I thought I would use this week’s “puff of white smoke” to clear my head of 10 questions or thoughts that have been bouncing off my cranial walls these past few weeks. I don’t know what you will think, but ignore what you wish!
I’ve been asked recently in two interviews, “If you could have dinner with any historic figure, who it would be?” And I always give the same answer, “Abraham Lincoln.” Finally, last night, that dream came true. Well, almost. Patti and I saw the movie Lincoln and I thought I was with him. (What a performance by Daniel Day Lewis; he’s got to win Best Actor.) While the movie is about how Lincoln strategically pushed for passage of the 13th amendment, which outlawed slavery, it is also a story about how an effective leader inspires followers by giving them hope. And [...]
Okay, so how did you do last year, did you achieve your goals? When I ask people this question I notice often they wander off and change the subject. Then they talk about their “resolutions” for 2013 and avoid talking about last year. I wonder why? Maybe it’s because they didn’t have any goals. Perhaps they didn’t write them down or can’t remember them. Or maybe what they did accomplish somehow disappoints them now. It is possible they really don’t care; they just take it day by day (I really do envy these folks!) Whatever the reason, if someone [...]
My late father used to always watch the conventions on C-SPAN. He would then check-in with the “talking heads” to see what they were saying. He was a very bright, well-informed, retired Admiral in the Coast Guard. Late in his career he served as the Chief of Congressional Affairs and then Chief of International Affairs for the Coast Guard. During the Carter Administration he served as the Maritime Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Transportation while still in the Coast Guard. He was always an independent voter who taught me to study the candidates before voting. This year I committed [...]
I was sailing this week on a New Hampshire lake our family has been going to for over 100 years. When the wind stopped, my boat was becalmed about 200 feet from Bull Dog Rock, arguably the most prominent land feature on the lake. It was a quiet day and I could completely listen to the conversations taking place between five, early teenage boys as they explored and decided whether to jump off Bull Dog. Bull Dog Rock was featured on the left of this photo in Forest Notes a few years ago. It, along with 1,750 acres of land, [...]
I wonder how many leaders actually make New Year’s resolutions about their own behavior. Every year in January many of us make New Year’s resolutions. Admit it, you’ve probably made some yourself: I’m going to lose 10 pounds or I’m going to stop smoking or I’m going to learn how to use Facebook. Usually these resolutions are personal in nature and are aimed at self-improvement. However, when was the last time you made a resolution to improve one or more of your own behaviors that is having a negative effect on others you are leading? Example – Jack leaves his [...]
Vision, or being forward-thinking, is one of the most important characteristics of admired leaders. Effective leaders have a natural talent for being able to paint a clear picture of where the team or organization is headed. According to John Kotter, a distinguished Harvard Professor and author, the vision statements of quality leaders are “clear, desirable, and feasible.” So, if you are a follower of an effective leader with vision, it is “clear” to you where you are headed, the vision itself is “desirable” to you, and you believe it is “feasible” to achieve. I have read many articles on vision [...]