Leadership Reading Roundup

In our work and research over the past week, the BIG team was drawn to articles about taking stock, being happy, having character and keeping things in perspective. May you be inspired!

Finding Meaning at Work, Even When Your Job Is Dull (Morten Hansen and Dacher Keltner on HBR Blog Network) Continue reading


Weekly Leadership Fav Reading

The team at BIG was drawn to these pieces featuring achievement, affiliation, power, listening and office politics…some heady and thought-provoking stuff (love those technical terms!). Enjoy!

Leadership Run Amok(Scott Spreier, et al, Harvard Business Review, June 2006)

An interesting piece built around research by David McClelland, the late Harvard psychologist, who studied motivation and its impacts on leadership behavior. Continue reading


This Week’s Leadership Faves

The team at BIG does research all the time, gets to see lots of really good articles, etc. while doing our work (what a yummy benefit!) and shares the highlights via our weekly leadership fave reading. Enjoy our short-cut to information you may not have the time to look up but might be interested in knowing.

Have Power? Don’t Abuse It! (Monica Diaz, Reflections for Personal and Business Development)

The saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely can be true…provided the holder of power isn’t self-aware and gets absorbed by the fear of loss of power. Monica offers four aspects of using “power to improve life, to create a legacy worth continuing, namely, for the common good as well as your own!”

One is Enough (Dan Waldschmidt)

If there’s something you really, really want to do yet believe that you lacking sufficient will, presence, clout, power, resources or whatever to happen it make so, read Dan’s post. You’ll come away inspired, confident and ready to begin.

Influence Others While Remaining Open to Being Influenced (Dr. Mary Key, Leadership Strategy Insider)

How you influence others shows up in the results you achieve (or not), in those people you attract to work with you (or not), and in the alliances you build (or don’t). Mary offers some advice (and a book tip) for increasing your ability to positively influence others (no I win/you lose stuff here).

Psychology of the Better-Than-Average (Shawn Achor, Big Think)

The BIG team is fascinated with the relatively new field of positive psychology. “Positive psychologists seek to find and nurture genius and talent and to make normal life more fulfilling.” This interview (with transcript, yeah!) with Shawn Achor offers additional insights into the field of study.

A Leader’s Most Dangerous Thought (Michael McKinney, Leadership Now)

The folks at BIG think leaders need to use these two words more often: thank you. Michael offers compelling insights into two words leaders need to use less often. It’s great advice.

Eradicate Your Obstacles With This Thinking Game (Kevin Eikenberry, Leadership and Learning)

Feeling mentally stuck? Not generating new ideas? Kevin suggests a very easy-to-use and practical “game” for getting unstuck.

The quote we liked best this week. “It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are, the more gentle and quiet we become towards the defects of others.” ~Joseph Addison

Have fun this week using your head to manage and your heart to lead!



This Week’s Leadership Favs

Our Friday leadership favorites are an eclectic collection of articles, blog posts, quotes, pod casts and whatever else engages our interest. Some items are recent, others aren’t. Some are mainstream, others are off the beaten path. Enjoy! Be inspired!

Power Corrupts Sooner than You Think (Michael McKinney, LeadershipNow)

Having positional and/or personal power can be seductive, if we choose to let it do so. Here, Michael reminds us of some history and business lessons relative to power. He also underscores the truth that letting power have the upper hand is a choice we make whether we choose to acknowledge that fact or not.

Sheryl WuDunn: Our century’s greatest injustice (TED Talks)

Ready to get fired up? Sheryl, co-author of Half the Sky (a fascinating and frightening read), talks about gender inequality, calling it the moral challenge of this century. She recounts the unequal access to education many women face in third world countries and how remedying this improves economic conditions.

Fast Friday with Ayn Rand, author and philosopher (Round Table Talk)

Many leadership practices still in use today have their roots in philosophies long past their expiration date. The authors challenge leaders to take off the gloves and aim “to have a highly successful organization that makes money without needing to grind people to pieces.” Yes, yes, yes!

The Trust Edge (Jim Estill, CEO Blog - Time Leadership, scroll down to the December 24, 2011 entry)

Here’s a sad, sad research finding: 60% of the participants in a 2009 international study trusted a stranger more than they trusted their boss. Jim shares his take on some recent reading on how leaders can build and maintain trust.

Make an Introduction, Tip #4 (Becky Robinson, 12 Minute Media)

Relationships, alliances, coalitions and connections are the new currency of the workplace, may be even the globe. Building those bonds between and with others, whether male or female, can only help advance one’s personal and/or professional standing. Becky offers some simple yet really meaningful ways to connect people.

A lovely truth to remember throughout the year: “As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” ~Audrey Hepburn



This Week’s Fav Leadership Reading

Uncertainty Will Freeze You in Place if You Let It (Michael McKinney on Leading Blog)

We’d all like to be perpetually confident and serenely clear on what to do, but, hey, that’s not the case. Here Michael shares insights from Jonathan Fields’ book Uncertainty, proposing that uncertainty can be a catalyst for innovation and personal improvement. Love the “negative capability” from poet John Keats.

Meetings Don’t Have to Suck (Susan Mazza on Random Acts of Leadership)

Meetings that waste our time have unfortunately become yet another business obstacle.institution to be endured. Susan offers three extremely simple and very effective rules of self-leadership for conducting meaningful and productive meetings. Do these three things, and people will want to come to your meetings!

→Les McKeown’s post, If Picasso had your schedule, we’d never have heard of him, addresses meetings and is a great companion piece to Susan’s. It’s great for a rueful smile and some inspiration.

Moral Fog (Wally Bock on Three Star Leadership)

Wally’s post is a thoughtful summary of the horrific sex scandal unfolding at Penn State. Wally goes to the real heart of the matter, however, when he courageously asks why a football program took priority over the lives of young boys.

→A great companion piece is Moral potency: building the capacity for character based leadership by Sean T. Hannah and Bruce Avolio. (We’ve featured this free ebook before yet it merits a second post.)

Why Sustainable Businesses Should Study Up On Women (Andrea Learned on Sustainable Business Forum)

Given our passion for redefining leadership, we were drawn to Andrea’s concept that business must move away from an over-reliance on linear thinking and move toward relational and interdependent thinking - and that women can be instrumental in that process.

→We’re on a roll with companion pieces, so why not one more?! I’d love it if you would check out my post over at Gary Hamel’s MIX - Square Pegs, Sacred Cows and Starting Over with Leadership - where I propose ways to redefine leadership. A former boss’s reaction? Holy cow! Fire Wall Street? Can’t be done.

Thought of the week: “If you try to make your circle closed and exclusively yours, it never grows very much. Only a circle that has lots of room for anybody who needs it has enough spare space to hold any real magic.” ~Zilpha Keatley Snyder




Fav Leadership Reading

Inside Pfizer’s Palace Coup (CNN Money post by Peter Elkind and Jennifer Reingold with Doris Burke)

Wow, talk about a fascinating story of dysfunctional leadership! This article is long but well worth the read. It details the rise and fall story of Jeff Kindler, former Pfizer CEO. It’s all here: ego, backstabbing, cliques, insidious competition, rudeness, callousness, passivity and more. Everything on the shadow side of leadership…great lessons for NOT to behave.

How to Find a Child’s Missing Shoe (and Other Entitlement Issues) (Richard and Linda Eyre for Success Magazine)

While the central thrust of this article is helping children understand ownership, the points made and process diagram are useful for adults (and leaders, too!). “Jason felt no sense of ownership for his shoe! Why would he? He didn’t buy it; he hadn’t given up anything for it. He hadn’t even picked it out. And without ownership, he couldn’t have felt a sense of responsibility.”

Making Vs.Taking Decisions (Matt Angello on Bright Tree Consulting Group)

In this interesting post, Matt compares the western style of “making” decisions with the European model of “taking” decisions. It’s a nuanced distinction, to be sure, yet one worth pondering as one considers the economic shambles still enveloping us and the disarray in Washington.

Michael Watkins’ ‘The First 90 Days’ (book review by Patrick Brigger)

A very succinct and informative book review: this abstract provides the ten challenge areas new leaders face and four leadership situations defined with a “Stars” model - start-up, turnaround, realignment and sustaining success.

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2011 (Michael McKinney on Leadership Now)

Check out Michael’s sneak peak of five new leadership books being released this month…just in time, perhaps, for some vacation reading!

To ponder, courtesy of Lewis Carroll:

“Speak when you’re spoken to!” The Queen sharply interrupted her.

“But if everybody obeyed that rule,” said Alice, who was always ready for a little argument, “and if you only spoke when you were spoken to, and the other person always waited for you to begin, you see nobody would ever say anything, so that — “

“Ridiculous!” cried the Queen. “Why, don’t you see, child — ” here she broke off with a frown, and, after thinking for a minute, suddenly changed the subject of the conversation.

Shoe photo from Chixpix