Workplace Wisdom

29 Mar 2016

Failure: Is it a Winning or Losing Strategy?

Failure isn’t always preventable. Sometimes truly disastrous things happen. But failing isn’t always the end of the world. For some people, it’s the start of success. Traditionally, failure had a moral cast. If you failed, you were perceived as irresponsible, as if you should or could have known better. But according to The Art of Failing Upward, a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, “In the start-up world, failure is in,” particularly when certain entrepreneurs are treated as […]

09 Feb 2016

How Much Clutter Is Okay?

Earlier this month, I had a funny correspondence with a favorite client. He claimed to have returned from vacation “to a clean desk with a relatively clear mind.” I gave him full credit for his clear mind, but I teased him about the clean desk because he’s often in the middle of several projects at once, and his desk is usually piled with documents and publications. In reply, he sent me a photo of what really was a pretty bare […]

10 Nov 2015

When You’re New, Try a Little Humility

Most new hires at senior levels come in full of ideas, gumption, and, perhaps, a tacit assumption that things must not have been going perfectly before they were hired. They arrive believing they are going to make a significant difference for the business and bring it the success it hasn’t yet achieved. But even if all those assumptions were true, the new person doesn’t automatically get a halo upon arrival, and success rarely follows immediately. So if you’re the new […]

06 Oct 2015

How to Close the Credibility Gap

How do you demonstrate credibility with your team members, colleagues, and boss so that they’ll have confidence in you? The biggest chunk of credibility is keeping your commitments. It’s not enough to appear — or to be — eager or compliant. You have to deliver: on time, and on spec or better. “We’ll See,” “Let Me Think About It,” and Other Falsehoods If you’re unaware of your “tells” — those automatic, unconscious behaviors that demonstrate something you’re otherwise trying to […]

29 Sep 2015

How to Talk — and Listen — to Yourself

Self-improvement can seem like too much work if you don’t feel strong enough or you’re not quite sure you’re worth the investment. People in Western cultures often find it difficult to be kind to themselves. Sure, we’re pretty skilled at self-indulgence, such as applying ice cream or scotch, going on buying sprees, or just letting ourselves off the hook when we don’t want to be responsible. But letting ourselves be irresponsible doesn’t work. What we need is a loving firmness […]

04 Aug 2015

When to Stop Trying So Hard

Some executives are too hard on themselves. They anticipate failure or disaster when all they’re really facing is the relentless, ongoing effort that’s necessary for leadership and management success. They let fear and anxiety take up headspace and sap their energies, when what they really need to do is apply their intensity to thoughtful decision-making and focused thinking. Instead of Getting Down on Yourself Here’s an illustration: Recently I had an extensive back-and-forth via phone and email with a nonprofit […]

21 Jul 2015

How to Keep From Drowning in Your Own Thoughts

Are you stuck somewhere inside your head, talking to yourself about things you want to change? Are you stressing over how stalled you feel, or fixating on why the situation is so awful? No wonder you can’t sleep at night and feel fretful all day! Why not get some benefit out of your worries and doubts? Move them out of your head, where they’re scrambling like countless little hamsters on a squeaky hamster wheel. Externalize them so you can use […]

28 Apr 2015

The Benefit of the Benefit of the Doubt

I hate to be in default or in the wrong, or to create a problem for someone. So I was quite distressed when I was scolded by a client’s administrator — not someone I usually work with — for being unresponsive and not sending in some materials. Is Anything Really Wrong? My first internal reaction was defensive justification: “Of course I sent it in!” My second internal reaction was doubt: “Oh my! What if I didn’t send it in! What […]

10 Mar 2015

8 Things to Do to Be a Better Leader, Part 2

Whether you’re an experienced leader, an emerging leader, or a developer of leaders, you’re always looking for ways to help employees do better and feel better at work. Last week’s post covered four priority areas to help you work toward better performance with your team and within your organization. This week, we’ll look more closely at self-awareness and self-management as crucial aspects of leadership. Here are four things you can do to make a significant contribution to your leadership success […]

03 Mar 2015

8 Ways to Be a Better Leader, Part 1

A number of readers wrote in about my recent post, 20 Questions for Leadership Success. They agreed that the questions for assessing their leadership were valid and useful. But they were concerned about how to make real progress in those areas where they didn’t feel strong enough, particularly if they didn’t have personal access to a consultant, coach, or even a dedicated buddy who could help them in concrete ways. Of course their specific questions and needs were all different. […]

 

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