Empathy as a Verb – Moving In With Your Associates

empathy at work“I really understand,” said Marcia to her key manager, Tracy.  “I had to deal with my mom’s illness a few years ago and it was stressful.  Please do what you believe is best for your mother.”

Marcia indeed understood Tracy’s plight, remembering how difficult it had been for her to balance work and care for her mother, to navigate medical professionals and insurance claims, and to deal with her mother’s fears.  Her empathy was real, and she had expressed it sincerely.  But she went home that evening feeling unsatisfied. Continue reading

Ruminating or Reflecting? How to Get the Most of a Bad Decision

Okay, let’s admit it.  We’ve all made bad decisions.  Painful ones, embarrassing ones, career-chilling ones.  And if we have even an ounce of integrity, we’ve relived those bad decisions over and over in our heads as the regret and pain continue to dog us.  But do we really learn anything useful from them?  Learning to turn rumination into reflection is an invaluable leadership skill, allowing us to absorb real insight from our infallibility.

What happens in rumination about mistakes we make?  The process of rumination is all about either intensifying (for more self-disparaging people) or alleviating pain.  For most of us, we find ways to replace initial embarrassment and feelings of stupidity with justifications and even blame-transference – “if the team had given me all the facts…”, “if I weren’t being pressed by the CEO to go with his idea….”, “if I weren’t constantly being handed an overload of work.”  If we can find even minimally logical reasons for why we made a dumb mistake, we feel better.  Rumination helps us move from pain to outrage at the nasty circumstances that contributed to our temporary stupidity.  It is a normal human reaction. Continue reading

Great Leaders Are Made, Not Born – 5 Reflections to Form Your Leadership Persona

great leaders made not bornCommon wisdom says that great leaders are born with intuitive traits that make them remarkable.  But the only leg up they have on other leaders is that they practice naturally what others have to stop and think about.  These leaders continually give thought to who they want to be as leaders.  Five reflective questions will help you to ‘make’ yourself a great leader: Continue reading

Who Do You Let into Your Circle? Five Traits that Can Harm Your Reputation

domineering leaderHere’s a dilemma you have likely faced.  Our client, Jean, a respected and influential leader in her field, described a person she was considering adding to a group of industry leaders she was organizing.  She characterized him as opinionated and arrogant, unable to hear others’ points of view, and dominant in conversations – and because of this, unpopular and even distasteful to the other leaders who would be invited to be in the group.  She noted that he could even hold it against people if their opinions didn’t match his.  “However,” she added, “his opinions and ideas are often right on the mark and would be valuable for this group to hear.  In addition, he controls an organization that is highly influential, and not including him would be insulting to him and would potentially deprive the group of support from the people he influences.” Continue reading