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“Self-Reliant Leadership is synonymous with knowing which questions to ask yourself and having the courage to answer them and act.” Jan Rutherford
In Rutherford’s book The Littlest Green Beret, he tells the story of making it in Special Forces in spite of his young age (17) and small stature (5′ 4 1/2″). He teaches that self-reliant leadership requires three mutually supporting concepts:
1. Self-Awareness: Leaders understand their strengths and short-comings and how those traits affect their ability to create willing followers.
2. Selflessness: A leader needs to have a steadfast passion for serving others, and that requires putting others first.
3. Self-Reliance: Leading means being out front and there are more naysayers than supporters when trailblazing. Self-Reliant leaders believe in leading by example to develop followers who have initiative, persistence and determination.
If your goal is to become a self-reliant leader, then you’ll want to join us on April 9th to hear Jan Rutherford tell the stories of how he learned self-reliance as he moved up the ranks in Special Forces. Register for Self-Reliant Leadership: Embracing Adversity as the Crucible to Strengthen Character and Culture today.
Business schools, leadership gurus and strategy guides agree — leaders must have a vision. But the sad truth is that most don’t…or at least not one that compels, inspires
In Anticipate, strategy and leadership expert Rob-Jan de Jong explains that to develop
You will discover how to tap into your imagination and open yourself to the unconventional,
Part I: Visionary Content
Tapping into Your Imagination
Part II: Visionary Practices
Developing Your Visionary Capacity
Seeing Things Early
Connecting the Dots
Part III: Your Visionary Self
Your Visionary Self
Part IV: Visionary Communication
Igniting Your Followers
Marissa Mayer knows how to throw a party. The controversial CEO of Yahoo! once threw a flannel-themed Christmas party at her Palo Alto home (she also has a penthouse apartment in the Four Seasons) that featured not only shipped-in snow but also a backyard ice-skating rink almost large enough for NHL games. At some point during the party, as recorded in Nicholas Carlson’s book Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!, a pajama-clad Mayer climbed aboard a mini Zamboni she had rented for the occasion, and set out to smooth out the ice that had become cut up by her ice-skating guests. “It was a comical, cheerful scene, and another host might have laughed and waved at her guests as she rode the funny-looking Zamboni in her pj’s,” Carlson writes. “Not Mayer. She was very serious. Sitting on top of the big machine, she concentrated on the ice beneath her. She wanted to smooth over every inch. She was going to get the job done herself and be excellent about it.”
As Carlson describes in his book, the Christmas scene reflects the personality of Mayer: hands-on, serious and driven to excellence — which in the minds of many Yahoo employees and former employees translates, writes Carlson, into “micromanaging, bottlenecking and dictatorial.”
In many ways, the cover of this book is misleading. Despite the photograph of Mayer and her name in bigger type than the rest of the title, this is, surprisingly, more a book about Yahoo than about Mayer. After a brief prologue, readers don’t run into Mayer again until more than 130 pages later, when, in part II of his book he describes Mayer’s early life and career at Google. Part III of the book returns to the behind-the-scenes battles between activist shareholders and Yahoo executives that dominate much of the early part of the book. Marissa Mayer finally enters the Yahoo! building for the first time nearly 250 pages in, giving Carlson less than 100 pages to cover Mayer’s two years (so far) at the helm of Yahoo!
In those 100 pages, Carlson narrates in engaging detail the ups and downs of Mayer’s first two years at Yahoo! For example, Mayer sent shock waves in the progressive hi-tech industry when she abolished Yahoo’s work-at-home policy. At the same time, Mayer replaced employees’ Blackberries with more up-to-date smart phones, and, in a bid to introduce transparency, started staff meetings in which she and her executives answered questions from employees. Mayer bet heavily on mobile apps and on digital magazines, hiring Katie Couric and others to create momentum that never materialized. On a more positive note, she acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion, a record for a social media company at the time and an acquisition that in some ways has helped keep Yahoo! relevant.
A number of Mayer’s problems seem self-inflicted, including, according to Carlson, her inability to hire effective executives and her unfeeling interactions with her subordinates. The dictatorial, micromanaging style, as many employees see it, can demoralize a workforce whose morale, according to Carlson, is already badly hit by another Mayer initiative, the quarterly performance reviews (QPRs) that have echoes of Jack Welch’s infamous rank-and-yank employee policies at GE. Inevitably pitting employee against employee, the QPRs discourage collaboration and encourage cut-throat competition: it’s better that your colleague looks bad and gets the bad reviews; otherwise it will be you.
Mayer had an enormous advantage as she began her new position as CEO: a guaranteed two years in which the company’s financial health was assured by Yahoo’s prescient stake in the groundbreaking Chinese company, Alibaba, whose anticipated IPO in the fall of 2014 netted Yahoo a cool $8.3 billion windfall. (Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba, now worth $39.5 billion, was spun off into a separate company in January 2015, after the book was published.)
The question remains whether Mayer can make Yahoo! into the dominant Internet player it once was. Marissa Mayer, Carlson writes, points to the five years that Steve Jobs took to revitalize Apple, with the creation of the iPod. Is there an iPod equivalent in Yahoo’s future? For Carlson, the verdict is still out. The outcome depends in large part on the patience of the activist shareholders who pushed out several CEOs prior to Mayer.
“The only way to ensure your company’s success is to change faster on the inside than the world is changing on the outside.” Jason Jennings
Jennings and his researchers have spent years up close and personal with thousands of organizations around the world—figuring out what makes them successful in both the short and long term. He understands the real challenges that keep more than eleven thousand CEOs, business owners, and executives up at night. And he knows how the best of the best combine speed and growth to deliver five times the average returns to shareholders.
In The High-Speed Company, Jennings reveals the unique practices of businesses that have proven records of urgency and growth. The key distinction is that they’ve created extraordinary cultures with a strong purpose, more trust, and relentless follow-through. These companies burn less energy, beat the competition, and have a lot of fun along the way.
Jennings strategies include:
We’ve invited Jennings to join us on April 2nd for our Soundview Live webinar How to Create Urgency & Growth in a Nanosecond Culture. Please join us for this event and consider inviting your colleagues to listen in as well.
Change is a constant, and leaders must do more than keep up — they must innovate and accelerate to succeed. Yet people are often unnerved by change. As a leader during a time of transformation, you may stand up before teams that are indifferent, or even hostile, and need to convince them that change is necessary and urgent. What does it take to be an effective change leader and increase the odds of success?
Stacking the Deck presents a nine-step course of action leaders can follow from
Leading an organization through major change — whether it’s the introduction
The nine crucial steps for creating breakthrough change in your organization:
Step One: Establishing the Need to Change and a Sense of Urgency
In leading breakthrough change, we must first convince others — those to whom we report and those on our team — that our proposed change has a positive, necessary
Step Two: Assembling and Unifying Your Team
Leaders must rely on a well-balanced leadership team. It’s your job to actively develop and unify a group that will guide the organization in making your change a reality. You are looking for pioneers, for people who are comfortable with a greater degree of risk than
Step Three: Developing and Communicating a Clear and Compelling Vision of the Future
Once you have your leadership team in place, you and your team need to be ready to envision and communicate the future in such a vivid and irresistible way that everyone
Step Four: Planning Ahead for Known and Unknown Barriers
The fourth step in the Stacking the Deck process is all about anticipating problems as you are planning, and confronting these problems before they derail your efforts.
Step Five: Creating a Workable Plan
Now you need to translate the inspiring vision of the future that you and your team have developed into a workable, real-world plan.
Step Six: Partitioning the Project and Building Momentum With Early Wins
Leading breakthrough change often means working toward an end that seems distant and out of focus. If your people can’t visualize the future in real terms, they’ll find it difficult to muster the urgency to undertake the journey. You therefore need ways to make the immediate steps clear and to help people — particularly those who may not have been involved in developing the vision but who will be crucial to its realization — see the path to the future in real, concrete terms.
Step Seven: Defining Metrics, Developing Analytics and Communicating Results
To define success for your initiative you need to focus on measurable outcomes. People need to see the end result with such clarity that they can act on their own.
Step Eight: Assessing, Recruiting and Empowering the Team
This builds on the work you did in Step Two. At this point, you might want to revisit and repeat some of those initial team-building actions.
Step Nine: Testing with Pilots to Increase Success
Defining a precise set of rules about how to roll out your next breakthrough initiative is impossible: the potential projects are simply too diverse. Nevertheless, appropriate