Author: leadabove

Does your leadership model belong on a bumper sticker?

True confession: I heart bumper stickers. Sometimes I even brake for them. Bite-sized insights about complete strangers are delightful. Generally, they’re catchy, and intended to provoke a specific result (perhaps a chuckle, a moment of outrage, or even a political epiphany!). But once the car passes, the sticker’s job is complete. It’s made an impression, left a feeling. As passersby, we are the intended consumers of the message. But in reality, they exist for the vanity of the driver. Businesses – fueled only by the noblest of intentions – have a tendency to take a bumper-sticker-like approach to articulating...

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The Buddy System: Why it Ain’t Just for Preschoolers

Remember the “buddy system” from childhood? On field trips, in swimming pools – any time there simply weren’t enough “responsible adults” to go around, each of us would be become a five-year old suddenly accountable for the safety and well-being of another five-year old. What could possibly go wrong? But somehow, at least in my experience, nothing ever did. I was the responsible rule-follower, and my buddy of the day, Jamie, was the impulsive rebel. (Side note, she remains my best friend to this day, but I digress…) Somehow that crazy system worked. It kept us on track and safe. But now we’re all adults. So that silly buddy system no longer adds value – right? Yep – you guessed it. I baited you. There are so many lessons to be learned from that crazy old buddy system!   No field trips or swimming pools required. Shall we dive in? (Pool pun intended) Why did these responsible adults institute said system in the first place? What were they protecting us from? Getting lost. Drowning. Eating something that fell on the floor.   These were our perils back then. So what about today – for leaders in the workplace? (And yes – we all still eat stuff off the floor). But we really worry about things like handling a delicate situation ineffectively. Failing to inspire and motivate our teams. Not coaching or...

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Butter’s Been Vindicated… But Business Should Remain Low-Fat

Which has been your favorite Time Mag cover – Michael Jackson? Steve Jobs?  Mine was the vindication of butter – and its fat-saturated cousins – in June 2014. Life’s just been better with butter. But be warned – while the dietary fat-fad has been bringing joy to dining tables everywhere, an equivalent vindication has not happened in the workplace. No – in business, “fat” remains a drag.   And I dare Time to publish the story that says otherwise. So what is this organizational fat to which I refer? Before you send all of your middle managers packing (and consoling themselves with bread and butter) note this: while excess bulk on the org chart ribute to organizational fat, it is not your only smoking gun. Sure, companies like Zappos have shown us what a flat structure can do. But that doesn’t make flat the universal ideal.   In many companies, hierarchy serves great purpose. It evolved for reasons that should be preserved.can cont So if org structure isn’t the magic bullet … what is? What’s the secret to unclogging our corporate arteries? OK… don’t shoot the messenger here. Because there isn’t one. But there are some levers that – when pulled effectively – can positively impact your organization’s health: Find the D: As in: who’s in charge here? Who’s the decision maker? Decision-making can be one of the greatest drags on organizations...

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Hey Semantics: Get Out of the Way of Innovation!

Are you a leader? Then you’re thinking about innovation – right? No –I’m not watching you right now. That would be creepy. It’s just something I happen to know about you. And let me guess – you’re not seeing enough of it from your team members. Want my advice? Fire every last one of them. No wait – don’t do that. But I do have some thoughts on the matter of leading for innovation. Before we dive in, let’s first acknowledge the aspirational pointers living in the leadership ether. A few of my favorites include: The “Google approach” of (allegedly) inviting employees to spend 20% of their time just thinking. (Though with free breakfast, lunch and dinner available, one might wonder – 20% of how many hours?). There’s the “read more books, across industries and fields to generate new ideas” approach –  (But when?) Experiment – test, and fail (um, won’t I get fired?) Broaden your network of thinkers (refer to hesitation on second item). Build an open floor plan (wait – what did you say, brain?) All of the above are great strategies when implemented effectively. But really, the foundation for great innovation comes not in the how, but in the what. What defines innovation? Or more specifically, how do you define it for your team? Oftentimes, herein lies the key to success. We tend to focus so...

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Go With The Flow…State

Get this Gist: So Gallup tells us that only 33% of US employees are inspired by and/or engaged in their work.  Go ahead – do the math.  It’s not pretty for employers. But according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the key is helping employees find their flow state.   It’s the place where we feel we perform our best.  The shorthand is this:  Find the spot where challenge meets skill, and you’ll have time flying for your team — just make sure they don’t forget to go home! Now Run With It:  So how to put this into use?  Have a think about the folks on your team.  Everyone has different skills and interests.  If Harry loves writing and Sally loves client engagement, evaluate the initiatives on their plates, and be sure you have each doing some of what they love… but with a challenge built in.  If Harry has been writing internal docs, can he take a stab at an outbound communication?  An all-employee memo?  How might you leverage a strong suit but add a twist? Have an idea but want to talk it through?  Shoot me an email – happy to...

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