Fourth Quarter Readiness: Feedback Needed

As we head toward the fourth quarter, I’d like to pause and check. It’s been a great month, and I want to be sure I am best meeting the needs of our growing community.


Beginning next week, I’m going to experiment with reducing frequency to 3 times a week for several reasons. First, I believe it will lead to more quality engagement across the community–concentrating our comments and ideas. Second, there are other tools I’d like to get to you, which I haven’t had the time to pursue. Less writing gives me more time to think and create richer content. Yes, I am working on a book, and this will nudge that along as well.


I would be very interested in your thoughts on use of alternative media. The blog posts seem to be far more popular than podcasts. Should I continue those? How about video (see sample)? Would you like to see me mix it up occasionally?


What topics would you like to discuss? What topics need our attention? What can I do to encourage more engagement? Any suggestions to help expand the reach of Let’s Grow Leaders?


I’m wide open to your suggestions and feedback. Please feel free to comment, or drop me a line at Please also help me spread the word.

If each one of you invited just one more growing leader to subscribe, imagine the possibilities for expanding our think tank.

Thanks for all you do.


3 Ways To Deliver Tough Messages: A Video

Communicating the hard stuff leaves even the best leaders stressed and queasy. You care deeply about the human beings you support. You don’t mean to play games, but a sprinkle of sugar-coating, with a dollop of “they don’t really need to know this ” diminishes trust and undermines your leadership.

When we’re not honest and direct, the message is lost, and the fill-in-the blank games begin. And yet, so many leaders chose to use spin, or speak with strategic ambiguity. Or, they only share part of the story because they believe the truth will be misused.

In this edgy video, I share 3 Ways to Deliver Tough Messages Effectively. (click on link to view)

It’s not easy, and I explore several sides of this challenge.

3 Ways to Deliver Tough Messages

  1. Create genuine connections
  2. Focus on the good guys
  3. Tell the truth

This video is controversial. Help me stir the pot. What do you agree with, what concerns you? What tips do you have for delivering tough messages effectively? Let’s continue the conversation together.

Thank you to Tom and Joy Guthrie of Vizwerx for their amazing support in creating of this video.

*How to Deliver Tough Messages. A Let’s Grow Leaders Film.

Zappos, Leaders, and Cracker Jacks

Zappos has so many folks looking to benchmark their magic, that they offer a menu of ways to learn their playbook. Teaching culture has become a revenue stream. While the rest of us carefully guard our best practices, they offer you shot of Grey Goose, and welcome you to play along. Why?

My theory– they know we don’t have the guts to pull it off.

They’ve seen thousands of mesmerized execs return home to create more rules and standards that absolutely ensure a culture like that will never exist.

Cracker Jack Service

Chip Bell’s latest book, The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service offers easy suggestions to creating great customer service cultures. No Grey Goose required. He advocates for “Cracker Jack” service, differentiating experience through surprise.
It was not the colorful box of caramelized popcorn that enamored consumers; it was the free toy inside. While financially worthless it was emotionally priceless. And, it is a reminder of the clout of simplicity.
His advice is extremely simple. Build cultures of empathy, delight and surprise. But most of the LGL community in not in the C-Suite, making the big rules. You can’t build a Zappos from the bottom up. So, how do frontline and middle management leaders encourage creative, zappos-like magic within their existing cultures? I called Chip.

He shared,
“Customer service organizations rely on command and control when they hold a belief that the frontline is not capable of handling such responsibility. The downward spiral begins when the capable people react to that kind of treatment, by doing exactly what you’ve told them to do. Frontline leaders can structure the work so the reps find joy in the experience.
He offered this simple suggestion.

Ask reps to consider, “what’s something I could say to this customer today that would really surprise them?”

I’m off to try that.

I appreciate the conversation with Chip in the writing of this post. Chip is the author of 20 books, including Wired and Dangerous (co-authored with John Patterson) and Take Their Breath Away (also with John Patterson). He is a senior partner with the Chip Bell Group and serves as a consultant, trainer, or speaker to major organizations. Find his new book on

*Excerpt from INC: Ten Steps to Zappos Success

The Dumpster Effect: When Recognition Backfires

My husband and I approached the hotel for a wedding. We were staying on premium points (read that, free) for which I’m grateful, so I won’t disclose the hotel brand.

Parking was tight so we turned the corner. Right beside the dumpsters were several tables set up for a “recognition” luncheon for hotel staff. Full on signage included thanking them for their commitment to customers. Seriously. Bless their hearts (p.s. my team knows, “bless their hearts” is never a good sign).

I was floored. I thought,
“Let me get this right…you’re events superstars. You work to make every bride’s and corporate meeting planner’s dream come true. Have you EVER suggested an event by the dumpster? Surely some day this week you have empty banquet rooms. What in the world would encourage you to lay out white table cloths in the context of trash? What other options did you explore? Do you seriously expect the folks you’re recognizing to come back in and create magical, creative moments for your guests?”
Think twice.

Every ounce of recognition is inspired by good intentions.

Slow down. There’s a reason Santa checks twice.

7 Ways To Inspire Hope

He had all the signs and words of stuck. “I can’t” “No one will help.” “No options.” He’d stop trying to improve the situation and was looking to numb it. His “sports ready” stance had withered to hunched and clenched. He still had an occassional “wish” for a miracle. But, wishes without action are another side of hopeless.
And yet, from the outside looking in, I saw huge possibility, talent, and relationships worth leveraging. I yearned to help him adjust his lens to see new beginnings.

Why I Subscribe to Hope

Hope encourages hard work, risks, and meaning. Not the “want without work” kind of dreaming. The feeling deep in your gut that there’s something more.

I’m ridiculously yet pragmatically hopeful. Ridiculous, because I dream big and set goals beyond my reach. Practical because I work like a dog to make wishes come true.
Hope brought me through a divorce and into a loving marriage
Hope led to “impossible” jobs that made a difference
Hope in people transformed careers
Hope inspires my kids
Hope matters
Hope Inspires Others.

7 Ways to Inspire Possible

Leaders are ambassadors of possibility. When tired eyes look your way, engage them in gentle challenges. Help them realize more.

  1. Start with your own heart – Connect with possible. Remember feelings of turnaround and triumph. Export passion in your connection.
  2. Ask possibility questions – Sit with them in the silence of consideration before narrowing to questions of feasible.
  3. Discover stories of past success – First excavate positive feelings then connect to potential actions.
  4. Identify folks to crew the lifeboat – Who do they (and you) know who could help? Encourage the fortitude to ask for it.
  5. Open doors – Sure, they need to do the heavy lifting. But when your hands are full, it’s helpful when someone opens a door.
  6. Commit to continued support – Ensure that this is more than a one time “pep talk”
  7. Your turn – What would you add?

*Photo source:

Cross-Training To Strengthen Leadership Skills

Today’s cross-training moment is a guest post from David Tumbarello. When he’s not guest blogging for Let’s Grow Leaders, David provides data and writing solutions in the health care field. The leisure activity he enjoys the most is coaching children in the art of creative writing. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Cross-Training to Strengthen Skills

I was injured – it was another summer when I couldn’t run as much as I would have liked. My body told me it had to exercise but my Achilles wouldn’t comply. The solution was as old as the sport – begin another exercise and work out different muscles. I pulled down the bicycle and began biking around the lake. It was my summer of biking.

In athletics this is called cross-training. Instead of repeatedly using the same muscles every day, the athlete develops complimentary muscles. Instead of strengthening the running muscles, it was time to let those rest and develop the biking muscles.

I think about leadership muscles. One leader might be strong with her project management muscles. One leader might excel with coaching. Another with leading in creative purists. And another might be good with running a successful meeting. Those are strengths and leaders should maximize their strengths.

But occasionally, a leader should take a sabbatical from their primary leadership muscle. Step back from the typical routine. Begin to cross-train. Instead of running meetings, a leader with this strength should delegate the responsibility. While resting that muscle, the leader can act as a secretary or take notes on the white board or volunteer for a committee. Instead of mentoring, a leader can take a year off and find a way to improve the feedback loop for the enterprise. Let one muscle rest. Let another grow.

A leader at church recently said that there are years when the land produces an abundance of crops and years when it must lie fallow. It’s a cycle. The resting land will reward the farmer the following year. In the same way, leaders should consider resting certain muscles which will allow those practices to come back stronger.

With cross-training, the leader will benefit by learning a new practice — and with new eyes. And then upon returning to the first strength, after some time off, the leader will be able to see that old routine with new eyes. Strengthen, rest, and repeat.

Impatience As A Leadership Virtue

“Patience is the support of weakness; impatience the ruin of strength”
~ Charles Caleb Colto

“Karin, we should be able to have this project done by the end of the year.” I listened impatiently as the team broke down the timeline, contingencies, and tasks. They were the experts, and the project involved heavy IT lift–never fun. I also knew they could do more.

My next words made us all cringe, “We just don’t have until the end of the year. What’s possible by October?” It turns out, quite a lot. They’ll nail it.

Impatience is seldom on the short list of leadership competencies. People don’t hire coaches to help them become more impatient. Patience is a virtue. Impatience gets more done. It’s my daily wrestling match.

Push Possibility, Inspire People

Impatience as a leadership virtue

Great leaders are impatient with…

  • possibility
  • the status quo
  • problems
  • stagnating results
  • naysayers
  • delays
  • time wasters
  • games
  • gossip
  • ?

4 Ways to Inspire Through Impatience

  1. Don’t be a jerk – Impatience only works combined with other important characteristics (e.g trust, humility, relationships). Understand the consequences of the pressure. Are you driving the team to extreme hours, or sloppy short-cuts? Roll up your sleeves and serve.
  2. Be patient when needed – Use impatience sparingly on what matters most. Inspire passionate urgency toward your vision. Cut some slack on the small stuff. Prioritize and back off other tasks as needed to make way for the sprint.
  3. Explain why – Urgency without explanation frustrates. Ensure the team understands how the urgency links to the bigger picture.
  4. Go slow to go fast – Take the time up front to think things through. Come out of the gate slow and involve the right players. Ask provocative questions.

Sure patience is a virtue; done well, so is impatience. Your thoughts?

6 Ways To Encourage Persistence (Without Crushing Your Team)

“Persist through CRAP.Criticism, Rejection, Assholes, and Pressure.”

Persistence– the common denominator of success. Dissect the stories of highly successful people across any context: relentless commitment, radical hours, laser focus, tremendous sacrifice. I’m always inspired by the stories of those who’ve “made it.” Bottom line, highly successful people have an abnormal commitment to their vision (hear from Michael Phelps, Will Smith and others in this short video. Cliff’s notes: work your butt off and be relentlessly persistent.
You can’t expect your entire team to care that much or live like that. But, connecting your team to a powerful vision and encouraging desire to achieve it, is vital when developing your people.

Teach the power of persistence.

 6 Ways to Encourage Persistence

  1. Model Obsession – I’ve been called a “maniac” and “obsessed” more than once in my quest to develop great leaders and winning organizations.

    I get what Phelps and others say in the above video. There’s truth to Will Smith’s confession, “I’ve never seen myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is a ridiculously, sickening work ethic. The person that works the hardest wins.”

    Model persistence to your vision. Be a positive maniac for what you believe in. Your energy will inspire.

  2. Empathize to Energize – If they’re frustrated and disappointed chances are you are too. Many leaders pile on with additional pressure. I’ve NEVER seen that help.

    A better choice is to acknowledge your feelings, and work from there. “I know we both wanted this project to be successful, and it’s not going the way we want. I understand your frustration. I’m feeling it too. Let’s brainstorm the best solution from here.

  3. Leverage Success – When someone’s down it easy to remember all the other bad times. Help them to recall their prior successes.

    Mine past wins to inspire future solutions.

  4. Break Down Frustration – Frustrated feels overwhelming. There’s nothing more intimidating that a stack of against you odds. Help them break down the problem into attainable solutions. Celebrate the small wins.
  5. Outline Options – Stuck sucks. See beyond closed doors. Ask questions to identify options. Options empower and inspire perseverance.
  6. Encourage Relationships – Most frustration and failure involves relationship breakdowns. Encourage stakeholdering and communication. Help them identify potential supporters. If there’s a real jerk involved, work a squeeze play by surrounding him with supporters of your idea.

Leadership Development Made Easy

Leadership development used to be easier. Early in my career, my team was small, and I was in HR leading other HR folks. We all spoke the same language, and everyone believed in leadership development.

Then a move out of HR to a team 50 times the size in a union environment. More tricky, but all in a few large call centers. I could physically model the leadership I was looking to grow.

Next to a sales role, with a team of 2000 spread out in 100 locations within a 9 hour radius. Still close enough to show up to support as needed, and to easily pull groups together for leadership development sessions.

Today I lead a team in 22 locations across 3 time zones supporting 7 companies. We need to develop leadership capabilities on our internal team and influence 10,000 leaders and followers. I have fantastic leaders at each level contributing to this mission. Leadership development is up to all of us. I could just delegate, but this is vital. How do I also personally touch as many leaders as possible?

The easiest way to build leadership in a large, remote team is to let them inside.

Easy Leadership Development

Many leaders overlook this vital approach. Teach leadership not only by modeling on the outside, but sharing the feelings, thoughts and struggles happening on the inside. With a large, remote team, this requires even more trust and time. It’s worth it. I choose to.

  1. Leverage social media – Sure I write for you. I’m also highly sensitive to my team. If there’s a message someone (usually someones) needs to hear, it’s in the blog. I can’t tell you how many notes I get from folks saying, “that one was about me, wasn’t it?” It usually isn’t, but if the shoe fits. Sure, I could write using company tools, but then they’d miss the interaction of LGL community. Plus, by separating this as my personal blog, I preserve the right to be edgy. And I can contribute more broadly to you, them, and the rest of the world.
  2. Speak deeply into the microphone – When my team is together, I leverage time to let them in my head. Sure we talk strategy and plans, but we go much deeper. I encourage challenging questions, and they know I will shoot straight. I start. They share too. We talk about:

       •  What scares us and why
       •  Weaknesses we’re working to develop
       •  Challenges we face
       •  What makes us angry
       •  Mistakes, regrets and failures
       •  Hopes and dreams

  3. Real-time learning – We stop action to dissect teachable moments. I debrief my executive interactions and what I’m learning. I call them right back after conference calls to discuss their approach. We hold “virtual teambuilders” on topics we’re wrestling with. I’ll pose a simple question, such as “leaders stop learning when _____” And everyone responds to all via email. Amazing level-less leadership connection.

    Oddly enough, I’ve received more feedback about personal and leadership growth from this large, remote team, than in any other role in my career. We’ve also experienced the important side effect of A players and other “crazies” lining up to join the team.

    Why? We let one another into our heads.

  4. Real leadershipLearning is the 4th Branch of the REAL model. Don’t miss future discussions, enter your email to subscribe.

60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
~ Henry Ford

Competent, lazy leaders are dangerous.

  • “Why fix something that’s working?”
  • “I was promoted to this position for a reason.”
  • “I’ve seen this movie before.”

Beware of highly skilled, non-learning leaders.

I Already Know How To Swim

This summer my son, Sebastian, refused to take swimming lessons. Why? Because he “already knows how to swim.” Well, technically, I suppose that’s true. And if he were to fall off a dock, I’d want him to believe it.

REAL leaders inspire confidence while exposing growth opportunities

60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning

This week, to kick off our last leg of the REAL model, Learning, I’ve been asking leaders across many contexts why leaders stop learning. Here’s the top 60. Don’t fall into these traps. Be deliberate in your learning. If you’re already a great leader, read more closely. Leadership is never handled.

Leaders stop learning when they…


  1. Stop listening (#1 by a landslide)
  2. Stop doing something with what they hear
  3. Have closed minds
  4. Allow talking to become more important than listening

  6. No longer connect with the purpose (#2 answer)
  7. Forget WHY they are doing
  8. Become complacent
  9. Think they’ve accomplished their goal
  10. EGO

  11. Get distracted by their own desires or success
  12. Have their own agenda
  13. Let ego get in the way
  14. Think they have all the answers
  15. Have only “past tense” conversations with themselves
  16. Have seen it all before
  17. Are not vulnerable
  18. Create an appearance of being omniscient
  19. Are insecure
  20. Assume they’ve learned everything there is to learn
  21. Stop focusing outward
  22. Believe they’re the accomplishment

  24. Lose their passion
  25. Lose their flow
  26. Become complacent
  27. No longer love what they do
  28. Lost sight of their dreams and goals
  29. Don’t feel energized and inspired
  30. Lose their passion to motivate and influence others
  31. Feel irrelevant
  32. Stop caring
  33. Lose interest
  34. Become disengaged

  36. Are afraid to fail
  37. Seldom fail
  38. Stop failing
  39. Success becomes more important than growth (my personal favorite)
  40. Are afraid to develop new skills
  41. Are afraid to take risks
  42. Stop believing in their ability to grow
  43. STRESS

  44. Are stressed
  45. Are marginalized
  46. Are exhausted
  47. Are comfortable

  49. Stop being inquisitive
  50. Stop asking “dumb” questions
  51. No longer encourage feedback and ideas

  53. Fail to connect the dots between where they are and where they want to be
  54. Stop challenging themselves and their team
  55. Can’t measure progress
  56. CHANGE

  57. Stop being creative in their leadership approach
  58. Become resistant to change
  59. Assume they’ve learned everything there is to learn
  60. Aren’t open to possibility

  62. Are disempowered
  63. Tasks become more important than people
  64. Believe success comes from control

  66. Stop believing in teamwork
  67. Stop developing their team
  68. BONUS

  69. Are dead
  70. Stop breathing
  71. Your turn. Leaders stop learning when__________.

Never stop learning.

Real leadership

This post is the first in a series on the 4th branch of the REAL model. Join the conversation, enter your email address to join our interactive, growing leadership community.

Frontline Festival August: Energy And Engagement

I’m delighted to present the August edition of the Frontline Festival. Thought leaders around the world share their insights on energy and engagement. I am inspired and grateful for these amazing contributions.

Managing Personal Energy and Engagement

Jesse Lynn Stoner of the Seapoint Center, shares 7 Ways to Increase Your Own Engagement and Satisfaction

Are you concerned about the level of engagement on your team? According to Gallup and other studies, it’s likely you should be. But before you focus on your team, take a look at yourself. How satisfied are you? It’s difficult to engage your employees if you as a leader are not satisfied. Here are 7 ways to assess and increase your own satisfaction and engagement at work.

John Hunter, of Curious Cat Management improvement Blog shares his compelling post, You’ve Got to Find What You Love. Inspired by Steve Jobs,

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Enzo Guardino of shares a beautiful and personal story about harnessing the energy of rage, in his post Rage Against the Machine. An important point, sometimes the rage we feel is at ourselves. How to harness negative energy to create positive outcomes.

Mike Henry, Sr. of Lead Change Group shares his post 5 Ways to Direct Your Best Energy Toward Your Greatest Purpose. He offers practical suggestions for pouring your energy into what matters.

Frank Sonnenberg of Frank Sonnenberg Online shares The Power of a Positive Attitude. A positive mental attitude can improve your health, enhance your relationships, increase your chances of success, and add years to your life.

John Stoker of DialogueWORKS shares, Can you Manage Your Emotional Energy. I love his point about the important message our energy conveys,

“That energy either influences them to be receptive to what you have to say or leads them to be resistant or defensive toward you and your message. In essence, you are the message that you portray.”

Creating a Culture of Engagement

engagementJoy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group share their wonderful graphic (left), Energy and Engagement. They are the artists behind the REAL leadership series. We’ve got a new project in the mix, stay tuned.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership, shares, Are You Managing Penguins or Polar Bears? What a fantastic metaphor for energy. The video’s worth viewing and sharing with your team.

Kate Nasser, of Kate Nasser: Smart Sensibilities Blog shares Leaders Engage Employee Urgency With Deep Connection. To build lasting engagement, lead beyond vision to create deep connections.

Lolly Daskal of Lead From Within shares her post The Energy of Change. Energy comes from deep engagment and energetic moments.
“Organizations are successful with change when the people within them embrace the change. It takes one gesture. One person. One moment at a time. Change is the end result of genuine understanding and learning.”

Alli Polin of Break the Frame shares Leader is Your Team Bored and Just Along for the Ride? My favorite line, “When people don’t have information, they make up their own stories and get distressed by their self-made truth.”

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer shares, How Leaders Are Creating Engagment in Today’s Workplace.
“We need to recognize that a fundamental function of leadership is not only what and how we communicate, but also how we show up in those moments, and what we’re willing to contribute of ourselves and to others.”

David Dye, Trailblaze, shares a compelling story of “why” is at the root of energy and engagement. What a Vegetarian Can Teach Us About Leading Energized Teams

Bob Winchester, of Corporate Culture Revolution shares, Improving Employee Engagement, Even the Janitor Cares. He asks, “Have you ever been told to shut up and do your job?”

Jon Mertz shares 4 Engagement Levels for Gen Y from his Blog, Thin Difference. Engagement needs to be multidimensional. To deliver greater purpose, we need to raise our engagement levels up to include self, work, community, and future. Couldn’t agree more.

Dan Forbes of Lead With Giants shares The Engagement, Stupid. My favorite line, “When your team is disengaged, you are on the path to becoming irrelevant.”

 Robyn McLeod of The Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares, Bucket filling as a leadership competency:. Schools across the nation are picking up on the concept of “bucket filling” as a way to teach children the value of showing compassion and treating others with respect and kindness. This post by Robyn McLeod of Chatsworth Consulting Group looks at how leaders can be more effective by practicing “bucket filling” in the workplace – and with this simple concept, increase energy, engage others, and yield great results for themselves and their organizations.

Chery Gegelman offers Paid To Think? Or to Check Your Brains at The Door? from her Giana Consulting Blog, Simply Understanding. She reminds us of the power of engaging all hearts and minds.

Matt McWillams of shares 4 Things to Say Before Any Meeting. In this clever post, he shares DISC-influenced “mantras” to prepare you for your next meeting.

Wally Bock shares, of Three Star Leadership, brings us, 10 Engagement-Building Behaviors for the Boss. If you’re the boss, we know that you’re the one most responsible for the performance, morale, and engagement of your team. Here are ten things you can do to improve all three.

Active member of the LGL Community, Ali Anani shares his presentation, Blue Ocean Strategy, Balanced Scorecard, and Team Forming: A Shared Perspective Here, team formation, blue Ocean Strategy and Balanced Scorecard are put on the same canvas.


Jennifer V. Miller of The People Equation gives us 12 ways senior management kills employee engagement. My favorite, “Allowing their personal struggles with another executive to grow into silos, politics and turf wars that impact their teams, their customers and the entire organization.” Care to add to the list?

Leigh Steere, shares her Lead Change Group Post, 9 Ways to Sink Employee Engagement. My favorite line, “If jobs are at stake, spell out the unvarnished truth. Describe as best you can what it means for employees. They need the truth so they can plan (and help you).”

Julie Winkle Giulioni of shares her SmartBlog post Stop Driving Your Employees Nuts.
“After dedicating a large portion of my professional life to helping leaders develop new skills to improve workplace performance, I’ve come to a startling (and perhaps career-limiting) conclusion: Employee engagement, motivation, and results are less about introducing new leadership behaviors and more about just stopping the stuff that makes employees crazy.”
Yes, Julie, exactly.

Greg Marcus, of Idolbuster Just Realize Your Job Sucks? Here’s Why It Took So Long to Notice.
“Many people who have left a negative circumstance say that the change was long overdue. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, financial, emotional, social. But I wonder if part of the issue is that it takes us a while to realize how bad things have gotten. It turns out that we notice far less than we think we do.”

Engagement and Social Media

New to the Festival, Hoda Maalouf of Powerful Lessons From Everyday Life shares, Socializing and Circling People. She provides examples of how social media can nurture meaningful engagement and positive relationships.

Coming Soon

karin-mark copyThe September Festival is on Leadership Development. Submissions are due September 13th. Send your links to

5 Ways To Define Your Seat At The Table

You’ve finally got a seat at the table, but your chair feels uncomfortably small. Perhaps you’re sitting in for your boss, or holding an acting assignment. You’ve got an amazing opportunity to impact and influence. Couple your authentic power with a more powerful chair, you’ll be unstoppable. Lead with your whole heart and head.

A Bigger Seat at the Table

A careful approach will improve your influence, impact, and career.

  1. Understand the norms – However silly they may seem, there are likely norms. Approach the scene like kids playing jump rope on a playground. Watch the rope spin a few times before jumping in. How does communication flow? Is there a seating arrangement? Don’t let a silly mishap leave you looking like the rookie.
  2. Do your homework – Knowledge inspires confidence (in you and from them). Carefully review agendas in advance. Talk to your peers to get up to speed on unfamiliar topics. Prepare beyond expectations. Hustle. Learn what you must to lead effectively in this context.
  3. get a seat at the table

  4. Stakeholder your big ideas – If you’re just sitting in for a meeting, talk to your boss about using this as an opportunity to bring up that new idea. If it’s a longer term gig, you’ll have a window to showcase even more capabilities. Take time to stakeholder your ideas offline one-on-one with opinion leaders. Ask them to help you fine-tune your thinking and presentation. You will feel more confident, and the idea will sell better, with a few key supporters.
  5. Speak up – Leaders often waste their seat at the table. Sure they take good notes, and report back, but they don’t influence. You have great insights. Share your truth. Resist the urge to just nod in agreement.
  6. Build deeper relationships – However temporary, a seat at the table is a great way to build deep connections. Build relationships and professional intimacy with your temporary peers. Let them know who you are and what you value. Be extraordinarily helpful.