Blog

For Best Results, Don’t Trigger the Subordinates

5 minute read

In this blog, we’ve talked at length about skillfully handling our own emotional responses when dealing with peers and superiors, but have you ever given thought to situations in which you might be triggering your subordinates?

There are times when leaning harder on subordinates does not necessarily result in getting unmet needs for competency, efficiency, reliability, collaboration, or clarity met. In fact, turning our frustration, anger, and disappointment toward them is patently counter-productive.

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A Lesson from the Snake and the Monk

5 minute read

There once was a snake who terrorized a tiny village. Women, children, adored family pets—he would bite them all, without a moment’s contemplation or modicum of sensitivity.

One day, a monk visited the village. He observed the snake’s behavior and committed himself to teaching the snake the principle of non-violence. As it turns out, the snake had a penchant for self-improvement and thoroughly absorbed the monk’s teachings.

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Coding Managers Anonymous: Surrender Is the Hardest Part

4 minute read

“Hello, I’m Bob, and I’m a coding addict. It’s been one month since my last line of code…”

Over years of coaching experience, we have discovered that when people are promoted—from technical/professional contributor to manager of technical/professional contributors, or from manager of technical/professional contributors to manager of managers—the newly-promoted often have a very difficult time surrendering the technical responsibilities they had as individual contributors. It’s a phenomenon we’ve observed with IT managers so many times,

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How to Tell Your Boss “Not Now”

4 minute read

I have a vivid memory from early in my professional career—in the first year or two of corporate work—of standing in the hall talking to a supervisor I supported. The Vice President approached us, and said to the supervisor: “Tom, I need this report by first thing in the morning.”

I could tell by the VP’s tone that he was not asking Tom, he was telling him.

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Your Maps Need Updating

4 minute read

This has been, by all anecdotal accounts, one heckuva flu season in Middle Tennessee. Most years, my household escapes the scourge of illness, but we were not so lucky this year.

It all started one Thursday afternoon, when I began to feel generally under the weather—chills, congestion, and just not feeling right. Friday morning I definitely wasn’t myself, and my temperature of 100.5 degrees confirmed I definitely had something;

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Modern Leadership: What Worked Then Doesn’t Work Now

5 minute read

Perhaps the most fundamental misunderstanding about leadership we encounter daily is, leading is synonymously presented as the ability to control something—whether it’s money, people, process, or agenda. This notion perpetuates a complex of behaviors we call the Command and Control style of leadership.

Command and Control is a paramilitary model that has been around for centuries. It’s the idea that the person in charge calls the shots, and everyone underneath him follows orders without question.

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The Single Greatest Weakness in the Business World

3 minute read

Ambiguity: (noun) the quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness.

I coach students in a variety of graduate degree programs at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Most have already spent anywhere from a couple years to a couple decades in the workforce, so we use a well-regarded “360” assessment in which students ask their peers, boss, and subordinates to rate them on 38 different leadership,

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The Most Overworked Word in Today’s Business World

5 minute read

During the past year, I’ve noticed that when I meet with a client and ask how they’re doing, the vast majority of the time their response is busy, really busy, very busy, got a lot going on, or something of the sort. Their accompanying tone often suggests to me that they perceive their level of activity is more than they want it to be, and that functioning at the level they are functioning should be the exception rather than the rule.

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6 Signs Your Boss Is Threatened by You

(And What to Do about It)

5 minute read

In our last post on mentoring, we talked about the idea of a “leadership gap,” which is often perceived as something negative, but is simply an opportunity for one person (usually a manager) to commit to and invest in helping someone else (their mentee/protégée/supervisee) progress. At its core, this is what the mentoring relationship is founded on. In our discussion,

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The Art and Genius of Mentoring

4 minute read

As discussed last time, mentors can help us manage performance anxiety. In fact, mentorship helps with much more than just anxiety; mentoring helps professionals at all levels do their jobs better. Mentoring is the tool we use to cover the Leadership Gap—the distance between where you are and where you want to be. Two questions determine whether a mentoring relationship is possible: Can you? And Will you?

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