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Leadership lesson from Tony Soprano November 26, 2008

Posted by Darth Sidious in Leadership.
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In my spare time I like to watch some 2 dimensional video feeds from the planet of Earth, and I was watching this documentary about this Sopranos family. It’s incredibly candid how the family allows almost all their actions to be recorded.

Anyways, there’s one episode where Tony (the Sith lord of this clan) has survived a gun shot wound and is out of the hospital. And being in a weakened state his clan begins to push limits and boundaries – beginning to treat Tony as a peer instead of a superior.

Although Tony was still weak and recovering from his injury he knew he had to do something quickly. He picks an arbitrary fight with the youngest and strongest in his crew to set an example, and re-establish his dominance. Which was risky, considering he could have lost in his weakened state, and that weakness would have only degraded his status.

This was a necessary move on Tony’s part, so here’s the take away… Subordinates will notice weakness, and take advantage of it (even if unconsciously). It’ll come in the way of pushing limits and boundaries, seeing what they can get away with (coming in later, leaving earlier, delivering less, etc…).

Subordinates respect strength. Hold your ground, you’ll get more results that way.

Darth Sidious

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Ten Principles of Leadership May 30, 2008

Posted by Darth Sidious in Leadership.
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When people decide to respect you as a leader, they observe what you do so they can know who you really are.

People then use this observation to tell if you are an honorable and trusted leader, or a self-serving person who misuses authority.

A good leader has an honorable character that selflessly serves his/her organization. In your employees’ eyes, your leadership is everything. Your activities affect the organization’s objectives and their well-being.

A respected leader concentrates on three key areas:

1. Be what he/she is, i.e. beliefs and values

2. Know what he/she knows, i.e. job, tasks, human nature

3. Do what he/she does, i.e. implement, motivate, and provide direction

What makes a person want to follow a leader? People want to be guided by people they respect and who have a clear sense of direction. To gain respect, they must be ethical. A sense of direction is achieved by conveying a strong vision of the future.

The Three Most Important Keys of Leadership:

Studies have shown that trust and confidence in top leadership is the single most reliable predictor of employee satisfaction in an organization.

Effective communication by leadership in three critical areas is the key to winning organizational trust and confidence, and involves:

1. Helping employees understand the company’s overall business strategy.

2. Helping employees understand how they contribute to achieving key business objectives.

3. Sharing information with employees on both how the company is doing and how an employee’s own division or department is doing – relative to strategic business objectives.

So basically, you must be trustworthy and you have to be able to communicate a vision of where you are going.

The 10 Principles of Leadership:

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement. In order to know yourself, you have to understand your be, know, and do attributes. This is possible by continually strengthening your attributes by reading and self-study.

2. Be technically proficient. As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees’ jobs.

3. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions. Search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. And when things go wrong, do not blame others.

4. Make sound and timely decisions. Use good problem solving, decision-making, and planning tools.

5. Set the example. Be a good role model for you employees. They will believe what they see not what they hear.

6. Know your people and look out for their well-being. Know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers.

7. Keep your people informed. Know how to communicate with your people, seniors, and other key people within the organization.

8. Develop a sense of accountability, ownership and responsibility in your people. These traits will help them carry out their professional responsibilities.

9. Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. Communication is the key to this responsibility.

10. Train your people as a team. By developing team spirit, you will be able to employ your organization, department, section, etc. to its fullest capabilities.

The Process of Great Leadership:

1. Inspire a shared vision – Next, share you vision in words that can be understood by your followers.

2. Challenge the process – First, find a process that you believe needs to be improved the most.

3. Enable others to act – Give them the tools, authority and methods to solve problems themselves.

4. Model the way – When the process gets tough, get your hands dirty. A boss tells others what to do; a leader shows it can be done.

Encourage the heart – Share the glory with your followers’ heart, keep the pains in your heart.

Human Relations:

· The six most important words: “I admit I made a mistake.”

· The five most important words: “You did a good job.”

· The four most important words: “What is your opinion?”

· The three most important words: “If you please.”

· The two most important words: “Thank you,”

· The one most important word: “We”

· The least important word: “I”

Ingredients to Successful Teams – Trust February 8, 2008

Posted by Darth Sidious in Leadership, Managing Employees.
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There has to be trust between team members, and trust between staff and their manager. Without it information won’t flow properly, productivity will suffer as people go into Chess mode trying to out maneuver who they view as their “opponent”, protectionism sets in and information becomes well guarded keys to job security,  etc…

Trust comes through honesty. Being able to openly say what you have to say in a constructive manner,  being able to voice opinions without fear of reprisal, and being able to admit to ones mistakes.

Trust also needs to be earned; but the nice thing is that most people are initially willing to give the benefit of the doubt and afford another individual a high degree of trust.

Trust is also easily lost and extremely difficult to  earn back once that occurs. If a person trusts someone and that trust is compromised, it will take an enormous amount of effort to regain that trust as now the shields are up, precedence has been set, and that person will always be suspicious of that someone again. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me…

Darth Sidious

Being Right February 2, 2008

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Leadership.
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There is a significant difference between being “right” and having the ability to articulate and persuade others that you are right.

When the Death Star was built, I’m sure some low-level engineer tried to mention the exhaust ports are vulnerable to proton torpedoes, but he was unable to persuade others that he was right.

If you aren’t naturally articulate and persuasive, then you must spend time preparing and practicing your talking points in order to get your point across.

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Five Leadership Tactics To Make 2008 a Pivotal Business Year January 3, 2008

Posted by Darth Sidious in Leadership.
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A great article was posted today on 5 leadership behaviors for teams and companies to be successful.

Check it out… 

Why don’t people want to take leadership? November 19, 2007

Posted by Darth Sidious in Leadership.
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If you say the word “Leader”, the first things that come into your mind are thoughts of a hero, these fearless commanders in the face of adversity, or the well polished smooth talker that can give inspirational speeches to a crowd of thousands.

A Leader can be anyone, and you don’t need to have direct reports to be a Leader as we’ve written before.

Yet despite how everyone admires leaders, aspires to be one, and how relatively easy it is to be one… why is it that so few people actually take leadership?

The question is: can leaders be made, or are leaders born? The Sith are of the position that the root essence of a Leader begins with the instinct to Lead; it’s not a conscious decision where you wake up and go “I’m going to Lead today.” A Leader never even has this thought, they continually evaluate the playing field and see gaps for improvement or potential opportunities, and just make a move on it.

The execution of making those improvements or jumping on opportunities varies greatly, and young leaders will make a lot more mistakes than seasoned ones. So when people say Leaders can be made, all you can really do is mold, tweak, and refine those Leadership skills. But that essence, that drive, and that desire to do the right thing while bringing others along for the ride is there to begin with.

And what prevents a lot of people from being Leaders is the fear of failure, and fear of accountability for decisions. Like most things in nature (water, electricity, etc…) the path of least resistance is often taken, and this exists within human nature as well. It’s so much more easier to point out problems, or delegate the decision up, rather than to make the decision yourself. Because if that decision doesn’t work out, hey you at least did your job, so you can sleep at night knowing that it wasn’t your fault.

Leaders aren’t afraid to make decisions. Ok, maybe in some cases they are – but they’re willing to make them, and that’s the key.

So is there a moral to all this? Not really; not everyone is a Leader, and that’s fine. But at least accept that you aren’t if you’re not one, and support those who are.

Darth Sidious

Leaders Don’t Need to Lead – they just point the way… November 7, 2007

Posted by Darth Sidious in Inspirational Quotes, Leadership.
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Leadership isn’t so much of “hey follow me”, but rather pointing out where to go. Have you heard of the saying the blind leading the blind? As a Leader, you don’t want people aimlessly following you regardless of where you go.

Leaders carve out that Vision, point a beacon of light towards the solution, and clear out the path for where people need to go.

If you want to be a leader, or are a leader, make sure your mindset is less “follow me” and more “this is where to go”.

Darth Sidious

Decisions: Don’t ask for Permission November 2, 2007

Posted by Darth Sidious in Leadership, Sales.
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You’re working with an ally of the Republic to land a deal on a order of Star Destroyers, you present a great proposal, and at the end you ask “does that sound ok?”

You’re pitching a project to Management about some I.T Infrastructure that should be put into place; by doing due diligence you evaluate a few options, and document the options along with a recommendation. When presenting the document, you say “review the options, and let us know what you want to do?”

You’re in a team meeting and you feel a new process needs to be implemented to handle dealing with an issue. You mention to the team what you’re new process is all about, and at the end ask “what do you guys think?”

There are a multitude of such scenarios whether it’s in Project Management, Sales, and even within your team. By default, when you don’t have final authority your instinct is to get approval; and indeed that may actually be the documented policy.

But when you ask for that approval, you’re inviting the answer of no, which is not what you’re looking for. The approach you want to take is approval by default; people are welcome to disagree if they want, but if nothing is said you assume it’s a go.

After I got the separatists to attack the allied forces under the guidance of Count Dooku and General Grievous, I went to the Senate as Senator Palpatine and announced how it’s all going to go down. That in order to survive this assault, I’m going to take over and lead the Empire to victory. I didn’t ask if that would be ok, I just did it.

So if you want to be a Leader, just say what you’re going to do. If there’s any objections, they’ll say it and you can then discuss it. As a sales person, you go forward assuming the deal is on, unless the customer says no. Etc…

There’s a reason why this works so well. People don’t like making decisions, don’t like being accountable for decisions, and don’t like confrontation. You’re using this psychology to your advantage by making the decision for them.

Darth Sidious

Even amongst slaves, there are leaders… August 28, 2007

Posted by Darth Sidious in Inspirational Quotes, Leadership.
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Earlier this month we had an uprising on the slave planet of Tiyuk, a place we reserve for rebel scum that we’ve captured. Many rebels had escaped in a well coordinated plan, that I definitely will give kudos for. This wasn’t a mindless emotional uprising, but a well planned and executed feat – all because of one guy who rallied the slaves together.

And even throughout history, such as the slave gladiator Sparticus who led the escape of his fellow captives and even successfully fought against their pursuers… this demonstrates that even a slave can be a leader. People who by all intensive purposes have had all their rights and ability to make choices stripped away from them.

You don’t need to be a manager, or titled as someone that is indicative of leading people… Anyone can be a leader. Leaders aren’t nominated to lead, and they don’t wait to told to lead. They see the need, step up, and just do it.

What’s holding you back?

Darth Sidious

It Starts From The Top August 19, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Leadership.
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Almost all problems in an organization can be traced back to the CEO.
Take any problem, and trace it through the layers of management.  Any poor decision from an employee was supervised or should have been by a manager.  That manager has a manager and so on.  Everyone is responsible for those who are under them, and ultimately that leads to the top executives, who answer to the CEO.

From poor service, poor products, poor marketing or poor sales.  Poor decisions are can be made by anyone in the organization.  It’s up to their manager, and the next layer of management to correct errors and keep things on track.

I’ve heard employees complain about glaring problems in a company, and as blame gets pushed from employees to managers, the question I keep asking is “And who is their manager and why do they allow X?”, the excuses and blame continue all the way to the top and the final question becomes “and why does the CEO tolerate X executive?”

A good CEO surrounds him/herself with winners, and hopefully that spreads down to all the layers of management.

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