Professional Development – The Stradivarius of Teams

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Originally appearing at ForITPros.com. A world-class violinist was on campus for an artist-in-residence program. While at lunch he was discussing what he perceived to be the similarities between management and great music. Said the violinist, “I have glorious music, a splendid instrument, and an exquisite bow. All I need to do is bring them all together and get out of the way.” I recently read this short story found in The Sower’s Seeds by Brian Cavanaugh. Of course there is a bit more to it than the modest violinist claims. But there’s also a lot a lot of truth in it. As a leader, … [Read more...]

Advice to New Bloggers

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PREAMBLE If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I travel and speak quite a lot. A frequent question I'm asked at these events is "I want to start blogging, but don't know where to start. What do you recommend?" This is a such a common and natural question as to be almost existential at it's root. In most every context where we move from the known to the unknown, from taking that first international trip to learning how to swim, we might first begin by saying "I'm uncertain. Where do I start?" Success in any of these situations can be distilled down to a single word - … [Read more...]

Advice to New Tech Bloggers

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If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I travel and speak quite a lot. (Bizarre fact - I've been blogging since 2004 when blogging was a new thing). A frequent question I'm asked at these events and afterwards in email is "I want to start blogging, but don't know where to start. What do you recommend?" This is a such a common and natural question as to be almost existential at it's root. In most every context where we move from the known to the unknown, from taking that first international trip to learning how to swim to changing jobs, we might first begin by saying "I'm … [Read more...]

Listen to Lead

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I've got a question for you. Where did you learn how to listen? Of all the coaching and consulting clients I have asked that question to, not one has had formal training to become a better listener. Some have pointed to the works of Stephen Covey and others like him who advocate, “seek first to understand and then to be understood.” But even those who know that often find it difficult to put the concept into practice. It seems that many people have the same view of listening that they were given in kindergarten: “sit still and be quiet." Read the rest of this article at … [Read more...]

Preventing tl;dr Emails

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  A new abbreviation is beginning to take hold. I first heard of it on Seth Godin’s blog. The abbreviation? tl; dr. Too long; didn't read. I like the new abbreviation. It gives voice to something that has been going on for many years. The elephant in the room now has a name. For years, writers of emails have tried to use the medium to provide a comprehensive thesis on a subject. They have drafted elaborate prose in an effort to sway or convince the recipient of their position. All the while, the recipients have, at best, simply skimmed over the email and set it aside. It was … [Read more...]

Feedback is a Gift

  I'm reminded of a demonstration I saw as a kid. San Diego Chargers quarterback, Dan Fouts, had earned a reputation as a prolific passer, breaking record after record. Once during a practice, Fouts donned a blindfold, took the snap from center, dropped back, and fired a perfect strike into the hands of a receiver running down the field. Blindfolded, he was still able to complete the pass. He was able to do that because he had practiced that pass many thousands of times. His muscle memory was such that he knew exactly where to throw the the ball. Read the rest of the article … [Read more...]

Minimizing Interruptions to Stay “In the Zone”

  Have you ever been really focused on solving a problem? So focused that you tuned out the rest of the world around you? A monkey clanging cymbals in the cube next to yours wouldn't bother you, you are so focused. Some IT professionals call this "in the zone." Now, have you ever been interrupted by someone while you are in the zone? "Joe, got a question for you. It will only take a second." Aaagh! Studies have shown that it can take IT professionals up to 25 minutes to get back into the zone after an interruption. Think about that. That's productivity wasted. One 30 second … [Read more...]

First Ask “Why”, then Ask “How”

  A common refrain we hear when presenting at technical conferences and training events is “How can I get promoted into IT management?” We hear this so often that we’ve worked out a sort of mental flowchart for the subsequent dialog. (We are IT people after all). And our exploratory question is, “Why would you want a promotion into management?” The variety of answers is as unique as the people who ask the question, but they are pretty easy to aggregate into several broad categories: Read the rest of this article at ForITPros.com … [Read more...]

We’ve Got to Do More With Less

  "We've got to do more with less." A few years ago that phrase was tossed about regularly in companies throughout the U.S. and abroad. Although those exact words have fallen out of favor, the sentiment still exists in many organizations. As managers and leaders, we have fewer resources with which to accomplish more work. We only have two options. We can either increase the number of hours we work or we can accomplish more in the same amount of time. For most of us, the first option maybe okay for a season, but its not sustainable. Read the rest of this article at ForITPros.com … [Read more...]

Why Do People Leave a Good Company?

  When people join a company, it’s usually with a sense of anticipation, of excitement, and of enthusiasm. They are ready to get started and to make a difference. Whether they are an individual contributor or a mid-level manager, the first day at a new company brings with it a renewed sense of engagement and optimism. Over time, that first-day-of-work feeling wanes a bit and they get into a routine. It may be a consistent work-a-day routine or it may be a fast-paced, got-to-get-it-done-yesterday routine, but there’s a routine nonetheless. Read the rest of the article at … [Read more...]