03/22/20

No Perfect Leaders

I have been in the leadership business since I was a cadet at Virginia Military Institute in 1969. As an Army officer, we were not converted into “wartime” CEOs, our constant context was war. That was what we were trained to do.

It is like nails on a blackboard when I hear venture capitalists describe the “wartime CEO” using the Army as a context.

All of this has drawn me to assess the leadership of the country in the context of the WutangCurse.

The nature of leaders

The WutangCurse is a crisis and it will require stalwart, sound, optimistic leadership to navigate the medical, the intellectual, the psychological, and the economic shoals of this dilemma.

We do not have perfect leaders. Life gives us leaders who may be or become perfect for that challenge.

Today, I think we have two of them: President Donald J Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Winston Churchill, an exemplar

Winston Churchill was the perfect leader for England and what would become the Allies — long before the United States entered into the war — when on the heels of Dunkirk, he spoke directly to Hitler and told him England would resist the Nazis with ever fiber of their being.

In August 1941, Prime Minister Winston Churchill signalling “V for Victory”

In the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 4 June 1940, having lost his army’s heavy weapons in France, his army in tatters, Prime Minister (since 10 May 1940, the date upon which the Nazis launched their attack against the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg) Winston Churchill, rose and said in his inimitable voice:

“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.”

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03/4/20

Evolving Leadership Style

Leadership is one of those subjects that ebbs and flows in cycle with the startup and venture capital buzz. It was quite fashionable to discuss a few years ago, today, not so much. It is, however, a very important issue to understand. I want to discuss three different specific elements of evolving leadership.

 1. The first element is that leadership, you as a leader, the leadership style the organization needs, WILL evolve. You cannot run a 500 person company with the same leadership technique as a 10-person startup.

 2. The changes will be manifested in your leadership style which requires you to assess and give considerable thought to ‘what is your leadership style?’

 3. One of the most important elements of leadership style is your authentic leadership voice. This will also evolve.

It seems so obvious when one looks at it from afar, but you will be experiencing this when you are ass deep in alligators. You may not have the natural inclination to step back and assess the changes that are happening or are needed around you.

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08/15/19

Reading With Skepticism And Perception

The other day I read an interesting blog post by a former client of mine, Anthony Bucci, former co-founder and CEO of Revzilla. He was an early client and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him as he scaled Revzilla into a powerhouse eCommerce business. He blossomed into an excellent CEO and monetized the company in a world class exit. Pay window.

His blog post which you can find here is excellent. He is taking a summer breather, focusing on his five bambinos.

Summa Read, Summa Listen by Anthony Bucci, former CEO Revzilla

Anthony, who I have never called “Fredo,” gives you a nice cross section of the current literary offerings and podcasts of those who are seeking knowledge at the inspirational C-suite level. All good books.

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07/15/19

Adapting Leadership Style

One of the gratifying things about working with CEOs who are developing their skills is to watch how they become stronger and more flexible as their problem solving becomes more sophisticated and situational. This is leadership style and voice.

Each successful leader will try out several leadership styles and a genuine voice to advance that style. We have talked about that before.

What is also important is to know that there are multiple ways to solve problems in the course of translating leadership goals into reality.

There are different methodologies based on the current — instant in time current — situation. These different methodologies require a CEO to think carefully about style and voice.

Allow me to use a flying analogy.

When you learn to fly an airplane, one of the critical skills is landing the plane. Pilots define a “good landing” as one that you can walk away from, but that is grossly oversimplistic.

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06/26/19

Leadership And Leadership Training

Gloomy day in the ATX, but then I am in the ATX, so how gloomy can it really be?

So I have been reading a book — 40 pages in, an easy read — by Jerry Collonna called: Reboot – Leadership and the Art of Growing Up.

Jerry is one of those Internet presences one meets and grows fond of. There is wisdom in his writing and there is a good heart in his chest. He comes to the issue of leadership primarily from the perspective of CEO coaching and has a huge following.

He is an emotional, Zen, Buddhist type of guy who will cry at the drop of a hat. I don’t see him doing much hunting or skydiving, but he is a mensch.

I recommend the book as a body of work that one should read, but I am not a fan of the emotional style and desperate nature of how he tells his story.

It is HIS story. It is not my story. It is a good story and it should be in the institutional memory of anybody who is serious about the leadership gig.

Go read the book, but when you do, I want you to know a few other things at the same time.

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10/23/17

Leadership Changes — CEO Shoptalk

Leadership changes can effect policy which can alter outcomes. Leadership changes are critical to outcomes.

Big Red Car here on a glorious Texas, Austin By God Texas, day. Ahh, on Earth as it is in Texas!

One of the easiest ways to change outcomes is to change leadership. I say this in the context of business leadership (startups, in particular), but the example I will use has to do with the Middle East and ISIS. Hello, America!

If you have been following the unending war in Iraq and Syria, you will note several interesting things.

ISIS is kaput and it is only a matter of time before its leadership is dead, and its footprints disappear.

Let’s explore how this happened.

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04/1/17

Redemption or Revenge?

Which is better — redemption or revenge? Why not both, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here on a slightly gray day in the ATX, but yesterday was glorious. Out touring the Hill Country checking out the bluebonnets, the poppies, the Indian paintbrush, and, of course, the cows on the roads.

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Hill Country Big Mac on the hoof grazing amongst the bluebonnets. Be careful driving about the roads where the livestock have the right of way. This is, of course, Texas.

So, in the women’s Big Dance, the Mississippi State girls beat the University of Connecticut girls in an overtime game. The game was won on a last second shot and the final score was 66-64.

That’s Bulldogs triumphing over Huskies, which keeps the fight amongst the bitches (a bitch being a female of the dog persuasion, no?). [See the cheap trick the Big Red Car played on y’all. Not well played, BRC.]

The really story — what writers like to call the “backstory” — is that a year ago, the UConn girls beat the Mississippi State women like red headed stepchildren by 60 points in a Sweet Sixteen matchup. OUCH!

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07/22/15

Leadership & Management — One More Time!

Big Red Car here. Ahh, you know the shtick by now — On Earth as it is in Texas!

Every so often, we find ourselves being drawn into a discussion that is endless.

One such discussion is the ramifications of leadership and management for the startup and small business. It is a continuous discussion.

Note that the Big Red Car did not say leadership “versus” management because they are not in a contest with each other. Continue reading