Browsing Tag


Stuck in the Middle: The Committer

I haven’t done a piece around leadership personas for a while.  The main reason is things haven’t been that slow to think about leadership styles of late and I have just been getting things done, rather than thinking about things.   What a quandary, so I’m writing another piece on leadership, perhaps just to feel a little better about myself or to help a friend out.

This series is basically a pragmatic look at leadership, management and execution as it relates to dealing with specific leadership personas and how to get things done effectively inside a given management mode. Some of the other one’s I’ve addressed are The Collaborator, The Geologist, The Amoeba, The Visualist, The Fence Mender, The Vassalizer, The MBIFM, and a couple of other ones.

It is always an interesting set of problems to solve when thinking on how organizations can communicate better, develop their people, how to look at executing as an organization more effectively and how contributors can create excitement in a given role, even if they have been there a long time.  It might be important to note, that everyone needs to contribute – leadership is as much about a team and doing what needs to be done, as it is about “managing”.  It’s the last concept which got me back to thinking on this series based on a conversation I had with a friend the other day. Karen is consistently having items thrown into her queue without regard of any other items in progress and it is done via a series of ad hoc commitments which are cascaded down via email with no other interaction.

The challenge/situation is how can you keep up and be successful when someone continuously delegates new tasks without acknowledging capacity/understanding the effort to produce or providing additional context/assistance to ensure success.   I can certainly understand the troubles associated with this type of situation, which brings me to writing on this leadership persona.  Over commit and under deliver – not sure how this helps anyone – the investors, the customers or the associates.  At the end of the day, you have to manage expectations and deliverables – even if they are outside of your control.

As a product manager, I quickly came to grips with the reality that you have none of the authority, but all of the accountability, so working effectively through others is a keen skill to have no matter what role you have.   That being said you need to have an environment which allows for achievement and the opportunity for meeting the needs of the key stakeholder and constant agreement and confirmation that you will get it done while positive can lead to issues down the road.

So how do you deal with this? Communicate, communicate, communicate.  It also helps to make sure everyone understand what is being work on, who owns it and when it can be done.  Transparency is the key to success in this leadership model.  If everyone knows what needs to be done, is aware of the current prioritization and is aware of value for the folks who benefit from what is currently in the queue you have the opportunity to drive to closure the right items for the business, the customers and your employees.

Music, Emotion and Shared Experiences

photo by you.

Education and Research – Facebook productivity.

So Alexis, you don’t know her – so I’ll tell you about her – wicked intelligent and apparently a lecturer/professor. Not much more I can be reasonably sure about, since I haven’t spoken to her since 1990, but have connected via Facebook and randomly interacted and those are my impressions. A recent Facebook note I caught from my news feed represents an interesting way to engage the network and leverage the value of the relationships. Normally I would have missed the note, but the title required a click – “music as mood-altering”. So Alexis used Facebook as a follow up/drill down on input she received in her class as an educator – kinda cool social media use case. Connectivity and access to a network can produce some interesting stuff and I think her topic/question should definitely have a response. So with that baseline, Alexis asked her network the following in the Facebook note:

This semester I’m teaching a lower-division undergrad class on language and music. The topic for the past week has been music and emotion, and we’ve looked at a couple of attempts to somehow make concrete our understanding of the mechanisms through which music can pack such an emotional wallop. Some of the mechanisms people have proposed:

  • mimicking or alluding to emotional signals of the world, e.g. fast tempos convey excitement, echo the way our hearts pound when we’re excited
  • invoking personal associations
  • connecting with the responses we have to structures changing and unfolding over time

I’ve heard a lot now about my students and their emotional experiences with music, but what about you, my friends? Does it even makes sense to seek specific musical correlates to specific emotions? How universal (or individual) are emotional responses to music?

What an interesting way to leverage social media from an educational perspective. Not sure if this was the goal, but ultimately this event could be loosely or not-so loosely defined as primary research. Sampling could be an issue. Dewy Wins!

Music and Emotions

This question makes for a timely thing having just got back from spending a weekend with friends watching live music all weekend which was accompanied by shared emotional responses with say 8,000 other folk. I have the habit lately of keeping my own setlist mainly because I can’t get out as much with 4 kids to see live music and to refer to in meetings, at airports or with friends. For me the setlist represents not just the songs, but also the experience which definitely invokes emotions. The setlits conjures up items about the event/evening, a given song’s association, the people and what I’ve actually documented about a given line item. Below are two examples from this week’s venture out to see Widespread Panic, it also represents my answer to the question posed. Typically I would edit before I post, but in the name of research/content analysis….verbatim below:

10/17 – WP – ATL -Lakewood
Set 1
Drum thing into. Hatfield
Ribs n whiskey
Sleepy monkey.
Going out west
Morning dew
Rebirtha slow.
Red beans

Set 2 9:34
Long jam> vacation jimmy killed it
Bears gone fishin
Randall bramlett?. Mega blasters old neighborhood

Chest fever.
Bust it big.
Weight of the world.


10/18 Atl 7:29

Set 1

Mr soul


Drum thing. Into Fishwater big

Last straw


up all night bramblett mega blasters

New tune/ dance needs no body. Long and boring

You should be glad



Set 2 9:16


You got yours

Blight huge


Angels on high. Lame

Momma told me not to come.3dg

Superstition mega blaster

Tall boy mega



Randall. Jb is late

Picking up pieces





The funny thing about reading your setlist later, no matter what I’m doing or where I’m at it — even thought of music is mood altering.

Random proof-point: In the Fox News clip below you can clearly see music alters the Anchors’ moods.   I’m not so sure about the chunk of coal reference, but they could turn Jimmy down a little.

Principles: Shading strategy, execution and interactions

prin·ci·ple [prin-suh-puhl] –noun

1. an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct: a person of good moral principles.
2. a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics.
3. a fundamental doctrine or tenet; a distinctive ruling opinion: the principles of the Stoics.
4. principles, a personal or specific basis of conduct or management: to adhere to one’s principles; a kindergarten run on modern principles.
5. guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct: a person of principle.
6. an adopted rule or method for application in action: a working principle for general use.
7. a rule or law exemplified in natural phenomena, the construction or operation of a machine, the working of a system, or the like: the principle of capillary attraction.
8. the method of formation, operation, or procedure exhibited in a given case: a community organized on the patriarchal principle.
9. a determining characteristic of something; essential quality.
10. an originating or actuating agency or force: growth is the principle of life.
11. an actuating agency in the mind or character, as an instinct, faculty, or natural tendency: the principles of human behavior.
12. Chemistry. a constituent of a substance, esp. one giving to it some distinctive quality or effect.
13. Obsolete. beginning or commencement.

14. in principle, in essence or substance; fundamentally: to accept a plan in principle.
15. on principle,
a. according to personal rules for right conduct; as a matter of moral principle: He refused on principle to agree to the terms of the treaty.
b. according to a fixed rule, method, or practice: He drank hot milk every night on principle.

The funny thing about principles is that not only is the construct so nuanced that it supports 15 different dictionary use cases, but we often forget iT shades most daily actions. I was reminded of this throughout the week based on three different interactions within multiple settings – professional, social and familial. The trifecta of situational proof points that principles could be seen as an individual’ personal acceptable use policy.

Each situation for each participant is shaded by not only personal experience/biases, but constrained to the context of one’s principles. A friend has told me time and time again, your “world view” impacts your reactions and others reactions to YOU. For example, my view of productivity and follow up is not the same as others or vice versa. which while circular logic is the recursive spiral many interactions get into because of core DNA differences with folks. At times you just can’t connect your idea, emotions or actions toward what may or may not be common goals. Ultimately, how does an individual internalize a strategy, a brand or an action plan in the marketplace or in a cohort group is often the common thread of miscommunication between folks, as least that’s my lesson of the week around principles.

To effectively lead, manage or interact this is a baseline reality is often forgotten and overlooked, MYSELF included. I find myself not asking enough questions, but instead interpreting reactions and actions within how I would see/feel on a given topic which is more of an anchor than way to move forward and drive change. So my personal and career challenge to myself of week is to use my ears more than my mouth and to ask questions as to why something isn’t as effective as I thought it would be, rather than to make assumptions based on my own understanding/filter.

I think with this approach then perhaps I can avoid the pitfall of the best laid plans going awry. So now I think I have 101 things to be thankful for.

I really get excited when life hits you in the head with a blunt object and make you realize the best thing is that we are all different and bring different view, strategies and tactics.

For me it’s those situational reminders which provides clarity on things. I think I’ll read the 4 agreements again.