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Leading from any seat at your table

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

I ended our previous post with a brief outline of the concepts I would like to address in the weeks to come. It turns out that the first of these, the idea that we all have more influence than we recognize, is so important that it is the only one I plan to cover today. Over the past two decades,  I have seen that this simple realization—that we often have more power than we think to influence our work environments—can go a long way toward making middle managers both happier and more effective.  In the late 1990s, a colleague showed me a book by Ronald Heifitz, Leadership Without Easy Answers. Even before I … Continue reading

So, what can a middle manager do to be happier?

John's reflections, leadership, Leadership in the news Leave a comment

As a continuation of our theme from last week, I decided to give some of my own views on middle management. Hopefully, my discussion will leave you with a somewhat more optimistic view of what these people “lost in the middle” can do to improve their lot in life. Reading the article about the miseries of middle management in the Financial Times last week, I began to wonder again, and even more deeply, about what exactly seems to be making middle managers so unhappy. What or who is most to blame for the general discontent? Is it our corporate leaders, the way our organizations are structured and managed, or should we point the finger more … Continue reading

Miserable and disengaged at work?

John's reflections, leadership, Leadership in the news Leave a comment

This weekend, I read yet another article in the Financial Times about how disenchanted middle managers are with their work lives. It was this headline that caught my attention: “Overworked and uninspired – the misery of the middle manager”.  Of course, we have visited issues of employee engagement before on this blog. For example, on August 28 of this year, I wrote about a recent Gallup poll which found that only 30 per cent of North American workers describe themselves as engaged.  This 30% level seems remarkably constant throughout time, having changed little during the past decade. It also seems to hold true at all levels of an organization, with managers no … Continue reading

How to use story in high-tech settings

John's reflections, Storytelling, Storytelling and marketing 1 Comment

 Last week was a busy one. I was in Buenos Aires for Entrepreneurship Week, invited to speak at four very different venues in a five-day period. Each the places I gave talks was a first-time visit for me: two dynamic high-tech firms, one incubator for start-ups, and the local chapter of EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization—a global network of successful entrepreneurs). Two members of the fledgling EO group had been at my talk at the worldwide EO University in Geneva at the beginning of September, and it was fun to come see them at their local chapter. One of the companies that invited me to give a short talk was Globant, a … Continue reading

Building bridges through language and culture — Mandela continued

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

 In the last post, we saw the importance of Nelson Mandela’s ability to interact with Afrikaners in their own language, something he learned to do during his long imprisonment. Speaking to them in their language was a way of gaining their respect, an act of winning them over and entering into their world, which led to deeper levels of communication and understanding. As such, he was able to transform the relationships with his guards from one of brutality and distrust to one of friendship.  Mandela often stated that he began to learn Afrikaans for strategic reasons: he wanted to understand his oppressors in order to prevail over them. At some point, though, … Continue reading

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