Overcoming Roadblocks to Your Development

CHANGE IS HARD. We at Teleos are in the business of helping leaders shift the way they lead, in ways that better enable them to accomplish important goals. One insight that’s been reinforced over the years is that it’s hard to sustainably change behavior on important dimensions. Our experience is validated by a deep body of research by leadership thinkers, such as Chris Argyris’ study of how hard it is for high-performing professionals to learn.

Want To Be An Innovator? Shift Your Perspective

There’s a lot of talk these days about innovation and disruption. If you’re a front-line leader, what can you do to foster innovation? First, you must understand how your ability to innovate is directly shaped by your thoughts and beliefs about the world and yourself in it.   Let’s talk first about some actions that are key to your ability to identify and champion an innovative idea.  Across dozens of organizations that have tried to develop more innovative cultures, they consistently identify and emphasize competencies like the following:   Recognize opportunities, which others may not see, to affect organizational goals and challenges. Advocate for unpopular ideas. Challenge others’ thinking and […]

Does your job/company/boss suck?

Lately, I’ve been talking with a lot of people who are in unhappy job situations. Their company is going through a reorganization. Heads are being cut. Different groups are jockeying for power. My people are uncertain what their next job will be. Or, if there is a next job in sight, it doesn’t look good. Lower level. Less interesting. Don’t like the boss. Low-performing supervisees. Or no supervisees at all.   They’re tempted to jump ship and get away from the negative environment, but it’s not exactly as if there are tons of better opportunities beckoning. A bad job is better than no job. And would another organization be any […]

Why leadership training doesn’t work (and what you can do about it)

How many times have you gone to a leadership development workshop, had a wonderful experience, left feeling great, and then went home and kept doing the same old thing?  Or, perhaps you kept up your new resolutions for a couple of months or weeks, and then went back to doing the same old thing.   Why does this happen so consistently? And why do we, knowing this, keep on sending people to training?   Learning these skills will not lead to doing these skills. That’s because, I’ll suggest, most of the leadership skills and insights being imparted through these events are, in the words of Ronald Heifetz, “adaptive” challenges rather […]

Expose Your Thinking

I borrow this title phrase from a coaching client – I’ll call him Nick – who has identified “exposing his thinking” as a development goal. Nick wanted to have more impact in his organization, and at first he tried to do that by doing more of what he was good at – thinking. He formulated ideas inside his own head and was uncomfortable sharing those ideas until they were fully formed. He asked people questions for the purpose of fleshing out his internal problem analyses, thinking he was being inclusive by doing so, but the reason for his questions was known only to him.  He might be concerned about the […]

Getting Past Our Stuck Points – Joan’s Interview With Dan Oestreich

I recently had the pleasure to be interviewed by Dan Oestreich for his newsletter Unfolding Leadership. Dan is a deep thinker about leadership and change, and he loves to get into deep conversations about the challenges in helping leaders grow and change. Here’s the interview in its entirety. If you’re a leader who’s interested in getting past your stuck points and growing to a more effective place, this interview may provoke some insights.   Joan, can you tell us a little of your own history and learning about individual development?   When I first started working in this area at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) I was 25, a […]

How Hardship Creates Leaders

I’ve been working with a group of young leaders lately. One was talking about his background – high-achieving, top schools, good grades, an early career in a prestigious company filled with other top performers from fancy schools. This leader was frustrated to now be working in a company where, as he put it, “average” performers were the norm.   Looking at this leader’s perspective from where I sit, older and having endured many hiccups and setbacks on life’s journey, I am bemused by the young leader’s notion that being on top of the world is sustainable – and even desirable. Yet I also understand it. We’re all socialized to think […]

Rethinking “Experience” at Work

One of my favorite stories is about the young man who wanted a construction job.  At the first employer, he fiddled with a backhoe for 10 minutes before they kicked him out.  At the second employer, he made it almost half an hour.  By the third, it was up to half a day.  The fourth place he went gave him a job because he had…so much experience! I hear people use this word in many different settings.  I hear them use the word to support judgments they’ve made about another person’s capability.  I hear them use the word whether discussing skills or tasks or assignments.  In short, I hear this […]

Banish the cult of the A-B-C player!

Many managers are enamored of the ABC player model first made popular by Jack Welch at GE and since then adopted by many organizations wishing to raise the bar on employee performance and to confront festering performance problems. Some versions of this approach involve forced ranking, in which the top 20% of employees must be classified as A players, the middle 70% as B’s, and the bottom 10% as C’s – and then the C’s exited from the organization like so much deadwood.   The forced ranking component of this approach is controversial and has been abandoned by many organizations because of the toxic consequences, which were engraved into the […]

What Your Feedback To Others Says About You

Do you value giving feedback to your reports and other co-workers? Have you been told that feedback is an effective managerial tool that you should be using more? Do certain of your co-workers’ behaviors concern you, and you want to give them feedback? Here are typical stories from two managers, Joe and Diane:   Joe was frustrated about the performance of his direct report, Karen. Karen was expected to use a particular project planning tool with clients, but her habit in client meetings was to mechanistically walk through the tool instead of using it as a starting point for dialogue as Joe intended. Joe said, “I’ve really got to give […]