CU Management – Leadership Matters: How We Build and Break Trust

As published in CU Management. Practice these leadership fundamentals to consistently convey your intentions, competency and reliability. Although many of us have had to deal at some point with a senior manager who seemed to lack morals, empathy or sincerity, the majority of organizational leaders are not compulsive liars and cheats, out to pull one over on the rest of us. Most leaders are healthy, well-adjusted adults who have invested greatly for the opportunity to contribute to their chosen profession and industry. They are often highly educated, competent and want to do the right thing. They are you. Why, then, does a lack of trust plague so many professional relationships, teams, departments and organizations? As we work at leadership level, we might notice that we still have these kinds of thoughts: “He is so frustrating to deal with.” “I don’t like her.” “We can’t count on the sales team.” But what we are really saying is that the person or people involved have not fulfilled some necessary level of trust: “He is so frustrating to deal with because I don’t trust him to follow through.” “I don’t like her because I don’t trust that she has my best interest at [...]

FORBES: Between Stimulus and Response, Where Are You?

As featured in Forbes Your CFO resigns. A merger proceeds. A key leader is let go. You lose a major deal. Your direct report handles an important task poorly. A water pipe bursts in your home. Authorities warn of a pandemic virus. Your children make decisions you wish they didn’t. Your spouse uses a certain tone of voice. World leaders take actions that scare and affect us all. How do you react? Do you find yourself wanting to vent to anyone who will listen, perhaps instantly taking to social media? Do you look for someone or something to blame, righteous about the fact that this should not be occurring? Do you allow yourself to feel hurt, angry, scared, sad or disappointed? Or do you mostly cover up your real emotions with a facade you believe to be more socially acceptable? Perhaps you shut off, go numb and, as Brené Brown put it, “have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin.” On the other hand, maybe you find yourself relaxed and able to easily lean into the event. Are you open, curious about the news and eager to research it fully, taking nothing at face value? Do you focus [...]

The Secret of Exceptional Coaching

I have spent the better part of the last 19 years teaching mid-to-senior-level leaders how to more effectively coach for performance. My clients have included thousands of successful men and women in some of the world’s best organizations. These talented professionals have advanced degrees, upwards of 40 years’ of leadership and management experience, and sometimes even advanced coaching certifications. Many consider themselves to be highly skilled at coaching. Some are, most are not. It is not that all of these exceptional men and women do not understand what great coaching entails. Having asked thousands of leaders in many parts of the world to tell me about their own personal best coach—someone who had a profound and significant impact on them becoming the person and professional they are today—I know they understand it well. Some tell me about their mother or father, a grade school math teacher or football coach, a first boss, or, better still, their current supervisor (although I hear this less frequently than I should). When I ask them to tell me about the character of their own best coach, the relationship they shared, and if there is something that this coach did or said that they still [...]

By |2020-03-06T01:55:16-08:00March 5th, 2020|Leadership, Leadership Coaching, Leading Culture, Self-Mastery|

FORBES – Become A Better Communicator: One Simple Change That Changes Everything

As published in Forbes.  Listen to others speak, and one of the first things you will notice is how often people use words like “we,” “you,” “one” or “they” when they are really talking about themselves. For example: We are getting frustrated … You try to connect with millennials, but … If one hasn’t bought into the idea, then … They might not trust him … One of the smallest and most powerful changes we can make to significantly improve our communication is to replace these four words with “I”: I am getting frustrated … I try to connect with millennials, but … I have not bought into the idea, so … I don’t trust him … This one simple change changes everything, and it has a big payoff. When I speak from my own experience, my listener(s) experience me as more authentic, transparent and, often, trustworthy, all qualities we seek and expect from those we work with and through. Using “I” creates more trust because it actually is a more honest way to communicate. When I use the word “I,” I no longer get to hide behind vague identities like “one.” Instead, I immediately take ownership and accountability by [...]

By |2020-01-29T12:01:48-08:00January 29th, 2020|Leadership, Leadership Communication, Leading Culture, Self-Mastery|

FORBES: What Really Defines Leadership in Today’s World?

As published in Forbes. Lately, I have been thinking about what makes a leader in today’s world. Are we leaders simply because others report to us, or because we are responsible for an area of the business? Are we leaders because we have a future vision that no one else seems to be able to see just yet? Or is the answer that we are only leaders when others are following? After all, how can we call ourselves leaders if, when we turn around, no one is following us or the initiatives we need them to support? After much contemplation, I propose that a leader today is someone who sparks in us a desire to help. In our networked, matrixed, dotted-lined, ever-changing organizational structures, a leader today must be a follower tomorrow, and vice versa. Therefore, we are not leaders simply because of our titles or responsibilities, nor are we leaders because we have a vision for the future. What makes us leaders is our ability to connect with others in a way that makes them want to help us. I once received an email from a new colleague in Asia. This colleague needed information she hoped I could provide. [...]

“This is How We Do Things Here, Now”: How to effectively change your corporate culture

My mother and father were European, Austrian and Hungarian to be specific. One of the things this meant for me growing up was that if someone came to our house, everyone had to come out from wherever they were, say hello, and immediately we had to offer that person a drink (preferably alcoholic). If the person stayed for more than 30 minutes, it was necessary to offer them food and then, even if they declined (and sometimes especially if they declined), feed them. Providing the basic necessities of life (drink and food) was understood as a sign of abundance and wealth. We had it to give away and my parents took great delight in sharing what we had. If a guest refused our offerings, we (especially my mother), took offense. “What’s wrong with my cooking?” she would demand. “Mom, maybe they just aren’t hungry,” I would try to reason in front of our increasingly uncomfortable guest. She couldn’t conceive of it. The funny thing is that now when I enter someone’s home and they fail to offer me a drink, I find it strange, even a little rude. That’s the thing with culture, it colors how we interpret everything and, [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:19:23-08:00January 18th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Communication, Leading Culture|

Can We Please Move On?

Lately I have found myself having a similar conversation with a number of clients. The conversation begins with my client stating they want to increase their visibility within their organization and better position themselves to work at a more senior, strategic level. They want to be noticed and earmarked for succession by supervisors; to be seen as a thought leader by peers; and, ultimately, to position themselves as someone ready to participate in the larger decisions facing the company. What is surprising to me is that these are the same people who will either completely fail to show for one of our scheduled sessions; send an email stating they need to reschedule at a minutes notice, or; arrive late and unprepared for our time together, and, then fail to apologize for their lack of professionalism. I often find that the way a client manages their time with me is indicative of how they manage themselves with others. Therefore, some of the behavior I experience is serious cause for concern. If my client is unable to successfully arrive at our meeting – on time, prepared, and having followed through on the commitments they made at our last meeting – it is [...]

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