Tuesday, 30 September 2014

12 Great Job interview Questions

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” -Lawrence Bossidy, former COO of GE.
Hiring the right person can be a challenge.
Beyond realizing you need to add someone to your team, working with HR on a great job description, and sourcing great candidates, hiring well means doing interviews that result in insights about each candidate. That begins with good questions that increase the likelihood you'll get some type of x-ray of the person – showing more of them than they are likely to want you to see. 
Most aren't purposely trying to hide anything -- yet not unlike a first date, preparationadvice and nerves can lead someone with good intentions to try and show you only their best behavior and most positive energy. That makes getting a clear picture a bit tough. If everyone walked into interviews calmly saying to themselves, “Let me just be myself and if it’s a fit, then great, and if not, well, then ok,” then more hires would fit well.

What’s very important, many think, is to have a collaborative hiring process (not just rely on your own opinions and interviews), and select for highly self-motivated people and passion (in addition to the right experience and skills), then train the rest. 
“Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine." -David Ogilvy
There are many ideas for interview questions, and regardless if you like my list, you should search the web for "Great Interview Questions" and take in several lists. 
Below are 12 questions I’ve come up with over the years – intended to avoid the predictable, create the highest likelihood for that x-ray to happen, ferret out the remarkable, and include elements of real-world behavioral interviewing (e.g., what they faced in the past, what they did, and what was the outcome) that I think are important.
My questions should be considered in addition to the skills and experience questions you have about their specific background. You should of course make these your own: Ask questions that “fit” the role, need, and your own style; in short, take what you can use from my list, below, and the other lists you find, and then come up with your own.
1. What’s the most important thing someone who wants to get to know you quickly should ask you? (Once they answer that, make sure to then ask them their own question.)
2. What’s an example of something you did in the last 12 months you would characterize as remarkable – what was the situation, what did you do, and what was the outcome?
3. If your most recent manager / boss / client (choose one) were in the room with us now, and I were to ask him or her what you most needed to work on in your own professional development in the year ahead, what would he or she say?
4. What was the biggest challenge at work you had to take on that didn’t end up the way you had hoped it would – explain the situation, what you did about it, and what was the outcome?
5. Do you tend to do better work at crunch time, or well in advance of a deadline? (You can say that both happen, but if given the choice, some people prefer to work better under a tight deadline, and others work better with plenty of time – both are fine, which do they prefer, if they had their druthers?)
6. What’s an example of something you took on to learn in your own professional development in the last 12 months – a class or course, an area of self-study, etc. What interested you about it, what did you learn, and how are you using it today?
7. Looking back over the years on your resume, when you think about the moves you’ve made from one type of job to another, or one company to another, what’s been the most important factor in propelling you to make the move?
8. Think about a job or project when you were at your absolute best. What was it about that situation that got you fired up?
9. Now think about a time when you were coasting, or simply not at your best at work. Based on that, what can tend to de-motivate you, or get you feeling less fired up in your work?
10. If you could design the ideal role for yourself what would it be and why?
11. If you could design your ideal boss or manager, what would it be about them you’d respect the most?
12. Is there anything I haven’t asked you that if we were to stop now, you’d leave feeling like we missed something important about you?
Of course it’s always good to turn the tables and ask what questions they have, and to write those questions down – what they ask – and what they don’t ask – both say a lot about them.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Why the best entrepreneurs and creators are humble

Why the best entrepreneurs and creators are humble

In an age where social media runs rampant with humblebrags and constant barking, humility grows scarcer every day. While this trend may not appear to have any face value, it holds significant implications for your personal achievements, your team building and relationships, and a more realistic projection of the future.
Embracing humility, and being humble, doesn’t mean never talking about your achievements and accomplishments. As 19th century author and preacher Charles Spurgeon eloquently explains it:
Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self. It is no humility for a man to think less of himself than he ought, though it might rather puzzle him to do that.
Let’s explore some of the modern benefits of humility, and why the best entrepreneurs and makers are humble…

Humility pushes you to achieve more

On a personal level, discussing your goals with others could make you less likely to achieve them. In a post on his blog, CD Baby founder and TED speaker Derek Sivers summarizes a few studies that examined this pattern. For example:
NYU psychology professor Peter Gollwitzer has been studying this since his 1982 book “Symbolic Self-Completion”— and recently published results of new tests in a research article, “When Intentions Go Public: Does Social Reality Widen the Intention-Behavior Gap?”
Four different tests of 63 people found that those who kept their intentions private were more likely to achieve them than those who made them public and were acknowledged by others.
As Sivers sees it, once you’ve told people of your intentions, you receive a “premature sense of completeness,” thus removing a powerful piece of leverage and momentum that could be used in the future.
If you do let friends know about your goals, Sivers recommends making the message more of one about dissatisfaction and accountability (“I want to talk to three prospective clients by the end of this week, so kick my ass if I don’t, OK?”) instead of satisfaction (“I’m going to talk to three prospective clients this week, I’m so excited!).
It’s futile to brag about things that haven’t happened yet. Instead, remind yourself that these future events aren’t set in stone — and success isn’t the only possible outcome. Be grateful that you have someone to listen to this and keep you accountable. Whether it’s between friends, or collaborators and colleagues studies show humility to be a trait we value in others.

Humility builds better teams

Politician and environmental activist Al Gore once recalled an old African proverb that said, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Generally, it takes a group of people to build awesome things on a large scale. Developers group together at demos, hackathons, and meetups to share ideas. Agencies are recognizing the power of interdisciplinary teams.
A large part of being a good maker means enabling others to work at their best. In contrast to the typical image of a dominating and authoritarian leader, the late Robert K. Greenleaf (who had worked with AT&T, MIT, and American Foundation for Management Research) introduced the concept of Servant leadership:
The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?
Studies show that servant leadership had positive effects on social relationships:
In response to questions about what outcomes humble leader behaviors produced we heard general comments about increased relational satisfaction, loyalty, and trust…
It’s not just team members that appreciate humility; investors and venture capitalists do as well. Revolution chairman and CEO, and AOL co-founder Steve Case tells Inc. Magazine that while an entrepreneur passionate about the product and confident in her team is important, he also looks for qualities such as humility and honesty in the entrepreneurs he supports.
Similarly, The Foundry Group founder and managing director, Jason Mendelson, says in an interview with Entrepreneur Magazine:
The difference between arrogance and confidence is self-awareness. The confident leader is self-aware of their customer’s needs, their company’s culture and the rapid changes that occur in their industry.
The difference between arrogance and confidence is self-awareness.

The downfall of arrogance

Creativity is an essential ingredient to making awesome products and services. Yet studies show that measures of creativity are negatively correlated with measures of honesty and humility. Does that mean being more arrogant will breed creativity?
Not exactly — correlation simply illustrates the relationship between two qualities. There’s no evidence that arrogance breeds creativity (or vice versa). And it’s foolish to believe that all creative people are arrogant all the time; rather, in Claremont Graduate University Professor and author Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi’s words:
Creative people are humble and proud at the same time. It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.
Yet there are good reasons why this should be so. These individuals are well aware that they stand, in Newton’s words, “on the shoulders of giants.” Their respect for the area in which they work makes them aware of the long line of previous contributions to it, putting their own in perspective.
They’re also aware of the role that luck played in their own achievements. And they’re usually so focused on future projects and current challenges that past accomplishments, no matter how outstanding, are no longer very interesting to them.
At the same time, they know that in comparison with others, they have accomplished a great deal. And this knowledge provides a sense of security, even pride.
Always remember: arrogance — even in the most creative individuals — can be a deal breaker.
Entrepreneur Steve Blank highlights the downfall of arrogance with TiVo. Instead of going with the label “a better VCR” — which consumers understood the product to be, they spent a vast amount of funds on carving out their own niche — Digital Video Recorders. Their continued attempts in the next five years to convince customers that their product was much more than a better VCR contributed significantly to their downfall.

Closing thoughts

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” — C.S. Lewis
Humility isn’t about underestimating yourself. It doesn’t do anyone any good, least of all yourself, to downplay your own achievements and abilities. Rather, humility is a tempered, realistic, estimate of your own abilities and involves being conscious of your own shortfalls, not putting any tasks beneath you, and enabling team members to execute at their highest level.
Be warned; being self-deprecating could negatively affect people’s perceptions of you — and adversely affect your future opportunities. In an earlier post, I examined how to brag gracefully. Yet it’s worth considering the virtue of humility, as philosopher Chang-Tsai explains it:
If you can doubt at points where other people feel no impulse to doubt, then you are making progress.

Read more; http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2014/04/06/best-entrepreneurs-creators-humble/?utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=share%20button&utm_content=Why%20the%20best%20entrepreneurs%20and%20creators%20are%20humble&awesm=tnw.to_e4e7A&utm_source=t.co 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

50 Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur

 Entrepreneurs are a unique group of people. Not only do they think differently; they act differently. They draw on personality traits, habits and mind-sets to come up with ideas that straddle the line between insanity and genius. But just because you’re an original thinker and came up with an idea to replace gasoline in cars doesn’t mean you’re cut out to be an entrepreneur. 
If you ever wondered if you were an entrepreneur, check out the following list. You may not have all these traits or skills, yet if you have some, this is a pretty good indicator that you have what it takes. 
1. You come from a family of individuals who just couldn't work for someone else. Your parents worked for themselves. Though this isn't true for every entrepreneur (myself included), many have a family history with one or both parents having been self-employed.
2. You hate the status quo. You’re a person who is always questioning why people do the things they do. You strive to make things better and are willing to take action on it.
3. You’re self-confident. Have you ever met an entrepreneur who was pessimistic or self-loathing? After all, if you don’t have confidence, how can others believe in you?  Most entrepreneurs are very optimistic about everything around them.
4. You’re passionate. There will be times when you spend an excessive amount of time and do not make a dollar. It’s your passion that will keep you going.
5. You don’t take no for an answer. An entrepreneur never gives up -- ever.
6. You have the ability to create unlikely partnerships from out of nowhere because of your ability to connect the dots. People tend to gravitate toward you because you are likable. Many times this is because of your passion.  
7. You spend more time with your co-founder than your spouse or significant other.
8. You dropped out of college like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
9. The daily commute to your office is from the bedroom to the living room.
10. You were always a lousy employee and probably have been fired a lot. Don't worry; you're not alone. I personally have been fired several times in my life. Don't take it as a sign that you're a bad person. Sometimes it's in your DNA.
11. You’ve always resisted authority; that's why you've had a problem holding down a job.
12. You believe that there is more than one definition of job security: You realize that your job is safe as long as you are in control as opposed to relying on a boss who could ruin your career after one swift mistake.
13. Most of your wardrobe consists of T-shirts; some you probably got at SXSW. Others display your company's name or logo.
14. You have a competitive nature and are willing to lose. You always know that you can do something better.
15. You check GitHub when you wake up in the morning.
16. You ask to be paid in game tickets, shoes or whatever else you love. There are just some things that are better than money, right?
17. Your idea of a holiday is a working day without anything interfering with the tasks you really need to get done.
18. You’re unemployable, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Life skills are more valuable than the office politics commonly found at 9-to-5 gigs.
19. You work more than 60 hours a week; yet you earned more money at an hourly job when you were in high school.
20. You want to be in control and in command of your own company. You typically like overseeing most things that go on at your company.
21. You see opportunities everywhere. For example, you walk into a building and are curious about its worth or the companies inside.
22. The word “pitch” no longer has an association with baseball.
23. Your take a personality test, like one offered by the Enneagram Institute, and end up with a result calling you a "reformer type," someone purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionist.
24. You recognize that the best seats at your favorite coffee shops are those closest to power outlets.
25. You’re a logical thinker with ideas about how to correct problems and the overall situation.
26. Speaking of problem solving, have you checked to see if there's an app for that? Perhaps you've already begun to create a business model and the software architecture to see if it’s feasible.
27. You’re a people person. You have no problem communicating with people.
28. You regularly quote Steve Jobs mainly to keep yourself from falling to pieces.
29. You sold stuff as a kid like at a lemonade stand. Heck, when there were class sales, you were probably one of the top sellers. 
30. You get more SMS alerts from people you follow on Twitter than from actual friends listed in your address book.
31. You’re a self-starter, meaning you don’t give up on a project until it’s completed.
32. No matter what you do on a daily basis, you always think of it in terms of delivering a return on investment.
33. Your dress code is shabby chic and your suit is just collecting dust. You prefer T-shirts and jeans over a suit any day.
34. You’re unrealistic. As an inventor or innovator, you kind of have to be this way.
35. You think outside of the box. If not, what will change?
36. You’re a charming and charismatic person.
37. Rules don’t apply to you. We’re not talking about breaking the law. Instead, you believe in efficiency and will bend rules to make things run smoothly.
38. You realize that you can’t do everything alone. You have an idea and can promote it but also know that you’re not skilled at every task of running a business.
39. You’re very opinionated. That's another reason you got fired a lot.
40. You’re unpredictable. As an entrepreneur, you know how quickly things can change. Thankfully, you're ready and willing to make adjustments.
41. You enjoy being with a group but don't relish much being alone. You probably get most energetic when working with groups of more than four people.
42. You’re determined. You have to make the impossible possible.
43. You have the support of your friends and family. These are the people who get you. And they’ll be there to support you along the way.
44. It’s normal for you to take a nap under your desk to catch up on sleep. After all, getting eight hours of sleep sometime between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. is antiquated.
45. You’ve done the market research. You know that just because you have an incredible idea doesn’t mean that it’s profitable. But you’ve already looked into whether customers will make the purchase.
46. You surround yourself with quality people -- not leeches who will bring you down.
47. You’re a bit out there. Having the ability to create something out of nothing takes a mad-genius type of person. Remember, people thought Albert Einstein was insane before he proved the theory of relativity.
48. Did you ever ask your family, friends or significant other to send you a calendar invite so that you could talk for all of five minutes?
49. You believe that your time is worth more than money.
50. During your most recent rant about growth hacking, your spouse or boyfriend (or girlfriend) totally understood what you were saying. 
Even if you don’t have all the above traits right now, you’ll probably develop more of them over time. After all, being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, not a job or hobby.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life's setbacks -- including death itself -- at the university's 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Is Richard Branson the coolest boss ever?

Billionaire Richard Branson may be the coolest boss ever.
The Virgin Group founder believes people should be able to take time off work whenever they want -- no questions asked.
"It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours a day, a week or a month off," Branson said in an excerpt from his new book "The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership" that was posted to his blog.
Branson said he's introduced the "non-policy" at Virgin offices in the United States and the United Kingdom, and if all goes according to plan, he said he plans to encourage all of the company's subsidiaries to stop counting vacation time.
The "non-policy" works under the assumption that employees will only take breaks from their jobs when they feel comfortable that their absence will not damage the business, the team or their careers, Branson said.
The mogul said he was first inspired to try out the policy after he said his daughter showed him a news article that mentioned how Netflix does not track vacation time.
"I have a friend whose company has done the same thing and they've apparently experienced a marked upward spike in everything –- morale, creativity and productivity have all gone through the roof," Branson recalled his daughter telling him.
With unlimited vacation time, Branson's employees will have time to seek out adventures like their leader, such as taking a hot air balloon across an ocean, hanging out on a private island or planning a trip to space, if they're so inclined.
Branson isn't the first billionaire to publicly advocate for a more flexible work-life balance.
In an interview over the summer, Google co-founder Larry Page said people shouldn't have to work so hard.
"If you really think about the things you need to make yourself happy -- housing, security, opportunity for your kids ... it's not that hard for us to provide those things," Page said in an interview moderated by fellow billionaire, Vinod Khosla, that was posted to YouTube.
"The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet peoples' needs is not true," he said.
Page said the world should be living in a "time of abundance" in which robots and machines could help meet everyone's basic needs much more easily.
With a more productive society, Page said he believed people would be happy to "have more time with their family or to pursue their own interests."

The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Sunday, 21 September 2014

14 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read in 2014

Whether they're battle-tested veterans or fresh-faced newbies, entrepreneurs undergo an intense learning process when establishing and launching a business. Even those who've been through it before typically face a certain amount of uncertainty. That's why it's critical that they learn as much as possible about their specific area of business as well as entrepreneurship as a whole.
Probably thousands of books offer business, leadership or startup advice, but we've narrowed it down to just 14. Entrepreneurs and all those fascinated by startups should find the time to read these titles this year during their travels:
1. The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change The Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christenen, 1997. Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, who has founded a handful of companies of his own over the years, delivered one of the most respected and useful books for entrepreneurs 17 years ago. Its power lies in the assertion that even though things are done correctly, a company can still vanish.  
Other takeaways from this modern-day classic are insights about when a businessperson should not listen to customers, the appropriate times to select smaller markets over larger ones and the right moment to invest in development of lower-performance products. 
2. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries, 2011. Whether an entrepreneur is a business veteran who has experienced the highs and lows of the great dotcom bubble or a young, inexperienced newcomer, a long-standing set of rules and suggestions are typically offered for certain scenarios, such aswhen it's wise to turn to a focus group or just remain optimistic.  
Entrepreneur Eric Ries went in a different direction. Instead of listening to that coveted focus group, watch the customers inside, he advised. He has served as an entrepreneur in residence at Harvard Business School.  
3. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber, 1995. For more than 40 years Michael Gerber has assisted thousands of small businesses. In his 1995 update of his 1986 underground classic, The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, Gerber argued that despite entrepreneurs coming up with great ideas, rarely do they make for good businesspeople. To help prevent readers from making fatal mistakes, Gerber presented in an easily understood book an effective business model to guide entrepreneurs at all stages of growth.
4. The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Gary Blank, 2005. When the tech boom began in Silicon Valley in 1978, Steven Blank was on the scene. Although he retired in 1999, Blank had accumulated a wealth of knowledge that he shared in the bestselling The Four Steps to the Epiphany. In this must-read for those launching tech startups, Blank clearly outlined how to organize sales and marketing, discover flaws and test assumptions.
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, 1936. This book has been called the “grandfather of all people-skills books” because it has been assisting everyone from the rich and famous to successful business leaders for more than 80 years. The reason that this title remains useful and popular is because it describes techniques for handling other people, like six ways to get people to like you, 12 ways to encourage others to buy into your thinking or nine ways to change people's minds without any resentment.
6. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, 2011. A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner in economics, Daniel Kahneman provided this bestselling explanation of how people think -- describing the fast, intuitive and emotional System 1 and the slower, more deliberative and more logical System 2. By understanding these systems, readers can learn to think things out more slowly instead of acting on an impulse.
7. Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, 2013. The authors Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson have been involved with venture capital financing for more than two decades. They applied their experiences and knowledge of venture financing to develop a term sheet and tips about how to strike a favorable deal.
This second edition of their 2011 book provided updates and discusses new topics, such as convertible debt financing. It's a great resource for understanding the thought processes and strategies of venture capitalists.
8. The Startup of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, 2012. Written by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha, this book gives entrepreneurial hopefuls advice on how to thrive in the fast-paced and ever-changing networked world. The most important lesson from Hoffman and Casnocha, however, is how to take control of yourself to make the most out of your life, career and business.
9. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Businessby Charles Duhigg, 2012. This book became a bestseller on the lists of USA Today and The New York Times. The reason? It’s a fascinating study by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Charles Duhigg, a reporter forThe New York Times, on how our habits predict not only life-changing events but also the behavior of consumers.
10. Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation by Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, 2014. The entire cycle of innovation has been disrupted thanks to technology. The world has begun to focus on goods delivered with the help software, such as smartphone applications.
While authors Larry Downes and Paul Dunes, both experts in the tech world, break the bad news about technology disruption to potential entrepreneurs, they also offer key advice about how to survive and compete in this fast-paced world. The bad news for entrepreneurs is that instead of sitting back and making money with technology, they are really going to have to work: The tech world is moving so fast that if companies don’t innovate, they're going to become obsolete overnight.
11. Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham, 2004. In an age profoundly affected by computers and new technology, author Paul Graham advised, business owners should understand and embrace this arena, which he called “an intellectual Wild West,” or their startups will likely never take flight. Graham, who created the Yahoo Store, provided a collection of essays that offer a better understanding of everything from the impact of the open source movement to website design.
12. The Wisdom of Failure: How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price by Laurence G. Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey, 2012. While many books present advice about how to successfully become an entrepreneur or businessperson, this book goes in a different direction. Essentially, this is a “how-not to” guide, exploring the failures of individuals and companies through a seven-year study. Learning from these mistakes, readers might discover what to avoid.
13. Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod, 2009. In his first book, Hugh MacLeod gave readers a glimpse into his thoughts on marketing and life itself.The lion's share of the book, however is devoted to the importance of creativity. Throughout the book MacLeod detailed why it’s vital to be original and how to convert creativity into a successful business. He also made use of his popular cartoons to further illustrate his argument.
14. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, 1984. This selection is not the typical business book. Instead it’s a novel that traces the path of plant manager Alex Rogo, who discovers the author’s Theory of Constraints. There are many lessons to be drawn from this novel, but all underscore a common theme: how to make decisions to succeed in management and business.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

What makes a LOUSY leader?

If you look at the major news stories in business, politics, diplomacy, whatever, it’s pretty hard to miss that most of the crises we face are crises of leadership.
Photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com/kupicoo
I once worked for a man who couldn’t pull the trigger on a project, ever. I would bring him a request with all the supporting documentation. He would ask me to rerun it. When I came back, he would want it rerun again, and again.
It was like an endless doom loop of frustration. I could never get him off the dime. By the time he approved it, the opportunity was lost, and he would blame me for missing it. It was utterly dispiriting.
I’ve worked for a few spectacularly bad bosses in my time. And as a corporate executive I’ve had others equally bad occasionally working for me.
Maybe it’s no surprise, but whether it’s those leaders in my immediate experience or the ones I read about in the news, I see the same failures and mistakes over and over, and each one has a direct impact on getting the results we want.
I’ve arranged them here as the top-ten characteristics of lousy leaders. These are all traits to avoid—or unlearn if you already have trouble with them:
  1. They don’t have enough confidence to lead at their level. The boss I mentioned at the start was like this. He couldn’t decide because he had no faith in his decisions.
  2. They’re arrogant, assuming they always know what’s best. It takes confidence to lead. It also takes humility. Many leaders think they’re confident when they’re really just pigheaded and proud.
  3. They’re disorganized. I’ve worked with some hard-driving, capable leaders who hamstrung themselves by never getting organized. I reported to one leader like this, right up until I was promoted above him. The first thing I did was fire him.
  4. Their words and actions erode trust, even with their supporters. When I fired the boss I just mentioned, this is the primary reason for my decision. I could never count on him as his direct report. I certainly didn’t want him reporting to me.
  5. They over-promise and under-deliver. This one affects more than just politicians. People leading up in an organization often do this this because they are trying to impress those above them, failing to realize that by under-delivering they are shooting themselves in the foot. And people at the top fall into the trap by overusing promises as a way to ensure team loyalty.
  6. They don’t articulate a clear vision. No one wants to follow in the dark. It’s impossible to motivate people who feel in a fog.
  7. They don’t enroll others in their initiatives. No. 7 is related to No. 6. Some leaders just expect people will follow them just because of their position. Wrong. If a leader can’t enroll others, failure looms.
  8. They’re not transparent. Openness encourages honesty. How often do we see the opposite playing out in business and politics? Scandal is only the endgame. But how many bad calls are made before the news finally breaks?
  9. They’re blind to what’s happening in their own organizations. Insulation is fine for the walls of your house, but not for leadership. To lead requires visibility. Without it, you’ll find yourself blindsided and making major blunders.
  10. They don’t hold people accountable—especially themselves. If a leader avoids responsibility and won’t hold their team accountable, they’ll shipwreck the organization. Accountability is essential.
Pick your crisis and you’ll usually find one of these ten traits of lousy leadership in action, often many of them all at once. Bad leadership traits go together.
If you see any of these in your leadership, now’s the time to deal with it. Your dreams and goals are too important to undermine. It’s hard enough to succeed as a leader without being your own worst enemy.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Ferocious in Battle. Magnanimous in Victory.

Much has been said this morning from all sides on the Scottish referendum.  It is not our role to comment on the outcome, but we do feel that, at times like these, real leadership can show it's face - particularly in the shape of magnanimity, in both victory and defeat.

Many of the leaders in this campaign have conducted themselves with such grace, and we are reminded of the wonderful speech made by Col Tim Collins just before the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003.  And given that there is so much coverage from Scotland today to which we can't add much, but we can remind you of this speech, a copy of which hung in the Oval Office.  It is recreated here by Kenneth Branagh for TV.

KRYPTONITE: The thing that weakens leaders!

Kryptonite is mythical material from Krypton that drains Superman of his superpowers.
The belief that self-evaluation trumps the evaluation of those directly impacted by your leadership weakens your effectiveness. What you think of your leadershipisn’t as important as what others think.
Leadership is about others.
The people around you know what they think of your leadership. But, when they’re “wrong” you marginalize their feedback and move on.
Minimizing the perception of others gives you permission to ignore them.
Leaders who spout, “I don’t care what you think,” are asses. They often don’t have the courage or honesty to face hard truths about themselves.
You’re not as great as you think.
You have one or two outstanding leadership qualities. Anything beyond that and you reached divine status.
Benefit and danger:
The benefit of over-estimating your strength is the courage to try big things. The danger of over-estimating your strength is ignoring others.
10 ways to solve the kryptonite problem:
1. Keep your big ego to yourself. Don’t talk about self-confidence. Self-confident leaders express confidence in others.
2. If you are a leader with confidence, you aren’t as great as you think. (Meditate on that.)
3. Say thank you when receiving feedback.
4. Celebrate the strengths of others. Great leaders see greatness in others.
5. When someone says, “You seem harsh,” for example, believe them.
6. Treat others as more significant than yourself.
7. The people around you are reluctant to tell you the brutal truth, even when you invite it. Work hard to get feedback.
8. Listen to those who share your values and commitment to your organization.
9. Listen to those who are committed to your success.
10. Keep saying to yourself, “I could be wrong.” Keep asking others, “What do you think?”

You need enough ego to believe you matter but not so much that you ignore others.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

10 questions your team could be afraid to ask!

Your team has questions they’re afraid to ask. They’ve got limited information, but they figure if you wanted to tell them you would. They worry that raising the issue will look like insubordination, or somehow make them look less in your eyes. Maybe you can share, maybe you can’t. But that doesn’t make the questions go away. There is value in anticipating the questions that may be on people’s minds and to start the conversation. I’ve been asking around for input into one simple question “What question would you most like to ask your leadership (but are afraid to).”I’ve also been asking a similar question of the leaderhip consultants and coaches I hang around, “What questions do you think employees are most afraid to ask their leaders?” Here are the top 10. Please add yours.


  1. Why are we doing it this way?
  2. How’s our company really doing?
  3. Why didn’t you ask us?
  4. Why is _____________ not dealt with?
  5. If I speak up, will it hurt my brand?
  6. Do you think I’m ready for a promotion?
  7. Why is there so much turnover ?
  8. How can we get past this feeling of constant crises?
  9. Is this really as urgent as you’re making it out to be?
  10.  ________________________ (what’s your #10?)


If you want your team to ask more of their scary questions, here are a few ways you can start the conversation.
  • If I were you, I might be wondering…
  • The last time something like this happened I had a lot of questions such as __________
  • I just read this blog post about questions your team’s afraid to ask, and it made me wonder, what questions do you have that I might be able to answer ;-)
Ignoring the tough questions, doesn’t make them go away. In fact, your team is likely asking the questions, to themselves and to one another. Tackling the tough conversations head on will go a long way in building trust and respect on your team.
Your turn. What question do you think employees are most afraid to ask their leaders?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Scottish Referendum

A useful 2 minute round up on what is at stake in the Scottish Referendum on Thursday (Sept 18th 2014).  The Leadership Academy holds no brief for either side, and is posting this just as a round up - but when the votes are in and counted, whichever way it goes, we will be posting a review of the Leadership styles and achievements of the key players during the campaign.

Leadership is about Influence

Red Weathered Influence Stamp Circle and Stars
This is a guest post by Chris Shilling. He writes at Serve and Lead, you can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure to check out his site and connect with him on social media.

We hear these phrases repeated in books, lectures, articles, and almost anywhere that leadership is discussed.
I have even been known to repeat them myself on occasion.
They are almost universally accepted without question and rarely ever challenged. But is leadershipreally about influence? Is influence really the essence of leadership?
Why Do We Lead?
There is often a disconnect between potential leaders and the people they aspire to lead because of the mindset each has at the beginning of their relationship. Specifically they each are primarilyconcerned about themselves and their needs:
  • The potential leader is thinking about how they can get (or influence) the other person or people to do what they want.
  • The potential follower is thinking about what is in it for them or why they should care about the potential leader and their goals.
This Thinking Creates A Roadblock to Leadership.
When we look at leadership in that context it is easy to see that a true leadership relationship cannot be formed. Therefore, it is the potential leader’s responsibility to break this paradigm and start, not by thinking about themselves and their needs or desires, but by thinking about the other person or people first.
The potential leader should genuinely get to know the potential followers and concern themselves with what they want and how they feel. This will take active communication where the potential leader fully listens with the intent to understand. This process cannot be forced or disingenuous.
When the potential leader is able to do this effectively they will learn a great deal about others and who they are as people, what dreams and goals they have, and what internal forces motivate them. This information is the key to learning how you can help them and in what ways you can be a positive resource for them.
The amazing thing is when we start with this premise we are able to develop a relationship of which influence will be a byproduct of.
Influence is a Result
Influence is really a result of the relationship that is built through caring and service (leadership).
People do not follow a leader because he or she has influence; the leader has influence because the people have chosen to follow them.
When we look at influence as a replacement for the serving and caring relationship of leadership, instead of the result of that relationship, we can create a dangerous situation.
How Do You Define Influence?
If you believe that leadership is influence then you may realize that there are many ways to achieve influence, and they are not all positive.
If I employ coercion I may be able to influence a person to provide me with a desired outcome; however, I doubt that I will build any loyalty, which is another result that leadership can provide. So I may be practicing what I believe is leadership but really isolating and demotivating others.
How many people do you think are out there who think they are great leaders because they are able to “influence” others yet really they are just bullies or micro-managers?
This is the danger of only maintaining the “leadership is influence” view.
Influence Is Not A Bad Thing
Please do not mistake the premise of this article, influence is not bad, and it is something that all leaders strive for. To be able to influence someone else is a powerful and humbling gift. It is a power that people give to a leader because they trust and respect them. The trust and respect must be there first, or the influence is not a true result of leadership.
This is why influence is not leadership, or even the essence of it. When we take that narrow view of our leadership we open ourselves up to internal misunderstandings and potentially dangerous situations.
Do not aspire to lead so that you can obtain influence. Obtain influence because of the serving, caring, and inspiring leader you have chosen to be.
Question: Do you believe that influence is leadership or the result of leadership?