As we business leaders enter 2019, we’re looking ahead to what the new year will bring. I keep running into the term “VUCA,” which stands for volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous. That doesn’t begin to describe what many leaders are seeing as we review the waning year and plan for what’s ahead.
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.
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.
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.
If “performance coach” conjures an image of a tobacco-chewing man standing on the sidelines with a baseball cap and a whistle, that’s deliberate. Performance coaching applies the coaching skills of professional sports to the business world. We executive performance coaches may not use a whistle — or chew tobacco — but we are just as focused on whipping clients into peak competitive shape as any sports coach.
The good news is I’ve never been fired. That bad news is I’ve been downsized twice. Those were two of the worst days of my life. And it happens to nearly everyone at some time in his or her career.
As with most calamities, what matters most is how you respond. Psychologists talk a lot about resilience, the ability to bounce back after a defeat. In the days and weeks following your termination, you can take steps that will deepen and prolong your misery or you can move forward in a way that will rebuild your self-esteem and accelerate your progress to the next phase of your career.
Anyone who’s ever struggled to navigate office politics knows the importance of OI, even if they didn’t know what to call it. OI, or Organizational Intelligence, is the ability to think and act strategically to get things done in an organization. Alongside Cognitive Intelligence, or IQ, and Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, OI allows great leaders to see their ideas through to fruition.
Women in business contend with subtle — and not so subtle — gender bias every day. As we work together to confront and change those attitudes, we also recognize that’s a long-term journey. In fact, those of us who have been around for a few decades are often astounded by the battles still being fought in 2016. In the meantime, real women have to navigate real challenges on a daily basis.
To get some advice for women trying to fight their way forward in the workplace, we talked to Andie Kramer, prominent Chicago lawyer and co-author of Breaking through Bias: Communication Techniques for Women to Succeed at Work, which she wrote with her husband and former law partner, Al Harris.
Say you’re writing an article about effective business networking when a character pops up on your screen. He tells you that on LinkedIn, there are a number of experts on networking who might have useful ideas for you and offers to connect you to them. How will you react? Delight that a new resource is available to help you tap into the latest expertise? Or get irritated about this intrusion into your writing flow?
If you want to stay right on the cutting edge of new technology, try teaching. I learn constantly from my MBA students at Chicago Booth. This quarter, I’m mentoring a team as it explores the impact the cloud will have on business and society. It’s not a subject I likely would have studied without them, but teaching this course gives me invaluable insight into a technology that’s transforming the business world.
There’s no substitute for real workplace experience, which is why I’m pleased to be teaching in the Management Lab at Chicago Booth this quarter. It’s a great class, an intense deep-dive into the world of consulting for MBA students — and a few lucky students whose work relates to the project. This time around we have a psychological anthropologist and a physicist. The objective of the course is two-fold: to deliver a great product for the client and to facilitate the students’ learning about how to work in a team and manage a client relationship.
Ah, what to wear to work? Earlier in my career, it was easier. When I worked in the campus library, jeans and a sweater were fine. When I was a waitress, I had a uniform. When I graduated and moved into the workforce, I cut my long hair and dressed very professionally so I would look older and more authoritative. When I started as a consultant, the rule was “wear a suit every day.” Simple.
But now — who knows? Dress codes are relaxed or non-existent, and the decision about what to wear is more complicated. I suggest three basic guidelines:
My favorite fictional performance coach, Wendy Rhoades (or as some viewers spell it, Rhodes), was back at it on this week’s episode of Billions. I’ve written before about how accurate her portrayal of performance coaching is. Despite all of the drama in Billions’ fictionalized world of hedge funds and government prosecutors, the character of Wendy Rhoades, played by Maggie Siff, plays an integral role in keeping the hedge fund at the center of the story successful. Her situation — married to the U.S. attorney dedicated to taking her firm down — may be pure fiction, but the techniques she uses to correct and motivate the firm’s traders are rooted in the real world of executive development.