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Leadership Development

National Post Canadian Business Toronto Star Globe and Mail

Of special interest...

Aug 2008

Gift of Feedback is a Two Way Street In my last column, I wrote about the importance of creating a feedback culture —a tolerant, uplifting environment in which senior executives are encouraged to constructively criticize each other's management behaviours— in fact, they should be rewarded for it as part of their compensation package.

July 2008

No-fault feedback can invigorate your organization A few months ago, I wrote a column about the increasing popularity of 360-degree feedback as a performance assessment tool. Although companies increasingly claim to focus on "talent management," most managers still have trouble speaking frankly about colleagues' strengths and weaknesses.

July 2008

How to weed out anti-leadership behaviour Sounds simple, but the solution is to hire better. If you know what attributes you don't want in a leader, test for their opposites during the evaluation phase of a job search.

June 2008

Corporate culture & hiring for fit I have been advising clients for years to look at more than experience and potential when hiring. If you're not also assessing candidates for "fit" with your unique corporate culture —you might as well put off ordering the new hire's business cards.

May 2008

Can people change? Every manager has people on their team who aren't contributing 100%. Hopefully, you have long since shipped out employees with bad attitudes, and those whose lax work ethics brought down the entire group. Some things just can't be fixed - or take too much time and effort.

May 2008

Why shouldn't the best be rewarded? It's that time of year to complain about CEO pay. It's become an annual springtime ritual, as predictable as your lawnmower refusing to start or a U.S. team winning the Stanley Cup. Every spring, as companies release their annual reports, controversy breaks out over executive compensation.

April 2008

Turning Entrepreneurs into Executives While Canada Inc. faces many challenges, there is one thing it has always done well: turn out leaders.

Mar 2008

What's Your Leadership Brand We hear a lot today about the need for every company or product to have its own branding strategy. If you don't make a strong, consistent statement about your quality, integrity and mission, you might as well not be selling corn flakes at all.

Mar 2008

10 Worst Leadership Habits If you are a boss (or want to climb to the top) Make these mistakes at your peril. [pdf]

Feb 2008

Managing in tough times Let's mark this down as one of the most unusual economic slowdowns in Canadian history.

Feb 2008

360 degree feedbackIn our executive coaching practice, I am seeing new interest in an old tool: 360-degree feedback. That's the formal process in which an organization evaluates your performance by collecting feedback from all around you: your boss, peers and subordinates.

Jan 2008

Avoid 10 Deadly Job Search SinsMany human resource executives complain that recruiting has become harder in recent years because so many top-quality candidates have taken job-search training or sessions on "how to interview well."

Nov 2006

Behaviors that drive bosses crazyAs an executive search consultant for the past couple of decades, I’ve been fascinated by the difference between what employers say they're looking for when hiring a new exec, and the reasons they give for rejecting candidates.

Jun 2006

Surviving Your First 100 DaysThere’s a strange paradox of management that can make or break your career —whether you’re a CEO, senior executive or line manager.

Apr 2005

"Be an all-star"To be an all-star exec for Canadian Business, you and your company have to run a gauntlet of filters designed to weed out the poseurs, the coasters and the followers.

Sep 2004

Six Things Every Boss Should Know To me, September has always marked the beginning of a new business year. It's a time to shake off the summer doldrums and adopt new habits and attitudes that will get you off to a fresh start.

Apr 2004

Have you got what it takes to be an effective leader?It was one of those questions professional recruiters love to ask. One of those open-ended questions where what the candidate says is usually less important than the way he or she says it.


Leadership Traits

Nov 2007

Successful leaders concentrate on big decisionsThe secret of business success, as I have learned through our executive coaching practice, is focus. There is nothing more powerful than a leader who is focused, laser-like, on a few essential priorities. And there is nothing sadder than an executive bogged down in trivia, indecision and other people’s problems.

Aug 2007

Don’t lose sleep over challenges you can't change"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," grumbled a stressed-out, sleep-deprived Henry IV. But today’s captains of industry don't have it much better.

Dec 2007

Some easy to keep resolutions for 2008New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and sneaking up fast. Forget about eating better and working out more often – why not focus on New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep?

Nov 2007

Be Master Of More Than One DomainIf you are going to pursue a career in senior management, you have to rise above your humble roots in accounting or sales. You have to develop a broader perspective that includes all parts of the company – from finance and marketing to human resources and research and development.

Nov 2007

Slice & Dice Your Way To The Top: Be ruthless in axing tasks that waste time What do you do about all the other projects, functions and time-wasters that confront busy executives? I recommend a power tool: a chainsaw.

Nov 2006

Managing in an Uncertain WorldWar and the threat of terrorism on Canadian soil, political uncertainty on both sides of the border, global warming, warnings of flu pandemics, and an economy at the tipping point.

Sep 2006

Communication: Obstacles Can Make It EasierHow many times have you waited for a return phone call that never came, chased people down for feedback on a proposal you made, or found yourself not listening to a boring speaker?

Jul 2006

Deliver With PassionI was flattered recently to receive a call from the CEO of a major Canadian company. He is looking to groom his successor, a promising newcomer with brainpower to spare - but short in high-level executive experience.

Apr 2006

Jack Bauer’s Guide to Executive SuccessWhat does it take to succeed in business today? You have to be decisive. You have to be focused. And you must be a good communicator, because nobody succeeds by themselves.

Mar 2006

Perserverance - The Executive Difference"I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature." - John D. Rockefeller

Dec 2004

Shame On Coach Who Shames Team: Effective leader encourages top performance"Somewhere we've got to find some men who want to play basketball... And for the ones who don't want to play, do everyone a favour and quit."

June 2004

Keep Briefings Brief. The better way to a realy bad staff meeting. am a great believer in meetings, but as few of them as possible. Great ideas really do come out of meetings. Personal relationships are formed and nurtured. Productive decisions actually get made when...[pdf]

May 2004

Life At The Top Can Be Lonely: It's not all about beautiful people hanging around the poolIs it really lonely at the top? Television suggests successful chief executives such as Donald Trump are surrounded by trusted advisors, well-dressed cronies and all manner of beautiful people hanging around the pool.

Feb 2004

Persuasiveness Trumps Power: Autocracy is out. So how do you manage people?If you tell people to do something, he complained, they get their backs up. And if you ask politely, they're just as likely to say no.


Engaging Your People

Feb 2007

Too much 'vision' When chief executives offer too many ideas, companies founderWhen people consider the ideal characteristics of a CEO, "vision" often tops the list. Clearly, the ability to pull together a roadmap for the organization’s future and then communicate it to others is a trait almost everyone expects of their leaders.

Jan 2007

Cross Country Branch Tour is a Test of Leadership CapabilityOne of the benefits of working in a country the size of Canada is the "Management Tour": crossing the country or touring a region to visit your company’s local offices, fly the flag, meet the local staff...

Sep 2006

Promotion From Within Is Good For CompaniesThis week’s column won’t win any awards from my colleagues in executive search. The latest management trend I’m seeing: more promotion from within.

Nov 2005

Six unsung praises from the boss... CEOs generally want their top performers to succeed.In my line of work, I often talk with senior business leaders about what they expect from their top performers. I also get to meet a lot of those talented employees, but usually to talk about a new job.

Sept 2004

Forget The Money: Executives Are Craving Respect. Shocking level of dissatisfactin revealed,Employers are bending over backward these days to hire, retain and motivate energetic financial and marketing talent. But according to a recent survey, many organizations may...

Jan 2003

Creating A New Position Needs ThoughtFor those who have given up reading tea leaves, here’s a promising new economic indicator: more companies are starting to hire people for newly created positions.

Dec 2002

How To Set A Loyalty Trap: Secrets of creating a workplace employees will not want to leaveWhat secret fear costs chief executives the most sleep?


Doing The Tough Stuff

Mar 2008

Making a success of successions In business and in politics, leadership means everything. No wonder, then, that one of the most troublesome processes in business is transition.

Feb 2008

Wear more hatsHere are 7 crucial managerial roles that all smart executives should make part of their job description [pdf]

Jan 2008

Some easy to keep resolutions for 2008 Forget about eating better and working out more often – why not focus on New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep?

Jan 2008

Free yourself from tyranny of the keyboardFrom Razrs to BlackBerrys to Curves, business people are always busy testing new electronic gadgets that promise to increase their productivity.

Oct 2007

"Firing Right": the right way to right sizeSince 1982 we've seen the rise and fall of Commodore Computers, the "trickle-down theory," VHS tapes, New Coke and the Spice Girls.

Jul 2007

Screen Out Bad Hires: employers might take cue from pooch screenersAcross Canada, employers are wringing their hands over the challenge of qualified employees. But the problem is not insoluble.

Apr 2007

You deserve a break when...I get a good deal of exercise: at the gym three or four times a week; cycling in summer; skiing in winter. These are important "appointments" for me and I appreciate not just the physical activity, but the mental break it provides.

Mar 2007

Probation periods: awkward problem or elegant solutionProbation: It’s for misbehaving high school students and dubious new hires, right? Not exactly. Setting out a probation period for new recruits is actually a powerful management tool.

Dec 2006

Performance Review Opportunity Often SquanderedThis time of year breeds many cringe-worthy moments – from overplayed Christmas Muzak to crushingly dull office parties. But the worst moment of all may be your company’s annual round of performance reviews.

Oct 2006

Tips on how to adjust to "sellers’ market"If there’s something that CEOs, small business and Alberta contractors all agree on, it’s Canada’s growing shortage of good help.

Dec 2005

War for Talent Continues... Hiring the right person can be tough, keeping them can be tougher.It’s been eight years since consulting giant McKinsey & Co. coined the phrase "The War for Talent," to describe the growing need for companies to attract top management talent if they wish to stay competitive.

May 2005

Sorry, wrong number. Some executives will do anything to avoid returning calls.The legendary Washington correspondent Jack Anderson once revealed his formula for getting people to return his calls. When assistants asked what his call was about, Anderson would say: "Malfeasance."

Mar 2004

Secret To Success. Manage your boss.You strive for excellence and lead by example. You praise in public, correct in private, and motivate, delegate and empower.

Dec 2002

Deferring Confrontation Only Makes Matters Worse: Learn to reprimand staff properly - and postivelyJust recently I heard an executive complain about the consistently unsatisfactory work of an employee. It didn't take long before I determined the problem: The executive had never really sat down with the employee...

Dec 2002

Making The Million-Dollar Decision: Techniques to help prevent rotten executive hiresOf all the myths that surround the recruiting process, watch out for the one that says hiring is mainly about the job interview.


Managing Your Career

Jun 2007

When a good CEO is really hard to findChoosing the right person to head up a company or business unit is never easy. Does this candidate have the right combination of experience and vision? Can that candidate fit into the corporate culture and yet lead it in new directions?

Jan 2007

Job Security is Dead: Employees Today Look to Make an Impact FastWhen it comes to "hot jobs," popular culture tries to sell us the notion that everyone dreams of being a pop star, fighter pilot or crime scene investigator. But most business people have dreams of a different sort.

Nov 2006

Rising StarsFinancial Post Business magazine will publish it's annual CEO score card, ranking the chief executives of Canada's 200 largest and fastest growing companies.

May 2006

How To Separate The Wannabes From Winners
Start With Good Coach-Client PairingYou have met them at parties and read their articles in newspapers. Maybe some of your friends have joined their ranks.

Mar 2006

CEOS in WaitingNo one gets into a senior spot because of technical ability...

Jun 2005

If you want to be the CEO, expect to put in the hours. Work-life balance is your problem, not your employer'sToday, it is not uncommon to hear statements such as "I can't work late tonight. I have to pick up my son at Scout camp," or "This proposal will have to wait. My mother-in-law goes into hospital tomorrow."

Toronto Star
May 2004

Should Executives Do Their Own Reference Checks? Authors say those at top should do it. Skill demands discipline, instinct.Business experts agree that reference checking is an essential part of the hiring process, especially in these days of rampant resume inflation. A recent analysis by Accenture Canada of 350 resumes found inaccuracies in 25 per cent of them.

Jan 2001

Best Leaders Are Brave, Creative, AdaptableTo the purists, 2001 is the first year of the 21st century and the new millennium. To many more, however, it's a year that has long since been defined by a movie.

Canadian Business
Dec 2004

Life After CEO: Losing the top job often means a tough climb backJust a few years ago, he was the toast of his industry: a dynamic new CEO running a fast-moving public company that seemed about to revolutionize its sector. Sadly, that organization never lived up to its billing.

Oct 2000

An Executive Recruiter's Guide To Attracting The Best People By Promoting From WithinExecutives often have no idea of the true nature and potential of the people who work for them or other parts of their company. Many organizations are sloppy about alerting their staff to new job openings...

Sept 1997

Gulag ChicWANTED: Adventurous, patient, flexible executives for two- to three-year posting with consumer goods multinational in isolated corner of developing nation where corruption is rampant.

Globe and Mail
July 1996
  The Downside Of Being On TopManagers are facing more stress than ever these days. When once they could look forward to a summer vacation with their family, they are now having to settle for long weekends instead. What's an executive to do?