Leadership and The New PopePosted: March 2013
The Papacy is a singular, unique position, one that can’t really be compared to any other leadership role. Still, the events last week surrounding the election of Pope Francis brought to mind three surprising reminders of something I’ve written about before: the qualities of sacrifice, humility and selflessness that all true leaders must possess. The first example has to do with the place where a new pope goes immediately after being elected. It is called The Room of Tears. As one website explained, the name stems from the idea that it is the place where “new popes have often been overcome with emotion at the thought of the heavy burden that has been given them.” Now, we don’t generally imagine a newly hired or promoted CEO going into a room for solitary recollection or emotional processing, but it would make quite a bit of sense.
Christmas Letters, Dog Food and Reality TelevisionPosted: December 2012
Every year during this time, we receive Christmas cards from families that include letters describing their various activities and status changes. Though I am sure they are usually well-intentioned, some of these updates seem like marketing-oriented press releases, which is why some have come to refer to them as “brag letters.” You probably know the kind of letters I’m talking about. “Jimmy was voted most wonderful ten year old in the tri-state area, Barbie and her husband, Ken, had the county’s most beautiful baby, and during our semi-monthly trip to Paris we had a great time eating escargot with Meryl Streep and her kids.
Misguided SelflessnessPosted: October 2012
Being a leader is a lonely job. There is no doubt about that. Anyone running an organization – a corporation, a department within that corporation, a school, a church, a battalion or a local business – must accept the fact that the role they have is often a difficult, sacrificial and solitary one.But that doesn’t mean it should be thankless or unfulfilling. Or for that matter, always lonely. When humble, well-intentioned leaders convince themselves that they are supposed to be completely without needs, they create big problems for themselves and their organizations.
"In-Between" TimePosted: July 2012
I recently returned from a vacation with my family, one that involved a number of big, fun activities. Interestingly, when I look back at the trip it strikes me that the best part of it, especially in terms of the lasting benefits to our family, happened during the times "in-between" those activities. For instance, we loved the evenings when we were just hanging out together in the condo where we stayed. And the simple, informal meals we made when we weren't going out for dinner were the best ones of all.
Reality ManagementPosted: June 2012
A friend recently talked me into watching a reality television show – not an easy sell – that I found surprisingly fascinating. Part of my surprise is due to the fact that the show embodies many of the organizational health principles that I write about in my book, The Advantage. And, part of it is because it's on the Food Network. It’s called “Restaurant Impossible,” and it’s about a famous chef (not the maniacal, screaming guy you see on T.V. commercials) who spends just two days and a very limited budget trying to turn around a struggling restaurant. The fact that the show is focused exclusively on the restaurant business resonates with me, because when I was a kid I worked in a restaurant.