Leadership and Management Advice from the Forbes Essays

Leadership and Management Advice from the Forbes Essays

What if you could peer into 100 of the greatest business minds of our time?  What do you think they would tell you? I subscribe to Forbes magazine because I like to listen to folks I normally wouldn’t, and I normally don’t hang out with billionaires, so I read articles about them. It’s pretty cool to see what makes these billionaire business people tick. September marked the 100th anniversary of Forbes and in their special edition, they published essays from the 100 greatest business minds. I found myself fascinated by the topics and who said what, so I thought you might be too. I ended up doing a bit of analysis over the essays. There were 82 distinct topics; some were spoken to by more than one person. I transcribed notes from each of the 100 essays about a sentence or two that Forbes had highlighted as the essence of each essay. The surprising thing was what those great business minds did NOT talk...
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Puzzled about Priorities?  Prioritization Skill Building

Puzzled about Priorities? Prioritization Skill Building

Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in priorities? Too many projects, ideas, or initiatives…and there is never enough time or resources! We have seen this sneaky tyranny gobble up more than one leader and team. The laundry list of initiatives or tasks your team (or your stakeholders) would like to take on rivals solving world hunger and making world peace, so you know that you need to prioritize that list. As the heavy sigh comes out and look of overwhelm weighs on your shoulders, you wonder… how can we ever find our way through to what we can or should do? You gather the team together to prioritize initiatives. Our experience is that prioritizing the list almost equals the difficulty of creating the list! WHY? There are so many ways to interpret what is a “priority.” Priorities are funny things, because my method for generating high priority is different than yours. We use the term priority so broadly. For some, top priority is...
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Team Conversations: How to Get Teams to Gel

Team Conversations: How to Get Teams to Gel

Team conversations can be hard at the beginning...usually described in one word…awkward! You gather around a table for a kickoff meeting and make small talk, work on a laptop, or scroll through the feed on your smartphone until someone gets things started. The team starts talking about the work and what must be done. Hopefully people introduce themselves. I’ve always felt like these meetings are a bit like the first day of school where everyone’s trying to find their place and not embarrass themselves. I've totally been there... Many people take that first introduction to make a point about what they are there for and why they are important/valuable. This can setup even an adversarial relationship. It happened to me, totally on accident. I was trying to share how I could be a resource for the team based on what I knew about a portion of the work. Only later did I find out my methods were completely misinterpreted and I was seen...
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Seven Lessons about Leading Teams I Learned from Nettles

Seven Lessons about Leading Teams I Learned from Nettles

For those who hike or are into wild natural foods, you have likely heard of stinging nettles, sometimes referred to as burn hazel. However, for most folks, this seeming weed remains a misunderstood member of the botanical world. When my wife and I bought our hobby farm four years ago, three of the ten acres were densely covered in stinging nettles. My first tour of the property was a painful trek through knee high stinging nettles because, as their name clearly tells us, they sting. The chemical that is passed from its hairy leaves and stems is actually referred to as venom. Yikes! That walk and my subsequent nettles adventures have helped me learn 7 important lessons, not only about botany, but more so about being a better team facilitator or leader. Lesson One: Respect the citizens who are there, no matter what. When I run into those well entrenched and therefore seemingly unfriendly denizens of an organization on a team, I need to respect them. They probably are there...
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Need Out of the Box Thinking? Get off the typical road!

Need Out of the Box Thinking? Get off the typical road!

Struggling to get your team to think creatively?  Are you looking for innovation by trying the same old strategy of "think outside the box?"  Struggling to get them to move past the same old answer? Try this approach – it’s how I get my GPS…and teams… to creatively find ways around the well worn thought patterns. Recently I was driving home to Lancaster, PA from Dulles airport, nominally a 2.5 hour drive. But the Google Maps app was estimating over 3 hours, due to a jam on I-95 north. It recommended a sidestep to miss some of it, but I wasn’t liking the option. That recommendation saved less than 10 minutes. Coming north from DC, there are three significant options off the top of the beltway; I-95, the Baltimore Washington Parkway (295), and good old US Route 1. Route 1 is the slowest as it’s just a 4 lane road, with traffic lights. As I came to the top of the beltway, I saw the traffic warning signs...
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Improving Process Thinking: Are you just saying “throw a strike?”

Improving Process Thinking: Are you just saying “throw a strike?”

It’s spring, and time to think baseball.  It may also be good time to get our processes in better shape, so here’s a story to help you differentiate process thinking from outcome thinking…critical to process improvement. A while back, I was helping a good guy coach. An accountant by profession, it did seem that the scorebook was his favorite piece of equipment, but he was a nice guy and he wasn’t a screamer. (keep that in mind…it sets the tone) In this one game, the coach’s son took to the mound. He was one of the better pitchers in our league, a tall kid with heat and control. But on this day, it would be different. As the first pitch left his hand, I thought to myself “that’s not a strike.” It was low outside, the ump called “ball”. His Dad then provided this advice to the mound. “Throw a strike.” It was said encouragingly, not even sternly. It was just a clear reminder of the desired outcome. I thought jokingly to myself,...
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5 Tips for Better Data Visualization for your Team

5 Tips for Better Data Visualization for your Team

Data is all around us more and more, and sometimes its hard to actually visualize what you are really need to do with it.  As facilitators, we need to help participants with data visualization to see the information they are wrestling with more clearly. To show you this, I really must start with a story. Recently, my dear parents were moving to an independent living retirement community. Because they had already sold their home of 60 years, downsizing was imminent. My Dad was hesitant. My Mom was flustered. Too many decisions about what pieces of furniture to take and how they would all fit. Every discussion of the topic sort of ended with just more confusion. So, I put on my facilitator hat. I copied an overview plan of the apartment, that showed how a few pieces would fit. This was good, but not great. I grabbed my office whiteboard, drew a big version of their apartment and then beside it listed every piece of furniture. There,...
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Innovation is to bread making as…

Innovation is to bread making as…

It crosses cultures.  There are infinite varieties.  It is a staple for most people in the world.  It provides nourishment.  For thousands of years we didn’t truly understand what was happening to make it work.  And this fabulous invention is…Bread! I want to share with you another way I see this  - the transformation of dry flour, some water and magic into this fabulously yummy food staple… as an illustration for innovation. Many of us have heard of the term innovation.  Frequently it's plugged in as part of a mission or vision statement; sometimes it's plastered on a motivational poster trying to motivate you to come up with the next new thing.  But seriously, what IS innovation? Long drawn out dramatic pause… Innovation is ideas in action.  Really implemented ones!  And for anyone who has tried to entice innovation out of the dark recesses of our tacit knowledge, he or she knows how shy it can be. I'm sure you've all been in that...
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Myers-Briggs Types for Dinner

Myers-Briggs Types for Dinner

The following Myers-Briggs story illustrates the opener versus the closer portion of type (or perceiver versus judger).  This is a real life story, but the names of my friends have been changed. My co-instructor for Myers-Briggs, we will call him Frank, and I met another friend of mine, Joe, for dinner in Alexandria, Virginia.  If you know the area, you know there are tons of excellent choices for dinner.  Frank and I met Joe in the lobby of his hotel and then set off on foot for a restaurant.  I had heard of a great fish place, so we were heading there.  On the way, Joe cannot help pointing out all the good options we are passing on the way.  I had no idea that Joe was an expert on Alexandria restaurants and I am always up for a culinary adventure!  So as Joe's options fly by I'm weighing each against my level of conviction for the fish place.  Frank doesn't...
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