Look for Susan's Columns

Moving Beyond Labels

Posted by Susan Cramm on 6:18 PM Tuesday March 29, 2016 under

We label people all the time. It’s natural and instinctive. Levi is creative and disorganized. John is disciplined but lacks people skills. Leah’s anxiety impacts her results.  

Labels are useful. But they are often wrong. In her book, No One Understands You and What to Do About It (Harvard Business Review Press, 2015), Heidi Grant Halvorson explains why, and offers some crucial insight into how leaders can move away from instant labeling and instead come to see people for who they are — and for who they can be. To read more, click here.

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How To Grow Into An Original Person

Posted by Susan Cramm on 8:25 PM Tuesday March 22, 2016 under ,

Most professors find the insight that leads to new books in pools of data, focus groups, or controlled studies. Adam Grant, the young Wharton professor who made waves with his 2013 book, Give and Take, got the idea for his latest volume in the real world. In a recent interview, Grant told me that several years ago, he passed on an opportunity to invest in Warby Parker, the wildly successful online glasses retailer. Why? He didn’t recognize the potential and originality of the company’s founders and their business model. “I study behavior for a living, and I was still wildly wrong,” Grant said. “What can we learn from that?”  To read more, click here.

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Catalyzing Change: Go Slow To Go Fast

Posted by Susan Cramm on 5:46 PM Tuesday January 26, 2016 under ,

January, and the New Year, inevitably bring resolutions of change, particularly regarding work and productivity. But change can be painful and difficult. As a leadership coach, I find it heartbreaking when the promises of change unfulfilled demoralize people and create the cynicism that breeds inertia-plagued organizations. To read more, click here.

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Becoming The Best Version of Yourself

Posted by Susan Cramm on 5:15 PM Tuesday January 12, 2016 under ,

“You made me a better person.”

It was a sweet moment with a client, offered up at the culmination of our coaching relationship. A man of few words was expressing a sense of peace with the leader — and person — he had become. To read more, click here.

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Wanted: Leaders Who Use Their Power For Good

Posted by Susan Cramm on 1:11 PM Sunday November 08, 2015 under ,

After writing my last column, an overview of the very disheartening book called Leadership BS, I practically had to wipe my tears off of my keyboard. To read more, click here.

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If you haven’t read the book Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time, by Stanford business school professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, you are missing out. Pfeffer lambasts the leadership development industry — including business schools, human resource departments, authors, and leadership programs and coaches — for being clueless about the harsh political realities of the workplace, and for promoting behaviors that are aspirational rather than practical. To read more, click here.

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Help, I Need Somebody (At The Office)

Posted by Susan Cramm on 10:52 AM Tuesday October 06, 2015 under ,

More than 15 years ago, I attended a workshop facilitated by Daniel Pink. He was explaining how businesspeople can thrive as free agents, and he stressed the importance of getting comfortable with asking for help. At the time, I was a free agent myself, and although I was already used to seeking help occasionally, Pink’s advice gave me the confidence to make it a more regular part of doing business. To read more, click here.

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Conflict Is A Matter of the Heart

Posted by Susan Cramm on 9:28 PM Tuesday August 18, 2015 under

Approaching difficult conversations with humility requires embracing curiosity and letting go of conviction.  To read more, click here.

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What's Love Got to Do with Business?

Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:25 PM Tuesday May 12, 2015 under

We all know the feeling: You check your calendar and see that you’re scheduled to spend an hour with that guy. You take several deep breaths, and go to a happy place in your mind — all to fortify yourself for what is sure to be another difficult meeting. He’s unpleasant, negative, and bossy; speaks too loud and too often; sucks the air out of the room.

You just don’t like him. To read more, click here.

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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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