I’m not the biggest risk-taker. I started out in newspapers — in 2005, the year print advertising peaked. I was a copy editor, so my job was literally to ensure we were safe with what we published. I moved to digital media in 2009, but for a (relatively) mature property that was founded in the months when Y2K panic was a thing. And we don’t chase scale, unlike more famous, VC-backed media shops.

So, I have sympathy for the fire departments and other authorities who are aghast at the “Uber for gasoline” startups that are triumphantly pouring gas into cars using pickup trucks with varying levels of safety and training precautions. Bloomberg is also sympathetic, judging by the juxtaposition of these two paragraphs:

“We have to look at the safety of everyone,” said Baxter, the San Francisco fire department spokesman. “You could imagine what could happen if a fueling truck went into a parking garage under a commercial or residential building, it would not be a good outcome.”

On a recent Monday morning, about 40 miles south of San Francisco, Aubuchon carefully drove a Ford F-250 pickup truck with 324 gallons of gasoline into a hospital parking garage in Palo Alto, Calif. (read more…)

Do you have “still face” managers in your organization? By “still face” managers I mean supervisors whose lack of emotion makes it difficult for them to connect and to get people fired up. They seem unable to express appropriate emotion when interacting with others. The disconnection the other person experiences can be confusing, discouraging or lead to reaching a wrong conclusion.

As part of the activities of the TCU Center for Connection Culture, I recently spoke to a group in Texas about the importance of connection and Connection Cultures for employees and organizations to thrive. I was making the point that we are “hardwired” from birth to connect; I showed a 2.5-minute video of “still face” research.

“Still face” is the name of a landmark experiment conducted by the developmental psychologist Edward Tronick, director of child development unit and distinguished professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston The video captures the surprising effect that a mother’s lack of facial expression (hence, “still face”) had on her baby daughter. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How effective is your organization’s goal-setting process?

  • Very — we have clear and actionable goals all the time: 20%
  • Somewhat — we set goals for big items but not smaller ones: 31%
  • Not very — our goal-setting is inconsistent: 40% 
  • Not at all — what’s a goal?: 9%

Set a Destination. It’s hard for your team to know where it’s going and why their work matters if they’re not clear on the destination. You have a responsibility to set clear goals that the team can focus on and drive toward. Without those goals in place, they won’t know if they’re working on the right things or if their efforts have been successful. Sit down and set some targets today. Your team will appreciate you doing so. (read more…)

Many leaders come about the role and title by accident. Due to good technical skills, a great work ethic, seniority, or the unexpected exit of a former leader, a new leader is promoted. Without warning, and often without support or development, the new leader goes from “one of us” to “one of them.” This type of unplanned instant promotion is the root of many management and leadership problems resulting in workplace drama in the form of low morale, poor team coordination, and lowered engagement.

If you fall into this category of leaders who have been promoted without support, training and development, here are three steps you can take to start developing yourself so you can become the leader you want to be.

Step 1: Define your leadership.

Step 2: Make friends with reality.

Step 3: Build a plan to close the gap.

Step 1: Define your leadership (read more…)

If coaching is to succeed, it must be simple and specific. That’s why I am a big believer in flash cards. Maybe this goes back to my childhood when my patient mother used them to help me learn phonetics, words and arithmetic.

You can even make a master flash card for dealing with complex problems by doing the following:

  • Square the circle. Focus on the core problem and its root causes, not peripheral ones that may be clouding the picture.
  • Determine action steps. Be specific about what you can do as well as what you cannot do.
  • Move forward. Take action when called for.

Flash cards can serve as your prompt to think through a problem, as well as to take action in a deliberate manner.


John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. (read more…)