Getting the Tension Right

Leveraging the Power of Opposition…

Tensions: Maintain high standards…cut them some slack. Focus on the task at hand…don’t lose sight of the big picture. Be yourself…continually improve yourself. Be consistent…know when to make exceptions.

The Power of Tension

The human thumb is an amazing appendage shared by only a short list of other animals. Its power comes by working in opposition to our other fingers. Imagine how limited we would be if our thumbs just lined up parallel to our other fingers. The tension created by our thumb opposing the other digits creates extraordinary new capabilities.

Good leadership also requires us to harness the tensions produced by opposing ideas. Continue reading Getting the Tension Right

MEETINGS: Tools of a Leader’s Trade

Stop Resisting – Learn to Use Them Well

I grew up around the construction trades. Before I was even a teenager I owned my own power tools: A drill, jig saw, and circular saw. I still have the jig saw. But the circular saw had a problem. It was misaligned and it was hard to cut straight with it. I learned then that bad tools get bad results.Meeting

Good tools, on the other hand, make getting good results easier – assuming you know how to use them well.

Since a leader’s job is to influence, most of a leader’s tools involve communication. For many leaders, meetings are a powerful tool in their shop that they haven’t learned to use well. Continue reading MEETINGS: Tools of a Leader’s Trade

Leadership Style or Culture

We’re going to mix things up a little. Instead of my typical one-page blog article, I have a video blog for you. One of enLumen Leadership‘s clients, Action Property Management, publishes a video blog directed primarily at the leaders of the homeowner associations they serve. I recently had the privilege of being interviewed for one episode of this blog.

Join us as we explore topics like leadership styles, characteristics of a healthy culture and how to create one, why a culture where no one gets offended isn’t necessarily healthy, and the relationship between leading and managing.

Leadership Style or Culture Interview
Leadership: Organizational Culture and Values – The Uncommon Area, Episode 22


The 3 C’s of Good Strategy

Clarity, Commitment, Collaboration

good strategyDo you ever secretly wonder why you really need a strategy? The business gurus all say you should have one.  But come on, you know what you want to accomplish, just jump in and get it done! Why go through the effort to gather the team, hash through it all, get something written down, then keep revisiting it in meeting after meeting all year?

You may get a measure of success by just throwing the team in the lake and saying, “swim that way!”.  They’re likely to move in the general direction you pointed. But it takes more if you want the level of success that comes from everyone rowing together at the same time toward the same objectives.

Here are three C’s that you’ll get from a well-crafted and well-executed strategic process… Continue reading The 3 C’s of Good Strategy

Leading When You’re Not the Expert

Let Your Organizational Culture Help

Technology changed a lot over my thirty-three year technology career. I started as a programmer who knew how every piece of hardware and software in our environment worked. At the end I was a VP who was tailed by IT staff when I entered the server room to make sure I didn’t touch anything (only partly kidding).
Culture of trust: Audit

I couldn’t execute my strategic responsibilities and still keep up with the operational details of the evolving technology. I had to learn to trust others with the expertise that I lacked. But my neck was in the noose if they failed. Continue reading Leading When You’re Not the Expert

Difficult Performance Reviews

Harder Than They Need to Be

Performance Reviews

I’m not going to pretend tough performance reviews should be easy. And if you’re stressing over a review you must give tomorrow, most of what I’m writing here won’t help you much. But laying the right foundation can take some of the pain out of future difficult conversations. Continue reading Difficult Performance Reviews

Promotion Grumbles

Why Did They Get What I Deserve?

You’ve just promoted a rising star.  Now you’re wondering how long before someone else comes knocking at your door with, “I’ve been here longer – why haven’t I had a promotion yet?”

Like most leadership problems, the best solutions come before the problems arise.  That’s because these situations are just symptoms of more systemic problems related to organizational culture and hiring practices (which are inextricably linked). Continue reading Promotion Grumbles

The Challenge of Changing Culture (Pt. 2)

Why does Culture Matter?

In Part 1, I described the three levels of culture as defined by Dr. Edgar Schein.  Now let’s look at why culture is important and some tips on how you can change it.Changing Culture

A strong, healthy culture can put even a mediocre strategy on steroids.  But it can prevent even the greatest strategy from gaining any traction.  We ignore culture to our own peril or we can leverage it for great benefit. Continue reading The Challenge of Changing Culture (Pt. 2)

The Challenge of Changing Culture (Pt. 1)

I once had responsibility for a large technology project that never delivered on its objectives. We had a team of highly skilled people with a great track record of successful projects.  They used processes that had succeeded repeatedly in the past.  But we never got the traction to make this project take off.

Culture ChangeThe reason, I believe, lies in an unintentional shift that had occurred in the organization’s culture.  That change sucked the energy, passion, and motivation from this highly competent team. They had always been passionate to succeed but now they were just trying to get a job done. Continue reading The Challenge of Changing Culture (Pt. 1)

What Cultural Fit Isn’t…

Cookie-Cutter Yes-Men Need Not Apply

Cookie cutterStewarding an organization’s culture is a core responsibility of every leader. Weak culture can bury the strongest strategy and vision. But a strong culture will put even a mediocre strategy on steroids.

Culture-fit can get distorted into an unhealthy form. Unhealthy culture-fit looks something like this: Continue reading What Cultural Fit Isn’t…