The Benefits of Being ManagedPosted: April 2014
It’s been more than sixteen years since I’ve had a boss. When we started The Table Group in 1997, for the first time in my career I found myself reporting to no one. It’s a situation faced by many CEOs, as well as church pastors, school principals and other organizational leaders who are largely unmanaged. For some, this may sound desirable, not having to be accountable to anyone on a day–to–day basis. In reality, it can be unsatisfying and lonely. Which is why I believe that effective leaders at the top of organizations allow themselves to be managed by the people who are in the best position to do so: their direct reports. Let me be clear about what I mean.
When Meg Whitman Loved MePosted: January 2014
No, this is not a tabloid headline. It’s a true story, and not a steamy one. It was more than twenty years ago, long before Meg Whitman became the CEO of Hewlett–Packard, or candidate for governor of California, or CEO of eBay. I was just out of college in my first job as a research analyst for the management consulting firm, Bain & Company, and she was the lead partner on one of the projects I was working on, which made her something of my boss. As a senior in college, I had decided that management consulting sounded really interesting.
The Lost Art of SimplicityPosted: October 2013
This is going to be a difficult POV to write, because making a case for the power of simplicity is no easy task. And yet, more than ever, I’m convinced that simplicity is the scarcest commodity among leaders, and probably the most important. Here are some good quotes that attest to this on a theoretical level.
Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” Albert Einstein believed that “most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in language comprehensible to everyone.”
And yet, in my consulting to organizations of all kinds, from high tech companies to churches to banks, I find that there is a natural tendency among managing leaders to add unnecessary complexity to situations, problems, descriptions and solutions.
The Dangers of Dishonest MarketingPosted: July 2013
Summer involves a lot of air travel for me, and so I suppose I get inspired, or provoked, to address my airline frustrations and relate them to leadership and management. But the purpose here is not to complain about bad service. That’s not to say that the flight that stimulated this essay featured good service. It didn’t. It was one of the big, legacy air carriers, and even as we were boarding the flight attendants made it clear that they were not looking forward to our disruptive presence in their workplace.
What Leaders Won't DoPosted: June 2013
In the course of my career, I’ve always been amazed at what leaders will do for their organizations. So many founders and CEOs will spend countless late nights in the office, endure long and grueling business trips, even sacrifice their own financial resources, all to increase the likelihood, even slightly, that their enterprises will succeed. Sadly, these efforts often come at the expense of their health, their families and their sanity. But the one thing that amazes me more than what leaders will do for their enterprises, is what they so often won’t do – endure emotional discomfort at work.