Workplace Wisdom

04 Aug 2015

When to Stop Trying So Hard

Some executives are too hard on themselves. They anticipate failure or disaster when all they’re really facing is the relentless, ongoing effort that’s necessary for leadership and management success. They let fear and anxiety take up headspace and sap their energies, when what they really need to do is apply their intensity to thoughtful decision-making and focused thinking. Instead of Getting Down on Yourself Here’s an illustration: Recently I had an extensive back-and-forth via phone and email with a nonprofit […]

21 Jul 2015

How to Keep From Drowning in Your Own Thoughts

Are you stuck somewhere inside your head, talking to yourself about things you want to change? Are you stressing over how stalled you feel, or fixating on why the situation is so awful? No wonder you can’t sleep at night and feel fretful all day! Why not get some benefit out of your worries and doubts? Move them out of your head, where they’re scrambling like countless little hamsters on a squeaky hamster wheel. Externalize them so you can use […]

23 Jun 2015

Want to Give Good Service? You Need to Stay a Step Ahead

On Sunday morning, Daughter and I went to a local diner where the food is always good, but the service is often iffy. Our waitress had been somewhat unhelpful in the past, so I studied her this time around to figure out why. Here’s what I found, based on her interactions with us and the tables nearby. Longtime customers greet her warmly, and she seems to mean well. She knows the menu. But she has a nervous, scattered demeanor and […]

28 Apr 2015

Don’t You Want the Benefit of the Benefit of the Doubt?

I hate to be in default or in the wrong, or to create a problem for someone. So I was quite distressed when I was scolded by a client’s administrator — not someone I usually work with — for being unresponsive and not sending in some materials. Is Anything Really Wrong? My first internal reaction was defensive justification: “Of course I sent it in!” My second internal reaction was doubt: “Oh my! What if I didn’t send it in! What […]

10 Mar 2015

8 Things to Do to Be a Better Leader, Part 2

Whether you’re an experienced leader, an emerging leader, or a developer of leaders, you’re always looking for ways to help employees do better and feel better at work. Last week’s post covered four priority areas to help you work toward better performance with your team and within your organization. This week, we’ll look more closely at self-awareness and self-management as crucial aspects of leadership. Here are four things you can do to make a significant contribution to your leadership success […]

03 Mar 2015

8 Things to Do to Be a Better Leader, Part 1

A number of readers have written to ask how they can make real progress in those areas of leadership where they don’t feel strong enough, particularly if they don’t have personal access to a consultant, coach, or even a dedicated buddy who can help them in concrete ways. Of course their specific questions and needs were all different. So for general consumption, here’s a way to focus your thinking about how you can set priorities for your own self-development as […]

16 Dec 2014

Because We Can Breathe

Like many people, I’m deeply outraged and upset about the recent grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers who killed unarmed black men. And like many others, my perceptions and concerns are shaped by my own biases. So let me be as explicit about them as I can. I’m a management consultant, a woman, a Jew, and a parent. I am white, well educated, and a New Yorker — a person of lucky and significant privilege. In some […]

09 Dec 2014

How Skillful Is Your Response When You Get Feedback?

It can be even tougher to accept feedback than it is to give it. It’s never easy to hear that your idea, behavior, or effort didn’t have the desired effect or wasn’t well received. When you’re given negative feedback, you may feel wronged, misjudged, or just plain uncomfortable. It can be hard to listen closely or find a good response on the fly. It can be difficult to know when it’s appropriate to comment, and even if you don’t speak, […]

21 Oct 2014

Do You Need to Cope with a Conflict-Averse Executive?

When an executive disagrees with a proposal or approach, the situation can go in two directions: In the best-case scenario, the disagreement gets worked through collegially, even if it means that other people — other executives, even — have to change their approach in order to achieve a resolution. But in the worst-case scenario, for whatever reason, the executive feels that she can’t, shouldn’t have to, or doesn’t have the time to work things through. She may make some gentle […]

16 Sep 2014

If You Want to Solve a Problem, Think of It as an Iceberg

In business, lingering problems rarely have a single or simple solution. That’s why they linger. Many work problems are relatively unambiguous and easily are understood by the people who deal with them every day. We solve them without thinking about them too much: Problem X → Action Y → Resolution Z. It’s easy to get used to that level of thinking being sufficient, particularly if we have to solve the same problem over and over. Getting Stuck In the Shoals […]


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