50 Shades of Leadership

A while back, I designed a seminar called “50 Shades of Leadership” for some HR and CIPD people. Before anyone drifts off into the realms of fantasy, the event was about leadership style and not Business Dilemmas, Strategy and Management aka BDSM !! I gather there has been some recent hullabaloo about a film with a similar title to my post so I thought I might as well add to the general level of distraction to the serious business of work at the weekend. But, enough of this frivolity and let’s get it on with some Leadership thinking:

It may be trendy to think that leadership is all about empowerment, but this is just one of the seven styles proposed by Tannenbaum and Schmidt in their Leadership Continuum, ranging from autocratic to empowered leadership. What can we learn from Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model?

7 Shades of Leadership

1. Leaders need ideally to be adept at using all the styles on the continuum.

2. If they have a deficit in some areas, the next best thing is to hire someone who can deliver the required approach. Better than trying to “fake it”.

3. There are occasions where a “tell” style is appropriate, even if it is not “trendy” in an era where the expectation is to operate towards the right hand side of the continuum. Here’s Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model as a reminder of the options you have as a leader in any situation.

Tannenbaum and Schmidt's model of Leadership style

Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model of Leadership style

4. There are other occasions when “empowerment” is either ineffective or downright dangerous. Empowering staff who either don’t know what to do or have no experience of improvisation does not always work when the stakes are high. Paradoxically, empowerment requires strong leadership in terms of creating a shared direction of travel.

5. If you find it hard not to interfere when trying to empower staff, just make sure you are not physically around! Book yourself a holiday or do anything to make it physically difficult to interfere. That does not mean you should not check in occasionally to see how things are going and offer encouragement and coaching if required.

6. If you are trying to use high involvement strategies, remember some people are happy to engage direct, but others may prefer to use remote “nominal” communication mechanisms such as anonymous inputs. Ensure that you enable both means of making suggestions.

7. Do not mix the styles up. For example do not abdicate when you mean to tell people something. Inauthenticity is a killer of leadership credibility.

Just remember that Leadership comes in 50 varieties – well there’s actually only 7 in the model! Use the style that best-fits the situation rather than what’s trendy.

Come along to our Punk Rock Business Event on June 09 in the South East. All kinds of decadent thoughts about leadership, art, business and punk rock will be discussed, but without the use of whips, clips and chains …

Come to our event on disruptive leadership - June 09 - £10 - click on the picture to get yours now - Picture by Lindsay Wakelin Photography

Come to our event on disruptive leadership – June 09 – £10 click on the picture to get yours now – Picture by Lindsay Wakelin Photography

50 Shades of HR – Click to hook up with The Cultured Llama

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Opportunity Lost or Gained?

I noticed this letter from “We Buy Any Car” to the owner of a “Playmobil Little Tikes Car” recently and was curious about how this came to be:

We buy any car, but not Playmobils

We buy any car … but not Playmobils …

Let’s re-imagine the scenario:

Instead of the letter above, We Buy Any Car could have decided to pay the full price of the Playmobil, perhaps deducting some money for ‘wear and tear’ 🙂 and then present the owner of the item with a cheque as part of a TV campaign for the company.  Better still, perhaps they might have presented the child with a bond to the value of the car to be redeemed on their 18th birthday as a downpayment for a real car … and so on.  Just think how the company could have turned this round to their advantage …  Just a little bit of creativity needed really.

Well, it transpires that the letter was fake, although the story went viral and it certainly fooled me at the time of writing this blog.  Here is the turnaround strategy via a spoof website called “We Buy Any Toy Car.com“.  This is a great response to the fake letter.

We buy any car's turnaround strategy

We buy any car’s turnaround strategy

What would have your preferred creative reversal of this opportunity for We Buy Any Car?  Post your thoughts here.

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About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk

Bemoaning the blues

Following on from my piece on the business blues I just had to post this fantastic piece of blues satire that was sent to me from Clarksdale MA

Blues Singer’s Woman Permitted To Tell Her Side

MS–Ida Mae Dobbs, longtime woman of Willie “Skipbone” Jackson, called a press conference Tuesday to respond to charges levied against her by the legendary Delta blues singer. Ida Mae Dobbs, woman of blues singer Willie “Skipbone” Jackson

“Despite what Mr. Jackson would have you believe, I am not an evil-hearted woman who will not let him be,” Dobbs told reporters. “I repeat: I am not an evil-hearted woman who will not let him be. To the contrary, my lovin’ is so sweet, it tastes just like the apple off the tree.”

Dobbs, accused of causing Jackson pain and breaking his heart by calling out another man’s name, categorically denied treating him in a low-down manner.

“He says he sends for his baby, but I don’t come around,” Dobbs, a brownskin woman, said. “He says he sends for his baby, but I don’t come around. Well, the truth is, I do come, but he is out messing with every gal in town.”

During the press conference, Dobbs also disputed an Aug. 27 statement made by Jackson, who compared her to a dresser because someone is always going through her drawers.

“My drawers have not been gone through by any man but Willie “Skipbone” Jackson,” Dobbs said. “Neither Slim McGee nor Melvin Brown has ever been in my drawers. Nor has Sonny ‘Spoonthumb’ Perkins, nor any of those other no-good jokers down by the railroad tracks. My policy has always been to keep my drawers closed to everyone but Mr. Jackson, as I am his woman and would never treat him so unkind.”

In addition to denying Jackson’s drawer-opening allegations, Dobbs disputed charges of unrestricted sweet-potato-pie distribution, insisting that her pie is available only to Jackson.

“I do not give out my sweet potato pie arbitrarily, as I am not the sort of no-good doney who engages in such objectionable behavior,” Dobbs told reporters. “Only one man can taste my sweet potato pie, and I believe I have made it perfectly clear who that man is.” Dobbs noted that the same policy applies to her biscuits, which may be buttered only by Jackson.

While most of the accusations levied against Dobbs relate to her running around town with other men, she does face one far more serious charge, attempted homicide. On May 5, 1998, Jackson was rushed to the hospital and narrowly escaped death after ingesting nearly five ounces of gasoline. Jackson claimed that Dobbs tried to murder him, serving him a glass of the toxic fuel when he requested water. Dobbs dismissed the episode as “an accident.”

Dobbs, a short-dress, big-legged woman from Coahoma County, said it is not she but Jackson who should be forced to defend himself. According to Dobbs, Jackson frequently has devilment on his mind, staying up until all hours of the night rolling dice and drinking smokestack lightning.

“Six nights out of seven, he goes off and gets his swerve on while I sit at home by myself. Then he comes knocking on my door at 4 a.m., expecting me to rock him until his back no longer has any bone,” Dobbs said. “Is that any way for a man to treat his woman? I don’t want to, but if he keeps doing me wrong like this, I am going to take my lovin’ and give it to another man.”

Added Dobbs: “Skipbone Jackson is going to be the death of me.”

Blues death

Dobbs said that until she receives an apology from Jackson and a full retraction of all accusations, he will not be given any grinding.

“Mr. Jackson says that I stay out all night and that I’m not talking right. He says he has rambling on his mind as a result of my treating him so unkind. He says I want every downtown man I meet and says they shouldn’t even let me on the street,” Dobbs said. “Well, I refuse to allow my name to be dragged through the mud like this any longer. Unless my man puts an end to these unfair attacks on my character, I will neither rock nor roll him to the break of dawn. I am through with his low-down ways.”

To finish us off, here’s a bit of classic blues satire from the Blues Brothers.  I myself have experienced having bottles thrown at me at punk rock gigs, supporting skinhead bands, although there was no wire netting! 😦  This is far worse than anything that can happen in a business seminar.  The worst that can happen is getting 5 out of 10 on the happy sheet! 🙂

Three top Rock’n’Roll business tips – From Abba to Queen and Bananarama

As part of an occasional series of blogs, I will bring you some great tips on business, extrapolated from the lyrics of great rock and pop songs, sometimes wildy so!  There are many more examples in the book ‘Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll’, acclaimed by Tom Peters.  Today’s Rock’n’Roll Business tips focus on the area of interpersonal relationships.

Rock'n'Roll Wisdom mixed with top business thinking

Let’s start with 70’s Swedish glam classicists Abba with their song ‘Knowing me, knowing you aha’.

In my Rock’n’Roll world, this innocent phrase is an allusion to the concept of ‘emotional intelligence’, as Daniel Goleman puts it.  I’d put EI more plainly as:

‘Living inside your own head AND outside it’

Great leaders / musicians are able to do BOTH i.e. they exhibit personal mastery whilst maintaning a connection with those around them.  Bad leaders / musicians often live inside their own heads, not noticing their impact on others.  Let’s have your thoughts in the comments on ways in which you can develop the systematic habit of inner and outer awareness?

From Freddie Mercury, we get the evergreen hit ‘The Great Pretender’.  What business wisdom can we read into these three words?  Well, it reminds me of the issues of leadership style and authenticity.  Leadership requires us to be a master of style.  Dictator, salesperson, facilitator, confidant, comedian, entertainer, counsellor and so on.  Importantly, you should know your own range so that you don’t have to end up ‘faking it’.  Lou Reed wisely observed “I do me better than anyone else” on the question of authenticity.  What do you consider the practical business implications of Mercury’s cover to be?

Finally, in the world of interpersonal relationships, the ‘how’ is often much more important than the ‘what’.  In other words, the journey is more important than the destination.  It’s what Bananarama sang about in their hit ‘It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it (that’s what gets results)’.  A seemingly trivial point, but one with massive impact if you need to get results through others or influence people to change.   Please share your tips on how you place value on the ‘how’ when working with others in the comments to this blog.

For fun, what might be the ‘hidden business message’ in this song by Abba?

Share your answers on the blog comments and I will award a copy of Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll to the most strange and wonderful one.  Entries close on 31 July 2011.

For more Rock’n’Roll tips visit The Academy of Rock website and click on ‘ROCK WISDOM’ on the front page.  Join the blog to receive regular updates on business mixed with ideas from the world of music.