Identifying Emerging Leaders

Silhouettes of male and female businesspeople walking awayWhen you leave it up to managers to select employees for professional development programs, there’s a lot of uncertainty involved.

It depends on the quality of those managers. Are they good managers, alert to their employees’ accomplishments, skills, and career ambitions? Or are they overwhelmed, frustrated, and perhaps with their own political ax to grind?

What inherent – or, let’s face it, overt – bias is involved? With the recent protests against police violence and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, I think all white people, myself included, have (hopefully) had to take a harder, longer look at how employees are hired, managed, and promoted.

Meanwhile, the individual employee has little control in the process, since it’s based on whether their manager recognizes and acknowledges their hard work, “likes” them, and wants to reward them… and how careful they are to educate themselves about overcoming bias.

And this means your so-called Emerging Leaders and Hi-Po Employees are maybe not the best in the company. Maybe there are excellent candidates for management and leadership that just aren’t being noticed, recognized, acknowledged, or sponsored.

How do you fix this?

Ask for applications. Create an open process where anyone who wants to qualify for a leadership program submits a formal application.

I suggest these criteria:

  • Compile a set of questions requiring knowledge and understanding of your industry and your company. The answers should be essays, not multiple choice, in order to demonstrate the applicant’s written communication, critical thinking, and logic skills. Be careful not to expect manager-level thinking; remember, the whole point here is to qualify them for management and leadership training!
  • Ask them why they want to be a manager and leader. What does it mean to them personally? This is not the tired old question “where do you want to be in five years?” It’s about their values and desires, beyond the increase in pay, to advance and be a true leader.
  • Require a memo of recommendation from their immediate supervisor, at least one peer, and one other manager within the company.
  • Consider blind submissions, if at all possible. We know, sadly, that certain identifying characteristics – name, gender, race, and so on – trigger bias, whether unconscious or overt.
  • Convene a panel to review and rank the applications. Make sure they have clear guidelines for accuracy and readability. Ask the panel to review each application individually, and then meet as a group to go over the top candidates. How many they ultimately accept is, obviously, dependent on how you design the training-and-support program – in-house, outsourced, time span, budget, and so on.

By conducting the selection process in this way, the candidates are more involved, more engaged, and more likely to fully participate in the training program.

And you’ll discover hidden gems in your employee population that might otherwise have gone unnoticed – and perhaps have simply gone, off to a company where their qualities and talents are appreciated and rewarded.

Obviously, this takes some time and effort.

But given the risks involved, and the potential reward, isn’t it worth it?

Yes, I can help with any aspect of this (of course). Curious? Think this might help? Let’s talk about how it works and explore whether it could be a fit. No worries if not; this is just an exploration. Contact me, or jump right to my calendar.

gljudson Career development

What is your failure saying about success?

Sad-faced emoji holding a sign that reads OOPS!We get so hyperfocused on omg, FAILURE


Finger-pointing, excuses, project post-mortems, who screwed up, how could I be so dumb.



Failure in one area is success in another.

Flip the failure over. What succeeded?

No, I don’t mean in some sort of Pollyanna-ish, unicorns-rainbows-fairy-dust approach. (You really should know by now that I’m not a unicorns-rainbows-fairy-dust person.) This isn’t false positivity.

But in order for something to fail, something else must succeed. And when you understand the flip side of the failure, you can see what you need to do differently.

Did you succeed at flying by the seat of your pants?

Did you succeed at tuning out other people’s opinions?

Did you succeed at catching up with a friend from high school?

Maybe, then, you need to …

Plan better.

Listen more.

Restrict social media browsing.

These skills – flexible responses, ignoring nay-sayers, and maintaining relationships (see what I did there?) are valuable.

In the right place.

For instance, I’m great at group facilitation, responding to questions, managing discussion. And if I bury myself in the Facebook groups I belong to, my fellow group members may appreciate me, but … I’m not getting other, more-important work done.

So I can succeed very well at group engagement and support. But then I fail in other areas of my business that need tending if I’m actually going to have a business.

What are you succeeding at that may be leading to failure where it really matters?

gljudson Career development

Leading through Uncertainty: a call to action

What does it mean to be a manager and leader in a time when everything seems to be turned upside down?

Are you ready to take on the challenge?

This isn’t an easy time for anyone, especially the first-line manager. I offer three key questions to help you decide what you’ll do.

The choice is yours. Are you ready?


Check out this post on my Facebook page for more resources: It’s only a few, but a solid and informative few.

Also see this article on what “defunding the police” really means:

And this from an ex-policeman:

gljudson Management & Leadership, Video

But I don’t know what to say!

Black circle with white letters reading "Black lives matter"I was gently taken to task last week by a Black friend who said she “would have welcomed a message” from me when the Black Lives Matter protests started after the police murder of George Floyd.

I won’t deny it: that stung, and it should have stung. I deserved it.

The challenge for so many of us white people is both simple and complex. We don’t know what to say.

Speaking for myself, but suspecting I’m not alone: I’m feeling a mixture of uncertainty, guilt, denial, anger, frustration, sadness, and confusion.

What should we say?

How do we express our uncertainty, regret, shame, embarrassment, confusion, and desire to help in a way that

  • Doesn’t ask our Black colleagues to – yet again – take on the burden of educating us?
  • Respects the trauma of systemic racism?
  • Doesn’t sound defensive?
  • Doesn’t add insult to injury or hurt people we care about?
  • … and so much more.

I don’t know.

But here’s what I do know: saying nothing is worse.

And? I get it. You’re not racist. Except – you are. I am. White people are racist because the culture and society are racist. It’s the fish-doesn’t-know-it’s-wet problem. Culturally inherent privilege is invisible to the privileged. And – and this is important – white privilege doesn’t mean life hasn’t been hard. It means the color of your skin hasn’t made it harder.

In any event, it’s not enough to believe and claim that we’re not racist.

If things are to change, we must become anti-racist.

How do we become anti-racist? 

I don’t know. Yet.

I’m trying to learn. And I’m going to make mistakes. As Ericka Hines (diversity and leadership consultant, coach, and trainer) puts it, “be humble and ready to fumble.” I’m trying!

And here are the resources I’m starting with:

White Fragility: why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism, by Robin J. DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson

So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo

How to Be An Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi

There are plenty of others. I don’t know about you, but I’m overwhelmed by all the resources, and I don’t want to add more to the pile that you’re probably also dealing with. These are books because I’m a reader. If you prefer video or audio:

Robin DiAngelo has videos on her website (

Ijeomo Oluo appears on many podcasts and video interviews; Google her

Ibram X. Kendi has also appeared on podcasts and video interviews, some of which are listed on his Media page (

Three business leaders (Ericka Hines, Susan Hyatt, Rachel Rodgers) organized an almost-two-hour live-streamed Small Business Town Hall on June 10th, with speakers Robert Hartwell, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Nathan Barry. Fabulous stuff, available now on YouTube.

Again, there are many others. Start somewhere. Where is less important than starting.

As a leader, are you ready to bring resources into your workplace?

More resources:

Desiree Lynn Adaway is a consultant, trainer, coach, and speaker at The Adaway Group.

Ericka Hines is a consultant, strategist, trainer, curriculum designer, and Principal at Every Level Leads.

And understand this, too: it’s okay if you feel overwhelmed and exhausted by it all. It’s probably a good thing, because it means you’re paying attention.

Just remember two things.

  1. Black people have been feeling overwhelmed and exhausted for centuries. (As have other marginalized groups, too.)
  2. Don’t let those feelings keep you from understanding, learning, and taking action.

gljudson Better conversations

Interview: Uplevel your leadership skills

As a feminist from my youth, I was delighted to be invited to the Petite2Queen podcast to talk about leadership, imposter syndrome, the importance of recognizing the impact that you, as a leader, have on your team, why you should make sure you own your leadership journey – and important questions about women and leadership.

At 25 minutes, I’m amazed how much we packed in!

gljudson Management & Leadership, Podcast interviews

Time management tips for managers

Time management is a tricky thing!

And I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t actually believe in time management.

But I DO believe in a host of tools that I’ll talk about in this video that will help you get a lot more out of your time each day. Tune in and see what you think!


Morningness-Eveningness quiz:

Delegation tips video:

Delegation article – with dog!

gljudson Career development, Video

Are you going *around* problems?

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”
~ Henry Ford

Photo of a yellow-and-black DETOUR sign on a chain-link fenceDoes that sound familiar?

It’s not unusual.

There’s something about the human psyche that prefers to stay stuck in a familiar pattern – going around a problem – instead of evaluating the situation and creating change.

We don’t like change, even when the current experience is painful. As the saying goes, better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t.

And figuring out the root cause of a problem can seem daunting.

Easier to just go around.

Or is it?

What problem are you avoiding looking at?

What are you going around that you could – with a little critical thinking, a little effort, a little tweaking – solve?

How much time, energy, frustration, irritation, annoyance, and struggle would that save in the long run?

Pick a problem you’ve been going around. Any size. Define it. Figure out the next step to solve it. Go.

gljudson Strategic thinking

Do you have “imagination intelligence”?

Photo of a hand very gently holding a puffy white cloudWhat do you want to be different than it currently is?*

Can you imagine it?

Can you look at and experience what’s here now, and then imagine something different?

Do you have the courage to imagine something different?

Can you step outside the mindset of how it’s always been – and see something new?

Can you manipulate the future in your thoughts – in your imagination – and discover new possibilities?

Or are you stuck in the past? Mired in a victim mindset? Convinced you can’t DO that?

Imagination is a key leadership skill.

Envisioning a different future, different options, new possibilities, new ways of doing things – without this, you can’t plan, you can’t grow, you can’t advance. Personally or professionally.

How will you develop your imagination intelligence?

* This refers to things within your control. We would all like the pandemic to be “different than it is,” and there are certain things that we can control (you know what they are; I don’t need to repeat them), certain things we cannot control (likewise), and some things we have influence over (possibly family, friends, colleagues).

When working with imagination, we must remember those three spheres: what we can control, what we cannot control, and what we have influence over.

Imagination applied to anything we cannot control is at best daydreaming and fantasizing, and at worst victim-thinking and depression. Don’t go there. Be clear on this.

gljudson Strategic thinking

Improving team morale … in difficult times

When your team is distracted, drooping, upset over what’s happening (whatever it may be), what can you do to get them back on track, engaged and productive again? How can you raise your team’s morale, even when things are hard? In this video, you’ll learn five non-cheesy tips to help boost your team’s morale and get them focused again.


Article on saying “thank you” in the most effective ways:

Managing Workplace Gossip video:

Managing a Gossiping Employee:

gljudson Management & Leadership, Video

The stress of Not Knowing

Upside down and hanging onPeople are starting to really feel the effects of extended upheaval and stress … and not knowing.

It’s hard. All of it is hard. Not knowing what’s going to happen, not knowing who will get sick, not knowing who’s already sick and about to infect you.

Not knowing if you’ll have a job (if you currently have one), or find a job (if you don’t). Not knowing how long all of this is going to go on. Not knowing if you’ll ever feel comfortable going out to dinner, attending a party, or even just going to get your hair cut.

Really, really freaking hard.

We’ve all had to deal with not knowing in our lives. The challenge right now is that there’s so much more not knowing going on, and life as we did know it feels turned completely upside down.

Actually, it doesn’t just feel that way; for many of us, it is completely upside down, and for all of us, it’s somewhat upside down.

How do we deal with it? How do we help our teams, family members, and friends deal with it?

I wish I had some magical answers. I do have a few suggestions.

“Future You” does know

I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating.

There’s a Future You who knows what happened.

Take some time to just sit and breathe that in.

And ask yourself … what did Future You do to get through this time?


Our brains and bodies did not evolve to live with extended high-alert stress – but here we are, nonetheless.

It takes a toll. It’s exhausting.

One way to burn off some of that excess adrenaline and cortisol is to MOVE.

Run. Dance. Bicycle. Do jumping jacks. Do something.

Yoga is great, but for this, you need big, energy-burning movement.


Video calls are great. I can’t imagine how we’d be getting through all this if it weren’t for video calls.

But three-dimensional people are better.

We’ve been having “six-feet-apart, BYOEverything” parties on the weekends. Two other couples, they bring their chairs, beverage, and nibbles of choice, and we hang out in the driveway. My husband draws chalk marks, complete with smiley faces, on the concrete, six feet apart, and there we take our places.

At the end of the evening, everyone is surprised at how fast the time went – and how much fun it was.

You may not live where this is possible, but if you do, do it.

Accept lower productivity

The constant sense of danger that comes from so much disruption takes an energetic toll.

Add to that the pressure to keep up with everything, do all your work from home, manage your team remotely, figure out how to keep the kids occupied (and learning at least something relevant to their schoolwork), stay on top of everything the house, garden, and pets need, and oh, yes, get groceries …

There’s a lot going on.

So don’t fall for the social media prompts that say, “Oh, well, since you have so much time on your hands, why not learn something new, write the next great American novel, create that immaculate garden you’ve always wanted,” and so on and so forth.

You probably have less time on your hands than BP (Before Pandemic). And even if you do have more, you also have more stress that’s burning up available brainpower. So don’t push yourself to do All The Things.

Accept lower productivity. Accept that some of your employees are going to be a tad scatterbrained. It’s okay – and even if it’s not, it’s still reality, and compassion for yourself and everyone around you will make all of this at least a little easier.

There is another side. We don’t know – YET – what that looks like. And someday we will.

gljudson Management & Leadership, Self-talk