Next Level Blog

What Have You Learned from Your Worst Boss Ever?

Next Level Blog

My first job out of graduate school was as a first year associate in a Wall Street investment bank whose last of the 10 corporate values they printed in their annual report was, “Have fun!” Sadly, I did not. Decades later, it remains the worst place I ever worked or have seen other people working in in 20 years of leadership development work.

What Are Your Top Five Words?

Next Level Blog

The title of this post is the core of a few of my favorite questions. The one I want to focus on today is, in my experience, foundational to effective self-management: What are the top five words that describe me (you) when I’m (you’re) living and leading at my (your) best?

Your Checklist for Leading with an “Us” Mindset

Next Level Blog

One of the things I’m doing with my blog posts this year is to try to provide you with simple, practical and immediately applicable insights you can apply to be a better leader.

How to Stop Inspiring Your Team to Underperformance

Next Level Blog

Every so often I hear a phrase so well turned that I say to myself, “I wish I had thought of that.” That happened a few months ago when I was talking with a top executive of a Fortune 500 company to get his feedback on a colleague who was one of my executive coaching clients. This exec loved my client and compared him quite favorably to his predecessor who, the exec said, regularly “inspired his team to underperformance.”.

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How to Stop Being “Them” and Start Being “Us”

Next Level Blog

A few months ago, I was in conversation with a group of senior director and vice president level leaders in a client company. I asked them, “Before you were promoted to senior director or VP, what did you used to say about the people who had those titles?” What I heard in response was pretty telling: They don’t get it. They don’t understand what’s really going on. They’re arrogant. They’re presumptuous. They think they’re better than us.

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Don’t Assume the Worst

Next Level Blog

When I asked communications expert, Dr. Nick Morgan , for his one best piece of advice for anyone who wants to be a more effective virtual communicator, his answer was quick, simple and powerful, “Don’t assume the worst.” Here’s the back story on why Nick offered that advice and how you can apply it for positive outcomes.

How Strong is Your Leadership Pyramid?

Next Level Blog

This post is adapted from the forthcoming third edition of my book, The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success. Available in October, you can pre-order it here. Research shows that moving to the executive level is among the toughest transitions of any career.

Are You Triaging or Prioritizing Your Work?

Next Level Blog

If you’ve ever had to make a trip to the emergency room (hopefully not) or watched a medical drama on TV (probably so), you’ve seen a team of doctors, nurses and other team members doing triage. Triage is the process of assessing which patients need immediate treatment or attention and which can wait until after the more urgent cases are addressed.

Are You Working With People or Through People?

Next Level Blog

One of the mentors I feel very fortunate to have had in my life was the late Richard Neustadt , a founding professor of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and author of the classic book Presidential Power. When I was a student at the Kennedy School in the mid-80’s, I had Dr. Neustadt for a couple of classes, got to work with him on some special projects and was part of a group of students he’d occasionally have over to his house to teach us about the subtleties of scotch whiskey.

How to Stop Selling Your Ideas and Start Enrolling People in Them

Next Level Blog

Think about the last time you made a big purchase like a car, a major appliance or a mattress. With the possible exception of the car, there’s a pretty good chance you bought the product online after reading a lot of customer reviews. Why was that the case? Of course, one reason is that Amazon and other online retailers make it really easy to buy things online. Another likely reason is that you would do anything to avoid an aggressive sales pitch at the dealership or the store.

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How Do You Score on the Business Stress-O-Meter?

Next Level Blog

Earlier this year, I was talking with an executive coaching client about everything that was going on at once in his business life.

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Three Reasons Leaders Should Ask for Help

Next Level Blog

There’s a hero myth that can build up around leaders. The great leaders stand alone, indomitable in the face of adversity, accomplishing their goals in the face of all obstacles. The last thing they need is help from anyone else. Their strength, wisdom and resolve brought them to this point and will, of course, carry them forward. There at least two problems with myths. One is that they’re not true.

Do You “Have To” or Do You “Get To”?

Next Level Blog

What do you notice about your thought process when you’re about to start something that’s difficult or intimidating? Is your inner monologue helpful or hurtful? Here’s a hint – your self-talk is highly predictive of the result you’re going to get. There’s a simple mental shift you can make that almost guarantees a better result when you have to do something you’re not totally excited about or find a little bit scary.

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What Great Leadership Looks Like

Next Level Blog

In 2017, it can be difficult to find examples of great leadership. Today, though, I want to offer two of them. The first is of neighbors, volunteers, first responders, law enforcement, the National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard pulling together to rescue each other in the greater Houston area.

Leading After the Shutdown

Next Level Blog

Last week I flew from Los Angeles to Baltimore and back and, like just about every other American who flies, was so grateful for the professionalism of the TSA agents and air traffic controllers whose job it is to keep travelers safe and alive. And, of course, last week they were in their fifth week of doing their vital jobs without pay because of the government shutdown.

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How to Determine If the Balls You’re Juggling Are Rubber or Glass

Next Level Blog

In my work as a coach and speaker to corporate leaders, I hear a lot of stories about how many balls people are trying to juggle at once. There are at least three big factors driving these stories. First, most leaders in most organizations are expected to continuously do more with less. Second is the ability to do practically anything from your smartphone that you could do at your desk.

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What I’ve Learned from the Young Leaders of Stoneman Douglas High School

Next Level Blog

I took the picture that accompanies this post from atop a trash can at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Montana Avenue in Santa Monica on Saturday. Thousands of people rallied there at the end of one of 800 March for Our Lives events that were held around the world that day for students, their families and friends to speak out against gun violence.

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How a Simple Mantra Can Improve Your Leadership

Next Level Blog

One of the things I love about leading our Next Level Leadership® group coaching program is hearing leaders’ stories about how they’re following through on their most important development opportunities. As I’ve written here before, when they’re mapping out how to follow through, I always encourage them to look for repeatable actions that are relatively easy to do and likely to make a difference.

Leaders Focus on the Trends, Not the Data Points

Next Level Blog

In some organizations, this is the time of year where individual performance from the previous year is summarized and communicated in annual reviews. Which, by the way, is an abysmal practice that does nothing to develop people and has at least an 80% chance of causing them to feel disengaged.). One of the reasons annual performance reviews suck so much is that they too often deal in data points, not trends.

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What Habits Are You Building This Year? Here Are Mine (and What I’m Learning from Them)

Next Level Blog

So, welcome to the first work day of 2019. By the time you read this, we may be into the third or fourth day or beyond, but as I write this, it’s January 2. And, by writing this, I am following through on one of the habits I set out for myself in my annual planning period between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. The particular habit I’m talking about is to write at least 500 words a day Monday through Friday in 2019. Why am I setting that up as a habit for myself?

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Five Questions to Ask When You Take on the Top Job

Next Level Blog

When I wrote The Next Level , I included a case study about Amy, a fictional high performer who had recently been promoted to the executive ranks. She was fictional, but as they say about some TV dramas, her situation was “ripped from the headlines.” (Her Her story has resonated with readers and clients so much that I’ve left it in the upcoming 3 rd edition of The Next Level.) The challenges Amy was facing as a new executive were ones that I see all the time as an executive coach.

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How to Create Space to Think

Next Level Blog

A lot of thinking is really just reacting. On any given day, there’s so much coming at us that we just react or reflexively respond to the input. That’s not all bad. A lot of stuff gets done that way. But who’s stuff is getting done – yours or someone else’s? To get your own most important stuff done, you have to create space to think. How, when and where do you do it? I’ve been asking my clients a version of that question for years – where or when do you get your best ideas?

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Mindful Mondays: Pope Francis’ Nine Rules for Happy Living

Next Level Blog

In case you haven’t been paying attention, it turns out that Pope Francis is one of the most popular people in the world. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that he has a 90% favorability rating among U.S. Catholics and a 70% favorability rating among all Americans.

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Mindful Mondays: How to Live a Life That’s “Beyond Happy”

Next Level Blog

Being happy is a fundamental life goal for most people. But is it possible that by setting the bar at “being happy,” that we’re aiming too low? In her new book, Beyond Happy: Women, Work, and Well-Being, Beth Cabrera makes a compelling case for striving for more.

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Mindful Mondays: What Any of Us Can Learn from Pope Francis

Next Level Blog

Like a lot of Americans, I spent a lot of last week transfixed by the coverage of Pope Francis’ trip to the United States. I’m not Catholic, but found myself moved by his words and images several times. The pictures were what really got me.

Three Things Executives Around the World Tell Me Always Work

Next Level Blog

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak over the course of several programs in the U.K. with a couple of hundred executives from around the world. During those sessions I was struck by the commonalities of what helps high capacity people lead and live at their best.

Leaders, Don’t Be the Cheese in the Panini

Next Level Blog

You can consider this post an update of one I wrote back in the summer of 2009 about how middle managers can feel like the meat in the sandwich. I’ve used that analogy for years with my clients in middle and upper middle management. It really applies to any leader who is not working in the C-suite equivalent of their organization. When you’re the meat in the sandwich, you’re adding a lot of nutritional value while getting squeezed from the pressure of the slices of bread above and below you.

Why Leaders Should Focus on Outcomes Instead of Solutions

Next Level Blog

Yesterday morning, before delivering a workshop on how to lead and live at your best , I had the privilege of sitting in as a roomful of high-potential managers shared what they’ve learned so far during their company’s multi-month leadership development program. There were a lot of good observations but the one that really landed with me was from a participant who said he’s become a lot more aware of the difference between solutions and outcomes.

Mindful Mondays: Doing the Work

Next Level Blog

So, it’s not every day when you can say that one of your lifelong best friends just won a Tony award. Today is actually the second time I’ve gotten to do that. The fact that today is actually National Best Friends Day makes it even more fun.

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Seven Things Leaders Can Learn from Bill Clinton About Connecting with People

Next Level Blog

Delivering his monologue after the midterm elections last week, David Letterman was talking about President Obama’s low approval ratings and landed a great line: “Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon – under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought?

Three Basic Truths About People That Busy Leaders Should Not Ignore

Next Level Blog

Lately, I’ve been working with a company that’s about to make a big leap. They have a potentially world-changing product and are on the cusp of scaling up in a big way. It’s very exciting stuff. Everyone from the CEO on down is super busy. There is a lot of work to do both internally and externally. With all the demands, time and attention is a scarcer resource than money. That’s true for many of the leaders I work with.

Five Quick Posts on How to Be Successful in 2018

Next Level Blog

Happy new year everyone! Here’s hoping that 2018 is everything you want it to be. To give you some fuel for the journey, here are five quick posts about how to set yourself up for success this year. These posts cover strategies and tactics that have worked for both my clients and me so I’m confident they’ll work for you too.

How to Diversify Your Happiness

Next Level Blog

If you’ve spent any time thinking about your retirement account or other investments you may have, you’re probably familiar with the concept of asset diversification. The idea is to not over-invest in one particular company or class of investments but to balance your portfolio across different types of assets. As a simple example, it makes sense for many people to invest in both stocks and bonds since when one of the two is up the other is often down.

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Mindful Mondays: What I Learned About My Emotions from Pixar’s Inside Out

Next Level Blog

Last Friday night was movie night for our family and I got to pick. The fact that I chose the new Disney/Pixar movie, Inside Out, instead of Jurassic World probably tells you all you need to know about me.

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Mindful Mondays: The Surprising Benefits of Being More Fully Present at Work

Next Level Blog

Whenever we run a 360 or self-assessment based on The Next Level model of leadership presence, one of the lowest rated behaviors is usually “Gives others his/her full presence and attention during meetings and conversations.”

Why You Need to Be Bored (and How to Be That Way)

Next Level Blog

When was the last time you were bored? I’m willing to bet that you can’t remember. If I’m right, it’s because, in 2017, no one ever has to be bored. That smartphone super computer you carry around in your pocket guarantees it. Don’t know what to do next? There’s always an Instagram feed to look at, a text to answer, an email to delete, a podcast to listen to, a cat video to watch, a news headline to click on or a Minecraft challenge to beat.

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What You Can Learn About Self-Observation and Self-Improvement from Kevin Durant

Next Level Blog

If you pay any attention at all to sports, you’ve probably noticed that the Golden State Warriors are a really good basketball team. So good, in fact, that four of their five starters are playing in the NBA All-Star Game next month. With Steph Curry and Kevin Durant leading the team and (my idol) Steve Kerr coaching, Golden State is so good that it’s been reported that other teams in the league are suffering from Warriors Derangement Syndrome.

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How to Be A Better Virtual Communicator

Next Level Blog

Surely you’ve noticed that most conference calls, video conferences, e-mail threads and virtually any other form of virtual communications pretty much stink. Why is that and what can we do about it? Dr. Nick Morgan has the answers. In this recorded interview with Nick , I asked him to share some of the fascinating research he gathered and conducted for his new book, Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World.

Three of the Most Common Delegation Ah-ha’s

Next Level Blog

One of the biggest shifts that most rising leaders have to make is the shift from being the go-to person to someone who builds teams of go-to people.

Seven Ways to Play a Bigger Game This Year

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In fifteen years of coaching high potential and senior leaders, I’ve conducted thousands of hours of colleague feedback interviews. One of the themes that I hear a lot from senior executives talking about high potential leaders is that the client needs to play a bigger game.

What’s the Difference Between Executive Presence and Leadership Presence?

Next Level Blog

The title of this post is a question I was asked yesterday during an interview for the book summary service Get Abstract. Audio excerpts from the interview will be available in a few months.)

The Ten Behaviors of Strong Personal Leadership

Next Level Blog

Since writing the first edition of The Next Level in 2006, I’ve coached, spoken with, and observed thousands of leaders in action. Many of them have been good leaders. Some have been great leaders. The great ones have one big thing in common. They don’t just lead at their best; they live at their best. They understand that to lead others effectively, they first have to lead themselves effectively. Great leaders practice and exhibit strong personal leadership.

Ten Ways to Lead Bigger

Next Level Blog

As I wrote here a few months ago, the biggest development opportunity for many of the rising leaders I work with as an executive coach is to play a bigger game.