Lubans’ What the Wren Saw

Posted by jlubans on June 17, 2019  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: The roof rafters of the outdoor stage at Latvia’s annual Dobele Lilac Festival.

A little bird, a wren, swooped into the rafters of an outdoor stage.
It was during a wind and rain-swept outdoor concert. He perched and listened.
Now and then, he’d flit off but always to come back, seemingly enthralled by and curious about the beautiful music on such a cold and wet day.
Singers sang to listeners under dripping plastic capes and umbrellas on backless wooden benches.
A half dozen instrumentalist – more exposed than the singers - supplied, with gusto, the melodies for each song.
And, each song got an appreciative cheer with applause and foot stomping on the wet grass.
The curious wren took this in and marveled.
Most of all, he took to heart the enthusiasm of the musicians and the audience.
The wren resolved - instead of hunkering down in the cold rain - he’d sing his forest song evermore sweetly.
As a leader or follower, think of the wren in the rain.
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© Copyright John Lubans 2019

“A Lot Less In-fighting”

Posted by jlubans on June 13, 2019  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Kurt Lewin, (1890—1947) German-American behavioralist.

A perennial question: What is the best way to lead a workplace?
Over 75 years ago, Kurt Lewin responded with some preliminary answers on which leadership style - democratic, autocratic (aggressive or passive) or laissez-faire – was most effective.
A recent WSJ video gives us a real world peek
at personal leadership styles among recent White House Chiefs of Staff (COS).
Given the fervid reporting (largely negative) on matters Trump, a COS must be ready to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” from all sides. I suspect this sort of nervy exposure adds clarity to how each COS goes about doing the job.
The current COS, Mick Mulvaney, appears to favor, the democratic model under which staff have some flexibility and responsibility commensurate with their jobs. He says his way of leading is a middle ground between the autocratic and the laissez-faire, neither heavy handed or hands off.
The autocratic COS was retired four-star Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly. Mr. Trump appointed him presumably in an attempt to impose order and discipline following a chaotic first several months of taking office.
Taking over from a laissez-faire COS the General decided what to do and when to do it, all under his close supervision. He turned what might be termed a freewheeling cowpunchers’ bunkhouse into a “militaristic Marine camp”.
Mr. Trump’s first COS, was the laissez-faire former Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus.
His, as implied above, was a “wild, wild west” style, obviously with minimal supervision.
As we know from Lewin’s experiment these three types of leaders produce different results:
Individual expression was pronounced in democracy and negligible under autocracy. Lewin and his researchers concluded something all of us have observed in rigid hierarchies: “Autocracy kills individuality.”
Time on work: It should be noted that when the autocratic leader supervises, “the work proceeds as intensely as in the democratic. But, the product frequently shows a poorer quality.”
The lower quality of what is produced and that the work disintegrates when the autocratic boss is away suggests that the democratic way may well be more productive. Similarly, Lewin’s laissez-faire boss was pretty much “absent” and had the least production and lowest quality.
As one might suspect, infighting – flying elbows - was most pronounced under the laissez-faire and the autocratic models. Lewin found that aggressiveness and egocentric behavior was highest under an aggressive autocrat leader.
“Friendliness and we-feeling” was highest under the democratic leader.
Now, according to Mulvaney, “there is a lot less in-fighting.”
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And, My 2010 book, Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.

© Copyright John Lubans 2019

Aesop’s THE ASTROLOGER*

Posted by jlubans on June 09, 2019  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Illustration by Sophia Rosamund Praeger, (1908)

An astrologer, who was famed for his great learning and his knowledge of the stars, went out for a walk.
As he walked, all the time looking up at the sky, he said to himself, "Oh, how much wiser am I than most men!
All the secrets of the stars are known to me. I read them as other men read books.
What a fine thing it is to have brains, and how glad I am not to be stupid as some arel"
Thus speaking, he came to a well, but being far too busy praising his own cleverness to notice it, he tripped and fell in headlong, and there he had to stay until his servant, hearing his cries, came and pulled him out.
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I like this new translation and a new-to-me- illustrator, Sophia Rosamund Praeger.
Save us from the experts!
I remember how experts in my field of work would always tell me how to do a better job, but they hardly ever took their own advice!
Instead, as a manager, I turned for advice to the people doing the work. That resulted in many excellent ideas for improvement.
Social media, including television, is rife with experts on how others should believe and behave. Their view, shared by like-minded people, is the only legitimate one.
No wonder this skewed perspective, from time to time, leads them to stumble into ditches or to tumble into a well.
No worries!
The downed expert, like our astrologer, never really stumbles – if he appears to, he lands on his feet, so to speak. Treading water at the bottom of the well or on his back in a muddy ditch, he insists he now has an even better view.

*Source: Aesop's Fables by Lena Dalkeith
Aesop's Fables by Lena Dalkeith, with pictures by S. R. Praeger, published in 1908.

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And, My 2010 book, Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.

© Copyright John Lubans 2019

Getting Someone To Do What He Should Not Do

Posted by jlubans on June 05, 2019  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Sign in rubbish chute at a college dorm, 8th floor.

IF you find yourself, in the wee hours, stumbling around the hallways of this high-rise college dorm, you might be inspired (perhaps inflamed) by the prohibitions listed herein.
As most of us know, the way to get someone to do something is to tell him - I would use her, but somehow methinks this needs be limited only to us guys - NOT to do it.
And, in case the hammered HEs need additional guidance for mischief, we’ll list out the Do Nots!
We want to be abundantly clear!
Namely, “throwing lighted matches, cigars or cigarettes,
carpet sweepings, Naphthalene camphor balls or flakes,
floor scrapings, oil soaked rags,
empty paint cans (full cans are OK?),
aerosol containers, or explosive substances (NOW you’re talkin’!)
into this chute (as if you needed to know where)
is unlawful and subjects the offender to a penalty.”
A veritable Rabelaisian listing of fun stuff for the stoned student or any potted person.
No worries about the carpet sweepings and floor scrapings (too much like work) but the others, when assembled and combined, will make for a hilarious BOOM out the rooftop.
Like Br’er Rabbit’s wily pleading: “Oh, Br'er Fox, go ahead and drown me then, just so long as you don't throw me into that briar patch!” this sign no doubt achieves the opposite of its intent.
Who do you think wrote this sign? A committee? The legal counsel for the Student Affairs office? With the reference to mothballs, someone from the 50s?

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And, My 2010 book, Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.

© Copyright John Lubans 2019

Aesop’s THE TWO FROGS

Posted by jlubans on June 01, 2019  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: The two on a stroll. Illustration by Ernest Henry Griset. 1884

Two Frogs were neighbors.
One lived in a marsh, where there was plenty of water, which frogs love: the other in a lane some distance away, where all the water to be had was that which lay in the ruts after rain.
The Marsh Frog warned his friend and pressed him to come and live with him in the marsh, for he would find his quarters there far more comfortable and—what was still more important—more safe.
But the other refused, saying that he could not bring himself to move from a place to which he had become accustomed.
A few days afterwards a heavy wagon came down the lane, and he was crushed to death under the wheels.
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And so it can be at work.

Why stay in an “accustomed” rut? Let me count the ways and whys.
Oh yes, the reasons to hang on (even when the ground is shaking from the approaching cart wheels) will be multitudinous. A list so long, no one in his or her right mind would leave.
Au contraire, mon ami, All you have to do is leave.
I admire anyone who concludes: “This is not working. I am gone." Adios amigo, goes the song.
Of course, you want to think about it, but don’t think too long. Pack your bags, buy that Greyhound ticket, and start fresh.
If life’s an adventure, aren’t you capable? Of course you are.

*Source: AESOP'S FABLES A NEW TRANSLATION BY V. S. VERNON JONES WITH AN INTRODUCTION By G. K. CHESTERTON AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARTHUR RACKHAM (Publisher: London: W. Heinemann; New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1912). Available at Gutenberg.

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SALE! SALE! SALE! SALE! SALE! 30% Off; type in "Summer inventory SALE" at Checkout. ENDS JUNE 30.
ONLY a click away:


And, My 2010 book, Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.

© Copyright John Lubans 2019