For a Manager, Hope IS a Strategy

Former New York City mayor Rudi Guiliani is credited for that now oft repeated line, "Hope is not a strategy." But when he, like any good leader in a crisis, painted a picture for New Yorkers of rising up from the September 11 devastation, rebuilding the lower Manhattan skyline, and healing the city's wounded soul, Mr. Mayor was dispensing hope. And well he should have. It was the right strategy.   Why do I say this? Because hope is what professor Richard Boyatzis calls a "positive … [Read more...]

Is There More Stress at the Top or the Middle?

A Vice President I worked for years ago, reflecting on her rise to the C Suite, stated that she thought it was more stressful to be a middle manager than an executive. The difference, she said, is the senior leader has more autonomy over things than do managers further down in the hierarchy. We know that a perceived lack of control over your situation–over your life, for that matter–is a major stressor. So my VP's opinion has always made sense to me. The noted expert on neuroscience and … [Read more...]

The Leader as Authentic Actor

Actors on stage and screen are not genuine. They are fakes. They are playing a part, not themselves. Of course, we expect them to do this and, furthermore, we expect them to do it really well, to convince us that they are the character they are playing.   But what about a managers who has to play a part and perhaps not express their fully genuine self in a particular situation? For example, In challenging economic times, projecting a confidence he may not fully feel … [Read more...]

To Flood or Not to Flood–a Test of Leadership

The Premier of Manitoba, Greg Selinger, makes the decision to break the dike near Portage la Prairie and deliberately flood 85 square miles and inundate 150 homes…to prevent an uncontrolled break in the dike that would flood 850 properties occupying 190 square miles along the Assiniboine River. He says it is one of the most difficult decisions he has ever had to make. The very same day, over a thousand miles to the south, Army Corps of Engineers Major General Michael Walsh calls a similar … [Read more...]

Fear and Managers’ Fears

You seldom hear the word "fear" in management development workshops. Of course the word is not welcome anywhere in organizations. It's the "F word" in offices and plants. Odd, isn't it, since fear is always lurking in our workplaces, especially during the last few years of economic hell? For some inexplicable reason your people think that you aren't worried about your own job or about the brutal labor market you would be thrown into if you lost it. They think only they have fears. But, as you … [Read more...]

Article: What to Do When Your Team Gets "Stuck": 7 Ways to Get It Moving Again

There is no question about it. A team can be a powerful vehicle for accomplishing a major project, guiding a unit to superior performance, or bringing together diverse perspectives to solve a pressing problem Have you ever been a member of a smooth functioning, high performing team? Those of you who have, no doubt, harbor fond memories of how energizing it is and how great that rush of pride feels when you achieve great things together. The best teams, including certainly that great team you … [Read more...]

The Last 10%

Seth Godin recently wrote a blog post about how our true expertise and professionalism is reflected when we do what's needed to be one of the best, in that top 10% of people who do the work we do. But it doesn't come easy. As Seth says: The hard part is the last ten percent, sure, or even the last one percent, but it's the hard part because everyone is busy doing the easy part already. Studies by Jack Zenger and his crew reveal that managers above the 90th percentile in terms of leadership … [Read more...]

Time to Tune Your Radar in to Your Staff

Over the last 18 months you've tried hard to keep as many of your people on the payroll as you could. Perhaps those who were retained felt a measure of gratitude for you heartfelt intention to preserve their jobs. Do they still feel these good feelings? It appears to depend on what you've been demanding from them since. And many organizations have been asking too much for too long. A recent study published by the Employee Engagement Survey company, Modern Survey, has detected a trend that … [Read more...]

Leadership Development…Even in Tough Times

Hewitt Associates has published once again the bi-annual study they have lead since 2002, Top Companies of Leaders. They narrowed down over 500 entries to the top 25 North American companies and top lists globally. The finding most intriguing to me is that these top enterprises are still investing in the development of leaders with the same discipline and single-minded purpose as in previous, better economic times. Some highlights in this regard: They see leadership development as a … [Read more...]

The Truth that Hurts but Will Help Us Cope

Managers have been sorely challenged in 2009 and this year to keep optimistic and not succumb to the ongoing, sometimes mind-numbing stress of work and, at best, tenuous job security. They are called to do this not only for themselves but also for their people. One place employees look for assurance that things will be OK is their immediate boss. If she is sounding scared or negative, staff will pick it up too. But lingering somewhere in the back of our minds is the idea that when this is all … [Read more...]