On Friday morning, November 5, at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, I will present a synopsis of Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership by Tim Irwin (NelsonFree, 2010).
As has become typical of many best-sellers, you can take a free on-line assessment to determine where you stand on the book’s content and factors.
From his web site, Irwin explains: “This exercise will help you to identify your risk for derailment in four key areas. The qualities measured in this assessment were surfaced as key differentiators for those individuals who derailed.
One of the hallmarks of highly successful individuals is self-awareness. While it is perfectly normal for us to put our best foot forward, this exercise will be far more meaningful if you answer the questions on the following pages by giving the most honest description of who you really are at this time.
There are 48 questions within this assessment. It should take you 5-10 minutes to complete. When finished, you will instantly receive a personalized feedback report that contains not only your results, but also helpful developmental recommendations as well. The report will display within your browser window and is formatted to print from your screen.”
Click here to take the assessment.
After you take this, write back and tell me what you think! Are you derailing?
Let’s talk about it.
I agree with Bill Conaty and Ram Charan: “If businesses managed their money as carelessly as they manage their people, most would be bankrupt.” This is especially true of talented workers for whom competition to hire and then retain has become ferocious.
In their book, The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers published by Crown Business/Random House, Conaty and Charan assert, “Talent will be the big differentiator between companies that succeed and those that don’t. Those that win will be led by people who can adapt their organizations to change, make the right strategic bets, take calculated risks, conceive and execute new value-creating opportunities, and build and rebuild competitive advantage. Only one competency lasts. It is the ability to create a steady, self-renewing stream of leaders.”
Everyone agrees with these comments. Here’s the challenge: How to create a steady, self-renewing stream of leaders,” not only in the C-suite but indeed at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise?
In response, Conaty and Charan offer their concept of the “talent master” whose dominant characteristics include:
• They study intensely the behavior, actions, and decisions of individuals and correlate them with business performance.
• Their observations are “rigorous, specific, and nuanced.”
• They dig deeply to understand an individual’s unique combination of strengths.
• They work very, very hard to become intimately familiar with someone’s specific (albeit underdeveloped and perhaps otherwise unrecognized) talent(s), to know that person’s essence.
• As a result of keen observation and frequent contact, in combination with “constant and intense practice,” they understand the subtleties that differentiate people.
• Over time, talent masters help others to gain these and other core values and competencies in an effort to institutionalize a comprehensive talent recognition and development system.
Not only in major corporations such as GE and P&G but also in much smaller organizations, the objective is to establish and then develop a culture in which there is an enlightened leadership team, a meritocracy through differentiation, real-world workplace values (rather than laminated platitudes), mutual trust and respect, rigorous talent assessment, strict individual accountability, and continuous learning and improvement.
In short, a culture in which peak performers thrive.
All organizations (regardless of size or nature) have direct access to almost unlimited information resources. In each, there must be a chief information officer (CIO) or equivalent who is primarily responsible for identifying information needs, locating the sources, obtaining information needed, and making it available internally.
In The CIO Edge recently published by Harvard Business Press, the co-authors (Graham Waller, George Hallenback, and Karen Rubenstrunk) identify and discuss what they characterize as seven skills that “high-performance CIOs distinguish themselves by mastering”:
• Committing to being a leader first: They embrace the idea that everything they need to accomplish will be achieved through people, by people, and with people.”
• Leading differently than they think: “They act collaboratively.”
• Embracing their softer side: They gain more influence “by letting go of control and allowing themselves to be vulnerable.”
• Forging the right relationships to drive the right results: “They spend a greater percentage of their time and energy managing relationships that exist sideways: with internal peers, external suppliers, and customers.”
• Practicing communication mastery: “Through their focus on clarity, consistency, authenticity, and passion, they make sure their message is not only understood but also felt.” That is, all lines of communication (between and among everyone, to and from) are active, accessible, efficient, and uncluttered.
• Inspiring others: “The best CIOs make it clear that their employees are involved in a greater good and that their contributions are meaningful and valued.”
• Building people, not systems: They increase their capability and capacity to deliver results. “They also know that leaving behind the next generation of leaders is the best thing they can do for the organization – it will be their lasting legacy.”
Those who question the cost and value of any of these would be well-advised to remember Derek Bok’s observation, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
I have read, and presented my synopsis of the Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson. I have blogged about him here. I have watched the videos from his presentations at TED, Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity and Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution! He’s a real champion of creativity, with lots of freedom, in education.
Here is a terrific RSA Animate (white board illustrated) of Changing Education Paradigms, a presentation he made at The Royal Society of the Arts. It is just over 11½ minutes, and has had over 800,000 views. It is worth the time. (I learned about this from an exceptional financial adviser at an event this week).
Take a look.