Thursday, August 4, 2011

July 21 Meeting Notes - Kimberly Wiefling on Leadership [Robert Lasater]

On July 21, Kimberly Wiefling gave a presentation on leadership - "Why Would Anyone Follow You?" - in her usual energetic and inimitable style. Here is a summary.

Kimberly started by reminding the audience how low retention rates are usually after a presentation or talk. Within a few days the typical participant has forgotten 50%; this rises to 80% after two months. She worked to counter this trend by having the audience participate in several exercises. The first was done in pairs: describe to your partner what you had for lunch today - with enthusiasm.

A leader needs to infect the organization with this kind of great enthusiasm.

You need to be willing to be uncomfortable to accomplish your goal. [Getting people out of their comfort zone was another goal of her exercises.]

Kimberly Wiefling works with mid-level management in Japan. "I use a lot of shock tactics" to get her clients out of their comfort zone.

The next exercise had people get into small groups - two or three people - to list and discuss the characteristics and languages of the worst leaders in the world. Afterword, she polled the audience for their responses:

· Know-it-all
· Lack of focus
· Not able to apologize
· Jeopardizing the team for personal reasons.
· Micromanagement
· Taking credit for others
· Lack of integrity
· Unethical
· Abdication of responsibility
· Fear

Now leaders have only three tools:

· Action
· Communication
· Thinking

-but the last tool is not visible.

And leadership is not on the org chart. Some missing items are:

· Vendors
· Customers
· Venture capitalists
· Competitors
· Government and other regulatory authorities

Five characteristics of people in power:

· Receive more positive feedback
· Have less control over their impulses
· Think about their own needs more
· Have less empathy
· Thinks the rules don't apply to them

Question: do people become more unpleasant when they achieve power over other people, or is it their unpleasantness that causes them to achieve power? Which leads to another exercise: discuss how to avoid the trap of unpleasantness if you have power over people. One strategy to achieve that goal is to lead with questions - listening is the lost leadership skill.

Another exercise (again for pairs): plan an EL SIG holiday party, with your partner responding with "yes, but". (Tip: "yes, but" actually means No.) Next, try with your partner responding with "yes, and".

The final discussion topic was to provide examples of language of an admired and influential leader.

· "Thank you"
· nothing - let the followers take charge of discussions
· "Job well done" - but more detail about why it was well done is always appreciated.
· "What obstacles do you have?"
· "I love that idea."
· "What do you think?"
· "The real credit goes to ..."
· "What do you think it will take to make it happen?"
· "I'm sorry."
· "I don't know."
· "I need help."

Kimberly Wiefling is the author of Scrappy Project Management, one of the top-ranked project management books on Amazon in the US, published in Japanese, and growing in popularity around the world. She splits her work time between the US and Japan.

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