Showing posts from September, 2007

Change: Management or Leadership?

I'm starting to think that a whole area of practice, namely Change Management, is mis-named.

For years now, people have argued back and forth about Management vs Leadership. Some have settled (at least in their own minds) the distinction as one that hinges on people: you manage things (or processes) and you lead people.

Though I don't buy it totally, I'll work with that.

Also for years, people have wondered about, and studied, why change fails. Many have come to the realization that change works, or falls, on one factor: people.

OK, stay with me here.

If you put those two things together, that you lead people and that successful change hinges on people, then why don't we have a field of practice called Change Leadership?

And if we did, would it make a difference?

So how would you vote? Change: Management or Leadership?

Added Note: Lisa Haneberg has posted an entry on her blog about this.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept 30, 2007

Are You A "Slow Learner?"

I have always considered myself a creative type. In the business world, I have long suspected that I was a square peg. But reading a book on the train the other morning, I am now convinced.

The book is Weird Ideas That Work by Bob (The No A__hole Rule) Sutton. In Chapter Three, "Hire Slow Learners," he describes some personality research on creative types that found three intriguing characteristics:

- these people tend to be "low self monitors," abrasive mavericks who tend to be the opposite of "yes men," and are often seen as "pains in the a__" by others

- they prefer to avoid social interaction, maybe a bit shy

- they are likely to have high self-esteem, and may seem arrogant to others

He calls these people "slow learners" because they are slow to conform to the organization's culture or way of doing things.

As I read this chapter, I had a strong aha. These are aspects of myself that I have wrestled with forever.

As an Organizat…

Reaching a Goal, Feeling Good

When you reach a goal, it feels good. I reached one today and I'm floating on euphoria right now.

When I joined the American Management Association back in April, one of the things I said I wanted to do was to bring Kenny Moore in to do something on leadership and the spirit. Well, at noon today, with my colleague Bettina Neidhardt (also a big fan of Kenny Moore), we did a webcast with Kenny, and it went very well. (Soon it will be available in the AMA webcast archive. Check the AMA site next week, if interested.)

So why am I so happy? Kenny Moore (and others like him) has an important message for leaders of business organizations about awakening joy, meaning, and commitment in the workplace. In today's little webcast, we touched over 700 people. In the coming weeks and months, we will touch many more. And as the ripples spread, the message will reach many organizations.

Every once in a while you do something good that, while small, can have big effects.

Posted by Terrence Se…

My Signature Strengths

At Authentic Happiness, I took a free online survey to find out my Signature Strengths:

~ My Top Strength is Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith

You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

~ Second is Creativity, ingenuity, and originality

Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.

~ Third is Capacity to love and be loved

You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

~ Fourth is Leadership

You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing acti…

What is good Leadership Development?

This posting about Leadership Development, at Be Excellent, stimulates a number of different thoughts.

For now, let's focus on two statements:

~ "Most American businesses don't understand the difference between management training and leadership development."

~ "There is a big difference between management training and leadership development."

What do most American businesses consider a "leadership development program" to be? And why would they make an investment in it?

Contrarian OD Guy Kenny Moore has said that much of what passes for leadership development is a whole lot of hooey.

While I don't fully subscribe to the hooey school of thought, I definitely appreciate his point, that a lot of leadership development is crap.

So then: What is good Leadership Development?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept 21, 2007

Looking Up

Though I have lived near New York City all my life, I never tire of looking up and gawking at the eclectic mix of architectural styles in the Big Apple. I know that habit qualifies me as a hick out-of-towner who doesn't know any better. But I just love looking up when I walk the streets of Manhattan.

A couple days ago, at our annual parish picnic, I was listening to a friend's tale of woes. As his troubles spilled out, he seemed to brighten a bit. Then he said, "When I used to work in the city, Terry, I would always come out of the subway and look up. If you don't look up, all you see is the grime under your feet. Looking up is better for the soul. You see so much more when you do that."

He seemed to feel better after sharing that bit of wisdom.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept 20, 2007

Managing the Unexpected

I am reading a book called Managing the Unexpected by the great Karl (Sensemaking) Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe.

In my line of work (Training and Organization Development), I am surrounded by theories and books on how to manage. Most have something to say, but don't really grab you. Seldom do I pick up a management book that I can say reads like an urgent high-level thriller!

This is because Weick and Sutcliffe are looking at HROs, High Reliability Organizations: organizations that by their nature must constantly anticipate and adapt to surprising changes in conditions, often ones that operate on the razor's edge of life and death. Hospital emergency rooms, flight operators on aircraft carriers, firefighting teams, first responders.

And what's great about Weick and Sutcliffe's book is that they translate the practices of these highly adaptive organizations into principles. So no matter what kind of organization you work for, from making donuts to teaching seminars, you…

Yes, I Am Now On Facebook

Yes, I recently signed on to facebook, and my teenage sons are embarrassed.

Sorry, guys.

But networking boomers like me are trying all kinds of new platforms (e.g., ning) for connecting globally with others.

By the way, on ning, Loretta Donovan has set up a social networkfor facilitators, and within it I have set up a group for anyone interested in Sharing Wisdom. Feel free to join in!

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept 13, 2007

How to Fail

Great blog post by Dustin Wax (is that a real name?) on how to fail spectacularly . . . and come out ahead.

Growing up, we are told that failure is bad. In school, failure is an "F," something you do not want to show your parents.

But how many famous and successful people can you name that failed spectacularly at one time or another? Lots of them!

So the secret to failure, I think, is learning. As Dustin writes:

"Failure is the most important learning tool we humans have at our disposal...we should embrace our failures, milking them for everything they’re worth. Ask yourself what you can take away from your failures, what you’re being given by them."

Failure is a gift.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept 12, 2007

Positive Thinking Day!

Positive Thinking Day is coming on Thursday September 13. At Kirsten Harrell's blog she says:

"Positive Thinking Day - September 13th - is a day to celebrate the benefits of positive thinking. We believe that by helping people change their thoughts we can make a lasting and positive difference in this world."

How would you complete this sentence:

~ What the world needs now is . . .

I'd say, we need more positive thinking, more affirmation, more recognition, more caring, more hugs, and more love.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept. 11, 2007

Putting Things Into Perspective

A dear old friend just died a few days ago. His family asked me to give the eulogy; I guess they were too heartbroken to do it.

The funeral Mass was held yesterday and I'm relieved to report that I was able to get through it without breaking up. I did choke up toward the end, but after a pause, I was able to finish.

At the wake the other night, someone said that death is a great clarifier. When you lose a loved one or a friend, it stops you in your tracks. Death puts everything in your life into perspective.

It reminded me of writer Carlos Castaneda's character, Yaqui brujo Don Juan Matus, who said that the precursor to seeing is stopping the world:

"A warrior thinks of his death when things become unclear. The idea of death is the only thing that tempers our spirit."

Posted by Terrence Seamon, Sept 7, 2007

The Beat Goes On

I learned something today while driving to the hardware store and listening to NPR. American writer and poet Jack Kerouac was Catholic. And the term he coined, "Beats," was derived by him from The Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes, in the Gospel of St. Matthew, are a series of blessings uttered by Jesus at the opening of the Sermon on the Mount.

In a piece by writer Peter Gilmour:

"Jack Kerouac was enchanted by the mysticism of the Beatitudes. He had 'faith in the idea of the holy outcast.'"

Kerouac once said of his classic work, On the Road: "It was really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him.

Explaining the word Beat, Kerouac said: "Beat doesn't mean tired, or bushed, so much as it means beato, the Italian for beatific: to be in a state of beatitude, like Saint Francis, trying to love all life, trying to be utterly sincere with everyone, practicing endurance, kindness, cultivating joy of heart. How…