First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Blogging on Business Update from Bob Morris (Week of 12/3/12)

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I hope that at least a few of these recent posts will be of interest to you:

BOOK REVIEWS

Harder Than I Thought: Adventures of a Twenty-First Century Leader
Robert D. Austin, Richard L. Nolan, and Shannon O’Donnell

Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs
Soren Kaplan

The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers
Bill Conaty and Ram Charan

Rework
Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Strategy for You: Building a Bridge to the Life You Want
Rich Horwath

INTERVIEWS

Tony Tjan (Cue Bal) in “The Corner Office”
Adam Bryant
The New York Times

William N. Thorndike, Jr.: An interview by Bob Morris

The Thought Leader Interview: William J. O’Rourke
Ann Graham
strategy+business

Michael J. Mauboussin: An interview by Bob Morris, Part 1

Yves Doz and Keeley Wilson: An interview by Bob Morris

COMMENTARIES

“3 words that’ll change your life”
Steve Tobak
CBS MoneyWatch/CBS Interactive Business Network

“How to Keep Your To-Do List Fresh with the 3-Day Rule”
Management Tip of the Day
HBR

John Cleese on “5 Factors to Make Your Life More Creative”
Maria Popova

“How to resolve the current ‘gridlock’ in the federal government
BOB

“Allies and Acquaintances: Two Key Types of Professional Relationships”
Reid Hoffman

“How to Create a Vision that Motivates Your Team”
Management Tip of the Day
HBR

“The One-Minute Change That Will Transform Your Company”
Lisa Earle McLeod
Fast Company

“Fighting the Fears That Block Creativity”
Tom Kelley and David Kelley
HBR

“How can we use social media to differentiate our company from our competition?”
BOB

“Lincoln and leadership”
Schumpeter column
The Economist

“Creation Myth: Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation”
Malcolm Gladwell
The New Yorker

“Resilience Quotations: Part 3″
BOB

“Two Routes to Resilience”
Clark G. Gilbert, Matthew J. Eyring, and Richard N. Foster
HBR

“What if I cannot afford a consultant?”
BOB

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To check out these resources and other content, please click here.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 timeless leadership lessons

Image courtesy of Flickr user MAMJODH

Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Steve Tobak for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *
(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Forget all the latest leadership concepts and fads. Forget all the platitudes and parables, the laundry lists of attributes and qualities. Forget all the executive coaches, mentors, researchers, and inspirational gurus. Forget all the books and blogs.

I’ve got something you can read in less than an hour that will teach you everything you need to know about leadership. No, I’m not kidding.

Of course, you can’t just read it and walk away a great leader. That’s not how it works. What you do with it is entirely up to you. But everything you need to know is there.

I came upon this little treasure in 1995. I had just become vice president of marketing for a well-known public technology company, which was terrifying because it was a huge opportunity, I’d never done that sort of thing before, and I definitely didn’t want to screw it up.

Hanging around the business book section of a large used bookstore searching desperately for some inspiration, a little paperback caught my attention. Its title is The Tao of Leadership: Leadership Strategies for a New Age, by John Heider.

The beat-up book, written in 1985, set me back $2.40. I know that because the yellowed receipt — now a bookmark — is still in it. I’ve read it so many times, its 81 lessons are mostly bound with scotch tape. This humble little book changed my entire perspective on management and leadership.

Here are five timeless lessons I’ve excerpted. There’s a revelation or two, but there’s nothing like reading Heider’s book all the way through.

[Here is the first "timeless lesson"]

Knowing What Is Happening

•  When you cannot see what is happening in a group, do not stare harder. Relax and look gently with your inner eye.
•  When you do not understand what a person is saying, do not grasp for every word. Give up your efforts. Become silent inside and listen with your deepest self.
•  When you are puzzled by what you see or hear, do not strive to figure things out. Stand back for a moment and become calm. When a person is calm, complex events appear simple.
•  The more you can let go of trying, and the more open and receptive you become, the more easily you will know what is happening.
•  Stay in the present. The present is more available than either memories of the past or fantasies of the future.

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

To read Steve’s other articles, please click here.

Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve, follow him on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 big mistakes successful leaders make

Here is an article written by Steve Tobak for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Executives and business leaders don’t just peak and lose their potency over time, like wine. They change. Oftentimes, success is the culprit. Success affects everyone differently and not necessarily in a good way.

I’ve seen it happen to loads of successful CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners I’ve worked with over the years. It’s not a result of the Peter Principle, since their responsibilities didn’t change. It’s not necessarily a question of the business outgrowing their capabilities, either.

And they don’t just ”lose it.” Rather, they change. Success changes them.

If you know a little about human psychology, that shouldn’t surprise you. You’ve got to really know yourself, possess unusual self-confidence, and be pretty well grounded in reality to withstand the ego-inflating onslaught of winning big in business.

Since we’re all human, we’re all susceptible to the unusual pressures and pitfalls that come from achieving what we’ve always dreamed of. In my experience, these are the ten most common traps successful leaders fall into.

[Here are two of the ten mistakes that Tobak discusses with his usual precision and eloquence.]

Becoming the status quo. Startups often break into the market by challenging the status quo. The problem is when success makes them the status quo, yet they don’t realize it. That was evident when Apple and Google challenged the BlackBerry with the iPhone and Android platform. It’s ironic that RIM’s co-founders forgot that they were once the challengers. Their failure to be proactive or even to react in time was RIM’s downfall.

Tunnel vision. They lose perspective and become rigid, sticking to their myopic vision like glue. Since competitors are unpredictable and markets are always evolving, it can be deadly to a business. If their vision fails to gain traction, they often double down and become even more grandiose. We saw that with former Sony CEO Howard Stringer‘s concept of product synergy. The only problem is it didn’t exist.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve, follow him on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.

Friday, June 22, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Business and Leadership Lessons from Niccolò Machiavelli

Here is an article written by Steve Tobak for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Robert Scarth

*     *     *
Few historical figures are as divisive and polarizing as Niccolò Machiavelli. The fact that this Renaissance philosophers works date back 500 years hasn’t blunted its impact or controversy one bit.

Some view him as the father of modern materialism, inspiring people to do or say anything to achieve personal gain, i.e. the ends justify the means. Indeed, the word Machiavellian – derived from his most famous work, The Prince – has come to mean cunning, deceit, and manipulation.

Others, however, see him as the world’s first great realist and a positive influence on modern politics and capitalism. Some even think Machiavelli was the first to apply empirical scientific methods to human behavior by making innovative generalizations based on experience, observation, and history.

Being a realist – much like Machiavelli – I’m not inclined to weigh in on the man’s overall affect on the world, good or bad. Regardless, many of his ideas for achieving long-term political success and power translate extraordinarily well into the current business climate of intense global competition.

Moreover, I never realized how closely my own ideas on business, leadership, and entrepreneurial culture resonated with his until I read this post by author Mark Harrison. It turns out that I’ve more or less been quoting the guy for years without even realizing it. Coincidence? Hmm.

In any case, he predates us all by a few centuries, which makes these 10 Business and Leadership Lessons from Machiavelli remarkable, to say the least:

[Here are the first three.]

   “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.” As I wrote just the other day,” Leaders must learn to adapt in a fast-changing world to avoid corporate or political disaster.” That is, after all, why most companies fail.

   “Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.” An entrepreneur’s first and most important goal is to find a unique and innovative solution that solves a big customer or market problem. Without obstacles, there are no opportunities. And those same obstacles provide barriers to competitors, down the road.
    
•   “Never was anything great achieved without danger.” I’ve often said that willingness to take risks is a critical success factor. In Irreverent Career Advice for Up-and-Comers, I encourage young folks to, “Take big risks — now!” since, “It gets much harder as you get older and begin to ‘acquire’ things you don’t want to risk losing.”

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

To read Steve’s other articles, please click here.

Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve, follow him on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What great employees do

Image courtesy of Flickr user dan_mcweeney)

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Steve Tobak for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *

This definitely isn’t the first time somebody’s written about what makes employees special. But it may very well be the first time someone’s telling you what will genuinely get your management excited about you and ultimately get you promoted. No kidding.

Look, you’ve got to understand the reality here. People will cite ridiculously esoteric research studies and pull all sorts of popular, feel-good stuff out of their utopian behinds — whatever it takes to get you to click. That’s great for feeding your ego and your addiction to distraction, but it doesn’t do squat for your career.

This is different. It’s not some kumbaya fluff that will get you a big pat on the back, a “Nice job, buddy” from the boss, or a gift certificate for a cheap dinner. This is what employees really do to distinguish themselves in the eyes of management. It’s how up-and-comers become up-and-comers. It’s how you get recognized and moving up the corporate ladder. It’s what today’s top executives did when they were in your shoes.

[Here are the first three of seven defining characteristics of great employees. To read the complete article, please click here.]

1. Take responsibility for hot projects with a fearless attitude. And get this. If it works out, you don’t waste a lot of time basking in the glory, at least not at work. Maybe you go out and celebrate with the other team members. That aside, you’re all about finding the next big challenge. You’re hungry for more. And if it fails, you don’t point fingers. You take full responsibility and learn from it. And you know what? That’s when management will start to see you as one of them. That’s big.

2. Demonstrate natural leadership. That means when you take charge of something, people naturally follow, even though you don’t have the title or the authority. Never mind everything you read; that’s what natural leadership is really all about. There are all sorts of different styles that work, but mostly it comes down to a fearless self-confidence and charisma that people find magnetic. That’s like gold in the corporate world.

3. Say, “Sure, no problem, will do,” and then do it. It’s one thing to have a solid work ethic and get the job done. That certainly key in the real business world. But it’s another thing entirely to always accept challenging assignments with open arms and a simple, “No problem, will do” acknowledgement. And the tougher it is, the more confident you sound and the harder you work to make it happen. That’s the sign of an employee who needs a promotion or two.

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve, follow him on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 types of people you never want to work with

(iStockphoto)

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Steve Tobak for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Every incompetent employee, lunatic boss and deceitful salesperson is someone’s loving spouse and loyal friend. That does not mean you should hire, work for, trust or do business with them. And yet, we do exactly that, time and again.

Sometimes we get taken; it happens to everyone. But other times we ignore all sorts of red flags. We act against our better judgment.

But why? I mean, why would you or anyone make a ridiculously important decision “against your better judgment?” Because, at that moment, you choose to believe that pigs can fly. That miracles do happen. That universal laws don’t apply to you because you’re special.

You choose hopes and dreams over reason and instinct.

Well, here’s the thing. Pigs can’t fly, miracles don’t happen, the laws of physics do apply to you and hope is always a dumb strategy. Instead of hopes and dreams, learn to listen to your better judgment, trust your instincts, and keep these [three of] seven types of people out of your business.

Trendy self-promoters. There are tons of self-proclaimed entrepreneurs branding themselves as Gen Y consultants, personal branding experts, or both. They’re experts all right — at branding themselves and making money off a trendy stereotype or label.

Salespeople who know their product doesn’t work. Everyone on Wall Street knows that past performance is no indicator of future results and active money management doesn’t outperform the broad market. And yet, money managers make fortunes selling products they know don’t work. How do they sleep at night?

Bottom feeders. When bubbles burst, economies go south and once-thriving industries dry up, enterprising people find other ways to make a living. The worse the economy gets, the more life and career coaches there are. Imagine that. Look, if you need help, find someone who was actually successful at what you want to become.

*     *     *
Just remember, these are not all bottom feeders you can spot in an instant and steer clear of with ease. Lots of them are highly successful and very wealthy. Some are even senior executives and business leaders. So stay on your toes — it’s a jungle out there.

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve at the firm, follow him on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.

 

Friday, March 30, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 signs of a dysfunctional company

Here is an article written by Steve Tobak  for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *
(MoneyWatch)  I was just reading about how Barack Obama and George W. Bush are the most polarizing presidents of the past 50 years, meaning they had the largest gap in approval ratings between democrats and republicans.

Some think there’s a chicken and egg aspect to the question of which came first, our divisive leaders or our divided nation, but I think it’s entirely a function of leadership. If Obama and Bush were effective leaders, the nation wouldn’t be so divided.

That’s because, by definition, leadership is about somehow getting people with disparate views to coalesce and execute on goals and plans they would never agree to on their own. Clearly, that’s not happening in Washington and that’s why America’s so divided. Makes sense, right?

Now, it’s tempting to paint all ineffective leaders with the same brush. You can get away with that in politics. Just label the incumbent a big fat loser, vote the bum out of office and call it a day. But when it comes to the corporate world, that’s not entirely practical because, well, it’s often hard to tell the losers from the keepers.

For example, I’ve worked with micromanaging control-freak jerks who were remarkably effective leaders. They united people and accomplished great things. On the flip side, I’ve known good executives who were well liked but, nevertheless, couldn’t get everyone moving in the same direction.

While companies may not have political parties to deal with, polarizing leadership and divisive management are real and entirely common issues that destroy organizational effectiveness and ultimately lead to operating failure in companies big and small.

Since we can’t really solve a problem without identifying it first, here are [three of] seven signs of a dysfunctional company with polarizing leadership:

1. Ivory tower effect. When self-important executives make decisions in a vacuum or otherwise barricade themselves in their expansive corner offices, that creates a nasty cultural divide between management and employees. On the contrary, I knew one executive VP who insisted on sitting in a cubicle with his people. Good man.

2. Warring factions. You hear it all the time: “There’s a natural tension between sales and marketing”; or “Come on, everybody hates HR,” like it’s an inevitable feud between warring factions. That’s bologna. There’s nothing natural or inevitable about it. It’s dysfunctional, it’s divisive and it fosters rivalry instead of alignment.

3. Strategy du jour. When dysfunctional executives consistently overreact to a single data point and take the entire organization in a new direction. Often the result of hallway or ad-hoc meetings in obscure places and making decisions in the absence of those who are actually responsible for that sort of thing.

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve by clicking here, follow him on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where do big ideas come from?

Albert Einstein

Here is an article written by Steve Tobak for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *

I don’t know about you, but when I’m watching a football game where the kicker is about to attempt a field goal to win the game, my hands grip the chair, I hold my breath, and I wonder what’s going through the guy’s mind.

When Michigan’s Brendan Gibbons nailed a 37-yard field goal to win theSugar Bowl in overtime, guess what was going through his mind? Brunette girls. No kidding, that’s what inspires the guy. And it works.

We can’t all be great athletes, so some of us have to “win the big game,” so to speak, with our intuition, our ideas. Which brings us to a subject of much confusion and debate in the business world. What inspires “big idea” people? Asked another way, where do big ideas come from?

Actually, many so-called “left brain” or analytical people I’ve known over the years, including an awful lot of managers and executives, think the whole concept of some people being more intuitive or inspirational than others is pure mythology. Well, maybe it is and maybe it’s not. But scientists say that intuition can be a powerful factor in human decision-making and idea creation.

For what it’s worth, I agree.

Following your Intuition can be as simple as listening to a little voice in your head, trusting a feeling or sense of warning, or following your own internal “focus group of one,” against the “better judgment” of many.

Where does it come from? Good question. It’s probably a vestige of an evolutionary survival mechanism. An “intuitive” caveman sensing danger, for example, would hide in his cave and avoid being eaten by some blood-crazed saber-toothed tiger. Since he survived, he’d pass that instinct on. At least that’s the theory.

In any case, human intuition has probably been on the decline for some time, owing to an increasing dependence on our overdeveloped neocortex, logical reason, and technology, and not to mention a significant decline in people living in caves with bloodthirsty predators around

Don’t even get me started on our newly found addiction to gadgets, social media, and instantaneous communication. You can’t sense or intuit anything when you’re distracted. Personally, I think that’s sad, considering there’s at least anecdotal evidence that intuition plays a significant role in scientific, technological, and business innovation.

For example, against all logic, Albert Einstein was obsessed with light. That passion for light and his famous thought experiments where he pondered what he would see if he rode on a beam of light led to the special theory of relativity and E=MC2, one of the greatest discoveries in the history of physics.

In his book Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen says he came up with the big idea that made Microsoft more money than just about any business in history: Charging per-copy royalties for the IBM PC operating system instead of a flat license fee.

And what possessed entrepreneur Mark Cuban to sell Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.9 billion in stock and then immediately hedge that stock against a market crash at the very peak of the dot-com bubble? All the so-called experts rode the market down and lost trillions in investment capital.

Now, I’m no Einstein, but I have worked together with a large number of innovative entrepreneurs, engineers, and executives over the decades. In my experience, there are five relatively common factors that inspire intuitive people and ultimately lead to big ideas.

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To read the complete article and share Steve’s thoughts about the “five relatively common factors,” please click here.

Steve Tobak is a consultant and former high-tech senior executive. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a management consulting and business strategy firm. Contact Steve, follow him on Facebook, or connect on http://www.linkedin.com/in/stobak.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you up a tree? Here’s the best career strategy ever

Here is an article written by Steve Tobak for BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the BNET newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *

Are you up a tree?

Stuck in your career? Still looking for that dream job, dream company, or dream career? Haven’t found your passion yet … or it hasn’t found you? Then you absolutely need to check out the One Thing Leads to Another career strategy.

It’s not some theoretical construct or research project; it’s how I managed my career in the real world, which I guess worked out pretty well. To be honest, I didn’t know I was doing anything special at the time, I was just doing what made sense to me.

Will it work for you or anyone else? Absolutely. It’s simply a set of empirical, common sense techniques for learning to follow the right pathways that will ultimately lead to job happiness and career success.

It’s sort of like climbing a tree. There are lots of limbs to try, but you look for the strongest branches and the ones that ultimately lead upward. Sometimes you hit a bad branch or it doesn’t lead upward, so you backtrack and find a different one. That’s okay, as long as you keep moving.

In fact, once upon a time Fast Company ran a story that featured one of my unconventional methods for climbing the corporate ladder called Twice the Career in Half the Time. There was another feature story where the writer called my career peripatetic. I know; I had to look it up too.

The point is don’t follow the popular or conventional path. Why not? Because, that’s what everyone does, so you won’t come out ahead. Also, most jobs are filled through intimate connections, and the higher up you go, the more true that is. That, more than anything, is why this is…

The Best Career Strategy Ever

[Tobak offers seven specific suggestions. Here are the first three. To read the complete article, please click here.]

1. Forget headhunters. Over 20+ years, every job change, including every senior executive job but one, was from a personal referral or network (not social, old school). Only once was I ever actually placed by a headhunter or executive recruiter. If I’d known what a waste of time all those calls and interviews were going to be, I could have saved a ridiculous amount of wasted time.

2. Groom yourself. When I hit a wall as an engineering manager, I decided to get some sales and marketing experience, so I took a step back and accepted an offer to be a sales rep and carry a bag to learn the skill-set. Sounds like a step down, but I met loads of executives at other companies and one startup CEO hired me to run worldwide sales. That resulted in my first successful startup experience and IPO.

3. Interview constantly. You can’t possibly know what you’re missing until you see it, and looking exposes you to options and opportunities. Example: As an engineering manager locked away inside a big company, I interviewed a bunch of times, my name got around, someone called, and I got to move to California, open and manage a small operation, and interface directly with customers. Over the next few years I kept interviewing, again my name got around, the phone rang, and I eventually landed at my first Silicon Valley startup. It was a flop, but it opened up a whole new world – and network.

*     *      *

The common thread through all of this is gain exposure, network, follow up fast, keep moving, and when you see something you like, go get it. Sooner or later, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Just like climbing a tree, sooner or later, you get to the top.

*     *     *

Steve Tobak is a consultant, writer, and former senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He’s the managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a Silicon Valley-based firm that provides strategic consulting, executive coaching, and speaking services to CEOs and management teams of small-to-mid-sized companies. Find out more at www.invisor.net Follow Steve on Twitter or Facebook.


Saturday, September 3, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Behaviors Great Managers Do

Here is an article written by Steve Tobak for BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the BNET newsletters, please click here.

*     *     *

There’s all sorts of rhetoric about what good bosses should and shouldn’t do these days. I guess that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, most of it’s pretty basic, generic fluff that sort of blends together after a while.

Even worse, a lot of it’s, well, utopian. It panders to what employees want to hear instead of giving truly practical and insightful advice on what makes a manager effective in the real world where business is everything and everything’s on the line.

This list is different. It’s different because, to derive it, I went back in time to the best characteristics of the best CEOs (primarily) I’ve worked for and with over the past 30 years. It’s based entirely on my own experience with executives who made a real difference at extraordinary companies.

Some were big, some were small, but all were successful in their respective markets, primarily because of the attributes of these CEOs. Each anecdote taught me a critical lesson that advanced my career and helped me to be a better leader. Hope you get as much out of reading it as I did living it.

[Here are the first Five. To read the complete article, please click here.]

1. Maintain your cool and sense of humor, especially during a crisis. When our biggest customer – and I mean big – thought I leaked a front-page story to the press, I offered to resign to save the relationship. My boss, a great CEO, gave me this serious look, like he was thinking about it, and said, “You’re not getting off that easy.” Then he broke out into a big smile.

2. Tell subordinates when they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Sometimes I can be pretty intimidating and I’ve had CEOs who shied away from giving it to me straight when my emotions got the better of me. Not this one guy. We’d be in a heated meeting and he’d quietly take me aside and read me the riot act. He was so genuine about it that it always opened my eyes and helped me to achieve perspective.

3. Be the boss, but behave like a peer. I’ve worked with loads of CEOs who let their egos get the better of them. They act like they’re better than everyone else, are distant and emotionally detached, or flaunt their knowledge and power. That kind of behavior diminishes leaders, makes them seem small, and keeps them from really connecting with people. They’re not always the most successful, but the most admired CEOs I know are genuinely humble.

4. Let your guard down and really be yourself outside of work. You know, teambuilding is so overrated. All you really need to do outside of work to build a cohesive team is break some bread, have some drinks, relax, let your guard down, and be a regular human being. When you get to be really confident, you can be that way all the time. That’s the mark of a great leader.

5. Stand behind and make big bets on people you believe in. One CEO would constantly challenge you and your thinking to the point of being abusive. But once he trusted and believed in you, he put his full weight behind you 100 percent to help you succeed. He’d stand up for you even when he wasn’t sure what the heck you were up to. And he’d give you new functional responsibilities – something up-and-coming execs need to grow. Okay, he wasn’t perfect, but who is?

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

Steve Tobak is a consultant, writer, and former senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He’s the managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a Silicon Valley-based firm that provides strategic consulting, executive coaching, and speaking services to CEOs and management teams of small-to-mid-sized companies. Find out more at http://www.invisor.net Follow Steve on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Sunday, August 21, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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