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Tagged with 'harvard business review'

Why Most Change Programs and Improvement Initiatives Fail

  I’ve just completed a two-day retreat with a fast-growing leadership team. They scored themselves at the lowest levels we’ve seen on our Team Dynamics Survey. Rarely do we see a leadership team as dysfunctional as this one. Their unique products and growing revenues were papering over many huge cracks and barely holding them together. […]

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Leading Question: Are You a Barrier Buster?

  I was interviewing a leadership team member to prepare for an offsite planning retreat. I asked about the biggest challenges facing their team. She wearily said it was their unfocused frantic pace of activity.  “We have lots of projects, goals, and priorities. We’re constantly making lists and setting action plans. But we seldom see […]

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True Failure is Failing to Learn from Failure

In a small pub in the highlands of Scotland, a group of fishermen gathered one afternoon to swap tales over a round of ale. One of them stretched his arms apart to show the big one that got away. At that very point, a server walked past carrying a tray of full ale glasses. The […]

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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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A Frank Summary of Looking for Love in All the Right Places

“The Great Resignation” is part of a greater rethink about what matters most at work — and in life. The pandemic forced a pause that gifted us with time to step back and search more deeply for purpose and meaning. The last seven posts focused on Frank’s search for spirit and meaning. This seven-part series […]

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Inspiring Leadership: Bringing Purpose to Life

I wrote this story for the Purpose chapter in Pathways to Performance: Two workers were digging a trench and laying cable. A neighborhood boy came by on his bike to inspect the work. He asked one of the workers what he was doing. The worker replied, “I’m laying a new combination phone and fiber cable […]

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To P or Not to P: Does Your Purpose Provoke Passion?

A recent report by McKinsey and Co. found the pandemic has caused half of employees surveyed to consider leaving their current job. This research also found that 70 percent of workers said their purpose is defined by their work. The Big Resignation is a big pain point for many organizations. Attracting and retaining top people […]

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On Purpose: What Condition Is Your Mission In?

Raise your hand if your organization has a mission statement. When I do that survey during leadership/culture presentations, almost every hand goes up. Mission statements are as common as a logo, website, or budget. Everybody has one. BUT…does it… Define the soul of your organization? Energize and engage? Align with leaders’ and employees’ personal purpose? […]

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Inspiring with the Power of Persuasion: Do You Have the Write Stuff?

Bob was clearly frustrated. “I keep telling them, but nobody listens,” he fumed. As we looked at his 360 feedback on his communication practices, it was clear why nobody was listening to him. Bob’s communication skills were awful.   Bob scored quite high on technical expertise and analytical skills. A big part of his communication […]

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4 Strategic Planning Traps and How to Avoid Them

I recently had a call with a CEO about facilitating a strategic planning retreat this fall with 15 of their top leaders. That will be a refreshing change — we’re all fully vaccinated and ready to get together in person again. The CEO sent me their draft agenda for the session. Looking at the fairly […]

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Lead Change or Be Changed

Are you leading at the speed of change? If the rate of external change exceeds your rate of internal change, you’re going to be changed. Impermanence and disruptive change is a central life force. This never has, nor ever well, change. Constant, unpredictable, and sometimes very sudden change is as predictable and certain as death […]

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Leadership Lessons from Pfizer-BioNTech’s Vaccine Development

One of the biggest success stories to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis is the incredibly quick development of life-saving vaccines. They’re a major step toward getting life back to some semblance of normal. An especially exciting medical breakthrough is the development of messenger RNA (mRNA) technology now used in Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Medical experts […]

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How to Turbo-Charge Your Leadership with Informal Feedback

One of our most recent popular blogs was on bully bosses and featured a quiz to help determine if your boss is a bully or just a poor leader. A follow-up blog on leading up included five ways to deal with a bad boss. But what if you’re a bully or poor boss — and […]

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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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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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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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An Agile Culture Ripples Out From the Leadership Team

Many leadership teams seem to think that talking about agility will magically transform their organizations. If only change were that simple. Talking isn’t doing. A department, division, or organization’s culture ripples out from its leadership team. Organizational behavior reflects leadership team behavior. A team that wants to change “them” needs to start with a deep […]

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Is Your Team Out of Focus?

I’ve been interviewing senior leaders and reviewing documents to tailor a keynote presentation for the company’s executive strategy session this month. They’re a textbook example of effectively using the COVID crisis to renew and refocus their leadership and culture development. Their “strategic framework” succinctly cascades from vision, mission, and values to strategic goals, key initiatives, […]

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Balancing Management and Leadership: What’s Your Power Source?

Should leaders push or pull? Light a fire under people or stoke the fire within? Use position or persuasion power? Control with rules and policies or foster commitment with values and trust? Finding the right balance of management and leadership is a continuous challenge. Less effective managers use position power and get people doing things […]

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