The Secret Discipline of Great Leaders

Great leaders make deep, daily thinking a cultural norm.

Great leaders make deep, daily thinking a cultural norm.

Thinking is the most difficult action of leadership. A lack of deep thinking is the reason so many organizations falter and so many people in leadership positions fail to lead well. Deep thinking is the hardest responsibility a leader has.

When people follow people, they are in effect saying, “I trust your thinking and that it will work out the best for me.” Sure, they are saying, “I trust your experience, I trust your vision, I trust your skills”, etc., but all of those are rooted in thinking. Heck, all of us think. It’s not the thinking that’s the problem, rather the lack of thorough, deep thinking.

Having worked in and with many organizations around the world, I am convinced that people don’t really like to think very hard at all. At first I thought it was cultural, but as I worked outside of North America more and more, with more than 60 different nationalities around the world, I have begun to find that for various reasons, thinking seems to stall at a certain, superficial level, globally.  Continue reading


Miserable at Work?

Recently, while reviewing some landmark research on what motivates human beings (Deci, 2000), I was surprised with one of the points that the researchers discovered: We don’t naturally pursue the things that are best for us. Basically, humans have some basic psychological needs that are just part of who we are, and when our environment supports those basic needs, it promotes psychological well-being. And when our environment doesn’t support those basic needs (and it must be all 3), then it promotes just the opposite: psychological ill-health. So you would think that when our environment isn’t supporting our well-being, we would naturally change the environment or go somewhere else in order to meet our needs. But what we’ve found out is that we don’t usually do that. Continue reading

You Think You’re So Smart: Theories of Hierarchical Competence

I have a few key assumptions and theories that I have used in my work and research, and I just realized that I need to get some of them public, for various reasons.  This is one of those:

Imagine you have just stepped off the plane into a country where everyone and everything looks different than you look and the place you call home.  You’re used to clean; This place is dirty. You are used to prosperity; this place is poor and struggling.  You begin walking across town looking for a bite to eat. As you stroll down the streets, you notice that people tend to be staring at you a little longer than you are comfortable with.  How do you view yourself compared to them? Your abilities, your thinking, your understanding of the world? Continue reading

A Business Is Not What You Think It Is

Do you ever wonder how it is that work can be both fulfilling, and at the same instant be a source of stress, frustration and disappointment? Have you ever assumed an increase in responsibilities, thinking that you’re moving forward, only to find out that those responsibilities brought more difficulty than prestige and progression? What if I told you that it was your own fault, and you have been setting yourself up for that kind of experience for quite some time? Would you still talk to me? Well, it may be true. Continue reading

Out of Reach (and Out of Touch) Leaders

The number one question I am asked when working with mid-levels in leadership development programs is, “Has my manager been through this?”  That’s a sad indictment on the state of leadership within an organization.  Essentially, what employees are saying is that, “Boy, I wish my management lived these values and behaved in this ideal way!”  How is it possible that so many managers can be so clueless and far removed from the realities of the work and the people that they manage? Continue reading

Reversing the 1:50 Ratio – A gut-check on values and A response to Greg McKeown

I have been reading some posts in reflection of the passing of Stephen Covey, and was led into some great thoughts from Greg McKeown, and in response to a post about Reversing the Stanford Prison Experiment, I wrote a bit too much and thought I should put it here. I hope you get something beneficial from it. Check it out.  Continue reading