Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Start with Why

It used to be tough enough to pick a few columnists to follow, but when blogging grew into a hydra it became impossible to pick "just a few." 

Indeed, even if you wrote off the millions who when you saw what they were doing you wished for a universal block & report spam button, there was still so much "good" stuff that one could not begin with any organized approach, and even if there were a "system" I am too undisciplined to have followed it.

I have to say that despite all the issues we face in the country on more levels than I can count, I am encouraged by what seems like a never-ending stream of creative, thoughtful, and often very insightful writing that I come across either by chance or because someone sends me a link because they think I would be interested, which, thruth be known, has turned out to be Dave's "search engine" of blogs that interest me.

So, such was the case when I discovered Matt Youngquist's blog which he calls Career Horizons The Blog.  Given that I am a recovering HR person of some 40+ years and the fact that ExecuNet is deeply committed to the career and business challenges of the senior level executive, that I would want to check out a blog with Career Horizons as its moniker is no surprise.  If you haven't had a chance to check it out, I would.  You can tell by the way Matt writes that he is a "giver" not a "taker" which by definition makes me a fan.

Anyway, last week he ran a piece he called Leadership, Wherefore Art Thou? and among other links he included to help him make his point was one that took the reader to the TED site and an 18 minute talk given in 2009 by Simon Sinek called How Great Leaders Inspire Action.  His talk was the result of a book he wrote around his theory called Start With Why.  My guess is that many readers here have heard of it and/or read it.  If not, put it on your summer reading list, or if you want the cliff notes, listen to the TED talk.

I think that most of us who find ourselves in leadership roles either by happenstance or design struggle with the challenges, and maybe this is the reason why Senek's approach resonated so profoundly and reminded me of exactly why it is that people so often have said to me "boy Dave it is really clear that you are passionate about what you do!"  And usually when they say that, I can't figure out what they have seen or heard that makes them feel that way.  When I listened  to Sinek's talk, I realized again where all that comes from.  What they sense and feel is (for good or ill) so much a part of who I am, that I don't even think about it which is why I am surprised when they say it. 

It doesn't come from what we as a company do or how we do it, although for sure both make me very excited and proud.  But that is hardly unique.  I am sure that any business leader would feel the same way.  So where does the inspiration/passion come from?

If you have listened to Sinek's talk you already know, if you haven't better you should listen rather than my trying to put it into words here.  He is far more eloquent.

It is indeed all about the why.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

One Story At A Time

The fact that an article that was written in June of 2009 has just found its way to my consciousness is probably as good an indicator as anything in terms of how unorganized and not on top of things I am.

I have no excuse, however, if I were to try to conjure one  up it would be that I am not technologically proficient enough to get my information filters properly in place and as a result, if whatever it is does not show up above the fold in Google News, it stands little chance of surfacing in my world.

Okay, maybe a little bit overstated, but at least it will give you some idea of the "issues" I have in trying to time manage between dealing with the day to day goings on at work and wanting to more about other things that tweak my interest.

In any event, the awakening to the soon to be two year old piece came about because I am a member of a LinkedIn group started by Karen Armon who, among the many interests that spring from her MarketOne Executive consultancy, also has  hosted and facilitated ExecuNet networking events in the Denver metro area for a number of years.

The article she had posted in her LI MarketOne Executive Group was one by management guru Peter Bergman which appeared in the online HBS business review- as indicated nearly two years ago. The piece is called A Good Way to Change a Corporate Culture, and since this has been a subject of interest to me for a long time, and it appeared to be very short, I continued with my totally disorganized approach to life and stopped what I was doing to read it.

If you, like me, are somewhat fascinated by how organizations continually wrestle with their cultures and the impact that they have on where you work and /or your role as a leader in those organizations, I suggest you take 10 minutes and read what Bergman has to say. 

If you don't have the 10 minutes, then here's the gist:

While for sure there are plenty of things that go into creating a culture, one of the most profound  are the "stories" that come out of the organization as it grows, and these stories do much to cement the expectation we all have of what is expected of us as we consider becoming part of that culture or as importantly, if the "stories" we heard that attracted us in the first place turn out to be fact or fiction

As the economy continues to improve and the talent marketplace begins to turn once again into a "sellers" market (and it will) - our ability to continue to attract and retain the "A" players will turn on their feeling of whether those stories are indeed fact or fiction.

Hint: We live in a non-fiction world.