Leadership tools are good – right?

We all love a good tool, whether a physical tool (my favorite pruning saw! the comfort of my old wood-handled hammer!) or, yes, interpersonal leadership tools (such as the ones I teach). Tools are great. But knowing how to use them is not automatically granted just because we have the tool. First time I tried using that pruning saw, I nearly …

What do you celebrate?

I don’t mean holidays. I don’t mean your birthday (or someone else’s). I don’t even mean milestones. I mean the small steps on a project. The shifts in perspective about a change. The ways in which your team supports each other. It’s way too easy to plow onward with the ever-growing to-do list, the endless projects, and, of course, the …

There’s nothing “soft” about this

Many of the skills I teach could be lumped into so-called “soft” skills. But there’s nothing “soft” about the impact of change on people – the people we lead, the people we work with, the people we live with. Change is hard. And when it’s change coming from outside the organization, without even the minimal control we might have professionally, it’s …

The fuzzy gray ball of leadership

Students in my workshops often ask hypothetical questions about leadership situations – questions to which the only possible answer is, “Well, it depends!” Leadership is a fuzzy gray ball of uncertainty. Or, to put it in somewhat more positive terms, it’s highly nuanced. Which is why, as I wrote last week, I consider formally-defined leadership styles to be functionally useless, …

Leadership “styles” are bunk

I’m going to get pushback on this, but I stand by it: so-called “leadership styles” are bunk. Let’s just start here: go Google “leadership styles.” How many did you find? How consistent were they from one list to the next? You see my point. Every leadership website has a different number, ranging from four on up to – I think …

Sniffles? Sore throat? Resistance?

Sniffles and a sore throat are symptoms. Could be a cold, could be the flu, maybe RSV or Covid, or any number of other ailments. Resistance is a symptom. It’s not The Thing that’s keeping people from participating fully with your change initiative. It’s a symptom of something else, and treating it as if it were “just” resistance is not …

It’s not your imagination (with a formula!)

I wrote last week about CEO concerns around change and disruption. That was before I saw recent research from the consulting giant Accenture, which indicates that the rate of change over the last four years has accelerated 183 percent. So, yeah, it’s not your imagination: change really is coming at us faster than ever before. Last year alone, according to that …

Change is … the new black

Yes, I said it: change is the new black. It’s a cliché, certainly. But the rate – and impact – of change is not stopping. If you want a different cliché, I could say it’s the “new normal.” CEOs of major corporations, according to a recent study from consulting firm Alix Partners, are worried. They’re worried that they don’t have …

You can’t do change perfectly

There’s no such thing as “perfect” change, no matter how well or how thoroughly you plan. As boxer Mike Tyson observed, “Everyone has a plan – until they get punched in the mouth.” Change is inherently unpredictable and uncertain, and expecting it to be anything else will earn you the equivalent of a punch in the mouth. While not physically painful or …

The Amazing, Astounding Power of Words

If you know ancient myths and fairy tales at all, you know that knowing someone’s “true name” gives you power over them. This isn’t as far-fetched as you might imagine. Words form identity, and identity is at the root of culture, in organizations, teams, communities, and families. Culture change starts by identifying where you are so you know what needs …