Workplace Wisdom

13 May 2014

You Can Help Your Staff Manage You Better

Even at the most senior levels, it can be awkward and uncomfortable to manage people. They often don’t do the things you expect them to do, and when you give them critical feedback they’re clearly miffed or demoralized — you’re left feeling frustrated and a little exasperated. If your leadership style is expressed in directives and delegation — in other words, all down, down, down — it’s actually hard to get people’s best work unless everything is going extraordinarily well […]

06 May 2014

Why Being Clear Is Even More Important Than Being Nice

It’s always risky for employees when managers are “too nice” and don’t give clear feedback about expectations, preferences, or necessary improvements. In effect, these managers stand by as employees go off the track rather than helping them stay on. Below are some typical scenarios: Some managers don’t want to upset a good employee over something that’s not really a big deal. This view is particularly common when “good” managers in “toxic” environments try to buffer their people from difficult or […]

14 Apr 2014

Why You Have to Deal with the Problem of Role Clarity

Organizational life can be confusing, what with changes in job roles or organizational structure, turnover in management or peers, or even the positive circumstance of company growth. But in too many companies, middle managers are expressing great frustration about their lack of role clarity. And unfortunately, even senior managers sometimes make the same complaint. What do these managers mean? They say they can’t figure out how to move forward on complex projects, or don’t know who has authority over certain […]

25 Mar 2014

How to Give Employees a Sense of Direction

Most employees want to know where their leaders are headed before they’ll follow with energy and enthusiasm. When 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 Compass […]

09 Aug 2011

Are You a Better Leader Than a Four-Year-Old?

I have a four-year-old friend: a rather strong-willed, loving, and declarative little girl. The summer camp she attends is also quite declarative — about what constitutes correct behavior, and how the children should handle any interpersonal difficulties. The camp’s stance is so clear, in fact, that the four-year-old has internalized it and acts on it. She demonstrated its merits recently when she quelled a skirmish that had broken out between two boys. “Back up!” my little friend commanded, standing in […]


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