Leadership Lessons Ripped from the Headlines
Through his work as an executive coach, leadership strategist, speaker and author, Scott Eblin has become known as a thought leader in identifying the behaviors that executives need to pick up and let go as they transition into new and larger roles. President of the leadership development and strategy firm The Eblin Group Inc., Scott is a former Fortune 500 executive, with a coaching client list that runs the gamut from Astra Zeneca to the U.S. Navy. He is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success which Business Book Review calls a “fascinating read” that “is full of potentially career-saving advice.”
Galarraga and the rest of the Tigers were getting ready to celebrate when he looked over to see Joyce signaling safe. That’s when a series of moments of truth began that have led to such a captivating story. In a time when oil company executives spend their time in front of Congress blaming each other for an environmental disaster and there are countless other examples of nominal leaders not taking accountability for their actions, we get a really simple and clear example of how we’d like our leaders to act and how we hope we’d respond in similar circumstances.
Here are three simple lessons from the blown call and its aftermath:
How many times have you been in a conversation with a group of colleagues that goes something like this?
Wow, they totally don’t get it. They are so far removed from reality that they really just don’t know what’s going on. They should be doing something to change the situation but they don’t even know where to start. You know, what else? For the most part, they’re all like that.
Admit it. You’ve been in those conversations. Here’s how it usually plays out. A bunch of corporate directors are sitting around talking about the corporate vice presidents and how they don’t get it. Or a bunch of GS-15’s are hanging out talking about the SES leaders in their agency and how they don’t get it. I know those conversations go on because when I speak to leaders at any level, I usually ask them if they’ve been in conversations like that. As soon as I ask the question, there are a lot of embarrassed, sheepish expressions spreading throughout the room. Almost everybody’s done it. I used to do it myself on a semi-regular basis when I was a corporate executive.
Of course, a core skill for any coach is listening. We worked on that skill by grouping up in threes with one person talking about something that mattered to them, another person listening and asking questions and the third person observing the listener. After three or four minutes of conversation between the first two people, the observer offered a minute or two of feedback to the listener. The feedback consisted of two or three things the observer appreciated about how the listener listened and one suggestion for how to be an even more effective listener. We did three rounds of this so everyone could be in each of the three roles.
As the second round ended, I asked the group to bring their attention back to me for a second so I could ask them if they were feeling what I was noticing watching them. What I was noticing was the love in the room. Here's what I mean by that and what it might mean to you.
In some ways (and obviously not in others), the DNI role is like a lot of other leadership roles in a matrixed organizational structure. More and more these days, leaders find themselves in jobs with a lot of responsibility but not a lot of direct authority. With a mixture of dotted lines, solid lines and no lines at all in the org chart, leaders in a matrixed environment have the unenviable task of herding the cats.
What can you do to survive one of these jobs? It seems pretty clear that you can’t act as if you have a lot of authority to command things get done when, practically speaking, there are all kinds of ways for others to avoid or ignore doing what you want them to do. Especially in the first year or so, surviving in a matrixed leadership role depends a lot on effective change management. With that idea in mind, here are five strategies to increase the chance of survival in one of these roles:
In this week’s installment of the VBC, I’m featuring what I think is an indispensable part of a leadership coach’s (and most leaders for that matter) tool kit. It’s a book called FYI - For Your Improvement by Mike Lombardo and Bob Eichinger.
You can read the entire oath at mbaoath.org. For now, here are some selected excerpts:
About this time last year, I wrote a post called “Feedback Do’s and Don’ts from American Idol.” In the belief that everything you need to learn about leadership you can learn from American Idol, I thought I’d do another Idol post this year. (Before you fire off an angry comment, that was irony at work.) All kidding aside, if you put a leadership lens on, there are occasionally some interesting things to see in the show. Over the past couple of weeks, my takeaway has been about the importance of showing up with the right amount of confidence. It can make or break your effectiveness as a performer and a leader. Of course, a lot of the time there’s not a lot of difference between performance and leadership.