Ronald Reagan Quotes

“Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.”

“The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us…
Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business.”

“We cannot play innocents abroad in a world that is not innocent.”

“Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the ability to manage conflict by peaceful means.”

“Of the four wars of my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”

“If the Soviet Union ever let another political party come into existence, they would still be a one-party state…because everybody would join the other party.”

“How do you tell a communist? He reads Lenin and Marx. And how do you tell an anti-communist? Someone who understands Lenin and Marx.”

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction; it’s not something we pass along in our bloodstream. It must be fought-for, protected, and passed-along for them to do the same.”

“Entrepreneurs and small businesses are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.”

“If you can’t make them see the light, let them feel the heat.”

“They say the world has become too complex for simple answers… they are wrong.”

“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

“Recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose yours.”

“Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement…”

From: The Reaganite INDEPENDENT

Actual employee evaluation comments

A useful list of evaluation comments for that difficult-to-evaluate employee.

  1. “Since my last report, this employee has reached rock bottom…..and has started to dig.”
  2. “His men would follow him anywhere…but only out of morbid curiosity.”
  3. “I would not allow this employee to breed.”
  4. “This employee is really not so much of a ‘has-been’, but more of a definite ‘won’t be’.”
  5. “Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.”
  6. “When she opens her mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet.”
  7. “He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle.”
  8. “This young lady has delusions of adequacy.”
  9. “He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.”
  10. “This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.”
  11. “This employee should go far…and the sooner he starts, the better.”
  12. “Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.”
  13. “A gross ignoramus – 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus.”
  14. “He certainly takes a long time to make his pointless.”
  15. “He doesn’t have ulcers, but he’s a carrier.”
  16. “I would like to go hunting with him sometime.”
  17. “He’s been working with glue too much.”
  18. “He would argue with a signpost.”
  19. “He has a knack for making strangers immediately.”
  20. “He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room.”
  21. “When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell.”
  22. “If you see two people talking and one looks bored…he’s the other one.”
  23. “A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on.”
  24. “A prime candidate for natural deselection.”
  25. “Donated his brain to science before he was done using it.”
  26. “Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t coming.”
  27. “Has two brains: one is lost and the other is out looking for it.”
  28. “If he were any more stupid, he’d have to be watered twice a week.”
  29. “If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you’d get change.”
  30. “If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the oceans.”
  31. “It’s hard to believe that he beat 1,000,000 other sperm to the egg.”
  32. “One neuron short of a synapse.”
  33. “Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled.”
  34. “Takes him 2 hours to watch 60 minutes.”
  35. “The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.”

From: The Blogannath Rolls On

Making Virtual Teams Work: Ten Basic Principles

Here is a good article with relevant tips for management of virtual teams:

Consider this now familiar view from the field:

“I’ve run a virtual team for the past 18 months in the development and launch of [a website.] I am located in Toronto, Canada. The website was designed in Zagreb, Croatia. The software was developed in St. John’s, Newfoundland; Zagreb, Croatia; Delhi, India; and Los Angeles, USA. Most of the communication was via email with periodic discussions via Skype. I had one face-to-face meeting with the team lead for the technology development this past December.”

Could this be you? Virtual teams have become a fact of business life, so what does it take to make them work effectively? On June 10, 2013, I launched a discussion around this question on LinkedIn. The result was an outpouring of experience and advice for making virtual teams work. (I define “virtual teams” as work groups which (1) have some core members who interact primarily through electronic means, and (2) are engaged in interdependent tasks — i.e. are truly teams and not just groups of independent workers). I distilled the results and combined them with my own work, which focuses on how new leaders should assess and align their teams in their first 90 days. Because that’s really when it’s most important to lay the foundation for superior performance in teams — virtual or otherwise. Here are ten basic principles for making this happen:

1. Get the team together physically early-on. It may seem paradoxical to say in a post on virtual teams, but face-to-face communication is still better than virtual when it comes to building relationships and fostering trust, an essential foundation for effective team work. If you can’t do it, it’s not the end of the world (focus on doing some virtual team building). But if you can get the team together, use the time to help team members get to know each other better, personally and professionally, as well to create a shared vision and a set of guiding principles for how the team will work. Schedule the in-person meeting early on, and reconnect regularly (semi-annually or annually) if possible.

2. Clarify tasks and processes, not just goals and roles. All new leaders need to align their team on goals, roles and responsibilities in the first 90 days. With virtual teams, however, coordination is inherently more of a challenge because people are not co-located. So it’s important to focus more attention on the details of task design and the processes that will be used to complete them. Simplify the work to the greatest extent possible, ideally so tasks are assigned to sub-groups of two or three team members. And make sure that there is clarity about work process, with specifics about who does what and when. Then periodically do “after-action reviews” to evaluate how things are going and identify process adjustments and training needs.

3. Commit to a communication charter. Communication on virtual teams is often less frequent, and always is less rich than face-to-face interaction, which provides more contextual cues and information about emotional states — such as engagement or lack thereof. The only way to avoid the pitfalls is to be extremely clear and disciplined about how the team will communicate. Create a charter that establishes norms of behavior when participating in virtual meetings, such as limiting background noise and side conversations, talking clearly and at a reasonable pace, listening attentively and not dominating the conversation, and so on. The charter also should include guidelines on which communication modes to use in which circumstances, for example when to reply via email versus picking up the phone versus taking the time to create and share a document.

4. Leverage the best communication technologies. Developments in collaborative technologies — ranging from shared workspaces to multi-point video conferencing — unquestionably are making virtual teaming easier. However, selecting the “best” technologies does not necessarily mean going with the newest or most feature-laden. It’s essential not to sacrifice reliability in a quest to be on the cutting edge. If the team has to struggle to get connected or wastes time making elements of the collaboration suite work, it undermines the whole endeavor. So err on the side of robustness. Also be willing to sacrifice some features in the name of having everyone on the same systems. Otherwise, you risk creating second-class team members and undermining effectiveness.

5. Build a team with rhythm. When some or all the members of a team are working separately, it’s all-too-easy to get disconnected from the normal rhythms of work life. One antidote is to be disciplined in creating and enforcing rhythms in virtual team work. This means, for example, having regular meetings, ideally same day and time each week. It also means establishing and sharing meeting agenda in advance, having clear agreements on communication protocols, and starting and finishing on time. If you have team members working in different time zones, don’t place all the time-zone burden on some team members; rather, establish a regular rotation of meeting times to spread the load equitably.

6. Agree on a shared language. Virtual teams often also are cross-cultural teams, and this magnifies the communication challenges — especially when members think they are speaking the same language, but actually are not. The playwright George Bernard Shaw famously described Americans and the British as “two nations divided by a common language.” His quip captures the challenge of sustaining shared understanding across cultures. When the domain of team work is technical, then the languages of science and engineering often provide a solid foundation for effective communication. However, when teams work on tasks involving more ambiguity, for example generating ideas or solving problems, the potential for divergent interpretations is a real danger (see for example this Anglo-Dutch translation guide). Take the time to explicitly negotiate agreement on shared interpretations of important words and phrases, for example, when we say “yes,” we mean… and when we say “no” we mean…and post this in the shared workspace.

7. Create a “virtual water cooler.” The image of co-workers gathering around a water cooler is a metaphor for informal interactions that share information and reinforce social bonds. Absent explicit efforts to create a “virtual water cooler,” team meetings tend to become very task-focused; this means important information may not be shared and team cohesion may weaken. One simple way to avoid this: start each meeting with a check-in, having each member take a couple of minutes to discuss what they are doing, what’s going well and what’s challenging. Regular virtual team-building exercises are another way to inject a bit more fun into the proceedings. Also enterprise collaboration platforms increasingly are combining shared workspaces with social networking features that can help team members to feel more connected.

8. Clarify and track commitments. In a classic HBR article “Management Time, Who’s got the Monkey?” William Oncken and Donald L. Wass use the who-has-the-monkey-on-their-back metaphor to exhort leaders to push accountability down to their teams. When teams work remotely, however, it’s inherently more difficult to do this, because there is no easy way to observe engagement and productivity. As above, this can be partly addressed by carefully designing tasks and having regular status meetings. Beyond that, it helps to be explicit in getting team members to commit to define intermediate milestones and track their progress. One useful tool: a “deliverables dashboard” that is visible to all team members on whatever collaborative hub they are using. If you create this, though, take care not to end up practicing virtual micro-management. There is a fine line between appropriate tracking of commitments and overbearing (and demotivating) oversight.

9. Foster shared leadership. Defining deliverables and tracking commitments provides “push” to keep team members focused and productive; shared leadership provides crucial “pull.” Find ways to involve others in leading the team. Examples include: assigning responsibility for special projects, such as identifying and sharing best practices; or getting members to coach others in their areas of expertise; or assigning them as mentors to help on-board new team members; or asking them to run a virtual team-building exercise. By sharing leadership, you will not only increase engagement, but will also take some of the burden off your shoulders.

10. Don’t forget the 1:1s. Leaders’ one-to-one performance management and coaching interactions with their team members are a fundamental part of making any team work. Make these interactions a regular part of the virtual team rhythm, using them not only to check status and provide feedback, but to keep members connected to the vision and to highlight their part of “the story” of what you are doing together.

Finally, if you are inheriting a team, take the time to understand how your predecessor led it. It’s essential that newly appointed leaders do this, whether their teams are virtual or not. Because, as Confucius put it, you must “study the past if you would define the future.” It’s even more important to do this homework when you inherit a virtual team, because the structures and processes used to manage communication and coordinate work have such an inordinate impact on team performance. You can use these ten principles as a checklist for diagnosing how the previous leader ran the team, and help identify and prioritize what you need to do in the first 90 days.

From: Harvard Business Review

33 Unwritten Rules of Management

  1. Learn to say, “I don’t know.” If used when appropriate, it will be often.
  2. It is easier to get into something than it is to get out of it.
  3. If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.
  4. Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what’s there, but few can see what isn’t there.
  5. Viewgraph rule: When something appears on a viewgraph (an overhead transparency), assume the world knows about it, and deal with it accordingly.
  6. Work for a boss with whom you are comfortable telling it like it is. Remember that you can’t pick your relatives, but you can pick your boss.
  7. Constantly review developments to make sure that the actual benefits are what they are supposed to be. Avoid Newton’s Law.
  8. However menial and trivial your early assignments may appear, give them your best efforts.
  9. Persistence or tenacity is the disposition to persevere in spite of difficulties, discouragement, or indifference. Don’t be known as a good starter but a poor finisher.
  10. In completing a project, don’t wait for others; go after them, and make sure it gets done.
  11. Confirm your instructions and the commitments of others in writing. Don’t assume it will get done!
  12. Don’t be timid; speak up. Express yourself, and promote your ideas.
  13. Practice shows that those who speak the most knowingly and confidently often end up with the assignment to get it done.
  14. Strive for brevity and clarity in oral and written reports.
  15. Be extremely careful of the accuracy of your statements.
  16. Don’t overlook the fact that you are working for a boss.
    • Keep him or her informed. Avoid surprises!
    • Whatever the boss wants takes top priority.
  17. Promises, schedules, and estimates are important instruments in a well-ordered business.
    • You must make promises. Don’t lean on the often-used phrase, “I can’t estimate it because it depends upon many uncertain factors.”
  18. Never direct a complaint to the top. A serious offense is to “cc” a person’s boss.
  19. When dealing with outsiders, remember that you represent the company. Be careful of your commitments.
  20. Cultivate the habit of “boiling matters down” to the simplest terms. An elevator speech is the best way.
  21. Don’t get excited in engineering emergencies. Keep your feet on the ground.
  22. Cultivate the habit of making quick, clean-cut decisions.
  23. When making decisions, the pros are much easier to deal with than the cons. Your boss wants to see the cons also.
  24. Don’t ever lose your sense of humor.
  25. Have fun at what you do. It will reflect in your work. No one likes a grump except another grump.
  26. Treat the name of you company as if it were your own.
  27. Beg for the bad news.
  28. You remember 1/3 of what you read, 1/2 of what people tell you, but 100% of what you feel.
  29. You can’t polish a sneaker.
  30. When facing issues or problems that are becoming drawn-out, “short them to the ground.”
  31. When faced with decisions, try to look at them as if you were one level up in the organization. Your perspective will change quickly.
  32. A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person. (This rule never fails).
  33. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, an amateur built an ark that survived a flood while a large group of professionals built the Titanic.

From: Ian’s Messy Desk

General Douglas MacArthur’s Principles of Leadership

  • Do I heckle my subordinates or strengthen and encourage them?
  • Do I use moral courage in getting rid of subordinates who have proven themselves beyond doubt to be unfit?
  • Have I done all in my power by encouragement, incentive and spur to salvage the weak and erring?
  • Do I know by NAME and CHARACTER a maximum number of subordinates for whom I am responsible? Do I know them intimately?
  • Am I thoroughly familiar with the technique, necessities, objectives and administration of my job?
    Do I lose my temper at individuals?
  • Do I act in such a way as to make my subordinates WANT to follow me?
  • Do I delegate tasks that should be mine?
  • Do I arrogate everything to myself and delegate nothing?
  • Do I develop my subordinates by placing on each one as much responsibility as he can stand?
  • Am I interested in the personal welfare of each of my subordinates, as if he were a member of my family?
  • Have I the calmness of voice and manner to inspire confidence, or am I inclined to irascibility and excitability?
  • Am I a constant example to my subordinates in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?
  • Am I inclined to be nice to my superiors and mean to my subordinates?
  • Is my door open to my subordinates?
  • Do I think more of POSITION than JOB?
  • Do I correct a subordinate in the presence of others?

From: Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog

The Rat Experiment

A great example of the importance of perception:

There was an experiment where researchers were given a set of rats and told to rate their ability to learn mazes.  They were told that certain rats were “smart rats” and had an abnormally high IQ.  When the researchers tested the rats, their studies showed that the “smart rats” performed significantly better than the ordinary rats.

The experiment, however, wasn’t focused on the rats, it was testing the researchers.  All of the rats were the same, but telling the researchers that some of the rats were smart caused them to rate the rats better, even though there was no difference.

People will view what you do through their own set of prejudices.  To a certain extent, your ability to succeed is determined by what people think of you ahead of time.  When it comes to humans, very few things are actually objective.

By being aware of this, you can help yourself prepare for the future by nurturing positive impressions of yourself with those around you.  If they expect you to succeed, you are more likely to (at least in their eyes) than if they expect you to fail.

From: Productivity501

STUPID Goals

SMART goals? Nope. How about STUPID goals?

Long ago, Deming warned managers of target setting through his 11th point of leadership: “Eliminate numerical goals, numerical quotas and management by objectives. Substitute leadership.”

So, if SMART goals are stupid, let me introduce you to STUPID goals:

Sincere: attack issues you really care about. Don’t waste time where is heart isn’t
Transparent: you likely won’t achieve big things alone. Make your goal as much visible as possible so others know how they can help you
Unique: your worth depends on the assets no one else has. Cultivate those
Preeminent: focus on outstanding things to have outstanding impact
Independent: reaching a goal is hard enough, don’t tangle them together
Daring: be courageous, and push beyond your limit

Once set, let flourish.

Revise when necessary.

From: Running Agile

Lincoln's Lessons: Think Things Through

Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Certainly the study of exemplary leaders is one way to learn the lessons. Michael McKinney provides a good analysis of a lesson to be learned from Abraham Lincoln.

Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog @ LeadershipNow

In Lincoln’s first inaugural address, he said, “Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be any object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.”

Lincoln is not advocating indecisiveness; rather he is encouraging us to get all of the facts before deciding a matter. Especially in a time of crisis, calm, measured thought is important. Lincoln demonstrated the will to make tough decisions and without hesitation when necessary. But he insisted on getting all of the information available before making a decision. Often this entailed going out personally to get the facts firsthand. He took the time to consider all available solutions and their consequences. Furthermore, by selecting a solution that was consistent with his values and objectives, he was able to weave a theme through his decisions – connecting them – and build trust and authenticity in his leadership.

Too often issues are examined only in one dimension, or by considering only the loudest voices. Rarely is that enough. It often leads to unintended consequences and inconsistent behavior. When you have taken the time to think a thing through, you will be better able to have the courage to stand behind your decisions and accept the consequences. You will possess a determinism born of conviction and not stubbornness.

The Art of Making Quality Decisions

The Art of Making Quality Decisions – Knowledge@Emory

It’s challenge enough for individuals to make decisions about things they know a lot about. It’s even tougher for them to make decisions in the face of uncertainty or when the information available is being poked, prodded and packaged to influence their decisions.