I was going to title this newsletter post “Leaders Think Outside the Box.” However, that is probably one of the most overused clichés in management and leadership today. Rather, I titled this post “Leaders Explore Their Options” for a specific reason.
During the past month, we have all been amazed by the 360° jumps achieved by Olympic ice skaters. Some demonstrated triple axels. Others soared in quads. Last weekend, basketball fans were treated to 360° windmill dunks by NBA players in the annual All-Star game.
We have a guest writer for this week’s newsletter, my son Ben. Ben is celebrating his 30th birthday in several weeks. To help commemorate that special occasion, I asked Ben to share some of his own ideas on leadership with the readers of this newsletter.
Back in 1985, when I started my job leading the Continuing Legal Education Department at Georgetown Law Center, many well-known speakers were touring the country specializing in particular subjects that appealed to lawyers.
When I was a young leader, I had two primary goals: avoiding conflict and keeping people happy. You could easily say I was a people pleasing leader. These inclinations on my part, as is often the case, came from a childhood characterized by low self-esteem and a desire to fit in.
In January, I am scheduled to give a leadership presentation for a national organization at their meeting in Austin, Texas. At the start of that presentation, I will emphasize that I believe the two most critical elements for excellent leadership are self-awareness and authenticity.
This week I read a brief excerpt on leadership that prompted me to think: “Wow. I could have written that one myself.. It summarizes so well the way I think about leadership, for new leaders and experienced ones.
I hope you all enjoyed a happy and gratifying Thanksgiving. So many people love this holiday because it gives them the opportunity to both express and feel gratitude for all the wonderful things in their lives.
This week I spent a few minutes watching a short video by Susan Cain. Susan is an attorney by training who gained fame for her meaningful book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”
This week a friend told me about an executive announcing that he was leaving his company after seven years to take a new position with an organization in a different industry. This executive had a passion for a particular kind of work he did not feel he could pursue in his current role.
When I was an aspiring student at Georgetown Law, I strived to become an expert in as many areas of law as I could. That included my first-year subjects: Contracts, Torts, Civil Procedure, Property, and Criminal Law and Procedure. If I could just achieve expert status, I would ace all my exams. This paradigm carried through my three years at Georgetown.
Years ago one of my favorite monthly magazines to read was “Fast Company.” It always included thought-provoking articles about management and leadership. I especially enjoyed the leadership column by Marshall Goldsmith at the end of each issue.
In the earliest days of this weekly newsletter, which I started almost exactly one year ago, I wrote about leadership being an inside-out process. I said that we first must work on ourselves, particularly our character, before we can ever expect to lead other people.
During our professional leadership journeys, expectations can make or break teams, communication or collegial relationships. They can also create significant happiness or adversity within our families.
Leadership is about setting the tone – in the culture, in the office and in communication. One of the most critical aspects of communication in any organization is meetings. We all need them; we all have them and we all bemoan the proliferation of them.
Leaders are role models. In fact, serving as a role model is one of the most important roles leaders can play. Team members, colleagues and customers look to leaders to role model the values that organizations, departments and divisions articulate orally and frequently post on office walls and on web sites.
This week’s newsletter is being sent on a Friday rather than a Sunday because my wife and I are heading out on vacation this morning. That vacation will include a rendezvous with our younger son and his girlfriend tomorrow and a meet-up with our older son, his wife and our new granddaughter in the middle of next week.
Several decades ago, when I was training to become a facilitator of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” for The Covey Leadership Center (now Franklin Covey), I had to undergo a 360-degree assessment measuring how well I was living up to those seven habits that Stephen Covey laid out in his book.
Leadership Oppotunities Need Not End When Your Job Ends
25 July 2021
I found myself reminiscing this week about the recent past and the distant past. As we slowly come out of the pandemic, especially in states like mine (MD) where more people have been vaccinated, I thought back to the few highlights of this past year-and-a-half.
Last week, I wrote about asking the right questions. I quoted my coaching colleague Dan Rockwell, who had posted questions one of his executive coaching clients asked himself and his direct reports after six months of the calendar year.
Much of our leadership acumen can come from others who study the art of leadership. These days, if you Google leadership blogs, you will find many worthwhile efforts written by leading authors, coaches and speakers. Sometimes it can be challenging to know which blogs to subscribe to.
This past week I participated in a committee meeting for a national coaching organization for which I volunteer. Happily, it was a very well-run meeting that featured a number of smart, insightful and committed committee members.
On Friday, October 25, 1968, I flew home from Syracuse University early in the morning. I had no special reason to be home that weekend, but my parents gave me the OK. So I flew home to Long Island on the long-gone Mohawk Airlines.
This morning I was reminded of a paper I wrote years ago for the Association of Continuing Legal Education titled “The Job of a Leader is to Develop Other Leaders.” I published this paper on the web when I created my leadership coaching website.
I had an interesting coaching experience recently, and it had nothing to do with my leadership coaching clients. These days I am fortunate to be contributing to five different organizations as a volunteer, and frequently I find myself utilizing my coaching skills to help these groups in different ways.
This past week, a friend who is a retired federal judge and who knows I love leadership, encouraged me to think and write about leadership and family. My mind immediately drifted back several decades to a conversation I had with a friend while we sat on a bench outside Georgetown Law Center, where I worked for 32 years.
Many Leaders Seek Certainty – Wise Leaders Welcome Uncertainty
11 April 2021
This week as I was going on my daily walk, I listened to one of Brene Brown’s “Dare to Lead” podcasts. It was a one-hour interview with Adam Grant, the psychologist, author and professor at The Wharton School.
Last night basketball fans watched the semi-final games in the 2021 NCAA Basketball tournament. These semi-final games, also called “The Final Four,” featured the University of Houston vs,. Baylor and Gonzaga University vs. UCLA.
Every once in a while, I read a blog post or receive an email from a friend that resonates with me. This past week I received such an email from my friend Lou Briskman, the former General Counsel of CBS Corporation.
Earlier today I was having a conversation with my son’s college roommate. We are very fortunate that he and his wife live here in the Washington DC area so that we can keep up our relationship with them.
Note: Michael Reuter, a leadership thought leader and executive coach, served as Director of the Center for Leadership Development in the Department of Management at Seton Hall University from 2007-2020.
Several weeks ago as I embarked on one of my daily walks, I was listening to a podcast about the most essential elements of good leadership. The host and guest were talking about the quality of empathy, a trait I’ve touched upon consistently since I began this newsletter several months ago.
Yesterday as I took my daily walk, I was listening to a podcast interview with Simon Sinek, the prolific author, renowned speaker and international consultant. My sons have gifted me with one of Simon’s books, “Leaders Eat Last.” Simon is truly a deep thinker about leadership.
As we enter this new year of 2021, many of us will focus on setting goals for the 12 months ahead. Leaders can set goals for themselves and for their organizations.
My wife and I have been setting annual family goals for three decades, starting when our children were born. Each January we divided our goals into categories: family, financial, vacation and travel, physical, mental and spiritual.
We are taking a holiday break this week and will return next Sunday, January 3, 2021. I hope you are all spending some reflective moments searching for the gratitude you can uncover from this tumultuous year we have all experienced. As much as we all want 2020 to be over as soon as possible, I encourage you to think about the valuable lessons you have learned this year – about the world, about your friends, family and colleagues, and, most importantly, about yourself.
A Leader’s Ongoing Obligation: To Serve As A Role Model
20 Dec 2020
The words role model are used frequently to describe a leader’s purpose. Cliches like “walk the talk” describe leaders’ obligations to act on a daily basis just as they would want their teammates to behave.
Last week I wrote about the importance and power of listening for all leaders. I was surprised and gratified by the many affirming responses I received during the past seven days, including from 28-year-old son. When you receive positive feedback from your own children, you know you are doing something right!
In 1962, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote a song that started with these lyrics: “Listen. Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?”
Today I want to share a leader’s secret with you, and I encourage you to tell as many people as possible.
This past week, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was talking about the tradition of presidents having graduated from Ivy League universities.
She spoke eloquently about those presidents who did not matriculate at top-tier colleges:
Each spring, members of the Jewish faith celebrate the holiday of Passover. The Passover meal is the same one Jesus was celebrating at The Last Supper, the night before his crucifixion.
At this annual celebration of the Jews escaping bondage in Egypt, people ask “Why is this night different from all other nights? “
In his 12-month challenge to leaders from around the world, acclaimed author and coach Michael Bungay Stanier (“The Coaching Habit,” “The Advice Trap”) is presenting short weekly videos in what he calls “The Year of Living Brilliantly.”
Gossip is a recurring cancer in many organizations, large and small, for-profit and not-for-profit. It detracts from any efforts to create a high-trust culture. Yet people at all levels of organizations continue to engage in gossip on a daily basis.
Many of the readers of this leadership newsletter know tht I have served as a licensed facilitator for The Covey Leadership Center, then for Franklin Covey, for 25 years. During that time, I have been privileged to teach the course, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” to hundreds of Georgetown University employees.
The term “servant-leadership” was initially coined by Robert Greenleaf, an executive for 40 years with AT&T. Greenleaf was originally inspired by Herman Hesse’s novel “Journey to the East,” which Greenleaf read in 1958.
Unfortunately, many leaders refrain from either learning the tools of effective delegation or employing it as a strategy after they learn it. There are many reasons cited by otherwise exemplary leaders: