Category Archives: leadership

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Tapping into my own human spirit

leadership, Storytelling Leave a comment

When I began my meanderings into the realm of Greek mythology last week—my rumination on Sisyphus and existential philosophy, and making connections with my job as a winery worker—it was not without some hesitation. Not wanting to make my blog—or any of my writing—self-absorbed, I have often shied away from writing about myself and my personal experience. Now, I am beginning to think that such reticence is probably misguided.  My views on this are changing for a simple reason. In the past 10 days, I have received a truly inordinate number of favorable reactions from a variety of people about my last two posts. Several long-time readers commented that these were among my … Continue reading

Co-creating our difference (continued)

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

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

Engagement is job one for any manager

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

As we saw in the closing paragraph from last time, Captain Abrashoff’s engagement of his ship’s crew led to truly superior combat-readiness ratings. In the end, the Benfold would become regarded as the finest ship in the Pacific Fleet, winning the Navy’s prestigious Spokane Trophy for having the highest degree of combat readiness.   In addition, the rate of military promotions tripled on the Benfold during Abrashoff’s watch. Personnel turnover, which had been at unacceptable levels under the previous leadership, decreased to an unprecedented one percent.  When engagement levels rise, everything improves: The Benfold is an outstanding example, one that demonstrates why I think engagement is job one for any manager. The ship’s all-important combat readiness ratings rose not due to stricter management controls … Continue reading

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Page 2 of 27123...Last »