Leadership Bias

Leadership Bias - 1I’ve recently been conducting internal interviews for a potential project, I have been granted the opportunity to “hand pick” my team. What I have discovered is I may have a bias toward some people in my organization. So I started thinking about how a bias could affect my leadership of this team. My research related to bias uncovered some excellent and surprising information on how to build a greater awareness of one’s biases. These discoveries have also unintentionally helped me develop a more acute awareness of my role as a leader and beyond.

Bias in its basic definition is described in a negative light; but in its purest form doesn’t have to be. It can be equated to discernment (a positive term) because in the end it’s all about that — making a judgment based on certain criteria, and we know the better the judgment, the better the outcome.

When you look at the source of bias and how it is developed, here is where the dilemma surfaces. Whatever bias or preferences you have in any situation has been shaped and cultivated from your collective experiences or conditioning. That conditioning has shaped who you are, crafted your capabilities, molded your beliefs, tested your values all through the filter of your innate wiring — which some call personality. It’s that conditioning that has made you the leader you are today, and in that you could say, your bias (or your conditioning) on some level has been part of your success. Yet, that same collective experience can unknowingly work against you and those you lead. Here in is our quandary.

One of the most interesting areas of professional development is creative and innovative thinking. It’s an area that the Institute for Business Values proclaimed through a survey of 1,500 CEOs as one of the most important leadership qualities. In fact, Richard Florida, states,

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Happy Birthday to Leadership Voices!

Happy Birthday Leadership Voices - 1Today marks the first anniversary of Leadership Voices. And what an incredible first year it has been!

What began in my home office on my laptop has grown into a world-class team of leaders and writers who are reaching an average of 1,000 readers each month on this website according to the website analytics. From that first article to over 250 articles in twelve months, we have really seen significant growth in readership and interest in what is going on at Leadership Voices.

It is YOU that has made our first year such a success! And we say “Thank You!” for adding us to the list of sites that you visit on the web and making us a part of your personal leadership development.

Happy Birthday Leadership Voices - 2Thanks go to Rene Rivera who caught a glimpse of the vision that I had for Leadership Voices from the very beginning and was the first to want to be a part of this.  I also want to thank each of the 15 authors who have contributed the 254 articles that we have published to date. Each author has brought their own unique perspective and “voice” to the team. Not all of our articles have been as well received as we had hoped. But, we have each one tried to provide unique and original content for you.

Many of our readers are new and haven’t noticed yet taken advantage of the various themed days of content. For instance, did you realize the themes that we are trying to carry on the following days?:

  • Monday is “Manday” and is devoted to manliness topics. Rene Rivera leads this effort, but he is looking for someone to come along side and share the leadership load for this important day.
  • Tuesday is “On the Team Tuesday” and is devoted to teamwork from all of the many facets that it is viewed. Billy Long has discussed leading sales teams, military teams, and being a team leader at home.
  • Wednesday is “Women’s Wednesday” and is devoted to our small but growing female audience. Jamie Joy is a young wife and mother and speaks to women in that station of life about the role of women as leaders in their homes and how that relates to the role of husband and father. Jamie is also looking for someone to share the writing load as she is a very active wife and mom and also has her own personal blog at http://JamieJoy.com.
  • Friday is “Fatherhood Friday” and I have devoted much of his writing to that day. I am passionate about fathers as leaders and have been a driving force behind the theme for that day. I am open to any of the rest of the team who want to write on that subject and I don’t feel an exclusive hold on the day.

No other days have a theme as of yet and those days are generally peppered with general interest articles relating to leadership. We have had occasional periods of targeted content such as Steve Petronio’s “Mentoring Moments” and we look forward to the return of those types of articles.

I am very proud of the articles that we have produced in this first year. And I want to share with you my personal list of favorites so far. Since we are in the middle of college football season, I will give you my Top 25 from Year One.

  1. Lead by Following
  2. Five Qualities of an Effective Team Mate
  3. Some Things a Dad Should Teach a Son
  4. Mentoring Moment: Ethics
  5. God and Dr. Pepper
  6. Leadership Ethos
  7. Let Your Yea be Yea; and Your Nay, Nay
  8. Women’s Wednesday – The Beginning!
  9. Is Leadership Static or Dynamic?
  10. Accountability: Like-Minded versus Life-Minded
  11. “Servant” Leadership in Business
  12. Why would someone want to be a leader?
  13. Collective Courage or Cowardice
  14. Mentoring Moments – Tip or Bribe?
  15. The Modern Sheepdog
  16. Thermometer vs. Thermostat Leaders
  17. Where have all the leaders gone?
  18. Leadership and Conflict
  19. Leadership Characteristics
  20. Elected Leaders vs. Influential Leaders
  21. Leadership is like riding a bicycle
  22. Flame Versus Fame
  23. What Would Winston Do?
  24. Listening – A Secret to Leadership Growth
  25. Leading with Fear vs. Leading with Respect

We have lot’s more as many of you have already found out. “Thank you!” again for being a part of this first year. And “Thank you!” for helping us spread the word and help rebuild leadership skills in our homes, churches, jobs and in our culture and society.





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Leadership: Keep it simple. Then simplify some more.

Keep it Simple - 1

I recently received an email asking me to compare and pick the best logo for our organization.  I replied in a way that would have some on the team scratching or shaking their head.  Candidly, I have never been accused of being a team player.

Now before I get started.  Please understand…I know a lot of effort and painstaking thought and creativity went into making the logos.  I greatly value the person, talent, and hard work our leadership member donated to create multiple logos for us to choose from.  So please don’t take this post as a criticism of that work.  I just didn’t like the process in which was presented for us to choose the logo.  So I dissented and chose a logo without following the rules. Hopefully, this will help my team understand me as a member of the team.

As I was saying, I recently received an email asking me to compare and pick the best logo for our organization.  I confess I wasn’t being a team player.  But the process seemed too drawn out.  My inbox had already been filled with five emails with valid questions and concerns.  I didn’t have time for this.  Now with less time on my plate…I am hating the computer screen time even more.  So I was testy. Not being a visionary and having a very small attention span, I just replied with one answer.  I liked all the logos but one more than others.  So I picked it.  Ultimately that was the goal.  To me…it was simple.  Just pick one.

I had the unfortunate privilege of attending a kid’s soccer game many years ago.  The four- and five-year olds were in this small mob surrounding the ball…just kicking the ball into each other.  Yoga pant wearing, latte sipping, plastic enhanced mothers were screaming at the players-“Kick the ball.”  Fathers were off away on their cell phones.  The chorus of “kick the ball” filled the air as this mass of children bludgeoned the Nike ball between themselves all over the pitch…trying to please their soccer moms.

I had enough.  I yelled.  “Hey…someone kick the ball into the goal!”  It got quiet.  The goalies stopped picking their noses.  The mass of kids stopped and the relieved soccer ball leaked out of the mass.  A coach actually turned and looked at me stunned by my suggestion.  He began yelling for his team to kick the ball into the net.  Heck…you can’t win unless you kick the ball into the goal.  (I later found out that this was a POSITIVE, NO ONE LOSES, NO ONE KEEPS SCORE, EVERYONE IS SPECIAL SOCCER LEAGUE).  You know the group that settles for mediocrity.

Okay.  Leadership lesson.  Keep it simple.  Then simplify some more.  There will be team members who don’t want all the facts. There are those who don’t like the all the avenues to get from point A to B.   Or in this case, Logo A to Logo E.  Those team members will become distant and have that glazed over look on their face.  They will become ineffective in what they do.  They can become casualties of analysis paralysis.  A major reason why I left Corporate America.  Leaders will begin asking the question-Is that person all right?  Is there something wrong?  No.  Some of us don’t like the details.  Just give us the Executive Summary.  The Cliff Notes.  And make a decision.  When you need us to do something…just call us in.  We will get it done. I’m a hired gun.

As teams, we can get into our huddles, kick around ideas, and never kick the ball into the goal.  We never succeed.  We can pat ourselves on the back and say no one loses.  We met.  Sometimes we get mired in the process and lose sight of the goal, the mission. It’s times like this we need to keep it simple.  Then simplify some more.

By the way, I am not the one you ask to write a Mission Statement and you will never see a kid’s soccer game the same again.  I guarantee it.

Photo credit: kaioshin / Foter / CC BY-NC

Is “Do as I say, not as I do” an effective leadership strategy?

Do as I say, not as I do - 1There is a very popular saying and I’m sure you have heard it; “Do as I Say, Not as I Do!” In other words, do as you’re told, and just because I do something does not mean you’re allowed to. There is an inherent flaw in this for anybody that studies management or leadership. One of the things they teach you in leadership is to “lead by example”. But if you run your business or group as a hypocrite then it will be hard to find people to follow you. So I heard a different quote, and I want to start using it:

“Say and Do as I Do; Not as I Don’t!”

In other words, watch what I do and how I lead by example, and even if you can’t keep up or do things as well as I can, I still want you to say as I do, until you can. And don’t do things differently than the way I do them.

This resonates with me because it is truly the crux of how I want my team to act. What concerns me the most however is will this lead to their discouragement.

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Ty Carter -1Courage — A vanishing trait?

While pondering this topic… I’m not so sure I’m all that qualified to write of it, but I will mount the challenge with courage.

Courage is one of those character traits that is not a necessity for leadership but is mandatory!

The development of courage in the right person is to first understand that there is a price pay for following the convictions of their heart. Consider the life of the most recent Medal of Honor winner Sgt. Ty Carter. When Carter spoke with the media he stressed the importance of supporting soldiers both deployed and when the return home from war.

“Know that a soldier or veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress is one of the most passionate and dedicated men or women you will ever meet. Know that they are not damaged. They are simply burdened with living when others did not,” Carter said.

How can we even connect to those thoughts or feelings or know the weight of a burden so heavy?

Here are a few traits connected to courage that need examined.

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Can You Help Me, Please?

Can You Help Me PleaseNature vs. Nurture — Leadership.

I have been pondering this ancient theme for some time and the evidence of its impact really came to light recently in Florida.

Let’s consider first for a moment if you will something equally ridiculous. The law of gravity (nature).

We could pass a law (nurture you), (if it is not already on the books somewhere), that prohibits you from falling. Now that would really be cool because you could no longer “fall down”. We have conquered gravity with the stroke of a pen! Imagine, no more being tripped-up, falling down stairs, or most importantly…no more huge masses of body’s during football games! Injuries would be in huge decline.

Now that law is as ridicules as the one that presented itself in the Florida “teenage bus beating” case a few weeks back. But when viewed through the prism of “nature vs nurture”, what did we really see?

I was involved caring for foster kids at point. To illustrate the nature vs nurture disorder I am drawn back to one particular situation that involved a set of three siblings we had for nearly two years.

There was a relative that lived down the street from us and to say the least the relationship was NOT “mutual”. They had a son (Matt) who was the same age as the oldest sibling (Joe) we were caring for at the time. For weeks on end Joe would come home frustrated because he was being bullied by Matt. I would talk with Joe and settle him down. To try and talk to Matt’s parents was futile at best. It went nowhere.

After about the fourth week and the frustration (nature) building in Joe and the attempts to get him to understand that we were (nurtured) not allowed to let them engage in any activity in which they may be harmed. The next day things come to a boil and the efforts to hold Joe back were failing badly. I took Joe aside…I said look, I understand the frustration (nature) you are dealing with. However, if it gets to the point that you must make a stand for yourself (nature), then you had better

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Do it, ditch it, or delegate it

Do it, ditch it or delegate it - 1Here is one of those great little maxims that I heard many years ago and I solemnly avowed and affirmed that I would live by it until my dying days.

But, as I look back on it and examine how well I adhered to that little maxim . . .  It seems like not so much.

The principle expressed in this pithy little statement is this.

When presented with a choice, a document, a task or a decision – handle it immediately in one of the following manners.

  1. Do it! — That sounds simple enough.  But procrastination is something that comes naturally to the human species.  This is especially true for those choices or tasks that have particularly unpleasant undertones.
  2. Ditch it! — This also sounds simple.  But many of us suffer from bouts of indecision.  We often times cannot make up our minds that this just isn’t important to the overall goals and therefore should be jettisoned for the more important tasks.
  3. Delegate it! — Another simple sounding thing.  For those of us who have a staff that we can actually delegate something to, we often choose to handle the task ourselves.

Do it, ditch it or delegate it - 3So, what are the leadership implications of this little phrase?

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Should there be an “I” in Team

I in Team - 1In my opinion, although being catchy phrase, “Why there is no I in team” is one of the most overused and possibly most misunderstood phrase of today’s culture. We see it everywhere, posted at the work place, plastered on signs hung from overhead steel girders, sports facilities and all over military bases, apparently anywhere someone or some organization deems a “Team” atmosphere will be valuable.

In order to develop a “Team” atmosphere, we must first decide what we consider a “Team” to be, and although at first glance this may appear to be a moronic question, is it?

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5 Qualities of an Effective Team Mate

Teammates #1 for 05212013I think at one point or another in our lives, we have all been members of a team. It may have been kickball in grade school, or in my case the military. Keeping in mind that we don’t always get to choose our “Team Mates”, but if you were choosing members for a team, who would the best team mates be? Assuming that people have the ability to achieve the common goal, what other factors would you use to select your team members?

This came to me over the weekend, so I spent some time writing them down one at a time and added a quick blurb about why they were important. I am sure there are many more, but I limited it to what I thought was the ten best.

We will look at the first five this week. And we will look at five more next week.

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Courageous Teams

Courageous TeamsWe recently took a look at the collective courage or cowardice of a team. And we noted that much of the collective courage of a team is drawn from the leader. But we would be incorrect in assuming that courage is inbred. It is a developed over time and through withstanding hardship and challenges.

Unfortunately, many brave leaders convey the impression that this is how they’ve always been. Whether or not they were born brave, bravery seems to come naturally to them. Even if it does not, it appears to be so.

For teams it is no different. Teams, like individuals, have to learn to be brave and to stand strong in tough times. It is imperative that they can communicate with each other about what this developing shared bravery looks like.  And the courage must be communicated in terms of what it looks like within the context of that team’s experience.

What is the leadership principle here?

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