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No doubt many of you have heard of napoleon hill and his book “think and grow rich” – it was the spark that ignited “the secret” phenomenon of last year

No doubt many of you have heard of Napoleon Hill and his book “Think and Grow Rich” – it was the spark that ignited “The Secret” phenomenon of last year. As a Project Manager, what you may not realise is that during his 20 years of interviewing the most successful men and women in America, Hill determined the attributes that he believed most contributed to the success or failure of a leader.

It makes for fascinating reading, and many of his insights hold as true today as they did in the early 1930’s when this book was written.

In his book, Hill lists 11 attributes that make for a successful leader:

The first attribute Hill refers to as unwavering courage, however it could more easily be described as self confidence and knowledge. According to Hill “unwavering courage (is) based upon knowledge of (one’s) self and of one’s occupation. No follower wishes to be dominated by a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage”.  Think of any great leaders you may have worked with or witnessed, and they all demonstrate a marked degree of confidence in their own ability, a confidence that is not misplaced.

The second attribute is self control. In Hill’s words “the man who cannot control himself can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers “. This is especially true when projects hit a hurdle or when some major calamity befalls the project or team. If the leader shows lack of control, the project is doomed. Great leaders stand out in times of crisis as being level headed and able to steer their project calmly through stormy seas.

The third attribute is “a keen sense of justice” or fairness. Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers”. No one can respect a leader who has attained their position through taking advantage of others or using them as stepping stones in their career, yet this is an attribute seen in many senior managers today! Real leaders have the respect of their peers and their teams, and they treat everyone as equals in terms of the amount of respect they are due, from the lowliest assistant to the General Manager.

The fourth attribute Hill refers to as “definiteness of decision”. Hill states that “the man who wavers in his decisions shows that he is not sure of himself. He cannot lead others successfully”. Strong leaders make decisions quickly and fairly, and then stick to those decisions. Any equivocation implies the poorness of the decision making process in the first instance, and is never contemplated by a great leader. However, should a decision be shown to be flawed (due to, say, new information coming to light which was not available at the time the original decision was made) a great leader is strong enough to admit that a better decision can now be made.

The fifth attribute Hill calls “definiteness of plans”. By this, Hill explains “the successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan. A leader who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later he will land on the rocks”. And as Project Managers we know that a solid, workable plan is essential to the success of any project!

The sixth attribute is “the habit of doing more than paid for” although this attribute might better be called fairness and work ethic. Hill explains that “one of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of the leader, to do more than he requires of his followers”.  This can be interpreted as the concept of never expecting anyone to do a task you would not willingly do yourself, whether that be excessive overtime or dealing with difficult people. No leader can command respect who regularly delegates the more odious tasks to others.

The seventh attribute Hill calls “a pleasing personality” and goes on to state that “no slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect a leader who does not grade high on all of the factors of a Pleasing Personality”. Hill makes a great deal in this book about the importance of neatness of attire and of personal habits. Whilst this may seem quaint in today’s world, if you have ever worked with someone with less that perfect personal hygiene, you’ll understand where this is coming from!

The eighth attribute is sympathy and understanding. According to Hill “the successful leader must be in sympathy with his followers. Moreover, he must understand them and their problems”. Today we refer to this as empathy rather than sympathy, however the meaning is the same. A great leader takes time to get to know the team members and their goals and aspirations.

The ninth attribute Hill refers to as “mastery of detail”. Following one from the first attribute “knowledge of (one’s) self and of one’s occupation”, Hill advises us that a great leader is able to master the details required in any situation. That is not to say that the leader is the subject matter expert, only that they are capable of understanding the details presented to them, and being able to challenge, dissect and act upon those.

The tenth attribute is the willingness to assume full responsibility. Hill notes that “the successful leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers. If he tries to shift this responsibility, he will not remain the leader. If one of his followers makes a mistake, and shows himself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is he who failed”. Leadership, as in project management, requires that the leader or person in charge be accountable for the success or failure of the project. Whilst many Project Managers and leaders nod to this accountability, when things go wrong it is distressing to see how many of these so-called leaders quickly find someone else to blame. True accountability, heartfelt accountability, is the mark of a great leader.

The eleventh and final attribute is cooperation. According to Hill “the successful leader must understand and apply the principle of cooperative effort, and be able to induce his followers to do the same. Leadership calls for POWER, and power calls for COOPERATION”. Here Hill refers to the ability to achieve through others, which is the hallmark of a successful leader or project manager. Great leaders and project managers have great teams with great teamwork.

Whilst I, personally, would have included a few more attributes, such as coaching and mentoring of staff, leading by example and able to grasp new ideas and concepts quickly, and perhaps left some out, such as neatness and hygiene, Hill’s list is a very useful summary of the key attributes required to be a successful leader today. In summary, to be a successful leader you must have:

  1. Self confidence, be knowledgeable about your work
  2. Self control, remain calm under pressure
  3. Sense of justice, fairness & respect for others
  4. Decisive and stand by decisions
  5. Organization & planning skills
  6. Strong work ethic
  7. Neatness & hygiene
  8. Empathy
  9. Mastery of details
  10. True accountability in deed as well as word
  11. The ability to achieve through others

In my next article, I will look at Hill’s views of the 10 most common reasons why leaders fail.

Internal and external consultants use many of the same techniques and tools, do similar work, but face very different challenges

Internal and external consultants use many of the same techniques and tools, do similar work, but face very different challenges. Internal consultants work in a unique position. Their job role is to consult to the organization for which they work. It is not easy to be, at the same time, a part of an organization and function as detached and independent. Each position on the consulting continuum places different pressures on the internal than the external, making them either more or less a part of the organization. Couple with those pressures that the internal has a boss whose role is even more clearly linked to the organizational structure, politics, and rewards structure, and you have a set of forces effectively pulling the internal in different directions. Managing this position becomes paramount to success for the internal.

Here are some of the issues
· For an internal to espouse change and new processes, they must be seen as not buying into the accepted ways of operating in that organization. This sets them up to potentially fail in the intervention and subsequently fail in the organization because of the position they took.
· If the existing system does not accept the presence and influence of the internal, the internal essentially gets “fired” in his or her own organization, losing all client base without the possibility of building more.
· Internals are tied to the resource pool that they are trying to affect.
· An internals personal job position and status is often widely known and limits his or her mobility in the organization.
· There is a wide-spread perception that there are no prophets in their own lands.
· Typically members of an organization see other members of that organization as having the same experiences, knowledge, and ability as they see themselves as having. This limits the credibility they will offer to an internal.


The conditions described are known as marginality. Conceptually, the internal consultant has to be positioned in such a way as to add something to the system that is not already there. This can be described as representing an interesting difference. This difference should be pronounced enough to be noticeable, but not so much as to be antagonistic. Conflict is a natural result of representing this difference. By bringing out a difference in the system, members are challenged to either move towards that difference, move away from it, or ignore it. The dynamics of this movement are typically relative to the size of the difference. The presence of this difference is an intervention in and of itself. Marginality presents a paradox for the internal consultant. If an internal consultant is positioned as the same as the system, the power and energy of difference is not present. This can only result in the internal being powerless to produce change, or be viewed as redundant to the system, subject to the same strengths and limitations as the system. If the difference is too great, the systems power and energy will be directed towards ridding or protecting itself of the threat of the difference.

What are the forces working on the internal?
Managing the element of marginality requires a great deal of intentionality and energy from the internal consultant. This energy drain is a result of some natural psychological needs that exist in us all. These are primarily the needs for affiliation, achievement, success, and goal attainment. The issue for the internal becomes that all your psychological “eggs” get put “in one basket.” While this certainly gives you a stake in the game, it also tends to work against a marginal position. Getting all your needs met in your client system tends to force the internal to collusion with they system, playing to their strengths, and singing and dancing the party line. While this makes it easier to get your own needs met, it becomes increasingly more difficult to meet some of the roles offered on the consulting continuum.

We live in an interesting world, would you agree

We live in an interesting world, would you agree?

Companies it seems, are rising and falling faster than ever before. Technology, globalization and the speed of communication has totally changed the workplace environment.

Yet even in these fickle times, some companies and brands endure. More than that, they thrive and excel. They innovate and set the pace of change.

What makes them so successful? The difference I believe is their leadership and communication style. Great companies effectively communicate and grow their leaders faster than their competition and the speed of change.

So what does this mean for you and your company? It means communicating carefully, transparently and frequently. Staff and stakeholders want to know the truth and can find out information quickly and from many sources.

Your role as a leader is to understand that everything you say and do communicates – including what you’re NOT saying.

Growing effective leaders who communicate effectively in your organization will take commitment and a clear, simple strategy. Here’s my three simple strategies for growing great leaders and generating smooth communication in your organization:

Strategy 1 – Do everything possible to challenge, grow and stimulate up and coming talent. Whether it’s giving them special projects, assigning them to new divisions or investing in their management, operational, marketing and leadership training.

Strategy 2 – Find other senior leaders inside or outside your company to mentor your potential leaders. This will expose your talent to leadership thinking and behaviour. Every elite athlete has a strong coach behind them holding them accountable and keeping them on track – treat your talent like an athlete in training.

Strategy 3 – Teach your future leaders how to communicate with clarity and power. Encourage your managers to use a coach approach in their dealings with staff. Challenge them to ask questions and listen more than just telling people what to do. Show them that connection, rapport and ongoing dialogue can create connection, commitment and results.

Effective communication relies on relationships and understanding your own and others communications style. Many tools can assist your company leaders to learn how to create a safe way to discuss communication styles such as DISC, MBTI and the PCSI©. I regularly use MBTI and the PCSI© in workshops and training as well as one on one with my clients to assist with understanding and improving communication and teamwork.

Leaders often find themselves in situations where they don’t have all the information, experience or skills that they need. While many managers will wait until they have a complete picture before communicating, waiting to communicate can often be the worst thing to do. Clients often say to me:

“As the manager it is up to me to have all the answers. I would rather wait until I have all the information than look like I don’t know what I am talking about.”

In situations like this I use a coach approach to help them challenge this assumption and to discover when is best to communicate. By prompting them to dig deeper, they often realize that staff and stakeholders don’t expect them to have all the answers all the time and are usually satisfied with hearing honest communication about what is known which can build trust.

Importantly I encourage clients to be confident in saying “I don’t know,” if they don’t or “I don’t have that information right now but will go away and find out.” People understand that you may not know it all and they’ll appreciate you being upfront and telling them if not now, when you may know.

As a leader you can teach others in your company by painting a picture of the modern day business communication landscape. That is, help them to see that if they don’t fill the information void with their own key messages, someone else will.

Blogs, wikis and discussion forums mean information is circling the globe constantly whether your leaders are part of that information flow or not. It is important that they can identify their stakeholder and staff needs and communicate about them consistently.

In a day and age where information is constantly flowing, your company leaders can be instrumental in making sure staff and stakeholders feel informed and stay focused on what’s important. Make your company great by growing your emerging leaders.

If you’ve seen the movie jerry maguire, you’ll remember the scene where tom cruise asks cuba gooding, jr

If you’ve seen the movie Jerry Maguire, you’ll remember the scene where Tom Cruise asks Cuba Gooding, Jr., “What can I do for you?” Gooding says, “Show me the money.”

Many employers think that’s the key to employee engagement. But any company that THINKS you have to pour money on employees to get them engaged will write off employee engagement efforts during tough economic times. “We just can’t afford to do it right now,” they say.

In fact, you can’t afford NOT to pay attention to engagement, especially during a recession when sales are soft. Employee engagement scores regularly account for up to 50 percent of the variance in customer service scores. A disengaged employee can cost you 30 TIMES as much in safety-related incidents. And disengaged employees are over 85 percent more likely to leave.

Engagement comes not from dollars but from more personal factors.

Eight Ways to Keep Your Employees Engaged for the Long Term

1. Listen to your employees. Most people want to work for an employer who cares enough to listen. The best way to know what your employees need and expect is to ask them—and to listen carefully to their answers.

2. Provide clear, consistent expectations. Vague policies and unclear expectations can make employees feel irritated, unsafe and even paranoid. This leads to your employees becoming disengaged. They click into survival mode instead of focusing on how to help the company succeed.

3. Give employees a sense of importance. This has a greater impact on loyalty and customer service than all other factors COMBINED.

4. Develop opportunities for advancement. The chance to work your way up the ladder is a tremendous incentive for productivity, bonding, and employee engagement.

5. Create good relationships with others in the workplace. If you have a toxic relationship with your employees, you can forget about asking them to put their shoulder to the wheel for the company.

6. Offer regular feedback. If you want to keep your employees moving forward, give them the occasional rudder report. And don’t forget positive feedback, which should ideally outnumber the negative by about 5 to 1.

7. Celebrate and reward for successes. Set realistic targets, then reward and celebrate when they are reached. And don’t wait for the end of a big project to celebrate. Pick landmarks along the way and go nuts when you hit them.

8. Move from “the company” to “our company.” The heart and soul of engagement is ownership. As long as your employees feel they are working to help YOU make YOUR company succeed, engagement will be low. Once you get them to see themselves as partners in the endeavor—making decisions, staying informed, sharing in the company’s ups and downs—everything changes. Engagement soars.

Just imagine a workplace in which employees feel important and listened to, in which expectations are clear and feedback consistent, in which relationships and shared ownership are cultivated, advancement is available, and success is celebrated.

Now stop imagining it and CREATE it!

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