Thoughts On Leadership

Leadership Skills? Follow the Leaders

By: Max Vogt

Leaders who hold the highest offices in the world have often abused their power with few negative consequences. As a result, the moral fiber of the workplace has diminished considerably as workers follow the lead of their often misguided managers. Managers who have serious performance issues with their employees may need to take a long, hard look into the ethical mirror of their business establishments and see what type of leadership reflection they see.

Integrity is personal

The overall integrity of a place of business is a direct reflection of the people who work there. Leaders set the moral tone of the organization. Therefore, moral decay leads to theft, fraud, and abuse of company assets by all employees. As workers follow their leaders, they may channel their energy and creativity into personal endeavors instead of focusing on their intended job functions. They may become abusive or inconsiderate of each other rather than working together as a team. They may boldly participate in counterproductive or illegal activities including email or internet abuse, excessive absenteeism or tardiness, violation of safety rules and other policies, destroying or falsifying company records, and creating conflicts of interest in the workplace.

Even when employees are not at liberty to imitate all the abuses of their company leaders, they may be less inclined to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Leaders have to chart the course

Company leaders who have taken moral inventory and found their places of business in arrears must be the initiators of change. Effective change starts at the top. Serious change takes time and money, as well as commitment. So the entire organization must be made aware of the "new direction" in which managers will be leading their teams. Outsourcing leadership training may be the boldest statement a business can make to demonstrate the importance of polishing the image of its leaders. But the organization's needs don't stop there. Clearly written and strictly enforced formal policies may help to underscore the seriousness of leadership commitment to ethical behavior. Cross-functional teams of employees may be the best source for identifying and addressing problem areas. The more everyone in the company is involved, the quicker and easier the changes will take place.

The approach must be upbeat

No matter what type of moral issues a company may be facing, a positive approach is critical. Instead of focusing on the negative behavior (although it does need to be mentioned), an organization may cultivate enthusiasm for the new initiative by focusing on the positive aspects of the change. By showing employees that the company genuinely cares about them and the environment in which they work, the change agent may be able to build momentum for the movement.

Employees know when they're doing something unethical and usually have some private justifications for their actions. In many cases, the justification may be that, "Everybody else is doing it, so it must be ok"; or, "The boss does it, so why can't I?" Most employees will embrace change when they see how it will improve the overall environment of the workplace. Also, most people do not object to rules as long as they apply equally to everybody, including the boss.

The basic premise is uncomplicated

Establishing the integrity of the workforce starts with good leadership. Moral fiber must be woven into the organization from the top and throughout every department. Integrity is not just a word; it is a way of doing business that should be reflected in every employee. Employers who provide their people with the resources they need to make ethical decisions will enjoy higher profits, more harmony among their associates, and leaders who will set a higher standard for a world of business leaders in moral deficit.

Leadership Development: Current Trends

INSALA: November 15, 2007

Leadership Shortages
Of organizations recently surveyed, 53% face leadership shortages, most of which are at the mid-management and director level.
- (High-Impact Leadership Development: Best Practices, Industry Solutions, and Vendor Profiles, Bersin & Associates, 2007)
With this crisis in full swing, the survey reported the biggest business drivers for leadership development programs are to:

  • increase the pool of internal leadership candidates
  • reduce gaps in leadership skills
  • grow leaders more quickly

Additional research from the Hay Group reports talent and leadership shortages for many businesses around the world. Consequently, focusing on identifying and managing the talents of high potential candidates will rise to the top of corporate agendas.
- (Hay Group, “Best Practices for Leaders,” 2006)

Leadership Development Creates Significant Business Benefits
Enlightened companies, already working to address leadership shortages, have formalized leadership development programs in place. According to recent research, those with the most mature programs are realizing significant business benefits including:

  • 600% increase in overall business impact from leadership development
  • 640% improvement in leadership bench strength
  • 480% improvement in leader engagement and retention
  • 570% improvement in overall employee retention

-       (High-Impact Leadership Development: Best Practices, Industry Solutions, and Vendor Profiles, Bersin & Associates, 2007)
Additional research links leadership development to shareholder return. The research found that top companies who identify and foster leadership talent perform better on the stock market. Their average 5 year total shareholder return beat the S&P 500 over the same period by 3.53%.
- (Hay Group, “Best Practices for Leaders,” 2006)

Competencies for Leadership Development
What is required for top leaders? A recent survey of 101 organizations reports the top 10 competencies chosen for leaders are:

  1. Leading Employees
  2. Building and Mending Relationships
  3. Risk-taking, Innovation
  4. Change Management
  5. Influencing, Leadership, Power
  6. Communicating Information, Ideas
  7. Brings Out the Best in People
  8. Taking Action, Making Decisions, Following Through
  9. Listening
  10. Flexibility

The competencies least chosen were:

  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Coping
  4. Innovator
  5. Decision Maker
  6. Business Knowledge
  7. International Business
  8. Perspective Taking
  9. Negotiator
  10. Cultural Adaptability

-       (William Gentry and Jean Brittain Leslie, “Competencies for Leadership Development: What’s Hot and What’s Not When Assessing Leadership-Implications for Organizational Development,” Center for Creative Leadership, 2007)

A 2002 review of literature in the field of leadership development, found 53 competencies associated with “global leadership” (M. Mendenhall and J. Osland, 2002). They found that each of the 53 competencies could be categorized into one of six core dimensions:

  1. Relationship (competencies related to developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships in global/cross-cultural contexts)
  2. Traits (core personality or habitual behavioral tendencies)
  3. Business Expertise (expertise in global business knowledge)
  4. Organizing Expertise (skills relating to organizing and structuring human and administrative processes in global contexts)
  5. Cognitive (core internal information processing tendencies and world-view)
  6. Vision (the ability to discern where an organization should go and the capability to rally subordinates to strive to achieve the vision)

Relationship building clearly is one of the most critical competencies for leaders, as it appears in the #1 and #2 slots in the lists above.

Critical Success Factors for Leadership Development
Research shows that leadership practices at global top companies are an inherent part of the culture, and that developing future leaders is simply a way of operating that must be intertwined with running the business (Global Top Companies for Leaders, Hewitt Associates, 2007).
Hewitt identified five key areas that set the Global Top Companies apart from other companies around the world - 3 of those focus on leadership development:

A Strategic Business Commitment to Developing Leaders:

  • 85% ensure that the selection and development of leaders is aligned with their business strategies, compared with only 32% of all other companies.
  • 85% of Global Top Companies say leadership development is a high priority to senior management in the organization, compared with just 45% of other companies.

A Senior-Level Commitment to Developing Leaders:

  • 85% of senior management at Global Top Companies say they spend at least 20% of their time on leadership development initiatives, compared with only 52% of all other companies.

A Clear Expectation of Desired Leadership Behaviors:

  • 85% believe that the desired leadership behaviors are well understood at all levels of the organization, compared with just 37% of other companies.

Best Practices for Leadership Development
Best practices for corporate leadership development, as determined by a recent study from the Hay Group, include:

  • Having leaders at all levels who focus on creating a work climate that motivates employees to perform at their best.
  • Ensuring that the company and its senior management make leadership development a top priority.
  • Provide training and coaching to help intact leadership teams, as well as the individual leaders, work together and more effectively.

Also identified were best practices that need to start with mid-level managers:

  • Rotational job assignments for high potential.
  • External leadership development programs for mid-level managers.
  • Web-based self-study leadership modules for mid-level managers.
  • Executive MBA programs for mid-level managers.

-       (Hay Group, “Best Practices for Leaders,” 2006)

Least Effective Practices for Leadership Development
The Hay Group’s research also discovered what doesn’t work for developing leaders. Below is their list:

  • Job Shadowing for senior managers
  • Outdoor activity-based programs
  • Paper-based self-study leadership modules
  • Executive MBAs and web-based self-study modules when implemented too late in an executive's career.

-       (Hay Group, “Best Practices for Leaders,” 2006)

From this comprehensive review of literature on leadership development, it becomes clear that companies must make a commitment to the development of their leaders - their survival may depend upon it.


What Would Peyton Manning Do?


Entrepreneurs 1/341/2014

Mike Kacsmar, EY


Entrepreneurs all want to leave their mark. Be known for one great thing — or many great things — and be an inspiration to others as they make their way through their lives and careers.

But at what point does this happen? How do you make the turn from great to legendary? If you ask Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, he’s not an inspiration yet — far too young at 37, he says. “I’ve been being asked about my legacy since I was about 25 years old,” he said at this week’s Media Day, ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII. “I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old. Even 37.”

Whether you consider him a football legend or not, I think there’s a lot to be learned from Manning, who leads his team in a way that most boards would love to see their CEOs lead.

Here are five things he can teach us:

  1. Recognize your team’s role in your success. Hearing Manning talk, it’s never about the “I.” He recognizes his team’s role in his individual success, and honors them and shows his appreciation whenever he can. Take the time to focus on your team’s contributions — it’s not only fair, but also the right thing to do and will build loyalty among your staff.
  2. Be passionate. Sure, the money is a motivator. But if he wasn’t passionate about the game, he may well have given up after the setbacks he faced, including multiple surgeries and being cut by the Indianapolis Colts. He loves the game. Love your game. Be passionate about it. Things aren’t always going to be great — heck, there will be lots of days when they’ll barely be good — but if you’re passionate and you believe in what you’re doing, you will win.
  3. Be prepared. His coaches have called him obsessive. He’ll rewind the film 10 times to glean as much knowledge about his opponents as possible. You need to be just as prepared. Study the data. Use the metrics. Leverage every tool in your arsenal to learn all you can about your market, your customers, your competition. If you don’t do it, someone else will. Take advantage of what’s at your disposal.
  4. Don’t be afraid to learn from the rookies. Manning’s offensive coordinator is younger than he is, but Manning doesn’t dismiss his coaching and guidance. You’ll meet lots of folks along your own journey who may be decades younger than you. Don’t overlook their guidance because of their lack of gray hair. Yes, experience comes with time, but knowledge, insight and critical thinking have no age restrictions. Let the education flow both ways. You’ll be glad you did.
  5. Be confident. A recent Korn/Ferry study found that Manning is the quarterback that most respondents would like to have as their CEO. His confidence and his faith in his team were cited as primary reasons. Have faith in your team. Even when you’re nowhere near the red zone, be confident that things will be OK, and help your team believe things are going to be OK, too. Confidence is contagious.

Tell me: Do you know a CEO that demonstrates these traits ? What public figures do you try to emulate? How do you hope you’ll be regarded as a leader?


9 Timeless Leadership Lessons from Cyrus the Great

CMO Network – FORBES – 4-19-12

Forget 1-800-CEO Read. The greatest book on business and leadership was written in the 4th century BC by a Greek about a Persian King. Yeah, that’s right.

Behold: Cyrus the Great, the man that historians call “the most amiable of conquerors,” and the first king to found “his empire on generosity” instead of violence and tyranny. Consider Cyrus the antithesis to Machiavelli’s ideal Prince. The author, himself the opposite of Machiavelli, was Xenophon, a student of Socrates.

The book is a veritable classic in the art of leadership, execution, and responsibility. Adapted from Larry Hendrick’s excellent translation, here are nine lessons in leadership from Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great:

Be Self-Reliant

“Never be slow in replenishing your supplies. You’ll always be on better terms with your allies if you can secure your own provisions…Give them all they need and your troops will follow you to the end of the earth.”

Be Generous

Success always calls for greater generosity–though most people, lost in the darkness of their own egos, treat it as an occasion for greater greed. Collecting boot [is] not an end itself, but only a means for building [an] empire. Riches would be of little use to us now–except as a means of winning new friends.”

Be Brief

“Brevity is the soul of command. Too much talking suggests desperation on the part of the leader. Speak shortly, decisively and to the point–and couch your desires in such natural logic that no one can raise objections. Then move on.”

Be a Force for Good

“Whenever you can, act as a liberator. Freedom, dignity, wealth–these three together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.”

Be in Control

[After punishing some renegade commanders] “Here again, I would demonstrate the truth that, in my army, discipline always brings rewards.”

Be Fun

“When I became rich, I realized that no kindness between man and man comes more naturally than sharing food and drink, especially food and drink of the ambrosial excellence that I could now provide. Accordingly, I arranged that my table be spread everyday for many invitees, all of whom would dine on the same excellent food as myself. After my guests and I were finished, I would send out any extra food to my absent friends, in token of my esteem.”

Be Loyal

[When asked how he planned to dress for a celebration] “If I can only do well by my friends, I’ll look glorious enough in whatever clothes I wear.”

Be an Example

“In my experience, men who respond to good fortune with modesty and kindness are harder to find than those who face adversity with courage.”

Be Courteous and Kind

“There is a deep–and usually frustrated–desire in the heart of everyone to act with benevolence rather than selfishness, and one fine instance of generosity can inspire dozens more. Thus I established a stately court where all my friends showed respect to each other and cultivated courtesy until it bloomed into perfect harmony.”

There’s a reason Cyrus found students and admirers in his own time as well as the ages that followed. From Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to Julius Caesar and Alexander (and yes, even Machiavelli) great men have read his inspiring example and put it to use in the pursuit of their own endeavors.

That isn’t bad company.


Facts You Should Know About Student-Veterans

  • Less than 1% of our Nations population has ever served in the Armed Forces…allowing the 99% of us to enjoy freedoms so often taken for granted
  • There currently exist 23.5 million living Military Veterans comprising 9% of our overall national population. Over 1.4 million Veterans have entered the work force since 2002 and there are nearly 200,000 transitioning from military service each year
  • Nearly two million Service Members have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
  • Many of these young men and women are returning in search of homes, jobs and an education
  • 1.09 million Veterans are currently receiving VA Educational Benefits
  • 85% are age 24 or older
  • 47% have a Family
  • 27% are Female
  • Student-Veterans possess the following Core Values derived from their time in service to Our Nation:




Selfless Service






Yes indeed, Student-Veterans are special people… Making A Difference


11 Things the Military Teaches "You About Leadership"

Does military experience translate to leadership and business savvy?  A glance at today’s most successful corporations would suggest that it does. Many of the biggest names in the business world — Verizon’s Lowell McAdam, FedEx CEO Frederick Smith, former General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson — have military backgrounds.

The Leadership Link: 6 Military Leadership Skills Which Translate to Success in the Business World

Without exception, CEOs interviewed emphasize that the military offers an early opportunity to acquire hands-on leadership experience that cannot be found in the corporate world or at a similarly early stage in people’s careers. - Quote from Korn/Ferry International