Right Here, Right Now

Steve Arneson knows leadership development better than most. Prior to becoming an executive coach, Steve was Senior VP, Executive Talent Management and Development for Capital One and played a principal role in Capital One being named by Hewitt and Fortune magazine as one of the Top 20 Companies for Leaders between 2005 and 2008.

Before joining Capital One, Steve was VP of Organizational Effectiveness at America Online (AOL) and VP of People Development for Time Warner Cable. Prior to AOL, Steve worked as Senior Director of People Development for PepsiCo.

Have a look at Steve's list of the five things you can do immediately to develop your leadership skills that won't cost a dime:

1. Document your leadership journey. One of the most insightful things you can do as a leader is to look back at your own career, and identify meaningful “lessons learned” from your experiences. Packaging these lessons into a crisp “story” gives you a powerful presentation about your growth and development as a leader.

2. Confront your hardest-held positions. Admitting to yourself where you’re “dug in” on issues or positions can be a great way to open your mind to alternative solutions. Make a list of all of your most hardened beliefs, and brainstorm other points of view – it can help you become a more well-rounded leader.

3. Practice your coaching skills. Coaching is very different from giving directions or merely providing feedback. Coaching puts you in a facilitative frame of mind, where your goal is to help others examine problems or find their own solutions. Coaching involves asking questions, and can set you apart as a manager. People love to work for a leader who is also a great coach.

4. Get to know your team. Too many leaders are afraid to learn about their team members beyond the job. Don’t make that mistake – get to know your people. Take an interest in their personal lives, their hopes and dreams, their families and hobbies. Interview them about their lives beyond work, and see what happens. People want to work for someone who cares about them as individuals, not just as employees.

5. Reflect on your leadership. Every day, ask yourself three questions as you commute home – “how did I show up as a leader today?” “What did I communicate today?” “Who did I develop today?” If you keep your leadership top-of-mind and self-evaluate about how others are experiencing your leadership, you’ll become a more effective leader.



Four Myths About Reimagining Your Life

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Most of us want to believe that we can reimagine our life's second chapter and purpose, but allow negative and inaccurate thinking to stop us from doing just that. Here is author Richard Leider's list of four common myths that stop us from seeking out our next purpose:

Myth #1: To now have a new possibility means I must do something completely original.

Can you really recall anything that is totally new? Almost every idea or creation is an extension or synthesis of previous efforts. New breakthroughs are built on existing fundamental truths. Like runners in a relay race, we simply do our part to carry the baton another leg of the race.


Myth #2: Only a few gifted or skilled people are able to discover new paths and possibilities in their lives.

This is the most commonly rationalized of all myths. History, however, is filled with great contributions made by ordinary people who had virtually no experience or expertise in the areas where they thrived in their lives' second chapter. In fact, being a "seasoned novice" gives us permission and courage to step into things with fresh passion and purpose.

Myth #3: What I want to do next will come as inspiration or revelation. Until that time comes, I will wait.

Inspiration comes to those who seek it. We don't find beautiful shells unless we're on the beach. If we believe in the the "miracle moment" theory, we rarely will find it. If we wait for "a sign," we end up being waiters for the rest of our lives.

Myth #4: It's too late; I'm too old. This something you do when you're younger.

Realizing new possibilities is a cradle-to-grave quest. Situations and people change every day and continue to change throughout our life. As long as there is change, there are new opportunities. Keep in mind that you now also have two things you had less of before: time and experience. Use them.


Five Nations You Never Knew Had Atrocious Human Rights Records

Everyone has heard about the horrors committed in the Congo, China, Darfur, and parts of the Russia, but did you know about these nations?

1. Turkey
-- Has the most human rights violations of any country among the forty-seven signatory states of the European Convention on human rights. In a tally of the number of judgments entered for Turkey in 2009, 356 cases out of a total of 1,625 put the country in the worst violator class. In only nine cases out of the 356 did the court find there was no violation.

2. Egypt -- Though it prides itself on having the only secular government in the Middle East, Egypt has a terrible record of torture and abuse of prisoners and detainees; executive branch limits on an independent judiciary; denial of fair public trial; restrictions on civil liberties -- freedoms of speech and press, including internet freedom; and discrimination and violence against women, including female genital mutilation. Egypt is considered by Amnesty International to be one of the top twenty violators of human rights globally.

3. Yemen -- The government has signed several international human rights treaties, and even appointed a woman, Dr. Wahiba Fara’a, to the role of Minister of the State of Human Rights. However, credible reports state that abuses still run rampant, especially in the areas of women's rights, freedom of the press, torture, and police brutality. Arbitrary arrests of citizens and searches of homes, especially in the south, remain commonplace. Judicial corruption, inefficiency, and executive interference undermine due process. Freedom of speech, the press, and religion are all restricted and carefully regulated.

4. Sri-Lanka -- The decades-old civil war may be over, but the human rights abuses have only grown in this small island nation that once used to boast a thriving tourist industry (Marco Polo reported that upon landing on the island, he thought he had discovered the biblical Garden of Eden). The South Asia Human Rights Index reported that Sri Lanka is the worst human rights violator in South Asia. Discrimination, torture and brutal punishment, lack of expression and corruption are listed as the main issues the nation grapples with.

5. Uzbekistan -- Often used as the butt of jokes by Sasha Baron Cohen's character Borat (and therefore assumed to be a harmless nation of farmers), Uzbekistan is actually a rough place. Leader Islam Karimov's regime controls everything with brutal efficiency. In 2005, during an open meeting in the town square, an estimated 10,000 people gathered, expecting government officials to come and listen to their grievances. Instead, Karimov sent the army, which massacred hundreds of men, women and children. A 2003 law made Karimov and all members of his family immune from prosecution forever.

Any that didn't make the list that you can think of? Any that are on the list that shouldn't be? Chime in below.