I was listening to Howard Stern the other day when a caller told him "You're so lucky that you made it in your field." "Luck had nothing to do with it," Stern said. "You have no idea how intensely I had to work to make it in radio. I would lock myself in my room … Continue reading Hard Work and Gen Y: Friends or Enemies?
Gravity keeps the earth rotating perfectly around the sun. If that gravitational force became any weaker, we would drift away from the sun forever. Trust is the gravity that keeps our relationships in orbit - including work relationships. The first step to building trust is to trust others. Here's how I think we complete step … Continue reading Management Skills: Be Trustworthy
When I first became a manager at the age of twenty, I tried to make friends instead of managing my team. That was a miserable failure. Then I tried to manage without building relationships. I thought I had it all figured out until I received the results of my first employee satisfaction survey. People described … Continue reading Management Skills: Trusting Others
The study of ethics is the study of decisions between right and wrong, and, in business, ethics is about decisions between right and wrong in the face of financial incentives. Game theory states that individuals make decisions that maximize their own utility. In organizations this leads to conflict between principals and their agents. A company … Continue reading Ethics Series Part 3: Leadership Trust, Pay and Pipeline
Last week we discussed the pickle or ethical dilemma of empire building. Sales managers, like our hypothetical friend Tom Hansen from Ethics Corp, are motivated through bonuses and advancement opportunities to expand their responsibility beyond its optimal size. Empire building is part of a deeper ethical problem for organizations called the agency problem. Fundamentally, individuals … Continue reading Ethics Series Part 2: Incentives and Compensation
One of my favorite moments in sports is when a baseball runner gets caught in a pickle. Trapped between two bases with fielders chasing him down from both sides, the runner's athletic talents along with his decisiveness are put to the test. Sadly, it usually doesn't work out well for the runner. Over the next … Continue reading Ethics Series Part 1: Empire Building
The Days Before I now realize how clueless I was in the days leading up to Jack's birth. I had nine months to talk myself through the process and develop expectations about what our lives would be like once the baby was here. Boy, I wasn't even close. One thought I had remains true –– … Continue reading On Becoming A Father
I have been thinking about values a lot lately. What is most important to me? What am I willing to go to the mat for? And what are values anyway? Maybe values are like the stone we carve the statue of our character into. Our behaviors, like the sculpture's tools, shape how others will come … Continue reading Values: What’s Our Core Made Of?
I know a lot of bosses, but there is one woman who stands out as the best. Her team is tough and her business is stressful, yet she succeeds through strong leadership values we can all learn from. Supportive and Patient She believes in encouragement, not punishment. In Lee Cockerell's "Creating Magic," there is an … Continue reading The Best Boss I Know
During tough times work can feel like a lot of effort without a lot of results to show for it. As a manager, I've fallen victim to a seemingly common trap –– focusing on my team's failures, shortcomings and missteps rather than on anything positive. I ask them at meetings, "What are we doing wrong?" … Continue reading Management Skills: Focus on Success
Early in my career I had multiple manager personality disorder. I was respectful attentive John around my manager. John the comedian with my peers. I was authoritative with my direct reports and still someone else with customers. Trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be led to a kind of management schizophrenia. Consciously … Continue reading Management Schizophrenia
In my last post I talked about how management challenges are a lot like long distance running. New Balance shoes brilliantly branded the running experience in their ad campaign "Love/Hate, the New Balance." Anyone who's ever been out for a long run knows exactly what they mean. Running is easy to hate. It's hard work, … Continue reading Love/Hate: The New Balance of Management
I once read that self-pity is unbecoming of a manager. This is not a self-pity post. The fact is managing people can sometimes be stressful and isolating work. It’s not all giving high-fives and atta-boys. Managers must often make unpopular decisions and hold people accountable for their actions. So why do we do it? Why … Continue reading A Manager’s Motivation
I just finished the Abraham Lincoln biography, “With Malice Towards None,” by Stephen Oates. While one biography certainly does not make me an authority on such a complex man, I did take away some leadership lessons. The work humanizes Lincoln, showing readers he was capable of mistakes just like the rest of us. At the … Continue reading Leadership Lessons From Lincoln
We’ve had a major organization structure change at our company this past week. Change is a scary word for people at work. The mere mention of organizational change creates anxiety in people. Will I be getting a new boss? New responsibilities? Have the company's expectations of me changed? There are over 14,000 books on Amazon … Continue reading Managing Change