Leadership Lessons of “Triage”

September marked the 150th anniversary of what is arguably the most decisive battle during the American Civil War – Antietam.  Many historians might contest this point and suggest that Gettysburg was the “high watermark of the Confederacy”.  Still a Union defeat at Antietam would have further delayed Lincoln’s decision to announce the Emancipation Proclamation which redefined the purpose of the war.  It could have also encouraged Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation that could have led to their intervention.  Finally, another Federal defeat in September 1862 would have further inspired those in the North who opposed the war to greater success in that fall’s congressional and state elections.  Sadly, Antietam holds an even greater distinction in American history.  It was the bloodiest single day in the American Civil War.  Over 25,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded in one day of fighting.

But historically wars also have encouraged innovation and the need for leaders to deal with new and frequently enormous problems.  The mass casualties suffered by both sides resulted in rapid advances not only in medicine but also the management and treatment of these huge numbers.  For example, it was during the Battle of Antietam that a young woman from Washington, Clara Barton, would appear with a wagon of supplies to treat the wounded.  Her efforts during the remainder of the war would eventually result in the creation of the American Red Cross.

It was also at about this time that a young Union Army Captain, Jonathan Letterman, would begin to ponder how to deal with this “wicked problem”.  Letterman would convince the Union Army leadership to assign a doctor to each regiment, organize medical teams that were the advent of today’s medics, and invent the field ambulance.   He also formulated a new method for dealing with mass casualties known as “triage” that General Omar Bradley, the famous World War II commander, would later describe as the greatest innovation in military medicine.

Letterman argued that military doctors and aid workers must be trained to quickly assess the extent of a soldier’s injuries and “triage” or classify the wounded into three groups.  First, were those so badly wounded that they were deemed terminal with no hope of recovery.  These were managed by chaplains and nurses who could make them as comfortable as possible.  Second, were wounded whose treatment could be delayed.  They might require some immediate treatment to stem the bleeding, but this could be handled by nurses or medical orderlies.  Third, the soldiers with injuries that if they were immediately addressed had a good chance of survival.  They were moved quickly surgery and the immediate attention of the available doctors.

“Triage” saved countless lives during the Civil War and in conflicts ever since.  But it is also a concept that leaders can apply as they deal with a mounting number of problems that clog their inbox on a daily basis.  Leaders must quickly scan their email or office inbox and ask themselves the following questions:

  • First:  Which problems are terminal or have been overcome by events?  There still may be issues of so-called “consequence management”, that may need to be confronted, but these can often be handled by others in the organization.
  • Second:  Which problems can be delayed or deferred?  We sometimes need to consider whether a problem is “ripe”?  Is it time to deal with it or should we let it evolve?  Can others in the organization deal with this problem which will both free up critical time for senior leaders (like the few doctors at Antietam) and allow subordinates an opportunity to both better develop their potential and confidence?
  • Third:  Is this an issue that demands the immediate attention of senior leaders?   Does this problem directly affect the essence of our organization, or is this an opportunity that the organization cannot fail to miss?

Making this calculation is invaluable to leaders.  It further forces them to understand that some problems are “wicked problems” like mass casualties during the American Civil War.  These are those challenges that are probably never “solved” but are “managed”.  For example, our national leaders will likely never solve the threat posed by AIDS, poverty, world hunger, etc.  But the importance of these problems demands every effort to “manage” them as effectively as possible and move us in the direction of a long term solution.  Every organization has such problems that will unlikely be “solved” at least during the term of the current leadership, but they must be “managed”.  Failing to do so can have dramatic consequences just as it did on the.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

On the Run: Rules for Eating Out

In the past two months I’ve flown from one coast to the other and driven back again (yes, I drove from Missouri to California….nuts, I know!). I’ve made small jaunts to St. Louis, Los Angeles and Mississippi and am now in Germany to visit family and attend two weddings. Even for this frequent-flyer-health-nut making healthy choices while traveling has proven to be difficult at times if not seemingly impossible.

Traveling for business in particular can throw off your good intentions of sticking with your usual healthy choices. Business meetings are often held at sub-par restaurants, workshops are stocked with breakfast pastries and airports have you trapped with fast food options only (although, they are getting better!).  This can feel overwhelming so you throw your hands up and think “screw it. I’ll get back on track when I get home.” Only problem is you’ll feel crummy while you’re traveling, be exhausted and have to work extra hard when you get home to get back to your normal self.

With a little creativity it’s totally possible to make healthy choices and keep your weight in check while running through airports and eating at the occasional diner. Here is your guide for making healthy choices that will save your waistline and keep you on top of your game.

Breakfast – Ask for 2 or 3 poached eggs over steamed veggies and a side of fruit. Add avocado to your eggs if they have it. This way you’ll be sure to steer clear of icky processed vegetable oils and get plenty of protein and healthy fats to make it through your afternoon meetings.

Lunch – Salad is where it’s at for lunch. Ask if they can add beans to your salad so you get enough protein. If you’re super hungry ask for an extra vegetable side or a side of brown rice to mix into your salad. Avoid the processed dressings and ask for oil and vinegar. I often ask for half a lemon and squeeze that over my salad – it’s delicious and refreshing!

Dinner – Always look at the appetizer menu first for dinner. Often one or two appetizers and a salad make a perfect dinner. Keep the bread and chip basket as far away as possible to avoid mindlessly munching in empty carbs. Replace potatoes and fries for salad or an extra side of steamed veggies. If you have a fridge in your hotel ask to have half of your meal packed up before you start eating. This is a great way to manage portions.

Snacks – Instead of defaulting to getting snacks at the gas station try and hit up a grocery store if you have time and stock up on almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans and dried fruit. Apples and bananas are always convenient but don’t forget about carrots and bell peppers – they are very packable and make great crunchy snacks. Pick up some hummus with olive oil (no canola oil please!) for your veggies and you’re sure to never go hungry!


Tanya McCausland is a Health and Culinary Coach and the founder of Home Cooked Healing in Alameda, CA She inspires, encourages and motivates her clients to create a life of health and balance through delicious food and simple lifestyle changes. She believes that our kitchens have the ability to heal – we just have to stock our pantries with real food and not be afraid to wield a wooden spoon every so often!

The Value of Assessments

I was recently asked by one of my clients to work with a newly assigned leader who was having a difficult time adjusting to her new position. She had previously broken all sales records in her division and was recognized by being promoted to head the entire international sales team. She was miserable in her new position and her boss was worried that her team was not going to make its quarterly numbers.

It is not unusual for a company to promote a top performer into a leadership position only to have him or her fail miserably.  What happens to those stars for whom we hold such high promise?

Today, many leaders are promoted based upon their technical ability rather than on their leadership skills. They often attained their leadership positions because they were strong individual performers. This approach to promotions is further supported by the focus of many corporate leadership development programs. We often find that these “leadership” programs are really management development programs in disguise, failing to recognize the difference between management and leadership. They focus primarily on the technical knowledge and skills required for the position.  What is often called the “Know” and “Do” part of the job.

Newer research, however, highlights the importance of what many call the “soft” skills required for successful leadership. The research of Rutgers University professor, Daniel Goleman, has found that “…the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence.”  He goes on to write that, “self-awareness is the first component of emotional intelligence.” Self-awareness is a key leadership attribute in today’s global leadership environment and represents the “Be” of leadership, balancing out the “Know” and “Do” described above.

Leadership is about enlisting and engaging others in pursuing organizational mission and sustaining that engagement over time. Leadership is about achieving goals through others – it is a team sport. Communication, facilitation, conflict management, and empathy are just a few of the skills required to build strong leadership teams that can successfully execute a plan and achieve goals.

So let’s go back to our original question: What happens to our star performers who fail when moved into higher level leadership positions? So often the problem is that they were promoted only because of their technical competence as individual performers, not because they were emotionally intelligent, self-aware team leaders. There is a gap between their technical and interpersonal competence.

The good news is that emotional intelligence and self-awareness can be developed in most people.  Just as we can train people in the technical aspects of their jobs, we can also provide experiences that develop the “soft” skills required for successful leadership today.

Personality and behavioral assessments provide an ideal starting point for raising self-awareness and developing the interpersonal skills of leaders. Assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs®, DiSC®, the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) and the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI®), are used annually with millions of people around the world to improve individual, team and organizational performance.

The use of appropriate assessments can help leaders gain a deep understanding of themselves and how they interact with others. These assessments also provide a common language and approach for understanding differences between people. They are powerful tools that provide invaluable insight for:

  • Interpersonal development
  • Leadership development and coaching
  • Team development
  • Conflict management
  • Executive coaching
  • Employee retention

Trained and certified assessment specialists can provide individualized assessment plans tailored to improve the effectiveness and productivity of your team and your organization.

By the way, that new leader described in the first paragraph is doing fine. I began by using the Myers-Briggs® to help her gain awareness of her innate personality type and the way it influenced her leadership style.  We then expanded our approach by helping her entire team better understand their differences and used that new knowledge to improve their communication and increase team effectiveness. The work continues.

Interested in using personal or team assessments?
Diamond6 has partnered with The Davis Group Ltd. to offer our clients a variety of insightful leadership assessments for individuals and leadership teams. For more information about the assessments we offer check out our Individual & Team Assessments page!

James Davis is President of the Davis Group Ltd. which specializes in leadership development and executive coaching.  His book, Sacred Leadership: Leading for the Greatest Good will be published in May. The Davis Group Ltd. is a close partner and collaborator of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC.

4 Styles of Leadership for Greatest Impact

Several months ago, over a really great steak dinner, I got into a conversation about a local company that had recently replaced its long-time, universally admired CEO with a “turn-around” specialist whose mandate was to prepare the organization for a rapidly changing and uncertain future. Almost immediately he had established new work rules and procedures that left many employees both confused and concerned that they would be fired for violating policies that they really weren’t clear on. Essentially the new CEO had decided that the best way to increase performance was to have the employees constantly in fear of losing their jobs. As the dinner conversation progressed one of the other participants made the comment that while he didn’t necessarily agree with this top-down, authoritarian approach he did think it was a “very effective leadership style.” My response was that it could be a very effective, short-term “management style” but because of the lasting effects it was having employee morale it wasn’t a very good “leadership style.”

For those of us in leadership development, probably the most frequently asked question is “what is the difference between leadership and management?” For me the answer is pretty simple; management gets you through the day, leadership gets you to tomorrow. Where the confusion usually starts is that while short-term results must be a concern of every leader, if how you achieve those results negatively affects the long-term performance of the organization, and the people who report to you, then you’ve failed in your responsibilities as a leader. (Very important note: your best employees almost always have other options.) Your leadership style will ultimately determine the lasting success of your organization and the people who depend on you.

Before we start to look at the different leadership styles you need to keep a few things in mind. First, you already have a natural leadership style, the roots of which were largely beyond your control. It’s based upon your personality and emotional intelligence, your background and role models, past experience as to what worked and what didn’t, and where you are in your career and life. Secondly, there is no one style that is perfect for every situation you will encounter. Some will call for your using an “inspirational” style; others will require that you use an “authoritarian” style. While you do have your natural style that you will feel most comfortable with, you are capable of using many of the other styles. What you need to constantly keep in mind is that there are both benefits and consequences to every style. Finally, never underestimate the ability of the people you lead to detect when you are trying to be someone you are not. While you may need to adapt your leadership style to the situation, you have to make sure that you are authentic in both your words and actions.

The Four Styles

There are at least 10 generally recognized and accepted leadership styles, covering everything from “Transactional” to “Servant”. I want to focus on the four that have the potential for the greatest impact, both positively and negatively.

Autocratic – The autocratic leader has complete, or near complete power, and isn’t afraid to use it. This is the “because I said so” style of leadership. The advantages to the autocratic style are speed and efficiency. The disadvantages are the tendency to create an atmosphere of fear and passivity – autocratic leaders create compliance, they don’t develop commitment. The autocratic style is a staple of TV sitcoms and cartoons but has limited use in a world where empowerment and buy-in are crucial for success. (This style also requires more of the leader’s time and energy to be focused on day-to-day operations.) Because of the potential negative effects, the use of the autocratic style should be limited to emergencies, issues of safety, and occasionally situations where time is critical.

Bureaucratic – Leadership by the book – or policy manual. This style is the backbone of organizations where consistency is a priority and/or the time it takes to make individualized decisions is not an option. The bureaucratic style is ideal for keeping large organizations functioning but runs the risk of stifling creativity and leaving followers feeling like a number. It can also provide leaders with a convenient shield from having to make tough decisions. Every organization needs established policies and procedures. This is especially true for large and geographically spread out organizations. The question that leaders need to ask themselves is “is our bureaucracy keeping us running smoothly or keeping us from reaching our potential?”

Relationship Oriented – This style focuses on the long-term development of the organization and the individuals involved. Team building and personal development are as important as results and you are willing to let your people take risks and make mistakes (within reason.) Relationship Oriented leadership is based firmly in the belief that leadership isn’t about the leader but about providing everyone in the organization the opportunity to shine. Relationship Oriented leaders understand their followers’ strengths, goals, and challenges and use that knowledge to create the strongest team. This takes extra effort and isn’t always the fastest approach to getting things done, but ultimately it should create an organization where the leader has confidence in his follower’s ability to perform.

Transformational – Transformational leaders focus on the future, developing a vision and then making it a reality. They don’t just create the “organization of tomorrow”, they help create the organization of the next 20, 50 or 100 years. Transformational leaders not only look at what their organization is doing now, they are constantly looking at what could be, and should be doing. Transformational leaders have to understand their industry and business but they also have to keep up on trends and practices in other industries as well as cultural, demographic, and technological changes that may affect them. This style often requires a support team to help monitor day-to-day operations.

So what do you do now? I’ve put you in a seemingly impossible position by telling you that some leadership styles are better than others but that you already have a developed style and that you run the risk of creating problems if you come across as inauthentic. As with most leadership competencies the most important thing is that you are aware of your style(s) and how it is impacting your organization. If you are experiencing high employee or volunteer turnover you may need to look at whether or not you are too autocratic. If you constantly seem to be behind others in your industry are you too bureaucratic? If you are in a middle management position and responsible for making sure deadlines are met you may need to mix in the autocratic style more frequently, at least until the effects of your transformational style initiatives kick in.

Think of the styles as not only the base of your leadership ability but also a set of tools that you can use to increase your leadership effectiveness – and make sure that you’re never the topic of a negative dinner conversation.

John Rinehart has been involved in leadership development for over 15 years.  He is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University RULE Rural Leadership Program, and served as Vice President of the program’s Advisory Board. John has also worked with organizations across Pennsylvania on visioning, strategic planning, and organizational development and was recently published in “In the Company of Leaders: 40 Top leadership experts provide proven guidance for your leadership journey.”

Three Steps to Leading Effective Teams

Picture this: your boss is on a “teams” kick.  It seems as though everyone in the organization has been scheduled for surgery to conjoin hips. For awhile, the staff wonders, “why didn’t we do this before?” But then reality sets in: dysfunctional conflict erupts, goals are not being met, members “miss” meetings, and people yearn for the days when decisions could be made without having to run everything by “the committee”…

Two relevant articles on “Teams” and “Strategic Foresight” recently appeared in the Diamond 6 newsletter; I hope you read both. A primary reason organizations fail to unlock the potential of the people in the organization is because those who should be leading see the latest “fad” and without strategic foresight, attempt to employ the latest craze assuming all will be well. Too many of those who should be leaders take a stab at doing something, anything!, to make the organization more effective; teams are a common approach.  But teams are not a panacea – they are one of many tools leaders can employ to improve operations, if employed appropriately. Here’s a “prescription” that should accomplish multiple goals, including reducing the “burnout” felt by the people in your teams:

  • Adopt a “continuous improvement” mindset – no organization is perfect, but that shouldn’t keep us from pursuing perfection.
  • Become a “learning organization” – one of the key tenets we promote in our quest to help unlock the potential of people in organizations is the understanding that as humans, we are prone to make mistakes. When a mishap occurs, too many bosses jump to the “punishment” phase without carefully exploring why the mistake took place. Many of these problems involve organizational constraints or failures to adequately train and equip those whom we have tasked to accomplish our mission.
  • Employ the proper techniques to meet the needs of your situation – “teams” is one of these. When used properly, teams can spark an explosion in productivity.  The first concern: how will you know you have truly employed a team?

During my initial foray into the workings of an organization I usually find “groups”, not “teams”. The difference in results is stark.  Although there are numerous distinctions that can be argued, two primary items required for teams to be functional (and avoid collaboration burnout!) are accountability and effectiveness. We all know that what gets measured gets done. Using metrics to establish your goals and serve as your “yardstick” is only a starting point.  Although objective items are easier to measure (e.g., increased sales), subjective measures must also be employed (e.g., how well is the team “working”?). To grow, team members must be open to ideas for improvement. An essential item is the one most of us abhor: the fear of receiving feedback that is anything but complimentary. It can be virtually paralyzing in an environment that lacks trust.  Employing the 3 steps outlined above is a good starting point to establishing trust. Add in a strong measure of respect – for and from each member of the organization. It will go a long way toward building an environment within which teams can thrive. An example of respect is the right of refusal – an incredibly important topic we will explore in a future article where we will also discuss additional ways to avoid “burnout”.

The initial keys: ensure you have taken the time to develop your Strategic Foresight; communicate that vision to the people in your organization; employ the 3 tenets of an effective organization (i.e., focus on continuous improvement, become a learning organization, and employ the proper tools to meet the needs of the organization); establish an environment of trust and respect for all members of the organization; reap the rewards; and celebrate victories. If we show people the fruits of their labors and the effect their efforts have on the organization, they will be more likely to “move on” to the next target with vigor and a desire to accomplish even the most difficult mission.

People who are challenged and rewarded will be glad to take a break at the end of the week but will also look forward to showing up on Monday…make that a goal.


Ken Pasch is President of the leader development company Ki (pronounced “key”) Visions and author of “Become the Boss You Always Wanted”.  Ki Visions and Diamond 6 work collaboratively.  The full Ki Visions lineup includes: coaching, consulting, keynotes, and training.  Ken also teaches at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State.  Ken’s primary purpose: helping good people…become great leaders!

Overcoming Your Energy Crisis

Let me guess….everyday around 2 pm the only thing in the world you want is five minutes to put your head on your desk and take a little cat nap. Your eyelids are heavy, your mind is struggling to think clearly and you’re sighing heavily just thinking about how much there is left on your to-do list. But, since getting a little shut-eye won’t go over well with your boss you take quick trip to the office kitchen or the coffee shop downstairs and do one of the following:


1)   Grab a giant cup of coffee
2)   Pick up a sweet pastry (or substitute the office candy bowl here)
3)   Both

Unfortunately, these are only short-term solutions for the long-term energy crisis you are experiencing. Using caffeine and sugary treats to get you through rest of your day is like creating a bonfire using newspaper. Sure, it will get big and hot….but for a very short period of time before all you have is a pile of ash. Your body blood sugar will surge very quickly giving you that boost of energy but it will drop quickly leaving you hungry, tired, foggy brained and moody.

Instead of being reacting to your afternoon energy crisis by mainlining a cup of Joe, become proactive so you don’t experience it in the first place. Here are a few tips to get you started:

–       Get Hydrated: This is the FIRST thing I have my clients focus on. Water can help curb cravings, help you think more clearly and give you a little energy boost. Be sure to drink at least half your weight in ounces and keep a water bottle on you at all times.

–       Eat Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – no doubt about it. Taking 15 minutes to eat breakfast will improve your whole day, help you focus and keep your blood sugar and energy stable. Try and have about 15-20 grams of protein (that’s 3 eggs, ½ cup cottage cheese or ½ cup of beans)

–       Fruit and Fat: Fruits like apples, pears, bananas and berries are a great snack. They’re portable and don’t need utensils to be enjoyed. However, they fruit is best when eaten with some sort of fat like nut butter or cheese. This prevents a blood sugar spike, keeps you satisfied longer and makes important fat-soluble vitamins available for your body to utilize.

–       Get Social: Are the only people you interact with during lunch on Facebook or in your inbox? Step away from your desk and eat with others. Eating should be a communal experience – not a solitary one. It will get you away from your computer screen so you can rest your eyes and real life engagement is incredibly energizing!

–       7th Inning Stretch: During your days’ “half-time” make sure to get up and do some stretching. This will help increase blood flow to your extremities and your brain giving you a nice little energy boost. Get up, reach for the ceiling with a deep breath, and exhale while bending over to reach for your toes. Do this 3-5 times and you’ll have all the energy and focus you need to finish that grueling report.


Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of Home Cooked Healing. She has made it her mission to help individuals and organizations successfully make positive changes that will have a huge impact on their health, happiness and bottom line.

This article is from our March 20, 2012 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Why President Truman Was a Great Leader

The position of President of the United States of America embodies everything that most of us believe and hope for when we think about leadership.  As we celebrate another President’s Day it is only appropriate that we consider the leadership strengths and weaknesses in the men who have occupied this office.  This is particularly poignant now as we are embroiled in a Presidential election campaign.  For the next eight months we will hear frequent analysis of the leadership abilities of President Obama and those who aspire to replace him.

With this in mind let’s examine one of my personal favorites and heroes – Harry Truman and some of the critical leadership attributes that I believe he epitomized.  Harry Truman was a different kind of President. Consider for a moment the challenge that he faced when he became President.  Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, the longest serving President in American history, died suddenly on April 12th 1945.  Truman had only been selected as Roosevelt’s running mate in July 1944.  Prior to Roosevelt’s death Truman had only personally met FDR twice.  As David McCullough, the renowned American historian, once commented, “To many it was not just that the greatest had fallen, but that the least of men – or at any rate the least likely of men – had assumed his place.”

Strategic vision and determination.
Dwight Eisenhower, who would succeed Truman in the presidency, is reported to have said that leadership is about defining a vision and then convincing others to follow it.  Truman clearly made as many or more important strategic decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other forty-two Presidents preceding him. Consider for a moment the following brief list of his accomplishments:

  • Assumes the presidency as World War II is coming to a close and must make the difficult decision to use the atomic bomb that brings the war with Japan to a close.
  • Creates the Marshall Plan to aid in European recovery from the devastation of the war.
  • Oversees the immediate aftermath of the war to include the Potsdam Conference and when confronted by Soviet threats begins the Berlin Airlift in 1949.
  • Establishes programs to transition millions of soldiers, sailors, airman, and Marines to civilian life including the creation of the GI Bill that many have argued was fundamental to the nation’s recovery and dramatic economic growth.

All of these demonstrated Truman’s ability to define a vision for the nation and then doggedly pursue it.  But one other event may even more clearly demonstrate these abilities.  Michael Beschloss, the award winning presidential historian, documents in his book, Presidential Courage President Truman’s decision to recognize Israel as a sovereign state in May 1948.  On May 14th 1948 the President signed the order recognizing the Jewish state’s independence and membership in the community of nations.

Truman made this decision despite the strenuous objection of most of this advisers including Secretary of State George Marshall.  Marshall had even told the president that should he take this action Marshall would consider resigning his position and campaigning against Truman in the fall elections.  Many historians also believe that Truman’s wife, Bess was strongly opposed to recognizing the Jewish state.  Truman would later say he made this decision because it was in the best interest of the United States and in the aftermath of the Holocaust there was clear moral obligation to do so.

Authority vs Responsibility.

Frequently, some leaders will use the words authority and responsibility as synonyms.  They are not, and President Truman clearly understood this.  As we move up the leadership ladder we are forced to give more authority to others.  There is no alternative, as we simply cannot do or oversee everything.  This is obviously true for the presidency which is frequently referred to as the most powerful and most difficult leadership position on the planet!  Truman understood, however, that he was responsible to the American people for the successes and the failures of his administration.  To remind him of this fact he kept a plaque on his desk that was copied from that of an Oklahoma prison warden.  It read simply – “The buck stops here!”

Optimism and Hope.

John W. Gardner in his celebrated book, On Leadership, observed that “the first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive.”  Former Secretary of State and retired General Colin Powell has similarly observed that “optimism in a leader is a force multiplier”.  There is no doubt that Truman publicly displayed an air of optimism that those around him may well have found infectious.

As the presidential elections of 1948 approached few in America gave Truman much chance for reelection.  It was clear at the Democratic Party convention in the summer that spirits were low.  The Republicans had taken control of both houses of the Congress and a majority of state governorships during the 1946 midterm elections by running against Truman.  Public-opinion polls showed Truman trailing Republican nominee Dewey, sometimes by double digits. Furthermore, some liberal Democrats had joined Henry A. Wallace’s new Progressive Party. Many party leaders feared that Wallace would take enough votes from Truman to give the large Northern and Midwestern states to the Republicans.  As a result of Truman’s low standing in the polls, several Democratic party bosses began working to “dump” Truman and nominate a more popular candidate.

Despite this cloud of pessimism, Truman secured his party’s nomination and took his campaign directly to the American people.  In perhaps one of the most celebrated demonstrations of resilience and the ability to come back from adversity in American history, Truman “barnstormed” across the nation.  “Give ’em hell, Harry,” was a popular slogan shouted out at stop after stop along the tour.

In the campaign’s final days many newspapers, magazines, and political pundits were so confident of Dewey’s impending victory they wrote articles to be printed the morning after the election speculating about the new “Dewey Presidency”.  Life magazine printed a large photo in its final edition before the election; entitled “Our Next President Rides by Ferryboat over San Francisco Bay”, the photo showed Dewey and his staff riding across the city’s harbor. Several well-known and influential newspaper columnists, such as Drew Pearson and Joseph Alsop, wrote columns to be printed the morning after the election speculating about Dewey’s possible choices for his cabinet. Alistair Cooke, the distinguished writer for the Manchester Guardian newspaper in England, published an article on the day of the election entitled “Harry S. Truman: A Study of a Failure.” As Truman made his way to his hometown of Independence, Missouri to await the election returns, not a single reporter traveling on his campaign train thought that he would win.

But Truman would win the election by over 2.5 million votes over Dewey in what many still argue is the greatest upset in American political history.  In the photo below Truman is seen gleefully holding up the front page of the Chicago Tribune which had already printed its morning edition for November 3rd 1948.  Truman’s optimism as a leader was key to this victory.

Level 5 leadership
Jim Collins introduced a new term to the leadership lexicon – Level 5 leadership in his book, Good to Great.  Level 5 refers to the highest level in a hierarchy of executive capabilities and this certainly would include the presidency. Leaders at the other four levels may be successful, but are unable to elevate their organizations from mediocrity to sustained excellence.  Level 5 leadership challenges the assumption that transforming any organization from good to great requires larger-than-life-leaders.   According to Collins, humility is a key ingredient of Level 5 leadership. His simple formula is Humility + Will = Level 5.  This would seem to sum up Harry Truman in many ways.

A measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House. After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.  The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence, Missouri. His wife had inherited the house (seen in the following photo) from her mother and father.  Other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.  When he departed the White House in 1952 his income was an Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an “allowance” and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.  In later years when offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.”

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”

Perhaps one of the best and final observations about Truman is provided by another great leader, Winston Churchill.  While dining with Truman in Washington during a visit to the United States in January 1950, Churchill admitted his disappointment at first meeting Truman in Potsdam at the end of World War II.  “I must confess, sir,” Churchill said.  “I held you in very low regard then.  I loathed your taking the place of Franklin Roosevelt.”  But he continued, “I misjudged you badly.  Since then, you, more than any other man, have saved Western civilization.”  As we look back on the presidency and life of this man from Missouri many Americans might well agree with Sir Winston’s comments.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

This article is from our February, 2012 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Strategic Foresight – Where Futuring, Scenarios and Strategic Planning Meet

“The future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed”- William Gibson

Why is it that some companies, like Apple, seem to live in the future creating products that consumers don’t even know they want or need, while others, like 133 year old Kodak, fail to sense the winds of change and collapse?

This failure to grasp and move into the future results from a lack of foresight at both the organizational and individual leadership level. Leaders cannot provide for the future unless they can “see” it or at least make a good guess about what it may look like. Of course, the future cannot be predicted – there are far too many variables shaping it. However, Strategic Foresight provides a structured way to imagine the possible and probable futures that might emerge, recognizing that many futures are possible. Strategic Foresight is not only sensing these possibilities but also understanding the driving forces and relationships shaping them.

Strategic Foresight is a complex, analytical approach organizations can use to better grasp and plan for the future. It is a powerful tool, helping leaders predict and understand the incoming changes that will impact their organizations, as well as formulating the strategies through which the organization will attempt to shape the future.

Bishop and Hines identify six major guidelines associated with Strategic Foresight:

  • It begins with a process of framing – establishing clarity about the mission.
  • The next step is scanning –mining the internal and external environment of the organization, looking for data, trends, beliefs and assumptions that may affect the future.
  • Scanning is followed by forecasting –analyzing and using all of the data and trends collected during scanning to create probable alternative futures. Forecasting provides scenarios against which the leader can monitor progress, look for leading indicators and maintain awareness of unexpected events called wild cards.
  • The final three guidelines follow the more traditional processes of visioning, planning, and acting based upon the forecasts and scenarios that were developed.
  • In summary, Strategic Foresight provides a set of probable futures (scenarios) for the organization as well as several alternative paths forward.

Foresight is also an important personal attribute of leaders. Robert Bruner, the Dean of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, put it this way in an interview in the Wall Street Journal: “I think of leaders as having many attributes, but one of the key ones is self awareness. Good leaders are present and engaged and alert…This awareness is almost an ability to see around corners, a capacity to look ahead, think strategically and imagine consequences.” Sharpen your awareness and foresight by trying some of the practices listed below:

  • Be present. Pay attention and maintain a 360°/top to bottom, inside/out view of your environment.
  • Become aware of the senses you are using to gain that awareness. Expand your way of observing. What do you know is happening and how?
  • Cross Index – Read books and periodicals outside of your personal and professional areas of interest.  Network with people outside of your profession and with people whose interests differ from your own.

In summary, Strategic Foresight helps leaders perceive positive signals, as well as unexpected events, allowing them to quickly recognize meaningful changes, adapt to them and select alternative strategies. Using Strategic Foresight, leaders, “… can create the future into which we are living, as opposed to merely reacting to it when we get there.”

[i] Hines, Andy & Bishop, Peter, editors, Thinking About the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight (Social Technologies, LLC: Washington D.C., 2006).
[ii] Wall Street Journal, “Professor Says Business Schools and Students Can Take Away Lessons From Financial Crisis,” August 20, 2009, p. B5.
[iii] Jaworski, Joseph, Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, (Berrett-Koehler Publishers: San Francisco, 1998) p. 182.

James Davis is President of the Davis Group Ltd. which specializes in leadership development and executive coaching.  His book, Sacred Leadership: Leading for the Greatest Good will be published in May. The Davis Group Ltd. is a close partner and collaborator of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC.

This article is from our February 6, 2012 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Overcoming “collaboration burnout”

The recent NYTimes article titled “The Rise of the New Groupthink” really got me… well, thinking. The premise of the article was that workplaces, schools and even congregations are increasingly leaning on collaboration and brainstorming while leaving little room for privacy and uninterrupted work time. Susan Cain, the article’s author writes, “solitude has long been associated with creativity and transcendence.” More companies are embracing open workplaces with cubicles and classrooms are herding kids together for never-ending teamwork with little to no emphasis on quiet, personal reflection. Cain goes on to cite studies which show that people who work in “open-plan offices… are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion.”

You may not work in an open workspace. You may have a closed office. But consider how many meetings are you attending every day. How many committees, brainstorming groups and boards are you a member of? How often are you checking your email, voicemail, social networks in and out of the office? These are forms of collaboration that quietly steal time from reflection, moving you out of the space where strategic action and innovation can take place.  Who hasn’t been to a meeting or read an email that caused stress, increased our blood pressure and zapped us of energy?

This is by no means an argument to get rid of teamwork and collaboration. They are important tools for gaining diverse and creative ideas, getting buy-in and moving a project or concept forward quickly and efficiently. However, for leaders who are steering the ship it is important to create some clear skies so as to not get lost in the fog of meetings, email and social media.

Here are three simple strategies that can help you avoid “collaboration burnout”, so you maintain the energy and focus needed to cultivate creative ideas and move your organization forward successfully.

All’s Well That Starts Well

Consider your morning routine and the first five activities that comprise it. The way you start your day generally sets the tone for the rest of the day. Many of my clients check email before they even step out of bed and immediately turn on the news to see what tragedy has happened in the world. That just screams stress! Take notice of the first five things you do in the morning and modify your routine accordingly. The first five activities should be guiltlessly self-centered. Do some stretching when you get out of bed, turn on some music you enjoy, make a cup of tea, eat breakfast and take a shower before allowing the stress and noise of the world to creep in.

Have a “Me Meeting”

I’m sure you have no problem committing to meetings with other people. But what about a meeting with yourself? Without some time to decompress we are less effective, more agitated and just overall unhappy. Try scheduling “me meetings” in your calendar as you would any other meeting (and commit to them!). These “meetings” could be taking 20 minutes for breakfast every morning, walking around the block at work during lunchtime, going to the gym three times a week or a standing lunch with friends every month. Start tuning into what you need physically, emotionally and spiritually so keep the wheels on the “you bus” moving smoothly and effortlessly.

Avoid the Octopus Syndrome

Multitasking is completely and utterly overrated. It’s not a talent or a skill that you should admire or hope to cultivate. Spreading yourself too thin will only lead to shoddy work, resulting in anxiety and madness. The primary change I suggest to my clients is to stop eating in front of the computer. Thoughtless eating can condition us to habitually eating food that doesn’t necessarily nourish or satisfy us. Most of the time, we only end up hungry afterwards. Eat lunch away from your computer, in the cafeteria, outside on a bench or with friends in the break room. Multitasking doesn’t always have to be physical – we often do the majority of multitasking in our heads. We might be working on a report, but in the back of our minds we’re thinking of all the other tasks that need to be completed. Next time those thoughts creep in, notice them, acknowledge them but don’t judge yourself. Write them down and push them aside. Focus on this moment, this job; focus on the task at hand. Having a running to do list scatters your energy, creativity and focus, resulting in finishing a number of projects haphazardly, instead of producing one satisfactory piece of work.

Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of Home Cooked Healing. She has made it her mission to help individuals and organizations successfully make positive changes that will have a huge impact on their health, happiness and bottom line.

This article is from our January 25, 2012 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Creating a World Championship Team

Prior to the first game of the 1964 World Series, a sportswriter asked Yogi Berra, the manager of the New York Yankees, “Yogi, how do you create a world championship team?”  Berra answered without hesitation – “hire world championship players.”  The challenge faced bythe school principal in this cartoon and, for that matter, all organizations is the same as Yogi’s.  All leaders want to have “world champion teams,” and people want to be teammates!  But the question remains how to get there?  How do I find or develop the players?

Leadership is all about defining a vision and then convincing others to follow.  We often spend most of our time as leaders discussing how to maximize the output of the organizations, accomplish our agreed-upon mission and move in the direction of our vision for the future.  Still everyday leaders should ask themselves two questions about their organization.  First, are we accomplishing our mission?   This is fundamental to any organization.  But, second and of equal importance — are we building leaders and successful “ballplayers” for the future?   Successful leaders have to be like Yogi and recruit, develop, and retain “world championship players.”

Sadly, the principal in the cartoon is unlikely to have as much money at her disposal as the New York Yankees.   But there are still many things that can be done in any organization to attract great players and develop that “world championship team.”  Here are some questions that might guide your thinking.

Are we investing in player development?   Successful professional sports programs invest in the development of young players.  Organizations spend enormous amounts of money on fixed capital assets (buildings, computers, software, furnishings, equipment, etc.) but often only spend “pennies” on their “player development.”  How are we encouraging our “players” to develop and improve?

Are we giving leaders “space” to grow?  There is an old saying that “success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.” World championship players want the opportunity to demonstrate initiative, try new ideas and take risks.  Sadly, too many leaders stifle these efforts by either micro-managing or establishing a climate that will not tolerate any failures.

Who gets the credit when we win?  A successful corporate executive once said that it was crucial to engage in “deliberate deflection of credit.” The members of championship teams know it is all about the “team.” The name on the front of the jersey is far more important than the name on the back!  Still leaders must be quick to promote the individual accomplishments of their “ball players” and do so publicly.  A pat on the back or a simple “good job!” goes a long way and costs next to nothing.

What happens when we lose?  In the last year there was a scandal in Great Britain that resulted in the closing of the British tabloid, News of the World.  Reporters had hacked into the cell phone of a dead teenage girl and many others seeking “salacious scoops.” It was also alleged that the management of the paper had encouraged these efforts.  When Rupert Murdoch, owner of the newspaper, appeared before a Parliamentary committee he was asked if he was responsible.  Murdoch immediately replied “No!” and blamed his employees.  Successful leaders assume responsibility for failure.  They are not complacent about it, but realize that this is a key to establishing trust with their “players.” Players that trust the leadership will stay with the organization.  This mutual trust between leader and follower is the glue that holds organizations together.
Sadly, Yogi Berra never led the Yankees to a world championship as a manager, despite his success as a player.  Still, his words are important to any leader.  Recruiting, developing and then retaining high quality players is essential to the success of any organization.  Napoleon Bonaparte once said that “leaders are dealers in hope.” The members of any organization look to the leader, to not only set direction for the organization, but also to recognize their accomplishments and help them become the leaders of the future.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

This article is from our January 10, 2012 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.