Monday, February 28, 2011

Grow or Die: 3 Reasons Growing Is The Better Choice

By accepting your leadership position, you've indicated you WANT to do this job. That's right.  You signed up for this.  You applied, interviewed, and understood the role (Please don't use the excuse you didn't know what you were getting yourself into.  If that's true, it's your fault, not the company's.)  You wanted this job, and now you have it.

No More Status Quo

Tradition DemotivatorThere is a fallacy in the world of work that the status quo is still a viable option.  If you believe in the status quo, it's time to call it a career.  The status quo = death.  At least your professional death.  How many leaders over the years have inspired people to do great things with their "cling to the status quo visionary style?"  Exactly zero, that's how many.

So you [read here -> WE] need to keep growing, learning, and doing.  It is truly the only option.  But how does one grow?  Easier said than done, right?

Protection - Step 1

Growth means protection.  Push yourself to make progress.  You won't be a sitting duck, an easy target, or find yourself being outpaced by someone else.  You will be in charge of you.  That's big.  But that protection only comes when you force yourself to get things done.

Exhilaration - Step 2

Growth means exhilaration.  Explore the world around you.  Reach out to your colleagues and ask questions.  This is not a sign of weakness; in fact, it's quite the opposite.  Only those strong enough on the inside, have the courage to ask for help on the outside (and gain the respect of those around them.)  You will feel energized about your work, but you have to take the first step.  No one is thinking about helping need to make that happen.

The Work - Step 3

Growth is our work.  The perception that somehow growing professionally is an obstruction to our regular duties is simply absurd.  Working harder is not the solution for a challenging day, or week, or role.  Having too many "irons in the fire" will not result in better performance.  Growing professionally means you have successfully integrated this "grow" philosophy into how you do your work.  That is performance at a high level. 

What Are You (We) Waiting For?

How much more impactful will you be this week when you decide to grow in your approach to leadership?  Tap into the resources around you, take risks, succeed, and fail.  Allow your staff to see you trying new things.  You will build trust as a team, and guess what?  You'll grow.  Better yet, you won't die from trying.  Let me know what you decide.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Despair

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Power Post - Who Died and Made Me King?

I am very fortunate.  I live in a free society.  I am reasonably healthy (*knocking on wood*).  I work for a mission-driven organization that provides inpatient and outpatient services to critically ill children.  My CEO "gets it" relative to HR and is very supportive.    I am also in a leadership role that requires me to make decisions constantly.  Some of those decisions are very difficult ones.

So does that make me some sort of genius?  Am I now the repository of knowledge that others should seek out because obviously I must be special?   How else could I have landed this job in the first place?  Right?


I have been given the privilege to lead.  It is not a right, it is not an entitlement, and it certainly does not mean I have nothing left to learn.  In fact, as my career has moved along, it is more clear to me than ever before that I must constantly push myself to try new things, to jump (not step) out of my comfort zone, and go for it.

I do have a tremendous amount of responsibility and authority.  But no, I am not a King.  I am here to serve those that work hard every single day.  I'm here to help create the best environment possible for them to do their amazing work.

Sometimes I lose sight of that...and for that I apologize.

How about you?  Is it coronation day; or, are you ready to set a real example for those around you?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Mountain State

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fresh View or Excuse?

Some of us like the work we do very much.  Some of us dislike the work we do.  Some of us can not find work, much as we would like to.  But for those of us that have work, good or bad, how can we keep that work meaningful, alive, exciting...fresh?


Do we view our work not only as an opportunity to be productive, but also as a gift?  Do we view the interactions we have throughout the day as moments to share that gift with those we work with?  

What exactly is the view from where you are right now?  Is it bleak?  Or, do you see limitless possibilities on the horizon?  Your perception of the view is important.


Only you can define your work, even if you know you're in a transitional role. Decide to approach one small part of your work today as if it is an amazing gift that you need to share.  I'll help...let's pick leadership.  Your leadership.  At some point today you need to act decisively on something important.  No more analysis-paralysis, no more double-checking, no more more excuses.  Share your leadership gift and embrace the view.


We all can't be in a terrific job.  For those of us that are, we feel blessed every day. For those that are doing  other work it can be more challenging.  So how can we keep our work meaningful, alive, exciting and fresh?  Regardless of your situation, today is the day to take action in one specific area.  Can you do it?  Can you make a difference today?  Go for it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of 1957 Time Capsule

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mission Possible In 3 Steps

"There's no way."  "Are you kidding?" "You must be crazy."  "That's impossible."  Have you ever heard these phrases?  Or worse, have you ever uttered these credibility killers?  Sadly, I know I have.

Leadership Is Hard - 3 Reasons You Have to Suck It Up
Whether you want to lead or not is the topic for another day; but if you're in a leadership position right now there are three things you and I have to keep in mind.

1.You're getting paid to lead
Simple, but clear.  There is no time for complaints about employees, other managers, or the Executive Team.  You're the leader.  Earn your pay.

2.  The need is great in our organizations for good leadership
You're here for a reason.  Your organization identified a specific leadership need, and has the confidence in you to fill it.  You're not a trophy, or window-dressing, or an empty-suit.  There is a need and you must fill that need.  Now.

3.  Very few leaders are truly passionate about leading, thus making the need for leadership even greater
This is perhaps the most important of our three responsibilities.  We've all seen leaders that simply come to work, go through the motions of the day, and then leave promptly at 4:30.  Everyday.  Never underestimate the impact your passion alone can have on an organization's culture.  Employees talk.  When you allow your passion and energy to flow publicly, those around you will have no choice but to notice.  

Open-Door Policies Are Not For Employees
Time for some self-reflection.  When was the last time I practiced my open-door policy and walked out my door?  Do I actually wait for employees to come to me as if I'm holding court and the common folk can come by and pay homage and receive my sage advice?  Wow.  That is NOT an open door policy.  That is arrogance.  Let them see your passion instead!

How About You
When you leave the office today, will you be able to say that you did everything you could to make a difference?  Will you say that you led with passion; or, did you make excuses for why your work is Mission Impossible?

For me, leadership is absolutely Mission Possible.  What do you think?  Hurry up and answer, court is now is session and the people need to hear from me.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Aurora

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Power Post - Sprinting Is Good...I Think

I love the fast pace of my life.   Professionally I've never worked on more challenging projects, and personally I've never been more involved in activities with my family or the community.  My competitive nature is in overdrive and I can't seem to get enough.

Until it feels like enough.

Then what?  For me, it's about maximizing my time as efficiently as possible.  But does that mean I actually am being efficient?  The rush of a day that requires more work than time will allow can be exhilarating.  It can also be overwhelming. Ultimately, my positive self-talk kicks in and I view my responsibilities as a personal challenge. Game on.  I'm going to win.


What approaches do you use?  What works?  What was a waste of time?  How do you embrace those moments in life when you are no longer in a marathon, and you find yourself in a full sprint?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Real Food Tulsa

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dinosaur Leaders Make Great Museum Pieces

Power.  Formal power bestowed upon us.  Once we finally get some, it feels good. No, it's more than good.  It's validation that our point of view is right, and those who report to us are fortunate to have us as their leader.  Thank goodness we're here to make sure we control everything around us, and stop learning new technologies and modern approaches to working with people.  Thank goodness that we're right!

Bigger Is Better

Now that we have all this power, we can begin to expand our internal empire.  We need more authority, whether it fits into our vague job description or not.  Our influence must grow.  Our impact must grow.  After all, we're important, and just need some extra time to show everyone how big and important we are.  The greater our influence, the bigger our role becomes.  Bigger is absolutely better.

Current Is Not Better

Wow are we busy!  There are so many people that we need to intimidate that there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.  This makes it impossible for us to understand the differences in our workforce or to learn new tools or ways of thinking.  Remember, we have the power!  It's OK if we aren't current.  We wouldn't be in these jobs if we were supposed to learn.  We're done with that.  We all ready know how to treat people, right?

Dinosaurs Were Big Too

The antiquated and pathetic leadership style I just described is so far out of touch with today's workforce that I don't think I can fully explain the FAIL.  Sadly, we've all had colleagues who espouse this philosophy.

It's true dinosaurs were big and powerful and had tremendous influence over their world.  Until they could no longer adapt to that world and became nothing more than a display in a museum of bizarre creatures from a time long ago.

I wish I could tell you that being a leader is easy.  Simply land that big promotion and presto!  You're a leader!  Oh sure, the perks are incredible:  on-call 24/7, never able to truly finish your work, lots of great technology holstered to your hip so you can check your email at 11:30 every night, and of course the greatest perk of all - the opportunity to satisfy customers above, below, and at your level.  What a great gig!  Right?

How About You

Leadership is a privilege.  Power is not your right, it is a gift that must be given away as frequently as possible.  The shrewd leader understands that in giving power away, it comes back ten fold.  Do you believe that you are always right?  Have you convinced yourself that learning no longer applies to you?  Is bigger always better? If so, don't be surprised if those around you show respect to your face, but mock you privately as just another museum piece waiting to be retired.  Trust me, it's happening right now.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Start Trek Is Real...Except for the Diversity Part

I use my Droid Fascinate smartphone constantly.  Whether I use it to take notes during meetings (I've given up paper), or text, tweet and chat, manage multiple email accounts, post on facebook, check LinkedIn, read blog posts, surf the web, manage my hectic schedule, use my voice-activated GPS, read the New York Times or Mashable, or actually talk on it, my Droid is completely integrated into my life.

I also work for a very sophisticated healthcare organization.  We use technology for everything from documentation to implanting miraculous devices that practically restore hearing, to replacing failing little hearts with new ones.

And we all live in such a technologically advanced society that human beings now blast into outer space and work on space stations.  We use Skype or Green Interview to speak face-to-face with candidates from across the globe.  We praise the power or lament the shortcomings of various 24/7 news organization's coverage of our world which brings us real time coverage of events. 

So as a fan of the original Star Trek series I've been convinced for some time that everything from that 1960's classic would one day come true.


One of the strengths of the Star Trek series was the diversity of the cast.  Check out the picture above, all sorts of countries, colors (and planets!) are represented as valued members of the team.  Nations came together to make the universe a better place. Nations.  You know, like Israel, North Korea, Iraq, Venezuela, China and the United States together on the same team.

Maybe having our entire planet come together is too lofty a goal for now.  Perhaps we should focus on just our country.  Hmm...still too much?  How about our organizations stepping up and including everyone as equals?  That just may work. Whether or not you have strong feelings about which  department should own diversity and inclusion, you need to own it.  That's right.  Stop waiting for someone else to get started.  YOU need to do it.  

And so do I.


Are you up for the challenge?  Are you willing to critically examine not only your own belief system, but to accept the fact that waiting for someone else to "do it" has never made a difference?  Ever.  I've taken that step, and I think you should join me.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of The Supernatural World

Monday, February 7, 2011

Small Stuff Kills

Strategy.  Goals.  Budgets.  Deadlines.  Product Launch.  As leaders we spend a tremendous amount of time planning and executing major initiatives.  Press releases are prepared, communication plans are painstakingly worked and re-worked, and huge projects are completed.  When it's all said and done we look around the room and smile at each other.  Gosh we're good!

But what about the day-to-day impact on the employees around us?

Do we take the time to ensure our messages and behaviors aren't wearing our teams out?  After all, without them we never get to the "atta-boy" and "back-slapping" that naturally comes after a successful project is wrapped up.  We don't really believe we are Super-Hero Leaders, do we? 

Rarely do team members complain about major challenges in the workplace. Actually, after facilitating many, many leadership sessions over the years, the behaviors  most employees seek in a leader seem to be:  trust, open-communication, recognition, support for work/life issues, and inspiration to do good work.  You have the power to do all these things.  

Do you say things that demotivate, deflate, or create distance from those around you?  A casual remark or off-hand comment may mean little to us, but can have a huge impact on those nearby.  Does your non-verbal communication show that you are a calm and cool leader.  Or, do you appear frantic and anxious about "how things will look" to those above you?  If you're not paying attention to these slip-ups, it's time to take a long hard look in the mirror.  (Unfortunately, sometimes I need to reach for that mirror myself.)

Understand what your team appreciates and take action.  Do something "small" for them today.  It will make a big difference tomorrow.  Now, where did I put my cape?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Open to Feedback? PROVE IT!

As leaders we often take pride in developing strong, open relationships with those that work directly for us.  We just "know" they would feel comfortable coming to us if they have an issue or concern.  Right?  In fact, we're so effective, that at anytime those employees can march right into our offices and let loose without fear of retaliation.  Right?


When was the last time you could honestly say you knew how your employees felt about you?  I don't mean when you received a card on Bosses Day or a nice birthday gift.  I mean, when did your employees really tell you, at length, about your performance as their leader?  It's been a long time for me too.  We spend so much time and energy focusing on giving them feedback, communicating regularly, and "engaging" them in order to get their "buy-in" that we often miss a terrific opportunity to build a deep, trusting relationship with our teams.


Many options are now available to help us collect data about our performance.  Ranging from one-on-one meetings to 360 degree survey tools  and external coaching sessions, we really have no excuse for avoiding feedback...unless we don't want it.  But that isn't you or I, right?


I would like you to consider a slightly different approach.  The process is straightforward, efficient, and based on trust.  First you'll need to identify a facilitator that both you and your team respects.  Bring that person with you, unannounced, to your next regularly scheduled meeting with the group.  Introduce your facilitator, explain you will be leaving the room, but that your guest will be asking three questions and documenting the responses.  

1.  What should your leader do more of?
2.  What should your leader do less of?
3.  What is your leader doing that should remain the same?

Clarify for the team that all comments are confidential and only you and the facilitator will review them.  You will then process through the feedback with your team at your next regularly scheduled meeting.


Have you built a foundation of trust with your direct reports?  Are you willing to take the next step and prove it?  Or, are you simply another Stuart Smalley?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Power Post - Be The One

I'm thinking about the team of people I work with every day.  Thinking about the challenges we face, the decisions I make, and the role the team plays in executing those decisions.  And I'm thinking about the young leaders all around me who are watching, and learning, not only from what I say; but more importantly from what I do.

Now I'm jumping ahead ten years. I'm imagining one of those staff members in a leadership class, and the facilitator is asking them to think about the most effective leader they've ever worked with. Who was it that supported them to try new things? Who accepted them for who they were as a person?  Who allowed them to fail, learn, and move ahead? Who really made a difference in their life? Who inspired them?

Will I be the one that pops into their mind?

Think about your team. When they are asked the same questions, will they think of you? 

Be the one.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of