Category Archives: Stupid Decisions

Three Lessons About Leading Change from the Debt Ceiling Chaos

There has to be something we can learn from Washington’s failure to address the debt limit, right?

There are three very important lessons about leading change you can take from the chaos over approving the federal budget and raising the debt ceiling.
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Opportunity Lost

In its “Economic Prospects for the Year 2000,” the writers at Business Week saw a glass half-empty and chose to see it as mostly full.

The world painted in its 1989 article would have been a great place. The vision that they created was completely possible. We missed the opportunity. We lacked the rigor in our thinking and failed to consider all the possible implications of our choices. We lacked the discipline to execute toward the vision. And, we lacked the courage to confront reality and put long-term success ahead of short-term reward. Continue reading

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Where Are You Running?

Most of the people I speak with today describe their life as running as fast and far as they can … and then being asked to run even faster and farther.

One of the participants in a leadership boot camp I’m conducting for a client asked for help with time management. It turns out that she didn’t really need time management tips at all. She keeps a calendar with priorities, and she knows all of the time management techniques she needs to be successful. In fact, this leader is widely considered to be very effective by her colleagues.

The problem that we face isn’t time management. It is focus and resource allocation to be more effective. Continue reading

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Leadership and the Occupation

Two months and counting. Truthfully, did you believe that the Occupy movement would have lasted this long?

Protests happen all the time in this country. Travel to Washington, DC on virtually any day and you will see some group making their presence felt and beliefs known. The freedom to assemble and communicate your opinion is a sacred right in our country that was founded on a protest movement.

And yet, we haven’t seen a movement like since … last year if you understand that the Occupy movement – while different in its goals – was born out of a frustration that shares striking similarities to the Tea Party.

So what can leaders learn from a movement that has captured the news and proven to be more than just a group of people gathering to share their dissatisfaction? Here are four lessons:
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It’s the Culture, Stupid!

What separates the marketplace heroes in every industry from the has-beens and wanna-bes?

It can’t be just products, services, or price. Your competitors don’t hire all geniuses and leave you with the dunces. Their computer systems, compensation, and operational processes are not dramatically better than yours. When they discuss strategy, the words on their flip charts are not significantly more insightful than yours.

The difference is an intangible. It is a culture where every person at every level is focused on and committed to delivering results that are critical for success. Continue reading

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Want Growth? Part III: Raise the Talent Level

Your value in the marketplace is in direct proportion to the importance and complexity of the problems you can solve and solutions you can provide to your customers. Put another way, you can’t earn a brain surgeon’s salary with a talent level that qualifies you to be a convenience store clerk. Continue reading

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Want Growth? Part II: Show Me the Incentive

“People do things for their own reasons, not for our reasons.” – William Marston My seat mate on a recent flight owns a successful small business. It is growing in a down economy because he has a product that saves … Continue reading

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Want Growth? Part I: Start With Trust

The U.S. economy is in a self-fulfilling death spiral propelled by mistrust. There is a good chance that the same thing can be said of your industry, your employer, and your career.

Growth requires investment, and that requires confidence. You can’t cut your way to sustainable growth.

When trust is absent, people naturally protect their immediate self-interest. This will occur even if it leads to their long-term individual and collective undoing. Continue reading

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Why Geithner Must Go

Timothy Geithner must go for two reasons: (1) he’s expendable: and (2) he has become a distraction.

Geithner didn’t vote on a single debt proposal, and yet he played a significant role in the crisis.

This is what happens when coaches are fired. The coach isn’t on the field making the plays, and you would think that players would be committed enough to play hard for the common good. But when you can’t fire the team, you often fire the coach.

You can’t fire an elected official, and the public and financial markets want someone held accountable. It is unfortunate and perhaps even a little unfair. Sorry Tim, you need to go.
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The Return of Responsibility

The trials of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and disgraced self-help guru James Arthur Ray both ended in guilty verdicts. Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts of corruption. Ray was found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide from deaths in a sweat lodge ceremony. And though some would argue that the verdicts in both cases were never in doubt, the results could have gone either way.

Here are three lessons leaders can learn from these two seemingly unrelated cases: Continue reading

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