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Scott Eblin

Who’s The Boss?

by Scott Eblin on June 23, 2010 10:00am

in The Next Level

Mccrystal If you haven’t read the full Rolling Stone article on General Stanley
McChrystal, it’s worth 15 minutes of your time to do so. The RS
reporter, Michael Hastings, had pretty much unfettered access to
McChrystal and his top aides over the course of a month in Paris and
Afghanistan. The result of that is an engrossing article that includes a
number of intemperate remarks from the General and his aides which have
endangered McChrystal’s career. I took some time to read the article
online yesterday and was struck by something that I haven’t seen
discussed in the secondary reporting.

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One of the things that makes a strategy book really useful is when it introduces a model that you can use to organize your thinking for years to come. This week’s VBC feature did that for me. It’s The Discipline of Market Leaders. In this video clip, I share and show my big take away from the book and how it might help you think about executing strategy.

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Classroom A long time ago in a land far away, I worked for a year
as a first year associate in a now defunct Wall Street investment bank.
It was a stressful, but educational experience. What did I learn? Lots
of things. Things like the recruiting process is not necessarily the
best indicator of what it will be like to actually work
someplace.  

Or, that you
shouldn’t believe everything you read. The firm I worked for had ten
corporate values printed in the back of its annual report. Number ten
was, “Have fun!”  Late one afternoon, about six months into the
year, one of my first year colleagues had the temerity to ask Dan, the
senior associate who was our drill sergeant, “Hey Dan, one of our
corporate values is ‘Have fun!’  When do we get to have fun?”
Face reddening, veins bulging, Dan’s reply was “Not until your third
year!”

But the biggest thing I learned that year was
how not to lead. The senior partners in our department led through fear
and intimidation. A typo in a proposal was cause for being publicly
called out and dressed down in an all hands staff meeting. Leaving the
office before 7:30 or 8:00 pm was seen as a lack of
commitment.  Yelling at subordinates was the norm. There were
good cops and bad cops to keep you on your toes. The threat of firing
was always in the air. I often said to myself, “If I ever lead a group
of people, I’m going to do the exact opposite of everything they’re
doing here.” That actually ended up being a pretty good running start on
an approach to leadership in the jobs I had after that one. 

My Wall Street days came to mind recently when I was
listening to an executive speak to a group of high potential leaders
I’m coaching. 

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Every so often, I’ll have a conversation with a
client who is really frustrated with someone at work. It could be a
really difficult boss or a peer who is only focused on his own agenda.
What I frequently see with clients in these situations is a lot of pent
up negative energy about the other person. You don’t have to scratch the
surface very hard for the client to go off on a bit of a rant about how
unreasonable the boss is or how selfish the peer is. 

Understandable but not very productive. What’s
happening in these situations is illustrated by a little formula
developed by leadership coach Tim Gallwey. It goes like
this:

P = p –
i

Your performance is
equivalent to your potential minus the interference. A lot of people
mistake the interference for an external factor like the bad boss or the
sneaky peer. That’s not the interference; that’s the trigger for the
interference. The interference is the story that builds and builds in
your head that gets you so wound up, stressed out or ticked off that you
can’t think clearly. The next thing you know, all of that internal
interference has overwhelmed any potential you have to perform at your
best.

So, what can you do about this? 

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In a recent group coaching session, we were talking about the challenge of delegating actions and decisions to your team while still keeping yourself informed of things that could put either your organization or career at risk. Here are some of the ideas we came up with on that front:

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What’s Your Intention?

by Scott Eblin on June 16, 2010 12:30pm

in The Next Level

A
Leavespond s I often do, I spent yesterday with a  group of high potential executives in an orientation program. The point of the program was to give these newly promoted leaders an inside look at what’s expected of them and to give them some opportunities to learn and think about what’s going to be different now that they’re in executive level roles. It’s a great thing to do and these leaders are fortunate that their company creates some time for them to go off line and learn from senior executives, each other and a few outside speakers.

I was part of that last group – the outside speakers. My goal was to share some tools and frameworks that would be useful to them for leading at the next level. I had that coveted 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm slot when everyone’s energy level is at its highest (not). In spite of the time of day, we had some really lively conversations. One of them was around the value of visualizing the outcome you’re trying to create in different events and meetings and how you need to show up to make that outcome likely. I asked everyone to identify an important event on their calendar next week and then spend four minutes coaching each other in pairs around three basic questions:

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Could You Get Reelected?

by Scott Eblin on June 14, 2010 8:30am

in The Next Level

Votebutton1Here’s a question that might make you uncomfortable or maybe even angry.
If you had to run a campaign to keep your leadership job, could you get
reelected?  In this era of anti-incumbent fever, my guess is that there
are a lot of non-political leaders who would be voted out of office if
their followers had the chance.

What prompted this line of
thinking for me was an article in this morning’s Washington Post about how DC’s mayor Adrian
Fenty is being booed lustily at just about every public appearance he’s
making lately. This is the reception for a guy who was consistently
cheered back in 2006 when he was running for mayor and who, since he was
elected, most everyone agrees has improved city services, raised test scores in schools and opened new
libraries and rec centers. 
He’s gotten some great results, so
why the boos as he runs for reelection? He may have gotten great results
but he’s blowing the relationships.

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The Answer to Any Question

by Scott Eblin on June 11, 2010 10:00am

in The Next Level

Man_question_mark I’m in Florida on a business trip this morning and was watching the crew from Morning Joe broadcast live from Pensacola Beach as I was getting dressed and packing up in my hotel room. It’s beyond sad watching the people there stay brave in the face of what they know is coming – millions of gallons of oil that’s going to foul their beaches, destroy their environment and kill businesses that provide jobs and feed families.

With each new guest, essentially the same question was asked, “How did this happen?” I have a terrible feeling that we’re going to be asking that question about the Gulf oil spill and a lot of other disasters for years and years to come. For every time we ask it, there will be all sorts of technical answers but at the simplest level, I think there is one answer to the question.

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Bp-tony
I’ll acknowledge that it’s just too easy to nominate
BP CEO Tony Hayward as the worst leader of the year. Granted,
he’s got some stiff competition, but he deserves every inch of
the big target on his back. Like a lot of people, I’ve got a
crick in my neck from shaking my head after all of the stupid things
he’s said and feckless things he’s done.

If
you Google  the phrase “Tony Hayward
quotes”, the first result you’ll get back will be a
link to a helpful compilation of them at a website called NowPublic.com.
They’re all sourced. Here are some of my favorites:

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Video Book Club: Brag

by Scott Eblin on June 8, 2010 8:00am

in The Next Level

If you’ve ever said something along the lines of “If I do good
work, it will speak for itself,” then you need to watch this week’s
Video Book Club segment to learn why that can be a dangerous way to go.
Inspired by Peggy Klaus’ book, Brag!:
The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It
, I share two important
reasons why you need to speak for the work and not just let it speak for
itself.

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