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Black Swans

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Three hundred years ago, it was a well-known and widely held belief (thought to be indisputable truth) that all swans were white.  With the discovery of Australia and the subsequent sighting of black swans, a “truth” that was confirmed by millennia of observation by humans was completely invalidated.   Interesting trivia, but what does this story have to do with leadership?   It turns out, quite a bit. A Black Swan is a low-probability event that is very difficult, if not impossible to predict...

Blogging and Leadership

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By 2006, one could find a few early-adopter (and very brave) CEOs using blogs to communicate with their employees, customers and shareholders.  Although these were high-profile and often successful examples of leaders using this new media to communicate, it left many rank-and-file employees scratching their heads, thinking to themselves “well, that is interesting for a CEO, but I don’t ever see myself blogging at work.”  Think again. As it turns out, blogging is a very effective management tool...

Growing Innovative Leaders

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)...

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