Workplace Wisdom

08 Mar 2016

Primary Prognosis: You Can’t Be Conflict-Averse and Win

Any leader who doesn’t stand up when it’s time to stand up will not be a successful leader for the long term. A leader who is consistently unable or unwilling to stand up won’t ever get the chance to see if he could win in a fair, rule-based competition. Instead, as the saying goes, he’ll have to take his bat and ball and go home. For a Bully, Silence Doesn’t Mean Strength This post is about executive leadership, not politics, […]

01 Mar 2016

Want to Be Your Managerial Best? Try a Walk in the Woods

“You’re always saying how important it is to see the forest and the trees,” read the email from a guy I mentor. He’s a high-performing high potential whose career is at the inflection point between lower and middle management. I like this guy because whenever he doesn’t get something, he asks. He’s not so committed to looking smart that he misses opportunities for actually getting smarter. He asks questions so he can keep progressing. His email continued: “But how do […]

16 Feb 2016

Does “Radical Candor” Really Work?

Let’s talk about “radical candor” now, before it gets too popular. Radical candor, also known as “front-stabbing,” is the management “secret” of former Google director Kim Scott, and was recently discussed in Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal. Theoretically, this direct form of critique is meant to prevent the typical workplace passive-aggression, soft-pedaling, and avoidance of tough truths. It’s intended to produce better results for both individuals and the business by cutting to the heart of any misguided, ineffective […]

02 Feb 2016

Is a Passive-Aggressive Person Slowing Down Your Team?

“I’m at my wits’ end,” my client said during our monthly call, and he explained how frustrating interpersonal dynamics were hobbling his team, making them work smaller and less creatively. Mostly, he said, the problem was caused by a talented but difficult middle manager. “Instead of encouraging everyone to go for the best, he’s intimidating the staff out of innovating. He gripes through meetings instead of acting like a member of my leadership team — all while claiming he’s trying […]

19 Jan 2016

Can Your Midlevel Leaders Shift This Well?

The senior director sighed. He had just conducted the third interview of the afternoon, and we only had a couple of minutes to debrief before the next one. “How well do these candidates stack up?” I asked. “They’re kids,” he said. “They don’t stay very long — most of them only three, six, or nine months. Only a few go on to be long-term employees.” “Some of them turn out to be great, and a few end up being better […]

12 Jan 2016

Do You Work with a Prima Donna? 6 Tips for Coping

Have you paid the price when a melodramatic, self-aggrandizing team member has hurt your organization by spreading unnecessary chaos and discontent? “Artistes” like this have never learned how to share top billing, glory, or status and they’re rarely aware of how they aggravate their colleagues. Some people operate at this level of intensity to ensure they get the attention they believe they deserve. Instead of contributing to group esprit and collaboration, their primary focus is on themselves and how events […]

05 Jan 2016

The Leadership Styles of The Princess Bride

The slyly comic cult classic The Princess Bride has been in the news lately thanks to Republican presidential politics. It’s struck me that many of the leading roles show up from time to time in organizational life today, almost 30 years since the movie was made. So if you’re also a fan of The Princess Bride, you may recognize some of these types in your workplace. And if you haven’t seen the film yet, it’s a treat. But be warned: […]

08 Dec 2015

Have You Ever Worked with Anyone Like Donald Trump?

Trump. The very name encapsulates his behaviors: to outdo, undermine, outmaneuver, and win. The word isn’t exactly synonymous with teamwork, collaboration, or shared success. Not surprisingly, it’s tough working with someone who has Trump’s aggressiveness and arrogance, even when that person is relatively low down in the hierarchy. Can You Hear the Brass? When a Trump-type person is on point, he’s fabulous: sharp, engaged, hardworking, competent, and cocky; the combo gives him a veneer of super-effectiveness. But he’s been the […]

24 Nov 2015

Leaders: Take Care Bringing in New Team Members

Bringing a new executive on to the team almost always takes more work than expected. No matter how senior your team is, it can take significant effort to get the new person integrated with the incumbents, aligned on goals and strategy, and functioning smoothly so that the organization gets the full value of all parties’ various talents and expertise. You may need to be personally involved — at both the strategic and tactical levels — to avoid wasted time and […]

17 Nov 2015

Tips for Coping with New Colleagues

When a new executive joins your team, it can be frightening and frustrating. Their new ideas may not mesh with the current culture, strategy, or environment. You wish they understood how the company really works, or that they’d at least seem more open to learning about it. Try acting as the host: Give the new arrival the flavor of your team’s journey, including its history, traditions, grievances, and a sense of the old tribal culture. Meanwhile, seize the opportunity of […]

 

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