EppsNet Archive: Leadership

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

8 Nov 2015 /
At the movies
  • People who advise you to “embrace failure.” Probably good advice, but if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it ten thousand times. We get it: Embrace Failure. Let’s move on already. Extra demerits: You have opinions on other completely played-out topics like management vs. leadership and how to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
  • People who say “Can I put you on hold for a moment?” and then immediately put me on hold without giving me a chance to sigh ostentatiously and say “If you must.”
  • Full-grown adults who tell you how sexually attracted they are to an actor or actress in a movie. Extra demerits: You invent your own fawning vocabulary with words like “droolworthy.” Your ability to be sexually aroused by a fantasy on a movie screen doesn’t enhance my opinion of you at all. Try maintaining a relationship in real life with someone who’s no more attractive than you are, lover boy (or girl).

Two Mediocrities Are Not Better Than One

23 Jun 2014 /

Effective executives rarely suffer from the delusion that two mediocrities achieve as much as one good man. They have learned that, as a rule, two mediocrities achieve even less than one mediocrity — they just get in each other’s way.

— Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive

Forget About Female Leadership

22 Mar 2014 /

Everyone can shut up about “let’s get more women into leadership positions.” Because they don’t want leadership positions. Or they’d get them. Obviously. Women want to have time for their kids. And leaders – especially top-down leaders – dedicate their lives to their work. There won’t be female leadership and male leadership. There will be people who lead at home and people who lead at work. People will take ownership of outcomes for the areas of life they care most about.

9 Links

1 Mar 2014 /
  1. Data Structure Visualizations
  2. Good Tech Lead, Bad Tech Lead
  3. Google Java Style
  4. Guide to 12 Disruptive Technologies
  5. How to Write a Cover Letter
  6. The Landing Page Optimization Guide You Wish You Always Had
  7. Selendroid: Selenium for Android
  8. UX Axioms by Eric Dahl
  9. Yelp’s got style (and the guide to back it up)

Topics for 2014

31 Dec 2013 /

In 2014, I hope some sage business illuminato will gather his wits and take a stab at defining the difference between “management” and “leadership.”

Long overdue . . .

Interview Tips: You’re a 10 in Everything

19 Sep 2013 /
Nadia Comaneci

Nadia Comaneci, 1976 Olympics, Montreal

One of my least favorite interview questions goes something like this:

On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on [insert personal attribute here].

This is a bad question because while some quantities – speed, weight, temperature, earthquake magnitude – do have an agreed-upon scale of measurement, personal attributes like, say, leadership, do not.

Person A might give himself a 10 in leadership, while a third party might say, “Oh, I know that guy. He’s a 3.”

You might be tempted to answer like this: “I consider myself a good leader, better than most, but I’m humbled by the challenges of leadership, and I’m always learning something new, so I’ll give myself an 8.”

Absent any information about how that number is going to be used, I’d say that’s a pretty good answer. It’s honest and reflective.

BUT — the question itself is so misguided that I don’t expect someone asking it to use the answer in an intelligent way. I expect the asker of “rate yourself” questions to take the answers at face value, write them down and then do one of two things, maybe both:

  1. Compare the answers to some meaningless threshold. Ooh, we really need someone who’s at least a 9 in leadership.
  2. Compare the answers with the answers of other candidates. Candidate A is an 8, Candidate B is an 9 and Candidate C is a 10. Advantage, Candidate C.

Just play it safe and give yourself a 10 on everything.

The only reason I can come up with to give yourself less than a 10 on any attribute is the remote possibility that the interviewer could discount a candidate giving all 10s as being lacking in self-awareness, but no one asking me “rate yourself” questions has ever struck me as being that subtle.

The First Follower

10 Jun 2012 /

Now, if you notice that the first follower is actually an underestimated form of leadership in itself. It takes guts to stand out like that. The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.

If you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow and show others how to follow. And when you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in.


This Is How the World Always Changes

6 Jun 2012 /

Getting engaged in changing things is quite straightforward. If we have an idea, we step forward and serve. Instead of being overwhelmed and withdrawing, we act.

No grand actions are required; we just need to begin speaking up about what we care about. We don’t need to spend a lot of time planning or getting senior leaders involved; we don’t have to wait for official support. We just need to get started — for whatever issue or person we care about.

This is how the world always changes. Everyday people not waiting for someone else to fix things or come to their rescue, but simply stepping forward, working together, figuring out how to make things better.

Now it’s our turn.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

12 Jan 2012 /

The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.

Web Governance: Becoming an Agent of Change

13 Aug 2011 /

It’s about pointing out risks, shining a light on organizational denial, overcoming resistance, and facilitating constructive discussions about change. . . .

We’re facing a stark choice right now: keep whining or start leading. . . .

You might be thinking: “There’s no way I can do this. I’m a designer, developer, or copywriter, not an organizational change maker!” But we can do it, and we should. Because nobody else will do it for us, and if nobody deals with the problem, we won’t be able to do great work.

Leadership Lessons of the Ottoman Turks

28 Jul 2011 /

Image via Wikipedia

“Flexibility,” “Adaptability,” “Gets along well with others.” I don’t believe they’re what’s needed today if we’re going to force our institutions to adapt to us–which is our central problem.

The Ottoman Turks for over three centuries produced an unbroken succession of able leaders. Their performance appraisal sheet would have looked like this:

Gets along well with others

— Robert Townsend, Further Up the Organization

Twitter: 2010-08-27

27 Aug 2010 /
  • Worth a read: the Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership – Good Experience http://goo.gl/yitU #
  • RT @Jesus_M_Christ: It’s true, my Dad does talk to Glenn Beck, but only to tell him to shut the hell up. #

NARCh – Day 2

28 Jul 2010 /

Two more round-robin games on Day 2 . . .

Game 3 – Mississauga Mission Rattlers

Remember when I said Mission Black Ice is the best 16-and-under team I’ve ever seen? I may have spoken too soon on that.

I’ll be shocked if the Rattlers and Black Ice don’t face each other in the final to find out which team is really the best in the universe.

The Devil Dog goalie was great yesterday but not today. He gave up eight goals, should have stopped about five of them, but didn’t get much help from his teammates either.

Final Score: Rattlers 8, Devil Dogs 0. Ouch.


Game 4 – Colorado Dynamite

Both teams came into the game with a good chance of slipping in to the playoff round as the fifth and final seed with a victory.

It was a very even game — too even. The game ended in a tie, which eliminated both teams from the tournament.

Final Score: Devil Dogs 3, Dynamite 3


Day 2 Wrapup

I thought the boys did great for their first time playing Platinum at the NARCh level.

They’re not ready to win it yet but they I think they showed that they belong, and they got a chance to see what it takes to be the best in the land at their sport.

As a team, there are things that they need to improve on and individually, they need to get stronger and faster.

There are two teams — Black Ice and Mississauga Rattlers — that look clearly better than any other team in the 16-and-under age group. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw had the Devil Dogs playing both of them in round-robin games.

Except for those two teams, it looked like the Dogs could compete with anyone. They were one goal away from making the playoff round, had they been able to win one of the two games they tied.


I really enjoyed watching the kids play this season.

Casey’s been teammates with most of these kids for three years now. They’ve improved as players from A to AA and now AAA.

A couple of kids who as recently as last year were the poster boys for not having your head in the game — on or off the rink — have actually developed some leadership qualities, so they’ve improved at things other than hockey as well.

That’s it. See you next season . . .

The Authority of Ideas

9 May 2010 /

A team committed to providing great products or services on time will shift its point of view on authority.

It will move from viewing authority as emanating from bosses to viewing authority as emanating from ideas and from the nurturing and championship of an ecology of ideas.

Twitter: 2009-09-02

2 Sep 2009 /

What Was Difficult

12 Aug 2009 /

One friend described an interaction with Fujio Cho, former head of Toyota, visiting a plant and gently chiding people for too much attention to accomplishments and too little on struggle points. If he didn’t know what was difficult for them, he was reported to ask, how would he know where he could be of help?

Twitter: 2009-08-10

10 Aug 2009 /
  • RT @diablocody: I wonder if there are any amazing singles who live right in my area. #
  • Leading When You Don't Have Formal Authority http://bit.ly/EST45 #

Organic Organizing

2 Jul 2009 /

A problem-solving leader’s entire orientation is toward creating an environment in which everyone can be solving problems, making decisions, and implementing those decisions, rather than personally solving problems, making decisions, and implementing those decisions.

— Gerald M. Weinberg, Becoming a Technical Leader

With My Hands Behind My Back

7 May 2009 /

A couple of days ago, I saw one of our senior managers walking down the hallway with her hands clasped behind her back.

Walking with hands behind back

I’d never seen her do that before — the hands thing, I mean. It gave her a different look — in fact, it gave her a different sort of presence — so I decided to try it myself.

I immediately felt more thoughtful — or at least I felt like I looked more thoughtful — like a professor strolling across the quad.

Today I was doing it again when I happened to meet up with the woman I copied it from.

I told her I was trying to emulate her hands-behind-the-back leadership technique.

She said the only reason she’d been doing that is her shoulders were sore from Pilates class and she was trying to stretch them out . . .

Building Credibility

20 Mar 2009 /

Many people worry that not knowing something is a sign of weakness, and that if a leader seems not to have all the answers they will lose the confidence of their team. Such people try to pretend they have the answer in every situation, making things up if necessary and never admitting mistakes.

However, this approach ultimately backfires. Sooner or later people learn the truth and figure out that the person never admits when they don’t know. When this happens the person loses all credibility: no-one can tell whether the person is speaking from authority or making something up, so it isn’t safe to trust anything they say.

On the other hand, if you admit that you don’t know the answer, or that you made a mistake, you build credibility. People are more likely to trust you when you say that you do have the answer, because they have seen that you don’t make things up.

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