Are you an out-of-date commander or a gardener of talent?

6716551377_aa30bc0f86_bMany management practices stem from command-control models of organizations. The bosses command, and the troops are supposed to follow.

Sadly, this approach doesn’t line up with the reality of current-day challenges. We don’t live in a predictable world that operates like a Swiss watch. Managers don’t and can’t have all of the answers. Similarly, employees, especially younger generations, don’t want to be cogs in the corporate structure.

For years, my colleague Meg Wheatley, author of “Leadership and the New Science” and many other books, has noted that it’s time for leaders to shift from being “heroes” futilely trying to have all of the answers to being “hosts” who bring talent to the party and create the conditions for creative and productive work. (See, for example, “Leadership
Host” Margaret
Frieze ©2010)

Thankfully, even military leadership, one of the bastions of command-control mentality, recognizes these realities. Retired General Stanley McChrystal’s new book, “Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World,” boldly articulates the new reality and what’s needed. Consider his recap of some key points on page 232. (Italics are McChrystal’s.)

- Although we intuitively know the world has changed, most leaders reflect a model and leader development process that are sorely out of date. We often demand unrealistic levels of knowledge in leaders and force them into ineffective attempts to micromanage.

- The temptation to lead as a chess master, controlling each move of the organization, must give way to an approach as a gardener, enabling rather than directing.

- A gardening approach to leadership is anything but passive. The leader acts as an “Eyes-On, Hands-Off” enabler who creates and maintains an ecosystem in which the organization operates.

Have you and your organization embraced these new realities?

How are you being a gardener of talent?

Do you want to boost the growth and application of talent in your organization? See resources and examples at Discover how leaders can be more effective (and less stressed) by tapping the self-motivation of the talented people in their organizations.

Photo by: Garry Knight


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Overcoming ObstaclesPosted in %s, Talent in the Workplace

Are You Triggering Your Best Performance?

triggers marshall goldsmith don maruskaIs there something that you want to have happen in your career, organization, or life? What’s getting in your way? Of course, significant changes encounter many perceived and real obstacles. The critical question is what are you doing about them?

In his new book “Triggers,” Marshall Goldsmith highlights the big gap between planning and doing. He describes six “engaging questions” that he invites participants to ask themselves each day for ten working days. Each question begins with “Did I do my best to” and ends with “today?” While the content of the questions is important, what’s particularly powerful is the focus on what each of us (not someone else) did to do our best and did today (not sometime in the future).

Taking charge of what we want and taking action today yield success. This is core to our message in “Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life.” What will help you move from planning to action? Here are some of the 15 tools that have proven useful to accelerate through obstacles:

  • Take 5 – spend 5 minutes at day giving focused attention to your hopes. [p. 64]
  • Make your hopes visible—create images and reminders in your environment to keep your deepest hopes in mind.
  • Have your very own Hope Holders—ask the right people to tend the flame of your inspiration and never let you give up on yourself.
  • Get your “but” out of the way—examine how you think about things that get in your way. Remove what is interfering.
  • Flip your concerns into hopes—explore your concerns to see what hope underlies them.
  • Take the 100 Resource Challenge—discover the many underused resources that can help you succeed.
  • Take consistent action with a Daily Action Pack—convert big objectives into bite-sized pieces that you can accomplish each day.

Pick the tools that will help you thrive.

Honor yourself with the questions and tools that put you in charge. When we shift our thinking from what’s in our way to what we can do today, our minds work to help us find a path.

Enjoy the results.




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Overcoming Obstacles features “3 Keys to Unlocking Employee Talent”
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