Workplace Wisdom

05 Jul 2016

How to Get the Best from an Anxious Leader

After working for a number of months with a vice president who’s had a successful career trajectory in a well-regarded firm, I realized that every few years I meet leaders who are noticeably anxious — even among the senior ranks. They’re usually intelligent, knowledgeable, technically proficient people who care about others and want to perform well for their organization’s sake as well as their own. Unfortunately, they may not have had the right development at crucial points in their careers, […]

28 Jun 2016

When Being Strategic Is a Weakness

During a recent visit to a client company, I spent time with two different leaders whose initiatives weren’t progressing satisfactorily. The first leader was chatty and made sweeping motivational statements. Her team was deeply committed, but their work had been dragging along at a slow pace, never meeting their growth targets. The second leader, who was less outgoing, was spearheading a new project that drew participants from various areas of the organization. The members of his ad hoc group were […]

21 Jun 2016

Four Conditions Required for Motivation

A successful sales manager was feeling demoralized and out of sorts. When we met for coffee, she sat knee to knee, radiating intensity. “Of course, motivating the team is one of my biggest responsibilities,” she told me. “But when the powers-that-be say, ‘Motivate the team,’ what they really mean is, ‘Get the results.’ My boss is under the gun for numbers, so it’s push, push, push all the time. “It’s true that not all my guys are meeting their targets. […]

14 Jun 2016

Getting Our Signals Crossed at Work

One day last week after lunch, while walking back to my office, I noticed a man parking in the last of four curbside spots in front of the Post Office. He maneuvered a bit and then stopped his car just as another car pulled up, right behind him where there was no official spot. The windows in the second car were open, so I could hear the driver exclaiming to her passenger: “What’s he doing?! Why doesn’t he move up!?” […]

31 May 2016

How to Bring Bad News to Your Boss

In most jobs, you have to learn how to integrate your leader into your plans. Unless you own or run the place yourself, part of your job is to help leadership be successful while you’re taking care of your own responsibilities. This holds true until you’re ready to walk away from the job, whether you love or respect your boss or not. Bringing the Bad News So how can you effectively deliver bad news or uncomfortable truths — stuff your […]

24 May 2016

Leading from the Middle of an Indifferent Leadership Team

A newly hired VP called me the other day, expressing frustration with her indecisive and apathetic colleagues. My unspoken response was: “They’re not even strong enough to be a Team of Rivals.” When a leadership group appears weak, confused, or in disarray, employees at all levels lose their drive and their heart. That’s a recipe for stasis and failure throughout the business. The VP’s question: How could she encourage her peers to come together and take steps to move the […]

17 May 2016

If You’re Not Wandering, You May Be Lost

When it comes to what’s going on in his business, one of my favorite CEOs has the humility to say, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” He wisely acknowledges what many C-suite leaders don’t: If he only knows what his subordinates present to him, then he doesn’t know enough. So this CEO makes good use of a sophisticated technique called managing by wandering around (aka MBWA). Get Yourself a Roaming Plan Tom Peters, the consultant’s consultant, frequently stresses the […]

10 May 2016

How to Connect the “Triple-A Way”

“I love your prints!” I said to the two brightly attired women who were exiting the lobby of my office building just ahead of me. “You look wonderful together!” They were startled — and delighted! I could hear them chattering to each other as I walked away: “Wasn’t that nice! Well, we do look good!” Although they hadn’t seemed to be feeling particularly positive when I first saw them, now they were smiling and nodding to each other, looking as […]

26 Apr 2016

Which Kind of Helper Would You Rather Be?

One day last week, in New York City for meetings, I was waiting in line at a subway MetroCard machine, and noticed that the woman behind me was practically vibrating with anger and frustration. Technically, she was just trying to help. Or at least that’s what she may have thought, in some part of her mind. But in the real world, she was waving her arms and shouting a stream of invective at the people at the head of the […]

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 […]

 

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