Posts by alongtheroad

Listen Up: The Key to “Ultra” Leadership

Without active and full listening there can be no true leading. To lead others and get them to engage and contribute we must be willing to push the limits, think carefully, feel fully, and communicate effectively. Communicating effectively is a foundational skill of “ultra” leadership*. A crucial element of effective communication is the ability to listen. Active and full listening is non-judgmental, unconditionally constructive, and totally for the person to whom we are listening. It is also something we don’t do very well or very often. Many times when we would like to think we are listening, we aren’t. We

Categories: Leadership.

Ready, AIM – 2015!

It’s that time of year – time to reflect on the year past and look ahead with anticipation. We’re on a journey. Whether 2014 was awesome, so-so, or awful, we have an opportunity to look at it and learn from it in order to ensure we are undertaking our journey with intention. What will 2015 bring? It will bring whatever we design it to bring, that’s what. Every system (the organization, your team, you) produces what it is designed to produce. If we want a different experience and a different result in 2015, we’re going to have to engage in

Categories: Leadership.

“Beware the Chair!”

In ultra-running there is a saying, “Beware the chair.” Every few miles in an ultra running event there is an Aid Station. Crewed by friendly volunteers, Aid Stations are a welcome sight as you are ticking off miles and working your way to your finish. When you’re trying to run 50K, 50 miles, or 100 miles, sitting down at an Aid Station can be dangerous. You might not want to or be able to get back up. You get comfortable and sit too long and you’re jeopardizing your ability to start back on your way or seriously impacting your ability

Categories: Uncategorized.

3 Scary Things That Real Leaders Will Do

Here’s the deal. Leadership is a calling to push the limits and rally people to join in an important work. And, too many of us have forgotten that. Too many lack or have lost the will to push the limits. Our tendency for “tick-the-box” and quick and easy is killing our ability to answer our important questions with creative and bold solutions. We race along at an unsustainable pace, vomiting old ideas onto new challenges and crossing our fingers that it will all work out. Guess what? It’s not working out. No wonder 70% of the US workforce is disengaged

Categories: Leadership.

Leaders say, “Thank you.”

A regular fixture in my speaking engagements and my work as a coach is my reminder that leaders need to own our reality and be mindful of how the real and imagined demands can lead us into a pace of working that is not sustainable. I suggest that the fast pace we keep can contribute to reactivity and poor decision-making. We need to get control of ourselves and think through decisions to ensure we choose the optimal course of action and not just the obvious one. A side effect to the crazy pace many keep is that we easily see

Categories: Leadership.

The Problem with Performance Reviews

I’ve always been troubled by performance reviews. I didn’t like them when I was working inside an organization. I don’t like them now that I consult with organizations. There, I’ve said it. I have two problems with performance reviews. One, they look backward. Given the pace and complexity of business today, looking backward isn’t very useful. It’s too late. If someone isn’t as engaged as we would like or performing at the level we believe them capable of why would we wait until a quarterly, semi-annual, or (God help us!) annual review meeting to talk to them about it? Second,

Categories: Leadership.

Enemies of the “Adjacent Possible”

In “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (2010),” Steven Johnson writes about “the adjacent possible.” I love that phrase. The possible is always in reach. “The phrase captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation. The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself.” In business, I see a couple enemies of the adjacent possible that may hinder its being tapped and thereby impeding innovation and successful change. Both

Categories: Leadership.

9 Leadership Lessons from Dad

My father was born on this day in 1928. He’d have been 86 today had he not died at the too-young age of 50 when I was just 17. The man I have become and am becoming is the partly the result of a continuing conversation in which I compare and contrast my beliefs and actions with how my dad would see something and what he would do in different situations. Some things I’ve tried to emulate. Some things I’ve tried to do differently. Either way, he’s been a great teacher. In my work with leaders, I remember the lessons

Categories: Leadership.

2 Horrible Things Only Curiosity Can Prevent

Inquiry Before Advocacy. This is a simple and important rule that most leaders forget to follow. Highly effective leaders spend more time asking questions and less time telling someone what to do. It’s that simple. There are two powerful reasons why this simple rule is an axiom of business. Leading through advocacy results in two horrible situations taking hold in the team or organization. First, when we lead through advocacy, we are telling someone what we would do or what she should do. We become the ‘solution provider’ and as such, people become dependent upon us to always provide the

Categories: Uncategorized.

The Tracks We Leave

When I was a kid we had to take our shoes off in the basement, especially in winter. My mother didn’t want us tracking mud, snow or worse through her house. There is a Dakota proverb that says, “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” As leaders, what kinds of tracks are we leaving? Are we tracking mud through our teams and organizations? We all leave a legacy – in each and every moment. At the end of our lives. At the end of our careers. At the end of a meeting. At the end of an

Categories: Leadership.