From Leading a Team to Leading Leaders

Has the scope of your role increased?  Are you now leading leaders with teams of their own, rather than leading a team of individual contributors? Then you have a challenge. You can’t be the expert in every area you lead. You can’t be the problem-solver every time there is a crisis. Somehow, you need to find a way to have your finger on the pulse of your organization without monitoring everything directly. You need to “scale” yourself or you will be overwhelmed. And hardest of all, you may need to step further back from activities that you have found personally satisfying.   SO WHAT CAN YOU DO? To scale yourself […]

Building Others’ Commitment to Your Success

Beneath the surface of any leader’s daily actions lies a set of assumptions about what will make the leader successful. Some of the assumptions I’ve repeatedly seen include:   I need to have others in the organization give me/my group credit for our contribution and value. I need to show my competence and strategic thinking. I need to focus on the task being done “right”.  I need to overcome opposition to my goals and strategies.   The pitfalls of these typical assumptions about success When leaders hold these assumptions as true, they remain focused on their own goals and achievement. They may accomplish the goals they’ve set for themselves, but […]

I’m right, and they’re wrong – The “Grrrr!” moment

It’s a common frustration among managers, as they try to work with others to get things done. “They don’t get it!” “It’s their fault that things aren’t going right!” “I’m the only one who can do this right!”  “Why won’t they do (or see) it my way?” When a manager is in the throes of that frustration, I call it the “Grrrr!” moment.   These managers will go on to provide elaborate explanations about why their point of view on the issue at hand is logically correct. But I believe the logic covers something deeper. Behind the conviction of rightness is often a need to be right … which goes […]

Stop Treating Conflicts Like Problems

My partner, Joan, wrote a great piece about learning to love conflict. In that post, she cited Ron Heifetz, who claims that the essential quality of leadership is the ability to resolve competing values – in other words, to resolve conflicts. I want to build on her strong start by discussing one of the biggest challenges to effective conflict resolution – which is treating conflicts as if they were problems. I recently conducted a workshop on collaborative conflict resolution. When we got to the part about developing remedies, participants tried to resolve their conflicts with “the usual suspects” – appeals to policies or rules, shared goals, or methodological standards. In […]

What’s Good About Having A Bad Boss?

So you have the boss from hell? Seems that lots of people have had this experience. A recent study claims that 65% of Americans would like a better boss – almost twice as many as would like a pay raise. Here are some typical “bad boss” complaints I’ve heard. takes credit for your accomplishments throws projects at you without explaining them, and then explains why your work is “all wrong” when you bring back the finished job yells, attacks, bullies you micromanages inaccessible when you need help plays favorites overly demanding, doesn’t honor your work-life boundaries   A Different Way To Look At It The experience of living with a […]

Learn to Love Conflict

It’s almost universal. When I talk with leaders about conflict, they say they don’t like it. Seasoned leaders may add, “Of course I don’t like conflict – who does? But I’ve learned to deal with it.” I wonder, though. Why is conflict so disliked, even by those who have developed skills to address it? Could you instead imagine welcoming conflict as valuable, and feeling no anxiety about it? To understand why we dislike conflict, and to possibly change our attitudes towards it, we need to look beyond the phenomenon of conflict itself, and focus instead on our beliefs and assumptions about conflict, and our emotional tendencies in conflict situations, which […]