Great Leaders Aren’t Smug

May 4th, 2013

I don’t often reprint/post, but I could not agree more with this article. A pleasure to coach and mentor those leaders who are confident, yet still question and know they can do better. Those who think they have it all figured out on the other hand, are exactly those who end up in trouble down the road. Sometimes the road is shorter or longer, but the destination is fairly predictable.

Reposted from Money Watch

By Margaret Heffernan / MoneyWatch/ May 2, 2013, 11:25 AM

(MoneyWatch) I mentor senior and chief executives and often do, or see, their psychographic profiling as determined by their bosses, peers and direct reports. They’re all very different, but one strand in particular interests me: how the executives rate themselves, as compared to the ratings they receive from their colleagues. What’s emerging is an interesting trend: the executives who underestimate themselves perform more highly than those who overestimate themselves.

In other words, a certain modesty, humility or even perhaps anxiety makes better leaders. This represents quite an interesting challenge to a central tenet of the self-esteem movement, according to which self-belief improves performance. Instead, what seems to be more true is that a modicum of self-doubt improves performance.

I’m not really surprised. Individuals who aren’t convinced they know all the answers tend to look harder for them. Executives who appreciate that there are others in the world who are better, smarter, sharper than they are may be, as leaders, more appreciative and better able to draw in the complementary talents they need.

This also goes some way toward explaining why narcissistic leaders rarely do well. In overestimating their own ability, they underperform, taking less care to integrate diverse talents or to develop their own. Extreme self-belief convinces them they already know the answers, while the less confident leaders are constantly scanning the horizons for signs that they were right or wrong.

The key advantage that self-belief bestows is that it encourages individuals to aim higher. Expectations drive (even if they don’t determine) outcomes, so those who think they can go farther are more likely to do so. But the same confidence that gets them to the top may be exactly what makes them fail when they arrive. What this means for managers is that they shouldn’t be seduced by the smug and the brash but should look out for the smart leaders who don’t quite know how good they are. I’d bet the bank on those people.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Nothing’s Perfect, Everything’s Perfect!?!

February 14th, 2013

It always gets me every time someone says, “nothing is ever perfect,” or something along those lines. I always want to respond, “Why not? If that’s the case, seems you ought to do something about it, eh?” It seems so negative, definitely in the glass half empty camp (and I much prefer to be in the glass half full camp). Clearly you recognize the problem if you can make such a statement, so why do you accept it and do nothing about it? Perhaps a better response would be, “that depends on your definition of perfect!”

Too many people define perfect as everything being just so. Never does anything go wrong, present a challenge, and certainly not a failure. In business, every deal is a great moneymaker with a wonderful customer, singing your praises, and no hoops to jump through. In family, your children are always the best behaved, get fantastic grades, excel at everything they attempt, and always listen; you  never argue with your spouse, you always see things eye to eye, there’s never a thing out of place in your home, and everyone’s eternally happy.

In that case, you’re right. Nothing’s perfect, nor ever will be. So, why the word? Why even have such a concept? Why get caught up in such an unrealistic bubble that we unfortunately so often use as a measuring stick, though we have never actually defined P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

So let’s take a look at that. Many would define perfect very much like the first paragraph of this post. But as we’ve explored and most of those same people would agree, perfect is not reality or is unattainable. I beg to differ. Some might define perfect as a state where nothing could be any better. I think they’re getting closer, but many are still leaning toward that unrealistic state.

Try on this definition for size…perfect is always trying. Perfect is a state of evolution in which we are always trying to do and be better at whatever it is we are working at. Of course, this means truly trying…giving it major effort and attention, which means listening, gathering more information, learning, modifying, trying again, and so on. If this is the case and the honest diligence of trying is evident, might we see things quite differently? It doesn’t mean every person achieves exactly the same in everything they do. No, we are all individuals, with many different talents, and this is what makes the world go round. Trying afterall would also include trying to find the best way to use our talents. With true evidence of this effort in all that we do, might this make the world a much more positive place? Might we build more tolerance and celebration of our differences? Might we build so much more success, both in business and in our personal lives? (The definition of success, by the way, is likely fodder for another post.) How often we have been taught and have taught others, “you get out of something what you put into it,” and “life is what you make it,” and other such adages. How about we live and work that way?

This is a leadership approach I have tried to always take with my teams throughout the years. This means in how I approach my business as well as how I approach management, and in how I approach setting expectations for others. Coupled with a culture of empowerment and encouragement, I have had the honor of working with some pretty amazing teams that have reached levels of accomplishments often dreamed about. Our environment was always a very positive place and we were always learning. This does not mean that everything always succeeded. Indeed not. We learn far more from our failures than our successes and the approach to dealing with them is the critical piece.

So I ask you again, what is perfect? Everything’s perfect, nothing’s perfect? Perhaps it’s a mindset.

Innovation + Focus = Value!

September 19th, 2012

As I work with clients and repeat, repeat, repeat the need for innovation in solving a real need/perceived want to create significant value, this post drives it home. As an added note of interest for me anyway, I’ve used the Square for several clients in various applications (not all retail), and it’s a terrific product. I have some wonderful ideas and innovations of how to take them to the next level and add significant value for users, but that’s for another time and place perhaps…

Enjoy!

How Square Earned a $3 Billion Valuation

http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224466