Archives For leadership

iStock 000036070806Small 300x213 5 Ways Youre Sabotaging TeamworkIf your team has as much teamwork as a box of crayons without a child to guide them, don’t blame them.  Consider what you may be doing to inadvertently sabotage their teamwork.

5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Teamwork

1. Insisting on a Team that Doesn’t Make Sense

I’ve seen so much energy and money wasted to “improve the team dynamic” when the real issue is organizational structure.   A cluster of human beings is not a team.   No one is bonding if the only common denominator is who they report to.    If you can’t identify several common goals (beyond YOUR performance agreement), consider the structure rather than organizing a team karaoke night.  The best teams truly need one another to be successful.  If you can’t change the structure, think harder about a few collaborative goals or projects that can get the team moving forward together.

2. Ignoring the Obvious Dynamic

If everyone on your team is frustrated by one member, stop pretending it’s not an issue (yes, even if she’s an “A Player).

I once worked on a team where one of our peers won a numbers-only based National recognition.  Every one of her immediate peers understood the nasty back-stabbing dynamics beneath the surface.  Our boss seemed to get it, but she got results, and results helped him.  Instead of addressing it, he chose to call each of us individually and remind us of the “right thing to do…to call her and congratulate her.”  The truth is, those calls had already begun.   But his call assuming we couldn’t get there with her, reinforced the fact that we all had work to do in these relationships.  Pushing us to be cooth was scratching the surface on a bigger issue that needed to be addressed. Continue Reading…

iStock 000021158955Small 285x300 5 Reasons I Quit My Day Job to Pursue My DreamYup, I really did quit my day job to purse my dream full-time.   No, this is not an April Fools joke (although last years was fun in case you missed it).

I will spend my days helping companies grow confident, competent and creative frontline leaders.

I’ve been engrossed in a 45 day transition to ensure my team doesn’t miss a beat.  The true sign of leadership is what happens when the leader walks away.  Although the “walking away” part is heartbreaking, the running toward is exhilarating.  I will miss my magical team.

As news has spread through my teams at work and with the external strategic companies with whom I partner, nearly everyone has had a similar reaction curve.

  1. Shock (Are you kidding, no one walks away from a great gig like that!  What about those long-term incentives you’re leaving on the table?)
  2. Sadness (I’m blessed to have built deep connections with so many people whom I care about deeply.  We will really miss one another and the outcomes of our collaboration.
  3. Stirring (“Wow, look at your eyes when you talk about this.  You really are following your calling.  I know this your true passion. Good for you!”
  4. Support (“How can I best help you?”)

Thank you to all who have been on this curve with me through the last few weeks.

Building Momentum: From Dreaming to Doing

“A less than belligerent commitment is a curse.”  -Eric Maisal

I’d like to say that the last few years of writing and speaking were all a deliberate strategic building towards this moment.  But the truth is, I felt the pull and stayed open to possibilities.  The exhilaration of the momentum became too hard to resist.  I began waking up early and rushing to the computer to see what my email would bring.  I felt alive and full of meaning with the growing connections of kindred spirits and leaders needing support.  The long hours and travel to do my leadership role well and the time needed to serve the LGL pursuits became too much to sustain.  I had to choose.  It was time to do what I felt most called to do.

And so I offer a bit of the behind-the-scenes story that made the dream doable. Continue Reading…

Energetic Eric 5 Reasons Your Great Boss is Hurting Your CareerLike other good things in life, a great boss relationship, taken to extremes, can wreak havoc with your career.   I’ve seen otherwise smart and talented people lose credibility by over-aligning with a great boss.   Be sure to diversify your relationship investments.

Perhaps you’ll recognize these career-derailing characters.  Avoid these common traps.

Great Boss Traps

The Coat Tail Rider

On the surface it feels like the perfect symbiotic relationship.   You’re her right hand guy.  You work hard and always achieve results.  She gets promoted to a new department, and she brings you over.  It’s comforting for her to have a someone familiar she can rely on, and you get a promotion, or a new assignment.  Win-win, right?   Then it happens again, and again.  Sweet deal?

Although it’s comfortable and feels like the fast track, beware of riding coat tails, particularly into more than one assignment.   Your identity will become enveloped within your more powerful, great boss.  People will begin to see you as a package deal.  If her career derails, so will yours.

Also, the best leadership growth comes from working with a variety of leaders.  Although the devil you know feels easy, you’re both limiting the growth you would get from working with a wider variety of leaders.  Better to let your relationship morph into a mentoring relationship, or friendship, while you each continue to pursue the next steps of your career. Continue Reading…

Trickle Down Intimidation

January 27, 2014 — 21 Comments

iStock 000002640603Small 300x200 Trickle Down IntimidationMark shuts the door and begins the emergency meeting.   What he’s got to say isn’t easy, but these guys can handle it.  That’s why they “get paid the big bucks.”  He minces no words.  Stock prices, competitive pressures… time to get it together.  NOW.   The intimidation factor is high.  Fix it fast… or else…

He would NEVER speak this way to the front line.  He’s an inspiring speaker and the troops love him.

He trusts his leaders will translate the message to the front line well.

Grace leaves Mark’s meeting a bit shaken, but the message is clear.  Time to call an emergency huddle with her direct reports.  They were in the midst of executing plans to address key issues, but she worries it won’t be fast enough.  She needs to show progress NOW.   She feels her job is on the line.  She doesn’t usually take the fear and intimidation route, but she needs to get her team’s attention.  Plus, her team can handle it.  They’re seasoned leaders and they understand the pressure.   She would never NEVER speak that way to the front line.

She trusts her team will translate the message well. Continue Reading…

0402570808002 300x199 8 Ways to Nurture Leadership in Young Children“Mommy, I’m not a leader.”

Why do you say that?

“Because John is the one that tells us what to do on the playground and we follow him.   So that makes me a follower.”

Ugh.   Tricky.  I’m not impressed by John’s “leadership.”  I want my son (and all young children) to see kindness, listening, understanding, and caring about other people as important leadership qualities.

We must stop trying to over-simplify leadership for our kids.  Being picked to be “line leader” at school, Mother May I, Simon says… all involve telling.  Children learn to do what mommy, daddy, and teachers say.  Sure, we want kids who listen and follow directions. But even young children can learn servant leadership.

8 Ways to Nurture Leadership in Children Under 8

Start with lots of love and building self-esteem.   Too many grown-ups with power mess things up because they’re still dealing with childhood muck.  Be a role model, and know they’re always watching.  Beyond that, here are a few deliberate approaches for building leadership in young children.

1.  Teach them to give

Involve them in volunteer activities and talk about the “why” as much as the “what.”  Help them look for needs in everyday situations, and to consider how they can improve the scene.  Help young children find joy in giving and call it leadership.

2.  Talk to them like grown-ups

Young children are smarter than they look.  Talk about current events.  An 8-year-old may not need to know all the political issues involved with healthcare.  But in our house we’ve had some pretty good conversations about what’s going on and why.  Get them started, and kids can ask some pretty good “whys.” Continue Reading…

frontlinefestival 300x300 300x300 Expert Advice on Gifts and Giving:  A Frontline FestivalWelcome to the Holiday Edition of the Frontline Festival:  Expert Advice on Gifts and Giving. In addition to sharing their posts, I invited each thought leader to share their “leadership gift” in one or two words.

Engaging a Giving Spirit

Jon Mertz, Thin Difference shares The Unboxed Life: Giving   To lead more fully, we need to unbox our life and engage our giving spirit. When we do this, we become more connected to our true self, our true mission, and our community.  John’s Gift:  “Listening well.”  Follow Jon @thindifference

Wally Bock, Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog brings us Remembering the Legendary Christmas Truces    In 1914 and 1915, all along the Western Front, soldiers simply stopped fighting and celebrated Christmas. It is a true tale about gifts to remember to ponder. Wally’s Gift:  “To me:  the importance of integrity; From me:  the nobility of work”  Follow Wally @WallyBock

New to the Festival, Bernie Nagle,  ZunZhong  brings us BlessingState – Sharing Our Gifts  We transition from spirit to physical existence, purposely endowed with an abundance of gifts. Our mission as physical beings is to share our gifts to depletion.  Benie’s gift:  “Empathy.”  Follow Bernie @altrupreneur.

Regina Verow, Creatively Conscious,  reminds us give ourselves the gift of rest this holiday in her post True Gifts.   Stay tuned for the Creatively Concscious meets Let’s Grow Leaders collaborative Xmas music video on Dec. 23rd along a similar vein.  Worth checking back here for a holiday giggle.  Regina’s gift:  “Creativity”  Follow Regina @ReginaVerow.

Gift Ideas

Gifts Frontline Festival copy 300x231 Expert Advice on Gifts and Giving:  A Frontline FestivalJoy and Tom Guthrie, Vizwerx Group,  share Leadership Gifts (pic  right)  Follow Joy and Tom  @VizwerxGroup  Joy’s gift, “Vision.”  Follow Joy @Joy_Guthrie. Continue Reading…

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 000004032408XSmall You Know Youre a High Maintenance Leader When...“You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”
- Harry (When Harry Met Sally)

She doesn’t think she’s high-maintenance.  After all, she’s just trying to do her job. In the meantime, eyes roll, stories are shared, the team loses productive time catering to her needs. It’s not all her fault, “that’s the way she likes it” has morphed into “that’s how she must have it.”  It works, so she continues to let them cater.  The team doesn’t seem to mind, “oh it’s no big deal.” “Of course I understand.”  “You have so much on your plate…”  And more requirements get added to the list.

We’ve all got a bit of high-maintenance within us.

High Maintenance Leaders…

  • don’t mean to be
  • “pose” just in case someone wants to take a picture
  • work to be “liked” above all else Continue Reading…