Often when people approach me to improve their communication skills, they are looking for tips and tricks to improve their charisma. It is much more powerful to work over the long term to develop your character as a leader.

Character is formed over many, many years as you work to remove the pieces that are not part of who you want to be. Character is chiselled out of the rock, slowly removing all the dirt and excess before revealing the statue below.

  • Charisma is “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others”. (on wikipedia)
  • Character is “an individual’s stable moral qualities. The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” (on wikipedia)

I spoke with one of my mentors in Madrid this week.  We spoke about success in business.

What is business success?

  • What price is worth paying?
  • What are the ingredients of achieving success?
  • Is Business Success due to Great Decisions, or is it due to Excellent Implementation?

I share his answer in this video.

PS 99.9% of business (and life) success is due to Commitment, rather than Brilliant Ideas or Decisions

I was reading about how the Washington Post has changed since it’s purchase by Jeff Bezos.  One of the quotes in the article struck a chord with me:

“not to fix broken things, like IT will do at a company, but build the future”.

Jeff Bezos brought in Jarrod Dicker to run technology development at the Post – a division that is called R.E.D. (Research, Experimentation and Development) and told him that he was “not to fix broken things, like IT will do at a company, but build the future”.  (Read more at The Drum)

Leadership should take this as a mantra – work on what is important for the future of the enterprise, not what is broken in today’s version of the enterprise.  Accenture had a similar mantra when I was working as a consultant back in the 1990’s “Don’t pave the cow path”.

We were told that the worst IT implementation is one that just automates the processes of pre-computer work.  The best is to design the processes and technology for what the customers really want to achieve with their interactions with the company.

 

In the 1960s, while consulting for a British factory, Elliott Jaques had a controversial insight: Employees at different levels of the company had different time horizons

Line workers focused on tasks that could be completed in a single shift; managers devoted their energies to tasks requiring six months or more to complete; Senior leaders and the CEO were pursuing goals over the span of several years.

Jacques’ Time Span of Discretion

Jaques said that just as humans differ in intelligence, we differ in our ability to handle timespans.

Each of us has a time horizon we are comfortable with, what Jaques called our “Time span of discretion”.  This term defines the timespan of the longest task this individual can successfully undertake.

Organisations recognise this: workers are paid hourly, managers annually, and senior executives compensated with stock options.

The following chart shows the type of work found at each Time Horizon:

Complexity Description of Capability Organisational Role
Most Complex
8
Construct and pursue world wide strategic plans in the largest of the world’s corporations.
Super Corporation CEO
7
Construct and pursue world wide strategic plans. Place businesses in the world.
Corporate CEO
6
Lead the accumulated impact of multiple business units.
Corporate EVP
5
Optimize the function of a single business unit or corporate support staff.
Business Unit President
4
Manage multiple, interdependent serial projects. Balance resources among a number of departments.
General Manager
3
Plan and carry out sequential projects while considering contingencies and alternatives.
Regional Manager or
Manager of Managers
2
Accumulate bits of information to diagnose and anticipate problems. Proactivity appears. Trends are noticed.
First Line Manager Supervisor
Least complex
1
Follow predefined procedures. When an obstacle is encountered, seek help. No anticipation of problems is expected.
Shop Floor Operator
Clerk/Cashier
Teller

The Challenge: 100 Year Problems in a 4 Year System

Our current leadership promotional systems require you first to be successful at annual or 4 year timespans before you can move into the positions that allow you to set 50 or 100 year strategy.  Politicians have 4 years to deliver an impact (and 12 months to run a campaign).  Divisional managers have 1-3 years to deliver an impact if they are to be considered for 20-50 year strategic decision roles.

Climate change and Peace between warring nations are so difficult to resolve because we have a political system that elects 4 year thinkers when we really need 20 to 50 year thinkers in office.

PS What’s your time horizon?  Let me know in the comments below 😉

This video is about Leadership development. I find that leaders worry about the training for those around them… but who worries about the training for the leaders?

What should Leaders be Learning?

The 7 Key Skills of a Successful Business Leader

At Vistage, we believe there are 8 major areas that Leaders need to be working on:

  1. Inspiring a Shared Vision
  2. Leading and Letting Others Manage
  3. Knowing your Numbers
  4. Attracting and Retaining the Right People
  5. Creating and Retaining Customer Loyalty
  6. Watching Emerging Trends, Risks and Opportunities
  7. Taking Care of Yourself

Where can you Find Inspiring Leaders in Continuing Development?

This video is about the 4 seasons of nature, and the 4 seasons of our life.

Farmers understand the seasons – they don’t plant in autumn and try to reap a harvest in winter… they know that spring is for planting, summer is for nurturing and autumn is for reaping.

In our own lives we have these seasons. If you can recognise the seasons of your life, you can keep a better perspective and clarity about what you are seeking to achieve.

Stay strong… and remember: all winters come to an end and spring, the window of opportunity will come again.

I mentioned Brandon Dempsey’s blog post: How to cautiously and successfully reap the rewards of your hard work

LinkedIn is testing out a new free service for members that will match them with other professionals who can give them career advice. LinkedIn will help to make matches between mentees and mentors via its online platform.

Mentorship is a significant part of the careers of every successful person that I know. I personally have sought out and found mentors since my early 20s working in Accenture.  I used to think this was normal, but I discovered over the last decade that many talented friends have never found a formal mentor relationship.

I have run the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Mentorship Program in Barcelona for the last 3 years and have learnt a lot as we have got 15 mentor-mentee pairs connected and working together to achieve specific goals.  Personally I have have benefitted from some wonderful mentors throughout my life – in particular Michael (my first long-term manager at Accenture), Brian (the reason I teach at IESE Business School), Harry (helped me take a big decision last year).  I personally mentor 5 people each year and it is hugely valuable for me to reflect on my own life as I listen to the challenges and opportunities of these inspiring individuals.

How will Mentorship work on LinkedIn?

Hari Srinivasan, director of product management at LinkedIn, says, “As people spend less and less time at a company, it’s hard to find people you need to talk to.”  LinkedIn user analysis shows that 89% of senior leaders (on LinkedIn) would be interested in giving advice.

This is how it works: There will be a section on your profile called “dashboard”. This will display the “career advice hub” where you can sign up to be a mentor or a mentee.

The first screen is a basic overview of the function and its value for both those giving and getting advice. From there, you are instructed to provide specifics on who you’d like to talk to with parameters such as region, industry, school, etc.

LinkedIn’s matching algorithm will immediately send recommendations for matches. If you select someone who is a match they will get a message immediately notifying them of your interest to connect. Once both parties agree, they can start talking.  Read more about LinkedIn’s plans for mentorship on Fast Company.

Two of the reasons mentorships fail are…

  1. the mentee isn’t able to articulate what they need or
  2. asks too much of a mentor.

Check out my blog post: “How to be a Good Mentor

LinkedIn is working on ways to make the conversation flow more smoothly so both sides get what they need.  LinkedIn say that it’s not meant to be a replacement for long-term mentorship. It’s meant to tackle those “quick question” requests such as whether you are taking the right approach in different scenarios.

Do you have a mentor?  Are you searching for a mentor?  Are you interested in becoming a mentor?  

This video is about Sequoia Capital and their 3 rules for success in leading a business.  They make leadership feel very simple.. but it works. They have 30 years of track record of successfully taking on and turning around businesses.

Their rules are:

  1. 30/30
  2. 80/20 &
  3. the golden rule: 90/10.

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