Workplace Wisdom

29 Nov 2016

Want to Be a Successful Leader? Guess What: It’s Not About You

Think about every boss you’ve had since you were a kid, even including the parents of the kids you babysat, the owner of the greasy spoon where you waited tables, and the director of the camp where you were a counselor. Were any of these bosses so inspiring that whenever they come to mind, you recall how much you wanted to be like them? What behaviors clued you in that these folks belong to a special category of successful leaders? […]

15 Nov 2016

Why Feedback Fails, and What to Do Instead

I recently surprised a C-level operations exec with recommendations about a business problem that were quite different from the advice he had received from others. Here’s the situation: Through the grapevine, a bunch of junior R&D folks expressed concern about a team of colleagues who were feeling frustrated and unhappy with their leadership. The senior team leader was a founding employee, and although she had been a star in her day, she now came across as out of step with […]

27 Sep 2016

7 Surprisingly Simple Secrets to Managing Millennials

Many of my clients are confused and frustrated by the challenges of working with Millennials, including their tendency to expect everything to be easy and straightforward; their need to be “spoon fed” and treated as special; their desire to work from home and have flexible hours; and their need for constant variety. Plus, when the slightest little thing goes wrong, they leave! At least that’s the way things go without skillful intervention, according to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016. “Two-thirds […]

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 […]

12 Apr 2016

3 Ways Leaders Play Favorites and How to Stop

“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 the 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 […]

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 […]

02 Feb 2016

Do You Need to Stop a Passive-Aggressive Person from 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 […]

12 Jan 2016

How to Survive Working with a Prima Donna

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 […]

08 Dec 2015

Have You Ever Worked with Anyone Like Donald Trump?

Trump. The very name encapsulates his behaviors: to outdo, undermine, outmaneuver, and win. The word isn’t exactly synonymous with teamwork, collaboration, or shared success. Not surprisingly, it’s tough working with someone who has Trump’s aggressiveness and arrogance, even when that person is relatively low down in the hierarchy. Can You Hear the Brass? When a Trump-type person is on point, he’s fabulous: sharp, engaged, hardworking, competent, and cocky; the combo gives him a veneer of super-effectiveness. But he’s been the […]

 

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