Executive Letters

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  • Why Every Leader Should Read Garden Catalogs in Winter

    Why Every Leader Should Read Garden Catalogs in Winter

    If I hire employees who lack experience, and then drive them to complete a complex and difficult project, should I be surprised that the results were less than satisfactory? If I force untrained employees into a situation where they are almost certainly bound to fail, does that say more about them or myself?

  • A Centered Leader in the World of Left and Right

    A Centered Leader in the World of Left and Right

    While we live in contentious times, where there is often an undercurrent of friction or an inability to have civil discourse, by focusing on our similarities, common goals for the organization and mutual respect, we can find a way to overcome differences in opinion. We cannot reach understanding by reaction, but by response that is compassionate and authentic.

  • To Be an Authentic Leader, Be an Imperfect Leader

    To Be an  Authentic Leader, Be an Imperfect Leader

    Practice does not make us perfect. I hate to say that, but it is true. Even Wilt Chamberlain understood that. He could practice his jump shot for an hour a day and maybe make 498 out of 500 shots, but he knew he would miss a few, especially in games. He would always be imperfect. However, he did know that practice would make him better and that is the goal.

  • The Entrepreneur Who Learned How to Inspire

    The Entrepreneur Who Learned How to Inspire

    As the research revealed, it takes much more than being inspired. The survey revealed up to 33 traits that help leaders in four key areas: “developing inner resources, connecting with others, setting the tone and leading the team.” Probing deeper it was found (among other factors) that inner resources are enhanced by stress tolerance and self-regard; connecting with others by humility and empathy; openness and unselfishness help to set the tone and vision and servanthood help entrepreneurs and executives to better lead.

  • The Leader Who (Finally) Made Friends with Herself

    The Leader Who (Finally) Made Friends with Herself

    “I am not a very good role model,” she said. “I am a poor manager, really and I have not always been a very good mentor. It won’t be long until my people will refuse to listen to me. Frankly Russell, I don’t think I have very much to say. Please don’t tell anyone that I feel this way!”

  • The Thoroughly Rested Entrepreneur

    The Thoroughly Rested Entrepreneur

    My “rested entrepreneur” is neither the kind of person who would like to live on a mountain top, nor is he a recluse. He loves to be around people, and in fact, he loves people. Maybe that is one of his secrets. A life long practitioner of the “hard” martial arts, Tai Chi and meditation, he is a kind and gentle soul who took a natural liking to business. Though it sounds contradictory, he has made his life work because he likes to bring people together, solve problems in a team approach, and to encourage everyone in his organization to trust one another and to work together.

  • Situations are Almost Always Workable

    Situations are Almost Always Workable

    Not long ago I worked with a vice president of operations at an international manufacturer of sporting goods. John’s philosophy of management was to place high expectations on all of the employees in his group. When they faltered, or he perceived them as failing, he got rid of them. They were either transferred or fired. There was no middle ground. His philosophy was simple, direct but very flawed: “When they start to fail, I no longer want to look at them. They’re dead weight.”

  • The Executive Surrounded by Tigers

    The Executive Surrounded by Tigers

    Pressures in the workplace have gotten worse, not better. Clutter is enormous. In addition to what comes at us – in the office alone, we are inundated with the constant flood of digital clutter. Whether our computers, smartphones, iPads or other devices; whether email, social media, texts, or calls, we are under a barrage of communication woes. Our offices, themselves, are not just physical anymore they are also virtual. An executive in Denver might have contractors in Hong Kong, Romania, Australia and Germany. The pressures to keep up and maintain are enormous. We feel chased by those tigers, we feel worried about the tigers who may appear below and even inadequate to handle all of the pressure, the thousands of “mice” who are gnawing away at us.

  • Gripping Too Tight versus Holding Too Loose

    Gripping Too Tight versus Holding Too Loose

    At first glance, Melissa and Barb couldn’t seem to be more different. They are, in fact, more similar than you might imagine. Melissa’s problem is that the grips too tightly because she is afraid of losing control of the people who work for her. She is afraid of letting loose just a little and as a result her employees are not happy. Barb longs to be everyone’s friend. She jokes, she “plays,” she’s at the center of any party and always needs to fill blank spaces with what in her mind is creative energy. She is so loose, her people see no structure, no manager and no place to go when there is a serious issue.

  • Before You Throw in The Towel

    Before You Throw in The Towel

    The secret to staying on top of the changing workplace environment is not hidden in some futuristic piece of software found on the cloud or an app available for $4.99 on the app store! In fact, I would submit that the key piece of management wisdom cannot be bought and downloaded at all, but carefully and preciously practiced and cultivated.

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