The Fear Factor

The Washington Post in a recent article posed a leadership related question: Successful leaders are admired, respected and trusted, but isn't the dirty little secret that they also need to be feared?…Is President Obama too much carrot and not enough stick? A panel of 20 experts in leadership from politics, the military and business were invited to comment. You can read their responses in the context of Obama trying to move Congress around a health care initiative. The piece brought to mind for … [Read more...]

Something for Male Leaders to Keep in Mind

Reading Jessica Bennett's recent piece in Newsweek, "You Are Your Own Glass Ceiling," I got to thinking. The content of her article is not new but the issue she raises needs to be repeated and kept in the conscious awareness of both men, as well as women. She talks about the dilemma of women, especially women leaders, who struggle with "yes, be a 'go-getter' but be nice at all times" and with "Yes, accomplish but don't brag about it." While, as Bennett states, girls outnumber boys in academic … [Read more...]

Book Review – Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead

By Tom Coens & Mary Jenkins Berrett-Koehler, 2000 ISBN #1-57675-076-0 Nobody likes to do performance appraisals (PA's). Nobody! Not even the Human Resources department. For them, it is a constant struggle to get line managers to complete them correctly and on time. And there has scarcely been a client of mine that wasn't in the process of revising their PA process. It always "needs updating," or "we're moving to a competency-based approach," or "our objective this year is to update … [Read more...]

What Meets Your Employee’s Expectations?

What is the OK norm performance level where you work? Is it "Fully Satisfactory," Meets Expectations," or perhaps "Achieved all objectives?" And if 70-80% of staff is force fit into this level by the miracle of the bell shaped curve, regardless of their raw performance, maybe it should read, "Good but not good enough to beat the top 15%." Maybe this fully acceptable level is regarded as a good thing at your organization. Maybe it is seen really as only the bare minimum . Sometimes … [Read more...]

Book Review – First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

By Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman Simon & Schuster, 1999 ISBN #0-684-85286-1 Can you really "develop" your people? And just what is it you want to develop anyway? Do you want them to learn a few new techniques or approaches (what Buckingham and Coffman call skills)? Or perhaps what they need is more information about your product line or industry (knowledge Or, does what stops them from contributing more lie deeper within the employee? An inappropriate attitude? A lack of … [Read more...]

How Should We Help People Learn Leadership?

A close associate of mine, Brian Hayman, heads up a leadership training firm called Getting in the Groove. What's remarkable and really cool about their programs is that they always feature a live improvisational jazz combo. You can learn more about this on his site but what I want to share today is a recent "Random Riff" Brian wrote exploring the comment from an executive that, while he didn't believe that leadership could be taught, he did believe it could be learned. I invite you to read … [Read more...]

Again…Do We Need Performance Appraisals?

Another respected thought leader, this time Stanford University professor and prolific author Jeffrey Pfeffer, has raised the question about the efficacy of the vaunted performance review. In the July 23, 2009 issue of Business Week he lists several of the classic reasons why rating an individual's job performance is counter productive (e.g. hard to objectively measure, open to human rater bias, the influence of the employee's innate political skills). The biggest criticism, says Pfeffer, is … [Read more...]

Resistance is Not a Bad Thing (No, really!)

The American essayist Hamilton Mabie once said about resistance: "Don't be afraid of opposition.  Remember, a kite rises against–not with–the wind." So often in my management training sessions, participants are stymied by people who resist, whether it is an employee resisting a performance directive, a boss rejecting a suggestion, or a peer not willing to cooperate on a work issue. The best salespeople are energized, not demoralized or defeated, by objections from their prospects. They … [Read more...]

Article – What’s Your Current Edge for Development?

They had a momentary pause of puzzlement when I asked them. So, I put the question to my audience again, "What is your current edge for development?" "What do you mean?" they ask. "I mean," I say, "if you could snap your fingers and instantly improve significantly in one aspect of your work that would have the greatest leverage on your overall effectiveness, what would it be?" "Oh" say their faces as they proceed to ponder the query. "…the driver that keeps us continually … [Read more...]

We Listen but Do We Really Care?

They say we all should cultivate the ability to listen. "Why?" we ask. They say it shows respect, it makes the other person feel included, it honors the other's point-of-view, it reduces tension, it takes the energy out of opposition. But seldom do they tell us that it is the best way for us to learn. Seldom do they mention that, through listening and understanding, we and the other person can search together for the fullest truth or the best solution…that neither of us usually has. Dan … [Read more...]