We had the opportunity to view Gary Hamel’s video in which he speaks to ‘Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment’ that we found profound and resonated with our experience of coaching executives and managers throughout North American and other global organizations. Gary is a leading management thinker and author and co-founder of the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX). He makes a very cogent argument for management that can be expected in the 21st century. Turn up your sound and enjoy.
This video is a portion taken from the University of Phoenix Distinguished Guest Video Lecture Series. We would enjoy hearing your response. Take care.
Although the two concepts – solitude and leadership – on the surface do not appear to be strongly connected, Derisiewicz does a masterful job of illustrating what they truly are and how they are intimately connected. He states that leadership are the “qualities and mind that will make you fit to command a platoon, and beyond that, perhaps, a company, a battalion, or, if you leave the military, a corporation, a foundation, a department of government”. Solitude “is what you have the least of . . . . the ability to be alone with your thoughts. . . . solitude is one of the most important necessities of true leadership.” Derisiewicz makes powerful references to the Francis Ford Coppola’s movie Apocalypse Now and the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad to ingeniously drive home his point.
Derisiewicz feels he needs to forwarn leaders that they will find themselves wrestling with bureaucracies “where what is rewarded above all else is conformity”. He encourages a different kind of leader and feels there is a crisis of leadership in America. What is missing are thinkers . . . “people who can think for themselves . . . who can formulate new direction for the country, corporations, colleges, for the Army . . . a new way of looking at things . . . people in other words, with vision.”
He goes on to invite leaders to learn to concentrate, to focus, which is all about solitude. He encourages leaders to think for themselves
by finding themselves, “finding their your own reality . . . . don’t marinate yourself as leader in conventional wisdom, others’ realities, but rather listen to your own voice and find a new direction, not simply putting yourself at the front of the herd that’s heading toward a cliff.” To achieve, this the leader is encouraged to take the personal time to read books that are based on the writer’s own solitude in thinking for his/herself. Further, he claims “books stand against conventional wisdom of today simply because they’re not from today”.
The intent of solitude is to get to know yourself better. A powerful form of solitude is that of friendship, deep friendship, that may appear on the surface to be counterproductive to the point being made. This involves intimate discussion―uninterrupted talk. This promotes ntrospection―talking to yourself―that can done by talking with someone that you have vulnerably trust with. . . . a very close friend or a highly qualified executive coach and confidante. Here you can truly think out loud with full confidentiality being kept within a
crucible of non-judgment. We all intuitively know that being in solitude is difficult and challenging, some more than others. However, leadership demands this.
Derisiewicz claims that “taking counsel with yourself in solitude’ is the essence of leadership . . . the position of leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one . . . . however many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions . . . . and at such moments, all you really have is yourself.”
What is in the challenge of solitude and leadership for you? What are related hidden opportunities and threats? We would love to hear your thoughts and feelings on this important subject.
In a recent blog titled ‘Negative Feedback Is Disengaging and Demotivating to Talent’ by Ken Nowack, he quoted Bill Walsh’s observation that “Nothing is more effective than sincere, accurate praise, and nothing is more lame than a cookie-cutter compliment”. Ken’s blog was so profound that he was kind enough to give us permission to share it with you. Enjoy!
“What would you say to someone if you knew that your honest feedback to a person could influence and motivate this individual to make or not to make a $3 million gift or donation to a charity or non-profit organization?
Would you be brutally honest and share your opinion that the person has a long pattern of being a “competent jerk” and really needs to change their interpersonal approach with others or would you be politically correct and just assume your feedback really won’t make a difference in changing their leadership style? It is also possible that if the person feels overly criticized that they might be unwilling to “give back” to the organization in the form of a monetary gift.
Ahh…the dilemma of feedback!
Just how honest and candid should one be in giving feedback to others?
One question that comes up from raters in 360-degree feedback processes is whether they can be “totally honest” in completing the online questionnaires1. I’m sure in the back of their minds they are also questioning just how much this feedback will really make a difference.
As a vendor of 360-degree feedback assessments it’s not atypical on any multi-rater project to get at least one participant or rater contacting us and asking just how “anonymous” and confidential their feedback will be. We try to explain that leaders don’t typically wake up each morning and spontaneously try out new behaviors and change for the sake of change.
We try to assure raters their comments and ratings will be bundled with others who have been invited by their leader for feedback and that without taking a risk to share their observations, suggestions and feedback what they will see is basically more of the same. We can actually confirm by watching our assessment administration system that some of the less paranoid hang up and complete the online questionnaires and the others choose not to.
Why do Some Raters Decide Not to Provide Feedback?
Some raters don’t believe that leaders will change anyway (it doesn’t matter if the cause is motivation or ability-the outcome is the same)
Some raters are justified in not participating knowing that their boss will actually try hard to identify them and if successful will punish them for their candor
Some raters lack confidence about anonymity and confidentiality and don’t trust the 360-feedback process
Some raters don’t ever get any follow up after they share feedback from so they see it as a waste of their time
Not long ago, the past chancellor of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), said he and his family would no longer be considering donating a $3 million gift to the school when he planned on retiring after a regent’s negative comments in his job performance evaluation (this probably is another story my old UCLA dissertation chair, Samuel Culbert who is critical particularly of performance reviews would love!).
In a written evaluation by one of the regents who had a role to provide appraisal comments to the Chancellor, this regent wrote that the Chancellor’s claims of being “totally honest and known for his integrity” were false. The regent went on to write about the Chancellor that “he is known primarily as a self-absorbed, self-indulgent bully and tyrant, given to rashly going off at little or no provocation.”
Feedback, whether oral or written, can be either motivating or disengaging. In almost all 360-degree feedback assessments, there is a section for “open ended” questions that are typically reported back to participants verbatim. One dilemma in coaching when using 360-degree feedback is how to handle a situation in which the majority of written comments by raters are particularly skewed towards being critical, negative and judgmental. Ethically, what should you do knowing that the reaction on the part of your client might be received negatively?
Smither and Walker (2004) analyzed the impact of upward feedback ratings as well as narrative comments over a one-year period for 176 managers2. They found that those who received a small number of unfavorable behaviorally based comments improved more than other managers but those who received a large number (relative to positive comments) significantly declined in performance more than other managers. These individuals were more disengaged and emotionally upset as a result of the 360-degree feedback process.
Newer neuroscience research sheds some interesting light on “why” perceived negative feedback is potentially emotionally harmful. Recent studies confirm that emotional hurt and rejection, whether part of social interactions (or poorly designed and delivered feedback interventions) can actually trigger the same neurophysiologic pathways associated with physical pain and suffering3.
As George Carlin once said, “Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second best policy”…..Be well….”
To view Ken’s original blog and supporting references, go to Envisia Learning. Thank you for allowing us to publish this Ken. What are your thoughts and feelings on the foregoing? Your experience? We would love to hear from you!
Susan Robinson, CEO, IRLY DISTRIBUTORS LTD., (center) with Ron Short and Jan Johnson, Principals of Learning In Action (Leaders in the field of EQ)
In a recent edition of BLUEPRINTS, an internal publication of IRLY DISTRIBUTORS LTD., a leading Canadian materials distribution firm, their CEO, Susan Robinson, shared her executive leadership team’s (ELT) year-long coaching experience with all of their members and employees. Susan and her high performance ELT were kind enough to also allow us to share this article with you.
“In 2010 we spent time and energy on group coaching. We formed an executive leadership team and made an effort to work together better than we had in the past. We had players that had been with our company a long time and others that were new to the business. Overall, we reached to achieve a more collaborative style, not only with our customers and our teams, but with each other.
The group coaching we engaged in was lead by our executive coach, Bob Benwick. Bob lead us through an assessment piece where we evaluated ourselves in five areas. Using Lencioni’s “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” we answered questions which gauged our effectiveness together in the following areas: Trust, Commitment, Conflict, Accountability, and Results.
We also engaged in extensive exercises to build trust between us, assess our commitment to each other, assess our conflict styles, define our accountability and understand what results we want to achieve together.
If you are interested in executive coaching or group coaching, Bob was a great resource for us. He is a Master Executive Coach & Confidante. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his website is www.rwbenwick.com . Bob is also a Professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, School of Business, Business Management Department.”
We would enjoy hearing your own experience of team and group coaching . . . the good, the bad and the ugly. Thank you for taking the time to read this.