Look for Susan's Columns

Speak Honestly, Lead Honorably

Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:21 PM Tuesday March 17, 2015 under ,

On a recent Saturday morning, around 2:00 a.m., I toured a corner of hell. It’s a lot closer than I thought it would be—around the corner from an amusement park near my home. To read more, click here.

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Defensive Behavior and the Bosses That Provoke It

Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:45 AM Monday January 12, 2015 under

Defensiveness. It’s ugly. We don’t want to do it, but we do it nonetheless. Driven by fear and emotion, our brains shut down and we lose the ability to think and relate to others. Being defensive has derailed many careers, as it impedes one’s ability to learn from mistakes, build strong interpersonal relationships, accept and benefit from differing  perspectives, accept accountability for poor outcomes, or take initiative. To read more, click here.

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Lead By Doing, Not By Delegating

Posted by Susan Cramm on 11:50 AM Monday August 04, 2014 under , ,

It’s just another day in leadership paradise. An important project is languishing—like a bad houseguest, it’s going nowhere, but no one is calling it out. As the head of your team, do you take the matter into your own hands and get the job done, or continue to slough it off on an unfortunate subordinate?  To read more, click here.

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Do Winners Give - Or Take - All?

Posted by Susan Cramm on 8:25 AM Thursday June 26, 2014 under ,

Matt (not his real name) is a classic taker. His office walls are a veritable ego-museum, laden with awards and photos depicting his many talents and cozy relationships with high-profile celebrities. Conversations and emails are peppered with personal pronouns, causing speculation about whether he earns a commission each time he uses one. In bad times, he asks for help, but in good times, he offers none. To read more, click here.

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Getting Fired For the Right Reasons

Posted by Susan Cramm on 10:17 AM Saturday June 14, 2014 under ,

You have to admire a leader with the courage to say to his team, “Chances are I’m going to get fired and, if so, I want to get fired for doing the right thing.” This is the philosophy of Wayne Shurts, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Sysco. With more than 18 years of experience in top-level positions in IT, e-business, supply chain management, sales operations, and logistics, Shurts has never been fired—and he probably never will be. In my experience, leaders with the courage to do what’s right, without fearing possible repercussions, rarely are.  To read more, click here.

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Encouraging The Next Generation

Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:33 PM Thursday March 06, 2014 under ,

This blog post is in honor of two women who have dedicated their lives to helping children transform into young adults. In particular, they made a profound impact on the life of a 13-year-old girl named Sarah, who shares her story. To read more, click here.

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Would Your Employees Work For Free?

Posted by Susan Cramm on 12:08 PM Monday February 24, 2014 under ,

Here’s the ultimate leadership litmus test: Would your employees still work for you if you didn’t pay them?  

To answer this question, I traveled to Saddleback Church, a so-called mega church that wouldn’t be able to fulfill its mission without volunteers. On a typical Sunday at its main campus in Lake Forest, Calif. (where I visited), more than 1,000 volunteers are needed to make sure that the 20,000 attendees are welcomed, parked, fed, inspired, and connected. To read more, click here.

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Ugly-Sweater Leadership Moments

Posted by Susan Cramm on 12:12 PM Tuesday February 11, 2014 under

The lead-up to the Olympics brings plenty of opportunities for us all to anticipate, and reflect on, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Life, and leadership, serve them up in large measure. Sometimes, whether we win or lose is out of our hands—but often we play both victim and villain. To read more, click here.

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Leadership Gone Viral

Posted by Susan Cramm on 12:09 PM Saturday January 18, 2014 under ,

As a leadership coach, I’ve developed a bit of a crush on Pope Francis. And I’m not alone.

What makes my heart go pitter-patter over Francis is that in less than nine months, he has quickly and effectively signaled who he is—and what he cares about—to billions of people. In order to lead remotely, Francis has used symbolic leadership, which amplifies and accelerates change by ensuring that every word and deed is carefully selected for maximum impact. Grounded in a firm understanding of his God-given mission and those who he is called to serve, he is readying his organization for change by carefully choosing his words and purposefully aligning those same words to his deeds. To read more, click here

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5 Ways to Fix Your High Value Jerks

Posted by Susan on 8:01 AM Tuesday April 10, 2012 under

Talented jerks. Every organization has them. They’re knowledgeable and relentless. They’re the “go-to” resource whenever there’s a crisis or an important project. They get things done but they leave bruises by micromanaging and intimidating their colleagues and reports.

You hate their behavior, but love their results. You don’t want to fire them; you want to fix them.

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Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Steve Jobs

Posted by Susan on 9:19 AM Thursday March 01, 2012 under

I finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs over Christmas break and I can’t stop thinking about it.

The book disturbed me. I love Apple products; I wanted to admire Steve Jobs. But I don’t.

Great leaders don’t call people names. They don’t treat a person like a prince one day and a serf the next. They don’t practice intimidating stares in the mirror. They don’t treat relationships as if they were commodities to be traded.

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Another Folly With Technology: What You Should Do

Posted by Susan on 7:15 AM Tuesday January 10, 2012 under ,

Smart people can make stupid decisions. Case in point: business executives who decide they can address their technology needs without involving IT, responding to the IT supply-and-demand crunch that afflicts so many enterprises today.  In my experience, nobody wins in these do-it-yourself projects.

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Another Folly With Technology: What Would You Do?

Posted by Susan on 8:03 PM Monday November 21, 2011 under ,

There’s a chill in the air, the chill of fear. 

Sales and profits are down. A new CEO is in town. The head of manufacturing is gone, and the supply-chain head may be the next to roll -- unless she can deliver some wins.  She has a plan: Rationalize the vendors, realign accountabilities, and roll out new technology to the field.

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The Schizophrenic CFO-CIO Relationship

Posted by Susan on 7:51 AM Tuesday October 18, 2011 under

A productive CIO-CFO relationship is critical to the successful exploitation of technology. And, in general, CIOs find the relationship difficult and frustrating to navigate.

One of the root causes of the frustration stems from the fact that when it comes to IT, CFOs serve multiple and often conflicting roles: CFO's are IT's business partner, banker, and in some cases, boss. This means that in a given work week, it's not unusual for CFOs to request additional IT support, cut the IT budget, and criticize the CIO's progress in strengthening the company's competitive position.


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Why Can't My CIO Be More Like Me?

Posted by Susan on 6:24 PM Thursday June 24, 2010 under

Every profession has its stereotype. Operations guys are risk averse. Marketing types are emotional. Finance wonks are narrow-minded. CIOs are interpersonally awkward and out of step with the business.

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Is The Typical CIO a "Gear Guy?"

Posted by Susan on 6:24 PM Wednesday June 09, 2010 under

In a large ballroom with 250 CIOs, an industry leading CIO takes the podium to discuss how his company leveraged cloud-based email services to quickly deliver email capability to a newly acquired company. He delivers a punchy, succinct presentation and finishes with about 30 minutes to spare. I start packing up, certain that the Q&A will be short and sweet. Instead, I witness 30 minutes of collective handwringing about cloud-based email: What about the service levels? Aren't the costs higher? Are you really comfortable putting company information into the cloud? Can the vendor really deliver?

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How to Get Along With Frenemies

Posted by Susan on 6:15 PM Wednesday January 27, 2010 under

You've got senior level buy-in, authority, and resources for your project. But you're lacking a few critical supporters. A few people in the middle of your organization are making it tough for you to get your job done. Their mouths say, "Yes," but their actions say, "Yes, but..."

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Are You Committing Leadership Malpractice?

Posted by Susan on 6:14 PM Wednesday January 20, 2010 under

There's only one kind of leadership malpractice: wasting the lives of those we lead.

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Five Ways to Lead With More Compassion

Posted by Susan on 6:14 PM Monday January 11, 2010 under

Question: When working with IT, how can you tell the difference between an introvert and an extrovert?

Answer: The extrovert looks at your shoes.

We label people. Everyone does it.

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How Are You Defying "Best Practice"?

Posted by Susan on 6:09 PM Friday September 11, 2009 under

My last post raised the question, "Why does management behavior often diverge from "broadly accepted" theory or best practice?" In response, you shared insights as to why best practices aren't always practical or desirable and, instead, what should be done to (in your words) avoid "giving up on differentiation" and use best practices as "the basis for innovative practices."

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