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The road to self-engagement: part 1

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As we have seen in the recent example of Captain Abrashoff and the crew of the Benfold, effective leaders can engage team members by providing—even co-creating—a sense meaning in the workplace. In the case of Abrashoff’s battleship, the crew was able to achieve a form of discipline that stemmed from relentless focus on a shared purpose. People had a clear sense of doing something that transcended their individual work, of participating in a worthwhile team effort.   During the week, an insightful reader asked a question about what she sees as a different form of engagement in the example of Otis, my inspirational van driver from Denver. Of course, it is all well and good to speak of … Continue reading

Attitude determines altitude: lessons to guide your life

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This week, I had a bit of a difficult time deciding what to post about. There is certainly a lot more to write on our current theme of co-creating positive team cultures, the example of the Benfold, and applying its lessons to other types of organizations and endeavors.  In addition, I continue to come across fascinating material on how work is changing. Every day, we seem to be moving more and more to a world of constant connection, greater emphasis on collaboration in our organizations, jobs where multi-tasking and managing interruptions are simply expected behaviors.   At the same time, one might argue that the most critical work in our knowledge economy comes from deep, reflective, and creative thinking. … Continue reading

Co-creating our difference (continued)

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Since people often ask me for specifics about how to co-create, with their teams, stories of “how and why we do things differently”, this week I offer an illustrative anecdote from the Benfold.   When Captain Abrashoff took over command of the ship, he began by interviewing members of the crew in his quarters, to get to know each one of them. He asked broad questions about where they were from, why they joined the navy, and where they wanted to go in life. In addition, though, the commander wanted to know specifically what they thought were the most gratifying aspects of life on the Benfold, and the most frustrating.  From his numerous conversations, Abrashoff … Continue reading

Co-creating our difference

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

Several weeks ago, I wrote that I saw Captain Abrashoff’s leadership journey on the Benfold as an inspiration to all managers, especially those “stuck in the middle”.   Indeed, a ship’s commander can be seen as a middle manager in the vast system that is the US Navy. One of the elements I like most in the example of Abrashoff is that he truly took on the task of building his own culture, of making his “little 300-person piece of society” a place of excellence.  My experience working in and consulting for organizations has convinced me that managers at all hierarchical levels often have more freedom—and more influence—than they realize. In my leadership seminars and with … Continue reading

Why “we” are different

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

One of my favorite quotes about leadership is from Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn. When asked what distinguishes a great leader from the good ones, Ghosn replied simply: “A good leader brings results. A great leader writes a new story.”  As one who has spent the past two decades studying the impact of story on leaders and groups, I agree wholeheartedly with Ghosn’s premise, and I even like to take it a bit further. To me, the most effective leaders co-create stories of collective identity with their followers, stories that inspire the team and infuse its work with meaning.  So, let’s go back and use the lens of organizational storytelling on our … Continue reading

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