Do you have white knuckles?


How often do you find yourself holding on a little too tight? Do you have a “kung-fu grip” on your project, program, responsibilities, transformation, and/or life?

In a recent exchange with colleagues, we discussed this phenomenon. Enterprise transformations have pros and cons and tendency to cause white knuckles more often than not. One of the pros is the once in a lifetime journey that these endeavors provide, and one of the cons is the once in a lifetime journey that these endeavors provide!

Enterprise transformations are launched with the goal of rebuilding companies through significant change. You might think having the right goals, organizational structure, products, feasibility to meet financial commitments, partners, go to market strategy, etc. are the key to your transformation. While all these are vitally important to the end result of the transformation, I would suggest that to truly thrive in these environments, you look inside yourself and embrace your own personal change on the following 4 levels:

  1. Intellectual – What is your capacity to deal with complexity, unexpected challenges, first of a kind problems, thinking on your feet, etc.?
  2. Physical – Quite simply, how healthy are you?
  3. Emotional – How do you deal with adversity, ambiguity, self-confidence, self-doubt, self-awareness, conflict?
  4. Spiritual – What do you believe? Who do you believe in? What are your life philosophies? From where do you draw energy?

Do you know if you are holding on too tight? How? Do you know when you are squeezing the life out of your project, program, teammates, friends, family? Enterprise transformations will undoubtedly challenge your capacity across these 4 personal levels. What investments will you make to change your intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacity?

If this resonates with you, you may want to check out Noel Tichy‘s famous book “The Leadership Engine”. In this book he describes that each of us lead based on three concepts: Ideas, Values, and E3 (emotional energy, & edge). Noel’s model is very useful, and put into practice can help you understand your personal leadership model, which in turn will help you navigate the intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual growth offered via enterprise transformations.

No matter what leadership model, or personalization you inject into your enterprise transformation, recall that it is unacceptable for any one person in a transformation to acknowledge that the enterprise is undergoing drastic change, but not them personally.

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Leadership Lessons of Animal House – Bluto’s Inspiration Speech


Bluto (John Belushi) delivers a priceless inspirational speech to his fellow Delta brothers!

via Animal House – Bluto’s Inspiration Speech.

How about a humorous take on leadership? Before you continue, I will caveat this entry with a recognition that Bluto is an extremely dramatic and unconventional demonstration of leadership. With this in mind, and hopefully a smile on your face, I submit the following for your consideration…

When is the last time you stepped away from the topic of leadership and looked for a non-traditional model, or micro-example of leadership? I am sure that many, probably most would disagree with Bluto as a role-model for leadership, but in the spirit of change, I propose that Bluto was a change agent.

When faced with expulsion from “college”, and a “beat down” team of Delta brothers, Bluto pours in more passion to change their fate, and along the way he recruits Otter and the rest to face their arch-enemy and re-shape the future for their fraternity. Can you see the parallel for you in your role as a leader?

Recognizing that this is a stretch for exemplary leadership, and that this case is frought with holes, give yourself the opportunity to argue in support of Bluto and the Delta team as a group of change agents. They make a good case.

  • Have you, your project, or your company faced “the end of the road”?
  • Have you been told by those in charge that your future has been eliminated?
  • How many Niedermeyer’s are in your organization?
  • How often does an unconventional leader get misunderstood?
  • Have you witnessed someone’s attempt to rally a team, only to fail? How did they react? Were they as determined as Bluto?
  • Have you ever felt like one of the Delta brothers, incredulous about your future as a team?
  • Have you witnessed a leader (e.g. Otter), go to battle for your team only to be battered and bruised for arguably the right principles?
  • What did YOU do to get behind the inspirational (and politically incorrect) leader? Did you doubt them, or did you take up the case for change in spite of significant authoritative (e.g. Wermer) or powerful (e.g. Dougie or Greggie) obstacles?
  • Have you ever felt as exhilirated as Bluto probably felt as he screams “Let’s DO IT!” Can you imagine how that would that feel within your context of change?

You get the point. Love or hate Animal House, John Belushi, or the concepts of college Fraternities, you can abstract lessons of leadership from this clip, adapt the techniques to your own situation, and re-approach a potentially desperate situation. Most importantly, I hope you can do this with a smile on your face and the memory of Bluto’s irreverent historical quotes in the back of your mind. Hopefully, at least this entry put a smile on your face.