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Seuss on leadership: Just what the 'Doctor' ordered

Francie Dalton
Francie Dalton, CMC, is president of Dalton Alliances, Inc., a Maryland-based business consultancy. She is the author of Versatility: How to Optimize Interactions When 7 Workplace Behaviors Are at their Worst.

Unlike most children's stories, the Dr. Seuss series taught us that life is anything but a fairy tale. The charming yet honest representation of the challenges we face as adults guided us through our childhood nightmares and gave us simple advice of timeless relevance.

Leaping out from every page of the Dr. Seuss books are words of wisdom that apply to all kinds of nightmares -- even those that are work-related. On the week when we celebrate the master's 106th birthday, perhaps these original rhymes, inspired by Seuss's magical words, will help you tackle your business nightmares.

Seuss-ism #1: "As you partake of the world's bill of fare...do a lot of spitting out the hot air and be careful what you swallow. (Commencement address at Lake Forest College, June 1977)

You may have some Grinches among those you lead--
And pruning them out can be tricky indeed!
You counsel, and coach, and cajole till you're hoarse,
But Grinches you keep you're perceived to endorse.

Seuss-ism #2: "So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's a great balancing act." ("Oh! The Places You'll Go")

They're waiting in line to be noticed by us,
Priorities everywhere making a fuss.
Leaders who balance competitive needs
are those who get started on just the right deeds.

Seuss-ism #3: "Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple." ("Oh! The Places You'll Go")

Too often decisions are waylaid by noise,
the path is obscured, and it's hard to stay poised.
But guiding your staff to know wheat from the chaff,
You'll soon cut down rework at least by a half.

Seuss-ism # 4: "You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room." ("Oh! The Places You'll Go")

It's so lonely up there, in leadership land,
you'll dream of a hero, a magical hand.
Remember to take an occasional pause,
digging down deep to connect with your cause.

Seuss-ism # 5: "I'm sorry to say so but, sadly it's true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you." ("Oh! The Places You'll Go")

Self-confidence comes from not running away;
And facing your challenges day after day.
If you're holding back the hard things you should say,
Then certainly staff will not grow the right way.

Seuss-ism # 6. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." ("The Lorax")

Delegation is good, sometimes it's essential,
but leaders can't always be vice-presidential.
When time comes to shine, you'll need all of your passion,
Remember, your brilliance is not to be rationed.

Seuss-ism #7. "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant: An elephant is faithful 100 percent." ("Horton Hatches the Egg")

Consistent and credible, that's what we want,
not PowerPoints in some new fancied up font.
Be quick to show loyalty, back up your folks,
and brush off the egg-shells when others throw yolks.

Seuss-ism # 8: "I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!" (Attributed)

Just think for a while like a real saboteur,
And then you will find every possible burr.
You'll notice whatever is slightly awry,
And what could be done by the terribly sly.

Seuss-ism # 9: "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." (Attributed)

The polish and power you show from the stage,
Inspires and makes you become all the rage.
It's you, not a robot your staff wants to see,
So help them conclude it's with you they should be.

Seuss-ism # 10: "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." ("Green Eggs and Ham")

By nourishing spirits and minds of your staff,
It's your expectations they're sure to surpass.
More wondrous than this is when leaders can see
The truthful reveal of the "me" I can be!

By Francie Dalton

 |  March 3, 2010; 11:19 AM ET |  Category:  Humor Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I am puzzled by incorrect attributions in this list. To set the record straight: "Seuss-ism # 8" is a direct quote from "I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew." "Seuss-ism # 10" is NOT from "Green Eggs and Ham," but from "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

Posted by: los22 | March 4, 2010 12:26 PM

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