Workplace Wisdom

03 Apr 2018

How to Use Stretch Goals to Increase Innovation

Have you ever been asked to define your own stretch goals? They’re still remarkably popular, despite a steady stream of articles and research that debunks the value of this approach altogether. It’s not so much the concept that falls to the ground, but rather its execution: Leaders require too much stretch, while providing too little support for advancing the goals themselves. How Stretch Goals Fall Short In the typically ineffective use of stretch goals, managers ask employees to hit unrealistic […]

16 Jan 2018

Here Are the 3 Unexpected Things I Learned from Surviving a TEDx Talk

When a dear colleague emailed me last July to ask if I’d consider speaking at TEDxBaylorSchool, I was terrified. Not of speaking, per se, but of the combination of requirements that characterize a TEDx: the big-enough idea; the delivery of a memorized talk while standing inside a red dot; and, maybe the scariest thing of all, the permanent capture on video. The Gifts of the Struggle The gist of the story is that I said yes, and I survived the […]

19 Dec 2017

How to Choose an Inspiring Theme for 2018

Do you know anyone who can’t wait for this year to end? I certainly do, and who can blame them? So many people have had enough of 2017 and its disruptions, from family and work troubles to political turmoil and natural disasters. Some of them are looking forward by making New Year’s resolutions or following the growing trend of designating a single “word for the year” as a way to express a desire or set an intention. Resolutions can be […]

03 Oct 2017

3 Powerful, Practical Fundamentals to Help Change Stick

Change may be a constant in life, but in business, many planned change initiatives either peter out or don’t even take hold in the first place. According to a Towers Watson study, only slightly more than half of all change initiatives succeed, with only 25 percent sticking for the long term, mostly because of a variety of management failures. I consider this a problem of oversimplification — the result of the all-too-common “just do it,” “just say no,” “just tell […]

29 Aug 2017

2 Never-Fail Rules to Make Change Initiatives Successful

Last week I facilitated a senior staff meeting that focused on silo-busting and improving cross-departmental collaboration. The group leader wrote to me afterwards to say he was very happy with how things went, and asked me to help support the process of carrying the work forward. In advance of our next get-together, I sent him recommendations on how to proceed with his team to give the new initiatives the best chance of success. I’m sharing here what I told the […]

16 May 2017

What to Do When Priorities Are in Conflict

Expand your market share. Increase your margin. Reorganize your team. Given the constant drumbeat of new and changing initiatives, it’s reasonable to wonder which priorities are truly the most important. I hear about this from clients with great frequency: “We just can’t get to everything.” “We’re not making enough progress.” “We do a new strat plan every few years, but we don’t seem to have moved any further.” Try Not to Lose Your Way It’s hard to work on more […]

28 Mar 2017

This Is How to Lead from the Ground Up

Leadership can be a function of raw power, or of influence. Based on analysis of a current news item, here are seven underlying principles that, when applied properly and consistently, ought to make any leadership coach proud. They’re not easy to practice, but they’re laid out clearly in the story of controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Leadership Lessons from the Field of Play Do everything you can with whatever you’ve been given, even if it’s less than others have. Colin Kaepernick […]

13 Dec 2016

Stuck in the Middle with Management

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right / Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” The Stealers Wheels song wasn’t explicitly addressing middle management, but “stuck” is what it often feels like. That’s what I hear all the time from dedicated, frustrated people. They can’t get their work done because they’re pulled in so many directions. They’re scheduled into meetings all day, with informal drop-ins and fire-fighting on top of that, so their deliverables don’t […]

13 Sep 2016

The Painful Responsibility of Staff Failure

I just got a call from a senior leader: A community outreach staffer was causing his management team some consternation. When he was hired 18 months ago, he’d approached every job with zest, volunteered for extra responsibilities, and was considered a standout contributor. But he no longer seemed as engaged, committed, or happy. Unfortunately, he was behaving as if he were being compensated purely for task accomplishment rather than for creating a consistent and forward-looking community presence. Although one of […]

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. […]

 

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