Archive for September, 2010

Empty Inbox, Clear Mind

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I began my career with a company that strictly enforced a clean desk policy. You got in trouble if there was anything on your desk after you left each night. There were various tactics to avoid getting written up. You could take care of each piece of open business each day. You could develop a sophisticated filing system. You could scoop up the mess, put it in a drawer, then pull it out again in the morning. But no matter what you did, you had to do something.

I credit that policy for turning a chronically disorganized young man into a sleek, efficient productivity machine. I’ve tested often over the intervening two decades, and always concluded I was more productive when I followed some kind of clean desk policy. Especially regarding email.

Is it possible to clear your email inbox daily? If so, is it helpful? The answers are yes and yes.

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Our Innate Irrationality

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Think you make decisions rationally? Pride yourself on your control of logic? Think again. Science is against you. Decades of research support the view that humans, including you, are biased towards irrationality. Some scientists even argue that evolution favors irrationality.

How can leaders make the best decisions, given they have logical blind spots?

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Can Leaders Cultivate Humility?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Successful leaders are often an odd blend of ego and humility. Arguably, they need both – the one to move boldly and courageously, the other to stay alert for potential errors and to avoid overwhelming others. For most leaders I’ve known over the past 30 years, the hubris came easily. Their challenge was to learn to cultivate humility. Here are some tips. Read the rest of this entry »

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Passion and Leadership: A Primer

Monday, September 20th, 2010

“Passion” has been one of this decade’s buzzwords. Leaders must be passionate. Employees must be passionate. Entrepreneurs must be passionate. But can one be successful without passion?

A respected colleague, Dave Taylor, argues that passion is overrated, that business people should follow the money, addressing whatever opportunities that fit their skill set. Read the rest of this entry »

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Violated? Not Sure How to Cope?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Sometimes we feel violated. A colleague steals our best idea. A boss throws us under the bus. A subordinate knifes us in the back. A customer or supplier lies. What are our best coping strategies as business leaders when faced with injustice and violation?

I was robbed today. Read the rest of this entry »

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Facts, Intuition, and Errors

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Leadership is the art of balancing multiple priorities and multiple stakeholders with multiple needs. How do you strike the right balance for any decision? Turns out that making balanced decisions requires … balancing.

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Black, White, Gray, & Something Completely Different

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

A core competency of leadership is the balancing of competing needs and constituencies. There is a right way to do this and a wrong way. To do it right, think like a painter: you need both black and white. If you do it wrong, you get a palette full of gray. There are three key skills needed to avoid gray in the quest for balance:

  • Cultivating diversity rather than  uniformity
  • Recognizing which of a range of ideas is most appropriate to the moment
  • Knowing how to build on opposing ideas to reach a superior solution

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Balance vs Extremism

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

“We’ll meet on edges soon, said I” – Bob Dylan

It sometimes seems that all organizations and movements are surrounded by powerful magnets pulling them off their centers. The French Revolution, which began with a Declaration of the Rights of Man, quickly devolved into the Reign of Terror. Recently Newsweek published an article by Jacob Weisberg about how Irving Kristol’s intellectual neocon movement of the ’70′s got hijacked by emotional ideologues. A recent WSJ article discussed how the GOP leadership’s strategy to rebuild after 2008 by attracting moderates was overwhelmed by tea party extremists. History is filled with similar examples.

I call it the Than Thou Syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »

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Twitter Trolls

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Anyone else sick of Twitter Trolls? You know, the folks who follow thousands, gain thousands of followers, but have posted less than a handful of tweets…ever?

I mean, I respect the heck out of tweeps who gain a mass of followers by providing great content, who work the medium. I’m less impressed by those who Read the rest of this entry »

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