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Leading in a Paradox

Bcgrd Paradox WEBConsistency is a good thing. “Leadership paradoxes” prevent consistency. This is according to a white paper by I/O At Work . This white paper entitled “Leadership Research Trends & Insights” is chock full of interesting ideas and the latest research on leadership. In fact, some of it might make your head spin. I didn’t think that “paradoxes” is a word, but indeed it is. I visited a website about paradoxes by Encyclopedia Britannica and it just gave me a headache. Trying to lead during a paradox situation at work will no doubt give you a headache as well.

The white paper offers that leaders who can engage in big picture thinking seem to fare better during paradoxical times. This has to do with the ability to see different perspectives. In other words, the paper goes on, clinging to one philosophy or perspective if you will, just for the sake of chasing consistency never works.

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Be a Visionary…Plan for Change…and the Holidays

Dinner CelebrationChristmas, Hanukah, MLK Day, and St. Patrick’s Day, and other celebrations come once a year, every year. Some of these may cost us time, money, and other resources that we invest in their celebration. We know they are coming, they are all on our calendars. So we always prepare for them. Right?

Business growth comes in the form of higher revenues, more customers, through mergers and acquisitions, or maybe franchising. Regardless of the growth methodology, the fact is that businesses must grow or die. Growth brings change. So, we expect change and are always prepared for it. Right?

An executive client knows his organization is engaged in aggressive growth. However, when I asked how his department might change with the next two acquisitions, all he could replay was, “That’s a good question.” Well, yes, indeed it is. The fact that the thought had apparently not entered his mind was a surprise; and it’s especially surprising given the fact that he wants to be president of the company upon the current president’s retirement. So much for planning. So how can this executive better prepare his department for growth and change?

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Are We Throwing Performance Reviews Out with the Bathwater?

Review WEBThey are dreaded, awkward, often biased, and described as a necessary evil. Indeed, many companies, such as Adobe, Deloitte, and GAP have stopped giving performance reviews. Is it working? According to a new study by CEB (now Gartner) maybe not. The study posits that performance went down in companies not using performance reviews. Brian Kropp with CEB suggests that there are not too many managers who can provide good reviews without some type of rating system. With apologies to cognitive psychologists out there, perhaps this is a cognitive function. In other words, from the managers point of view, how are we to rate someone at any level without something to rate them by? Then from the employee’s point of view, how do I really know where I stand without a scale to measure myself against? Except for the Picasso’s in the world, the human mind probably doesn’t think as well in the abstract. A good question to ask is, “Have the ratings really disappeared?”

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“We need to…”

Ping PongImagine the sound of a ping pong ball falling on a hard surface. It bounces, bounces, bounces some more, and faster as it bounces away, and then bounces again, and then stops until someone picks it up and either bounces it again, or puts it in play. The phrase, “We need to…” is like that. You can insert whatever ending you like. It might be, “We need to get the roof repaired.” “We need to change that policy.” “We need to ensure we mesh our cultures.” Now imagine a CEO making such a statement to the executive team. “We need to make sure that before this merger, our two companies understand each other’s culture,” for example. What happens next? Bounce, bounce, bounce.

Well that’s the question, isn’t it? When anyone makes such a statement what is the expectation? Is the one asking the question going to do it? Is the listener supposed to do the action? You know you’ve made such a statemen; and I’m sure you’ve heard it from someone.

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The Real Secret to Project Management

Proj MgtIn a recent blog entitled Has Your Strategic Plan Fallen Down the Rabbit Hole?, CEOs are encouraged to utilize project management (PM) to keep their strategic plan on track. Peter Marci, the Director of the project management discipline for a leading Interactive Agency, asks his favorite interview question, which is, “What do you feel is the secret to project management?” Typically he receives the answer, “communication.” This is, of course, not an incorrect answer. However, Mr. Marci feels that a different response would provide greater insight into the candidate. More about that answer later. As with everything, there is an art and a science to project management. Moreover, there is a lot of advice out there about how to best manage a project to keep it from falling in the proverbial rabbit hole. This advice includes:

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Are You Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth?

Gift Horse WEBFamed speaker and coach, Patricia Fripp, will often say, “When someone wants to give you their money, you take it!” There is also an old saying that goes, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” These phrases carry a similar message. The story of what brought the contemplation of these two phrases to mind follows.

Often when we entrepreneurs market, we will give products and services away for gifts at special events. Don’t we all just love these unexpected perks? It just so happens, that a colleague of mine, whom we’ll call Bill, spoke for an enterprise with around 15 employees. He provided one hour of complimentary coaching as one of these perks. Upon hearing him speak, several of the employees wanted to engage him in a coaching program. One of these was a person who had received a complimentary the one hour coaching perk. Bill faithfully delivered the one hour coaching and the employee told her boss, CEO of the enterprise, that it was the best hour she had ever spent.

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Organizational Change and Your Career

Winds of ChangeAs we climb the corporate ladder, we have much more at stake in our careers. Executives, in particular, play a high stakes game every day when it comes to career management. It is common knowledge that the more we earn, and the higher up we are on the ladder, the longer it takes to find a job when, for whatever reason, we are out of one.

Our ears often ring with “Always keep your resume up to date.” The winds of change can blow us and our careers in different directions. We can also hear that, “During change, no one’s job is safe.” This is a strong concern in the cases of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Therefore, keeping your resume up to day during M&As becomes imperative. Do we do it? Not a chance. Take heart, an M&A doesn’t always mean a job loss and there are ways to prepare better and even, in some cases, take control. Let’s look at some scenarios and options.

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The Courage to be Courageous

MermaidWEBAwash in Fear

When in my early thirties, I took swimming lessons. One day I decided I wanted to dive off the diving board. I would sit on the end of the board, thinking courage would show up, give me a nudge, and I would just gently fall into the pool. It didn’t happen. Building up more courage, I would walk to the end of the board, but again courage was off doing something courageous elsewhere. Several times, I built up even more courage and would take off running to the end of the board, stop right at the edge, and my courage ran the other way. Courage drowned in a pool of fear and that fear engulfed my brain, body, and heart. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I jumped – and obviously lived to tell about it. This scenario will not fit everyone’s idea of what courage is and isn’t, but it’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

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