Let’s Move Beyond Our Love Affair with Charismatic Leadership

NUGGET : Don’t put any leader on a pedestal. A mainstream view of leadership is that the best leaders (people with institutional power) have lots of charisma. They use it to instill vision, values, and culture and to make sure people are aligned, committed, and acculturated. These charismatic leaders are the heroes, even rock stars, of many leadership books. But is charisma all it’s touted to be? An interesting, scholarly book on leadership encourages us to wake up from the charisma trance. I’d like to share some of its insights (note: I hope to serve you, my busy reader, by sometimes being a research forager and translator). The book is… Read More

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Accountability at the Top: Leadership Lessons From the HealthCare.gov Debacle

NUGGET : Leadership in change is not just a matter of vision. For people in formal management roles, vision and policy are just the beginning. The true test is in the less glamorous and often messy work of execution. It disturbs me to hear that a project as large and complex as HealthCare.gov appears to have been badly managed. It’s not the fact that there are technical problems – there are few big system implementations that don’t have them. What concerns me is the apparently poor change management along the way. I’m not privy to the details, so at this point I can only comment generally about the change management… Read More

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The SHADOW side of the Pyramid Organization

NUGGET : Be sure that the way you draw your organization corresponds to how you want it to work – and be aware of both the “light” and the “shadow” of the assumptions that underlie your mental model. In leadership programs I often ask people to draw their organization. Before you read on, imagine how you would draw yours. Your drawing reflects your implicit assumptions about how the organization works. Most people draw a pyramid or a cascading organization chart. Many organizations today – possibly including yours — are managed as a traditional “pyramid.” The cascading organization chart within the pyramid shows job boundaries and where people fit, maps how… Read More

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Think BIGGER About Change The Case FOR Failures

NUGGET : Failure is a critical ingredient for complex change and today’s “failure” may be an important step in a larger journey. Don’t give up when somebody says, “We tried that and it didn’t work.” Rather check whether the change is worth pursuing now. Then ask, “What worked and didn’t work last time? How are our needs today different or more intense? What did we learn that can help us be successful this time? Some people are surprised about the emerging global policy changes related to Syria and Iran.  I am not.  When seen through the lens of larger change dynamics, the new openness and global consensus related to both… Read More

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Think BIGGER About Change: The Case FOR Polarization

NUGGET : We demonize polarization (it does have its dark side) but it’s an important dynamic that helps fuel complex change processes. When it is most intense, it is a signal that the likelihood of breakthrough may be near. So, don’t be afraid of polarization. Stimulate it, and then find ways to transform it into more robust and next generation solutions and agreements. Okay, we in the US (and you in the rest of the world) are probably fed up with the polarization in the US Congress. It is befuddling, frustrating and could leave a long tail of destruction even if and when compromise or new kinds of solutions occur.… Read More

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Improving Your Change Management Success Rate: An Insight from Research

NUGGET : People’s belief in (and your telling them) the value of a change does NOT guarantee that a change will be implemented – in fact, it may make the change harder to implement! Don’t just sell a change, make sure the people affected help customize it for your organization and environment. It’s a pretty widely accepted fact that 60% or so of change projects don’t deliver intended results. There’s lots of room for improvement! What can you do about this? Let’s set aside change programs that shouldn’t have been started in the first place (and there are many of those) and focus on change initiatives that have the potential… Read More

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Introducing the SHADOW Side of Power

NUGGET : Become increasingly aware of the “shadow” that goes with formal leadership roles.  It can derail your best leadership intentions – but also holds immense potential energy for leverage, learning and legacy! It was 1958, my eighth grade year. I was part of the oldest group in the school. We had all looked forward to this time. Some of us, including me were asked to be on the school patrol. Wow! I was psyched – my first formal power role. Like others on the patrol, I was given a silver badge mounted on a thick brown belt that I wore diagonally across my chest and around my waist. Like… Read More

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Welcome to: Stirring the Pot

  It’s pretty clear that today’s is a rapidly changing (and quite challenging) world of work. The question I would like to explore is, what does it mean for you as a leader and participant, or as someone who influences others in those roles?   I believe that the changes going on are occurring at a deeper level that is often not well explored; that it is vitally important to step back, think about, and really take a look at what the changes around us mean and how we can and will respond. It’s difficult to do this because things are moving so fast and all of us seem to… Read More

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