Archives for Leadership category

We all heard about how business schools (and particularly Harvard Business School) enjoy a diverse pool of applicants and how this diversity positively affects the classes and the whole experience. Many people are surprised to hear how applicants with military background do well in business school – well, here’s why!

Below is an article that has been forwarded to me; the original source being an HBS blog. I hope you will find it interesting!

A Fighter Pilot’s Guide to Effective Communication (by Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman)

Two long minutes passed since we had changed radio frequencies and I hadn’t heard from my wingmen. We were approaching the Iraqi border and my flight lead still had not checked me in. I was getting nervous.
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Solitude and Leadership

“If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts” – I present to you an amazing piece I’ve recently read. One of the most inspiring texts about leadership… Enjoy.

By William Deresiewicz

The lecture below was delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October of last year.

My title must seem like a contradiction. What can solitude have to do with leadership? Solitude means being alone, and leadership necessitates the presence of others—the people you’re leading. When we think about leadership in American history we are likely to think of Washington, at the head of an army, or Lincoln, at the head of a nation, or King, at the head of a movement—people with multitudes behind them, looking to them for direction. And when we think of solitude, we are apt to think of Thoreau, a man alone in the woods, keeping a journal and communing with nature in silence.
Leadership is what you are here to learn—the qualities of character and mind that will make you fit to command a platoon, and beyond that, perhaps, a company, a battalion, or, if you leave the military, a corporation, a foundation, a department of government. Solitude is what you have the least of here, especially as plebes. You don’t even have privacy, the opportunity simply to be physically alone, never mind solitude, the ability to be alone with your thoughts. And yet I submit to you that solitude is one of the most important necessities of true leadership. This lecture will be an attempt to explain why.

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KISS – Keep It Simple, Silly

Or “Keep It Simple Stupid”. Anyway, this quick thought I just had won’t be about abbreviations or any crazy TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations – nice, huh?).

I always felt that there’s power in simplicity and there’s power in reminding people of “obvious things”. As one of my professors used to say the tricky thing about obvious statements is the fact that… they’re obvious. Because they’re so simple and so, uhm, obvious, people stop thinking about them. And that’s just horrible, because it’s obvious statements that are most powerful and most inspiring.

Anyway, my professor’s obvious insight (see what I did there? Just called his insight about obviousness obvious although he specifically reminded us not to do that… Oh, fun!) never really helped explain why we should be reminded of the obvious and why every once in a while we should think about it. And then I ran into this fantastic statement:

“I am sure that all of the above points are nothing new or something you have not heard of before [yeah, trust me - they were pretty "obvious" /Tom]. But it sometimes helps to reiterate the obvious since we most often, in our quest to impress, look for more complex solutions and overlook the basics.

Isn’t this insightful? It’s a great statement and an obvious explanation of why we forget about the obvious. Keep it simple, because that’s where the power lies! I could talk about many experiences I had with that and how complexity ruined various projects, while simplicity took them to a whole new level. But I’d rather leave the message as it is – simple.

Thesis

About a month ago, in September, I defended my thesis at Warsaw School of Economics. The title of my work is called “Servant Leadership as a Tool for Effective Business Management” and I finally managed to find the time to post it on my website. You can read the whole thesis over here or in the “On Leadership” section. Please feel free to comment! I hope the document will serve as an inspiration to anyone seeking knowledge about business leadership.

Poor California

California is in a lot of trouble and it’s just getting worse and worse. I just read that Carly Fiorina, the former disgraced CEO of Hewlett-Packard decided to run for the Senate in California. There’s a number of reasons why it makes me angry:

  • Personality – Carly Fiorina got fired from the McCain campaign last summer for saying that none of the presidential candidates have the experience to run a major company like Hewlett-Packard. Now, I’ll go into her extraordinary leadership skills in a moment, but, hey, how far from diplomatic you mindset needs to be for you to say something like this?! Read more… »

Map the Fallen

Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States. Traditionally observed on the last Monday of May it commemorates the service of men and women in the American Armed Forces.

As the day was passing by I came across a very interesting private project, which uses Google Earth to pinpoint the location of birth and death of all of the fallen heroes of the U.S. Military. I believe no further commentary is necessary as the program speaks for itself. So does the image below.

Map the Fallen - Google Earth

More information can be found at http://www.mapthefallen.org/. You will find the download instructions and necessary programs (for both PC and Mac) at the website.

As part of Memorial Day I would also like to draw your attention to the HBO documentary “Taking Chance“. A very touching one-hour long documentary about the honor and tradition given to all fallen members of the USMC.

5C Model of Leadership

First of all, since it’s the first post in the new year, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful 2009. Let it be way better than 2008 and all previous years taken together.

In the first post this year I wanted to present to you the “5C Model of Leadership”, which I created for the purpose of my thesis. It deals with the subject of leadership traits and what would the traits of a perfect leader be. Let’s make it clear in the beginning – there are no perfect leaders and this is only a model, which is probably far from reality. But it is definitely something one could try to strive for. And as one my favorite professors told me once – always strive for excellence, never for perfection.
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I have recently read a very interesting article about Ignacy Jan Paderewski – a great statesman and leader who devoted his life to public service. Poland, but only Poland, has a lot to be thankful to him – if it were not for him Poland would probably not exist. It is a very interesting read not only for Poles, but for anyone who wants to read about a person putting causes greater than himself before his life. The article was written by General Edward Rowny, to whom I am very grateful for a lot of things – among them interesting me about the life of Paderewski. Thank you! And here’s the article:

All Poles and persons of Polish origin owe a great debt to Ignacy Jan Paderewski as the father of modern Poland. Paderewski is well known as a great pianist and composer. He was also an eminent statesman. If Paderewski had not drafted the Thirteenth of President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points for the Versailles Treaty there would be no free Poland today. His high intellect, impeccable character and unflagging persistence are responsible for Poland’s rebirth after Poland had been erased from the map of Europe more than 120 years earlier. The story of how this all came about should be cherished not only by every Pole but every lover of freedom and democracy. 

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Buddhism and Leadership

Recently I became very interested in the subject of Buddhism. I always heard it’s a very peaceful religion and I wanted to research that a bit further. I wasn’t surprised to discover that, indeed, it promotes happyness, peace and altruism. What surprised me though is that the more I read about the Buddhism, the more I was convinced that it’s sort of a foundation for the most important principles of leadership. I’m not saying that leadership is built upon Buddhism, but the similarities between these two are striking.

If one could summarize Buddhism in one sentence the best way to do it would probably be (quote from Dalai Lama): “The main principle of Buddhist morality is to help others and, if that is not possible, at least to do no harm.”. Great leadership is definitely about helping others – Jack Welch once said that “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”. What’s a bit amazing here is that Buddhism would definitely agree with the latter part, but not necessarily with the former – success would still be measured by how much we contribute to growing others. Yet, if we are focusing on ourselves and have an objective of growing ourselves in order to help others than everything is alright. Pure altruism.
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I took part in a very interesting discussion recently with a couple of Brazilian friends. The topic was very familiar to me – it dealt with “American ignorance” and the “fact” that Americans (look out for the generalization here) aren’t interested in the world as a whole, many of them don’t know where Iraq is etc. You probably heard these arguments very often, no matter whether you’re from Europe or from the United States. What is sad, is that saying the phrase “America is ignorant” became a bit fashionable in Europe. What is sad as well is that this argument became “common knowledge”. What isn’t sad though is that this argument, as every common knowledge argument, holds a lot of inconsistencies and is very, very flawed.
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Current Highlights

Beginning February 2011 I have started a new job at Google in its EU HQ in Dublin, Ireland. I will be responsible for AdWords-related issues for the UK / Ireland market.

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