Portland Leadership Institute
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Leadership for the 21st Century
|Posted on 16 October, 2014 at 20:02||comments (645)|
(posted Friday morning, Oct. 17, 2014)
The Vietnamese coffee is great, the jet lag not so.
The lack of Portland drizzle in October is wonderful, the heat/humidity here.....
And we are here for the people, for the students. So that is what today's blog is about.
First, why are we here? This is Eastern International University, a relatively new Vietnamese university in Thu Dau Mot, just north of Ho Chi Minh City. Loi Nguyen's vision of EIU is to improve his country, do that with education, do that by teaching in English, with English speaking scholars from around the world. We came for a month in Autumn 2012, and this month Jean is working with the spoken and written language, working to develop a modern English language lab. My task is simple: I teach one HRM class, and one Leadership class. Jeanna is in class with me, telling stories. She is a storyteller.
Giang picked us up at the airport midnight Tuesday. A month earlier she had excitedly written to Jeanna when she found that we would return. Jeanna has this impact on people: they look forward to her words, her touch, her built in gentleness. Giang and a friend, another former student from our past trip, greeted us, the driver drove to the apartment. We listened as they explored their dreams of being in the Honors Program, interning in the local hospital, part of the new Health Sciences program here. We listened as Giang proudly spoke English so much better than when we had departed two years ago. Her accent: a purposely cultivated British accent which will suit her for the rest of her life.
Dinner with Loi Wednesday was a trip. Loi is this bundle of energy who runs the university while flying to Singapore or London for weekend business (he will be in Portland, visiting my PSU class, while I am teaching here!). Dinner was at the local golf course resort, almost completely empty, we were joined by Hanh, a former PSU HRM student now working here. Loi was surprised that we preferred Asian food, he having seen most Americans eating western food.
We spent good time listening to his vision for EIU, listening as he described how his elders had said the dream of an English speaking university was absurd. I was reminded of how Hewlett and Packard were derided by their elders 75 years ago for stating that the purpose of a business is to improve society.
Giao came to pick us up Thursday morning. As Loi's secretary, her job is to keep track of him as he juggles all the balls in the air. She is the kind hearted person who takes care of me in the classroom, makes sure all the background things are carefully prepared so I can perform my magic. Her smile relaxes all of us, even as I occasionally become frantic when something does not work as I had planned.
At the university An greeted us with a big hug. She is from here, has her masters degree from Australia, is serious about her teaching. We brought her books, the best gift possible. She took us to lunch, listened to our complaints about the heat, bought us a delicious meal, got perplexed when we said we couldn't find real milk to drink. I woke this morning to find a picture of milk that she bought for us. My guess is that if the situation were reversed I would be laughing uproariously at the foreigners who could not buy milk.
So we are off for the day. More in a few days. And yes, in case anyone cares, I have remembered how to cross streets here. Jeanna.....?
|Posted on 16 September, 2013 at 4:32||comments (32)|
It's always open season on the youngest generation. Whether it's accusing members of a lack of a work ethic, being rude to their elders, or today's favorite word, entitlement, it seems like it is fair game to pick on today's youth. It's getting annoying.
My earliest presentation on generation differences in the workplace was in 1984, when I joined Jay Shimada and Ken Jenkins in discussing "The New Lifestyle Worker." I had come across the issue in 1975 as I was preparing to teach my first class at the University of Washington, and my major professor warned me that today's students did not have the same work ethic I had when I was their age. I was 25; they were 22.
So the Huffington Post, which I generally enjoy, published "Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/generation-y-unhappy_b_3930620.html
Let's get the really picky stuff out of the way first. The original article comes from an unsigned website, http://www.waitbutwhy.com/ without an author's name. Who wrote this? How old are you?
(yes, on this site you can see who I am, and this article allows you to see my age)
And the names: GenY is a name bestowed on the Millennials by the Boomers. It implies that GenY is an addon to GenX (nothing could be further from the truth), and that the Baby Boom generation has the right to name this group. Today's 1980s to 2000s have chosen Millennials; anyone who uses a different name is both disrespectful and disingenuous.
And Yuppies??!? That's from Jerry Rubin and the Yippies. Millennials are yuppies? Where does this come from?
Now to content. The Huffington article suggests that millennials are unhappy, stressed, delusional, frustrated, taunted, inadequate, and generally miserable.
So what does Huffington and waitbutwhy base their statements on? We have two sources:
Let's get to the crux of the issue. Although there are significant differences in the generations, there are also significant age related differences, not related to a generation difference:
We can go on and on. The point is that this is not a generational difference, but is a difference of age.
Tell truth now: When you were 25, did you not hear this being said of your generation? Did you not often say this of your seniors? If you said no to these questions, then you either are the exception, or your memory fails you.
And yes, the younger generation blames the older generation for the mess the world is in. We (I was born in 1950) blamed the seniors for the Cold War. We are now being blamed for the economy, among other things. Youth blames age.
As I say, this is old news. I recently read "The Swerve," Stephen Greenblatt's wonderful examination of the beginning of the Renaissance. Greenblatt noted that young authors in 1400 believed Dante to have been not "truly worthwhile." Talk about a generation difference.
So what do we do? We need to first have a dialog based on true observation, not on the traditional ageist biases. The millennials are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, exactly what we trained them to do. Likewise, the boomers are doing what they are supposed to do. We need to recognize this.
I am doing what I can. I give a "Generations in the Workplace" talk about ten times/year. It gets people talking.
Let's take a realistic look at the Millennials. I see many of these students as hard working, raising a family, working 30 hours a week at their place of employment while taking a full load of classes, and becoming responsible leaders within their professional organizations. I also see some barely putting forth effort as they scrape by and get a degree with as little work as possible. In short, no stereotype describes their work ethic.
Can we make the same type of statements about Boomers? Probably.
So let's stop the blame game. Let's get out of everyone's way. Let's talk to each other at work, find out what our different needs are (e.g., 45 year olds with two kids preparing for college have different needs than single 25 year olds attempting to prove themselves within their organization, yet wanting a long weekend to go skiing). Let's see how we can help each other become more effective and productive.
And let's stop the critical articles based on specious reasoning and assumptions.
|Posted on 19 August, 2013 at 2:35||comments (231)|
All right, let's get this straight, let's come clean.
Today we get to talk two topics: arbitration and due process. A sense of ethics and morality does not matter. All that matters is one person's reading of the contract.
(to all sports announcers: it is an arbitrator, NOT an arbiter, who will decide this. An arbiter can settle disputes, but legally it is an arbitrator who will settle this one. Hearing the word "arbiter" used gives an indication of the quality of the information being discussed. Most announcers do not get this right.)
Most of you know the story. Alex Rodriguez has been accused of using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for Major League Baseball (MLB) prohibits this through a Joint Drug Prevention Agreement (http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/jda.pdf). The CBA/JDA states the penalty: a 50 game suspension for a first time offender, with the right to appeal. As in many CBAs, the employee is permitted to work (play baseball in this case) while the appeal is being heard. That's due process.
ARod is a pariah; he is alleged to have purchased PEDs from Biogenesis, to have recruited other players to use Biogenesis, to have lied to MLB investigators, to have attempted to purchase and hide evidence as part of a coverup, to have snitched on teammates, and to have committed other similar atrocities. People are upset over the size of his contract; they are clamoring for his expulsion from baseball. While most other offenders in the Biogenesis case have been given and accepted 50 game suspensions, ARod was suspended for 211 games. He has understandably appealed.
Let's explain arbitration. The arbitrator is jointly selected by the two parties, based on their knowledge of the arbitrator's past record. Arbitrators make decisions based on three factors: the facts of the case, the relevant contract provisions, and the law. Nothing else. Common sense does not matter. Letters to the editor are irrelevant. A sense of fairness is not a factor. The facts, the contract, and the law. Period.
The CBA and the JDA are specific: a first time offender receives a 50 game suspension. If multiple offenses occur simultaneously, the largest possible penalty takes precedence; simultaneous offenses are not cumulative.
Other than the use of PEDs, none of the list of alleged offenses is identified in the CBA. No matter how anyone feels about these, they can not factor into the arbitrator's decision. In the eyes of the arbitrator, they do not exist.
And a positive 2003 test: this predated the current CBA. It is excluded. From the arbitrator's perspective, it did not happen.
You don't have to like this, but the arbitrator has only one option. Follow the contract provisions and reduce the suspension to 50 games. This is an open and shut case.
If you were an employee and your manager punished you more severely than permitted, you would want similar protections and due process.
|Posted on 10 April, 2013 at 23:06||comments (4)|
What does it take to get fired around here. I learned this question from a great friend, a great consultant, Bob Doyle. I used it again today with a group of CEOs. The look on their faces was illuminating.
Must someone be guilty of sexual harassment? What about embezzlement? Do you have to slug someone? How about spitting in the pizza you are about to serve customers? Poor performance?
What does it take to get fired around here? What does someone need to do in your company to get fired.
Don't tell me about union contracts. Don't tell me about public sector protections. The reality is, after nearly 40 years of teaching, consulting, and listening to CEOs, whenever I ask that question (again, thanks, Bob, for the best question a leadership consultant could ever ask), I see ashen looks on the faces of some of the best leaders we could ever find. Public, private, union, non union. No difference.
Because they know that they tolerate poor (terrible!) performance.
What does it take to get fired around here?
The leadership and management practices of the sports and entertainment worlds have always been illuminating for us. Whether you like them or not, they open a window into human behavior.
The last few weeks have given us great examples. At Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, a coach physically, verbally, emotionally abused his student-athletes. He was suspended; the attorneys said state rules prevented his termination. Only when the video went viral was he fired.
But here's the kicker: when the truth came out, and the coach and Athletic Director were terminated (don't say resigned--that is merely a legal fiction), the President remained. Isn't the legal defensibility of (to paraphrase) "I had no need to see the video" something that may work in court but does not serve the citizens of New Jersey or the reputation of the university? Didn't the President have a responsibility to ask questions and protect his students?
What does it take to get fired around here?
The head of officiating of the Pacific 12 conference (UO, OSU, etc.) clearly told referees to call technicals and/or eject the Arizona coach in the conference tournament. Does this violate the integrity of the game? Is this a bias you want officials, who are assigned to work games ($5000/game) by this very head to hear?
No, this was not enough to terminate the head of officiating. "He was only joking." Not enough to fire until the media and social networking heard of this and complained. Then he got fired.
What does it take to get fired around here?
Learning from the sports world, it's really simple: do you fire people for poor performance? If not, then you are as guilty as the Board of Governors of Rutgers. Do you fire your top salesperson "merely" because she is guilty of sexual harassment? If not, you are as guilty as the Pac-12. Do you get rid of your best performer, who just happens to also berate his subordinates and create immense turnover among your newest and best workers?
If you said no to these questions, and offered the usual excuses, you are in the majority. And you create problems for yourself and every good performer in your organization.
What does it take to get fired around here? This is a question you must ask yourself again and again. If you are uncomfortable reading this, it's time for a change.
When you do not let your poor performers go, when you turn a deaf ear to your discipline problems.....you tell your best people to start looking for work elsewhere. They'll go to your competitors. And your worst people: the message is that you will tolerate anything. They will then test you. Again and again and again.
What does it take to get fired around here? If you call yourself leader, this is the most important question you can ask.
|Posted on 20 February, 2013 at 18:00||comments (22)|
|Posted on 17 February, 2013 at 16:51||comments (9)|
We saw Lincoln a few weeks ago. Aside from some minor historical inaccuracies, it was an incredible story of vision, perseverance, and focus.
For those who knew of Honest Abe only from childhood stories or history classes, Lincoln might have been a shock. While the movie exhibited his passion for the common person, we also saw a hard driving politician, willing to use some of the same hardball tactics, including buying votes, we abhor in our politicians today. Those who have studied Lincoln closely, perhaps reading a biography (I am partial to Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln) found little surprise here.
You may recall a prior essay we wrote about LBJ and MLK, based on a play we saw at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in Ashland. Although reinforcing perceptions about LBJ, it showed MLK in a new light, casting him as a single minded leader, bent on sacrificing whatever it took in order to achieve his goals.
Lincoln achieved the 13th Amendment. MLK and LBJ the Civil Rights Act.
Focus. What does that really mean?
Jim Collins (Built to Last; Good to Great; Great by Choice) has used his career to tell American leaders about focus. Much of my recent international teachings have built on Collins' work.
Collins takes a simple Greek quote from Archilochus, "the fox knows many things; the hedghog one big thing," and ties it to the concept that the cunning fox cannot catch the simple hedgehog because of the one big thing. The stodgy hedghog puts its protective spikes out and the fox cannot successfully attack. The hedgehog survives, and the fox goes hungry..
Focus. The Hedgehog. Lincoln, LBJ, MLK. What does this mean for you?
For a leader we have translated Collins' works into three questions:
What does this mean for any leader, Lincoln, King, Johnson, or you? Lincoln is the perfect example:
So now it's up to you. What are you supposed to do within your organization, within your life? Leaders throughout history, perhaps beginning with Hillel 2100 years ago, have asked two simple questions: "If not us, who? If not now, when?"
What are you to do, when should you do it?
What is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal? How will you find the focus to begin this work.
Both life and leadership become simple when you find your sweet spot..
|Posted on 2 February, 2013 at 15:31||comments (357)|
Travel and transportation: just one way we are all different from each other.
I was scheduled to return home on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. Taxi to the airport in Lyon, early morning flight to Amsterdam, non-stop flight to Portland. Pretty simple, right?
However, Sunday 9:00 PM E-mail from KLM: "your flight, Lyon to Amsterdam, has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience."
Inconvenience!!?! I'm not getting home Monday! Oh well, the sun will shine in Lyon, the extra day will be wonderful. So with Jeanna's help from the US, me skyping her while she speaks directly to KLM, we reschedule for Tuesday.
The problem is the weather. London, Paris, and A'dam airports are smothered in snow. It's on TV and everyone's minds. I soon find on Monday that Tuesday's plane is canceled also. What gives?
KLM tells me they are compelled to cancel 40% of their flights due to the weather, so they choose to cancel the local flights and retain the international flights. Well, that does me no good. I'm stuck.
But I just finished teaching my leadership class, with the final session focusing on being stuck. So I check and I check, looking for options, searching for clues, again going to the KLM ap. What do I find? The train! Yes, the train from Lyon to Paris, non-stop flight to Seattle, then Horizon (always with free micro brews!) to Portland. I'm in luck.
So why is this blog about transportation differences? This solution is not available in most places in the US, certainly not in Portland.
Over the years we have observed so many travel differences throughout the world. Here are some more:
Bicycles, motorized bikes, and mopeds
The rest of the world is a walking and train driven world.
We thoroughly enjoy European travel, even with its ups and downs. Asia has always been more challenging (we'll probably never drive there), although we find it easy to get around. And there is no travel that I enjoy as much as the Autobahn. However, at 100 MPH the world goes by quite fast.
|Posted on 18 January, 2013 at 19:41||comments (615)|
|Posted on 8 December, 2012 at 18:12||comments (23)|
|Posted on 20 November, 2012 at 3:47||comments (146)|