What to do about bad leaders

Four questions to ask to ensure your leaders know what they are doing

What to do about bad leadersThe world is full of bad leaders. Luckily for the rest of us, they are pretty easy to spot and tend to have limited impact because they generally do not have much influence or staying power. The real concern should be with leaders who are not bad – they just aren't very good. These are…

Ten strategies to improve your odds of a better hire

If you take your time, and trust your gut, you are more likely to find the best candidate

Ten strategies to improve your odds of a better hireHiring is rarely something managers look forward to. It often feels like an arduous process that ends in a crapshoot. But there are strategies that improve your odds of hiring well. Don’t stay inside the box. In my experience, employers do not cast a wide enough net when they recruit talent. Human resources professionals and…

Assertive women perceived negatively in business

To groom women for top positions, offer them the coaching, mentoring, and career opportunities that develop leadership potential

Assertive women perceived negatively in businessAs a speaker at business conferences, I've addressed organizations around the world, and I've seen the genuine commitment that many companies have made to develop the leadership abilities of female employees and to create workplace environments with family-friendly policies and flexible work arrangements – all in hopes of attracting, retaining and grooming women for top…

How to use the ‘Rule of 3’ to make better hiring decisions

Striving for three final candidates allows hiring committees to keep an open mind, test for fit and plan for imperfection

How to use the ‘Rule of 3’ to make better hiring decisionsIn The Secrets of Great CEO Selection, Ram Charan advises hiring committees to keep an open mind, test for fit and plan for imperfection. One of the organizations I'm involved with just concluded a chief executive officer selection process so this topic is fresh in my mind. I learned how important it is to enter the…

Why companies can’t be honest with their employees

Doublespeak protects a company's image

Why companies can’t be honest with their employeesYou're summoned to your boss's office and told that you've been "selected out." Strange words. What do they mean? "Selected" sounds positive. But "out"? That's clearly a negative and confusing word. Together, both words are perplexing. An optimist may interpret it as sort of a promotion. A skeptic is worried. The term "selected out" is…

Painful lessons in effective leadership

The mad and the bad have no place in any organization

Painful lessons in effective leadershipI had just joined a factory in England’s industrial heartland and my new Managing Director – let’s call him Neil – was five foot two, 240 pounds of explosive malevolence. He was an ex-purchasing director whose winning formula was to squeeze his miserable suppliers into penury, and he was honing his approach with his new…

Changing behaviour starts with a look in the mirror

Radical change, or change to please someone else, rarely sticks

Changing behaviour starts with a look in the mirrorJerry started smoking when he was in Grade 5. Over the course of his life he has tried many times – once when his uncle died from lung cancer – to give it up. Then, one morning, at the age of 37, Jerry woke up feeling like an old man. He stubbed out his cigarette,…

Perfectionism is a form of theft

Attempting to make everything perfect steals time from your clients, your employer, your family and yourself

Perfectionism is a form of theftFor her entire career, Phoebe has really struggled with how to manage her time. She has a great attitude and the quality of her work is first-rate, but it seems to take her twice as long as anyone else to bring a project to completion. Recently she moved into a new role, replacing someone who…

Emerging from the swamp of dysfunctional business relationships

Anyone who tells you that they have a magic bullet, silver or otherwise, for complex and systemic problems belongs in a travelling fair

Emerging from the swamp of dysfunctional business relationshipsAs I looked round the room at my executive team, the acid in my stomach got worse. Dave, our Operations VP, was convinced that Erica from Finance was out to get him: ‘you watch what happens at the end of the quarter, she squirrels the provisions away and makes me look bad, she wants to…

The world needs fewer leaders and more good managers

Management is responsible for turning a leader's vision into reality

The world needs fewer leaders and more good managersBusiness and management guru Henry Mintzberg argued a few years ago that businesses are asking for trouble because of their penchant for separating "leaders" from "managers" and placing leadership in a superior role over management. We are suffering, in other words, not from a lack of leadership but from the absence of good management. Mintzberg…

Tips for terminating employees with dignity

Most managers handle the uncomfortable task of terminating employees badly

Tips for terminating employees with dignityMost managers, regardless of level, handle the uncomfortable task of terminating employees badly. The biggest mistake managers make is terminating them in a harsh, unkind and insensitive way. The manner in which employees are fired often fuels lawsuits. Right or wrong, if employees feel that they are being unfairly treated, they perceive it as grounds…

Being a good leader means being a good listener

When you aren’t listening you’re missing an awful lot

Being a good leader means being a good listenerLast week, my friend was lamenting that she was away for her 16-year-old son’s first day of school and wouldn’t be there to pick him up. Obviously, her son doesn’t need his mom there. But driving him home lets her listen to him vent. It gives her insight into what he’s thinking, how he’s doing…

Older workers’ toughest goal: Selling themselves

Picture yourself walking out a revolving door then walking back in with a new attitude and a new take on life

Older workers’ toughest goal: Selling themselvesOlder workers must first understand the realities of the career world as it exists today before they are ready to pitch themselves to employers. Your goal is to convince employers you're not a vestige of a bygone work era but a high-energy chameleon who quickly adapts to any environment. Picture yourself walking out a revolving door then…

Who you calling old?

All the myths about being washed up at age 60 are hogwash

Who you calling old?Planning for life past 65 is more important now than ever before. What with longer life spans, people are not only working longer, they're also changing the way they live. We're in a longevity revolution of a kind that's never been seen before. A hundred years ago, the average life expectancy was 47; today it's…

Face to face still most powerful communication medium

For your communication to have any emotional charge, face to face is the best choice

Face to face still most powerful communication mediumAs we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic Zoom burnout, one universal truth is becoming even clearer: Face-to-face is still the most preferred, productive and powerful communication medium. In fact, the more business professionals communicate electronically, the more pressing becomes the need for more personal interaction. Here's why ... In face-to-face meetings, our brains process the…

Emotions integral to all that happens in an organization

We need to view challenges and solutions in ways that validate our emotions and influence the way we feel about our jobs, and ourselves

Emotions integral to all that happens in an organizationPreparing for a speech to the leadership of an organization facing major restructuring pre-pandemic, I asked the meeting planner for background on the audience. "We've presented all the facts," she replied. "But it would be much easier if everyone weren't so emotional!" In the business world, it seems, people are supposed to think logically and act…

We can’t fire him, so how do we inspire him?

We have an employee who is always convinced he’s right. It’s so fundamental to his personality that he refuses to take direction

We can’t fire him, so how do we inspire him?Faith Wood knows how to resolve conflict. Her years in front-line law enforcement taught her how to effectively de-escalate any situation to a successful conclusion. Faith will use her knowledge of conflict management to guide you through the often stressful experiences you may encounter in your personal or professional life. Her Conflict Coach column appears…

How to balance reassurance while managing performance

Given everything we’ve been coping with, it’s not surprising that job performance has suffered at times

How to balance reassurance while managing performanceIt has been challenging for many of us to deliver consistent, stellar performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given everything we’ve been coping with, it’s not surprising that job performance has suffered at times. Even though there are good reasons for it, it doesn’t make us feel any better about ourselves. Failing to live up to…

How to influence people – and avoid headaches

Bashing noggins isn't the best way to deliver a message. Become a better business operator by understanding why your staff behave the way they do

How to influence people – and avoid headachesShe was almost frantic as she beat my head with a textbook and repeated over and over, “Would you ever stop talking, Dave Fuller?!” Those were the days when teachers could do such things and Grade 11 students would generally accept them and the semi-concussions that went along with the beatings. My classmates laughed at my…

Remember, all knowledge has a best before date

There is nothing more immobilizing than hanging on to knowledge whose time has expired

Remember, all knowledge has a best before dateI believe in ghosts. Not only do I believe in ghosts, I've seen how they haunt workers, teams, departments and entire organizations. And nowhere are these workplace ghosts more insidious than in the area of collaboration. What I'm calling "ghosts" are out-dated attitudes and behaviours about collaborative knowledge sharing that still haunt corporate halls and…

A change agent’s guide to the brain

The way to focus people on the organization's optimal future is to get them to pay attention to their own insights

A change agent’s guide to the brainDon't you just hate dealing with people who fight against every plan for organizational change? You know the type: They're disruptive, set in their ways, and highly resistant to change, even when it is obviously in the best interest of the business. Well guess what? Research suggests that those trouble-making, inflexible, change resistors are ...…

5 sure-fire ways to destroy organizational excellence

Building and sustaining organizational excellence requires exceptional people dedicated to the task

5 sure-fire ways to destroy organizational excellenceA blog from a couple of years back by marketing guru and all-round provocative thinker Seth Godin entitled The fruitless search for extraordinary people willing to take ordinary jobs took me back to a boardroom conversation about executive pay. Every company has a ‘compensation philosophy’ that it uses to guide how it sets the pay…

How body language can kill your career

People believe what they see, not what they hear

How body language can kill your careerOf course I'm not talking about you. You may be a respected professional whose expertise speaks for itself. Your body language is a minor consideration. Or is it? Here's an email I recently received from an engineer: 'The Project Manager introduced a new consultant. The new guy smiled and shook hands with everybody, but it…

Why mission matters now more than ever

Encouraging everyone to look at what they’re doing through a mission lens can help your entire organization

Why mission matters now more than everI often find inspiration for my column from something I’ve read or heard. This month’s column was inspired by a podcast with Tobi Lütke, co-founder and CEO of Shopify. Shopify has been on a tear lately, overtaking even RBC to become Canada’s most valuable company. As a very small shareholder, I couldn’t be happier for…

5 ways to stay sane if your boss is a micromanager

The worst thing an organisation can do is to reward pathological behaviour

5 ways to stay sane if your boss is a micromanagerOne of my bosses, Janet, was clever, hardworking and had an amazing eye for detail. She had high standards: if you e-mailed with a question at 10 p.m., she replied by 10.05. She worked hard, delivered on time, hated mistakes and expected the same from her team. She was driving us mad. We had been…

How to say ‘yes’ to pro bono work and feel good about it

Calling it ’knowledge philanthropy’ rather than ‘pro bono’ makes me feel like I am giving, rather than giving something away

How to say ‘yes’ to pro bono work and feel good about itAs an entrepreneur I get a lot of requests to give away expertise ‘for a good cause’. Many times I have to say no. However, I have started to intentionally incorporated knowledge philanthropy into my lifestyle portfolio (not my business portfolio). Here are some of the lessons I learned around how I say ‘YES!’ to…

A-to-Z strategies for building collaboration

It takes ongoing teamwork to produce innovative, cost effective and targeted products and services

A-to-Z strategies for building collaborationMost leaders agree that effective collaboration is more important than ever. In a "do-more-with-less" reality, it takes ongoing teamwork to produce innovative, cost effective and targeted products and services. In fact, a company's very survival may depend on how well it can combine the potential of its people and the quality of the information they…

Success strategies for working through chronic stress

How do you deal with stress?

Success strategies for working through chronic stress"Every day is a new day." At no time in recent memory has this phrase been more poignant. The situation has gone from one of sudden, unexpected crisis to that of chronic, daily stress. It is emotionally and psychologically exhausting. In the workplace, the pressure to make good decisions and produce good results has never…

Tips to becoming a strategic thinker

The good news is strategic thinking can be nurtured

Tips to becoming a strategic thinkerI once started working with a leader who suddenly found herself on the executive team. A corporate restructuring resulted in skipping a level and now she is sitting around the table asking, ‘am I strategic enough to do this job?’ Her question is not unique. Twenty years of developing leaders has taught me there are…

The seven deadly sins of hiring

Avoid these seven deadly sins and you’ll be sure to improve the quality of your hires while at the same time providing a return on your investment

The seven deadly sins of hiringWe’ve all been there: you have to fill a position, and it needed to be done yesterday. Any warm body will do, right? Wrong. Poor hiring decisions mean decreased profits, lost sales, productivity and costumers, increased costs and a decrease in employee morale – costly mistakes for any employer. The average cost of a bad…
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