The Awesome Leader Blog

I write about anything that can help leaders gain a snappy, specific set of skills for managing up and managing teams.

Languishing & High Performers

Languishing is the Verb of the Month . . . And Your High Performers Know It

Do You Feel This Way?

Frustrated yet kinda focused. Working but not as productive as before. Not depressed yet not really happy. Lost in thought and really looking forward to another night on the couch with Netflix.

I hear the above from CEOs, founders, VPs, new managers, individual contributors, friends, neighbors . . . most everyone.

Does any of it sound familiar to you?

Adam Grant's recent New York Times piece is a "don't miss it you'll love it" article.

Yes, I need less trite language to express how important this piece is you, your team, and your company. Anyway, please read it.

Grant, author of Give and Take, writes about this funk we're all in.

It's not burnout or depression or hopelessness, but it's definitely something.

Here's what it is: languishing.

Languishing was coined by Corey Keyes, a sociologist who was trying to figure out why people who weren't stress weren't thriving either. They were...

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Leadership Spring Cleaning: Start, Stop, Continue

leadership management Apr 08, 2021

You Have Ideas: Put Them Into Start, Stop Continue

Start, Stop, Continue is one of my favorite brainstorming and organizing techniques. 

I use it often in executive coaching discussions, and over the past month, I’ve been using it to spring clean my mind and my business.

Let me explain.

I’m sure you’ve found yourself feeling like this at some time, probably recently. 

You want to say something, you need to tackle something, you have something brewing in your mind, you have ideas for brainstorming yet somehow putting them on paper or in a Miro board or typing them feels too hard

The problem seems too big to get ideas out. Because your ideas feel small. Or too simple. Or too few for, again, a big problem. 

You have stuff to say, but you need categories or prompts to begin to organize and validate your thoughts. 

This is where and how the model of Start, Stop, Continue comes to your rescue.

It’s as simple as it looks and sounds.

Ask...

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Got Bad Managers?

leadership management Feb 01, 2021
Raise your hand if you know a bad manager.

I can’t see the raised hands, but I know they are there.


Some of you are holding them up high. You shot those hands up as soon as you read my prompt. "Yes!" is what you’re saying aloud. "Yes! I know a bad manager!"

Some of you have those hands up, yet you’re sheepishly raising them. I’m guessing you’re at your "desk"--the kitchen, living room, or family room table--and you are cautiously raising your hand, wondering if anyone else can see you admitting to the truth: you know bad managers. You’re thinking, "Oh, no, don’t remind me about that. Ugh, yes, we have bad managers. I know bad managers."

I can’t see you and your raised hands, but here’s the deal:

Other people see the bad managers.

They feel the burden of working with bad managers.

They feel the frustration, anger, and sadness of working for bad managers.

Poor leaders. Difficult leaders. Bad leaders. Incompetent leaders. Call them what...
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You Made it Through 2020--Here's Your Ribbon

leadership management Dec 18, 2020

 

You Participated in 2020. Congratulations.


So, it's Friday, December 18, and the best thing I can say to all of you today is:
  1. Thanks for being here. For reading what I write and choosing to learn to be a better leader, and
  2. I'm happy to award this "Participated" ribbon to you!

I've had this ribbon around my office for a few years. I got it the same day I bought the demerit badge for whining (see below and BTW you can buy these badges here. I think I have earned the "caffeine addict", "chocoholic", "martini", "pizza", "I survived", and "overloaded" badges this year--perhaps several more).

This ribbon is a marker you can use to recognize the confusion, agony, waiting, refreshing your phone, voting, masking up, arguing, homeschooling, washing hands, ordering online, Zoom calls, and sanitizing you did this year. Congratulations!

You made it through 2020.

I really hope your 2020 was more than just making it, yet if you just made it through, that's fine. You were here. You...
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It's Not About Perfection

management Oct 19, 2020

Anyone remember this game?

A few years ago, my mom was going through my "things" (what she calls stuff in my childhood bedroom), and she brought me a bag of junk (what I call that stuff). And in that bag was the game of Perfection.

I have it in my office now. I just played it earlier this week (literally and symbolically).

I reminded myself how much I despise the game yet secretly love the name and love the ambition of perfection.

The race against the clicking clock to get all those pieces in the right places before the whole thing goes "POP!"

Many days I feel as if I’m going to pop.

Is it because I’m racing towards perfection? I don’t so think, but I do know I'm trying to put lots of pieces into tiny holes all over, and I feel rushed and confused.

The holes are (now) smaller, they look and feel strange, and they are harder to find. And the time is loud, clicking by. It's like a nightmare inspired by the game of Perfection . . . POP.

And some days, I do it. I pop.

Alone in...

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Managing Negativity: What to Do with the Complainer

leadership management Jul 30, 2020

[Pandemic aside, there is a complainer on almost every team: the person who has a lot to say and most of it is negative. For this blog, I’m not focusing on how to tackle the constant grumbler during COVID-19 times, as I don’t think we have to treat the complainer differently during a pandemic and WFH scenario. Whether we’re wearing masks or not, WFH or not, the complainer needs to change. ]

As a manager, a huge part of your job is to work with all kinds of people, with all kinds of temperaments. An awesome manager is able to recognize and use the strengths of every employee, finding a way to make the varying skills and personalities that make up their teamwork in harmony. It feels right. It sounds right. It’s your favorite playlist and the sound and atmosphere are perfect. 

But imagine when you’re listening to someone learning to play the violin. It’s jarring, and it grates on you. And you might be next door or in a room a bit away, and...

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Being Approachable—When You’re Not in the Office Together

leadership management Jul 01, 2020

Before COVID-19, I had lots of ideas for leaders on how to become more approachable: how to show people that you are open to their ideas, their questions, and their visits to your office or cube. 

Back then, it was easy to hide, intentionally or not, or be “busy” in conference rooms for several hours each day. Leaders were always, it seemed, in back-to-back meetings. I know, I know: you wanted to be at your desk and be available. But it seemed impossible to be at your desk, so you could be approachable. You needed time to sit down in one place to be approachable. And then, there were business trips. More time out of the office to be in other offices—and in other conferences rooms, being busy. 

Well, it’s July 2020, and COVID-19 means huge numbers of people are working at home, away from each other, and ironically, when we do see someone, we need to create physical space between us and that person. Let’s also add in the mask factor into this...

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The Mask, The Terminator, and the 98 Yr Old Leader

leadership management Jun 29, 2020

 

Focused on Wednesday. Lost on Thursday. And each afternoon feels like a Friday. 

It's hard to stay focused these days, right? I know it's not just me, as many of my coaching clients are saying the same. And my neighbors and my friends.

You might feel productive one day and then lost the next. The commute is gone, so, wow, you're "home" early, and it's nice and warm outside (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Is it a Friday? Maybe. Not sure. 

For this newsletter, I have a collection of links and ideas as well as updates on what I've been up to with Awesome Leader projects. They come together in a casual Friday-like manner. 

My thoughts captured by Others: Mentions in the The Economist (Managing Up) and Lattice (Professional Development)

"Sycophants are suffering during this pandemic."

I've read and loved The Economist for years, and my thoughts are now in it.  Sycophants are out of luck. Managing up = building and maintaining relationships...

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Managing Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry

management Mar 24, 2020

No one likes to apologize. I mean… by definition, you’re only apologizing if you were in the wrong. And no one likes to be wrong. No one likes to make a mistake. It’s not fun. It’s humbling. And it makes us uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, saying you're sorry is a fairly consistent part of life. You have to do it all the time -  in your professional life and in your personal life, so you might as well accept that and get good at it now.  

No one likes to apologize because—big surprise—no one likes to be wrong or make a mistake.

But saying sorry, especially as a manager, is necessary to build and foster trust. Don’t avoid doing it. Instead--keep reading for tips on how to make it as painless as possible while also making it authentic.

It’s a fact that we all make mistakes. However, not everyone says they’re sorry. Some people just can’t bring themselves to admit it when they get something wrong. Don’t be...

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Managing Poor Performers

management Feb 18, 2020

Some of the leaders I work with remind me of tortoises when it comes to the poor performance of some of their team members: they hide from the reality of it and when they FINALLY emerge from their shells to see what's going on (ugh), they are slow to address it. And I get it. Who wants to have those conversations? No one wants to be the one to tell an employee that they’re doing a bad job or not pulling their own weight. 

However, you don't have a choice. As the manager, one of your main jobs is to keep your team running smoothly. And when one team member isn’t pulling their weight, or is consistently doing their work incorrectly, causing the rest of the team to pick up the slack or constantly go behind them fixing their mistakes, you’re going to have a team that’s dispirited, frustrated, and increasingly fractured. You have to stop this behavior as soon as you see it. It won’t correct itself, and it’s very likely that once an employee has...

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