Archives For leader

meditation 214x300 Staying the Leader You Must Be“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” -e.e. cummings

It was a tough couple of weeks.  The cocktail of challenges was impacting our performance.  We needed stronger results… now.  I didn’t realize how much my stress showed on the outside.  A trusted leader on my team, shared bluntly.  “You’re changing.”

The words stung with fierce truth.  He was right.  Succumbing to the leadership squash sandwich, I was taking on familiar, but unwelcomed behaviors common in such scenes.  I was showing up weirder.

I was worried for our mission, our cause, and our careers.  My passion to protect my team took on an ironic intensity.  My supportive style had morphed into frantic control.  I began inviting myself to calls and requiring more rehearsals before executive readouts.  Instead of trusting my competent team, I scrutinized each page of every Powerpoint deck.

My efforts to protect them from my stress had backfired.

 I had stopped leading like me. Continue Reading…

iStock 000017038215XSmall 300x199 Lead Me Please: Developing Leadership Standby Skills

“One day you will want to say, this is actually the right thing to do.  And when you turn around, they are following you… I just want you ready for every single moment of leadership that comes your way.”

-Charlotte Beers

This weekend, I attended the TEDxWomen’s conference in Washington, DC. The theme was “The Space Between.”   Women and men sharing amazing stories about the magic that can happen in the convergence of extremes.

As I sat fascinated by the courageous stories of powerful women, I kept thinking, “huh, that sure wasn’t on their life map.”  For most of these speakers, they weren’t out looking for opportunities to lead.  They didn’t have a five-year plan to get onto TED. They found themselves in situations that ignited their passion…wars, accidents, loss, violation of human rights. Continue Reading…

iStock 000015090448XSmall 300x235 Hot Mess Leadership: When Image Becomes DangerousThe term “hot mess” typically refers to someone disheveled on the outside with some redeeming qualities on the inside.  Urban dictionary defines a “hot mess” as

“when one’s thought or appearance are in a state of disarray, but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty”

Leaders can go a long way by getting clothes that fit, shoes that shine, and well-kept hair and nails.

Work on your magnetism.  Refrain from stupid outbursts.  You will have another leg up.

It’s important to avoid being a “hot mess”.

Cleaning up the outside matters. Continue Reading…

iStock 000018917656XSmall 300x300 Speed Mentoring:  Jump Starting Deeper ConnectionsFinding a great mentor is hard.   A lot goes into making mentoring work, but above all it starts with finding a great connection.

I spent today launching a new mentoring circle, with a bit of a twist.  Instead of a pure skip-level experience, all of my direct reports were involved, along with high-potential managers from across the organization.

We worked together on business problems, identified key priorities and challenges for the coming year, and came up with some fantastic strategies and plans.  There is so much power in collaboration.

And then we tried something new….“speed mentoring.” Continue Reading…

iStock 000018846148XSmall 300x198 Full Potential Leadership:  Convincing Them to Bet on YouAre you truly building your full potential?   The choices you make now, will impact what jobs are available down the road.  Moving up too quickly in one functional area may limit the diversity of skills you learn, and turn you into a specialist with limited future potential.

As Joanne Cleaver, says “over is the new up.”

When a strong, smart employee comes to me looking for help being promoted, I almost always encourage them to also consider “jumping out of an airplane” and trying a lateral job they appear to know nothing about.  I ask them to think more broadly about their full potential. Continue Reading…

Danbiopic 231x300 Growing Leaders Salute:  Interview with Dan McCarthyAs my regular readers know, on Saturdays I do a “Salutation,” about something warm and positive going on in the world.  As I am meeting kindred spirits through my writing and leadership, I realized that some of the warmest stuff happening is coming from the people passionate about growing leaders.  And so, I am expanding my normal Saturday gig to include a “Growing Leaders Salute:”  interviews with great leaders dedicated to growing great leaders.  Thanks, Dan McCarthy for being my first honoree.

Q:  You have an interesting background both working within companies and with companies as a consultant…as well as interacting with leaders through your blog.  How do you feel these varied experiences have informed your leadership philosophy?

A:  While I enjoy writing, I wouldn’t have anything to write about if it wasn’t for the work I’ve done inside companies, working with real managers, as well as my own experience as a manager. Writing about these experiences helps me get clearer on who I am and what I stand for. Continue Reading…

iStock 000008506568XSmall 294x300 Post Mortem of Success: Questions that Drive Sustained Results

Most great project managers know that it’s important to do a post-mortem after any major undertaking.   In my experience, a post-mortem is much more likely to occur when something went terribly wrong.  I have heard (and said) in the heat of frustration, “we just need to get through this now, but afterwards we need a very careful post-mortem.”

In this funny and insightful post, Lee Cash, shares the challenges with a traditional post-mortem and how to overcome some of them, The postmortem:  what it is and how to survive one.

Postmortem: noun:

  1. An examination and dissection of a dead body to determine cause of death or the changes produced by disease
  2. Discussion of an event after it has occurred
  3. A blame fest where, if you’re not careful, you get attributed with everything that’s wrong in the world

In essence, post-mortems are an attempt to review a recent calamity that has befallen the business with the noble intention of isolating the offending causes and making sure they never happen again. The practice nearly always takes the format of a face-to-face meeting (if possible) and involves all of the key players who had a role in the “hiccup”, and hence why you’re all now sitting in a room waiting for the fireworks to happen. Continue Reading…


iStock 000001398323XSmall 300x199 Forgive and Refresh: Returning to The Leader You Meant to BeToday, Rosh Hashanah, marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year.  Although I am not Jewish, I am intrigued by the concepts surrounding this holiday, particularly the ritual of teshuva– a time to forgive and seek forgiveness.  When making teshuva, people reflect on the year and consider the people from whom they need forgiveness… and then go about making things right.  The concept offers spiritual complexities and beliefs that may be deeply meaningful for some readers, and disturbing for others.  So I invite readers of all faiths and beliefs to join me in exploring the concept of teshuva more pragmatically… and from a leadership point of view. Continue Reading…