Be yourself – Everyone else is taken (Oscar Wilde)
October 11th, 2014 by cgribble

Leadership in Liminal Times

I just read this article in the Harvard Business Review. There is much for me to ponder on:

Leaders have always shown their mettle in times of liminality. The term comes from Arnold van Gennep, the Belgian anthropologist who first outlined the common patterns in how cultures mark transitions from one human state to another (for example, from adolescence to adulthood). In his 1909 book The Rites of Passage he described three stages of separation from one world and entry into another. The liminal (or threshold) stage is central. Commenting later on van Gennep’s work, anthropologist Victor Turner explained it as “a moment when those being moved in accordance with a cultural script were liberated from normative demands, when they were, indeed, betwixt and between successive lodgments in jural political systems. In this gap between ordered worlds almost anything may happen.”

Organizations must also periodically go through such wrenching times of transition, and it is during such liminal times that leaders have their greatest impact. They must manage to both craft the new world with smart strategy, often in the wake of disruption, and cause the organization to embrace the required change. Lou Gerstner’s arrival at IBM in 1993 is a classic example of leadership through a liminal period. Parachuted in to salvage a beleaguered organization, he pushed the company toward a new way of thinking, ultimately growing IBM’s value and revenues by more than 40 percent.

Another key passage is this:

Times of liminality are disconcertingly chaotic; therefore, a leader’s job is to provide some firm footing for people, with assurances of what will not keep changing. Gerstner did this with his clear and consistent view of where IBM needed to go, and Lafley did it with his reassertion of bedrock values. Great leaders also act as mentors, providing counsel and coaching to the people in the organization during various stages of transition. And perhaps the ultimate work of leaders in times of organizational change is to ensure high engagement levels.

I few months ago at the end of a retreat I was told that I was in a liminal space. I have wondered what this means in my own leadership? Much of what I thought I would be leading in no longer there. But, while I continue to breathe it’s not over yet.

Like what Seth Godin says to do:

Make two lists. One that lists all your obstacles:

The defects in your family situation, the criticisms your work has received lately. It is a list of people who have better luck than you and moments you’ve been shafted and misunderstood.

Then the other is the good stuff:

The lucky breaks, the advantages, the good feedback, your trusted network. It talks about the accident of being born in the right time and the right place, your health, your freedom. It features your education, your connection to the marketplace and just about every nice thing someone has said about you in the last week or month.

Which one do you choose to read?

October 6th, 2014 by cgribble

Happening upon happiness

I discovered a strange thing over the past weekend.

Happiness is about spending time with people. Valuing them. Listening to the person. Not judging.

This is my wife’s perspective on the weekend we spent away.

“Chris told me he was taking me away for a ‘romantic weekend’. Our room with a queen size bed. Restaurant that serves pre- dinner drinks & nibblies. Ensuites that is a mere 200 metres from our queen bed. And a view to die for once you walk 2.4 km directly uphill. (Romantic weekend conjured up a different image in my head.)”


We spent hours walking together. Talking. Listening. Sometimes not saying anything. There were no shops.

It was a happy time.

October 6th, 2014 by cgribble


“The most common way to shrink someone’s perspective is to put them into a state of fear.”

I remember being very scared as a young person at a school camp. My job was to clean out the butter dishes but not to waste any butter. I had never done this job before so I wasn’t sure what to do. So I did my best.

I will never forget the roar of the teacher who discovered my attempt. I had mixed it all up and mixed the jam and the butter and made a mess of everything.

I was lifted by my neck off the ground by the teacher and yelled at at very close range, face to face

I was terrified. In hindsight that teacher displayed an awful abuse of power. I was 10 or 11 years old and he was a grown man. I spent most of the rest of that camp in a state of fear.

We make choices about the space we create around us. A creative place will be one where confidence is nurtured. Leaders are able to do this with all sorts of people.

They are able to create safe places that enable growth. This place has its challenges. It can be messy but the potential for creativity is far greater.

October 6th, 2014 by cgribble

Leadership – Anxiety

Definition of Leadership: “Being a non-anxious presence”

Recognition of what a non-anxious presence is:

– Secure in identity/anchored
– Well defined boundaries
– Knowledge of self

  • Centered, responsive, + flexible
  • Faithfully engaged in significant activities
  • Being free to be yourself as God made you
  • Planning + Prioritizing
  • In a world of tension, having no fear
  • Formally relating to others, but being approachable,so as to inspire, and transform
October 5th, 2014 by cgribble

Living abundantly

Yesterday I spent my wealth,
But, today I have more.
It should be gone,
I squandered it,
I gave it freely,
To those whom I could,
Yet, Now, it has increased,
Tomorrow I can give it away again.

My Father asks;
How do you spend your weath.

When locked away,
Never to be seen,
Or, only taken out,
To be put on display,
Not used,
Just evidence of pride,
Is poverty.

My Father askes,
How do you spend your wealth,

Spent on myself,
A selfish demonstration,
Of the need to fulfill,
My pleasures,
Greed fully exposed,
Squandered quickly.

My Father asks,
Are you spending your wealth,

Use your wealth,
Live in abundance,
Selflessly give,
Share generously,
Find fulfillment,
Discover joy,
Enduring pleasure.

My Father says,
You are learning to spend wisely.

October 3rd, 2014 by cgribble

Do one thing at a time

Peter Drucker once said the number-one trait of an effective leader is that they do one thing at a time. Today’s technology tools give you great opportunities to do 73 things at a time or to at least delude yourself that you are. I see managers who look like 12-year-olds with attention deficit disorder, running around from one thing to the next, constantly barraged with information, constantly chasing the next shiny thing.

October 2nd, 2014 by cgribble

The Secret to Success

Leadership the Hard Way, by Dov Frohman. The two things that are crucial to success are firstly, that 50 percent of your time should be unscheduled. And second—and I love that this is coming from an Israeli intelligence guy—that the secret to success is daydreaming.

October 1st, 2014 by cgribble

Leadership is about people

If you’re a leader, your whole reason for living is to help human beings develop—to really develop people and make work a place that’s energetic and exciting and a growth opportunity, whether you’re running a Housekeeping Department or Google. I mean, this is not rocket science.

It’s not even a shadow of rocket science. You’re in the people-development business. If you take a leadership job, you do people. Period. It’s what you do. It’s what you’re paid to do. People, period. Should you have a great strategy? Yes, you should. How do you get a great strategy? By finding the world’s greatest strategist, not by being the world’s greatest strategist. You do people. Not my fault. You chose it. And if you don’t get off on it, do the world a favor and get the hell out before dawn, preferably without a gilded parachute. But if you want the gilded parachute, it’s worth it to get rid of you.

Tom Peters

September 30th, 2014 by cgribble

What really matters

People say that fame is important, but in the end it really isn’t. People say that wealth is important, but in the end it really isn’t. My ex-wife had a father who was in the tombstone business. I’ve seen a lot of tombstones. None of ’em have net worth on ’em. It’s the people you develop. That’s what you remember when you get to be my age.

Tom Peters nails it again.

August 20th, 2014 by cgribble

Do you feel lucky?

I reckon that this guy would!!!