Saturday, March 19, 2011

Seth Godin's Seven Questions For Leaders

  1. Do you let the facts get in the way of a good story?
  2. What do you do with people who disagree with you... do you call them names in order to shut them down?
  3. Are you open to multiple points of view or you demand compliance and uniformity? [Bonus: Are you willing to walk away from a project or customer or employee who has values that don't match yours?]
  4. Is it okay if someone else gets the credit?
  5. How often are you able to change your position?
  6. Do you have a goal that can be reached in multiple ways?
  7. If someone else can get us there faster, are you willing to let them?
No textbook answers... It's easy to get tripped up by these. In fact, most leaders I know do.
More from Seth Godin HERE.


My kids' Mom said...

A good leader should hire the best people, then get out of their way. In other words, delegate and have full confidence. The best leaders that I have come in contact with are "macro-managers", big picture people. The worst kind of leaders have been the "micro-managers".

Good post!

Cryppy wife

Rubber Ducky said...

Maybe it's time to introduce the best definition of leadership I've heard. From a Boy Scout Executive and close friend of years ago, Bill Johnston:

"Leadership is the ability to get the job done without doing it yourself."

Most of this other stuff are traits and behaviors that leaders bring to the task to enable this primary definition. Which brings this conclusion about leadership styles and actions: if it gets the job done, short-term and long-term, it's good leadership.

The essence of leadership is the job at hand, the duties and responsibilities found in the leader's job content. Whether she's a good guy or he's someone you'd like to have a beer with is utterly irrelevant. Whether he or she applies all the right tricks is too. Job. Get It Done.

Rickover thought leadership training was folly. I've always been inclined to agree.

Sean Heritage said...

I disagree with Rubber Ducky on this one (unusual for me). The HOW is extremely important if one is to enjoy meaningful results and build a team with a lasting legacy. I know many people who get the job done using questionable means only to see it all undone once they move to the next assignment. The WHAT (i.e. job) is likely irrelevant (or undermined) if the HOW is not well grounded and built on the foundation of a meaningful WHY. Coincidentally, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on that Seth Godin has written (just listened to Linchpin again this morning) and we continue to experiment with many of his thoughts at OUR command.

Rubber Ducky said...

In college years ago in a business class in Human Relations, I was able to run a survey of about 25 available naval leaders (E-5s to O-6s) on the topic of leadership style. I posed 4 navy situations across a spectrum, from a transient petty officer put in charge of a working party at a receiving station to a tightly knit group of highly trained near-peer technicians in a long-standing team and to a battle-stations emergency. And I offered a range of leadership techniques, from autocratic to casual to team-oriented leadership of the most positive type.

The results told a story: nearly every respondent showed a personal bias towards a certain type of preferred leadership style but ALL saw that the context was even more important.

Situations demand a certain approach to leadership that transcends theory and desire. If you've ever flooded at test depth or had a runaway diesel or gotten tangled in a VDS cable, you know that style means far less than correct commands given the most effective way. Similarly, if you're running a really tight shop of equals, if you wirebrush the troops to get the job done, best you hire someone to start you car.

My experience tells me this, that the best guide to how a leader should behave is the leader herself: what works inside that particular personality to respond to the demands of the job.

Finally, recall I said that the job entailed both short-term and long-term. Serving both is a duty of leadership and if it all falls apart when the leader leaves, she's failed (and I'll bet she was doing a lot of the work herself or using orders in place of guidance). But if I had to pick one or other, I favor short-term results. John Maynard Keynes said it this way: "In the long run ... we're all dead." And in a fair number of Navy leadership situations, that could be the short-run's outcome too if the leadership wasn't correct and forceful to deal with the situation.

The least effective SSN CO I've ever seen was a friend of mine who was the nicest guy you've ever met. I've also worked around tough guys who had one simple standard: do it right. And not a touch of sweetness on the way. In general the Navy benefited from the tough guys. And the crew - knowing where they stood and that the CO would bring them back from war - the crew performed with pride.

Ernie King had some great words on what and why and how in the context of Navy orders. I will backchannel a copy to Mike (though I think I did this before). King thought 'what' was really important and 'why' to get intelligent cooperation. He was down on telling subordinates 'how.' He stood firm against 'orders to follow orders.' But will admit, he was nobody's sweetheart (except two sisters on a farm in Maryland if stories are to be believed).

Curtis said...

A fun dynamic is watching leaders of leaders. How does an outstanding leader bear up when working for a clueless moron leadership vacuum? I think it's pretty easy when the guy at the top is good but it becomes more and more difficult to lead down to the deckplate level when it is perfectly clear and obvious to everyone that the skipper is an absolute moron.