Either you love the New York Yankees or you hate them. I’m a hater. I grew up hating them. They were the antithesis of my beloved Chicago Cubs. That is to say they were winners. But I didn’t hate them because they were winners—well, maybe a little. I hated them because of the way they went about it. They were brash and flamboyant with personalities and egos as large as the city they represented.
Penn State University found itself at the center of another controversy when it told faculty and employees they must participate in the school’s new wellness program or have $100 withheld from their paychecks every month.
When Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558, England was, in a word, a mess. The country was struggling financially with runaway inflation and a debased currency. It was a cultural wasteland that was far behind other countries when comparing achievements in literature and the arts. And it was a military weakling without any real army or navy. What’s more, the country was on the brink of a civil war caused by religious dissension. In business terms, England was in dire need of a turnaround—a big job for a 25-year-old.
I recently was reading on the subject of leadership, and one topic that came up was intelligence. So I set out to do some research on the importance of IQ in leadership. I must admit, it’s not easy to find a lot written about the intelligence of leaders. Type “leadership and intelligence” into Google, and you will get page after page of links to articles about the value of emotional intelligence for leaders but little about raw intelligence or IQ. Could there be a reason leadership and IQ are discussed so infrequently? Maybe “intelligent leader” is considered an oxymoron.
Last week I took my second child—and my only daughter, which is a significant distinction for a father—to college for her freshman year. I knew it would be an emotional time for her, her mother, and me. And I wanted to offer some sage advice as I left her behind in her new dorm room, something that would make a lasting impression and might serve to guide her as she embarked on her college career.
Have you ever known someone who was incredibly intelligent but had absolutely no common sense? I’ve known a few. So the other day when a colleague was describing to me a book he came across that contained “cowboy logic” and the line, “I’ve learned that common sense ain’t so common,” it got me thinking. And you know what? I had to agree with that cowboy’s logic.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of Dick Hoyt and his son, Rick. Rick was born so severely disabled that the doctors told his parents to put him in an institution so he could be cared for, but his parents refused and took their son home with them. Rick has been confined to a wheelchair his entire life, but that hasn’t deterred him. His parents got him a computer so he could communicate. Despite all of his challenges, he graduated from high school and college.
Last month, Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers star who was the 2011 National League MVP, was hit with a 65-game suspension that ended his season for his use of banned substances provided by a Miami clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs to Major League Baseball players. This was after he had appealed a 50-game suspension last year that was overturned by an arbitrator because of a technicality related to the way his test samples were handled.
I have the always desirable but elusive teamwork on my mind as I write this. The dictionary defines it this way: “cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause.” There’s a lot in that definition. It speaks of a cooperative effort. It points to a group acting together. And most important, it focuses on a common cause.
Knowing what your customers want and need and delivering it are key concepts for any business. But how do you really know what your customers want?