Leadership Excellence

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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influence business options
mirroring behavior

Successful people know how to mirror. They mirror consciously. They mirror well.

The power of mirroring has been keenly on my mind in the aftermath of the Parkland shootings in Florida. I was touched by the extravagant range of human and activist responses, and I found myself remembering a response to the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, two years back, that had richly moved me. It is a sublime tale of mirroring. It took place on a JetBlue flight that carried the grandmother of Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, one of the club-goers that got killed in the shootings, to Orlando to attend Luis’ funeral.

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listening

I have always loved the notion of a Third Eye.

According to the symbology of the 7 chakras or energy centers, the Third Eye sits right in the center of our forehead. Smack above our eyebrows. It is the place in our body that links to our intuition. It’s also the pathway to any psychic powers we may possess. Very cool. 

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productivity

I arrived at Navision, a Danish technology firm that specialized in CRM (Customer Relations Management), the week after a Senior VP from Microsoft had shown up for a visit. The year was 2002. Navision had just been acquired by Microsoft. The work force at Navision was overwhelmingly enthusiastic about joining this US giant. There was much good will toward Microsoft. Until Mister SVP gave a speech.

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I miss it already. Corner Office. For many moons my favorite Sunday morning read.

On Sunday, October 27, the New York Times posted Adam Bryant’s final Corner Office column. 10 years. 525 interviews with CEOs, gleaming their wisdom and insight on what they know about leading a business, condensed into a half-page read. Hiring the right talent. Creating high-functioning teams.

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