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 Reading

Developing others and ongoing learning are in our DNA here at Braithwaite/Get Your BIG On, so we’re doing research all the time. It might be fact-finding for something we’re writing, creating content for a development session or speech, or working for a client. We get to see lots of worthy material while doing our work (what a wonderful perk!), so we share the highlights via our weekly leadership reading, a short-cut to information you may not have the time to look up but might be interested in knowing. Enjoy!

“I have the power!” (I/O at Work)

The BIG team is on mission to educate people that power in and of itself is neutral. We believe it becomes positive or negative depending on how people choose to use it. The research cited here affirms that power doesn’t corrupt. However, the researchers found that power “allows corrupt people to express their inner ‘corruptness’ more freely (or allows the virtuous to express their goodness).” Continue reading


Thrown any dead cats lately?

If it weren’t so sad, it would be funny in a sick kind of way. I’ve been wrangling with the local post office for two months over a book. I have no doubt the book was delivered somewhere; it just wasn’t delivered to me.

In my first chat with the local pooh bah, Mrs. W. promised to immediately check into the matter and call me the following day. Of course, she didn’t call. When I called her a week later, she was shocked to learn that no one in her department had contacted me with an answer. She’s been similarly shocked three more times. Continue reading


This Week’s Leadership Favs

Ongoing learning, exploring, making a sustainable positive difference, paying it forward, and developing others are in our DNA here at Get Your BIG On.  The BIG team sees lots of worthy material while doing our work (what a delightful perk!), so we share the highlights via our “Leadership Friday Favs,” a short-cut to information you may not have the time to look up but might be interested in knowing.

9 Surefire Ways to Destroy Employee Morale (Kim Bhasin, Open Forum)

Gallup’s last employee engagement stats say 71% of workers aren’t engaged. If you’re a leader who’s worried about that number, do a mini-audit to see how many of these nine things are happening at your workplace.

Gender and Impression Management, Playing the Promotion Game (Val Singh, Savita Kumra, Susan Vinnicombe)

You work hard, keep your head down, and trust that’s enough to land you the big promotion that’s eluded you to-date. Not so, say these researchers. Some interesting stuff here about impression management and office politics.

Nine Reasons Managers Struggle (Michael McKinney, LeadershipNow)

Great book review of Managers, can you hear now now? by Denny Strigl, former CEO and president of Verizon Wireless. If leaders are guilty of committing any of these nine behaviors (ranging from caught up in self-importance to failing to enforce accountability), there’s trouble ahead.

WOMEN: Leadership is How to Be (Debbe Kennedy, Women in the Lead Blog)

This post touched on several topics near and dear to the BIG team: showing heart in leadership, women, being versus doing. “We have to get comfortable with putting more heart into our leadership, creating that dazzling combination of competence and human compassion, interest, and understanding of others.”

The Alchemy and Mystery of Leadership (Wally Bock, Three Star Leadership)

The BIG team loved Wally’s conclusion that “you will never know the impact you have on most of your team members, but you will have an impact. Set a good example. Treat people right. Leave the world better than you found it.” But what we loved even more was how he set a great learning example for leaders: being open to the content from Mary Jo Asmus’ “Embracing Mystery” post and using feedback from a former direct report to expand his definition of leadership.

Be kind to yourself message of the week. “Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.” ~Anne Lamott

Here’s to using your head to manage and your heart to lead at the intriguing intersection of the art of leadership and the science of business!



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!

What it will take to lead 20 years from now (John Baldoni, The Purposeful Leader)

The BIG team looks forward to the day when command-and-control leadership sits alongside corporate fear of social media in junkyard of abandoned practices. John shares his insights about what leaders will be doing and saying a generation from now…and we like it!

Trust Me…Trust Me Not (Frank Sonnenberg on Susan Mazza’s Random Acts of Leadership)

Trust is both the foundation on which leadership is built and the glue which holds relationships together. We love Frank’s comment that “if businesses are to thrive in the global marketplace, trust must be more than something that is talked about; it must be at the core of everything that is done.”

5 Tips Leaders Can Use Today (Steve Roesler, All Things Workplace)

If you’re a procrastinating leader in search of a new year’s resolution, Steve has five good ones for you to target in 2012.

Don’t be a lazy leader: 3 bad habits to avoid (David Witt, Blanchard Leader Chat)

Society, academia, and business have conditioned us to use primarily an either/or approach to thinking and rewards us for doing so. Either/or problem-solving skills belong in every leader’s toolkit. Yet either/or thinking is only one component of the broad and inclusive mindset necessary for achieving both goal accomplishment and creating an atmosphere of trust and goodwill.

Top International Leadership Blogs (Mike Morrison, RapidBI)

What a great resource! A list of the top 50 leadership blogs, complete with links…enjoy!

Reflect on this over a cup of coffee or tea: “Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” ~Thomas Merton

The BIG team sends BIG thanks to Wally Bock for highlighting our Leadership Friday Favs in his post To Curate or Not to Curate on “Wally Bock’s Zero Draft” site.

Here’s to using your head to manage and your heart to lead!

The BIG team is passionate about expanding the spectrum of leadership practices to include, value and reward both take charge attributes (things like decision-making and influence) and take care competencies (behaviors such as collaborating, engaging, recognizing and developing). We’ve taken a bold leap in proposing how to change leadership in this post on Gary Hamel’s Management Innovation eXchange. We would love for you to add your voice to the discussion about what we propose.



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




Leadership Reading BIG Liked

The Big Seven Stakeholder Management Mistakes (Colin Gautrey on The Influence Blog)

The Lone Ranger management model rode off into the sunset a long, long time ago. Yet many managers still haven’t gotten the word that stakeholdering is a vital element in their leadership success. Stakeholders come in all sizes and places within an organization, and can play a large role in either the success or failure of your venture. Colin offers a most helpful list of seven not-to-do items with communicating and/or partnering with stakeholders.

Build versus Buy: Taking Stock of your Frontline Pipeline (DDI Directions)

A client group is preparing their 2012 business plan. The high level yet thoughtful questions and insights posed in this article were most helpful to them as they thought through how to approach their workforce staffing and development needs. “Identifying and developing emerging leaders requires—and is receiving—a focus from organizations across the world.You have to start by answering the critical question: ‘Do we build or do we buy? Building is identifying and developing existing and emerging leaders from within. Buying is hiring from outside.”

Tom Reads The Little BIG Things (Tom Peters on tompeters!)

Do you work at an organization where the sole focus is on profits/the bottom line, and that singular focus leaves you feeling empty? At Get Your BIG On, we believe magic happens when people feel confident, are engaged and know their employer values their contributions. If you believe in this kind of magic and need a boost, listen in as Tom reads a proposed company credo in the audio version of his The Little BIG Things. Warning: be prepared to swoon with delight and be transported to business as it should be, a place where there is an accountable focus on personal leadership growth, input and opinions do matter and are invited, and where a spotless work record signals not stellar success yet an unwillingness to brave the unknown…woohoo!

The Real Lesson of Moneyball (Wally Bock on Three Star Leadership)

This is a great companion piece to the Tom Peters reading noted above. Wally tells the story of how the Oakland A’s were the first baseball “team to use the statistical analysis tools that find undervalued stocks to find undervalued baseball players.” While using statistical tools must be part of the leadership/business toolkit, it isn’t a guarantee of fool-proof success. As Wally points out, “New ways of doing business and business process innovations are important. They can give you a temporary advantage, but soon your competitors copy what you do and what was once a big advantage becomes table stakes.”

Your Company’s Secret Change Agents (Richard Tanner Pascale and Jerry Sternin, Harvard Business Review)

One thing is for certain: with the “new normal” in business, an effective leader must be on the perpetual lookout for change. The tried and true doesn’t always cut it. One must seek the “sparkling exceptions to the rule” as they’re so aptly defined in this article. The authors outline six fascinating elements for helping a group learn from its own hidden wisdom, thus eliminating the “not-invented-here” bias that typically flows from best practice and benchmarking analysis.

Quote of the week. The Get Your BIG On team is loving on this quote this week: “If you’re interested in misery, 1) always try to look good in front of others; 2) always live in a world of assumptions and treat each assumption as though it’s a reality; 3) relate to every new situation as if it is a small crisis; 4) always live in the future or the past; and 5) occasionally stomp on yourself for being so dumb as to follow the first four rules.” ~W. W. Broadbent


This Week’s Fav Leadership Reading

Photo by Armstrong Roberts

Listen for the laughter (Wally Bock on Three Star Leadership)

It’s short, sweet and to the point: the workplace needs more laughter. Well said, Wally!

Eat Your Peas, And Do 10 Of These (Some Leadership Castor Oil) (Terry Starbucker)

Maybe it was the push from the impending hurricane, but we were into brevity and spot-on focus this week. Terry offers up both in his list of ten leadership that might not be the most glamorous yet are essential. “There are a lot of ‘peas’ out there that we have to just ‘eat’, because if we don’t, our leadership will suffer. It’s our Castor Oil – it doesn’t go down easy, but the dividends will make it all worth it.”

Women “Take Care”, Men “Take Charge”: Stereotyping of U.S. Business Leaders Exposed (2005 Catalyst Report)

For the past year, Dr. Anne Perschel (@bizshrink) and I have been partnering to conduct research into business women and their relationship with power. To-date we’ve canvassed 227 business women regarding their views about the topic. (We’re getting very, very close to releasing our white paper.) We referenced this study from Catalyst in doing our work. Catalyst analyzed ten essential behaviors required of corporate leaders to understand where women leaders are vulnerable to stereotyping. A fascinating read!

The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make (Whitney Johnson on HBR Blog Network)

Another concise post! Whitney makes a poignant appeal for leaders to stamp out pessimism. She offers several suggestions for balancing a focus on both task completion and relationship building. “One of the best ways to invest in the people who work for us and with us is to give them an opportunity to attain their fullest stature.”

Our quote of the week: “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” ~Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms