Resilience 101

“Resilience” is a new buzzword I’m seeing these days in a many different contexts.   We need to develop “systems resilience” to deal with potential cyber attacks.  We need more “resilient communities” to prepare for tragedy and the unexpected.  The government is creating programs to help develop “family resilience” to better cope with the stresses of military life. And the military seeks to develop “resilient soldiers,” less susceptible to traumatic stress disorder, better prepared to positively respond to stress and change.

Resilience is clearly a good thing. So what exactly is it, and how do we get some?

Like many things, resilience is both simple and complex.  In essence, it seems to come down to an ability to cope, and to respond well to adversity and stress.  The opposite of resilient  might be ‘fragile,’ ‘rigid,’ ‘delicate,’ or even ‘sensitive.’   Persistence is usually, but not always, associated with resilience.

When we talk about people being resilient, we really have to define the context, since resilience manifests itself differently in different contexts.   Different contexts may demand physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, spiritual or other types of resilience – or some of each –  to respond to different types of adversity.    Being resilient in one context does not assume resilience in another.  We’ve all seen people who may be mentally and physically very resilient in combat or high-stress environments (physical/mental resilience), but who emotionally over-react or are unbending with their families and friends (emotional/social resilience).   My graduate students are very successful in their personal and professional lives, but sometimes have views of the world that are quite rigid.  Graduate school seeks to develop ‘intellectual resilience’ by forcing students out of comfortable mental models, to try on different viewpoints and different ways of thinking.

So how does one become more ‘resilient?’

Aristotle said that if you want to become courageous, you need to do things that require courage.  He would say the same thing about resilience.  One must be willing to get out of one’s comfort-zone, and stretch one’s ability to adapt to a different environment, if one wants to develop greater resilience under stress or adversity.  In other words, one must subject oneself to the stress of not being comfortable.  In today’s culture, there is a temptation to find a comfortable niche, settle into a ‘comfort-zone’ and fight never to leave it.   We commit to career, marriage, family, community, mortgage – what one young friend of mine called  ‘the whole catastrophe.’    We seek stability, predictability, and… we get comfortable.

To stay nimble and resilient, we must occassionally force ourselves into endeavors and environments where we are not in complete control – and force ourselves to adapt.  We must be willing to at least consider, and accept with some equanimity,  the possibility that the things we count on can be taken away – our job, our money, lifestyle, health, friends, loved ones, our title and our reputation.   And we must be willing to ask ourselves that ‘existential’ question:  What is left, and who are we without those things?

To step out of our comfort-zone, we risk failure. Only by trying and failing, and trying again, do we develop the resilience to deal with things happening in a way that does not suit us.  Without learning to deal with failure, there can be no resilience.  Not getting what we want means to suffer, and, as the Greeks believed, wisdom only comes through suffering.

In dealing with difficulties and discomfort, we frequently use something called ‘self talk’ as a psychological tool to help ourselves deal with  difficult circumstances.  Self-talk has been shown to actually change the way we think, behave, and perceive our environment. “I can do this.”  “This too shall pass.”  “This is my opportunity.” “This is God’s will (or this is my fate).  I must deal with this as best I can.” “I am strong.”   ”I am confident.”  Prayer is a form of self talk.  A wise person once warned against asking God to give us the result we want, recommending instead that we pray for the strength (resilience) to deal with what He gives us.

My old friend Master Chief Will Guild suggested two essentials to resilience:  a sense of humor and love.  A sense of humor gets us outside of ourselves and our own ego-driven self absorption.  It can deflate the pressures of fear, anger, panic and resentment.  Love likewise gets us outside of the immediacy of our personal anxiety– loving others, in spite of their failings, and loving ourselves, in spite of our failings. Indeed, Aristotle saw self-love, or ‘proper pride’ as a fundamental virtue.   Maintaining our self-respect and personal sense of dignity, when all is going wrong, is essential to a resilient response to challenge and adversity.  Without self respect and ‘proper pride,’ collapse in the face of adversity is predictable.

SEAL training is very much about developing physical and mental resilience to respond to adversity in battle or special operations.  SEAL basic training creates a somewhat artificial adversity in a controlled training environment that serves as a crucible to develop the resilience needed to respond well to the real fear and adversity of combat.  Master Chief Guild used to teach SEAL trainees four key techniques for developing the resilience necessary to succeed at their baic training, and by extension, in combat. These are variations on what sports psychologists teach to professional athletes to help them perform their best under stress and pressure.

First, maintain a positive attitude – believe in yourself, keep your sense of humor, and use self talk to stay positive.

Second, learn positive visualization. Visualize and believe in your own success, whatever that looks like. Positive visualization prepares us mentally for the challenge at hand, and for what it feels like to succeed.

Third, practice segmentation.  Break the challenge you are facing into bite-size goals -– this event, this day. Set simple, achievable, short term goals. Don’t look beyond getting through the challenge of the moment, the event, or the day.

Fourth, learn arousal control.  Learn techniques to calm yourself when fear, panic and anxiety seem ready to overwhelm you.  These techniques include meditation, deep breathing, heart-rate management.  And again, self talk.

The best literature I’ve read on resilience is from the Roman Stoics and from Viktor Frankl in his classic short book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  Vadm Stockdale wrote extensively about how Stoicism helped him survive seven years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.  Stoicism divides the world into two spheres – things we can control, and things we can’t.  The Stoic believes that we develop psychic resilience (and serenity) by learning to accept fate’s dictates, assuming full responsibility for our actions and attitudes, and developing the “wisdom to know the difference” between what we have to accept and what we can affect.  Viktor Frankl’s book is about the resilience that comes from having a purpose for living – a goal for one’s life.  This greater sense of purpose provides the strength and motivation to overcome life’s challenges.  Man’s Search for Meaning is about how Frankl found meaning in his suffering in a German concentration camp, and how his belief in his own life’s purpose was key to his survival.  Both Stockdale and Frankl would argue that a strong will to adapt, survive, and prevail is essential.

In conclusion, there is much that can be said and written about resilience.   It is key to success and survival in dynamic, stressful, and rapidly changing environments.  As with leadership and character, resilience seems to be at least partly innate – some people are naturally more resilient and adaptable than others, and some people seem to be born with a stronger will to succeed.  But as with character and leadership, resilience and strength of will can be improved through experience, training and education.   We can intentionally develop more flexible mental models, a broader perspective, and we can learn to imagine things as different than they are.     It can help a lot to have a resilient and inspiring teacher, leader, or mentor who believes in us.

It is useful to remember that Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection put a very high premium on resilience.

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Bob Schoultz is a graduate of Stanford University and was commissioned an ensign and completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado California in the summer of 1975. He then served as Naval Special Warfare officer for 30 years, with numerous extended tours overseas in a wide variety of commands. You can read more of his articles on leadership on his blog at http://bobscorner.wordpress.com/
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This article is from our November, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

The Middle of the Year

All organizations operate under time cycles and school districts are no exception.  The end of the calendar year is the mid-point of the academic year.  Frequently, the schedule will slow as the organization is “hitting its stride” for the year and the holidays are approaching.  This is a good time to pause and reflect with your team in order to make adjustments as you begin the New Year.

In making a “midcourse correction,” it is important to remember that leadership and management are not the same.  Leaders focus on the future and on dealing with change.  Management largely deals with the “here and now” and those issues that can be measured.  Management is based on varying metrics that organizations utilize (profits vs. loss, number of clients or students, customer share, scores on exams, etc.).   But while it may be easier to measure, management is not easy.  With that in mind one expert observed that “Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny”.  Obviously, an effective leader must understand management and the two do in fact overlap.  Consequently, the middle of the year is an excellent time to review carefully the metrics established at the onset of the year in order to ask several questions.  How are we doing against the goals we set for ourselves?  What is achievable and what is not?  Where do we need to place more emphasis?  Are our metrics correct or are there other things we should be looking at for the balance of the year?

It is also important to place this snapshot of a few months into the broader context for the organization.  A famous seer once said, If you don’t know where you are going…any road will get you there. Any review should examine progress against the organization’s mission and strategic vision.  Strategic “vision” is a picture of a desirable future.  It is important for any organization as it provides continuity and links between the past and future. Establishing a clear vision for any organization and communicating it to all “stakeholders” is crucial to the success of any organization.  It allows everyone to understand what they are doing…why they are doing it…and how is it linked to the future.  Great accomplishments are possible when every member of the organization is committed to the vision.

Organizations and individuals must constantly reflect on their vision and mission statements.  They are more than mere slogans.  They are critical to the conduct of strategic planning and to making adjustments as required.  For any organization, it requires a better understanding of the complex interplay of the leader with internal and external conditions that provide both opportunities and challenges.  Understanding the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment that most leaders confront allows the leader to better comprehend his or her role.   It will also facilitate better consideration of how best to coordinate organizational efforts to effect strategies, plans, and choices for success.

With this in mind, a mid-year assessment should also include tying managerial analysis with the organization’s longer term mission and vision.  Mission and vision statements are the essential “tools.”  They ensure that everyone understands the direction we are headed in and how their individual efforts contribute to the attainment of longer term goals.

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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.

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This article is from our November, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Leader Wellness: Holiday Survival

It’s that time of year! We’re only a few days away from the six weeks of extreme eating and drinking that mark the holiday season, that stretch of time before the gyms get crowded beginning on January 1st. But, rather than throwing up our hands and giving in to every holiday cookie that crosses our path, let’s take better care of ourselves into the New Year. Here are some simple tips for saving our waistlines, while still enjoying the food and fun the holidays have to offer:

3 Bites for Sweets

At holiday parties we are inundated with everyone’s proud cookie, cake and fudge creations. That doesn’t mean we need to taste all 300 options! Choose one sweet thing that you want to indulge in, then and take three small bites and really enjoy that treat. Often, these three bites will satisfy your sweet tooth and you’ll avoid going into cookie binging overdrive.

1 Plate and Done

Nothing says overindulge more than the traditional holiday potluck. To avoid over-eating, do one pass through to see what you will want to eat. Then, fill one plate with those things and walk away from the table and take a seat to eat. After you’ve eaten, put away your plate and don’t go back for more. You’ll enjoy the food and avoid going overboard

Get Distracted

Fight the urge to hover around the food table. Otherwise you’re likely to start eating a little bit of this and a little bit of that and completely lose oversight of the three cookies and four pieces of fudge you ate. Instead, find a distraction and stay as far from the food table as possible. Take a seat on the couch, mingle with others, help do the dishes or play a holiday tune on the piano.

Fake Your Drink

The holidays are also a time of free flowing booze and liquor. Alcoholic beverages cause incredible dehydration and are full of empty calories that will show up on our waistlines after the New Year. Drink one glass of water in between a glass of wine or beer. Feel out of place with just water? Grab some seltzer water and lime or add a splash of juice.

Doggy Bag It

At some point during a holiday part you’ll probably get this question; “you didn’t try the double fudge chocolate peanut butter truffles? Here, try one!” It’s hard not to let other people cram us full of sweets and treats but you have to keep your own health in mind. Just respond kindly with; “no thanks I’m totally stuffed. But, if you wrap one up for me I’ll take it home and enjoy it later.”  They will be flattered and you can enjoy that divine dessert without stuffing yourself to the gills.

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Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of EatFit. LiveWell. 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.
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This article is from our November, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Leadership and Ethics

In Atlanta, 178 teachers and principals were recently implicated in a pattern of cheating behavior to raise student scores on standardized tests.

In the business world, a trader at a leading global bank lost more than $2 billion on illegal trades, setting off a crisis of confidence that eventually compelled the bank’s CEO to resign.

A highly regarded college coach resigned after it was revealed that he knew his players were profiting the sale of memorabilia and engaging in other unapproved activities. The organization is still waiting for sanctions to be applied.

When headlines like these flash across the news, we often blame the individuals. If only they hadn’t been so greedy or eager to win we say, then those violations wouldn’t have happened. But are rogue individuals the sole reasons for these moral breakdowns?

Anyone who has been placed in a position of authoritative responsibility has also been confronted with the problem of moral failure and many managers spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with employee misconduct. Instead,  leaders who want to foster ethical conduct in their organizations should look beyond the nebulous construct of character and think about incentives that drive otherwise good people to do bad things. Organizational culture and climate as well as psychological and social cues have a great deal to do with whether people choose a high or low road.

We are beginning to learn that human behavior is more dependent on situational and contextual factors than most of us would like to believe. This is especially so when it comes to ethics and morality. Despite our emphasis on developing good character and offering ubiquitous statements about values and belief systems, it appears that what we have come to know as character predicts very little about what we actually do.

Aristotle suggested that we could achieve a virtuous and excellent life by developing good moral habits. By emulating and practicing good behavior from an early age we could develop character that would hold us in good stead when faced with inevitable life challenges. This is compelling and drives much of our contemporary thinking about why people do right or wrong. When people misbehave we commonly refer to them as lacking moral fiber. We see them as flawed individuals and rightly sanction them.

Social psychologists have found that psychological and social cues that arise in specific situations drive much of our behavior. Put in the right situation, even people of strong character are likely to make ethically questionable decisions. It turns out that people are much more variable than the term “of good or bad character” connotes. Those who are very virtuous in one situation are not necessarily so in another. Someone who is heroic today might not be so tomorrow. As an example, we might consider former Congressman Randall H. Cunningham, known to many as “Duke.” He had an extraordinary military record as the only “ace” of the Vietnam era. He was awarded the Navy Cross and two Silver Stars for valor in combat. In 2005 he pled guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud. He subsequently resigned from Congress and was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison.

Stanford Psychology professor Phillip Zimbardo conducted an experiment that involved randomly sorting volunteer graduate students into two groups: prisoners and guards. The pseudo prisoners were processed as if they had committed a crime and were held in a temporary prison facility constructed in the basement of the psychology department. Those assigned to the role of guards were given uniforms and a set of instructions on how to maintain control of the facility. The experiment that was scheduled for two weeks had to be cancelled after six days because the guards became increasingly brutal while the student inmates began exhibiting troubling reactions to their confinement. Zimbardo used this experiment to assert that the assignment to roles and the psychological and social cues inherent in that situation drove guards to their sadistic behavior and the inmates to theirs. The guards came to act as guards and the inmates acted as we might expect prisoners to act. It was not a matter of good or bad character, but the inevitable pressures of the situation that guided the results of the experiment.

Situations are powerful determinants of our behavior, which has interesting implications for leadership and leader development. Instead of focusing solely on organizational misconduct as behavior that is to be identified and punished as an anomaly, organizations should put additional emphasis on identifying the situational factors including unintended incentives that drive otherwise good people to bad behavior.

This means it might be a good idea to look at patterns of misconduct over time to identify where systemic forces are in play. Are there unreasonable expectations, mismatches between mission and resources, an organizational climate or culture that fosters cheating or gamesmanship in effect? If so, we can either chose to busy ourselves investigating and punishing offenders or take a more systemic perspective and get to some root causes of misbehavior that can have a long-term positive effect. Rather than focusing exclusively on individual cases of misconduct leaders would be well advised to be concerned about establishing an ethical organizational climate.

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Dr. George E. Reed is an Associate Professor of Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego. He served for 27 years as an Army officer, including six as the Director of Command and Leadership Studies at the U.S. Army War College

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This article is from our September, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Lincoln’s Legacy of Leadership

Two weeks ago, Diamond6 Strategy and Leadership formed a partnership with the Ford’s Theatre Society in Washington, D.C, the site where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 and perhaps the most famous theater in the United States.

This is exciting news for our organization for two reasons: One, we get to use this historic and elegant venue as a place to bring clients when we run leadership seminars in the Washington, D.C. area. It’s a first class facility, with a museum and theater dedicated to preserving the legacy of President Lincoln

Second, and even more important, it gives us a great way to draw upon the leadership lessons of President Lincoln. In many ways, Abraham Lincoln has almost become synonymous with the term “leadership,” even to the most casual observers. Many historians suggest that more books have been written about Lincoln than any other Presidents, with most focusing on his leadership style and abilities. Students of leadership might immediately consider Donald Phillips’ book, Lincoln on Leadership.  Lincoln’s abilities to assemble and build an effective team are documented in Doris Kearn Goodman’s book, Team of Rivals and his skills as communicator are documented in several books such as Lincoln on War by Harold Holzer or Lincoln’s Sword by Douglas Wilson.

The ability to communicate well is fundamental to sound leadership and was demonstrated in his three most famous speeches – his two inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address.  All display his talent at succinctly describing a vision and communicating it to the population, and they, along with his leadership competencies, were pivotal in helping the nation weather the storm of the American Civil War.  They are as relevant to modern leaders as they were in the 19th century.   

The Gettysburg Address was a clear example of Lincoln at his finest as a communicator, using the speech to redefine his vision for the country and the war.  Prior to Gettysburg, his goals for the war had centered on preserving the Union.  He even couched the Emancipation Proclamation in terms of how it would deprive the South of free labor and help to bring the conflict to a conclusion. At Gettysburg, however, Lincoln masterfully described a vision of a “new birth of freedom.”  Harkening back to the Declaration of Independence, he referred to the Founders’ line that “we hold these truths to be self evident that all Men are created equal,” With these few words Lincoln expanded   the vision of the war as a way end slavery forever. The speech is so clear in its purpose and the way it ties past to present, while also proclaiming a vision for the future, that New York Governor George Pataki of New York decided that the most appropriate thing he could do was simply read the Gettysburg Address when he was trying to come up with appropriate remarks for the first memorial service at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Despite the stress running the country during the Civil War, Lincoln also found time to seek a balance in his life. An avid theater goer, Lincoln often visited the theater to relax, a useful lesson for all leaders. While the theatre is sadly remembered as the place of his death, it has found a new mission as a museum dedicated to celebrating his life and preserving his vision, which was finally achieved in the mid-20th century through the civil rights movement.  Leaders from all walks of life can learn invaluable lessons from this site and the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.

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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.

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This article is from our September, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Leader Wellness: A Lesson in Eating

When it comes to improving our health we tend to focus all our efforts on what to eat. Eat more vegetables and less meat. Drink more water. Choose salad and avoid the bread basket. But, once we sit down to eat we dig in voraciously, barely taking the time to breathe let alone truly enjoy the delicious food we are eating. We often don’t remember the last thing we ate and wouldn’t be able to describe it vividly to someone. And, sometimes we could eat an entire meal and still be hungry afterwards.

I talk with my clients a lot about how to eat. Between meetings, emails, voicemails and business travel taking the time to eat gets pushed aside. Rushing through meals overwhelms our stomach, which means undigested food ends up sitting and fermenting in our digestive tract. It’s almost like trying to flush a t-shirt down the toilet. This can lead to common digestive complaints such as acid reflux, heartburn, gas and bloating as well as food sensitivities and fatigue.  You can eat the healthiest diet but by rushing through it you won’t reap any of the benefits of those nutritious foods. So, take the time to eat calmly and with awareness by adopting the following tips.

20 Chews – Next time you eat, pay attention to how often you chew before swallowing your food. You want to chew each bite 20 times. Seems impossible doesn’t it? Start with 10 chews and work your way up. Your stomach is unable to properly break down and digest large pieces of food so don’t be afraid to take the time to chew, chew, chew!

Put Down That Fork – Once have our fork in hand we can’t seem to let it go. Put your utensils down between each bite to avoid shoveling in food. This will also help you take the time to chew properly, enjoy your meal and the people you are eating with. Eating should be a delicious and enjoyable experience; release your death grip on the fork!

No Distractions – It seems that we now eat breakfast in the car, lunch at the computer and dinner in front of the television. Get rid of these distractions so you can focus on the enjoyment of eating. Doing other activities (such as driving in morning traffic) while eating also increases our stress levels, impairing our ability to properly digest food. Step away from the computer and eat with colleagues outside and bring your family back to the dinner table.

15 and 30 – Do you know how much time you take to eat lunch during the week? I’m going to guess it’s usually less than 15 minutes. I advise my clients to take at least 30 minutes to eat meals and at least 15 minutes to eat snacks. Set a timer and make those meals last! And, make sure you instill a culture where lunch and break times are respected – everyone deserves a quiet time to eat.

Now, step away from the computer, grab a colleague and have a calm and relaxing lunch.

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Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of EatFit. LiveWell. 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.
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This article is from our September, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Diamond6 Book List – Our Top 10 Must Reads on Leadership

After all of our workshops, the number one thing participants ask for is reading recommendations. They want to know what books are must-reads for them to further develop their leadership skills. We thought it was about time that we started meeting this need so we’ve created the first edition of the Diamond6 Book List. We wanted to take advantage of our multi-faceted faculty to provide you with a comprehensive list and, we think we have been successful. You may be surprised by some of their recommendations. Have a favorite leadership book that didn’t make it on our list? Tell us about it!

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Recommended by: Jeff McCausland

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point is a must read for contemporary leaders. Gladwell underscores the need for leaders to deal with the most difficult of event – CHANGE. How does it occur? What are the conditions? What type of leaders are able to embrace it? He further emphasizes the “Power of the Few” in any society or organization. Those key people who through insight and determination can in fact make phenomenal differences.

Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney
Recommended by: Art Athens

Heroic Leadership is the story of the Jesuits who have served the Catholic Church and mankind for over 470 years. The author, Chris Lowney, is a former Jesuit seminarian who left the Order to work on Wall Street , eventually becoming a Managing Director for J.P. Morgan. Lowney provides a fascinating perspective as he presents the four Jesuit leadership principles ; self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism  and applies them to today’s leaders and organizations. As Lowney states in his first chapter, “The Jesuit founders launched their ‘company’ into a complex world that had probably changed as much in fifty years as it had over the previous thousand. Sound familiar? They speak to us not as experts in dealing with an antiquated sixteenth-century landscape but as experts in eliciting confident performance despite uncomfortably shifting landscapes.”  This book does not provide a new strategy or methodology, but instead uncovers the timeless foundational elements of authentic leadership.

Leadership is an Art by Max De Pree
Recommended by: Barry Frew

There are many very good books about leadership that I respect. But if limited to only one, my selection would be Leadership is An Art, by Max Depree. It is a short and easy read – a long plane trip or two.  The more experienced or curious you are about leadership, the more insight this book will generate. The most compelling ideas include: abandoning yourself to the strengths of others; approaching leadership as a servant to those you lead; and the signs of leadership are found among your followers are very compelling. It is a read that continues to generate insight for me each time I reread it.

Leading Quietly by Joe Badaracco
Recommended by: Bob Schoultz

This book is the basis for a four hour session I lead with young Seal officers. I call the ideas and guidance in this book “Advanced Leadership”, or “Leadership in the Bureaucratic Environment” – lots of references to Machiavelli and the need to protect yourself, your values and what you want for your organization from people who will readily cut your legs out from underneath you for their own advantage. Good leaders are effective leaders, and they must compete well for position, attention, and resources. Being competent and a good person frequently aren’t enough. It IS a very competitive world out there, and not everyone is nice, honest, or plays by the rules. Ignore that, and it is difficult to really make a difference within an organization.

Good to Great by Jim Collins
Recommended by: David Campbell

Jim Collins and his research team systematically pored through years of financial data, and identified 28 organizations, both public and non-profit, who had a repeated record of good performance.  Then half of the selected group made a  leap forward  to even greater performance, sustained for over 15 years. Collins compared the characteristics of the leadership in the two samples, and the book describes what he found.  Perhaps the most interesting finding is that the “great” leaders were more humble, less flashy than the merely good leaders. He headlined one section, “The Triumph of Understanding Over Bravado.”

Forging the Warriors Character edited by Snider and Matthews
Recommended by: Don Snider

This is a text by West Point faculty and staff that explains the theory and practice of developing the Warrior’s human spirituality, a critical component of their moral character. Both individual and institutional roles are examined and explained the complementary approach used at the Academy.

The Bible
Recommended by: James Powers

 

The term, leadership, as used in the Bible is much more than instructing managers how to become good leaders in the corporate and/or non-profit worlds. Leadership, as defined in the Bible, is for all of us. Leadership is an attitude, a behavior and an influence. Each one of us needs to exhibit leadership strategies in our relationships with others, in our marriages, in our workplaces, in our child rearing and in every other aspect of our lives. The Bible provides that much needed moral compass.
I use the following as a guide to the best strategy to leading others:  The Golden Rule, Matthew 7:1, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”

Leading Outside the Lines by Jon R. Katzenbach
Recommended by: Lily Din Woo

This book talks about how strong leaders balance the best aspects of the formal and informal organizations to energize and motivate their teams, build consensus and trust – resulting in more positive outcomes and productivity. The book uses a wide variety of case studies – the UN, large and small corporations, and even a school – to make its points so there’s something meaningful and helpful for any organization or company.
**A side note from D6: Lily experienced ultimate crisis management at her Chinatown school in New York City when 9/11 happened and she did an incredible job. She and her school are featured in this book making it a must read!**

Food Rules: An Eaters Manual by Michael Pollan
Recommended by: Tanya McCausland

Michael Pollan is the nation’s most trusted resource when it comes to food policy, politics and culture. While he has written many books about the complexities of food policy issues and how our food is changing ourselves, our families and our planet he takes a completely new approach with Food Rules. For anyone wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change personally or to implement wellness within the workplace this books simple and sensible advice will be encouraging. With things like “If it was made by a plant eat it, if it was made in a plant don’t,” and “Eat only foods that will eventually rot” Pollan will help you and your colleagues become more mindful about what you eat and how you eat it in only 112 short pages that include brief entertaining explanations. This would be an excellent gift for your office when starting to implement any sort of workplace wellness program.

Tried by War – Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M McPherson
Recommended by: Tom Vossler

This book by renowned American Civil War Historian James McPherson captures many of the same leadership lessons taught in our Diamond 6 Leadership Seminars. Wartime President Abraham Lincoln was renowned for his use of Time and Timing in exercising his leadership duties. Moreover, as the book illustrates, he was a master at refining the organizational culture, in insuring that everyone was rowing the ship of state in the same direction, toward the eventual victory for the North (Union States). At the same time President Lincoln provides a very positive example of a leader with vision, that is, the ultimate Union victory and the restoration of the Union of States, subsequently known in the singular form of the English language as The United States of America.

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This article is from our July, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Seminar Feature: Leadership Lessons from Bull Run

There is Jackson standing like a stone wall!  Let us determine to die here,
and we will conquer.
Confederate General Bee, rallying his brigade near Henry House Hill, at the Battle of First Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.

 

One hundred and fifty years ago, on 21 July 1861, Union and Confederate armies met at Bull Run Creek in the first battle of the American Civil War.  In the aftermath of the attack on Ft. Sumter and the secession of ten southern states, President Lincoln had called for 75,000 volunteers in mid-April, who were enlisted for 90 days as authorized by Congress. As Northern and Confederate military leaders organized their forces both sides believed firmly that the war would be very short.  One Alabama Congressman is reported to have said, “all of the blood that will be spilled in this conflict can be wiped up by one lady’s handkerchief.”

As the summer progressed, Lincoln, concerned the Union army of 90-day volunteers would evaporate, urged his military commander, General Irwin McDowell, to advance on the Confederate forces near Manassas, Virginia, roughly 30 miles south of Washington.  McDowell insisted that he needed more time, however, arguing that the Union army of volunteers was not ready.  He even  told the President that “this is not an Army!”  Lincoln agreed, but also observed “you are green but they are green as well.”  Capturing the railroad junction at Manassas would also provide the Union Army with a staging point to then proceed towards the newly created Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia.

Clearly outnumbering the forces commanded by Confederate General Beauregard at Manassas Junction, McDowell’s army departed Washington both deliberately and optimistically.  His optimism hinged on the hope that a second Confederate Army under General Johnston would be pinned down by another Union Army in the Shenandoah Valley and therefore be unable to reinforce  Confederate forces in Manassas.

McDowell began his attack at 5:30 in the morning. By midday it appeared that the Federals would destroy Beauregard’s army, to the delight of the crowd of onlookers from Washington. Many had driven in carriages from the capital to enjoy a picnic lunch on the warm summer day and watch the anticipated rout of the rebel army.

But McDowell halted the attack for roughly two hours at noon to reorganize his green troops for the final assault.  Unfortunately for the Union, Confederate General Johnston arrived by railroad with his army of 12,000 during the lull in fighting. They attacked at roughly 4PM, routing McDowell’s untested army and sending it back toward Washington in a disorganized mob.  Fleeing soldiers dropped their weapons and became entangled with frightened civilians who were racing home in their carriages.

In its aftermath, both sides began to realize two harsh realities. First, the war would not end quickly.  Second, the nation now faced the greatest threat to its survival in its short history.

William Howard Russell, one of the first war correspondents, wrote the following dispatch about Bull Run for a British newspaper:
Little did I conceive of the greatness of the defeat, the magnitude of the disaster which it had entailed upon the United States.  So short-lived has been the American Union, that men who saw it rise may live to see it fall.

Winston Churchill once said “the farther back we look, the farther forward we can see.” As we mark the 150th anniversary of this first Civil War battle, Diamond6 is once again offering a workshop that shows modern leaders how they can apply the lessons from the Battle of Bull Run to their own organizations.

 

 

This popular workshop takes a close look at the leadership challenges faced during this battle, starting with a strategic overview that places it within a context that explains the events leading to that fateful hot summer day in 1861.  Throughout the day, participants travel the field following the battle chronologically. At each stop, a military historian describes what happened and the role key leaders played.  The workshop facilitator then uses this historical background to lead a discussion of various leadership principles that are as appropriate today as they were during this historic conflict.

These include such topics as strategic leadership, strategic vision, initiative, innovation, communications within an organization, “managing your boss,” emotional intelligence, etc.  While there are numerous insights that can be drawn from this event, the following are a few that resonate as much in the 21st century as it did in the 19th.

  • Emotional Intelligence is critical for leaders.  It is fundamental to building trust in any organization.  It helps the leader confront the organization’s reality and communicate that to the team.
  • The physical presence of a leader is a critical component particularly in crisis.
  • Understanding your own organization’s culture is fundamental to success.  It allows the leader to conduct self-assessments.  Ignoring organizational culture is a recipe for failure.  Leaders must remember — Culture eats strategy for lunch every day.
  • Defining the mission is critical for any organization.  This must include bringing together all the stakeholders to define the mission, and determining who has the authority and responsibility to execute it.

The discussion concludes at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.,where the evolution of strategic vision is discussed using Lincoln himself as a backdrop. If you are interested in learning more about our battlefield leadership workshops please send us an email at info@diamondsixleadership.com

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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.

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This article is from our July, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Leader Wellness: Changing Corporate Health Culture

Workplace wellness has become quite the catch phrase in the world of corporate health and it seems like everyone is “doing it.” While large-scale wellness programs might be a good way for large companies and organizations to try and whip everyone into shape, I don’t think it’s the right approach for everyone.

In fact, for many organizations, the old adage “small things make a big difference” rings even more true for health and wellness initiatives. You don’t leap off the couch one day and decide to run a marathon. You train first. The same concept applies to workplace wellness. Trying to make a sudden change magnifies the potential for a failed program and leads to low participation rates and wasted resources implementing and running the program.

At Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC, we believe that health and wellness play a vital role in effective individual and organizational leadership. For this reason we are further developing workshops and offerings in this area to continue delivering an innovative and holistic approach to leadership challenges.

During recent workshops, participants discussed ways to integrate meaningful yet simple health and wellness changes into their organizations. Here are some examples of what other organizations are doing that inspired our participants. I hope they will give you some ideas and inspiration as well.

Active Meetings
John Fahey, CEO of National Geographic magazine has an open invitation for anyone in the company to join him for his lunch-time bike ride. For many employees, it’s a great way to get the bosses ear in an informal and relaxed setting. In a recent interview with NPR, Fahey said “what happens is, I find out sort of what the scuttlebutt in the hallways is. And sometimes, it’s totally ill-informed and sometimes, it’s spot-on. But it’s really good to know what people think.” Other ways of incorporating this concept is to work in a daily 20-30 minute walk around the school track or circle the block a few times. The important thing to remember is s to be consistent and make sure that other managers in the organization support attending the sessions. You will be seen as an approachable leader who takes fitness seriously and knows how to integrate it into your daily life.

Dump the Doughnuts
Who made the rule that doughnuts, bagels and pastries are required in the waiting room, at meetings or company events? Chef Ann Cooper (also known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady”), the Director of Nutritional Services at Berkeley U.S.D. asked the same question about school lunches. She pushed the envelope and put salad bars into all Berkeley schools. In a 2007 Ted Talk Chef Ann Cooper said “everyone said it couldn’t be done…kids would spit in it….” Now, what does this have to do with the doughnuts at your next meeting? Challenge the assumptions about meeting food. Try healthier choices such as bananas, apples, pears, cucumbers, nuts, sliced cheese and hummus dip. Serve water and iced tea instead of soda. You may be pleasantly surprised that people will be excited about these changes. So much so that they will be encouraged to make healthier choices at other times. One added bonus, people will be more alert and participate more during the meeting because they won’t be overloaded on carbs and sugar.

Stop the Stress
Job and stress are often synonymous for many of us. According to the American Institute of Stress, nearly 1 million Americans are absent from work each day due to work-related stress. Stress not only has poor effects on us mentally but it can also lower immune function and even have a negative impact on our heart. The biggest problem with stress is that many of us don’t know how to deal with it properly. Providing people with “stress education” is an effective, affordable way to help people deal with stress in a healthy way. At Quantum Health in Ohio they have taken it just one step further. Employees created a “serenity room” a dimly-lit private room with massage chairs and soft music for people to relax and unwind. A recent Inc magazine article provides a comprehensive list of other ways to help reduce stress in the workplace.

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Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of EatFit. LiveWell. 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.

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This article is from our July, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Welcome to the Diamond6 Newsletter

Welcome to the first issue of “Lead the Way,” Diamond6’s new newsletter

Since 2004, I have been conducting leadership development workshops and seminars for educators, business people, law firms, non-profit organizations and the like. As a recipient of this newsletter, chances are, you attended one of my events.

Last September, I founded Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. Diamond6 is a leadership development and consulting business based on all the seminars and workshops I’ve taught over the last 30 plus years in the military and as a independent consultant. Diamond6 pursues a simple, compelling mission, to help develop effective and confident leaders so they can make a positive impact on their organization and the world.

People who attend our workshops leave with:
– clear strategies for implementing positive change
– insights into how they can further develop as a successful leader
– ideas on how their organization can be more innovative
– a team with whom they can confer with and discuss future decisions

In each issue, we will include leadership tips, strategies and resources. I will share current events and articles that will help you learn valuable leadership lessons from. Plus, we will offer an interesting feature on leadership health and wellness. We firmly believe you can’t be an effective leader unless you take good care of yourself and the practical nutrition and lifestyle advice we offer will be very useful for everyone.

In the past seven years we have received feedback telling us that our workshops are “life changing,” “eye opening,” and “the most valuable development workshop ever attended.” While these comments are incredible and generous, I’ve always found that our participants have been the ones who’ve taught me amazing lessons about leadership and opened my eyes to new approaches in developing leaders. I’m looking forward to continuing these seminars and workshops with current and future clients.

If you know of anyone who might be interested in leadership development, our innovative workshops or could benefit from the information we have to share please pass our newsletter on to them. You can also join us on Facebook by clicking “like” on our Diamond6 page. Help us spread the word!

All the best,
Jeff and the Diamond6 Leadership Team

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Check out the articles in our inaugural July, 2011 issue: