“How Do I Deal With Someone Who…….?” Part 1 – Handling the ‘Perpetually and Perfectly Right’ Personality

You don’t have to be an executive coach to hear someone ask you the frustrated question, “How do I deal with someone who is, or who does……….?”  Dealing with others’ habitual behaviors when we find them unproductive is one of the most energy-sapping activities of our work lives, and one of the biggest sources of venting to our colleagues.

This week, one of my clients put forward not one, but four troublesome ‘personality types’ for discussion.  Each one would be recognizable to any of you.  So, with Lynn’s (not her real name) permission, I will devote a blog post over time to each of her vivid personality descriptions, and to some productive ways to intervene in the habitual behaviors she describes. Continue reading

Organizational Culture: Are You Shaping It or Is It Shaping You?

Organizational culture is one of those concepts like religious faith – we know it is powerful, it can be potently good or potently destructive, and it has a seeming life of its own. But every leader poses the same question: can it be harnessed and directed; can it be changed to support success rather than hinder it? To answer that, you need to understand what builds and feeds it.

Professors Ken Thompson (DePaul University) and Fred Luthans (University of Nebraska) describe seven characteristics of organizational culture: Continue reading

“Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch” – Assuring Your Strategy Will Be Digested

The Rockefeller Foundation’s stellar CEO, Judith Rodin, shared with interviewer Rahim Kanani her thoughts about managing large-scale change in a Forbes online post (April 23, 2012).  She observed that a great strategy for an organization is only part of the picture, noting the difficulty in executing on the strategy: “culture eats strategy for lunch”.  She didn’t benignly say that culture could help or hinder a leader’s ability to execute strategy.  She said that when strategy – the herald angel of change – is pitted against the policies and norms and ‘sacred cows’ that make up organizational culture, it is culture that will swallow the strategy.  If the culture is risk-averse, or treats change as a management fiat, it does not bode well for successful strategy implementation.  So how do you assure that when your strategy is served at the table of your organization’s culture, the digestion process is a smooth one? Continue reading

Make Haste Slowly: Four Practices of Reflective Leaders

When did you last stop to think about making haste slowly?  Its origins date to depictions of the Roman emperor Augustus, who deplored rashness in a military commander, and frequently peppered his generals with admonishments like “That is done quickly enough which is done well enough”.  Duke Cosimo de Medici of Tuscany used the adage as his motto and illustrated it with a turtle with a sail on its back.  Shakespeare alluded to it frequently in his work.  Why the enduring quality of this concept? Continue reading