30 May 2019
Regulating your attention seems easy from an intellectual standpoint. It’s just being disciplined and focused. But, as we find out once we try to do it, it’s not so easy - especially today with so many distractions occurring all the time. Why is that? We have to develop a capacity for greater mental effort which contributes to regulated attention.
10 May 2019
Focusing on what’s most important for achieving key objectives is challenging in the conditions of constant change. Fires, distracting issues, and ad-hoc challenges abound. It gets even more complicated in the context of meetings, where there are multiple people in the room - as each has the potential to shape the attention of the group with everything they say. If the team in question reports to you, it can be tempting to step in and be directive when attention and focus dissipates during a team meeting - but then this can foster dependence on you to get things done. So how can you develop focus in your team while keeping members empowered?
3 May 2019
As a leader, when you work on shaping your attention, you develop a capacity to control your behavior, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. Rather than reacting by impulse, you develop the capacity to respond in a mindful way. In other words, you build your skill in thinking before acting. This is sometimes referred to as “regulating” attention, which involves directing your attention consciously for a specific developmental purpose, and sustaining it there despite distraction.
16 Apr 2019
Leadership has many facets to it. It looks different in each organization, in each role, and even in each situation - which is part of the challenge, and also what makes it fascinating to study. As I reflect back on the set of skills I most commonly coach my executive clients and their teams on, there is one common trend. This is a secret habit, the “one skill to rule them all” if you will. And it will make you grow and develop as a leader more than any other.
28 Mar 2019
So far in this series of posts, we’ve looked at team effectiveness: what it is, why it’s important, and what impact it has. To wrap up this topic, I want to share how you can measure it - whether informally or formally. Measurement is a critical part of ensuring that teams are effective. Measurement helps teams focus their energy on the characteristics of team effectiveness that need the most attention.
25 Feb 2019
In coaching executives, managers, and team leaders over the last few years, I keep encountering one common developmental hurdle. This is what I refer to as “leadership agility”: adapting your leadership style to meet others’ needs. This ain’t easy to do! We all tend to fall into habits in how we show up, and we naturally excel as leaders when the situation calls for those habits. And when they don’t, we stumble. A great example of this is the approach we use to help a team we are leading to improve its overall effectiveness. What makes this tricky is that the approach to use depends on the stage of development of the team.
12 Feb 2019
Teams need a structure in which to operate, and without one they can easily run amok. Creating structure for a team is so simple that it’s often assumed by the members of a team. They may think, "we are all smart and know what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve... We don’t need to explicitly declare it, do we?"
24 Jan 2019
When I reflect back on the teams I was a member of during rapid and constant change over my 15 years in high-tech product development, what I remember most is how much habitual reaction I witnessed - both in myself and others. I’m talking about the quick, automatic behaviors (like retorts or knee-jerk emails) that occurred without much thinking. During periods of intense firefighting and reaction to events unfolding outside the team, the gap between thought and action was razor-thin - and discussions were fast and frequently furious. So what exactly was I witnessing and what could we have done about it?
21 Jan 2019
In my career I’ve been privileged to have been part of several executive teams trying to rapidly grow an organization. We were the most senior leaders, and charged with building out our functions so they would support the needs of the growing organization. We were all smart experts in our functional areas and very committed. We believed those qualities were sufficient for us to be effective, but in retrospect, not quite. What were we missing?
8 Jan 2019
Constant change isn’t just a hallmark of innovation and disruption - it is becoming a common occurrence across industries, geographies, and even company sizes. When change accelerates to the point of being ever-present, it creates unique challenges to leaders and their teams. And you can do something about it.