Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Franklin and Madison: Founding Brothers Leadership Lesson

This paragraph paints a picture that reminds me of a key value of teamwork. It is from Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis, page 113. The value of teamwork comes not from like-minded people working together; it comes from different people leveraging their complementary strengths.

If Franklin's great gift was an uncanny knack for levitating above political camps, operating at an altitude that permitted him to view the essential patterns and then comment with great irony and wit on the behavior of those groveling about on the ground, Madison's specialty was just the opposite. He lived in the details and worked his magic in the context of the moment, mobilizing those forces on the ground more adroitly and with a more deft tactical proficiency than anyone else. Taken together, he and Franklin would have made a nearly unbeatable team. But in 1790, they were on different sides.

So, as a leader, seek your opposite and value the strength you can bring to each other.

Monday, February 08, 2010

CBS's Undercover Boss a Good Case Study

I watched CBS's Undercover Boss last night. I'd recommend it as a thought-provoking case study in understanding your business. The first episode showed Larry O'Donnell, President and COO of Waste Management taking on line jobs such as sorting trash at a recycling center, cleaning portable toilets and collecting residential trash.

Let me not spoil the show for you. I'll just say, he gains insight into how upper management policies impact the real people doing the work. While much of this show may be contrived, the simple idea of understanding the day-to-day work of your teams can have great value to your success as a leader.