Executive Leader Coach


July 8, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Dave Kinnear, Executive Leader CoachI'm sure I'm not the only one that finds it rather "amusing" that Wall Street in this capitalistic society is having a hard time picturing life without the Fed stimulus program. I understand the "logic" behind the reaction, I just find it rather amusing. Of course the sell-off is not a huge problem in the way of historic market corrections, it's just that this time the cause is interesting to me.

In a conversation with one of my colleagues the topic of “leadership development” came up and he suggested that leadership cannot be taught. His thesis is that you either have the skills or propensity for leadership or you don’t. I view this a bit differently and lay out a case for my view in the first article, Teaching Leadership.

Words. Communication. Clarity. Certainly not always, but most of the time, I choose words carefully and try to use them correctly. One of the frustrations of my aging neuro-processor is that I sometimes know exactly what word I want and can’t quite get it to pop loose from all those neurons and flow to my voice. Still, I suffer from a mild case of logomania and it gets me into some interesting conversations. Like the difference between Accountability and Responsibility, which I explore a bit in the second article by that name.

Another frequent topic that comes up when friends and colleagues find out I volunteer to mentor at California State University at Fullerton is that the “young kids” today seem lazy, disloyal and high maintenance. These are stereotypes I’ve heard many times, and I suspect you have as well. Perhaps you even believe them to be true. Well, in my experience, they generally are not accurate. I do find that the values held by the Millennials (Gen Y) are prioritized differently than in my generation. Frankly, I think Gen Y has it right and explore some of these ideas in the third article, Demographics Driving Change – Inside and Out.

Finally, in the Nullius in verba column I turn back to leadership and how many of the best leaders I know are the ones who initiate change rather than wait for an outside event to force them to change. The best companies and leaders seem to know more about their customer’s customer than their customer themselves! They are looking far down the supply chain to spot trends and opportunities. They tend not to wait until something happens to them, instead, they figure, Why Not Happen to Something.

Speaking of leadership, our friends over at Executive Next Practices Forum have another exciting presentation this month. On July 18th at the AMN Headquarters in San Diego there will be a joint session with ENP and the National Association of Corporate Directors. This is a timely and important discussion: Boardroom Next Practices – From Governance to Aligned Performance.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the ELC Newsletter. It came up fast since last month’s issue was quite late due to travel schedules. We’re back on track now.


Dave Kinnear

CCE-Board Certified Coach
Vistage Chair

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Teaching Leadership

"Leaders are born, not made." Really?

I’ve heard it said that leaders are born and that one cannot be taught to be a leader. Personally, I don’t buy that argument. It may be true that there are some folks who, no matter how hard you try, are not ever going to be “good leaders.” The problem here is that those who can be good leaders, who are given the chance to lead and are willing to learn from experience, from books and from mentors, turn out to be good leaders. So it’s easy to make the assumption that they were somehow “born” with the ability to lead. And when we come across those who just “never get it,” it’s equally easy to extend that experience to be all inclusive and say you can’t teach someone to lead. Well, I can’t teach some people to fish either.

Read the full post . . .

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Accountability vs Responsibility

OK, I have a mild case of logomania!

Recently I began a speech admitting that "I am a logomaniac." Besides being taken to task for not providing a dictionary definition of the word, many folks in the audience admitted to having a bit of that mania themselves. Some, of course, more than others. Interesting enough, several folks went a long time thinking that I was admitting to being crazy about company or product logos. No, the Greek word "Logos" translates to "word" or "Speech" in English.

As a mild logomaniac, I have a slight tendency to obsess over words. For example, I get annoyed when people misuse the word "comprises." I don't accept the slack new meaning of the word as being used the same as "composed." I prefer the original usage of the word. An example is: "The whole comprises the parts." Alternatively, "The whole is composed of the parts." But, something is NOT "comprised of." Not in my blog anyway!

Read the full post . . .

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Demographics Driving Change - Inside and Out

What's the matter with "kids" today?

Things are changing rapidly. Not only are our workers younger, so are our customers. The accelerating pace of change means that to survive we will be updating, tweaking, throwing out and rebuilding our business models, processes and perceived "truths." Yes, for many of us, our most cherished beliefs are being called into question.

I've written elsewhere about how I think the great recession of 2008 has had a significant and long lasting impact on consumerism. I've mentioned that technology has changed how we buy many of our products. All of those ideas I believe have been picked up and expanded upon in many other media outlets. And so has the next big change going through our system and that is the demographic “bubble” known as the Millennials or Gen Y.

Read the full post . . .

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Nullius in verba

Why not happen to something?

Are you always responding to something that happens? Why not change things up a bit and you happen to something instead? Leaders initiate change. They don't simply wait and react to outside events. They see patterns forming, trends in their markets and weaknesses in their companies, industry and competitors. Then, rather than wait for events to force their hand, they lead their organization out ahead of the trend. As Gretzky put it, "skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been."

Read the full post . . .

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