Posts by jbeatty1:
Throughout this semester in the Humphrey Fellowship I have learned about leadership in multiple contexts. From leadership styles, to servant leadership, to inspiring leaders it has been crazy to see how many actual approaches to leadership there are. Everyone has a different definition of leadership. Everyone has a different style of leadership. Then there are people who doubt that they have what it takes to be a leader.
I felt like I fell somewhere into the spectrum of the followers. I am more shy than most people, I’m introverted, and I really don’t like to be the outspoken character in group interactions. From what I understood about leadership at the beginning of the semester I was not on the path to being a great leader.
But through working on our final leadership paper I found this quote from the Tao Te Ching (chapter 17):
The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst one is the leader that is despised.
If you don’t trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.
The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When she has accomplished her task,
the people say, “Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”
This quote was really inspiring to me as an introvert. Here are the lessons i took from it:
- The best leaders are those who lead from the background – this means that a good leader isn’t in front trying to take all the credit, but is someone who is pushing their team into the spotlight and allowing them to be successful.
- The best leaders are those who trust their team – a good leader will have faith in his or her team to accomplish tasks. The leader shouldn’t have to micromanage and do everything for a team to have success.
- The best leaders use words effectively – quiet people can be leaders! It’s not the amount of things that one has to say, but it is more about how valuable those words are that matters.
NFL safety Brian Dawkins retired on Monday. If you don’t follow sports you may never have heard the name. He wasn’t flashy. He was never the face of a franchise. He didn’t have the big endorsement deals. But he was as intense and passionate as any player that has ever played the game of football. What’s even more impressive about Dawkins was this headline that I found, written shortly after his retirement.
He will be remembered for LEADERSHIP.
In an ego driven league, where numbers literally define whether a player is a success or a failure, this is remarkable. It could have been easy to look at the 26 sacks, 37 forced fumbles, 37 interceptions, and 1131 tackles to summarize who Brian Dawkins was. But that’s not the focus of the article. Dawkins was a leader.
He exuded balance, an essential tool to leadership. As the article accurately describes…
“He led by example, but wasn’t afraid to speak up when necessary.”
I had the pleasure of getting to watch Dawkins play in the prime of his career, and I was amazed at the way his intensity fired up his teammates.
“even the people who saw him on television sometimes, while living in Yuma or Utah or Yukon, and saw the way he could simultaneously unite one team while dismembering the other” – Rich Hofmann, Philly.com columnist
I’m glad to see someone from the NFL being remembered for more than just big hits, touchdowns, and wins. Leadership is just as essential to being a success.
The book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: a Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni is about a CEO named Kathryn who is brought in to a struggling technology company called DecsionTech. The company, which was once pegged as a promising startup, has floundered and currently ranks behind its competitors. Through her dealings with the members of the executive board of the company, Kathryn comes to reveal the 5 dysfunctions that struggling teams will often embody.
In successful teams, the above pyramid is reversed. Teams with members that trust each other are able to admit mistakes and ask for help without fear. With this trust, teams can then engage in healthy debate without it getting taken as a personal attack. This healthy conflict leads to decisions that come from hearing everyone’s opinions. With a commitment to a decision comes a clear expectation of what is required from each team member, which is where accountability comes in to play. Effective teams can use the same standard to measure performance for all the team members. With everyone working toward one clearly defined objective and a clear set of expectations, the focus of team members will be on the goal of the community, and not the individual.
Probably the thing that struck me the most from reading the book and researching it was this article I found from the USA Today about NFL coaches who have adopted Lencioni’s book as a tool. For a book that was written in the style that would appeal to business executives, a surprising number of NFL head coaches and players have taken lessons from the book about leadership and teamwork:
“Inside the NFL, the Chargers may have embraced Five Dysfunctions more than any other team. Schottenheimer declined to be interviewed, but friend Benirschke says Schottenheimer has undergone a “transformation.” Schottenheimer used to have a slacker rule that forbid any player from competing on Sunday if he had not practiced by Friday. But the veteran coach has established trust in an executive committee of players, who are free to approach him to air player concerns. That committee convinced Schottenheimer that it is sometimes in the interest of the team to give a player the full week off to recover from an injury if it gets him healthy to play on Sunday, Benirschke says” – Del Jones (USA TODAY)
Knowing that prominent team leaders and figure-heads buy in to what Lencioni believes is powerful. We all will find ourselves in situations where we have to work with other people, and knowing how to best manage personalities and promote trust is an important step in creating an environment in which the team will thrive.
Effects of the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal are still being felt several months later. Today brought on the latest development in the case, as school trustees issued a statement justifying their removal of iconic head coach Joe Paterno. What caught my attention, however, was the reason that was cited:
“Failure of leadership”
Paterno, who had been coaching at the school for 61 years, was fired in the wake of the scandal in which a former team assistant is accused of molesting 10 teenage boys. The report issued today cites trustees saying they ”determined that his [Paterno] decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno.”
The questions that I have:
- When is doing just enough in a situation not enough?
- What constitutes a “failure of leadership” …. is it only limited to when people get hurt?
- Is one mistake enough to destroy the reputation of a well-respected leader?
Coming off of Wednesday’s Cronkite Global Conversation, one thing that I found particularly interesting was hearing how Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is the most followed person in Russia on the social media site Twitter (with 198,823 followers). With countries around the world entering the “social media age”, we are left to watch and see how world leaders respond and react. In the case of Medvedev, he has clearly chosen to embrace the use of Twitter as part of his personal branding. Other world leaders are also taking up social media as a platform of representation. Consider Barack Obama, who currently has 12,834,291 followers. For some slightly less obvious Twitter users, consider this article (although slightly outdated) from the Huffington Post about world leaders who tweet.
With such a new medium, inevitably there will be growing pains as leaders look to take on Twitter as a means of communication with those they lead. I will use Medvedev as an example again, and point to his “accidental retweet” of a profane insult aimed at his political opposition back in December of 2011.
Even Obama hasn’t been immune to the harshest Twitter lesson of all: the unfollow button. He reportedly lost some 40,000 followers in a 24-hour span after engaging in a day-long Twitter campaign.
With more and more leaders looking to use Twitter to communicate, it is important to remember that the person behind the tweets we see often may not be the leader themselves, but could be someone from their campaign or an aide. The internet removes the visual or audible connection to the leader we have in something like a speech. It will, however, certainly prove useful in some fashion as technology continues to evolve and play a more important role in policy.
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!
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.
Having Stephen Buckley of the Poynter Institute give his perspective on the digital future of journalism was extremely insightful. As he talked about news in today’s social media and citizen-journalism landscape, he repeatedly mentioned the term “crisis of credibility”. He explained that as news consumers become flooded with a wealth of available information (whether through blogs, or Facebook or websites), it is becoming increasingly harder for legitimate journalism entities and individual journalists to keep a reputation of integrity.
How do we know who to trust in the digital space? …. especially when it comes to social media like Twitter?
I couldn’t help but think of two prominent Twitter-related cases within the past month: the report of Joe Paterno’s death while he was still alive, and false tweet from actor Rob Lowe about the retirement of Peyton Manning.
While each of these spawned media reports, internet buzz, and trending topics, one thing remains true in each case: these false rumors were quickly debunked in favor of verified reports. What this indicates to me is a somewhat comforting feeling in today’s “crisis of credibility”. Verified information will always find its way to the top. The internet has merely given a wider platform from which to speak. Before the internet days there were no fewer people out spreading misinformation, they just didn’t have as many outlets from which to spread rumors. With Twitter and Facebook, “rumor-spreading” has been given a global platform. In the end, however, rumors are still rumors. While the instantaneous access to media spawns the ability to mislead, it also spawns the ability to correct reports in an instant.As a blog post by Ken Mueller about the Joe Paterno story states:
“Fortunately, the social web is incredibly self-correcting. While rumors can erupt online, they are generally corrected almost as rapidly. This doesn’t excuse the dissemination of false, or unverified information, but it is comforting”
We need to realize that with the wider spread of the internet, false information will come out. It’s inevitable. We aren’t used to it yet, but the internet and journalism are still relatively young in their relationship. What we can work on is working to combat and correct false reports as timely in as timely a manner as possible. Integrity and verification will find a way through the mess.
Until this past week’s reading, I had heard the term “expatriate” before but honestly couldn’t have told you a definition. Aside from being in the dialogue of slick, CIA thrillers on the big screen, the word was completely lost on me. While it is truly an ignorance on my part to have never understood the term, I quickly realized after reading excerpts from chapter 3 of Organizational Behavior that I darn well better understand “expatriate” looking ahead into the future.
Why? In short, because our economy is going global. Companies whose targets used to only include markets at home have increasingly looked abroad as potential outlets for branding and products. As this shift toward globalization continues to evolve, it is reasonable to believe that anyone my age could end up in an expatriate work assignment in the future.
With this in mind, we (as potential global employees of the future) need to prepare ourselves for if/when these job opportunities may arise. The writings indicate the typical expatriate worker goes through two types of “shocks” during the process: initial assignment shock followed later by culture shock. How can young adults (like myself) start the process now to overcome those shocks if we take a foreign job posting in the future?
1. Expand our horizons/ adjust our expectations: While my parent’s and grandparent’s generations may have been focused on getting a job in their hometown or moving to a big city, our world today is expanded. Companies, people and products move across borders easily. Barriers to travel have been lowered. Despite whether or not a person is a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” type, it is important to realize that we aren’t living in the 50′s. When I say adjust expectations, I mean that we need to realize where a job in the future could take us: not just across the state line, but potentially across international borders as well. See it as an opportunity to experience a new culture and also realize the potential benefits of company advancement if you do a good job. Remember that you had to have been selected for a reason!
2. Become culturally aware sooner rather than later: Honestly I don’t see this as being as much of an issue for my generation but it is still a point worth explaining. Beating culture shock in the future means become familiar with other cultures now. Growing up in this new age of technology and social media has certainly helped people my age become aware of what is happening around the globe. Use it to your advantage and learn about things happening abroad that may have an impact in the future if you happen to work or visit another region of the world.
Companies and business also need to recognize where the future is headed. If foreign markets are a potential avenue for a company, it is best to have a plan in place if having to manage expatriates becomes part of your job description. A blog post by Jane M. Von Bergen on February 1st lists 12 strategies for companies with “globally mobile employees”.
Schermerhorn, Jr., J. R., Hunt, J. G., & Osborn, R. N. Organizational behavior. (7 ed., pp. 50-52). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
I’m Justin Beatty and I am a 20-year-old student pursuing a masters in journalism. I love documentary film and I love storytelling. I spent 3 months of my junior year producing a documentary as part of one of my college classes. It nearly killed me, but it was the most rewarding experience of my life. Having that under my belt, my goal is to get a M.A. in social documentation from UC Santa Cruz in its competitive SocDoc program. I want to combine my experience in video production and my journalism background to examine and critique society through the stories of real people.