Personal Leadership Assessment

Feb 26

In leadership, it’s often as important to know one’s self as it is to know one’s followers. With this in mind, my leadership course required me to prepare a presentation exploring my own leadership style. In this personal leadership assessment I explore the role of several influences in my life, including books, virtues and family. When it came to mapping out the sequence for the presentation, I found it difficult to know where to start and where to end. To me, leadership is more of a process, for both the leader and the follower, than it is a state. Sequence is frequently upset. For this reason I also chose pencil for the sketches to indicate that I’m a work in progress, always striving to...

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Leadership in Ukraine from East to West

Feb 19

Many of my thoughts on leadership revolve around the congruence of values between leader and follower. I argued that Leadership Erosion is eating away at majorities and consensus with the end being irreconcilable segmentation. When common values cannot be established there is little hope of common objectives on social and political issues. One such case today is found in Ukraine. View Larger Map Ukraine is a country ideally situated to observe the clash of values that erodes the effectiveness and reach of leadership. One the east is Russia, a reluctant adopter of western capitalism and liberal thought. On the west is Europe, forward thinking, capitalistic and largely democratic. Within the Ukraine, there are people who align with both value systems. Recent fighting brought this division to the forefront. President Viktor Yanukovych has received pressure as a result of his alignment with Russia on financial and energy resource issues. The opposition argues that alignment with the European Union is more desirable. At the heart of the disagreement is a conflict of values which some in the media are describing as a conflict between Obama and Putin. While this has less to do with the actual western or eastern leaders, it does trace back to what those leaders stand for. If Yanukovych, or any other leader, hopes to unite, inspire and transform the Ukrainian people, the first step must be a unification of values; an agreement on what is worth living and dying for. Until there is greater congruence of values, it’s unlikely any leader will succeed in uniting the people and putting Ukraine back on solid, independent...

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Leadership: Play to your Strengths, Forget your Weaknesses

Feb 12

Weaknesses feel so much more visible than strengths to many people. In the consideration of leadership, there is a tendency to allow focus to dwell on correcting flaws rather than developing strengths. Recent research indicates that weaknesses may not be holding leaders back as much as previously thought. With the exception of what Zenger and Folkman call “fatal flaws”, much more potential improvement is available to those leaders who focus on strengths. Strengths represent opportunity for leaders. Whether a leader invests in his strengths should be viewed opportunity cost. A focus on trying to fix weaknesses may cost a leader a great deal of growth opportunity. Time frame is helpful in identifying both whether to focus on a strength or a weakness and which strengths to focus on. Cultural tendency is to set new year’s resolutions. However, that time frame may be too short when considering personal development. Questions about who the leader wants to be in five to ten years from now may bring more clarity and perspective. Another benefit associated with a focus on strengths development is increased engagement and retention. Strengths building can be very rewarding and can improve outcomes in immediate ways. Immediate rewards increase engagement and satisfaction, and in some cases can diminish the negative aspects of weaknesses. When it comes to leadership, there’s a lot more value in playing to personal strengths than dwelling on weaknesses, as long as the leader stays in touch with his weaknesses so they don’t become critical...

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Transformational Leadership and Value Congruence

Feb 06

My latest research paper in Leadership focuses on the relationship between leadership and the alignment of values, both between leader and follower and relative to their organization. The research demonstrates that “The state of value congruence occasions a number of efficiencies, including similarity of cognitive processes and communication systems. The predictive character of behavior among people with value congruence further streamlines cooperation between leaders and followers and among peers. The levels of follower satisfaction and commitment both increase when values are aligned interpersonally and organizationally.” You can read the paper below: Download Transformational Leadership and Value...

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Leadership Myopia

Jan 28

Humans are fascinated with strength, beauty, intelligence and many other human characteristics. American fascination with these human characteristics is seen in our literature, comic books, movies and in the stories told about men and women who have risen from rags to riches; from weakness to power. In The Atlantic, Tara Burton asks why American colleges are so obsessed with Leadership. This not only highlights that there are followers, but also that there are other possible roles, such as a “lone wolf” or “team player”. In the right context, these non-leadership roles can bring as much value (and sometimes more) to organizations. Another point the article makes is that often, when we discuss leadership, the real context is management. Rather than producing real change and movement, the focus is one of managing and structuring to achieve maximum profit. As one surveys history to identify great leaders, some of the most compelling and effective leaders obtained very little in the way of riches or power. Those that did obtain power did so after many years of toil. Is there value in pursuing a universal model of leadership? Could it be that the ocean of literature devoted to finding the secret to producing outstanding leaders is really distracting American academia from opportunities to more richly educate and prepare tomorrow’s workforce? For those students who don’t naturally lean toward leadership, the myopic American focus on leadership in university studies may be cheating them of much more rewarding career training and opportunities. It’s tempting to take the article one step further and notice that leaders are rarely noted for how well they do what they’re told. The idea of teaching leaders to be leaders and sending them into the world to lead seems at odds with the idea of leadership. Many who become leaders will do so regardless of their educational...

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