Loving What Is

While this post isn’t exclusively about leadership, it does have leadership implications. Everyday life offers many relevant lessons. The natural world, in particular, provides a wealth of learning opportunities.

I don’t know how many of you are gardeners but I have a love-hate relationship with gardening. Being out in the warm weather is delightful. Watching green shoots pop up in early spring offers a thrill of anticipation…. and then there’s the inevitable disappointment.

Breathing Life Into Good Ideas

Here’s a quiz: Without thinking too hard, how would you finish this sentence?

“Creativity is…”

Until recently my first response has been, “creativity is frivolous.” I’ve long struggled with the mental model that creativity is a pastime you pursue only after finishing your real work.

That view has changed dramatically and I’d like to tell you why. 

Is Your Voice Giving You Away?

35 years ago, an acquaintance of mine—who was an English teacher—uttered this memorable statement during a dinner in Toronto: “When you open your mouth, your mind is on parade.” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation because I was immediately rendered so self-conscious that I felt like clamping my hand over my mouth. This feeling persisted for weeks after our dinner.

Defusing Hostile Interactions

“I’m the front desk person for a child protection agency. Clients come to our office after their children have been taken from them. They are angry, confused, embarrassed, and want their kids back. They don’t see themselves as responsible for what happened. In their view, our agency did this to them. 

“These clients often yell and swear at me. I still need to be professional and polite. I’ve been in my job for just a couple of months and already the stress is getting to me. What can I do to defuse these hostile interactions?

Making Progress on Wicked Problems

This week, we’re revisiting Naomi, a public sector leader facing a truly wicked problem. 

She’s just lost half her team as the result of a big reduction in force in her agency.  She’s working long hours, as are the remaining members of her team. She knows none of them can continue this pace but she hasn’t figured out a way forward. She’s afraid her standards of quality and timeliness are going to slip.

How to Get What Really Matters to You

“I am so frustrated,” Shawna declared.

“What’s going on?” Roger asked.

“Three years ago I did some training for a company in Maryland. It was a one-time event that went very well. Eight months ago, they contacted me again and asked if I could do a similar event. I agreed and we scheduled it. The day of the training, I showed up at their site and nothing was set up. The room was a mess and no one knew anything about the training.

Creating a Culture of Integrity One Relationship at a Time

Have you been following the Volkswagen emissions scandal (also dubbed “Dieselgate”)? If so, you know that VW has gotten caught intentionally programming many of their diesel engines to meet emissions tests only during lab testing. Emissions during driving were up to 40 times higher. 

VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned from his position and is also stepping down as head of the Porsche holding company that owns a majority of VW stock.