Get Out Front Leadership

Leadership.jpeg

Thought this was a good photo of leadership.

I’ve seen other depictions of this such as when the commanding officer leads the charge of his advancing troops versus the other guy yelling orders from way behind the front lines. 

Here the idea of the leader is of being one with his people and helping pull his own weight!

Much more inspiring and effective than “the boss” who is yelling/barking orders at the others from on top the mound of work that the others are trying to move forward, and he is just adding to the weight of the load being pulled.

To really understand the mission or business, the leader has got to get out of his/her ivory tower perch and see things up close and personal on the front lines. 

You can’t really know the enemy you’re fighting or the hill your trying to take if you never even seen it firsthand. 

Leaders aren’t above the job or over the staff, they are effective when they are part of the solution (and not part of the problem) with the people that they are attempting to successfully lead. 😉

(Source Photo of Comic: Andy Blumenthal)

Return Of The Hare Krishna

Hare Krisna 1 Hare Krisna 2
I hadn’t heard the rhythmic chanting of the Hare Krishna since my days in New York City probably 20 plus years ago. 



Today, we see them on the streets of downtown Silver Spring, MD singing their Hindu mantra…again and again. 



The boys sitting on the rent-a-bikes are banging the drums to the chanting across from them. 



As they chant, they implore people to take their literature and chant along with them. 



Whether you see them as a cult or just practitioners of another faith…these people seem mesmerized by their own chanting “meditation”, which was a steady beat but also had no meaning whatsoever to me.



As a kid, we were told and would steer clear of anything that smelled of Hare Krishna, Jews for Jesus, or others trying to pluck away at the souls of our youth. 



While Jews have wonderful people like Chabad who try to bring Jews closer to Judaism, we really don’t proselytize others…it’s not our belief and is more of a live and let live attitude for all. 



I never quite understood why some feel literally a mission or compulsion to convert others to their beliefs, instead of practicing what they believe themselves, being devout and good people, and letting their actions speak for themselves and inspire others, if truly deserving.



There really is no need to stand on street corners with megaphones or at the auto-da-fe stroking flames of burning flesh to get others to your way of thinking.


In my opinion, honest belief and genuine faith is not gotten through yelling the loudest, standing the longest, or even threatening or menacing others. 



Be sincere and good, and let your actions speak for themselves. 😉



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Reach Out To Lead

Shake On It
The New York Times today had an editorial called “Our Unrealistic Hopes for Presidents.”



In this piece, Brendan Nyhan lowers the bar on all leadership, and most importantly on the President of the United States. 



He advocates for us to “give up on the idea of a leader who will magically bring consensus and unity to our politics.”



While I agree that there is no “magic” in leadership or politics, it is precisely a leader’s job to see to the vetting of ideas, compromise and consensus, and a way forward for the people, organization, and/or nation.



The leader, especially the president, establishes the vision, motivates and inspires, so that we are elevated from being focused on our own selfish motives  to being “One nation under G-d with liberty and justice for all.” (Pledge of Allegiance)



Or as JFK stated:



“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

This is the type of greatness that our leaders can raise us to and it defies race, party, or creed.



Certainly it wasn’t easy for the founding fathers of this nation to come together and write the Constitution and Bill of Rights that is not geared to the right or left, but is just plain brilliant and correct!



Yes, this is precisely what leadership is–not blame, finger pointing, go it alone, or defeatism–and that is why NOT everyone is cut out for the “top job” and why we seek the the 1 in 311 million for the job!



Nyhan writes “At election time, candidates seduce us with promises to bring America together, but inevitably fall short and end up leaving office with the country more polarized than when they arrived.”



In plain English…this is called broken promises and failed leadership!



A leader, absolutely, must bridge the divide, create an overall unity, a sense of purpose, bring the commitment of the hearts and minds–whether to feed the hungry, land a man on the moon, or win the war whether against fascism or terrorism.



Nyhan states disparagingly about us that “The public and the news media still want someone…a uniting figure who works across the aisle to build support”—Uh YES, how else will we ever get anything big and meaningful really done?



He tells us to “stop asking who can achieve the unity,” that times have changed, and that instead we should accept the “norm of polarization,” conflict, and disharmony in our nation. 



Sure, there are times of urgency and crisis, when a leader must decide and act in lifesaving haste; however, in most usual cases, decisions and actions can come about by joining together rather than tearing asunder. 



No, we should never stop demanding great leadership–those who can overcome both the petty divides as well as the more substantial differences, to see through to a greater good, common purpose, and a better future for us all. 



We can’t do this as Nyhan proposes by giving up on working together, and trying to go it along, without anyone who thinks differently than us, and “govern well without their support.” 



In corporate America or politics, leadership by decree is known as dictatorship, and that is not what this democracy or for that matter real success is about. 



Whether in the boardroom or the Oval Office, we need to demand leadership that explains their point of view, listens to other perspectives, and is able to form compromise and win-win scenarios.



When one side feels ignored or that they’ve been worked around instead of with, then the result is sure to be bitterness and prolonged fighting to overturn the “my way or the highway” decision or to poke the other side right back in the eye when they have the chance. 



We don’t need excuses, but strong leaders who know how to “work the room” or “reach across the aisle”– to bring facts to the table, and sentiment to touch people’s hearts, to give clear vision to help us see “the bigger picture” of what can be done, if we only can act deliberately as one.



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Niels Linneberg)

Charisma, MORE Than Skin Deep

Art Girl
Charisma is something that can make or break a career or life.



If you have it, people often flock to you–that means connections, networking, relationships, and support. 



If you don’t have it, then kiss your effectiveness and associates goodbye. 



According to Elizabeth Holmes in the Wall Street Journal, charisma is about how you look, talk, prep, smile, and get feedback. 



At work, for example, Holmes focuses quite a bit on superficial outwardly things like “Look polished, wrinkle-free,” “Make eye contact,” “Master grace under fire,” and more.



And while these are important, they are really also the more superficial of what you can do in term of primarily how you look and comport yourself on the surface. 



Holmes does point more substantive things you can do, like ask for honest feedback, so presumably you can improve yourself. 



But improvements in the skin deep is nice, but not the essence of charisma.



Yes, no one appreciates someone who comes into the room disheveled, smelly, and like a proverbial turd. 



But more important than how one looks, talks and carry’s themselves outwardly is how they actually behave. 



Looks are superficial, and word are cheap, but what a person actually does shows what they are really all about as a human being. 



Yes, do you need to build confidence by being put together, of course you do.



But to really build respect, trust, influence, inspire, and lead, you need to be a mensch–a decent human being, grounded in virtuous beliefs, who shows they will do the right thing and act at all times with a core integrity.



Charisma means we genuinely care and help others–not that we focus on promoting ourselves by walking around as the high and mighty



In the end, your charisma, charm, gravitas, presence and effectiveness as a leader is much more about what you do then what you simply look like or spout out. 



Be genuinely kind, caring, and giving, and that is a presence that can be sincerely felt and not just ogled over. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

10 Ways To Improve Federal Technology

10 Ways To Improve Federal Technology

While it’s good to improve government services through advances in information technology, we also need to do better with what we have, which is our own valuable IT human capital.

In the Wall Street Journal today, the “health-site woes” are spurring a push for changes to federal technology, including the possibility of a “federal unit dedicated to big tech projects.”

Whether or not we carve our a separate big tech project unit, we can do so much to improve success in all our agencies by valuing our people and motivating them to succeed.

As democracy and capitalism have taught us, we need people to be free to innovate and reward them appropriately.

While the grass may look greener in Silicon Valley, our challenge is to utilize all our resources in whatever part of the country they reside, whether they be government or private sector workers.

Ultimately, like most things, this is a human challenge, and not just a technology issue.

Hence, I developed the above comic strip to demonstrate 10 Ways to Improve Federal Technology, so we can all succeed together. 😉

(Source Cartoon [click here to enlarge]: Andy Blumenthal)

The Reason We Are Given Is To Give

Make_things_better

There is a famous slogan about “the gift that keeps on giving” that has been used for promoting various products from appliances to flowers.

 

But to me, it is more appropriately used to inspire people to make a donation or give of themselves, because of how fulfilling it can be and how it makes usbetter people.

 

There is no more beautiful story about the act of giving then the one by O’Henry called The Gift of The Magi.

 

In the story, a husband and wife, Jim and Della, want to give each other holiday gifts, but they are poor.

 

Della has beautiful long hair, but no combs for it, and Jim has a gold watch passed down from his father and grandfather, but no chain for it.

 

Each sacrifices for the other and in a tragic irony–Della sells her long, flowing hair to buy a gold chain for Jim, and Jim sells the prized gold watch to purchase a set of special combs for Della.

 

They could’ve been selfishly focused on what each individually was lacking, but instead they rose above it and were superbly generous–giving away their own prized possessions to try and make the other whole.

 

They found the wisdom of the ages in terms of loving, giving, and sharing being of the greatest joys one can have.

 

I love this story for it’s simplicity in teaching about giving and sacrifice and channeling whatever our challenges in life are into opportunities for betterment.

 

Maybe as individuals, we can’t change the whole world in one fell swoop, but with each positive contribution and act of giving, we can leave it a little better than the way we found it.

 

I was so proud earlier today when I heard one of my teenage daughters say: “the reason we are given things is in order to give to others.”

 

I don’t think my daughter ever heard of this O’Henry story, but I see how she is learning and living it, and what more can any parent want from their children.

 

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to OpenSourceWay)

 

Designer Bobigner

While Microsoft seemed to lead for many years especially in terms of “business acumen,” in the end,Apple built the “more valuable company”–Jobs was the design extraordinare and his imagination for user-centric product designs like the iPhone, iPad, iMac and more touched people in ways that no “other business leader of our time could possibly match.”

I have found that not everyone overtly appreciates the importance of design–and in fact, some people make fun of it, almost like children chanting “designer bobigner”–whether because they value function over design or they simply don’t have “taste and style” like Steve Jobs complained about his rival.

In either case, I think people who seem or act oblivious to the importance of design are missing the incredible power of those who can develop products with an eye towards beauty, novelty, and functionality combined. A computer is a magnificent thinking machine, but an Apple is generally a work of art.

Think about how people neurotically cover their Apple devices with all sorts of protective cases as if it were a precious jewel instead of a just a phone or computer.

Art is treated as priceless, but a computer is often just a commodity. However, Steve Jobs knew how to combine the functional power of a computer with the design of a master.

While “Big Box” retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco continue to grow and expand, our world seems smaller because of it–their shelves and aisles are stocked high with rows and rows of commodity, look-a-like goods of toothpaste, sweat pants, and TVs; it is easy to forget that those products that are really valuable to us, usually aren’t just good to use, but great to hold, feel, and look at.

In this light, I found two product designs that I thought were pretty cool to share.

The first is the white milk container that says Milk and the other is a box of tea bags, each bag with its own hanger for display and use of the side of a cup. The ideas are so simple, yet somehow so creative and appetizing. Two age-old commodities like milk and tea can be made new and special by how we package and meld with it in our environment.

Like the Chinese concept of feng shui, there are brilliant ways to develop our surroundings that energize and inspire, and great design is a magical element in a commodity world and what was not so long ago dominated by the one color black Ford Model-T.

Thank you Steve Jobs and the many other great design minds out there–keep the special things coming that make us say, “I want one!”

(Source Photos: here)

Milk_packaging Hanger_tea