Articles

Assessing Your Job Fit: Make your work your hobby and ride cowboy ride!

Categories:
Managing Self

In one of my grandfather’s poems, he wrote, “Make your work your hobby and ride cowboy ride!” It was his way of telling us kids to get a job we’d love so we would never have to work a day in our lives. I’ve gotten to coach over a thousand new, middle and senior executives, […]

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Leaders’ Statements are Promises: Five actions to build your reputation

Categories:
Managing Self

Thomas Jefferson said, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” Ralph Waldo Emerson can be credited with the corollary, “Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” Your reputation is shaped by your actions, not by your education, not by your good intentions, and not even by your values. People can’t […]

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Separating Mistakes from Misdeeds in Performance Management

Categories:
Managing Others

You’ve probably heard – and may even believe – that if you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not trying hard enough. So, are we all supposed to start making mistakes to prove we’re trying? And what if we start making mistakes and getting in trouble for them? Then what good is this old saying to […]

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Mistakes versus Misdeeds: A principle you can grow with

You might have heard it said that if you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not trying hard enough, and it’s one of my favorite, difficult topics in leadership! Before we explore this any further, let me be clear that the kinds of errors that I’m addressing are not the kinds of mistakes that literally put […]

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Like a ship’s navigator, leaders need to approximate their position, make a decision, and move on

I recently interviewed Scott Wallinger (left) for my podcast, an iconic manager and leader in the forestry profession (http://leadershipnature.com/podcasts/s1e13-scott-wallinger/), and Scott reflected on his lessons in leadership through the lenses of history and experience. Near the end of this episode, Scott talked about the tendency of foresters to analyze things until they have the answer […]

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Site Preparation for Leadership: What every manager needs to do to help leadership stick

Categories:
Managing Others

If you only got a 10 to 35 percent survival rate on your next reforestation project, would you be happy with the result? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, that is the success rate of most training – including leadership training – not necessarily because of the quality of the training itself but because of what […]

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Don’t Waste Your Time Training

Categories:
Managing Others

Training is great. Don’t get me wrong. I make a good living as a leadership trainer. But entirely too much training is thrown at fixing performance challenges when the root cause of the problem lies elsewhere. This wastes their time, your money and opportunity cost for everyone of taking better action. Much like teaching a […]

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Your Strengths May be Killing Your Career

Categories:
Managing Self

It’s true that we all have natural abilities that are important factors in our career success. Some of us are naturals at sales and negotiation, while others are terrific at data analysis. Some managers are detail-oriented planners, while others are gifted at seeing the “big picture.”  However, the emphasis on strengths in popular management literature […]

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Make Up Your Mindset: The heart of purposeful leadership

Categories:
Managing Self

“Dad, what do you do?” This was the question that Stafford County Administrator Anthony Romanello was asked by his son, a high school senior at the time, and one that would ultimately enlighten and inspire his own father, a veteran executive and respected civic leader. “I’m responsible for day-to-day operations of Stafford County, Virginia, government […]

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Feedback is the Fuel of Leadership

Categories:
Managing Others

When you’re an individual contributor, you measure your results by sales, acres, widgets and reports, but when you’re a leader, you measure your results by feedback. This was on my mind as I cut, split and piled firewood last weekend. I had felled the dead trees months before, and they had been collecting fungus and […]

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Leading Volunteers and Earning Discretionary Effort

Categories:
Managing Others

How to lead volunteers and others because they don’t have to be there and they don’t plan to stay. Partially retired and looking for meaningful volunteer work, my wife called a local animal shelter to offer her services, but what happened next is a lesson for anyone who cares about, depends upon, and leads volunteers. […]

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Eating Your Vegetables at Work: Quit Whining about Giving Performance Appraisals

Categories:
Managing Others

Like making fun of Donald Trump’s hair, performance appraisals are an easy target, and I’m tired of the whining. For example, a recent Cornerstone OnDemand/Harris survey reports the following: “Of employed U.S. adults who have experienced their employer’s performance review process Less than half (45%) said the feedback they receive is a fair and accurate […]

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: What makes a “good” decision?

Categories:
Managing Self

As mentioned in Question Traps are Just around the Cubicle, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly started a minor fad last month among political commentators by asking presidential hopeful Jeb Bush if he would have ordered the Iraq invasion “knowing what we know now.” More than a trap question (because it’s hypothetical), the inquiry also implied that […]

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Institutional Baggage: When looking back keeps you from going forward

Categories:
Managing Others

My foot was still on the accelerator when the air bags collapsed in my lap. I had been looking back into traffic and looking for a gap to pull into far longer than I should have and failed to look forward at the car in front of me, who’s driver had changed her mind and […]

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Question Traps are Just Around the Cubicle What every leader needs to know about trap questions

Categories:
Managing Self

When Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked Jeb Bush on May 11, “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion (of Iraq)?” she made news, because Bush had anticipated a different question and answered that one, setting off a small firestorm. When he then back peddled to answer the one he was asked, […]

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Dull Blades are Dangerous: The easy but irresponsible practice of promoting unprepared leaders

Categories:
Managing Self

One small but important right of passage for every young Boy Scout is earning his Totin’ Chip award. To earn it, a Scout has to learn and demonstrate that he knows how to carry, sharpen and use a knife, axe and saw. It’s a safety program to prevent injury to themselves and others when camping, […]

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Growing Your Leadership at the Edges

Categories:
Managing Self

Just as trees grow at the tips and on the edges, so do leaders. And that takes getting out of our comfort zones. You know what it’s like to sign your name with your dominant hand. For most people, doing so is easy and effortless. You don’t have to think about it, because it’s well […]

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Who’s the Fairest Leader of All: Because One Person’s Fairness is Another Person’s Affront

Categories:
Managing Others

In working with a team of supervisors recently, I asked them to prioritize a list of 14 leadership competencies so that I could coach them on the topics in the right priority for them, but the exercise took an unexpected turn. A leadership competency is a bundle of behaviors” or a set of related skills […]

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Growing a Taproot to Your Leadership

Categories:
Managing Self

The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) is a unique species of the southern yellow pine family, and it provides an important metaphor about developing leaders. Once a predominant forest type in the southeast forests of the United States, the longleaf was prized for its quantity and quality of resin, turpentine and lumber. Antithetically, the species flourished […]

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When personal business becomes your business

Categories:
Managing Others

In a litigious world, new managers and experienced leaders alike can become overly cautious about addressing performance problems, but that should not be an excuse for letting performance problems slide. Here are two examples: 1. A disabled worker is falling behind on productivity or not accomplishing his or her work to needed standards, but you […]

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