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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

How Nelson Mandela used language to build a nation

John's reflections, leadership Leave a comment

A moving scene from the movie Invictus portrays a tense conversation between President Nelson Mandela and Jason Tshabalala, his intense security chief. At issue is Mandela’s decision to employ some of the highly qualified white bodyguards trained under his predecessor during the brutal apartheid regime.  On the morning when the white men report to take up their duties with the new regime, the black guards—who had not been informed prior to this noteworthy event—react with shock and disdain. Visibly agitated, the security chief storms into the president’s office to demand an explanation. Mandela calmly makes clear his desire to be protected by a multiracial team, one that should include highly qualified members … Continue reading

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