How The Laws of Wealth Can Improve Your Management Game

I was looking for some summer reading.  Something that would challenge me, inspire me, and help me continue on my path to being a better leader.  Mission accomplished!

3d-bookWhether you’ve been a long-time reader, know me personally, or are just finding this blog, you’ll find that I am someone who likes to look to industries outside of the traditional HR arena when it comes to learning how to be a better leader.  For example, I’ve gravitated to science and design as places to look for inspiration on creating better leadership practices or people-relations experiences.  Additionally, as someone who has held high level HR positions that tied closely to the CFO and finance teams in organizations, the role of understanding the impact of finance on the people practices is equally important.

With that in mind, I found a new resource from the finance world for leaders and managers to use in their day-to-day people management.  To be clear and upfront, this is in no way a paid endorsement and I did not receive anything “free” in order to make this recommendation.  The source I’m sharing today is a new book by author Dr. Daniel Crosby.  If you’re not familiar with him yet, you should be.  Dr. Crosby’s book The Laws of Wealth is not only helpful as an individual striving to have better understanding of your personal finances and approach.  It’s a source that has components that can be used in managing people.

Dr. Crosby shares chapters dedicated to specific steps the reader can take to have a better approach to financial self-management.  These same steps can be applied to your role as a leader or manager trying to manage yourself and your team.   Let me share a few examples from Dr. Crosby:

  • You control what matters most- Over the last 20 years, the market has returned an average of 8.25% per annum, but the average investor has gotten just over 4% of that. The highs and lows of the market may be out of your hands, but how you choose to behave is within your power, and is just as important a driver of returns.
  • You cannot do this alone- Most people understandably assume that the greatest value offered by a financial advisor is, well, financial advice. Not so. Vanguard’s “Advisor’s Alpha” study shows that working with an advisor provides around 300 basis points of outperformance and that fully half of that value comes from behavioral coaching. Morningstar, Aon Hewitt, and Envestnet all have similar studies showing that hand holding trumps stock-picking when it comes to optimizing returns.
  • Trouble is opportunity- We are all familiar with the Oracle of Omaha’s admonition to be “greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy,” yet so few of us manage to successfully view a downturn as the opportunity it truly is. There is true joy (and riches) to be had in financial schadenfreude, so commit yourself to continue investing and even upping your savings when times are bad.
  • You are not special- Robert Shiller is fond of saying that “This time it’s different” is the most dangerous phrase in investing. While mania can carry a market for a time, the truth about what works long-term on Wall Street is pretty boring (think paying a fair price for a profitable company) and is unlikely to fundamentally change.
  • Forecasting is for weathermen- Famed contrarian David Dreman found that from 1973 to 1993, of the 78,695 estimates he looked at, there was a 1 in 170 chance that analyst projections would fall within plus or minus 5% of the actual number. The smartest people in the world don’t bother with the crystal ball. Said JP Morgan of the market’s future trajectory, “It will fluctuate.”

His themes of how we are not always in control as leaders, how we have to rely on others to be successful and have optimal results, how trouble is inevitable and the importance of managing well in a downturn, that we are not special and thus learn from each other, and that looking constantly into a crystal ball instead of real life is not the best way are all themes that hit home for me.

If those examples ring true for you, pick up The Laws of Wealth today.  Who knew that a finance-focused book could become the best summer reading you’ve had?  For more information, you can follow Dr. Crosby on Twitter @danielcrosby or find resources on his site Nocturne Capital.

Keeping The Mission In Front Of You

Do you ever have those days where you find yourself so buried in tasks that you lose sight of what you’re working toward?  Just yesterday, I had a conversation with a colleague about a tendency people have to get focused on the day-to-day tasks in front of them.  It seems we need situations to pull us back out to the 30,000 foot view so that we can appreciate the greater good we’re working toward.

In the early days of my career, I didn’t give much credence to the mission of the company I worked for.  In fact, when I think of my first employer, I can’t tell you what the actual mission was.  Earlier this summer I heard Ryan Estis speak about having passion for your work and he challenged the audience to recall the mission of our current organization.  Many in the audience could not do this.  The difference for me now is that I know and live the mission of my organization so it was easy to recall why I go to work each day.

How about you?  Other than for a paycheck, why do you get up and go to work each day?  Is there a greater reason that drives you?

I had the fortune of hearing a presentation online yesterday given by Dr. Daniel Crosby on this subject.  Dr. Crosby’s “Deep Leadership- Redstone Test Center Presentation” is well worth 30 minutes of your time.  He delivers some practical advice around how to be a better leader and does so with a fun, upbeat tone.  Take a moment to click through and listen to the presentation.

One thing he said resonated with me more than anything else.   Dr. Crosby said the one reason keeping the mission in front of us is so important is that when everything else is in a state of upheaval, that remains constant.  That can be your North Star.  Whatever changes you may be going through, whatever may be happening in the organization, at least (you) get to get up in the morning and go do something that benefits (others).

Those are the type of important messages we need to hear more of.  Messages that bring us back to the real reason we work and why so many people strive to have great performance.  It’s not just for the paycheck.

If you’re looking for someone to speak to your organization about leadership, I encourage you to reach out to Dr. Crosby.  As you’ve seen, he is first rate.

I Don’t Wear Chuck Taylors

For those of you who have not met me, I’m a high heels kind of gal.  I love them and wear them almost every day.  In fact, I’ve always been this way.  One type of shoe I’ve never owned and would feel like a total sham wearing is THE classic-  Chuck Taylors by Converse.  

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  If you believe that the way that we express ourselves in our clothing and in our shoe choices somehow links to our beliefs and behaviors, we’d be in agreement.  You might even think that I’d feel most comfortable surrounding myself with other heel-wearing ladies.  But, this is where I’d lose you.  When I think of many of the professionals that have a solid impact and influence on my thinking about the present and the future of HR, one theme emerges.

They all wear Chuck Taylor’s.

Some of the great industry thinkers I know like Ruettimann, Boese, Nykolaiszyn, and Crosby, to name a few.

I wonder what that says about me.  I hope it says that I’m smart enough not to surround myself with only like-minded people.  I hope that it shows that I like to associate with people that may have the same passions as I do but vastly different opinions and approaches.  I think there is something to this.  And, maybe I’d stretch myself a little by lacing up a pair myself once in awhile.  You know, try to walk a mile in their shoes….

So, maybe next time we’re thinking about diversity, we should look down.  After all, what kind of shoes are you surrounding yourself with? They just might make you a better person.

What Are You Reading?

Between work, personal commitments, and vacation, I’ve been reading far more lately than I’ve been writing.  I think these lulls or changes in daily pattern are necessary to recharge the mental batteries and take writing and thought into new directions.

Here are a few of the blogs that are shaping my thoughts:

  • IncBlog (Incblot Organizational Psychology)-  Written by Dr. Daniel Crosby, this blog explores issues in personal response that any HR professional or business professional can benefit from reading.
  • Lean HR blog–  Written by Dwane Lay, expert in Lean, Six Sigma, PeopleSoft implementation and a host of other business and technology skills, this blog make me THINK.  Check it out.
  • Innovate On Purpose–  Written by Jeffrey Phillips, this blog on “ideas, conversations, and approaches for sustainable, repeatable innovation”  is one I subscribe to via Tabbloid.com because I regularly print it on a weekly basis and share with colleagues.
  • Brain Leaders and Learners–  Written by Dr. Ellen Weber, this is one of my “must reads” because the tactics in neuro discovery that she shares are hard to find anywhere else.

Some great blogs to add to your reader or subscribe to via email or Tabbloid.com. What else should I be reading?  What is the one thing you have to read and can’t do without right now?

Be sure to share your favorite blog or book in the comments so we can all find new types of inspiration!

Elusive Happiness

In his seminal work ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins found that two things were necessary for truly great (Level 5 in Collins’ vernacular) leaders: humility and a highly focused strength of will.  Perhaps Collins’ greatest contribution to leadership literature is having shot down the sexy, if fallacious, idea of leaders as larger-than-life and ostentatious.  So, why is it that after such paradigm-shifting discoveries we are still so mired in mediocrity in terms of our corporate and political (both parties!!!) leadership?  I think one of the biggest and most overlooked answers to this question lies in the way we pursue leadership.

To illustrate this point, consider the times in your life that you’ve been the happiest. Ever notice how elusive happiness is when you try to pursuit it? Well it turns out you have something in common with a famous utilitarian philosopher (your Mom must be so proud)! John Stuart Mill said, “Those are only happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than happiness. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness along the way.” Part of happiness is the effortlessness and lightness of being that accompanies it. So, when we try and try to be happy, we are necessarily running afoul of one of its fundamental features. Something very similar can be said of trying to be a leader.

I, like Jim Collins, think that humility is a necessary attribute of a deep leader. That said, when we take the mantle of leadership upon us in the “how-can-I-lead-these-little-people” sort of way, we’ve already failed! Those who aspire to leadership, who view themselves as leaders in the traditional sense, and who buy leadership books (and read blog posts on leadership – GOTCHA!) because they are somehow elevated, have violated one of the fundamental tenets of deep leadership before even truly beginning the journey. And as any sailor can attest, going on a journey that begins with a miscalculation can land you way off course.

Thank you to Daniel Crosby, Ph.D. for guest posting today.  Daniel is the President at Crosby Performance Consulting.  Please click HERE to learn more about him. You can also follow him on Twitter @crosbypsych.