Tuesday, September 27, 2005

25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself

Finally just got through reading Rajesh Setty's 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself manifesto on Change This. He positions this towards technology professionals but it will apply to anyone. EVERYTHING is becoming commoditized. This is a big foundation point of the start-up I am attempting to help launch. Add value. Don't just sit in a cube. Here are the highlights:

1. Care As If It Is Your Own. Take Care of people: customers, clients, teammates, peers.
3. Build Strong Relationships. Relationships sustain ONLY when there is mutual value.
5. Set the Right Expectations. "Underpromise and overdeliver."
6. Ask for Help. There is more help than you need out there. Be ready to give when it is your turn.
7. Celebrate Small Victories.
8. Set Higher Standards. Michael Jordan described the secret to his success as demanding more from himself that anybody else would or ever will.
9. Know Your Values. Get introspective. It SHOULD take a long time to figure these out. If you are honest with yourself and not copying something you read off a website.
10. Pursue Right Memberships. They can payoff big time.
11. Help People Help Themselves. Teach them to fish, don't just hand it to them.
12. Be a Reader. All leaders are readers. I think Tom Peters talks about the payoff from being able to extract just 1 idea from every book.
13. Plan By Outcomes. Not by activities. What do you want to ACCOMPLISH this week?
14. Think Long-Term.
15. Embrace Uncertainty With Ease. There are no guarantees in life. None. Deal with it.
16/18. Ask the Right Questions/Be Relevant. Pay attention. Listen. Look for signs that the person you are talking to is disengaging from you.
19. Get Back on Your Feet Fast! Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Once more into the breach.
20. Lead a Volunteer Effort. Its not enough to just volunteer.
21. Balance Innovation and Continuous Improvement. Setty and I take the same line. Peters wants us to forget CI. I advocate balance.
22. Learn to Sell. EVERYONE sells. Get over yourself. Lose the stigma of being a "salesperson". Your not selling used cars. Your selling a product or service. Your selling yourself. Not selling OUT. Selling your UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION. If not, you're just another number if another veal fattening pen.
23. Learn Systems Thinking. Understand the system as a whole and the mutual interaction of the underlying parts of the system. The effect of changing one part needs to be understood. Oh...by the way...EVERYTHING is a system.
24. Influence the Influencers. Figure out who they are in the group you are talking to and talk to them directly. They move things. Go back to 16, 18 and 22. Rinse. Repeat.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New Links

Just added a couple of links to diligentia: D*I*Y Planner which got its start from 43 Folders and Lifehacker. Slacker Manager has a relevant, for me, post today on how to fast track yourself. I've been reading SM for awhile now. Check for his post on his "Murse" or man-purse as he calls it. It makes me feel a little self conscious. I brought the Murse to Rochester, NY (where diligentia is published)!

It started as a messenger bag which was a necessity while I was living in Boston. I commuted for an hour each way via subway and bus. I needed something to stash my Walkman (! Cassettes ! Which I painstakingly made myself, copy tracks from LPs!), tapes, papers, books I was reading, etc. Once I moved to Western, NY land of limited public transportation, I opted to keep the bag. It has since morphed into a bag from Lands End which is a cross between a map bag, messenger bag and DJ bag. I still keep a ton of stuff in it. A mini first aid kit, assorted pens, highlighters and mini tools (screwdriver and mini-Leatherman), an empty Altoids case which holds a usb drive and a compact flash card, assorted cds (data and music), my moleskine for work and my personal moleskine, index cards, my NASA calculator, sometimes my palmpilot which i have really gotten away from using and other related junk.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Death by Meeting

Just got through reading Patrick Lencioni's Death by Meeting. I've been meaning to read some of his books for awhile now. Picked this up at my local library. Loved it. A quick, easy and informative read. He conveys his message in the form of a story, a fable, as he calls it. It works surprisingly well.

I hate meetings. They suck the life out of everyone. It doesn't need to be this way. Agenda's are NOT the answer! I'll cut to the chase with relevant links:

The Meetings structures - the types of meetings.
The Tactical Meeting Guide - how to do it.

This is one of those read it, know it, live it kind of things.

Stop the madness! Put an end to bad meetings!

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The Essence of Leadership

The latest Working Knowledge has an article on leadership by Jonathan Byrnes. I'm always a fan of insights into leadership. I am always on the never-ending quest for the best definition of leadership I can find. This presents problems when someone asks me to define a leader versus a manager. This article attempts to bridge the gap a little.

Byrnes talks about a few things: ambidextrous leadership; leading paradigmatic change; (this is Harrr-vahhhhd people, it just can't be called "change", we must use "paradigmatic" in front of it at all times); the 8 essential characteristics of paradigmatic change and then asks the age old question of are leaders born or created.

Ambidextrous leadership involves the capacity to execute within the current business model (in the article he used "business paradigm") or "the way we do business" [today] while reflecting on the model and finding ways to improve it and manage that change process to a beneficial outcome.

In order to implement change, especially wholesale changes in the way you do business, not, for example, changing the brand of copier paper you use, you need eight characterisitics according to Byrnes:
  • Capacity for passion. You must WANT to make things better. You need passion to get you through the grinder that is change management.
  • Perspective. You have to be able to detach and view what you are doing while you are doing it. I think Jim Collins refers to this as the balcony and the dancefloor. You have to be able to step off the floor and view things from above (the balcony) every once in awhile.
  • Creativity. You need innovation and creativity to visualize new and more effective ways of doing things. Assuming you have achieved enlightenment while sitting in the balcony.
  • Organization skills. You must be able to translate your vision into a step-by-step PLAN. No plan means you are just wandering around. Your people will not let go of the old on their own. You have to GUIDE them.
  • Teamwork. duh.
  • Persistence. Passion gets you started. Persistence gets you through.
  • Open-mindedness. A good leader needs a high level of tolerance for ambiguity. Sometimes you have to make it up as you go. But if you have a good plan, this is OK.
  • Integrity. Being genuine. Being motivated by your deeply held values to make your company and your team better off. This is where passion, persistence and teamwork come from.

Byrnes closes with the born or bred question. He does make a good point earlier on:

Can you be a good leader without being a good manager? In my experience, the best leaders are also great managers, and the best managers have strong leadership capabilities. To be successful, you must have both a passion for improving your organization and the capability to drive your efforts through to completion.

Byrnes takes the safe way out, which is good and is what I believe. Natural leaders have important CORE abilities. But Caesar just didn't wake up one day as Caesar. He trained. He studied. He learned. He developed. Most likely he learned how to convert his vision into an action plan.

The rank and file CAN develop their leadership skills by working at it as well. They have to learn to be ambidextrous. They have to be excellent at the day-to-day. They have to go beyond that and determine if they have the heart and the desire to be uncomfortable for prolonged periods of time while conceptualizing and leading the change.