Confident Women Built Here

Just days before my little girl joins our family I am thinking about how to ensure she becomes a future leader.  I just read Marshall Goldsmith’s blog post interviewing Girl Scouts former CEO Kathy Cloninger.

Marshall asks Kathy about the results of a study on the leadership aspirations of girls.  Most were ambivalent about the current command and control leadership most prevalent in our society.  A fact that most enlightened leaders already understand. Interestingly, most of the female business executives and business owners in the US (80%) are former Girl Scouts; as are more than 65% of the female members of the US Congress and Senate.  Clearly Girl Scouts are developing valuable leadership skills in young women.

What else can we do to help our young girls become confident strong leaders?

“Men Don’t Follow Titles, They Follow Courage”

This quote from Braveheart states a universal truth.  Without courage leadership does not exist.  In the absence of courage lesser men assume leadership positions because society becomes ambivalent.  William Wallace encourages through word and deed.  The deeds strengthen the words, as they do with most people.

The example of Wallace teaches us to lead from the middle.  When a lack of leadership exists at the top, this provides an opportunity for leaders to rise up to meet the challenge.  The names of these leaders may or may not be lost to history, but without their courage and sacrifice movements fizzle and fade.

It was my good fortune to visit Scotland a few years after the Braveheart movie debuted.  I went to Stirling Bridge and of course the nearby Wallace Monument (pictured below). An epic setting for an epic battle.  I was seeing that field beneath the monument with the visions of Hollywood battles in my head.  But, the Scottish feel that battle in their DNA.  Don’t make the mistake of comparing the Mel Gibson Hollywood version of William Wallace to the average Scott.  He will quickly correct you.

braveheart movie

“Wfm wallace monument” by Finlay McWalter – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

My biggest take away from the story and the movie is, empower those around you to stand up in the face of adversity.  Many people often underestimate their influence over others.  With a little encouragement they will find their voice.  Even those endowed with titles, but seemingly lacking in courage, may yet discover their spine.  You may never know how your own examples of strength will impact others in the future.  Stay strong and encourage others at all levels to be the best leaders they can be.


Leader Wanted – Must Be Charismatic

Ken Blanchard wrote a post today about charisma.  He points out that charisma is not necessary for leadership, but in my comment I pointed out that while I agree, it does not seem to be the case in many situations.

I find that while the research is clear about the leadership traits we desire most (and need the most), humans continually put “leaders” in place that fall short of the ideal.  I know we all fall short on expectations, but what is the flaw in humans that compel us to give undue influence to those ego maniacs that seek it out?

Maybe, I answered my own question. I often say, that we will never have true leaders in the White House because leaders are busy leading other endeavors.  We are left with ego maniacs that even when well-intentioned are unable to lead much of anything.

Great strife usually shines the light on leaders.  Perhaps when life is going along OK, we don’t put as much emphasis on the need for great leadership.  Instead, we elect to follow the most charismatic person with the least amount of baggage.

I don’t have an answer here, I’m just stating the obvious.  Am I wrong?  Please, someone correct me!

The Hero’s Journey—Applying the Epic to Your Career

As a student of history, I’ve often perceived my own life in the form of a hero’s journey.  This post, The Hero’s Journey—Applying the Epic to Your Career by Jason Diamond Arnold, applies that theme to our work lives.

It is hard to separate our work lives from our lives, but perhaps until we are in work that truly engages our passions we sort of ramble through life learning our lessons.

I watched a CNBC special about Colonel Harland Sanders last night.  He had a rough start as a kid growing up in Kentucky and undertook many roles including entrepreneur.  But, it wasn’t until he was 65 (and broke) that he began pursuing the endeavor he is best known for now.  He took his unique fried chicken recipe and cooking style on the road to convince restauranteurs around the country to buy his recipe and cooking style.  The rest is history.

This inspires me to continue looking for my recipe, too.

Stop Adding Value

Middle of nowhere, close to the Pyrenees.

Stop Adding Value. What a great reminder of what not to do.  It is great to have enthusiasm for someone’s idea, but don’t commandeer it to make “improvements.”  An idea can still be shepherded and given support, but allow the individual to mature the idea within the organization.

Simple axiom, but hard for some managers to remember.

Kids Want To Be Entrepreneurs

Image via Ivestopedia

Kid Entrepreneurs

A report by the Kauffman Foundation confirms 40% of 8-24 year old youth would like to be kid entrepreneurs or adult entrepreneurs instead of employees. The 2010 study shows a slight increase over the 2007 survey.

It could be that today’s wannabe entrepreneurs have more high-profile Internet kid entrepreneurs to encourage them.  Perhaps, they also recognize that the knowledge and tools to create wealth are more readily available than at any other time in human history.

Whatever the reason this is a great trend for the USA, as well as the globe.  Maybe one day we’ll all be working for our kids.

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