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True Leadership Values Shine Clearest in Tough Times

A web site visitor described an all too common occurrence today: Our company treats firings and layoff exactly the same. The person being laid off or fired is called to the HR department, given their pink slip, escorted back to their station with an HR person, a hand truck , and boxes. Thirty minutes later […]

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Improvement Points Balance Organizational and Personal Leadership

Here’s a an e-mail that caught me by surprise and made me sit up, take notice, and review what I’ve been sending out to subscribers of our Improvement Points service. “I enjoy your improvement points but think that you are far too hard on managers and leaders. Your articles show a distinct bias for employees […]

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Tone of Voice: It’s All in How We’re Saying It

Most people want and appreciate a boss or work colleague who is direct and to the point. But it’s about the way that’s conveyed. We’ve all found ourselves resisting someone else not because of what they are saying, but how they are saying it. They may strike us as arrogant, unfeeling, rude, or overly critical. […]

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Leading by Example: Setting Personal Goals and Priorities

Too many managers seem to operate on a variation of an old Groucho Marx routine; “I’ve got top priorities. I am going to stick to those priorities. And if you don’t like those priorities…I have others.” It’s very hard to bring the discipline of a goal setting system or planning process to a team or […]

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Reflections in Our Courage Mirror

As I continue to think and write about leadership courage, two points stand out for me. The first point is around having the courage as a leader to make it easy for people in our organization or team to speak up. Most managers dump out information (mainly through e-mail) and call it “communication.” Strong leaders […]

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A Kid Gives a Lesson in Courageous Leadership

I have known John for nearly twenty years. Our relationship started before he retired from his previous company and delivered his experience and wisdom to the larger world through consulting. He was an excellent coach and trainer with a strong internal reputation in the large Canadian bank where he worked. And his storytelling skills were […]

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Answering Our Call to Adventure in Searching for Purpose and Meaning

The search for meaning is as old as humankind itself. At the societal level, every culture has searched for meaning through religion, mythology, and related pursuits. This clearly comes from deep personal yearnings we all have to find meaning and purpose in our lives. I believe the constant and continuous search is a key part […]

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Bridging the Credibility Gap

Credibility, trust, and integrity are becoming ever larger issues with management teams at all organizational levels. People are looking for more from their leaders. As they fail to get the leadership they crave, a large credibility gap is opening up. In many cases, it’s becoming a chasm. For example, nearly fifty percent of people don’t […]

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Courage is at the Core of Leadership

I have been thinking a lot about courage. It is at the core of leadership. What is courage? Most of us recognize its opposite in this snippet from The Wizard of Oz: Cowardly Lion: Look at the circles under my eyes. I haven’t slept in weeks. Tin Woodsman: Why don’t you try counting sheep? Cowardly […]

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Change Lessons from Hermit Crabs

One of the rewards of being in my line of business is that I get to meet a wide variety of very interesting people doing this type of work. I met Donald Cooper five years ago and he’s become a very good friend. Besides being a funny and fascinating guy with lots of stories to […]

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Information versus Communication

Many managers are great at supplying information, but they’re not so good at communication. In this “information age,” our organizational lives are overflowing with e-mails, voice mails, phone calls, newsletters, books, articles, manuals, and web pages. Like the sailor marooned in a lifeboat on the high seas, we have water, water everywhere, but not a […]

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Tips and Techniques for Inspiring Through Verbal Communications

Build a repertoire of teachable stories. Collect and catalogue the best examples of your organization’s key principles in action. Circulate those stories inside and outside your organization through the media (where appropriate). Write up collections of case studies illustrating tough decisions, trade-offs, outstanding performance, dealing effectively with changes, etc. Embed the stories in training and […]

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E-mail Peeves and Protocols

Most managers are doing far too little to mitigate the destructive and wasteful effects of e-mail misuse. Like a B-movie, the e-mail monster keeps growing larger and consuming more time and resources (“E-zilla: The Insatiable Beast”). Some of the more common abuses I hear about in my workshops are: CC-ing the World” – far too […]

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Traveling with the Wind in Our Hair

We’ve all heard it’s the journey and not the destination that is most important in life. But whether flying or driving, we’re too often so intent on getting to our next destination that we miss the joy of the trip. Then it’s a whirlwind of activity until we get back in the plane or car […]

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Why the Thumb Stands Alone

Below is a description and link to one of my favorite fables on resisting peer pressure and following what I feel is right. I once had a gymnasium of high school kids applaud this story after I told it (holding the attention of 300 grade nine kids was stretching the bounds of my professional speaking […]

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Staying Above the Line When a Boss Plays Favorites

“I was intrigued by the Moose on the Table (my most recent Globe Mail article “When Silence Isn’t Golden”) and how much it applies to where I have been working for fifteen years this June. We are now dealing with the fall-out of a disgruntled employee who left because I would no longer listen to […]

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When Personal Candor Doesn’t Fit the Culture

Right after my article “When Silence Isn’t Golden” appeared in The Globe &Mail, I received this e-mail from a reader: “Hello Jim, I just wanted to send you a note to let you know how much your article today resonated with me … you hit it bang-on and helped me resolve something in my professional […]

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A Father’s Message in a Bottle

A few months ago, professional speaking colleague (we met and stay in touch through the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers), Tyler Hayden approached me with this intriguing offer: “I am co-editing a book called ‘A Father’s Message In a Bottle’ (which will be part of a series – A Mother’s, A Sister’s, etc.) The first […]

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Thoughts That Make You Go Hmmmm…on Stories, Mythology, and Metaphors

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser, American novelist, poet, biographer, and screenwriter   “Wherever a story comes from, whether it is a familiar myth or a private memory, the retelling exemplifies the making of a connection from one pattern to another: a potential translation in which narrative becomes parable and […]

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Leadership Is an Action, Not a Position

An early Moose on the Table reader e-mailed me that she quite liked the book. But she bitterly complained about not being in a position of power and authority as Pete Leonard (the central character) and the other characters in the book. She was very right about this book being directly applicable to those in […]

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