A bowl of dried beans offers two possibilities. One, you can cook them up for a satisfying protein-rich meal. Or two, you can plant them, and watch the successful seeds produce many, many more. Your choice will determine whether you have food now, or food later. This situation is reminiscent of the Stanford marshmallow experiment. The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification and self-discipline in the late 1960s and early 1970s, led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. If you are interested in learning more about the marshmallow experiment, I wrote about it (in 2007) in a Mega Minute titled Marshmallows, self-discipline, and success.
Beans … now or later
Let’s go back to the beans however. If you’re the kind of person who guards your bowl of beans so that you can consume them all yourself, then you’ll certainly have a satisfying meal. But your triumph will likely end there. On the other hand, if you’re the leader who is willing to exercise self-discipline and self-restraint, at least in the short-term, and one who plants those seeds far and wide, you’ll create much greater potential. Not only will you ensure a longer-term food supply for yourself, but you’ll also nourish others and build incredible goodwill with your staff, your colleagues, and your clients.
So, are you the leader who is willing to apply self-discipline and share your resources with others – information, your expertise, and your time – in order to build long-term success? Or are you more interested in hoarding your sources and means because you are focused on victory today? I hope you are the former, but I’d love to hear your perspectives. Please share your thoughts below.
Leaders have a responsibility to be literate. And by the word “literate”, I mean knowledgeable. Now that information is ubiquitous, available through our fingertips at the closest keyboard, twenty-four seven, there is no longer any reason to claim that you don’t know. Ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse. But real leadership literacy also requires critical thinking. It is possible to tell the difference between genuine data and pseudo-science; between real facts and false news. It requires however that you read beyond the headlines and evaluate the sources and the author. It is possible to appreciate and comprehend the people you work with. But that means that you need to make the effort and take the time to get to know them. Leadership literacy is not only essential, it is completely achievable.
5 Rules of 21st Century Leadership Literacy
With this cautionary counsel in mind, here are five rules of 21st century leadership literacy that every leader should follow: Continue reading
Your personal brand is how others see you. If you want to grow your business, obtain a better job, get noticed by your peers, take your career to the next level, or meet high-quality professional colleagues, the impression others have of you will have a huge impact on your success. But how do you build your “best” personal brand? How do you build a brand that “kicks ass”? And just what does “kick-ass branding” mean?
What does it take to build a kick-ass personal brand?
This is exactly the topic of my latest column for Canadian Accountant titled Five ways for CPAs to build a kick-ass personal brand. In it, I offer five steps that anyone can take to positively influence how they are perceived by others. Not an accountant? Doesn’t matter – the five kick-ass tips I give here apply to anyone who is looking to take their career or business to new heights!
As you can see, authenticity is ultimately at the root of building a kick-ass personal brand. As far as I am concerned, everything grows from the foundation of genuineness and truth. But what do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is what has worked for me, but I’d love to hear what you’re doing to build your personal brand. Share your thoughts here or on the Canadian Accountant website.
Some things are entirely and wholly out of my control. Severe weather, for example. I cannot effect change in the weather. Whether it’s a sweltering heatwave, a blinding snowstorm, or a stormy hurricane, I can’t make the weather calamity go away, no matter how hard I try.
But, on the other hand, there are plenty of things I can do to control how I react and respond to harsh weather. I can seek out a cooler environment (inside an air-conditioned shopping mall for example), delay my road-trip to future date to avoid wintry driving conditions, or gather essential documents and supplies as I evacuate to safer ground. Instead of complaining about the effects of severe weather, I can choose to take thoughtful actions to avoid, or at least, mitigate the damage.
Just because we can’t control the situation doesn’t mean we can’t influence the outcome
There are a myriad of events in our lives that are outside our sphere of control. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t influence the final outcome. Continue reading
Are you inadvertently sabotaging yourself? A few weeks ago, I asked a different question: Would you run a marathon blindfolded? It was in reference to how managers in organizations sometimes (usually inadvertently) set their employees up to fail by not giving them the tools and resources they need in order to get the job done! This post prompted an email from a reader who shared the following:
[This post] reminded me of what one of my bosses used to always say when he saw people doing things in an unnecessarily difficult way.....You can climb Mount Everest in a pair of Oxfords, but it's difficult!
(By the way, Oxfords are formal lace-up shoes, usually worn by men as a necessary component of formal business attire.)
You can climb Mount Everest in a pair of Oxfords, but it’s difficult!
Which got me thinking further. My original post was about how managers were the ones at fault … asking their people to complete tasks or fulfill responsibilities but neglecting to give them the tools and information they needed to make it happen. But what if the guilty party isn’t your manager? What if it’s you? Do we sometimes, without realizing it, sabotage ourselves by wearing the metaphoric Oxfords when we should be wearing hiking boots? Continue reading
As a leader, you will often find yourself dealing with difficult workplace situations. Many of which will test your resolve and tenacity. Some will be people-related, others process-related, and yet others will have to do with ethical and moral dilemmas. Several will make you stumble and even fall. And more than likely, a few will cause you to question whether the entire leadership journey is worth it.
You don’t stop walking because you sprained your ankle
You don’t stop walking because you sprained your ankle. Instead, you take the unfortunate experience as an indicator of what not to do and what obstacles to watch out for, but you still keep walking. Sure, you may rest up for a couple of days, perhaps even use a walking aid for a few more, but eventually you stand up, take a few tentative steps and continue walking towards wherever you need to be. You may be more thoughtful about what route you take and you may be more aware of your surroundings, but at no point do you say “That walking thing didn’t work out so well, I think I’ll stop doing it.” Continue reading
Bean-counters, number-crunchers, pencil-pushers — merely three of the common monikers often used to describe those in the accounting profession — and none of them complimentary. These labels are frequently used to disparage and belittle those who take seriously the responsibility of minding the money. Unfortunately, negative stereotypes such as these can stunt career prospects and adversely affect the number and quality of new opportunities that come one’s way. So for those who have aspirations to make their mark in the top echelons of organizations, they need to prove that these negative labels do not apply to them.
How to break free from the stereotypes
This is the topic of my latest regular Leadership column for Canadian Accountant titled Five keys to breaking free from accounting stereotypes.
To summarize, here are the five specific ideas to overcome these negative stereotypes:
- Take on different roles
- Learn to talk in terms of the big picture
- Break the pattern
- Get out there!
- Above all, be flexible
Well, I’d love to hear your perspectives. Let me know what you think of my latest column. Comment here or on the Canadian Accountant website, let us know about your experiences.
The song “Try” by P!nk popped up on my playlist as I was out walking in my neighbourhood the other day. Now I’ve heard this song many times in the past, but for some reason (likely because I have recently been dealing with adversity in my personal life), I noticed the lyrics in the refrain more than I usually do.
“Try” by P!nk
Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned But just because it burns, doesn't mean you're gonna die You gotta get up and try, and try, and try Gotta get up and try, and try, and try You gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Now I know that this song is actually about romance, but it caught my attention because the words so appropriately so apply to our both our personal and professional lives as well. If you replace the word “desire” with “adversity”, suddenly these lines take on a whole different meaning. What was intended to be a song about finding love is now solid advice for dealing with adversity, for never giving up, both in the professional and personal arenas. Continue reading
Every so often, a conversation with an elderly relative reminds me of a story from Indian folklore that I heard when I was a child. Recently, that happened again, this time on the topic of how one reacts or responds to adversity. The story tells of a young person who was complaining to his grandmother about the challenges he was facing in his school and job – difficult assignments, tough professors, a demanding boss, not enough time to relax, and always, a seeming shortage of funds.
Her response: to place three pots of water on the stove
The grandmother responded by placing three pots of water on the stove. When the water in each was boiling, she placed two potatoes in the first pot, two eggs in the second, and a scoop of tea leaves in the third. About twenty minutes later, she pulled out the potatoes and eggs and placed them on a plate, and strained the water out of the tea leaves into a cup, and placed them all in front of the young man. Puzzled, he looked up at her. Continue reading
Stephanie Staples is my professional colleague, a good friend, and a past guest blogger right here on the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog. And she also hosts Your Life Unlimited on CJOB 680 Radio AM, airing across Canada on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I was very excited to be her guest on March 11 and 12. We talked about strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities, based on my best-selling book Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell?
Listen to the show!
You can listen to the archived radio show here – my segment starts at about 14.45 mark. If you don’t have the time to listen to the whole interview, you can still read about 17 strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities at this same link. These 17 strategies are selected from the 171 strategies that are listed in my book.
Well, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ve used this lobster metaphor for a long time to illustrate and emphasize the overarching leadership themes of growth, change, transition, seizing opportunity, and continuous learning, This is both in the book of course, as well as in my signature keynote of the same name. But I’m always excited and interested to hear about how this metaphor resonates with you (or not!). Please add your comments below.