Leadership Excellence

The pressure is brutal. To know, to have answers, to offer fresh ideas.

Chances are, you have been hired for your job because you will offer insight and solutions. I love the moment when I know. When I have no doubt, when the next right action is crystal-clear. The moment when I don’t know, however, tends to yield the richer crop.

Because I want you to think I’m smart and knowledgeable, it is tempting to tell you I know even when I clearly don’t.

The pressure is tremendous.

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Zen

Cool when science catches up with what we already know.

My thought as I peruse an article by Sue Shellenbarger, my favorite Wall Street Journal columnist (It’s Not Copying, It’s Connecting, We’re Networking. WSJ 9/21/2016). Shellenbarger quotes one of my favorite neuroscientists, Uri Hasson of Princeton. Using MRIs to study how brains react to the signals exchanged between a speaker and listener, Hasson describes the process of neural coupling that occurs in such moments. Think of neural coupling as a powerful Bluetooth connection. Instant brain synching. And nonverbal cues measurably enhance the rate and quality of this coupling.

Wanna connect better, faster, more deeply? Get in sync.

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LQ

I spent an electrifying day at the Future of Leadership Salon in Duesseldorf last week. 60 visionary corporate leaders and change agents, eager to create more human workplaces. 6 invited thought-leaders. I was one of the 6. We co-generated some sweet conversation.

Think future, and it’s tempting to fixate on AI and robots and a digitalized world. I spoke of love. Yes, love.

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World Cup 2018 Iceland
Rest in Peace

Yes, me too. The news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide stopped me cold in my tracks. And it keeps reverberating.

Bourdain’s means of departure has deeply personal echoes for me. Thomas, my younger brother, also left this world by hanging himself. And I keep thinking of the impact Bourdain had on so many of us, via his writing and his tv series. Bourdain seemed to live the life many of us aspire to but don’t have the courage to “go for.” He seemed just a little bolder, a little more honest, a little more adventurous, a little more in the moment than the rest of us. He seemed to happily navigate on the edge.

We’ll never know what demons drove him to depart last week.

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close intention

I gave my friend Jane a document to review the other day. And I requested some very specific feedback.

I will read it with INTENTION and ATTENTION, Jane declared.

Jane was in the midst of a hectic day. Conference calls, juggling three projects, preparing for a road trip.

Intention and attention. The writer in me is tickled by the alliteration. The words alone bring me joy. More significantly, Jane’s answer offered instant comfort. Jane was going to take this document review seriously.

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claim attention

Attention, says Chris Hayes, the moderator of MSNBC’s “All In” program, is the scarcest commodity of the 21st century.

True. In her book “Reclaiming Conversation,” Sherry Turkle writes eloquently about the differences between deep attention and hyper-attention. Hyper-attention is a fractured attention in which we rapidly zip from one point of focus to the next. You and I know. Googling. Tweeting. Facebooking. Instagramming. Activities like skimming and scanning are often associated with fractured attention. Popular claims notwithstanding, hyper-attention does not equal sustained retention.

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authentic leadership

Two separate conversations, same week.

Each chat is with a CEO who talks to me about a person that reports to him. I have been working with each of these reports.

As we talk, it is evident that each CEO desires the exact same thing for his charge.

I want him to be more authentic.

Authentic is a problematic word. Like many buzz words, we have over-used it until we’ve sucked the oxygen out of it. Let me translate. This is what, I believe, both CEOs were saying. I want him to be less polite, less cautious, play it less safe. I want to hear what he really thinks.

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Pep Talk

Pep talks annoy the heck out of me.

As I skim an article on pep talks (ugggh) I realize that the phrase pep talk doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. Sports coaches give pep talks. Motivational speakers give pep talks. Some religious leaders give pep talks. That means you fire people up, right?

Those fire-them-up leaders quickly morph into a caricature of themselves. Canned pep. Fake hope.

Then I get to thinking.

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