Change Management

Today’s Leaders Make it Safe to Play

I work and play in the heart of Canada’s technology triangle – Waterloo, Ontario – the home of Blackberry, Open Text, D2L and scores of other innovative and exciting workplaces. The ping-pong tables, all day feasts and pets at work symbolize a conscious intent to create better company cultures –less “command and control” and more playful, open, creative and satisfying. Along these lines, companies are experimenting with their structures too; Flatter, leaner structures, the rise of self-organizing teams and disdain for anything that feels like hierarchy.

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Should you “give ’em hell” this year?

The start of a new year gives leaders an opportunity to start fresh with their teams. Here’s an interesting thought – maybe it’s time to “give ’em hell”! I’m inspired by reports that Pope Francis, in his 2014 end-of-the-year address to his employees, delivered a scathing review of their behaviour.  In business circles, we might say he “named the elephant in the room” – and did it for all the world to see. This seems in direct contrast to the usual leadership advice to celebrate success and inspire followers with praise and words of confidence.

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3 Magical Questions to Open Possibilities

I have always loved the story of Jack and Beanstalk. While Jack may have seemed foolish to trade his cow for three magic beans, I’m attracted to his ability to imagine a greater possibility. What a risk-taker he was!  To trade certainty for something untested takes courage and openness. You have to be willing to sacrifice what you have relied on. By letting go of the cow’s rope and grasping the magic beans, Jack was saying there’s more to life than what he’d seen.

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Forget thick skin – take opposition personally

Are good leaders still expected to fall in line, and never break rank? It might seem so, judged by interesting events at a university last month. A tenured professor, who also held an administrative leadership position, lashed out publicly at changes which he, and others, had been warned privately not to resist. First he was fired, then following a media maelstrom, he was quickly reinstated. Soon after, his leader was terminated. When the business press commented, it was about whether or not it’s okay to disagree publicly with your leader.

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