Be Careful Where Your Attention Goes

I was in a ride-sharing car with a timid driver (not a pretty sight in New York City!) in heavy traffic. I heard a siren closing in on us, and we were pulled over by a policeman. He admonished the driver for running a red light, took the driver’s license and registration, and disappeared into his patrol car for 17 minutes.

He gave the driver a ticket, as was totally predictable, but on lesser charges which should have been good news for the driver. But for the rest of the ride, the driver obsessed over the ticket and didn’t pay attention to doing his job. He behaved like a victim and spewed anger for the rest of the ride.

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Do You Have a Plan for Vacation Coverage?

There is nothing better than planting yourself in the sand with the sun beaming down and waves crashing against your feet. Until of course, your email dings, your phone buzzes, and your head is filled with worries about how work is going in your absence.

As Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, this topic is top of mind. Many leaders are reluctant to take off a few days or even a week for vacation because they fear what might happen in their absence. Here are some tips for effective coverage so that you can enjoy your time away.

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Have You Asked for Feedback Recently?

As a leader, you may find yourself giving feedback as frequently as every day. Letting members of your team know about areas of their work that they could improve on is integral to your role.

How often, however, do you find yourself receiving feedback? The likely answer to that is very rarely outside of any performance review that you may receive. When you are in a leadership position, people might find it uncomfortable or out of place for them to give you feedback.

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When a Curveball Comes Your Way

Sometimes life throws you a curveball, and you need to react quickly. Of course, these curveballs usually catch you off guard, so you need to be ready for action.

Curveballs can be anything from the loss of a major client to the news of a downsizing or restructuring. They can also be personal, such as coping with a serious illness or the loss of a loved one.

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Extraction from Spin

High growth business environments can morph into chaotic messes when you least expect it. As exciting as it can be to be part of rapid growth, leaders who spin around in these situations can lose perspective and tend to focus on the wrong things.

One tendency is to grasp at less important issues because they are easier to deal with than more strategic and essential issues. Those less significant matters are often ones that are in your comfort zone rather than the new challenges that arise with growth. Here are some tips to manage yourself during these times.

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Are You Dragging?

It seems like people go through phases where they drag around, and their normal fervor all but disappears. Their energy is low grade and, simply put, they’ve succumbed to a malaise.

I’ve observed this more than usual recently, and if you’re seeing this with your team, it’s time to reboot to a more energized, positive state of being. If you’re doing well but your people are down, the same message applies.

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Hack Your Brain

This topic was inspired by a conversation during a long ride with a Lyft driver. We were talking about the importance of a good attitude and he commented, “Yeah, I hack my brain every morning to make sure that it’s in the right place.”

I then learned that in addition to driving to make a living, Randy is a full-time college student (graduating next month) and cares for a seriously ill hospitalized parent. He almost flunked out of high school, was considered a loser by counselors, and against all odds got admitted to college several years after high school and is now graduating with a 3.5 average.

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Put on Your Game Face

You’re sailing along and things are going well, and out of nowhere – POW! – something happens that knocks you over. As you pick yourself up and regain composure, though, it’s important to manage your emotions. As a leader, you’re subject to scrutiny.

The courage you demonstrate at times of distress can even define you as a leader. Think about times you have observed this in others. An angry executive makes it uncomfortable for everyone else. People start to tiptoe around this leader, not wanting to trigger an explosion.

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When Delegating Backfires

Last week’s topic was on the importance and value of delegating. I received a comment from a client who raised the issue of what to do when the person to whom you delegated messes up.

Great question, but tricky answers.

Managers don’t want to get burned, so of course they avoid getting too close to fire. But if you’re in a management or leadership role, you are responsible for overseeing work assigned to others. Here are some thoughts on why delegating can backfire and some solutions to minimize future episodes.

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The “Whys” of Delegating

“I’ll just do it myself.”

This is a common refrain among managers, whether directly stated or inferred. It’s more common with newer managers and micromanagers for essentially the same reason: by the time I explain exactly what I need, I could have done it myself.

The new manager is fearful that the project won’t be done correctly, while the micromanager thinks that no one can do it as well as she can.

Regardless of the reason, the outcome is the same. When you do it yourself instead of delegating to a team member, over the long term it will backfire on you.

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