Intelligent Leaders—Shaping The Future

Canadian Flag

Intelligent Leaders—Shaping the Future

Dr. Rey Carr, from Peer Resources, has produced a new e-book on Mentors and Mentoring in Canada. Dr. Carr stated that, “This book coincides with the celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary. This Mentor Resource includes more than 150 examples of mentoring relationships from all walks of life in Canada including sports, history, leadership, the arts, entertainment, acting, broadway, music, politics, and business. Also included are ideas about the key principles associated with mentoring; how mentoring and coaching are the same and different; illustrations of mentoring relationships from life experiences and what is learned from these Canadian mentor relationships.”

This is ebook is available at the site below and is highly recommended by Intelligent Leaders (www.inteligentleaders.ca) and is a must read by “leaders and aspiring leaders.” The information on mentoring and mentor programs is extremely valuable. And, it is equally interesting to read about who is connected to whom. It is free, just a click away and well worth your time.

Shaping The Future:  150+ Canadian Mentoring Relations That Make Canada Great, Creative, Innovative, Productive, Successful and Welcoming

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/celebrate-canadas-150th-e-book-mentors-mentoring-canada-rey-carr

Photo.R Carr.W Townsend

 

Intelligent Leaders—Seriously Funny

5313_smallThe following is an unsolicited recommendation for the Canadian Best Seller: Intelligent Leaders—Let Me Know When You Find One. Intelligent Leaders is a seriously funny look at leadership. This book is available through Indigo/Chapters, Volumes Publishing or direct from waynetownsend@rogers.com

The following is what Book News Desk had to say about Intelligent Leaders.

In the business world, you might want to consider the late Steve Jobs of Apple or, from an earlier era, the much-revered Jack Welch of General Electric, or, to use a uniquely Canadian example, Ted Rogers, who laid the foundation, through sheer audacity and his own risk-taking heart for the creation of the Rogers communications empire. These leaders wanted their companies to reach for the stars; and by and large, they succeeded marvellously. Their employees knew what Jobs, Welch and Rogers expected from them; and, they would run through walls to meet those expectations.

What is it that separates sports and business superstars from the rest of us? That’s what Ontario-based business author Wayne Townsend explores in his book, Intelligent Leaders—Let Me Know When You Find One. This is not your typical, dry-to-the-bone business book. Intelligent Leaders, instead, draws on examples from everyday life – from the worlds of sports, business, politics and entertainment—and Townsend uses wit, humour and lightheartedness to make his key points. Even as Townsend explores concepts such as the value of mentorship and emotional intelligence, he uses the rapier rather than the broadsword, gently nudging his readers toward moving in the direction of a better understanding of the principles of leadership.

Intelligent Leaders is a very humorous and readable book, the type of publication that existing and aspiring business managers will find important and useful. Current leader/managers can use Intelligent Leaders as a checklist for a form of self-evaluation and to see where they stand on the leadership scale. Aspiring leaders/managers can use Intelligent Leaders to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses as they contemplate how they might need to make adjustments to be regarded as an authentic and intelligent leader.

imagesThese days, the business mantra is all about leadership because change is so constant, and so necessary that business conditions can change in a heartbeat. The sand is always shifting even under the most established companies (i.e., Blackberry) and business today needs authentic and intelligent leaders as never before.

Read this book for a seriously funny look at Intelligent Leadership and Let Me Know When You Find One.

Intelligent Leaders — Are You Really Open Minded?

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Is there any rational thinking possible? Could we have lost our potential to reason? Where is morality in all this? Will we ever be open to new thinking? Or is all of this a regurgitation of what we already know?

Unknown“The Enigma of Reason,” “The Knowledge Illusion,” and “Denying to the Grave” were all written before the November Presidential election. And, yet, these articles anticipate Kellyanne Conway and the rise of “alternative facts.” It can feel as if everyone has been given over to a vast psychological experiment being run either by no one or by Steve Bannon. Rational agents would be able to think their way to a solution. But, the literature is not reassuring. There appears to be very little rational thinking.

imagesElizabeth Kolbert, a Pulitzer Prize winner for her writing, wrote about “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.” (February 2017) She quoted studies from Stanford and Harvard that prove that the majority of us are not as open-minded as we might think. Back in the 1980’s Dr. George Betts, from the University of Kansas, wrote about creativity and that the majority of us are not really all that creative. He stated that we only tend to take some new information and place it in our memory banks because it already proves what we already think. Further, he said that we tend to discard any information that doesn’t fit our already pre-conceived notions. To be truly creative, we must be truly open. This research is not new and it is pretty scary. Now add to that the concept of “alternative facts.” Let’s make up information and change the facts to fit our own perception of reality. Let’s discard research and science to prove our position. Let’s call it a created history based on carefully crafted alternate facts. Now this is off the charts scary!

Unknown-1In this past year, media has profoundly called out Donald Trump; and even worse, Donald Trump has called out the media. It has become extremely difficult to find the truth. Governments all over the world have learned how to design and redesign their own set of facts and the media is no longer reporting facts; but finding a new way to shape the story to create an emotional response. Our collective value systems are in a state of chaos.

I learned a number of years ago that emotion is far more convincing than the truth. I owned two and a half acres of property just outside Brantford Ontario. A circus group (to remain nameless) wanted to develop a section of land that was infringing on the placid country feel of the homes and farmland surrounding their intended development. They were having an open public meeting to reveal this wonderful ‘disney-like’ development to the region in order to gain approval from the Regional Director and community support.

I consulted with an Engineer friend of mine who was a drainage engineer consultant for a different region. When developing a property assessment for a region, he said that you have to understand your audience. Know what moves them, use emotion and not logic. They will not hear logic, statistics, numerical facts for fair assessment. They will, on average, only respond to the emotion that touches them personally. No logic!

At this regional meeting there were about 120 people who would be impacted by the development. It was set up to be a formal presentation from the engineer and lawyers supporting the development. They all sat at the front with a long table (power position) and with the Regional Director who was already on board with the developers. The Engineer representing the company made a powerful presentation that made this development look like it would be an incredible Disney World. When they were finished, I raised my hand first from the front and asked if I could speak. With their permission, I gave my presentation of what the region would really get beginning from a very calm and quiet affront.

I had done my research and prepared photos of this groups worst land developments around the province. I had pictures of broken down old machines and equipment, some of which were beside a school where there was no safety fence to protect the children. I gradually increased the rhythm of my voice, the tone of my voice until I was at a highly emotional pitch. Then I sat down and watched the fun. The meeting erupted into an angry, shouting, mob-like atmosphere with everyone blasting the developers. The Regional Director was caught way off guard; and, with his council, refused permission for the development because of the emotional public reaction. A good conclusion even though my tactics were quite underhanded.

The point is, this is how Donald Trump got elected. There may or may not be any logic in what he has to offer the American people; however, his strategy worked. It is very difficult to present new information and expect people to receive it openly. Emotion moves people based on their original thoughts. As much as I would like to think of myself as an open, honest and intelligent researcher, I am like everyone else, impacted largely by emotion. It is our collective “Achilles heal.”

UnknownMy challenge to leaders is to first acknowledge that you are not as objective as you would like to think. And, to strive to do your research, collect new information, weigh it as objectively as you can and find new ways to make new decisions about all kinds of things.

Advice from Bill Clinton to Tony Blair was to find the time—book it in—to “think strategically.” If you don’t book time to think and plan, you will be totally controlled by things of little relevance to your mission. Logical, well thought-out, intelligent leadership comes from effective planning. Find ways and time to allow yourself to “be open” to new ideas, to re-set your mission based on logic rather than the emotion of the day. It is too easy to get distracted and to be moved by “alternate facts.”

Create a new look—drive a new way home tonight.

Intelligent Leaders—Keep Their Composure

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Well I was just having a normal evening watching the Pittsburg Penguins Vs. Ottawa Senators game. I usually get fairly excited about hockey playoffs—I guess I am Canadian. I don’t know what happened. It was a normal evening. I was standing by our wide screen television with my hockey stick and a puck which I normally fool around with while watching the game. Just like in professional hockey, the best players use the excitement and energy to bring their best game. However, there is that fine edge between playing hard and losing it. You can’t win games in the penalty box.

I was just standing there and I thought I was composed yet into the game. I was fine until Sydney Crosby made this pass over to me and I shot it at the far right corner of the net.

images-1Then reality hit! That was the goalie Anderson on the television screen trying to make the save. He missed and I scored. The puck went right through the television screen. Now I would have been in the penalty box except that I got a game misconduct as well.

“All leaders need to find that edge. Let the excitement and energy work for you without losing sight of where you are in the game of life.”

Some changes are, just that, “stupid!”

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Some changes are, just that, “stupid!”

I can’t believe that this pair of jeans by Nordstrom would sell for $425.

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https://heatst.com/culture-wars/nordstrom-now-selling-425-jeans-for-people-who-want-to-pretend-they-have-a-dirty-job/

My first week at high school (let’s say it was few years back), I was wearing a pair of farmer blue jeans because I had been working all summer and the knees were torn out and they were muddy because we only did the wash once a week. Well, back in the day, the schools were trying to keep blue jeans out of the schools. My problem was that we, my brothers and I, had to work early in life because we didn’t have stuff. If we wanted something, then we had to work for it. Mom was working three jobs just to hold the family together. Our father had passed away a year earlier. The classroom teacher sent me to the Vice-Principal who then sent me home because my jeans were inappropriate for a school like this.

Unknown-1I went home and put on my Sunday slacks, the only other pair of pants that I owned, and they let me back in the school.

My thoughts now are that, “I want my old jeans back.” They would be worth $300-400. about now and I could sell them. The holes are worth more than the jeans.

Where are we going… really…?

In the Hawthorne Study on “Change,” their studies show that it is relatively easy to produce changes in a limited, experimental situation. Yet, as we have seen from the consequences of that very experiment, it doesn’t take long for those changes to disappear. Fashions come and go. Trends in education come and go. With each new manager in business, processes come and go. Sometimes it is good to resist change.

People can make lasting changes in themselves only through a commitment to a continuing discipline. For example, crash diets don’t work, but a permanent modification of one’s eating habits does. Visits to spas don’t work (after they’re over), but the daily practice of exercising, stretching, or weight lifting does. The same is true in management. Lasting change comes only from the adoption of sound management principles that are practiced on a continuing basis. There are no quick fixes.

change processIf the best changes are a steady, planned change, then the changes are more likely to be successful—consistent and lasting.

The corollary is that, “Absurd planning with no continuity is an ineffective way to bring about change.”

Planning for change is often a flawed concept because of the limits on predicting the future. (i.e., Bounded Rationality: Many decisions are made without key information.) There are also many surprises along the way. Since we have a difficult time predicting the future because of a variable or set of variables that we cannot see, then it is exceedingly difficult to plan for the future. Study after study indicates that human beings are terrible at predicting the future. While weather forecasts are improving with new technologies that provide better information; I still walk out onto my front porch in the morning and make my own prediction based on what I see. Then I go back inside and select the coat or jacket for the day. Few people trust the weather forecasts. In Thunder Bay Ontario, they have a saying: “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.” I can still remember years ago when the morning radio show host, Jungle Jay Nelson on CHUM Radio Toronto, gave the weather forecast and then he spun a dial with his own forecast—he was right one more time than the academic forecast.

Organizations have difficulty with prognostication as well. Change can be slow or quick—like the weather. Change can be voluntary or forced. Change can be accidental or planned. What is essential in all of this is that not all change is for the better. For example, I laugh at situations where people pay that much for a pair of muddied, torn jeans simply to argue that they are unique and/or are fashionable. How stupid is that?

“By and large, organizations are simply not good at changing themselves. They change more often as a result of invasion from the outside or rebellion from the inside, and less so as a result of planning.”

Many of these changes are resulting from trends (i.e., the latest greatest fashion change…everybody is doing it); and/or technological changes forced upon you. It has been said that, “The only person who really welcomes change is a wet diapered baby!”

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The key is to plan for change. Planning is important to make sure everyone is on the same page and doing things as expected. But, we must compliment planning with scenarios. Planning is developing answers. Scenarios are created by asking questions. “What if” questions. What if a new competitor invades our space? What if we no longer have access to that material? What if our customers taste changes? What if we are highly successful and we cannot supply the demand?

I find that when teams and companies do adequate scenario planning, they are better able to handle the changes that the future presents. When a change occurs, they have the sense that they had talked about that (or some form of it) and therefore are more equipped to handle the challenges of change.

In the article, “Busting The Myth That People Don’t Like Change,” by Ros Cardinal, she writes that, “Managing change is never easy, but it can be managed more effectively by remembering that people are not resisting change – they are resisting loss.” Sometimes we may need to discuss what we have to lose if we don’t change. The conclusion is that we need to plan for change.

“At best, planning becomes a form of anticipatory, strategic thinking—the basis for organizational flexibility and readiness. It helps to be prepared to react more quickly and be less shocked or depressed when the inevitable change does occur.”

If you haven’t planned for change, then you can predict that some changes will  be just that—“stupid.”

“Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.”

Intelligent Leaders—Take An Hour A Day

Boston View

Intelligent Leaders—Take An Hour A Day

Each leader, author and consultant has a somewhat different philosophy for self-development. Decide on what it is that you wish to develop in your “self.” Create your own schedule and then protect that time. It is absolutely critical that if you wish to grow and develop in a specific area, then you need to protect this time as if your life depends on it—because it does. If you do not protect this time as yours, it will drift away from you with time and the pressures of life. This article is a reflection on what has worked for others and what is still working for me. From a mentoring perspective, this is the highest recommendation I can make for those who wish to become “Intelligent Leaders.” Take an hour a day for your “self.”

1. Read

According to an HBR article, “Nike founder Phil Knight so reveres his library that, when you enter, you have to take off your shoes and bow.” He would protect this space and his time there as sacred.

Oprah Winfrey credits books to the development of her success: “Books were my pass to personal freedom.” She has shared her reading habit with the world via her book club. Oprah protects her reading time as essential to her life and business.

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Consider the extreme reading habits of other billionaire entrepreneurs:

• Warren Buffett spends five to six hours per day reading five newspapers and roughly 500 pages of corporate reports.

• Bill Gates reads approximately fifty books per year.

• Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks.

• Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day, according to his brother.

• Mark Cuban reads more than three hours every day.

• Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads two hours a day.

• Billionaire entrepreneur David Rubenstein reads six books a week.

• Dan Gilbert, self-made billionaire and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reads one to two hours a day.

For parents and teachers, here is an article that is written to promote reading with parents in school communities. Create the habit of reading in your children when they are young and this habit will permeate throughout their life time.

Reading Newsletter For Parents.2016 copy 2

2. Reflection & Silence

Everyone needs reflection time, thinking time and learning how to deal with silence. These times need to be quiet and without interruption. Locating the right time and space for this is essential. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong makes his senior team spend four hours per week just thinking. Jack Dorsey is a serial wanderer. LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, schedules two hours of thinking time per day. Brian Scudamore, the founder of the $250 million company O2E Brands, spends ten hours a week just thinking.

When Reid Hoffman needs help thinking through an idea, he calls one of his mentor friends: Peter Thiel, Max Levchin or Elon Musk. I cannot emphasize the advantages to having a mentor enough. The strongest leaders have mentors (formal and informal.)

When billionaire Ray Dalio makes a mistake, he logs it into a system that is public to all employees at his company. Then, he schedules time with his team to find the root cause. Billionaire entrepreneur Sara Blakely is a long-time ‘journaler.’ In one interview, she shared that she has more than twenty notebooks in which she logged the terrible things that happened to her and the gifts that have unfolded as a result. Many authors refer to this as “journalling.” Technically, if you can write out your thoughts, then they become clear and more articulate. Sometimes drawing a picture and labelling it, brings perception to clarity. Some people simply need a friend to say it out loud so they can hear themselves saying it. Effective mentors will empower their partners with this strategy. Much of this is about learning styles. Just recognize what works best for you and make it happen regularly and consistently.

3. Take Action

There needs to be an action phase for your learning. Some call this the experimentation phase. In leadership there needs to be “action forward.” Make plans, reach for clarity, then make the plans happen!

Throughout his life, Ben Franklin set aside time for experimentation, masterminding with like-minded individuals, and tracking key principles for further development. He would learn as much about what doesn’t work as what does work. He would view trials as just that—a series of trials and not failures. Google famously allowed employees to experiment with new projects during twenty percent of their work time. Facebook encourages experimentation through “Hack-a-Months.” These approaches are on the edge of new frontiers.

The biggest example of experimentation might be Thomas Edison’s. Even though he was a genius, Edison approached new inventions with humility. He would identify every possible solution and then systematically test each one of them. According to one of his biographers, “Although he understood the theories of his day, he found them useless in solving unknown problems.”

He took the approach to such an extreme that, Nikola Tesla, had this to say about the trial-and-error approach: “If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would not stop to reason where it was most likely to be. He would proceed at once with the feverish diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search.”

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People who apply the above strategies for life learning find themselves in leadership positions. The idea of deliberate practice is often confused with just working hard. Also, most professionals focus on productivity and efficiency, not on improvement.  Simply taking an hour a day for your “self” sets you apart from others.

Billionaire entrepreneur Marc Andreessen poignantly talked about “improvement rate” in a recent interview. “I think the archetype/myth of the 22-year-old founder has been blown completely out of proportion. I think skill acquisition, literally the acquisition of skills and how to do things, is just dramatically underrated.”

People are often overvaluing the experience of just jumping into the deep end of the pool, because the reality is that people who jump into the deep end of the pool drown. Andreessen clarified that, “There’s a reason there are so many remarkable stories about Mark Zuckerberg. There aren’t that many Mark Zuckerbergs. Most of them are still floating face down in the pool. And so, for most of us, it’s a good idea to get skills first.” Then think about a reasonable plan that is action forward.

The really great CEOs, if you spend time with them—you would find this to be true of Mark Zuckerberg today or of any of the great CEOs of today or the past—they are really intelligent in their knowledge of how to run a company, and it’s very hard to have that level of intuition in your early twenties. The path that makes much more sense for most people is to spend five to ten years getting skills and evolving your thinking process.

An hour a day for self-development should be the bare minimum for anyone wishing to become an Intelligent Leader.

Time Averages

We need to move beyond the cliché, “Lifelong learning is good,” and think more deeply about the minimum amount of learning the average person should do per day to have a sustainable and successful career. Malcolm Gladwell draws the analogy that it takes 10,000 hours to develop a truly refined skill set.

Just as we have minimum recommended dosages of vitamins and steps per day and of aerobic exercise for leading a healthy life physically, we should be more rigorous about how we, as an information society, think about the minimum doses of deliberate learning for leading a healthy life economically. You can read while you use your stationary cycle; however, it is not the same as quiet thinking time.

The long-term effects of not learning are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not having a healthy lifestyle. The CEO of AT&T makes this point loud and clear in an interview with the New York Times; he said that those who don’t spend at least five to ten hours a week learning online “will obsolete themselves with technology.”

 

Leadership—It is time to honour teachers!

Thinks.Dr.Seuss

Educational Leadership—What do you make Teacher?

Taylor Mali delivers a passionate and moving presentation on TED Talk. It has become extremely popular through the media technologies. It is honouring teachers and is well worth the time to watch. View the presentation at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxsOVK4syxU.

I have re-written an edited version to embrace the semantics of newer educational pedagogy regarding teacher methodologies. There is much more that I could have added; however, I didn’t want to stray too far from the original text.

teachers pay lowTeachers work hard with tremendous responsibilities for the future of this world and yet their pay is not commensurate with the cost of living. In Palm Beach, United States, a bus driver makes more per hour than a teacher. In the United Kingdom there is a teacher shortage because you can make more in the service industry waiting on tables than you can teaching. In fact, the cost of living has risen above what a teacher makes. British Columbia, Canada, is having a great deal of difficulty finding supply teachers because the pay is not in keeping with the cost of living and the distance to and from work. This is becoming a world issue. The question arises: “What does a teacher really make?”

By posting this article, I wish to acknowledge all teachers in what they “make.”

Work Value

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What does a teacher make?

The teacher was invited to yet another social evening for dinner. The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man decided to explain the problems with education.

JudgingHe argued,  “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided the best option in life was to become a teacher?”

To stress his point he said to the guest: “You’re a teacher, be honest. What do you make?”

This teacher, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, “You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began…)

“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the ‘Order of Canada’ and an A+ still want to strive for excellence.

I make kids sit through forty minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for five minutes without an I Pod, phone or computer. I teach them how to focus and finish what they start. I teach them how to deal with silence in a world of noise.

You want to know what I make? (The teacher paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

I make kids wonder about things and life.

I make them learn about character, integrity and fair play.

I make them question how things are made and how to reason morally with each other.

I make them apologize and mean it so they can get along with others. I make them understand, appreciate, and even deeper, “value our differences.”

I make take responsibility for their actions. I make them understand the value in natural and logical consequences. I make them develop respect for things, their environment and each other—old and young.

I teach them how to write and then I empower them to write. Keyboarding isn’t everything.

I lead them to enjoy reading for the sake of learning. I help them value learning from all sources and to discriminate between truth and fiction.

I have them show all their work in math. I encourage them to value the process as much as the results. Then I help them to use their God given brain and not the man-made calculator. I make them learn numeracy for speed, accuracy and for self-confidence.

I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make them organize their work and to respect the work of others.

Finally, I make them understand that, if they use the gifts they were  given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.”

The teacher paused one last time and then continued.

Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, when everyone knows that money isn’t everything, I feel proud and give little heed to the critique of others who may have a misplaced value system based on money and materialisms.

I make a difference. I make a wide variety of professions. What do you make?”

In the silence that follows, thought has been stirred once again. And, hopefully, another lesson learned by the student.

Teaching