Monday, December 8, 2008
Would you want this job? Could anybody succeed under these circumstances? The strange thing is that lots of people want this job. It's almost hopeless. What company is this? The United States of America. No, really. The President is hired to run this country, but there are 50 governors, state legislatures, state court systems and state bureaucracies that stand between the President and the successful implementation of many policies.
What has been said repeatedly in the last few months is the need for the new administration to take decisive action on a number of issues, notably on the domestic agenda: (starting with) the economy, education, health care, energy, environment, etc. While much has been said about what the President plans to do in these areas, it really depends on the states implementing the policy–or not.
The one area where this is egregiously obvious is education. (But, the same problem arises in any number of issues.) Education is a state function. This means that we have 50+ education policies and programs. There is little, if any, consistency between states. What a student studies and learns in any given grade in one state, does not necessarily match with the same grade in another state. In some cases, it can even vary from district to district within the same state. This means that we don't have a national education system. We have a hodge-podge of educational systems without any real sense of what is in the national interest. The country is seriously behind in science and math knowledge and no real plan or way to improve. Theories of all stripes and colors come and go every fall. No matter what policy the President sets, it has very little impact in the classroom. If anything, the federal government is adding to the problem with burdensome regulations and paperwork.
The same goes for virtually all domestic issues. So, what can we do? It is time to rethink this state-federal division of conflicting responsibilities. While not yet advocating the elimination of the states, I think some serious thought needs to be given to cutting some layer of administration out. While it may have worked 200 years ago, this system, like the electoral college, has outlived its usefulness and is even making the situation worse.
Other countries that do not have this middle layer of opposition management, seem to be better at addressing national issues. It's time we took a true national approach to national problems. It's just good leadership.
Friday, December 5, 2008
On the other hand, you may have also seen the boss or supervisor who remains calm, almost unconcerned, when the same problem comes up. Everyone around them remains just as calm. They discuss the challenge, map out a plan and then get to it. Where would you rather work?
So, what makes the difference here. According to an article
in The New York Times, genetics plays a major role, "But the calm temperament is not so superhuman, nor is it entirely the gift of the chosen few. It can be cultivated, even as the world cleaves around us."
Of course, they make the expected reference to No Drama Obama. They also connect this to the ordinary (if you would ever consider yourself as such) worker.
The article gives this example, "Imagine two people with equally high measures of neuroticism dealing with the same irascible boss. One gets yelled at and leaves the boss’s office perfectly composed; the other gets yelled at and flees to the bathroom in tears or storms out and kicks the wall. The difference is that the first person has learned to regulate the neuroticism."There's more here and worth reading. But, ask yourself, "how do I deal with crisis and challenges?" If you're the cool, collected type, you're generally doing well. If not, time to learn how to control your responses.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
It's a great presentation. It all started with a simple question, what leads to success? If you ever need to do a presentation about success, this is a ready-made one. You can take the basic outline and put your own touch on it. The quotes in the book help quite a lot. Just give credit to St. John for the ideas.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
But the point is clear, socializing is a good skill we need to have. It's really part of leadership. As one of the researchers says, "...their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They’re learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page.”
So, MySpace and FaceBook are really powers for good and not slackering? In a way, yes.
As the recent economic downturn points out, we're turning into a country that is more and more moving toward a service- and computer-based economy and less toward production of goods. We have to start thinking that way. As in some other things, youth tend to point the way, if inadvertently, toward the future. It's not so much that they're looking for the future as that they're just looking and exploring what's out there. But, that's where the future is.
Monday, November 17, 2008
You can access the video/audio podcasts directly. The audio podcast is superior because it has no interruptions. The video is broken up into 16 sections. I wish Stanford would issue an entire video podcast for download.
Hope you enjoy it.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Given the tremendous changes that are coming or just expected, it is natural that people are taking the opportunity to voice their concerns lest their issues be fall to the wayside. However, this all comes back to adding to the noise level. In all that noise, it is hard to focus on one thing. It is not impossible, it just requires focus and discipline.
I do an activity with some of my training groups that has them break up into partners. One of them is blindfolded, and the other guides the blindfolded partner to one side of a room they have not have not seen. On the floor are a number of objects and furniture. At my signal, the "seeing" partners start yelling out directions from across the room to guide them. Of course, it becomes a challenge as each guide tries to yell louder and louder in order to be heard by their blind folded partner.
In this exercise, most teams fail to navigate the room of objects. In some cases, some teams develop some codes to get them through it. For example, rather than yelling, "right two steps" (which everyone else is yelling), they may yell, "red two." Others wait until other teams have finished to let the noise die down.
So, what does this have to do with leadership? There is always noise. There are always distractions. There may be more media attention right now, but the noise is always there. Leaders need to always stay focused and disciplined to not let the noise distract them from what their priorities are. Likewise, the new President, or any good leader, needs to be focused on what their priorities are and keep on going toward their goal. One needs to know the difference between the real voices to listen to and what is just noise. That's what you should be doing, whatever you are doing.