A previous boss once taught me that "it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission." Having just finished Herminia Ibarra's Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader made me realize how truly valuable this lesson was.
It is up to us to become the person—and leader—we want to be. To do so, we need to act as if we already were in that role so that others can envision us in that role. It seems contrarian, but is unfortunately true. And by acting that way, we also expand our own image of who we are and who we can become.
As per Herminia Ibarra in her book Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, to become the leader we'd like to be, we should act first and think second. This is because acting offers "outsight" (insight from the outside) that thinking won't provide.
Outsight has three parts:
- Redefine your job
- Redefine your network
- Redefine yourself
What do you think differentiates successful managers from unsuccessful ones? Meaning, what is the one most important thing a manager can do and therefore should spend his time doing?
If you knew of John Kotter's experiment following several general managers, which Herminia Ibarra mentions in her book Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, you'd be surprised.
Herminia Ibarra, in her book Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, explains that to become the leader you want to be, you have to first do it and then reflect on what worked and what didn't. Most people do the opposite: they think about becoming the leader they want to be (or try to find the time for this), rather than just becoming that leader.
One of the topics Herminia delves into is how leaders need to be change agents. She explains that to do this, they need to spend time with those outside of their team and network, seeing trends and potential problems, formulating plans and strategies to deal with these, and then bringing these back to their teams.
I recently read The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful by Michael Ellsberg, which we discussed at my book club.
Michael's premise, as his title suggests, is that a traditional education will not teach you anything useful and will not help you succeed. He brings examples of many millionaires who did not get a college degree (or for those who did, that did not go on for an advanced degree). He also lists the practical skills that he believes are necessary for success, which include sales and marketing.
A young friend of mine was just let go from a job after four months. Things had started going badly fairly quickly and her boss was acting irrationally. Turns out her boss has not had an assistant last longer than four months.
Why are senior management and HR not doing something about this?
If this woman were so valuable to the company that despite her atrocious management and people skills she was necessary, then take away her staff and let her partner with someone who can manage. But chances are she's not that valuable or irreplaceable.
Starting an employee off right, with proper onboarding, is good business sense. It allows them to ramp up quickly and starts the relationship off well.
Offboarding matters just as much. When an employee is leaving you want to treat them with just as much respect. Not only will they remain an advocate of you and your brand, but it will make those who are staying happy to do so.
I read The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh a while ago.
Have you noticed the plethora of personality tests that abound?
There's the traditional ones (e.g., Myers Briggs), the strength-based ones put forth by Marcus Buckingham, and the ones by various authors (e.g., Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies in Better than Before or Sally Hogshead's test and system in How the World Sees You). I just discovered another interesting one today, The Genius Test...and then of course there are the fun ones on Facebook (e.g., Which Disney Princess/Universe/City etc. are you?). You'd think all we care about is categorizing ourselves.