What Leaders and the Declaration Signers Have in Common

Declaration of Independence John Hancock

July 4, 1776

If you’ve ever been to Philadelphia in the summer, you know how hot it is.

Imagine yourself there in 1776. You’re a representative of one of the colonies, wearing a dress coat, a shirt with sleeves tightly cuffed at your wrist and, of course, your silk stockings.

It’s now July 4th and the document is ready for signature. With its final approval, the colonies will declare independence from Great Britain, ending a long debate and all revisions of the document. The United States, a new nation, will be born.

You approach the table and see John Hancock’s signature in massive letters, which he says is so that “King George can see it without spectacles.”

Your turn to sign. The other delegates look at you expectantly.

You realize the weight of the moment, but you also realize that, by signing, your own life will be in danger. To many, you will be a traitor. If the revolution fails, you will hang for just a few letters on a piece of paper.

You push those thoughts aside and sign.

Your signature, along with the others, just changed the world.

A new beginning. The United States of America is now born.

The new country was far from perfect. The horrific practice of slavery wouldn’t end until the Civil War nearly ripped the country apart. Women and minorities had no vote.

Still, the United States of America would become a country that most of us are proud to call home. We value family, freedom, God and country.

Back to July 4th, 1776.

 

Your Leadership Moment

It was an incredible leadership moment.

As I reflect this week on the July 4th holiday, I think about the leadership lessons from that day:

“Leaders take risks to assure a better future.” -Skip Prichard

 

“Leaders know growth often comes from the uncomfortable.” -Skip Prichard

 

“Leaders inspire others to a better vision of themselves.” -Skip Prichard

 

“Leaders don’t wait for perfection.” -Skip Prichard

 

“Leaders know that imperfect progress is better than stagnation.” -Skip Prichard

 

“Leaders believe more in tomorrow’s promise than today’s problems.” -Skip Prichard

 

Decision Time

8 Types of Toxic Managers

Managers.

Some are extraordinary. They inspire us with their passion, their confidence in us, and their encouragement.

Others, not so much. They rack up the traits of a bad boss faster than you thought possible. They may condescend or micromanage.

You can complain. You can wallow in self-pity. You can look for a new job.

On the other hand, you could study the manager’s style. Understand the hot button issues. Learn how to navigate through it.

If you do, you may find that you not only learn to deal with difficult styles, but also maybe, maybe, you could even enjoy your job again.

Here are 8 Types of Toxic Managers and what you should do if you find yourself working for one:
getvoip-toxic-managers
This infographic created by GetVOIP.

How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking

Achieving Longevity

Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Why are some businesses more vulnerable to disruptive change than others?

Should big companies engage in entrepreneurship?

How do you stay ahead of the competition?

In Achieving Longevity: How Great Firms Prosper Through Entrepreneurial Thinking, Jim Dewald provides advice on how to create a culture of entrepreneurial thinking. He offers a method to combine the strength of a strong, established business with the innovation of a startup.

Jim is the Dean of the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, a former CEO and entrepreneur.

 

“To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” –Winston Churchill

 

Prepare Yourself for Real Disruptive Change

What makes businesses vulnerable to disruptive change?

There are 2 main messages in my book.

First, that while we think the world is changing rapidly, in fact, we continue to rely on a platform that arose from the invention of 3 general purpose technologies in the 1870’s: the internal combustion engine, the light bulb, and the telephone. Even with the computer and the Internet, we have spent decades boxing in this amazing new technology to fit our paradigm need for a faster, smaller, cheaper phone. So, while we think we are in the midst of rapid change, the western world is in fact obsessed with ensuring we stick with the old world and reward refinements of tired mature ways of doing things. When real change comes, will business leaders be prepared? I don’t think so.Dewald_AchievingLongevity

One of the reasons why we won’t respond well when real change comes is that while ideas are abundant, small start-up ventures lack the resources – people, money, physical assets — to launch these ideas. They also lack the credibility, networks, access to customers, suppliers, government officials, etc. This limits their ability to move these ideas forward, no matter how great they may be. At the same time, existing companies are flush with people, money, networks, customers, and, most important, credibility and brand value. But what they lack is an entrepreneurial mindset. To move forward, companies need to resist the rhetoric of finding and sticking to a narrow form of sustainable competitive advantage, and instead adopt a model of strategic entrepreneurship that promotes transformational growth and longevity.

The fundamental impact of disruptive change is that our organizations are not built to manage change very well. Through principles such as sustainable competitive advantage, we tend to use fixed mindsets that build a sort of impenetrable armor around the firm’s processes and procedures, instead of being flexible and adaptable. When disruptive technologies or business models present an alternative, firms resist. Indeed, even customers often resist, as we remain stuck in our paradigms formed as noted above. However, in time, customers adapt because they do not have the level of sunk investment in the old ways that companies often do. Time and again, rigid non-entrepreneurial firms fall by the wayside.

There are many very extreme examples of this phenomenon. Think of Kodak, which is a firm that actually pioneered digital photography, but in the end was unable to adapt to this powerful disruptive technology.

 

“Progress is a nice word we like to use. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” –Robert Kennedy

 

Embrace a Spirit of Entrepreneurship

How can large organizations embrace a spirit of entrepreneurship?

I emphasize the importance of adopting three points:

  1. Recognize that opportunities are developed at all levels of the organization.
  2. Build a culture that embraces and supports entrepreneurship.
  3. Consciously develop support for entrepreneurial initiatives through effectual processes or bricolage.

The key is leadership, not only in words, but in action. It is imperative that the CEO endorse an entrepreneurial culture by example – championing new ideas. In fact, a failure or two is good because it demonstrates that even the CEO recognizes that not every entrepreneurial idea is destined for success, and it is important to manage your investment and ensure that no one new venture will take down the ship.

 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” –Peter Drucker

 

The Key Elements of a Good Corporate Culture

What are the elements of a good corporate culture?

There are many theories on this question, and I included quite a few in my book. In the end, the key elements are:

  1. Provide open opportunities for opportunity development – these include group time (because we know that mixing people with diverse expertise and background can lead to innovative solutions), plus unstructured open thinking time (such as 3M’s famous “tinkering” time).
  2. Adopt a learning culture – growth mindsets are essential, pursuing what could be as opposed to why this won’t work.
  3. Accept failure, and the importance of learning from failure.
  4. Adopt bricolage (known outcomes, with unknown ways of getting there), or effectuation (building on invention, experiment, and science) as frameworks for pursuing each entrepreneurial initiative (purposefully).

 

“The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.” –Peter Senge

 

Encourage Creativity at all Levels

How do leaders encourage creativity at all levels of the organization?

The first thing I would say is that leaders must recognize that organizations need time to change. This is not an overnight process and will require considerable and repetitive actions and wins to change. And failure is a key component – an organization can move far closer to being creative and adopting entrepreneurial thinking by showing that a person with a great idea that failed in implementation is celebrated as thinking outside the box, rather than penalized for failing.

Researchers have studied the importance of story-telling in organizations, and how a lasting culture can be built around well-known, maybe even legendary, stories that come from the history of the organization. The dimensions of story-telling I describe in my book include equality (versus inequality), security (versus insecurity), and control (versus lack of control). Through story-telling of actual events that happened in the organization’s history, employees are able to gauge whether the organization will endorse or shun creativity at all levels.

 

“Successful innovators are..not risk-focused; they are opportunity focused.” –Peter Drucker

 

Middle management is often ignored in the leadership literature. What role do they have in this type of change management?

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Why?

Start With Why

Millions of people have seen him speak or read his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Simon Sinek’s message is both thought provoking and insightful. But it’s not only for corporate leaders. It’s for anyone who wants to inspire and lead others.

 

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” -Simon Sinek

 

The most inspiring leaders of the world tap into the innermost part of the brain, where we think in images rather than words. Gut feelings aren’t actually from the gut, but from the core of our brain.

Simon’s examples make his concept come alive. For example, other people tried to fly before the Wright Brothers. Some were well funded, educated and well connected. They wanted to become rich and famous. But the Wright Brothers, who had little education or money, were successful because they believed they could change the course of the world. The “why” behind their actions was the power that inspired the world.

Similarly, Simon explains why Apple is uniquely positioned. Apple marketed themselves and their computers with the belief that the brand was changing the status quo and the world. Apple’s message was, “We believe in thinking differently, and, oh yeah, we make computers.” Apple competitors may be equally qualified, but it is Apple who has led the way in sales.

 

“What you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.” -Simon Sinek

 

Your Why

  • What is your why?
  • What’s driving your behavior?
  • Why do people follow you?

As you look at your life, your career, your purpose, think about Simon’s powerful message. What’s the why behind your actions. If you’re working simply for a paycheck, you aren’t tapping into your potential. It’s the why that matters. The why pushes you forward. The why drives commitment when things are tough. If you aspire to be a great leader, it’s not the product or the company. It’s your why. That’s what distinguishes the most influential leaders.

 

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Millennials and Leadership: What They Really Think

 

Studies on generations often end up in generalizations. Baby boomers think this. Generation X thinks that. My mind usually goes to the exceptions and challenges the assumptions.

 

Millennials will be 50% of the global workforce by 2020.

 

Still, I’m fascinated by the research because I want to connect with people of all generations. No doubt that the Millennial generation is up and coming. They will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020. How they will impact and lead us into the future is exciting.

 

Survey: Millennials value well-being the most at 37%.

 

 

Millennials-and-Business-Leadership-Infographic

 

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Study: Millennials value strategic thinking and inspiration in leaders more than anything else.

 

Infographic by Brighton