Own Your Tough Statements

There are certain words and phrases that can get us on the defensive before we even know what the topic is. One of the big ones is “No offense, but…” And related cushions followed by the word but. Remember that people on tight teams can handle tough talk. It’s okay for you to deliver tough … Read more

Leaders Explore Implications

People who explore implications show patience in evaluating ideas to determine potential benefits and drawbacks. I stayed in a brand-new hotel recently, and noticed something odd; the bathroom door was spring loaded to swing shut. Furthermore, when I checked in, the bathroom light and fan were on and running. This meant that when I entered … Read more

Leaders Seek Counsel

People who seek counsel tend to consult with trusted advisors to help evaluate risks and possible outcomes. We’ll start with a real-life negative example: A new superintendent in a school district put forth a new program idea: SCUBA diving instruction. He had done it at his old school, to great success (according to him), so he … Read more

Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying (Part 9)

Here’s a common question, but it’s confusing and vague: “Would you mind?” For example, “Would you mind getting the report in a day early?” Seems like a basic question – but how do you handle the answer, “Sure!” Lots of times, it goes like this: “Sure… sure you’ll do it, or sure you’ll mind?” “What?” … Read more

Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying (Part 8)

There are times in conversations or meetings when you really want to move on, but you don’t want to shut people down. So, you use a generic question that unintentionally telegraphs a lack of openness, rather than a desire to check-in. For example: “Does that make sense?” “Any questions?” “Does everybody get that?” Unfortunately, there’s no … Read more

The Problem with “Why”

Early in my teaching career, a guidance counselor gave me brilliant advice when exploring the reasons why someone made a decision. It was counter-intuitive: Resist asking “why“. He explained the reasoning by asking me to think about what “why” opens up – the prepared answer, the agenda, the (by definition) inner thoughts and motives that … Read more