A Review for – FYI: For Your Improvement, A Guide for Development and Coaching (4th edition)

FYI presents a comprehensive list and description of competencies needed for leadership, according to the Lominger Group. This model may differ in some respects from the one used by your organization, but it won’t be far off.

The competencies in this book are organized into six factors: Strategic Skills, Operating Skills, Courage, Energy & Drive, Organizational Positioning Skills, and Personal & Interpersonal Skills. The authors add the two negative factors Trouble With People and Trouble With Results. Nested within these factors are clusters and individual competencies. One might quibble with the details, but this map covers the terrain.

Readers are skillfully guided through this territory. The initial chapters provide solid advice for deciding which competencies to develop, recognizing that sometimes it is more useful to compensate for a weakness with other strengths and that it is possible to unproductively overuse one’s strengths. The authors’ willingness to deal seriously with negative issues such as overapplication of strong competencies and barriers to success is valuable–and often lacking in competency publications.

Individual competency chapters have a predictable and useful structure. Each chapter begins by locating the competency within its factor and cluster and “inspires” the reader with an appropriate quote. The reader encounters concise lists of the behavioral indicators of unskilled performance, skilled performance and overuse of this competency. These lists cross-reference other competencies that can either substitute for unskilled peformance or compensate for overuse. Then, following a list of some causes underlying poor performance, comes an extended discussion of several strategies for developing the competency and sources for further reading.

You can find the best competency chapter for your needs in under two minutes. This competency chapter can then be read and understood in under 10 minutes. Developing the competency will take longer, of course. But this book helps the reader diagnose and begin remediation with some confidence that the right disease is being treated–and treated effectively.

Honest Review – 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity — principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

Anyone who thinks the audiocassette adaptation of Stephen Covey’s bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is a shortcut to reading the book has another thing coming. As a preview, the cassette is worth every one of its 90 minutes; as a substitute for the original, it will only leave you wishing for the rest. There’s a reason 7 Habits has sold more than 5 million copies and been translated into 32 languages. Serious work has obviously gone into it, and serious change can likely come out of it–but only with constant discipline and steadfast commitment. As the densely packed tape makes immediately clear, this is no quick fix for what’s ailing us in our personal and professional lives.

The tape opens to the silky-smooth, overtrained voice of the female narrator, who’s responsible for tying together audio clips from actual Covey seminars. Leaving aside the occasional attempts at promoting Covey and his institute, her script does a first-rate job of making sense of Covey’s own intense, analogy-rich style of explaining his habits. There’s nothing simple about his approach to becoming an effective person. The first three habits alone–which have to do with personal responsibility, leadership, and self-management–could take years to master. Yet the last four are unattainable, the narrator insists, if you can’t acquire the personal security–the “inner core,” says Covey–that presumably comes from a mastery of the foundation.

Throughout our lessons, Covey’s presence is both learned and thoroughly appealing. He drops references to the likes of Socrates, T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost with the aplomb of an English professor. And his knack for mixing everyday stories with abstract concepts manages to clarify difficult issues while respecting our intelligence. You could argue that the cassette is nothing more than a clever marketing tool for selling another few million copies of the book. But, even at that, it’s worth the investment in time and concentration: in the end, we’re moved to learn more about integrating all seven habits in our struggle to become better and, yes, more effective people. (Running time: 1.5 hours, one cassette) –Ann Senechal

When are we going to have enough of a boy (read that community organizer from Chicago) trying to act like a?

The Obama administration was elated a month ago when the Russian president said sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program could become “inevitable.” Washington’s reaction may have been significantly .

Dmitry Medvedev’s words were seen as a major Kremlin shift and one that would buttress U.S. attempts to combine renewed negotiations with Tehran and a united front that threatened Iran with punishing global sanctions for failure to come clean about its nuclear ambitions.

The United States, Britain, France and Germany believe Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon behind the cover of what Tehran says is a program designed solely to enable a homegrown network of reactors to generate electricity.

Russia and China, the other two key players who engage Iran on the nuclear issue, had routinely rejected tough sanctions, arguing that negotiations were the way forward.

But Medvedev emerged from talks with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly last month to declare of Iran: “In some cases, sanctions are inevitable.”

While clearly delighted with those words, the White House hotly rejected analyses that Medvedev was signaling a course change as a payoff for Obama’s decision a week earlier to scrap a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. The U.S. missile system, conceived under the Bush administration purportedly to defend against attack from Iran, had become a major factor in deteriorating U.S.-Russian relations.

Nevertheless, the president’s top Russia adviser acknowledged that the decision against moving forward on missile defense — a deployment that Moscow said would have threatened its security — was a factor in Medvedev’s remarks.

“Is it the case that it (the missile defense decision) changes the climate — I think that’s true, of course,” Mike McFaul said at the time.

While Medvedev said sanctions could become necessary, Moscow was not long in telling Washington — and major trading partner Iran — that the time had not come yet. That clearly deflated expectations raised when Washington drew so much attention to Medvedev’s much hailed remarks.

“Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s visit to the Russian capital last week.

And Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who absented himself on a trip to Beijing, drew a line under Lavrov’s comments.

“If we speak about some kind of sanctions now, before we take concrete steps, we will fail to create favorable conditions for negotiations,” Putin said. “That is why we consider such talk .”

Positions could clarify somewhat in talks Monday in Vienna, where the U.S., France, Russia, the U.N. nuclear agency and Iran hash out a proposal that would send some of Tehran’s low-grade enriched uranium to Russia for further processing to fuel an aging Iranian reactor used for medical research.

If expanded, that program might become the model for undercutting the need for Iran to continue with its own uranium enrichment, a technology which could shortly achieve the sophistication to create the weapons-grade material for use in a nuclear bomb.

And later this month, Iran will allow U.N. inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to examine a newly disclosed uranium enrichment facility under construction near the holy city of Qom. Last month, Iran notified the IAEA of this facility just days before it was announced to the world by Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Iran’s new, if limited readiness to cooperate after years of stonewalling once its secret nuclear program became public could portend a more significant shift by Tehran. And Medvedev could be partly responsible.

“This time, it seems to me they (the Russians) are moving a bit to suggest to Tehran that Russia should not be taken for granted or ignored when it comes to meeting what Russia also says are legitimate expectations about Iranian behavior,” said James Collins, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.