Archive for July, 2010

Individuals, Organizations That Survive Life’s Inevitable Storms

Everyone experiences difficult seasons in life. Although storms come to our lives in many different forms including health problems, death of a loved one, divorce or job loss, one thing is certain: it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get through the stormy seasons in life alone. We need family and friends who “have our backs.” Unfortunately, as this thoughtful article that recently appeared in USA Today suggests, true friendship may be dying.

In a video interview I filmed for the Leader to Leader Institute’s Leadership Dialogues website, I speak with leadership experts Mark Thompson and  Bonita Buell-Thompson about what I learned from my wife Katie’s successful battles with breast and advanced ovarian cancer. You can read about it and watch the video at this link.

The lesson I learned is about the importance of connection and relationships.  It applies to organizations as much as it does to individuals and families. When difficult seasons arrive, an organization’s culture often makes a difference to whether the organization survives or doesn’t. Dog-eat-dog or cultures that are indifferent to people and relationships often spiral down into relational isolation, anxiety, distrust, blame and finger pointing. On the other hand, Connection Cultures that value human beings and relationships tend to pull together and work through the challenges.

My question for you is, who has your back in life and at work? Are you intentional about taking the time to build strong relationships with individuals who you trust and who trust you? If you lead an organization, do you invest time to develop relationship excellence in your organization?

Hundreds of Employee Engagement Ideas

My friend David Zinger, founder of the Employee Engagement Network, organized a number of leading thinkers and experts on employee engagement and asked each to provide 10 ideas to increase employee engagement.   The results were compiled in an e-book entitled The Top Tens of Employee Engagement.  It’s a great resource to get actionable ideas that will boost employee engagement.  Check it out.

In Addition to Competence, College Building Character and Connection

A trusted friend and former colleague of mine at Morgan Stanley recently praised Andy Chan’s work at Wake Forest University to help students understand and develop character, then discover their passion and a career path to match it. Here’s a great article about Chan’s work from the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Finished College. Now What?

Chan’s work fits well with our mission to develop strength of character and connection in organizations (you can learn why we believe character strengths are so important for individual, organizational and societal health in the Connection Culture Manifesto that was published by changethis.com). I’ll be learning more and writing future blog posts about Andy Chan and Wake Forest’s work so stay tuned.

Brain Research: To Improve Learning, Use Whole Body

We learn best when we think, feel and do.  That’s the message of Dr. Adele Diamond, a cognitive developmental neuroscientist who currently teaches at the University of British Columbia in Canada.  We might refer to this as “whole body learning.”  According to Dr. Diamond, the executive function of the brain — the prefrontal cortex — works best when we go beyond the rational mind by also involving emotions and physical behaviors.  That makes sense since the more we involve other parts of the brain, the more neural connections we make that reinforce learning.

The implications are wide-ranging.  It reminds me of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and Robert Sternberg’s identification of different thinking styles. The more we incorporate different approaches to learning that speak to diverse individuals who are wired to learn differently, the greater the probability they will in fact learn.

Are you using more than analytic, rational methods of learning?   Do you use stories to move people emotionally?  Do you employ exercises that require people to behave in ways that will help them learn?

For those who want to go deeper, there a fascinating hour-long interview of Dr. Adele Diamond by Krista Tippett of American Public Radio’s “Speaking of Faith” program that you can hear at this link.

Video Training: Connection Cultures in Churches

Some of you know that in addition to speaking and teaching leadership at organizations such at Google, NASA, Johnson & Johnson and the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business, Jason Pankau and I frequently speak in churches about how Judaeo-Christian values lived out create what we refer to as a “Connection Culture.” To learn more, watch the following video series of Jason Pankau teaching a workshop on Connection Cultures for Churches.

Session 1 – The Case for Connection
Session 2 – Creating a Connection Culture
Session 3 – Inspiring Identity
Session 4 – Knowledge Flow
Session 5 – Committed Members and Servant Leaders

US Navy and U2: What Connection?

The US Navy and U2 in the same article! Huh?

That’s right.  It’s true. Check it out for yourself.

The Leader to Leader Institute just posted an article on its website that Jason Pankau and I wrote for the Summer edition of the Leader to Leader Journal. The article features the stories of the US Navy’s former Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Vern Clark, and Bono, the lead singer of the rock band U2.  The article is about the topic of connecting with “core employees” to boost strategic alignment, employee engagement, productivity and innovation.  Here is a link to the article entitled “To Boost Performance, Connect with the Core.” Read more »

Don’t Miss “All Hands on Deck: Building a Culture of Ownership”

Joe Tye's Book

I’m a big fan of Joe Tye.  He understands the importance of culture and has tremendous wisdom about values-based leadership.  His new book entitled All Hands on Deck: 8 Essential Lessons for Building a Culture of Ownership sounds wonderful. Although I’ve not read it yet, I plan to.  Joe has a special offer if you purchase All Hands on Deck this week.  You can learn about it at this link and be sure to watch the video of Joe talking about his new book while you’re there.

Develop Loyalty: Connect with Your Customers

Now for something completely different! InDesign magazine asked me to write an article about what I might do if I owned a jewelry store. I would be following a similar article written by Ivanka Trump (who actually owns a jewelry store).

It should come as no surprise that I immediately saw this as an opportunity to talk about the importance of the force of connection and how it contributes to the success of retail businesses. Here’s a link to the article entitled “If I Owned a Jewelry Store.”

Friedman, Seidman on Character & Connection

Here is an outstanding session from the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival where Dov Seidman and Tom Friedman discuss the importance of individual and corporate character in a connected world. I was fortunate to attend the first Aspen Institute Ideas Festival some years back where it seemed all the speakers touched on the issue of connection. In a future blog post, I plan to share some of my thoughts related to connection that I recorded in my personal journal following that event.

Trifecta: Top Leadership Blogs, Top Online Influencers on Leadership, Alltop Leadership

Top Leadership Blog
Online MBA Rankings







Forgive me for this self indulgent, celebratory post. Recently, I learned that MichaelLeeStallard.com was recognized as one of the top ten blogs on leadership by an organization that ranks blogs. Earlier this year, our blog received a similar honor from
Jurgen Noop.  It was my good fortune to also recently be recognized by HR Examiner as a “Top 25 Online Influencer on Leadership.” (You can learn more about it at this link as well as in a podcast about the online influencer list with Peter Clayton of Total Picture Radio.)  To top it off, MichaelLeeStallard.com was just added  to Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop.com Leadership Blogs List.   (I would do a dance over all this good news but my teenage daughters would laugh up-roariously at the ridiculous sight of their father dancing.)

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