The Impossible Dream

The Impossible Dream“Tilting at windmills” – a phrase made famous by the off-kilter actions of knight-errant Don Quixote in ‘Man of La Mancha’ – signifies a misdirected idealism.  Indeed, crazy Don Quixote saw the beautiful in everything, no matter how much trouble it got him into, no matter how others derided his optimism. Continue reading

The Rain in Spain

The Rain in SpainMany of us remember the Pygmalion story of Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower-seller who was turned into a social experiment by Professor Henry Higgins, who bet a colleague he could turn this crass, accented person into a ‘real lady’.

Professor Higgins did his job, but Eliza didn’t let go of her spunk, and in the process, she changed Professor Higgins as much as he changed her. Continue reading

Integrating a New Leader

Integrating a New Leader You’ve got a bright new leader who’s just joined your organization, and you prepared a great onboarding process to get her acclimated and launched.  Or did you?  What was covered in your onboarding process? Continue reading

How New Leadership Positions are Like New Sports Cars

How New Leadership Positions are Like New Sports CarsLanding an exciting new position is like getting the keys to a shiny new Ferrari – you’re exhilarated, ripe with anticipation, eager to test your skill.  But….. how do you get the thing started?

The analogy is probably truer than we realize, because even if you salivated over that Ferrari for years, it’s intimidating to get behind the wheel, realize the power you have to channel, figure out all the mechanics and electronics, test your limits behind the wheel, and make it really perform! Continue reading

Making the Most of Conflict

Making the Most of ConflictYuck.  It’s the ‘C’ word again.  No one likes to deal with it.  We avoid conflict and are asked to step up to it instead.  But still we avoid it.  We squirm even when we think about it.  Conflict is uncomfortable and uncertain and unwelcome – or is it necessarily so? Continue reading

Bridging the Generation Disconnect

Bridging the Generation DisconnectA group of 50+ business people talked over dinner one evening about the promising young leaders coming into their firms.  While complimenting the smarts of these young leaders, they also expressed some dismay:

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The Team at the Top

The Team at the TopA leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people.” – John Updike
Teamwork as a cultural norm is crucial, as described in last week’s blog post.  But it will never be embedded as a norm if the leaders at the top of the organization are not part of the team.  “We’ve got a great team,” said a bank executive.  But when irregularities in the company were uncovered, his official statement pointed to underlings who had failed to do their jobs well.  Contrast that with the observation of Rajeev Behera, whose Disney division produces game apps for handheld devices, where failure of a product to take hold is common: “Taking responsibility for a failure demonstrates confidence in your ability to move forward from it.” Continue reading

Teamwork as Culture

Teamwork as CultureLast week, Anne, the leader of a key division, suddenly became disabled with a serious illness.  She was too ill to even think about what was happening at work as she lay in the hospital.  As she improved, she began to worry about the deadline that had now passed for completing crucial work on a product rollout.  She flashed a text message to one of her team members to ask the status.  What she got back was from Frank, one of her colleagues in another division: “Got you covered.  All is completed and in order.  Peter and I jumped in.  Get some rest.  We’ll stay on top of it.” Continue reading

The Generative Work of a Leader

man and woman look at the cityA wise CEO, Rob, recently described to me what he’s looking for in the leaders he asks to join his organization: “We need leaders who keep their eyes up instead of down in the details, who can ‘see around corners’.  It’s like when you learn to drive a car: first you’re focused just over the hood, but then you need to learn to look ahead to the next stoplight, and the best drivers are looking for what’s around the corners.” Continue reading

Is Your Decision-Making Process Ethical?

Worried businesswoman receiving notificationDyonne was feeling conflicted.  The decision made by her executive team of peers was well-researched, vetted by a diverse group, and followed a similar set of decisions made in the industry.  Yet Dyonne’s gut was unsettled.  This decision made her feel squeamish.  As she shared it in confidence with a trusted advisor, she admitted that she didn’t want to have her name associated with it.  The bottom line was that Dyonne felt the decision had some ethical problems that she had a hard time reconciling. Continue reading