Story #1. I gave David, the board member, several ideas privately on how he could improve the new business strategy of the startup. I expected him to go directly to the CEO and explain these to him. To my pleasant surprise he made all the suggestions in an email and attributed all the ideas to me, thus giving me full credit for them. My respect for him increased exponentially. I will always be willing to help David.
A company once hired me to organize their global e-mail system. The business had been quickly formed through acquisitions, and no time had been spent organizing technology, or taking advantage of economies of scale. There were over 300 offices worldwide with nearly all of them on completely independent and different e-mail systems. There was no way to even know what the email addresses of most, let alone all of the company employees were. Sending an email to “everyone” was not possible. Continue reading
He was gregarious, funny, confident, understood what needed to be done and appeared to be a perfect leader candidate. His pre-show trailer was quite good, but once in the position the damage began. Confidently managing up was his best skill, and with brutality was how he confidently managed down. Everyone has seen this scenario play out; like going to a movie with a great trailer, but the actual movie is offensive.
Many years ago I worked with someone who applied for the CIO position in my company, yet they had no technical skills. They had never programmed, built a server, or installed a network, because they had never worked in Information Technology. What they had done, was design the requirements for an Intranet project that had failed. Mainly, because they wanted every feature, and the vendor was saying yes to anything because he needed the project’s money through his financially hard times.
The amazing thing for me in this process, was how this person was going to manage something they could not understand. It was like someone who wanted to manage a medical research project with scientists, but they had never studied medicine, or even organic chemistry. They had described a cure once, and in their own mind that qualified them. Now this could have been a different situation had this person kept learning through their career instead of relying on their political connections to carry them. Continuous learning as a leader is essential. Continue reading
Great leaders do not need to have authority or positions of power. There are many examples of leaders who have changed the world without any type of authority, such as Mahatma Gandhi and his Salt March in 1930, or Dr. Martin Luther King and his March on Washington in 1963. They did not hold political office, or military authority. They had no authority over employment, wages, or social services. Yet, it was still only through authority that the laws were eventually changed to reflect their goals. Leadership may provide the motivation, but authority still holds the necessary keys to change.
A business leader will need to have the following five required leadership skills and the authority to be the most affective. Continue reading