The “Art” of “Leadership”

The “Art” of “Leadership”

In the 1920's we saw the birth of the "big band", an ensemble of up to 25 musicians that played a style of jazz that was more akin to orchestral music in its style with very little improvisation and primarily based on rote reading of sheet music - following the plan in a specific and organized manner. This style of music gained rapid popularity and indeed through the 1920's those "teams" enjoyed much of the popular music attention. As the 1920's came to an end, however, there was a bubbling movement happening in the "big band" scene which gave more freedom to the members of the band to improvise and "play" with the music. Many of the traditional big band leaders of the time didn't understand this new freedom and it was largely ignored in the music community as a passing fad - after all these new "big bands" didn't follow the accepted and normal plan for creating and performing popular...
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Leadership Health Care

Leadership Health Care

Does your organization behave like many individuals when it comes to problem resolution, or do you have a proper health care system in place to manage issues? Many people (myself included) have a tendency to treat their symptoms with over the counter drugs or with non-medical remedies passed down through our families, even when the symptoms appear to be chronic. Even when we visit the doctor we often deny the cause of the issue and request treatment for the symptom as we see it. In the same way many organizations fail to or ignore deep seated diseases and instead spend considerable time and resources focusing on the treatment of the symptoms. Seem crazy? Maybe so, but unfortunately it is also far more common than we would like to admit. Let's use a common smoker as an example: Most (if not every) mornings our friendly smoker Joe wakes up with constrained breathing and in many cases a dull headache from the previous days batch...
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Shooting Arrows at the Moon

Shooting Arrows at the Moon

About a week ago stories started surfacing about the possibility of resurrecting the Avro Arrow as a potential replacement for the troubled F-35 Stealth Fighter purchase for the Royal Canadian Air Force. For those who don't share my adoration for the Arrow (otherwise known as the CF-105) I'll provide a brief summary of its short life as the world's most advanced fighter jet. In 1952 the RCAF submitted the Final Report of the All-Weather Interceptor Requirements Team to Avro Canada - an aircraft manufacturing company located in Malton, Ontario. In it they outlined the features that would be required to protect against the threat of jet powered high altitude Soviet bombers capable of dropping nuclear weapons on North American targets. The resulting design achieved what was considered to be impossible at the time with test flights starting in March 1958. Through the pilot and test process the aircraft achieved a top speed of Mach 1.98 (although that was not the limit of...
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Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders

In "First Things First", Stephen Covey categorized work into a four box grid aligned to the "importance" of work and the "urgency" of that work. the clear motivation is to stop doing those things that are both not urgent and not important. Second we need to have the strength to stop doing the things that are urgent but not important. With the unimportant tasks eliminated we need to look at where we are spending our time to most effectively move our organizations (and lives) forward. The pace of competition and life in general seems to be increasing at an exponential rate over the past several years, and at the same time our organizations have been under severe productivity challenges. The result is that in many cases we are being asked to generate increasing returns with fewer staff to do the work. Given this landscape is it any surprise that more and more when I am talking with other leaders they are lamenting...
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The Power of Sharing

The Power of Sharing

In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that, I learn from him. - Ralph Waldo Emerson In this age of social networking the concept of sharing has become extremely commonplace, but I'm not sure we have improved the value we create through sharing as opposed to increasing the noise through which we have to wade to learn something new and valuable. Each of us has our own strengths, areas of unique knowledge, and body of knowledge that the world can learn from. Our experiences, while uniquely personal, bring us a perspective that nobody else in the world has or could articulate the learnings of. Like a kaleidoscope we each see the same world through slightly different lenses that have been shaped and coloured by our own unique experiences. With new mediums like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (and a host of other emerging platforms for social networking) people have been empowered to share their experiences broadly,...
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Walking the Fence

Walking the Fence

When I was working for myself and leading a small company things were much easier.  The 60 hour work-weeks, lack of vacation time, and total consumption in the work and building of the company were hard, but in a small company in a leadership position you never had to worry about what you said or did because your job was to drive hard and fast, make hard decisions, and move forward. In general the people who join small companies are similar minded - they get that driving hard means sometimes working with ambiguous information, making hard decisions quickly, and being up front with communication.  Feedback from fellow employees and the market wasn't always easy to hear, but it was at least direct and actionable. When you move into many bigger organizations you find something new pops up that you need to manage that has nothing to do with profit and loss, market share, or growing your business, but has everything to do...
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The Slipping Point

The Slipping Point

At some point in the evolution of even the most successful companies, an interesting thing happens – growth stalls.  Even the brightest and most experienced Entrepreneurs and managers are perplexed as the things they did to create the initial growth in the company no longer drive new revenues.  In fact if they stick with old methods and ideas things go from bad to worse as revenues and profits start to fall.  I call this moment of change a ‘slipping point’, and no business is immune to them. The reason that slipping points happen is that as companies grow their needs and markets change, but due to the slow and incremental nature of these changes they are hard to recognize until things have stalled out. The leadership skills that take a company from inception to $5 million in revenue are different than the leadership skills that are required to take a company from $5 million to $15 million.  The process of creating...
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