Teams

The Most Important Thing To Do When You Are Leading Under Pressure

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What do you do when your plans are falling apart, the clock is ticking, and everyone is looking at you for decisions, answers, and leadership?

Have you been there?

That was my world, every week, for fifteen years. For fifteen years, I was the Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show in Seattle, Washington. Think Saturday Night Live, but on a local level. Granted, the stakes weren’t as high as if I’d been, for example, a military general or a heart ...

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Are You Missing Out On Your Team’s Best Thinking?

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There’s a very real chance that you’re not hearing your team’s best ideas.

I wonder what that’s costing you.

Many years ago, I was the president of a local non-profit association. Among my eight or so board members was a woman whom I’ll call Chanel because it sounds exotic. Chanel was someone whom you might call a “placeholder” on the board. She dutifully showed up at every board meeting, but she didn’t really contribute anything. She sat quietly and voted on things that ...

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To Think Out of the Box, Make the Box Smaller

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QUICK QUIZ: Which assignment do you think a creative person would like more:

  1. Write a story about anything.
  2. Write a story about a duck.

If you’re like most people (which, of course, you’re not—you’re better), you said Assignment 1. It’s obvious, isn’t it? I mean, creativity is all about freedom, no restraints, “Don’t box me in, man!” Right?

Wrong.

The surprising, non-intuitive truth is that the vast majority of creative people would prefer Assignment 2: Write a story about a duck.

Now, why is this? And ...

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Why The Best Leaders Are Out Of Control

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I recently read an interview with Marija Ringwelsky, the co-founder and COO of Remedy, a company that helps protect people from medical overcharges and billing errors. In it, Ms. Ringwelsky said:

“While I thought leadership was about influence and control, starting Remedy has taught me that leadership is quite the opposite—it’s about finding great people who share common values and a shared sense of purpose and counter-intuitively relinquishing control. If you’ve done your job right, the people on your ...

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How To Be Better Than Saturday Night Live

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“You guys are better than Saturday Night Live!”

I used to hear that all the time. I still do, although now “are” has changed to “were.”

For 15 years, I was the Executive Producer of a sketch comedy TV show in Seattle called Almost Live!. We were on the NBC affiliate, KING-TV, and for our final 10 years, we aired at 11:30 on Saturday night (we pushed SNL back a half-hour; they aired from midnight to 1:30 am in the Seattle market). ...

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How To Make Your Team Hate You In One Easy Step

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A friend of mine has a cat that she affectionately refers to as her “barnacle,” because he’s always there. Wherever she goes, there he is. The kitchen, the living room, the office, on the stairs—he is constantly underfoot. Sometimes literally.

That’s kind of endearing in a cat. Not so much in a boss.

Nobody wants to have the boss constantly hovering around, looking over their shoulders, meowing for food (or the boss equivalent). In fact, here’s how to make your team hate ...

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How Bruce Springsteen Can Make You a Better Boss

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There’s nothing quite like seeing a world-class team operating at the highest level, is there? For example, let’s take Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The video below shows Bruce (“The Boss”) and his team working out an audience-requested song—not one of Bruce’s—live, in front of 45,000 people. Watch the entire video (it’s about 8 minutes—and turn it up as loud as you can!), and then read on for my thoughts on how what “The Boss” does with his ...

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How To Be a Terrible Leader

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You’ve probably watched a TED Talk video or two (or ten) at some point over the past several years. But have you ever been to a TED/TEDx event in person? It turns out there’s a huge—and important—difference between watching one or two TED videos and being immersed in a dozen or so TED Talks over the course of a single day.

In just under two weeks, I’ll be standing on stage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver BC as the ...

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The #1 Skill to Improve for Better Leadership Results

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I recently sent out a survey to over 600 leaders, asking them one question:

In thinking about your leadership, what would you most like to change/improve this year?

As you can imagine, the responses ranged widely, from “organize myself to be more productive” to “I’m retiring and want to leave my company in better shape than it was when I took over.” These are, of course, valid and important concerns. But one area of leadership garnered the biggest response. In fact, a ...

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How to Tell If Your Leader Is a Risky Pilot

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This morning I discovered that the hard drive on my Mac was completely full. Zero empty space. I discovered this when I tried to check my email, and I couldn’t even download one message. I had about 50 gigabytes free a week ago, and haven’t downloaded anything. I have no idea why the drive is filling up.

This is not a good situation.

So I deleted several gigabytes worth of stuff and called a guy, who is currently booked through the end ...

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