Teams

Are You Solving the Right Problem?

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Albert Einstein once said, “If I only had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” And while I don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Einstein about the ratio, I think his quotation does highlight a common mistake that leaders and their teams make in the creative thinking process, and it’s this:

If you jump to solutions too quickly, you may find you’re solving the wrong problem.

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The Smartest Thing You Can Do as a Leader

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As a leader, the smartest thing I ever did was hire people better than me.

For 15 years, I was the Executive Producer of a comedy TV show in Seattle. I was also a writer and performer for the show, but my main job was being “the boss.” And as the boss, I was responsible for hiring the rest of the team.

Now, let’s understand something. When you’re on TV, there’s generally a fair amount of ego involved. I don’t ...

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Are You Ready for the High Winds?

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Hurricane level winds.

That’s what they’re telling us here in the Pacific Northwest. As I write this, there’s a storm coming, and they’re telling us to prepare for hurricane level winds. So I prepared. I bought extra food and water. I put fresh batteries in my flashlights and smoke detectors (my power almost always goes out in high winds). I made sure I had candles. And wine. Because, you know, high winds.

Now, what if the forecasts prove wrong? What ...

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Are You Playing “Monkey See, Monkey Do” Leadership?

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“Bill’s been to a seminar!”

I was a new leader, barely into my twenties, and the TV station I worked for had sent me to a leadership seminar. I eagerly returned to the office the next day, head and notebook brimming with ideas, recommendations, and “best practices.” In a classic mistake, I just as eagerly shared nearly all of these ideas with my staff, excitedly telling them about all the great changes we can now make.

Silence.

They all just looked ...

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How Are You Filling Your Idea Pipeline?

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I’ve just been reading a terrific new book called High-Profit Prospecting by my friend and colleague Mark Hunter. Mark is a consummate sales professional, and his book is about how to keep your sales pipeline full so that you never run out of valuable prospects.

I’m not a sales professional, but I am an idea professional. And, just like I think it’s vital for people in the sales business to keep their sales pipelines full, I think it’s ...

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What Does it REALLY Mean to Be a Producer?

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“So, what does a producer really do?”

During my 15 years as the Executive Producer of Seattle’s hit comedy TV show Almost Live!, I was asked that question a lot. Many times by members of my own staff.

“What does a producer really do?”

I used to answer that question from a very specific, TV-centric focus. Made sense, right? I mean, I was a TV producer, after all.

But after working with thousands of leaders in hundreds of industries, I’ve realized that what I ...

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Are You About to Lose One of Your Best Employees?

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I’m angry at Janie’s boss.

I don’t know Janie’s boss. I’ve never met Janie’s boss. But I do know Janie. Janie is one of the most diligent, hard-working, eager-to-learn people I’ve ever met. But because Janie’s boss doesn’t understand one of the basic rules of leadership, Janie is being made to feel like a failure in her job, and is thinking about leaving. So what’s the rule that Janie’s boss doesn’t understand? It’s this:

It’s a leader’s job to create an environment ...

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Great Teams Focus on the Mission, Not the Squabbles

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This weekend I was lucky enough to have VIP seats to see a performance by the U.S. Navy’s precision flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels. They are, by any standard, an incredible team. They fly 18 inches apart at 400 miles per hour, while simultaneously doing coordinated turns and maneuvers — all of this in a plane that costs $56 million. And if you don’t think that’s a big deal, think about how mad you were when you got that ...

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Are You Playing to Your Strengths Every Day?

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Yesterday I was the closing keynoter for a conference of credit union leaders. One of the speakers who was on before me mentioned what was, to me, a startling statistic. He said that the average credit union CEO spends roughly 60% of his or her day just dealing with regulatory red tape. For the record (in case you’re not a credit union professional), this is not the best or most productive use of the CEO’s time. Which begs the question:

Are ...

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Why Leaders Need to be More Like Shakespeare

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Leaders should be intelligent, right? I mean, it doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s kind of the ideal. We want our leaders—community, corporate, political—to be intelligent.

But what kind of intelligent?

There are some leaders who know everything there is to know about their industry. Other leaders have read dozens—maybe even hundreds—of books about leadership. Some leaders are particularly strong in emotional intelligencwilliam-shakespeare-62936_1280 Continue Reading →

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