Archive for January, 2007|Monthly archive page

She’s In It To Win

Yes, folks I’m talking about Hillary! No matter what your political leanings are, I imagine that Hillary Clinton’s entrance into the presidential campaign for election to the 2008 term may have caught your attention.

It’s exciting to see a woman run for president. But, people on the street (well, the streets I frequent, anyway) and in the press are already disparaging Hillary – and not because she’s a woman. That’s a good thing. Not the disparaging necessarily, but the fact that people are looking past the gender issue and directly at the individual.

Hillary’s close association with a certain often revered, yet sometimes reviled former president is said to be one of her biggest liabilities. Add to that her carpetbagging entry into the Senate, her failure to take responsibility for past decisions… Well, can you see where it’s leading? On first glance Hillary doesn’t have a great portfolio going  for herself as far as many people can see.

But, let’s see if we can be unbiased here for a moment. (I know political discussions are rarely unbiased, and I’m taking a risk by even discussing it. But, that’s all right. It’s a good topic.)

1. Bill – I don’t think it’s fair to cast guilt by association on Hillary. And, he’s done a lot to clean up his image recently, especially by teaming up with George Bush Sr. and offering bi-partisan counsel to the world.

2. Carpetbagger – Hillary used good strategy in moving to New York, and whatever the motivating factor, she is doing a decent job in serving her constituents. They re-elected her.

3. Iraq Vote – Hillary pleads lack of information. She wouldn’t have voted for the war if she had known better. Hmm – not sure that one works for her. At least Pres. Bush is firm in his conviction, and stands by his decision, but there are many who wish he would back down and plead ignorance, too. So, I guess that one’s a wash.

Personally, I don’t know that I will vote for Hillary. But, I admire her courage. I’ll be watching her campaign with interest. Hillary Clinton is very smart and not afraid to take risks. Those are both admirable leadership qualities. She also seems to embrace the leadership philosophy of service.

I do have concerns, though about some other leadership traits I haven’t seen strongly displayed, as yet. The biggest one being that of authenticity. Is Hillary Clinton for real? Or is she somehow corrupt by her personal and political agendas? I am not sure. What do you think?

Yesterday, at a news conference, Hillary was given the perfect opportunity to lend some authenticity and substance to her campaign. To paraphrase, she was asked what in her background would give her experience in dealing with evil and bad men. (A valid and good question for any candidate for president) Hillary repeated the question, and then laughed. She never followed her attempt at humor with any definitive answer. That doesn’t work for me. Yes, I like a good show. I also believe leaders should have a sense of humor, but I expect some substance to support it. 

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Veni Vidi Vici

Julius Caesar Translation for those of you who didn’t have to suffer through four years of high school Latin – I came. I saw. I conquered.  These words were originally uttered by Roman leader,  Julius Caesar in a message sent to the Roman Senate on declaring victory in a battle in Asia. Brief and to the point – yet packed with power! 

This came to mind when I discovered Robert Hruzak’s Blog, Middle Zone Musings. He ran a contest (something bloggers often do to increase traffic, build their network, spark creativity, etc.) to see who could write the best six-word story. The link will take you to his post with all the collected entries. He wound up with 400-plus possibilities from 70 different bloggers.

But, I think that Caesar’s  three-word story, “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” beats out all of them for brevity, impact and action. The English translation even meets the six-word limit.

The message is pertinent to a key leadership trait, follow-through. So many times business or community leaders will show up (I came) and tour a site. They’ll meet ‘n greet informally, and maybe even participate (I saw) in some of the daily routines. But, once they leave the scene the status quo remains. Of course, this isn’t always a negative. But, when subordinates expect some help and hope for change, they need leaders who will take action (I conquered) with  courage and conviction.

Without the follow-through, there is no story. There’s little or no impact. Showing up (I came) and observing (I saw) are only two thirds of the formula.  Action (I conquered) is required to complete the equation.

Feeling a Little Cranky?

Personally, I rarely feel cranky or would ever admit to it. That’s pretty much an old folks descriptor isn’t it? Well, it’s no secret that more and more of us are living longer and better, and will one day be a part of those old folks.

If you’re a baby boomer (born from 1946 – 1964) chances are you’re taking a part in redifining both of the terms “old folks” and “cranky”. Senior Citizens doesn’t seem to cut it for even the first line of baby boomers, who turned sixty last year. They are healthier, better educated, and harder to peg than any senior generation – ever.  

These soon to be sixty-one year olds are the ripple of a huge tide (almost 80 million) that will continue washing over the economy for some time.  Market leaders like Jeff Taylor, founder of Monster.com are paying close attention to these potential cranksters. He has developed Eons.com , a kind of combination My Space/iWon type social networking site for those age 50-plus. 

Last week, Taylor added a search engine feature titled, cRANKY.com , calling it. “the world’s first age-relevant search engine.” It ranks  Eons’ member searches and the rankings should be reflective of baby boomer trends, in general, making this a valuable marketing tool.

This quote from a CNNMoney.com article explains Taylor’s rationale for cRANKY:
Why the name Cranky? Because I get ‘cranky’ when I get lost in the search quagmire, too,” said Taylor, who is 46, in the statement. “I know it’s tongue-in-cheek, but you’ll never forget the name. And, when I discovered the word ‘rank’ nestled in the middle of ‘cranky’, I knew it was the right name.”

But, I wonder how valuable it will be to the broad-based demographic of baby boomers, who may be more inclined to look for more more inclusive results found at already popular search engines like Yahoo and Google. Do they want to be separated out from the rest of the population? Or is Jeff Taylor taking the lead in defining the path of Internet exploration for this still enigmatic generation?

Weather… or Not

There’s a saying in New England about the weather, “Don’t like the weather? Wait a minute, it’ll change!” That has been the case for sure this season ranging from a few extremely warm days, some rain, very little snow and finally a typical January freeze of 15 – 20 degrees forecast for midweek. Other areas of the country have seen unpredictable weather this winter also, as described in this MSNBC article.

In New England, hardware stores have yet to deplete their supply of snow shovels and ice melt. Ski areas and their local symbiotic merchants are suffering. Some business groups are even talking about asking for federal relief due to the economic hardship caused by the winter’s poor performance. On the flip side, consumers dealing with lower heating and snow removal expenses than usual  have more money to spend on other things or in paying down debt – either of which will help strengthen the overall economy. There’s a  lesson here for some business and government leaders – past performance does not necessarily guarantee future performance.

All types of industries from agricultural to tourism depend on a certain range of anticipated weather conditions in order to prosper. They plan everything from their marketing strategies to capital budgets based on past climatic performance.  Only problem is, even with all the meteorological advances, there’s no accounting for Mother Nature!

Well, they can’t fire winter for its disappointing performance. Can’t demote it or offer it a buy-out. Like it or not, the weather (winter season especially) is a major partner in most endeavors. It’s the wild card that promises plenty, but can cost even more. Smart leaders learn to have some flexibility and contingency plans in place, since they know there’s no guarantee when it comes to the weather. In the meantime, winter is less than halfway over. Whether or not the economy in general will weather it remains to be seen 🙂

Recharging

Cell PhoneI got a new cell phone for Christmas.  It’s plugged in and recharging, so it’ll be all ready for me to download or upload to my heart’s content. Would that it were so easy to recharge our human components.

A leader needs to stay on guard against losing their charge. Yes, that can be taken two ways – charge of internal energy and insights, or charge of externally staying the course and leading the troops. Whether you’re a single parent trying to keep up with work and family or a high level executive trying to keep a busines on track; being in the lead can be a strain.  

Burn-out is a serious concern for any leader. Even while taking preventive measures (like regular exercise, good nutrition, etc) there are times when our charges run low. Obviously, we’re a little more complex than the electronic gadgets most of us love to use. If you feel like you’re in need of some quick recharging, here are some simple suggestions:

Physical – Take a Walk
 (preferably away from your charges, be sure to return)
Emotional – Meditate or Talk to a Confidant
Mental – Read
(for relaxation or education – both work)

All of these are as simple (or maybe simpler) than a quick electronic plug-in, and at least as important. What are your favorite recharging methods – for the human component?

Snap Judgements

tend to go hand-in-hand with the blame game. Leaders often need to act quickly when making decisions. But making a snap judgement rarely pays off. This sort of decision is usually made on the spot and without benefit of all the details. It is usually based on emotional reaction rather than an intellectual or logical one.

Would there were such a thing as logical emotions this might not be a problem. As William Tully explains in his Blog, which is aptly named LOGICal eMOTIONS , “Typically we have an emotional experience (significant or not), and we apply logic afterwards.” Ahh….there’s the problem. Taking it personal, not being objective. Even the best leaders can get caught up in an emotional whirlwind before logic has a chance to come to the rescue.

What can leaders do to avoid making questionable snap judgements? Well,  effective leaders stay well informed and aware of their best resources. This helps to prevent some situations from reaching the boiling point, or if they do to enable the leader to think on their feet, as they say. But, another action thoughtful leaders can take is to do nothing – at least for the moment. Often taking some time to pause and think things through will help in making a better judgement call.

Like a lot of behavioral advice, that sounds almost too simple. But, it takes practice to keep your cool and derail those risky snap judgements. Lora at Success Connections has a great post called Use Your Pause Button that applies to really anyone who might need to chase their emotions with a little logic. She details the usual suggestions of taking a deep breath and thinking it over. Her final advice is to “respond intentionally rather than react to raw emotion.”

As is often the case, that leads me to another thought, The Power of Intention. I believe Wayne Dyer wrote a book about that. Have to look it up for future reference. Until then, hit the Pause Button… 🙂

Playing The Blame Game

First rule of leadership – don’t play the blame game! As a leader you need to be able to take responsibility, and accept full credit or blame for whatever occurs within your organization. Yes, sometimes you need to assess a situation, and make changes according to the actions that were taken by others. And, sometimes others may share in the credit or blame, but it all comes back to the leader, ultimately.

This brings me to mention those popular, but questionable role models, Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump. It seems the feud persists.  Now, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka has joined in the frey. In an effort to support her father, she is blaming Rosie for starting it first. Headlines blaring, “Trump’s Daughter Says Rosie Started Feud” are not really the best publicity for Trump’s organization. No matter who started it, a smart leader would deflect the immature “He/she started it!” and find a way to end it.

Of course, celebrity leaders like headlines and air time, even if the press is negative. Good business leaders and community leaders should know otherwise. When you encounter a problem between two individuals or differing factions it usually doesn’t matter who started it. More importantly who is going to resolve things – and how.