Category leading

You can’t get there from here

My dishwasher died this week. It was installed 8.5 years ago and, according to the repairman, dishwashers now last 8 to 12 years. Eight to 12 years?? I’m thinking, Whatever happened to QUALITY!! My lawnmower was made in ’82 and is STILL plugging along!

“Planned obsolescence,” he said, reading my mind. “It’s alive and well.”

So I went online to do some comparison shopping, figuring if I’m going to spend 



I’m an avid fan of the cable television program Inside the Actors Studio. Each week, James Lipton, dean emeritus of New York’s Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, interviews a famous actor or director. I love the passion with which these artists talk about their craft and the courage with which they tackle their fears and doubt. Yes, they are famous, but they are still mortals wrestling with the same insecurities as the rest of us. And the lessons they offer give a glimpse of the greatness in each of us that lies just beyond our doubt.

When Lipton interviewed Dustin Hoffman, the actor talked about the difficulty of


When Bob took over as head of a large business unit in his organization, he inherited a chief operations officer, Mary Jo. Initially, he was reluctant to keep her. The unit had financial problems, poor morale, a toxic culture, and a lot of people blaming Mary Jo for the problems, so he was watchful. But he realized quickly that she was very good at her job, and decided to hold off taking any action.

Fast forward a couple of years. Bob is moving his unit forward. He’s a systems

What we call feedback rarely is

In order for people to grow, adapt, and perform at their best, they need information about their own performance. One source of information—feedback—has earned a bad reputation. The word first came into the language to describe the self-correcting information built into mechanical systems and electronic circuits. Information was fed back into a system as a means of regulating system performance.

Thermostats, for instance, feed back information in order to maintain a set


As a follow-up to the “Quiet” post, this is an acronym I heard years ago. A client reminded me  of it recently. “When I learned the WAIT acronym,” he said, “that was a learning moment burned into my head!”

WAIT stands for Why Am I Talking?




That’s the title of a great new book by Susan CainIt’s subtitled “The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” and it profiles the many ways in which we undervalue introversion. It also points up what we lose in the process.

She talks about introversion in both personal and professional domains. I was especially drawn to her debunking of some of our most sacred leadership cows, like the myth of charismatic leadership. Introverts 

Imagine the ladder’s gone

For years, we’ve read about the struggles of women in climbing the corporate ladder and reaching the top.  Much has been written about why it occurs and what we can do about it.  I offer a different view, namely that the whole notion of a career ladder is an assumption – a mythology – that can limit who and how we are in organizations.

When we assume that a ladder exists and that it’s the path to success – when we treat these assumptions as “truths” about “the way it is” — we can easily mistake ladder-climbing as our journey and a top rung

Tales from the heart

Our work – our lives – are built on and steeped in storytelling. It’s how we make sense of things, how we fill in the blanks to create meaning out of moments and commitment in the midst of chaos [remember Tom Hanks’ character in Saving Private Ryan?].

Of course, at work we don’t call it storytelling. We dress it up in professional language, like ‘case study’ or ‘discussion’ or just plain

Entering fully

This week, one of my clients said that her goal each day is to be fully present to what she is doing now and to enjoy what she is doing now. Why? Because when she worries about everything else she wants or needs to do, she misses this moment. “If I enter everything fully,” she said, “I will come out changed.”

I love that perspective. She’s absolutely right. It’s the classic struggle between doing and

The critical leadership skill

Self awareness.  Most people think they’re aware. They are not. [What they’re aware of are their stories about themselves.] In 2007, a Harvard Business Review article reported that the 75-person advisory council for Stanford’s business school was asked about the most important skill for a leader to develop. Their responses were nearly unanimous: self awareness.

I was surfing other blogs today and came across this entry, from another female entrepreneur. Her language is a little more down to earth than HBR’s. Check it out at her blog.

Here’s a distinction I often make for my coaching clients. Self awareness comes in many forms. The one we’re most familiar with is awareness of our strengths,