Character and Skills

A mentor of mine reminded me this week of something I’d heard before, but didn’t really understand until now.  He told me that one of the biggest threats to a leader is when their skills development outpaces their character development.  Quite frankly, the problems we’re seeing in corporate America (H-P, Converse Technology, etc.) is very likely a result of this chasm.  Think about it, no one would question the skill level of the executives at H-P.  But obviously we would question their character.

So how much time does the average leader spend on character development vs. skills development?  If the most recent headlines (Business Week Online) are to be believed, more time is spent on the skills side.  Isn’t funny how the thing that can wreck a life or career is the thing we ignore.  Some call it arrogance…I call it stupidity.  We’ve all been warned about what happens when character is left in the dust (see Enron, Citigroup or Adelphia).

You have a chance to turn the ship around by giving your character some attention-major attention.  Start by putting as much time into the development of your character as you would on skills.  For example, if you’re taking fifteen hours of classes at your local university to get your MBA, then give your character that much.  Believe me, their are churches, universities, books and more that can offer you the right material on character development.  Do it now!  You thank me for it later…

The world needs more leaders who are well balanced in their character and their skills.

Ethics Anyone?

Today it was revealed that Cablevison back-dated stock options for a deceased vice-chairman.  Sounds like they pulled this one right out of Richard Daley’s how-to-win-an election playbook.  This link from MSN Money details what happened, but oh my!

I’m starting to wonder if corporate America is just drunk with greed and deception.  Sadly, many will right this off and ask how the Cablevision stock is doing. 

We’re opening the door to the socialists…

The Book

Just finishing up editing (my review for flow and typos) and then off to my professional editor for the book project.  I’ve changed the title as well…I’ll wait til later to reveal that.  But I can see the tape, so stay tuned for updates


I found this piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (wsj091806.pdf) and it registered with me.  It spoke volumes about how long it can take to truly define success.  Each of us must figure that one out, but the article gives you much to think about.

Sometimes its easy to just get caught up in what is expected.  For example, my dad worked a job for thirty-five years, so I know that’s the right thing to do.  Funny how often we never ask is that what we want to do.  History is full of those who put their "chips" on making money and retiring in leisure.  Truth be told we want more…at least those of us who are awake.

I’m north of forty now and my definition of success is clear.  Sometimes I feel like it has taken more time than it should have, but my story’s on track.  I have no regrets…forever now.

You might not be even close to forty, but time is strange.  None us know how much time we have.  That implies an urgency to get on with what matters.  So, what matters to you…the real you?

Evaluating Losses

It occurred to me today that we can easily miss evaluating losses.  You might call it a review of mistakes and/or failures.  Either way it is valuable to evaluate when things go "south." 

One thing you must remember is that the losses aren’t designed to kill you.  It can feel like that at times, but we really gain the most in our times of banishment.  Success (as I’ve written before) can be our worst enemy.  It can lull us and dull us into believing that life is all about winning.  Obviously, life isn’t always about winning.  If it were then we’d devour each other in a heartbeat.  Some may argue that that’s what we have in America today.  I’d like to believe not.

So what have you learned?

Think about the following questions:

  1. Have you forgotten the "losses?"
  2. Have the lessons you’ve learned taken root?  In other words, are you a changed person?
  3. Has your level of empathy risen?  Do you care about someone whose facing what you’ve faced?
  4. Do you value the time you have left?

Engagement or Fluff

See Tom Peter’s blog entry on engagement in the workplace.  Been discussed here often, but nice to see others writing about it. 

Even if you don’t believe in statistics you’ll be thinking about the power around the issue.

How important is engagement when you can’t find top leadership talent?  In the coming years we’ll see how…

The NCAA and Procedures

Malcom Gladwell has a penetrating blog entry on the insanity of the NCAA.  If you’ve read any of his books, you know what a good writer he is.  What he writes in his blog is equally good.

What has always amazed me is how organizations keep rules or "procedures" on the books long after they’ve served their purpose.  When was the last time your organization went through the "manual" to make sure everything was still relevant?  Does anyone believe that time stands still for the NCAA, or any enterprise for that matter?  Yet we tread on…living in the past while punishing those that have kept up with future.

What if we started afresh?  Somewhere the voice of time is saying; "where have you been?"