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How Self-Awareness Can Elevate Leadership

Being self-aware means knowing ourselves well, including understanding our emotions, motives, and desires. Self-awareness means having a clear and accurate understanding of our emotional landscape, core values, strengths, and weaknesses. Also, it means seeing clearly and accurately how we impact others. For leaders, there are many benefits to developing self-awareness.* For example, self-awareness can help leaders: enhance their sense of personal control assess their growth and effectiveness develop self-acceptance and self-compassion avoid wearing a mask or creating a persona that lacks authenticity see their blind spots recognize the ruts they’ve fallen into determine when it’s time to change course improve

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What Happens When Leaders Lack Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is an important component of leadership effectiveness, according to researchers. It’s also a key differentiator between good and great leaders. According to leadership authors, James Kouzes and Barry Posner: “….self-awareness is a predictor of success in leadership.” On the flip side, many leaders have blind spots that inhibit their leadership effectiveness and even damage their relationships. For example, think about the leaders who: come across as overly ambitious, cut-throat, or self-serving think they’re trustworthy when in fact their colleagues don’t trust them can’t seem to learn from their mistakes are overly confident about their decisions when in fact they

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Sustainable Business Trends and Challenges

Sustainable Business: Trends and Challenges

At the University of Denver’s Sustainable Business Symposium recently, we heard about several trends and challenges, including not only advances in renewal energy and carbon emissions reporting but also a backlash against ESG, greenhushing, and pushback against DEI efforts. The challenges are real, but so is the progress. But first, the context.   The Ethical Basis for Sustainable Business In his welcome address at the symposium, Bruce Klaw, Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Business Ethics and Legal Studies at the University of Denver, started with a historical perspective going back four decades. He noted that the United

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This Is How You Can Become a Better Listener

Want to become a better listener? Talk too much? Poor listening is related to many of the most common and damaging leadership derailers, including being (or being viewed as) controlling, disconnected, egotistical, insensitive, aloof, intimidating, or micromanaging. It’s hard to be a good leader if you’re a dominating talker. Of course, there are times when you must speak up and issue directives. But most of the time, you should listen more and talk less. There are many benefits that follow from good listening. For example, it tends to: strengthen relationships and build rapport, help build a strong sense of team

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Women, Leadership, and the Double Bind

This week, I participated in an event on “Exploring the Strength of Women in Leadership” hosted by my alma mater, Claremont McKenna College (CMC), with presentations from Dr. Sherylle Tan (CMC Professor and Director of Internships and Research, Kravis Leadership Institute), Claudia Raigoza (Director of Project Management, Fiserv), and Jessica Dang (Head of Customer Experience, Vode Lighting), and moderation by Evan Rutter (Assistant Vice President for Alumni and Parent Relations, CMC). The discussion covered many important topics that are highly relevant to all of us in the modern workforce and, of course, on International Women’s Day. Here’s my take on

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The Telltale Actions of Courageous Leaders

These days, we find ourselves with a dearth of courageous leaders. Too often, we have cowardly leaders who duck, dodge, and go along instead of leading from the front. This comes with painful consequences, from low trust in organizations and institutions to low respect and engagement in the workplace. We can—and must—do better. We need more courage. Think of the inspiring courage of Alexei Navalny. Consider Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Think of Malala. Consider the young women who testified to Congress about the wrongdoing they witnessed, despite grave personal and professional risks. And think of the poll workers who continue to do

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10 Benefits of Credibility in Leadership

When many people think about what makes a leader, too often they think about things like vision, inspiration, and charisma. They think about knowing what to do and getting people to do it. Or they think about confidence and decisiveness. Sure, these are important sometimes. But there are many other aspects of leadership that remain hidden to many—and to new leaders. A big one is credibility. When we have credibility, we’re worthy of belief and trust. It comes from a powerful combination of both character and competence. Credibility is one of the most important elements of effective leadership. High credibility

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The Telltale Signs of a Bad Boss

What’s the deal with all the bad managers out there? According to a Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults, one on two had left their jobs at some point in their career to get away from a bad manager. A YouGov and MHR survey of 2,006 workers found that 80 percent of U.S. workers have experienced poor management or a poor manager at least once in their career. What’s the situation in your workplace?   Signs of a Bad Boss Here are the telltale signs of a bad boss: micromanaging people lying, cheating, stealing, otherwise acting unethically being egotistical (self-centered

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What I Learned about Leadership from Playing Sports

I’ve been reflecting lately on lessons I’ve learned from playing sports over the years. Last week, I wrote about what sports taught me about life, so here I’m addressing leadership lessons from sports. We all know how sports can help build our character as well as our fitness, how we can learn about teamwork, and how athletes can be fierce and unyielding in competition but also honorable and graceful in defeat. But what do sports teach us about leadership? Here are 12 of my top lessons based on my experiences, starting at age five, on the soccer fields, tracks, Little

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Great Questions Leaders Should Be Asking

Article Summary: Many leaders are too focused on providing answers and not enough on asking great questions. On the benefits of asking questions, plus great questions leaders should ask themselves and their direct reports—and about other stakeholders. +++ Many leaders assume that their job is to provide answers. And if they don’t, they’ll look stupid, weak, or ineffective—and harm their credibility. These assumptions, while common, can get leaders into trouble. Of course, there are times when leaders must provide answers. But in many cases, they overlook the value of asking great questions. Case in point: In a Harvard Business Review

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It's OK to say no

Good Leaders Learn to Say No

Article Summary: Many leaders agree too quickly to the many requests they receive. Such frequent assent can undermine key priorities. Good leaders learn to say no. Here’s how. +++ Many of us are bombarded with requests, opportunities, and decisions to make. Our subordinates and colleagues make compelling cases for things they want or need, and we want to support them. But it’s too easy to get drawn into agreeing too often, undermining our ability to address more important priorities. It’s easier to say “yes” to our employees and associates than “no.” We don’t want to be negative, especially to those

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How Good Leaders Drive Execution in Their Organization

Article Summary: Creating an execution-driven organization is essential for leaders. There are specific tasks leaders can do with strategy, people, and operations to align their organization to execute well. Good leaders embed excellent execution into the culture of their organization. +++ Execution entails carrying out a strategy, plan, directive, or course of action. Good leaders ensure the disciplined, ethical execution of key functions that drive the necessary results of their organization. Effective execution is essential. If we can’t execute, we won’t survive long as a leader. Much has been written about purpose, values, vision, culture, leadership styles, and more, but

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How Good Leaders Handle Factions and Office Politics

Article Summary: Factions and office politics are common in organizations. Good leaders learn to bridge such factions and address the politics to help create unified and aligned organizations that excel. +++ Factions are small, dissenting groups within larger groups. Many factions take a contentious approach, fueled by their self-serving agenda and narrow and stubborn view of the way things should be. The idea of a faction is built into the founding of the United States, with heated debates about how to institute controls on government to avoid the kinds of tyranny and corruption the Colonists were fighting against. (1)  

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listening

How Leaders Can Become Better Listeners

Article Summary: Good leaders make sure they don’t talk too much. They listen more and listen well. On the benefits of being a better listener and the best practices of listening, including how to build a culture of listening. +++ Many leaders talk too much. After all, they’re in charge, and people want to know what they think (or so they assume). Some leaders are impatient. They may be quick thinkers and want to get on with taking action. Kevin Sharer tells the story of when he joined Amgen, a global biotech company, as its president and COO after coming

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The Art of Giving versus Taking Credit: A Primer

Article Summary: Deciding when to take credit versus give credit for accomplishments is a more complicated issue than many people realize. Generally, it’s best to give credit to others, but there are some scenarios where it’s more nuanced. +++ The issue of giving versus taking credit for accomplishments is a tricky one for many leaders and organizations. Many of us have worked with people who take credit for others’ work—or who deflect blame when something goes wrong. Many of us have had our ideas stolen by a colleague or even a boss. We may have worked with glory hounds, attention

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