Category Archives: Thoughts on Leadership

Insights on how leaders can improve.

Who Won the CEO Sweepstakes — Yahoo or Google? Why Losing Superstars Makes You Stronger

Marissa Mayer

Yesterday Yahoo announced the appointment of Google’s Marissa Mayer to the post of CEO. She will be Yahoo’s fifth CEO in the last 12 months. Most folks are saying that Yahoo may have finally got it right this time. Here is a question most people aren’t asking: “Why did Marissa Mayer leave Google?”

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Employee Feedback is Like Air: Leaders Can’t Do Without It

At varying points in time, all leaders are required to inspire, motivate, and challenge employees, colleagues, customers and stakeholders. At other times, leaders need to monitor performance, hold people accountable for results, and negotiate areas of conflict.

In all of these situations, leaders rely on feedback from other people to gauge their effectiveness. In particular, leaders need employee feedback. Without it they have little hope of inspiring or motivating.

Imagine, for example, you are speaking to a room of 200 people on a topic they should all be highly engaged in. Continue reading

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Power Cannot Be Taken. It Must Be Given.

It’s fascinating how many assumptions there are about leadership.

Even more fascinating is how many of them are flat-out wrong.Silhouette

Consider the image of the leader as dictatorial hero—the executive, general, or visionary who grabs the wheel and saves the day. The central assumption in this narrative is that a strong leader takes over a group and willfully exerts power over its members.

That idea of leadership is pure fiction. The only way for a leader to hold power over group members is for those members to give her power.

Sure, you can point to dictators who rocket to power and terrorize a citizenry into toeing the party line. But without exception, there comes a point when enough people are fed up and they change the power dynamic and choose a new leader. Continue reading

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Sometimes Just Showing Up is Enough

Ten years ago today I woke up at 6:15 a.m. and did something I never do in the morning.  For some unknown reason, I turned on the television.  Needless to say, what I saw was far more horrible than a typical morning of T.V. news.  Like most folks, I spent the next hour or so watching our world change forever in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.  After the planes seemed to stop crashing into buildings, I called a few clients to remind them that they needed to be at work to support their people.  And they needed to come to work the next day, and the next.  Continue reading

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Strengths are overrated

The Tour de France has just finished, and bicycle enthusiasts all across the US are pumped up.  Since the race started on July 2nd we have been doing early morning rides everyday with visions of the yellow jersey motivating us up hills (the Tour coverage starts at 5am PDT most days).

For the uninitiated, bicycle races are structured around three specialist skills:  climbing, sprinting, and overall speed.  Each category has a winner based on who climbs over the most number of peaks first (climbing specialty), who crosses the finish line first the most (sprinters) and who has the lowest overall time after three weeks of hell on two wheels (overall).  The structure of the race means that each rider focuses on one strength to the exclusion of the others (a single rider almost can’t win more than one of the competitions).  So, for bicyclists it is essential to know what your strength is:  can you climb faster than most, sprint faster, or are you just able to endure more pain than anyone else? For a bicyclist, knowing your strengths is essential to winning.

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