I was Interview by Jonathan Pritchard (ALWD)

ALWD 008: Leadership Interview with Ken Wrede

I had a podcast interview with Jonathan Pritchard over at A Life Well Designed. Jonathan uses design principles to analyze challenges in life and business, then applies design techniques to find elegant, effective solutions.
(For some reason I had a tough time enunciating, but I hope the messages were clear.)

I enjoyed the interview immensely, thanks Jonathan!

EOM,

Kenneth Wrede

(http://www.alifewelldesigned.com/podcast/alwd-008-leadership-with-ken-wrede/)

Cooperation over Compliance

Cooperation vs ComplianceWhen you are in a position of authority, what is the best use of your time?  How do you get more leadership bang for the buck?

One of my leadership principles is to create a healthy organizational culture.  I think the best way to convey the message is to cultivate cooperation from people instead of enforcing compliance. Continue reading

Leadership is Like Being a Good Host

Welcome Mat (0)“But they are like family to me!”

You hear this phrase or something like it when people speak about their work relationships.  Hell, I’ve been guilty of saying it in one form or another.  It is sorta sad to think about it, but we often spend more time in the company of our colleagues than we do with our core nuclear family.

But is it really like that, are we really family?

Would we want to be family?

So we’re all one big happy family!  Now what?

Like the saying goes you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.  The implied premise is that your family has to claim you.  Thus, if we use the family paradigm, it hurts all the more when you have to, for professional reasons, reject an employee.

I think the best attitude to take with your employees is the same you might take if they were guest in your home.  Be their host.  (I don’t mean in a parasite/host relationship sorta way, I know some of you were thinking it.) Continue reading

Power in Two Words: “Not Leadership”

Bicep (1)

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge advocate of leadership.

It creates value.

It is a force multiplier.

It improves cohesion.

But, contrary to popular misconception…

Power is not leadership.

Leadership, I mean “good” leadership, includes a component of ethics where power is more often a tool wielded to change behavior at whatever cost.

Let’s take an opportunity to examine the relationship of leadership with power and the often post hoc, self-serving narrative people use to justify the misuse of power and to suggest how good leadership, though harder, is a better behavior in the long run. Continue reading

Leadership Programs – The Autopsy

City Morgue (0)“Cause of death?”

“The heart stopped.”

If you are a CSI fan, a fan of the spinoffs, forensic or crime documentaries, or any other show or movie of the genre, you’ve probably watched hundreds of hours of forensic science.

You’re practically a coroner!

Forget all of the testing, the gruesome details of each case, the motives, or the means; the cause of all deaths come down to one final outcome…

The heart stopped.

I can’t say that I have seen hundreds of leadership programs, but I can say that I have been responsible for sponsoring and building, maybe, ten programs from scratch.  I’ve been exposed to others (maybe 30) in an advisory role or as a participant.

In each case, the success or effectiveness of leadership training came down to the question “was the heart still beating?” Continue reading

Leadership – Unifying the Theory

Leadership Reflection (2)In class, leadership seems all so simple.  It is in black and white.  There are diagrams.  One chapter seems to lead logically to another.  Like any new practical skill, the theory is not the same as practice.  Is leadership a science or is it an art?

Excluding the “mystic” part, I have come to realize that it is a bit of both science and art.

I have been studying leadership since I was 18.  It was MS 101, an introduction to military science.  My first professional career military preparation class as an Army cadet.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, one of the difficulties is the use of the word “leadership”.  It is commonly used, but the context changes as it is used as a noun, verb, adverb, or adjective.  The definition has to be inferred through context.  That makes every article you read confusing and, at times, a seeming contradiction to other articles.

My own experience from the numerous classes, beginning with the first class, is that the instructor will emphasize every aspect of leadership on an equal basis.  From an academic point of view it was because you had to be tested.  The equivalency of everything made prioritizing action based on theory confusing.  The history and theories are interesting, but hard to apply on a daily basis.

Over the years and other classes, I was always surprised to see that there was rarely an overlap from one leadership course to another.  It was confusing because how was it possible for leadership traits and leadership principles to morph from year to year, source to source.  The instructors taught from within their narrowed vision of experience or shared the latest article on “The 10 Secrets of Leadership” which also changed from author to author.

How do you know what to apply?  Can you predict leadership success or failure?

Continue reading