Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Solutions, Not Problems!

June 24, 2015 4 comments

My absolute favorite leadership quote of all time comes from philosopher Karl Popper:

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded that you don’t care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Karl Popper

IMO, no other leadership quote comes close to hitting the nail on the head as Mr. Popper’s. Do you wanna know why? Because over my long and un-illustrious career, I’ve heard some anointed leaders say the equivalent of this:

“Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!”

I’ve heard that at least three times, and all three times I’ve thought:

If you’re not here to help solve your soldier’s problems problems too, then what do you do here besides watch numbers, approve/disapprove actions, reduce costs, and strut around; why are you even here at all?

Anyone with half of a brain in their head knows that saying shit like “don’t bring me your problems” drives important problems underground. And under the surface, they fester, grow, and morph into downstream crises that eat into the treasury from which these “keep your problems to yourselves” leaders draw their personal sustenance.

Great leaders encourage their troops to bring their problems forth into the light. Then they roll up their sleeves, jump into the tar pit, and help as much as they can, where they can. Paradoxically, this style is called “servant leadership“, and Theory-X managers just don’t get it. They never have, and never will. Solutions Not Problems In case you’re wondering why the nerd in the cartoon is just thinking the word “Clueless” instead of saying it out loud, it’s because:

To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize. ~ Voltaire

By Default

May 18, 2013 1 comment

Much has been written about the differences between, and similarities across, management and leadership. But unsurprisingly, most managers equate the word “manager” with the word “leader” by default. After all, they’ve been appointed by other “leaders“. Thus, by (their) definition, managers are leaders.

On the other hand, most raw employees equate the word “manager” with “manager” by default.  Err, on second thought, since (as usual) he has no supporting “data“, this BD00 post is prolly full of BS00:

Our old arrogant, egotistical nature (continuously) seeks out sustaining agreement with itself and its distorted opinions. – William Samuel

Default Views

Categories: management Tags: ,

Where Did The Soldiers Go?

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

If you’re a leader (anointed or otherwise) and the only access to you is communicated via the classic “my door is always open” and “suggestion box” yawners, then you won’t have to mind-wrestle with this vexing Poppercornism:

The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded that you don’t care. Either case is a failure of leadership. – Karl Popper

The Daily Question

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

In his latest book, Gary Hamel proposes that executives and managers ask an important question every day:

It would be a refreshing change from these daily questions:

  • How can I get Wall St. off my back?
  • How can I get the board to give me a bigger bonus?
  • How can I stop my VPs from bickering with each other and kissing my ass?
  • Can I blame my poor performance on the economy, fickle customers, and a natural disaster in China?
  • How can I squeeze more productivity out of my DICs and trade nothing in return?
  • What new management position can I create to extinguish this latest fire?
  • How can I ensure that my legacy will be revered?

Magical Transformation

March 11, 2012 4 comments

In this interview of Scott Berkun by Michael “Rands In Repose” Lopp, “Rands In Repose: Interview: Scott Berkun“, Scott was asked about his former stint at Microsoft as a program manager. Specifically, Rands asked Scott what his definition of “program manager” is. Here is Scott’s answer:

It’s a glorified term for a project leader or team lead, the person on every squad of developers who makes the tough decisions, pushes hard for progress, and does anything they can to help the team move forward. At its peak in the 80s and 90s, this was a respected role of smart, hard driving and dedicated leaders who knew how to make things happen. As the company grew, there became too many of them and they’re often (but not always) seen now as annoying and bureaucratic.

Americans have a love affair with small businesses. But due to the SCOLs, CGHs, BUTTs, and BMs that ran companies like Enron, Tyco, and Lehman Bros, big businesses are untrusted and often reviled by the public. That’s because, when a company grows, its leaders often “magically” morph into self-serving, obstacle-erecting, and progress-inhibiting bureaucrats; often without even knowing that the transformation is taking place. D’oh! I hate when that happens.

The “E” Test

February 17, 2012 2 comments

From Dan Pink’s “FLIP Manifesto“:

To take the E test, draw the letter “E” on your forehead. Oops, too late. You already know which way is the “correct” one.


January 2, 2012 4 comments

Check out this tweet from Stefan Stern:

21st century leaders “get” this recipe for building two way trust and respect. 20th century leaders demand that followers (willing or coerced) unconditionally care about what the leader wants. To them, establishing and nurturing a symmetrical, two-way caring relationship is not in the cards.

Quid pro quo Clarisse…. Quid pro quo – Hannibal Lecter

BMs Of The Year

December 30, 2011 2 comments

Since BD00 is a bombastic and boisterous blasphemer of the “B” word, I just HAD to meta-blog about this infoworld blog post after I stumbled upon it: “The tech industry’s biggest bozos of 2011”.

And the winners are…..

Because Netflix is one of the companies on my faves list (and I’m a stockholder!), I’m really bummed about the Hastings-Netflix fiasco. Since I think Mr. Hastings and Netflix will recover from the faux pas, I’m keeping them on the list.

Baggage From The Past

December 17, 2011 Leave a comment

BD00, the wise ass, oops, I mean the wise child that he is, maintains that it’s much more challenging to restore a fallen org to success than it is to bootstrap a startup org to success.

Unlike established orgs, startups are populated by a small group of highly enthused people with a common bond and they don’t have a history of under performance to contend with (yet) as they move forward.

It’s BD00’s belief that leadership teams who turn around fallen stars are more deserving of kudos than heroic startup teams.

Cribs And Complaints

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

HCL Technologies CEO Vineet Nayar‘s “Employees First, Customers Second” is one of the most refreshing business books I’ve read in awhile. One of the bold measures the HCLT leadership team considered implementing to meet their goal of “increasing trust through transparency” was to put up an intranet web site called “U & I“. After weighing the pros and (considerable) cons, the HCLT leadership team decided to go for it. Sure enough, the naysayers (Vineet calls naysayers the “Yes, But“s) were right:

The U&I site was clogged with cribs and complaints, harangues and imprecations that the company was wrong about everything. The continents and questions came pouring in and would not stop. Most of what people said was true. Much of it hurt.

However, instead of placing draconian constraints on the type of inputs “allowed“, arbitrarily picking and choosing which questions to answer, or taking the site down, Vineet et al stuck with it and reaped the benefits of throwing themselves into the fire. Here’s one example of a tough question that triggered an insight in the leadership team:

“Why must we spend so much time doing tasks required by the enabling functions? Shouldn’t human resources be supporting me, so I can support customers better? They seem to have an inordinate amount of power, considering the value they add to the customer.”

This question suggested that organizational power should be proportionate to one’s ability to add value, rather than by one’s position on the pyramid. We found that the employees in the value zone were as accountable to finance, human resources, training and development, quality, administration, and other enabling functions as they were to their immediate managers. Although these functions were supposed to be supporting the employees in the value zone, the reality was sometimes different.

That question led to the formation of the Smart Service Desk (SSD), which helped the company improve its operations, morale, and financial performance.

So, how did the SSD work, you ask? It worked like this: SSD. Not like this:

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