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chapter 23 Myths of Team Leadership

Harvey Robbins Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Leadership is the vessel for many of the worst team myths, for a logical reason. As keepers of the team vision, leaders make up a lot of stuff. Here are some of the worst illusions foisted on us by leaders about leadership.

Finally, there is the seriously mistaken notion that senior teams function like other teams, just in a more senior way. That teams at the top—teams comprised of board members, CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and other senior level execs—roll up their sleeves and collaborate in the same way that grunt teams do. They dont.

Anyone who has been on a senior team knows how rare true camaraderie is. The senior team table more closely resembles a play from the Renaissance, with dukes and earls and grand viziers jockeying for advantage, than the kind of team we have been talking about. At the top levels, politics reigns supreme, and team members are there less to cooperate on joint action than to pursue constituent agendas.209

This is partly because of the personality type that tends to rise to the top of organizations—Drivers with a bullet. Hard-charging executives prefer disposing to proposing, and they are typically rewarded for superior top-down, command-and-control performance. Except perhaps for the Vatican, large organizations do not turn to pastoral types for leadership.

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Jack Foster Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

You will never learn if people can generate ideas for themselves unless you allow them to generate ideas for themselves. So give them a chance.

Charge them with the responsibility of coming up with the solution to some problem, and see how they do. Put them in charge of something, and see how they do.

Your faith in them will make them have faith in themselves.

That is why so many people (like Harry S. Truman and Vince Lombardi) come through with flying colors when forced by circumstance to take on jobs hardly anybody thinks them capable of handling.

Don’t wait for circumstances. Let them solo before they are forced to.

Let me tell you a story:

I always believed that the people who created ads or commercials should present their ads or commercials — if they wanted to — to the client.

So when Adam Kaufman, who was just “the kid in the mail room” at the time, came up with a series of wonderful radio commercials for Denny’s, I asked him if he wanted to present his ideas to Barry Krantz, Denny’s marketing director.

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Chapter 3: Share What’s Rare

Sam Horn Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Anyone who waits for recognition is criminally naive.


Many people are humble to a fault when trying to get their decision-makers’ attention. Humility is a lovely trait but, taken to an extreme, it can become your Achilles’ heel. Understand that business communication is a competition for your customers’ attention. You can’t afford to be subtle and wait for them to recognize your value. That’s naive, idealistic, way too passive.

It’s up to you to share what’s rare so you’re the one decision-makers notice. Your ability to do this can be a career-maker or career-breaker.

My son Tom is an excellent example of how taking responsibility for sharing how you’re rare can help you land your dream job. Tom and his brother grew up in Maui, Hawaii. One starry night, we went out for our customary walk-and-roll. What’s a walk-and-roll? I would walk the quiet streets of our neighborhood while the boys rode alongside on their skateboards or bikes. I asked Tom, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

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Jennifer B. Kahnweiler Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub
Medium 9781609940119

1: Consider First Impressions Like First Loves

Dianna Booher Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If people turn to look at you on the street, you are not well dressed.


The operations manager handed me two files to conduct the third and final round of interviews for a marketing specialist. “In my opinion, both are equally qualified,” she said.

Caitlin’s interview was scheduled first. Dressed attractively in a business suit, she walked into my office with an air of confidence well beyond her thirty years. She shook hands firmly, maintained great eye contact, smiled often, answered my questions clearly and crisply, and asked for the job before she left.

But I was predisposed to hire my second interviewee of the day, Rachel, because she came highly recommended through a colleague. She walked into my office without introducing herself and without extending her hand for the typical handshake. Disappointed, I let it pass, assuming she felt we already “knew it each other” because of the colleague’s personal introduction. Younger than her competitor, she immediately gave me reason to believe that those years might make a huge difference. Although pleasant enough in her demeanor, she folded into herself. As she answered my questions about her career goals and past job, she spoke softly and sounded tentative, like a high schooler responding to the principal.

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