The Big Freeze

Frozen businessmanIf you have ever found yourself suddenly unable to open your mouth in a meeting, check this out.

The Big Freeze is one of those unpleasant moments in your career when you know it’s important to say something brilliant and well articulated, and no such thing makes its way from your brain to your lips. Maddeningly, an hour later, you may come up with the perfect, concise, incisive response that, had you been able to dredge it up earlier, would have stunned listeners with its verity. Continue reading

Turning Recommendations into Actions

Female hand holding notebook with time for action quoteFor the third time in a week, Melanie walked away from a meeting frustrated that she had failed to convince colleagues to take action on her recommendations. She was beginning to lose confidence in her ability to persuade them of the value of her ideas. As she reviewed her actions at the meeting, she knew she had put forth her best arguments and had been absolutely clear about her recommendations and why they were appropriate to the situation. Yet no action had been initiated by the team nor by the CEO. Continue reading

Freedom to Dissent

A disagreementJake watched for his chance to jump into the conversation. “Our partners in this joint venture are idiots,” he announced witheringly. “No one in his right mind could agree with their conclusions.”

Melanie waited for him to continue, but he didn’t. “Where are you going with that, Jake?” she asked.   “Are you offering an alternative conclusion?”

“Don’t I have the freedom to dissent when I don’t agree?” retorted Jake.

Ah, that precious freedom of speech we so cherish!  The obvious answer to Jake’s question, if we look at the U.S. Constitution, is that Jake is in the right. But does that make him right? Continue reading

Us vs. Them

Two businessman casting a shadow shaped like two fightersAt a recent literary seminar, the poet Marie Howe received thunderous applause when, commenting on the then-breaking news about the attack on the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff in Paris, she asked the question, “Why is it that everywhere we look today, the conversation is dominated by ‘us versus them’?  How can we return to a place of realizing that we are all ‘us’?”

The enormous applause generated by Marie’s comment gives us, as leaders, precious insight. There is both fatigue with polarization, and a yearning to find common ground. Much like the mood at the end of long wars, Marie had tapped into that desire to return to a more rational humanity. Continue reading