A core aspect of management is communication. So of course, most managers find a way to screw it up. They hold back important feedback. They fail to provide a meaningful vision or strategy. And they struggle to communicate expectations, setting people up for failure. Instead of helping people grow, they let them stagnate.
Lou Solomon, writing for Harvard Business Review, reported that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. The biggest surprise about this statistic is how low it is.
Over two-thirds of managers, likely well-paid and well-trained professionals, are uncomfortable with an essential part of their jobs.
I’m Hoping You Can Learn from My Mistakes
I turned 38 years-old today. Looking back on a myriad of past mistakes and bad decisions, here’s my birthday present to anyone interested — 38 lessons that I wish I’d learned much earlier in life.
No company openly tells you that they have a toxic culture. They don’t advertise that their employees are unmotivated, their customers are dissatisfied, or their leadership has less trust than Ellen DeGeneres.
And yet you need to know this. In today’s world, culture remains our best sustainable advantage. Others can copy a service or reverse-engineer a product. But few can replicate a high-performing culture.
If you’re evaluating a prospective employer, considering a new supplier, or deciding on a potential merger, you need to understand a company’s culture. Or you’ll end up living with the results.
While few companies actively advertise…
The Key to Regaining Control is Not Making Things Worse
“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once,” said Paulo Coehlo, although between his two scenarios, it seems that everything happening all at once is the much more frequent. Feeling overwhelmed has become a part of our lives. It seems inescapable for anyone trying to take on new challenges in times of change.
While many time management gurus will preach their secrets for avoiding these feelings, I don’t think it’s possible. …
A Minute of Your Time for Immeasurable Results
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it,” said William Arthur Ward. And yet we all do this. We know that showing gratitude is important and yet we still leave much of our appreciation unsaid.
Managers are often the worst offenders. We tell ourselves that people are just doing their job. It’s what they’re paid to do. Why should we need to thank people for that?
Except good managers know that if you’re going to lead, you need to lead people. You can manage projects…
5 Rules for Lending a Supportive Ear
“Twelve years ago, if someone attacked me, I wouldn’t let them get away with it. I’d take them on. I now perceive my job to include allowing people to vent their rage,” said New York City mayor Ed Koch. Everyone needs to let off some steam now and then. While most of us aren’t therapists, and we shouldn’t pretend to be, we all need to be able to lend a supportive ear from time to time.
Unfortunately, most people don’t do this very well. We have a bias for action. We’re good at…
There aren’t really any secrets.
“Leadership’s responsibility is to work intelligently with what is given and not waste time fantasizing about a world of flawless people and perfect choices,” wrote the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Leadership is adversity. If there’s one universal rule of leading people, and perhaps living in general, it’s that meaningful victories don’t come easy. If we want to win, we need to fight for it.
It’s why a core aspect of great leadership is resilience. It’s how we move through the inevitable adversity and become stronger for it. No good leader escapes failure, fear, and disappointment…
The Best Way to Earn Trust is to Listen and Learn.
“Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people,” wrote 7 Habits author Stephen Covey. We can’t lead people without trust. It simply doesn’t happen. Which is why, if you’re a new manager, establishing trust needs to be your first priority. As Seth Godin put it, “Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.”
If you’re recently promoted, or if you’re starting a new position, it can be overwhelming. You’re starting over with new responsibilities and new…
Those creativity gurus don’t know what they’re talking about.
Peter Drucker once said, “Every organization needs one core competence: innovation.” Indeed, nearly every company lists innovation as a top strategic priority. Yet very few of those companies are satisfied with their ability to innovate.
Innovation’s difficult. Most companies and managers are better operators than innovators. They’ve built success from optimizing efficiency over game-changing creativity. People are notoriously good at doing what’s rewarded and often the path to promotion is to avoid mistakes and perpetuate the status quo. Innovation loses focus amidst our daily busyness.
So we start looking for the…
Instead of Empowering People, Let’s Just Stop Disempowering Them
I’ve always found empowerment programs to be inherently contradictory. I like the idea of empowering people, but the whole thing seems condescending. I certainly don’t want anyone thinking they need to empower me.
People are naturally empowered. We have a default for action and we want to make an impact. If they’re not stepping up to take action, it’s not because they need to be empowered. It’s because management has actively disempowered them.
Most management tactics focus on increasing control and decreasing risk. Management training programs preach procedures and compliance. They…