Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Washington Post quotes Barry Zweibel

Washington Post print edition
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Business Section, Page D02

The Daily Crisis


Quickly filling high-profile vacancies. Tracking down "leakers" on your staff. Working out deals with hostile peers.

Does that sound more like the Oval Office or your office?

Even if you don't work in the White House, chances are that keeping cool in a crisis is a key part of your job description.

A survey by Creative Group, a staffing firm based in California, found that marketing and advertising executives report spending about a third of their time at work responding to crises. It's an improvement over the 2001 survey, in which respondents said 43 percent of an executive's time was consumed by putting out fires.

So that means things are relaxing a bit in the nation's corner offices, right?

Not exactly, said Barry K. Zweibel, an executive/leadership coach in the Chicago area. He thinks that shift reflects a change in perception more than a reduction in the actual number of emergencies that executives are experiencing at work.

They might have reset their crisis meters, he said, but there is no shortage of people "trying to paint the airplane in mid-flight."

-- Mary Ellen Slayter
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Link: www.ggci.com/publications/washpost-2005-07-26.pdf

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Monday, July 25, 2005

"Does E-mail Make You Dumber?"

As reported in the August 2005 issue of DISCOVER magazine: A recent study for [Hewlett-Packard] found that British workers’ IQ test scores drop temporarily by an average of 10 points when juggling phones, e-mails, and other electronic messages — more of an IQ drop than occurs after smoking marijuana or losing a night’s sleep.

Now I find that fascinating. But Bob Stickgold, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard University who was quoted in the article, said something even more fascinating to me. "It didn’t [actually] affect their IQ at all; it [only] affected their performance on an IQ test. ”

So according to Stickgold, all this multi-tasking doesn't actually MAKE you stupid ... it just makes you APPEAR stupd! Well that ought to bolster everyone's self-confidence!!

Dr. Stickgold's comment, though highlights what might be at the very core of the Perceptions = Reality equation that plague so many people in the workplace. Because in business, if it APPEARS that you tanked on that big assignment, chances are pretty good that your boss is going to think you really DID. And that perception will probably be what your boss remembers as a reality.

Key Coaching Question: How do YOU manage perceptions like that - especially when you're feeling 10 IQ points to the worse?

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Career Coach Blog Entry

Headline: : Great News to End the Week.

Today, I received calls from not one ... not two ... but three different clients telling me about new job offers they'd received!

What a wonderful way for me to end a busy week ... and an even more wonderful way for them.

Congrats to LS, DW, and LK. You guys rock!

Career Coach Link

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sacred Cows behind Invisible Fences










Okay, well Sacred Cows aren't really pets, but this quirky comic from Non Sequitur cartoonist Wiley Miller got me thinking about how often managers treat certain outdated policies, procedures, and long-standing decisions - a.k.a. Sacred Cows - AS pets. That'd be one big-honkin' (big-moo'in?!) pet cemetery, now, wouldn't it? And it'd be filled with bazillions of living Sacred Cows.

Miller's pet cemetery is ironically protected by an invisible fence. Very clever. Imagine, then, that all of those living-Sacred-Cow-pets out there have invisible fences around them. It's not that implausible. After all, Sacred-Cow-pets MUST be protected ... they surely can't survive on their own merits. Imagine offices, everywhere, brimming with invisible fences protecting all sorts of living-Sacred-Cow-pets! No wonder cubicles feel so cramped.

The interesting coffee break conversation, then, is this: What Sacred Cows do we have around here and how can we get rid of them?

Not sure where your Sacred Cows are? Just nose around a bit and see where you get zapped by an invisible fence! That'll be the clue.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Leadership Development: How well do you brag about your staff?

Singing the praises of your staff - in a meaningful and appropriate way - is an important leadership move to master and one that has implications up, down, and across the organization. Yet, many managers and executives are reluctant to share their teams' success stories with others. Why? Perhaps it's because of their upbringing, or stories they've heard about how certain braggarts got their just desserts. But here's the shift - sharing good news like this is not so much about making you look good as it is about showcasing the skills and talents of your direct reports AND your boss, for that matter.

Bragging about your employees will benefit them because:

  • Employees get enough bad news ... the good news will be seen as a refreshing change
  • Employees will appreciate the recognition up the chain and the kudos that will most-likely flow back to them as a result of it
  • Employees will see that you're proud of them which may very well bolster their pride in themselves
  • Employees tend to appreciate appreciation
  • Employees like being seen as part of the success community
  • Employees like knowing that they're doing important work

And bragging about your employees will benefit your boss because:

  • Your boss gets enough bad news ... the good news will be seen as a refreshing change (it's everywhere!)
  • Your boss gets some stories to share with his/her boss ... and others inside and out of the organization
  • Your boss will most-likely receive kudos from his/her boss
  • Your boss will most-likely be recognized for his/her leadership acumen

Undeniably, you'll benefit, too. But if that's stopping your from sharing these successes with others, consider it an incidental and unavoidable byproduct of your ultimate goal - helping your staff and boss look good, feel great, and be motivated.

In this context, bragging about your staff's achievements is a pretty selfless act. And an indispensable leadership development move.

Leadership Development Link

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

"I see," said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.

It felt like an odd question to ask someone I talk with by telephone so regularly, but I needed to know - "How will I recognize you?!" It's that rare that I meet my clients face-to-face these days. But FB was coming to Chicago for some meetings so we decided to meet in person for the very first time, over lunch.
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It reminded me how often I'm asked how I can coach someone without seeing them in person - without the benefit of all those visual cues (and clues) having to do with body language, facial expressions, appearance, etc. - how can telephone coaching possibly work?

Frankly, I thought it'd be a problem, too, when I first started GottaGettaCoach! But I found that when you can't see, you tend to listen more - and listen better. So when I coach, I pay attention to all sorts of non-visual things. Things like:
  • tone of voice
  • rate of speech
  • particular language/wording
  • variations in pitch
  • breathing (or lack thereof)
  • volume of speech
  • steadiness of voice
  • the spaces in between the words
  • the inter-relationships of seemingly unrelated topics of discussion
  • the things that aren't being said

And of course, things that ARE said, as well. And you know what? It works!
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Lunch was wonderful, by the way - I really like working with smart, capable, successful people! I have to admit, though, that in order to really recognize my client, I had to listen for a while with my eyes closed!

You might want to try that yourself some time - closing your eyes and really listening to who's talking to you. How does their message change by you not being able to 'see' their visual cues and clues? Is it stronger? More powerful? Or less so? What non-visual elements take on an added importance for you? What becomes apparent to you with respect to your own methods of communicating?

Do you hear what I'm saying?!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Newsletter Migration - Not Just Talk!

Hi All ~ Just a quick posting to say that I've converted my most recent newsletter to a blog format. I'll still publish it quarterly, and it's still called Not Just Talk!, but it will now be located at http://www.ggci.com/NotJustTalk/.

Feel free to stop on by and post a comment.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Planning, Precision ... Crash and Burn

It took about six years of planning, a 268-million miles flight plan, and six months of getting there just to get to a place in outer space where Deep Impact, the NASA probe could even try to collide the Temple-1 comet. And when it finally got in the neighborhood, the thing crashed and burned ... just like they hoped it would.

The Leadership Lesson is a strong one, but first, consider what actually happened:

  • The space craft, roughly the size of a Volkswagen, was sent hurling into outer space so it could, about six months later, release an 'impactor' probe (about the size of a coffee table) that would crash into some comet out there, about half the size of Manhattan. What planning!
  • At the time of impact, the probe was humming along at 23,000 miles per hour - I'm told that that's like driving that Volkswagen (and coffee table) from from New York to Los Angeles ... in about a second!
  • There were no explosives on board the probe, per se. But the probe was just the right density to maximize its impact - literally! If the probe was not dense enough, it would have just gone "splat!" just like an egg hitting a cement sidewalk. And if it was too dense, it would have shot right through the comet like a speeding bullet, leaving only a hole. But, Goldilocks, it was just right, and a crater roughly the size of a huge football stadium was created and set all sorts of debris into space that the Volkswagen mother-ship could photograph at very close range. What precision!

The Leadership Lesson: Sometimes you have to be willing to crash and burn because with the proper planning and precision, things just might turn out even better than planned.

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Monday, July 04, 2005

GottaGettaCoach! Celebrates 5-year Anniversary

Thanks for all the congratulatory fireworks, folks!
- bz (7/4/2005)