Sanjeev.Himachali
Hr & Od Consultant
Greatscope
Nlp Master Practitioner, Personal Effectiveness
Vrajeev
Hr Professional & Trainer
Shyamali
Human Resources Director

The Accidental Leader

You’re in a movie, or a dream. You’re a junior member

of an airline flight crew. Your usual job is serving drinks

and giving safety instructions. But something just happened

in the cockpit: the pilot and copilot have come

down with food poisoning and are puking their guts out

in the lavatories.

Someone has to land the plane, and 120 people in coach—

mostly nuns, Boy Scouts, and football players—are all looking

to you.

Your heart is pounding like a kettledrum as you make your

way toward the front cabin and sit down at that galaxy of controls.

You’ve got a good attitude, though. You tell yourself, “I

can do it, I can do it! I can—”

Then the plane goes into a nosedive.

That’s when you wake up, and you are so, so grateful it was a

dream. Because statistics say that, despite what you see in the

movies, no flight attendant has ever landed a plane safely.

It would be nice to think that people elevated to sudden positions

of responsibility routinely succeed. But they don’t. Planes

are hard to land. And being put in charge of one—being

given a seat in the cockpit—is nothing like knowing how to fly.

Here’s an example not involving a jumbo jet in a tailspin:

Fran was the most junior member of Shell Oil’s tax and

financing department in the 1970s when the department

head went down with a massive heart attack. Confusion

reigned. No one could decide who should replace him.

“I was the only woman in a group of guys who had been doing

this forever,” she told the New York Times ( Jan. 20, 2002). “I

decided to devise a plan and called everyone together. My first

shock was that they all showed up. Then they all started coming

to me for advice.”

Before Fran knew it, she was in charge—by accident.“It was exhilarating, but at the same time it was very scary. I

had bit off something and didn’t know if I could swallow it.”

During one reorganization, she had to lay off 25 percent of

the division’s workforce. At one facility, she had to tell people

to their faces they would all lose their jobs. “When I left the

plant and went to the airport bathroom, I threw up.”

For Fran, the story worked out well. Thirty years later, she is

president and CEO of Shell Chemical LP. She had the native

smarts and toughness to survive dozens of crises and challenges

to her leadership. But for thousands of new accidental leaders,

the outcome is less agreeable.

All over the world, right at this moment, people are getting

tapped on the shoulder. They’re being told that, starting

now, they’re going to be in charge of something—a team, a

project, an office, a committee, a business unit.

Tag. You’re it.

It happens. Existing bosses die, move away, get fired, or are

abducted by aliens. Some subordinate is asked to step up and

take a stab at being boss. Welcome to accidental leadership.

It happens everywhere, in any size of group, on the forprofit

business side or not-for-profit side of community

service.

The truth is, accidental leaders are more the rule in this era

of disruption and transformation than the non-accidental,

corn-fed, MBA-prepared leaders of a very short time ago.

And it is the situation of every worker who ever makes the

transition from “doing a job” to “being in charge.”

Now, getting the tag can be exhilarating—a pathway to greater

satisfaction, career development, and personal growth. Many

people take to it like fish to water. For a few it’s a snap

because they have a mentor to guide them through the difficult

first days.

For most accidental leaders, however, it’s a mess. It means:

• Minimal training: Most organizations don’t train for leadership.

• Zero mentoring: There is a global shortage of great people who

will show others how to be competent out of the kindness

of their hearts.

• Sink-or-swim desperation: If you get tagged and screw up, that’s

the last tag you’ll ever get.

• And time’s a-wasting: You can figure you have a hundred or so

days to get it together before the people who are so fond of

you now lose confidence.

Let’s be honest about this: Most accidental leaders have a

pretty rocky time of it. Many of them freak out, change their

styles all around, try desperately to hide their managerial

weaknesses, and generally come across as nervous, not-readyfor-

prime-time wrecks. The costs of this rockiness are huge:

• Lost time for the company or project, which translates to

missed opportunities

• Bewildered colleagues who wonder why you don’t just tell

them what to do

• And toasted careers for the leaders who couldn’t lead

(because when they fail, they don’t usually slink back to

their earlier positions—they’re often through with the

organization forever)

It’s tough, going from Joe or Jo Schmo to Big Boss overnight.

Accidental leaders face a gauntlet of seemingly irreconcilable

challenges:

• How do you demonstrate to your higher-ups that you’re

up to this challenge . . . at the same time you demonstrate

to your “lower-downs” that leadership hasn’t gone to

your head?• How do you achieve the existing goals for the superiors that

promoted you (“Good dog!”) . . . at the same time you

engender an entrepreneur’s spirit of daring?

• How do you fill people with hope to achieve great things . . .

knowing there is the distinct possibility you may have to fire

them some day?

• How do you simultaneously maintain the status quo as a

proficient manager . . . while as a leader you share your

vision of a better way to do things?

These are the dark fears that afflict the accidental leader. And

unless they are dealt with and replaced with sensible action,

the accidental leader is merely an interim leader—until the

next person gets tagged.

So it looks like you’re on your own. Only you can save your

career. One false move, and you’re not just gone from the

new position, you part company with the organization forever.

Because that’s how it works.

Well, take heart. The book in your hands right now (unless

you are holding it with your feet) is a handbook for people

thrust into positions of sudden responsibility. You’ll see that

it’s not long on theory or long-term options. It’s about what

to do now, in the moment of panicky transformation. We’re

going to explain to you:

• How to get over the shock of getting tagged

• How to figure out what you bring to the challenge—your

pluses and minuses

• How to define success, and how to achieve it

• How to get other people on your side, or in any event not

against you

• How to overcome your natural shortcomings

• How to get organized, if you’ve never been organized

before

• How to see through the apparent system to the culture

within

• How to tell people stuff, and get them to act on it

• How to breathe when the general culture is rancid

• How to keep the people you lead from driving you crazy

• How to turn failure into success, and how to celebrate

when you’re done

• How to do all these things without wearing yourself to a

frazzle

Think of this book as emergency equipment. Keep it close to

you, like a life vest, because it has the answers to questions

that will be making you crazy.

We can’t guarantee twenty years of career longevity, but we’ll

keep you afloat till you figure out what to do next.
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Three steps to establish where you are—and
where you need to be:
1. Assess your situation. Is your assignment a piece of cake or heavy
sledding?
2. List your resources. People, money, time, connections.
3. List your liabilities. What stands in the way of your project’s success?
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Seven things you need to learn about your

team members and they need to know about

you—and two warnings:

1. How long they’ve been with the organization. Respect experience,

but know that a fresh perspective has value, too.

2. What they want from the team. Money, advancement, challenge,

the chance to show off? All are legitimate, but they all alter your

expectations.

3. What your expectations are. Better they learn now than later.

4. What the mission looks like from both sides. Find out people’s

doubts and reservations. Don’t try to answer them all right away.

5. How teamwork works. Find out who’s had experience with collaboration

before.

6. What their most fulfilling work experience was. The things people

recall with pride speak volumes about what they value.

7. What they expect and need from a leader. You can’t ask this as

a direct question. Use the rest of the discussion to help you form a

conclusion.

8. Do spend more time listening than talking.

9. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Hello....
Is this article is your article or this is a summery or gist of the book titled, "The Accidental Leader: What to Do When You're Suddenly in Charge" by Harvey Robbins, Michael Finley.
Anyway, its nice and thanks for sharing the same. It shows that one should always be ready to accept challanges. That remind me something..."It is easy to reach the top but too difficult to stay there...for long time". For example, "Manmohan Singh was made the Prime Minister at the time of crisis...at the time when there was no other option. You can say that he became the Prime Minister of India just by accident...by chance. But now he is doing really well...as a Prime Minister of the Country". I have seen many bosses who just give-up and surrender to the pressure of position. They feel so uncomfortable and restless...when they suddenly become leaders...or bosses.
Any Comments.
Regards
Sanjeev Sharma
8th January 2007 From India, Mumbai
Hi Sanjeev!
This is an article I received by mail. I would like to give full credits to the original author. :)
It is easy to reach the top but it does take perseverance and intelligence to stay there. The same is true for Our PM.
Some of the key issues which need to be addressed by an accidental leader are :-
1. Set goals, plans and strategies to achieve them
2. Know your people, organization: past, present and future. Identify what motivates them.
3. Do a SWOT analysis for yourself.
4. Keep learning and innovating
5. Empower your people and Delegate
6. Go for a collaborative approach when negotiating
7. As a leader you will have to dirty your hands.
8. Communicate! Communicate!! and Communicate!!!
9. Be in touch with your people and reality
Regards,
Shyamali
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Ten ways to feel better about your leadership:

1. Make a list of your proven skills.
2. Assess your natural strengths based on your personality type.
Are you a bold entrepreneurial Doer? A sparkling Creative live wire?
A meticulous, usually right Thinker? A gregarious, touchy-feelie
Social?
3. Make another list, of your unarguable weaknesses.
4. Ask someone you trust what your best characteristics are.
5. Cross-check your skills with the task at hand. It’s unlikely you are
a god-awful fit.
6. Recognize that there are some things you’re good at and some
things you’re not.
7. Try to take on tasks that play to your natural strengths.
8. Delegate tasks to individuals that take advantage of their natural
strengths.
9. Assemble teams based on the mix of talents needed to accomplish
the desired outcomes.
10. Don’t staple yourself to the cross. Your job is to keep people pointed
toward the goal. The rest—style points.
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Eight things you can do to negotiate your own
learning curve:


1. Attend conferences and workshops—about managing, about new
technologies, and about your industry.
2. Read and pass along articles that connect to your work.
3. Take part in online forum discussions. Be a resource to others.
4. Visit related departments to find out what they do and how they
do it.
5. Talk to customers. They know almost everything you need to know
to do a better job.
6. Reward people who share information. Create an environment of
total learning.
7. Make presentations to peers about your area of expertise or project.
8. Conduct post-mortems and post-vivums on completed projects.
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Four tough questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Why have you been handed this assignment?
2. What are you good at exactly?
3. What are your weaknesses?
4. How well do you understand the challenge at hand?

8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Five things to spend at least a week learning about:
1. Company history . . . how the company has changed from its origins
2. Organizational structure . . . who’s in charge and how power flows
3. Policies and procedures . . . the way things are done
4. Company scuttlebutt . . . where the bodies are buried, and the locations
of the exit wounds
5. Financials . . . the dollars and sense of your day-to-day doings
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Five measures of planning success:
1. A goal—where you want to go. Now is the time to define what success
looks like.
2. A vision—to rationalize (in the best sense of the word,“to show the
reason for”) the goal.
3. A strategy—a means to achieve the goal.
4. A set of tactics to achieve that strategy—these are your ducks, the
strategy is the row. Plan your success in big chunks (how you plan to
achieve the outcomes you want).
5. Some low-hanging fruit—little victories you can go after first. Aim
for the highest priorities that can be accomplished without great difficulty.
This builds momentum and confidence that let you tackle
bigger goals.

8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Nine things you can do to bring people

into your circle:




1. Spend time with them. Time is the new money, an investment

whose sincerity no one can mistake.

2. Listen to them. Listening is more than facing people and nodding

your head until it’s your turn to say something. Other people know

things you don’t know. If you pay close attention, you will find things

out that will amaze you.

3. Appreciate differentness. You need people you can trust who aren’t

afraid to disagree with you. Remember, you have no time for pussyfooting—

cut to the chase, even if it means getting trampled emotionally.

You will last a lot longer if you have at least one friend you can

count on for support—not a yes-person, but a you-person.

4. Thank them.We talk about win-win dealmaking. But thanking

does deeper. It means ritually acknowledging that they helped you,

and you are in their debt. If you really want to sweeten the deal, thank

them in front of other people. Genuine gratitude makes people feel

better than heroin. Fewer side effects, too.

5. Keep your ears open. You’ll be surprised at the good things that fly

in. After all, no leader leads alone. You can’t succeed if you spurn the

help and advice that others naturally provide.

6. Team up. Partner with peers, supervisors, and subordinates. Let

people know you are available to them. This induces “interpersonal

reciprocity”—it greases the skids.

7. Be direct. You won’t get help unless you ask for it.

8. Look for human gold in the mine. That is, find people in your

organization who have worked in your department in the past and

can provide input.

9. Join associations. People who do similar work naturally share

information and learn from one another, create bonds, and provide

help when asked.
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Seven ways to get out of the box, and stay out:

1. Don’t get trapped behind your desk. Schedule time on your daily
calendar (twice a day minimum) to wander around and talk to people
on their home turf.
2. Ask team members regularly what you can do to help them. Don’t
wait for them to come to you.
3. Question everything. Take nothing for granted, not even the most
conventional wisdom.
4. Meet with other team leaders to see how your team integrates (or
doesn’t) with the organization.
5. Find resources outside your immediate organization. You never
know where you’ll come across something that might help your team
accomplish good outcomes.
6. Let others know what your team is doing. (Go for publicity both
inside and outside the organization.)
7. Use the right metrics, or you’ll get the wrong results.
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Six ways to create a learning environment:

1. Read articles and books about leadership.
2. Attend conferences on leadership.
3. Talk with other leaders about what they find difficult and how they
handle these situations.
4. Seek a mentor—someone in a leadership position who will volunteer
to provide you with guidance and advice.
5. Join associations on management and leadership and attend their
luncheons.
6. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Five rules for successful succession:
1. Never badmouth your predecessor. Everyone’s got good and bad
behaviors. Speak well of your predecessor’s past accomplishments
and forgive the shortcomings you notice in the hope that others will
forgive yours.
2. Set your own expectations. Make sure your staff all know what you
want.
3. Find out what has worked and what needs fixing. Talk to your staff.
4. Make an agreement to work with your staff to meet your expectations.
5. Never forget:You are in charge.
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Seven truths about effective team process:
1. Work is not the key process of a team. Deciding is.
2. The method it will use to make decisions is the most important
decision the team will make.
3. Leaders risk losing their teams by imposing important decisions
without first acquiring their members’ consent.
4. Lines of communication don’t work unless they are open.
5. The leader’s job is to organize decisions into action steps.
6. Checkpoints are necessary for monitoring progress toward specific
outcomes.
7. No team run with an iron hand ever came up with a new idea.

8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Ten el-cheapo ways to motivate people:

1. Celebrate the completion of outcomes. A victory unnoted might
as well not have happened.
2. Keep outcomes short-term. That way you have plenty of opportunities
to celebrate.
3. Show off for the big boss. The more important the audience for a
presentation, the more mileage the team will get from the success.
4. Hand out mugs with the team logo all around. That will keep
reminding people where they belong.
5. Give comp time. Everyone likes comp time.
6. Lunch together (assuming you like to eat with each other).
7. Bring in celebrities. There’s nothing like a show to acknowledge
work well done.
8. Hand out gift certificates. It doesn’t take much to make a great
low-cost reward.
9. Advance via retreat. A weekend in the woods is nice.
10. When all else fails . . . Krispy Kremes
.
8th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Hello Shyamali, That was an interesting piece on one of the modern perceptions on leadership- thank you. Often in our working arena we have to 'take charge' of unexpected matters that arise equally unexpectedly. The old saying of 'some have leadership thrust on them' is getting to be an universal truth in todays dynamic world. To be successful as an accidental leader you should have courage and a load of self confidence. Unlike normal leadership activities, if you succeed in the accidental leadership situation, you can become an overnight hero! ( Just remember how during the second innings of India during the final test in south africa, Ganguly had to assume this role since Tendulkar could not come in time, and the result of his successful performance which was more appreciated than anything else)

regards
Rajeev.V
8th January 2007 From India
Ten el-cheapo ways to motivate people:

1. Celebrate the completion of outcomes. A victory unnoted might

as well not have happened.

2. Keep outcomes short-term. That way you have plenty of opportunities

to celebrate.

3. Show off for the big boss. The more important the audience for a

presentation, the more mileage the team will get from the success.

4. Hand out mugs with the team logo all around. That will keep

reminding people where they belong.

5. Give comp time. Everyone likes comp time.

6. Lunch together (assuming you like to eat with each other).

7. Bring in celebrities. There’s nothing like a show to acknowledge

work well done.

8. Hand out gift certificates. It doesn’t take much to make a great

low-cost reward.

9. Advance via retreat. A weekend in the woods is nice.

10. When all else fails . . . Krispy Kremes.

Five ways to effect change in the face of resistance:

1. People automatically fill in the blanks in their knowledge base with

negative information—worst-case scenarios—for self-protection.

Whenever left in the dark, people imagine monsters.

2. Counter this natural tendency with accurate information. Do not

inflame people’s automatic negative fears.

3. Change happens every day as a natural progression of living. The

trick is to accept this stress and not overreact to it.

4. You have a choice: scaring your people into compliance with the

change, or offering them a picture of a brighter future. One is push,

the other is pull.When possible, choose pull.

5. Lay out a pathway to this brighter future so your people know you

have a destination and a road map for getting them there.
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Nine ways to break an ice-jam in negotiations:

1. Share information. People struggling to find agreement have reason

to be distrustful. Why not divulge information? It communicates the

idea that mutual gain is a possibility—that I don’t have to succeed by

making you fail.

2. Ask what’s up. Instead of trying to pry information from the other

side, why not just ask for it? The chances of getting good information

are better if you ask than if you don’t ask.

3. Pay attention.When the other side is talking, it’s tempting to sit back

and plan your responses. Look for common interests to negotiate

around. The information in their remarks provides many clues, which

you will miss if you aren’t listening carefully.

4. Give something away. Albert Einstein once said that nothing is ever

yours until you give it away. If you want reciprocity, start by giving

something away. It changes the tone and invites reciprocation.

5. Make lots of offers. Something will intrigue the other side and get

you moving.

6. Frost the cake. Be on the lookout for “post-negotiation negotiations,”

bets and side deals that can extend and broaden the improved

relationship.

7. Barter. People will often trade things, including information, that they

would never sell.

8. Praise cooperation publicly and in print.

9. Suggest rewards for cooperative actions.
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Four kinds of people, and how to work with each:
1. Doers, people who themselves wish to be leaders, to be in charge
of something. These are people who need the least direction, because
they are already motivated by nature to expend great effort to achieve
things.
2. Thinkers, those who are gifted in reason and able to achieve deep
understanding of issues and facts. For these people, the most important
thing is to be right.
3. Socials, people who like working with other people. They derive
greatest satisfaction from communicating and relating to other
people.
4. Creatives, people who easily generate new ideas and fresh perspectives.
Their great need is to get stuff out of themselves.
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Three ways to give people information
so it is real to them:


1. Verbally. (Tell them face to face.)
2. In writing. (Tell them on paper or via e-mail.)
3. Kinesthetically. (Let them learn by doing, as they like to work through
the process.)
Which way is best? Depends. Try being bi-modal (provide info two ways
at once). Say, call them on the phone and follow up with an e-mail note,
or vice versa.
Remember to give feedback based on the receiver’s personality:
• If someone is a Doer, feedback needs to be direct, specific, brief, and
with new outcomes and expectations. Bullet points are good.
• With a Creative, you need to support your target’s ability to generate
ideas and provide lots of options for future outcomes.
• For a Social, you must make sure to not bruise that fragile ego. Be
gentle and kind—but hold firm to expected outcomes.
• For a Thinker, you need to have specific behaviors listed as examples,
with lots of documentation.
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Three ways to make empowerment work—
and make your team bless you:

1. Don’t expect your people to read your mind.
2. Communicate to workers exactly what they are empowered to
do, and where their empowerment ends.
3. Limit their power by a dollar amount. Anything over that amount,
they need to ask permission.
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Five rules for dealing with conflict:

1. Encourage people to express their opinions. Being polite
doesn’t put any ideas on the table.
2. Focus on the mission when disagreements arise. Don’t be
distracted by the people.
3. Warn people to avoid aggressive behavior. (Or you’ll beat the
crap out of them.)
4. Issue fines when people launch attacks on someone they
disagree with. Cash fines, payable immediately.
5. Collect people’s opinions individually in potentially difficult
situations. Summarize them in writing and feed back the summary
to the whole group.
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Five broad characterizations of the
working generations:

1. Traditionalists like structure and hierarchy.
2. Boomers rebel against Traditionalists, so they are suspicious of
structure and hierarchy, and intrigued by collaboration.
3. N-gens, the next half-generation (between age thirty-six and
forty-five these days) are the first truly collaborative culture. They
are mad at Boomers for being the dominant demo-bubble.
4. Gen-X (twenty-six to thirty-five) like technology, and hark back to
Traditionalists in that they respect hierarchy.
5. Gen-Z (sixteen to twenty-five) are reacting against Gen-X and
looking for collaborative solutions to problems.
Note how each demographic blip defines itself in opposition to the
group that preceded it. . . .
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Four of the worst and six of the best ways

to communicate bad news:


Don’t . . .

1. Blow your top. Anger undermines your authority and underscores

your immaturity.

2. Blame. Personalizing the difficulty only makes it harder to discuss.

3. Be afraid to describe negative consequences. Don’t soften

the blow with niceties.

4. Resort to the silent treatment. Shutting down communication

merely emphasizes that you can’t communicate.

Do . . .

1. Be specific. Use facts that the other person will agree are true.

You don’t want to appear to be acting out of general impressions

or personal opinion.

2. Be real. Maintain perspective over the underperformance.

Don’t be a drama queen.

3. Bring in other people. Talk to others, and collect their opinions,

to show that the negativity isn’t something personal.

4. Be candid. Communicate increasingly harsh consequences for

noncompliance.

5. Solve the problem. Before you fire someone, see if you can

solve the problem in a less drastic way. Brainstorm. Coming up

with workable solutions is what leaders are supposed to do.

6. Act. Once all solutions have been vetted, drop the hammer. It’s

not fair to leave the other person hanging for months.
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Nine parting shots of managerial wisdom:
1. Create “stress markers” for yourself that indicate when you are
feeling pushed toward your limits. If you can manage markets and
process throughput you can figure out what bugs you—and deal
with it.
2. Take naps. Or sleep an extra half-hour every night. Those batteries
need to recharge.
3. Hire talented people. You’ll feel less indispensable.
4. Learn to delegate. Ditto.
5. Take frequent short vacations. Have the family make a list of all
the places they want to go—then go there.
6. Get a hobby. Your rivals need never know your power secret is
scrimshaw.
7. Walk and think. Exercise is good for achieving clarity. And it’s good,
period.
8. Have a confidant with whom you can share your thoughts and
feelings—not necessarily your spouse.
9. Slow down.When you are under stress, you breathe faster and
shallower. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
What’s an Accidental Leader?

You’re in a movie, or a dream. You’re a junior member

of an airline flight crew. Your usual job is serving drinks

and giving safety instructions. But something just happened

in the cockpit: the pilot and copilot have come

down with food poisoning and are puking their guts out

in the lavatories.

Someone has to land the plane, and 120 people in coach—

mostly nuns, Boy Scouts, and football players—are all looking

to you.

Your heart is pounding like a kettledrum as you make your

way toward the front cabin and sit down at that galaxy of controls.

You’ve got a good attitude, though. You tell yourself, “I

can do it, I can do it! I can—”

Then the plane goes into a nosedive.

That’s when you wake up, and you are so, so grateful it was a

dream. Because statistics say that, despite what you see in the

movies, no flight attendant has ever landed a plane safely.

It would be nice to think that people elevated to sudden positions

of responsibility routinely succeed. But they don’t. Planes

are hard to land. And being put in charge of one—being

given a seat in the cockpit—is nothing like knowing how to fly.

Here’s an example not involving a jumbo jet in a tailspin:

Fran was the most junior member of Shell Oil’s tax and

financing department in the 1970s when the department

head went down with a massive heart attack. Confusion

reigned. No one could decide who should replace him.

“I was the only woman in a group of guys who had been doing

this forever,” she told the New York Times ( Jan. 20, 2002). “I

decided to devise a plan and called everyone together. My first

shock was that they all showed up. Then they all started coming

to me for advice.”

Before Fran knew it, she was in charge—by accident.“It was exhilarating, but at the same time it was very scary. I

had bit off something and didn’t know if I could swallow it.”

During one reorganization, she had to lay off 25 percent of

the division’s workforce. At one facility, she had to tell people

to their faces they would all lose their jobs. “When I left the

plant and went to the airport bathroom, I threw up.”

For Fran, the story worked out well. Thirty years later, she is

president and CEO of Shell Chemical LP. She had the native

smarts and toughness to survive dozens of crises and challenges

to her leadership. But for thousands of new accidental leaders,

the outcome is less agreeable.

All over the world, right at this moment, people are getting

tapped on the shoulder. They’re being told that, starting

now, they’re going to be in charge of something—a team, a

project, an office, a committee, a business unit.

Tag. You’re it.

It happens. Existing bosses die, move away, get fired, or are

abducted by aliens. Some subordinate is asked to step up and

take a stab at being boss. Welcome to accidental leadership.

It happens everywhere, in any size of group, on the forprofit

business side or not-for-profit side of community

service.

The truth is, accidental leaders are more the rule in this era

of disruption and transformation than the non-accidental,

corn-fed, MBA-prepared leaders of a very short time ago.

And it is the situation of every worker who ever makes the

transition from “doing a job” to “being in charge.”

Now, getting the tag can be exhilarating—a pathway to greater

satisfaction, career development, and personal growth. Many

people take to it like fish to water. For a few it’s a snap

because they have a mentor to guide them through the difficult

first days.

For most accidental leaders, however, it’s a mess. It means:

• Minimal training: Most organizations don’t train for leadership.

• Zero mentoring: There is a global shortage of great people who

will show others how to be competent out of the kindness

of their hearts.

• Sink-or-swim desperation: If you get tagged and screw up, that’s

the last tag you’ll ever get.

• And time’s a-wasting: You can figure you have a hundred or so

days to get it together before the people who are so fond of

you now lose confidence.

Let’s be honest about this: Most accidental leaders have a

pretty rocky time of it. Many of them freak out, change their

styles all around, try desperately to hide their managerial

weaknesses, and generally come across as nervous, not-readyfor-

prime-time wrecks. The costs of this rockiness are huge:

• Lost time for the company or project, which translates to

missed opportunities

• Bewildered colleagues who wonder why you don’t just tell

them what to do

• And toasted careers for the leaders who couldn’t lead

(because when they fail, they don’t usually slink back to

their earlier positions—they’re often through with the

organization forever)

It’s tough, going from Joe or Jo Schmo to Big Boss overnight.

Accidental leaders face a gauntlet of seemingly irreconcilable

challenges:

• How do you demonstrate to your higher-ups that you’re

up to this challenge . . . at the same time you demonstrate

to your “lower-downs” that leadership hasn’t gone to

your head?• How do you achieve the existing goals for the superiors that

promoted you (“Good dog!”) . . . at the same time you

engender an entrepreneur’s spirit of daring?

• How do you fill people with hope to achieve great things . . .

knowing there is the distinct possibility you may have to fire

them some day?

• How do you simultaneously maintain the status quo as a

proficient manager . . . while as a leader you share your

vision of a better way to do things?

These are the dark fears that afflict the accidental leader. And

unless they are dealt with and replaced with sensible action,

the accidental leader is merely an interim leader—until the

next person gets tagged.

So it looks like you’re on your own. Only you can save your

career. One false move, and you’re not just gone from the

new position, you part company with the organization forever.

Because that’s how it works.

Well, take heart. The book in your hands right now (unless

you are holding it with your feet) is a handbook for people

thrust into positions of sudden responsibility. You’ll see that

it’s not long on theory or long-term options. It’s about what

to do now, in the moment of panicky transformation. We’re

going to explain to you:

• How to get over the shock of getting tagged

• How to figure out what you bring to the challenge—your

pluses and minuses

• How to define success, and how to achieve it

• How to get other people on your side, or in any event not

against you

• How to overcome your natural shortcomings

• How to get organized, if you’ve never been organized

before

• How to see through the apparent system to the culture

within

• How to tell people stuff, and get them to act on it

• How to breathe when the general culture is rancid

• How to keep the people you lead from driving you crazy

• How to turn failure into success, and how to celebrate

when you’re done

• How to do all these things without wearing yourself to a

frazzle

Think of this book as emergency equipment. Keep it close to

you, like a life vest, because it has the answers to questions

that will be making you crazy.

We can’t guarantee twenty years of career longevity, but we’ll

keep you afloat till you figure out what to do next.

Three steps to establish where you are—and

where you need to be:

1. Assess your situation. Is your assignment a piece of cake or heavy

sledding?

2. List your resources. People, money, time, connections.

3. List your liabilities. What stands in the way of your project’s success?

Seven things you need to learn about your

team members and they need to know about

you—and two warnings:

1. How long they’ve been with the organization. Respect experience,

but know that a fresh perspective has value, too.

2. What they want from the team. Money, advancement, challenge,

the chance to show off? All are legitimate, but they all alter your

expectations.

3. What your expectations are. Better they learn now than later.

4. What the mission looks like from both sides. Find out people’s

doubts and reservations. Don’t try to answer them all right away.

5. How teamwork works. Find out who’s had experience with collaboration

before.

6. What their most fulfilling work experience was. The things people

recall with pride speak volumes about what they value.

7. What they expect and need from a leader. You can’t ask this as

a direct question. Use the rest of the discussion to help you form a

conclusion.

8. Do spend more time listening than talking.

9. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Ten ways to feel better about your leadership:

1. Make a list of your proven skills.

2. Assess your natural strengths based on your personality type.

Are you a bold entrepreneurial Doer? A sparkling Creative live wire?

A meticulous, usually right Thinker? A gregarious, touchy-feelie

Social?

3. Make another list, of your unarguable weaknesses.

4. Ask someone you trust what your best characteristics are.

5. Cross-check your skills with the task at hand. It’s unlikely you are

a god-awful fit.

6. Recognize that there are some things you’re good at and some

things you’re not.

7. Try to take on tasks that play to your natural strengths.

8. Delegate tasks to individuals that take advantage of their natural

strengths.

9. Assemble teams based on the mix of talents needed to accomplish

the desired outcomes.

10. Don’t staple yourself to the cross. Your job is to keep people pointed

toward the goal. The rest—style points.

Eight things you can do to negotiate your own

learning curve:

1. Attend conferences and workshops—about managing, about new

technologies, and about your industry.

2. Read and pass along articles that connect to your work.

3. Take part in online forum discussions. Be a resource to others.

4. Visit related departments to find out what they do and how they

do it.

5. Talk to customers. They know almost everything you need to know

to do a better job.

6. Reward people who share information. Create an environment of

total learning.

7. Make presentations to peers about your area of expertise or project.

8. Conduct post-mortems and post-vivums on completed projects.

Four tough questions you need to ask yourself:

1. Why have you been handed this assignment?

2. What are you good at exactly?

3. What are your weaknesses?

4. How well do you understand the challenge at hand?

Five things to spend at least a week learning about:

1. Company history . . . how the company has changed from its origins

2. Organizational structure . . . who’s in charge and how power flows

3. Policies and procedures . . . the way things are done

4. Company scuttlebutt . . . where the bodies are buried, and the locations

of the exit wounds

5. Financials . . . the dollars and sense of your day-to-day doings

Five measures of planning success:

1. A goal—where you want to go. Now is the time to define what success

looks like.

2. A vision—to rationalize (in the best sense of the word,“to show the

reason for”) the goal.

3. A strategy—a means to achieve the goal.

4. A set of tactics to achieve that strategy—these are your ducks, the

strategy is the row. Plan your success in big chunks (how you plan to

achieve the outcomes you want).

5. Some low-hanging fruit—little victories you can go after first. Aim

for the highest priorities that can be accomplished without great difficulty.

This builds momentum and confidence that let you tackle

bigger goals.

Six stages of bringing an idea to completion:

1. Catalyzing. The initiating task of leadership: bringing an unperformed

idea to concrete fruition. Change starts with a single individual and

then fans out, acquiring its own life in the organization.

2. Encoding. Before people can subscribe to an idea, they must understand

it. Communicating the necessity of the change is the leader’s

job. Communicating is the hardest task of leadership, because it’s so

easy to do it badly. The danger in the encoding process is that the act

of preserving it will also embalm it.

3. Imagining. Imagining happens when the leader’s words form a picture

in people’s minds.What was not visible now comes swimming

into view. The first sign of success is when a critical mass of people

share the vision and subscribe to it.

4. Uniting. Like dominoes, other people fall in line behind the idea,

giving it momentum. Leaders obtain commitment and support both

formally and informally. Dissenting views are met halfway, heard,

respected, and responded to.

5. Fitting. All the leader’s systems for measurement, hiring, training,

communications, development, rewards, and operations advance the

idea rather than weight it down.

6. Gelling. (Not hardening!) Leadership drives the change down through

the team, challenging everyone to make it a part of their thinking.

Nine things you can do to bring people

into your circle:

1. Spend time with them. Time is the new money, an investment

whose sincerity no one can mistake.

2. Listen to them. Listening is more than facing people and nodding

your head until it’s your turn to say something. Other people know

things you don’t know. If you pay close attention, you will find things

out that will amaze you.

3. Appreciate differentness. You need people you can trust who aren’t

afraid to disagree with you. Remember, you have no time for pussyfooting—

cut to the chase, even if it means getting trampled emotionally.

You will last a lot longer if you have at least one friend you can

count on for support—not a yes-person, but a you-person.

4. Thank them.We talk about win-win dealmaking. But thanking

does deeper. It means ritually acknowledging that they helped you,

and you are in their debt. If you really want to sweeten the deal, thank

them in front of other people. Genuine gratitude makes people feel

better than heroin. Fewer side effects, too.

5. Keep your ears open. You’ll be surprised at the good things that fly

in. After all, no leader leads alone. You can’t succeed if you spurn the

help and advice that others naturally provide.

6. Team up. Partner with peers, supervisors, and subordinates. Let

people know you are available to them. This induces “interpersonal

reciprocity”—it greases the skids.

7. Be direct. You won’t get help unless you ask for it.

8. Look for human gold in the mine. That is, find people in your

organization who have worked in your department in the past and

can provide input.

9. Join associations. People who do similar work naturally share

information and learn from one another, create bonds, and provide

help when asked.

Seven ways to get out of the box, and stay out:

1. Don’t get trapped behind your desk. Schedule time on your daily

calendar (twice a day minimum) to wander around and talk to people

on their home turf.

2. Ask team members regularly what you can do to help them. Don’t

wait for them to come to you.

3. Question everything. Take nothing for granted, not even the most

conventional wisdom.

4. Meet with other team leaders to see how your team integrates (or

doesn’t) with the organization.

5. Find resources outside your immediate organization. You never

know where you’ll come across something that might help your team

accomplish good outcomes.

6. Let others know what your team is doing. (Go for publicity both

inside and outside the organization.)

7. Use the right metrics, or you’ll get the wrong results.

Six ways to create a learning environment:

1. Read articles and books about leadership.

2. Attend conferences on leadership.

3. Talk with other leaders about what they find difficult and how they

handle these situations.

4. Seek a mentor—someone in a leadership position who will volunteer

to provide you with guidance and advice.

5. Join associations on management and leadership and attend their

luncheons.

6. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

Six things to remember when your team

is hovering on the brink of dysfunction:

1. It’s not true that teams don’t work. It is true that many teams

don’t work.

2. Leaders must learn when a project calls for a team solution.

Some tasks are best left to an individual. Others—when the outcome

will affect a cross-section of the organization or the effort will require

input from multiple sources—work best in teams.

3. Take time to figure out what needs to get done by teams and

what by individuals. Make a list for each.

4. Assign a team and a team leader for each team-based outcome.

5. Meetings help. Have members of your team meet with others both

inside and outside your organization who could be used as team

resources.

6. Encourage your team members to join trade associations (and

attend the meetings). The helping networks they build will make a

big difference to them and to the success of the whole team.

Five rules for successful succession:

1. Never badmouth your predecessor. Everyone’s got good and bad

behaviors. Speak well of your predecessor’s past accomplishments

and forgive the shortcomings you notice in the hope that others will

forgive yours.

2. Set your own expectations. Make sure your staff all know what you

want.

3. Find out what has worked and what needs fixing. Talk to your staff.

4. Make an agreement to work with your staff to meet your expectations.

5. Never forget:You are in charge.

Seven truths about effective team process:

1. Work is not the key process of a team. Deciding is.

2. The method it will use to make decisions is the most important

decision the team will make.

3. Leaders risk losing their teams by imposing important decisions

without first acquiring their members’ consent.

4. Lines of communication don’t work unless they are open.

5. The leader’s job is to organize decisions into action steps.

6. Checkpoints are necessary for monitoring progress toward specific

outcomes.

7. No team run with an iron hand ever came up with a new idea.

Ten el-cheapo ways to motivate people:

1. Celebrate the completion of outcomes. A victory unnoted might

as well not have happened.

2. Keep outcomes short-term. That way you have plenty of opportunities

to celebrate.

3. Show off for the big boss. The more important the audience for a

presentation, the more mileage the team will get from the success.

4. Hand out mugs with the team logo all around. That will keep

reminding people where they belong.

5. Give comp time. Everyone likes comp time.

6. Lunch together (assuming you like to eat with each other).

7. Bring in celebrities. There’s nothing like a show to acknowledge

work well done.

8. Hand out gift certificates. It doesn’t take much to make a great

low-cost reward.

9. Advance via retreat. A weekend in the woods is nice.

10. When all else fails . . . Krispy Kremes.

Five ways to effect change in the face of resistance:

1. People automatically fill in the blanks in their knowledge base with

negative information—worst-case scenarios—for self-protection.

Whenever left in the dark, people imagine monsters.

2. Counter this natural tendency with accurate information. Do not

inflame people’s automatic negative fears.

3. Change happens every day as a natural progression of living. The

trick is to accept this stress and not overreact to it.

4. You have a choice: scaring your people into compliance with the

change, or offering them a picture of a brighter future. One is push,

the other is pull.When possible, choose pull.

5. Lay out a pathway to this brighter future so your people know you

have a destination and a road map for getting them there.

==================================================

Nine ways to break an ice-jam in negotiations:

1. Share information. People struggling to find agreement have reason

to be distrustful. Why not divulge information? It communicates the

idea that mutual gain is a possibility—that I don’t have to succeed by

making you fail.

2. Ask what’s up. Instead of trying to pry information from the other

side, why not just ask for it? The chances of getting good information

are better if you ask than if you don’t ask.

3. Pay attention.When the other side is talking, it’s tempting to sit back

and plan your responses. Look for common interests to negotiate

around. The information in their remarks provides many clues, which

you will miss if you aren’t listening carefully.

4. Give something away. Albert Einstein once said that nothing is ever

yours until you give it away. If you want reciprocity, start by giving

something away. It changes the tone and invites reciprocation.

5. Make lots of offers. Something will intrigue the other side and get

you moving.

6. Frost the cake. Be on the lookout for “post-negotiation negotiations,”

bets and side deals that can extend and broaden the improved

relationship.

7. Barter. People will often trade things, including information, that they

would never sell.

8. Praise cooperation publicly and in print.

9. Suggest rewards for cooperative actions.

Four kinds of people, and how to work with each:

1. Doers, people who themselves wish to be leaders, to be in charge

of something. These are people who need the least direction, because

they are already motivated by nature to expend great effort to achieve

things.

2. Thinkers, those who are gifted in reason and able to achieve deep

understanding of issues and facts. For these people, the most important

thing is to be right.

3. Socials, people who like working with other people. They derive

greatest satisfaction from communicating and relating to other

people.

4. Creatives, people who easily generate new ideas and fresh perspectives.

Their great need is to get stuff out of themselves.

Three ways to give people information

so it is real to them:

1. Verbally. (Tell them face to face.)

2. In writing. (Tell them on paper or via e-mail.)

3. Kinesthetically. (Let them learn by doing, as they like to work through

the process.)

Which way is best? Depends. Try being bi-modal (provide info two ways

at once). Say, call them on the phone and follow up with an e-mail note,

or vice versa.

Remember to give feedback based on the receiver’s personality:

• If someone is a Doer, feedback needs to be direct, specific, brief, and

with new outcomes and expectations. Bullet points are good.

• With a Creative, you need to support your target’s ability to generate

ideas and provide lots of options for future outcomes.

• For a Social, you must make sure to not bruise that fragile ego. Be

gentle and kind—but hold firm to expected outcomes.

• For a Thinker, you need to have specific behaviors listed as examples,

with lots of documentation.

Three ways to make empowerment work—

and make your team bless you:

1. Don’t expect your people to read your mind.

2. Communicate to workers exactly what they are empowered to

do, and where their empowerment ends.

3. Limit their power by a dollar amount. Anything over that amount,

they need to ask permission.

Five rules for dealing with conflict:

1. Encourage people to express their opinions. Being polite

doesn’t put any ideas on the table.

2. Focus on the mission when disagreements arise. Don’t be

distracted by the people.

3. Warn people to avoid aggressive behavior. (Or you’ll beat the

crap out of them.)

4. Issue fines when people launch attacks on someone they

disagree with. Cash fines, payable immediately.

5. Collect people’s opinions individually in potentially difficult

situations. Summarize them in writing and feed back the summary

to the whole group.

Five broad characterizations of the

working generations:

1. Traditionalists like structure and hierarchy.

2. Boomers rebel against Traditionalists, so they are suspicious of

structure and hierarchy, and intrigued by collaboration.

3. N-gens, the next half-generation (between age thirty-six and

forty-five these days) are the first truly collaborative culture. They

are mad at Boomers for being the dominant demo-bubble.

4. Gen-X (twenty-six to thirty-five) like technology, and hark back to

Traditionalists in that they respect hierarchy.

5. Gen-Z (sixteen to twenty-five) are reacting against Gen-X and

looking for collaborative solutions to problems.

Note how each demographic blip defines itself in opposition to the

group that preceded it. . . .

Four of the worst and six of the best ways

to communicate bad news:

Don’t . . .

1. Blow your top. Anger undermines your authority and underscores

your immaturity.

2. Blame. Personalizing the difficulty only makes it harder to discuss.

3. Be afraid to describe negative consequences. Don’t soften

the blow with niceties.

4. Resort to the silent treatment. Shutting down communication

merely emphasizes that you can’t communicate.

Do . . .

1. Be specific. Use facts that the other person will agree are true.

You don’t want to appear to be acting out of general impressions

or personal opinion.

2. Be real. Maintain perspective over the underperformance.

Don’t be a drama queen.

3. Bring in other people. Talk to others, and collect their opinions,

to show that the negativity isn’t something personal.

4. Be candid. Communicate increasingly harsh consequences for

noncompliance.

5. Solve the problem. Before you fire someone, see if you can

solve the problem in a less drastic way. Brainstorm. Coming up

with workable solutions is what leaders are supposed to do.

6. Act. Once all solutions have been vetted, drop the hammer. It’s

not fair to leave the other person hanging for months.

Nine parting shots of managerial wisdom:

1. Create “stress markers” for yourself that indicate when you are

feeling pushed toward your limits. If you can manage markets and

process throughput you can figure out what bugs you—and deal

with it.

2. Take naps. Or sleep an extra half-hour every night. Those batteries

need to recharge.

3. Hire talented people. You’ll feel less indispensable.

4. Learn to delegate. Ditto.

5. Take frequent short vacations. Have the family make a list of all

the places they want to go—then go there.

6. Get a hobby. Your rivals need never know your power secret is

scrimshaw.

7. Walk and think. Exercise is good for achieving clarity. And it’s good,

period.

8. Have a confidant with whom you can share your thoughts and

feelings—not necessarily your spouse.

9. Slow down.When you are under stress, you breathe faster and

shallower. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
9th January 2007 From India, Nasik
Hi Shyamali,
The 1st post was great. a good summary of the book.
Yes, I've seen a ot of accidental leaders - some of who succeeded & many failed.
But they say, adversity brings out the best in man.
what do you say to that?
Amruth
1st June 2007 From India, Mumbai
Hi,
Adversity does bring out the best in man. But a man who performs at best ,to a level of mediocrity will continue to do so until he is moved from his stupor. This book actually acts as stimulates thinking and action when one is forced into such situations.
Shyamali
12th July 2007 From India, Nasik
Add Reply Start A New Discussion

Cite.Co - is a repository of information created by your industry peers and experienced seniors. Register Here and help by adding your inputs to this topic/query page.
Prime Sponsor: TALENTEDGE - Certification Courses for career growth from top institutes like IIM / XLRI direct to device (online digital learning)





About Us Advertise Contact Us
Privacy Policy Disclaimer Terms Of Service



All rights reserved @ 2019 Cite.Co™