Who Should Receive Leadership Development?

All too often, when I ask a client whom they would like to include in their leadership development initiative, they respond with, "Well, we have X senior managers and Y middle managers and Z supervisors. Can we do something for all of them?" In other words, when they hear the word "leader" they think of only people at the top level plus anyone who has at least one employee formally reporting to them. I must confess, I apply this same filter a lot myself. I may influence the client's answer by … [Read more...]

A Different Kind of CEO?

A more integrated leader? A post conventional CEO? Chad Dickerson, CEO of the online commerce site, Etsy, may well fit these descriptions. At least his mindset about leading from the top reveals some of the contours we look for in a 21st century leader. In an interview for the On Leadership section of the Washington Post he had some interesting things to say. I have picked out five that particularly caught my attention. His first annual performance review as CEO was in the form of a … [Read more...]

Three Aspects of Mandela to Guide Us All as Leaders

So much has been written about Nelson Mandela and leadership that I hesitate to add to the pile. But it's hard not to since he so exemplifies the more highly developed human being at the core of the very best leaders. Of the many examples and behaviors, I think three are central for all leaders. These three are archetypal and apply not just to this South African icon working on the national political stage, but equally to leaders of any organization, even of units within organizations. He … [Read more...]

What Whole Foods CEO Would Advise His “Younger Self” to Do

John Mackey is an entrepreneur who has built his very successful business with a genuine eye on his core values. His journey to leading today's Whole Foods is an interesting one. What began as one store in Austin Texas, is now close to 400 outlets employing  80,000 staff and grossing over $12 million. "So John," asked the interviewer in yesterday's Washington Post, "if you could go back to those early years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?" Having read the full … [Read more...]

Millennials? You Still Manage Them as Individuals

Amy Gallo, in her recent Harvard Business Review blog post, addressed what she calls four essentially false beliefs about the Millennial generation in the workplace: They are completely different from what Boomers were at that age. They want more purpose at work than previous generations do/did. They seek more work/life balance too. They need special treatment at work.   She refers to several pieces of research that do not support beliefs #1, 2, and 4 and concur only … [Read more...]

Physician (Manager), Heal Thyself Too

You probably sit down at least annually with each of your staff to have a conversation about their growth and development in their current job and perhaps with an eye to future roles. You look at an array of possible learning vehicles, such as external courses, internally provided workshops, special assignments, job shadowing, coaching, mentoring, webinars and so forth. If you are serious about supporting them you schedule at least a quarterly check in as to what they have been learning and … [Read more...]

The “Tyranny of the Immediate” Tyrannizes Leaders Most of All

You've probably had a time and priority management course somewhere along the way. Or, maybe you've read a book about it. You learned about how often the less important tasks take up too much of our time, to the detriment of our not tackling the more significant areas of our job duties. There's a reason for this. The less important tasks are usually easier and take less time. In addition, we get to enjoy the repeated satisfaction of checking things off our to-do list. And we look back over our … [Read more...]

What Does Virtue Have to Do with Leadership?

The ancients, particularly Socrates (through Plato) and Plato, believed "Virtue" to be an absolute that one came to understand through the application of reason. For Aristotle, Virtue was something you didn't deduce in the abstract but rather something you lived, to the best of your ability. In particular, it was about living fully the life that nature has enabled you to. So, the cobbler should live a cobbler's live fully and a teacher the best teaching life he or she can. In the US in the … [Read more...]

Slow Flow: Ignore it at Your Peril

"Once we get our new Marketing VP in place and fold the regional Customer Service units under that executive at headquarters, things will finally be settled and everything will be OK." But things in any organization are never really "in place," are they? Our organization charts with a date stamped in the corner fool us. They insidiously pander to our deep human desire for things in life to STOP CHANGING! I think a healthy attitude for managers and leaders is to see the workplace not as … [Read more...]

Link Your Training to What the Business Needs

I am amazed at how the training strategy in so many organizations is no more than a catalogue of training courses from which people across the enterprise can pick. In some cases courses are linked to specific competencies and stated corporate priorities but, in fact, more often they are not. Why is this so commonplace? Three possible reasons immediately jump to mind: HR goes to line leadership and solicits the critical skills required to support the strategic direction. But the line side … [Read more...]