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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.