As we near the end of 2012, a difficult twelve months for many Americans both personally and professionally, a Forbes article by Kevin Kruse caught my eye this morning Schwarzkopf. With the passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf (Stormin’ Norman to those of use who remember his leadership during Desert Storm) I can’t help but be amazed that more than 20 years have gone. Desert Storm will always mark an important season for me, a year living on my own and launching my career, the return of my children’s father after a 12 month deployment with the USMC and the birth 9 months later of our first child, a daughter named Marinda. In her lifetime some things have changed and most not for the good. We are still at war; we face a withering economy, high unemployment and massive debt. Now a junior in college she, like so many other Millennials are searching for a place to hide (Peace Corp, Grad School etc) to ride out a nearly 50% under/unemployment rate amongst the educated of her generation.
I can’t help but think about a 1991 Newsweek Cover featuring General Shwarzkopf’s face as he hugged a young woman who had been rescued. This was a rare moment, a female soldier taken prisoner—but we found her, we saved her and the troops came home. Schwarzkopf then and now is the embodiment of leadership. Personally and professionally he maintained his dignity and respect for his troops, the mission and the enemy during his active duty career and afterward.
Seriously, how could I refuse? In an April 2, 2012 article in Fast Company by Lydia Dishman, some sage advice is shared with executives in growth organizations on the merits of leadership Mafia style.
1. Build a Powerful Community
Whether it’s your friendly funeral home director or doing a favor for a new LinkedIn connection, it is true that helping your peers will benefit your business in the long run. We are all short on time but one good turn deserves another and builds a “goodwill” account that can come in handy when facing your next financing, looking for a top notch sales person or addressing management struggles. I prefer to not keep a ledger on this sort of thing but your network will be much faster to respond when you’ve been responsive to them.
2. Hold People Accountable
Showing weakness leads to assassination. Ok, that’s a bit severe but in business or life, there are moments where bravery is a requirement and the path of least resistance is a killer. A wise person told me once, hire slow and fire quickly. FTE’s are a huge investment and a weak link in any area of a growth organization is like a cancer that causes far more damage than meets the eye. I’m a big fan of ripping a band-aid off quickly, whether it’s a bad consultant or employee, don’t wait the cost is more than you can imagine. Continue reading
Come on, we all thought he was hot—those high-heel black boots and the way he was always able to get the blue skin girl with the mini-skirt and 1960’s hairdo! Apparently James T. Kirk offered more than fashion advice as pointed out by Alex Knapp’s March 5, 2012 article in Forbes Magazine regarding Capt. Kirk’s leadership prowess James T. Kirk.
- Never Stop Learning—We are never too old to pick up something new or change the way we approach a situation.
- Have Advisors with Different World Views—maybe not a Vulcan but certainly someone with different skills or perspective. A sure sign of wisdom is surrounding yourself with people who are better at certain aspects of business than you are. It takes some self-awareness and comfort with your own strengths and weaknesses but in the end you don’t want to be with a bunch of yes men.
- Be Part of the Away Team—get your hands dirty doing the work and then the doers will respect your ability to lead. Kirk always put himself in harms way first. Employees respect your knowledge of the business and your understanding of what they contribute. We all love that show “Undercover CEO”, same concept… Continue reading