Your Boss Just Gave You an Objective. Now What?

Posted by John Rutkiewicz - Guest Blogger on Jan 25, 2019

The other day, a leader I coach – we’ll call him Jim – said to me:

“My boss gives broad direction about what I’m supposed to accomplish, but she doesn’t give details about what she wants to see. At the end of December, she said, ‘Next year, I want you to increase distributor sales.’ What am I supposed to do with that?”

I asked Jim some questions to learn more about his story. Then we discussed these five suggestions….

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5 Rules for Being a Person Others Want to Follow

Posted by John Rutkiewicz - Guest Blogger on Sep 10, 2018

In his book, The Art of Possibility, renowned orchestral conductor Benjamin Zander shares a simple idea he calls “Leading from Any Chair.” He writes:

“A leader does not need a podium; she can be sitting quietly on the edge of any chair, listening passionately and with commitment, fully prepared to take up the baton.”

I believe the same is true for all of us who work in organizations. Anyone in the house can lead. We don’t need special authority or a title. We don’t need a certain technical expertise. Heck, we don’t even need permission. We merely need the desire to engage others in moving the ball.

The real leadership question is: Will other people WANT to follow you?

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4 Ways Leadership Involves Change

Posted by John Rutkiewicz - Guest Blogger on Jul 13, 2018

The distinction between management and leadership has been debated for decades. Great minds – such as Warren Bennis, Stephen Covey, Grace Hopper, and John Kotter – have argued that management and leadership are different. I've argued the difference, too.

  • Bennis: “Managers do things right, while leaders do the right things.”
  • Covey: “Leadership deals with direction. Management deals with speed.”
  • Hopper: “You manage things. You lead people.”
John Kotter of Harvard Business School put it this way:

Management is about coping with complexity. Leadership is about coping with change. -- J.Kotter, Harvard Business School

I like Kotter’s thinking. A defining distinction about leadership is its focus on change. After all, in the work-world, change is all around us.

As I’ve reflected on this idea over the years, I’ve come to realize the most effective leaders focus on creating change in four key ways.

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"Birthday Week" -- A Leadership Lesson

Posted by John Rutkiewicz - Guest Blogger on Jun 14, 2018

It’s “Birthday Week” at our house. Birthday Week is an annual tradition that begins six days before my wife’s birthday, ending and culminating on the anniversary of her birth. It’s a tradition invented by her dad, my father-in-law.

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Anniversary Memory: 1950 Service Invoice

Posted by E.V. Thompson on Apr 6, 2018

When you save a receipt or invoice, we'll bet that you aren't expecting to find it 68 years later. Imagine our surprise when an invoice from 1950 showed up tucked among some old business cards, images, and news articles.

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Anniversary Memory: Stock Markets, Depression, World War and Electricity

Posted by E.V. Thompson on Mar 15, 2018

William Lemberg began Lemberg Electric Company, Inc. in 1928, just before the stock market crashed. In the years that followed, the industrial and manufacturing industries shrunk and unemployment numbers grew. By 1930, according to EC&M, less than one third of all wire men in the U.S. were employed. 

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Anniversary Memory: Time-Tested Office Supplies Bring Back First-Day Memories

Posted by E.V. Thompson on Feb 28, 2018

Project managers are busy people who keep track of a boat-load of details. They are under pressure to deliver regular status updates and well-managed results. So, it makes sense that they'd get attached to tools that make their daily work easier and more efficient.

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Every Leader Needs Feedback (Including YOU): Four Reasons and Six Tips

Posted by John Rutkiewicz - Guest Blogger on Feb 23, 2018

Frank, a marketing director for an international distributor, was having dinner with Victor, his vice-president boss, on a trip together to Germany. Frank and Victor were visiting from the U.S. for a meeting the next day with Victor’s international marketing team. Frank used this private opportunity to give Victor some feedback.

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Demolishing silos and building teams: 5 activities for a more cohesive culture

Posted by E.V. Thompson on Nov 28, 2017

Cohesive teams are engaged and work together, diverging and converging over problems that mean a lot to your business. It’s important to have team members who have a great rapport; who not only trust one another enough to diverge and challenge the status quo but who can also come together over an idea -- regardless of whose idea it was. You need team members who are secure enough in the group to take risks and let one another shine.

Leaders who are looking to balance their results-based style with some people-based energy can start by allowing time for team-building. This can be as simple as morning chats with fresh coffee, a few minutes of padding for casual conversation during work meetings or casual Friday shared lunches.

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The Two Oars of Leadership

Posted by John Rutkiewicz - Guest Blogger on Nov 17, 2017

Imagine yourself sitting in a row boat. In each hand, you have an oar that’s anchored to either side of the boat. You pull on the two oars – simultaneously and with equal force – to navigate the water. That’s how you move the boat to your destination.

The same is true when you’re a leader. This analogy of two oars in a row boat is a simple yet accurate metaphor that reflects the two basic dynamics at play whenever you lead. To lead effectively, you must operate these two elements simultaneously and with equal force. Otherwise, you go in circles.

So, what are these two oars of leadership? 

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