Change

Why Leaders Play Chicken

By: Jim Bruce
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Today’s Reading “Why Leaders Play Chicken” comes to us via the HBR Blog Network and is from the pen of Ron Ashkenas.  Ashkenas is managing partner of Schaffer Consulting and author of the recent book, Simply Effective.

In this piece, Ashkenas reminds us of the game of chicken that most of us played when we were children.  It was a foolish, immature way of showing who had the most guts, the most nerve, and the most will-power.  And, the winner became the respected dominant leader of the group.

The War on Interruptions

By: Jim Bruce
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One of the most consistent findings in psychology is that people behave differently when their environment changes.  When we are at a place where people are quiet, say a church or a library, we’re quiet;  when we are at a sporting event where it’s loud, we’re loud.

Why then, when we try to make changes at work do we, almost always, focus on people changing rather than on changing the environment.  Often, changing the environment is the easiest way to effect meaningful behavioral change.

Lessons of Fort Sumter

By: Jim Bruce
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Joe Urich from the University of Iowa shared this piece with his on-campus cohort last month and I thought it was worth sharing with everyone.  “Lessons of Fort Sumter”was published in early April in the Wall Street Journal.  The author is Bret Stephens, a columnist for the Journal.

In the short piece he distills from the battle for Sumter five important leadership lessons:

1.  Listen to many opinions.  Don’t just listen to the loud voice, seek options.

Alone Together

By: Jim Bruce
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Sherry Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, has a new book, “Alone Together.”  In the book, Turkle raises an interesting point about how we get and maintain each other’s attention in our always-on-connectivity culture.  

Learning to be a Clutch’ Leader

By: Jim Bruce
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In the sports world, a “clutch” player performs best when the pressure is on.  [See “Learning to be a ‘Clutch’ Leader” by Sean Silverstone, editor of HBS’s Working Knowledge newsletter.]  In the thinking of Paul Sullivan, New York Times business columnist and author of “Clutch:  Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t,”  the best example of a “clutch” person is the military leader – someone trained to make combat decisions with life or death consequences.  [See, “How Cadets Learn to be ‘Clutch’,”.]

Dawn of a New Day

By: Jim Bruce
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Ray Ozzie, chief software architect at Microsoft and previously a key figure at Software Arts and at Lotus, and founder of Groove, is leaving Microsoft after a short transition period.  Shortly after he made his announcement, Ozzie wrote “Dawn of a New Day,” as an email to Microsoft’s Executive Staff and his direct reports.  He also posted it at <http://ozzie.net/docs/dawn-of-a-new-day/>.  I believe that this piece is a “must-read” for everyone who is, or who aspires to be, a university IT leader.  Ozzie has a good track record at

Confidence is a Learnable Skill

By: Jim Bruce
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Some people seem to be born full of confidence, while others have difficulty speaking up about their ideas.  Is confidence, then, something you are born with and therefore that those of us less gifted, just have to muddle through?

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