Leadership Libations

September 25, 2009

Crisis – the true test of a leader

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 8:42 am

Funny, this week I had a blog post that went up Tuesday Morning. I had written it a few weeks ago while in Atlanta. The post was focused on driving in Atlanta – and yes touched on driving in the rain, as Atlanta was at the beginning of the current Monsoon’s. I cringed when it showed up in my reader. Having many friends in Atlanta, the pictures and challenges they are dealing with due to some of the worst flooding in 90 years made the decision to pull the blog down easy. Perhaps another day, or perhaps it won’t see the light of day.

This combined with a couple other business challenges I am working, the differing approaches I am seeing from other organizations leadership in dealing with these, and it was a nice reminder on when leadership really matters. Judge_Smails

As a very well known leadership guru – Judge Smail’s from Caddyshack circa 1980 once said:
“It’s easy to grin, When your ship comes in, And you’ve got the stock market beat. But the man worthwhile, Is the man who can smile, When his shorts are too tight in the seat.”

Yes, the real test of leadership is when challenges and crisis arrive. Everyone is looking to leaders and watching the way they act, their demeanor, their consistency, and importantly do they lead from the front or are they at headquarters giving commands?

The 3 questions I would recommend you keep in mind as you head into crisis, Are You?
Are you tackling things Head On?
Are you a leader who will Step Up?
Are you a Steadying Force?

Head On – When there are challenges, it is often easy to hope they go away, too pretend they don’t exist, too minimize your customer’s (or people, or supplier) concern. This ostrich management rarely works. The mole hill quickly becomes a mountain. So, whether it’s a mole hill or a mountain, a leader needs to face the challenges head-on. None of us is perfect, that said, none of us really like to face that we are less than perfect. A leader needs to be willing to face there challenges head on in the spirit of possibilities and solutions.

ostrich_head_sand2Lesson – It’s a tad cliché to talk about “outside the box” thinking. I prefer to think of a leader as someone who in the darkest of times is thinking about what is possible and creates winning solutions to challenges. Are you sticking your head in the sand to a brewing mountain? What concerns are you hearing, but not listening to from your people, customers, or suppliers?

Step Up – As Sir Lancelot once said in Monty Python’s Holy Grail “Lets not bicker over who killed who”. There will be time enough for post-mortem’s, blame, and hand wringing when the crisis is resolved. A leader needs to step up. Whether the issue is internal or external, whether you were 100% accountable or completely removed, it just doesn’t matter. Your team, your client, your supplier, your customer are all watching you, your willingness to Step-Up and lead. Do you look for scapegoats? Do the words – “It’s not our fault” or the like keep coming out of your mouth during crisis?

Lesson – A leader is on stage 24×7, but never more than during a crisis. Are your team, your customers, and your business partners confident that you will step-up?

Steadying Force – One thing all crisis’ have in common is that when the heat turns up emotions run high. Whether the emotions are passion to a choice, anger over a perceived wrong, fear over implications, or a mule like stubbornness in the need to be right; one thing that occurs as these energies run high is the volume get raised – both literally and figuratively – while at times a leaders job is to rally the troops. During a crisis, when the team is facing the eye of the storm, it’s the leaders job to lower the volume and provide a steadying force. That steadying force should be foundational – grounded in principles, be data-based, and importantly get everyone focused on working towards a goal/solution vs. those emotional tendencies.

Lesson – A leader’s job is helping a team successfully navigate each day. When the heat turns up, are you feeding the flames? Are you living your foundational leadership values and principles in time of crisis?

So, keep in mind – Crisis is the true test of a leader – how is your crisis leadership?


September 15, 2009

Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 8:56 am

I had the good fortune to attend the Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati inaugural meeting this morning. AND I say good fortune even though I was up until 1am watching Monday Night Football Week 1 and had to pick up bagels and coffee at 615!!!!

And what an event it was! Meeting at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, there were well over 60 attendee’s at today’s event! And what a great crowd it was with a diverse cross section of leaders from Greater Cincinnati. Throw on top of that the meeting got rolling at 7:30 and there was less than 30 days from announcement to event!

A little bit about the Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati group for those who aren’t aware of the group. The group was formed on Linkedin on July 27th, 50 short days ago. In that time, 160 Linkedin members have joined the group – that at time was a concept without definition, vision, or even direction. In those mere 50 days, the group has been formed, created a passionate board, a vision (after much much discussion – Trust me!), and held a meeting with well over 60 attendees! Not too bad if you ask me! To say there is passion and energy about this topic would be the understatement of the year!

So, what is Authentic Leadership? The Board for the Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati has defined it as:

Authentic Leadership is driven by a motivation to positively impact people and results. It requires transparency, intentional actions and the building of effective relationships in order to help others reach their greatest potential.

The group has defined their purpose: To Develop, Support, Encourage, and Promote Authentic Leadership.

IMG00073The meat of today’s meeting involved a round-table of three Cincinnati business leaders:

John Baumann, President & CEO of AMPAC
Ray Attiyah, Founder and CIO of Definity Partners
Tom Sutton, Owner /Operator of Chick-fil-A

They were discussing their leadership inspiration and how their personal compass leads their leadership style and their organizations. The format involved some predefined questions, but included ample Q&A time with the attendee’s. The setting allowed to see these leaders up close and in a very personal settings as they shared thoughts around leadership, their leadership style, their personal development, and what has helped form them.

A couple of the great messages I took away from the event:

On Leadership during these economic times:
“During these tough economic times, this is where leaders shine! Be relevant, be bold, and take action” – Ray Attiyah
“Being a partner in good times is easy, being a partner in a crisis is critical. This is when leaders show up” – John Baumann
“We are refusing to participate in the recession. We control our destiny. Now is the time to get engaged and give” – Tom Sutton

Where are you finding your hope from during these times:
“Past successes. Our group went thru 9/11, what did we do then. Go back to prior successes” – Ray A
“I get a lot of inspiration from reading great books about great people. I can follow the guy who went before me and were successful.” Tom S
“I cannot imagine anything other than hope. I’m not willing to make that the mindset of my organization.” John B

What do you wish you had done better or differently:
“I would be more attentive and listen closer to my authorities. Whether it is god-given authority in my parents, or listening to the Cathy family. My leadership is driven from being a better follower.” Tom S
“RELAX! Relax and have more fun. A lot of my day is to work myself out of a job. The more confidence I show in them, the more they enjoy their job.” John B
“Not try to do everything. Would have learned to set a few priorities, make them bold, and do them with excellence.” Ray A

How do you handle negativity/negative people:
“We have a no gossip policy, that is grounds for termination and in our policy manual. If you don’t have something nice/good to say, don’t say it. Tom S
“We don’t change people, we provide environments for people to change.” John B
“There is often a difference between negative people’s performance and what they say.” Ray A

In all, a fantastic first event. Great Q&A, Great panel willing to share their insights, Great opportunity to network with Authentic Leaders in Cincinnati! If you were there, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, if you missed it, I hope this gave you some flavor of the event and perhaps energized you to attend future events.

The Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati group plans to hold these events quarterly. If you are interested in hearing more, you can contact me, or join the group on Linkedin – Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati.

Special acknowledgement to the visionary behind this group and the Founder Erin Schreyer and the other board members I have the good fortune to serve with – Michelle Beckham-Corbin, Kip Backscheider, Mike Weppler, Craig Schweiger, Elaine Suess, Drew Forte and Terry Johnson.

September 7, 2009

Twitter and Social Media…..Just a Fad

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 2:51 pm

    “Let’s face it — Twitter is a fad. It has all the attributes of a fad, including the one that people like me don’t get its appeal.”
    Tom Davenport – The Next Big Thing – 4/9/09

I’m still laughing over this quote. It’s very reminiscent of political chatter you’ll hear on MSNBC or Fox nighttime. The declaration and dismissal of something that “I don’t get”! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really care what you had for breakfast or that it’s a bad hair day. But, I will tell you that I have met some amazing people on Twitter. I have found people that share the same interests that I do and have learned from some thought leaders. As I read the quote above, I thought back on other revolutionary naysayers and their need to show their brilliance….only to be violently mistaken. Silent1

    Who the Hell wants to hear actors talk?

    HM Warner, co-founder Warner Brothers, 1927

Who in the hell would want to hear actors talk. Granted, don’t think Arnold spoke during the original Terminator, but seriously can you imagine movies or TV without sound? But this great mind who created one of the most famous companies of an entire genre fought what he “didn’t get”.

    The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad

    Bank President speaking with Henry Ford’s Lawyer – Michigan Savings Bank – 1903

silent2Gosh….can you imagine going thru Starbucks drive through on a horse? Would they call them horse-thru’s? Imagine the clean-up. Where do you put your venti latte? Imagine balancing the holders. Can you imagine life without the car. Obviously, people like him did not “get it”.

    I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people,
    and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.

    Editor in Charge of Business Books – Prentice Hall – 1957

Ok, so data processing is a fad. I get that. This whole automated computer thing…..whew…thank goodness that never took hold! Prentice Hall obviously got it…..they’ve narrowed to education….and soon will pass. Yep, just a fad!

I don’t know Tom Davenport and I am sure he’s intellectually gifted and my superior by light years. I just find it interesting to watch the rush of experts to turn social media and things that these experts “don’t get” into the equivalent of Pet Rocks and Chia Pets.

Keep the following in mind:
1. 1 out of 8 couples married last year met via social media
2. Years to Reach 50 million users:
a. Radio – 38 years
b. TV – 13 years
c. Internet – 4 years
d. Facebook – 100 million users in 9 months
Gang, it’s changing fast
3. Hulu went from 60 Million streams in 4/08 – to 370 million streams in 4/09
4. Social media is the number 1 activity on the web (yes passing xxx activity)
Yes, it might be a fad……but what if it’s more than that? Are you ready or do you prefer to put your head in the sand because you just don’t “get it”????

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