The Secret to Expressing Your Opinion as a Leader

Too Big an Opinion

We’ve all experienced a discussion that’s supposed to be open-ended and elicit the real opinions of the team, but where everyone shuts up as soon as the boss expresses their own opinion This is a hard trap for a boss to get out of. A truly safe team environment, where people are comfortable expressing contrary […]

How To Get People To Do Things

The Conversation Roadmap

Here’s part of a conversation roadmap for talking with people about what they need to accomplish. The idea of the “roadmap” is that if you make yourself familiar ahead of time with the conversational territory you might encounter, then you won’t get lost no matter what direction the conversation takes. The roadmap technique gives you […]

How Not to Get in the Way as a Leader

Leadership is not about the leader. Management is not about the manager. Teaching is not about the teacher. If we think the people we’re working with need to learn a lesson from us, that’s a sure sign that we’re thinking about ourselves rather than about them. Here’s a cautionary tale. At a conference on experiential […]

How to Engage People Without Engagement Work

Let the Work Do the Engaging

There’s a huge industry grown up these days around employee engagement. This is great, but how many of the retreats and strategies and engagement committees bear lasting fruit? How good a use of time and money are they? In the last couple of years I’ve been hearing more and more people talk about “engagement fatigue” […]

How to Use What You’ve Already Got to Inspire People

Magic Rocks

We often look for inspiring things “out there” someplace. An inspiring speaker or book, a Facebook video, a story of someone else’s accomplishment. But if inspiration is always found someplace else, then it’s always a struggle to go find it. That’s a problem. Here’s how to make inspiration ever-present and accessible, in what’s around us all […]

Golden Chains – A Personal Story

Golden Chains

This is the anniversary of when I fell off a ladder at the Sea School’s old wharf building in Lunenburg, and broke my left heel bone. Now I don’t see ghosts, but some of the Sea School staff have seen ghosts in that building, and other people in Lunenburg say, “Oh, yes, there’s ghosts in that […]

The Simple Rule to Make Networking Pay Off

The art of giving

The best networking communities have a sense of wealth and generosity. By offering something of value to our colleagues we foster a culture of giving that makes our whole business environment richer and richer. At a recent networking gathering I attended in Halifax, hosted by a local magazine, I was offered an invitation to speak about […]

The Key to Managing Up

A Useful Question?

The Director of Supply Chain Management at a major Canadian industrial company, who took one of my leadership development classes, told me about the snow day policy he has to enforce that he thinks is crazy. If someone decides it’s not safe for them to drive to work in a heavy snowfall, they have 3 choices. They […]

One Way to Motivate Performance


Robert Hessen tells this story in “Steel Titan: The Life of Charles M. Schwab.” It’s a provocative way to motivate performance. Is it a good one? What do you think? Charles Schwab was a labourer at Carnegie Steel who rose to be supervisor of  all of the plant supervisors for Andrew Carnegie in the 1890s. Apparently […]

How to Be the Sage Commander

What's true wealth?

“As the Sage Commander, you start with yourself. Thus the first question is not what to do, but how to be. Simply being oneself brings about a power that is often lost in the rush to be something else.” (The Art of War, Denma Translation Group) We can’t hope to be clear and insightful in charge […]