Category Archives: Leadership in the news

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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?

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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 find your passion

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This week, a friend sent me an article about why “follow your passion” is bad advice. The article cites the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, whose author, Cal Newport, makes the case that the “follow passion” cliché is flawed. He explains that innate passion is rare and has little to do with why most people end up loving their work, or not. In addition, he says, following one’s passion can lead to anxiety and chronic job hopping.  Newport contends that preexisting passion is not only exceedingly rare, it also should not matter. According to the author, one should work on mastering skills of one’s current job, rather than trying to find … Continue reading

Steve Jobs was truly about connecting things

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The past two posts, and perhaps the next few, take their inspiration from the (relatively) new movie “Jobs”, which I managed to see on one of my long airplane journeys. I say “inspiration” because this film made me curious again about some of its characters and stories; that curiosity led me to re-read Isaacson’s fascinating biography, and to do a bit of research on the Internet. It turns out that some of the people portrayed on the screen, the ones whose interviews I was able to find on YouTube, are not in complete agreement with Hollywood’s somewhat fictionalized version of the events, but that is not the issue I wish … Continue reading

Steve Jobs and the “holy wars”

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When I read a recent headline in the Financial Times that proclaimed “Steve Jobs promised a ‘holy war’ on Google” it made good sense to me. In fact, part of Steve Jobs’ leadership success over the years stemmed from his remarkable ability to construct and tell a certain type of narrative, one that goes even beyond a story of meaning and purpose for his company. Part of his storytelling genius was the way he always seemed able to define a quest for his troops, a struggle that pitted Apple as the underdog against the most powerful forces in the computer industry. As we have discussed here on past entries, stories of deep purpose are among the strongest of … Continue reading

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