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Leadership LibraryI have written more than 300 articles about Leadership, about 1/3 of which have been published by the SF affiliate of the New York Times. You can focus here on specific issues including Communication, Compensation, Governance, Entrepreneurship, Performance, Planning, and Recruiting

Please check out the Featured Articles from our Leadership Library to get you started.

If You’re Creating Consensus, Are You Building Success?

Last week we considered whether Collaboration is a substitute for Communication.

This week, we’ll come at this from a different angle: Since we know that Collaboration = Communication ≠ Consensus ≠ Accountability, is there any chance that Consensus builds Success?

Isn’t Collaboration Wonderful? Is it a Cure-All?

I was recently working with a young CEO who acceded to her company’s leadership.

She was the successor of a more authoritarian regime and found herself working overtime to establish a more collaborative and less hierarchical environment. She wanted to bring people to the table, encourage a stronger cultural bond among her employees and build a more inclusive culture that valued the contribution of each individual.

People welcomed those changes with open arms, eager to embrace a culture they much preferred.

Is it healthy if your leadership team agrees with everything you want?

about achieving collaboration without consensus. Keep reading …


You Love Collaboration. Do You Think It’s a Substitute for Communication?

One of the most popular words in the business lexicon these days is collaboration.

Everyone’s eager to flatten the organization, get rid of hierarchy, eliminate command-and-control structures and collaborate across broad multifunctional teams.

Is There Anything Really New about Collaboration?

Do we really understand collaboration and why it’s become such a ubiquitous battle cry?

On most days, I’m pretty sure that collaboration is just the newest sheep in communication clothing, a word designed to give new life to the tiresome concepts of “communication” that remain at the root of so many of our life’s challenges.

Both are about encouraging people to share information, be transparent in decision-making and work in teams across functional groups without becoming isolated in silos that neither see nor speak with each other.

Lack of Communication is at the Root of Failed Relationships

If you crawl under the hood of most marriages … consider child-rearing … or employer–employee relationships and organizational culture … you’ll find that communication trumps every other reason for relationship failure.

Keep Reading for 3 Rules to Help You Get This Right …


Who’s Interested in Paying More Taxes? Any Volunteers? | Trump’s Tax Returns

Love or Hate Trump, your choice, but this isn’t about politics

What it is about is the ignorant financial reporting by the mainstream media. It’s no wonder there’s a populist uprising against the stranglehold of professional politicians and Beltway journalists (using the term “journalist” loosely) trying to run the country.

What’s Going On Here?

Last Sunday, and ad nauseum ever since, the losses on Trump’s tax return have been front and center in every news story and with opinions from every pundit with a pen.

But there are several obvious facts that are never mentioned that are particularly relevant to the business community. I want to address 7 issues with a more objective perspective on common business practices and the tax code that applies to everyone.

This is not intended to be a political commentary about either Presidential candidate. It’s only meant to be an objective observation of relevant business, financial and tax principles that have been ignored by the media in its overzealous reporting about the tax returns of Donald Trump.

7 Points to Consider about the Tax Return Controversy

A Few Assumptions

For the record, these are a few underlying assumptions and principles:

  • I have no special knowledge of Trump’s business activities, but I am assuming he is acting lawfully.
  • The Trump Organization is a privately-owned company that is not required to publicly report its financial results.
  • I am not a tax expert or a registered tax practitioner. I have spent decades in senior financial positions, however, and have practical knowledge of certain basic principles.

1. Why Hasn’t Trump Released His Tax Returns?

This seems to be the “elephant in the room.”

Keep reading to gain a practical understanding of what’s going on here ….


When the ‘Smartest Guys in the Room’ Can Kill You | 4 Warning Signs You Can’t Ignore

Back in the days when the Enron crowd was on its high horse, they were referred to as the Smartest Guys in the room.

You don’t want to be one of those.


‘Always ask why. Dig deeper. Get the facts.’ Avoid the crowd mentality

“Ask Why” was their motto.

“Wheel Out,” “Fat Boy” “Death Star” and “Get Shorty” were some of the nicknames applied to their strategies.

Confirmation letters of successful trades were addressed to names like “Mr. M. Yass and ”Mr. M. Smart” … and I think you can parse the underlying contempt.

“Rank & Yank” described their people performance system, “Pump and Dump” their trading strategy.

What Did They Accomplish?

About $70 billion of market value was destroyed, more than 20,000 employees lost their jobs and pension funds worth $3.2 billion were destroyed, more than two thirds of which belonged to retirees with little chance to rebuild.

Keep reading to learn the 4 Warning Signs You Can’t Ignore ….


Why don’t people return phone calls?

It’s remarkable that so few people return their phone calls on a timely basis. Why is that?

Are we just lazy? Too busy? Did I mention lazy? Don’t give a rip? “If it’s important, they’ll call back?”


fri blog one ringy dingy

Are you eyeballin’ me? Of course not … not you. You return all your calls. Right?

Wanna think about all the time we invest in phone tag? Nah, me neither.


Ok, let’s do it anyway. Talk about a time sink … keeping track of all those who …

  • don’t return the call,
  • are out of the office,
  • traveling,
  • on vacation,
  • sick,
  • already on the phone …

… what a bother, huh?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got dozens of these floating around at any one time.

What if they don’t return phone calls at all?

Keep reading if you need a few more reasons to NOT return phone calls


How to Keep Smart People from Killing Each Other

While I am spending a little downtime with my family, I wanted to share with you a timeless article from our Leadership Library.

If you want to poison the well where you work, allow a Certified Jerk to roam free.

Mollycoddling is a pernicious and infectious organism you need to expel from your organization.

No Asshole Diagram

It’s easy to figure out how to deal with the Certified Jerk

This phrase is powerful in so many ways.

Smart people can often be prima donnas – I’ve heard those accusations myself … the smart people part, of course, not the second (and when it has been used, it’s typically disguised in less elegant terms) … but the brilliance of some people is often more blinding than enlightening.

Fortune magazine once asked Dr. Mehmet Oz about the best leadership advice he had ever received.

Keep reading so you don’t miss how to make the tough decisions


There’s a simple one-word formula to Achieve Excellence

PREPARE to Win … or get ready to get your butt kicked!

I n our travels, we’ve seen plenty of obstacles to success, from making the tough decisions to staying focused on execution.

As if all that isn’t enough, there are still a few more barricades around the corner.

Lack of preparation is one of them.


How many people have the will to lose?

How many of us have the will to lose?

Few, I’d guess, probably between zero and none.

How about the will to prepare?

The determination to do the unrelenting hard work to prepare to win … maybe not a lot more … and yet that’s exactly where the rubber mallet hits the lobster claw. Keep reading to embrace the key to success


Will You Be Talking about How You Will Implement This Year’s Plan … Next Year?

Strategy Execution Not Working?

A re you still trying to cobble together a plan to actually implement your strategy this year?

Last week, we talked about the inevitable slowdown in strategy execution. The summer slows us down, some of these initiatives have cooled down, some of them have worn us out and we wish they’d just go away.

closeup of carpenter cartoon fisheye style

We still get to ask this question:

If the execution of a company’s plans is an avowed priority, critical to the success of both the CEO and the business, why aren’t CEOs spending enough time on it to make it successful?

Continue to read the full article ….


Hope Springs Eternal … but it’s not enough!

How’s that strategy execution coming along?

I ’ll bet things are starting to drag about now, aren’t they? Summer’s here, you’re dialing it back a little, taking some well-deserved vacation. You launched the year full of promise … but many of your initiatives seem to be stuck, people have too much on their plates, the plans you made may not quite make it to the finish line …

How do you get your initiatives back on track?

The gum does kinda lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight, doesn’t it? Even though you’re about to round the clubhouse turn toward year-end, you’re discovering that it’s much easier to start than to finish.

You struggle to keep the engine stoked with the same energy that propelled your launch at the beginning of the year.

You may be feeling some of the air coming out of the tires, and begin to wonder … “where did all of our energy go”?

What’s that whimpering sound?

Keep reading …


The past offers no forgiveness for today’s transgressions!

What’s missing? Why do we keep wrestling with the same issues that we’ve examined and discussed throughout our careers?

T hat’s what makes it both fascinating … and painful … to be reminded about our timeless journey and our ongoing struggle to find the right balance to fulfill the lives we envision for ourselves.

“To be or not to be that is the question.”

I’ve always been intrigued by Shakespeare’s line … not only because of its famous lineage, but because so few know the words that follow and give the phrase its power:

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.”

I recently sent a note to a few of my former partners, accusing Yo-Yo Ma of hijacking for his new album one of our frequently-invoked phrases: “Goat Rodeo Sessions.”

In those days, we applied it to all manner of things that appeared as a super-cluster of mayhem and chaos. What I’ve learned is that poor project planning and organization is the hallmark of many of the failed projects on which we have all served.

what should be on your routines list? Keep reading …