Leadership Lessons

The Leadership Secrets of Colin PowellI  like and can appreciate books on leadership. Over the past few years, I have gotten into that and always look to see what new books other managers have collected on leadership. I ran across a book about Colin Powell’s leadership lessons and have been pleased with it.

I was given a PowerPoint presentation that goes over his 18 lessons on leadership and in an effort to find more about him, I ran across his book. The book expounds on the 18 lessons and what they mean. I am doing this book and presentation with my leadership team at work. We cover 2 lessons a month and have discussion questions around it. We did it the first month and they love it! It is a great read and tool for anyone who likes to read leadership books.

Just a sample: the 1st leadership lesson is this-“Being responsible as a leader means sometimes pissing people off.”  WOW! That is a great lesson that a lot of leaders may feel uncomfortable around. But, there are numerous times that leaders want to play Mr./Mrs. Nice Guy and not address problem performers. Because of this, Colin explains that we ironically end up pissing off the people who are the most valued and creative in the organization.

This book has allowed my leadership team to have some candid discussions about their style of leadership and how they can improve. A must read for all leaders!

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Different, Yet Presidential

Yesterday marked an unforgettable day in history with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American U.S. President! It was a proud day as we witnessed change and potentially hope. There are some who doubt Obama’s ability to change all and they have a great cloud of skepticism. That is OK because it is everyone’s right to believe how they choose. One thing I know for sure is that Obama is different from Bush, different from the last administration, and just plain different.

On www.cnn.com today, they had an interesting snippet how Obama has changed a “Bush rule”. They showed a picture of Obama sitting in the Oval Office (his Oval Office, I might add:) with his suit jacket off! Apparently, Bush had a rule that he nor anyone else was to be in the Oval Office without their suit jacket on.  That is nonsense! If it is your office, why the rules about what you can wear in your office. Obama is just different.

Another difference: the standard White House website has been redesigned and was launched during Obama’s inauguration yesterday. Check it out at www.whitehouse.gov. It has a new look and is a very “open” site with a plethora of accessible information about his agenda, his administration, etc. it is very different than usual. Obama is different in this regard because he is technically savvy and displayed this side throughout his campaign. He even is a “self-professed” Blackberry addict. He has consistently used text messaging and emails as a communication platform to share his ideas, agenda, information, etc. The entire inauguration weekend, we received several text messages from his camp giving tips on inauguration attendance, parking info, updates, etc. That is just plain different.

Yet with all the differences, he is very presidential. His presence is commanding, yet calm. His demeanor is respectful, yet humbled. He challenges, but never degrades. He exudes an equal amount of assertion and compassion. His speech is eloquent, yet common and understandable. As he speaks and interacts, you can sense that he is concerned about the details-the small things that are the BIG things for others.  He is a great model thus far for what one would consider presidential. I am excited that he is the President and look forward to his differences and his presidential ability.

A New President….a New Beginning

Words cannot express the feelings I have as I watch President-elect Barack Obama accept his win as Presidency of the United States. Overjoyed. Hopeful. Shocked. Awed. These are just some of my immediate feelings tonight. All day long I tried to not think about the election and the results that would we hear. I never even believed that we would have a result tonight before midnight.

Marcus and I started our results- watching at our neighbor’s house as we had about 15 people that were all together biting nails and hanging on the edge of their seat as the electoral votes started to come in. As the night progressed between 9-9:30 pm, the atmosphere in the room began to anticipate that Obama really had a chance to win. As the clock struck 10 pm, Obama was announced as the elected president and the room literally erupted with joy and unimaginable excitement. Everyone was so happy and started calling their friends and family to talk about the history that was just made.

I am writing this post in the moment because I wanted to capture my raw feelings as I am experiencing them. I am happy tonight for several reasons that I will share below:

  • I am happy that Obama WON the electoral and the popular vote! He was not “selected”-he was truly elected by the people and there is absolutely no argument that he did not win or that he barely won. He trounced McCain-short and sweet!
  • I am happy that Obama WON because I believe that he truly deserved to win based on his political views, his experiences, and his absolute resolve and character shown throughout this campaign. This does not mean that I completely agree with all of his political views and ideas. But, I do agree with his vision for change and his character that he portrayed the entire election. I was impressed by his absolute respect for his opponent, his remarkable strategy, and most of all his humanness. He was always aware of what his opportunities were and spoke openly about them. But, more than speaking openly about them, he surrounded himself with others that were strong where he was weak. He always acknowledgedothers and showed a true connection to the people he vowed to support.  Overall, his character and personality set him apart above all. He refused to retaliate back to McCain with the negativity and petty politics that McCain and Palin used as their armor.
  • Lastly, I am happy that Obama WON because he is the 1st African-American to hold this office. And as a female African-American, I feel that I have won. I have won more hope, more resolve, and more determination. He has made such a statement that anything is possible. He has achieved goals that I did not even think I would see in this period in my life. I am happy for him and I am happy for me. I am happy that my daughter was able to witness this event tonight. This validates to her that anything is possible. Obama will be in her history books for sure. What a perfect example for her to see!
  • I am so proud beyond words. I was not around during segregation, so I am sure those that were have a deeper sense of pride and joy tonight that I could not imagine. But when I think that just 40 years ago ( 7 years before I was born), there were separate bathrooms for colored and whites. And now, a “colored” or African-American is the president-elect of the United States! Unbelievable! I did not vote for Obama just because we share the same race, but I am extremely proud that we are of the same race. There are a majority of people that assume that all African Americans support Obama just because he is African-American. I am here to say that is not true. He was an ideal candidate that gave so much more than just the “gold card” of being African-American. He is a great representation of the African-American race and exudes intelligence, purpose and deliberation beyond compare. I think about the times I have been treated differently because of my race and tonight there is a certain inward vindication that it is OK.

This has been a long race and it has finally ended, yet only begun. It will be important that all Americans support our new leader and the new direction the country is about to go in. I am not fooled thinking that Obama is the new saviour of the United States and that he will heal our economic maladies and foreign woes. He will make mistakes and in 4 years, all may not be resolved. Yet, I do believe things will be different and headed in a different direction. So, tonight we have a new President and a new beginning!

Much To Say

I have much to say about all that is going on in the news, with the top two being the election and the economy. Those two items are the hottest thing going. Even people that typically do not watch the news are watching the news. And for those who were already news junkies like my husband…well, they are in news euphoria.  As of late, I have gotten on the news bandwagon myself and it has been a rocky ride to say the least.

Let’s start with the economy. Everyday for the past few weeks, there has been a gloomy story about the economy and it is interesting to hear all the different perspectives out there. They range from complete chaos “take my money out of the bank” to “everything is fine, this too shall pass” syndrome. Where is the middle or realist viewpoint I must ask? The truth is that the economy is in terrible shape and it is the worst it has been since the Great Depression. We have tried rebate checks to stir the economy to no avail. Companies have closed, laid off thousands, and unemployment is steadily increasing. Now, we have pushed and waved the banner for the “bailout” package, yet there is no bailout. The only thing bailing out is our freedom as we head more into the prison of debt. Isn’t it funny how there were such direct statements that if the bailout proposal did not pass through Congress IMMEDIATELY, that our economy would be in dire danger? The day after it passed, the comments shifted to remarks that the bailout was not an immediate fix and we will see an ill economy into 2009.  I do not claim to be a genius, but something does not sound right about that. What is really going on and how long will it continue? Will it get better? What will it take to get better? I will share more pointed opinions about that in a later post.

As for the presidential election, we are 27 days away! It is an interesting time and I hate that it is being shared the stage with a failing economy. How might things be different if that were not the case? I do not know that it would…I just wonder. I watched the debate last week with Biden and Palin. It was comical if I could use such a word to describe it. It was two opposing personalities at their best of what they do. They both chose to answer questions that were not asked, but overall I thought Biden did a better job with his answers and communication. Palin , in my opinion, only did a good job by the press because she has utterly made an embarrassing spectacle of herself the previous times she has opened her mouth. So, did she recover? Yes, she recovered. But it would not have been considered great by any standard if she had not gained the bad reputation prior. She has the potential to be a strong female VP candidate if she would just lose the “Say it ain’t so Joe” rigmarole and sound educated and familiar with what she is talking about. Or at least learn the old lesson of faking it until you can make it!

As for the debate last night, I thought both Obama and McCain did OK. Obama fared better on some answers and vice versa. McCain could have used some better choice of words than he chose too. Overall, it was a decent, not outstanding debate. We will see what happens next week for the 3rd debate.

All in all, I have much to say and there IS much to say about the current state of the world. I do not believe though that it is just news. I think everything going on also has an underlying religious connection as well. Read Matthew 24 as it talks about last day events. You just might have much to say yourself!

Genuine or Political?

The news has been abuzz the entire election season. Today was no different as John McCain decided to suspend his election to “help” with the American financial crisis. Noble idea, huh? The first thing that popped in my head was if this was a genuine move or a political one? The news reports state that Obama called McCain earlier this morning to suggest that they both take a united stance together on their thoughts and ideas of ways to help with the economic crisis. Then later this afternoon, McCain decides to suspend his campaign. Again, genuine or political? It is sad that we even have to ask these questions. What do you think?

Must We Dare to Hope?

The news has been a buzz the past 2 weeks as it has covered both the Democratic and Republican National Convention. I originally started this post the last night of the Democratic convention. Needless to say, I was fired up and ready to vote after hearing Obama’s speech the final night. Time got away and I was not able to write it that night. Now, another week has passed and I have seen the opposite side as I watched parts of the Republican Convention. There was a stark difference between the two. I am an Obama fan, so of course one may say I am biased. BUT….there was so much energy and great speakers during the Democratic Convention. Each speaker spoke to the issues at hand. And yes, since this is politics-there were occasional remarks directed about the opponent McCain and his inability to be an effective President. Well, as I watched the Republican convention, it was nothing short of a “Bash Obama” Show. They did not talk about issues or what they would do to support the U.S. All they did was berate and take every possible jab at Obama. I thought Sarah Palin took enough cheap shots to last her the rest of the campaign.

And let’s talk about Mrs. Palin. Since no one even knew who she was less than 2 weeks ago, that was her time to show America who she is and what she stands for. All I heard was her dislike and sarcasm for Obama. And, oh yea I was able to piece together that she is a mother of 5 kids running for VP of the U.S.  Her latest child is 5 months with Down Syndrome. I am a working mom with 2 kids and sometimes find it difficult to strike the perfect balance between the two and spend adequate time with my kids. I cannot imagine my job being the Vice-President of the United States of America. Who does that?

Anyway, back to Obama…I thought his remarks were inspiring and unifying. There have been many critics that have said that he is not a realist and that all he talks about is change. One thing is for certain-WE NEED CHANGE. Is Obama a realist? I think so. I think he see the glass half full and not half empty. I think he sees the beauty of teamwork and unity. As I continued to watch him, I became more invigorated about the possibilities he talked about and the dreams he mentioned. I asked myself “Is this all fluff?” or “Must I dare to hope?” Do you think there were people in 1963 that thought Dr. Martin Luther King was not a realist? Were there critics that not only wanted his words to not come true, but also doubted that it was even possible? I am sure there were some. And yet, 45 years later not only has “his dream” materialized, it has also been realized in having an African-American presidential nominee!!! So….must we dare to hope? Must we dare to think that maybe, just maybe we can have change. My answer……YES, WE CAN!!!