Archives For Leadership

We hear so much about coaching these days. Leaders need to coach more. Employees need more coaching. High performers need coaching. Low performers need coaching. As leaders, how can we know we’ve done enough? And what does a quality coaching conversation actually look like in action?

Over the years, I’ve adopted a simple definition of coaching: “To coach is to develop another person by listening and asking questions to clarify ideas and commit to action.”

If you look closely, you’ll notice five key characteristics. I’ve listed each of them out below:

Business Conversation

Continue Reading…

There’s incredible power in language. Words don’t merely convey ideas, they can change the course of history.

The words you use as a leader matter too. Here are some simple but powerful phrases that set great leaders apart from the rest.

Continue Reading…

In the 16th century, political consultant (for lack of a better term) Niccolò Machiavelli’s works were published in the controversial manuscript The Prince – which is still in print today. In it, Machiavelli shared his theories on how a ruler could maintain control of his province – especially when gaining new subjects through military or political conquest. Essentially, it’s a dictator’s best practices manual.

Dictatorship is alive and well in the world of global politics, but it’s a not-so-subtle organizational management style as well. So if you want to lead like a dictator, here are some unfortunate suggestions for you, including some from Machiavelli. And if you prefer a more serving style of leadership, note the contrasts.

Angry Man

Continue Reading…

What happens after a big win? For all the focus (and press) directed at planning and executing, what comes next?

Whether your team has achieved a significant goal or is looking to get back on track after a shake-up, here are some basic ways to get everyone back on course.

Continue Reading…

Just about all of us are Monday morning quarterbacks when it comes to leadership. Everyone has an opinion. But how grounded are those opinions, especially if we’ve never been there before?

Here’s the thing: if you wait until you receive a leadership role to get a leadership education, you may not last long. We all need a leadership development plan that includes work experiences, formal training, networking and self-study. But don’t overlook the easiest, cheapest and most accessible one of all: observation.

Here are eight observations to make of the leaders around you.

Pay Attention Sign Continue Reading…

How exciting is decision-making?? I’ve always enjoyed the logic that goes into navigating the personal and professional crossroads of life. Sometimes things work out. Other times it’s a disaster. Did we make the right call? How can we know for sure?

I read a book a couple years ago that took decision-making to a whole new level. It was Decisive by Chip & Dan Heath. I don’t think I’ve heard as comprehensive (or creative) a thinking process as it relates to decision-making. And the best part is that is applies to nearly all circumstances, from business (should we sue a bigger company? offer a discount on our products?) to personal (should I break up with my significant other? let my adult child move back home? buy a new TV?).

Here is a brief summary of the WRAP decision-making process the Heath brothers use:

Continue Reading…

I was able to attend my fourth Leadercast seminar earlier this month. This year I attended a simulcast in Orlando, FL. As always, it inspired me with both new and familiar ideas. The theme this year was bravery. Here are some of my key takeaways – and you can also catch up on the social conversation with the tags #leadercast and #thebraveones.

Leadercast 2015

Continue Reading…

Is complexity leaving your organization behind?

That’s a question we considered at a workshop I attended recently. Author Mark Miller and a team of facilitators walked a large group through the content of his new book Chess Not Checkers. The boardgame imagery? It’s symbolic for what happens as organizations grow. In the early stages of most small organizations or teams, the rules are simplistic and team members may play interchangeable roles much like the game pieces in a checkers game. But as growth occurs, complexity kicks in. Roles require specialists to address additional complications. The playing field starts to resemble a game of chess, rather than checkers. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall behind.

Chess1

Continue Reading…

As a University of Kansas basketball fan, I’ve never rooted for Duke. But there is a Duke moment that stands out in my memory. It occurred probably 10 or 15 years ago. Duke was in the process of getting upset in the NCAA Tournament. They were playing hard that day but not well. Near the end of the game, the senior star player fouled out, highlighting the frustrating day for everyone. As he exited the floor for the last time as a college athlete, he headed straight for Coach Mike Krzyzewski with tears streaming down his face and the two shared a prolonged embrace.

My first thought was that Coach K must have really messed up his black suit hugging a really sweaty guy (probably a sign that I’d make a terrible basketball coach). The second was how evident the bond between the leader and the followers was that day. It wasn’t an expression of victory, but one of commitment.

Coach K Sideline

Continue Reading…

Who gets to be a leader? From time to time, I hear an someone admonish a group of individuals by saying “you are all leaders.” Other times, I see organizational messaging indicating “leadership” is reserved for a small group of individuals who occupy certain positions. Which is it? Are we all leaders, or only some of us?

And how do we get more leaders in our organizations?

In order to figure that out, we’ve got to start by defining what leadership is begin with.

Chess Leader

Continue Reading…

Book 3D image v2I’m happy to announce that last week I posted my first ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor: Accelerating the Leadership Journey of Others.

You don’t have to be special to be a leader and you don’t have to be an expert to help other leaders succeed. You can start right now, right where you are.

Trusted Leadership Advisor is a compilation of some of my previous posts on this topic. In the ebook, I show you how to think about your role as a trusted leadership advisor, what to say and how to get started. Take a look – and if you find it helpful, please share it.

I’d also appreciate your feedback. This is my first ebook and I want to know if the format, structure and ideas prove to be helpful for you. You can leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

There’s so much work to do – let’s work together!

One of the things that disappoints me the most is hearing someone tell me they don’t want to be a leader. It’s unfortunate because I believe that everyone not only has the ability to be leader but also the responsibility to make a leadership contribution in the role they are in. But in this context, they usually associate leadership with a management-type position. And what they usually mean is that the perks of leadership (pay, perception, privileges) are not worth the stress (bureaucracy, pressure, time, work, people issues).

And unfortunately, in some cases, I agree with them. I’ve seen plenty of leaders abused to the point where others take note and stay put. Usually it’s the result of some type of organizational dysfunction which may be easy to see buy difficult to change. Other times the job really is that difficult.

So as you move up in an organization, does leadership get easier or harder? I have good news and bad news. The answer is “yes.” Here’s why.

Easy Way Hard Way

Continue Reading…