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.

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 […]

Develop Your Insight

Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight. – Thomas Carlyle   Americans are busy at work.  There is no doubting this claim, and here is just a sample of the overwhelming evidence. Americans work 137 more hours/year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours/year than British workers, and 499 more hours/year than French workers. 85% of men and 66% of women work more than 40 hours per week. 88% of Americans carry devices to communicate with work during vacation.   Americans are busy, yet I often wonder just how much of that activity is guided by insight into the situations these people face.  I wonder because I seem to see […]

You might be a narcissistic leader if…

What comes to mind when you think of great leaders? Visionary? Charismatic? Big personalities? Create transformative change? If that’s your picture of a great leader, then it involves narcissism.   Surprised? Have you always thought of narcissism as a purely negative trait? The best theorist of narcissism and leadership is probably Michael Maccoby. For a fuller description of narcissistic leadership, see his HBR article. In it, he argues that many larger-than-life business leaders have been narcissists – Jack Welch, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs. Narcissism can have downsides, but it has its upsides as well. And we all have some narcissistic qualities. What’s key is being what Maccoby calls a “productive” […]

Embrace Resistance

Q – How does a pilot know that he’s over the target? A – They’re shooting at him.   An old joke, but one that a fighter pilot friend of mine swears is true.  Another saying that goes with this joke is “nobody guards an empty hole.”  Unfortunately, these sayings, while certainly funny and possible even true, also help sustain a dysfunctional model of resistance and conflict in organizations.   Conflict isn’t bad or good, and conflict certainly isn’t about “winning” or “losing,” however you define those terms.  Most people don’t resist your ideas simply to annoy you, and those few that do often prove to be inept in their […]

Be a Better Performance Coach – Ask, Don’t Tell

If you’re like most leaders, you have a picture in your head about the performance you want from your people, and you want to get them closer to that picture. When faced with a gap between how they actually perform and what you want, what do you do?  It’s likely that your first inclination is to tell the person – about how you see the situation, or what you believe they should be doing differently.  Of course you tell, right? You have a perspective you want them to get, and you see the opportunities for different approaches that you believe would be more effective. Furthermore, you probably believe that this […]

The Uncomfortable Truth about Leadership Training

Let’s get it out right up front – organizations spend billions every year on leadership training yet see little, if any, change in actions or results.  The uncomfortable truth is that most leadership training is a waste of time and money.  To better understand this situation, we need to look at three critical questions. -Why does most training fail? -Why do companies continue to spend money for so little value? -What steps can you take to make sure that your investment isn’t wasted?   There are several reasons why training fails. Confuse skill and perspective problems – This factor may be the single most common cause for why training fails.  […]

How Do You Decide Where to Spend Your Time?

It’s one of the most common challenges we work with leaders on. What should I be spending my time on? What are the most important activities for me? And, your default impulse on these questions may very well be wrong. If you don’t intentionally choose what to focus on, you will continually be reactive and likely not addressing the most important demands of your role. Leaders often choose their focus based on the following criteria:   What I have always focused on We know from decades of research on management “derailment” that, as a manager moves up in the organization, strengths can become weaknesses. People who are really good at […]

What is Bad Management?

“Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny” – Kin Hubbard   Kin Hubbard was a 19th century American journalist and humorist, declared by no less than Will Rogers as “America’s greatest humorist.”  Obviously he was going for the laugh with this quote, but there is a seed of truth here, and his quote led me to wonder – just what is “bad” management and how can you avoid it?   The effects of bad management are obvious to everyone – wealth destroyed, jobs and pensions destroyed, and entire communities or even whole economies disrupted.  One of my clients is going through a major contraction, with all the predictable negative […]

The Importance of Purpose

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning   For me, Frankl is on the short list of history’s most important and inspired thinkers.  In his masterwork on meaning, he writes extensively about the unique capacity people have to choose how they will respond to circumstances, and the critical role that meaning plays in life satisfaction.  However, I believe that he talks most eloquently about the importance of purpose.   People today often describe a life that feels like one continuous fire drill, reacting to emergent issues and […]