Posted: March 30th, 2014

The next time you want to complain about Gen Y…

When I was in my 20s I had a real problem with speeding tickets.  New Hampshire has tough traffic laws and I was put up for “habitual offender” a couple of times, although with the help of a fantastic attorney I was never actually certified as habitual.   Good thing, because habitual offenders lose their license for years and sometimes go…

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Posted: March 15th, 2014

The question I can’t answer

One day recently a woman who had been in my team building class stopped by to say hello.  She wanted to tell me a story about how she had been courageous in addressing a safety problem in her building, something that supervisors had tried to brush under the carpet.  She said, “So it would be nice if we could all…

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Posted: February 23rd, 2014

Ruminations on Level 5 leadership

I’m re-reading Jim Collins’ classic Good to Great this week, after many years.  I’m struck by how much clearer the concept of Level 5 leadership is to me now than it was ten years ago. First, a refresher for those who haven’t read the book recently. Collins and his team of researchers studied a group of companies whose stock market performance…

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Posted: February 10th, 2014

Restoring a sense of purpose

I know from experience that a sense of purpose and meaning in one’s work is far more motivating than money or any other tangible benefit.  Back when I was a volunteer for a Colorado mountain rescue team, I would put aside everything on my desk when the pager sounded and race into the wilderness with my teammates, because helping to…

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Posted: January 19th, 2014

To take your tribe to the next level, upgrade their language

After watching Dave Logan’s TED talk about tribal leadership last spring, and blogging about it in fascination, I finally read his book.  Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, which Logan co-wrote with John King and Halee Fischer-Wright, is really about the power of language and how it shapes and reveals the reality of a tribe.  Logan,…

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Posted: January 9th, 2014

Don’t do multiple choice exams

Questions are so powerful for learning and communication. We all know that already. But a great post by Shane Snow illustrates how important it is to use the right kinds of questions.  He points out that an interviewer who asks open-ended questions and then gets out of the way will produce a much more interesting interview than one who “administers…

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Posted: December 29th, 2013

Absence of conflict is boring and ineffective

My latest Netflix binge is The West Wing, the political drama series that won numerous awards during its 1999 – 2006 run on NBC.  While re-reading Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team this week I realized what makes The West Wing so fascinating to me; it’s the phenomenal team dynamics of the group that plays the presidential senior…

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Posted: December 17th, 2013

Autonomy, mastery and purpose is a recipe for change as well as engagement

Dan Pink, author of the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, says  that when we’re seeking creative problem-solving-type work, we must create an environment that fosters engagement by focusing on autonomy, mastery and purpose.  Employees will perform at their best when they have a sense that their work serves an important purpose, when they have choices about…

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Posted: November 21st, 2013

The quandary of bad intentions

One of my favorite topics for a team building session is the fundamental attribution error, or FAE for short.  The FAE is a concept in social psychology which says we tend to interpret our own behavior in terms of situational factors; I did what I did because it made sense given the circumstances.  But when it comes to the behavior…

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Posted: November 3rd, 2013

Purpose makes it feel better

About ten years ago I joined a volunteer mountain rescue group in Colorado.   My new-member training was rough at first; I didn’t take easily to the basic medical and technical skills I would need in order to join the team, and I wondered how well I would handle the inevitable pressure, mayhem and carnage involved in a real rescue. About…

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