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Global Labour Markets: Bytes vs. Brains

June 17, 2018

BrainsFace it, just about any type of work can be outsourced to distant countries, or what’s called offshoring. The exceptions at this point would include such occupations as firefighters, paramedics, nurses, police officers, construction workers, and teachers. However, with respect to the last occupation, one day we may see kids in classrooms where large TV screens depict teachers in India, the Philippines, or Taiwan. A teacher’s “aide” (a monitor earning near minimum wage) would be sitting at the back of the classroom to ensure discipline.

Farfetched? Maybe.

Everyone likes to pick on China for being the world’s manufacturing hub and for stealing jobs from the Industrialized West. However, Chinese companies over the past decade have increasingly outsourcing their manufacturing operations to much lower wage countries, such as Vietnam and Cambodia. Even South Korea has outsourced some of its work to the pathetically poor North Korea.

Some call this a race to the bottom, in terms of locating production to the cheapest wage locations (with non-existent worker health and safety laws) on the planet. Don’t confuse the lower-end manufacturing or assembly aspects of an iPad, Samsung wireless device, Nike running shoe, or Yamaha piano with where the intellectual property resides. Taiwan and Singapore, for example, understand this and are focusing on the value-added, intellectual property end of products and services.

This is the BRAINS part of the strategy for a nation to build its human capital and generate wealth for its citizens. The BYTES part can be done anywhere around the globe. The challenge for governments is to decide where they want to play.

If you want the brains route, it comes with the unwavering commitment to invest intelligently in the human capital of citizens. Note that this doesn’t mean dumping a lot of money into education and training. Money is an important element, but smart investing is even more important.

A vital part of human capital development that regularly gets overlooked is that of management development. If you want a dynamic economy that’s a hotbed of innovation, then you must have effective management practices across all sectors of the economy.

This encompasses management at the strategic decision-making and policy-making levels and at the firm operational level, where products and services are produced and disseminated. Moreover, it means connecting the research and development elements with how new inventions get commercialized in the marketplace. It doesn’t just happen by chance. Management is a key ingredient in a firm’s–and more broadly a nation’s–competitive efforts.

Finally, productivity–the word that causes eyes to glaze over–is intertwined with human capital development and the effective adoption and use of technology. Productivity’s now the cool word for smart governments.

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
— John Maynard Keynes


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Are You Consumed With Your Own Brilliance, or Do You Wish to Unleash the Brilliance of Others?

June 10, 2018

Conceit.jpgHow many times have you been in a boss’s office, or in the office of someone who was interviewing you for a job, and you suddenly realized that the conversation was essentially a one-way monologue directed at you? Don’t be shy, it’s okay to raise your hand.

I can’t even count how many times I was caught in that situation during my 35-year working career. What I’ve never really understood is why would a hiring manager rattle on unabated about himself or herself.

One would think that the aim of a job interview is to glean as much information as possible from the candidate, to develop a tentative grasp on what makes this person tick, what their experiences have been, and how they could contribute positively to the organization.

What I eventually realized some time ago is that some people in managerial positions have a burning need to be heard by their subordinates, or potential subordinates in the case of hiring. Whether it’s insecurity or a propensity to talk incessantly, these individuals have a strong need to impose themselves on others when given the opportunity.

The same applies to those in managerial positions who dominate their staff at meetings or one-on-one encounters. At times during my working career, I was talked at until my ears were begging for immediate relief. What gives here? And when I say “managerial positions” this also applies to those up the executive foodchain.

Managerial leadership is a demanding role and not one for the faint of heart or for those who are unable to park their egos at the door when they enter the workplace. And this includes listening more than speaking. What matters more in leadership is asking the right questions, then sitting back and remaining silent while your teammates express their knowledge on the subject.

No one knows everything, though I’ve wondered that at times while listening in numbed silence as a former boss waxed eloquent in self-perceived brilliance, providing a non-illuminating discourse on the wonders of the universe. I digress; you get the message.

My previous posts on self-empowerment and Post-Heroic Leadership are intertwined tightly with today’s post on listening and nurturing the brilliance of your staff and co-workers. Read the three posts as an entity, then ask yourself these questions:

1) Do I REALLY value what my co-workers and direct reports have to say and contribute?

2) How can I improve my listening skills? What is my first step?

3) Do I TRULY believe that my co-workers (or staff) possess more brilliance than I?

4) How intact is my personal ego? Can I easily and readily laugh at myself?

5) What do I have to let go of to become a leader who serves his or her followers?

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?
  (Benjamin Disraeli)


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Beyond Truthiness: Does Leadership with Integrity Have a Hope?

June 3, 2018

Pinocchio

Americans—indeed people in general in any country who follow politics—live in the moment. It’s easy to forget the transgressions of even recent political leaders who got caught in scandals, or who proved impotent at getting key legislative bills passed, or engaging the hearts and minds of citizens. It’s all about the current person in office.

Donald Trump has been getting a real shit-kicking since being sworn into office—not that he hasn’t deserved much criticism. The issue is anything he does or tries to initiate is criticized. It’s become a sort of Pavlovian reflex with most of the mainstream media and pundits. Trump opens his mouth or tries to initiate something (eg, recent communiques with North Korea) and the media and late-night hosts jump on him, flapping around like trained seals.

Your faithful correspondent recently read an excellent book: Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency by David Greenberg. He starts with President McKinley, examining every president up to Barack Obama. Too bad it was published just prior to Trump’s election as President.

This is a revealing look at how political messaging and the manipulation of the press and the public evolved over more than a century. Indeed, many of the tactics and methods date back many decades.

In Greenberg’s penultimate chapter, covering George W. Bush’s two-term presidency, he starts off with comedian Stephen Colbert’s contrived conservative character on the Colbert Report, introduced in 2005 on Comedy Central. Check out Greenberg’s succinct description of what Colbert’s “truthiness” meant:
“…Colbert praised Bush’s oft-stated proclivity for making instinctive decisions without regard for countervailing facts. It was important… for something to feel true than for it to be true. ‘Truthiness’ was the quality of feeling true in the gut.”

truthinessFast forward a few years to the past year and a half and “truthiness” seems outdated, with “fake news” surpassing “gut” feelings. With fake news we live in a world of black and white.

However, placing Colbert’s obvious political leanings in context (as witnessed by his frequent no-holds barred diatribes against Trump on his current Late Show show), where does that situate Americans in a real-world political spectrum covering decades?

Let’s revisit President Lyndon Johnson (a Democrat) who, while ushering in civil rights legislation in 1964, has a dark cloud over his legacy when it comes to one of America’s darkest chapters: the Vietnam War.

If the “Deep State” (as right-wing conservatives like to currently invoke) has ever existed in the history of the United States, this was perhaps a pivotal moment. Johnson (aided and abetted by his key Cabinet members and senior aides, including General William Westmorland) deliberately lied to the American public about the war. Here’s David Greenberg:
By the summer of 1967, Johnson’s support was falling and anti-war activism was spreading. More than 450,000 soldiers were now in Indochina, 100 of them dying each week. According to a Gallup poll, nearly 70 percent of Americans thought the administration had deceived the public about the war.”

For any young folks reading this post, some 58,000 U.S. soldiers lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands were physically and mentally injured. And then there were the Vietnamese: upwards of 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died and an estimated 2 million civilians on both sides lost their lives.

The Iraq War, in contrast saw 4,400 American soldiers killed.

Tape on Mouth

So what is “Truthiness?”

How do we define an elastic concept, one that has at its core a comedic creation?
In a period when the public is not just being overwhelmed with news and information directed at them from all sides and means, the bigger issue seems to be a numbness that’s creeping in. Whether it’s school shootings in the U.S. or Donald Trump’s latest policy reversals—not to overlook international geo-political-economic events—people are just getting numb to the onslaught of information, consisting increasingly of manipulated and fake news often generated by trolls and bots.

Does integrity in leadership no longer matter when it comes to communicating?

Does anyone care?

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
—Charles Spurgeon

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May the Force be with You: Ethical Leadership During Discontinuous Change

May 27, 2018

Lights

 

Remember Star Wars?

The world seemed so much simply back in 1977 when the movie was released. Here we are four decades later, during which time the world has experienced several recessions, the Soviets in Afghanistan, 1990-91 Gulf War, the Y2K scare, 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession, the Iraq war (post March 2003 U.S. invasion), NATO in Afghanistan, worries over climate change, environmental disasters, and the rise of such emerging economies as China, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil, Taiwan, and South Korea. Plus much more.

The escalating complexities inherent in the global economy and the emergence of what appear to be sudden, unpredictable events are exerting more pressure and greater demands on corporate leadership, both in business and government. Discontinuous change, as a concept, comes from British management thought leader Charles Handy, who spoke about change arriving in sudden, unpredictable bursts.

As much as I understand what Handy was trying express, and in fact generally embrace this concept, I also believe that the notion of “unpredictable events” is debatable, since the signals of impending change–and doom–are often present. For example The Economist magazine warned repeatedly over many months on the imminent housing collapse that occurred in 2008 and 2009. However, people (the public and so-called experts who should have known better) were caught up in then Federal Reserve chief’s Alan Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance.”

Michael Lewis in his excellent book The Big Short provides an illuminating account of the roster of culprits who nearly brought down the world’s financial system. It was clearly predictable that the housing bubble would burst, producing some form of recession. What wasn’t completely predictable was the confluence of events which, in combination, produced an overwhelming load on the financial system.

What about 9/11? It was human incompetence and rivalry within the U.S. government’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies that was primarily responsible for ignoring the signals and information that was being collected leading up to the catastrophic day on September 11, 2001. What about Hurricane Katrina and the warnings about the levee system that were made years before it struck New Orleans?

Or how about the financial problems in the European Union, in particular Greece’s sordid financial mess? Back in the early nineties when a European currency was being established Italy had a debt-to-GDP ratio of 104%. Seen as sheer lunacy at the time, with expectations that Italy would default on its debt, that country’s ratio was 181% in 2016!

Deepwater
Let’s revisit for a moment the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, 2010. This oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had been raging for a month when CBS 60 Minutes aired an interview with the rig’s chief electronics technician, who miraculously survived the explosion. He provided virtual conclusive proof that the disaster was BP-made. BP management overrode Trans Ocean’s management on its decision to ease off drilling to correct a problem, despite the oil rig belonging to Trans Ocean.

In a bizarre statement following the May 7 failed attempt to use a 40 foot-tall container dome to capture the oil spewing out of the ruptured well pipe, BP CEO Tony Hayward said: “There is an enormous of learning going on here, because we are doing it for real the first time.”

Following Tony Haywards’s logic, this means “learning” while the Gulf of Mexico and large tracts of the southern U.S. coastline were getting contaminated. “Learning” while wildlife habitat, fisheries and the economic way-of-life for hundreds of thousands of Americans got decimated. And “learning” while the estimated 5,000 barrels a day of escaping oil edged closer to Florida and the Atlantic Ocean. This “learning” experience has a pre-tax cost of an estimated $62 billion (2016).

For BP, profit before understanding the long-term consequences of rash decision-making created an environmental nightmare. Predictable? At the point of making the decision to proceed all steam ahead, BP management should have used common sense to understand the risk.

Preventable?

Absolutely.

Woman Leader.jpg

There is not just no end to human greed but also no limit to the extent to which people stick their collective heads in the sand, pretending not to notice and ACCEPT the signals that are turning from blinking orange to red. World history is littered with foolish mistakes, which in most cases were entirely preventable.

The notion that people learn from their mistakes is a bogus concept. The errors we’ve just witnessed in the past few decades will be repeated again a few decades hence. Count on it. University business students in 2050 will read about the preventable financial collapse in 2008-09, just as their economy 40 years from now is exploited by greedy speculators.

For those in leadership positions in organizations–regardless of level, because to be a leader is NOT via appointment but by earning the trust of one’s followers–the uncertainties ahead make for exceedingly challenging times.

Leadership is a messy business. Trying to understand the forces of change and learning how to ride the wave (make that tsunami), instead of futilely resisting, will not just be a more productive exercise but also hugely less stressful. And by paying attention to emerging trends and by practicing ethical leadership behaviour both you and your organization will not only stay a step ahead of your competitors but you’ll be playing a stewardship role in how you interact with the environment and society.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr. (American author)


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Are You a Post-Heroic Leader? Examining the 10 Myths

May 13, 2018

superman.jpg

Many years ago while working on my Masters degree in leadership studies, one of my favourite profs urged me to read a great article by David Stauffer 10 Myths of Post Heroic Leadership and Why They’re Wrong”. This article is a keeper, and I’m pulling it out of the archives to see what’s changed (if anything) since Stauffer wrote it over 20 years ago.

Our perception of leadership and who should hold top positions has changed in the past two decades, albeit slowly—males still dominate boards of directors and CEO roles. Indeed, WHERE leadership resides in organizations and in communities is still being debated. My Masters thesis was on shared leadership, a subject that in the late nineties and early 2000s started to develop some legs. The practice of leadership being distributed throughout organizations still has a ways to go.

We’re still stuck on the Superman as the heroic leader image. Maybe it’s time he moves to the side.

So let’s get going. Here are the 10 myths of Post-Heroic Leadership–and why they’re wrong.

YOU decide which ones you agree with or disagree, or if any of them are not relevant to today’s volatile business environment.

1. It’s important to have everyone feel good and to avoid conflict
. While this may be nice, the main goal of contemporary leadership and teamwork is to have openness. This means that vulnerability and conflict are the new conditions under which we must live.

2. Being a post-heroic leader means being soft
. In reality, a post-heroic leader means being tougher in some ways than heroic, old school, managers because he must confront performance problems and conflict, even in delicate situations. The post-heroic leader must be a straight talker and align his words with his actions. Of particular note is that this leader won’t get caught in letting staff pass their issues and problems up the pipe. They must own them and deal with them.

3. Competition is discouraged among people
. What’s key here is that while teams will have a healthy sense of competitiveness, they don’t let it degenerate into personal attacks or allow it to undermine one another.

4. The Post-Heroic Leader isn’t decisive. 
In reality, she encourages the team to solve its problems, acting in a way like a facilitator. However, she won’t hesitate to make a decision when required. The key is to get the team to play an active role in critical decision-making.

5. The Post-Heroic Leader who makes the decision is actually heroic
. Not so, because the leader may, from time to time, have to make decisions dealing with urgent or even trivial issues that would waste the team’s time.

6. All decisions must be done by consensus
. The effective leader uses four or more types of decision-making: autonomous, delegating, consultative, and joint (consensus). The post-heroic leader uses consensus for strategic decisions because of the need for inclusiveness. Therefore, it’s vital to understand that shared responsibility within the team does not let the leader off the hook for being accountable for the team’s performance. For the leader to say that he went along with the team is not acceptable.

7. Getting team commitment to a decision is more important than the content of the decision itself
. How the team gets there is important, but so is the final product itself. The post-heroic leader pays close attention to this and ensures that a balance is struck.

8. The leader is responsible for vision
. Including everyone in creating a vision produces a much richer and compelling one, compared to one that is produced by one individual.

9. Being a Post-Heroic Leader means being slow and awkward
. The difference between the post-heroic leader and the heroic leader is that the latter believes in carefully planned out and conducted meetings. This includes doing the necessary lobbying beforehand, thinking through the politics of the work environment, and anticipating people’s reactions and how to respond to them.

The post-heroic leader, in contrast, believes in openness, seeing the heroic leader’s style as being a waste of time and ineffective. She aims for collaborative decision-making where people buy-in and commit. Games aren’t played behind the scenes.

10. Post Heroic Leadership is a long-term approach with respect to seeing the benefits. 
On the contrary, by addressing core issues the post-heroic leader contributes to almost instant productivity improvements as a result of people getting their issues heard and dealt with. Heroic leadership can also produce short-term gains, such as with layoffs, reengineering or reorganizations. However, where post-heroic leadership really shines is in the long-term because of the investment in time the leader puts up front. The long-term payoffs are big.

Do you know any Post-Heroic Leaders?

Are you one?

Take a moment to share your stories.

In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are.
― Max DePree (Leadership Is an Art)

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Dream Big…Lead the Way!

May 6, 2018

motorcycle-blog-post

When you were little, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
Now that you’re an adult have you achieved your dream, or on your way to realizing it one day soon?

We live in turbulent times. Technology is rapidly changing how work is done; new types of jobs are being created, while old ones are gradually disappearing. Our once taken-for-granted export markets (emerging economies) are now challenging us in the global marketplace. Work is being transported anywhere around the globe where it can be done virtually— thanks to technology.

Life was so much simpler when many of us (read Baby Boomers) were young. We could dream big of what we’d do one day. The job market and the cost of living were not as significant a problem as today.

In comparison, younger cohorts, especially Gen Y (aka Millennials) and its successor Gen Z, face increasingly complex challenges, from how to pay to go to college to finding meaningful, decent-paying work to moving out of mom and dad’s basement.

I’ve been incredibly ambitious ever since I was young and in some respects have had no reservations about going for things I’ve wanted without questioning what the result will be.
– Leonardo DiCaprio (in conversation with TIME on his movie J. Edgar)

Dreaming big is becoming tougher for children and teens.

And what if you’re an older worker who has slogged it out for some 30 years, getting the kids through college, paying down debt, and planning for a post-retirement future. You’ve dreamed of selling the house and moving to a lake.

Then the bottom fell out of the economy. Your spouse lost their job. You’re struggling to keep your financial head above water. Now you hear that your career may soon be toast because of imminent downsizing. And one of your adult kids just moved home because he can’t find a decent job to pay down his student loan.

Some might ask the pointed question: “What’s with this dream stuff? It’s bullshit. We live in a dog-eat-dog world full of unknowns.”

If you want to be a defeatist, so be it. The human spirit is driven by hope. It’s what motivates us and helps keep us healthy–physically, emotionally and spiritually.

If you look back at human history it’s littered with wars, carnage and, since the 18th Century, rapid technological change. People live in the present, forgetting the difficulties that our forebears endured.

All of us are here on this Earth with Work to do, but your Work has nothing to do with your job.
– Barbara De Angelis

It’s easy to get discouraged when times are tough, when your job is vulnerable (or eliminated) or when a particular dream gets derailed.

One person for whom I have a lot of respect is the late cultural anthropologist and leadership consultant Angeles Arrien. One of the best leadership-related books I’ve read is her The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary.

This book takes a spiritual approach to personal leadership, using the philosophies of indigenous cultures. It aims to help the reader draw from within their internal strengths and wisdom, from which possibilities emerge. My favourite quotation comes from Arrien: “Be open to outcome, not attached to it.”

If each of us followed Arrien’s maxim, then when shit hits the fan at work or at home we’ll be that much more capable of adapting to that event. Change is certainly not going away; it will likely become much more intense, presenting new pressures for both young and old.

Like the little boy on the motorcycle in the photo, we still need to continue to dream–and dream big.

What’s your dream?

The journey in between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.
– Barbara De Angelis

Photo by J. Taggart (Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa)


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Six Practical Tips to Help You Stay Focused and On Track

April 28, 2018

Concentration.jpg

We’re living in volatile times. No one seems to have a clue what’s happening to the economy: Is inflation about to accelerate, leading to steady increases in the central bank rate? Is the stock market due for a major correction? Is the rise in artificial intelligence about to start slaughtering jobs across all occupations?
Your faithful correspondent worked as a professional economist for three-plus decades and basically gave up listening to the so-called gurus. They’re as lost and conflicted as everyone else.

There are so many unknown knowns (eg, an overdue stock market correction? Collapse of Venezuela’s economy? China invading Taiwan?) and unknown unknowns (future events of which we have no idea). Unemployment, inflation, effects from global warming, aging populations, technology, political events, to name a few, are increasingly intertwined.

What’s critical is to learn what you do control, leaving the chaos to the pundits and pseudo gurus. Here are six practical tips to assist you in your daily work.

1. Maintain a Laser Focus on Your Customers and Clients. 

We’re living in a time of turmoil where society’s changing quickly. One thing you DO control is how you not just respond to but anticipate your customers’ and clients’ evolving needs and wants. This means listening carefully to what they’re saying explicitly and implicitly. Look for the nuances in their verbal and non-verbal communication. In doing so you’ll be in a better position to innovate, whether it’s through improving your services or products.

Many years ago management and quality guru Tom Peters expressed in typical Peters’ exuberant form: “Ignore your customers!”

What the heck? Had Peters lost his mind?

Not at all.

Peters point was, yes, pay close attention to what your customers are saying. However, he was urging people to also take the time to step back and explore new opportunities with which to heighten the products or services they provide. Don’t get locked into confined thinking. Surprise your customers with new opportunities.

2. Believe in Your Gut Instincts. 

We’re into data overload, to the point that we’re seeing a garbage-in, garbage-out mentality, making decisions that often prove incorrect or contradictory. This is where intuition–your gut–needs to help you more in making decisions.

A case in point was the 2008-09 financial meltdown, now a decade old but not that long ago. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the American economy was about to slam into a wall, almost bringing down other economies. The “data” thrown around by financial analysts, economists, politicians, etc. were manipulated to serve the interests of specific individuals and groups. Anyone who would have taken the time to stop and reflect on what was happening and asked herself: “Is this for real? Can a bubble keep expanding indefinitely?” would have realized that it was a fool’s game.

Have confidence in your gut.

3. Watch Your Co-workers’ Backs…and They’ll Watch Yours.

 
Unfortunately, North American management, especially in the United States, has a strong tendency to create competitive internal environments. Pitting employees against one another is seen as a way to bring out the best in people to maximize profits. I witnessed this tactic used in Canada’s federal public service during my three decade career. These behaviours and actions were rather bizarre, given that the primary role of public servants is to serve citizens. We’re not talking profits here or fending off foreign competitors.

When the job market’s tight (low unemployment rate, when you can tell your boss to go fly a kite), internal competition is tolerated. However, when shit hits the fan and firms start jettisoning employees over starboard, the knives come out. It’s every man and woman for himself and herself. This plays further into the hands of management.
If you take a principle-centred approach to how you operate in the workplace–operating with integrity–then your first order of business is to watch your coworkers’ backs. And if you’re in a leadership position doing this is a core element of leading people. If you’re not doing this, you’re not a leader.

Always maintain your integrity.

4. Know When to Exit an Outdated Product or Service.

There’s nothing more pathetic than watching an organization desperately cling to something that’s dying or already dead. An example that comes to mind is Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry and under-whelming Playbook. RIM’s demise was predicted. It’s now but a mere shadow of its former glory, a company that has a focused business line. Those who were leading the company during its precipitous drop, long since departed, took their eye off the ball. The rest is a sad history.

The entrails of corporate death stretch to the horizon of North American companies which were too arrogant to recognize that things had to change internally if they were to stay in business. Consumers around the world, from Indonesia to Egypt to Canada to Russia to (especially) China, are so sophisticated and demanding that firms that don’t kill or revamp useless products or services soon find their entrails joining those of past dead companies.

Don’t be afraid to put an end to a product or service that’s in terminal decline.

5. Be Open to New Ideas, Even if at First They Seem Dumb.


When the world was a lot simpler and people were a lot more naïve, new ideas and concepts could be quickly rejected. America ruled the universe. General Motors, Chrysler and Ford could laugh at the Japanese automotive companies. Koreans as an industrial competitor? China? India?

And we’re not even touching high technology.

Arrogance breeds complacency and sloth. It’s not what drives successful capitalism. Western industrialized countries have been getting the message in overdoses the past decade as emerging economies eat their lunch.

Despite the hyped BS that continues to emanate from the corporate suites on employee empowerment, risk-taking and workplace of choice, North America’s business community for the most part still doesn’t get it. And nor does government, whose role includes setting the stage for a robust private sector.

Until those in positions of authority truly create workplaces where creativity, open thinking and risk-taking abound, America’s and Canada’s economies will continue to limp along.

If you’re in a senior leadership position, be bold, not a coward, when it comes to enabling your teams.

If you’re in a staff position, be bold as well, speaking truth to power. Show your own integrity by offering concrete ideas and options on how to help your organization improve.

Don’t sit on the sidelines.

In the words of the late anthropologist and leadership consultant Angeles Arrien: “Be open to outcome, not attached to it.”

6. Keep Your Ego in Check by Laughing at Yourself.

The day you think you know it all or that you know more than others is the day you’re done.

As much as it’s important to have self-confidence, there’s a fine line between this and being arrogant.

Each of us needs to remind ourselves daily that we’re mere mortals, who even in the best of circumstances will only possess the tiniest gram of knowledge and know-how. There are so many known knowns and unknown unknowns that we humans are in reality incredibly ignorant.

When you acknowledge this, you’ll actually gain more self-confidence. Being able to say to a co-worker or subordinate that you don’t know something is liberating. In my former career, I saw far too many senior management types blow it out their backsides, pretending to have feeble answers to legitimate questions from employees. The same applies to the so-called gurus, whether they’re economists, political scientists, consultants, or CEOs.

Take a moment to add your own practical tip to this list.

To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.
 Benjamin Disraeli


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