Category — Blog

You’re an executive leader in Nakatomi and you see this chart, what do you do?

You’re an executive leader in Nakatomi and you see this chart, what do you do?

blog--Nakatomi chart #1 rev

  1. Shout like Homer Simpson “Wooohooo!” and deposit your bonus check.
  2. Go to your daughter’s swim meet—the whole time thinking ‘we need to understand why this happened.’
  3. Convene a company-wide meeting, congratulate everyone on achieving the extraordinary, and hand out bonus checks.
  4. None of the above.

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October 30, 2017   No Comments

How Effective Are Your New Leader Integration Processes?

Many organizations—and most of our clients—use a process to help a new leader (a leader new to a particular role at any level) get a solid start with her or his new team. While various organizations give this process different names, one of the more common monikers is New Leader Integration (NLI).  In this post, I’ll:

  • Encourage you to ask how effective is your organization’s NLI; and
  • Pitch a suggestion to strengthen your NLI—specifically, to consider the number of interactions between leader and direct reports before collecting feedback and facilitating an NLI.

How do NLIs typically work?

The typical practice is that approximately 90 days into a new leader’s role an objective person—for example, an HR business partner or an external leadership coach—facilitates a process through which a leader’s direct reports provide start, stop, and continue feedback and feedforward to the new leader. While the specific timing and details vary for how the process unfolds, the fundamentals are the same. [Read more →]

January 6, 2017   No Comments

How Many Jason Heywards* Do You Have on Your Team?

*Quite possibly the player who set the stage for the Cubs’ win in Game 7.

Imagine this situation: One of your experienced and highest paid direct reports is not performing.  And hasn’t been performing when your business needs him the most.  It’s late in the year and your team is moments away from achieving the extraordinary: maybe it’s launching a new product ahead of schedule; maybe it’s finishing the year ranked number 1 in sales in the country; maybe it’s the grand opening on a franchise you and a partner purchased.  As a leader, your responsibility is to field the most effective team.

Jason, your direct report, isn’t cutting it–despite his past high performance.  You decide to put him on a performance improvement plan; or promote a colleague to take his place in the final stretch of the project.  In effect, you bench him at one of the most high stakes times. [Read more →]

November 3, 2016   No Comments

Regardless of Your Title, Are You Also a Chief Training Officer?

Quick: think of a high stakes situation in which your direct reports or reports of your direct reports need to perform with excellence.  A high stakes situation is one in which: there are competing interests, the best way forward is not easy; and the outcome—if botched—can have significant adverse consequences.

For my colleagues and me, one of the high stakes situations we need to be great at is when we need to explain to a client that what they expect from a leadership development experience and the time they have allocated to it are not aligned.  We have one opportunity to get it right.  The words and tone we choose in the moment matter.  If we don’t perform, we may end up losing a customer or the opportunity to compete for future projects. [Read more →]

July 28, 2016   1 Comment

Warning! Are you a Sales Leader or a Super Rep?

In the first blog of this two-part series we kicked things off with a story of how easy it can be to move into super dad (or super mom…) mode in our personal lives.

It was a simple lesson about AWARENESS.  Thanks coach Sue! :)

In Part 2, we will explore how DMs can keep their inner super rep from undermining coaching objectives while avoiding the awkwardness of a purely silent observer. [Read more →]

July 26, 2016   No Comments

At What Age Would You Allow Your Son/Daughter to Drive Cross Country?

And what—if any—overlap does that question have on high potential leadership development?  As it turns out, quite a bit.

The dinner at the end of a 3-day leadership development program is energizing. Part celebration, part stress-release, part cohort-bonding, it is fun for participants and trainers.  Last month, I enjoyed such a dinner with leaders and executive sponsors. [Read more →]

June 24, 2016   2 Comments

How would you coach Winnie the Pooh to be more Darth Vader-ish?

Or, to frame it less extremely, “How would you coach a really accepting person to be more demanding; or a really demanding person to be more accepting?”  Perhaps you wouldn’t begin this type of coaching engagement in the first place citing Naval philosopher Popeye, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.”  In either case, this post explores the temptation to move the performance needle too quickly and how helping learners make small steps can be a coach’s best ally. [Read more →]

May 27, 2016   No Comments

Sales Leader Gear Puts Tom in the Hot Seat

Thank you, Dave Noonan of Sales Leader Gear.  I had so much fun being interrogated…er…I mean interviewed by you.  The “5 Questions in 15 Minutes” is a productive and efficient format.  In particular, I’ll be curious whether your question–and my views–on the role of real-playing in leadership development generates any comments.

May 16, 2016   No Comments

Leaders–will you get a checkup this year?

Checkups can mean fewer Fix-ups

No, not a physical check-up; although going to a physician and getting an annual physical is always a good idea. We’re talking about a Leadership Checkup™.

My colleagues and I at Next Level recently launched a new coaching service that takes 2-3 days, provides the leader with rich, behavior-based, objective feedback and feedforward. If a leader doesn’t have the time or appetite for a year-long executive coaching engagement, this service can provide a snapshot alternative. If you’re curious, read on, or go to our website or contact me directly. [Read more →]

April 29, 2016   No Comments

What was your most unpopular leadership decision…that you were later thanked for making?

Imagine this: For a host of variables and reasons, you decide to ask one of your star performers to take some time off a month before the end of the fiscal year. Just as they were on track to achieve extraordinary results. A chorus of disapproval rises from outsiders and observers. What others don’t know, and what you’ve concluded from variety of objective sources, is that he is working 60-70 hours per week and on the brink of debilitating burnout. In the moment, your direct-report star performer expresses a begrudging acceptance of your decision. Underneath, though, you sense their resentment. And then…one month later during a 1:1 meeting with your direct report, they convey a deep and emotional ‘thank you’ for the difficult decision you made. “Hey boss, you helped save my career.” [Read more →]

April 29, 2016   No Comments