What did I do to James?

What did I do to James?

I have not yet met a single manager who would not complain about ‘boring’, ‘endless’ and ‘useless’ meetings they have to host or attend on a daily basis. And yet most of them are literally just a few words away from making their meeting a really effective communication and teambuilding tool.

I once worked with a senior leader, let’s call him James, who had daily ‘planning’ meetings with his extended team, first thing in the morning. Continue reading “What did I do to James?”

Canoeing with Mintzberg

Canoeing with Mintzberg

The CoachingOurselves Reflections 2017 – Rebalancing Society conference was an outstanding 3-day event filled with ideas, presentations and passion shared with us by the brightest minds: Henry MintzbergPhilip KotlerDan PonterfractEd ScheinJonathan GoslingMitch Joel and many other prominent thinkers, businesspeople and coaches.

This true feast of sustainable leadership was concluded with a savory dessert – The Great Canadian Canoe Trip, five hours in double canoes going down the Devil’s River in Mont-Tremblant National Park.

Now, mentally going through the experience again, I think that this trip in the end of the conference was more than just for pleasure and relaxation. The unbridled nature, the canoes, and the river flow – all have their profound role in the understanding and “internalization” of the worldview experienced during the main event.

Here are my key takeaways from the Canoe Trip.

1.      Key safety rules in the canoe are familiar to every manager:

  • Avoid sudden movements.
  • Go with the flow.

Nothing new, but that does not mean “don’t rock the boat”; it’s just that any disruption creates unnecessary risks and may lead to an accident, and is not necessary when you are on the right course.

2.      The real leader in the canoe, the helmsman, is the paddler in the stern. He is the more experienced one, doing the steering. Leading from behind, he will be looking over the front paddler’s shoulder all the time, and if the latter does not have a small frame and wears a hat, the helmsman will not see much. Continue reading “Canoeing with Mintzberg”

How can I improve my skills in listening and how can I practice my speaking?

Practice makes perfect.

Practice speaking and listening – and use technology to analyze your skills and measure the progress.

Sounds sophisticated? Not at all.

All you need is a simple speech recorder or just your smartphone. Make it a habit to record all substantial conversations that you have during the day, then allocate ample time to listen to the recordings and do a conscious “flight debriefing.”

You will be amazed.

That happens pretty much to everybody because you have never heard yourself “from the outside.” You will notice some obvious mistakes or mannerisms that sound so … well, disgusting, that you will not need much effort to get rid of them (like talking too much, interrupting, using pleonasms, periphrasis, discourse markers, grandiloquence, or being excessively magniloquent – just like I am now).

Additional benefit: you will retain much more from the conversations. That’s a good thing, especially when the discussion is important, and you have no chance to make notes. Next time you’ll impress your counterparts with your attention to detail.

One caveat though. You have to be discrete, i.e. your recording device must be hidden. Obviously, when you start openly recording the conversations all the participants do not talk naturally (yourself including) or do not talk at all. Another thing to bear in mind: this may be illegal in some states…

(Originally answered on Quora)

What are the best tips and tricks for increasing productivity and time management?

Here are a few off the top of my head. I am glad you’ve asked because it’s good to go through the list every once in a while.

1. Always have a plan. Thinking before doing requires some time and internal discipline but gives you an edge over the “doers” who act without thinking. Continue reading “What are the best tips and tricks for increasing productivity and time management?”

A Gentleman’s Manual for Becoming a Good Man

Required Reading

“Read before bed every night.”

If you want to read something really special this weekend and perhaps be able to share it with your kids, try “Rules for My Unborn Son” by Walker Lamond.

Published a few years ago, the book has never made it to a bestseller list. This is what happens to the real gems. I would suggest that if “The  Shades of Gray” has never been on your reading list, you will love this book.

As an Appendix, the book has the list of Essential Reading for Boys – which makes another good reason to buy it for your son and write a dedication on the first page. The list will help you to check if you are up to snuff yourself.

Below are 100 quotes from the book widely circulated on the internet. Driven by one of the Rules –

“If you’re going to quote someone, get it right.”

– I have updated the list – corrected the misquotes and added my favorites. You may disagree with some of the Rules, but in any case, the Rules are inspiring and will make you think. Continue reading “A Gentleman’s Manual for Becoming a Good Man”

“Am I Paranoid?” Client Seeking Advice

Who Is Your Boss?

What would be your advice to this client? This story sounds like a job-interview business case – but it is not.

My client Alex (not his real name) is asking me for advice. He thinks that his boss, a senior manager in their company, has lied about his background and experience.

Connecting on LinkedIn, Alex noticed that the boss does not have ANY connections in the companies that are listed as his past employers. His graduation year on LI profile is different from what is stated on the corporate “Management Team” page. His name is not in his school yearbook for either of the graduation years.

He believes that his relations with the boss have changed after Alex had jokingly noticed his boss wiping his fingerprints off the cocktail glass.

Since then, Alex feels continuous pressure and considers looking for a “Plan B.”

Have you had a similar experience? Doubts about your manager’s integrity? What would you do in his case?

Please share your experience. Ask your peers to chip in. 

Weekend Easy Reading – Healthy Quote from the New York Times

Easy ReadingGood article in The New York Times: “A Positive Outlook May Be Good for Your Health”

If you are too busy to read it in full,

here are the skills one must learn, and practice each day:

■ Recognize a positive event each day.

■ Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.

■ Start a daily gratitude journal.

■ List a personal strength and note how you used it.

■ Set an attainable goal and note your progress

■ Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.

■ Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.

■ Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.

And, of course, contribute to universal health, share the good content with your friends and contacts.

Negotiate Out of Anything

Negotiation Skills Help With Police

Ever realized that negotiations play a major role in your life?

What to eat for breakfast, where to go for vacation and how to get a discount, as well as your starting salary, your promotion, and eventually your severance package – those are but a minor sample of the items that you have to negotiate daily, whether you recognize this fact or not.

And do not forget such things as speeding tickets or court hearings: things happen. Even when you have nothing to lose (the cashier erroneously charged you full price for a discounted item), it will take you considerably less time to get your money back AND rip the possible benefits, if you know the rules of the game. Continue reading “Negotiate Out of Anything”

What Makes Life Worthwhile? Good People Made Better

What Makes Life Worthwhile

Once in a while you get news that makes your life worthwhile.

Last week a colleague sent me a text with the phone number of a former client: “He wants to speak with you.”

I called the new mobile number right away and learned that Vlad has been promoted to the top position at an oil production (E&P) company. For a professional, this is an incredible achievement!

Continue reading “What Makes Life Worthwhile? Good People Made Better”

Coaching Ourselves May Be the Way Forward

CoachingOurselves.com

I attended an interesting webinar – “Peer-Coaching Groups with CoachingOurselves: A modern approach to developing leaders.”

Peer coaching with professional facilitation is an interesting concept. Although I did not hear Henry Mintzberg ever mentioning this, but it reminds me of the Quality Circles. They were popular in Japan in 1950s-1960s, made popular in the West by W. Edwards Deming especially in relation to Toyota.  Not a surprise that CoachingOurselves’ success story (still ongoing) is about their program at one Japanese company.

If you want to know more about the concept and the program, check out their website and youtube channel.

Highly recommended to managers who want to become better but cannot afford a coach. And Henry Mintzberg’s ideas are always interesting and thought-provoking (read: good for self-improvement).