The Simple Secret to Sustainable Productivity

Working Soft

It’s easy to think that hard-working people are productive, but it’s not always true. I know a man who proves the point. His name is Dee, and he taught me the secret of truly sustainable productivity. He’s the most mysteriously, uncannily productive person I ever worked with. Dee’s from the southern US. He speaks with a lovely slloooww […]

How a Strong Back and Soft Front Make Us Powerful

Gentle and Tough Together

  Soft? Do we really want to be soft? How can strong and soft go together anyway?  They’re opposites, right? Or is the business world in desperate need of the “softer directness” that Phil, in my last post, saw he had to develop in order to be more effective? Here’s a true story of one of the […]

3 Steps to Fix Bad Peer Relations at Work


This is the real-life story of a client, a VP at a national financial services business, who found 3 concrete steps to change poor relations with his peers on the leadership team. Phil (not his real name) experiences personal friction with his senior leadership colleagues because they: often revisit their decisions agree with the plan […]

How to Not Burn Out in the Weeds

In the Weeds

The weeds are no place for a leader. We get lost and burnt out in the weeds, we all know this. But the weeds often feel taller than us, so we literally can’t see out of them. And if we get our heads above them for a moment all we see is more weeds like an […]

Don’t Get Buy-In, It’s a Myth

The Myth of Buy-In

If you’re trying to get “buy-in,” you’ve already missed your chance to get genuine acceptance and engagement for whatever you’re trying to do. That’s because when you’re in “buy-in” mode, you’re selling something. But you’ve only got one thing to sell, it can’t possibly fit everybody, the costs and features are completely inflexible, and the […]

What’s Generous Leadership Really? Not More Benefits

What's Needed?

Executives sometimes tell me, “I can’t afford to be any more generous than I already am. Benefits, pensions, perks, it’s huge. You want me to give even more? In today’s economy?” No. That’s not what generous leadership means. Generous leadership gives people what they need to thrive at work. But generosity is also about what […]

How to Make the Mark that Matters

Making the Mark that Matters

How can you un-encumber your day from all the marks that other people are trying to make on it, and make your own mark instead, the mark that matters? Here’s a short video blog, and if you want some practical ways to make space in your day for the mark that matters, there’s a free pdf […]

The Mirror-Like World as New Year’s Ally

The vivid world

Good morning everyone! The child is born, the candles are lit, the days grow longer again. The celebrations are soon over, and it’s time to enjoy ourselves. At sea, the sun rises from the edge of the world and the ship’s crew rises with it. We scrub the decks and polish the brass before breakfast. […]

Generosity or Manipulation – What’s the Difference?


A few people emailed me to object to my last post, How to Let Someone Fire Themselves, saying that “compassionately” manipulating people into firing themselves is horrible. That’s certainly a possibility. Of course it’s not what I’m talking about. For me, the question lies in motivation. Are we “getting” someone to fire themselves, or “letting” them fire themselves. If a boss tries […]

How To Let Someone Fire Themselves


  A recent post was about using the “questions only” approach to deal with a problem employee. But what happens when questions aren’t enough, when you need more improvement than you’re getting? Here’s another real-life example of how to deal with a problem employee. Let me know if you think this intervention went well or not. The owner and […]