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Archive for the ‘Leaders’ Category

Grownups at Work

In ! Kristy, Culture, Employee Tips, Leaders, Uncategorized on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 6:55 pm

It is my sincere belief that if we would talk to each other at work like grownups, plenty of problems would be solved. Here are just a few:

We’d spend a lot less time, money and angst on 360-degree feedback assessments. The assessment companies make a killing off of our inability to tell each other the truth about performance, reputation and whether or not we’re jerks.

We’d save even more time by streamlining performance management systems and processes. If you knew at any given time how you were measuring up to your manager’s expectations, a bunch of forms and a complex rating scale would be unnecessary.

Speaking of managers… They’d get a great deal of time back in their workday if people were talking to each other about their issues instead of playing the telephone game. That’s the game of telling on their colleague to their boss, who tells the other person’s boss, who tells the other person, vaguely, that “there’s been some feedback about you.” And that extra time could be spent growing and developing people! Cool!

The benefits are apparent, so why don’t we talk to each other candidly? Could be that we see it as the manager’s job… And the manager could be inadvertently reinforcing this notion per the previous paragraph. Could also be that we fear the other person’s potentially defensive reaction or their retaliation. Could be that we just don’t care enough about the success of the company, the team or the colleague to make the effort. Maybe we just plain don’t know how.

You can find some fabulous skill building on how to have a constructive conversation, so if that’s what you need, go for it. But at the end of the day it’s about taking a deep breath, finding a private moment, and saying what needs to be said in service of the success of all involved. Et voila, grownups at work!


CEOs Taking $1 Salaries: Matching the Behavior of Optimism to the Rhetoric of Optimism

In ! Jen, Leaders on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 4:05 am

Recall the Robert Browning poem that begins: “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.”

There is a growing number of CEOs who, by taking an annual base salary of $1, are sending the message: “Follow me, the best is yet to be.”

Choosing to take one’s compensation in annual and long-term incentives is an interesting conception, with great symbolic meaning. But no one would think for a second that the $1 CEO is being unselfish or taking a path of martyrdom. Rather, he shows he’s willing to have skin in the game; truly believing lasting results will be far superior to any short-term expedients satisfying annual goals alone.

No doubt the net-net for these CEOs will be far fatter coin when dollars are ultimately tallied years from now. And personally, I’d much rather follow the leader who puts her money and true faith where her mouth is.

Great quote from the HBR blog linked above: Executives who realize that leadership is not about being lavished with personal riches, receiving attention, or being served but rather by creating value, developing others, and serving the community are those who inspire the trust and confidence of their colleagues.

2010: Expand the pie

In ! Jen, General Work, Leaders, Manager Tips on Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 5:55 am

A friend gave me an unusual compliment in 2009–that I was one of few in her circle who did not see our collective success as being zero-sum. At first this struck me as a strange thing to say, as the archetypes of “success” that immediately come to mind are indeed zero-sum: gold/silver/brass medals, one CEO per company, a finite pool of dollars within a budget, a finite number of people in total headcount.

But within and between relationships, it’s a different story. At least, it should be. Specifically, I’m thinking of three relationship categories: bona fide friendships, life partnerships, and employee/manager.

Bona fide friendships and life partnerships should be a no-brainer but I don’t think they always are in this respect. We all have people with whom we hold back a bit, cautiously second-guessing their motivations, wondering how they will use a statement out of context. Or even, keep meticulous score.

Here’s a challenge for 2010: move these people into the “colleague” or “acquaintance” column. And for those with whom you’ve chosen to be with as a life partner, or with whom you’re friends with for the long haul, expand the pie. View their successes in 2010 as desirable as your own and provide coaching and counsel to help them. If you can’t do this, it may be worthwhile to honestly reexamine your own motivations. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

A dear girlfriend shared with me a story of consultants–differentiating, via story, between eggs & bacon. With eggs, the chicken is an involved party–but with bacon, the pig’s ultimately committed–it has skin in the game, so to speak. Be the pig.

And what of managers? Ah, here’s where I expect I may get some pushback. To the extent to which Employee X is reporting to Manager Z, I posit that Z should be engaging in this same type of relationship behavior. Z should be pushing, coaching, counseling X to achieve his best. Z should be seeing her success as contingent upon X’s. And vice versa. What does this look like? I could go on literally, forever, but here are 16 things managers can do to show that they see their success and their employees’ as shared–not zero sum:

1. Support your employee if/when they want to move on to another position. Managers who lack confidence often see their employees’ desire to wander to other pastures as disloyalty or a diss on themselves. Find out their reasons for wanting the other position and offer your support. And concurrently, seek ways to enrich their job with you.

2. Don’t stay away. This is the best thing I took away from a valuable two-day coaching workshop. One of the rules of attraction they talk about in social psych 101 is propinquity, or nearness and frequency of exposure. Managers can use this to their advantage. Stop by in the morning to say hi, asking about the weekend, or sharing a fun piece of information about a department win. This can create comfort in familiarity and an openness that will be reciprocated.

3. Take time to get to know your employee on a personal level. Get invested. Most importantly, care. This, I believe, is the huge differentiator between managers who “get it” and managers who don’t. This is one, however, that can’t be faked.

4-16. Coming in a future post. This one is getting too long. In the meantime, please comment and let us know how you show you’re wholeheartedly invested in your relationships.

What Matters Now Riff-Off: Reality

In ! Kristy, Change, Leaders on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 9:53 am


 …There’s no such thing as “steady state” anymore… change is the new black.

 … If you wait until things calm down to launch your project, charter a team, talk to people about their careers, or otherwise get work done, it’ll never happen.

 …Coming to terms personally with constant change, and then leading your team through constant change, is the most important thing you can do as a leader in the current reality.

 … It’s also the most difficult thing to do as a leader… it’s one of those management “perks” they forget to tell you about in the interview.

 … It can be done… with transparency, authenticity, humility/servant leadership, and a keen sense of:

  • Where you are in the change process and what you are doing to help yourself navigate successfully
  • How each individual team member is reacting to the change at any given moment, and how you need to flex your approach to help each of them succeed

 … It’s tempting to gloss over the difficulty of change and take the easy way out.

 … Signs you’re taking the easy way out include:

  •  “I sent a very thorough email about the change… what’s the problem?”
  • (or worse), “Corporate Communications sent a very thorough email about the change… what’s the problem?”
  • “Our external consultant is handling change management; they’ll figure all that stuff out for us.”
  • “The change is long over; time to suck it up and move on.”

 … Constant change requires that we find our grounding, stability and clarity in a place outside of work. And this is not a bad thing at all.

 … Change is exhilarating, challenging, and it can fuel your fears and your cynicism… or your joy and your passion. The cool part is, you get to choose. Choose wisely, peeps!

(Bring it, JLO.)

What Matters Now

In ! Kristy, Leaders, Learn, Play on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 3:22 am

I’m being challenged, inspired and humbled by the new collaborative e-book from Seth Godin, What Matters Now. Seth has assembled a group of 70 thought leaders to, as he puts it, riff on important ideas.

I killed some trees and printed a few pages to post in my cube on a rotating basis for a daily dose of fresh thinking. Seth has also challenged his readers to create their own riffs on words that matter to them… so I’m challenging my co-blogger Jen to a riff-off! Last one to post is a rotten egg!

Download the book here. Post your own riff somewhere. I’d love to hear your reactions.

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