I was playing chess with my son, Nathan and he had me cornered, it looked like I had no options. I stayed with the problem, I zoomed out my perspective and considered every angle, and then I saw it, an opportunity to not only get unstuck but to change the game.
An option is the power or liberty to choose. Often, we don’t see our choices because of our framing or conditioning. Certainly, circumstances can restrict our liberty to choose, and yet we always have a choice.
Viktor Frankl, the author of the book, Man's Search for Meaning, a Jewish prisoner of the Nazi death camps destined for the gas chamber, realized…
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
This power to choose one’s own intentions and actions are at the core of self-leadership. It is summed up in the poem Invictus that inspired another...
Americans celebrate their freedom on July 4th, whereas Indians celebrate their freedom from British Rule with an August 15th independence day. A quick web search of National Independence Day reveals a long list of countries that celebrate their freedom from some form of prior government or oppression.
The dictionary defines freedom as, The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved, but it is also:
The power or right to act, speak or think as one wants.
Reflect, for a moment, on your own freedom to act, speak or think as you want.
You were not free to choose the time and place of your birth. You were not free to choose your parents, their economic status, religious leanings, political affiliation, or educational background. You had little or no freedom in where you went go to school and the ideology of your teachers.
We all imagine we have free will, but so many of our choices and decisions are influenced by things we have no freedom over and are unaware...
Would you take free advice from a man worth more than $86 billion?
If that advice would increase your worth by at least 50 percent, would you act on it?
Do I have your attention?
Legendary investor and billionaire, Warren Buffet freely gives advice to improve your communication skills. He says,
“If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark — nothing happens”.
Billionaire entrepreneur, Richard Branson agrees.
“Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you also have to be a storyteller”
Buffet and Branson clearly understand that even if you have the best ideas and, or the best product, to be successful, you must confidently communicate in ways that engage your audience.
Consider the success of Steve Job’s Apple product launches. Books have been written about Job’s presentation style, and many CEOs have emulated his stagecraft.
The good news is that communication,...
At the time of writing this, the US Election has been called by the Media, for former Vice President, Joe Biden, with Senator, Kamala Harris as his Vice President. Regardless of your personal preference for the outcome, this is a historical moment.
Right now, Biden and Harris are making speeches about unity and healing and putting together a transition team. It won’t be easy. Rhetoric alone will not get the COVID-19 Pandemic under control or get buy-in from the 70-million Americans who didn’t vote for them.
What strategies can the new President use, and what can we learn that we can apply to our own leadership challenges?
I was born in 1961, the year President Kennedy (JFK) took office as the 35th President of the United States of America. Kennedy, a Democrat, took over from Eisenhower, a Republican, and inherited the containment doctrine of the 1940s and 1950s. This doctrine founded on the belief that Communism was a threat to the United States seemed archaic to...
Leading change with and through stories is a key leadership competency and so should be a key focus of any leader's development.
Stories create a space for the listener to 'step back' from a current perspective and consider an alternative view. This new awareness creates the flexibility required for a change in attitude and behavior.
On December 24th, 1968, fueled by fears of Russian space supremacy, and guided by President Kennedy’s vision, Apollo 8 comes around the moon for the first time.
The astronauts are greeted with the most amazing spectacle – Earth Rise.
From the Dawn of Time, man has spoken and sung of our god’s looking down on the earth from above, and now for the first time, we humans get a god’s eye view of our blue-green planet spinning against the vast backdrop of space.
Vicariously, through the eyes and cameras of those brave astronauts, we had escaped the cultural frames of race, religion, nationality,...
Choosing an Executive Coach for yourself can be a little confusing, to say the least. Your Executive Coach is going to be your confidant and you will need to open up to get the best from the relationship. So whether you are spending your own money or your organization is providing you with a coach, it’s helpful to have more than just a ‘gut-feel’ to go on.
Most coaches will give you a no-obligation, 30 to 60-minute ‘chemistry’ meeting to assess if there is a fit for both parties. That’s right, an experienced coach may spot you are not committed to the process, or the organization has misaligned expectations and so excuse themselves from the assignment.
I recommend that you meet with at least two coaches but no more than four. Meetings can be face-to-face, by video conference, or by phone. Try and ask each coach the same questions, and take note of the questions they ask you. A good coach is going to get you to step back and think. You will find...
Teenage girls love their popstars. Young men love their action heroes, and adults can project a type of love on their leaders.
For example, Donald Trump appeals to a certain audience. I remember a particular TV interview of a woman wearing an oversized MAGA hat, saying, “He loves God, he loves the constitution, he cares about us and he will fight for us.”
She was clearly in love, the kind of love where one positively projects perceived qualities upon another person.
Psychologist, Carl Jung maintained that all impassioned, almost-magical relationships between people involve projection. The other person becomes the object of great love or loathing, and sometimes both.
We usually do not see our own projections, because they stem from the unconscious, and because they get cast onto someone with a suitable hook. Positive projections are accompanied by the emotions found in the feelings of awe, adoration, and reverence. We do not realize that...
Leadership matters, especially in times of uncertainty. Leadership matters because people like certainty. Lack of certainty leads to stress, and stress results in poor decisions. Poor decisions can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Corporate leadership is typically measured by quarterly results, market share, and shareholder value. It can also be measured by employee engagement, social impact, and sustainability. Likewise, Political leadership can also be measured by stock market value, amount of fundraising, and the number of reelection votes; or the health, happiness, and economic future of the nation.
For over 20-years, I have been coaching corporate leaders and observing political leadership, and the key metric I have found to matter is – responsibility. Responsibility or response-ability is the ability to take ownership of a situation and respond in ways that provide an improved outcome and level of certainty for the people affected.
Nigel is sitting in his manager’s office for his annual performance review. It had been a tough year, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic had decimated his plans for Q1 and Q2, but Nigel had put in a superhuman effort and hit targets in Q3. Nigel was expecting nothing but praise for his efforts, so imagine his surprise when he heard the following,
“You have met your Q3 quota, Nigel, but I have some concerns about how you got there”.
All Nigel heard was, “But we have some concerns.”
The word, ‘but’ has the effect of negating everything that proceeds it.
Imagine you and I met, and I said, “I really like you but…”
You would be on the defensive for criticism, even though I prefaced with, “I really like you.”
‘But’; is judgmental and is generally perceived as negative. For example, “I want to do this, but I can’t.”
‘But’ often creates the frame of limited choice. For...
I will always remember an inspiring speech by Darrell, a CEO that I was coaching. The occasion was a ‘town hall’ for employees just after it was announced that he would be moving on to new pastures.
“Make mistakes”, he said.
“Just don’t let your mistakes be bigger than mine”
It is not often we hear a leader encourage his team to make mistakes, but Darrell knew that making mistakes was part of the business and that you should limit the size of your mistakes. Darrell’s leadership had created a culture of creativity and customer service, and many people openly wept on his last day.
A critical test for any leader is how they effectively manage employee mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable but your response to them will determine whether you enhance productivity and employee engagement or destroy moral.
A simple maxim for mistakes would be –
“Be tough on standards, be tender on people.”
Before I discuss how to implement this...