Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Three Key Command Skills.

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by Douglas E Castle

The businesses of commerce, conquest and of life require three key command skills. Without all three of these complementary component abilities, problems will generally not be solved, and objectives will not be achieved. The ultimate test of any leader, manager, entrepreneur is the ability to establish an objective (usually born of a vision and fueled by a driving passion), and to ultimately reach it through a process of problem-solving and decision making utilizing all assets and intelligence at his or her disposal.

Regrettably, it is incredibly rare that these three skills co-exist in significant levels in any one individual; it is quite rare that any two of these three qualities have been cultivated in any single person; and it is increasingly difficult to find a "C -Suite" or Executive Officer caliber person who can even claim a mastery of even one.

Here they are

1) The knowledge of what needs to be done;

2) The knowledge of how to actually do what needs to be done, subject to budgetary and temporal constraints, as well as other pressuring parameters or limiting conditions;

3) The knowledge of how to implement, to put into coordinated, cooperative action, what must be done given the resources available and the limitations imposed.

While some very brilliant and highly successful individuals are not experts in all three categories, most of these people have a viable, fluid working knowledge of all three of these skill set requirements, and know how to enlist or recruit the assistance in partnership or collaboration of their most needed counterparts. A strong leader knows his or her areas of weakness, and either strengthens them, or engages the services of another who comes pre-qualified.

Go ahead. Take Command. Assess yourself honestly, take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses in accord with the simple list above, and work to exercise the weak 'management muscles' while recruiting talent to complement your strengths and to cover for your deficiencies.

As a personal note based upon my own failures in many project and program efforts through a long career, don't let pride ever get in the way of your assembling a team with all of the vital areas addressed.

Douglas E Castle [http://aboutDouglasCastle.blogspot.com]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leaders Cannot Hide - Aftershocks And Recoveries

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A few brief word about leadership and what it entails at its most difficult times...during the brief pause after something has happened that either been caused by your command, or is going to call into question your ability to lead. Aftershocks - those lonely, intense and frightening moments: after you've made an unpopular but righteous and necessary decision; after you have made a poor decision that has cost many; when your team, constituents or adversaries (i.e., your most tenacious detractors) are looking to place blame (and you are an obvious and opportune target). In summary, in those critical periods when most Human Beings would instinctively choose to run or hide.

How you handle yourself in the aftermath of a crisis, or at the telltale signs of a "no confidence" vote, when you will be unable to simply run and hide, and your secondary conditioned response program will be to either become 1) terribly angry or 2)very defensive, will truly define you. These are the very opportunities to separate yourself from the ranks of others who would blindly run with the crowd, and those escape artists who will do or say anything (or nothing) in order to escape attention or accountability.

Now (and not later) is the time to address the buzz. Now is the time to stand up straight and tall and hold a press conference. You must take the lead. You are obligated, as a commander, and as a true adult, to send a message. Now is the time to be fully accountable, but without excuses, feeble explanations, a 'politically proper' retreat, displacing blame, or providing the detailed account of a servant or an assistant. You must:

1) Get right to the heart of the issue;

2) Briefly summarize the situation as it truly is;

3) Claim absolute responsibility for your decisions, either good or bad, and regardless of the outcome;

4) If you've caused pain or loss, say that you're sorry for those affected - but don't belabor this point;

5) Move right on, and talk about what your next steps will be. Being swiftly decisive is every bit as important as being right. Don't surrender your position of authority. Remember: You are holding court, and you must not act as if you are on trial. Don't stay and address petty questions - be direct, but sharp -- you must leave because you either have a business, an organization or a country to lead. And your job is to do exactly that.

Leaders must lead. By definition, a leader cannot ever hide. He or she must retain command and control.

Douglas E Castle [http://www.linkedin.com/in/douglascastle]


Monday, September 19, 2011

TAKING COMMAND: New Power And Leadership Tools

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Dear Readers:

When you are able to find a quick moment, I would be deeply appreciative if you would be kind enough to visit the actual site for this blog, located at http://TakingCommand.blogspot.com and take some time to explore the site and look through our extensive library of links and our trends, breaking news and RSS feeds sections. It is our intention to provide excellent articles (original content which you'll not find elsewhere, but also to be a resource, research and reference center for you to bookmark as one of your favorities.

If you have additional links to resources (websites or blogs) or to RSS feeds which yoiu think would be of benefit to other of our readers and colleagues, please suggest them in a comment of this post, and I will see to it that they are given serious attention. Your input is heartily encouraged.

As always, thank you for reading me, and for your referral of this site to your friends and associates.


Douglas E Castle

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Managing Relationships - Walking On Eggshells

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Relationships require management and maintenance. Without these psychological nutrients, death ensues, and a bridge is either burned or washed out.  Open, honest and occasionally rapid-fire (back-and-forth) communications are required to gauge the nature of the relationship as the participants each independently evolve, and as the relationship, of necessity, changes its structure in order to accommodate the changing requirements, expectations and circumstances of both members.

If you cannot maintain an open and unfettered two-way channel of honest communications in a relationship, it will never be suitable for a partnership or a joint effort. These relationships are inherently limited in terms of utility. They are generally not worth a significant investment of your time -- with the occasional exception of a very private, or guarded person who only becomes voluntarily communicative when he or she feels safe and unthreatened, and has the comfort of familiarity.

And in a relatively new relationship (or even an established one which is 'up for review') where you feel as if you are walking on eggshells because of either a) the other person's volatile, or hair-trigger personality, b) your reasonable fear that if you say the 'wrong thing' that person will no longer be receptive to your advances or initiatives, you must acknowledge the fact that your relationship, and its entire basis, may either be entirely one-sided or completely fictional -- in even terming it a relationship, you may be making an unrealistic assessment.

If you feel the tension of constantly walking a tightrope in your interaction with another person, trust your commander's instincts...something exists between you and the other participant which is not quite right. And it is better to do a flamenco dance on those eggs as early on in the game as possible (and perhaps make a Spanish omelet), than to continue to invest time in cultivating that which has no true potential.

The question:  Isn't it better to find out earlier if you are wasting your time, rather than to invest emotionally, financially and otherwise in a meaningless, one-sided campaign? It is far better to know precisely where you stand in a relationship as soon as possible, than to continue to water a dead tree, or indulge in a fantasy which is keeping you from addressing reality. Why invest resources into or develop dependencies upon things that are so tenuous and tentative.

When you feel as if you must walk on eggshells in order to sustain a relationship, there might not even be a relationship there. It is best to put on your motorcycle boots and speak front-and-center, and toe-to-toe [I normally avoid cliches like the plague] to the other person. Honesty and confrontation can often prove to be a leader's greatest weapons in the arsenal of tools to save precious time. Why tiptoe around a sleeping lion?

Importantly, when you save your precious time, you are doing the other person a favor as well, albeit not quite as obvious.

Life is an experiment and the world is your laboratory. Get out and start scrambling some eggs. Now.

Douglas E. Castle


Thursday, September 08, 2011


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Personnel inside the data processing center fo... We are all curious to know the business (and the motivations) of others. As much as we wish to preserve or privacy and keep our secrets, we want to be able to gather instant on anyone and anything, even if this is not for any particular reason, or with any objective in mind at all. You might wish to take a peek at my article of earlier today on IARPA, and then click the "BACK" button on your browser so that you can read this.

As a leader, a soldier, a negotiator or as a strategic planner in business, you are always looking to obtain the "edge" by knowing more about the other parties of interest than they know about you. We like our adversaries (real or imagined) to be transparent to us, while we wish to to be poker-faced and opaque to them.

As a commander, it is often necessary for you to widen the gap to the greatest extent possible between how much you know about others, and how much they know about you.

Knowledge is indeed power (if acted upon). Additionally, it is a quirk of Human Nature that if others think that you know more about them than you actually do, you will start with an advantage in terms of your powers of persuasion, negotiation and interrogation.

Lastly, your mystique (the aspects of you that arouse curiosity and stimulate imagination) adds to your magnetism. The more that people do not quite know about you, the more curious they become. But then, if you don't give them a bit of material about yourself to ponder (hints, references to things, quickly interrupted stories), and to "amp up" the curiosity coefficient, they might think that you are unimportant or simply a bore.

The idea is to drop adequate nuanced hints that those around you become obsessed with knowing more. They will be more attentive to you, will listen more carefully to you, and will be more forthcoming about themselves in hopes of drawing you out. You want those who follow you, or who deal with you in social or business commerce to think that you are a vast storehouse of valuable knowledge and that you already 'have the goods' on them.

A good bluff (i.e., having those around you think that you know much more about them than you actually do, or that you possess information which could be tremendously valuable to them, were they to acquire it from you) gives you a strategic advantage.

Ask any seasoned interrogator how much information others freely give away (to the point of confessing and surrendering all kinds of things) based upon some mere suppositions [hypotheses] on the part of the interrogator which he poses boldly to the subject as if they were indisputable facts, instead of as questions. If one of his hypotheses proves remotely correct, it could serve as the lever to have the subject (or, in your case, your counterpart, your adversary, your charge, or whomever) believe that he or she is merely confirming facts that you already know -- and you are actually acquiring new information.

That is the most interesting and ironic thing about inconspicuously and seemingly effortlessly gathering intelligence as a leader; the more that others think that you already know, the more that they will tell you what you want to find out. The other part of the game is to keep them guessing about you ... who you really are, what you really know, and what your intentions might be. A good bluff can unlock many doors.

Cases-In-Point: How many times has someone told you, with conviction, that "I know exactly what you've been doing," or "I know what you you're thinking, and you might just want to reconsider before you make a big mistake," or, my favorite... "I think that you have something to tell me..."  when you've just come in from somewhere.

Great revelations have come forth as a result of this type of presumptive intelligence gathering -- stating a question as casually and offhandedly as a fact.

These ploys consistently work in the ongoing interpersonal and societal game of Intelligence versus Privacy.

Of course, you would like to have high-quality, reliable and detailed intelligence at your disposal prior to entering into any transaction, negotiation or other interaction, and you should, in playing your role, invest in intelligence-gathering strategies, alliances and technologies. But when you do not have access to the information you truly want, let others believe that you do in order for them to confirm what they assume you already know.

If you appear to be a great "knower of things" as well as a "keeper of very valuable secrets," your power ranking will rise.

And if you just drop hints (intimation instead of information) about where you've been and about needing to leave for your 'next meeting' you ranking will rise further still.

You must learn how to act in order to play any role. And please, make no mistake about it -- you are always on stage. The world in which we live gives you no other option, with the exception of hiding in the shadows.


Douglas E Castle

TNNWC Management Consulting Services

Intelligence Versus Privacy - The Game Of Power. Being a leader requires that you cultivate a tremendous understanding of behavioral psychology, and an accepting the fact that you are constantly on stage, playing a role. The loneliest and perhaps the most strenuous aspect of command may well be the fact that you can never step 'out of character' and into yourself.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Public Speaking: Your Command Opportunity.

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You are judged firstly by your general appearance; secondly, by the way in which you carry yourself (superb posture, purposeful stride, slight swagger), and thirdly, by the way in which you speak. If you are to lead, you must refine your public and private speaking to perfection. Words are tools, weapons, conveyances and a means of initiating action. Superb communications skills are crucial in your advancement toward your greatest successes in every aspect of your career.

I've spoken about this before in my SENDING SIGNALS! Blog [http://SendingSignals.blogspot.com], and in my personal blog at http://aboutDouglasCastle.blogspot.com.

Incidentally, while it is an enormous asset to have a broad vocabulary and a tremendous command of your language, these things are not quite as important as the way in which you deliver your message. Every speech is an opportunity to gain territory and influence.
Public Speaking Can Either Be Terrifying, Or The Ultimate Power Trip.
It's actually all up to you.
Photo Embed From: Images By Douglas Castle (blog)

Most individuals tend to be desperately afraid of speaking before audiences -- and by the term "audiences," I mean any assembly of persons from a conference room with twelve people seated at a long rectangular mahogany table, or an auditorium or corporate conference center speaking room, with a crowd of 400 people who are either falling asleep in their seats (the standard lecture hall configuration), or perhaps a grand dining hall where people are busily eating and drinking (food and drink were their principal reasons for coming) and carrying on multiple conversations which converge upon you in a deafening roar of indistinct, unintelligible noise. Welcome...

Actionable Skill: Business Leaders, Executives, Entrepreneurs: Power Up Your Public Speaking!

Return On Investment (ROI): Your ability to comfortably command and control an audience is one of the key skills which will propel you to a position of dominance and authority within your company, profession or industry. Stating the obvious (which is part of inimitable style), all of this domination and authority leads to an increase in your income and wealth.

The Tactics And Strategy To Get You There:

You have to make a choice.

You must either master your audience, as a puppeteer plays his puppets, or you can be frightened, stammering and sweating -- and lose their respect as well as their attention. The way you internally address the situation (the "context" as either Gladwell or Milgram would call the environment, as you perceive it, or as your obnoxious subconscious mind, with its nagging, self-limiting, self-conscious, self-doubting whisperings would have you perceive it), will determine whether you will either have a wonderful experience of exhilaration and victory, or a disabling one that will land you on the therapist's couch before, probably wearing Depends Adult Diapers and crying your mental health investment away.

Before you even begin to speak, you must bear several important factors in mind; it even helps to recite them to yourself repeatedly -- as a pre-speech "mantra." They are basic truths about the group (whatever group) you are about to address. You need to know these factors, and believe absolutely in their truth if you truly wish to take command of the speaking platform and have what will turn out to be an exhilarating experience. The author (Douglas E. Castle, Chairman of TNNWC Group, LLC) is not being sarcastic...an empowering, transformative experience.*

*NOTE: If you are a follower of Braintenance (for cognitive enhancement, increasing intelligence, exercising your mind's "muscle" mass, improving your thinking skills, life extension, unleashing creativity, powering up memory and recall, and, generally speaking, 'training and maintaining your brain,' you will find some excellent fodder for your mental mill in studying the content which follows.

The Truth (The Factors) About Your Audience:

1)  They are all fearful of public speaking themselves. They are, in fact, empathetically frightened for you. They are picturing themselves in your role - and they are actually feeling a bit frightened;

2)  They are likely bored, and would like to be somehow brought out of their boredom. If you stood up on the stage on one leg playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the kazoo, they would be far happier than just continuing with their attempts at staying awake, making smalltalk, or feeling out of place. In fact, if you could stand on one leg, play the kazoo, and juggle three avocados...well...that would be fabulous.

3) They are, at least initially after the first "hush", at your command, and are actually more susceptible to your ideas when you are at the podium; they perceive you in an elevated status -- professional and authoritative. Know this, be aware of it, and use it to your decided advantage. You are in charge.

Douglas E Castle

Friday, September 02, 2011

Three Things That Terrify Us.

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There are three things that terrify us. If one of them doesn't, it is highly likely that another one or both of the remaining two will. They are just things to keep in mind in the interest of either 1) defending yourself without inflicting any pain or exerting any physical force, or 2) not being as easily frightened by these things if you should be exposed to them. Incidentally, one of these three things is something that you may not have too much control over (personally) -- but just hearing about it will make you fear it just a bit less.

1) A person suddenly speaking loudly, erupting in an agitated tone at someone else (or even no one else) in a public place where the decorum generally calls for "quiet" (i.e., the teller line at a bank, in the library, in an art gallery, in a movie theater, in the waiting room a an oncologist's office, etc.);

2) A person who begins to to twitch violently and "shadow box" with a nonexistent other, all the time muttering angrily. This has saved my scrawny neck on a few late-night subway rides coming home from the city. The few people in my subway car, all started to shuffle away, or to avoid eye contact by carefully studying their shoes. The real victory came when two fellows were hustling through the car for "change." -- I knew I had mastered the "insanity defense" when one of them looked briefly at me, and then at this partner, and said (quietly), "Let's keep moving. This dude is crazy."

3) A person who has red hair, light eyes and light skin. People are frightened of redheads. I am not certain exactly why.

As for David Caruso, I have it on reasonable authority (which falls far short of "good" authority, or actually knowing personally), that he might well be an albino fellow who dyes his hair red, wears blue contact lenses and just happens to have a powerfully dramatic voice. You might want to go out and dye your hair red -- unless you are somewhat past middle age, in which case you might look more comical than menacing.

The world is your laboratory. Go out and experiment.

Douglas E Castle



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