Why Conflict is Good

Conflict. It’s good. It’s an opportunity. It’s a pivot point from which new understanding can emerge and new strengths are developed. Embrace it.

Some conflicts aren’t good (I lied a little bit, above, for effect.) When aliens attack – that’s not good. When the crazy person sues for no good reason – that’s not good. When your employer isn’t making the choices they need to make to stay competitive or fund your position – that may not be good.

However, most conflicts that occur at work are good. Or, at least, they are opportunities from which good can be created. Many of those opportunities are so rich with possibility that you may actually be better off for having the conflict to begin with. ... READ MORE »

Building a Healthy Self-Image

In my previous article I wrote about how a negative self-image limits us from operating at our best. How we see ourselves impacts others and our ability to excel as leaders. As a result, it is a leader’s responsibility to actively cultivate a healthy self-image.

Here’s how it works:

Healthy Self Image - New Page(1) ... READ MORE »

Failing Before You’ve Begun? Discover the Link between Self-Confidence and Leadership

“Are you able to do this?” The CEO was sitting across from me in an overstuffed chair in a remote lodge that served as the location for a 3-day retreat.

For reasons I didn’t understand, I felt intimidated by her. Her question didn’t help. I answered, “Yes” with as much poise as I could muster. She wasn’t chatty. My mind went blank. The conversation ended quickly and uncomfortably.

That was years ago when I was just starting out as a consultant. I had worked, very effectively, within this organization throughout the previous year. I had helped enact wide-scale change quickly and efficiently. I was respected by senior management and staff. I had been successful in helping them navigate several challenging issues and transitions. ... READ MORE »

Making Strategic Planning Work

Here’s a dirty little secret: Strategic planning doesn’t work - at least most of the time.

For most organizations and leadership teams, the time and money put into their planning retreats is a lost investment.

Most new clients tell me, if they’ve even done planning in the past, they can’t remember their strategic priorities. Or, they can’t remember where their strategic plan is. And they definitely can’t describe whether, or how, they’ve completed their plan. ... READ MORE »

Leadership Health

Years ago, when I was a new executive director, I met with two other senior leaders. I was dealing with some kind of cough-congestion combo and was feeling a little drained. As we sat and caught up, one of the men looked at me and commented, “It sounds like you have ‘executive’s disease.’”

As I prepared to explain germ theory to him – he continued: “It seems like executives are always running themselves thin; absorbing stress and not taking care of themselves. Executives are often sick.”

It was true. Since I had taken this position, I had experienced an array of nagging physical ailments. This conversation propelled my journey to learn how to ‘be well’ as a leader. ... READ MORE »

Three Leadership Toxins

Leaders lead out of who they are. You are your greatest leadership tool. Because of this, it’s an obligation of leadership to continually work on your growth and wellness.

Fearful or insecure leaders tend to either be rigid, defensive or vacillating. Angry leaders may be reactive, spiteful or dominating. Depressed leaders may withdraw or be unpredictable.

Conversely, confident leaders are both able to set a clear direction and welcome input that may alter the direction. Calm and reflective leaders are able to respond appropriately and with the right balance of engagement and authority. Resilient, positive leaders engage challenges and disappointments as opportunities. ... READ MORE »

Why Leadership Has Everything To Do With It

Fourteen years ago, I was working in Kosovo with the glamorous title of ‘Psychosocial Officer’. Due to the war and the ethnic cleansing that had taken place there was concern regarding the impacts of PTSD. One of my projects was to launch two therapeutic preschools.

I established the first school in a poor, minority community of Roma and Ashkali. It had two classes of students. Both classes were more or less identical in composition and were held in the same room at different times. The same teachers worked with both classes. They had the same curriculum, equipment and toys.

Within the first couple of months, we noticed that one of the classes seemed to get wildly out of control during the day. The other class seemed fine and reasonably well behaved. The teachers were unable to understand or get a handle on the situation. ... READ MORE »

Does Your Leadership Help or Hinder?

In honor of the 4th of July I’ll reflect on my recent participation in a Goruck Challenge. This event was started by a former Green Beret who wanted to offer the personal challenge and team building experience of the US Special Forces to everyone.

In their own words: The GORUCK Challenge is a team event, never a race. Think of it as a slice of Special Operations training where - from start to finish - a Special Operations Cadre challenges, teaches, and inspires your small team to do more than you ever thought possible. Leadership is taught and teamwork is demanded on missions spanning the best of your city. The hardest part? Signing up.

For us this looked like: A group of 34 men and 3 women – most of whom were strangers to each other. Our cadre was a former Marine Force Recon. He took us on a 12 hour, 9pm to 9am adventure. Each man in the group carried a 40-lb pack. Each woman carried a 30-lb pack. Over the course of the night we: ... READ MORE »

Two Leadership Lessons from Iraq 2011

In 2011 the US withdrew troops from Iraq and, initially, things looked good. In terms of security, military and civilian deaths had dropped to an all-time low. In terms of economy, Iraq’s GDP was roaring up the charts.

Now, only three years later, things appear to be unraveling. What happened? And what we can we learn, as it applies to leadership, here are home?

Simply put – Prime Minister (at that time) Nouri al-Maliki and his government neglected two enormously important leadership responsibilities. ... READ MORE »

The Opportunity in Mistakes

Not long ago I was playing with my 2 year old son. I discovered two important things: First, the little guy has a powerful head-butt. Second, I needed to repair my now broken eyeglass frames.

An eyeglass shop referred me to a local jeweler for the repair. As I entered his store, I noticed a large sign on the wall saying, “Your satisfaction is guaranteed!” Feeling confident that this little inconvenience would soon be resolved, I left my glasses with them and went on my way.

A week later, I returned to pick them up. To my initial delight, they had fixed the broken frame perfectly. However, as I tried them on, I quickly noticed a long, deep scratch across the front of one of the lenses. I pointed this out. The store manager was working in the back. He looked up and said, “It couldn’t have happened here.” ... READ MORE »