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Tag: decision-making

How to be a successful leader

Word Cloud of RMGT descriptionThere are many factors that determine the success of an organizational leader, from personal attributes such as leadership style and emotional intelligence to communication, decision making, and conflict resolution skills. Then you have external factors, including organizational structure and the influence of corporate culture. Regardless of external influences, successful leaders have a strong moral code, are able to motivate a team, and can provide effective feedback when necessary.

Brandeis GPS will be offering Organizational Leadership and Decision Making during our Fall 2 session, starting in October. The fully online, 10-week course will focus on leadership as a process by which one person influences the attitudes and behaviors of others. Topics covered include various leadership theories and models, differences across cultures, ethics and attributes, organizational change and development, and the role of the leader in establishing organizational culture and facilitating change. Students will deepen their understanding of these concepts through group projects and leadership simulations.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Gain insight into their own strengths and weaknesses as a leader and create a plan for continued introspection and improvement
  • Describe the nature of leadership and assess the basic functions of management and the complexities of leadership
  • Analyze the role of moral reasoning and ethics in organizational and team decisions
  • Examine multiple viewpoints for differing frames of reference, perspectives, and orientations to the same situation
  • Employ leadership, team-building and decision-making concepts; examine how teams make high-stakes decisions in stressful situations, why individuals and teams make flawed choices and how leaders shape the context and the process through which teams make decisions
  • Critically reflect on leadership style and their own experience within a team and its leadership
  • Understand the role of leaders in setting strategic focus and direction

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 online Master’s degree programs. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in Technology Management or would like to learn more about leadership and decision making as part of your own professional development, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

20 Mantras Great Leaders Live By Every Day

Written by James Curtiss | @

Original post

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This post originally appeared on the Sales section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

Leadership can be a difficult characteristic to understand. Which qualities make someone a good leader? Do those same qualities translate to all aspects of life, or can a person successfully lead a sports team but fail in the boardroom? Are people born leaders, or can anyone inspire others to follow them?

I won’t pretend to know the answers to these questions, and I doubt that many people do.

But when I think about what it takes to be an effective leader, I am invariably reminded of late summer conversations with my grandfather on the deck of his home on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. We talked about anything and everything together — from the current state of Red Sox Nation to the most effective technique for shucking the cherrystone clams we collected earlier that day. But, on occasion, the discussion would drift towards more business-oriented topics and I got a free lesson in leadership studies from one of the very best.

To provide a little background, Don Davis, my grandfather, left a distinguished career in corporate America in 1988 to pursue his “retirement” as a professor at MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations program. During his 22-year tenure at the school, he shared the lessons he learned from his time in business and inspired more than a few of today’s most influential leaders.

As I am sure any of his former students will tell you, it would be nearly impossible to boil down all of his lessons into a single blog post. Fortunately, those same students were kind enough to compile a Memory Book after he passed away in order to share some of his most important teachings, namely the 20 leadership mantras that were core to his curriculum.

Here are those 20 mantras, along with some insight from our Martha’s Vineyard discussions. (For a more personal explanation of how these mantras helped various students succeed in business, you can find the Memory Book in its entirety here.)

1) Leaders don’t choose their followers. Followers choose their leaders.

One cannot simply choose to lead a group of people. You may be a leader in title, but you’re not a legitimate leader if your followers do not believe in you and your vision.

2) Followers choose leaders they trust, respect, and feel comfortable with.

If you don’t have the trust and respect of your followers, how are you supposed to make the connection necessary to inspire them to achieve great things?

3) Be yourself. The number of leadership styles is limitless.

There is no scientific formula for what makes a good leader, only a belief in your own ability as well as the ability of your followers to be successful.

4) Leaders need a base of power and authority — but the more they use it, the less there is left.

Needless to say, effective leadership requires a certain amount of authority. Like most forms of capital, that power is finite. Use it sparingly and only when necessary.

5) The best leadership is based on persuasion.

Anyone can have a vision. Leaders have the ability to persuade others to believe in their vision.

6) Leaders set the ethical standards and tone of their organizations by their behavior.

As a leader, you set the example. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want printed on the cover of the New York Times. Your followers are avid readers.

7) Integrity is the bedrock of effective leadership. Only you can lose your integrity.

Unethical behavior is a slippery slope. Avoid the slope at all costs because everyone slips.

8) “Selfship” is the enemy of leadership.

A true leader cares more about the success of his/her followers than their own success.

9) Be quick to praise, but slow to admonish. Praise in public, but admonish in private.

If you’re going to praise someone, do it big. If you’re going to reprimand, make sure it is warranted and do so in a respectful manner.

10) One of a leader’s key responsibilities is stamping out self-serving politics when they emerge.

As a leader, your job is to inspire the entire group. No single person is bigger than the group, not even the leader.

11) Be sure to know as much as possible about the people you are leading.

How can you inspire someone if you don’t know what motivates them?

12) One manages things, but people lead people.

It may be a bit cliché, but at the end of the day, followers are human beings. Don’t lose sight of that reality.

13) Diversity in an organization is not only legally required and socially desired — it’s also effective.

Every problem, obstacle, or issue has a different solution. Different perspectives make it much easier to identify the right solution.

14) Leadership should be viewed as stewardship.

Leader and teacher are synonyms, even if the Thesaurus tool in Microsoft Word doesn’t agree.

15) Don’t make tough decisions until you need to. Most will solve themselves with time.

Procrastination isn’t always a negative tendency. Don’t jump to conclusions. Sometimes you just have to give the problem time to work itself out.

16) When making decisions about people, listen to your gut.

Believe in your ability to identify the right talent. It’s your vision, so you should be able to recognize when a person embodies that vision.

17) People can see through manipulation and game-playing. Everyone can spot a phony.

This goes back to the mutual respect and trust that must exist between a leader and follower. Don’t undermine that mutual respect via manipulation. You’ll lose followers.

18) Learn to say, out loud, “I was wrong” and “I don’t know.”

You may be a leader, but you’re not omniscient. Don’t pretend to be.

19) If you know a plan or decision is wrong, don’t implement it. Instead, keep talking.

Don’t try to jam a square peg in a circular hole. Work with your team to figure out a way to round the edges of the peg so it fits properly.

20) Each of us has potential to lead, follow or be an individual contributor.

Potential is limitless and everyone has the ability to contribute to the success of a particular vision. It all depends on how strongly they believe in that vision.

There is no recipe for what makes a good leader, but these mantras can provide valuable guidelines. I wouldn’t trade those talks on the deck for anything.

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Fuzzy Math: The Security Risk Model That’s Actually About Risk

By: Derek Brink

Reblogged from: https://blogs.rsa.com/fuzzy-math-security-risk-model-thats-actually-risk/

Sharpen your number two pencils everyone and use the following estimates to build a simple risk model:

  • Average number of incidents: 12.5 incidents per month (each incident affects 1 user)
  • Average loss of productivity: 3.0 hours per incident
  • Average fully loaded cost per user: $72 per hour

Based on this information, what can your risk model tell me about the security risk?

My guess is that your initial answer is something along the lines of “the average business impact is $2,700 per month,” which you obtained by the following calculation:

12.5 incidents/month * 3.0 hours/incident * $72/hour = $2,700/month

But in fact, this tells us almost nothing about the risk—remember that risk is defined as the likelihood of the incident, as well as the magnitude of the resulting business impact. If internet-security1we aren’t talking about probabilities and magnitudes, we aren’t talking about risks! (We can’t even say that 50% of the time the business impact will be greater than $2,700, and 50% of the time it will be less—that would be the median, not the mean or average. Even if we could, how useful would that really be to the decision maker?)

Let’s stay with this simplistic example, and say that your subject matter experts actually provided you with the following estimates:

  • Number of incidents: between 11 and 14 per month
  • Loss of productivity: between 1 and 5 hours per incident
  • Fully loaded cost per user: between $24 and $120 per hour

This is much more realistic. As we have discussed in “What Are Security Professionals Afraid Of?,” the values we have to work with are generally not certain. If we knew with certainty what was going to happen and how big an impact it would have, it wouldn’t be a risk!

Based on these estimates, what would your risk model look like now?

For many of us, our first instinct would be to use the average for each of the three ranges to compute an “expected value”, which is of course exactly the result that we got before.

Some of us might try to be more ambitious, and compute an “expected case,” a “low case,” riskand a “high case”—by using the average and the two extremes of the three ranges:

  • Expected case = 12.5 * 3.0 * $72 = $2,700/month
  • Low case = 11 * 1.0 * $24 = $260/month
  • High case = 14 * 5.0 * $120 = $8,400/month

It would be tempting to say that the business impact could be “as low as $260/month or as high as $8,400/month, with an expected value of $2,700/month.” But again, this does not tell us about risk. What is the probability of the low case, or the high case? What is the likelihood that the business impact will be more than $3,000 per month, which happens to be our decision-maker’s appetite for risk?

Further, we would be ignoring the fact that the three ranges in our simple risk model actually move independently—i.e., it isn’t logical to assume that fewer incidents will always be of shorter duration and lower hourly cost, or the converse.

Unfortunately, this is the point at which so many security professionals throw up their hands at the difficulty of measuring security risks and either fall back into the trap of techie-talk or gravitate towards qualitative 5×5 “risk maps.”

The solution to this problem is to apply a proven, widely used approach to risk modeling called Monte Carlo simulation. In a nutshell, we can carry out the computations for many (say, a thousand, or ten thousand) scenarios, each of which uses a random value from our estimated ranges. The results of these computations are likewise not a single, static number; the output is also a range and distribution, from which we can readily describe both probabilities and magnitudes—exactly what we are looking for!

Staying with our same simplistic example, we can use those estimates provided by our subject matter experts plus the selection of a logical distribution for each range. Here are my choices:

  • Number of incidents: Between 11 and 14 incidents per month—I will use a uniform distribution, meaning that any value between 11 and 14 is equally likely.
  • Loss of productivity: Between 1 and 5 hours per incident—I will use a normal distribution (the familiar bell-shaped curve), meaning that the values are most likely to be around the midpoint of the range.
  • Fully loaded cost per user: Between $24 and $120 per hour—I will use a triangular distribution, to reflect the fact that the majority of users are at the lower end of the pay scale, while still accommodating the fact that incidents will sometimes happen to the most highly paid individuals.

The following graphic provides a visual representation of the three approaches.

Based on a Monte Carlo simulation with one thousand iterations—performed by using program-hero-infosec1standard functions available in an Excel spreadsheet—we can advise our business decision makers with the following risk-based statements:

  • There is a 90% chance that the business impact will be between $500 and $4,500 per month.
  • There is an 80% likelihood that the business impact will be greater than $1,000 per month.
  • The mean (average) business impact is about $2,100 per month—note how this is significantly lower than the $2,700 figure computed earlier; the difference is in the use of the asymmetrical triangular distribution for one of the variables.
  • There is a 20% likelihood that the business impact will be greater than $3,000 per month.

If warranted, we can try to reduce the uncertainty of this analysis even further by improving the estimates in our risk model. (There will be more to come, in upcoming blogs, on that.)

What to do, of course, depends entirely on each organization’s appetite for risk. But as security professionals, we will have done our jobs, in a way that’s actually useful to the business decision maker.

About the Author:

BA8D94F2924E634831C8CA3D8E7179C7477BBC1Derek E. Brink, CISSP is a Vice President and Research Fellow covering topics in IT Security and IT GRC for Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company. He is also a adjunct faculty with Brandeis University, Graduate Professional Studies teaching courses in our Information Security Program. For more blog posts by Derek, please see http://blogs.aberdeen.com/category/it-security/  and http://aberdeen.com/_aberdeen/it-security/ITSA/practice.aspx

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Helping Your Teams Grow Through Coaching

By: Phil Holberton, Adjunct faculty at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies

Originally from: http://holberton.com/helping-your-teams-grow-through-coaching/

As team leaders, we evaluate our team members and expect them to do the job up to our standards. Sometimes our standards are out of sync with their ability or training. After all, coachingthese individuals have not traveled in the same shoes as we have and may not have the skills or cognitive preparation to achieve what we expect. Therefore coaching becomes an integral part of helping teams grow to the next level.

In my experience, the most effective leaders shine when they are helping others day in and day out. This is where coaching enters the picture. Those team leaders who are really performing up to their capability (in a leadership capacity) are consistently coaching their colleagues (and not trying to micro-manage their activities). Individuals don’t appreciate being managed. But, they are more open to coaching if the coach immediately establishes his or her desire to help the individual meet their established goals.

The first and most important coaching skill is to be in the moment, not distracted by six different things on your mind. Coaching is about How-To-Minimize-Distractionsrespect for each other. There is no more predictable way to show lack of respect as not being “present” or “engaged” during a conversation. I once had a boss whose eyes would become “fish eyes” during our conversations. Do you think I was being heard? Do you think I respected him?

Secondly, a good coach (team leader) will seek to understand by asking open-ended, empowering questions. It is very difficult to understand what is going on in someone else’s head if we ask simple yes/no questions. Questions need to be open-ended so we fully understand the complexity of an individual’s state of mind.

A third critical skill is the need for the coach to suspend judgment and remain reflective and objective. Being contemplative shows that you understand the thoughts or feelings in the conversation. These first three skills will help develop understanding, balance, and respect—all very important ingredients in a successful coaching relationship.

0x600-636x310The fourth critical skill is affirming the conversation. This action brings into focus the individual’s desire to move ahead, whether it’s an improvement in performance or learning new skills and growing as a professional or human being.
These skills, when practiced and used daily, will help you become the most effective leader imaginable.

Help your team grow. Be a coach not a just a team leader or boss.

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PhilAuthor

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Are You Running from Problems or Solving Them?

By: Johanna Rothman

Originally from: http://www.jrothman.com/blog/mpd/2014/05/are-you-running-from-problems-or-solving-them.html

Back when I was a manager inside organizations, I had many days that looked like this:

  • Meetings at 9am, 10am, 11am.
  • Working meeting through lunch (noon-1pm)
  • Meetings at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm.

I finally got a chance to check my email at 4pm. That’s when I discovered the world had blown up earlier in the day! (This is before cell phones. Yes, there was a time before cell phones.)

resource-schedulingI then ran around like a chicken with my head cut off until I left work at 5:30pm, because, yes, I had a family, and, yes, I had to leave at 5:30pm. I either made dinner or picked up children, depending on my agreement with Mark.

We did the family stuff until 8pm, and when the kids went to sleep, I went back to work.

No wonder I was exhausted. My decision-making sometimes suffered, too. No surprise there.

Luckily, I had some days that did not look like this. I could solve the problems I encountered. And, some of these meetings were problem-solving meetings.

However, I had jobs where my senior managers did not manage their project portfolios, and we had many crises du jour. My VP would try to catch me on the way to my next meeting, and attempt to get me to “commit” to when a patch would be available or when we would start, or finish a project.

I swear, one of my VP’s used to know when I went to the ladies’ room. He did yell at me through the door, just as in this management myth.

I finally put my foot down, and said I was no longer going to meetings that weren’t problem solving meetings. Have you read the chapter about meetings in Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management? I wrote it for project managers and for ProjectManagement_03managers who run around like the proverbial chickens. I wrote Manage Your Project Portfolio for managers like me who had well-meaning senior managers who had trouble making decisions about which projects to do.

This management myth is something I see often in organizations. This one is the one where people are running around so often they don’t actually solve problems.

Many problems are a combination of several problems. You might have to separate the problems and attack them in sequence. But, you might have to see the whole first, because there might be delays. The overarching problem is this: if you don’t give yourself enough time as a problem solving team, you can’t tell what the problem is. If you can’t tell what the problem is, you can’t solve it.

Problem solving tends to go through the process of:

  • Problem definition: What do we think the problem is?
  • Problem discussion: Let’s get all the divergent ideas on the table. Brainstorm, whatever we need to do.
  • Select a solution: Converge on a solution, trying out the ideas, understanding the results of each potential solution
  • Determine an action plan, with dates and people’s names associated with each step

Your problem solving might vary from this a bit, but that’s the general idea.

If you never give yourself enough time to solve problems because you’re always running around, how can you solve problems? It’s a problem. (Like the recursion there?)

That’s this month’s management myth, I Can Concentrate on the Run. Maybe your myth is that you can concentrate in a 10-minute standup. Maybe your myth is that you can concentrate on your drive into work. You might be able to, for some problems. Complex management problems require more than one person to solve them. They require more than a few minutes thought.

How do you solve complex problems in your organization? Do the problems run around the organization for a while? Or, do you solve them?

Johanna Rothman

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