The Conspiracy Bias

Ever since Daniel Kahneman came up with the ideas for cognitive biases in 1973, the world has been heading steadily downhill. We used to think that the brain was a clever thinking machine, working 24/7, creating new ideas that advanced the world. Instead, this Nobel Laureate showed us the brain is basically a lazy organ, just trying to get away with as little as it can, and coming up with one cute trick after another to make its life easier. Well, all that is not exactly true, but cognitive biases do serve as short cuts that the brain takes so as to preserve energy for survival. These biases allow us to reach quick decisions without much thought and there are Read More

The Best Ways to Coach Your Employees

One thing that I hear from senior leaders is how much enjoyment they get from coaching and guiding members of their team. They recognize that today’s aspiring leaders want guidance and want to get it in a way that is tasty and digestible. My colleague, Michael Couch and I discuss some of these strategies in our soon to be released book, Strategy Driven Leadership: The Playbook for Developing Your Next Generation of Leaders, which will be out in late November. Here are 3 ways for you to strengthen your coaching skills: 1. Focus on behaviors: People are understandably defensive when you use personality constructs (“you’re too critical”) but they can’t argue with empirical evidence. “When we were talking about project Read More

The Career Success Formula

Last week, when I provide you an update on our new book (co-authored with Michael Couch) Strategy Driven Leadership: The Playbook for Developing Your Next Generation of Leaders, I shared with you our “Career Success Formula.” In short, your career success is made up of all your Key Developmental Experiences (KDE’s), such as rolling out a new product and  where you learned the essential skills or  ]“Key Leadership Competencies” (KLC’s) that were needed to complete the job, such as getting everyone on board and behind the new product. Learning from the experiences is enhanced by regular reflection (Rfn) and feedback (Fdk), where you consider your learning and get information about how you are doing from others. For example, we have our Read More

Sorry, You Can’t Do It All

We think we can do it all. We call it multi-tasking, but it should more properly be called “serial-tasking.” If you don’t believe me try this exercise. Draw 2 parallel lines. On the top line write, “Multi-tasking is a myth.” On the second line write the numbers 1-20 below the line. That task should take you about 20 seconds. Now draw another 2 lines and this time we’re going to shift between tasks. Go ahead and write the letter “M” and then below the second line , write the number “1”. Then go back to the first line and write the letter “u” and go back down to the second line to write the number “2”. Proceed with that task Read More

You’re Smarter Than You Think

Recently I was talking to a CEO who was sharing about how he is working with his leadership team to think about the “value creation” they make for their customers. For him, value creation means improving his customer’s state of being. He expects his team to meet their customer’s needs and also wants them to go beyond that objective to find new and better ways to think about how their products and services improve their customer’s abilities to serve their customers. One of the best examples of a value creation company is the vacuum cleaning company, Dyson. While no one would deny that they make great vacuums, today they’ve redefined themselves as a company that makes high velocity engines to Read More

The American Dream

I visited the coast of Northern California last week meeting with some prospective clients. One of them invited me to go to a “you-pick-em” strawberry field at a local commercial operation. This fellow, who is now the CEO of a thriving technology company shared some of his background with me in response to my questions related to how he built his successful business. He thought it was best if we started at the beginning. He told me he came from Mexico some 30 years ago crossing the boarder illegally. He did not speak English and had no employment history, so he began where many people in search of the American dream began…at the bottom. His first job was in the Read More

Build A Full Head of Esteem

I am not really surprised that so many leaders question their own value and contribution to their organization. Over 20 years ago, author Pauline Clance wrote about her interviews with highly successful business leaders in which they reported feeling like frauds in their work (imposter syndrome). Despite all evidence to the contrary, these leaders were sure that sooner or later, they would be discovered as fakes and their gig would be up. Self-esteem or the belief that we are competent, capable people is something that we can only give to ourselves. It cannot be bestowed by others (despite their best efforts). Everyone experiences bouts of low self esteem and for leaders it can even be a greater challenge as you Read More

When It’s Okay To Micromanage

Nobody likes to be micromanaged and we usually associate it with an overbearing boss who just likes to stick his nose into everyone’s business. Micro-management, however, does have its rightful place in many workplace situations. Recently I was meeting with a regulatory and compliance officer for a technology firm and she shared about the challenges she faces in influencing her colleagues about the importance of her role. Sure, she can be a pain in the butt, she admitted, but her primary job is to manage and mitigate risk. Cyber hacking, stolen passwords, implanted malware are all real and meaningful dangers for her company and any one of them can sink their on-line business and with it, revenues and reputation. Most Read More

The Balance Challenge

A few months ago, I found the room spinning when I went to get up out of bed. It only lasted 15 seconds or so but after 4 days of it, I thought it best to see my physician. He diagnosed me within a few minutes as having “‘benign paroxysmal positional vertigo,” (it’s always good to see benign in a medical diagnosis.) The treatment is pretty straightforward for this form of vertigo and involved seeing a vestibular physical therapist who manipulated my head to help rebalance the otoconia crystals that sometimes become dislodged and migrate into the inner ear tubes. After 3 treatments with Amy, my PT, I was about 90 % better. To get to the last 10%, Amy, Read More