Got to love it…

Posted by Robert Beauchemin on May 6, 2008

I was fortunate to be invited to a fabulous event hosted by the Ted Rogers School of Management of Ryerson University. Entitled CEO Outlook, the event gathered some of Canada's most successful entrepreneurs and business executives. First, tribute goes to the leadership of Ken Jones, the Dean of the Ted Rogers Scholl of Management for his vision and dedication to serving the school's body of students in such a visible and tangible way. Thanks also go to Prof Diane Francis, who so masterfully organized the event and moderated the panel discussions.

As I listened to the panelists, I realized that the learning from the afternoon can be summarized in 4 points that perfectly align with my leadership framework:

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Resistance to change – really?

Posted by Robert Beauchemin on Apr 30, 2008

I was reading a post at LeadershipNow entitled Getting the Information You Need. It referred to an article written by Mark Ronald and Robert Shaw from the Leader to Leader institute entitled Developing Peripheral Vision.

They warn to watch for signs of resistance to change:

Silence: In leadership teams, members who don't support the trend of a decision often simply disengage from the dialogue and remain silent rather than pose a contrary point of view—particularly if the leader appears to support the decision or the group is moving quickly to closure. Who has checked out?
Non-answers: People can opt out by appearing to agree with the leader when, in fact, they do not. "If you think it's the right decision, that's good enough for me."
Omissions: It is often what is not said that is most critical—particularly on issues that the leader believes will be problematic.
Specific language: People surface their true feelings in hundreds of subtle ways. Leaders need to pay attention to the specific use of words that are flags suggesting that more discussion or follow-up is needed.
Offline input: Often, the insights people bring to a leader (or each other) during the breaks of meetings or in informal hallway conversations are more important than what is said in formal discussions.
E-mail traffic: In many firms, e-mail offers insight into potential issues that may require a leader's attention. For example, an overly formal e-mail message with multiple people copied (or blind copied) is often a protective action taken by a team member with concerns.

Those six behaviours are part of what I call "background conversations" which are typical incarnations of "passive resistance" – the worst kind of resistance. Background conversations occur when one's head says YES and one's heart say NO; when one lets other under the belief that agreement exist, when in fact it does not.

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Personal Characteristics of a Great CEO

Posted by Robert Beauchemin on Apr 23, 2008

In a previous post I talked about what would make a Great CEO and concluded that a Great CEOs, those in the top 2% of the Bell Curve, would have had a broad experience. Well, there is more to it than just a broad experience. A Great CEO for me has some personal characteristics uncommon on many people. I know that, as a CEO, I was certainly conscious about improving these aspects of my personality. So here are the top characteristics I would consider an exceptional combination:

Stamina – Not age. Ideally your looking for someone in its 50's with the energy of a 35 year-old go-doer. The job of a CEO is very demanding, meeting challenges after challenges, analyzing situations, making decisions, aligning all staff towards common goals, traveling, and keeping the family happy in the process. The CEO regularly clocks in 12 hour days, often working 6-7 days a week. This is not a job for the faint of heart.

Educated – Not Necessarily Formally. MBA maybe, well read for sure. The CEO needs to stay current on the stock markets and on industries, on leadership, on people management, on marketing, on technology, on performance management, on micro economics and macro economics. The CEO must have an insatiable thrust for learning. The worst CEOs know it all from the get-go. Read the rest of this entry »

Believe it or not

Posted by Robert Beauchemin on Apr 15, 2008

We all know the power of the brain. No one would argue that humans can achieve the seemingly impossible when they apply their collective brain to a problem. Since the beginning of human kind, countless proofs of the power of the human "belief engine" can be found in everything that surrounds us, from harnessing the power of fire, to the invention of the wheel, to landing a spaceship on a moving planet traveling at 87,000 km/h, 36 millions miles away.

Beliefs shape how we act in our everyday life. Albert Einstein had beliefs, despite his Cartesian approach to science, based on logical analysis and mechanistic interpretation of physical phenomenon. He had postulates [hypothesis assumed without proof] on which all of his work is based. He believed, for example, that the speed of light [c] was constant which is a fundamental premise for his famous E=mc2. He even believed in God, as he repeatedly said "God does not play dice", referring to the predictability of outcomes.

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Nothing else Matters until the Big Picture is Clear!

Posted by Robert Beauchemin on Apr 8, 2008

When all you are allowed to see are the two beige pixels, it is hard for anyone to get a good perspective of the task at hand.

Are these two beige pixels part of a bigger picture, the sole of a shoe perhaps? Even knowing that this is the sole of a shoe is not all that enlightening. The second picture gives more details: the shoe belongs to a child sitting on the ground scribbling on a piece of cardboard. That still, you guest it, does not give the full picture – because you've seen there is a more complete picture below showing other kids sitting on the ground also scribbling.

Surely, now you can tell me what the big picture is! If you can't, I can add that the scene is in Afghanistan. The caption under the picture started by saying "Even in a war zone, learning continues." It then continued by saying "Students in the Northern Alliance territory take final exams at a school that has no building."

The pictures alone would not have sufficed at delivering the message. The explanation alone would not have helped either.

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