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The most amazing question

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Photo credit: 123RF. In the formative stages of my career I was a Human Resources generalist for a large Pharmaceutical company. As an avowed problem-solver I got frustrated when people came to me with drawn-out tales of workplace woe that I just couldn’t solve for them.

Three personal foundations to master for better leadership

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When we look at a well-built building, most of us don’t notice the foundation. Instead, our eyes go right to what’s on top of it. If it is unusual, old, or beautiful, we might comment on those qualities. Have you ever heard someone say, “That’s a beautiful foundation”? Most likely you haven’t.

The power of positive future-focused questions

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You’ve probably heard that leaders need to ask more questions. It takes courage and practice to find the kind of questions that will help others to help themselves, your organization and move everyone forward.

How you interact is a choice

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Photo credit: 123RF. It’s all too easy to interact with others without thinking about the impact you have on them, and what that means for your success and that of your organization.

Give them the gift of your presence

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Photo credit: 123rf. I once had a manager who inherited my function (and me) through a reorganization. My short time working for him in that role was one of the most personally frustrating and painful experiences in my work life. The reason? I was invisible to him.

Eight unexpected ways to continue to develop yourself as a leader

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Photo credit: 123rf. You’re a year or two into your dream leadership role and you know you are capable of more, but you don’t know where to start. After the first months of learning everything you need to learn about your job you settled in. Yet you have a nagging feeling that something is missing.

To be the best leader, you need to be the best human

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Photo credit: 123RF. The relationships you have with those who support you at work are key to your success as a leader. Without those, nothing happens like it should. And good relationships are dependent on your ability to be the best human you can be.

Morale 191

The benefits of listening more

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Photo credit: 123RF. I was young and relatively new to the professional work world, with an abundance of motivation and drive. The executive I was reporting to inherited me and the work I was doing in a reorganization.

Bond 219

Doing nothing often leads to the very best something

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Photo credit: 123rf. We went to see the new movie Christopher Robin last weekend. We grew up with Winnie the Pooh books and we carried on that tradition with our own children so have a soft spot for the stories and characters.

Crisis 207

When you listen more

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Photo credit: Yarruta @123RF. It seems so much of our lives are wrapped up in what we see with our eyes that we forget that what we hear is just as important – maybe more so.

Tools 257

Why you need to tell them why

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Photo credit: 123RF. Sometimes you need to make a decision without input from others. However, when you are asked about your reasons for your conclusion, a response like “It needs to be done this way” or “No, we can’t do that” can be seen as disrespectful and authoritarian.

Stress 194

What if questions were valued as much as knowledge?

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Photo credit: 123RF. The people with the most smarts win! There are rewards to be reaped for the most knowledgeable people in our society and our organizations. Imagine what might happen if we also rewarded those who are smart AND ask great questions.

Why you should coach people

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Photo credit: 123rf Southmind. Organizations are increasingly teaching leaders to coach their subordinates (and sometimes each other). I want to believe that this isn’t a passing fad, because there are lots of reasons for leaders to learn how to coach others in the workplace.

There is always something new under the sun

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Photo credit: 123RF. Are you feeling a little stale or bored? Do you sense that years of leadership are wearing on you? Are you squelching new ideas or figuratively rolling your eyes when the younger generation of leaders in your company make suggestions to change something?

The most important thing that can make you a better leader

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It can be easy for a leader to be fooled into believing that they are the smartest person in the room and that their answers, opinions, ideas and decisions are the only ones that need to be expressed. That thinking can lead down a path where no leader should be.

Advice 173

The upsides to delegating

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One of the most difficult personal challenges a leader can have throughout their career is to delegate some of the work they are doing to others. It’s unfortunate that all too often a crisis happens before a leader realizes they could have done a better job of delegating.

A lesson in leadership legacy

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Photo credit: 123rf. George H.W. Bush was asked “what do you think your legacy will be?”. In his typical humble way, the former president answered “That’s for others to decide”. Yet, how can he not have thought about what others would remember when he was no longer in their lives?

Focus on others but don’t forget yourself

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Photo credit 123RF. Keri is a senior executive in a Fortune 200 company. A passionate leader with the ability to impact and inspire, she got to where she is quickly by giving of herself, her time, and her energy.

Goal 156

Become a generative listener

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There is a kind of non-listening that goes on in our society and organizations that is distracted and disjointed, and often marked by interruptions. This non-listening doesn’t focus on the person speaking. Rather, the listeners try their hardest to get their ideas into the conversation.

Get out of the weeds to lead people

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Many employees are promoted into management positions because their knowledge and expertise have made them successful in the work they do. The problem is that a management position doesn’t always fit their passion. People managers have to lead people, and not everyone is motivated to do that.

Doing less and being more

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Photo credit: 123RF. If you’re striving to work your way up the corporate ladder and you currently love what you do – beware! The more responsibility and people you take on into your employ, the less you should be “doing” the daily work.

The beauty of simplicity

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I do macro photography in my spare time. In particular, I love photographing flowers really close up. This hobby continually reminds me that the most powerful photos are simple in design, even as I live my life in complexity.

Stress 144

Examine the beliefs that no longer serve you

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Photo credit: 123RF. Because of who you are and how you’ve lived in the world, you carry beliefs with you that may or may not serve you in your leadership (and your life). It’s good to be aware of those and realize when they need to be held tightly or set free.

Coaching is more than asking questions

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I’ve seen a lot written and said about how important it is for people managers to coach the people around them. Often, the enthusiasm about coaching is anchored in leaders asking more questions rather than telling others what to do.

Goal 254

How to make feedback a developmental opportunity

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Many employees cringe at the thought of getting feedback from their manager. Who wouldn’t blame them? It tends to be overly critical, given with haste and without care, and confusing. So often, the feedback given is often useless to the receiver.

How To 248

Are you making a difference?

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Although leaders may get great personal satisfaction from leading a team that accomplishes greatness, it’s in giving to others that creates conditions for the work to be exceptional.

Stepping up and stepping back

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Some leaders think that they need to be “out front” and leading at every moment. They simply can’t help themselves, feeling the need to overwhelm and dazzle everyone with their leadership prowess. Others hold back, staying quiet and never really stepping up to their own brilliance as leaders.

Showing courage in small acts of kindness

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By definition a leader is a person who is a trailblazer, doing things that others don’t do, and often because they are the right thing to do. These don’t have to be heroic acts, and they are most likely small acts of kindness that are done daily.

Time for technology? How digital can help your production office work smarter

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Expanding into practically every aspect of our lives, the digital revolution has set out to achieve one core aim – to improve and enhance our daily experiences. And it does, extremely well. Transport, education, finance; even relationships.

What if you were curious?

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Photo credit: 123rf. Last week I listened to a client’s frustration over employees who had become complacent, moving slowly, dotting their “i’s” and “t’s”, following the corporate line. Unfortunately, this is a song and dance I’ve heard too often.

Tools 209

What you can do about that person who really bugs you

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Photo credit: 123RF. Everyone who works with other people experiences it: an employee, peer or coworker who drives them crazy. Every day you face them increases your frustration. Why don’t they change? Don’t they know they’re (fill in the blank here: annoying, a bully, lazy, unhelpful, etc.)?

Stress 173

The dawn of the dead, only better

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Photo credit: 123RF. There is something about you that you’ve either consigned to your deep unconscious or you’ve been ignoring it because it’s too painful. But you’re starting to notice that you aren’t at your best as a leader, and you need to know more about it before you can move forward.

Ten daily practices that show respect to your team

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Disrespect seems to be running rampant everywhere, including our workplaces. Yet when a leader shows they respect their team, the benefits become obvious: people are motivated, dedicated, loyal and the leader becomes a talent magnet – the best workers want to work for and stay with that leader.

Team 284

The neuroscience of asking insightful questions

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I teach coaching skills to leaders. When I get to the section on how to ask questions (an important part of learning to coach) I might ask a trick question to start off: “How many of you are good at solving problems?”. Without fail, almost all hands shoot enthusiastically into the air.

Psychological safety, perspective and behavior

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Photo credit/copyright: 123rf. Greg, a manager in a large company asked for his employees to be open with him. That didn’t go over well since he regularly dressed down those who came to him with bad news or mistakes they’d made.

Becoming a great leader takes intention and mindfulness

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Leading others can look easy. In reality, most leaders aren’t naturals at leading people; they have to learn by trial and error. Think of all the professions that people go into that require years of honing their craft: musician, doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, scientist….the the list goes on.

Being vulnerable builds work relationships

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I was vying for a position in “corporate” that would round out my experience for something bigger later on. The manager who was interviewing me gave the most grueling interview I’d ever had. His intensity in interviews was the stuff of legends, and I wasn’t given a break.

Travel 219

Do less and be more of a leader

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Imagine that someone takes notice that you get things done and they see greater potential in you. They talk to you about becoming a people manager or having even greater people responsibilities if you are already a manager.

Ethics 281

Executive presence is an inside job

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It’s not unusual for an executive to be puzzled that they’ve been told they need to develop “executive presence” in order to move into executive levels in an organization. The question on their mind is “What is executive presence?”. Rightfully so.

Do people really want to work for a competent jerk?

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Photo credit: 123rf. A recent article about a study claiming that people would rather work for a competent jerk than a likable fool caught my eye and just a wee bit of my ire.

Separating behavior from the person

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Many of us are quick to judge others based on an instance of unseemly behavior. As a leader, falling into the trap of quickly judging someone based on a single bad behavior isn’t the best way to assure you have an organization of people brimming with potential.

Tips 209

Be realistic about your successes and failures

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Take a moment to think back on the leadership successes and failures you have experienced. Ask yourself, “Who is responsible for my successes?” and then, “Who is responsible for my failures?”. Think broadly as you ponder those questions.

Making mistakes okay

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If there is one thing that employees fear at work, it’s feeling shamed for mistakes they make. There is very little that is worse than feeling the sting of rejection from being called out on slip-ups.