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See It to Be It: Visualizing Your Ideal Future

Decades of research has proven the power of visualization in athletics, health, and personal, team, or organizational effectiveness. We become what we think about. The following is an exercise I’ve used personally, with my wife, Heather, and many groups. Recently I led a group of high potential leaders through this guided imagery process as part […]

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Culture Change: Avoid These Credibility Gaps and Traps

How big is your organization’s aspire/live gap? Does your rhetoric match reality? Is your audio synced with your video? Research and advisory company, Gartner, recently surveyed 7,500 employees and nearly 200 HR leaders of global companies and had in-depth interviews with 100 HR leaders. They found “on average, 69% of employees don’t believe in the […]

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Poor Customer Service: The Writing is on the Wall

Imagine sitting in an overcrowded medical clinic waiting room and spotting this sign on the wall, “When your number comes up, please have your symptoms ready.” You won’t likely ever see that sign. It’s too honest. But there’s a high chance you’ll encounter that attitude. Too many organizations are inside out rather than outside in. […]

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End Meeting Madness: Decide How to Decide

In a senior leadership team retreat last week, decision-making and meeting effectiveness emerged as a barrier during our moose hunting exercise. Meetings are more important than ever in our complex and interconnected world. Research clearly shows that when run effectively, groups make better decisions than individuals do. Effective meetings involve and engage participants in problem-solving […]

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How to Avoid Being Blindsided by Change

In 2004, Bill Gates told a group at the World Economic Forum “two years from now, spam will be solved.” Right. Like cockroaches, spam could survive a nuclear holocaust. This is one in an incredibly long list of expert forecasts that are ludicrously wrong. In 1995 co-inventor of the Ethernet, Robert Metcalfe, told us the […]

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Are You Managing Human Capital or Leading People?

Is your organization staffed by human capital? Do you talk about head count? Do managers talk about “their people?” Phrases like “head count,” “human capital,” and “my people,” dehumanize and objectify. We could push this further and make the same argument for “human resources.” Managers who see others as an “it” or property, might make […]

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Magnetic Attraction: Building a Culture that Attracts, Engages, and Retains Top People

Is your team or organization experiencing: High “snicker factor” about values Diminishing discretionary effort Rising absenteeism Turnover of top people Declining customer service Resistance to change Lower trust and teamwork Slipping quality levels Reduced health and safety These are symptoms of the cultural malaise or dysfunction many teams and organizations are experiencing today. How many […]

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This is Critical to Building an Agile, Change Adaptive Organization

“Workers are more adaptive and optimistic about the future than their leaders recognize.” That’s a key conclusion of a major study by Harvard Business School’s Project on Managing the Future of Work and the Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute. The study encompassed 11,000 lower income and middle-skill workers and 6,500 business leaders in 11 countries. […]

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Are You Being Poisoned by a Toxic Culture?

During a retreat with the leadership team of a large healthcare organization, we were running a little behind schedule so I said we’d move fairly quickly through the Responsibility for Choices principle in our leadership discussion. Fortunately, an astute participant piped up with, “Jim, I think we need to talk about our ‘blaming and disclaiming’ […]

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Moose Mess: Boeing’s Culture May Have Caused Those Tragic Crashes

In the wake of two fatal crashes of Boeing’s new 737 Max jets, Harvard Business School professor and author of a new book on creating psychological safety in the workplace, Amy Edmondson, published an article on Boeing and the Importance of Encouraging Employees to Speak Up. She writes, “The accidents and the resulting media attention […]

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Is Your Culture Powering or Souring Your Brand?

Imagine trying to cool your house in the middle of a tropical heat wave when you’ve left all the windows and door wide open. That’s brand management in many companies. Companies spend big dollars on research, marketing, and promotions to attract customers. But poor service experiences don’t match the brand promise. So customers drift away […]

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Bright Managers Often Race Headlong Into this Trap

During a keynote presentation on balancing technical expertise, management, and leadership at a company conference of senior managers, I discussed how very smart managers with deep technical expertise frequently direct rather than develop others (often seen as micromanaging). Really bright “techno-managers” can come across as “if I want any of your ideas, I’ll give them […]

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Are You Taking Care of Busyness?

How many times has this happened to you? You FINALLY take the time (often not that much) to learn a skill or connect with an expert and wind up with time savings that pay back again and again: You’re struggling to find a shortcut in MS Word that you think will save time. After endless […]

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Are You a Leader on the Grow?

Stanford University professor of psychology, Carol Dweck, has become well-known for her work on the power of a growth mindset. Her research shows this is vital to success and fulfilling our potential. Spring is a great time for gardeners in the Northern Hemisphere to reflect on growth. I enjoy perennial gardening in our yard. As I […]

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This Common Mistake Dramatically Increases Resistance to Change

I was waiting to deliver a workshop on “leading change” at a company’s management meeting of their top leaders. The new CEO was setting the context with observations of his first few months, his vision for the coming years, and the strategic priorities for the next year. Essentially his message boiled down to, “you’ve been […]

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Chicken or Egg: Communication, Coaching, Culture Change, or Leading Change?

Which came first; the chicken or the egg? That’s the age-old question of cause and effect. It’s often difficult to know which is which. For example, do caring families create members who feel loved or do loving members create caring families? Is he unhappy because he’s ungrateful or is he ungrateful because he’s unhappy? Do […]

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I’d Love Your Input on my New Book

Which development topics are your top priorities today; communication, coaching, culture change, or leading change? Perhaps your answer is yes; all of them? As I posted recently, I’ve been working on a book development project for the past 18 months. It started with eight development topic areas. After readers ranked ordered those, we ended up […]

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This One Culture Factor Leads to 5.5 Times Higher Growth

Are your own people your biggest barrier to higher innovation and agility? That’s what recent research from Great Place to Work found in a study of 792 companies totaling about 500,000 employees. In this new study, Innovation by All, Great Place to Work concluded organizations with high-trust cultures involve and engage many more employees than […]

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Readers as Leaders in My New Book Development

In the fall of 2017, I began a book development project by reviewing over ten years of blogs, research, and our workshop/retreat topics to identify core themes and topics most relevant in these turbulent times. Eight major topic areas emerged. In the spring of 2018, I asked readers to Help Us Distill Today’s Vital Leadership/Organization […]

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Leaders Don’t Wait, They Initiate

Last month’s issue featured an exchange I had with a reader on Dealing with Stupid Busy Leadership Teams Overloading Their Organization. I wrote that strong leaders like George who refuse to be victimized by undisciplined senior leaders have three choices. Paul, “a first level manager,” e-mailed to tell me about a “fourth option I’ve used […]

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