What does leadership vulnerability really mean?

dandelion-wallpaper-21991-22547-hd-wallpapersA friend told me a story that…well, I’m not sure if it made me mad or sad. She works for a very large, prestigious company with a strong reputation as a well-run organization. The leadership team has embraced the term “vulnerability” as their mantra (or buzzword of the week), and everyone is using it.

I believe, very adamantly, in leadership vulnerability. Leaders who come to the table believing that they must be right and must have all the answers are dangerous. The ability to allow oneself to be vulnerable in front of those who “follow,” is sometimes difficult, but so necessary.

When she told me how this new buzzword played out in her own department, I was astounded.  Her business unit leader held a two day offsite planning retreat where the leader played an inspirational video about how people must live life fully and eliminate stress.  To emphasize the point, the video told stories of those who did not manage the stress, and became ill or died. (more…)

What do Zappos and the World War I German Army have in common?

I’m so glad you asked.  You may need to bear with me on this one, but I think I can explain this pattern that I see.

ww1My son, a Marine Captain currently in Japan, sent me an article after a Skype discussion we had on leadership.  The article is titled “An Elusive Command Philosophy and a Different Command Culture.”  The author contrasts the leadership style of the WWI German army with today’s military leadership style, which he considers to be prescriptive and controlling.  The German army taught their leaders differently; they taught Auftragstaktik.  This was a command concept in which even the most junior officers were required to make far reaching decisions, and demanded a significant change in officer education. The difference:

Traditional military orders detail a plan, and how to execute that plan.

Auftragstaktik orders detail the objective, and expects the leader to assess the local context, and determine the best way to execute that order. (more…)

Don’t Let the System Lead You Astray

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” —Stephen R. Coveylisten

INC online has a very cool article – 365 Quotes to Inspire You in 2014, by Dave Kerpen.    I bookmarked it, and hopefully will be able to find it again when I want to add quotes to a presentation or article.  That, of course, will depend upon whether or not my logic of filing today is the same as my logic for searching tomorrow.  That’s not where I’m going with this, though.

As I was perusing the list of 365 very powerful statements that truly do inspire, the question that loomed large was….why, when everyone loves these quotes and is hugely inspired by them do we still have behaviors that are not aligned with those espoused?

I’m not sure when Covey made the statement about people not listening with the intent to understand but the intent to reply, but I suspect it was a few years ago and several hundred thousand of us have read and been inspired to change our behavior.  I will be the first to admit that while my intentions are good, I continue to frame my own response as I listen to others speak.

The topics in Kerpen’s list of 365 inspirational quotes are terrific….authenticity, transparency, teamwork, responsiveness, humility….by such leaders as Jefferson, Churchill, King, Ghandi, Mother Teresa.

My question about all of this is somewhat rhetorical, but one worth pondering.  When we read these inspirational quotes or hear an inspirational speaker share wisdom that we truly believe is important to embrace, why don’t we do it…all the time? (more…)