Archive for the ‘Personal Presence’ Category

Accepting Reality February 12 2014 10 responses

Every so often, one has to face reality and accept the circumstances as they are. This is one of those moments for me.

I’m very excited about the work I’m doing on my next book which will be published by Wiley this Fall. And, in the category of accepting reality, I’ve come to the conclusion today that I’ll be blogging less frequently until I deliver the manuscript to my editor in May.

Since the book is all about simple and practical things leaders can do to be more mindful in their work and life, I’ll still be posting the Mindful Mondays feature most weeks between now and May. I’ll likely be posting on other days of the week as well but not as often as I have been.

Wow, I feel better already. It’s important to me (and I hope to you) that when I post on this blog it’s worth your time and attention. In accepting reality, I realize that there’s only so much writing I can do in a week while meeting the needs of my clients, writing a quality manuscript and doing a good job with this blog.

So, something has to give and, for the next couple of months, I’ll be focusing on quality over quantity or frequency when it comes to this blog. Thanks for being a loyal reader. I’ll still be here over the next two or three months, just not as often. Please hang in there with me during this hybrid hiatus.

In wrapping up for today, I’m reminded of a line I heard somewhere – you can do everything, just not everything at once. Who knows? Maybe there’s an area in your work or life where you need to take your foot off the gas for awhile. It’s worth thinking about.

How to Not Be a Weenie Leader January 23 2014 one response

weenie-leadersEarlier today, someone I care about a lot was the victim of weenie-like behavior from someone in a leadership role who should have known better. Unfortunately, weenies are all around us. You can recognize them by their unique combination of spineless and thoughtless behavior. That and their lack of nutritional value.

I doubt anyone starts out in life or even in a given day with the goal of being a weenie. And, yet, weenie-like behavior abounds. It’s enough to make you a little paranoid, actually. “Am I a weenie and just don’t know it?”

Who am I to say? For all I know, I’m a weenie too. Here, though, is a start on my list of behaviors that weenie leaders exhibit. How can you avoid being a weenie leader? Do the opposite of these things. I’m working hard on not doing these. (What else would you add to the list?)

The Power of Your Choices in 2014 January 2 2014 2 responses

newyear2014Happy new year everyone! After taking a couple of weeks to relax, reflect and renew, I’m looking forward to the new year. As the year begins, I’m thinking a lot about the power our choices have to shape the course of the next twelve months.

I started considering the power of choice a couple of days ago when I saw Google’s Zeitgeist 2013 video which is their recap of the year just ended. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in it because their 2012 year end video was fantastic and I felt like this year’s didn’t capture the zeitgeist quite so well.

So I went back and watched the 2012 video again and then watched it again. It was kind of breathtaking to notice how much had changed during 2013 around many of the events that defined 2012. There are dramatic examples of how personal choices can change the course of history in just 12 months.

Three Things Leaders Can Still Learn from JFK November 20 2013 one response

jfkThe coverage this week of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy is a stark reminder of the impact his life and death had on the United States and the world. With the perspective of fifty years, it’s easy to argue for or against Kennedy’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy to debate what he did or didn’t accomplish. You may think he was a great president or you may not.

Still, on this anniversary of his death, I would argue there are still some things that leaders can learn from JFK. Here (with links to JFK videos that illustrate the points) are three things that I think leaders can still learn from John F. Kennedy.

A Tale of Two Speeches November 13 2013 no responses

podiumsNot to get all Dickensian on you but it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That was the case at a conference I attended recently. To accommodate the schedules of two high powered CEOs who agreed to speak during the lunch session, the meeting organizers scheduled two keynote addresses during the meal.

That’s a risky agenda move but one that could work if both speakers rock the house. Unfortunately that was not the case. The first speaker was awesome. The second speaker was just awesomely bad. So bad, in fact, that after 30 minutes I just couldn’t stand it anymore and slipped out the back door of the ballroom. It turned out I wasn’t alone. There were other terrible speech refugees hanging around waiting for the next session to start.

One of them was a guy I had met earlier in the day. We both exchanged knowing looks which indicated why we were both standing in the lobby. I asked him, “Why do you think the first speaker was so great and we’re standing out here to escape from the second one?”

Here’s what we came up with. Consider it a list of things to do and not to do when you’re asked to give a presentation.

The Six Roots of Healthy Leadership November 1 2013 no responses

book-groundedIf you’re a leader who’s feeling continually pulled from pillar to post, you’ll want to check out the new book, Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World by Bob Rosen.

In a recent conversation with Bob, we talked about the research he’s done in more than 20 years as an organizational psychologist and advisor to senior executives.  Grounded is the summation of all he’s learned.

Bob has concluded that grounded leaders have deep roots in six important domains of health:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual
  • Social
  • Vocational
  • Spiritual

In the brief interview that accompanies this post, Bob and I talk more about those roots and how leaders can pursue three activities – self awareness, self development and self care – to strengthen them.

Listen in and share what you think in a comment. What do you do to stay grounded as a leader?


Three Ways Leaders Build (or Break) Trust October 30 2013 one response

trust-brokenIt’s a bad sign when a leader gets to the point where both friends and foes are asking, “What did he know and when did he know it?” That’s where President Obama is this week with lots of questions being raised about what and when he knew about big problems with the website launch and more than five years of NSA eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone conversations.

While I don’t take pleasure in writing this, my guess is the questions being raised over the past couple of weeks mark the end of the President’s ability to get much done during the remainder of his term. The healthcare and Merkel stories both get down to whether or not Obama can be trusted. Which, by the way, is not at all the same thing as whether or not he is telling the truth. That may be part of it, but it’s definitely not all of it.

The problems the President is experiencing now are representative of the interplay of three critical ways that leaders either build or break trust with their followers. These three factors, first articulated by the linguist Fernando Flores, don’t just apply to top government leaders or big business leaders. They apply to any leader from moms and dads raising their kids to small business owners serving their customers to the leader of the Free World.

They’re three simple, one word ideas that are easy to understand and remember. They’re critical for leaders that want to build trust and not break it. Here they are:

Mindful Mondays: What’s Your Saber Tooth Tiger? October 14 2013 2 responses

sabretoothLet’s play caveman or cavewoman. You’re walking along, minding your own business, when all of the sudden you spy a saber tooth tiger lurking around the next big rock. At that moment, the part of your brain called the amygdala activates your fight or flight response. Adrenalin and other neurochemicals and hormones surge through your body as you make split second decisions about standing your ground or getting out of there as fast as you possibly can.

That kind of response is very helpful when a saber tooth tiger appears in front of you. It helps keep you alive. As I wrote about earlier this year, however, it’s less useful when you’re facing stressful but less life threatening stimuli in modern day life. The same fight or flight response that can save your life in an actual emergency can leave you feeling angry, frustrated, depleted and overwhelmed if it gets stuck in the on position. Your decision making and leadership effectiveness suffer as a result.

One way to avoid that is to understand what your saber tooth tigers are. What I mean by that is understanding and recognizing the things that typically set you off. If you know the kinds of situations or conversations that send you into fight or flight mode, you can take steps to mindfully lessen their impact.

By recognizing and naming your triggers (or tigers), you can proactively prepare yourself to productively deal with them. Proactive preparation could look like a lot of things. Putting the situation into perspective, investigating alternatives or pushing your reset button by taking some deep breaths or a walk are all examples of things you can do to stay productive when you’re triggered.

The key, though, is to know your triggers. When one of those tigers presents itself, that can be your cue to prepare yourself to stay productive.

What are your saber tooth tigers? What are the typical kinds of situations or conversations that trigger your fight or flight response? Name them and claim them!

What to Do When the S**t Hits the Fan October 9 2013 one response

fanTwo acknowledgments to begin this post. First, this is a family friendly blog so when I say “the s**t hits the fan,” you know what I mean. Second, everyone has times when the s**t hits the fan.

If you’re a leader, s**t hitting the fan could look like a breakdown in your team. It could like not delivering for a customer on a key commitment. It could look like the challenge of keeping everyone focused and motivated under very challenging conditions. It could look like any of the above becoming public and snowballing into epic proportions before you even recognize that it has. The possibilities are endless, really, and because they are you’re guaranteed to have s**t hits the fan moments.

Like so many things in life, the key is how you respond when the fan is hit. While your mileage and circumstances may vary, here are three tried and true steps on what to do when the s**t hits the fan.

Mindful Mondays Video: The Break You Carry With You October 7 2013 no responses

If you’re like most of the leaders I work with, your calendar is racked and stacked, your inbox is full and your smartphone is always buzzing. It’s pretty hard to show up mindfully when all of that is going on. You need to take a break, but how do you find the time?

The good news is that a short break can make a big difference and you carry all the tools you need to take one around with you all day long. It’s your breath, but it only helps if you breathe the right way. Yeah, I know; you’ve been breathing all your life and have, obviously, done it somewhat successfully. But if you’re going to get the mindful benefits of breathing, you probably have to do it a little differently than you’ve been doing it.

In this week’s Mindful Monday post, I share a short video that teaches you how to breathe to activate your parasympathetic nervous system in a way that will help you be a more mindful leader.

What do you do to create short breaks that help you be a more mindful leader?