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Are You on the Horns of a Bad or Bully Boss Dilemma?

In Colleen McCullough’s historical fiction novel, Fortune’s Favorites, she describes a scene in the ancient Roman senate when the dictator, Sulla, asked for discussion of his proposal. Ofella spoke up in opposition to Sulla’s plans. Without saying a word, Sulla motioned to his henchmen waiting at the doors. They carried Ofella out to the courtyard and […]

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Scream Time? Are You Managing, or Managed By, E-mail?

“I’m addicted to e-mail. My endorphins spike when I get a message. And when there are no messages, loneliness and despair overcome me.” Does that comic strip quip feel familiar? Many of us have a love/hate relationship with e-mail. It’s a great tool for staying in touch with many people. But it can easily take […]

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Why Many Planning Sessions Are a Waste of Time and How to Fix Them

I was asked to facilitate an annual strategic planning retreat with a senior leadership team. The CEO sent me their draft agenda for the session. Hmm…oh, oh…. Looking at the typical approach they’ve used before, four common strategic planning problems immediately popped out: The agenda was loaded with about 17 project/operational presentations/reviews and updates. Yikes! […]

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Are You Taking Care of Busyness and Working Overtime?

“How are you doing? Keeping busy?” “Oh, yeah! Busy, busy.” “Great!” How often have you been on both sides of that conversation? It’s become routine. Busyness is highly valued. It’s seen as a measure of our productivity — even our worth. A Science article reports on an experiment by Timothy Wilson, a social psychologist at […]

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Avoid a Speeding Frenzy: 14 Ways to Pace Yourself

One evening I was slowly eating dinner with Heather. She waited and waited for me to finish and finally asked me to hurry up. I told her I was mindfully savoring every bite of the delicious meal. She suggested I “savor faster.” “Fast savoring” is an apt oxymoron for our time. We have an epidemic […]

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Finding the Right Speed in an Ever-Faster World

Simple, succinct, and clear driving instructions. This is solid life advice as well. If day after day of stressful racing around doesn’t manage to actually kill us before our time, it will kill our health, happiness, and effectiveness. I once sat through a scarily high-energy presentation given by a professor specializing in knowledge management. He […]

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Ripple Effect: Seven Keys to Team and Culture Development

When our kids were young, I was often reminded of the 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 reflected on […]

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Dysfunctional Arguments, Healthy Debates, or Smothering Silence?

Doug, the division leader, was angry and frustrated. “I’d like to start by understanding why our current results are so badly below forecast,” Doug said, his moustache quivering slightly. “We’re not even close to hitting our numbers.” Crickets. Chuck studied his shoes. Everyone else became very interested in their notes, coffee mugs, or the water […]

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Leadership Team Dynamics: Culture Change Begins Here

  We did a series of focus groups, interviews, and surveys within a division of a large company to help Chris, the division manager, determine why their culture wasn’t performing at the level he wanted. We found that the shortfalls in the division’s levels of engagement, service, and productivity reflected the leadership team’s effectiveness. Their […]

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For Better or Worse: Meetings Are a Hologram of Organizational Culture

Five decades of research shows the huge impact of organizational culture on outcomes like Return on Investment, stock prices, service/quality levels, productivity, sales, profitability, cost-effectiveness, and similar results. Organizational culture is also a key factor in levels of employee engagement, extra effort, innovation, morale, and teamwork. “Magnet cultures” attract and retain the best people. Or […]

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Quotes to Note from Superabundance

Last week’s review of Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet generated a good LinkedIn discussion in The Letter Leader. Paul Born’s comment on Canada’s significant reduction in poverty rates is a great example of the progress documented in Superabundance. Here are a few quotes of note […]

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We’ve Never Had it So Good: A Review of Superabundance

Back in the day, I took a very depressing university course featuring the Club of Rome’s 1972 report, The Limits to Growth. Falling into that ageless prediction and prophesy sinkhole, this group of prognosticators forecasts that we will exhaust all of the earth’s resources and energy sources within 50 years. They foresaw overpopulation, mass starvation, […]

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We’ve GOT to Stop Meeting Like This

Shopify’s recent announcement about canceling, banning, and restricting meetings is the wrong solution to a huge problem. It’s throwing a deflated pool toy to someone who’s drowning. Meetings can energize or enervate. When meetings are effectively run, they create that elusive synergy to dramatically boost a team’s effectiveness. Research clearly shows that when run effectively, […]

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Energize or Enervate: Recognition Practices That Turn People Off or On

  Numerous studies show that a major reason many people quit their jobs is that they feel unappreciated. Brains follow hearts to where they’re valued. As I wrote in Do You Focus on the Field of Wheat or Stone on the Hill?, too often managers point out what’s wrong while failing to recognize what’s right. […]

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Expecting the Unexpected: Meet Unpredictability with Agility and Adaptability

Let’s start the year with a big scary dose of gloom and doom! That was the approach of a national media organization with their January 2nd leading headline story: “If you thought 2022 was bad, wait until you see what 2023 has in store for the economy.” It featured a photo of a despondent man […]

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For Better or Worse: How’s the World Doing?

As we look at a new year ahead, what do you think is the state of our world? Are we living in the best of times or the worst of times? Are these statements true or false? The poor are getting poorer as the rich get richer US carbon emissions are rising Home ownership is […]

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Take a Year-End Santa Claus Pause

Santa can now relax after his big night. Hope the kids in your life aced their big performance review and rated highly on his naughty-nice scale. The Holidays are a good time for the pause that refreshes — even without drinking a little glass bottle of Coca-Cola as Santa did in those old commercials that […]

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Don’t Be Scrooged Out of These Life and Leadership Lessons

One of my holiday traditions is watching various movie versions of Charles Dickens’ much-loved classic, A Christmas Carol. Once our grandkids are old enough, we’ll watch my favorite version, The Muppet Christmas Carol, with them. Depending on their age, we might skip a few of the ghostlier parts. When Les Standiford’s book, The Man Who Invented Christmas (which […]

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Leaders Beware: Avoid These Recognition Hazards

Early in my career, 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. […]

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Do You Focus on the Field of Wheat or Stone on the Hill?

A favorite ritual this time of year is decorating our Christmas tree while the movie Christmas Vacation is playing in the background. I’ve watched it often enough to recite most of the dialogue. But after repeated viewings, it still lives up to its tagline – “Yule crack up!” Yes, I do realize how pathetic my […]

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