Leadership Daily

April 4, 2009

At O2 Media, (www.o2mediainc.com ) I find myself  every day using the core principles I write about, but none more that the concept of Love. I am blessed by a management team that is not only capable, but passionate about what they do. The company has had ups and downs, even under my leadership, but they have never failed to rally and deliver. I like to think that they know how much I love them; not because they are great performers, but because I know that they are human beings with needs and wants and that they deserve that I give them that love as a way of keeping them focused on their goals.

We have had many challenges, but no more frustrating than the despicable and libelous allegations by an unknown Blogger who has chosen to attempt disparage us and what we do. The absurdity of the comments is so obvious that they are patently false, but when these horrendous comments appear on the web, there is simply no way to eliminate them. The web is so open, free and unregulated, that scurrilous individuals can easily damage, even destroy, reputations.

We run a daily TV show on Lifetime Network which is called the Balancing Act. (www.thebalancingact.com) so it is quite obvious that we are a legitimate producer of quality television, yet this individual have consistently accused us of not airing the shows we produce. It is absurd, but we can do nothing to erase it from the web. It takes enormous passion on our associates part to deal with these terrible allegations, yet they know what they are doing is high quality, creative production, and I am so proud of them.

I am Back

March 29, 2009

Well, if you had followed this Blog previously, you probably gave up on me. I am so sorry, but I have no good excuse for having been missing from the Blog. I do, however, have an explanation. Here it is:

Back in September of 2007, I took on the role of President & CEO of O2 Media, Inc (www.o2mediainc.com). This company is located in Pompano Beach Florida and is a full service TV Production company, that does Direct Response Marketing as well as produces TV shows. Examples of the TV productions are The Balancing Act, a show that runs daily on Lifetime Networks and is dedicated to help women handle the variety of aspects on their private and professional lives. You can check out this show at www.thebalancingact.com. Another show which regularly airs on TLC Network is Designing Spaces, which is a show dedicated to improving the quality of life in your home. Subjects range from home improvement to learning about new products. You can check out this show at www.designingspaces.tv.

This role has been fun, exciting and almost completely consuming. I will have lots to say about this experience in future Blogs, but suffice to say that I have once again been learning a new business while continuing to grow in my understanding of leadership. Instead of talking entirely to you about others examples of leadership issues, I will be trying to use my experiences at O2 Media as a forum for discussing many of the same leadership issues.

Excited to Go To Work?

May 13, 2008

When you went to work today, were you glad to be there? Did you get up in the morning and say, “Wow, this is going to be a great day, and I love going to work.” I hope so, because as leaders, we have an obligation to love what we do and to provide enthusiastic role modeling to our associates. If that is not how you started the day, then I suggest that you should think about why.

The point of this is, not actually how you felt about going to work, but rather, how your staff felt about going to work. If you asked them the same question, what would they say? I want to believe that you know, but in case you do not know, then do you have the courage to ask? I hope so, because it is the core question that every leader needs to know the answer to.

Why that question? The plain fact is, how your staff feels about going to work, has everything to do with how they do at work. You as a leader actually have very little that you can do to “motivate” your staff. In fact, for years I have said that I actually think that most leaders should think of their job as working to make certain that they do not “de-motivate” their staff. That perception is founded on the idea that your staff comes to the work place with a level of motivation and it is up to you to create an environment where they can hold that attitude and achieve their goals because you supported them.

If your staff comes to work, wishing they were somewhere else, then you have a huge problem. Indeed, they have a huge problem, and they would be smart to solve that problem for themselves and for you, by looking for a new job. Yes, I think that if you have a staff member who is not excited about coming to work, then you could do them and yourself a great favor by helping them to get another job. The simple fact is that your staff members spend almost as much time, or more, with you as they do with their significant other. If they are wasting their life away with a job that is not interesting to them, then they should quit.

By the way, the younger the work force you have working for you, the more likely you will experience that type of decision. The generation Y workers are far more inclined to expect (actually demand) a workplace they enjoy, than almost any other generation. If you have them working for you, you already experienced that reality.

Feeling Good

April 30, 2008

I have been talking about being a leader, and I can tell you that I personally never feel better than when I have done something at the work place that I am convinced has helped somebody to be a better leader. During the last week I have been conducting those things I call “behavior reviews” with all my direct reports in one of my “investment companies” where I happen to be functioning as the CEO. During those meetings, I take seriously the role of telling my associates of my perceptions on their behavior and how it impacts their ability to do their jobs as leaders. These are NOT performance appraisals, they are feedback designed to help these associates do a better job by being more aware of themselves.

I must say, I have been “blown away” by the responses, and frankly I always am. Not one of these associates had ever experienced a direct and caring session of this type. There are at least three of these folks who I know were not only receptive, they were impacted and will focus on their behavior “opportunities for improvement.” That makes it all worth while. No boubt, it will take a continuing focus by me to reinforce these messages, but given I will do that, I am convinced that all of these folks will grow. And, growing is what it is all about for me.

To me, that is what leading is all about. That makes for a great week!

Follow Up

April 25, 2008

Well, my last blog post suggested that good leadership requires that we sell feedback to our associates. I need to admit that the reason I was talking about that topic was because I was starting a series of what I call behavior reviews. In my first book, You’re In Charge…What Now? I talked about his practice. It is my view that leaders need to focus on the behaviors they observe in their associates, long before they focus on results. I am of the very string opinion that Behavior drives results, so I think we need to coach our staff to behave in ways that help hem to succeed. Hence, I am almost a fanatic about starting long before I evaluate performance to coach my direct reports on the behaviors that influence their leadership performance.  

The truth is, I was probably pumping myself up for these sessions. Candidly, I send a great deal of time writing down all the key issues I needed to cover with each of my staff. Once that is done, then the most important phase starts… I need to give the feedback to my associate. That session usually entails a great deal of “editorial additions” so that I am certain that the messages are understood and with some luck, accepted. The key here is that I am always very candid about the observations, and there are clearly positive and “less than positive” segments of information. Candidly, these are really tough sessions. In fact, they wear me out because I put a huge amount of intellectual and emotional energy into them.

Well, I am half way through the sessions, and I can report that they are going well. I define well as, I got the messages delivered, we had substantive and constructive dialogue on those points and I believe that my associates will reflect on the feedback, and in several cases, have committed already to focus on both the strengths and the weaknesses. Indeed, that has been my experience in almost all of the session like this that I have conducted over the years. I have found that, although I am not always correct in my insights, I have always found my associates willing, even pleased, to pay attention to the insights. That kind of reaction make all the stress worth it. 

One of those Days

April 23, 2008

This has been one of those days, where as a leader, I really earned my keep. On the other hand, it was actually just another day. I had some truly great leadership successes and frankly, those are what keeps the leader going. I had a counseling session with an associate who has been a bit of a challenge for many months. That conversation was actually quite instructive because it was clear that I handled it in a way that, 20 years ago I would never have done.

When I was a leader “puppy” I had a style that I was very proud of, and frankly a style which was bold, direct and painfully perilous. By that I mean, every time I addressed a tough HR issue, I would consider candor and directness, indeed on occasion, blunt. The problem is, that may have made me feel good, meaning, I believed that I was being honest, efficient and candid. This to me was a characteristic of behavior that was honorable. i worked every day to be honest and integrity was a paramount value.

Indeed, integrity remains a value, but what I have learned is that candor may not always be the answer. As leaders, we must always be aware that our goal is to influence behavior in our associate employee; not to prove that we are honest and candid. Our goal must always be kept in mind. Our own behavior influences the people who are our working associates. We must always do whatever it takes to influence behavior positively. the objective must be to decide what caused the person to deal with an issue the way we have discovered. In short, we must “get inside their head.” Yes, we are amateur psychologists, but we must understand human behavior than we already have been trained to do.

Indeed, our results are always going to be measured by market acceptance. In short, make certain that your sessions end up to be fun for you and the staff.

 

Back At Work

April 21, 2008

No doubt I was tired last night when I returned, but the fact is I stayed up to watch the final episode in the HBO series on John Adams. It was a spectacular series and had some very interesting lesson on leadership. It is clear that the early leaders of our country were true political thought leaders who had the courage to stand up for their strong beliefs and to hold fast as the threat of lost life continued. The fact is, and I am told that the characteristics of John Adams in this series reflected an accurate version of hi, Adams was a hard, uncompromising man who clearly was passionate about his vision for the country, but was anything but a man who knew how to show love, let alone have love in his heart. . If it was accurate, he was a “leader” who violates most of the key principles I have espoused.

That said, John Adams had passion and in spite of his rough, even rude and unkindly behavior, that passion stayed with him and had a huge impact on his effectiveness. The value of Passion can not be ignored. When a leader has passion, the value of the leader is enhanced. So much enhanced, that it can narrow the gap from being just a passionate person to that required o be a great leader. In my view, Adams was not a great leader, but he was a man of passion. He, ultimately toward the end of his life, learned that his inability to bond with anybody (with the exception of his wife) prevented him from being a transformational leader. He persuaded with strength of intellect, but selling ideas was not his forte. He could not sell, because he only saw himself. He could not really love, or at least could not show love. 

I hope that every reader of this Blog understands that leadership of other human beings, requires or ability to love them. Adams fails to show that he could love, but you must love your associates in order to be an effective leader. They need to believe in your love, for them to transform themselves. 

On my way home

April 20, 2008

I am in Amsterdam waiting to board a flight home. I have had limited sleep during this trip, but have had a productive time. One of the keys to being a good leader is getting all that administrivia done, without it having a negative impact on your leadership. Trips like this one offer me the opportunity to get caught up on far too often delayed projects I have assigned myself. This reflects my strength and weakness at the same time. Although I fancy myself as being focused and disciplined, I am married to an incredibly disciplined wife, and I have never been able to emulate her discipline. When she makes a “list” she works it off with no delay. In my case, I frequently get backed up and find myself needing times like the last two days, to knock out a variety of projects. I am diciplined enough to use the time, but I manage to take on far too much, so more often than I like, I get behind.

My wife keeps telling me that I try to do too many things, and frankly she is correct, I do. That said, I never have actually made a serious effort to stop. It is in my blood to multi task. But…if you are going to multi task, you can not allow yourself to fail to “keep up.” Frankly, all too often I do, but I have observed many others, who when they get behind, just never seem to get caught up. ironically, I am not convinced I am any better disciplined than they, but I do know that when I get in trouble, I manage to get seriously focused and catch up. If you are somebody with my weakness of overloading, then I hope that you also have my strength of being able to catch up before it becomes a crisis. If not, you need to start working on that, because if you are perpetually behind, you will never achieve your goals. If you can not get it done yourself, get help. In my case, it is not inconceivable that my strength actually comes from that disciplined wife. She is my anchor, and I hope you find one. It truly make life easier.

From Riga, Latvia

April 19, 2008

Yes, I am writing this Blog post from Riga, Latvia. I am doing a board consultancy with ICANN (The Internet Corporation for the Assignment of Names and Numbers…in case you did not know). Indeed, unless you are the “quasi geek” that I am, you would probably not realize that this is the organization responsible for setting standards and controlling all the internet protocols for names and numbers. 

 

I have worked with these folks before and they are really a great client to work with. They are very receptive to the learning process and have a serious commitment to performing their duties using the best practices of board governance. This is a group of both technical engineering, scientific experts and intellectual property specialists, generally lawyers. They are a complex organization that has elements of a typical non-profit board of directors mixed with many elements of worldwide governance which really looks much like a parlimentary system. A huge challenge for a board, but they do rather well with it.

 

One of the interesting topics we discussed was the role of board committees and the structure that they have to accomplish their mission. We had an extensive discussion on the subject, and I think that they are moving their think rather effectively. Obviously, because of client confidentiality, I can not comment any of the issues we discussed, but as a result of those discussions it occurred to me that this topic is quite common to all leaders. 

 

Most leaders struggle with how much they do and how much they delegate. It is impossible for any leader, or board of directors, to simply “do” all of the task, duties and responsibilities that comprise their responsibilities. We must delegate some of those to assure that they get done. How we decide what and how we delegate is an essential issue, but an even more essential issue is to have effective controls for monitoring that delegation. If we delegate, without those controls, we are truly abrogating our responsibilities. If you give a task to somebody to do, you can not simply assume it will be done, and done one time correctly. You must have some type of mechanism to assure that it is achieved. It takes more work and discipline on your part, but fail to do it and you are increasing the likelihood that you will fail.

Aloha – He is back!

April 18, 2008

I am afraid that my absence has probably caused anybody who found an interest in this Blog, to give up. I do not blame those who left, I left. During the last 10+ months, I was interim President & CEO of Junior Achievement Worldwide, and that turned out to be some time consuming in the face of everything else i was doing, that I simply had to make some decisions about what I would do, and what I would postpone. Obviously this Blog fell on the cutting room floor.

But now, I am back to something approaching normal. Ha, normal for me. Since I last wrote in this Blog, I have taken on another CEO job. This time it is a company I have been a consultant to for about that last four years, but In August of last year, the founder and I concluded that if something was not done, and done quickly, that the company might not survive. I became an investor about two years ago, and now I am a much larger investor and I am the President & CEO as well. I will have much more to say about this in coming Blogs, but suffice to say, two things are true: 1) I am working my :butt” off and 2) I am having a great time. I am afraid that I am completely addicted to being a leader, so this is like an adrenelin rush for me. 

But then, that is why This is truly a Blog from the czar who has the Only Leadership Advice you will ever need. Why, because I am not just a writer, a consultant, or an ex CEO, I am still at it, and learning and experiencing every day.