October 30, 2013

Annual Scary Person Collage: Michael Needham

Every October I make a photo collage based on a scary person. (See previous efforts here and here.) This year, I chose for my subject Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action of America.

For me, the best part of this picture is how I took an ordinary close-up promo picture and uglified it, using photo retouching techniques in reverse. I enlarged the bags and circles under his eyes, enlarged his nose, darkened the lines on his face and his stubble, made his ear misshapen and his eyebrows bigger and messier. I also used the liquify tool to turn his smile into a sneer.

Now he looks like a zombie, with the sinister Gentlemen of Heritage elongated and lurking in the background.

October 25, 2013

Leadership Has Nothing to Do with Job Titles

The other day a coworker posted a link to a really great article, "Why Your Innovation Leadership Training Will Fail."  The author, Henry Doss, explains how the systems and culture of a workplace affect innovation, for good or ill, far more than its leaders do.

I was discussing this article with my husband, and we discussed the concept of "innovation leadership training." He pointed out that this is the kind of training usually given to managers in an organization. "But managers aren't leaders," he said.

That was something that hadn't occurred to me, but he's right. Think about who the leaders are in your workplace. Some of them might be managers, but some of them might be people with no official leadership title. The people who get things moving, who inspire others - they can be anyone, at any level.

And, conversely, there may be managers who are not leaders. For certain organizations, this is fine: managing is a different skill set than leading, and sometimes you just need someone who can handle logistics and politics in that role. But sometimes, if a group that needs a leader lacks one, that can cause problems.

Look around you today and forget about job titles for a minute. Who are the leaders around you? What is being done to nurture their talent for leadership?