There’s right and wrong, not just better or worse.


Frank Bruni in the NY Times writesWeary of Relativity:

“SAY anything critical about a person or an organization and brace for this pushback: At least he, she or it isn’t as bad as someone or something else.


Set the bar low enough and all blame is deflected, all shame expunged. Choose the right points of reference and behold the alchemy: naughty deeds into humdrum conformity. Excess into restraint. Sinners into saints.


Like I said, you can set the bar anywhere you want.

And you can justify almost anything by pointing fingers at people who are acting likewise or less nobly.


Everything’s relative.

Except it’s not.

There are standards to which government, religion and higher education should be held. There are examples that politicians and principled businesspeople should endeavor to set, regardless of whether their peers are making that effort. There’s right and wrong, not just better or worse.

And there’s a word for recognizing and rising to that: leadership. We could use more of it.”

Don’t miss Bruni’s entire Op-Ed essay: Weary of Relativity

Image Credit

10 Guaranteed Steps to Leadership Excellence


  1. Be strategic. Be Tactical. Be a firefighter.
  2. Push for productivity. For excellence. Pull. Pull with PURPOSE.
  3. Set pace. Drive. Pause. Stop. Change. BALANCE.
  4. Build Relationships. CARE. Keep adequate distance.
  5. Learn. Coach. Nurture. Correct.
  6. Hire. Upgrade. Right-size. Fire. (sigh)
  7. Lead. Manage. Own. Delegate. Follow. Release.
  8. Show Strength. Be Resilient. Be Tough. Be Fair. Be compassionate. Admit weakness.
  9. Cheer. Rally. Celebrate. Recognize. Recover.  Regroup. INSPIRE.
  10. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. Be on. BE ON.


Image Credit


Good to be wrong

black and white,portrait,

It’s my third email of the day.
I’m reading.
A member on the team is getting accolades.
I flashback to a conversation with his manager three years ago.

He’s rough. Not sure he has it. Big Risk.
“There’s talent there. Trust me.”

I send him a note: “I’m proud we’re on the same team.”

Seconds later my email is flashing with his reply.

You made my day.”

I push my chair back.

And turn my back to my desk and stare out the window.

Good to be wrong.

Image Credit

Connecting those threads

Picaso - Cory Smith

New leadership books pour over the dam each day claiming to share a secret sauce.  A cow rhythmically chewing and regurgitating its cud. But far less effective.  It largely comes down to these eight lines from James Autry.  Period.

In every office
you hear the threads
of love and joy and fear and guilt,
the cries for celebration and reassurance,
and somehow you know that connecting those threads
is what you are supposed to do
and business takes care of itself.

~ James A. Autry

Source: 800CEORead – Bring Your Emotional Self to Work.  The words above were written by James A. Autry and are included in Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership (p.32).  And all of this reminds me of the John Maxwell quote:  “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Image Credit: Cory Smith –

We shuffle to…

psychology, up and down, mood swings, mental health, quote, failure, success

Source: Stuffandsonenterprises

The Musher is at the back…

For once, I didn’t hover. I didn’t smother. I didn’t micromanage. I didn’t edit every page of the presentation deck. I didn’t pour over the agenda. I stepped away. I trusted.

Several hours before the event I tried to inject. I was told to step away. That I was being a “buzz kill.” Let it be Dave. Let it be. And so, I let it be.

Our town hall is held 2-3x per year.

The large auditorium filled slowly. Too slowly for me. (It’s always too slow for me.) My anxiety climbing. Yet, it filled.

These meetings start slowly. A sense of unease. Shifting in the seats.  It is near the end of the day and minds are turning to the commute home, to family, to dinner.

Front line team members gave business updates. Not senior management. Not middle management. [Read more…]

Are you an effective manager?

I’ve been slacking on the “Lead” part of “Lead.Learn.Live.”  I’ve been distracted with “Premium” Hot Chocolate, Grilled Cheese sandwiches and painted pumpkins inspired by Jackson Pollock.  Here’s one of two leadership primers to kick off the coming week.

The Harvard Business Review authors of Does Management Really Work? conducted research over a 10-year period involving thousands of organizations to determine whether companies adhere to three practices that are considered essential elements of good management.  Before we get to the 3 basic elements, two of the key findings of this research were:

1) Many organizations throughout the world are very badly managed

2) Effective Management execution on the basic practices is strongly correlated with better results

Take a pause before hitting the “read more” link.  (I’ve already done it…so play along.)  What exactly are these 3 essential management practices?

[Read more…]

Do you want to spend your life eking out barely better solutions to problems we’ve already solved?

What does it take to be selected as one of the world’s most influential management thinkers?  You think and write like Umair Haque.  Someone who freezes you in your tracks.  And makes you ponder deeply.  This man operates in rarefied air.  This is the second of his posts that I’ve come across from the HBR Blog Network.  Skip my excerpts below and bang on this link to read the full post: The Next Big Thing.

Perhaps we’ve gotten a little too seduced by the quest for the Next Big ThingWhile it’s certain there will be a next big thing…that will redraw the boundaries of productivity, efficiency, effectiveness — perhaps, the biggest thing we need to face next is us.”

“…Not “us” in the vague, internetzy sense of “the collective.” But “us” as in the even more imprecise, yet razor-sharp sense of what pulses through you and me when we feel most alive; what ripples gently through us, when we feel alone, hurt, small, afraid, taut with grief. The stuff that makes us us: not just well-behaved, obedient, productive atoms in the economic world, but feeling, thinking, doing, living beings in the human world.”

[Read more…]

All we need is…


Image Credit

Two rules for success…

This short clip was shared with me by my Brother. (Thank you!)
I believe Mr. Jobs is squarely on point.

“People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing and it’s totally true.  And the reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t, any rational person would give up.  It’s really hard.  And you have to do it over a sustained period of time.  So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up.  And that’s what happens to most people, actually.”
– Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Is your team disengaged or drifting? If yes, what are you doing about it?

In a biannual survey conducted in September 2011, Modern Survey, a human capital measurement company,  found the following:

  •  70% of employees are now either disengaged or under engaged at their job – a record high number since Modern Survey began tracking these numbers in 2007 before the recession started.
  •  The number of fully engaged employees has dropped to a record low of just 8%…compared to one year ago when 15% of the workforce was fully engaged, the most recent data demonstrates a profound deterioration in the number of workers who are fully committed to their work and to their organization.
  • The engagement components which have seen the furthest erosion in the past year include “discretionary effort,” down ten percentage points from 58% favorable in August 2010 to 48% favorable in September 2011, and “belief in the future of the organization,” which has tumbled most severely from 48% favorable in 2010 to just 34% in the most recent study.
  • Shockingly, while 70% of workers are disengaged or under engaged, approximately one fifth of workers reported that they are currently looking for a new job. (Because of view that there are few jobs to be had and/or they would have to take a pay cut).

So, you have disengaged employees or they are drifting.  And, they aren’t going to leave so it’s your problem to fix.  A recent article in HBR outlines 4 steps to get back on track:

  1. Sit with your team and discuss what you have observed in a non-judgmental way setting the tone for and open non-defensive conversation.
  2. Ask others what they are experiencing.  Let everyone be heard.
  3. Revisit your vision.  Why do we exist.  What purpose do we serve.  Where are we going.  What are shared values.  Taking a “time out” to pull your team together, to regroup and refocus on your vision, will allow you to easily set a new trajectory that will get you where you want to go
  4. Last, move to problem-solving. What’s the best way to get back on track? What goals will move your team toward your shared vision? Do you need to change about the way you work together?
%d bloggers like this: