Blind Spots

Blind spots.  We all have them.   I’m not talking about the weaknesses you know about, but the ones you don’t.  Do you know how they impact your effectiveness on the job? Executives who don’t know their blind spots are vulnerable to significant missteps. You may be amazingly smart and extremely capable but not knowing and compensating for a blind spot can wreak havoc in your business and your career. Fortunately, there are antidotes. One of the most consistent observations I have made duri...
More

Success with Succession

A growing portion of my work over the past several years has focused on companies grappling with leadership succession.  Whether the company is owned by a family office or private equity group, the succession issue seems pervasive.  For this reason, I was not surprised to see a 2014 Alternative Board survey found that 56 percent of family business CEOs are either unhappy with their succession plan or don’t have one. Over the years, I have observed that very different companies can have surprisin...
More

7 Myths of Entrepreneurship

Many promising entrepreneurs squander precious time and capital because they tenaciously cling to one or more beliefs about entrepreneurship. Some of these beliefs are really myths that can pose significant barriers to entrepreneurial success. Here’s a list of the most harmful myths followed by explanations. “If I am the founder, then I must be the CEO.” “Our product will create its own market.” “You must know exactly where you’re going and how to get there.” “Focus exclusively on ...
More

It Just Ain’t So

We’re Less Self-Aware Than We Think And How That Impacts Our Careers The movie “The Big Short” has revived a popular quote from Mark Twain: “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” As the movie unfolds, we receive a close up look at many widely held beliefs among investors that turned out to be wrong, and how those beliefs contributed to the financial meltdown of 2007-2009. Standing Up to Hitler After seeing that movie, I ...
More

The Undying Magnetism of Your Favorite Things

Have you ever noticed that some people are drawn to work on or with certain things?  If you are the parent of more than one child, you’ve probably noticed that each child is drawn to different toys or activities.  One may love to build things; another may love finger painting, or reading. It almost seems to be inborn. As an advisor to organizational leaders I am fascinated at how this phenomenon continues into our professional lives.  In some jobs it’s pretty obvious:   plumbers focus on the ...
More

You Can’t Do Your Best Until You Know What You Do Best

Great salespeople often make terrible sales managers. Great inventors often fail at the entrepreneurial task of building and establishing companies.  Great CFOs sometimes make poor CEOs. Your success in one job does not guarantee your success in another job with a similar title or function. So how do you advance your career without straying into a job that you won’t do well? The answer sounds simple but rarely is: you need to know what you are really good at. You need an objective, accurate u...
More

What the Playoffs Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Hockey and basketball fans love May because it’s playoff time. Gunning for a championship, mega-stars dazzle us with their amazing ability to rise to the occasion and thrive under intense competitive pressure. But every year we see this curious phenomenon -some athletes deliver their best performances when the stakes are the highest, while others fold under the same pressure. Why is it that some play better when the stakes are higher, the time is tighter, the crowds are louder? Business leade...
More

Successful Executives Know Themselves

We live in a world that idolizes superstars. Yet business success usually hinges upon knowing and focusing on your own strengths and the specific situations you thrive in. Success won’t come from attempting to be the next Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, or any other business superstar.  Success comes from understanding and leveraging who you are. Way too often we’re advised—subtly or not so subtly—to emulate the behavior of some clever entrepreneur or a CEO who just delivered stellar results to inves...
More

What Is Motivation?

Most of us think about motivation in terms of the actions we take or words we speak that inspire the performance of others.  The objective of these words or actions is to get people to work harder and smarter.  Secondarily, we might think about motivation in terms of why other people do what they do and what they want to get out of their jobs.  This is often in the context of how to incentivize or reward them.  In this context, we often make two classic mistakes: 1) we project what we want onto ...
More

Discovering the Unique Motivations of Your Key Employees

Most business executives think about motivation in terms of actions we take or words we speak to inspire the performance of others. The objective of our words or actions is to get employees to work harder and smarter. Secondarily, we might think about motivation in terms of why other people do what they do and what they want to get out of their jobs. This is often in the context of how to incentivize or reward employees. In this context, unwary executives often make two classic mistakes: 1...
More