Courage

Managing and Keeping Friends

In theory, hiring a friend onto your team should be a great idea. You know them. You already trust them. You have mutual respect. Why wouldn’t it work?

The reality is that transitioning a peer-to-peer friendship to a manager-subordinate relationship rarely goes smoothly. Why? Because people don’t create new contracts upfront.
Continue reading…

Managers: Stop being so busy

Expectations weigh on all of us. But there are expectations, and expectations.

Managers are busy people, but if you’re non-stop busying yourself with meetings, emails and day to day operations you aren’t really doing what you were hired to do.

You weren’t hired to make the inevitable happen. Continue reading…

It’s time to tell your story

In every human culture, stories are used to pass down knowledge, history and wisdom. They are used to entertain, inspire and motivate. And they are used to connect people through recognizably similar experiences.

So why don’t more leaders share personal stories?

  1. Sharing personal stories will make me vulnerable (like that’s a bad thing).
  2. People only need facts and data to do their jobs, I don’t have time to tell people stories.
  3. People aren’t going be interested in my stories.

If you are holding back from sharing stories for any of those reasons, here’s why you need to get over them. Continue reading…

Are you an invisible leader?

I’ve said before that part of being a great leader is that you let people do their jobs.

But some managers of managers and CEOs become so hands off they become invisible. Manage your people well and let them manage their people. But don’t step so far back that their people (or their people’s people) don’t know who you are or what you look like. Continue reading…

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

The title for this article is also the new tag line for my company. It came out of an “ah ha” moment that a lot of managers have.

In management, you are always moving, stretching, balancing and rebalancing – it is pretty rare that anyone feels totally comfortable because nothing stays still for very long.

3 reasons you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable

  1. Change is constant. And change makes everyone of us more or less uncomfortable.I’m coaching a new VP who confided in me, “This is a really hard job! I feel like I never have things under control.” In her pre-management role, she was able to get things set up and let them operate on cruise control. That just doesn’t happen in management. Continue reading…

How excellent are you?

Leadership excellence is about being able to inspire and grow your highest leverage assets: trust, respect and loyalty.

In good times and bad, everything flows from those three levers.

When you think about great leaders you have known, or admired, my guess is that you would give them all high scores in what I call the 4 C’s. Continue reading…

V is for victory and vulnerability

How does an athlete like Maelle Ricker go from coming in 4rth in Turin in 2006, Ricker to grabbing the gold in women’s snowboard cross in 2010?

She didn’t achieve her ultimate career high by pretending she was perfect.

Any athlete, or leader, who wants to push themselves to the next level has to be willing to be honest about their weaknesses.

3 mind blowing facts about weakness in leaders: Continue reading…

Train to be a gold medal leader

I have to say, ever since the Olympic torch relay ran past my house, I’ve been stoked about the games. (I hope my American and European readers willThe torch indulge me if a little Canadian pride sneaks into this email).

Did you see Alexandre Bilodeau win Canada’s first home-gold in the men’s moguls on Sunday? Can I tell you why I found it so exciting?

As Stephen Brunt wrote in his Globe and Mail article, “That great moment didn’t happen by accident.”

Bilodeau won because he trained hard. He won because he took risks no one else took. He saw opportunities no one else saw. One commentator said, “In his gold medal run, Bilodeau skied hard, fast, and on edge, walking the thin line between greatness and disaster.”

Great leaders also have to ride that edge. We also have to train. We also have to focus. We also have to get comfortable being uncomfortable walking the line between greatness and disaster. Continue reading…

Your Ticket to the Podium

What do you see as the Olympics of your career?

Your ticket to the podium:

  • set a goal: think big, make a plan and stick to a time line.
  • overcome obstacles: things will go sideways, deal with them and don’t let yourself get stuck.
  • pay attention to the details: little things do make a difference (provide regular feedback, don’t let meetings slide, etc.). Continue reading…

Get past mistakes

We’ve just about made it through 2009. So…? How did you do?

If you are like most people I know, you got tossed around a bit, lost some business, made some cuts and learned a few lessons.

We knew going into this year that we would need to buckle up and hold on.

Now, here we are at the end of it, the roller-coaster is slowing down (for a little while), and we have an opportunity to open our eyes see where we are and where we’ve been. Continue reading…

Brand yourself as a great leader

When I coach, I have a number tools that I use to assess clients. I use different tools for different reasons. But I’m excited about a new Personal Brand Assessment that I’m using to help people:

1) see what impression you leave with people

2) look at what you are doing in your career to consciously cultivate your brand or unconsciously sabotage it Continue reading…

My life is more than half over

Is your life more than half over? Mine is.

My 45th birthday was a couple of weeks ago. When I factor in family history, increased life expectancy, and everything I do to take care of myself, I still come up with 90 as a likely final buzzer. So as of 10 days ago, there’s just no getting around the fact my life is more than half over. Continue reading…

Guest Blogger: Why I called Chris, and why I’m glad I did

I didn’t exactly embrace the concept of having a management coach. I had so much work, it just seemed like one more thing, and I thought it might be uncomfortable. Sending Chris that first email was pretty unsettling, but here’s why I did. I felt I wasn’t performing to my own expectations. And I believed I could do the job better.

When I started working with Chris, I was new to my management position, I was facing some very challenging issues in the department and I had what seemed to be an overwhelming number of things to do every day. Continue reading…

Get perspective and get control

People keep asking me how this economic mayhem is impacting me. Do you want to know what I’m doing to steer through?

I coach myself and I coach others to focus on things we can control – our own mindset and our own performance, which by the way can be more reliable than our GIC and stock performance any day of the week. Continue reading…

Stop letting things slide

So let me ask you this: What are you tolerating that you have the power to change?

Think about your people, projects, systems, behaviours, technical issues, the nagging feeling that you need to brush up on something, the tension in the air about an unresolved issue.

3 things you need to know about tolerating stuff

  1. whatever you tolerate adds to the weight you carry, it adds to your frustration, clutter, and resentment.
  2. the stuff that bogs you down, bogs your team down. There’s no getting around that.
  3. the act of tolerating something drains you, and postpones the reality you are working to create. Continue reading…

Work to your ideal: Marc Allen’s Visioning exercise

Visioning isn’t just for business owners, executives, creatives or mystics.

This kind of work can be used to chart a course for your personal success, the success of your team, or even a specific project.

Marc Allen’s Visioning Exercise

  1. Turn off your inner critic, just for a moment. Go with your gut and give your creative self the floor – it’s just a moment.
  2. Write a description of your ideal scene. Imagine yourself 1 to 3 years down the road and see yourself living your ideal scene. (Careful you aren’t writing someone else’s picture of success. This is about success on your terms.) Continue reading…

Be the Change!

Truth: We are all the victims and benefactors of our environments.

You, as a manager, have the power to be the change that you want to see in your corporate culture. You, as an enlightened leader, have the responsibility to be that change.

The last time you had a meeting with your boss, how did it go? Did you leave the meeting feeling empowered to do great work? Was it rushed, or all over the place? Did your boss give you anything meaty to chew on? Or was it micro-management mania?

Continue reading…

Face Conflict Head On

Conflict is a constant in management, so get used to it.

Last month we started to look at Patrick Lenconi’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team model. My article Build From Trust tackled the first dysfunction that comes up in the model – absence of trust.

The second dysfunction is fear of conflict.

According to Lenconi, fear of conflict inhibits teams from engaging in “unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues.” Continue reading…

I was put to the full engagement test

I was invited to participate in an Human Performance Institute 3-day retreat in Florida last month, led by none other than HPI co-founder, CEO and best-selling author Dr. Jim Loehr. (He’s a pretty big Kahuna in my world.)

But let me tell you, it was also a lot of work.

There is nowhere to hide in the HPI compound. You go there to see yourself as you truly are – to get real about how you are currently performing, and to stretch your own limits. Continue reading…

Build from trust

I’m a big fan of Patrick Lencioni’s book The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. Its dysfuctions model is very strong. At the base level, team dysfunction comes  down to trust. “And when it comes to teams,” says Lencioni, “trust is all about vulnerability.”

It’s kind of obvious right? Logic says:

Trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships. Your team needs to have a good working relationship to work effectively. They can’t do that if they can’t trust each other. Simple. Continue reading…