For the book report portion of our seminar, I chose to read The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action through Narrative by Stephen Denning. As I stated briefly during class yesterday, one of the reasons I chose this book is because it revolves so much around the power of narrative. I am extremely passionate about English literature and, as such, consider the impact of narrative structure and tone on how the reader (or “audience”) perceives the story. Both of these make a huge difference in the type of message delivered through a novel.
However, I had never considered the impact that narrative structure can have in daily life! We each have our own narrative methods–the way we tell stories to our friends and family, the way we present ourselves and our ideas to our bosses and co-workers, and even the way we deal with children to whom we want to convey a certain message. Denning presents many interesting ideas about how we can add to and/or alter our own narrative structures to make our points much clearer and more impactful.
Most of the book focuses on Denning’s ideas of storytelling and story listening. He states that in order to understand an audience, we first need to study them: their likes, dislikes, and what’s at the forefront of their thoughts. We need to ask the question: what is most impacting them right now? Then we need to ask: how can I work that into my narrative for the time when they’re my audience? Denning says that by telling stories the right way and grabbing the audience’s attention, the speaker can deliver their message in such a way that the audience will come to picture themselves as part of the change being spoken about. They come to see themselves as the protagonists of the story and the previous research of the speaker means that the audience can see some of their most relevant and pressing worries as the antagonist.
What I liked most about this book was its accessibility. The language and diction were clear and constructed in such a way that it felt less like he was commanding you to take his advice, and more like he was having a friendly conversation with you. This was especially appropriate given the fact that Denning places such importance on conversation, which he defines as a two-way street, not a one-way alley. Listed below are the fridge quotes I picked out, in order from the book:
- “[Transformational leaders] change the world by generating enduring enthusiasm for a common cause…they don’t just generate followers: their followers themselves become leaders.”
- “Successful leaders communicate very differently from the traditional, abstract approach to communication. In all kinds of settings, they communicate by following a hidden pattern: first, they get attention. Then, they stimulate desire, and only then do they reinforce with reasons…”
- “The task here…[is] about enabling the people in the audience to see possibilities that they have hitherto missed. It means creating the capability in the audience to see for themselves the world and their relations with others in a new and more truthful light.”
- “Conversation is person-to-person—not role-to-role. Conversation is conducted on the same level, one human being to another, not people acting out roles, saying what they’ve been told to say or what’s expected of them…”
- “The way for leaders to continue and accelerate enthusiastic implementation and deepen the relationship is by having regular, ongoing conversations with the people they are leading, about the things going on in their context and how they can address emerging threats or opportunities.”
Above is a video of Stephen Denning talking about leadership and narrative communication. What do you think of his communication style? Does he get your attention, stimulate the desire to create change, and then reinforce it with reasons (his three communication principles)?
Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, written by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., takes the notions of one’s mindset and twists it into the driving force behind success. As the book describes, this is success in regards to parenting, business, school, sports and relationships—romantic, personal and professional. Through years of research, Dweck has broken down and studied the phases and power of one’s mindset, and the outcomes of each one’s success. Her results, in conjunction with her own personal experience and interviews with well-known professionals, are both motivational and influential, and can change any day’s work into a great one by simply changing your mindset.
Dweck drives one idea harder than any other: failure doesn’t have to be the end. No matter your mindset, there is always room for improvement. Your abilities, intelligence and knowledge do not have a limit, but are always expandable. She writes, the best of us “look failures in the face, even their own, while maintaining faith that they would succeed in the end” (Dweck, Pg. 110).
“a fixed-mindset … asking them to fit the mold of the brilliant, talented, child or be deemed unworthy. [...]
“growth-minded ideals … giving them something they can strive for. … giving their children growing room.” (Pg. 192 & 193)
“I hate using the first person. Nearly everything I’ve done in my life has been accomplished with other people.” – Jack Welch, GE
“After every game or practice, if you walk off the field knowing that you gave everything you hand, you will always be a winner.” -Mia Hamm, USA Soccer
- Relationships (Romantic, Personal & Professional):
“A no-effort relationship is a doomed realtionship. … It takes work to communicate accurately and it takes work to expose and resolve conflicting hopes and beliefs. … ‘they worked happily ever after.’” (Pg. 152)
Dweck, C. S. P. D. (2006). Mindset. New York: Random House, Inc.
A few days ago I tweeted a New York Times story about a Silicon Valley investor who uses rap lyrics to teach basic lessons of business. His name is Ben Horowitz and his blog has completely fascinated me for the last week. Two things that are not supposed to go together, the white-collar world and the street life verbalized in the often profanity-laden lyrics of rap music, are combined to teach principles of Ethics, Entrepreneurship, Strategy and last but not least: Leadership!
Yes, it’s true. I did say leadership. It may sound crazy, but consider this quote from Adam Bradley, associate professor of African American literature at the University of Colorado cited in a BBC article about Horowitz:
“Rap presents an immediate test. If you get up on the stage and you are whack, you are going to get booed off. You have to present yourself in the moment and you have to move the crowd. I think there is a lesson there in leadership because it’s about creating pathways of connection.”
While Howoritz’s posts often take on practical business elements that appeal to venture capitalists and those in the executive world, it is important to note a powerful lesson from what Horowitz has done:
- Leadership lessons can come from anywhere!!! (including rap music)
Anything and everything can teach lessons about leadership, from movies to sports to school and everything in between. If we look for opportunities to glean lessons from everything we experience we will become that much more effective at being leaders.
Here’s a rap lyric from Eminem’s song Like Toy Soldiers that I thought of while writing this post. While it may be a little more obvious than some of Horowitz’s examples, it teaches about leadership by example.
I’d never drag them in battles that I can handle unless I absolutely have to
I’m supposed to set an example
I need to be the leader, my crew looks for me to guide ‘em
If some s*** ever just pop off, I’m supposed to be beside ‘em
Remember that leadership lessons come in all shapes and sizes and from a variety of sources!
I like reading about people who lead or who led in their life based around actions. I think I enjoy those because it makes me feel good about humanity. They go through hardship (and sometimes that doesn’t even scratch the surface) and they rise above everything to make a difference.
Okay, I’m a sucker for a good story. I’ll admit it.
That brings me to our leadership book presentations. Every presentation we had today was very informative, interesting, well thought out and on a great book with great lessons to teach us. The books that are written about specifically about leadership and different leadership traits and tactics are great because they outline and explain different parts of leadership. The tactics, the traits, and the style help people understand how to be a good leader and how to help others lead. I like putting terms to things I see bosses or higher ups do.
I don’t want to knock on those books because they are valid, but when it comes to leadership, the books that resonate more powerfully with me are books about people, their life and their leadership. They just seem more powerful and their message lasts longer. Like “Desert Flower.” I will remember the hardship that the Waris Dirie went through and what she is doing trying to change it. I will remember her fighting against FGM, leading against those who practice it, and raising awareness in the world for it. She is a leader because she took her life and turned it around. Now, she is changing it. She fought for what she believes in, and she fought for her life.
She is a leader, and while everyone didn’t go through what she went through, or is in a position to change the world, stories like hers are great to hear. But what we can do is watch, help out, and hope that we would fight to change the world when the right cause comes around. It’s powerful, and I don’t think I can say that enough.
As for the books about leadership, I like them because they put terms to things I witness. They also make me think deeper about how my actions affect others and vice versa. Without those, I don’t I would fully understand the leadership styles of books and stories like “Desert Flower.”
PS – I hope this Tim Tebow book I’m reading is good…because otherwise, I might get struck down from above for not liking Tim Tebow(‘s book).
‘QUOTES THAT LEAD’
Listen to Learn~
Empathize their Emotions~
“Empathy creates a sense of openness and an acceptance of all attitudes or emotions.”
Attend to Aspirations~
“Aspirations are the motives that drive us to act.” Peter J. Dean
Diagnose and Detail~
“Normal everyday leaders build ideas and seek to accomplish them.” Peter J. Dean
Engage for Good Ends~
“Everyday leaders acting with ethical standards help create an ethical climate.” Peter J. Dean
Respond with Respectfulness~
“A person-centered, nonauthoritarian arena can be created one conversation at a time.”
Speak with Specificity~
“Speaking reveals our leadership skills as well as the personal power and sphere of influence one has…”
Leadership for Everyone by Peter J. Dean
The past week there has been a lot of talk about the ESPN editor that wrote a
Before Federico’s headline gained attention I had no idea “chink” was an offensive word. I had honestly only heard the term “chink” used in the cliche “chink in the armor.” I do not agree Federico should have been fired for not knowing the derogatory meaning of a word. I agree with the article published on Poynter by Roy Peter Clark. People do need to be responsible for their words and actions but I do not think people should be punished for ignorance. After reading Federico’s apology, I believe he did not know the derogatory meaning of “chink.” I do not think it was fair that Federico lost his job while anchor Max Bretos, who said the cliche is being suspended for thirty days.
An article published on bigleadsports.com titled “ESPN Took a Harsh Stand With the Max Bretos One Month Suspension” made some interesting points about words and their meanings. It started with a reference to a line that contained the word “chink” in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. According to the article Shakespeare used the word “chink” 300 years before it became a derogatory word. The article points out that words can have different meanings depending on the context and tone.
This incident has frightened me as a broadcast reporter and producer because I do not know every word that is considered offensive. I feel like I could easily be in Federico’s situation. I think there should be some kind of training or list in the news room for terms that are viewed as offensive. However, there may be so many words with offensive meanings that it may not be practical or possible to create a list.
What do you think can be done to prevent journalists from accidently using offensive words? Do you think Federico’s punishment was justified?
Since the Academy Awards were last night, I might as well related this week’s leadership post to an article I found about how four Oscar nominees can teach us a thing or two when it comes to leadership. The article can be found here. It is written by Steve Denning, whom Caroline talked about today in class for her book report.
Denning introduces four Oscar nominees: Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, Moneyball, The Descendants, and The Iron Lady. For each film, he is able to discuss the plot and draw out the “intended moral” of the story and pairs it with what the “real leadership lesson” the audience is actually left with.
I have not had the time to see the four films he mentioned so I cannot compare my thoughts on the leadership lessons for each film. But, as I was reading the article, I noticed he somewhat compared The Iron Lady to what Caroline was talking about today in class — “Story-Listening.” In the Iron Lady, the leadership lesson he provided was that “listening is equally as important as speaking,” where by story-listening, a leader can figure out the needs and wants for his or her followers to make them a more effective leader.
No matter how staged Hollywood can seem, it is nice to know that there are still some films out there that can leave us with valuable skills. Have you seen the films mentioned in this article? Do you agree with what Denning has said, in terms of leadership lessons learned?
As a PR-centric student at the Cronkite school, I know better than to offer a journalist any type of “gift” if there is an intention to bribe or gain favor. However, it made me question where the line falls between gift-giving and simply supplying a journalist with a story. It happens all the time with travel, music, fashion and food writers. Free stuff just comes with the job.
Seeing as how my interests and those of many others in this class are similar to the leisure and lifestyle topics like those above, it is a wonder to me if there is a line being crossed by all the free merchandise, meals and travel some journalists receive. While routines have made it appear harmless to offer a food writer a free meal to write about a restaurant, it actually counteracts the ethical code all journalists should have.
Truth-telling should be a journalists number one priority. If a fashion writer is showered with the latest trends on the market, how could he or she not be swayed to write favorably. Not only is this interference with judgement, but it also makes it difficult for a writer to offer the truth for fear of hurting the brand. Why is no one thinking of the consumer who deserves the truth?
While it’s nice to read through travel columns and discover the best of the best in the hotel businesses, it would serve consumers better to get a non-bias opinion. Obviously, a travel writer isn’t going to a hotel and not having the time of their life (unless they are using ethical judgements and not in the best suite with champagne waiting in their room at arrival). It’s a line that many readers don’t think about when reading the travel section or the lifestyle section.
The consumer demands an honest portrayal of what the food is like or what the hotel offers. My question is: Is it possible to be a journalist and separate yourself from doing public relations work?
I thought I would include some of the New York Times Company’s policies on travel, sports, and entertainment journalism:
“65. No staff member of our company who prepares a travel article or broadcast — whether on assignment or freelance, and whether for us or for others – may accept free or discounted services or preferential treatment from any element of the travel industry. This rule covers hotels, resorts, restaurants, tour operators, airlines, railways, cruise lines, rental car companies and tourist attractions. This prohibition does not rule out routinely awarded frequent-flier points.”
“67. Writers of travel articles must conceal their identity as journalists during the reporting, so that they will experience the same conditions as an ordinary consumer. If the affiliation becomes known, the writer must discuss with a newsroom manager whether the assignment can be salvaged. In special cases, the affiliation may be disclosed – for example, when a permit is required to enter a closed area.”
“59. Except for properly issued press passes for event coverage, members of the sports staff may not accept tickets, travel expenses, meals, gifts or any other benefit from teams or promoters. (At their discretion, unit newsroom managements may permit journalists to accept the light refreshments routinely offered in press boxes during games.)”
“61. Staff members covering entertainment and the arts have a special duty to guard against conflicts of interest, real or apparent. Arts coverage, whether national or local, can often make or break reputations and commercial success. In theater, movies, music, art, dance, publishing, fashion and restaurants, critics and reviewers have an obligation to exert our newsrooms’ influence ethically and prudently.”
“62. Except in their published writing, reporters, reviewers, critics and their editors in the arts may not help others to develop, market or promote artistic, literary or other creative ventures. They may not introduce artists to agents, publishers, producers or galleries; chefs to restaurant owners; or designers to clothing manufacturers. They should refrain from unpublished commentary, even informal, on works in progress. They may not offer ideas or proposals to people who figure in their coverage or make investments in productions in their field. (Food writers and editors may not invest in restaurants.) They may not serve on advisory boards, awards juries or other panels organized by people who figure in coverage they provide, prepare or supervise. They may not accept awards from such panels.”
This morning I got up and got dressed just as I usually do – I caught the 7:41 Light Rail to downtown Phoenix and was the second person to arrive in class. As we sat down for our morning team meeting I was informed that I would be starring in a commercial! After getting over my initial shock (and thanking whatever divine inspiration prompted me to do my hair this morning), I discovered a valuable leadership lesson…
Leaders must always be ready for action. Sometimes advanced notice is given, but other times you are just thrust into the limelight. The key is to always be prepared – and when there isn’t time for preparation, take a deep breath and do the best you can.
I don’t have much formal acting experience, but people like the way I speak. I was chosen for this part because I am a decent presenter and speak in a clear, confident manner. During filming I relied on my talents, took a leap of faith and tried something new.
This type of uncomfortable experience helps us grow. The more we allow fear or intimidation to debilitate us, the harder it becomes to conquer it. So the key is to accept the healthy amount of fear and let it inspire you to greater action.
Have you ever been put on the spot? What are some ways that you have overcome your fear to achieve something greater?
I’d like to write and talk to all of you this week about a topic that I think about fairly often, particularly as I read my favorite blogs and then again when we have discussions about leadership. The main point here being, how do blogs make leaders out of ordinary people in unexpected ways?
I read several blogs, typically about interior design and travel, two of my biggest interests. I’ve noticed that some of the blogs I read reference back to others fairly frequently, citing ordinary people as leaders in a particular niche or field. What’s so fascinating to me is that just a few years ago, a lot of the people that write blogs like this one, Young House Love, were actually employed in other fields and have since made blogging their full-time job, devoting much of their time and resources to it.
I realize that the blogs I’m pinpointing here aren’t exactly journalistic or heavy in any way. However, they are well organized, well-written, and, most importantly, extremely impactful in a certain field. The authors of Young House Love used to work in advertising as a copy writer and account executive respectively. When they moved to Virginia from New York City and the wife started working from home, their blog started gaining momentum as she had more time to devote to it and build a community among their readers.
After being featured on a wide variety of other significant home improvement, do-it-yourself, and interior design blogs (like this one), Young House Love became a hub of knowledge on home improvement and the husband quit his own, secure full-time position at an ad agency to work full-time alongside his wife on the blog!
I think we can learn a lot from this blog and others like it. Here are a few key points that I’ve gleaned from reading their blog for the past two years:
- Organization develops strong leadership skills. The Petersiks write the blog, edit their own posts, respond to comments, shoot/edit videos, and are even writing a book all while raising a baby girl and a chihuahua! They’ve got a lot on their plate, but because they stay organized, they’re able to establish a certain posting and commenting schedule and stay accessible to their readers.
- Leaders learn and lead by trial and error. One of the biggest reasons I think this blog is popular in this niche is that the authors are so open about their triumphs and mistakes. When one of their ideas works, they share step-by-step how they installed their own dishwasher or how they successfully remodeled their kitchen. Then, if one of their ideas fails, they share those details, too. Their forthcoming attitude is not only endearing, but also honest and truly helpful.
- Communication and a sense of community can do wonders! People look to this couple to answer their own home improvement/DIY/interior design questions because they know they’ll be honest with them and because they’re accessible. The comment section on their blog is its own mini-online community and their Facebook page is a place where ideas can be exchanged in a free and safe way.
I think it’s vital to recognize the power of the Internet and blogging to build community and create leaders out of all of us. Sometimes leaders come from the most unexpected places and don’t expect to become leaders. When they do, though, and fully embrace their new role, then they can have a real and lasting impact in whatever community, niche, or organization they find themselves. Here’s one example of how they “lead” their readers–DIY home videos with their personalities shown throughout! I think it’s just another of the reasons people trust them so much.
So here’s a question for all of you: are there any blogs you read daily in which the authors are recognized as leaders in their field? Are they the same kind of unexpected bloggers as the Petersiks? Blogging can lead to some truly fascinating jobs/leadership roles!
When I read this book two years ago,I was trying to visualize the agony and the hardships that Benazir had to face after the demise of her father,Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was not an ordinary man but the Prime Minister of Pakistan.Zulfiqar Bhutto did not die natural death but he was hanged to death by the military dictator General Zia Ul Haq who was appointed Chief of Army Staff by Bhutto.Zia charged Bhutto of conspiracy to murder charge of a political dissident Muhammad Raza Kasuri.
Benazir was the eldest of her three siblings:two brothers and one sister.When her father was imprisoned,she was the one who always uplifted the morale of her family.Her father from her early childhood would treat her as a distinguished child.She also had keen interest in the politics and the conversations with her father about politics was her favorite time spend.After reading this book which revised edition was also published in 2007,I can affirmatively say that Benazir was the born leader.She didn’t need to establish herself as a leader.She was very young,when her parents left the management of all household on her shoulders and she controlled all the affairs very well.Thats why when her father was in jail,he said to her that if something happened to him,she has to be there to fulfill her leader’s duties.
The book is an autobiography of Benazir’s years from childhood until 1988 the year when became the first lady Prime Minister of not only Pakistan but also the Muslim World.She delineated the facts that it was not easy for her to usher into the field of politics in Pakistan,as she mentioned once having warned by someone that politics is not for women.But this can’t be true for Benazir,as she had spent five years in prison after the death of her father.Having gone through all the sufferings that woman can barely think of,she set off for the way into politics.She was in UK before electing as Prime Minister and that was also for her safety,but she preferred to come back and lead the nation.
Her influence and empathy won her the love and confidence of the people,led her to becoming twice the Prime Minister.She many times remarked that she has chosen the thorny way because that was her vision for the country.Her sensitivity to the feelings and hardships of the people of Pakistan has made her the role model for servant leader.Being a woman,even though sometimes she had to go through tough situations as she was pregnant with her first child when there were elections,but she kept working hard during her pregnancy and after that also she participated in the elections.Her exaltation as the Prime Minister was a trend-setter for other women of Pakistan.It was a push for them that they can also do what the dream of doing,without the gender issue coming on their way.She has died but the change that she brought and the influence she has on the hearts of many Pakistanis will always remain as the reflection of true leader.
Some tragic news came out of Syria this week that reminded me of our discussion last Monday about the separate but sometimes overlapping roles of journalists and human-rights workers. On Wednesday in Syria, two journalists were killed in the opposition stronghold of Homs: Marie Colvin, a writer for Britain’s Sunday Times, and Remi Ochlik, a photojournalist from France.
Colvin and Ochlik died when a barrage of missiles hit the house in which they were working. They died doing their job as journalists. The Syrian regime has officially barred journalists from the country, but these two were there without permission because they believed in getting the story no matter what, and they were brave enough to take the risk.
What’s interesting to me is that, in most recent stories I’ve seen coming out of Syria (usually Associated Press stories), the dateline is usually Beirut, Lebanon. This is because the AP hasn’t been reporting from inside the country — they’ve been relying on reports from humanitarian groups in order to let those overseas know the death toll and the extent of the violence. They have relayed calls for foreign aid by these humanitarian groups. The line between journalists and human-rights workers has been deeply etched: Journalists have reported the facts as best they can, and human-rights workers have done their best to get the word out (often through remote journalists) about the escalating crisis in Syria.
But Marie Colvin, Remi Ochlik and the handful of other journalists working in Syria have blurred that line. They have been journalists first and foremost, factually reporting on the situation, but they are in the country right alongside aid workers, right in the thick of the battle, able to relay the horrors of the violence better than any secondhand account ever could.
In Colvin’s last report for the Sunday TImes, she wrote these powerful words: “On the lips of everyone was the question: ‘Why have we been abandoned by the world?’ … The scale of human tragedy in the city is immense. The inhabitants are living in terror. Almost every family seems to have suffered the death or injury of a loved one.”
Colvin and Ochlik were more than just reporters, getting the facts out about Syria. They were in the country because they believed that letting others know about the violence might make a difference. And they believed in that cause enough to sacrifice their lives in its name.
In 2010, at the British Press Awards, Colvin spoke about the dangers of war reporting.
“Journalists covering combat shoulder great responsibilities and face difficult choices,” she said. “Sometimes they pay the ultimate price.”
(If the embed video does not show up here, please click the link above to watch the video.)
This TED talk, “Matthieu Ricard on the habits of happiness,” is given by Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, author and photographer from the Himalayas. In his bio, people have called him the “happiest man in the world.”
His talks hits on a lot of points I will be presenting next week for my leadership book, Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.
He speaks about the contrast between your mind’s control over good and evil, anger and happiness, familiarity and reality, love and kindness (and you can watch it with subtitles in 31 languages!).
Can you change your happiness simply by changing the habits of your mind’s thought process?
Ricard says yes, so does Mindset, and so do I.
The past couple days I’ve challenged myself to embrace the thoughts of Ricard and those presented in Mindset, and (honestly) I’ve seen the difference, and not just in my own thoughts and actions but the thoughts and actions of the friends, family and people around me.
I’d encourage everyone to watch this video and try it this week, then tell me how it worked for you.
For those familiar with TED talks, do you have a favorite?
As everyone attending ASU complained about the fact that we had classes on a federal holiday, I started to think about why we wouldn’t have class on what seemed like just another Monday. That lead me to a sobering reality – I had no idea what President(s)/(‘s)/(s’) Day even celebrated, let alone where to place the apostrophe in the word. I was under the assumption that it celebrated each of the United States presidents throughout the country’s history, but I learned that who the holiday honors is “up to interpretation.” So, I took this quiz from a Washington Post article to check up on my presidential knowledge (or lack thereof). The article also provides some background information on Presidents Day (I’m keeping the word plural from now on). In some parts of the country, Presidents Day is meant to celebrate George Washington’s birthday… in other areas, it celebrates each president of the United States and the legacy he left on the country. I like to think of it as the latter… Presidents Day as a celebration of each of the 44 United States presidents.
After more research and even more article reading, I came across this fun-fact on a blog from CNN: “Many modern presidents blame the media for making their lives miserable. But the complaint is as old as the Republic. Thomas Jefferson suggested that newspaper editors should divide their papers ‘into four chapters, heading the 1st, Truths. 2d, Probabilities. 3d, Possibilities. 4th, Lies.’”
The blog discusses different presidencies, how they were remembered and what different presidents’ favorite and least favorite moments and aspects were during their specific time in office. I found it interesting that although technology and society in general have both advanced exponentially since the time when Jefferson held office, he still felt that journalists did not explore the facts of a story thoroughly enough, nor did they weigh the ramifications of what they published before they did so. It seems things have yet to progress in that department.
This connects us to our discussion today regarding whether or not journalists publish an article for it’s relevant content or for the show-biz aspect of the content. As Dr. Bill said today in class, “journalism is the balance between show-biz and ‘actual’ journalism.” It is evident that journalists find it hard to draw a line between profit and popularity of a story and the significance of publishing it in terms of content that is relevant and important to the reader.
The same blog continues to outline what it takes to be a successful president in the United States, a majority of the qualities mirroring the leadership qualities that we have been discussing in class. They are:
1. Be attuned to public opinion (know what the people you serve think and say about you and your leadership skills)
2. Know how to work with Congress (be able to have strong and compatible relationships with those who help you lead and those who are strong influences in making important decisions)
3. Know when to compromise (this is easy and straightforward… know when to accept other opinions and ideas, and when your ideas might not be the best ones)
4. How to say one thing and do another (people will always remember the legacy you leave behind, not the specific, insignificant decisions you make on a daily basis)
5. Know how to deal with temperamental Cabinet secretaries (be able to step into a position of power if your lower level leadership fails to abide by specific decisions you make)
6. Be prepared to hit some bumps along the road (expect the unexpected)
Other interesting reads:
Today’s in class discussion sparked an idea in me. I talked a little about it in class and I mentioned it to Justin, but it deals with our obligation to the public, ourselves and those who pay the bills.
Ask most any serious journalist or journalism students what their first obligation is when it comes to journalism, and they’ll (and we’ll) tell you that it’s the truth. We are in this business to find the truth. We certainly aren’t in it for the money. It is a calling.
We can call ourselves the watchdog’s of the government, and it is pretty cool to find some government mismanagement or issue. But we also love telling personal stories and finding the good in the world. Those are the fun stories to tell. So when we get into the professional world and we have to go by the “if it bleeds it leads” motto, something dies inside us. Why?
Because TV news and even newspapers are becoming more and more show businessy. Lead stories are murders or crashes or missing children. Why? People are interested in that stuff and they like to see it on the news. If it bleeds, it leads. And it has too, or people won’t watch. If people don’t watch, advertisers and ads don’t reach as many people. If that happens, then they won’t advertise. No advertisers, no money. No money, no jobs. And that just sucks.
How do we as journalists balance the bleeding stories with the great, personal awesome stories? We just have to sit down, grin and bear it, I guess. We find our contacts, write the stories, then put our time and effort into the real stories. Those still make it into the news, and they get great reactions too.
I don’t like it that this is our model now. I want to help change that, but I don’t know how or if it is even possible. I would like to think that journalists are more informed than the general population because it’s our job, but when the news is just people dying or missing, are we really? It all becomes a cycle.
I want out of that cycle, but it feels like there is no way out because the business side won’t allow it. I mean, it’s not like we make a ton of money either.
Yes, I went with the money line. It’s okay though. Why? Because we actually, really, 100% love what we do. Most of the time.
Social media has played a vital role in helping Egyptians voice their concerns with their government. Mona talked about “Revolution 2.0″ on Wednesday’s global conversation, where she explained how two Facebook movements and Twitter cries have boosted spirit in the Egyptian people. Through this discussion and an article I read in the Wall Street Journal called Egypt’s Revolution by Social Media by Gordon Crovitz, it’s clear that social media has become a platform for individual leaders to voice their opinions and rally followers.
While Wael Ghonim is probably the leader that comes to mind when thinking about Revolution 2.0, Internet revolution has given the people of Egypt power to lead their nation. Ghonim’s facebook page, “Revolution 2.0″ works a platform for Egyptian to organize rallies and opinions, while Twitter has been a platform for speaking out. Egyptians are not only acting as leaders for their cause, but also as media makers.
Crovitz compares the revolution to Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, “Common Sense.” In an effort to rally others during the American Revolution, he utilized both social concepts and the media. In terms of social revolutions, nothing has really changed, just improved. As faster and more readily available resources, social media is a new platform in making revolutions stronger and uniting more people.
“Without the pen of the author of ‘Common Sense,’ the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.” – John Adams
Thank you Taati and Mona for sharing information about your countries! It was fascinating listening to both your presentations.
Here’s what I learned about Namibia:
I had not heard of Namibia before meeting Taati. I found it interesting that some people in Namibia cannot understand each other because there are many dialects. I was surprised to learn English is the official language even though most people do not speak it. I was surprised to learn that German colonized Namibia and that German is spoken there.
It was neat to learn the desert in Namibia is the oldest desert in the world. It is beautiful how the desert meets the sea.
I was not aware there was a liberation war in Namibia. It was very depressing hearing about the mass gravesites. It’s hard to believe this war happened recently. It’s horrible that people were targeting women and children. I am glad some children were able to take refuge in Germany, but it was sad to hear that when they were brought back to Namibia most had a hard time readjusting and went back to Europe.
Taati explained that in 1990 the government started a new initiative called Vision 2030, to improve the quality of life in Namibia. It is sad to hear people die from a treatable sickness because they could not travel to a hospital. I am glad there are mobile hospitals now so more people have access to doctors.
Taati also said the president announced that all children should go to school until they are sixteen. She said some Black and White people in Namibia do not like that their children go to school together because of the recent war. Taati says the Whites have a hard time accepting Blacks as their equals and the Blacks are still bitter about how the Whites used to treat them.
Here’s what I learned about the Egyptian Revolution:
I was glad Mona shared the build up to the Egyptian Revolution because I did not have a good understanding of how the revolution started. It was amazing to learn what a big role social media played in organizing the revolution. I was shocked and disturbed by the picture of Khaled Saed. I can see why pictures and videos of police brutality called Egyptians to action. Wael Ghoneim’s quote,“the power of the people is greater than the people in power” was very applicable to the Egyptian Revolution.
I don’t know how many of you follow basketball, but I’m going to relate this week’s leadership-related post to Jeremy Lin, who has been the recent topic of discussion in the sports world. For everyone who’s been following Linsanity, I apologize for publishing another post about it.
If you haven’t heard of Jeremy Lin, he is a basketball player for the New York Knicks. A Harvard graduate, Jeremy Lin played for the Golden State Warriors for the 2010-2011 year. For the 2011-2012 year, Lin was waived from the Golden State Warriors and well as the Houston Rockets. He had a contract with the New York Knicks, but was days to being cut from the team.
However, because the Knicks were playing poorly and had most of their starting players out due to injuries or family emergencies, Lin was given a chance to play. He took this opportunity to make his coaches and teammates notice him, which helped in leading the Knicks to seven straight wins.
I am by no means a basketball buff – not even a sports buff, really. But it is interesting to see how Jeremy Lin handles his newfound fame, how he somehow seemingly remains unaffected and humble through it all, and how we can all learn some leadership lessons from him. Here is an article that relates to this topic.
For the past couple weeks, we have scoured the topic of what leadership is, what makes a good leader, and what skills and abilities leaders possess. This article highlights Jeremy Lin’s skills as a leader. He is by no means the best basketball player to walk to earth, but it is how he carries himself on and off the court that sets him apart from the others.
Cronkite Fellow Mona Abdel Alim gave an incredibly insightful presentation in this past week’s Cronkite Global Conversation about the sparks that helped ignite the Egyptian revolution. In the presentation she focused on two important individuals: Mohamed Bouazizi and Khaled Said. Both men ultimately became symbols of the revolution in their respective ways.
Bouazizi, a street vendor in Tunisia, was harassed by municipal authorities for selling fruit and vegetables without a license. In protest, he set himself on fire, an act that would inspire major demonstrations in the country over the next days against the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (the Tunisian dictator).
Khaled Said, a 28-year-old Egyptian, was beaten to death by police. His spirit was kept alive in a facebook group titiled “We are all Khaled Said” that quickly became a rallying point for the Egyptian uprising.
While the contributions of Said and Mouazizi to the spirit of revolution cannot be understated, after reading about the impact of social media to the Egyptian uprising, I found two other men whose contributions are as noteworthy: Ujjwal Singh and Wael Ghonim. While these two names may not be familiar, their contributions to social media helped spread the message of revolution and keep the world informed of what was happening in the country.
Ghonim, a 30 year old Google product and marketing manager in Dubai at the time of Said’s death, created the Facebook page “We are all Khaled Said” which eventually attracted more than 500,000 followers. It is known to be the spark that led to the initial protests in Egypt. Ghonim himself was detained by authorities for more than a week.
Ujjwal Singh, working for a startup recently acquired by Google at the start of the Egpytian uprisings, created the program Speak2Tweet. The service allowed protestors to call in voicemail messages that would be linked to twitter posts. When Mubarak cut the internet services in the country and hampered the use of Twitter and Facebook by organizers, Speak2Tweet became a platform for communication. In a span of only a couple of weeks, the service had recorded some 2,900 tweets (although it is hard to determine how many actually came from Egypt) according to an Associated Press story (linked above).
Both men helped foster the sense of revolution through their use of social media both as a rallying cry and an organizational tool. It showed how powerful these mediums can actually be when combined with an already present sense of unrest and spirit.
First, I would like to say hello to everyone, I am finally on the blog! You’ll see some posts from me for the last couple of weeks, so just a heads up!
Okay, now my post.
“I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”
This quote comes from former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. I came across it around a year ago while looking for a clever quote to use as a Facebook status.
Although I didn’t use it, I kept it on my computer. I thought of it while watching my group’s movie choice, Braveheart. Not only did it fit perfectly with the film, but it also seemed to be a perfect fit for our class purpose.
This seminar drills into us how essential it is for a leader to both lead and serve. Combining these two actions makes for a leader equipped with two beneficial skills. This type of leader has the confidence to manage others and also the humility to maintain two-way communication.
Disraeli’s statement describes a leader who incorporates those he leads into his own actions. This kind of leader takes the thoughts, opinions and recommendations of those beneath him into consideration. Our guest speaker and Dean of Poynter Institute Stephen Buckley believes this describes our new era of leadership.
It’s obviously a far cry from the managers and leaders of the past.
Which brings us back to Disraeli. He was alive in the 19th century, and obviously, his quote precedes our original thought that the past boasted dictator-like leaders. Disraeli invests deeply into his followers. Is it possible that today’s breed of leaders is just a step back into the original belief of true and effective leadership?
While reading The Secret Language of Leadership by Stephen Denning for our book report project, I came across a section on what Denning called the “basics” of PowerPoint. Given our recent emphasis in class on how best to utilize PowerPoint, I thought it might be interesting to share what Denning recommends, versus how we have used PowerPoint throughout our academic careers.
As such, I start with a question for everyone: how have you used PowerPoint in the past? Or similar software, like Prezi? I’ve typically used it for class presentations, all the way from junior high to college, and occassionally for work-related projects in the Honors College office downtown. I’ve usually overloaded slides with text, or tried to alternate between text and pictures, so I was curious how Denning believed my PowerPoint style fit in with my leadership style, and what my PowerPoints were conveying about my intended message.
The general idea behind his book, The Secret Language of Leadership, is to analyze how storytelling can enable better leadership and audience engagement. For the sake of space, I’ll only list a couple of the principles he outlines on his site, but I encourage everyone to look at it. It made me think twice about how something as simple as slide color can change my message!
- “Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!” I’ve always struggled with simplifying, and Denning reminds us of the mantra “less is more.” Slides that try to include everything you know about a topic are overwhelming and far too complex for an audience to digest quickly.
- “Add striking, relevant images.” I think we all did a great job of this this week after discussing it with Dr. Bill last week. Denning says that the image shouldn’t be general or vague, but rather should fit your message and enhance it. He adds that “every drop of ink on the slide needs to be justified.” An interesting thought, and maybe I should ask myself: can I justify the use of this slide, this image, and this word choice?
- “Add color to clarify the meaning.” The background should be neutral enough that your chosen text colors can pop out and emphasize your key points. Interestingly, Denning suggests using textures and gradients to engage the audience, rather than sticking to flat colors that will make your content seem like a part of the background.
These are just a few of Denning’s points, but three of the ones that I feel I need to work on the most. What do you feel are your PowerPoint strengths or weaknesses? Do you think Denning is right in suggesting that content is best presented in short form and/or story form?
I follow a great blog called, Start Up Professionals.com. The content focuses on start up businesses and the entrepreneurs behind the magic.
A couple days ago, one of the contributing authors, Marty Zwilling, published an article about leadership mistakes. The article revolves around ideas from a great book, Table for Three, by Darryl Rossen (does anyone still need a leadership book?!).
The article, “7 Dumb Leadership Mistakes Smart Managers Avoid,” lists these 7 no-nos from the book:
- Blame others for everything.
- Worry and fret about everything.
- Criticize others and the company.
- Complain about being overwhelmed.
- Do 10 things at a time in a mediocre fashion.
- Appear disorganized and manage things haphazardly.
- Fail to see the positives in others. (Zwilling, 2012)
I’d encourage you to read the explinations for the above no-nos because I’ll only address one here that stood out to me among the rest.
“4. Complain about being overwhelmed. Overwhelm is a feeling that always precedes growth, and is a state in which your brain is developing new pathways and connections. Starting a business or a new organization will always cause self-doubt and insecurity. Real leaders embrace and manage these feelings, rather than complain to associates.” (Zwilling, 2012)
Focus on the first sentence: “Overwhelm is a feeling that always precedes growth.”
First, doesn’t that make you feel better about being overwhelmed? Second, this hits the nail so hard on the head. It is so easy to complain to coworkers, spouses, friends, family, etc. when you’re stressed and overwhelmed at work. It’s a way to get your stress and fears out in the open for consolidation and advice.
As a leader, though, you need to be extra careful about complaining in front of your coworkers or the people working for you; good chance they’re working just as hard as you, and they don’t need you to remind them.
Instead, as the article explains, “embrace and manage,” your stresses and fears. The more confident you are in your work and the future of the company, the more confident and efficient your staff will be, too.
Zwilling, M. (2012). 7 dumb leadership mistakes smart managers avoid. Startup Professionals, Retrieved from http://blog.startupprofessionals.com/2012/02/7-dumb-leadership-mistakes-smart.html
It’s nice to learn something new and be entertained at the same time. This is what I experienced in our leadership movie presentations. I especially enjoyed our wide range of movie genres and the fact that I had not seen any of the movies presented other than my own group movie. This is helpful because now I have a running list of movies on my ‘must watch’ list.
Another surprise that was not planned was the range of movie selections, which covered different movie genres. Think about it. We had sci-fi with Star Wars, comedy with School of Rock, action & adventure with Braveheart, drama with The King’s Speech and an inspirational true story with Radio. The diversity was refreshing.
More importantly, these presentations made me think about leadership in new ways. For example, presenting the leadership styles of Star Wars characters made me realize how many styles and characteristics there are. And we just touched the surface. I also saw myself in some of the characters. I lean toward a no-nonsense directive/participative leadership approach, as well as having authoritarian leadership traits. I’m definitely no Darth Vader or C-3PO, but then again these two characters are examples of authoritarian leadership gone bad.
The Braveheart presentation identified inspiring, ruthless, detached and unwilling leaders. I don’t know if those were definitions of a specific leadership theory, but it worked. The titles alone were compelling, specifically the detached leader. This one interested me because the detached leader is cowardly and seeks to compromise for selfish purposes. I’ve known some in my life who fit this role, but never identified it in these terms until now.
The King’s Speech presented a before, during and after development of leadership in one of the characters. This was insightful because, really, we all go through a process when it comes to the development of leadership traits and styles.
In the Radio presentation they uncovered leadership qualities, not just for leaders, but traits everyone should aspire to obtain. Qualities as simple as respect, trust, and integrity were displayed in the movie through one of the main characters and the presenters did a good job of conveying these traits in the clips they showed.
And lastly, the School of Rock presentation was enjoyable, because although the main character, Dewey Finn was unorthodox in his methods, the presenters were able to draw out leadership qualities that I wouldn’t have identified just by watching the movie.
I even learned a new word, magnanimity: giving credit, where credit is due.
Well-done fellows and attaches.