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Let’s be Frank: In search of a company’s lost heart

Summer Reading Series  Installment 1 of 4 In the midst of that morning’s operations review meeting, Frank started wondering just how the company had lost its heart. As he looked around the meeting room he saw nothing but stern faces, apprehensive expressions, and a few stifled yawns. The humorous quips he had added to the […]

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Webinar: The Urgency of Developing More Women Leaders

60 percent of companies facing leadership shortages that impede their performance. 31 percent say developing leaders is their largest talent issue. And 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day. Despite such a pressing need for leadership development, many organizations are significantly overlooking or under developing women. Zenger Folkman has been tracking differences in leadership effectiveness for […]

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Character and Culture Build World Champions

In the fall of 2016 the Chicago Cubs ended a 108 year drought to win the World Series. Television ratings soared by 50% as baseball fans everywhere were caught up in this dramatic and engaging story. In their World’s Greatest Leaders rankings, Fortune magazine ranked Cubs president, Theo Epstein, as #1 leader for orchestrating this […]

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Five Steps to a High-Performance Culture

Aesop, the ancient Greek fabulist and storyteller observed, “After all is said and done, more is said than done.” Culture change is a perfect example. Many leaders proclaim culture change is a key strategic objective. And for good reason. Culture’s been well proven as a critical “soft” factor that produces hard results. Signs of a […]

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Centralization vs. Decentralization: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Operating inside the centralized versus decentralized paradox and finding the right balance has been a perpetual conundrum for many organizations. Deciding which model to use is often a values issue centered on issues of control, trust, and autonomy. We’re working with a high growth international resources company acquiring and adding new sites and divisions across […]

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The Unlikable Leader: 7 Ways to Improve Employee/Boss Relationships

Can a leader be highly effective (increase productivity, profitability, service/quality levels, boost safety, etc.) without being liked? Less effective leaders often think so. They might declare “it’s not a popularity contest, I don’t care if people like me; my job is to get results.” Unlikable leaders get results alright — poor and unlikable results. Zenger […]

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4 Behaviors That Differentiate High-Performing Executives

The May-June issue of Harvard Business Review reports on an extensive 10-year study of “What Sets Successful CEOs Apart.” 14 researchers led by professors Steven N. Kaplan at the University of Chicago and Morten Serensen of Copenhagen Business School, drew from a database of assessments of 17,000 C-suite executives including more than 2,000 CEOs. The […]

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Story Road: Charting Steps in our Journey

In his classic book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, American mythologist and writer, Joseph Campbell outlined common steps to the hero’s journey. These cut across cultures, times, and every society’s stories, fairy tales, novels, and movies. We’re all living in our own novel. We write a page each day of our own action adventure. […]

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Career Check Up and LinkedIn Profile Revisions

Erin (not her real name) is a rising high potential director now reporting to a new VP. He was hired from the outside with a mandate to revitalize their department. Erin is upset and struggling. The personal values and leadership approaches that made her so effective were seen as too soft and not results-focused enough […]

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How to Boost Leadership Team (and Culture) Performance

Many organizations are struggling with low or mediocre levels of employee engagement, customer service, quality, safety, productivity, and innovation. This reflects uninspiring cultures of mediocrity created by harried leaders madly scrambling to keep up. An organization’s culture ripples out from the senior leadership team leading it. In “Is Your Leadership Team Slipping into These Traps?” […]

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How Coachable Are You and Your Leaders?

Often a “dragon investor” on the Dragon’s Den TV show or a “shark investor” on the Shark Tank show will decide not to invest in a hopeful contestant’s company because he or she feels the budding entrepreneur isn’t “coachable.” An article in Entrepreneur magazine on how to attract venture capital investors lists coachability as one […]

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Great Places to Work Reflect Great Cultures = Great Results

Fortune magazine has just published this year’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Since 1998 the research and consulting firm, Great Place to Work, has been conducting the most extensive employee survey in corporate America. Drawing feedback from more than 232,000 employees at companies with more than 1,000 employees, measurements are ranked and […]

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How “Bring Me Solutions, Not Problems” Causes Huge Problems

Putting too many monkeys on his or her back is a common frustration of many leaders. This happens when a team member approaches the leader with a problem or issue (“a monkey”) and the leader adds it the tribe of howling monkeys on his or her back. In discussing “monkey management” methods, workshop/retreat participants will […]

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7 Leadership Team Failure Factors

When our kids were young I was often reminded of the old adage “children act like their parents — despite all attempts to teach them good manners.” When one of our kids did something I wasn’t especially pleased with, I found myself asking “where did you learn that?” When I stood back and I reflect on […]

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Webinar: The Absolutely Vital Practice of Managers Giving Positive Feedback

Years ago I reported to Harold, a leader who proudly described his MBE approach —  “management by exception.” “If you haven’t heard from me, that’s a good sign,” he explained. “That means I think you’re doing just fine. I only deal with the exceptions. I look for problems and people that need correcting. Those are […]

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Nine Reasons Leaders Aren’t Leading

What percent of time do you or your leaders spend among these three areas: Solving technical problems or applying your technical expertise? Using data and analytical skills, sending/receiving e-mails, planning, directing, and decision making? Talking individually or collectively with people inside and outside your organization, coaching, developing, and inspiring action? Have you lost your balance? […]

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Don’t Blame the Frontline, Look at Their Leader

A sign in a diner read, “Customers who feel our servers are rude should see the manager.” How true. Servers often reflect the level of service they are getting from their leaders. Rude or insensitive managers create that culture. As a customer, I’d rather not find out just how rude the manager is! Many organizations […]

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Practical Ways Leaders Can Model Culture Change

A department, division, or organization’s culture ripples out from its leadership team. A team that wants to change “them” needs to start with a deep look in the mirror to change “us.” Organizational behavior reflects leadership team behavior. This is much like an old parenting adage, “children are natural mimics; they act like their parents […]

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Is Your Leadership Team Slipping into These Traps?

Check all that apply: Speed Traps and Tyranny of the Urgent – flooded by e-mails, endless meetings, and crisis management our team is often reactive and loses sight of the big picture. Partial and Piecemeal Programs – leadership development, succession planning, customer service, lean, safety, talent/performance management, IT systems, executive coaching, are separate programs not well linked […]

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Redefining Performance Management: How Celgene and General Motors are Approaching the Challenge

Studies show that performance appraisals improve performance 1/3 of the time, reduce it 1/3 of the time, and has no effect the other 1/3 of the time. Clearly we have a problem. This abysmal performance of performance management has caused traditional performance appraisals to be abandoned by a third of U.S. firms. A vital question […]

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