Simple, practical, applicable
Mindful Mondays: Leave It Outside June 17 2013 no responses
Melissa, the young woman who cuts my hair, is wise beyond her years. She’s 26 years old and got into town 7 or 8 months ago. Within a week of getting here, she had three job offers from different salons and was promoted to assistant manager in the one she selected about three months after she started.
Once a month we have an hour long conversation about music, favorite vacation spots, working out and business while she cuts my hair.
Yesterday, I asked Melissa how, as a manager, she deals with the drama that can come up when you lead a team. She said that there really isn’t much drama in her shop because everyone follows the rule.
What’s the rule?
Should Leaders Ever Lie? June 13 2013 5 responses
News stories don’t get much bigger than this week’s revelation that government contractor Edward Snowden revealed classified information to The Guardian and the Washington Post that the National Security Agency has a program that collects and analyzes the phone records of millions of Americans.
This post isn’t a commentary on the NSA program or what Snowden did (although I agree with Jeffrey Toobin’s argument on why he should be prosecuted).
Rather, it’s about the question, should leaders ever lie? The question comes to mind because the Snowden case demonstrates that leaders of intelligence agency leaders have been less than forthcoming with the full truth when asked in Congressional hearings about systematized surveillance of Americans.
For example, as reported in the New York Times, in a March open hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, “Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper’s answer was “No, sir. Not wittingly.” As further reported in the Times, “in an interview (last) Sunday with NBC News, Mr. Clapper acknowledged that his answer had been problematic, calling it ‘the least untruthful’ answer he could give.”
The NSA story is a complicated, high stakes case with complex leadership choices and challenges. Most leaders don’t have to play at this level, but almost all leaders encounter situations when they have the choice to tell the truth or lie. It can be helpful to understand your decision making criteria before you have to make that choice. Here are some ideas to consider if, as a leader, you should ever lie:
Mindful Mondays: Three Reasons to Consider Dialing It Back a Bit June 10 2013 no responses
A lot of leaders end up in the roles they’re in because their Type A people who don’t settle. They have high expectations of themselves and others and give everything 100%. That’s a good thing until it’s no longer a good thing. In the interest of mindful leadership, I want to raise the question of whether or not you should consider dialing it back a bit.
As an executive coach, I work with a lot of Type A leaders who always have the dial set to 10. When I run 360 degree feedback surveys for them, they tend to score low on behaviors like pacing themselves by building in breaks from work and differentiating between efforts that require perfection and those for which “good enough” is sufficient.
It’s easy for me to connect and empathize with this type of leader because I’m in recovery from the same syndrome of keeping the dial set all the way to the right. Like most recovery programs, it’s a process. Some days are better than others.
I’ve been paying more attention to where my clients and I have been setting our energy and intensity dials lately and have come up with three reasons why it can be a good idea to dial it back a bit.
Here they are:
Three Steps for Leaders Who Want to Work Better with Their Peers June 6 2013 one response
This weekend, President Obama will host the new president of China, Xi Jinping, for two days at a resort called Sunnyvale in Rancho Mirage, California. As reported in the New York Times and other outlets, the two leaders will spend a lot of time in relaxed and unscripted conversations with the goal of getting to know each other better.
While there are risks involved in such an approach, they seem to be outweighed by the potential rewards of the leaders of the world’s two biggest superpowers better understanding each other. Their approach holds a lesson for leaders in all walks of life who, like Obama and Xi, find themselves simultaneously collaborating and competing with their peers.
When people rely on each other without really knowing each other an information vacuum is created. Nature abhors a vacuum and, when it comes to leaders who depend on each other without knowing each other, that vacuum is often filled with assumptions, misperceptions and stories that the parties make up about each other.
I see this happen all the time in my executive coaching work with leaders. The most effective ones recognize the dynamic and take steps to counteract it. The more they get to know and trust their peers, the more they get done together.
How can you get the ball rolling on working better with your fellow leaders? Here are three steps to get started:
Mindful Mondays: Check Yourself Out June 3 2013 one response
So, you may be asking yourself, “What on earth does checking yourself out have to do with mindful leadership?” Fair question. If, by checking yourself out, we’re talking about sneaking in an admiring glance as you walk by a mirror or a storefront window, the answer is not much.
If, on the other hand, we’re talking about the modern day version of what Socrates meant when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” then the answer is a lot.
I’d make the case that mindful leaders spend regular time checking themselves out. They question their assumptions. They check their motives. They figure out what pushes their buttons.
Interested in spending some time checking yourself out? Here’s a simple way to get started.
Three Ways to Increase Your Influence May 29 2013 no responses
Effective leadership is all about getting stuff done through and with other people. Even for the most powerful leaders (think of the President of the United States for instance) getting stuff done is more often about influence than it is authority.
In a recent conversation with a fellow executive coach and author, Joel Garfinkle, we brainstormed what influence is all about and simple, actionable ways that you can increase yours. As the author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level, Joel has done a ton of research, coaching and speaking on the topic so he was a great guy to talk with about influence.
With his permission, I recorded the conversation and you can listen to a six minute highlight of it for more on these three ideas from Joel on how to increase your influence
- Look for ways to get others to rely on you.
- Become a go to person.
- Leverage your allies.
What’s your experience? Is influence more important than authority? What’s worked for you in increasing your influence?
Mindful Mondays: What Songs Are On Your Mindfulness Playlist? May 20 2013 one response
Music can have a powerful impact on mindfulness. Certain songs or genres can be totally distracting or annoying while others set you up to remember why you do what you do as a leader.
Likewise, there are distracting and annoying things about smartphones and there are also very useful things about the devices. One of those is the capacity they give you to carry around a mindfulness playlist in your pocket. Having one can be very useful when you need some help in refocusing on a more mindful approach to leadership and life.
As an example, there are three songs on my mindfulness playlist that I come back to again and again.
Seven Tips for Taming Your Calendar May 16 2013 one response
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called Five Ways to Get Your Calendar Under Control. Since then, I’ve used it as the starting point for a conversation among high potential leaders in our Next Level Leadership® group coaching program. The framing questions for the group about the post are:
- What do you already do or agree with?
- What do you disagree with?
- What other calendar control ideas work for you?
As the inflow becomes heavier and the expectations become higher, taming the calendar beast is a common challenge for leaders. Here are seven of the best ideas I’ve heard lately from leaders who are figuring out how to leverage their time to get important stuff done:
Mindful Mondays – Breathe to Relax May 13 2013 no responses
If you’ve been following Mindful Mondays, you know that I’m a big fan of stretching and breathing. As I mentioned in this video, combining the two can be a quick and effective way to take a break that pushes the reset button on your brain.
Of course, you may want to take a quick break by focusing on one or the other. If I had to pick one to start with, it would be breathing. Obviously, we all do it and, because we do, it’s always available as a resource for slowing things down enough to step back, relax and reset your perspective.
There’s a big difference, though, between regular and mindful breathing. If you have a smartphone, there’s a terrific app you can download called Breathe to Relax that will help you feel the difference. The app was created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology which is a unit of the Department of Defense focused on “employing emerging technologies in support of psychological health and traumatic brain injury recovery in the military.”
It’s definitely worth the download and the two minutes of your time it would take to use it everyday. With a couple of screen touches, Breathe to Relax will set you up with a easy to do breathing routine that will make a positive difference in your stress level and capacity to focus mindfully on what’s next.
Check it out and let me know what you think.
Why Leaders Need to Be Indifferent May 9 2013 7 responses
A couple of months ago, I was talking with an executive leader I’ve known for a few years. One of the things I’ve noticed about him in that time is that his confidence has grown in a very appropriate and admirable way. I mentioned this to him and, in reply, he laughed softly and said, “It’s a fine line between confidence and indifference.”
That’s one of the best lines I’ve heard in recent memory because it’s funny and it’s true. Like most things that are funny, there’s an element of truth and recognition to it. The connection between confidence and indifference is that the right amount of indifference can lead to confidence. And the confidence that comes from indifference makes you a more effective leader.
Here’s what I mean by that: