Categories for Leadership

Value Others to be Valuable

We’ve all heard the phrase, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”  It’s a myth. It’s just not true. In our hyper-connected world, whether or not you have the best mousetrap doesn’t get you the business, land you the job or even make you memorable. It might make you visible and that’s about as far as the “best mousetrap” will get you. The phrase needs amendment to read, “even if you have the best mousetrap in the world if people don’t know you, or like you and trust you – then they’re not... Continue reading...

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May 14, 2014 2:37 pm
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So You Want to Work at Google? How to Make Your Workplace “The” Place to Work

So you want to work at Google? Or Apple? Or one of the “cool” places where they have free food, flexible work hours, and an informal work environment?  But the challenge is – you don’t live near Silicon Valley or have the skill set they require. (The second issue is the real limitation, isn’t it?) So what can you do where you work currently?  Even though you may not be the owner of your company, or even a high level executive, you can help make your workplace become “the” place to work.  Really. It is all about influence. We all... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2014 8:39 pm
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Lack of Qualified Applicants? Solution #1: Keep Your Good Employees

The news is repetitive and blaring:  employers are complaining about the inability to find qualified applicants for positions that need to be filled.  I have seen three articles in business magazines this week about the issue.  Part of the discussion is about the irony — having 10+ million workers who can’t find work, while employers reporting they can’t find potential employees who meet the needs they have.  (In fairness, there are employers interviewed in the articles saying they aren’t having this problem.) The issue is both national and local, and across multiple industries and workforces.  Key term to understand: qualified... Continue reading...

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March 31, 2014 11:55 pm
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Do 70 Million Workers Really Hate their Jobs?

     This past week headlines of newspapers, website posts, and the talking heads on TV screamed about how U.S. employees hate their jobs (and that it is the fault of their managers).  Here are some actual titles: Millions of Bad Managers Are Killing America’s Growth (The Chairman’s Blog) Workplace Morale Heads Down: 70% of Americans negative about their jobs   (Subtitled: “Bosses from hell’ are giving U.S. Worker the Monday blues.)  (NY Daily News) Most Americans hate their jobs or have ‘checked out’ (LA Times) So the headlines and news reports went last week, about a recent report released by Gallup... Continue reading...

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January 2, 2014 8:19 am
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Why Authenticity is All You Need During the Holidays

We all feel a lot of pressure regarding things we “should do” during the holidays — for our family, friends, co-workers, clients, boss.  It gets to the point that the expectations feel overwhelming, and the temptation is just to “shut down” and do nothing (for anyone!)  This is typically not a good solution. Let me offer an alternative solution to you: be yourself.  Be genuinely you during the holidays.   Don’t try to impress people.  Don’t do things just to “look good” or because “you are supposed to”. Let me explain.  There is more than enough “image management” going on in... Continue reading...

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December 5, 2013 11:16 pm
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What Does the “I Quit” Viral Video Tell Us? (Resend)

Friends, I am aware that the links to the two video clips did not work (they somehow got changed in the posting process).  I have corrected the links and you should be able to view the videos now.  Sorry for the inconvenience! *     *      *     *     *     * About a week ago, a frustrated young professional posted a video announcing and celebrating her quitting her job (ironically, at a company who creates videos to be watched on the Internet).  If you haven’t seen the video yet, please click here and take two minutes to watch it.  Why?  Well, first, it... Continue reading...

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October 10, 2013 8:30 am
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Perspectives on Perseverance

One of the benefits I receive from the work I do with family-owned businesses and successful business leaders is the opportunity to hear their life (and business’ life) story, and learn from them (hopefully!) . One of the questions we typically ask in our interviews is: “To what do you attribute your financial and business success?” Common answers are “perseverance”,  “sticking to it over the long haul”, “continuing to do what we knew was right”.  (Other frequent responses are: “being in the right place at the right time”, “luck”, “God’s blessing”,  depending on their worldview.) It is often helpful to... Continue reading...

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February 10, 2013 9:56 pm
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The Dangerous Pathway of Rescuing Others from Their Choices

I have been working with families, kids, teens and young adults for 30 years now.  One of the most common challenges I see individuals experience is knowing when to let their family members experience the results of their choices and when to intervene and “rescue” them from the negative consequences they will be facing. (Interestingly, the situation often occurs with adult siblings, as well as the more common incidents with children – regardless of their age.) The pattern can start subtly and innocently (for example, taking Johnny’s report to school for him when he left it home accidentally) but, if... Continue reading...

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January 13, 2013 9:24 pm
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The Commonalities between Healthy Organizations & Successful Individuals

Recently, I was privileged to hear Patrick Lencioni speak at the Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit, and I have also been reading his excellent book, The Advantage. Patrick believes that, while most companies and organizations have the technical and knowledge aspects of business down, “the advantage” the more successful organizations and businesses have is being a “healthy organization”.  He defines healthy organizations as being characterized by: Minimal politics Minimal confusion High levels of productivity High staff morale, and Low staff turnover (among good employees). Patrick’s research and professional experience indicates that when a company has their intellectual side (strategy, marketing,... Continue reading...

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August 26, 2012 8:40 pm
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5 Tips for Improving Your Workplace

Labor Day used to be a day to recognize the benefits of organized labor and, more broadly, celebrate the American work ethic. More recently, however, it serves as a painful reminder of the deterioration of the American workplace. The national statistics, with unemployment between 9 percent and 17 percent depending on whom you ask, are bad enough. But even for the employed, work has become a barely bearable chore, with only 45 percent of workers in a recent survey saying they were happy with their careers. Many companies have withheld raises and bonuses over the past two years while reducing... Continue reading...

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September 5, 2011 12:26 pm
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Lessons Learned from Media Interviews

In the past two weeks since the launch of Dr. Chapman’s and my book, the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, I have had over 20 media interviews — radio (mostly), TV, and print.  It has been a fun and interesting experience — and I have more to do in the coming weeks. I thought I would share some of the lessons and observations I have made from these interviews with radio & TV hosts, and magazine writers. Most people understand and agree that appreciation in the workplace is needed and can be extremely impactful. Everyone sees that the... Continue reading...

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August 13, 2011 11:04 am
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Damaged Personal Relationships Cost Businesses Money

characteristics of healthy marriages,Businesses are primarily focused on selling their products or services to customers and making the profit (or creating value in the business to be captured when the business sells).  That is the essence of business.  And that can be done in lots of ways — by treating your employees well or “using” them,  by providing quality products or by scamming people to make a “quick buck”, by being a responsible community member or not. But one point that we have known intuitively is becoming increasingly clear — what happens in an employee’s personal life affects their performance... Continue reading...

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June 12, 2011 5:12 pm
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The Attitude of Learning — Demonstrated by a 70 year old World Leader

Wow.  There are some life experiences that almost take your breath away.  I’m not talking about riding a rollercoaster, or seeing an outstanding artistic performance.  But a quieter experience, that upon reflection, has a deep impact on you.  This week I had one of those. I had the privilege of going to New York City to help facilitate a discussion among 20+ extremely bright, very successful individuals as part of an event sponsored by Princeton University (I had the opportunity to be there as a result of a friend’s invitation.) So, here we were in this conference room, seated around... Continue reading...

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May 4, 2011 7:46 pm
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Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen,… Understanding Social Change

If you are like me, you may be intrigued by the events of the past two weeks in the Middle East.  The rapid social change that is happening (or trying to happen) in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, and potentially other countries is both fascinating, curious, and sometimes scary. I clearly have little knowledge or expertise of Middle Eastern politics or of Arab cultures (they are not unitary, you know.  Just like there are cultural differences among Western countries.)  But there are some common themes that may be helpful to watch for as we watch, hear or read the news. People... Continue reading...

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February 4, 2011 8:22 pm
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Core Principles for Life

As I travel, meeting with various families, businesses and organizational leaders, I am exposed to a wide range of people, situations and subcultures (usually within the U.S., but also with English-speaking families overseas [I acknowledge much of my life experience is limited by a North American bias]). These experiences, in combination with the changes occurring within our economy, government and culture, lead me to make some observations about core principles for life that keep coming up. I’d like to share some of my observations and how they often are counter to what is presented in our current mainstream culture: Truth... Continue reading...

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October 10, 2010 8:13 pm
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“How Will You Measure Your Life?” + Some Observations

Sometimes someone writes an article, or gives a speech, that is noteworthy. Their thoughtfulness and manner of communication is remarkable. And you really can’t add much to what they have already said. But you want to share their thoughts with those important to you. Such is the nature of the article, based on his commencement speech to the 2010 graduating class at the Harvard Business School, by Clayton Christensen. He is a professor at the school and was asked by the class to speak at their graduation ceremony. I will briefly highlight some of his points — primarily to entice... Continue reading...

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August 1, 2010 11:24 am
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Understanding the Nature of Trust

I wrote about trust in business relationships a few months ago. But the issue of trust in relationships keeps coming up again and again in the work I do. Really, it is the lack of trust that continues to reappear. The issue is so foundational to healthy relationships, I feel compelled to write on the topic again – and explain the nature of trust more deeply. What is trust, really? One definition is: “to place confidence in” or “rely on”. Recently, I have worked with families, family businesses, couples, parents & teens, Boards of Directors (numerous ones) where a number... Continue reading...

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July 8, 2010 7:18 pm
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Successful Teams with Highly Talented Team Members

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to work closely with business teams comprised of highly talented and successful professionals. Some of these high-powered teams work together well and achieve amazing results, while some of the teams are struggling a bit in working together effectively. And one of the teams had to reorganize because the team members couldn’t figure out how to work together. I’ve made some observations as well as pulled some information from other sources, about what needs to happen for a team of All Stars to be successful as a team. Characteristics of Successful... Continue reading...

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March 31, 2010 5:51 pm
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Trust and Business Relationships — Some Common Pitfalls

Recently, in a variety of settings I am observing the issue of trust impacting business relationships. Obviously, trust is at the foundation for business transactions — that the vendor will provide the goods or services purchased, that the goods or services will be at the quality level described initially, and that the customer will pay for the goods or services in the time frame agreed upon. Another area of business where trust is impactful is in the employer / employee relationship — where the employer follows through on commitments communicated to the employee and the integrity level of employees to... Continue reading...

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February 9, 2010 10:01 pm
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A Tribute: To a Man of Great Character

Unfortunately, when the issue of “character” is in the news today, the focus is usually on character failures — lack of integrity, marital unfaithfulness, greed and dishonesty. So to be able to talk about a man of good character is a privilege. When thinking about the title of this entry, I was indecisive about whether it should be “To a Great Man of Character” or “To a Man of Great Character”. Obviously, I chose the latter — for two reasons. First, in the world’s eyes I don’t know if Spence Sawyer would be characterized as a “great man” — in... Continue reading...

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January 9, 2010 4:11 pm
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Mentoring — Transferring Information & Experience to the Next Generation

I started reading a good book this week — A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring by John Wooden and Don Yaeger. It was recommended to me by a good friend, and I always try to pass on worthwhile reading to others. The first part of the book covers the seven mentors that influenced Coach Wooden (for those of you who don’t know, he was one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time, at UCLA). In discussing different types of mentors (professional, personal, spiritual, etc.), he makes a fascinating point: “I know that my life... Continue reading...

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November 15, 2009 1:07 pm
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Some Notes from Leadership Seminars by Cloud & Townsend — Good Business Leadership Isn’t Emotionless

This week I had the opportunity to attend a conference where both John Townsend (author of Boundaries) and Henry Cloud (author of Integrity) spoke on leadership.  Here are some notes of thoughts that I felt were interested and helpful. John Townsend Research is verifying the relationship between character, interpersonal skills and performance outcomes.  That is, if you work on the “inside” issues you will see improvement in performance outcomes. (See below for why this is the case.) Life is more than making right choices – doing cost/benefit analyses.  There are two sets of information that leaders need to listen to... Continue reading...

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September 19, 2009 6:22 pm
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The Importance of Wisdom — And How to Get It

I like to learn from others who have been successful. In our culture, some people look to successful business leaders; others look to athletes or entertainers. I find some of the best advice from wise people from the past — from classic literature from previous civilizations and cultures. Here are some thoughts from a king and writer of literature from about 3,000 years ago: Wisdom in the most important thing; so get wisdom. If it costs everything you have, get understanding. Treasure wisdom, and it will make you great; hold onto it, and it will bring you honor. He goes... Continue reading...

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July 19, 2009 3:00 pm
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The Responsibility of Having Employees — A Huge Emotional Drain on Business Owners

Today’s economic environment is taking a huge emotional toll on business owners and managers.  Given the shrinking economy, with orders for manufacturing being canceled or put on hold, with little happening in the construction industry, and with the general public spending less at the retail level — many businesses are having to either cut back employees hours or let them go altogether. The “hidden” story behind this pattern is the huge emotional strain business owners and managers are experiencing.  And I am hearing from more and more of them each week. One manufacturing executive told me he volunteered to take... Continue reading...

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April 11, 2009 7:25 pm
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Healthy (and Less Healthy) Responses to the Economic Situation

As a psychologist, I naturally find myself observing people’s behavior — their choices, what they are saying, and how they are feeling.  And this is the case now, in the midst of the difficult economic times in which we find ourselves (I am consciously choosing not to use the term “financial crisis”.) There are three core aspects to any situation that involves human perception and response: Reality.  What actually “is” — the facts of the situation. (Using a non-related example: the temperature — which is about 30 degrees F. on a mid March day.) Perceptions. How people perceive, view, and... Continue reading...

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March 12, 2009 10:46 am
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Learning from the Best: Musings from a Successful Top CEO

This weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a conference for major donors of a charitable organization. It was a beautiful setting in Southern California, and my wife accompanied me, which was a treat. The other keynote presenter was Carlos Sepulveda, who is the CEO of Interstate Batteries, and a dynamic presenter. In addition to his presentation, Mr. Sepulveda had a follow-up question and answer session in which he expanded upon the concepts he shared. I thought I would share some of his thoughts which were thought provoking to me: “There is no such thing as business ethics.” He... Continue reading...

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October 20, 2008 6:02 am
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Blog Glitch — Try Again

Friends, although the text on my most recent blog entry appears on my blog site, the version that was sent out to subscribers was blank. Not sure how (or why) that happened. Sorry. So, rather than go through the same action again, I think the easiest solution is for you to click here and it will send you directly to the entry, entitled “Principles for Leading Effectively in Times of Financial Turmoil”. Sorry for the hassle.

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October 6, 2008 6:29 pm
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Principles for Leading Effectively During Times of Financial Turmoil

This past week the business editor of my local newspaper called and asked me to write a column for business leaders regarding the current financial turmoil. The following is the article I wrote, and which can also be viewed at the newspaper’s website. Few current business leaders have had to navigate the turbulent waters of economic difficulties that we find ourselves in today. But we can learn from those who have studied accomplished leaders and identified characteristics of successful companies that have weathered difficult times. Richard Peterson, who researches the neurological responses associated with financial decisions, says there is a... Continue reading...

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October 5, 2008 1:44 pm
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