Leadership

Calling Out The Undiscussables

One of the most interesting things we do in organizations is render topics and truth undiscussable. Through an intersection of power and our own complicity, we allow for a rearranging of the facts to align with someone else’s preferences. That can have consequences for us, for our careers, and for our ability to simply have a coherent and objective conversation. As prevalent as the elephants in the room might be, though, there are some relatively straightforward strategies to both name them, and invite them to leave.



Stay In Your Lane

The internet is an easy place to speak your mind, without consideration of the consequences of how it will be received. Escalation happens easily. Flame wars erupt without thought. It’s all too easy to hear something you don’t like, lash out, and admonish someone to “stay in their lane.” But is it right? Is it reasonable? Is it appropriate? And what you should do when you’re on the receiving end?



Pick Up The Damn Phone

Email is without question our most popular—and most misused—means of communicating in the workplace. While success depends upon interacting well with the broad, complicated and all-too-intricate tapestry of humanity, we like to pretend that writing and text is as short-cut to doing so efficiently. Whereas every time we get it wrong and course correct (and that’s usually pretty often) we discover we’ve actually taken the long-and-by-no-means scenic route.



There Are No Rules To Politics

We like rules. Rules make life easier. Knowing that there is a right and wrong answer means that we can figure out how to be successful under all circumstances. The only problem is that life doesn’t actually work that way, particularly when engaging in politics and managing in the face of complexity and uncertainty. That’s not to say that there aren’t strategies that can help, but those strategies inherently require adaptation, a willingness to be flexible, and acceptance that the only right answer in any given situation is, “It depends.”



You Can’t Make Me

It is a little astonishing how often people presume that change can be forced. In particular, there’s an assumption that all that’s required is for senior management to tell everyone what to do, and they’ll do it. You can try. I guarantee it won’t work; at least, it won’t work for long. Leadership has a role, but it’s not the one you think.



Who Do You Need To Be?

There are a lot of hard-wired presumptions about what constitutes good presentation. There are a lot of conflicts that get created when we feel pressured to “act different, speak different or be different.” Being a speaker is one of the roles that we play in life. We have a lot of other roles, as well. And in each role, we choose how to perform, whether we make our own choices or accept the scripts of others.



Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

There’s a lovely expression that I came across a few years ago, that has helped me through some difficult and challenging situations: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Or, in the original Polish, “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.” The origins of the phrase are a little uncertain, lost to the mists of time and…
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Facilitating In-Between Spaces

The space in-between where we have been and where we are going is where change and transformation occur. The challenge is that while navigating liminal spaces is challenging enough on an individual basis, it gets exponentially more difficult when we try to do this in groups. Whether planning navigating change or planning strategy, facilitating the creation of an in-between space that genuinely allows for creative exploration is a significant undertaking. Liminality provides some insight into how to make that happen.



Principles Matter

Some of our hardest questions are hard simply because the situation is complex and the possible outcomes are fuzzy and abstract. Knowing how to make a good decision, and how to sustain one, is hard. But it doesn’t have to be. There is a way to be able to sort through the fuzziness and get to the heart of what matters.



We Should Stop Using Should

Constructive criticism very often isn’t constructive. We also tend not to receive it well, even when it’s well-meaning—and sometimes even when we ask for it. Part of the problem is with our use of the word “should.” It is a word of judgement, criticism and deflection We probably shouldn’t use it quite as frequently as we do.