Book Review – True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership

By Bill George with Peter Sims, Published 2007

I first became aware of the term authentic leadership several years ago, attending a similar titled course at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Taught by Kevin Cashman and Richard Leider, two well known executive coaches, they helped put theory and structure to the way I think about leadership. Bill George helps do that too in his book, True North. He shares personal stories, gleaned from interviews of 125 top leaders, selected “based on their perceived authenticity and established success.” Though success was almost always measured in the book by their company’s performance, there are examples of success that are not limited to professional life alone. This is not a book that helps you establish your values or even leadership principles. For that you’ll have to look elsewhere–and after reading this book, you’ll want to be sure you understand that foundation well. Covering the pages is quick, but engaging in the exercises that are included as part of each chapter are where you will more thoughtfully move from theory to personal application. Bill George say to be encouraged by leaders like Warren Bennis, who in his eighties, still tells his undergraduate students at USC each year, “I know I have a lot to learn from you.”

Rating: ♦♦♦◊◊

Recommendation: Worth getting for the appendices – questions and a list of senior leaders you may wish to study further

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Book Review – Made to Stick

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

By Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Published 2007

If you’ve ever wondered why something is interesting to you, it might be explained by the Gap Theory. Proverbs are simple and timeless; therefore they are memorable. If a story is made personal, it sticks like velcro hooks. Emotion matters though there’s a right way and wrong way to appeal to it. And so goes the book as it outlines the six major concepts for making an idea stick with an audience, a customer or anyone. The applications are endless for teachers, business people or parents. Well worth understanding the concepts. As with most well written books, you can find a summary of the ideas at the end, good for those that may not have the time for a full read.

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Book Review – Manning Up!

Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys

By Kay S. Hymowitz, Published 2011

If you’re aware of studies on the current culture, much of what is presented will be familiar…and much of it disheartening. What’s innovative about this book is the thread that Kay ties between the statistics of men obsessing with junior-high humor and video games, females pursuing exciting knowledge careers and the changing reality of marriage in America. Even very good things (e.g. progress of women in the marketplace), Kay suggests, alter the relationship between men and women in complex and not all positive ways. The trends suggest a future of great disappointment for a large swath of America, mostly to those who desire a more traditional family. I’m wasn’t able to follow all her logic, but found many of her ideas fresh and worth pondering.

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To meet or not to meet

Anyone who’s been in a business setting for any length of time knows that meetings can quickly overwhelm a calendar. For me, today happens to be a light day for meetings, at least the formal scheduled ones. The amount of work done is exponentially greater as a result. Meetings serve one of three purposes: inform, act or decide.Inform – the most common and generally the hardest to measure value.  If I own the meeting, my goal should be to make sure the intentions of the meeting are clear in order to limit and compel those that have an interest to attend.Act – a working meeting where value is measure in completion of tasksDecide – all meetings involve decision making at some level, but a meeting established for the purpose of making a specific decision requires substantial planning: making sure the correct information is presented, that the decision request is clear, that those making the decision are present and it’s clear who owns the decision. The value of these meetings are measured by clarity of the decisions.My goal is to make my meetings matter.  Whether I facilitate or attend, be prepared, be clear, be decisive.

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Book reading list enhanced

I’ve added entries for 2009 to the Books Read page. Ratings are included with each entry.

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Check out this video link. Is this real? Even when I was younger, unmarried and invincible, this did not fit my risk profile.Wingsuit Flying

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What bothers you?

What bothers you more: Things that you disagree with or things that may change you? I suppose that being forty means that I’m set in my ways and have formed strong opinions about many things. I have a core that will not easily be shaken.Sitting in church today, I learned about a series of upcoming sermons that will be focused on the parables of Jesus. Though familiar, there will be some perspectives shared that will be uncomfortable for me and others. To Pastor Dave I say, “Bring it on.” I don’t expect the essence of the gospel (part of my core) to be challenged, but I should be open to the idea that what I understood the meaning of a parable to be for thirty years, might be a bit more confusing ,challenging or paradoxical.Tomorrow I’ll read the news. I’ll see and hear many ideas and opinions that are different from my own. In most cases, I can articulate why I disagree, but I will certainly listen to the opinion of others, first to understand, second to decide whether or not it matters to have a strong opinion, and third to form/adjust/share my opinion.The next time you’re bothered, figure out why it matters so much to you. Then do something about it.

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Say what you mean – Part I

I see it often with my kids. One of them will come to me crying because of some great injustice. Just a little bit of probing reveals that their ‘injury’ is minor and that they’re more upset at what was intended to harm them. We learn this and perfect it as we grow older.Remember the last time someone cut you off on the freeway? Or when your child repeatedly disobeyed you? I do and both times my reaction was beyond what was appropriate. I’ve been reading a little book by Richard Baxter on anger management. I don’t consider myself to have ‘anger issues’ but it is an area for me to improve. Baxter discusses occasions when anger is sinful. Some examples:

  • When it disturbs our reason, and hinders us from thinking rightly.
  • When it causes us to act unbecomingly, so as to use sinful words or actions.
  • When it is greater in measure than that which provoked the anger.

What’s my point? I think a lot of us, me included, feign anger, hurt, many other things, for personal and selfish reasons. When things are not going our way we try to redirect the situation. There may be circumstances where this can be justified, but think about it the next time it’s not. What’s a better way to respond? For someone who does this all the time, watch Everybody Love Raymond.

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Tracking what they read

I’m excited that my kids have taken an interest in reading the Bible. Anders wrapped up Leviticus several weeks ago and recently finished the Psalms. I was certainly not reading the Bible that much at age seven. Elena is also doing some challenging reading and just completed Revelation. To help with their reading, Tracey suggested a tracking tool. I put together a quick Excel template for them to check off chapters as they go. I printed one for myself as well.Reading through the Bible can be a daunting task. Here are some suggestions on different ways to approach it, from Justin Taylor’s blog.

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Likes and Dislikes

In college, my wife had a journal that she passed around to everyone. Each person would write down their likes and dislikes. It was fun to read because some considered it a serious effort, others merely fun. Every day I run across things that I like and dislike. Here are some of my likes from the past week:

  • Lifetime Fitness
  • Lightroom for most of my photo needs
  • My wife, my kids
  • Google Reader – love it but I wouldn’t call it efficient. Don’t forget to add as a subscription
  • Delta tools are hand for building pinewood derby cars for cub scouts
  • Home Depot – paint for the girls’ room this week. something else every other week
  • Chai tea – my daily indulgence
  • Podcasts – see my previous blog entry
  • Our neighbors
  • Open Door
  • Living in America
  • Lost – 11 days to go

My dislikes:

  • Really cold weather without snow. How many snowstorms have been promised but missed our house this year?
  • The pile – every house has one and it grows until it must be destroyed (or sorted)
  • Forgetting why I went upstairs…or downstairs
  • Verbing of the English language. Have you noticed how often people use words as verbs when they’re not meant for that?
  • Phrases like, “It is what it is”
  • Long blog entries
  • Anything Hershey’s, except mint kisses
  • Recycling bins that are too small
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