Posts Tagged ‘inspire’

More Red Flags for Managing Better – Part 2

October 16, 2014


One of management’s most important contributions to enterprise performance is talent development. The example we provide is a powerful influence on others. Our choices in attitude and action matter hugely. To discern who needs your leadership, supervision and related attention, be vigilant about signals others display.

In my last post I described some poor examples. Here, I add six more descriptions to point out too-common misbehaviors. Only through awareness and intervention can we enable better attitudes and actions. In bold face, I note the “red flag.”

1.Won’t or can’t articulate ethical or appropriate behavior. Avoids thoughtful observation and commenting on blunders, mis-steps or errors in judgment. Unwilling to prompt exploration, discovery or provide constructive actions. Red flag: Avoids coaching.

2.Never follows through. Offers empty promises. Consistently deceives and simply fails to show integrity. Red flag: Isn’t trustworthy.

3.No updates, context or guidance sets others up to fail. Clear, communications that sense, interpret and support forward action is vital. Red flag: Expects others to mind read.

4.Rigid, uncompromising, limited perspective, won’t acknowledge other experience or situational context. Red flag: Inflexible.

5.Dulling, oppressive, controlling, overly pessimistic, no big view. Red flag: Cannot inspire.

6.Assassinates, plays “keep-away,” grabs others’ ideas, manipulates and puppeteers. Often this kind culture is created if people lack skill and knowledge or are insecure. Little or no accountability accelerates it. Red flag: Bullying.

For me, items 1, 2 and 6 are weighted. Why? Because feedback, trust and competence are essential building blocks for organization performance.

It’s a challenge for all of us to manage better in both our work and lives. Mature, well-intentioned peers and supervisors must speak up. Many of us know amazing mentors and sponsors who do. A little bit of courage conquers any risk and creates trustful interdependence. Things go better if we can rely on each other!

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See:


Foster Passion

January 12, 2014


The work we do best is inspired, it touches or wholly embraces some passion we have. This passion provides the energy to continually make effort and progress.

Augusto Odone, a World Bank economist, provides a great example of what passion can produce.

A polyglot Italian Fulbright scholar who specialized in development economics, Odone was posted to Washington, DC with his family. His son, at six, suddenly began stumbling, mumbling, lost hearing and displayed terrible temper. Doctors said the illness was hopeless and to expect certain death. His child, Lorenzo, had a rare and terrible disease (ALD) in which a faulty chromosome let fatty acids accumulate and cripple the body.

Odone had no prior interest or training in biochemistry, only a high-school science education. However, he began scouring the library at the National Institutes of Health to understand how enzymes work. Through his own reasoning, he identified potential in olive and rapeseed oils as a combination that might inhibit the deadly acids which impaired the nervous system. Medical researchers scoffed at an amateur finding an answer that had eluded them.

Although immobile and uncommunicative, Lorenzo lived 30 years. His father’s discovery was effective in delaying additional decline. “The ALD serpent that had brought so much grief to our family had been tamed,” wrote Odone.

Vindication for a stunning accomplishment was slow in coming. A 1992 film, “Lorenzo’s Oil,” portrays this story. In 2005, a rigorous study showed Odone’s science was sound: while the oil could not reverse effects of ALD, in 75% of the cases it prevented development of the symptoms. Grudging foes acknowledged the discovery.  Lorenzo died in 2008. The charity founded in his name, the Myelin Project, now pursues gene therapy and stem-cell research.

In the face of incalculable odds, a father’s passion had yield for his son and many others worldwide.

What inspires you? What do you know about your team or colleagues that can inspire them? How do you frame challenges to capture their passion? People who love what they do get after it every day. Some, at long odds, deliver amazing results.

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See:

A Cardboard Bicycle

December 6, 2012

innovationIt’s what everybody wants and all organizations need.


Innovation is a word used so often – it’s worthwhile to define to assure shared understanding. Innovation is a process. It is a particular kind of process that yields value. Innovation has three key factors: (1) it has to be replicable, (2) have a reasonable cost and (3) satisfy a specific need.

In the private sector, innovation is spurred by market competition to meet customer expectations or demands. In the social sector, it’s driven by a commitment to better serve a vulnerable population or remedy a social concern.

How Does Innovation Happen?

Most often the process of innovation involves a deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative that yields more, better or different value from resources. It includes all the processes which generate new ideas, services and products. There are two general types of innovation: evolutionary and revolutionary.

  • Evolutionary innovation reflects continuous incremental advances in an existing idea, service or product.
  • Revolutionary innovation is disruptive and entirely different or new.

A Chocolate Teapot & Cardboard Bike

Depending on where you sit, Izhar Gafni’s work may be tough to categorize. He has invented a cardboard bicycle. Initially, bikes were made of wood. These days, premium bikes are aluminum or carbon. But, Gafni’s model is a derivative of the original material: cardboard is a particular weight of paper that is wood-based. He uses origami principles to fold cardboard in a unique way and then coats it with resin before cutting out the shapes needed to create bike parts. He recycles solid rubber from car tires to create bike tires and the chain. Recycled bottles are the source of pedals and brakes.

Gafni’s cardboard bike weighs what most conventional bikes do and can support an adult rider. His innovation could help millions of people with basic transport. The cost is estimated at $9-12 a unit. Innovation is powerful. Even if you’re not in the market for a cheap bike, Gafni’s work can inspire…He created something feasible and strategic that sounds impossible!

Lisa Wyatt, Ed. D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillip Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See :

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