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Reshaping the Leadership and Culture Development Puzzle

In his 19th Century Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Ebenezer Cobham Brewer writes, “Euclid, having opened a school of mathematics at Alexandria, was asked by King Ptolemy whether he could explain his art to him in a more compendious manner. ‘Sire,’ said the geometrician, ‘there is no royal road to learning.'” The timeless quest for […]

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Personality Models: Have Fun, but Step Carefully Around the BS

Life’s full of interesting coincidences or — depending on your belief system — mysterious synchronicities. As I was preparing a retreat proposal with a range of options for Judy’s executive team (last week’s blog), I came across Laith Al-Shawaf’s provocative article, Should You Trust the Myers-Briggs Personality Test? Al-Shawaf, a researcher and Assistant Professor of […]

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Leadership Team Dynamics and Culture Development are Entwined

I recently had a call from “Judy,” an HR VP, to discuss team building. She said their executive team effectiveness is slipping. Team issues and challenges are overlooked, factions are forming, and trust issues are developing. As we discussed (online) executive retreat options, she wondered if using a four-quadrant personality type training program might be […]

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Is Your Team Coughing Up a Culture Hairball?

Recently, I reposted an article on cultural assumptions often being wrong because leaders don’t understand how their current culture is perceived. A reader posted a comment asking if it’s realistic to expect to change the culture of large organizations, especially “mature ones with profound legacies and cultural liabilities.” He then suggested, “it might be better […]

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Many Competency Models are Failing. 5 Keys to Make Them Flourish

Competency models are widely used for 360 assessments, performance management, and leadership development. When used well, they provide a strong framework for defining and developing key behaviors, increasing leadership and culture effectiveness. But most aren’t used well. That’s a key reason so many studies have documented so many failed leadership and organization development programs. I […]

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Bullying or Bad Boss: Bad Person, Inexperienced, Unskilled, or Cultural Artifact?

Tomorrow we publish my February blogs in the March issue of The Leader Letter. This issue focuses on bully and bad bosses. The line between a bad boss and a bully boss can be tough to discern. It’s mostly about intentions. Bad bosses often intend to do well — and many times overrate their own […]

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Are you a Bully or Bad Boss? How do you KNOW?

We’ve just completed a series of blogs on leadership hypocrisy and bullying or bad bosses. You may have completed our bully boss quiz. It’s very easy to see bad or bullying leadership in others. It’s much tougher to recognize our leadership shortfalls. As American social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership, Jonathan Haidt, says “we […]

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Leading Up: How to Lead an Ineffective Boss

Is your boss a good person who’s doing a bad job? Many ineffective leaders are. If you scored your boss less than 29 points on last week’s bully boss quiz, you can: Live with the status quo — but don’t jump on the Bitter Bus and “Cs the day” with criticizing, condemning, and complaining. Work […]

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Is Your Boss a Bully or Just a Really Poor Leader?

It’s been very frustrating to hear of the toxic workplace created by Canada’s ex-governor general, Julie Payette. Last month’s independent report details examples of “yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliations.” Forty-three of the staff members interviewed described the culture Payette created as “hostile or negative.” Twenty-six people called their workplace “toxic” or […]

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Are They Going to Believe You or Their Own Eyes?

As legend has it, Alexander the Great was leading his forces across a scorching terrain. For eleven days, they marched on. The soldiers were exhausted, and their throats parched. On the twelfth day, the advance guard brought Alexander a helmet containing a cup or two of all the water they could find. The troops watched […]

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Thoughts that Make You Go Hmmm on…Leadership Hypocrisy

A baker suspected that the farmer who was supplying his butter was giving him short weight. He carefully checked the weight, and his suspicions were confirmed. Highly indignant, he had the farmer arrested. At the trial the judge was satisfied and the baker chagrined at the farmer’s explanation. He (the farmer) had no scales so […]

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Bit by Innocent Bit, Are You Becoming a Sincere Hypocrite?

Most leaders don’t live by the motto: “do what I say, not what I do.” Their apparent hypocritical behavior is innocent and sincere. They simply don’t know that their actions are seen as out of step with their words. Not checking blind spots can lead to deadly highway accidents. Leaders who don’t seek feedback often […]

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Muting the Messenger: What Leaders Do Silences What Leaders Say

It’s incredibly frustrating for our family to follow the COVID isolation rules while many families we know don’t. What’s been especially infuriating is seeing so many political leaders returning from out of country vacations. Most are directly violating the non-essential travel rules/guidelines drafted by their own governments — for the rest of us little people. […]

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A Bigger Perspective to Avoid the Blues

A few years ago, I facilitated a workshop with managers struggling to stay positive during a very difficult time. We discussed the choice we all have: either we can focus on a problem and let it overwhelm us, or we can keep things in perspective and re-frame what’s wrong within the much larger frame of […]

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Despite Our Incredibly Tough Times, Our World’s Still Getting Better and Better

I kicked off 2020 with my sixth annual post on how our world keeps getting dramatically and relentlessly better and better and better. As in the five years before that, Lose those News Blues and Leave the Dark Side: The World’s Never Been Better, listed over 30 major improvements and 24 sources for further reading. […]

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2020 Hindsight: Soaring or Sinking on the Winds of Change?

What a year!! 2020 is almost over… Like many of us, you’re likely going to stay up on New Year’s Eve just to make sure that old man 2020 is kicked out by a youthful and more hopeful 2021. These holidays will be different — and very memorable! Hopefully, you’ll have some time to pull […]

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Are you Building or Hallucinating a High-Performance Service Culture?

How reasonable would it be to hold a shipping dock worker responsible for the quality of the products in the boxes he or she is shipping? So how reasonable is it for managers to hold the final deliverer responsible for the quality of the products or services he or she is delivering? The person on […]

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Are You Squandering Money on Acquiring Rather than Retaining Customers?

Just how much does satisfying today’s customer reduce the cost of acquiring tomorrow’s? That’s the question headlining a recent article in Harvard Business Review. We know that satisfied customers lead to higher revenues. But how to quantify that to show senior executives the value of building a customer-centered culture? We assume that happy customers reduce […]

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We Don’t See the World As It Is, We See the World As We Are

“Tell me about the people at the organization you just left,” said the senior manager who was screening candidates to fill a key leadership role. “They were uneducated and lazy,” the candidate responded. “You always had to keep an eye on them because they were constantly trying to goof off or rip off the company. […]

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You Can’t Raise Performance with Low Expectations

In his book, The Excellence Dividend, Tom Peters writes, “In an Oscar acceptance speech, the late director Robert Altman said: ‘The role of the director is to create a space where the actors and actresses can become more than they have ever been before, more than they’ve dreamed of being.'” You’ve likely had a limiting […]

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