October 2

When “My Way” Needs to Hit the Highway

One of the most consistent aspects of leadership is inconsistency. No two weeks are alike. Days start with one plan and end with another. Employees leave, competitors innovate, customer needs shift. Most leaders are drawn to the excitement of unpredictability. They claim they’d be bored in roles that are too routine. Equally, I hear about the frustration and exhaustion that stem from a changing reality, for them and their teams. One difference I’ve noticed between leaders who relish these conditions and those who don’t is whether they expect everything to adjust to them or whether they’re willing to do the adjusting. Broadly speaking, it’s the difference between “my way (CONTINUE READING)

May 10

“You Made A Difference in My Career.”

Playing a role in the development of another person is really pretty cool. Think of how it feels when someone says: “you made a difference in my career.” Pretty great, right? Too often, though, this part of leadership can feel like a burden. For many leaders, the topic of staff development can be a source of guilt. Can you relate to any of these? Development conversations fall to the bottom of the list in the midst of day-to-day tasks. There just isn’t time. Maybe next week. You want your staff to develop a skill or show up in a certain way that you yourself don’t know how to do (CONTINUE READING)

March 19

Learning to Lead from The Inside Out

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it is that we must learn to lead ourselves before we can effectively lead others. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that learning and living this lesson and helping others learn and live it is the raison d’etre of my work. Our ability to lead ourselves first is the secret ingredient of effective leadership. Thus, I was pretty excited when Connie Steele of Flywheel Associates asked me if we could have a chat about this topic for her “Strategic Momentum” podcast. It was so much fun to delve into this topic! Here are a few of the points (CONTINUE READING)

January 26

By Teaching We Learn

Anyone who has been in one of my leadership programs knows that one of my favorite quotes is “Docendo discimus.” This is a Latin proverb which means “by teaching, we learn.” I share this with participants on Day One to encourage them to talk openly about their experiences with each other across the program. This is fundamental to how we grow as adults: by sharing what we’ve learned through our experiences and hearing the experiences of others. (I also love that it sounds like a Harry Potter spell!) I had this concept in mind when I came across this article from the January / February 2018 issues of Harvard (CONTINUE READING)

November 20

Thanks for the Tough Stuff

Much has been written about the relationship between being grateful and being happy. One such book is Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Its Amazon description: “Scientifically speaking, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25%, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy.” I confess I’m a believer. I’ve had a gratitude practice for a few years now. As we prepare to go around the tables this week here in the U.S. and think about what we’re grateful for, I want to share another version of this practice I’ve been working on: finding a (CONTINUE READING)

July 6

Halfway Through 2017: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

I like to find leadership lessons in odd places. Today, as I’m still shaking off sand from the 4th of July, I’ll borrow the sage guidance of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris’ wisdom certainly rings true this week: we’re officially halfway through 2017! It’s time to stop and look around. Necessary and Not Sufficient Most organizations have quarterly reviews of some form in place. Even in my small business, I take stock of revenue, ops and project statuses at each quarter beginning. These reviews are critical and necessary. They’re often also insufficient. (CONTINUE READING)

June 1

On Turning 10

I recall June 1, 2007, very vividly. The first day! I had one client project, was using Hotmail and my home desktop computer, and was simultaneously thrilled and terrified that I’d driven home from an office for the last time the day before. The words to describe my full realization that I’d received my last direct deposit paycheck aren’t really suitable for print! Ten years and a few lifetimes later, I’m sitting in my office this morning with a reflective mind and a grateful heart. In the last few days, I’ve been connecting with the leaders who have invited me into their organizations, their teams, and their personal leadership (CONTINUE READING)

March 31

A Grammar Check: Are Nouns Messing With Your Leadership?

On a flight to Iowa last week, I ended up in a brief conversation with my seatmate about presidential caucuses. I’ve always been curious about what it would be like to experience one firsthand and was excited to hear she had attended many times. (Note: this is not a political post!) In listening to her stories, I noticed that she didn’t describe Republicans and Democrats. Instead, she said things like “the Republican side” and the “Democratic party.” She used descriptions like this several times in the span of a three-minute conversation as we were landing. The English major in me took notice. Rather than describing these groups categorically by (CONTINUE READING)

January 24

Your 2017 Goals Might Be Missing Something

January always reminds me how goal-oriented our culture is. Everywhere we look there are cues to create a new year, a new you, a fresh start. What will we achieve? By when? How will we know 2017 is a success? Once we have our goals, off we go. Culturally, we’re urged to keep the end in mind and to assume and expect success. While that approach may be admirable and even advisable, this outcome-orientation nudges us subtly into a mindset about control. What is the quickest, best and most efficient way to get to that goal? How can I minimize risks, surprises, and failures? The downside to that achievement (CONTINUE READING)

October 27

Keep Calm and Dig On

A “fan favorite” module in the leadership programs I teach is called “Expanding Perceptions.” The premise is that challenges arise when we get stuck in our stories: about ourselves, our colleagues, daily situations. To get unstuck, we must be willing to seek new data for the sake of seeing a different perspective. How do we do that? One way is by asking good, skillful questions. The concept is simple enough to understand. Yet when participants begin the related activity called Question Thinking™, it gets trickier. The goal of Question Thinking is to develop as many skillful questions as possible about a situation. (The definition of “skillful” is part of (CONTINUE READING)

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