Bucking the System without Blocking Your Career

Bucking BroncoHow many times have you found yourself wanting to take a different stand than the conventions of your organization dictate?  Or wanting to take a different path than the one ‘prescribed’ by organizational norms?  And how often have you hesitated to be so bold, concerned about the potential impact these actions might have on your career?

Organizational culture and norms are strong magnets pulling actions in a common direction, and getting outside that magnetic field without flying off the grid is not easy.  Yet, if there were never any challenges to those norms, there would be no innovation.  It is to the organization’s benefit to keep the cultural door cracked open. Continue reading

Making the Unconventional Career Decision

Allison knew what she wanted; she just didn’t know how to reconcile her choice with expectations within her corporation.   She had been highly successful as head of finance, bringing innovative ideas about strategic measures to the executive team, and earning herself both respect and trust among her teammates.  The CEO had just told her it was his intent to promote her to COO, a clear path to his position in the future.
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Is Your Leadership Team Stuck?

“I don’t know what happened to them,” complained Michael, “but my top execs can’t get off the dime.  We’re faced with the most challenging business environment we’ve seen in decades, and they’re dithering when we need to be decisive.  I’m seriously wondering whether I need to replace some of these people.” Continue reading

Is Your Leadership Team Using the Soft Stuff to Make the Hard Stuff Happen?

Recently the McKinsey Quarterly interviewed Pieter Nota, the CEO of Philips Consumer Lifestyle, part of the Dutch technology group, about his business unit’s turnaround over four years from a problem child to posting ten consecutive quarters of strong revenue and profit growth.  Mr. Nota discusses his business unit’s turnaround by pointing to improvements in his executive team’s interpersonal dynamics and their willingness to have ‘crucial conversations’ as 70 to 80 percent of the equation for their success.  Competitive and dysfunctional siloes were broken down, collaboration was promoted (Mr. Nota refers to ‘collaborative accountability’), and trust gradually rebuilt.  He concludes his interview by saying, “This experience has proved to me that the soft stuff is what really makes the hard stuff happen.” Continue reading