October 31, 2013

Did You Know?

There are people working on inventions we will someday feel we can’t live without but don’t even know we want or need yet. There will be channels and gadgets and toys and advancements that may give us the impression they have improved our lives. At the core of it all is our ability to connect human to human which began thousands of years ago and we've been trying to figure out how to do it properly ever since.

This may be scary, it could be a refresher, it might be exciting, but it is our reality.

Watch this.

Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.

Virtue | Shift Happens | Coldplay

October 29, 2013

The Face of a Leader

“Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”

Much has been written, discussed, and said about the attributes of a great leader. It’s perhaps easy for us to look to sports or business for those examples because they are plentiful but how often are they right there, in the middle of real life?

Before October 9th, 2012 most of us had never heard of Mingora, Pakistan. It is located in the Swat District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The landscape is stunning, the people are strong, and at one time it was a tourist destination. Queen Elizabeth called it the “Switzerland of the new Empire”. But fear and terror are now part of daily life in Mingora as the Taliban’s presence has replaced peace.

"I am not here to speak against the Taliban. I'm here to speak up for the right of every child."

Three years ago, a young Mingora girl began writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. Her perspective was simply from a girl who wanted to realize her potential and for those around her. The New York Times filmed a documentary of her life which created more exposure for her and her cause.

She gave television and print interviews and soon her real identity was known. Her work garnered a nomination for the International Children's Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.

"The extremists are afraid of books & pens. The power of education frightens them."

Malala Yousafzai was a brave young girl who was simply sharing her feelings and telling the stories of her town. But the Taliban was paying close attention and October 9th, 2012 they attempted an assassination on her life.

While she was returning home from school, a Taliban gunman shot her in the head and neck leaving her for dead. Malala miraculously survived and has become more vocal than ever, speaking for the rights of girls around the world to gain a good education and realize their dreams.

"I am focusing on women to be independent."

United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a UN petition in Yousafzai's name, using the slogan "I am Malala" demanding all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015. Time magazine featured her on the cover as one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World".

Malala has become the youngest person to ever be nominated for a Noble Peace Prize and has won the Pakistan National Youth Peace Prize, Sakharov Prize, and Simone de Beauvoir Prize.

"I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard."

In just over a year, she survived being shot in the head, written a book, shown her bravery in the face of terror, spoke at the United Nations, appeared on countless televisions networks, met with country leaders – including President Obama – to fight for woman’s educational rights, and created The Malala Fund to further the cause.

If you want to see leadership personified, meet 16 year old Malala Yousafzai.

Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.

tribune | united nations

October 25, 2013

Successful Leaders Do Less

There is a ravenous appetite for information that seems to be more pronounced than in any other time in history. Information is travelling at the speed of light. Theories, news, priorities, ideas, deadlines, profits, voices, thoughts, it never seems to end but to borrow from the Bard, how much has any significance?

The problem we often face is we don't know what may be important until its emergency has passed. Everything is code red, all meetings deemed critical, every email needs a reply. Hurry up, this is important! I need to get to the next crucial deadline!!

Busy is the new black

Here's a suggestion. Ask your team to cut every meeting next week by 50%. That one-hour meeting on Tuesday is now 30 minutes. If it doesn't have a stated reason, cancel it. Only those necessary should attend. And without clearly stating who does what by when, the meeting may be a complete waste of everyone's time.

A room full of people not paying attention while staring at their smartphones looking at email that might be important is not a collaborative exchange.

We need to do less so we can accomplish more.
Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.


October 23, 2013

Are People Important to You?

We marvel at those who appear fearless in their pursuits. We look for inspiration from individuals who seem to know exactly what they want to do.

We may think they've done it all on their own but if you believe in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers theory (which I do), none of us is self-made. Conversely, none of us need to do it on our own. In fact, we need each other to help us get there.

No Experience Necessary

To make the dangerous assumption you don't require experience and perspective from others can only hurt you. To create a matrix that you have it all figured out, your way is always best, or worse, you need to figure it all out, can hold you back. It often personifies in arrogance which makes the climb even more difficult and lonely.

Look at the people in your life offering to help and thank them. Extend your hand to help others. Collaboration is not a hashtag or a word to put on a t-shirt. The realistic optimist in me thinks you want a better work culture while the recovering cynic hopes you mean it. It takes a village to raise a child and a network to grow a career.

Four words we shouldn't forget – can you help me.
Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.


October 17, 2013

Starving the Fearful Leader

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

We've heard the old saying ‘starve a fever, feed a cold’. As leaders, what would happen if we applied that to our lives by feeding our passions and not giving any table scraps to our 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 | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.


October 13, 2013

The Underdog and the Shepherd

I like Malcolm Gladwell. I think he is a gifted writer and story teller. He makes me think and more importantly do something about it. His latest book entitled David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants is causing quite a stir.

Malcolm has a simple suggestion, if you don't agree with him, don't read his books.

The title and thesis are lifted from the Bible. As you know, it's the story of the perceived underdog beating the clear favorite. Gadwell opines our beliefs in each character may have been wrong. You can make up your own.

Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.

TED | Malcolm Gladwell

October 11, 2013

The Busy Culture

The year was 1582 and changes needed to be made. There had been much discussion for many years over this critical issue and the solution had been found.

This was the year the Gregorian calendar (also known as the Christian or Western calendar) was more widely used. It featured 365 days, 5 hours, and 49 seconds which was a reduction of 10 minutes and 48 seconds from the Julian calendar to align the celebration of Easter with the Spring Equinox. It's the calendar we use today.

Some of the prominent inventions of the 16th century included; bottled beer, the graphite pencil, the pocket watch, the map projector, the knitting machine, and flush toilets. Each was created within the time constraints of the calendar we have today.

What about now?

Since the year 2000, we have seen the emergence of the iPod, the Braille glove, birth control patch, artificial liver, the virtual keyboard, and the iPhone.

In the 16th century, the average life expectancy was around 50 and in some areas of the world – like North America – it’s close to 80 today. The world’s population in 1582 was about 500 million and it’s over 7 billion today.

Why is this important?

Since our current calendar was adopted, we are living 40% longer and the population has increased 350% but each of us still has only 24 hours in each day. Yet we continue to attempt to jam more and more stuff into each of them. More meetings, more email, more tasks, more deadlines, more sales calls, more everything.

In a hundred years, they may come up with another way of measuring days, years, and centuries. There will be medical breakthroughs to give humans a longer lifespan, and our finite planet will probably have a couple more billion people living on it which gives pause to the environmental impact. But hopefully the desire to do more tomorrow than today will at some point subside.

Let's exchange emails and book a meeting to discuss.
Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.


October 7, 2013

Data and Reality

Years ago, I worked at a media corporation which had about 4,000 employees. The company is still alive and doing very well. One day, a company-wide email was sent from the VP of Human Resources outlining an upcoming employee voluntary survey.
He outlined the reasons for it, the benefits of it, and the fact that over a hundred stakeholders has been involved in creating it.

The usual items were mentioned; fair compensation, good health benefits, the ability to advance, and an atmosphere where strengths and passions are encouraged.

Drawing Conclusions

One item that scored surprisingly high on the survey was management’s inability to deal with non-performance. So what did that meant? This is what Malcolm Gladwell outlines in “The Tipping Point” as the broken window hypothesis. It is an environment where the little things are ignored which become big things which are also ignored. It’s easier to avoid than to deal. But if we don’t deal, we are fooling ourselves to think our behavior goes unnoticed. If we don’t care, how can we expect them to care?

Gladwell uses the example of the NYC transit commissioner who vowed no subway trains would leave the station with graffiti on them. Each time a car came into the yard marked up; it was cleaned and put back out. This cycle continued until maintenance workers began to see something remarkable – the tactic was working. The transit authority cared so New Yorkers began to care. Management dealt with non-performance – or in this case, the defacement of public property.

Willing Participants

Recently, a colleague contacted me about doing some team building and leadership workshops with her team. They had conducted an internal survey and some behavior issues had come to the forefront. The challenge was how to address them. The purpose was not to call out the one or two employees others “thought” were the “problem”. It was a matter of including everyone in the solution.

Two members had been with the organization more than 25 years and their behavior had been endorsed and rewarded so neither thought they were the cause of any concern. They were the two people most other members mentioned when discussing any said concerns. But think about it for a moment, do we ever volunteer ourselves as the cause of the problem?

Didn't Want to See

In my colleague’s case, instead of moving forward with some valuable workshops that would have created a more cohesive team, stronger bottom line, and more enjoyable working atmosphere, she was fired. The non-performers had enough influence on the manager who didn't want to deal with all that icky people stuff he felt it was easier to get rid of the troublemaker.

We are living in a time when the world is still dealing with the worst economic downtown in 80 years yet we continue to hope problems go away and people just work harder.

Before we cut another job or corner, let’s have a good honest look at our own performance.
Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.


October 3, 2013

Free Experience

To anyone’s measurement, Pablo Picasso was one of the most talented artists of all time. His complicated life mixed with inspired work continues to make him a fascinating subject to study and learn about.

Pablo and a friend were having lunch one day and one of the other patrons recognized the great master. After some hesitatation, she approached him with a napkin. She asked Picasso if he would take a moment and do a quick drawing for her.

He said it would cost one million dollars.

Shocked, she questioned why a simple drawing would be that much. Picasso replied that it took him thirty years to perfect his talent and it is not free.

We shouldn't put a price on every moment of the day, and none of us is Picasso, but we should be careful not to always give away our experience simply because it would take just a minute to share it.

Got a napkin?
Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.

Pablo Picasso | Three Musicians

October 1, 2013

Simple Can be Complicated

A couple of years ago, I started something on Twitter. It began with a thought or quote, an idea or something funny, and now it's something I post every morning.

Here are the highlights from September 2013

Don't let tomorrow wreck today. Randy Pausch
Sometimes you need to cut the line and find a new lake.
What will get your focus today? Take time for think time.

The secret of success is getting started. Mark Twain

Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.
Never underestimate the power of helping someone.

Someday is today. Focus is a choice. Lend a hand today.

Leadership is to create an alignment of strengths,
making our weaknesses irrelevant. Peter Drucker

There is a distinction between meaningful work and busy work.
Trust yourself, you've earned it.

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
Albert Einstein

No is easy. How requires effort. Be persistent.
Say thank-you to those you appreciate today.

Anything is possible when everybody buys in. Ray Lewis

Be who you are. Say what you feel.
Those who mind don't matter.
Those who matter don't mind.
Theodor Seuss Geisel (03-04-1904 - 09-24-1991)

Obstacles, hurdles, and challenges are where we grow.
The occasional digital day off can do wonders.
Surround yourself with people who will help refine your strengths.

Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.
Steve Jobs (02.24.55 - 10.05.11)

You are capable of so much more.
Kneale Mann | Leadership Strategist, consultant, writer, speaker, executive coach facilitating performance growth with leaders, management, and teams.

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