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Leadership and Early Adapters

The following video has gone viral and is lots of fun to watch. It teaches some good lessons about the “first follower” as a leader. These early adapters are visionaries in their own right, and help make a movement happen.   In the video, we are talking about dancing at the beach: lots of fun and freedom and spontaneity. I would like to present a question and would love responses from all who are thinking about the ethics of followership.                                 WHO ARE YOU WILLING TO FOLLOW????   We have become so addicted to sound bites and quick, short answers that depth is replaced by clever.   Think about it: dancing on the beach, sure, what the heck, it’s fun, fast and finished.   Now ponder something that has more staying power, more meat to it…….   Would you follow the leader if it polarizes and excludes?  And more importantly, when situations become murky and the movement becomes dissident, out of control, then what? Would you stand up and say “stop?”   Please send your answers to info@sylvialafair.com and receive a copy of my white paper on “Why It’s So Tough to...

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...

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...

The Tiger and the Truth

  Lots of buzz about Tiger Woods and a party girl is coming to the surface after the car crash on Thanksgiving. What does it mean to you and to me? Does it really matter if he is having an affair? Does it matter that he won’t talk to the police? Does it matter that Nike is standing by their guy?    All of this will swirl for a week or two and then fall into that mysterious void where old stories go as new ones emerge. One thing we know is that Tiger is a great golf player. Beyond that what are his virtues? Have we ever voted for him to be an exemplary leader? Do we really all want our kids to be like him? Is it all about money and recognition?   Maybe this is the time for us to all exhale and really think about the role models we want to offer the younger generations. Maybe it is time for leadership development programs to do a deep dive into what makes someone a leader rather than just a “talking head” for sports stuff, clothing stuff or cars.   We have become so boringly superficial about what we want our kids to emulate that other than “things”, we have little to value. If Tiger had been the same great golf player and had not made a boatload of money would we still be mesmerized by his style?   As an executive coach and family therapist, it was not difficult to put together the implications of slamming into a tree at 2:30 am. It sounded like a...

Leadership and Radical Transparency

I am one who tracks patterns rather than tornadoes. Actually they are not that different. One is a force of nature that can be traced and has many attributes that are predictable. It can be called the perfect storm. Behavior patterns also can be traced and if one looks closely there are predictable aspects that also cause perfect storms. Recently I was talking with a colleague about how bad behavior at work seems to be coming to the surface faster and faster. We were looking at the super achiever pattern and how so many folks who need to be front and center are willing to step on or over anyone to get to the top. He mentioned a colleague who was,” like a tornado” and left lots of destruction in his path. Until recently this guy was like the typical “teflon man” who got away with his “behind the scenes maneuvering”. Then others began to track his behavior and it became obvious that he would create a swirling storm upending relationships and careers and he was the only one who seemed able to stand steady with no collateral damage. That is, until now. There seems to be a desire and demand for more integrity in the workplace, more honesty, and more truthfulness. And there is a group approaching critical mass that is not willing to stand on the sidelines and let the manipulators get off scot free. Have we had enough of Ponzi schemers and folks who think they can blackmail others and get away with it?  I want to applaud David Letterman for his full disclosure without over-killing...

Leadership Strategies and Emotional Mountains

There are many of us who learned as children to rant and rave, to make mountains out of molehills, to cry or stomp our feet to get attention. Or, maybe it was not always about wanting attention. Often, in a family the drama queen or king, the persecutor, the super achiever and the martyr are playing their role to keep peace in the family by turning the spotlight front and center on themselves. In being the center of attention they are often taking the tension from arguing parents or problem siblings where discussing the underlying reasons for the tensions are too uncomfortable. Rather than face the difficulties the loud family member are, in a strange sense, saving the family from itself. This also happens at work when there are stressors around projects not coming in on budget, need to downsize, or employees who are yelling out “harassment or micro inequities”, ready for a lawsuit. When emotions are getting out of hand it is best for leaders to let the high maintenance folks have their say. This is the time to ask for the story and listen. The key here is to listen quietly. Did you get that? I mean simply listen. Say “uh huh” as you need to respond. Just don’t put more fuel on the fire. Listening to what someone says without adding your spin will be like putting water on the fire. Sure you can ask questions, just keep it short and simple. Help the drama queen or king think about consequences and ask them to reframe what they are saying by looking from the other person’s eyes. Many ...