Jim Clemmer's Leader Letter

OCTOBER 2009, Issue 79
Copies of Growing @ the Speed of Change Are Hot Off the Press!
Constant Change: Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis
Introductory Book Offer: Two Autographed Books for the Price of One Ends This Month
Renovations are Almost Complete: Drop By and Do Some Site Seeing
Connecting on LinkedIn
8th Annual Project Management Symposium
Time Traveling: Current Lessons from Changes Past
Thoughts That Make You Go Hmmmm...on Resilience
Inside Out: Beyond Motivation to Inspiration
Celebration, Looking for What's Right, and Building on Strengths
Get It Hot Off My Computer as They are Posted
Most Popular September Improvement Points
Feedback and Follow-Up

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OCTOBER 2009, Issue 79

Growing Speed of Changes

Copies of Growing @ the Speed of Change Are Hot Off the Press!

I've always loved reading. Back in the day, one of my favorite times in elementary school was when our Book of the Month orders arrived. I remember savoring the sharp acrid smell of ink and paper when I first opened a new book (often a Hardy Boys mystery or adventure) and anticipated being carried off into the story.

Last week those same smells and the feel of my new book's arrival carried me off day dreaming about the inspiration and practical applications Growing @ the Speed of Change would open up for its readers. I also imagined the coming adventures with the speaking, workshop, or retreat Clients I'll be working with as I apply the book's fresh new models and how-to steps.

This is my seventh book. And it's the seventh time I've wrestled with the cover issue. Some of my books have had my face on the front, some have been purely business, others have used metaphorical images, and Moose on the Table took a whimsical approach with a cartoon drawing. Publishing industry research (such as Amazon) and testing we did back in the eighties with my very first book (The VIP Strategy) shows that author or subject photos are the most compelling covers. Our test showed the author photo cover outsold a business cover by 4:1.

But it's always felt egotistical to put my mug on the front. We've had the same debate with web site, newsletter, and even my e-mail header. As you can see, Growing @ the Speed of Change does have me front and center. Just as with our web site and other material, we're going for a personal connection. Publishing industry research shows readers do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. Back in July the book cover designer and photographer spent hours shooting hundreds of digital photos looking for a shot they felt combined a warm and inviting stance with action (inspir-action). I am a little too biased to judge the photo that was chosen. I'm very keen to see how readers personally connect with this book!

Constant Change: Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis

Harvard Business Review published a special July/August issue on "Managing in the New World." One of the many excellent articles in this expanded issue is entitled "Leadership in a (Permanent) Crisis." The authors state "when the economy recovers, things won't return to normal - and a different mode of leadership will be required." They go on to persuasively argue our turbulent times "merely sets the stage for a sustained or even permanent crisis of serious and unfamiliar challenges."

Of course, during any time of personal or organizational adversity and change we can wallow, follow, or lead. The authors offer three core suggestions to organizational leaders:

  • Foster Adaptation - this calls for balancing the continuation of current practices while at the same time helping people develop "the next practices."
  • Embrace disequilibrium - keeping people uncomfortable enough to induce change but not so much that they fight, flee, or freeze.
  • Generate leadership - building leadership across all levels of the organization to adapt to changing times.

The whole issue - and especially this article - reinforced for me the timeliness of, Growing @ the Speed of Change. Bringing practical tools for dealing with change today feels a lot like the overall mood toward service and quality improvement in the early nineties when I published my second book, Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance which sold over 100,000 copies. I am sure this is not just a case of me noticing the constant change issue more now because of my new book - like noticing other models of a new car you've just purchased.

Last month I recorded a short video clip (1:40) on "Change Isn't News" - but the pace and permanence of change is. You can view it at http://www.jimclemmer.com/growing-the-speed-of-change.php (left column at the bottom of the page).

I also recorded a two-minute clip on how Growing @ the Speed of Change was written to build acceptance of constant change and leading behaviors at all organizational levels. You can view that at http://www.growingatthespeedofchange.com (right column at the bottom of the page).

Introductory Book Offer: Two Autographed Books for the Price of One Ends This Month

As a subscriber to The Leader Letter last month you were the first to get details on Growing @ the Speed of Change. You can also be one of the first to get an autographed copy! And we'll even throw in a second free copy for you to pass along to a colleague, friend, family or team member on the grow. At the risk of sounding like a huckster, this is a limited time offer. Both my autographing arm and our marketing budget won't last beyond this month!

You can also combine Growing @ the Speed of Change with a copy of Growing the Distance, The Leader's Digest, or Moose on the Table at this same introductory offer of two books for $19.95. Click here to review deep discounts on book bundles.

Renovations are Almost Complete: Drop By and Do Some Site Seeing

Over the past few months as I've been polishing, editing, and finalizing Growing @ the Speed of Change, our Marketing Director, Aidan Crawford, has been renovating and upgrading our web site. Our consistent goal since our first site was posted on the shiny new Internet in 1996 has been to provide a resource centre filled with lots of inspirational and practical material for continuously improving personal, team, and organizational performance.

We now have a very large site with almost 1,500 pages. The growing challenge is making it easy for visitors to navigate through the site to quickly and easily find the practical leadership resources most relevant and helpful to them. Our efforts are now paying huge dividends in increased traffic. We were already getting a good number of daily visits. We're now seeing a sharp and rapidly escalating increase in visitors to our site. And they are "stickier" - staying around longer.

Here are some of the recent upgrades to improve site navigation and searching:

Leader Letter Archive
All seventy-eight issues since I began writing The Leader Letter  in 2003 are archived. On the right side of the archive main page at http://www.jimclemmer.com/newsletter/?page_id=624 you'll find a list of Leader Letter topics. Click on any one for past items with my commentary, reader comments/input, assessments, "thoughts that make you go hmmm....," guest articles, application exercises, tips and techniques, etc. on that topic.

By the way, there's now a Smart Phone version of The Leader Letter available at http://www.jimclemmer.com/newsletter.

Improvement Points Archive
Improvement Points is a free e-mail based service we've provided for nearly ten years. Three times a week, a short quotation is drawn from one of my articles around the topic areas we now use to catalog over 300 articles on site (and the Leader Letter archive). All Improvement Points since we started using aweber's service two years ago are shown chronologically at http://www.jimclemmer.com/improvement-points -archive.php. The list of topics on the right column of this page is from our previous cataloging index going back to when this service began.

Monthly Article Service Archive
This is another free e-mail based service available by subscription. Many subscribers are looking for content for organizational or association newsletters, online blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Two articles per month are sent featured around a timely theme or topic. The archive at http://www.jimclemmer.com/monthly-article-service-archive.php has past articles.

Google Site Search
Almost every page on our site now has a "Google Site Search" box. Type any topic into this and it will instantly give you a list of articles or archived material on that topic. I use this quite a bit when I am trying to recall something I've written on a topic.

Friendly Online Book Store
Aidan has also been working hard during the summer at revamping and upgrading our Online Bookstore. It's much easier to navigate and offers new bundling combinations on my books, workbooks, and audio materials. The shopping cart has been simplified and is even more secure.

Connecting on LinkedIn

I have been using LinkedIn fairly extensively over the past few months. It's essentially a professional equivalent to Facebook. Facebook is a good way to stay in touch with family and friends. LinkedIn is an excellent tool to find past associates, Clients, workshop participants, or readers that I've lost touch with. It's also a good way to share interests or help each other out through a few special interest groups I'm part of.

Click here if you want to view my LinkedIn profile. If you're on LinkedIn and would like to connect, please send me an invitation. My blog feeds into my LinkedIn profile so this is another way you can be notified of my postings.

Like our web site, my LinkedIn profile is never finished and I am constantly updating it. One area I'd appreciate your help is Recommendations. If you've had a positive experience in working with me, please post your comments there.

Recently I came across a LinkedIn "Reading List by Amazon" with very positive comments from a few readers of The Leader's Digest. As I wrote to Sonal Sethi who linked with me and made this connection, getting this kind of feedback on my books is always energizing and provides the fuel to keep writing. I especially love to hear how my words have had an impact. She also added her comment to Amazon UK listing of The Leader's Digest. 

If you've enjoyed one or more of my books and we're connected on LinkedIn, please add your comments or experiences with my work to the Recommendations section.

8th Annual Project Management Symposium

Over the last couple of years PMI-CTT has been a very big supporter by promoting my public workshops to their members - many of whom are now Leader Letter readers. So when Dave Bright asked me to mention their upcoming Symposium, I was happy to help.

PMI is organizing its 8th Annual Project Management Symposium on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at St. Georges Hall in Waterloo, ON.  This year's theme is SPOTLIGHT ON STRATEGY.

With comprehensive sessions and keynotes, participants will gain insight into the most pertinent topics that are top of mind for project professionals.

The lineup is rounded out by exceptional speakers who are covering topics such as:

  • Program Management and the PgMP designation
  • Business case framework and development
  • Understanding how Project Managers and Business Analysts fit together
  • Personal strategy and alignment with your organization
  • Project rescue & recovery

To register: http://www.pmi-ctt.org/section/view/?fnode=67

Program details: http://www.pmi-ctt.org/section/view/?fnode=47

Time Traveling: Current Lessons from Changes Past

I don't dress up in character and I haven't learned how to speak Klingon, but I have enjoyed many of the Star Trek TV series over the years - especially Voyager. I love having my imagination fired up by all the possible twists and turns that could be far in our future.

When I was writing Growing @ the Speed of Change last winter, I daydreamed about a trip back in time. Imagine being a time traveler and taking a "magical history tour" of the vast array of significant and small "hinges of history," or pivotal changes throughout the world's major cultures in the past three thousand years. After just a few dozen stops, you'd start to see and hear recurring themes: "All this change is happening too fast;" "Things were much better in the good old days;" "Let's destroy this new technology that's spoiling our life;" "Nobody wants to work anymore;" "Stop the world, I want to get off," and many similar refrains.

You could drop in to the Forum in ancient Rome and listen to renowned statesman, orator, and writer Marcus Tullius Cicero around the time of Julius Caesar. You might feel his pain as he laments, "Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book." Or you could sit in on the County Council meeting of 1904 in London, Ontario as councilors voted to petition the provincial legislature to regulate automobiles in the country. Why? They argued that the "automobile is a curse" due to the frightening of horses.

Let's pretend you could continue time traveling and now move forward through time, swinging from one hinge of history to another, like a monkey through the jungle treetops. You'd likely be vigorously nodding your head in the 19th century when reformer, politician, and newspaper editor Horace Greely observes, "The illusion that times that were are better than those that are, has probably pervaded all ages." As you move into the middle of the 20th century, you would be numbed from hearing the same messages over and over again. And you'd be agreeing with New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson, "In every age 'the good old days' were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them."

These days I am experiencing our tendency to be frightened by uncertainty and change.  But history teaches us this is the essence of the creative destruction process that takes us into the next exciting era in our personal and collective growth.

Thoughts That Make You Go Hmmmm...on Resilience

I've spent most of this year with my head deep into research, writing, and speaking about change and adversity, personal growth, and leading ourselves and others "above the line." That path inevitably leads into the critical topic of resilience. As the old truism reminds us; it's not what happens to us, but what we do about it that determines our happiness, success, and even health.

Here are a few resilience nuggets I ended up publishing in Growing @ the Speed of Change:

"Really negative events have the ability to shake up the status quo in your life, which opens the door for change. You could become a depressed, despairing drunk - or you could become a much better person."
- W. Keith Campbell, professor of social psychology at the University of Georgia

"More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person's level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That's true in the cancer ward, it's true in the Olympics, and it's true in the boardroom."
- Dean Becker, president and CEO of Adaptive Learning Systems

"Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not...We all know people who, under duress, throw up their hands and cry, 'How can this be happening to me?' Such people see themselves as victims, and living through hardship carries no lessons for them. But resilient people devise constructs about their suffering to create some sort of meaning for themselves and others...an increasing body of empirical evidence shows that resilience - whether in children, survivors of concentration camps, or businesses back from the brink - can be learned."
- Diane L. Coutu, "How Resilience Works," Harvard Business Review

"The leaders I met, whatever walk of life they were from, whatever institutions they were presiding over, always referred back to the same failure, something that happened to them that was personally difficult, even traumatic, something that made them feel that desperate sense of hitting bottom -- as something they thought was almost a necessity. It's as if at that moment the iron entered their soul; that moment created the resilience that leaders need."
- Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California

"I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?"
- Yogi Berra, former Major League Baseball player and manager

Inside Out: Beyond Motivation to Inspiration

Last month I received this e-mail from a reader:

"Your August newsletter as usual was interesting and noted comments from readers. Hence, I am sharing this thought with you.

I just returned from Indonesia after doing a session on Emotional Intelligence (EI) and leadership. After I finished the session on motivation in relation to EI and leadership the COO mentioned that "motivation" was kind of outdated. He said the "current buzz" instead of motivation was "inspiration" and that is what leaders should do.

In my opinion motivation or inspiration is pretty much the same in that "intrinsic motivation" or "inspiration" has greatest impact when it comes from within the individual. Additionally inspiration is driven by change in values and attitude.

It would be nice to hear your readers and personal viewpoints."

Richard Jacob, Principal Consultant
RCJ CONSULTING SDN BHD, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sometimes I find myself getting tangled up in the semantics of words like motivation versus inspiration. I do, however, certainly agree with Richard's point that whatever we call it, it's intrinsic and comes from within.

You can read my thoughts on "The Motivation Myth" at http://www.jimclemmer.com/the-motivation-myth.php and "Beyond Manipulating and Motivating to Leading and Inspiring" at http://www.jimclemmer.com/beyond-manipulating-and-motivating-to-leading-and-inspiring.php. I also outlined "servant leadership" and other core elements that create inspiring environments at http://www.jimclemmer.com/a-coachs-playbook-for-leaders.php. If you really want to dig deep into the extensive amount that I've researched and written about this issue type "motivation" into the search engine on our web site and review a series of articles and past items from The Leader Letter.

What's your experience and perspective on this issue? Please join the discussion by posting your thoughts at http://www.jimclemmer.com/blog/?p =868.

Celebration, Looking for What's Right, and Building on Strengths

September 10th is Heather and my wedding anniversary. We've been happily married for about fifteen years now. Since we were married in 1977, fifteen out of thirty-two years isn't bad!

Actually that's an old joke we both use when we're asked how long we've been married. We've been quite happily married for most of those thirty-two years. One of the contributors to our growing relationship that Heather models so well, and taught me about a long time ago, is the value of sending cards for every occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's day, Father's day, Valentine's day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, sunny day, cloudy day, etc.). So there's no way I am going to forget this - or any other - special day! 

It's a powerful appreciation habit. Heather's also shown how important and valued a short personal note of thanks can be. Over the years I've found that strong leaders and relationship builders are great thankers and celebrators. With today's technical tools, there's no reason we should forget a special occasion.

In the workplace it's a habit and mindset that reflects our values and assumptions about people. Highly effective leaders look for what's right, build on strengths, and find ways to energize with the recognition or celebratory pause that refreshes. I've written a fair bit about this over the years and compiled a number of reward, appreciation, and celebration tips and techniques. Go to http://www.jimclemmer.com/recognition-appreciation-and-celebration.php to peruse a selection of my short articles.

Get It Hot Off My Computer As They Are Posted

Most of the items in each month's issue of The Leader Letter were first published in my blog the previous month. You can wait to read it all together each month in The Leader Letter or you can read each item as a blog post and have them sent directly to you hot off my computer by signing up at http://www.jimclemmer.com/blog/. Just enter your e-mail address in the upper left corner box under "Sign up for E-mail Blog Notification."

Most Popular September Improvement Points

Improvement Points is a no-charge service to bring timely and inspirational quotes from my articles to subscribers three times a week. Built around our new topic index, Improvement Points are crafted to help you become a better leader of yourself, your team and your organization. Each Improvement Point links directly to a full article on our web site. If you'd like to read more about the point being made in that day's Improvement Point, you simply click on the "Read the full article now" link below each IP. Many subscribers circulate especially relevant Improvement Points articles to their team, Clients, or colleagues for further discussion or action.

Here are the three most popular Improvement Points we sent out in September:

"Avoid suggestion systems. They reward people for lobbing ideas at others to implement. They work best in a paternalistic culture where they reinforce traditional management control rather than shared or self-management."
- from Jim Clemmer's article, "Personal Recognition and Appreciation is an Inside Job"
Read the full article now!

"Looking right past themselves, supervisors and managers often look for ways to change everyone else. They aspire to lead but end up demoralizing their own teams and frustrating themselves by choosing to be disempowered by their bosses. They give away their power by believing that they don't have any. They unwittingly fall for the cult of heroic management - the notion that leadership comes down from on high."
- from Jim Clemmer's article, "Stop Whining and Start Leading"
Read the full article now!

"Our Focus and Context is shaped by three vital questions: Where am I going? (vision); What do I believe in? (principles and values); Why do I exist? (purpose or mission)."
- from Jim Clemmer's article, "Looking Back to Look Ahead"
Read the full article now!

Feedback and Follow-Up

I am always delighted to hear from readers of The Leader Letter with feedback, reflections, suggestions, or differing points of view. Nobody is ever identified in The Leader Letter without their permission. I am also happy to explore customized, in-house adaptations of any of my material for your team or organization. Drop me an e-mail at Jim.Clemmer@Clemmer.net.

Keep learning, laughing, loving, and leading - living life just for the L of it!!



10 Pioneer Drive, Suite 105,
Kitchener, ON N2P 2A4
Phone: (519) 748-1044
Fax: (519) 748-5813
E-mail: service@clemmer.net

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10 Pioneer Drive, Suite 105, Kitchener  ON  N2P 2A4
Phone: (519) 748-1044 ~ Fax: (519) 748-5813
E-mail: service@clemmer.net

Copyright 2009 Jim Clemmer and The CLEMMER Group