Monday, November 20, 2006

Wow! I wish I worked for Yahoo!

While scanning my usual list of marketing blogs, I came across an article about a leaked internal office memo from Yahoo! leadership (Senior Vice President Brad Garlinghouse). The memo is directed to all employees. It discusses the situation of the company and expresses a vision for the company's growth and impending changes.

Why is this important you ask?

Well, we all know that people do not like change and that worse than that, they do not like losing their jobs. This memo specifically says that they need to get lean and mean and tells the employees that they will be trimming the workforce but also how they will be doing it. This is great! The workforce has a roadmap for the company growth. They also know that the company values hardwork and grit. If they want to keep their job and not be part of the trimmed force, then they better get off their ends and start working.

This type of communication puts a charge into a workforce and gives those that work hard already, a sense of being and the confidence in their leadership.

I love this.

It reminds me of my time in the U.S. Navy. We always had a focused mission and our officers, for the most part, did a great job of putting a positive charge of energy into us. We knew what we were doing, why we were doing it, and felt good about our results.

Good job, Brad.

Thank you for having the courage and the vision to communicate this important strategic message to your workforce. Let's just hope that those that work for you recognize it for what it is and not sit around and complain.

If you work for Yahoo!, get on the bandwagon and help make Yahoo! an even better place to work and help strengthen your position. At least you have someone giving it to you straight and telling you how much he loves and enjoys working for Yahoo! and that he wants you to join him in getting the company back into the great company category and not settling for just being a good company.

You could have someone else. You could have some guy who is sitting around buying gold plated shower curtains and wasting away his leadership potential. This guy wants to get to work but needs your help.

By the way, I do not work for Yahoo! and don't even know anyone that does but I am fired up about this memo.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Crossing the line: Leadership and Passion

There are many in the “leadership world” who believe that passionate leaders make the difference. General Patton, who has a large following among those who love and study leadership, is famous for belittling an injured solder in a hospital because he felt that the man was not really injured. Tough love as it is called can turn your group into fighters or blow it up. Tough love leaders are found in every aspect of society.

Blue Jays manager, John Gibbons, who recently skirmished with his starting pitcher, Ted Lilly, is one such character.

Gibbons, also challenged his starting infielder, Shea Hillenbrand, to a fight in July after the infielder wrote on the clubhouse bulletin board that the "ship was sinking." Hillenbrand was later traded to San Francisco.

"Ted Lilly's a great guy. Ted Lilly's an intense competitor," Hillenbrand said. "He was a great teammate when I was over there. So I'm surprised that confrontation happened with Ted Lilly."

He added: "Stuff like that's been going on all season over there. I had my issues with the manager. ... They say I'm the cancer of the team and things are still happening, so I don't know how you can make that assumption or that statement. Things like that begin to come out when times get tough."

Does this cross the line? Even in sports where athletes commonly refer to playing their sport as being in "battle", has this physical call to action and even physical confrontation too much?

Time will tell.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Is Lineage Important in Leadership?

Today's NFL team presidents and owners are caught up on lineage. Nothing illustrates this more than the recent hiring of Eric Mangini. Eric is 33 years old and has been a career assistant to Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. Twelve years ago he was an intern making copies and ordering pizzas with the Cleveland Browns.

His speech at the Jets press conference was filled with name dropping and statements about who he has worked for and what he believes he has learned from them. There was not much about what he HAS done.

According to the New York Times, "The Jets were not dissuaded by Mangini's lack of head-coaching credentials, focusing instead on his experience under Bill Belichick.

Mangini has worked under Belichick with three teams over 10 seasons. He also spent three seasons plugging into the expertise of Bill Parcells when Parcells was coaching the Jets.

"That's like getting your M.B.A. from Harvard, only the football version," Mangini said last year, referring to his exposure to Belichick and Parcells. "They're arguably the best professors you can get."

This hiring is tantamount to hiring one of Donald Trump's minions because you are trying to create a show about an "apprentice".

Pro's of Eric Mangini

  • Lineage (OK - he did work under Belichick and Parcells for 12 years - he may have picked up something).
  • He has been on coaching staff of three superbowl champions.
  • Actually played college football which is important to earn respect of the players.
  • There might be something to actually giving a new guy on the block a chance.
Con's of Eric Mangini
  • Youth - he is not much older than most players. He is certainly not much older than many coaches. He will have a hard time being a leader. He will have to resort to "do this because I said so" leadership style which doesn't work well with professional athletes.
  • He has not "been there". While he was on championship coaching staffs, he was not the defensive or offensive coordinator. He was the defensive backs coach.
  • OK - giving a new guy on the block a chance might work out, but he has no track record. Let him earn his stripes in the college game. There are plenty of coaches out there that have a proven record of success. Why not one of them?
Good luck, Eric!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

How well do you know your people?

Besides their first and last names, what do you really know about your people?

Do you know what their life goals are? Do you know what their strengths and weaknesses are? If you don't really know these answers, you may want to consider something that will help you get closer to them.

Why bother, you ask? Well my guess is that you want buy in from your employees and you say you want them to work hard and produce results. For this to happen, you want them to be more than a clock watcher. You want them to care about their jobs and put in the extra bit of effort that produces results. You want them to be involved and buy in.

How do you get them involved?

Try a rotating leadership counsel that randomly selects individuals from each group/division of your company.

The purpose of the act is to meet with individuals that you might not normally meet with and solicit feedback and input into processes that they work with everyday. Too many times the leaders meet only with the section boss or supervisor and don't include the people who actually do the work and actually know the process.

Not only will this help them feel like you actually care but you will find that you are learning more about your organization and the information that you gather will enable you to make smarter decisions. In addition, I think you will find that you will start to develop a more personal relationship with those folks that share your office space.

Try it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Leadership New Year's Resolution?

In addition to vowing not to eat fast food more than twice a week, why not try including a resolution to improve your leadership skills? Think back through the year and find one thing that you did poorly. If you did more than one in a less than stellar fashion, categorize them. Pick the one that will have the biggest impact. Remember to pick something that is actually possible to do. After you have made your selection, write it down and then make a list of pros and cons about it. Really think about whether this is what you want to do. What are the benchmarks you would need to achieve in order to achive this goal? Write those down. Go to your outlook or other calendar software and create alerts to yourself. Try every two months. Follow the status of your progress through out the year. At the six month mark, you should start to see results.

If not, then you are probably just hitting "remind me later" on your alerts and not really paying attention to what you set out to do... a lot like you did with the one about fastfood.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Good article on the power of experience

Select here for a good article on the power of a leader who has experience "in battle". A lot of times, I think this type of respect will get the leader "in the door" so to speak but then he or she cannot really rely so much on that past experience without continuing success.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Nice collection of leadership articles

I happened upon a good link to the UC Davis Student Leadership site. It has quite a good collection of useful articles from around the web.