Workplace Wisdom

03 May 2016

Has Business Fallen into the Gender Gap?

Over the next 10 years, if we were to focus on the financial benefits of achieving gender equality and made the necessary changes in hiring, career growth, and compensation, we could end up “adding an economy the size of Texas to the U.S.” That’s what Kweilin Ellingrud, a McKinsey Global Institute partner and the author of a new study, “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the United States,” recently told Bloomberg TV. The point is not that we […]

12 Apr 2016

On Playing Favorites

“I’m the goodest one, right?” asked the four-year-old girl. In the hotel restaurant, her clearly beleaguered grandmother was also supervising yammering twin five-year-olds, and a toddler crying for a Band-Aid. The situation provided the perfect analog for adult behavior I had witnessed earlier that day in a conference room. Multiple middle managers were jockeying for position in front of their boss — although not quite as explicitly or as charmingly as these kids. In the restaurant, the grandma did a […]

05 Apr 2016

The Surprising Truth about Consensus

Consensus sounds so nice: Everyone agrees and moves forward together. Kumbaya! Seems like a good thing, right? But here’s how one client described the way his company practices consensus (with my italics): “We have to take all these teeny little baby steps to get to consensus, one painful meeting after another. So by the time we get close, we’re all bought in, and we smile and swallow the Kool-Aid, even if it tastes like battery acid.” A Common Drawback to […]

22 Mar 2016

When a Longstanding Employee Is in a Slump

Has someone been on your team so long that their performance is tanking and they appear to have stopped engaging in the relationship? As one client described it to me: “I’m surprised to be feeling so dissatisfied — so frustrated! I tried to overlook what seemed small and petty because I didn’t want to be a control freak or a micromanager. But now it’s too much — he’s falling down on the job and doesn’t seem to notice or care.” […]

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 […]


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