Leader, Who Helps You Doubt Well?

What an intriguing question! It's not mine. It comes from a short article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Four Key Questions for CEO's." But it applies equally well for managers who lead at all levels of their organization. If you are taking your unit anywhere that is challenging you must come to terms with the twin postures of confidence and uncertainty. Both are part of your world. And the more you push the envelop, the more you bring about change, the more exposed you become to your … [Read more...]

The Numbers Are Coming

The October 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review features "Big Data" as the theme. There are a number of articles of import for those leaders whose enterprise has access to large amounts of data–operational, market, what have you. They look at where the data is coming from, the increasing role it is playing in business decision-making, how to use it wisely, and how to identify the metrics that best represent your operations and your market environment. They even have a piece on the hottest job: … [Read more...]

Dial Up the Underdeveloped Ego

I don't know about you but it pains me to see so many people in organizations not contributing near to what they are capable of. Many of course, for any multitude of reasons, just don't want to, thank you very much. They are satisfied with average, with just enough. That's a topic for another time. But many more would like to accomplish more, go higher, be more successful (however they might define that), but they don't because they don't believe they can! These people are locked into what … [Read more...]

Dial Down the Overblown Ego

How often have you heard that our favorite topic is ourself? This is certainly true but a few people go overboard. We call them egocentric. At a neurotic level, they become narcissistic. This comes from the Greek character Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and remained there, mesmerized by his image.   But we are managers, not therapists, so let's stay with the egotist. These individuals make terrible managers. They hog all the credit for … [Read more...]

Dialing the Ego Just Right

Ego Problem #1 You've seen this individual many times. The employee who regularly shares with you how great he (she) is, what a terrific job he is doing ("I just made an awesome presentation."), how much he knows ("Sorry to correct you but the research on this says…"). He refutes or deflects constructive feedback ("No, you've got it wrong. People actually do like to work with me. I have an expertise they need.") The sad reality is that these people are often really smart. They have a lot … [Read more...]

Step into Your Leadership Strengths

I was working with a coaching client recently, "unpacking" the results of his Leadership Circle Profile (360˚ feedback assessment). While his profile was very positive–he is doing well as a leader–I was struck that on several less desirable factors (e.g. Passive, Critical, Arrogance) he scored himself high while his employees saw him as low, not demonstrating these factors very often.   What does it mean when we as leaders see ourselves one way and our staff another? And when this … [Read more...]

Cultural Neuroscience – The Brain in Action Again

Not surprisingly, although I had never heard about it before, there is a branch of brain research that studies: How cultural traits to which we are exposed impact our brains How our brain and its processes impact the emergence and transmission of cultural traits Newsweek had an interesting short article by Sharon Begley that offers just a glimpse into this field. She recounts a study comparing how, for Chinese and Westerners, the medial prefrontal cortex (a section of the brain) swings … [Read more...]

Make it Safe to Take the Risk

In a recent workshop I ran on Interaction Styles. I had the group working collectively at a case problem to solve. There was a lot of information and idea sharing and a lot of cross-talk, some of it in sub-groups around the table. At times it became rather chaotic and the effectiveness of the group's process dipped. Nevertheless, they persevered and managed to complete it accurately just as allotted time expired. During the facilitated debrief discussion an interesting issue emerged. One … [Read more...]

Archetypes, Blind Spots and Court Jesters

Movies, plays and stories from the middle ages often include a character called the "jester." He was the only one at the royal court who could speak the truth about the king and the court without having his body and head moved to mutually exclusive locations.   A few years back my colleague Dave Riveness wrote a nifty little book called The Secret Life of the Corporate Jester. In it he draws an intriguing parallel between the need kings of olden days had for a jester and the need … [Read more...]