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Elegant Leadership

  I am so delighted to introduce you to my new blog “Elegant Leadership” that will be posted at http://blog.ceoptions.com/ after the New Year. Since I love to write I will have a more personal blog at www.sylvialafair.com to include thoughts and ideas about relationships, health, and education, as well as business.   Elegant Leadership will include all my newest research concerning leadership. I will suggest the best books, articles, and unique individuals I can find to help you on the difficult daily journey of being the best leader you can be.   Why did I choose the title “elegant leadership”? I honestly think it chose me. I woke up with the term, like a drum beat, repeating over and over in my head. Maybe I had a dream about it, not sure. All I know is,  I love the word “elegant” as it is used in scientific realms. In nature elegant signifies finding the simplest and most precise way of responding.   I looked up the other definitions of the word and they fit my intended blog perfectly. Elegant signifies dignified richness and grace; being luxurious in a restrained, tasteful manner; incisiveness and ingenuity, cleverly apt and simple, as in “an elegant solution to a complex problem”.   What the world needs now are truly elegant leaders who want their work to speak for them, rather than be the media show of the week. They are the ones who quietly find the best solutions without the need for trumpets blaring. They do not have to play “king” they merely want to make their businesses the best they can...

Tiger Woods: Helping Us Connect Our Original Organization With Our Work Organization

  Tiger Woods’ stories are touching almost every aspect of life in organizations today. Does he owe anything to the golfing community where he is seen as a CEO of sorts? Does he owe anything to his previously adoring public? Of course he owes much to his family, not just wife and children. What about his mother, and mother-in-law who fainted, assumingly from the stress, last week?   One area that could possibly shed some light on the issues of today would be to look at the life Tiger had as a youngster and how that has played out in his adult work-life. This is simply another perspective to consider. Having worked as a family therapist for years, I know first hand that what goes on in someone’s, anyone’s home, is multilayered and complex and cannot be analyzed into two simple categories of good Tiger, and bad Tiger.   Maybe this could be a “wake up call” to parents who are uni-focused on the success of their children, perhaps at the cost of their emotional development. The same can be said for many other sports and media stars that were put into little boxes and became objects to be packaged for the world to adore.   Andre Agassi talks about the tennis court as a prison. Judy Garland never recouped from being a child star without the opportunity to be a child. Macaulay Culkin, Lindsay Lohan, and of course, Michael Jackson.   This is not about pointing fingers of blame; it is about redirecting our priorities. How many parents suggest that their youngsters, especially those with a wee bit...

Connecting the Dots of Leadership

  This end of the first decade of Century 21 is a time of searching more deeply for leadership skills that go beyond simple cookbook “become a great leader in one minute” solutions.   General Electric Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt, offered some great suggestions in his speech at the West Point Distinguished Leader Series. What struck me was his comment that we “must become systems thinkers who are comfortable with ambiguity”. You can read the entire speech at the GE web site.   I find it refreshing that someone in Immelt’s position is underlining the ideas that systems’ thinking is critical at this juncture of history. I believe it is a vital aspect of understanding the essence of leadership and problem solving.   However, we spend little time learning to think in a systemic way. In my book, “Don’t Bring It to Work”,  there is a plea to move to systems’ thinking that I know would make a difference in how we relate to each other, to work challenges, and to the environment. So here is an excerpt from the book that I hope will stimulate thought about leadership, relationship, and connecting the dots of life.                 A system is a collection of parts integrated to accomplish an overall process. The key word here is “integrated”: systems are interactive; everything depends on everything else. For example, the way doctors and nurses behave in a hospital emergency room is a system. If the experienced head nurse calls in sick, all of a sudden there is a shift in how everyone works together, there is a systemic change. Add...

Leadership Transgressions

  Are leaders measured by different standards than the rest of us? If not, they should be! They are the ones who set the standards of what matters at work, or in society, and if they are in the “Follow me, I know the best way to go” mode, then we really need to ask and understand what and why we should follow.   It is time to evaluate our teachers, our politicians, our gurus by standards that show they live what they teach. However, are sports stars or media moguls in the same classification? They are great at letting us know the best way to swing a bat, make a basket, run a race or what to wear to be hip and in. That is a far different cry than how to live a life.   What are the questions we should be asking of our leaders? Do we have a right to ask about their personal lives or is it enough that they show us how to make money or gain an edge over our competition at work?   Perhaps all the “news” about affairs and betrayals are exploding so that we can ask the real questions about what it means to compose a life, to live with integrity. All leadership development programs need a section to look at the ethics of living a purposeful life, one that can withstand today’s demand for radical transparency.   Eugene Robinson’s article in The Washington Post is a great example of what we are searching for in our own lives as we explore the foibles and mistakes of others. A...

Holiday Stress and Leadership Involvement

  This week is the beginning of the fast track to the holidays. Everyone, no matter what their religious persuasion, is impacted by the bustle, the songs, the red and green decorations, the deep desire for holiday cheer and the disappointment if the dreams and hopes don’t measure up to the realities.   What to do? First, it is important to breathe! Yes, this is simple, inexpensive, and possible at any moment of the day. Deep breathing is better than cookies, wine, and even a new shiny car.  Here is what to do: find a quiet place; even if you go into the bathroom and lock the door for five minutes. Keep your feet on the floor and hands on your lap. Then close your eyes. Take a long deep breath through your mouth and then exhale quickly and forcefully through your mouth. Do this at least 7 times and then sit for a moment to let the oxygen stream through your body.   If at work you see your employees and co-workers getting jittery and moody, take a few minutes and stop by their desk and without going into detail, let them know you are there to support them. Offer the breathing process by telling them it helps you when you feel like the kettle beginning to boil. Just stopping by, acknowledging that this is the toughest time of year, even in a good year, tensions increase, and giving them something simple to help them calm down will definitely make a difference.   No amount of “stuff” will help as much as a hand extended to say “you...