This morning I flew from Seattle to Chicago for a speaking engagement. During the course of that trip, these three things happened:
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- The 40-ish-year-old gentleman sitting behind me on the plane, while seemingly perfectly healthy in all other respects, was apparently unable to get into or out of his seat without the semi-violent assistance of the back of my seat.
- The woman immediately in front of me on the down escalator, upon stepping off said escalator, just stood there lost in thought—unaware, ...
There are few things more challenging to a leader than having to lead your team through a major change. You hear all the usual whining from your team:
- “But we like it the way it is!”
- “It’s too hard! It’s weird and uncomfortable and messy!”
- “We don’t know what it’s going to be like on the other side!”
Honestly, they sometimes sound like babies, don’t they?
Fine then. Let’s talk about babies. Specifically, let’s talk about birth.
[You: “This is getting weird.” Me: “Stop ... Continue Reading →
They are the heroes, the icons, the legends. They are the leaders in sports, science, and business who “rise to the occasion.” The ones who “do their best work under pressure.” People write books and make movies about these singular luminaries.
The only problem is that it’s not true.
Despite what we’d like to believe (because it makes for a great story), people do not “rise to the occasion.” “Rising to the occasion” implies that some people do their best work under ... Continue Reading →
How do you measure success? Money? Fame? Applause?
As a leader, how do your team members measure success?
It’s a deceptively difficult question, but one that’s critical to keeping your team productive, loyal, and engaged.
The question is deceptively difficult because it seems there would be as many answers as there are people on your team, or in your organization, or even in the world. Surely every person has his or her own criteria for success, right?
It turns out that there ... Continue Reading →
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 ... Continue Reading →
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 ... Continue Reading →
QUICK QUIZ: Which assignment do you think a creative person would like more:
- Write a story about anything.
- 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?
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 ... Continue Reading →
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:
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“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 ...
“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). ... Continue Reading →
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 ... Continue Reading →