Workplace Wisdom

01 Apr 2014

Two Truths and Four Ways of Driving Successful Change

Declaring the need for change is not enough. And implementing a “change program” may not even be enough to get you the change you want. The basic bargain of an effective change initiative is that if we keep expending effort, we’ll see the impact. No matter what changes you’re considering or attempting — whether you’re trying to shift personal health habits or organizational tone and values — the last things you’ll want to hear are: “We don’t do it that […]

25 Mar 2014

To Follow the Leader, Employees Need a Sense of Direction

Most employees want to know where their leaders are headed before they’ll follow with energy and enthusiasm. But if they can’t tell where you’re going or how you plan to get there, they’ll feel like they’re being left to wander — or even being abandoned — and they’ll become disheartened or disillusioned. So if you’re the leader, how can you get everyone on a single path — not in lockstep, but headed in the same general, purposeful direction? The Leadership […]

18 Mar 2014

How to Handle an Avoidant Colleague

Is it really possible to do good work with managers who are unwilling or incapable of accepting and absorbing bad news? Last week, in Stop Suppressing Your Staff’s Potential, we saw how a manager like this might face the possibility of change. But what if you’re the subordinate, colleague, or boss of someone who is avoidant at best, and downright passive-aggressive when things are going badly? I’ve worked with overwhelmed, deflective, and (just a few) downright destructive managers at multiple […]

04 Mar 2014

Don’t Threaten Me With the Truth

On a recent trip through yet another airport, I passed a man whining into his phone: “I cannot take any more bad news! I cannot!” It’s possible that he was having a terrible conversation about a personal tragedy. But it seemed much more likely that he had just hit his quota of annoyances and frustrations for the day. This particular call probably put him right over his limit, and he couldn’t think of a more creative response than kvetching. Some […]

14 Jan 2014

What’s Your Turning Radius?

You know this bit of slapstick comedy: A guy carrying a long plank on his shoulder spins around and without realizing it, whacks another guy in the head. Sometimes the second guy ducks, only to be hit later. And you probably know this more realistic, much less funny scenario too: High school students with enormous, overloaded backpacks are travelling on a New York City subway train. A few of the kids are beautifully apologetic when their loads accidentally graze other […]

26 Nov 2013

Talking Turkey

The Thanksgiving holiday affords us a lovely opportunity to acknowledge the things we’re grateful for. At some holiday gatherings, it’s a tradition to go around the table — or around the house, if the table isn’t big enough to accommodate all the guests — and actually give thanks to and about each other. Of course, we can give thanks anytime we want, and the more often we choose to do it, the better off we’ll feel. (See Stress Less: Kindness […]

08 Oct 2013

Catalyst for Connection: Try Being a Foul Weather Friend

So many companies and institutions claim that they are — or want to be — customer-centric. They stress how seriously they take the importance of relationships. But then they focus more on acquisition and hardly at all on retaining and strengthening relationships. One of the most straightforward ways to show people that they really matter is to maintain contact with them when they’ve had a hard time, are going through a rough patch, or have suffered a setback. You don’t […]

24 Sep 2013

Not as Expected: Eliminating Contradictory Messages

On a two-way, two lane stretch of road in the Berkshires, the kind that’s dotted with numerous one- and two-story industrial and commercial buildings, we passed a structure that had a large local bank logo on the front, and in front of that, a large sign that said, emphatically: OPERATIONS CENTER Not a banking office I wish I had been quick enough to take a photo. Do you act in ways that announce that you’re not really what your other […]

27 Aug 2013

This is How Connected Leaders Ensure Progress

Let’s say your team feels deeply connected to you, and all team members are committed to the same things you’re committed to. Your team feels comfortable enough with you to express any disagreement they have with the organization’s stated policies or work processes, and also directly with you and your opinions. They have confidence you count on them to let you know when they think something’s wrong, or when they can see something that you don’t see. They trust that […]

13 Aug 2013

How to Accept Feedback Gracefully as a Connected Leader

As a Connected Leader, you’re usually open to hearing whatever your team members have to say. You know them well and you’re skillful about encouraging them to speak. The challenge is to be able to tolerate — nay, welcome — any ideas they have that are different from yours. If you have any real authority at all, most people will agree with you publicly, because they assume that it’s not safe to share their disagreements with the leader. Instead, they’ll […]


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