Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two Words on Leadership

Next in the series on Leadership. Two words.

What two words can I use to talk about the foundation of leadership, the traits of leaders, and the path to start you on your way to leading?


Lots of folks waffle before they act. Hem and haw while thinking through all the angles. Oftentimes, a little debate can help in decision making. Just don't let it cripple you. Don't take days to decide something that should take an hour. Avoid going into a week-long black hole while your staff is wondering what the outcome will be. Leaders act swiftly.

Leaders make the best decision they can, with the best information they can gather, as swiftly as possible. Maybe they don't know 100% that something will work, but they have a strong sense of intuition (and experience) that guides them.

Colin Powell has a great presentation on Leadership that is favorite of mine.

He uses a P = 40-70 rule. P = Probability of success and the numbers indicate the amount of information you have. So if you have less than 40% of the information, not a good idea to act. If you have more than 70%, you've most likely waited too long. Between 40-70%: Go with your gut.

Obviously in Colin Powell's former position (and the military in general) waiting to act means life or death. Procrastination with the goal of getting more information and lowering your risk of making a mistake actually increases your risk by taking a lot of time.

I used to have a manager that would take FOR.EVER. to make a decision, finally decide something, then two days later bring the issue up again, debating the answer that was already made. It was maddening.

When you do this, your staff gets confused. As their leader, you should evoke a sense of confidence and certainty on behalf of the entire team. You may be faking that confidence sometimes, but your gut tends to be fairly accurate.  And, yes, you can always change your mind. This is not about sticking to your guns at all cost. It is about trusting your gut and using momentum in your favor.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Glamour Don't: silly subhead

I've seen about a billion LinkedIn profiles over the years. As a former recruiter, I've spent a fair amount of my time searching profiles, reading resumes, making connects. I am still on LinkedIn daily.

This is a word of caution for crafting your subhead on LinkedIn.

It should be your current job title, but often people get creative here. Sometimes it'll say "Currently Looking." That's a helpful subhead. Sometimes it'll list a couple skills "Writer, Photographer." Also helpfu.

What it SHOULDN'T say is something funny that only you think is funny. And I, said recruiter, may also think it is funny...But rarely the 3 or 4 folks I have to forward your profile to as part of the candidate review process will also think it is funny.

One that's killing me: "P.T. Barnum in a skirt producing intelligent creative to sell your stuff."

So first I don't really get it. Second if I did, I'd be somewhat embarrassed to forward it to an ECD with the expectation that this person, with this silly description is the best person I could find. Then I am getting judged on the level of someone else's attempt at humor.

It is a fine line between standing out (perhaps P.T's goal?) and causing you to get filtered before you even are considered.

Consider it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One Word on Leadership

I'm working on a Leadership presentation and wanted to start simple. With just one word.

What single words can I use to talk about the foundation of leadership, the traits of leaders, and the path to start you on your way to leading?

Here's the first.


First and foremost believe in your ability to become a leader. Whether you feel like you are worthy of it yet or not. You must believe in your own potential. I liken it somewhat to that book The Secret. In The Secret you wholeheartedly envision things (your potential) constantly and visually, then they happen. Same here with leadership.

Believe that one day you will lead people. Believe that you are worthy of followers. Believe in your own great potential. Above all else.

Even if you are a student in college or a mid-level worker bee. If leading teams is what you truly want to do, who is anyone else to get in the way of you visualizing that destiny? I can tell you that without belief in yourself, it is much, much harder to obtain.