Leadership is Like a Good Suit

(Or The Fallacy of Leadership Style)

Tux + foam fingerThere are a lot of articles and posts written on the subject of leadership style.  Most of it is based on a faulty premise: you are your leadership style and your leadership style is you.

In other words, people are led to believe that they are defined by their leadership style and they should hone that style into a sharp cutting tool.  However, a sharp tool is not always the best for every job.

“One Style to Rule Them All”

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Indiana’s RFRA is not just an LBGT issue, it is bad for business and everyone else


What’s the big deal?  Text box, details of vote and signing

What is the controversy with recent law signed into effect in Indiana last week on 26 March?

The law is called “SB 101 The Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA).

In the popular press coverage it is called “Indiana’s Anti- LGBT Legislation”.  How did that happen?

One of the interesting facets of current news topics is how they are reported and their social influence.  Sometimes the influence is well below the media hype and sometimes the media focuses on the best click-worthy aspect and misses the wider picture.

I don’t want to get into the politics of “Anti this or that”, but let’s examine the wider picture of the effect of this public policy on business, business issues, review some history, and who I think it affects.

If you asked any American “Should all Americans have religious freedom?”, I’d bet that you would get a near 100% resounding “Yes!”  I mean, the bill passed 40 – 10, a significant margin.

In the fuzziness of our memories, we all know that it is protected by some Constitutional amendment.  (Don’t worry, not testable, I checked for everyone, it is the 1st Amendment.)

In Western Europe, if you asked the same question, they would say yes too, but they would be puzzled by the question.  Most constitutions in Europe list religious freedom as a basic human right and it is not considered a political problem unless public safety become an issue.

When we see something that seems both complex and obvious, you have to do two things: drill down a little to understand it better and step back to see and understand the context.

This is going to be a loooong discussion, if you stop now, I’ll understand.

Otherwise… buckle in. Continue reading

Your Social Media, Marketing Advantage or Threat

DSC07453Maybe some of you are dinosaurs who think social media is a passing fad with only a tangential relationship to your business.

I hate to admit this, but I have seen the birth of many services in the last 20 years that I thought had no chance of making it.  I could not at the time understand the utility of services such as short message services or picture sharing.

I realize now that “utility” was the wrong metric.  The correct measure was emotion.  I finally recognized the feeling that short messages gave me.  It was that same secret thrill of passing notes back in high school.  It was a feeling of inclusion that, in my opinion, is the emotional hook of social media.  The service platforms make the pathways for the messages easy and accessible.

Emotion is the essence of marketing.  When people resonate a product strongly with an emotion, you are building a powerful brand.

So what does this have to do social media?

Social media is a means to engage with your customers.  It can build and strengthen customer relationships and get immediate feedback.  Build the connection of the emotion, build the brand.

  • Measure your brand value by following yourself on social media.
  • Measure your competitors’ brands by following their activities (branding, market share, performance).
  • Follow industry events, conferences.
  • Follow campaign effectiveness and reach.
  • Follow industry influencers and connect with their followers for more reach.

That is the “why” of social media.

The “what” is how are you managing it, especially in a crisis? Continue reading

Bill O’Reilly (Memory Challenge)

One of the hardest comments for anyone to say when speaking of Bill O’Reilly is “I have no opinion about the guy.” He makes it almost impossible to separate the messenger from the message.

Human bias is not part of an intellectual process, it is an emotional one. Almost everyone has a bias regarding O’Reilly. If the bias is positive, people agree with him automatically because he resonates with them emotionally and reinforces the group opinion (several documented biases come into effect that strengthens group membership). If the bias is negative, another group of people disagree, also automatically, with biases that enforce their group feeling.

Full disclosure on my part… My own biases of O’Reilly stem from my perception of his abrasiveness and my lifelong cynicism of self-appointed experts and authorities.

I have to put those aside. Ignore the news hype and make a fair analysis so I can fairly judge O’Reilly and ask the question…

Was Bill O’Reilly really lying?

I recently discussed Bill O’Reilly’s media crisis (here).  He responded to his critics and the crisis terribly.  I also discussed Brian Williams’ crisis and the mitigating circumstances that I believe contributed to a faulty memory recollection that blew up into a media frenzy (here).

Does O’Reilly deserve the same benefit of doubt that I feel Williams deserves?  Do the same mitigating circumstances apply?? Continue reading

Bill O’Reilly (Managing a Crisis)

20150305 Bill O’Reilly (Managing a Crisis)

On the heels of the Brian Williams media crisis, another celebrity was caught up in a crisis similar to, and directly related to Williams.  Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News commentator, was accused of the exact same misconduct in an article from Mother Jones magazine.

Quick review: Williams was suspended by NBC News when it became publicly known that Williams had exaggerated a claim from 2003 that he had almost been killed in Iraq.  He claimed that he was riding in a helicopter when it took ground fire and was forced to make an emergency landing.  The actual facts showed that he was in a group of 4 helicopters at the time and it was a helicopter in front of his that was hit. He was unaware of the danger until after the fact and on the ground.

There is nothing worse for anyone than to be caught in the cross hairs of the media.  It can be a person, a company, or even a brand.  What can you do if you make an honest mistake or if you are the victim of a negative campaign?  How can you survive the experience?

The intent here is not to comment on Bill O’Reilly’ integrity or professionalism.  Let’s analyze how his crisis unfolded and ask how you would handle the situation?  How did O’Reilly do? Continue reading

Media Crisis Management – Brian Williams

Crisis Management (1)Brian, Brian, Brian…

Oh Brian.

Yes… Brian Williams.

There is nothing worse for anyone than to be caught in the cross hairs of the media.  It can be a person, a company, or even a brand.  What can you do if you make an honest mistake or if you are the victim of a negative campaign?  How can you survive the experience?

Continue reading

Speed Bump to Urgency, Dealing with Deniers

During a crisis, time is of the essence.Hand sign 'Stop' (1a)

Momentum is essential and you need everyone working toward resolution, whatever direction it may take.

Your company is facing deterioration, sales are flattening.  A crisis is looming like a boulder balancing on the edge of steep slope, you are running out of cash.  You have six months or bankruptcy.

Change is a source of uncertainty.  Leadership is a necessity to navigate a through periods of uncertainty.  A sense of urgency gives purpose to people during a transition, everyone must feel the urgency and that determination must be transferred to action.  Any distraction that slows the momentum could affect the success of the change strategy.

How do you deal with the person who is disrupting change, the one individual who is slowing everyone and everything down? Continue reading

Turnaround Tools – Cash Flow and Prioritizing Payables

The term “turnaround management” may bring to mind the corporate white knight who rides in to save the day and get a business back on track.  An element of truth gives it a certain romantic appeal.

But the term more accurately refers to that point after a company has filed for bankruptcy and has entered receivership.  In other words… creek… no paddle.

Cash flow and prioritizing payables
Cash is King (thank you Luis Pereiro).  You can have an unprofitable company, so long as you are able to meet your cash obligations.  You can have the best company in the world with high profits, but if you cannot meet your payments the company will fail. Continue reading