“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” — H. P. Lovecraft

A handful of community leaders approached me about halfway through my first year as school leader. Some teachers — particularly the tenured vets — were concerned with certain aspects of my leadership style and were starting to vent to board members and other people of influence. After hearing these people out, I asked them what most people in a similar situation would want to know. “Why aren’t they coming to me with this?” I was told that they were afraid of losing their jobs.

To be honest, I found their response hard to accept. I knew that not everything had gone smoothly over the first few months on the job (there was SO much to learn and understand!) and I also wasn’t the one to whom they offered their allegiances (I had not hired and then rehired them year over year). (read more…)

The continued struggles of the Secret Service are a series of failures and performance lapses that have gone on for several years. One person, however, was warning of the decline of the agency well before the Salahis crashed a state dinner in 2009; well before the 2012 prostitute scandal in Colombia; before a knife-wielding man gained entrance to the White House last year; and before the recent episode in which drunk agents drove their car up to the White House and interrupted an active bomb investigation.

Ronald Kessler, a New York Times best-selling author and journalist for the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, has written two books and an op-ed piece that have spelled out dire consequences if the Secret Service doesn’t heed the warnings of their continued failures. In his book In The President’s Secret Service,” Kessler warned that without significant changes in the agency and its culture, “…an assassination of Barack Obama or a future president is likely.”

recite-1vk9zkcI talked with Kessler recently and discussed the lessons for business leaders that can be gleaned from the Secret Service’s continued lapses. (read more…)

Are you overlooking the talents and skills of someone on your team?

Some star performers may lack the confidence to challenge conventional thinking about themselves and therefore they stay in their given roles.

Those who manage the talent pipeline would be wise to heed the words of composer Ludwig von Beethoven, who wrote, “The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, ‘Thus far and no farther.’”

Talent wins!

John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. Also in 2014, Inc.com named Baldoni to its list of top 100 leadership experts, and Global Gurus ranked him No. 11 on its list of global leadership experts. Baldoni is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for our daily newsletter on being a better, smarter leader. (read more…)

Business success today demands careful attention to risk management. Contingency plans, redundant systems, business continuity insurance, and countless other vehicles protect organizations from the volatility and unpredictability of today’s business landscape.

But there’s one area where risk should actually be cultivated rather than averted, and it’s the on-the-job growth, learning and development of leaders.

By definition, developing a leadership capability, skill or experience set means throwing someone into the unknown to do what he or she has not mastered or perhaps even attempted before. There are no guarantees of success when a leader is given an opportunity to develop on the job. But, it’s precisely through these sorts of challenges that humans in general – and leaders in particular – learn most quickly and powerfully.

My ongoing research with senior leaders in 25+ organizations across the U.S. paints a compelling yet simple picture of the most effective leadership development strategy. When asked how their own managers or mentors helped them to grow the most, the No. (read more…)

When I previously wrote about earning trust with co-workers, a friend, a true leader in the public policy field, called to suggest that a closely related and equally important subject is restoring corporate trust.

I immediately went to sit on my front porch and think about his observation. I absolutely agree. The state of corporate morality is at a critical juncture, and there is a real need for companies to commit to the long-term process of regaining lost trust.

Can it be done? Not easily, that is for sure. And with the pressure from Wall Street to maximize earnings every 90 days, it will take special leadership of any publicly traded company to restore trust.

Here’s the background from my standpoint. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, many companies in the U.S. were striving to improve customer service, productivity, processes, employee satisfaction, and to help their people grow and succeed. (read more…)