Blog

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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The Scary Secret in Every Workplace: Performance Anxiety

5 minute read

We frequently work with clients who experience performance anxiety at work. Often, progressing to the executive level can include more pressure to achieve higher outcomes, better margins, and larger deliverables. While promotion is typically regarded as a success, even positive stress can lead to overwhelming anxiety—which frequently goes unacknowledged and undiscussed in the workplace. As we have talked about in past posts, emotional intelligence is the awareness of and ability to respond skillfully to our own emotions as well as others’ emotions.

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Gravitas and the Executive Presence

5 minute read

When people talk about someone not “having what it takes” to be a leader, more often than not they are referring to executive presence. Not unlike a performer’s stage presence, executive presence is the ability to command and hold the attention of an audience, to own a stage space (whether on an actual stage, at a podium, or at the head of a boardroom [or even conference room] table),

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When You Don’t Want to Poke the Bear, Pet the Bear…

(And What to Do When You’re the Bear)

5 minute read

There are hundreds of internet memes out there about how pointless it is to tell an upset person to “calm down.” Telling an angry person to calm down works about as well as baptizing a cat. Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down. Or for the purposes of our conversation today,

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