45 Seconds on Leadership

Ben Franklin

Leave it to the American founding father Ben Franklin. He said: “Words show a man’s wit. Actions his meaning.”  Walt Whitman is credited with saying “Your actions are so loud, I cannot hear what you’re saying.” We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words. It’s timeless. It’s true. And it’s been said in […]

Overcoming Cognitive Dissonance

Everyone WANTS to keep doing things the way we’ve always done it. We get uncomfortable when someone upsets OUR apple cart. We have to help OUR PEOPLE through this if we’re ever going to change things.  One way is by noticing our own discomfort, so we can be empathetic. Another is by giving people […]

Who’s the boss?

Who’s the boss? As kids, we learn that the boss is the person in charge…our parents, our teachers telling us what to do.  But now that we’re all grown up, I’ll let you in on a secret: social science teaches us that the more pressure we place on people to do something, the less […]

Earning a Following

Leadership is about earning a living by earning a following. And sometimes, earning a following means following others…humbling ourselves in front of others…serving others.  When we want to change something about how things are done at work, sometimes the best thing to do is to listen to those closer to the action…they’ll have better-informed […]

Smart is stupid

Is smart smart? Or is smart…stupid?  When we think we’re smart, when we think we have all the answers, we usually don’t. It’s folly for us to think we’re THAT smart. When we’re humble and figure others might have better answers, different perspectives that we can learn from…that’s when we’re the best at leadership. […]

Explaining it the Same Way

When we’re leading a change, is it better to explain what we’re ultimately going for the same way each time, or a bunch of divergent ways?  Here’s an exercise: Ask all your fellow leaders to explain in five words or less what the ultimate goal of the change is. Nine times out of ten, […]

SMART is smart

SMART…it’s the gold standard for goals during a change.  SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound. Except, as I had to learn the hard way, SMART doesn’t stand alone. Change is a decision. Neuroscience tells us that people need both reason and emotion to make any decision. So SMART needs HEART. Turns […]

Control the Message

We HAVE to control the message. Our people need to hear it from us, the way we want them to hear it, when we want them to hear it, how we want them to hear it.  Welcome to the 1970s, when people believed what we said…and they had only one source of company information. […]

Cognitive Dissonance

Every day, millions of people AVOID one news source or another. It’s not just that we disagree with the news source, but listening to what they have to say…it’s head hurting…it’s body hurting actually.  This feeling…it’s called cognitive dissonance. When a value of ours or a belief we hold dear…when it’s challenged…we get very […]

I’m Going to Force You

I’m going to now force you to decide to do something different…something different from the way you’ve always done it. I’m your boss…I’m forcing you to decide.  Can I really force you to DECIDE to do something different? Change is a decision. If people are going to truly change…not just react to our demands…they […]

Right or Effective

Would you rather be right, or effective?  When something needs to happen, we say “This needs to happen.” We say it. We say it again. We say it louder. We’re right! This needs to happen!! PAUSE If we want to be effective and MAKE it happen, we might want to try DO-ing “This needs […]

75% of what you want?

75% of what you want? Or 67% chance of getting nothing?  This week, let’s talk numbers. Would you rather get 75 percent of what you’re going for, or take a 67 percent chance that you’ll get nothing that you’re going for? 75 percent of what you’re going for or a 67 percent chance of […]

Smarter than Us

We’re smart, right?  Ever found yourself pulling your hair out when you’re trying to get something accomplished? There are some people right around us who were smart enough not to sign up for this torment. Sure, they make less than we do, but that’s not because they’re dumber than us. Let’s do ourselves a […]

Easy to Be Hard, Hard to Be Easy

An expert in website design once said: “It’s easy to be hard. And it’s hard to be easy.”  Meaning: It’s easy to build a website, but that website’s probably gonna be hard to use. It’s hard to build a website that’s easy to use. It’s easy to be hard. It’s hard to be easy. […]

Tug of War

So, there’s a tug of war going on and you come across it.  There are five people from your competitor on one end. On the other side is your boss…alone. Are you going to watch her get humiliated? No, something tells me if you’re physically capable you’d want to join her, help her, get […]

T/F We can Force Change

Do leaders force change?  Scientists have learned something ironic. The more pressure we place on people or money we give them, the less likely they are to believe in what we want them to do. It’s called forced compliance theory. They’ll comply, like a sales team getting an incentive. We don’t need them to […]

Change is a Decision

As a leader it is important to understand that change is a decision. Ever tried to explain to people the REASON for a change and then assumed that was enough to get them to do the change? It usually doesn’t work that way. You see, change is actually a decision…people have to WANT to change…they […]

Song the first time

Do you remember when you heard a certain song the first time? Even some song that just came out that they’re playing all the time right now? Did you realize it even existed after the first time you heard it? The world of music is cluttered. So why do we think we can tell our […]

Go slow to go fast

Turns out, to get lasting change, we need to go slow to go fast. We need to first get our ducks in a row. When it’s time to lead a change, we want to move fast. The world’s moving fast around us. Our bosses want to see quick results. But what good is it if […]

Communications is 90-10

Did you know there’s something more important about communications than communications? When we’re trying to lead an initiative, we need lots and lots of communications…reminders, momentum builders, success stories. Communications should be dripping from the walls of our organization. But all the king’s emails and all the king’s videos…they mean nothing if our actions don’t […]

Bake a cake

When you bake a cake, you start by measuring out all the ingredients. In business we say that if we don’t measure it, we can’t manage it. So let’s say we’re baking a cake. We measure things like butter, the flour, the sugar. But how do you measure ingenuity? Improvisation? Blood, sweat and tears? The […]

Hire a surgeon

Would you hire a surgeon who told you two-thirds of his patients die? What about a lawyer who loses two-thirds of her cases? Do you want a pilot who says on two-thirds of his flights, something wacky happens in the cockpit? So why do we hire ourselves to lead change? Two-thirds of our change efforts […]

OUR Idea

Leadership magic happens when you turn your idea into OUR idea. When your boss tells you to do something, how excited do you usually get? How does your excitement compare to when YOU have an idea to do something? We’re usually more enthusiastic when it’s OUR idea. So as leaders, how do we—with integrity—turn our […]

Problem Solvers

You know one thing that differentiates leaders? They are great problem solvers. Our great problem-solving skills…they get us into leadership…these skills do wonders for our career. When there’s a problem or an opportunity, we naturally solve it and share this new way of doing things with everyone else. Here’s the rub. Change is a decision. […]

Muscle Memory

Are we trying to lead a change, or are we REALLY trying to overcome YEARS of muscle memory, habit, history, the way we’ve always done it? Probably the latter. When we tell our people the reason for the change, they may agree wholeheartedly. Either way, if we tell them they must change, they’ll comply. Then […]

Leader Licks Envelopes

A leader licks envelopes when that is what is important. When I was 24 and leaving the office one day, I saw the president of the firm sitting at a conference room table folding letters and stuffing envelopes…along with the administrative assistants. He’d warned us the admins were busy and it was important. You know […]

Organizations don’t change.

It’s impossible to change an organization – because organizations don’t change. Let’s say you’ve been given responsibility for changing something about your organization. But it’s actually impossible to do that, because organizations don’t change. Organizations DO NOT change. People do. The numbers don’t change for the better until people change for good. And people can’t […]

Are People Really Our Greatest Asset?

Greatest asset. Our people are our greatest asset. Even in this robotic world, we can’t do what we do without our people. So…why do we hide things from these great assets? Why do we wait until the last minute and spring announcements about changes on them? Why do we not ask these assets for their […]

Our Values Help Us Win

Our values help us support our leadership efforts. Take the healthcare company CVS. One of their key values is about being there for “every meaningful moment of health.” So, how can they sell cigarettes in their drug stores? The answer is, they don’t. Anymore. They used to sell a billion dollars a year, but it […]

We Get the Culture We Deserve

The culture we deserve. Over time, what kind of employees stay at an organization that tells them “you have to?” Is it the creative, thoughtful people who like to have freedoms? Or people who like to stay inside the lines? Those who like certainty and comfort, or those who embrace ambiguity? People who wait for […]

DO “This is Important”

“This is important!” This is exactly what do we say when we have something important to tell someone. But you know what makes something really important to people: When we “DO” this is important. I once knew a very busy CIO who was trying to lead a change to a new technology. She said it […]

Listening Has Its Benefits.

When people feel heard …they’ll do REMARKABLE things. The leaders at Pixar needed a 10% cut in costs. They had ideas. But instead they listened and got ideas from their people. Their people got engaged and offered great ideas. Their very best idea…the idea that was most popular…it wouldn’t cut costs 10%. No, it would […]