Are You A Proactive Leader?

Not all leaders are proactive leaders but you already knew that. What you may not know is the 3 tips I have included just for you. Give a listen and see if they will work for you.


A Quick Tidbit – Conflict

What to do when conflict and tension are high.


The Cost of “I Don’t Care.”

A few years ago, I was sitting at the negotiation table with the staff negotiator for the UAW who was representing most of the staff of the human services agency I directed. We both knew where the final agreement would settle within a fairly narrow range, so the negotiation was somewhere between proforma at one end and details that didn’t matter all that much one way or another at the other end. As expected, the union made some proposals that we both knew weren’t going to be accepted and a few that were both reasonable and acceptable. The negotiation was to sort out those details and issues. We both knew that labor and management can have big issues at times but also knew that this was not one of those times; or so I thought.

In this round of negotiations, the agency would have been fine continuing the current contract but was quite willing to sweeten the deal some. Here is the problem. The UAW negotiator made the first offer from the union that he knew, and I knew would not be accepted. The agency then made its first counter offer that I knew, and he knew would not be accepted. We were setting the outside limits within which the negotiation was expected to focus.

To my surprise, the UAW negotiator immediately brought out his only real weapon. Instead of making a modified offer, he said that they would take an immediate strike vote if their first offer wasn’t accepted in full. What do you think my response should have been?

I admit that the temptation to play his version of hard ball was nearly overwhelming. Although I was far from speechless, the range of possible responses was flowing past so rapidly that I was temporarily dumbfounded. I finally said, “I doubt if that would be a very good outcome for either of us.”

His response was even more surprising than his starting the negotiation by refusing to negotiate. They would not negotiate. Either they got everything they wanted, or they would strike. To my suggestion that striking would not be a good outcome for either of us, he said, “I don’t care. I just don’t care what you think about the outcome.”

Audio Tidbit How To Matter Leadership More Tidbits

Negotiation: Everything You Ever Need to Know

In this episode of the Audio Tidbits Podcast, you learn everything you need to know about negotiation at home, at work, or wherever you are when the time comes to make a deal. The skills you will develop will facilitate your being more effectively assertive, being a better problem solver, and being a better conflict manager. Developing the skills is sometimes tedious and requires a lot of practice. The payoff is both substantial and positive though.

At first, it will be useful to move through the negotiation process in a step-by-step manner. With practice and experience, you will gradually get to a point where effective negotiating is second nature to you and is not something that requires a lot of detailed activity. At first though, it is important to develop a negotiating plan and to seek out opportunities to practice. It is a little like learning to play the piano. Learning how is tedious and time consuming. Being able to play well however, is a very satisfying thing indeed.


Pick The Best Way To Lead (revisit)

In this popular past podcast, James points out four quite distinct approaches to leading and to leadership. Each has its uses and its limitations. Your challenge is to pick the best approach for you and for the particular leadership situation.

Audio Tidbit Leadership

The Ideal Home for the Perfect Employee

In the last episode of the Audio Tidbits Podcast, focus was on the perfect employee, on those who aspire to be perfect employees and on employers who hope to hire the perfect employee. In this episode, the discussion is expanded to consider the ideal home for the perfect employee. Please consider an organization that aspires to be the ideal home for the perfect employee. You can then judge the quality of the fit for yourself.

As a potential home for the perfect employee, what are our prerequisites for employment?

To join our organization, a potential employee has to have substantial qualifications for the position of interest. Organizations typically set minimum qualifications for positions. This means the positions are open to people who are just barely qualified. Throughout the organization, then, someone who is just barely qualified – and most likely, sometimes by someone who is not qualified – may provide virtually any service. These services cover all aspects of the operation. We have to be able to assure the people who use our services, either internally or externally, that employees who are substantially qualified to provide them are delivering those services. The best way to make this assurance is to only have employees who are clearly qualified to do what they do – people who are substantially qualified for the position they hold.

Our employees are clearly qualified to provide the services they provide. They are, in turn, allowed to provide those services with a minimum of supervision and direction. They function relatively autonomously and independently, so long as they function within the expected, functional parameters. Within limits, they can do what they think is reasonable and appropriate. Given this level of discretion and flexibility, there are additional criteria the organization uses to select employees. They are included below. Each criterion is required. If the prospective employee does not meet the criterion, he (or she) quite simply is not likely to succeed within the organization’s eco system. This is not a judgment about the individual’s competence. Rather, it is merely a conclusion he or she would not make a good employee here.

Audio Tidbit Leadership

The Perfect Employee

Do you aspire to be the perfect employee? Perhaps you want to find and hire the perfect employee. Either way, this guide to recognizing the perfect employee is one you may find to be essential to your success. Please consider the guide carefully. As you will see, the perfect employee is rare. The best most of us can do is to come close. Even so, it’s well-worth the effort.

• The perfect employee avoids personal actions or involvements that may associate negatively with the organization.

If you are in the imperfect employee majority and plan to stay there, you likely believe that what you do on your own time is none of your employers’ business. The larger the organization is and the less important your job and you are within the organization, the more likely it is that your belief will work out okay for you. This is especially true if you stay out of trouble with the police and have no plan to get a higher position or more responsibility in the organization.

On the other hand, there are a few factors that can quickly make your personal life very relevant for your current and future employment. Two are central. First, the more sensitive to and dependent on public support or perception the organization is, the more your personal life matters and the more your behavior and personal choices become associated with the organization. Second, the higher or more important you and your position are in the organization or the higher your aspirations, the more your personal life matters.

The conclusion is easy. When employers are looking for the perfect employee or if you aspire to be the perfect employee, reputation, conduct and deportment do make a difference. Personal history, current and past reputation, the opinions of people who know you well and your current life circumstances matter a lot. They matter to perspective employers and equally matter to those who aspire to be the perfect employee.


The Leadership Sweet Spot

This is a little lesson in leadership for those of us who may lead a little too timidly or perhaps are apt to lead too aggressively or impulsively. There is a leadership sweet spot, and finding it is an important key to leadership success. Please listen and consider whether or not you are finding the leadership sweet spot.


Would You Like Working For You?

This episode of Audio Tidbits Podcast is mostly about leadership and leadership styles, but that sort of misses the point. As you listen, you will likely consider your leadership style. Even so, I hope that you keep the question in the back of your mind. Would you like working for you? More important is even another question. Why would great people want to work for you?


Thinking About Leadership

Keohane, Nannerl O. Thinking about Leadership. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.

This is a large part of what leadership is all about: providing solutions to common problems or offering ideas about how to accomplish collective purposes, and mobilizing the energies of others to follow these courses of action.

Putting forward ideas for accomplishing group goals is one aspect of leadership; bringing together members of the group to act on these suggestions is the second.

Leaders determine or clarify goals for a group of individuals and bring together the energies of members of that group to accomplish those goals.

Leaders make decisions. Decisions can involve singling out issues from a relevant set; choosing among potential measures to address those issues; determining who else to enlist in the work; and figuring out how to use resources to implement policy.

For each new decision sets a precedent, begetting new decisions, foreclosing others, and causing reactions which require counteractions. …


Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership

This may be your best chance today to tap into your inner philosopher, if you find that an attractive option.

Jaworski, Joseph, Introduction by Peter Senge. Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2011.

seventh-century ascetic, John of the Ladder: If some are still dominated by their former bad habits, and yet can teach by mere words, let them teach. … For perhaps, by being put to shame by their own words, they will eventually begin to practice what they teach.

Peter Senge: What are we, collectively, able to create?

The overarching principle … would be one of servant leadership, serving with compassion and heart, and recognizing that the only true authority for this new era is that which enriches participants, and empowers rather than dimishes them. It would encourage “transformational leadership”: leadership of strong commitment and broad visionary ideas.

Leadership is all about the release of human possibilities. One of the central requirements for good leadership is the capacity to inspire the people in the group: to move them and encourage them and pull them into the activity, and to help them get centered and focused and operating at peak capacity. A key element of this capacity to inspire is communicating to people that you believe they matter, that you know they have something important to give.

When people join together and go beyond their habitual way of being as a group, even more possibilities open up. But somehow a kind of block prevents these extraordinary experiences from happening.

People and groups think of themselves as separate. But if we could learn how to dialogue with one another at a deep level, … we would find ways to relate to one another that would dissolve the perception of separateness. …


President Trump’s Leadership Style

In this episode of Audio Tidbits Podcast I return to six leadership styles I shared with you in an earlier podcast. In this episode I discuss the leadership style of President Trump and consider which of the six styles best characterize his leadership style. I also share some thoughts about how well he does as a leader using his preferred style. I conclude that he is a master at the motivational/values leadership approach.


Leadership at Your Fingertips

Jacobsen, Ian. Leadership at Your Fingertips: Proven Ways to Handle Your Challenges. Los Altos: Westchester Publishing Company, 2003.

When you hire, you hire a whole person. It is naive to assume that people leave the rest of their life on the doorstep as they come to work. Organizations need to be prepared to help employees deal with the challenges they face off the job, too, in order for them to be effective on the job.

Whenever two or more people work together, conflict is inevitable. Conflict can be healthy when it is a competition of ideas. It can be destructive when it is a conflict between people. Thus, it is essential for any organization to have an agreed-on way to deal with conflict, and for people to be trained to use the system. Such a process is more easily created and installed before a conflict arises than in the heat of a conflict.

A leader is not a leader without people to lead. Leaders are entrusted to serve the people they lead. Leadership is a privilege earned through being credible to the people one leads and represents, and competent to resolve the issues. For people to commit them self to you is an act of faith. In other words, “followers” need to have faith and trust in you in order to commit themselves fully.

Yet, there is a tendency for people to build organizations piecemeal as an amalgam of available spare parts when what they really need is a unified structure to create a total system. Even copying the best practices of other organizations typically falls flat. …


The Leader Quiz

Are you a leader or striving to become a leader? If so, it is important to identify your leadership style and to be aware of why you prefer a particular style. As becomes clear, there are alternative and distinct styles and each has its strengths and limitations. The better you understand your style, the more effective you are as you exploit the strengths of your style while compensating for its limitations.

Top dog leadership: If this is your style, you value a high level of personal control over and direct management of your followers. You work best with very cooperative followers and have low tolerance for non-compliance. You run a tight ship. Your followers typically defer to your perspective and are eager to do things your way. They tend to compete for your approval and may prioritize getting your blessing over getting the job done.

Lead dog leadership: You are a visionary who sets the organizational course. You reject use of power and control, placing your faith in the good will and principled behavior of your followers. You favor followers who function well with minimal supervision and direction and who naturally see the validity of and value in following your vision. Your style is an excellent fit for kindred spirits but is less compatible for those who may occasionally question your vision or who desire more structure and guidance. Your followers may tend to separate into the consonant majority and the small but dissonant minority.

Task leadership: Your strength is in getting the job done and depends on having qualified followers who are ready to work. Your followers are expected to bring the necessary expertise to each task and efficiently handle their piece of the project. This works especially well for followers who are expert at what they do and neither need or want direct supervision or involvement beyond their immediate tasks. It works less well for followers whose expertise may not be an exact fit with the current requirement, who value understanding how what they do fits in with the success of the larger organization, or who value social contact and interaction. It also may be less effective in the event the various elements of the enterprise experience minor to major disruption or variance from expectation. …


A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Studying Leadership

Jackson, Brad and Ken Parry. A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Studying Leadership. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Ltd., 2008.

You have some clear convictions about what you think constitutes the right and the wrong way to lead someone or to be led by someone.

While the importance of the role of individual leaders tends to be overestimated, the significance of leadership itself should never be underestimated.

If you do not aspire to change something and you don’t have a good reason for changing it, you cannot and should not lead.

In summary, the trait approach to leadership has had problems, has been discredited, and is really not valid now.

If you strike the right balance between concern for people and concern for production, you will be the most effective leader.

The behavioural approach to leadership has also gone out of favour in recent years, with the exception that transformational leadership has been criticized as another behavioural theory under a different guise.

The trait approach to leadership seemed to say that men were better leaders than women. The behavioural approach now seems to suggest that women demonstrate better leadership than men do, on average. Actually, there is no consensus in the literature about gender differences in leadership styles. For example, only weak evidence exists suggesting that women display more transformational leadership than men. …