We’ve all met business leaders who always want to be seen as “the smartest person in the room.” Sometimes they really are highly intelligent. Other times they are empty suits. But it’s always wildly irritating to watch them swagger about. They are terrible listeners, they don’t contribute well to team goals, and often their communication is dripping with condescension.
Martin Radvan, Global President of Mars Wrigley, said some shocking things at the Executives’ Club of Chicago recently, starting with the five principles of Mars. He started normally enough by listing the Mars Five Principles: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom.
What a disappointment! For the last three years I have been following the adventures of Wendy Rhoades, performance coach extraordinaire, on Showtime’s Billions. I was fascinated by this portrayal of my profession and impressed by how often the show got it right — I even wrote an article about what a great representation it was.
Everywhere you look, people are feeling stressed, overworked, and inadequate. In our hyper-stimulating environment, we’re trying to do it all and we end up feeling exhausted and empty. We talk about finding work/life balance, but nobody is balanced and the concept just makes us feel worse. As I work with my executive coaching clients to help them be the best leaders they can be, this issue of how to manage yourself for peak productivity is very often on the agenda.
I’m lucky enough to have the work-from-home vs. office productivity debate every morning. I work out of two offices: one in downtown Chicago and the other in my condo. I like working in both spaces for different reasons, and I am glad I get to move between them. But I have sometimes wondered where I do my best work, downtown or at home.
Everyone’s favorite fictional performance coach, Wendy Rhoades, is back at it in the first episode of Showtime’s Billions, now in its third season. She has her work cut out for her — her boss, Bobby Axelrod, is banned from trading, and his employees at Axe Capital are struggling to find their way forward. For inspiration, she turns to another fictional character. Wendy offers to help Bobby deal with his dilemma by taking him through a technique created by real-life coach Tony Robbins called the Dickens Process.
As business leaders confront the #MeToo crisis, many turn to sexual harassment training. It seems like such a great idea. Let’s train people not to be harassers. Let’s train people not to be victims. Let’s train everyone how to respect boundaries and respond to reports of sexual harassment. If we train every single person, eventually we’ll get this problem under control.
Sadly, the facts about sexual harassment training are not so great.
“Plans are great until you get punched in the face.” Although Mike Tyson is not a role model for business leadership, this quote of his points to the necessity of being agile — willing to change or even abandon your plans in extreme situations. It reminded me of an old Jewish proverb, “Man plans and God laughs.”
Leadership isn’t easy for anyone. To be great, you need a wide range of abilities and behaviors — high intelligence, analytic skills, strategic thinking, emotional maturity and awareness, interpersonal finesse, the ability to inspire and influence, clarity about priorities, the discipline to get the job done — the list goes on and on.
Leadership consultants like me can spend all day teaching business leaders how to manage better. Usually, that means emphasizing the skills needed to successfully manage other people. And while those are certainly critical, I’ve been at this long enough to know that leaders can only manage others effectively when they have a foundation of managing themselves.
A lot of good men have come to me recently with questions about respecting boundaries — particularly those of their female colleagues. It’s not that they haven’t been thinking about this all along. But in the current environment of increased openness and feistiness about sexual harassment, many men are trying to be especially respectful in their interactions with women.
Imagine a familiar scene: hundreds of talented job candidates milling about an enormous room. Lining every aisle are eye-popping displays from bold-name employers, Google, Boeing, Dow, The U.S. Army. Each booth offers “swag” — a mug, a Frisbee, a notebook, on and on — all acting as lures for people who want to talk with you about whether their company would be a good fit for you.
A friend of mine has been having trouble with bullying and harassment in her workplace. People with more power than she has have been using inappropriate language, limiting her access to resources, and intruding on her physical space.