I used to play a lot of tennis. I was never terribly good at it. For example, some serves are referred to as a “weapon.” Mine was referred to as a “gift.” But what I lacked in quality, I made up for in quantity. I played a lot of tennis.
I suppose I got incrementally better over time, but I never improved substantially. Why?
Because I wasn’t intentional about improvement.
You’ve probably heard the phrase practice makes perfect. This isn’t quite ... Continue Reading →
I never liked firing people.
That may sound like a normal, human response to an unpleasant task, but I’ve known people who actually enjoy it. (One particular TV news director comes to mind.) Ogres like that aside, though, most of us don’t like this uncomfortable, but necessary, part of leadership.
The fact is that leadership is, to a large degree, about doing the uncomfortable things. In fact, if you’re comfortable in your leadership, you’re probably not leading.
Many times, though, leaders try to ... Continue Reading →
There is a phrase that Lorne Michaels, the creator and Executive Producer of Saturday Night Live, and I both share. I didn’t know we shared it—I thought it was original with me—until, several years ago, a friend told me that it was Lorne’s quotation. Well, it was mine too, before I knew that it was also Lorne’s, but let’s not quibble. The phrase is:
“We don’t go on the air because we’re ready. We go on the air because it’s 11:30.”
Like ... Continue Reading →
Have you ever worked with someone whom you just plain didn’t like? I think we all have, at one time or another. For example, there are moments when I really hate my boss—and I’m self-employed!
The good news is that liking each other is not a prerequisite for an exceptional, productive team. Granted, if you are fortunate enough to work in a team where you all like each other, that’s great! It’s a bonus. But it’s not vital.
What is ... Continue Reading →
If you’re wondering why your team doesn’t seem to be engaged in their work (which, according to Gallup, describes 68% of the American workforce), it may be because they just don’t give a crap about their jobs.
And that’s partly on you.
Among the needs that virtually all of us share is the need for purpose. We all like to feel like we’re a part of something bigger. And, sadly, many leaders do an absolutely terrible job of helping their ... Continue Reading →
I used to be a fan of brainstorming. What could be better for generating ideas than gathering your team around a table, presenting the challenge, and then letting the ideas flow! No bad ideas here! Just open the mental floodgates and let the brilliance pour out! Each idea sparking another, and another! Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Except it doesn’t work.
Brainstorming—despite the positive press it’s gotten, and still gets—doesn’t work. Why? Two words: human nature.
As humans (sorry puppies, I’m speaking ... Continue Reading →
I was just listening to an interview with one of the world’s top leadership experts, my friend and colleague Mark Sanborn. He was asked how leadership has changed over the past several years. Here’s what he said:
“The biggest change I’ve seen in leadership is not among leaders but among followers…. The principles by and large haven’t changed, but the people whom we lead really don’t think of themselves as followers. They think of themselves as team members or collaborators.”
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Turning creativity into money.
That’s how I sometimes described my job as the Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show in Seattle.
Turning creativity into money.
See, our job, week after week, was to be creative—on demand. BUT, that creativity had to lead to profit. If what we created—jokes, comedy sketches, parodies—didn’t draw an audience that advertisers would pay to reach, our creativity would have gone nowhere (and our careers would have quickly followed). But we did draw that audience, ... Continue Reading →
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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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 ... Continue Reading →