AuthorSean P. Murray

Growing Innovative Leaders


Any good gardner knows that the right mixture of fertile soil, clean water, fertilizer and sunlight will produce healthy and fast-growing plants.  The same can be said for growing innovative leaders, but in this case it is necessary to cultivate the right mixture of organizational factors, leadership skills and learning opportunities.   In the November issue of Harvard Business Review, Jeffrey Cohn, Jon Katzenbach and Gus Vlak write about the unique conditions that help great companies to find...

Leaderless Organizations


What can leaderless organizations tell us about leadership in the future?  There is a growing phenomenon of leaderless organizations that is chronicled by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom in their recent book The Starfish and the Spider.  The title refers to the contrast between two animals that, at first glance, appear to be quite similar but… If you cut off a spider’s head, it dies; but if you cut off a starfish’s leg, it grows a new one, and that leg can grow into an entirely new starfish. ...

The Wisdom of Buffet


The Snowball is an excellent new biography of Warren Buffet by Alice Schroder published in September 2008.  It is packed full of wonderful anecdotes and stories from Warren’s life.  At 838 pages one might think it is a bit long, except for the fact that Buffet’s life and business experience span such a long period, the book needs every page and probably more to give the full story justice.  I have a listed a few of Buffet’s life lessons here that relate directly to the topic of leadership:...

Leadership Portals


Over the past year, as I visited companies and talked with leadership development professionals, I noticed a growing interest in the idea of creating a compelling Leadership Portal. The Leadership Portal usually resides on a company Intranet and is the starting point for employees looking for information on developing their leadership skills, or helping others to improve.  In most cases, companies want their Leadership Portal to be customized according to the organization’s unique values...

Developing Talent During a Crisis


Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink, and a frequent contributor to the New Yorker has a new book out this month, Outliers: The Story of Success which explores the age-old question; what separates super-successful people from the rest of us?  The mythic explanation applied to Carnegie, Morgan and other barons is that these were self-made men who relied primarily on their intelligence, personality and sheer will-power.  In a recent Fortune article, Gladwell talks about how...

Generation X-treme


I was recently invited to speak to a group of mid-level managers about leadership and the speaker I followed was Dr. Izzy Justice, CEO of EQMentor who spoke to the same audience about managing the different generations in the workforce.   Izzy talked about the Top 10 Reasons Gen Xers are Unhappy at Work.  Given that I fall squarely in the Generation X fold, I was interested in this research (originally published by Tammy Erickson in her Across the Ages blog).    The list is interesting and...

Climbing the Corporate Lattice


Cathy Benko, the Chief Talent Officer for Deloitte L.L.P., recently wrote an article in the New York Times about the “corporate ladder” and how it is an out-dated metaphor.  The notion of the career ladder is so ingrained in many of us that it is startling to think it just doesn’t apply the way it used to.  Cathy cites an increase of women in the workforce balancing families and careers, and a shift from baby boomers to Generation X and Y who are more willing to explore less traditional career...

Obama and Leadership


While watching Obama’s victory speech last night to his supporters in Grant Park, I was overwhelmed by the incredible rise and almost unbelievable story of this man’s journey to the presidency. To see an African-American elected to the highest office in the country reassures me that the United States of America is still a land of opportunity and a beacon of hope for the world. Obama’s emergence as a national and global leader was fueled in part by three factors; (1) technology, (2)...

Linking Employee Engagement to Stock Price


The Holy Grail of human capital management has always been the direct linkage and correlation between investment in leadership development and increasing stock price.  Each year  The Great Place to Work Institute publishes a list of the “100 Best Companies to Work for.”  The analysis looks at observable investments (like a cafeteria or daycare) as well as employee attitude and engagement.  Research conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute in 1998 and again in 2006 confirmed that companies...

Performance Review vs. Performance Preview


On October 20, 2008, one of the top 3 articles emailed on the Wall Street Journal was not about the election, or the sinking stock market.  It was about one of the lowliest and least popular of all business activities — the Performance Review.  Why did an article about the performance review rise above the noise of a contentious general election and panicky stock market?  The answer just may be the title of the article itself, “Get Rid of the Performance Review!” by Samuel A. Culbert, a...

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