Everyone says self-awareness is essential to effective leadership. It is, but there is another aspect to awareness that may be equally compelling and sadly overlooked. It’s self-management.

It’s one thing to know yourself. We know what we do well. Yay! That’s why we are so good at what we do. We may even know what we are not so good at it so we ignore it. Boo! That can hurt us.

Enter self-management. Self-management is a form of self-control. We do not control events; we merely control how we respond to them. For instance, I know I have a tendency to become short with customer service agents who, let’s face it, have the thankless job of dealing with people like me who think we have better things to do with our time than waste it with people like them.

So after much trial and error, I have taught myself to be more polite. (read more…)

The 21st century is characterized by one dominant trait — self-determination. Gone are the days of mass production, economies of scale and standardization typical for last century. We, as a people, have a deep sense that it is our privilege to “make” ourselves.

Many times in my career, I tried to “make” myself only to be shunned. In 2000, for example, I jumped from Salomon Smith Barney to Merrill Lynch with the goal of dreaming a new dream. I wanted to challenge myself and grow but when I approached my managers about a new opportunity, they told me to stay put. So I switched firms.

By 2005, having been Institutional Investor-ranked for eight years straight, I again felt ready for a new learning curve. When I approached management, I heard the same script: “We like you just where you are.” This time, I took my dreams and walked out of the industry.

Much of the corporate world is not open to allowing us to work toward our dreams. (read more…)

There is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of that moment when you’re first awarded an important leadership role.

Having “finally arrived” you imagine yourself as the rock star taking center stage at a roaring stadium of adoring fans. You can almost hear the ear shattering cheers of the crowd as they clamor to get closer, iPhones in hand, ready for the chance to take a cherished selfie and bask in your celebrity. The congratulatory comments and notes follow soon after, as do the handshakes, hugs and back slaps of colleagues, some of who may be actually be truly happy for your success.

But, after repeatedly playing this movie in your head, (in which your performance in the leading role is, of course, Oscar-worthy) at some point you come face to face with the enormity of your responsibility to others. Grand titles and big salary aside, the burning issue now is how you’ll show up as a leader and what legacy you’ll leave behind. (read more…)

It seems every day brings more e-mails, more data, more information to sort through. Your workload increases but you can’t add more hours to the day. How can you push back?

Use these innovations to reduce overwork, streamline communication and increase productivity. Take advantage of technology. Make it work for you instead of driving your life.

  1. Rein in e-mails. A leading report says businessmen and women receive an average of 121 e-mails a day. And that number will keep growing. Create a system to avoid being buried in the deluge.

Allot only a certain amount of time to scan your emails each day. Find a system of deleting, saving, and acting on them that works for you.

Consider reducing the number of emails you send out. Who really needs to be CC’d on them? Do you need to “reply all”? At times you can accomplish the work of a dozen e-mails by picking up the phone and speaking directly with the other person. (read more…)

A friend who coaches a girls soccer team recently shared, that after a tough loss, one of her 13-year-old players said, “Well, you know coach, you either win or you learn.” Yeah! We really are coming to appreciate the value of failure and experiments that don’t go exactly as expected.

But it’s not just mistakes that have value; there’s tremendous instructive power in successes as well. In fact, what distinguishes today’s most effective leaders is that they learn from everything and everyone they encounter. They demonstrate learning agility.

Why learn agility now?

No one will argue that today’s business climate is more dynamic and changeable than ever before. Many have written about the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world within which we must operate. As a result, businesses must become increasingly agile. This demands flexible, highly responsive strategies as well as leaders who are:

  • Expansive, possibility-oriented thinkers, able to recognize patterns, connect dots, and see changing conditions before others do;
  • Collaborative, inclusive, and curious;
  • Able to act quickly, set new direction, make smart but fast decisions, and engage in focused experimentation; and
  • Equally comfortable improvising as necessary and also translating those improvised moves that worked into codified strategies, systems, processes and tools that help the organization continue to evolve.
  • (read more…)