All posts tagged: Leadership

Boldness in Leadership

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Leadership in Turbulent Times, is, as one would expect from the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, a thoughtful analysis that deserves to be taken seriously. At a time when the country has entered the public phase of Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry and as the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination—and perhaps the soul of the country—escalates during the twelve months before the 2020 election, there are lessons to be learned from the past. This 2018 work is a study of the life of four presidents and the ways in which they addressed major issues in fractured times: Abraham Lincoln (winning the war, ending slavery and saving the union); Theodore Roosevelt (responding to the sharp inequities and unfairness of the industrial revolution); Franklin D. Roosevelt (rebuilding a country out of the Great Depression); and Lyndon B. Johnson (the fight to ensure civil rights for all Americans). Kearns Goodwin observes that we have come through difficult periods before. In a more troubling sense, she also makes it clear that we have always had scoundrels in positions of …

Let’s Go 1-0 Today

Saturday’s rally to celebrate the Washington Nationals World Series Championship was—intended or not—a masters class in leadership and team building. The lessons were outlined by speaker after speaker from the stage, and they began with a facing of reality. Before he passed away in 2017, Max DePree was the retired CEO of the furniture and design pacesetter Herman Miller. Through the years I’ve come to appreciate his definition of leadership, and especially his thoughts on the responsibilities of leaders. DePree said that the first duty of a leader is to define reality. On May 24th, with almost a third of their season over, the Nationals record stood at 19-31. Twelve games under .500. Their chance of winning the World Series on that date was a miniscule 1.5%. From the outside, it appeared that the reality wasn’t good. But there were reasons—primarily but not exclusively a rash of injuries to key players—that led to the bad start, and the reality was that those injured players were beginning to return. It was also clear that some elements …

Connecting the Dots

Tunnel vision is defined as the tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited goal or point of view. And that’s not always bad. There are certainly instances where a laser-like focus is required to get the job done. But more times than not, getting locked in on a single goal without considering the context, other points of view, or the broader consequences brings trouble. In leading teams both large and small, I often say that one of my key roles is “connecting the dots.” I’m trying to ensure that team members consider the context. It is critical for leaders to ensure that someone is thinking about broader consequences and the big picture. I saw an unfortunate example of tunnel vision play out over the past two weeks. The leaders and their teams did not connect the dots that were right in front of them. This real life lesson began when my wife and I walked the short distance from our house to a nearby intersection on a beautiful Monday morning. There we joined …

Don’t Create Followers, Create More Leaders

Management guru Tom Peters has said, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” In the middle of a week full of simple yet sublime pleasures, I also had the opportunity to experience unexpected leadership lessons with long-time colleagues and friends. This story begins with The National Trust of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which has been a model for preservation and conservation organizations since its founding in 1895. While many National Trusts exist around the world, all are modeled in one way or the other on this original National Trust. I’ve worked with U.K. Trust staff members over the years and have come to count several as dear friends. The Trust’s work to connect people with places and the willingness to give back out of its century of experience to the international preservation and conservation communities have long been an inspiration. I spent time last week interacting with the National Trust at several levels. The long-time connections were also how we found ourselves in Cambridge last Monday, visiting with Dame Fiona Reynolds, Master of …

How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?

Sometimes it’s hard to say good-bye. Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden—at 76 years of age and counting—became the twentieth announced Democratic candidate for President.  As many have noted, he’s not even the oldest aspirant in the field. That would be 77 year old Senator Bernie Sanders, running again after coming in second to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2016.  Both white males are vying to replace another white male, 72 year old Donald Trump. So much for the generational change with diverse candidates who look more like America that was to occur when the 47 year old Barack Obama assumed the presidency in 2009.  Not to mention the glass ceiling, which remains very much in place. Knowing how and when to step aside for a more diverse, younger generation of leaders is very much front page news for the Democratic Party as the nation heads into another presidential election cycle. A recent Suzanna Danuta Walters op-ed in the Washington Post argues that male politicians “have a responsibility—if they really do want …

Leadership

At a recent retreat, our divisional management team focused on the support and growth of leaders among our staff. Leadership comes in many forms.  We all know of the stereotypical alpha male, Type A personalities who have been celebrated as leaders on Wall Street as well as in the movies, the halls of Congress, business, the tech sector, and the military.  These are the types who bark out orders and expect others to follow.  These are the “born leaders.”  Or so they say. But there is another type of leadership that is usually—in my experience—much more effective.  It generally comes from people who learn to be leaders, rather than assume they know it all from birth.  I put more stock in these types of leaders in part because I am reminded of the tale of a group of tourists visiting a rural, picturesque village.  They walked by an old man sitting beside a fence and in a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked, “Were any great men or women born in this village?”  “Nope” the …