Articles

Leading Volunteers and Earning Discretionary Effort

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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