2011

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30 Overlooked Acts of Leadership Courage

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We often think of leaders as exhibiting big acts of courage – overcoming huge obstacles and saving lives, metaphorically and literally. Yet I’m amazed and humbled at the courageous things leaders do that we don’t think of as brave. The small courageous things that we overlook every day are the stuff that make up the character of great leaders.

The Key Missing Piece

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I just know somehow that you are a good leader. You enjoy what you do, you get results, and you work hard to develop the relationships that will allow you to have an impact on your organization and beyond. I know that if you make the effort to read this blog, you are trying your

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Nurturing the Irritant Into a Pearl

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What if we saw those who irritate us as the beginning of creativity, collaboration, or even a thing of beauty; a possibility yet to manifest itself with a little time and attention? Consider the lowly oyster. When an aggravation is presented to its system it creates a lovely pearl, something of great potential and

Four Ways to Recharge Your Leadership Batteries

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You are a really hard-working leader. Long hours are often required over extended periods of time. By working harder and longer, you think you are making a dent in the workload. Yet – have you noticed that there is a point of diminishing return? When you are spinning your wheels yet things aren’t getting

Are You Too Knowledgeable?

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When I begin working with a new client, one of the first things I do is to interview their stakeholders. This helps my client and me to learn more about their most effective behaviors as well as those that are potential areas for development. After doing many of these over the years, I’ve learned

Peace and Goodwill

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. For many of us, our biggest and most stressful holiday season is here. Despite all of the hype about Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Super Saturday, you may be able to keep the spirit of the holiday in your heart – year round.

Six Tips to Help Your Team Learn

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I am fortunate to work with some very smart, creative leaders. Most of them are seasoned managers and a select few have figured out how to catalyze learning in their organizations. Stephen Sorenson (who has given me permission to use his name; you can follow this clever guy on Twitter @stephensoren) is one of

Tips 59

The Road to Wisdom

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. We are all familiar with leaders who have knowledge. Knowing about the technical side of things, the “book smarts” kind of knowledge, are good things for getting along in the world. But how many of us know leaders who have wisdom; that deep “knowing” that ties together what they’ve learned in all areas of their life that’s used for the common good? Wisdom shows itself in behaviors that are moral, ethical, kind, forgiving, and understanding.

The Best Leaders are Strong Collaborators

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Today’s guest post is from Erin Palmer, on behalf of Villanova University. Collaboration, as described here, is one of my favorite leadership tools! If you’re in a leadership position, you know that performing well and achieving your goals are important for career advancement. However, leaders who focus only on their own job performance are out

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Who Do You Learn From?

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All leaders should make an effort to surround themselves with people who stretch their thinking. Those who live out of the box, are different from us, way ahead of us, following the road less travelled, societal outcasts and those who live and work quietly – all are fair game to learn from. Ironically, those who have

Letting Go of Your Need to be Right

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As a leader, you are often rewarded for having all the right answers. You may fight hard for your position on a subject. However, as I’ve watched leaders put an effort into letting go of their own need to be right when it made sense to do so, I’ve also watched some things happen

Equal To or Greater Than = Influence

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My favorite leaders are genuinely humble. They know they don’t know it all, and they know they have much to learn. They dive into learning with gusto. They make mistakes and try again. If they are in one of those boxes on the organization chart that gives them authority over others, they don’t take it

What is your living legacy?

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There were three of us, good friends who were missing a fourth one. She had passed away several years ago, and for some reason we began to laugh as we told the quirkiest stories we could remember about her. She was, after all, a rather quirky person, and we loved that about her.

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Are You Using What You Value in The Way You Lead?

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What you value drives your behaviors. You can choose to be conscious of those values and purposeful in your behavior – or not. When you’re aware of the values that guide your decisions and actions, you are able to lead with clarity, align with your organization’s values, and can be more selfless – acting on values

How to Create a Thanking Culture

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Something on a PowerPoint slide at a presentation recently captured my attention and fancy. The point on the slide was about the “thinking culture&# of a particular company, but the word “thinking&# was misspelled to “thanking&#. Hmm (I thought)….a a “thanking culture&#. What might that look like? We so often hear that a paycheck is thanks

A Bird’s Eye View of High Potential

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Are you a “high potential&# leader or think you might be? How can you tell, even if you haven’t been specifically declared one? Organizations have all kinds of assessments they use to determine whether someone is “high potential&# to take on increased responsibility. I’ve worked with leaders who’ve been assessed every which-way in order

When You Coach, This is What Happens

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I’ve been teaching managers how to coach for several years – in groups, and also 1:1 in a coach/client relationship. Having worked in the corporate world, and having an “aha&# moment when I learned the process and skills in coaching, I find it an extremely valuable tool for managers to use at the right

Tools 56

From Mom(isms) to Leader(isms)

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Happy Mother’s Day! I found this great website that reminded me that moms are the first coaches that help us to learn the craft of leadership early in life. I chose a few of the Momisms (bolded quotes) that you may have heard from your mother that prepared you for being the great leader

Making an impact on thousands, one person at a time

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A comment on a post earlier this week that gave me lots of energy – so I figured I need to write about it (thanks Connie!). She felt that most of us (unlike Oprah) don’t have the opportunity to impact large numbers of people. I respectfully disagree. Allow me to explain. Every day, you

Beginning the Practice of Personal Change

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I love the way that some Eastern religions and ancient arts speak of developing a new habit as “practice” Whether it’s learning to meditate, stay calm in a crazy world or to be present in the moment, these are something we practice, rather than “do” I imagine this is because we never reach perfection and a practice allows us to make mistakes and forgive them. And so it is with leadership. We work toward perfection but never quite reach it.

How to Maximize Your Work With A Coach

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As we are starting a new season of coaching high potentials in a client organization, I was excited to hear a few of them ask “What can I do to get the most out of this executive coaching experience?” ” It’s a great question, and one that tells me why this group of high potential

What Success Looks Like

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As a very busy mid-level executive in a Fortune 100 company, he took to coaching like a duck to water. He was ready to work on himself. When we first started our work together, he thoroughly studied the 360 feedback he’d received and focused on learning from the leadership development training he’d just had.

How to Move Through the Leadership Gap

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. Which way should I go? Will that decision be the right one? How should I behave in this situation? What will my manager say? How can I be a great leader? quote by leaders everywhere. The truth is, there is also no standard operating procedure to tell you what to do next. There is just you, and anyone you ask to help you (how’s that for a novel concept?). In leadership, you learn and develop as you lead.

Learning from Great Leaders

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They’re everywhere, yet we often don’t notice the great leaders because we’re hard wired to be critical. Where are the leadership role models? If you look with fresh eyes, you’ll observe that many leaders are there for you to model. When you don’t know which way to turn, when every decision you want to make seems wrong, when you

Reflecting On Your 360 Degree Feedback

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It can be really hard to receive feedback. Not only can the less-than-flattering feedback have a negative impact on your self-esteem, but the glowing-all-over feedback can have the opposite effect by encouraging your ego to run amok. No matter how you react to feedback, it’s important to spend some time studying it and reflecting

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Have You Trained Your Replacement?

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Today's guest post is from Mike Figliuolo at The thoughtLEADERS Blog. With a lot of wisdom and good things to say about leadership – hop over to his blog and be sure to subscribe. None of us likes to think about being replaced in our

Providing Emotional Nourishment

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“ There are realities we all share, regardless of our nationality, language or individual tastes. As we need food, so do we need emotional nourishment: love, kindness, appreciation and support from others.” ” ~ J.Donald Walters.

The Foggy Path of Leadership: A Personal Journey

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I’m starting down a new path. It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve talked about taking it for too long. It requires me to be more vulnerable than I’d like. Yet this is the path I’ve chosen, even when it chose me at the same time. It’s become obvious that I need to

Two Things to Remember as You Change the World

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One of the things that makes you a leader is that you get things done. You are known for your accomplishments; you move mountains quickly and efficiently. Right now you're on a roll – over the last few years, you've made huge impact on

The Coaching Mindset

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. The leader I was listening to was agitated. He indicated that he had just finished “coaching” a direct report about a change this staff member needed to make in his behavior. Our meeting included a recap of the conversation that went something like this: Me: “So how did the conversation with Brian go?” ” Leader: “Brian is a good manager; one of the best.

The Journey to Real

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A few years ago I attended a conference as I was starting up my own business. There was a speaker in a breakout session who led us through a guided experience, and it moved me to tears. In brief, those tears had to do with my perception about myself that I was superficial. The good that came out of the experience was that it led me question my values, my behavior, my thoughts, and my “being” This was the beginning of my journey to be real.

Learning is More Than a Spectator Sport

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Years of attending training programs where I sat in a chair and listened to PowerPoint presentations had made me weary of such events. After the training was finished, I’d head back to the office and the material I was given in the program would sit on my desk for a week or two as I got involved in the day to day craziness. I might tell the staff about what I’d learned but eventually, the books would go up on the shelf and gather dust. I was a spectator.

The Value of Knowing Exactly Who You Are

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In your hurry-up and get-it-done world, when do you take the time to focus on who you are and who you want to become? Not often, I bet. Although it may seem self indulgent to some, there is great value to you personally and professionally in spending reflective time with assessment (not “tests”) reports and feedback that will help you to get to know yourself better.

Seeing Others

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Most people crave acknowledgement; in a word, they want to be seen. I would argue that the work world can be one of the places where people should be seen more. Even the high potential leaders I work with – who often get a lot of attention and kudos – can feel as if

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Why Relationships Matter to Inspiring Leaders

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Today’s guest post is from Jack Zenger. More information on him and his organization can be found below the article. Geoffrey Cohen summed it up well when he said, “The need to belong, to associate, is among the most important human motives. We are almost certainly hardwired with a fundamental motivation to maintain these

Lasting Change Begins With You

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Being a great leader requires continuous personal change. The ability to lead at your best is dependent on the context that you work within, and because that situation is always changing, you must also change your behaviors in order to be able to work within it. Think about it. When was the last time you: “Acquired” a new boss? Got a new peer on your team? Hired a new staff member? Lost a staff member? Got a promotion? Took on a significant new project?

Keep Learning

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It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there is nothing left to learn about leading others, particularly if you have been adept and successful at it. Leadership – like life – is a journey; you never arrive at the destination, particularly when it has sped up to the pace you deal with

What To Do With Blind Spots

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Dan Rockwell of Leadership Freak fame wrote a thoughtful piece called Spotting Blind Spots recently. In his words, “You don't see you like others see you. Blind spots are things that others easily see in us but we don't or won't see in

Balancing Act: Head and Heart

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Last week I attended a farewell event for a leader in the public sector who was moving on to another job. He’s somebody that I’ve come to know well over the course of several years; I’ve also had the pleasure of working within his organization with many of the outstanding leaders he’s hired and

Inspiration: Waterfalls vs. Locks and Dams

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Today’s guest post is from Lt Col Mark Valentine, an Air Force officer with a background in fighter aviation and strategic planning, a leader I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since last year. He holds a master of arts in US National Security Policy from Georgetown University, and a bachelor of science in Astronautical