 20%, i.e. your top 20% of skills. For rest of the skills there are missing pieces.

    This book can be your effective guide in identifying those missing pieces. To do that, this book provides an overview of 28 skill areas that are divided into four categories:

    • Leading Self: How aware are you of your skills and limitations? How strong is your ability to self-regulate?
    • Leading Others: How do you interact with others in the organization?
    • Leading the Organization: To what extent do you think about the direction of the organization and how you function within it?
    • Leading Implementation: How are you ensuring that things get done?

    Knowing that constant learning is our biggest competitive advantage in a rapidly changing world, we all try hard to develop our skills in areas we think we need to improve. But having a handy guide like this book can provide a definite direction to your self-development efforts.

    This is a compact 80 page book that is not preachy in its tone, doesn’t offer any quick fix models but just outlines the premise, key skills and why they are important. Free online profiling of hidden strengths that comes with this book  also complements for brevity in content.

    Whether you are a leader looking for improving your skills further or an aspiring leader, this book will offer useful insights into some of the key skills that contribute to great leadership.

    What Enables Proactive Leadership?

    If there is one thing that differentiates leaders from others, it is their ability to remain proactive. I have seen so many leaders in business environment who don’t fix things till they start hurting the work. They devote more time to solve the problems that could have been fixed much before they happened. The cost of solving these problems after they grow big is often very high – sometimes, as high as losing a customer or your key team members!

    What are the enablers of proactive leadership? Here are a few that came forth.

    • Systemic Understanding: Understand the System when taking decisions or evaluating issues. It is about understanding the critical interdependencies of parts within the whole. A wrong decision in one department may have long term repercussions elsewhere. The key is to see (and let your team see) those repercussions through the understanding of the system.

    “Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static snapshots.” – Peter Senge

    • Constant Learning: Learning feeds proactive leadership. We all make mistakes all the time but a learning team constantly apply lessons from past mistakes to prevent them from happening in future. Constant learning also allows people to apply their knowledge to the specific business context. Here are more ideas to build a learning organization.

    Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy

    • Foresight. A leader needs to be watchful about the changing landscape and currents. They keep a close watch on discrete events and use their systemic awareness to foresee challenges, issues and risks. While they may not be able to prevent all the issues from happening, but they can always use this awareness to prepare well.

    Leaders that fail to assume responsibility for developing the discipline of foresight will eventually forfeit the moral authority to lead. – Bret Simmons (post)

    • Openness to Feedbacks: Feedback and inputs from people at all levels enables leaders to understand situation at a ground level while also staying current on expectations and needs of people. In many situations, this feedback can act as a compass.

    “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

    • Quick Action on Solution: Don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Risks, issues and dependencies can derail your organization if they are allowed to grow. A proactive leader maintains a constant cognizance on the potential threats and keeps them in check all the time. If you are a leader, don’t let the problems grow. Act on them.

    “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

    • Keep the team together. A leader who leads through a compelling vision, fosters learning and builds influence keeps the team together. People need an ecosystem to perform proactively. A leader’s ability to connect, communicate and clarify constantly on vision, values, intent and progress enables teams to take decisions with better clarity.

    “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” — Kenneth Blanchard


    Join in the conversation: Have you seen reactive leadership in action? What have been your lessons? Share them via comments or via Twitter!

    Leadership Development Carnival: June 2014 Edition

     


    Namaste!
    Welcome to the June 02nd 2014 Carnival of Leadership Development.

    I am thankful to carnival leader Dan McCarthy for allowing me to host this event -  a wonderful collection of very practical insights on Leadership Development. It is always a great privilege to host a Leadership Development Carnival because it allows us to explore so many different facets of leadership at one go. In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) business environment where technology is constantly changing how people collaborate and work, the paradigms of leadership are changing.

    In this edition of Carnival, we have a solid collection of posts that explores the changing face of leadership in the new world. Continuing the tradition, I have also included Twitter handles of the contributors.

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    Beth Miller of Executive Velocity asks “Does Your Leadership Fear Transparency?” and says “With the increasing lack of transparency that Washington DC has displayed, it is more important than ever for business leaders to step up and adopt the characteristics of transparency. Your employees crave and want leaders they can trust.” (@SrExecAdvisor)

    Dan Oestreich from Unfolding Leadership says, "We think of the system as ‘out there,’ but the most important system to change is the one within.”  You can read more in this his powerful post titled “Having Tea with the Dragon”. (@DanOestreich)

    Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center emphasizes on the importance of creating a team charter through her post “Create a Team Charter to Go Faster and Smarter”. She says, “Taking the time to get clear agreements among team members can slow things down in the beginning, but will help you go faster in the long run. It’s a paradox: Go slow in order to go fast.” (@JesseLynStoner)

    Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership presents an insightful post “10 Things Your Employees May Not be Telling You.” In this post at About.com, Dan writes, “In the absence of a solid foundation of trust and open two-way communication, here are ten things that you’re not going to hear from your employees.”  (@greatleadership)

    Dr. Anne Perschel from Germane Insights shares “The Secret Ingredient of Great Leadership”. We have all read 10 tips, 5 steps, and 4 actions of successful leaders, but we have to look closer to find the secret ingredient of great leadership and outstanding results. (@bizshrink)

    Julie Winkle Giulioni  asks “How Well-Populated is Your Pipeline?” She suggests, “Perhaps it’s time to evaluate leaders by the most crucial output for which they’re responsible: the quality of their followers.” (@Julie_WG)

    Joel Garfinkle on his Career Advancement Blog shares “7 Competencies Successful HR Executive MUST Know” to be successful. (@workcoach4you)

    Jim Taggart at Changing Winds blog submits his recent post “Why Arrogance Leads to Eventual Failure”. In this post he says, “I profile two very well-known companies, which happen to be Canadian (as I am) to illustrate how arrogance by top corporate leaders brought down one company (Nortel) and almost brought down the other (Blackberry), whose new CEO is working very hard to reposition the company to compete in the global telecom market.” (@72keys)

    John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog presents his post “A Good Management System is Robust and Continually Improving” and says, “An organization succeeds because of the efforts of many great people. But the management system has to be created for an organization to prosper as what we all know will happen, happens: people will leave and need to be replaced.”  (@curiouscat_com)

    Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders says, “Micromanaging is a dysfunctional behavior that most leaders fall into from time to time. So how do you know if you’re slipping into the micro management trap?” and presents her post “The Insiders Guide to Micromanagement”. (@LetsGrowLeaders)

    Jane Perdue of LeadBig presents “You know you’re not a leader when…” and says “Sometimes leaders need to take a moment, reflect on what they’re doing, and perhaps recalibrate if their actions are leadership material….or not.” (@thehrgoddess)

    Mary Jo Asmus at Aspire-CS presents the post “Give them something of value” and says, “Relationships are foundational to great leadership, and value is the common currency that flows between healthy relationships.” (@mjasmus)

    Nicholas Bate of Strategic Edge reflects on Leadership in his post “Leadership Reflections Seven”. In this crisp post, he provides useful reminders about fundamentals of great leadership.

    S. Chris Edmonds of Driving Results Through Culture says, “GM’s recall delays indicate a corporate culture more concerned with profits than with people. These recall delays are a failure of internal systems, of engineering, and, most critically, a failure of the heart.” Read more in his post “GM’s Heart Failure” (@scedmonds)

    Bruce Watt Ph.D of Development Dimensions International presents “Who Would Really Want to be a Leader?” and says, “Is negativity about leadership discouraging future generations from stepping up? In this post, I address our responsibility to select and prepare better leaders, hold them accountable and (very importantly) encourage future generations to pursue leadership.”

    Jon Mertz of Thin Difference presents an interesting take on VUCA world through his post “VUCA Times Call for DURT Leaders”. He says, “We work in Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous times. To lead effectively through VUCA, we need to be Direct, Understandable, Reliable, and Trustworthy. Five leadership practices will enable our DURT approach.” (@ThinDifference)

    Alan Robinson, Ph.D of The Idea Driven Blog shows how leaders can prepare for uncertainty by embracing flexibility through his post “A High-Performing System Helps You Face an Uncertain Future with More Confidence.” (@alangrobinson)

    Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership blog presents “Looking for a leader?” and says, “If you’re looking for someone who will make a good leader, here are some things to look for.” A very interesting list. (@wallybock)

    Frank Sonnenberg of Frank Sonnenberg Online suggests, “It’s better to learn from the mistakes that other companies make, than from your own.” and presents “50 Insane Mistakes Companies Make”. (@FSonnenberg)

    Susan Mazza of Random Acts Of Leadership says, “Most "to do" lists are often more a compilation of "should do" lists rather than "must do" lists – and the difference between the two determines whether you are clear about your goals and able to achieve them.” Read more in her post “3 Steps to Transform Your To-Do List” (@SusanMazza)

    Lisa Kohn of Chatsworth Consulting Group, presents Managing yourself out of the picture on The Thoughtful Leaders™ Blog where she shares why leaders should make themselves dispensable in order that their teams can survive without them. (@ThoughtfulLdrs)

    Randy Conley of Leading With Trust presents “After Your Trust Has Been Broken – 5 Ways to Avoid a Victim Mentality” and says, “Suffering a breach of trust can be a traumatic experience that sends you into a tailspin of self-pity and victimization. This practical article offers five concrete steps you can take to avoid a victim mentality.”  (@RandyConley)

    Neal Burgis, Ph.D. Practical Solutions presents “Can You Lead Through Your Discomfort?” and says, “When leaders normalize discomfort, you invite your work culture to embrace feedback and change.” (@Exec_Solutions)

    Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader shares "Leading Change-It’s Not about You" on The Lead Change Group blog and says, “This post serves as a great reminder of the humble leadership that ought to happen, where leaders are the first to admit to their employees that they don’t have all the answers, they don’t have all the ideas, and that they need everyone to be engaged and feel valued in order for there to be true success.” (@paul_larue)

    John Stoker of DialogueWORKS Blog gives detailed, thoughtful instruction that will help all leaders develop more effective, productive, and meaningful relationships with their direct reports. Read more in this post “Do You Bail Your People Out? Rescue Management Diminishes Employee Accountability” (@DialogueWORKS)

    Anna Farmery of The Engaging Brand says, “Stress is down to two things – control these two factors and you can conquer the world!” and shares the post “How The Best Leaders Deal With Stress” (@Engagingbrand)

    Steve Roesler of All Things Workplace asks a question, “What does your CEO consider important when discussing talent?” The answer, in his post, “Tell The Truth About Talent” is thought-provoking.(@steveroesler)

    Dana Theus of InPower Blog says, “Leadership is all about being able to see success, and help others see it and find their motivation to pursue it. But what happens when leaders see things differently? We don’t often take the time to think about the leadership gifts our gender gives us, but take a few moments to learn how others view success.” and shares the post “Do Men & Women Vision Success Differently?” (@DanaTheus)

    Mary Ila Ward of The Point Blog shares “I’m spending a lot of money on this: Getting and Measuring Bang for your Buck through Leadership Coaching” and says, “Thinking about getting a leadership or executive coach or have one? Coaching has been cited to be both effective and efficient for certain organizations, but how do you know if coaching will pay off for your organization?  Read this post to learn how to measure for efficiency and effectiveness of coaching.” (@maryilaward)

    Bill Bliss of Bills Blog breaks down the art of delegation into its value-added parts. Readers will never question the benefits (and bottom line impact) of delegation again after reading this post. Find more in the post “Delegation is the Killer App for Leaders” (@coachwmbliss)

    Dr. Dean Schroeder of Dean M. Schroeder Blog demonstrates how leaders can realize a sustainable, substantial competitive advantage in the marketplace – and create a more engaged workforce in the process. Find out more in the post “Organizational Improvement: It’s Not a Sprint, It’s a Journey” (@deanmschroeder)

    Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success shares “Ducks in a Row: Robert Sutton—Scale Means People” and says, “It’s important to understand that a company has no existence beyond its people who are united in a shared vision and their efforts to reach a common goal—to scale a company you must scale its people.(@OptionSanity)

    That’s it for this month’s edition. Thank you to all the bloggers who submitted their posts this month and I hope you enjoy reading/learning from these brilliant posts!

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    Fostering Emergent Leadership: Bite Sized Insights on #IndiaHRChat

    One of the skills that Google looks for before hiring is “Emergent Leadership”. In a connected, volatile, networked and virtual world of work, it is crucial for us to step out of traditional definitions of leadership and look at leadership as a role and not as a title.

    I was honored to be invited to share my insights on #IndiaHRChat on the topic “Emergent Leadership”. My fellow guest was Jesse Lyn Stoner, who is a business leader, executive coach and co-author with Ken Blanchard of International best seller “Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision”.

    It was such a great learning experience with fantastic ideas from the vibrant #IndiaHRChat community. Special thanks to host Tanvi Gautam for the invitation and kudos to her for providing us a platform to share and learn collaboratively.

    Here are the insights I shared.

    What is emergent leadership?

    Leadership beyond confines of formal authority that manifests itself in specific situations and group dynamics.

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    Blossoming of a leader from group who rises to situation, steps in, leads for a certain time and then goes back to normal.

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    It is a situational (and often temporary) act of leadership beyond title, experience or authority.

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    Emergent Leadership is central to success of groups, teams and orgs. Given a right environment, everyone can lead.

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    Leadership is not just a position. It’s a role people play based on problem at hand, skills, attitude and initiative.

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    Strong leadership qualities can emerge in any of us. Sometimes, out of our will. Other times, out of circumstances.

    How does emergent leadership change the paradigm of traditional leadership?

    Emergent Leadership dissolves the boundary between traditional top-down leaders and others.

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    It changes the pattern of traditional leadership from centralized authority to distributed one.

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    The role of a leader-by-authority: create a network of relationships, empower, inspire, facilitate, catalyze & serve.

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    Traditional leaders have a responsibility to build an ecosystem and then identify emergent leadership qualities.

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    Traditional leadership is important, only when it fosters a culture (in team/in org) where people step up to lead.

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    Traditional leaders have to give up the notion of power, for power is with those who do stuff.

    Why is emergent leadership important in today’s organizations?

    In a networked/connected/virtual world, emergent leadership is critical to success of organizations.

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    Because best ideas often come from those who ‘do’ stuff.

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    Noticing patterns of emergent leadership can provide important clues to build your leadership pipeline.

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    A team cannot afford to rely on ideas/insights of only one person (traditional leader), if they wish to succeed.

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    A culture of emergent leadership allows people to position their skills where they are most useful.

    How do you spot emergent leadership and what are the behaviors to look for?

    Emergent leadership is about group influence – Social skills is #1 trait to look for.

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    Emergent leaders are defined by their level of ownership, cognitive abilities, initiative, drive and commitment.

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    Their ability to collaborate with others. Humility to step back when someone else steps up to lead.

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    “Responsible ego” – they know they don’t have to come up with winning idea in all situations. wapo.st/1doGwZX

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    Constant quest to learn, being open to new ideas, ability to contribute to ideas from others.

    How can organizations promote and encourage emergent leadership?

    Orgs have to propagate the concept of leadership as a role and not as a position or title.

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    Establish a shared vision and create a robust structure that supports emergent leadership.

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    Carefully hiring people who are: motivated, collaborative, people centric with a leadership instinct.

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    Create smaller autonomous teams with flat organization to eliminate unnecessary layers of mgmt that stifle productivity.

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    Set precedence by recognizing and rewarding emergent leadership behaviors.

    How can a ‘leader by authority’ support and encourage emergent leadership?

    Define outcomes clearly and clarify values. Beyond that, eliminate roadblocks and support without directing the workflow.

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    Maintain healthy levels of communication in the team to create a matrix of relationships that supports emerging ideas.

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    Emergent Leadership requires a culture of trust, a constant feedback loop and healthy two way communication.

    What is the role of HR in supporting and encouraging emergent leadership?

    HR is the driver of the cultural shift required to foster emergent leadership.

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    HR sets the precedence on the need to support emergent leadership within the org.

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    HR plays a pivotal role in changing perceptions about traditional leadership and raising awareness about new ways to lead.

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    Also Read:

    Bite Sized Insights on Personal Branding #IndiaHRChat

    Coaching Culture: The Art and Science of Success #IndiaHRChat

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    Insights and Lessons on Critical Thinking, HR and Leadership Development

     

    In American Management Association’s critical skills survey 2012, respondents emphasized on 4 C’s (Critical thinking and problem solving, Effective Communication, Collaboration and team building and Creativity and innovation) as their key priorities for employee development, talent development and succession planning.

    I have been exploring the topic of critical thinking with respect to HR, Talent Acquisition, Leadership Development, Communication and Training via series of posts at Pearson’s TalentLens Blog (@ThinKritical on Twitter). The premise is simple – if we improve how we think, we will improve how we develop people, innovate, solve problems and grow as individuals and organizations.

    Here is a round up of all posts (with excerpts) written on this important topic so far.

    Why Hiring Critical Thinkers is Absolutely Critical for HR

    With people being at the core of an organization’s greatness, it is extremely important for HR professionals to pay attention to two things – that existing people are trained to think critically and people are hired based on their ability to think critically.

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    Problem Solving in Organizations: A Diamond or a Coin?

    Leaders are expected to take right decisions after considering various facets of a given problem – just like an expert jeweler looks at a diamond. Logic looks at problems as a coin with just two sides where as critical thinking is all about looking at the same problem as a diamond with multiple facets.

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    10 Most Important Traits of a Leader Who Thinks Critically

    Ability to think rationally and critically is one of the most important leadership skills and for the leader, thinking objectively is not just a skill, but also an obligation to the people they lead.

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    Training and Development: 4 Ideas to Build a Culture of Critical Thinking

    The reality is that training middle managers on critical thinking skills is much like teaching an adult to ride a bicycle. It takes patience, training and practice to be able to master the art of critical thinking which, in turn, leads to good decision making.

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    3 Ways Critical Thinking Improves Emotional Quotient of Your Leaders

    The fact is that a leader needs a fine balance of emotion and rationality to succeed. They need to connect with their people using emotion and decide what is best for them using rational thought. Critical Thinking is the connecting link between emotions and intelligence.

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    Critical Thinking – Leaders, Know Thy Biases

    Critical thinking is an antidote to cognitive biases. When we think critically, we recognize our own assumptions, evaluate arguments and draw conclusions.

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    How Critical Thinking Helps in Effective Conflict Resolution

    The truth is that conflicts, if managed well, are an opportunity to understand better, get to the root causes, introspect, improve and learn. A well-managed conflict often leads to improved clarity, better relationships and win-win situations.

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    Creativity and Critical Thinking: Friends, Not Foes!

    There is a difference between creative thinking and creativity. Creative thinking is the process of ideation (thinking). Creativity is about bringing that idea to life (execution).

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    Critical Thinking: The Soul of Effective Communication

    If communication is defined as a meaningful exchange of information, thoughts and feelings between two living creatures, critical thinking is the engine that provides this meaning.

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    BONUS: Don’t miss the guest post “Environment is Everything” written by Mr. Gurprriet Siingh, Director and Head, YSC India, an executive coach, blogger and a social media influencer. His Twitter handle is @JoyandLife.

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    Developing Leaders: Why Training Interventions Fail?

    Companies spend considerable amount of time and money on developing leaders through training programs and workshops. My experience so far suggests that these time-bound and finite interventions fail over a long run in developing leadership capabilities.

    I have attended a number of such training programs and workshops and have observed the impact of these interventions. I could see a short-term change in people who tried applying those ‘techniques’ but the impact eventually vanished with time and people slipped back into their normal ways of working. It seemed they needed something more than just training – they needed coaching, facilitation and developmental interventions over a long period of time. They needed a change in mindset and not just techniques, process or best practices in leadership.

    According to a research by MIT Sloan Management Review titled “Why Leadership Development Efforts Fail”, the key reasons identified were:

    • Executives approach leadership development efforts with a control, ownership and power-oriented mindsets rather than an understanding of shared accountability.
    • Leadership development efforts are not aligned with strategic goals and leadership development programs are oriented around commercial products that have limited relevance to actual needs or an organization.
    • Use of incorrect “make-believe” metrics to gauge effectiveness of leadership development programs.

    Views from a McKinsey article titled “Why leadership-development programs fail” concur with the reasons stated above. Not mapping the leadership development effort with an organization’s specific context is a mistake lot of companies make. According to this McKinsey article,

    Focusing on context inevitably means equipping leaders with a small number of competencies (two to three) that will make a significant difference to performance. Instead, what we often find is a long list of leadership standards, a complex web of dozens of competencies, and corporate-values statements.

    The article also emphasizes on value of changing the mindset rather than just imparting one-size-fits-all training programs. It says,

    Identifying some of the deepest, “below the surface” thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioral change—one too often shirked in development programs. Promoting the virtues of delegation and empowerment, for example, is fine in theory, but successful adoption is unlikely if the program participants have a clear “controlling” mind-set (I can’t lose my grip on the business; I’m personally accountable and only I should make the decisions).

    In lean terms, imparting training that does not deliver intended results is a waste. It is high time for organizations to identify this waste and look carefully at how people are developed.

    Developing people is an organic process that demands contextual mapping of best practices, experiential learning (leading through real work) and change in mindsets (and hence behaviors) required to lead in a new world of work.

    Join in the conversation: What are the other key reasons why leadership development and training efforts fail? Have you adopted a different approach to nurture leadership in your organization? If yes, how has it helped?

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    April 2012 Carnival of Leadership Development: Earth Day Edition

    Namaste! Welcome to the April 1st 2012 Carnival of Leadership Development. I’d like to dedicate this edition of Carnival to Earth Day 2012, celebrated every year on 22nd April as a movement to protect the beautiful planet we all have inherited.

    This month, we again have a great line up of posts on leadership, management and talent development. BIG Thanks to carnival leader Dan McCarthy from Great Leadership for allowing me to host this event. So here they go, in no particular order:

    Dan McCarthy guides us on How to Discuss a Problem with Your Manager. Dan was recently reminded by a younger employee how intimidating it can be for an employee to bring up an issue with a manager. In this post, he explains why it’s important to be able to address a problem with your manager and how to do it.

    Jesse Lyn Stoner outlines 5 Important Leadership Lessons You Learned in Kindergarten. Whether you are facing challenges as a result of changes in the economy, new opportunities because of advances in technology, or already have a good idea you want to implement, these five leadership lessons can make the difference between a successful outcome and a false start. The good news is: you already learned them in kindergarten. All you need to do is remember to use them.

    Mary Jo Asmus tells us “Don’t Leave Your Heart at Home”. Many leaders feel they need to be serious and tough at work. This post is an argument for the importance of leading with your heart as well as your brain.

    In her post titled “Of Money, Trust and ElephantsMiki Saxon points that focusing on profits doesn’t make a company more profitable, while focusing on customer service usually does. Great customer service rests solidly on a foundation of trust and its lack is the elephant many bosses choose to ignore.

    Wally Bock has been training and coaching first-time bosses for more than a quarter century and has learned some things along the way. Wally shares this wisdom in his post “What I’ve learned from 25 years of working with first-time bosses

    At Lead Change Group, Kate Nasser helps leaders question their values via her post “Leaders, Do Your Pet Peeves Disengage Employees?”. Pet peeves masquerade as values giving them hidden power over your leadership style.

    Tim Milburn presents “Three Traits Of A Lifelong Leader

    In his post “Leaders, Change What You Pay Attention To”, Blanchard’s culture guru S. Chris Edmonds outlines why leaders should apply time, attention, messaging, and reinforcement of BOTH performance expectations AND values demonstration.

    David Burkus at LeaderLab presents “How Good Leaders Become Bad Bosses” outlining leadership burn out and entropy.

    Bret Simmons takes a fresh look at leadership and management in his post “The Difference Between Management And Leadership

    Leaders often think that enthusiasm alone will help them get their teams lined up behind a vision. Jennifer V. Miller, in her post “How To Gain Buy-In from Your Team” outlines why this isn’t true and describes two other key components needed to gain buy-in from team members.

    Gwyn Teatro presents Leadership Lessons from Ernest Hemingway’s story “The Old Man and the Sea”.

    Robyn McLeod at The Thoughtful Leaders Blog presents “Bucket filling as a leadership competency”. Bucket filling technique is used in schools to teach children the value of compassion, respect and kindness. This post looks at how leaders can be more effective by practicing “bucket filling” in the workplace.

    Mary Ila Ward at Horizon Point Consulting presents a post titled “Queen Bee Syndrome” with an interesting take on women and leadership.

    Flashing back to his days in the headquarters of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Michael Wade of Execupundit.com outlines 10 key qualities of effective staff officers (equally applies to great leaders)

    Art Petty at Management Excellence presents “At Least 10 More Things to Stop Doing if You’re the Boss

    Jane Perdue presents “7 Ways to Maintain Momentum”. The next time you’re cruising down the highway and see the road sign that reads “keep moving, change lanes later” – smile and follow these seven tips!

    It is easy to feel victimized when your ideas are rejected by your Boss. Soon, you will be in a leadership position and people that are following you will start feeling the same. Rajesh Setty offers a fresh look at the problem in his post “Is Your Boss Killing Your Ideas?

    Laura Schroeder’s post “Think Moneyball” emphasizes on important fact that the war for talent is won from within.

    Lynn Dessert at Elephants at Work blog presents How to introduce an assessment to the team.

    In his post, Sustainable Means More Than Recycling, Mark Bennet nudges us to think what can happen when leadership is focused on how they manage talent and shape behaviors to the same extent it is focused on strategy and structure.

    In his post “The Truth About Your Time”, Kevin Eikenberry dispels the myth that leaders don’t have enough time and challenges us to have a proper perspective of time.

    Utpal Vaishnav states that if we learn to look beyond what’s normal, if we learn to be unreasonable, we can enter into realm of new possibilities and make a difference. Check out his post: Want to Make a Difference? Be Unreasonable.

    Linda Fisher Thornton writes about “The Adaptability Paradox” – difficulty we have as leaders staying current and “learning through” change.

    Many leaders are afraid of change rather than seeing it as an opportunity to move forward and build a stronger organization. Are You Ready for Change? by Guy Farmer provides some signs to assess “change readiness” of your organization.

    Kurt Harden in his post “On Reaching Out” suggests that we speak clearly in business world rather than succumb to the urge to fall in the herds of business men and women who speak jargon.

    That’s it for this month’s edition. Thank you to all the bloggers who submitted their posts this month and I hope you enjoy reading/learning from these brilliant posts!

    Review: “Love Presenting…” by Nicholas Bate

    Love Presenting Hate (badly used) Powerpoint

    In an ever-expanding new world of work, leaders have to reach out to more people and spread their ideas. A lot of leaders do presentations of all kinds (sales/training/conferences) but are not sure how to make them really effective.

    Nicholas Bate delivers what the world really wants – an effective guide titled “Love Presenting Hate (badly used) PowerPoint” on creating and delivering presentations that get people to act.

    Here is the basic premise of book, in author’s own words:

    We’re going to restore the joy of attending a presentation and re-discovering what it is to present with passion. We’re going to remember that there is a reason for having the very expensive gathering of people in that room: it is to get people to do something. And finally we’re going to remind ourselves there is a very thin line between chaos and creation in a presentation.”

    Design and content organization in the book is a great example of an effective presentation. Vibrant cover, hand-drawn illustrations (more on his blog) and succinctly presented content (with a lot of lists, of course) makes this reading experience a very pleasant one.

    Here’s what I have observed in many presentations attended: there is too much of “information” and too little of “inspiration”. Without inspiration, it is very difficult to get people to do something. Isn’t it? Like any other art, the purpose of presentation is simple: to transfer the energy and emotion, not just information. A presentation that does not do this, fails to make any mark.

    This book is a quick read with less than 100 pages, and the one that you might want to refer before every presentation you deliver.

    ET Young Leaders: An Opportunity to Shine

    India’s economic growth is largely attributed to its “demographic dividend” – a large pool of talented, competitive and growing young workforce. For India Inc., this is an opportunity as well as a challenge.

    Today, India Inc. needs more business leaders than ever before, who can not only direct the energies of the young professionals but also create new opportunities to creatively engage them.

    If you are the one who thinks you have what it takes to be a business leader, you have an opportunity – The Economic Times, India’s largest business daily, has launched “The Economic Times Young Leaders” initiative today.

    ET Young Leaders

    For more information: www.etyoungleaders.com

    Indian professionals between 26 and 32 years can can both nominate themselves or be nominated by their companies, before being tested on leadership skills in a structured and rigorous four-phase process that will culminate with one-on-one sessions with eight high-profile business leaders and CEO’s. To do so, this program will use proven competencies developed by SHL Plc, and the Indian School of Business.

    In my view, the concept is excellent, and the one that our business eco-system really needs. This initiative not only attempts to fill the leadership gap, but also provides a strong platform where aspiring individuals can test their competencies benchmarked against leadership metrics that have been developed based on learnings and experiences of corporate leaders from across the world.

    So, what are you waiting for? You can register through their website, via their email address or simply send your email id to 58888.

    It is an opportunity to shine, to be the best version of yourself and to accelerate your career. Don’t miss it!

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    Note: Thanks to the ET Young Leaders team for providing me a Beta preview of this initiative, and for featuring my comments on their freshly launched website.