May 28, 2012

Questionable Leadership

There is a theory that the two sides of a conversation are talking and waiting to talk. Well, we know that’s a rather cynical view, but what if we decided to do the listening for a change and give others the time and space to share their thoughts and ideas?

If you’re like me, this isn't always an easy tactic. We get passionate and want to genuinely improve the ideas presented. The two focus words this year for me are listening and patience. They are powerful and empowering to everyone involved.

Three Essential Words

Chris Westfall reminds us of a significant phrase we can use that will change every conversation, connection and communication and it is tell me more. It will show others we care about their ideas and want to see how they will expand on them.

It's one of the toughest lessons I've learned. I get passionate and want to help. But the danger is I can give the impression that I've stopped listening. It's powerful to sit back and let the others talk and think. Sometimes the best move we can make is to simply be present for them. As my colleague Greg Zlevor reminds me, less is more.

Ask for Help

As leaders, we need to be more inquisitive and less instructional. That’s how we all grow. My work involves helping leadership teams with their personal and business development. These are bright people. They have worked hard, accomplished a lot and gained respect of their colleagues. The guy who wants to share ideas still shows up, but he's doing so less and less as listening guy is taking more of the lead.

The core of leadership is about questioning and helping others. If you see someone attempting to appear like a leader but making it about them, we call that a boss. And no one wants one of those. And whether you're trying to find your online voice, your inner voice or your career voice, you need someone to listen. So let's take Chris' advice.

Tell Me More

Kneale Mann


May 24, 2012

Starve Your Fear

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.
Steve Jobs

Last week, I was talking with a colleague who had been sick for a week and she mentioned the old saying ‘starve a fever, feed a cold’. It made me wonder what would happen if we applied that to our lives by feeding our passions and not giving any table scraps to those fears. Yes, easier said than done but worth a shot.

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Bertrand Russell

Some organizations, for all their efforts, become a dysfunctional environment. This is where I can help. Some don't want to be helped and it's best we leave them to their misery. But perhaps there is an underlying issue that needs to be put on a diet.

You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith. Mary Manin Morrissey

Open your calendar and go to a random date last year. Check out all that you had on that day. Now think about what made you stressed and what is now irrelevant. Some items may no longer be concerns and some you conquered. It may now look like a nothing day but at the time there was something that was stressing you that you were trying to get past. Now much or all of your fear may have dissipated.

Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
James Stephens

Often, much of what we may fear isn’t the big scary monster but simply something we haven’t tried or an instance where we need help from others or a bit more experience. We may have fear while others navigate it with ease and can help us. There will be times the roles are reversed but we need to starve our fears together.

The enemy is fear. Mahatma Gandhi

Kneale Mann


May 20, 2012

The 3 Questions of Clarity

One way I help clients is to gain clarity on finding better ways to grow their people, leadership talent and their business. The old cliché that we are far too close to our own stuff to see it with any objectivity is often true.

We all know deep down that we are flawed and make mistakes. We know we don’t have it all figured out. And we know there's work to do. But part of finding clarity is discovering the joy in the work rather than the seemingly unattainable finish line. Purpose can often be more important than making quota or hitting numbers. And how long does the satisfaction from a "sale" last versus following your passion?

To gain clarity, there are three questions you can ask yourself, your team members or anyone with whom you collaborate...

1. What do you stand for?
2. What will you not do?
3. Why do you do what you do?

This quick but powerful exercise can work for someone new to the workforce or a highly paid barrister. It can unearth the deep rooted needs of a member of the leadership team and the guy who runs the local garage. It's industry and job level agnostic.

Clutter makes us nervous and stressed. It can derail us from our goals. Clarity will help you find your baseline and silence some of that unnecessary noise. And what you stand for, what you will not do and why you do what you do, will remain.

Ask yourself the three questions and get clear.

Kneale Mann


May 19, 2012

Zuckerbook and the Millionaires

Last January the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded The Social Network four Golden Globes for Best Picture, best original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, best direction from the wonderfully talented David Fincher and best screenplay by one of the most gifted writers today, Aaron Sorkin.

This week, the founders and venture capitalists surrounding Facebook began to cash in their chips. After hundreds of millions of years of networking socially, there are more billionaires and millionaires this week due to an initial public offering that speculators are saying will value Facebook at $107 Billion or just over $100 per user.

Like all companies, the purpose of Facebook is to make money despite the well crafted Mark Zuckerberg hoodies and golly gee it's all about the sharing exterior. So when it comes time for investments to be returned, it will be on the backs of each one of us - the 900 million. Whether we stick around when our pages are littered with advertising is a whole other story. It's doubtful the new millionaires are too concerned about all that.

Some interesting posts published this week

· Tech Crunch - Twitter Sentiment Mirrored Facebook Stock Price
· All Facebook - All That For 23 Cents?
· inc - Facebook IPO Could Spawn 1,000 Start-Ups
· Mitch Joel - Leaving Facebook
· Gigaom - Facebook Gets a Reality Check
· Wired - Facebook IPO is Not The Engame

Kneale Mann


May 17, 2012

Push Beyond Your Limits

There have been moments in your life when you felt you didn’t have the answer. Conversely, there have been times when you allowed yourself to dream, if only for a moment, about what you wanted in your life, your career, your family or your lifestyle. And perhaps you paused. Then went back to what you thought was reality.

Caroline Casey was a global management consultant and changed it all to create her not-for-profit organization Kanchi. She discusses leadership, disabilities, elephants and how we must push beyond our limits and accomplish more.

Kneale Mann

caroline casey | TED

May 15, 2012

Is Customer Service an Endangered Species?

If you work somewhere, you have customers. Even if you are eight levels away from actual paying clients, you are part of the equation. Which means you have a chance to improve or diminish the experience each and every customer has with your company. We are also customers of each other inside our companies. I call it internal customer service. Without it, external customer service will forever be a challenge.

We all want great service but clearly we don't always get it. Why is that? Is it because good enough will do for most people? Is it because the fear of actually stopping and doing a great job will cost you more than the profit made from that customer?

Money Talks

Perhaps most companies think we’ll be satisfied with what we get and keep coming back for more. Maybe we don't know any better. Maybe we just don't care. We all mess up, we all make mistakes, but when it becomes a pattern, there is cause for concern.

The best tactic is to vote with our wallet. But with some companies it certainly makes one wonder if customer service is something that should be relegated to annual reports, marketing collateral and coffee mugs.

If you want to establish a competitive edge, provide great leadership and service. Then you can take some chances.

Kneale Mann


May 11, 2012

We Don't Always Know

The ascent of leadership within your career and business is a complex journey. It would be simple to look back at when you got a raise or promotion and called those the rungs on the ladder. When you look a bit deeper, they may not have been your growth spots.

Since we aren’t machines nor are our teammates, coworkers and fellow stakeholders, we need to keep a keen eye on human elements and interaction. So if we pause for moment and look at those times in our career where we felt hampered perhaps in a restricted environment, were those possible learning opportunities or obstacles?

Two-Way Leader

I remember early in my career, I was intimidated by leadership. I was the kid who swept the floor (sometimes literally) while others in more important positions made all the decisions. But as I grew through a career of hard work, setbacks and victories, with some hindsight it's clear my “bosses” didn’t have all the answers. In fact, the good ones were secure in that fact. They were learning too. They needed the team’s help to grow and we made mistakes together.

If you feel you need to be strong, even when you aren’t sure, then you may be setting yourself up for future problems. If you think you may appear weak if you need help, trouble may be imminent.

The enterprise can be an overwhelming place at times and there is little allowance to pause when the pressures of the day need our attention. But we need to keep trying to find think time to grow. And asking for help is a sign of strength.

Even the brightest among us don't have all the answers.

Kneale Mann


May 8, 2012

How Important are Your People?

Leadership is action, not position.
Donald H. McGannon

It’s simple to develop responsibilities, titles, direct reports and deliverables. But how will you allow a place of teamwork to resemble reality? The organizational chart is probably necessary for you to chunk up the work, responsibilities and strengths of your business but how you build a great, sustaining and successful company is through your people. There are no short cuts.

If you have ever experienced a true open environment it can be exciting - yet to some - chaotic. And because most don't want chaos, they choose to keep things nice and neat and departmentalized. They may like being a boss everyone obeys. But we know the flaws in that model are vast.

The perception of losing focus or control can block potential for significant growth in your organization and the careers of each person inside it. If ideas aren't shared, department walls get higher and silos deepen.

To lead the people, walk behind them.
Lao Tzu

The position of Chairperson, CEO or President may appear to be at the top of the company chart. But it's actually in the middle. This is the person who sets the tone; makes the big decisions that could affect the workload of everyone else. It can be a very busy place.

She must answer to the owners, shareholders, investors, customers, employees and the public. If a company relies solely on her decisions, millions or even billions can hang in the balance.

Don't try and do everything yourself because you can't.
Anthea Turner

A former boss taught me about reversed delegation. This is where someone suggests a half-baked idea and you try to run with it. This neither encourages their further thought nor helps you with what you want to accomplish. Push it back on their plate and see what happens.

Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.
Colin Powell

For decades we have followed an enterprise model that resembled a flow chart. Nice and clean, easy to follow, department and leaders, directors and work flow. But without an unwavering commitment to the people in your company you may simply be sharing a parking lot and florescent lights for 1,800 hours a year. And the four most powerful words you can use are; “How can I help?”

The challenge for leaders who want a successful business is to make their people the absolute top priority. For real.

Kneale Mann

image: msoffice

May 5, 2012

Are We the Enlightened Ones?

It may be safe to suggest that humans have uttered the idiom “in this day and age” since we could form the words – in whatever language we spoke at the time. Some have claimed that there are more scientists alive today than in any other time in history.

We have seen monumental advancements in medicine, business and technology in the last one hundred years. However one seventh of world's population won’t eat today and there is war and conflict around the world. We have a way to go.

Make More Faster

The industrial revolution created mass production and transformed business and increased the ability for us to feed more people and make more things and create jobs and all that fun stuff.

But a workspace where a boss rules over the unwashed masses is flawed. Leadership must come from all of us but as Matthew Taylor explored two years ago and it remains true today, we may have some work to do on our 21st century enlightenment. 

Kneale Mann

Matthew Taylor | RSA

May 4, 2012

2012 List | Revisited

We like lists. They’re easy to read and review. It’s content in small digestible chunks. But without action, they’re just nice lists. On January 1st, I did yet another one and I was looking at it this week. Much work to be done, especially the singing!

Travel more Forget the past Turn your phone off Someday is not on the calendar Don't wait for approval Talk about them Say sorry Excuses won’t help you
Dream big. Do bigger Be gracious Thank your parents Make quick decisions

Trust yourself Numbers are irrelevant Read more, skim less 

Stop comparing yourself to others Make eye contact Their opinion is just their opinion Smile more Take one digital day off a month Enjoy the ride 

Stop doing anything that weakens you Keep an open mind Busy is a victim word
Plan ahead then be flexible Respect your own time Write something every day 

Move from what if to why not Meet five new people each week 

It's okay to be wrong Ask for help Hang with winners 
Don't rest on past accomplishments Reach higher Follow through

Take time off It doesn't matter what they say There are no instant wins

No excuses Help someone without their knowledge Go for it Ignore the news
Don't waste your time on naysayers Sing often Let them be right 

Tell others about someone fabulous You’ll never been done Say thank-you

Have dessert for dinner Trust your gut Do something ridiculous 
Sit quietly Be more tolerant Success is not a number

Focus on your strengths Start now Laugh at yourself Take the victory
Get some sleep Less talk, more do Do something scary Do nothing Go for a drive

Cherish friendship Negative thoughts are a waste of time Be yourself
The bucket list is meant to be lived Mistakes are allowed Your resume is not you

Yes you deserve it Don't wait No one can want it more than you
Lead with passion Take yourself out for dinner All we have is now

I hope your 2012 is going well so far!
Email or DM anytime and we can discuss.

Kneale Mann

image: flickr

May 2, 2012

Leadership and the Lone Nut

We spend a lot of time here talking about the importance of leadership. No one wants a boss, however most appreciate fair and strong leaders. But what does it take to be that first follower to join the lone guy dancing on a hill to make things happen?

We are often afraid to take chances which creates atrophied ideas. There is great admiration for those whose stand out and lead the charge but we often do so from afar. We need to join the idea when it may not be ours. It takes guts to be the first one to speak up but teamwork is requisite.

The next time you have a big idea, don’t be afraid to share it and be equally brave to know it takes others for it to become a reality. When were are inclusive to others and trust them with our ideas, magic can happen.

If you haven’t this, watch as Derek Sivers explains how a movement can be created in less than three minutes. 

Kneale Mann

youtube | derek sivers

May 1, 2012

Foolish and Hungry

Noun: A person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person. Verb: Trick or deceive (someone); dupe. Adjective: Foolish or silly. Synonyms: tomfool - ninny. Verb: cheat - deceive - dupe - bamboozle - hoodwink - kid. Adjective: foolish - daft - goofy - fatuous

Whether a quip or an overheard phrase, some wisdom or a quote, a thought or an age old saying, every day on Twitter I share a quick thought.

Here’s the list from April 2012

• We are fools whether we dance or not so we may as well dance.
• Visiting the past is like rest stops on a road trip - don't stay too long
• We are the sum of our experiences. How's your equation?
• He had a dream. Do you? (MLK reference)
Procrastination ends today
• If we think we can't, our wish will be granted
• Don't wait, give them a call
• Success and failure are not accidents
• Keep blessings and perspective nearby
• Do something that scares you every day. Eleanor Roosevelt
• Naysayers are inevitable. Don't let them distract you.
• Good news or bad, be there for your team
• You need to be the one who will create the change you need
• Someday is today
• You are capable of so much more
• It's up to us to create and curate our success
• What will get your focus today?
• Don't boss, lead
Leadership means getting along with people. Mahatma Gandhi
• Your opinion is just as valid as anyone else's opinion
• Think big. Dream big. Do big.
• Earth Day. Every day.
• Laugh often
• Focus on your goals not what others say are your goals
• Turn your inner critic in to an inner coach. Jack Canfield
• Don't let greed get in the way of focus.
• Growth happens when we learn something, not when we show what we already know.
• It really isn't about the numbers
• Do you have an actual documented list of what you want to accomplish in your life?
Leadership does not depend on being right. Ivan Illich

As Steve Jobs said; we need to stay hungry and foolish. 

Kneale Mann
© Kneale Mann people + priority = profit
leadership development business culture talent development human capital