Guided Insights

The Virtues of Failing Fast, in a Forward Direction

A friend’s daughter just announced her family’s sudden decision to pack up and move several states away, with no jobs, no residence, three school-age kids, one dog and two cats. My friend is agonizing over whether to try to talk her daughter out of it (“How will you live?  Where will you live? What about health insurance? …

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Unconscious Bias: Just Because You Can’t See It, Others (Almost Certainly) Can

There we were. A roomful of mostly white adults from my upper middle-class, fairly liberal Massachusetts town, gathered together in our earnest desire to discover how to be better allies to people of color. Tensions grew as the facilitators led us into uncomfortable conversations designed to help us uncover our hidden biases, layer by layer. …

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Easing the Pain of an Abrupt Transition, from Afar

“Congratulations! You have a unique set of skills that makes you a perfect fit for another project. So we’re ‘rewarding’ you by moving you over to another manager. This is a fabulous career move, with plenty of opportunities for growth. Of course I’m sad to see you go, but I know you’ll do great.” Such …

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Great Gift Ideas Everyone on your Team Will Appreciate Now, and Later

For many of us, the month of December evokes the spirit of giving more than any other time of the year. Not to say we’re not generous of spirit all year round, but it’s typically during the holiday season that we are most likely to affirm appreciation for team members. Finding the right gifts for …

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How to Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours

There’s something about the blank slate of a brand new year that makes it a perfect time to get your group together and lay down plans for the next 12 months. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but it can be near impossible to persuade people to hunker down in a meeting room for …

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Prevent Thoughtless Habits From Squandering Your Team’s Time

We are scrupulous about managing our budgets, jumping through hoops (and filling out countless forms) to get approval for every expenditure, whether it’s for a $300 printer or a part-time contractor. And yet, even though we may say that time is money, few of us show the same kind of scrutiny when it comes to …

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When it Comes to Giving, Little Things Mean a Lot

This is the time of year when we turn our thoughts to giving. But for many of us, that’s where we stop. Just because we have noble intentions, it doesn’t mean we automatically get more time in our busy days to be generous to others, when we’re barely keeping our heads above water ourselves. According …

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Drive Out Distractions and Reclaim Your Time

As I write this month’s Communiqué, I’m completely focused on my topic. I can get this written in about an hour, if no one interrupts me. An email flashes on my screen. What if it’s really important? Twenty-five minutes later (okay, so I read a few emails and replied to three of them); I’m ready …

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Magic Numbers for Successful Teamwork

People often ask me: What’s the ideal number of people to have on any given team to produce the best results? My answer: It depends. Several factors go into coming up with that magic number, such as: Clarity of goals and objectives, time available to get it right, ability of participants to work face-to-face versus …

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Balance Innovation and Expediency for a Supercharged Team

How many emails can I write while “participating” in a weekly review meeting? Which ideas can I repurpose so I don’t have think of new ones? How many calls can I avoid by blasting a group IM? How many minutes can I save by outsourcing dinner prep to the local pizza joint? Yup, for many …

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When Workloads Are Seriously Out of Whack – 11 Leadership Tips

Say you’re the leader of a team of hard-working professionals who work in different locations. It’s crunch time, and pretty much everyone realizes they need to put aside their personal lives for the next few days (or maybe a tad longer) to meet a critical deadline. Trouble is, you discover that while some people are …

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8 Great Year-Round (Free!) Gifts Everyone on Your Team is Guaranteed to Love

Give a gift every day for 29 days straight? Yeah, right – as if I have the time (and money), with everything I’m already juggling! But that’s what a colleague just invited her friends to do. When she explained that such gifts can be as simple as starting a conversation with a downtrodden stranger, making …

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