Don’t Let Groupthink Rule Your Workplace

Don’t Let Groupthink Rule Your Workplace

Groupthink is all too common when people work together in a brainstorming or planning session. Psychology Today says groupthink “occurs when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation. It causes individual members of the group to unquestioningly follow the word of the leader, and it strongly discourages any disagreement with the consensus.”

This phenomenon can veer a team or company off course, or it can result in people stereotyping others, including their colleagues —

Visualize Your Strategy

Visualize Your Strategy

Are you the kind of person who thinks in pictures? If so, then storyboarding is for you. Are you the kind of person who doesn’t think in terms of pictures? If so, then storyboarding is for you, too — you may just not know it yet.

I sometimes struggle to keep clients in my workshops focused and inspired. When creating a plan for an 8-hour workshop, my biggest competition is the lure of a smartphone coupled with progressively shorter attention spans. Recently, while attending a

Is Your Business Locked into Narrow Thinking?

Is Your Business Locked into Narrow Thinking?

Have you heard the riddle of a father and son who get in a horrible car crash that kills the dad? The son is rushed to the hospital and the surgeon exclaims, “I can’t operate, that boy is my son!” The listener’s expectation is challenged when the riddle’s answer is given: The surgeon might be the boy’s mother. Or have you heard about how people see meaningful shapes in their grilled cheese sandwich or homegrown potato? Once you see them, you can’t unsee them; what your mind has conjured becomes your reality...

Trust the Pattern

Trust the Pattern

Lately, with the news worldwide being somewhat bleak, I thought I’d write about trust -— since it seems to be waning a bit. Trust is something we commonly talk about in business, in leadership, in politics. It’s something we aspire to build and yet still seems challenging to grasp. So here’s my attempt to define trust and how it manifests in our lives.

The obligatory dictionary definition of trust (from Merriam-Webster) defines it as a “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective.” Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, says trust is foundational and that building it requires vulnerability, which means apologizing to our family and friends, and to business colleagues when we’ve messed up; or getting real about what we don’t understand or when we need help.

But in working with people for years, I have come to believe that reliability

Meetings That Matter

Meetings That Matter

Meetings are the organizational fulcrum where individuals work together cooperatively as a team. At their best, good meetings get people’s brains fired up. At their worst, meetings provoke a fight-or-flight instinct in the poor souls gathered at the table — they shut people’s brains down.

Meetings often follow an outdated arc of written agendas emailed days ahead, the reading and voting on minutes never to be seen again and robotic sharing of mind-numbing progress reports. Agenda items repeat ad nauseum as teams repeatedly fail to deal with real issues.

A team of researchers in Google’s People Operations (their HR) launched Project Aristotle, a research project designed to answer the question “What makes a Google team effective?” They learned that the five key dynamics that distinguish successful Google teams from others are:

Sweet, Sweet Reward

Sweet, Sweet Reward

Maybe leadership has hung inspirational quotes on the walls of your office, like: “Risk Equals Reward,” “Go Big or Go Home” or “Just Do It.” These messages beckon you to achieve more than you ever thought possible. So you do. Your team busts hard and accomplishes a clear, long-term goal. High fives all around! Now, go after the next big project waiting for you on the other side of the finish line. Wait, what now?

There needs to be a recognizable pause between one monumental accomplishment and the next. That pause can be filled with a simple celebration for what has been achieved. Not a mere slap on the back or an interoffice email, but an actual in-person celebration. Successfully completing a big hairy project doesn’t simply happen; employees expend a significant amount of time — so too should leadership expend critical thought into celebrating their employees’ stellar accomplishments.

A lame trophy, coffee mug or T-shirt is no reward for employees breaking their backs to achieve goals that propel their company forward. (Even worse is when leadership doesn’t choose the reward, instead asking someone else to because they couldn’t be bothered to sprain their brain.) Rewarding excellence is part of a leader’s job. There is nothing worse than working hard, day after day, with nary a nod of thanks. A leader’s lack of sincere...

Smarty Pants Don't Always Fit

Smarty Pants Don't Always Fit

Hiring is a confounding game. Some people have a great knack for it and an intuitive sense about people — but even they can get it wrong. The world-renowned Disney Institute hires “attitude versus aptitude,” and you would be wise to do the same.

Recently, I worked with a company who filled a position with great match for the technical skills needed for the role. But this new employee’s on-the-job performance created communication nightmares that led other long-term employees to quit. Within a year, the team was sinking...

Would You Like to Work For You?

Would You Like to Work For You?

Here’s an idea I share with my clients: We don’t actually get to decide what kind of leaders or communicators we are. Instead, the people in our lives decide the degree to which they value our impact. Whether you lead or manage people, look now through your employees’ eyes and ask, “Would I want to work for me?”

Years ago I interviewed 40 leaders, locally and internationally, to learn something about what made them tick. One question I asked was if they read about leadership or other topics to inform their actions. What I found was the leaders who read often were more concise and on-point during interviews. Those who said they didn’t read much wandered while answering questions. Recently, two clients sent me insightful reads on leadership. These clients are already on the path to being excellent bosses, conscious of the constructive impact they can and want to have with their employees. They read.