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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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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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Posted by Susan Cramm on 11:27 PM Tuesday May 13, 2014 under

When I grow up, I want to be Vicki Escarra.

Escarra is the CEO of Chicago-based nonprofit Opportunity International, an organization dedicated to eradicating poverty by providing microloans. From my perspective, she’s a rock star not only for what she does but also for how she got there. As she recently told me, Escarra lives by Howard G. Buffett’s philosophy that “each of us has about 40 chances to accomplish our goals in life.” To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 9:50 PM Tuesday April 15, 2014 under

Let me set the scene: This friend called me for advice about transitioning to a startup. She started the conversation by telling me why she’s leaving her current employer. After years on the fast track, always pegged as a high potential, she was sidelined—not because of her performance, but because of her pregnancy. To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:55 AM Tuesday March 25, 2014 under

Last week, a friend of mine quit her job without having another one lined up. (And she’s not independently wealthy; like most of us, she needs to work.) On the surface, her actions appear impetuous. But a deeper look reveals careful planning. For the past 18 months, Julia (not her real name) has been working two jobs: a day job and a “side hustle.”  To read more, click here

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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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Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:30 AM Tuesday March 04, 2014 under

Think back. Reflect on your career and write down your five biggest leadership disappointments.

If your experience is typical, your list will include losing top-quality talent. The memory of “suddenly” losing one of your best and brightest never seems to fade. The story is always the same: They weren’t looking, but a great opportunity just fell into their lap.

(Right. Sure it did.)

To read full length essay and take an interactive quiz, click here.

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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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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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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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Posted by Susan Cramm on 8:45 AM Friday January 03, 2014 under

Truth be told, I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to books about leadership—most of them lack the substance to justify their 200-plus pages. But there’s a new leadership book on the market entitled Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love (Portfolio, 2013), which has changed my mind a little. I found Joy, Inc. (and a subsequent interview with the author, Richard Sheridan) thought provoking, and, surprisingly, it left me wanting more. To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 3:26 PM Thursday December 12, 2013 under

We’ve all faced the same question during the course of our careers, sometimes more than once: Should I stay or should I go? But after asking ourselves this question, too many of us end up making nonsensical decisions. Last week, I had a conversation with an executive who was seriously considering a lateral move to a small, family-owned company. When I asked him why, his only justification was that he’s fed up with his company’s toxic environment. 

But running away is not a strategy that builds careers. When making job decisions, the best approach to leaving is actually doing everything you can to stay.  To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 10:40 PM Tuesday November 19, 2013 under

Working on your own, calling the shots, deciding what to do, when and for whom: often, the most effective way highly skilled professionals can get their jobs to work for them is to work for themselves. As I’ve already shown, the entrepreneurially minded may decide to “lean out” and start a company they want to work within. But others—particularly those facing the dual demands of challenging careers and parenting—may not have the time or resources to start their own firms. Instead, they can lean out in their own way, by setting up shop as sole practitioners.  To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 9:44 PM Monday October 28, 2013 under

Fifteen years ago, Lori Patterson—a self-professed “accomplish-aholic”—walked away from a Fortune 500 company to join the ranks of the unemployed. She was done; she had finished working under a dysfunctional and disconnected system of leaders who took advantage of committed professionals by constantly moving the finish line and exerting their power rather than sharing it. After years of prioritizing work over family—and feeling terrible about it—she realized she had to make a dramatic change. To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 1:49 PM Monday October 14, 2013 under

Meet Dave. To his bosses, he’s an experienced executive who gets results with the company’s best interests in mind. But to many other people who work with and for him, Dave is a downer.

Dave likes to give lots of unsolicited advice. His need to be the smartest guy in the room means he makes decisions to which he (but nobody else) is committed. His poor listening skills prevent him from tapping into the gifts, passions, and abilities of others. His proclivity to find fault breaks down spirits and relationships, as survival instincts cause people to turn inward and stop working as a team.To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 9:42 PM Monday September 30, 2013 under

Earlier this month, I traveled to Nepal as a volunteer with K.I. Nepal, a humanitarian NGO dedicated to ending human trafficking in that country.  Upon receiving an invitation to facilitate this workshop, my first response was a relatively emphatic “no.” After all, I reasoned, I don’t speak the language or understand the culture, I don’t have much experience working with NGOs, I don’t know much about human trafficking, and I harbor no desire to climb Everest. I thought there must be someone else more qualified and more motivated, all the while wondering why anybody would voluntarily trade their holidays for workdays in one of the poorest countries in the world, 8,000 miles from home. To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:36 AM Sunday September 08, 2013 under

He’s the guy next door. He’s a generous, gregarious, and hard-working dad with two kids. But because he made his living selling drugs, he’ll be in a federal prison for the next 20 years—an absentee player in his former life.

We’ve all heard this kind of anecdote before; it’s the same story with different names: Jeffrey SkillingBernard MadoffNick Leeson. Each tale is shocking in scope and scale. Each one continues to amaze, leaving those of us living honest, simple lives shaking our heads and asking, “How could they be so stupid?”  To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 12:08 PM Monday August 19, 2013 under

Think back. Reflect on your career and write down your top five leadership disappointments.

If your experience is typical, your list will include losing top-quality talent. The memory of “suddenly” losing one of your best and brightest never seems to fade. The story is always the same: They weren’t looking, but a great opportunity just fell into their lap (yeah, right).

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I remember the lazy days of my childhood summers, languishing in the grass, bored but too tired to move after spending most of the day in the community pool. No summer school for me. When I applied to college, anything above a 3.2 grade point average gained automatic admittance to a University of California school. Nobody asked, or cared, about my (nonexistent) extracurricular activities. And, even amid a recession, I left graduate school with a good-paying job and little concern about security.

The world isn’t so simple now. Although many of us—especially those raised in the U.S.—grew up in a world full of choice, our children are growing up in a world full of competition. We can’t give our children our past, but we can help them create a future by adopting an emerging-market mind-set that creates choices by making them more competitive. To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:44 AM Tuesday July 16, 2013 under

There’s no question that staying competitive requires change, and that change creates winners and losers. Every day, leaders make decisions that affect people’s lives. The challenge is to make them with heart, as if your children are watching.

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