executive gravitas

When gravitas matters more than authenticity

I came of age in an anti-authoritarian time when executive gravitas rang false to many of us. The suits and ties, the gloves and girdles of the ‘50s were replaced by the sandals and long hair of the hippies. One of our catchphrases was, “If it feels good, do it.” The phrase captured a mindset that being true to yourself and living the good life meant acting on your impulses and sharing everything — thoughts, feelings, desires, and choices.

The current emphasis on “authenticity” shows just how much this stance has swung back into favor. Both in our personal and professional lives, some coaches are advising us, as people and as leaders, to be open and true to our feelings and preferences.

how to write exit letter

How to write an exit letter that balances fantasy with future

The best time to ask how to write an exit letter is before you need one. Wait too late, and you’re likely to send the kind of missive that burns bridges — and burn yourself in the process.

Consider, instead, that you’re planning to leave your job sometime in the next few months. You’ve already started to disengage a little. You’re not working quite such long hours and you’ve stopped making long-term plans for your department. You find yourself thinking about what you’d like to say on your way out.

thank you

Why saying “thank you” at work can cost you money

Etiquette matters in the business world. In spite of the frequent media portrayals of business executives as aggressive boors, in the real world most successful senior leaders are meticulously polite and even formal.  For example, I have received numerous hand-written notes from business leaders, even though this practice is fairly rare in my non-business social circle.  My business colleagues typically shake hands at the beginning and end of a meeting and are careful to introduce people who don’t know each other.

How microaffirmations flip microaggressions for a better work culture

For those seeking to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, “microaggressions” has become a point of focus. The word refers to the multitude of little ways in which we ignore, diminish, or insult people who are different from ourselves, either consciously or unconsciously. It’s an uncomfortable word, because it challenges us to take a hard look at how we treat others, acknowledge that we are not as accepting and open-minded as we would like to believe, and do the work to change our problematic behaviors.

navigating workplace conflict

Navigating workplace conflict in 9 steps that calm emotions

Navigating workplace conflict is tricky even when you’re not conflict-averse. In my case, I come from a family where open conflict was almost unknown — we muttered politely behind each other’s backs. When I entered the wider world, I discovered most people were not so constricted in their expressions of frustration and anger. It took me a while to learn conflict resolution techniques that landed me somewhere between domineering rage and silent submission.

skills I learned waitressing

The business skills I learned from waitressing that I still use

As I was working my way through my Ph.D. program, I didn’t know that the skills I learned from waitressing would prove their own education. For several years I waited tables at La Trattoria in Bloomington, Indiana, a fairly high-end restaurant where most of the employees were university students. It was a great job at the time. It paid better than most office or retail jobs, it had flexible hours, and I was on my feet so much that I didn’t have to watch my weight. Nonetheless, I wasn’t sad when I graduated and moved on to professional work.

Going Back To Work After A Vacation

Avoiding the stress of going back to work after a vacation

Even in the U.S. — where we’re notoriously reluctant to take time off — many of us take at least a little time around the summer and winter holidays. I always look forward to my time off. It’s going back to work after a vacation that leaves me with regret. That’s when I get clobbered by the backlog. It usually takes less than 24 hours before I feel as if I’ve never been away.

The unlikely leadership tactic of being the stupidest person in the room

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.