Business Acumen is one of four Aspects of Leadership. Motivation is a competence of Business Acumen.
1. Before anything else, people need physical survival & safety. If you can help someone with their health, wealth, or their kids you are setting a foundation of loyalty and trust. By helping with these foundational needs you free them to pursue higher needs.
2. Need to belong.
3. Need to achieve their full potential. To become the best they can be: autonomy, mastery, and contributing to a larger purpose.
Engagement is the level of positive attachment employees feel toward their job & org. These are the top contributors to employees becoming dis-attached or unengaged in their roles.
Self Awareness is one of four Aspects of Leadership. Leading from Vision & Values is a competence of Self Awareness.
Definition of Integrity:
1. Someone who leads from their values.
2. Someone who shares an inspiring vision of the future.
Share your values.
Let your values lead your vision.
Be relentless in pursuing your vision.
Do you get in early? Stay late? Eat lunch at your desk? Check email from bed? Do you take a lunch only when you’re drowning and just need to get out of the office? Is a burger, fries and a shake a reward for a grueling morning? Have you ever said, “I don’t want to live like this. This isn’t me."
Do you have more than you can reasonably fit on your plate? Do you basically handle whatever falls off? But only if it explodes? If you have ever asked,
“How do I deal with one thing after another blowing up in my face?
I need . . . something . . . because I am drowning. Wave after wave of work is knocking me down and the tide is coming in.”
I’ve been there too.
28% is spent emailing and email is open the rest of the day in case something potentially explosive comes through:
A study of employees at Cisco revealed that failing to respond to an email can lead to a swift breakdown in trust. Are you sitting on an unexploded time bomb?
Is email killing you? That might read like hyperbole; read on and decide for yourself. A study of British civil servants found that the rank and file employees were at greater health risk than higher ranking administrators. Chronic stress was the culprit. These employees were accountable for outcomes where they had little authority, influence or control. Negative outcomes appeared, as if at random, outside of their control and influence. The result, chronic stress.
Often the sources of stress are small and varied, but chronic stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death, a slow death by a thousand papercuts. It’s not a huge leap to see that many of those small and varied stressors are coming from your inbox.
How does our work culture respond to this threat? Researchers have coined the term telepressure to describe the urge to respond immediately to email. I guess you can’t cure it ‘til you name it first. This urge includes thinking about emails that need to be written. As a result, says Larissa K. Barber, an assistant professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University, “You have trouble cognitively letting it go.”
I've been there. The research is helpful. But it only confirms I'm not the only one that struggles with email, but that is not a solution. Managing email is a significant part of work. For my own sanity I went looking for a process to get my inbox under control because there had to be an easier way.
Have you heard of David Allen’s Getting Things Done? GTD for short. I’ve never read his book because my first exposure to his material was an MP3 download of the GTD LIVE Two Day Seminar. David Allen offers an introductory GTD course thru LinkedIn Learning. It’s an introduction to the theory and general practices. It’s not bad. But if you want to really master the skill, it will only get you started. You will need something else to get into the details and best practices. If $99 and two days is too much, an alternative is this Inbox Zero course from Udemy. I like it because it is highly specific, actionable, and it’s video instruction. This course wasn’t around when I was figuring this stuff out, but this is exactly what I did in my gmail.
The GTD LIVE Two Day Seminar is fantastic! Skip the book. I highly recommend this seminar. At $99 it is pricy but, I have listened to it again and again. As David Allen says, the process is iterative. It isn't all or nothing. You can apply parts of it. You can learn, apply, and grow. Then repeat. I've taken a lot of notes.
One of the biggest takeaways from David Allen is the two minute rule. Do anything that takes less than two minutes right away the first time it is in your face. It’s surprising how many things you put off that can get done in two minutes or less. For example, wash your dishes immediately after you eat, toss the laundry in the washing machine, take out the garbage . . . invest in yourself . . . invest in your time.
Buy the seminar. You have two minutes.
Often I get a question that reveals a fundamental mistake we all make every day.
This is my answer.
It gets asked a lot. Maybe. Maybe it's just that to a hammer everything is a nail.
This is my hammer.
You might be leading a team, crafting the bullet points on your resume, making a recommendation on Facebook. What do you say to persuade others to take action?
What do you say?
Jamie Dimon puts it like this, "Leadership is relentless storytelling. We all forget. We all need to be reminded of our purpose." So,
What's your story?
See if you catch yourself doing this the next time you have to write a performance evaluation. Do you focus on what you did? Take a look at your resume. What is the focus? Is it on what you did? Think of the last good movie you saw or book you read. In the comments below, write me a recommendation for why I should see / read it.
Are you tempted to give away the plot? You (and just about everyone else) is focused to much on the what.
Anyone (and everyone) can tell you what they do.
Some can talk about how. This is 90% of what marketers will focus on: differentiating value proposition, proprietary process, secret sauce, or USP (unique selling proposition).
Very few people will talk about Why, Purpose, Cause, Belief. Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why should anyone care? People don't buy what you do they buy why you do it. And the what serves as the proof of what you believe.
The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. It is not making money; that is a result. Start with Why, then follow it up with How and What.
I bought Start With Why hoping to learn how to start with Why. It's a good read. I've read and re-read it. The book comes up short at the end where Sinek up sells a $100 course to help you find your why. I opted to figure it out on my own. It took a little over a year to nail down a repeatable process. But it was free! If you are interested in learning how I did it, keep reading.
Articulating your Why is difficult. It's innately fuzzy. Your goal is to bring it into sharp focus. That might take some time. Just keep coming back to it.
My first attempts were heavily influenced by the Strengths Finder 2.0 Assessment. I highly recommend this exercise. It's free when you purchase the book, Strengths Finder 2.0. This is a great tool if you are looking for an objective measure of your innate strengths. Here is the catch, even as I explored my strengths I knew that strengths are not the same as purpose. This answers the question How, not Why. And that is valuable. Your strengths set you apart from the crowd, they are your USP, your secret sauce. So the exercise is worth taking the time to do. It's just not the final destination.
It's ironic that the question Simon Sinek leaves unanswered in his TED talk is answered by another TED talk: How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes by Adam Leipzig.
I'm sure you have heard of the idea of an elevator pitch. Adam goes through a series of questions so you can articulate yours in under five minutes: your own elevator pitch that starts with why. You can check out mine on my LinkedIn Profile. Or my Instagram Bio. Even the intro of my Facebook page.
But that is not going to be enough. It isn't going to weather the storm. And the storms will come. Believe that.
What's it all for? Tour bus, studio, and the fans
What's it all for? Chicks and whips with twenty inch rims
What's it all for? To feed my family and my friends
What's it all for? To change your world the best I can
The final piece came after I read Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck. I think he is a terrific writer. He utilizes a strong voice (and language, consider yourself warned).
I could not have come across his book at a better time, it was actually one of the most awful times in my life. I was suffering from shouldy values. One in particular, which I'll call "big house nice car." The house wasn't even that big, just bigger than mine. The car wasn't that nice, just nice to have. And somehow this justification made it less shallow. Have you ever heard someone say,
"When I'm done with school . . . "
"When I get that internship . . . "
"When I graduate . . . "
"When I get a job . . . "
"When I get a better paying job that is actually in my field . . . "
"Once I make X per year . . .
. . . then I'll be happy / set / successful."
Have you ever heard those words? Was it you saying them? It was definitely me. These are dangerous words. They are a symptom of shouldy values.
The cure for shouldy values is to be mindful of great values. Your great values. Where I sit, people outsource this type of thinking to religion. Don't. For sure this is a great pool to draw from but, do your own homework. It's actually a fun exercise.
You are going to fill out bracket for your values. Think March Madness, but with values.
I've started you off with a pretty good list of values. Go through this list or feel free to google "list of values" yourself. Write down the ones that resonate with you on a post-it notes. One per note. Don't hold back, if a word catches your eye, write it on a post-it.
Don't skip this next step because if you do you will need to start over. You should have a pile of post-it notes now. Divide these post-its into categories: Personal Attributes, Activities, Relationships, Things, Skills. It's easiest to do this with Post-It notes. You might value certain categories more than others. It will become clear why this matters in the last step.
Finally you are going to fill a bracket hold a tournament (think March Madness) for each category. Each value is going to compete against another value. Consider a pair of Post-It notes. If you canonly have one, which do you choose to keep? The keeper advances to the next round. Do this until you have a clear winner for each category.
The categories are important because you might value one category over another. I found this was the case with me. Knowledge is one of my top values, but it is a thing and of all the categories I value things the least. Knowledge ended up getting killed by values in other categories. I saw it dropping down the ranks and knew something needed to change.
Which, brings me to the final step. The bracket is designed to spur your own intuition. It's not designed to be an objective measure. This isn't Highlander, there can be more than one. I actually created a top ten list for each category. You might even need different categories, if you do I'd like to know about it. Really. Tell me about it.
Jamie Dimon once said, "Leadership is relentless storytelling. We all forget. We all need to be reminded of our purpose. So,
Tell me your story.
Now that you have done all of this work,
what story is yours to tell?
It's a story about you, your tribe, and what you do for them.
It starts with what you believe, what you value. But it can't just be about you. Your story is about what you do to help your tribe to reach their ideal, achieve their goals, or overcome their trials. You need to be really clear about who you are, what you believe and how you stand out. You need to be clear so you can clearly communicate to your tribe. How else will they know? If they share your values your Why will resonate with them. This is your contribution, what you do to serve them.
I definitely want to do original research and forward the common knowledge of the developer space. Might as well get a PhD while I'm at it.
Still I've been shopping for a Master's degree. A lot of companies offer some type of leadership development / mentoring. If you combined that with Corsera work I'm sure I could match the curriculum of most MBA programs. I could create a more tailored program that would be preferable*. That is obviously not the same as a master's. But.
Let's look at the value gap between the two. Let's assume simple numbers. I make 50k and by getting a masters I expect to increase my earnings to 100k. Even if I finance my education, paying three times as much over time, It is a 90k investment over several years with a return of an additional 2.1 million in earnings over the course of my working life. So. No brainer right?
Well. No. I know plenty of MBAs starting around 60k. If you invest the same 90k in education for and additional 10k a year then you will break even for ten years to pocket an additional 234k over your working life. Valuing the additional time and effort, I don't think it is worth it.
With Corsera there is considerably less risk. It's $50 a month (about $1800 for three years). Corsera offers less risk, but at a cost. The market values an MBA more than comparable course work. So all things equal an MBA candidate should win out over someone who completed coursework on Corsera.
There is the argument that schools don't add value to employees. They are tools we use to signal employers. So if you have enough drive does it matter? I think it does. School will open doors.
There is also the marginal utility of additional earnings. Once you get over 76k the marginal utility of a dollar starts tapering off. Basically, you will have nicer stuff but you will not be any happier. More people are starting to realize that. Big house nice car is a dated value.
My question. Is an MBA 16 times better than online coursework? It costs 16 times as much. No doubt it is better, but 16 times better?
*Any program would have to include some type of social networking component.
It is easy to get overwhelmed or even lost because of the many niches within the leadership & business development genre. I read a lot in this space. The more I read the more I feel I need to read. It can be discouraging. It is easier for you to digest if you break it down into chunks. Here are four to start: building relationships, business acumen, self awareness, & organizational strategy.
Building Relationships. Do you want to be my friend? Sometimes that is all it takes. My kids do it all the time. Building leadership starts with positive and effective relationships. This is a core competency.
Business Acumen. You need to be able to do something, attain goals with minimum guidance. Otherwise you are just hanging out. This includes the competencies of teamwork, performance & motivation. Although it also encompasses technical skills, managing work, and industry knowledge.
Self Awareness. Self awareness is the bud that flowers into leadership. If you think of these as stages then this is where a top performer starts to become a leader. That is why a lot of training starts here. Self awareness includes the competences of vision & values, sustainability, resilience, and emotional intelligence.
Organizational strategy. The ability to set the vision and direction for the long term success of the organization. Its comprised of the following competencies: political acumen, awareness. change, culture.
It's impossible to tackle all of them at once. That is the point of chunking it down. Pick one. Make a four to six week plan to focus on a skill in your chosen competency. Work to actively change your behaviors and habits. Habits drive change. It takes 4 to 6 weeks groove the behavioral and neurological pathways of the new habit you want to create. In a year to a year and a half you can make meaningful progress in each of the 12 competencies.
Create a masterminds group with professional peers. Focus: What is working?What needs improvement? Share challenges and successes. Support each other with suggestions, encouragement, ideas for improvement. Network to create mutually beneficial opportunities.
Attend leadership development programs. Some ideas on where to look for programs: at work, local universities, non-profits, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera.
Form a leadership development group. Read a book or take a course and come together to discuss implementing the changes.
Why talk about leadership on a blog about data? We have not talked about data or decision making. I don't have a lot of time to write. I debated including leadership as a thread of this blog. I decided the topic merited inclusion.
These 12 competencies are inputs that go into decisions at an organizational level. To make the best use of data a data driven organization, a data savvy manager, needs an understanding of leadership theory. The theory informs a leader of the right questions to ask when mining data. I've taken some additional notes on these 12 competencies. I plan to flesh these out over time showing how they play a role in a data driven organization. For now my notes will have to do.