Leaders Are Encouraging

People who are encouraging tend to inspire others to believe in the importance of their work. When aligning a team, an aloof or matter-of-fact approach can be the opposite of what you need. I was part of a student activities group in college led by a staff person named Ben. Ben would never begin conversations with … Read more

Leaders Are Expressive

People who are expressive tend to be upbeat and communicate in an open and lively manner. In a previous life, I was a band director. If you’ve ever been involved in any fall school activity in a Midwestern high school, you know that “Senior Night” is a big night at the football game, especially for … Read more

Leaders Celebrate Constraints

When I was a band teacher, we experienced a staff cut. In 10 years, the department went from 7 teachers serving about 500 students to 5 teachers serving 600. The superintended gave us that left-handed compliment that’s supposed to reassure us while also keeping us quiet: “If anyone could do this, you can. We believe … Read more

Never Plan for the Worst Case Scenario

I was in line at Costco, buying light bulbs and toilet paper, and noticed that the man behind me was looking me and my cart over with suspicion on his face. Eventually, he said “Hrmph. Mercury.” I wanted to say “Pluto?” but instead I said, “Sorry?” “Those bulbs have mercury in ’em. So dangerous they’re … Read more

Leaders Know The Difference Between “Direct” And “Brutal”

Sometimes when leaders are urged to be more “clear” and “direct” with people, they make a clumsy attempt to do so, and end up accidentally being “brutal”. Brutality leads to shame, and diminished engagement. Directness leads to clarity, and improved relationships because of less guesswork and more actual work. Four habits to help you avoid crossing the line … Read more

Leaders Find Unexpected Ways To Thank And Inspire

Leaders know that it’s important to show appreciation, maintain optimism, and attend to rituals and traditions. These can inspire and motivate. But consider the element of surprise and novelty. That works even better. While everyone appreciates “jeans on Friday”, there are more surprising ways to show some thanks. Consider playing against type: In a manufacturing, … Read more