A Catalyst A Guardian: Brilliant Control Freaks and Strategic Micromanagers

"Control freaks are optimists and adapters and work to change the system. Micromanagers see themselves as realists and seek a strong status quo. Both work to become important within the system and change it in a way that suits their needs."

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History Repeating: What are the Good and Bad Qualities of Leadership?

Comparing The Prince (Machiavelli, 1992/1513) and The Peter Principle (Peters & Hull, 2009/1969).

Niccolo Machiavelli (1992/1513) wrote about essential positive and negative leadership traits based on his experience with the Popes and Florentine political machinations with the Medici, the Sforza, and the infamous Borgia families. Centuries later, Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull (2009/1969) observed and wrote about the lack of strong positive traits they observed in corporate and legislative governance. Their collaboration on organizational leadership is still relevant reading today. The basic premise of their book is that we will be promoted beyond, and because of, our good skills to a place and position where we have few or no skills.

By Peter and Hull (2009/1969)

Both books (the former in a 1992 translation) sound as if they were written today and support rereading. In many ways, they should serve as a warning and model-system for reviewing the differences between current leadership beliefs and ultimate real practices. Though Machiavelli experienced both strong and weak leaders he managed to literally keep his head. The consequences of some of the problems that Peter and Hull describe can lead to a figurative and very public head-chop. Bear in mind, these books were written more than 400 and 50 years ago, respectively.

By Niccolo Machiavelli

On government:

• “Is it smart men putting us on or imbeciles who really mean it?” (P&H)

• “Attaining leadership with limited prowess - Attain the power with ease but hold it with difficulty.” (M)

On aggression:

• “A prince must have no other subject or thought, nor acquire skill in anything except war, it organizations, and its discipline.” (M)

• “Hatred develops among the followers – for they bear the burden but not the glory.” (M)

• “Every aggressor has a weakness. Find it, engage it – as he would himself.” (M)

On leadership:

• There is a measure of solitude that accompanies authority. (P&H).

• Exceptional leadership cannot make its way in an established hierarchy (P&H)

• Top dog fear – fear that the underdog will become the top dog (P&H).

• The bold will succeed better than the hesitant. Lofty ideas are second to safety seeking strategies (M)

• On praise and blame - “a man who acts virtuously in every way comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.” (M)

On doing work:

• Those who have not reached their level of incompetence accomplish real work. (P&H)

Finally, Peter and Hull gave fun names to some of the organizational issues they experienced. See anyone you know or work with here?

• Teeter Totter Syndrome - Inability to make decisions

• Tabulatory Gigantism - Bigger desk (bigger office)

• Percussive Sublimation - Being kicked upstairs

• Paternal Instep - Promoting family

• Peter’s Inverts - Always obeys, never decides

• Lateral Arabesque - A move to corporate oblivion with a bigger title.

Dr. Shawn Michael Nichols

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Systems: New Mexico Opportunity in Community, Commerce, and Art

Turn your attention to New Mexico and specifically the Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos corridor. Facebook has recently added its presence to that of the research giants, Los Alamos and Sandia Labs. With a top-notch medical school at the University of New Mexico, excellent weather, outstanding healthcare, cheaper gas prices, and AMAZING real estate values (compared to Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco) it’s a hot area in many respects.

Dr. Nancy Southern, a long time mentor of mine, has been bringing successful innovation and systems change to academia and commerce for some time. I was happy that she had time to share with us recently in her New Mexico environment. Though modest, she is involved in projects as diverse as corporate culture change and advancing and improving relationships in culturally rich and diverse community groups. Already an inspiring individual change maker, she claims that this area, its people, and the burgeoning innovative milieu inspire her.

The VLA

Within a two-hour drive we experienced skiing, art, Native American and new Mexican culture, haute cuisine, millennial start-ups, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. This area with its excellent airport may be the new best place to live. The landscape is spectacular and varied: alpine mountain forests and blooming deserts; perfect for outdoor types, social meet ups and relaxation, and down the road is the ever awe-inspiring VLA.

Dr. Shawn Michael Nichols

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