Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Leadership Smeadership

Okay. I know it’s a settings thing. Sometime, a long, long time ago – probably when leadership was being invented – I must have indicated that I wanted LinkedIn to serve me anything to do with the act of leadership.

So on a daily basis, I read headline after ever-freaking-painful headline (and a bunch of personal updates too) on what a great leader is, how to be one, and what to do if you’re not one.


Believe me, crappy leaders didn’t make the same mistake I did. LinkedIn isn’t serving them the Leadership barf that the rest of us are seeing. They don’t care. So please – how do I change my settings?

Here’s my list of the leaders not hearing all the great leadership insight being served by the leadership experts on LinkedIn.

  1. The smartest guy in the Room – trust me, it’s a guy. This dude has all the answers. Always has. Always will. His business could and will be falling down around his ears at some point but he IS IN CHARGE. That’s leadership baby. If you don’t like it. Leave.
  1. The ‘successful’ entrepreneur. This dude (yeah, almost certainly a dude too) has already built and sold a business. Nothing that applies to anyone else applies here. Every business this dude touches is different and the sheer brilliance required to deliver on that pretty much eliminates the need for any outside perspective.
  1. The struggling entrepreneur. Do you think this person has the time to surf LinkedIn for leadership advice? Really? Just staying afloat is tough enough, especially with people quitting all the time. No time for leadership advice here. Move along.
  1. The ‘successful’ leader. We all are. Let’s face it. And frankly, we know so much and we’re so busy sharing our leadership brilliance and trying to stand out from all the other successful leadership junkies, there’s no freaking way we’re reading your stuff.
So. Bottom line. Enough with the leadership advice!  The people who need it don’t care. And the ones who care aren’t leaders. They’re employees. Wishing that one day soon a  real leader will walk into their life.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why CIO's Need to Change Their Role

Last night I got to have dinner with a group of 20 CIO’s. My role was to help bring the CEO perspective to them on what they do and how they do it.

I based my CEO perspective on several inputs: my own experience dealing with IT departments; input from CEO’s, CIO’s and Consultants on the Boardroom Metrics team; and, scanning some easily accessible press to see what other CEO’s are saying.

Going-in, my theme was this – there’s a reason so many CIO’s report to the CFO – CIO’s aren’t helping the CEO with his/her priorities. Writing applications and protecting the Company jewels is important grunt work. But it’s just grunt work. And it won’t get you to the Boardroom table.

Sadly, what I heard last night reinforced the theme. It’s not what I was hoping for.

Somehow, too many CIO’s have become content being relegated to cost-center, execution-leader status. They fail to see how what they do can be important strategically. Furthermore, they see the tactical issues they face as being somehow unique – that the execution details in IT somehow make them different from what every other department in the Company has to face.

My suggestion: WAKE.UP!

First, every department faces execution hurdles – overcoming them is simply part of the job. Get over it.

Second, the reason other departments like Marketing and Sales so easily access the CEO’s share of mind is because they’re working on what the CEO cares about – building the business and making money.

Third, the IT group could also easily be at the table if they 1) learn the business and 2) start applying what they know (IT stuff) to what the CEO cares about.

IT groups have the potential to create more corporate efficiency than any other function in the Company. They have the potential to bring the Company closer to the Customer than any other function in the Company – including sales and marketing. And IT is the only corporate function with the tools necessary to bury internal silos forever – increasing collaboration, effectiveness – and results!

There was some great discussion last night on how CIO’s and IT got to where they at. And not at.

Someone commented that the worst mistake that’s been made is defining internal groups as ‘the customer’ and accepting the role of ‘supplier’ – including signing up for internal service level agreements and other bits of structure that keep the IT group fully at bay from the rest of the organization.

I’m not sure if that’s true - but it sounds logical and dangerous.

In terms of changing and working closer with the CEO, there is a common theme that everyone seems to buy off on: CIO’s need to LEARN THE BUSINESS.

Understanding the business is critical if CIO’s are going to help the CEO and the Company achieve their priorities.

However, that won’t happen until a fundamental mind set shift occurs. CIO’s can no longer be content in their role as suppliers, followers and executers.  

What CEO’s are looking for is corporate leaders.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Impact99 - Igniting a Social Workplace

In 2012 I've attended two HR conferences. They couldn't have been more different.

The 2nd Annual Talent Management Development Conference in July was classic HR. All HIPO's, Blackberries and handwritten notes. A place where an HR leader could openly admit that her company 'racks, stacks and chops' it's employees - and not find herself trending on Twitter.

The only racking and stacking going on at yesterday's Impact99 was the clever ways that participants tweets were being broadcast and highlighted during the session. Participants so engaged they drove #impact99 to the number three trending spot on Twitter during the morning session.

If there was any overlap between the people that each conference attracted it wasn't very obvious. However, the presence of Telus, TD Canada Trust and several other large, well known Canadian companies yesterday suggests that some large organizations ARE addressing HR issues in some very forward thinking ways.

Here are some of my take-aways from yesterday:

1. there was a refreshing focus on how, not what. It all felt a bit Gary Vaynerchuckish (in his most recent evolvement) - little talk any more about what is social media and whether it matters - and serious discussion about how to manage and implement it for maximum results.

2. the presentations by both Telus and TD were eye-opening. First, it's always great to see 'young' corporate leaders who are articulate, passionate (a green dress!), and successful. But hearing that these two large organizations (TD now has 85,500 employees) have implemented essentially open, un-moderated access to social media tools that have driven their employee engagement levels out of the ballpark suggests the kinds of companies I'm glad I'm doing business with. Their message: by integrating social media into the workplace, not on top of it, social media has unleashed much of what is human in organizations - the desires to collaborate, question, learn, teach, help, support, etc.

3. collaboration and agility are key pain points that social media is addressing in organizations. For years now, business has been moving at light speed and CEO's have been lamenting the drag of organizational silo's and the futility of planning for anything beyond tomorrow. Now, it turns out that social media is a key weapon in the fight to destroy silos - and connected organizations get all the insight they need to make on-the-fly tweaks to operating direction and priorities.

4. as someone tweeted yesterday, there was gold in getting a panel of CEO's reactions to some current social media vendors and thought leaders talking about what they see. The CEO reactions ranged from 'that's nice, but how?' through 'you have my attention, I want to hear more'.  What go their attention? How to stop wasting money on training, and the massive importance of mobile (more people in the world have access to mobile than they do to running water!). And, if it hasn't already, it sounds like 'gamification' is about to take over from 'social media' as the most hotly contested 'new thing' in organizations.

No question, Impact99 speaks to the converted. For those who already believe or are already there, it was a great rah!, rah! event and massive dose of encouragement to keep on keeping on.

However - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with this - Impact99 doesn't represent reality in terms of most businesses, CEO's, and management consultants today. Many, if not most that I know still haven't put much/any consideration into the role that social media could and will play in cementing culture and competitive advantage in their organizations - and in their competitors.

As Courtney Shelton Hunt pointed out in her closing keynote, not being right there on social media doesn't mean going out of business tomorrow. And she's right. It doesn't.

But wow, when you see what the Telus' and TD's are doing, you have to think they are building themselves a substantial competitive advantage.  You get a strong sense that those still questioning social media and wondering what a twitter is had better wake up soon or risk being left WAY behind (it took Telus three years to get where they are now) in their quest for employees, customers - and perhaps/likely even their next job.

Congratulations to the organizers of yesterday's event. Christine Mcleod and Pam Ross are passionate, intelligent, forward thinking and connected. They did a great job and staged a truly interactive, entertaining and thought-provoking event.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Please, Tim Cook Wake Up Now

A few years ago my daughter's new Mac arrived home with an original iTouch. After an hour of loading apps and using the touch screen I knew that RIM was in trouble.

The fact that I haven't loaded iOS 6 on my iPhone yet (it's just a Maps app! after all) doesn't have quite the same sickening feeling of that night way back when, but it's close.

Like most people I just want my phone, computer, tablet to work. I'm not a technology person - I'm a user. The kind of person that was foreign to RIM several years ago. And, thanks to both RIM and Microsoft, I hate updates.

Updates screw things up, change settings, mess with reading lists, lose contacts, etc.

So. I've hesitated. And I've hesitated more subconsciously than consciously - it's some kind of RIMDOWS hangover. It's both interesting and troubling. Based on my experiences until now I never expected to think of Apple in the same light as those other, over-the-hill providers.

Unfortunately, my daughter didn't hesitate. She loaded the new Mountain Lion update on her Macbook Pro a couple of night ago. AND IT'S NEVER RESTARTED.

Clever me. I sent her to Google and the Apple website for fixes and insight. There are lots. She's not the only person this has happened to. Nothing helped.

But, HERE'S THE REAL SCREW UP. She took her Macbook Pro to the Apple Store the next day for some real help. Like many people (most? the world?) she needs her laptop for work.

And they told her to go away. How dare she just show up like that?! She didn't have an appointment.

In fact, they let her know pretty clearly that she was fairly nutzo for even thinking that she could just walk in and have someone take a look at her computer like that.Wow. Another. Dumb. Customer!

So she left. Helpless and angry. The clerk - is that what they call them at Apple Stores? - shrugged.

Which is the scary intersection with the other over-the-hill computer companies from the past. BEING BETTER AND SMARTER THAN THE CUSTOMER NEVER WORKS! It didn't work for RIM and won't work long for Apple.

The we-can-do-no-wrong attitude is what leads to risky, untested updates, failed apps, lousy service and weak apologies. Unchecked, it spells doom.

So. Tim Cook. Please wake up now. Whether you see it yet or not, Apple is in trouble.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New from Boardroom Metrics - Business Expert Directory

Boardroom Metrics has launched a new web service called is a web directory where consultants, coaches, trainers, speakers and executive job seekers can profile the services they provide and link searchers to their website and other social media.

The mission of is to help independent practitioners and others increase their on-line visibility.

A strong directory listing is a great way to be found by someone looking for a particular service or expertise. 

Also, the links that can be created from a directory like are important inputs that Google and other search engines use to increase the visibility of a company's website.

Searchers on can sort for business experts by keyword, geography and specialty, for example ‘Leadership Coach Chicago’. They can also see what else you are doing on-line, including websites, other social media like LinkedIn, Twitter and others. Using the contact information and on-line forms provided, potential clients can contact you directly by email and phone.

A listing on complements – and strengthens - whatever you are doing on-line already – even if all you are doing is LinkedIn.

If all you are doing is LinkedIn, then provides another search engine optimized outlet for your information to appear. You can even have your profile highlighted and promoted for better visibility. provides different levels of on-line visibility depending on the package. Packages range from free to $29/month.

For those who already have a strong on-line presence – and want to make it even stronger, then the links and added visibility that creates will be highly appreciated.

More information is available by visiting the website.

The site is still in Beta and any/all feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Early adopters who join in the month of September 2012 receive access to the Associate level package free for a year. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Executive Transition Boardroom Metrics TV

Here's an except from a Daytime tv interview done a few weeks ago here in Toronto. It's all about the challenges of executive transition out of the corporation and the Boardroom Metrics value prop. Key messages:
  • execs in transition lose their mojo fast
  • everybody wants to be a change agent and strategic leader so find something different
  • Boardroom Metrics provides a 'safe' platform to learn and go public

Leadership Smeadership

Okay. I know it’s a settings thing. Sometime, a long, long time ago – probably when leadership was being invented – I must have indicat...