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Phil's blog

The 5 things we regret on our deathbeds

Our top five regrets on our deathbeds.

So, we can do something about them now :)

1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

2. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

3. I wish I had let myself be happier

4. I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self

5. I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.

Source: as reported by hospice workers, who look after terminally ill people.

From: Jane McGonigal’s brilliant TEDTalk.

What’s it got to do with leadership?

Warren Bennis, the ‘Dean of Leadership’, according to the FT, says a lot of leaders are forged through adversity – going through something tough in their life that he calls ‘the crucible’.

Jane McGonigal went through her own crucible. Then thought ‘What if you could have the transformation into someone far more capable, living a better life, as a better person, for longer, and healthier, without having the trauma of the crucible?’

And invented a way of doing that. Just watching her video can make you live seven and a half minutes longer. Following her methods, outlined in her talk, can add 10 years to your life.

JaneMcGonigal


Innovation: Starting second can end up first

Who beat Amazon?

Which company created on-line bookselling in the 1990s? Amazon.com? Nope. The first on-line bookstore was set up by an Ohio-based bookseller named Charles Stack in 1991. Jeff Bezos didn’t launch Amazon till four years later.

We’re constantly being told that leaders need to foster a culture of innovation, to move into Blue Ocean spaces where no competitors exist, then profit from the customers before our competitors copy us and move into the space we have created.

Henry Ford said ‘come second to market’

Well, not always. Henry Ford used to argue that it made more sense to be second to market – let someone else take the risks of seeing if something new is what customers will buy. Then, when the market is proven, often at great expense, follow in and do it better. That’s the core argument in this book, and the authors lines up plenty of examples to prove their point.

Fast Second: How smart companies bypass radical innovation to enter and dominate new markets

Fast Second: How smart companies bypass radical innovation to enter and dominate new markets

And they do have one. The argument against them is the first mover advantage argument – That markets move so fast nowadays you need to be first to market with something new so you can mop up the customers. That may be true if there’s only room for one dominant supplier, and if your aim is to be that dominant supplier – the Amazon of your marketplace, if you will. But there’s usually plenty of room for smaller niche players who take the main innovation, tweak it a bit and find a space in the market that way. It’s like ‘the long tail’ argument.

But, do markets move too fast today for ‘be second to market’ to work?

Tom Peters argues that markets move so fast that trying to be second to market means you will just be mopping up the leftovers as those who were brave enough to lead and create a new market take all the prizes. Well, sometimes, maybe. But, not always.

The uncomfortable answer is that sometimes being first to market is the winning strategy and sometimes being second or even third, when the pioneers have proved what works and what doesn’t and lost all their money in the process, is the right strategy.

It seems odd to say ‘Take the lead on being second or third’ but leadership doesn’t always mean being first to market. That’s my view, anyway (in synch with the authors of this book).

Balancing the risk: Being closer to customers increases the chances of success

Nobody can tell you which one works in your particular situation (a strategy of being first, second or third to market). But, the closer you are to knowing your customers’ or potential customers’ needs – to instinctively know what they want even before they know it themselves – the more likely your innovation is to be a winner.

And that, though it doesn’t explicitly say so in this book, is why leaders need to be as ‘close to the customer’ (thank you Tom Peters, even if it was 25 years ago he said it) as possible. That means interacting with customers whenever you can, not receiving reports from middle managers about the customer base, but immersing yourself in the customer base, no matter how lofty your role in the organization is.

End of preachy bit. Anyway, interesting book…

Little bit more about it here: Fast Second on Wikipedia


The Second Little Book of Leadership

…just published on Slideshare. Hope you find it useful.

 


Confidence and leadership: Self-doubt is a good thing

Guess The Leader

“I’m not a naturally confident person.

At school, I bumped along the bottom, being a bit of a class clown.

I wanted to be an architect or lawyer, but my school exam results weren’t good enough.

I did a management degree, then applied to work for a series of high profile, glamorous brands.

I was rejected by all of them.

I applied to join Tesco, a company that seemed on the up.

I failed to get the job.

Then, by chance, they decided the guy who did get the job was so brilliant they wanted him to do something more important.

And they came back to the rejected candidate – me – and said do you want it after all?

I said yes. I stayed with Tesco for 33 years”

Who was it?

Terry Leahy, the CEO who took Tesco from being a mid-ranking UK supermarket chain to being the dominant force in UK retailing and the third largest retailer in the world.

Leadership lessons for us?

1. Confidence and ego: “I’m not naturally confident.” How extraordinary. Sometimes the greatest leaders are the most objective. And that can mean a lack of ego, of a natural assumption that their idea or solution must be the best one.

They don’t assume they have the right answers. And as a result, they work harder and question themselves more. Those who worked with Leahy, tho’, would say he didn’t come across like that.

So, maybe that lack of confidence is best dealt with internally – putting your ideas and thoughts through a series of internal questions and tests in your head, exactly the same as you do with external ideas that come into you.

2. Failure and success:  There’s some small print that appears at the end of investment adverts in the UK. It’s something like “Past success is no guarantee of similar future returns.” The same applies to failure.

I’ve lost count of the number of great leaders who did not ‘look promising’ or who failed or did poorly academically when younger. One to remember when recruiting, maybe.

Don’t just look at past performance. Look for the potential, the untapped talent, that previous bosses have missed in that person. And that even the interviewee themselves may not be aware of. Great leaders bring out the greatness in others.

More on self-doubt and leadership

There’s a great post on ‘self-doubt’ from a blogger I discovered through the Leadership Hub newspaper we just introduced. I’ll try and find it again and put the link here, as ‘self-doubt’ is widely-underrated as an attribute for leaders. In fact, it’s seen as something a leader should never admit to.

Ah, found it…

“f you don’t grapple with self-doubt, you’re dangerous” - The Five Positive Powers of Self-Doubt . It’s on the Leadership Freak blog. Great blog.

 


Leadership Hub Daily Newspaper



Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?


One of the reasons I like this book is that it is one of the few leadership books that recognizes that ‘leadership’ is not an ability or skill or collection of abilities or skills within some people – leaders. Leadership is a relationship between people. Others have to agree to be led.

And, at times, those others do the leading and you agree to be led.

I also like the lack of emphasis on ‘competencies’ and trait theory – that there are traits or competencies that are common to leaders – and the acknowledgement that leaders are often very different from each other – in fact have more apart than they have in common.

At a time when large organizations arae commonly trying to standardise leadership behaviour, this book is a refreshing reminder that it won’t allow itself to be. Because, again, leadership isn’t something inside a ‘leader’. It’s a relationship between people.

Here are the authors outlining the four qualities inspirational leaders share

“We’ve discovered that inspirational leaders … share four unexpected qualities:

  1. They selectively show their weaknesses. By exposing some vulnerability, they reveal their approachability and humanity.
  2. They rely heavily on intuition to gauge the appropriate timing and course of their actions. Their ability to collect and interpret soft data helps them know just when and how to act.
  3. They manage employees with something we call tough empathy. Inspirational leaders empathize passionately—and realistically—with people, and they care intensely about the work employees do.
  4. They reveal their differences. They capitalize on what’s unique about themselves.

You may find yourself in a top position without these qualities, but few people will want to be led by you.

Our theory about the four essential qualities of leadership, it should be noted, is not about results per se. While many of the leaders we have studied and use as examples do in fact post superior financial returns, the focus of our research has been on leaders who excel at inspiring people—in capturing hearts, minds, and souls.

This ability is not everything in business, but any experienced leader will tell you it is worth quite a lot. Indeed, great results may be impossible without it.”


Letting customers ‘co-create’. Young people and companies seem to do this naturally

This is a bit self-indulgent. It’s my younger son playing piano with his uni housemates in their band. What intrigued me is why he is doing it quite like this. So, I asked him.

It’s because one of their ‘fans’ asked. It says so on-screen partway through the video clip. It reminded me of when a CD Baby customer asked for a squid in answer to the question on the form ‘Anything else you want?’ and was sent one (look it up on You Tube). Younger people, bands, companies seem to have far less problem with this adaptation of what they do in response to what customers ask – turning it into a quirky feature.

Anyway, here’s the blindfolded piano player and his musical friends to illustrate the point:


Great quote to encourage ‘acts of leadership’

Love this…

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves,
Then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

– Shel Silverstein

Hat tip: It’s from Audrey & Jim Lanford’s Quote of The Day daily email. You can subscribe here if you like: http://www.famous-quotes-and-quotations.com/


Time to vote for the Top 30 World Leadership Gurus (before end February)

Well, I was 17th last year, largely, I think, for creating The Leadership Hub, and winning some awards around the world for the corporate version, which runs inside the intranet of a large organization and brings their global leadership community together as a development platform. No-one’s done it like that before as far as I know, and I think that’s what brought me to this website’s (below) attention.

Anyway, see the email I just received, below, and do please vote. For me if you think I deserve it, but for someone else if I don’t. I didn’t put myself up for this, I should add.

Phil Dourado

PS If you get ‘failed’ when you try voting using their drop-down list of the Top 30 candidates (hey, why am I in small print in there :) ) , then just write into the field a bit further down that says ‘nominate’ and submit that instead – my name if you like, or someone else’s if not www.leadershipgurus.net

Dear Global Guru Candidates

We are finalizing the ranking for 2012. And your originality, works and impact have qualified you as one of the world’s top 30 Leadership gurus. And as you know, 40% of the ranking is based on peer voting.

So, please get your fans to vote for you at: www.leadershipgurus.net. The final calculations will be completed by March 1st. we will inform you individually when we tabulate the results.

All the best,

Athena

PS. As usual, if anyone contacts you and asks for money or donations representing Leadership Gurus or Global Gurus, it is NOT us. We will never request or accept compensation or gratuities for this award”


What my Tesco Metro taught me yesterday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walked into my local Tesco Metro the other day and they have this new, real-time display above the entrance doors. Sometimes it says ’30 seconds’ even. This time it was less than 60.

The lesson’s  obvious for all of us. This just makes the point in one wonderfully ‘in  your face’ screen. In the 1980s and 1990s, large organizations busily created processes for managing customers based on them/us queuing or waiting in line – most notably the contact centre/center industry.

But, customers don’t want to wait. They hate you for it. They hate your call centres that queue them or make them wait in line. They hate your attempts to route them through your system with Interactive Voice Response.  They hate you for making them fill in a form with their personal details when you already have that information. They don’t want that. They want a real person answering their question now.

The reason they won’t wait is that time is life. By asking them to wait, you are stealing their precious time – you are taking little chunks of their life. You are killing them by moments. That’s how they/we see it. Life’s short. We all want to get the most out of it. The more you eat into people’s time by making them wait, the more you are, literally, taking their life away from them, second by second, when they want to do something else with that time.

So, before you build yet another process based on the assumption that customers will wait in line to reach you. Or even on the cynical assumption that they won’t wait, so you ‘manage’ the queue that way – which we all have experience of as customers; you actually exploit the ‘Life’s too short to wait’ feeling we all have by making your service have a long wait time – the traditional route for keeping customer complaint calls down – then you are, in the long-term, dead yourself as an organization.

Follow Tesco. Follow Disney. Bust your queues or lines. Don’t build processes that assume customers will wait for you.

Why on earth should they?

Phil Dourado