Archive for the ‘Presidential candidates’ Category

Are You Judging or Observing?

October 15, 2008

The other day my son commented that his mother and I were being judgemental. this came after I made a comment about something as we drove down the road.

My immediate response was that I wasn’t judging, but making an observation. This led to a spirited conversation in our car about the differences between observation and judgement. The differences are huge and we see them every day. Here are a couple of examples.

“His hair is long.” – observation

“His hair is too long.” or “His hair needs to be cut.” – judgements

“The table is black.” – observation

“The table is ugly.” – judgement

“She is very skilled.” – observation, if based on truly observing the skills being discussed

“She is better than I am.” judgement, unless there is factual measurement on a criteria that all agree defines “better.”

The conversation we had in our car was more than wordplay or a dictionary challenge. It defines an important concept that we often lose sight of or miss by not thinking clearly. As a leader when developing others, giving feedback or making decisions, we need to be crystal clear on our judgements vs. our observations.

Are you passing judgement on people and their behavior? Whether positive or negative, spoken or unspoken those judgements will have an impact on people’s performance (so if you are going to judge, make it a positive one!)

When giving feedback are your statements largely observational or judgmental? If you try to pass judgement off as fact you risk being wrong and setting a stage for defensiveness, resistance or worse.

While we all need to make judgements, when making decisions, especially important ones, it is again important to separate observation from assumption and judgement. doing so will help you make better decisions.

The differences between judgement and observation can get cloudy, but it need not be. When we speak or think from a place of oberservation, there is no judgement, no assignment of right or wrong, or degree of goodness. Observations are like reflecting a mirror on a situation. Being more observant, and being able to stateour observations are important to our ability to communicate, influence and lead.

No where right now is it clearer than in the campaign for the U.S. Presidency.

Both Senator Obama and Senator McCain (and in many more cases their spokespeople, surrogates and fans) make statements meant to be interpreted as observations or statements of fact, when in effect they are merely judgements or personal interpretations. Use the time you watch or listen to campaign related activities over the next couple of days to help you identify and sort out observations from judgements. This practice will help you in your life, and perhaps help you sort out the truth from the massive spin that is employed by both campaigns as well as their supporters.

Which Five Books Should the Presidential Candidates Read?

July 25, 2008
John McCain

John McCain










A couple of weeks ago, I read a post from The Book Maven, titled, similarly, Which Five Books Should a Candidate Read?  This post suggested fiction books that would help or prepare a candidate for office.  I loved this idea, but I am much more of a non-fiction reader, and so after pondering this post for awhile, and carrying around my list of suggestions, here it goes.

I spend a lot of time thinking about this list, and I am sure it is biased by my views both in terms of what I want a President to do in office, and what books I like and agree with.  Given those two caveats, I thought about what I want them to read now – before they get into office – to set them up for success while in office.  Here is my top list of five, in no particular order, with some rationale associated with each suggestion.

Team of Rivals – The Politcial Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  A tremendously well written book about the political choices of one of our finest Presidents and how he worked with his Cabinet.   Enough said?  You can read my recommendation of the book here (scroll to the bottom).

Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be More Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert B. Cialdini.  I want a President who is persausive so that their work can accomplish something.  With so many groups to work with, and so any people to persuade, this books is a must.  Here is my full recommendation.

Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude: How to Find, Build and Keep a YES! Attitude for a Lifetime of SUCCESSby Jeffrey Gitomer.  Do I want a President who has a strong positive attitude,one that is maintained and that he can “infect” others with?  Absolutely.  This is a great book to help with that – besides a little of JEffrey’s approach will make them smile – and give them sound bites.  We know how politicians love sound bites!  Here is my full recommendation (scroll down).

The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.  I can’t think of any job that requires more energy and this book will help anyone create more for themselves and those around them.  Besides, it is a quick read, and I know these guys are busy.  Here is my full recommendation (scroll down).

 Remarkable Leadership – Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Timeby Kevin Eikenberry.   You didn’t really expect me to leave this off, did you?  Read excerpts and download a sample chapter here.

Today, a letter with a point to this post, along with a copy of one of the books on the list (can you guess which one?) is going to each candidates headquarters.  🙂

I’d love to read your comments on my list – and see your suggested books as well!

Management and Leadership by Hillary Clinton

October 26, 2007

Hillary Clinton at Work

As the U.S. Presidential election process continues to garner more and more media attention, there will be many opportunities for learning leaders to observe and learn from these high profile potential leaders.

This morning’s New York Times offers a story about Senator Clinton’s management style, and contrasts it with the style of her husband Bill.

 The article is an interesting look at the candidate, some of her strengths and tendencies, and also shows her to be a learning leader – wiling to adapt and adjust her approach over time.

In terms of the competencies in Remarkable Leadership it appears process orientation and planning are two of her strengths.

You can read the full article here.