Guided Insights

How Feedback Can Stunt Growth, Stifle Learning and Encourage Mediocrity

Feedback of any kind rarely helps people perform better, no matter how much you dress it up and call it something pretty. In fact, telling people what they need to do differently, however well-intended, actually can block learning and prevent growth. As a result of reading the article The Feedback Fallacy in the March-April 2019 Harvard Business Review, I …

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Daring Leaders Build Trust by Peeling Away the Armor, Choosing Courage Over Comfort

How can I build trust, quickly, across my team? That’s the #1 question I get from my clients and students. Before I read Brené Brown’s  brilliant new book, Dare to Lead, I would have hedged, insisting that there are too many variables to give just one answer. But now I realize there is one answer that seems to …

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Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours, With a Little Bit of Magic

There’s something about the start of a new year that makes it a perfect time to get your team together to lay down plans and set priorities for the next 12 months. But try getting them to hunker down in a meeting room for a couple of days when their “day jobs” are so demanding. …

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How to Help Remote Colleagues Feel Less Lonely and More Connected

Some people just light right up when the holidays come around. They love hunting for that perfect gift, the wrapping, decorating, baking, holiday parties, music, and all of the other traditions that come with the holidays. But for those who feel socially isolated, the holidays can be an especially difficult and lonely time. That’s why …

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Damage done: Leadership lessons from a fairytale team

Baseball may not be your thing. And if you’re from certain regions of the U.S., you may not want to hear one more thing about a winning Boston team. (I admit, it can get tiresome.) But please hear me out: The 2018 Boston Red Sox team was the best evah to take the field in Fenway Park, and …

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Moving from Ideas to Action in a Virtual World

You’re excited about the stunningly creative ideas your team has spawned ever since you’ve begun to include a brainstorming segment into every (virtual) team meeting. In fact, your team has generated about six months’ worth of great ideas just waiting to be implemented. And they’ll keep on waiting, and waiting and waiting — until you …

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How to Win Friends and Influence People When You’re Invisible

Most people I know who work remotely wouldn’t have it any other way. The commute is great, work hours are flexible, they have fewer interruptions and more privacy, they can listen to their own playlist music anytime they want, and the dress code is pretty lax, just to name a few reasons. But working remotely, …

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When Collaboration Becomes Way Too Much of a Good Thing

We’re sold on the benefits of team collaboration, at least in theory: Many heads are better than one. Diverse perspectives lead to better ideas. Cross-pollinating knowledge and lessons learned make us all smarter. Many hands make light work. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And so on. But sometimes (some would argue too much of …

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Making the Most of Bittersweet Endings, Tough Break-ups and Brand New Starts

My twin daughters graduated from high school three days ago, which should really be a time of great celebration. To retain my sanity, I’ve been keeping busy with necessary distractions like planning their party, gearing up for our summer vacation (possibly, one of our last together!), and (thankfully) a barrage of client work. But every …

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For Insightful Conversations, Learn How to Ask Great Questions

Judging from the nodding heads, you see that a deep state of ennui has settled in around the table. (And this is just 15 minutes after break!) You have three hours left of this interminable day, with lots of  ground still to cover.  You know that the usual tedious process of asking everyone to take …

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Wait! Was that Supposed to be Funny?! Depends!

It took many emails, phone calls and personal visits to establish my credibility with this group of senior managers who had gathered in our Hong Kong office for a carefully-orchestrated strategic planning meeting. But all of that changed in an instant with one inappropriate, poorly-timed joke by my manager who had insisted on kicking off …

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How Mindful Leaders Keep Calm Under Pressure, Inspire Better Team Performance

Judging from your team’s expression of outrage when you made your latest impossible request, you realize you’ve just crossed a red line. While you feel badly, especially since you’ve given team members a barrage of pretty ridiculous demands lately, you really had no choice. Your manager has made it clear (again!) that failure is not …

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Adapting to a New Culture Takes Curiosity, Humility and Patience

You’re eagerly awaiting the start of your overseas assignment. You’ve learned enough of the language to be passably proficient. You’ve studied films, books and articles to understand cultural norms and nuances, and you’ve even interviewed a few native-born colleagues to find out where the cultural landmines might be hidden. Things go smoothly, at first. Your …

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Can’t We All Just Disagree? Reviving the Lost Art of Civilized Disagreement

Imagine you’re part of a group coming together to agree on a make-or-break decision. Which of these scenarios would you prefer: 1) After an amicable (and blessedly) brief conversation, everyone easily agrees to go along with the majority or 2) A heated debate ensues, with people from opposing viewpoints passionately arguing their respective positions? If …

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How to Create Opportunities for More Aha! Moments, for Yourself and Your Team

When young Isaac Newton settled into a Lincolnshire garden to rest almost 400 years ago, he could not have predicted that the mere dropping of an apple from a nearby tree would give him the bolt of brilliant insight he needed to devise the formula for gravity. And nor could young Einstein have imagined that …

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To Design Really Engaging Virtual Learning Programs, Throw Away the Old Rules

With fresh allegations making headlines each day, Fred, the HR VP of a growing high-tech company, knew that all employees needed a refresher about the kind of behaviors and actions that constitute sexual assault – ASAP. (The videos they had purchased a few years before were badly dated. Plus, based on some of the behavior …

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12 Tips for Building Trusting Relationships Across Your Virtual Team

“My team members just don’t seem to trust each other. You can hear the animosity and frustration in their voices when they decide to talk. I detect passive-aggressiveness in almost every comment. All day long, I’m getting emails and private IMs about how this one is constantly missing deadlines, or how that one never seems …

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How Mindfulness Keeps You Present, and Why It Matters

Imagine this: It’s after 5 PM, and your train is leaving in less than a half-hour. You’re in the middle of saving your final edits to the presentation for the executive team meeting first thing tomorrow, when you hear the unwelcome ping of an incoming IM from your boss: “Sorry for the last-minute change, but …

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Want Virtual Learners to Stay Engaged? Insist They Multitask, and Other Big Tips

Just about all of the participants who took one of my recent Virtual Leadership workshops gave it high marks. Most reported that the combination of video, verbal conversation and electronic flipcharts kept them engaged the whole time and helped them to learn a lot within a short time. All except for Mark, who reported having …

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Wait, What?! and 4 Other Essential Questions that Expand Thinking and Spark Conversation

If anyone appreciates the value of asking really great questions, it’s a facilitator. After all, my job is to stimulate thought, encourage reflection, generate conversation, and help people make important connections. To do this, I need at least a few essential questions to insert into the conversation at just the right time. Crafting these “perfect” …

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Head Off Problems Up Front, Before Cultural Differences Can Get in the Way

What are the toughest challenges you absolutely need to conquer when it comes to leading global teams? That’s what I asked a few of my clients, all seasoned leaders of cross-cultural teams, as I sat down to create scripts for a series of training vignettes I was about to deliver for a national training firm. …

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How to Make Introverts and Extroverts Happy, and How to Drive Them Crazy

“We suspect that our team can be a lot more effective if we can do a better job of acknowledging, appreciating and accommodating the introverts among us. We also want to acknowledge what our extroverts need to operate at their peak potential.” That’s the challenge my client recently asked me to help solve for her …

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Coping With Travel Restrictions: When Meeting Face to Face Matters, and What To Do When You Can’t

When the stakes are high and pressure is on, I recommend in-person meetings. That’s because we forge connections more easily with people we can see. But the reality is, meeting in person isn’t always possible. Business travel often gets dropped, due to pandemics, weather, budget, politics, injury, family, or other pressing priorities. Joining me in …

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Create the Ideal Virtual Meeting Space with this Handy Checklist

If you were creating a checklist for the ideal meeting room, what would be at the top? Maybe comfortable seating designed for interaction, natural light, space to move around, good ventilation, easy-to-use temperature controls, acoustical privacy and plenty of wall space? You might add a good A/V system, a variety of music, and continual access …

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Make Better Decisions with Less Pain, Virtually

People across the organization are counting on your team to meet an absurd deadline that you reluctantly agreed to. It’s become apparent over the last day or two that you made a promise that you simply cannot keep. You’ve called an all-hands meeting with your virtual  team to make a critical decision: Do you let …

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Prove You’re Trustworthy – Here’s How, and Why It’s Critical to Make the Effort

When I see a provocative headline, I check the veracity with at least two reputable news sources before I accept it as at least a close approximation of the truth. (And even then, many major news outlets often fail to report the really important news, which undermines their credibility, in my book.) I am not …

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Virtual Meeting Makeover – From Pretty Good to Simply Great with a Few Simple Changes

When people engage me to help “fix” their virtual meetings, they’re usually in pretty dire straits. Not so with Rick Friedrich, Director of Sales in the Americas and General Manager North America for Jiffy Products, who invited me to help him make his virtual team meetings even better. To do this, I sat in on …

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How Restorative Justice Concepts Can Make for Healthier Workplace Relationships

My first offender was a college sophomore who decided that the perfect place to have a party was the vacant home of a friend whose family was on vacation. We’ll never know whether she was being honest when she claimed not to have realized that the friend’s parents weren’t home. But what we do know …

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Why Conversations Sometimes Feel Impossible and How to Bring Them Back

The kids in our high school were shattered when news spread last month that a popular senior took his own life.  Everyday life for these kids screeched to a halt as they struggled to process how such a tragedy could have happened to one of their own. This was the first time many experienced the …

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