upstart thoughts on talent and leadership

Grownups at Work

In ! Kristy, Culture, Employee Tips, Leaders, Uncategorized on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 6:55 pm

It is my sincere belief that if we would talk to each other at work like grownups, plenty of problems would be solved. Here are just a few:

We’d spend a lot less time, money and angst on 360-degree feedback assessments. The assessment companies make a killing off of our inability to tell each other the truth about performance, reputation and whether or not we’re jerks.

We’d save even more time by streamlining performance management systems and processes. If you knew at any given time how you were measuring up to your manager’s expectations, a bunch of forms and a complex rating scale would be unnecessary.

Speaking of managers… They’d get a great deal of time back in their workday if people were talking to each other about their issues instead of playing the telephone game. That’s the game of telling on their colleague to their boss, who tells the other person’s boss, who tells the other person, vaguely, that “there’s been some feedback about you.” And that extra time could be spent growing and developing people! Cool!

The benefits are apparent, so why don’t we talk to each other candidly? Could be that we see it as the manager’s job… And the manager could be inadvertently reinforcing this notion per the previous paragraph. Could also be that we fear the other person’s potentially defensive reaction or their retaliation. Could be that we just don’t care enough about the success of the company, the team or the colleague to make the effort. Maybe we just plain don’t know how.

You can find some fabulous skill building on how to have a constructive conversation, so if that’s what you need, go for it. But at the end of the day it’s about taking a deep breath, finding a private moment, and saying what needs to be said in service of the success of all involved. Et voila, grownups at work!

CEOs Taking $1 Salaries: Matching the Behavior of Optimism to the Rhetoric of Optimism

In ! Jen, Leaders on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 4:05 am

Recall the Robert Browning poem that begins: “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”

There is a growing number of CEOs who, by taking an annual base salary of $1, are sending the message: “Follow me, the best is yet to be.”

Choosing to take one’s compensation in annual and long-term incentives is an interesting conception, with great symbolic meaning. But no one would think for a second that the $1 CEO is being unselfish or taking a path of martyrdom. Rather, he shows he’s willing to have skin in the game; truly believing lasting results will be far superior to any short-term expedients satisfying annual goals alone.

No doubt the net-net for these CEOs will be far fatter coin when dollars are ultimately tallied years from now. And personally, I’d much rather follow the leader who puts her money and true faith where her mouth is.

Great quote from the HBR blog linked above: Executives who realize that leadership is not about being lavished with personal riches, receiving attention, or being served but rather by creating value, developing others, and serving the community are those who inspire the trust and confidence of their colleagues.

Twitter’s Evan Williams: Knowing Oneself

In ! Jen, Change, News on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 11:49 pm

I’ve been absent from this blog since June. But seeing the high view stats, I’m guessing RSS robots must check for updates, so here’s one.

News of interest I’ve come across in the last week have included that of Twitter founder Evan Williams stepping down as CEO. While it seems Williams had his fair share of Emperor’s new clothes moments with people- and general management missteps, it’s notable that he had the judgment and humility to know where his talent better fits. And remarkable that he followed through with action.

It goes without saying the higher up, the harder it is to take such action. But I’m guessing Twitter will be the stronger, in changes yet to be forecast from Williams’ title change alone. Eyes on!

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