Leadership On the Edge


kitchen debate

  1. The elements of the perfect business email.
  2. Are performance reviews on the way out?
  3. Four useful team management guidelines.
  4. Put your phone down. Boredom might be useful.
  5. The case against trying to wake up early. It’s OK to hit the snooze button.
  6. How to switch industries in the middle of your career (video).
  7. Daniel Kahneman warns us against overconfidence.
  8. How to fall back in love…with your job.
  9. The tools you need to work from anywhere in the world.
  10. On this day in history a great negotiation happened…in a model kitchen. Leaders always have to be ready.




BLG Leadership Insights Managerial Competence

Junk Mail & Raffles: How Not to Win the Campaign

The internet has become a powerful campaign tool since Howard Dead used it to mobilize grassroots support for his primary run. The Democratic primary, especially the Obama campaign four years ago was testimony to the power of the internet.

That said, I found myself receiving another email from the Democratic National Committee—to which I have donated to in the past—and found myself about to click the unsubscribe button.

Their emails have become tedious, and at times, condescending junk mail. Between the raffles for dinner with Sarah Jessica Parker, the lottery to win an invitation to the White House, and the false sense of deadlines, urgency, and drama–I’m getting a bit exhausted. Even the messages that used to be so endearing, little notes from the President and Michelle, lack the ring of sincerity.

Seems to me that the challenge now is to really ask ourselves, when is it important to send out a message? What should be the content? How will the message serve the integrity and the interests of the receiver?

Doesn’t anyone find it condescending to be invited to a celebrity dinner if you contribute to the Democratic or Republican Party?

So what’s the message?

Leaders who want to mobilize campaigns have to make sure that those carrying out their messages set the tonality appropriately. They should try to avoid this low brow sense of urgency and this cheap dating service which promises dinners with the stars.

Appeal to me to consistently on issues. That’s what the Obama campaign did the first time. That’s what I don’t get in the message now. And that’s a primary lesson for leaders to learn. Stay with the substance.

BLG Leadership Insights

Technology & Social Media Threatens a Leaders Ability to Engage

Isolation can be nice. Sometimes it’s great to just get away from the world, put your feet up and throw your cares out the window. Then again it’s hard to find nooks and crannies in this modern world that aren’t infested with ways to communicate. But there is a flip side to all of this. The more we rely on this same technology to feel connected, the more we can in fact become isolated, even if we are surrounded by the teaming masses.

One of the keys to leadership is engagement. Engagement is the act, if not the art, of connecting in a number of different ways with those who surround you at work and at home. It’s an implicit, if not explicit, psychological bond in which each party feels the capacity to be open, to be candid, and to be involved. When you are properly engaging with anyone, both parties really feel free to share without worrying about consequences. This doesn’t mean you should run out of your office and start telling people you barely know that they smell bad (that will lead to the almost instant isolation of unemployment), instead it means that you need to create bonds with those around you to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to getting things done.

You might be saying to yourself, “Self, I email and message everyone that I lead in my office two or three times a day, I really stay connected.” Annoying the living daylights out of your employees is not a form of engagement or at least not a form that will get you anywhere. Instead, you need to get off a certain unnamed body part and move from behind your desk/work station/park bench.

What you really need is plenty of old fashion face-to-face communication. Modern technology is all about disseminating information quickly. It’s about telling people what you think in the blink of an eye. Believe it or not, it has the power to make us MORE isolated–not less. The keys to honest engagement are listening, asking questions, and giving feedback. Despite what you might have read, you just can’t do that with an email. Heck even a good old fashion telephone call is better.

Isolation might be something we all need now and again, but in order to avoid having it become a permanent condition, we need to avoid the false feeling of engagement that modern communication has lulled us into.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m writing this blog on a laptop, sending it in via email and waiting by the smartphone for an IM telling me it’s been published, but I’m not fooling myself by thinking any of that is even remotely related to engaging those I work with.

Picture Credit: Leo Reynolds