Saturday, December 23, 2006

Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus

It's not easy being Santa Claus!
In a recent conversation with Santa (he was following up on a lost order) the jovial fellow shared a few thoughts with me. He had some very good advice for those in a leadership role in any organization.

"Believe you me, having to smile and be jolly every day when you're wearing the same thick, hot, red-wool suit (that itches like crazy) is no picnic."

"I am after, after all, running a business here. I'm a boss. I've got responsibilities - both to the gift-getters and the gift-makers. There are workers to lead, letters to read, orders to fill, processes to manage, stuff to buy, stuff to make, standards to maintain, new technolgies to adopt, skills to develop, elf problems to solve, and reindeer droppings to scoop (although I delegate that one). Trust me, I've got some big and not-always-easy-fitting boots to fill!"

How to get BIG things done in YOUR workshop all year long!

1. Build a wonderful workshop!

  • Make the MISSION the MAIN THING
  • Focus on your PEOPLE as well as your purpose
  • Let VALUES be your guide

2. Choose your reindeer wisely!

  • Hire TOUGH so you can manage EASY
  • PROMOTE the right ones....for the right reasons
  • Go for the DIVERSITY advantage

3. Make a list and check it twice!

  • PLAN your work
  • WORK your plan
  • Make the MOST of what you have

4. Listen to the Elves!

  • OPEN your ears to participation
  • PAY ATTENTION to how you're percieved
  • Walk awhile in THEIR shoes

5. Get beyond the red wagons!

  • Help everyone accept the reality of CHANGE
  • Remember: The CUSTOMER is really in charge
  • TEACH "The Business" of the Business

6. Share the Milk and Cookies!

  • Help them see the difference THEY make
  • DO RIGHT by those who do right
  • Expand the reinforcement POSSIBILITIES

7. Find out who's naughty and nice!

  • Confront performance problems...EARLY
  • COACH "The Majority in the Middle"
  • DON'T forget "The Super Stars"

8. Be Good for Goodness Sake!

  • Set the EXAMPLE
  • Establish GUIDELINES and accountability
  • Remember that EVERYTHING counts

Never forget that getting big things done all year long isn't about magic. It's about Leadership!

There wasn't space to share all of my conversation but you can read more from Santa and David Cottrell here!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Creative Economic Development

Richard Florida a professor at George Mason University, has some very interesting views on economic development. His course on creative economic development cites Technology, Talent and Tolerance as three ingredients needed to become a center of creativity, from which will ensue further economic development.

Some major points:

  1. Economic development is in the midst of a revolution. The state of the art was to offer tax or other business incentives. These days its become more complex than just that.

  2. Today we know that in order to grow and prosper, communities and regions need to do more. Businesses are looking more and more for the right skills and talents in the local workforce.

  3. Traditional economic development and growth strategies have directed at attracting jobs which will attract the people. Today's approach needs to be more 'supply-sided' - Attract a knowledgeable, skilled workforce that will lure business and industries.

Many local and regional elected officials would do well to take some time and read Richard Florida's body of work on the creative class and economic development.

It takes more than tax incentives and cheap land to encourage business development. It will take Innovative Leadership to embrace new ways of building a community in which individuals flourish before development does. If you build it, they will come!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

10 Easy Ways to Know You Are Not a Leader

Some people are genuine leaders. Some are in leadership positions, but they aren't really leaders. Some aren't in a leadership position but think they should be. All of this has got me thinking about leadership and signs that indicate you're not really a leader. You may be able to help me add and subtract from this list.

Here are the 10 Easy Ways to Know You're Not a Leader

1. You're waiting on a bigger staff and more money to accomplish your vision.
2. You think you need to be in charge to have influence.
3. You're content.
4. You tend to foster division instead of generating a helpful dialogue.
5. You think you need to say something to be heard.
6. You find it easier to blame others for your circumstances than to take responsibility for solutions.
7. It's been some time since you said, "I messed up."
8. You're driven by the task instead of the relationships and the vision.
9. Your dreams are so small, people think they can be achieved.
10. No one is following you.

There are probably others that you can add to the list to improve it. Maybe you can help me do that. Let's be on the lookout for leaders. What sets them apart?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Be Proactive

Isn't it amazing how much energy some people put into complaining or whining about things? Think about the political climate across the country for the past several years. The complaints were almost visceral whether you're talking about local elections or the 'W' factor. It didn't matter which side you were on.

If you have a difference of opinion, state the facts and your position. Make a difference by offering alternative solutions that will make people consider them. If it's something you're not able to control, move on. Don't waste energy trying to change something you can't. Make a positive difference by working in your own sphere of influence.

Fault finding and playing the blame game help no one. It's time for all of us to ask the question, "What am I going to do about it?" That's when the real solutions to problems come about. That is when initiative, proactive leadership and resourcefulness are most valuable.

Friday, December 8, 2006


Innovate (Word Net definition: n 1: to create (a new device or process) resulting from study and experimentation [syn: invention] 2: to create something in the mind [syn: invention, excogitation, conception, design] 3: the act of starting something for the first time; introducing something new...
Lead: 1: To show the way to by going in advance; 2: To guide or direct in a course [syn: guide]; 3: a) To serve as a route for; b) To be a channel or conduit for; 4: To guide the behavior or opinion of; to induce; 5: a) To direct the performance or activities of; b) To inspire the conduct of; 6: To play a principal or guiding role in; 7: a) To go or be at the head of...

By definition Innovation is a creative act that has implicit leadership characteristics. Leadership itself does not necessarily require innovation.
Innovators possesss inate natural-born leadership qualities. This doesn’t mean they are good leaders by any stretch. They do, however, seem to draw a following as a natural outcome of the drive, capability and internal confidence that fuels their efforts. Whether the individual is a "right-brained" creative or a "left-brained" quantitative genius, the innovator seems to be in touch with an internal drum beat that is intriguing, catchy and attractive. They possess a vision of what's possible that is refreshing and inspiring, and people naturally want to be inspired.

Solid Leaders are not necessarily innovators. They may be very skilled and disciplined managers who know the fundamentals of business management and industry dynamics. They may have strong communication, organization and delegation skills, as well as effective interpersonal and teaming skills. Leaders typically create structure and guide direction. People like a sense of order and will follow leaders who create it.

We probably won’t remember the innovative person who couldn’t drive an idea from concept to reality -- or the leader who managed well but never really led an innovation. However, we will almost always remember the innovative leader.

Leadership 101

Inspiring others to achieve more than they thought possible. It sounds kind of corny at first. Don't you just want people to 'do their job'?

Getting the most out of people is a leaders primary responsibility. Bringing out the best in people is an art as well as a science. Let's start the discussion and begin making a difference in our employees lives, our company results and, indeed, the world!