Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's not just socializing. It's hard work.

You thought surfing the net and working on MySpace pages was all about socializing. How wrong you were. It's all about training for the work force of the future. That's what the New York Times says in an article ( posted recently. Okay, I can't quite get the hang of having the link linked to a word on my blog so that you just click on the word and it will take you to the article. You'll have to cut and paste the link. I'll work on it.

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

Steve Young: Football Legend, Negotiator

Steve Young? Football legend, certainly. Negotiator? As it turns out, he's quite a negotiator. To hear him tell it, it's been a skill he's used most of his adult life, on and off the field. In the following audio clip, he tells us gives us an introduction to why he thinks its an important skill. The podcast is part of the Stanford University Technology Ventures Program. I was surprised he was a lawyer, with a real law degree. He worked on it during his time with the San Francisco 49ers during the off-season. That's quite a task and accomplishment. As he put it, he would play in the Super Bowl and then head the following Tuesday for classes. It's quite a story with some good lessons with real world applicability. For anyone working to improve their leadership skills, this is a good resource and inspiration. His comments about his agent are particularly keen.

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

Leading Through the Noise

There seems to be quite a lot of noise right now: from the media, from politicians, from business leaders, from economists, from labor leaders and from average folks. What's all the yelling about? You name it, they're yelling about it. The economy, and what to do or not do about it, seems to be hottest topic. Still, there are countless other topics: health care, Social Security, education, etc.

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.