Friday, October 26, 2012

Authentic Leadership

The keynote speaker at last week's PMI North America Global Congress was Marcus Buckingham. If you don't know the name, he has authored/co-authored a number of books including First, Break all the Rules, Now Discover your Strengths, and most recently, Standout.

His keynote focused on research he did on leadership as part of his latest book. What he found was that for large organizations, the local leader made the difference. However, no to leaders took the same approach. Trying to apply a single leadership model to all of them wouldn't work because you couldn't transfer a leadership style from one person to another.

What he found was a set of nine strength roles. Here's a quick overview of them:

  • Advisor - someone that gives people advice and helps solve their problems
  • Connector - someone that looks as the world as a set of relationships
  • Creator - someone that's a thinker
  • Equalizer - someone that looks for the right thing to do and meets their commitments
  • Influencer - someone that is thinking about how to move people into action
  • Pioneer - someone looking for what's next or what's new
  • Provider - someone that creates a safe environment for their team
  • Stimulator - someone looking to raise the energy level and get people excited
  • Teacher - someone that looks at opportunities to learn and help their team learn
What he said that there isn't a perfect leadership profile, just leaders that understand and follow the practices of the style that aligns with their top two strengths. I didn't have a chance to buy Standout while I was at the Congress, but it will be in my next order from Amazon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PMI Leadership Institute Meeting

I have been in Vancouver the past few days participating in the PMI Leadership Institute Meeting. As one of the leaders of the Agile Community of Practice, this was an opportunity to meet with my fellow leaders and work on our strategic plan for next year. 

However, there were also a number of great keynote speakers to inspire the 800+ volunteer leaders that were in attendance, representing both local PMI chapters and the 36 Communities of Practice.

Annie McKee was the first speaker we heard. She talked about being a resonant leader and the aspects of a good leader. Emotional intelligence was a key part, specifically, a strong self awareness, social awareness, and self management. If we don't have these skills, we can learn them. 

But being a resonant leader is more than just emotional intelligence. We need to use our power as a leader to serve others, not for our own personal gain. Renewal is also important, but it doesn't have to be 2 hours of meditation every day. Taking 5 minutes of deep breaths can do it. 

The closing speaker, Ed Tate, talked about how we focus. He had three principles; we can only clearly focus on one thing at a time, we get more of what we focus on, and avoiding doesn't work. He gave the example of a race car driver learning to control a spin. If his instructor tells him not to hit the wall, that is the thing he does. 

His presentation resonated with me from the view of not being able to multi-task. He cited some of the same examples of studies I've used when I present on the topic. I think this message is getting out, but there are still a lot of people and organizations that think they can multi-task, and then they don't realize why their projects fail. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are you good enough?

I'm currently reading Different Work by Bas de Baar and Lori Kane. It's a set of stories about people that have found work that they love to do. The fourth story is about an interesting couple. The husband has moved away from corporate life and is now a one-man consulting shop. The wife is an artist. One quote from the wife really stuck with me;

A lot of my energy had gone into worrying about not being good enough, instead of strengthening my abilities. 

Do we spend too much time worrying about how good we should be? How often do you really spend thinking about what your strengths are rather than worrying about what your weaknesses might be. Maybe you are in the wrong job, how do you know? There were a few bullet points at the end of the chapter that I think can help;

  • Start with what you're curios about
  • Pay attention, notice where your energy is, and trust that energy
  • Move farther away from work you don't love

Have you had a job where you didn't think you fit in? You felt drained from work, not invigorated? You didn't even want to get up in the morning? I was there once. It took a layoff to get me to move in the right direction. If you need multiple alarm clocks or hit snooze to many times in the morning, maybe you need to start looking for a new job that's a different work where you don't have to worry about being good enough.