Did you ever look around in amazement at people around you who have achieved extraordinary things, yet don’t appear to be all that extraordinary?

These are people who have greatly succeeded in business, in politics, in the arts, in sports, or in some other space, but in many respects seem pretty much on par with you (or even inferior) in terms of core abilities and talents. How is it, you wonder, that they “made it” in such a robust manner while you continue to middle along in relative obscurity, earning a pedestrian income and feeling somewhat unfulfilled?

Without question, there are many factors that maybe at play. Perhaps these individuals in fact possess special qualities and were able to leverage them to achieve success. Maybe they benefited from favorable timing, connections, family wealth or other advantages that helped propel them onto a higher plateau.

Those are the easy answers. Others have succeeded more than me because of their superior tools and/or their good fortune. (read more…)

Today’s business world is fast-paced and complex. Opportunities emerge quickly (and disappear rapidly), new threats emerge continuously, and globalization opens up new markets that require intimate local knowledge.

In this volatile and ever-changing environment, new managers matter. They’re on the front lines with your workforce, your customers, your competitors, and your markets. They have tremendous potential, and some of them will become your organization’s future executives. It’s easy to simply rely on your new managers to take care of the management basics — assigning workloads, supervising others, approving vacation requests, managing budgets, and conducting performance reviews — but there is another role that they can, and should, step into: the role of leader.

New managers — with their enthusiasm, energy, and fresh ideas –can be positioned to become effective as leaders if they’re properly developed from the beginning. Forward-looking executives are recognizing that developing new leaders is vital in order to keep up with the pace of change in the business world, and to address the leadership skills gap emerging as boomers retire. (read more…)

“Now, remember, Ben likes to shake things up; don’t be afraid to stand up to him.”

This was my boss, Eric, coaching me on an upcoming first-time meeting with a powerful VP in our organization. I was an ambitious young professional, recently hired from the outside and ready to make my mark at the new company. Eric realized my potential and arranged a meeting with Ben so that I could demo some new training materials that were being set up for Ben’s area of responsibility.

The meeting started well enough but then devolved into a train wreck as I struggled to maintain my composure with Ben’s “shaking things up.” He poked holes in my assertions, challenged my ideas and didn’t let up for almost 45 minutes. I left that meeting thinking, “I will never work for that man. He’s a tyrant.”

I received no sympathy from Eric. “I told you he was going to be tough,” my typically easy-going boss said in stern reproach. (read more…)

Your Leadership StoryThis post is an excerpt from “Your Leadership Story: Use Your Story to Energize, Inspire, and Motivate,” by Tim Tobin. Tobin is vice president, global learning and leadership development, at Marriott International. He is responsible for leadership development strategy, programs, curriculum and activities. His previous work includes Baker Tilly (formerly Beers + Cutler) and Booz Allen Hamilton. Among the recognition Tobin has received is the 2014 Chief Learning Officer Global Learning Award, 2012 Chief Learning Officer Learning in Practice Innovation Award and the 2005 Future Human Capital Leader award from Human Capital Magazine. Connect with Tobin on Twitter @TobinLeadership.

Stories have power. They move people in a way that facts and figures can’t. Many leaders use stories as a tool, but most have no idea what tale their own leadership is telling. By thinking of your career as a narrative with a plot, characters, and an arc — you can increase your awareness of yourself as a leader and become more effective, insightful, and inspiring. (read more…)

There is no guarantee that doing the right thing will lead to personal success. In 30-plus years as an ethics consultant, I have seen ethics undo more than a few brilliant careers. But I have also seen leaders whose ethics helped them succeed.

You may think that rising to the top with your ethics intact is a matter of luck. But my observation is that ethical leaders follow a conscious strategy for incorporating ethics in their success. Here are a few steps that have helped others make ethics a part of their success.

Choose whom you work for. If your ethics and the ethics of your employer significantly disagree, your career success is likely to be limited. Organizations seldom promote individuals outside of their cultural boundaries, which include its ethics. You can’t expect perfect agreement between your ethics and the ethics of an employer. But a vegan who works for a meat-packing company is not likely to go far in the company. (read more…)