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Don’t Wait for Leaders to Emerge, Grow Them

When leaders attempt to “develop” their subordinates, the process tends to be very hands-off and demoralizing. They often start by observing who their most ambitious and politically inclined employees are. Next they let those people duke it out in order to see who can earn a place of power and prestige. All too often, growing professionally seems like something only a small percentage of the entire organization is even capable of. And even those select individuals must self-identify and maneuver themselves ... Read more

Work Less, Accomplish More

Many people are convinced that working over 40 hours a week is not only necessary, but noble as well. They often express this belief with an almost religious fervor. I know of employees who brag about the number of consecutive 80-hour weeks they have worked. They even brag about the lack of sleep that results from over-working themselves. More and more, leaving the office at 5:00pm is considered a cardinal sin, and going home early is practically unforgivable. (more…) Read more

Teamwork, According to The Wire

You build a great team by finding and hiring the best, smartest, and hardest-working individuals and putting them in the right place within your organization…right?   If only it were that easy.   While I find Jim Collins’s “get the right people in the right seats of the bus” metaphor logical, I also find it an over-simplification of how great teams are actually formed and developed in the real world. A better metaphor would probably be, “you've crashed your airplane in the desert, and now ... Read more

Resolve

To resolve to do something is to decide firmly on a course of action. For a leader, it means closing off of some alternatives and visions so that you can direct all of your resources and time into one coordinated effort. When you resolve to do something, you do not waffle, waver, or wander; you step out confidently in a predetermined direction. Strategies for reaching your vision can change. The timeline may be modified. The team may be shuffled. But, ultimately, your ... Read more

Are You Communicating or Just Talking?

Communicating, or attempting to communicate, is something that we've all been doing for as long as we can remember. For this reason, many of us assume that we have mastered communication. So we seldom think about what exactly we are doing when we are communicating. But let's just step back a minute. Let’s think about what communication really is. (more…) Read more

Legal, Profitable, and Evil

In 2004 business was good for Goldman Sachs, and it was getting even better. The financial giant had recently devised a new way to make money: they bundled sub-prime mortgages into securities (Abacus bonds), peddled the shoddy securities off to pension funds, and then helped other clients to bet against the same shoddy securities they had just sold. Goldman employees seemed to be fully aware that their behavior was unethical. They were even quite pleased with themselves, congratulating themselves in internal ... Read more

Contagion within an Organization

We in the Western world tend to value individuality very highly. We admire visionaries like Martin Luther King Jr, Pablo Picasso, and Steve Jobs, who have had an enormous impact on history and culture. We understand that one single individual can introduce a whole society to new ways of thinking about the world. Nevertheless, it is always easier—and more common—for an individual to have a negative impact, to tear down rather than build up. As cynicism and negativity become increasingly prevalent in our ... Read more

What’s In It for Me?

“You’re always asking, ‘What’s in it for me.’” That’s what one of my friends told me when I was 17 years old. I was stunned. It was painful to hear, but to this day I am thankful for those frank and wise words. (more…) Read more

The Physics of Organizational Change

"Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it."  In the 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton provided us with this simple but important law of motion. It was the first key for unlocking our understanding of the invisible forces governing the universe. As anyone who has ever tried to change the direction of an entire company can tell you, organizations, like physical objects, are also subject to powerful ... Read more

Don’t Go the Way of Kodak

How can an organization made up of very smart people still make stupid decisions? How can the whole be less than the sum of its parts? These questions come to mind when I hear the word “Kodak.” Several decades ago Kodak prided itself on its cutting-edge technology and its innovative products. Kodak was able to capture nearly 90% of the American photographic film market by the mid 70’s. Its logo was as recognizable as McDonald’s’ and the phrase “Kodak moment” worked its ... Read more
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