Monday, April 25, 2016

Credo 3:
A Leader Nurtures a Creative Culture

Credo 4: A Leader Supports Reinvention
Continuing the Credo for 21st Century Management from Liquid Leadership:
 

3rd Law:
A Liquid Leader Nurtures
a Creative Culture


Take a look at the companies that still cling to old methods of controlling information; even when knowledge sharing is integral to their success, they just can’t seem to let go. Centralizing and micromanaging your talent stagnates innovative breakthroughs and creates bottlenecks. Waiting for one person to approve hundreds of ideas will not only destroy a company’s ability to get profitable products to market, it will also repel the very people who come up with these ideas.

The Information Age is about utilizing technology and people in order to go faster. Eliminating the bottlenecks opens a floodgate of ideas and speeds up the amount of products and services you get to market.

Speed starts with decentralizing decision making while giving your talent the internal structure for their voice to be heard. It’s about building a creative environment where ideas can flow.
Creativity, however, is not always pretty. If you have ever worked in a creative environment, you know what I am talking about. Sometimes it’s painful, and most of the time it pushes the team to exhaustion. Yet the energy it unleashes is contagious, and at the end of the day, it is also fun. Yes, believe it or not, fun.

Intensely intelligent companies such as Microsoft are like futuristic idea farms, with a very self-managed structure, even if it’s not obvious to an outsider. Trust me on this one: Starting with MIT graduates and then mixing in the freedom to think outside of the box will get you some amazing ideas. Smart people getting creative? Sounds like fun to me.

If you’re following the 2nd Law, you’ve already enabled an environment in which people can tell the truth without penalty. To that, add the freedom to present even the silliest idea. An environment of safety plus creative freedom is what defines some of the best companies in the world. Many companies are adopting flextime—where an employee is free to choose when and where they work on company projects and personal projects, or when to take time off and make it up later. Self-directed time management seems to work best.

Now, these management ideas may sound silly to a traditional management expert, but people today are doing more complicated and sophisticated problem solving in their work. To get the job done, many companies have encouraged these types of work methods because they’ve discovered that autonomous work environments inspire engagement from their work- force. Groundbreaking ideas don’t always strike when the sun is up. This is how complex high-end work gets done best—when people are given the freedom to work whenever and wherever. As long as they meet their deadlines, what do you care how it gets done?

Whether you like it or not, nine-to-five is over.


Remember, Post-it Notes started as a silly idea. And when you think about it, nearly all the greatest inventions in the world were discovered this same way—by accident. X-rays, Play-Doh, VELCRO, penicillin, and Viagra were all accidents that became industries. Creating an environment that lights the creative fire requires you to be encouraging of such happy accidents. Innovation cannot thrive in environments where anxiety is too high; but in environments where anxiety is low, creativity is high. Fragile thoughts need time to survive and thrive.

Another thing to remember is that creativity is not just for artists. Great ideas come from software developers, executives, IT professionals, administrative assistants, production managers, analysts, and programmers. Your job is to create a supportive environment for all of these per- sons. How many times has your human resources department hired an incredibly talented individual only to have them get lost in your organization? Supporting and integrating new talent into an organization is the hallmark of a cutting-edge company. Get your team members to bring new hires into the fold, and encourage them to contribute.

The primary job for leadership is to see a bigger picture—where new creative ideas can invent dynamic new industries or make the organization an explosive leader in an already existing one.


It’s easy to imagine the creative environments inside companies like Pixar, Herman Miller, Four Seasons Hotels, or Adobe Systems—after all, they do “creative” for a living. But how about companies like Genentech, Devon Energy, or Whole Foods Market? It might not be that easy to see how creative those companies are, yet creativity is exactly why they lead their markets.

Again, how do you build not just a safe and trusting workplace but also a creative workplace? Look at how NASA was able to build their unmanned Mars probes—now that is an intensely creative work environment. Intense people from multiple disciplines can and do create the impossible every day, thanks to strong leadership, best practices, and a deliberately amorphous structure for sharing knowledge. It’s not easy, and sometimes it may be downright ugly—but the quality of the work becomes the center of a great work environment. In these environments, each and every member respects one another’s contributions—no matter what their background may be—and the results are consistently groundbreaking advances and innovative ideas.

The right chemistry between people cannot be planned, any more than you can predict the success of a TV series such as Sex and the City, Lost, or Glee or books such as the Harry Potter and Twilight series. Runaway ideas that capture our hearts and our imagination need room to take root . . . and for the target audience to fall in love with the idea. Just look at the Chuck Norris Internet phenomenon. Who could have planned that? Even Chuck himself is surprised by it all.

And that is Job One for you: Create an intense culture where raw, exciting, innovative ideas have a chance to incubate. When such an environment is nurtured, it becomes easier for accidental innovation to take place—and to carry through to the bottom line.

 Don't forget to watch for happy accidents in your business sector...










Brad Szollose

Global Management Consultant

Millennial Expert, Cross Generational Leadership Development & Workforce Performance Strategies, Executive Coach


Brad Szollose (pronounced zolis), is a globally recognized Management Consultant and the foremost authority on Millennials and Cross-Generational Leadership Development Strategies.


TEDX Speaker, Web pioneer and the author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.
 
Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Inc., Advertising Age, The International Business Times, and The Hindu BusinessLine to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets. 

Brad's programs have transformed a new generation of business leaders, helping them maximize their corporate culture, expectations, productivity, and sales growth in The Information Age. 


* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author


"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Credo 4:
A Leader Supports Reinvention

Credo 5: A Leader Leads by Example

Continuing the Credo for 21st Century Management from Liquid Leadership:

4th Law:
A Liquid Leader Supports Reinvention of the Organization


When Doug burst into our office at K2 many moons ago, he announced to me that we should become an Internet agency. I stubbornly resisted at first (it was a very small market in 1994), but once I said okay, we went from being one of four thousand design firms to one of ten Internet companies in the United States. Overnight we were a leader in a small, but growing, market. Today the Internet is the rule for doing business, not the exception—but don’t think for a moment that we’ve reached a plateau. Change never stands still, and a Liquid Leader must be more willing than ever to move and dodge according to the marketplace.

Technology has given more and more start-ups the ability to compete head-on with larger companies. These start-ups are interested in one thing: disrupting the status quo. Their survival depends on proving themselves to be right. And they take leaps to do so. Many of the top corporations today were started because the original founder didn’t like how things were being done. They had a better way, and built a company around it.

The key is to stay open to new ideas and methods, to entrepreneurial startups and their ideas, and to new fads that could become trends. Look high and low for big ideas. Actively support the fact that although you make widgets today, you may be a completely different company doing completely different things within the next five years, and you may be doing these things for companies located on the other side of the globe.

It may seem strange, but the best lessons in managing change come not from twenty-five-year-old newcomers, but from companies that have been around for a while. And when I say “a while,” I mean hundreds of years— like Sumitomo, the Japanese keiretsu, or “business group,” founded circa 1615 as a book and medicine shop in Kyoto by a former Buddhist priest, Masatomo Sumitomo. By adapting copper refinery and advanced smelting techniques, the family began using the spiritual principles of its founder Masatomo and began to grow with each unique idea—integrating it into their mix of product offerings.

Today Sumitomo is parent to companies in such industries as electronics, insurance, banking, shipbuilding, automotive, and more. Sumitomo survived one disruptive new technology after another, transitioning amidst great upheaval from one era to the next. It and companies like it around the world endured, emerging stronger than ever despite radical changes that destroyed entire business sectors and left their competitors to the pages of history.

How did they do it? By seamlessly moving into completely new sectors or adding new sectors to their existing mix. They didn’t do this because they “had” to. That would have been merely reactive thinking. Sumitomo is proactive and creative, actively seeking out new ideas and emerging markets, because it is part of how they do business—and has been for almost four centuries!

Ironically executives at Sumitomo are still using the Founder’s Precepts to guide Masatomo’s company to this day. These principles keep them at the cutting edge yet adaptable to change. For them, change is not a problem to overcome but an integral part of their culture.

Organizations that think for the long term pay close attention to the world around them for ideas, technologies, and sectors that can add to the bottom line. They don’t get caught up in the idea that they’re the leader and that’s that. They stay open to possibilities.

To think like this yourself, you must avoid becoming attached to hard beliefs or steadfast rules. Better to stay nimble and quick, to participate in the future by staying flexible about new ideas and methodologies—even those that at first seem disruptive.

Surround yourself with people who keep their eyes open for new markets to explore and new ways to think about those markets. Pay attention to the entrepreneurs. Wherever there are emerging markets, there are new avenues for products and profits and acquisitions. Jumping into the fray of commerce and all its chaos will help you discover a brave new world of ideas—and companies that just might need a parent company to write them a check.

Don't forget to watch for happy accidents in your business sector...









Brad Szollose

Global Management Consultant

Millennial Expert, Cross Generational Leadership Development & Workforce Performance Strategies, Executive Coach


Brad Szollose (pronounced zolis), is a globally recognized Management Consultant and the foremost authority on Millennials and Cross-Generational Leadership Development Strategies.


TEDX Speaker, Web pioneer and the author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.
 
Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Inc., Advertising Age, The International Business Times, and The Hindu BusinessLine to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets. 

Brad's programs have transformed a new generation of business leaders, helping them maximize their corporate culture, expectations, productivity, and sales growth in The Information Age. 


* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author


"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Credo 5:
A Leader Leads by Example

Credo #6: A Leader Takes Responsibility

Continuing the Credo for 21st Century Management from Liquid Leadership:


5th Law:
A Liquid Leader Leads by Example


On February 26, 2009, every Starbucks nationwide closed for emergency retraining. Why? Because founder Howard Schultz had ordered it. He’d taken a leave of absence, but upon hearing of slipping sales and a rumor that the company’s baristas weren’t making a decent latte anymore, he not only returned to action but also quickly implemented an emergency retraining program.

And here’s the key point: Schultz didn’t send out a mandate on a memo pad for someone else to implement. He came out of his sabbatical, got personally involved, then got his managers involved, and finally, in the most dramatic way possible, got every single store involved. That’s what Liquid Leadership is about—leading by example. No matter where you fit in an organization, your example is what builds your reputation, your career, and the future of your company.

Leadership in any organization needs to be admired and respected for its success. People secretly sabotage organizations where the leadership isn’t admired; through either cynicism or stealing, the mutually disgruntled will find followers within their own work groups. This energy interferes with success. Leading by example sets a more positive tone.

This has always been a touchstone of good leadership, but it’s especially true today. Something remarkable took place over the past twenty-five years: People stopped worshipping the companies they work for and began instead to see themselves as value added to the bottom line, partners in success. Today’s workforce has amazingly high self-esteem and won’t look up to you just because you’ve “earned” the corner office.

And how do you treat a partner? With respect. You can no longer bark orders from the sidelines, expecting employees to jump and obey. Nor can you stay in total isolation, ignoring their needs. Today’s workforce wants their leadership approachable and real.

The only way to engage with your organization is to enroll your people in your vision and then live that vision. In the minds of the people who work for your org, they are the company.

Hubris is out; stewardship and integrity are in.
And please, don’t fake it.


People can smell BS a mile away, and they will run from it. Where cowards blame others for their mistakes, a Liquid Leader is the first to take blame and the last to take credit. Without people to lead, you stand alone.

And do yourself a favor: Mr. Nice Guy doesn’t work either. Being respected is what you want to work on. Believe me, I’ve tried both methods and at the end of the day, people respect those whom they admire.

Time to set the tone...









Brad Szollose

Global Management Consultant

Millennial Expert, Cross Generational Leadership Development & Workforce Performance Strategies, Executive Coach


Brad Szollose (pronounced zolis), is a globally recognized Management Consultant and the foremost authority on Millennials and Cross-Generational Leadership Development Strategies.


TEDX Speaker, Web pioneer and the author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.
 
Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Inc., Advertising Age, The International Business Times, and The Hindu BusinessLine to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets. 

Brad's programs have transformed a new generation of business leaders, helping them maximize their corporate culture, expectations, productivity, and sales growth in The Information Age. 


* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author


"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.



Monday, April 4, 2016

Credo 6:
A Leader Takes Responsibility

Credo #7: A Liquid Leader Leaves a Lasting Legacy

Continuing the Credo for 21st Century Management from Liquid Leadership:

6th Law:
A Liquid Leader Takes Responsibility

Unfortunately, the news today is filled with plenty of examples of business leaders who decided to take the low road, appearing on some financial show and pontificating about how great their company is while secretly dumping the stock. Or my personal pet peeve: when a high profile leader is caught lying and leaves with a multimillion-dollar golden parachute and a book deal. Meanwhile the company employees are ruined and incapable of retiring.

As Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler says, “Where have all the leaders gone?”


The problem is a small bunch of bad apples making it bad for the group. When you visit companies like Google, W. L. Gore & Associates (makers of GORE-TEX), or Nintendo, you see such great innovation taking place that you begin to realize that the majority of companies out there are doing things right.

Even so, integrity can never be taken for granted—and it starts with you. What do you stand for?


Today’s leader is actually an extension of their brand. Name any top company, and chances are, you can name the CEO or founder as well. The attributes of a great leader can be felt within every inch of an organization: uncompromising, intense, and always on the cutting edge of their market. Taking full responsibility for your actions—with no compromises—is the standard for great leadership. It takes the same amount of energy to be good at something as it does to not be so good. So why not stand for greatness? Setting higher standards is contagious and permeates an organization to its core.

On the negative side, if you’re caught in a lie, it hurts morale. And once morale is compromised, cynicism runs amok. Cynicism is a cancer that destroys hope, creativity, and our sense of adventure. And as with cancer, you must detect it early and eradicate it.


The key to taking responsibility is to look for your blind spot. This is the area where you may not realize you are weak. Lack of detail, inexperience, and arrogance are all examples of blind spots. The best way to discover a blind spot is to ask your team of trusted advisors and confidants to tell you what your weakness is, and demand the truth—no matter how painful.

By taking responsibility for your actions, you become a person of uncompromising values, incapable of being swayed by a solipsistic ideology or a quick buck. At the same time, you become invincible. When you know your weaknesses and lead with them, there is nothing left for people to sense but your strengths.

It is easy to be a leader when times are good. But when times are tough, these are the moments that make a leader great. Developing working methodologies and profit centers during tough times is what creates an invincible leader. Signs of integrity are written all over a leader who shows up, gets involved, tweaks the business, and stands for reinvention. The news is filled with leaders who say they take full responsibility, yet their actions suggest otherwise. Why not stand for something better?

Why not promote a higher standard of excellence where leaders take responsibility for their actions and the actions of their people, and expect the same in return?


Wouldn’t you follow a leader like that?








Brad Szollose

Global Management Consultant

Millennial Expert, Cross Generational Leadership Development & Workforce Performance Strategies, Executive Coach


Brad Szollose (pronounced zolis), is a globally recognized Management Consultant and the foremost authority on Millennials and Cross-Generational Leadership Development Strategies.


TEDX Speaker, Web pioneer and the author of the award-winning, bestseller Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia, Brad is a former C-level executive of a publicly traded company that he cofounded that went from entrepreneurial start-up to IPO in three years; the first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company K2 Design, experienced 425% hyper-growth, due in part to a unique management style that won his company the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.
 
Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Inc., Advertising Age, The International Business Times, and The Hindu BusinessLine to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets. 

Brad's programs have transformed a new generation of business leaders, helping them maximize their corporate culture, expectations, productivity, and sales growth in The Information Age. 


* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author


"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.