Getting Past Change Resistance

Change resistance is natural for humans. Leaders struggle with it because they recognize change will create more work for their teams in the short term, they don’t want to take the reputation hit if the change doesn’t go well, and deep down they fear some loss of control.

Every change is inconvenient and taxing, but change is a necessary rung on the ladder of growth. Especially today, when public buildings are shut down and team members move to remote work in the wake of COVID-19.

Read More
How Ethical is Your Organization?

In September 2016, Wells Fargo made headlines when allegations surfaced that its employees created more than 1.5 million fake deposit accounts and half a million fake credit cards while under pressure to increase sales numbers. Then in March 2017, it came out that the actual number of fake accounts was nearly twice what was originally reported.

How did this happen? Employees at Wells Fargo were strongly incentivized to grow their numbers regardless of how that impacted their customers and the customer experience. The organization as a whole became overly focused on a single, narrow metric (this many new accounts). People didn’t stop and think about the unintended consequences of having such a narrow focus.

Read More
What 360 Feedback Looks Like in Your Leadership Journey

It’s rare that leaders get the feedback they need the most from their teams. Team members are reluctant to speak up, no matter how open the leader (you) say you are. Enter the formal 360 feedback process.

Think about the last time a direct report approached you and said, “I noticed you didn’t react when Janet started crying in the meeting. You may not be aware of this, but it made the rest of us uncomfortable because you seemed cold and uncaring. I think this is something I can help you with. Are you open to talking about this and may I make some suggestions?”

Subordinates rarely, if ever, will come to their managers to offer their observations and their help, especially when it comes to their manager’s behavior. Most managers say they want feedback in their team meetings, so they assume that if people have any actual feedback to offer they will share it. Unfortunately, declaring an open door policy does not guarantee anyone will walk through it.

Read More
Why Humility in Leadership is so Essential

Humility is one of those leadership behaviors that is paramount to long term success. One can rise to become a leader without this quality, but he won’t necessarily continue to succeed without it.

I define humility in leadership two ways. One, modeling through our words and our actions the feminist perspective that all human beings are fundamentally equal and none should automatically be granted power over another on the basis of their inborn characteristics. Secondly, that we take full responsibility for our impact on others—including acknowledging and apologizing to them when we have made an error. When leaders do these two things consistently, they will show up as both more effective and as humble to others.

But why is humility important as a leader? Why do the work to ensure you’re humble? (Isn’t humility the characteristic of a weak person?)

Read More
How to help your team members work on themselves

Leaders need to work on themselves and have a plan for development throughout their careers. That’s one hallmark of true leaders—their desire to continue to grow and develop.

But part of a leader’s responsibility is to facilitate growth in their team members as well, to encourage team members to grow professionally—into new roles and as part of a team.

Leading people to grow goes well beyond asking them to set goals and scheduling quarterly check ins. It requires a special kind of leader who is open to change, tolerant of some failures or missteps and ready to commit their time to support others.

Read More
How to Work on Yourself While Also Leading Others

We’re forever toggling between different tasks, conversations and focuses. This is a challenge for our external work—what we are paid to do. But it’s even more so for our internal work, namely being mindful and exercising our emotional intelligence.

As leaders, we are charged with paying close attention to and developing other people at the same time as we are expected to be constantly self-aware and self-regulating—all while continuing our own growth. Developing this brand of bimodal vision isn’t easy and is even more difficult to carry out in times of stress and under pressure.

Read More
Turn your vices into virtues & grow personally and professionally

As we head into a new year and new decade, you may be looking at your goals and personal vision to determine how the next year or 5 or 10 might look for you. I’d like to propose that we make 2020 and beyond about being bold and getting out of our comfort zone.

Many professionals today are focused on growing and continuous learning, but when was the last time you did something that you knew you should but it made you wildly uncomfortable? Something creative and out of character? Something you were truly nervous to do?

Read More
Difficult teammate or intelligence agent? You decide

Often we look at challenging team members as people who annoy us—as people who enjoy rocking the boat or making other people’s work lives more difficult than they need to be just for the heck of it. They may ask a lot of questions, challenge organizational decisions and fixate or complain about details that seem minor in the context of the bigger picture.

It doesn’t matter if you’re part of the leadership team or an individual contributor, challenging team members tend to develop a negative reputation. The first instinct for most of us is to want to find a way to avoid, shush or redirect them.

But I want you to shift your perspective. I want you to look at those difficult team members as intelligence agents, people who are actually giving us information that we should be thankful for.

Read More
Working with the Rare Breed in Your Organization

Silicon Valley tends to attract an interesting, often eclectic, workforce that likes to experiment with new ways of working and unusual office spaces. And many of these leaders pride themselves on being unique—a rare breed, if you will.

I recently read the book Rare Breed: A Guide to Success for the Defiant, Dangerous and Different by Sunny Bonnell and Ashleigh Hansberger. Just a few pages in, I was hooked and knew I needed to share some thoughts about it here. It’s a fantastic read about leadership and an alternative roadmap for how to grow a business or movement outside of the traditional mold. Challenging our thinking around how a leader looks and acts in the process.

According to Bonnell and Hansberger, rare breeds are talented and gifted people, but they’re cut from a different cloth than buttoned-up C-suite executives traditionally are. And sometimes it’s because of their perceived talents and rare gifts that their behaviors, though sometimes unproductive, may be overlooked, justified and ultimately forgiven a little too quickly. As leaders, we are often afraid to correct non-productive behavior for fear of losing them our rare breed in the process.

Read More
Adopting the Right Mindset in Your Leadership

As a leader, you know you can’t control everything that happens to you or your team; there are too many variables that operate outside of your direct influence. What you can control, however, is how you react to the unexpected.

The 3T model, a framework I developed after working with hundreds of clients over the years, is a tool to help us analyze trade offs associated with doing nothing, taking action or changing your mindset about an individual, team or organizational challenge

With every challenge we encounter, there’s a choice to be made. For those who like to see themselves as contrarian it’s helpful to realize that even doing nothing is making a choice. And the area where leaders tend to get stuck the most is with people-related decisions, especially when the stakes are high.

The 3T model frames our decisions and actions (or the lack thereof) as living in one of three contexts: tolerating, transforming and transcending.

Read More