House rules

Recently I came across a sticker called “We are family wall decor”. It was a simple poster showing a few call out elements. I loved that.

I loved it because they were “do this” things and “we do this” statements. They were positive and encouraging.  I translated them for a business (team) context:

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Positive Surprises

attidue drives successI’d like to share 2 stories that happened yesterday. 2 stories that have a common theme. 2 stories that mean don’t be afraid to ask.


For years I’m playing social football. We have a pretty good team and most importantly we have a lot of fun. Yesterday we started with the bare 11 where our striker Dave carried a strained achilles tendon and wasn’t full of running. Midway through the first half we “lost” another Dave with a pulled hamstring. And before halftime a pinched calve muscle made me hobbling, too. At half time we debated briefly what to do as we had only Dave’s son Joel at the sideline. We decided it doesn’t hurt asking the other team “The Spikes” if they would be happy considering Joel was 23 and we are playing over 45’s. When I asked Pete, the captain, he agreed despite some of his team mates opposing it. Look, I said to him, Joel is a referee not a player himself. If you are not happy, that’s okay. So, they let him play. We had a much more enjoyable game with equal numbers and a 3 all result was a fair outcome.

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Is Leadership dangerous?

Associate Professor Jan Ketil Arnulf’s research at the BI Norwegian Business School deals with what leadership is and how it is exercised. 2 months ago Audun Farbrot from the same school wrote about his findings. The statement

“There are few things more dangerous than leadership.”

stood out and made me read the article. Jan explains the dangerous aspects of leadership can be divided into three areas:

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Leading Cross Functional teams

I just read an article about the treats of different cultures. Funnily enough this comes as Adam commented on one of my blog posts from an English / French perspective and I’m – a native German – living in New Zealand. The big thing about this article was the following table (taken from Richard D. Lewis’ book “When Cultures Collide”)

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Active Listening

A leader has got 2 faces. The most common one is associated with the word itself: to lead. Quite a few  years ago I got asked, “What is your definition of leadership?” I still remember this because I focused strongly on the “to lead” aspect. My answer was: “To have a vision where we should be and guide the people I’m leading along the way.” This must have impressed the person as he hired me later 🙂

However, I realised later that my answer was just covering the obvious. To make that actually happen a leader must discover the “why”, “what” and “how”.

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Understand your customer

Passionately understanding our customer is a common rally cry of organisations. Although it is easier said than done. Groups responsible for delivering something for a customer think often in terms lik “they need to understand the technical complexity, process dependency, or compliance regulations” The issue that currently presents the biggest roadblock is in the forefront of the mind. In other words they want the customer to know how difficult or complex it actually is what they want. Viewing the need from an outside in perspective is the common approach overcoming this hurdle. It can still yield a limited result:

In a post  4 weeks ago Michael Michalko used this example of Toyota:

A few years back, Toyota asked employees for ideas on how they could become more productive. They received few suggestions. They reworded the question to: “How can you make your job easier?” They were inundated with ideas.

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