Leadership is Simple

Our job as leaders is to build an environment where others get valuable stuff done together. Our job is made easier when we coach people to become masterful at doing this valuable stuff together.

Simple, yes?


In your corner,


PS: Funny, there’s no mention of having to be the one with the answers, the one making the decisions, the one telling people what to do, or the one jumping in to do the work because “it’s just faster if I do it myself!”


Today’s photo credit: Kate Ter Haar cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email

What Do You Anticipate?

Deep down, what do you anticipate? Failure, disappointment, fights, and struggle? Or ease, fun, freedom, success, and growth?

It’s your choice.

But remember: we get what we anticipate, odd as that might sound.


In your corner,


PS: If we say things like, “I anticipate ease & success” but we are getting failure, disappointment, etc., it may be because we actually anticipate these negative things, deep down.  When we feel bad (heaviness, numbness, tension, ache)–even subtly–in our gut, chest, back, shoulders, etc. we are anticipating negative things. The solution is to raise our buzz.


Today’s photo credit: Francois de Halleux cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email

They Will Show Us How Well We Are Leading

Look at their eyes. If their eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it.

– Benjamin Zander
Conductor, Boston Philharmonic

We can tell how well we are leading because the people we’re leading will show us. Are they terrified, checked-out, overwhelmed, or whinging? Then we had better pull up our socks.

Or are their eyes shining? Are they happy, engaged, ready, and positive? Then well done us!

Lead on.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Pop!Tech cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email
can do

How To Expect Them To Do Well

In yesterday’s note, we saw how our beliefs about people’s capabilities affect their performance. Regardless of how much we may want them to do well, if we think they won’t, they likely won’t. If we expect them to do well, they very likely will.

But how do we set up this positive anticipation? And how do we do this when all we’ve seen so far is their poor performance? To believe they can do whatever, regardless of their history is not as outlandish as it sounds when we see the real roadblock.

The real roadblock to believing in another’s capabilities is not so much their history. It is our desire not to be hurt, disappointed, criticized, or obstructed. We play out in our mind all the things that could go wrong if they mess up and what that will mean to us. “If they screw this up, these bad things will happen to/for me. So I can’t let them screw this up.”

The way past this roadblock is to remember that we don’t need to worry: we can handle anything that they might do. When we see this, we stop fearing and our hearts open up. We can say things like, “I am sure you can do this. Your talents are just what we need here. How can I help?”

As our hearts open, their minds open, and–whooosh–they start performing like superstars.


In your corner,


PS: Yes, whooosh.

PPS: Yes, there are other variables in play such as their talent & skills, the availability of the expert knowledge they will need, the scope of the problem, and the urgency. But by believing in them then coaching them through whatever blind spots they may have, we can help them succeed with even the most challenging problems.

PPPS: Of course it’s worth it. The alternative is that you end up doing all the work, right?


Today’s photo credit: Michael Dawes cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email
leap of faith

Expect Them to Do Well

We get what we expect. Not what we hope, not what we think should be. This is true in general and it is especially true for getting other people to do stuff.

When we plead or demand that others do stuff or when we worry about or criticize them for their inability to do stuff, we are relying on hope or should. If we expect them to fail, if we judge that they can’t handle it or aren’t capable, they will fail. And we will remain disappointed.

When we know better than they do that they are fully capable and we trust that they will figure it out, then they will, more often than not. They will step up. We will be delighted and so will they.

What do you expect of the people around you?


In your corner,


PS: By expect in this context we mean we know or we are certain. This version of expect is not I demand as in, “I expect you to be home by 11, young man!”

PPS: This sort of expectation initially can require a leap of faith. But the payoff is worth it.


Today’s photo credit: Scott Ableman cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email
fearful plate

Fear and Love

At the base of everything we experience is fear and love. That’s it. That’s all. We are a bundled blend of these. We are heading toward more love and less fear.

Fear impels a need to control actively (make stuff happen, attack) or passively (avoid, defend). Control is silly: things are way too complex to control; and people and things don’t want to be controlled. Fear and control create resistance. Fear & control create ideas and actions that create more fear and control.

Love, on the other hand, inspires self and others to ideas and actions that work well and work well together.

The trap here is to say, “Yes, yes. I get it.” And then continue to fear something at some level. Or to say, “That’s ridiculous.” and continue to experience resistance.

Compassion for self and others is the cure for fear. Noting what feels good guides us toward love and away from fear.


In your corner (and with much love),


PS: Yes, of course this applies at work.


Today’s photo credit: Aurelien Guichard cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email
fresh start

How to Adopt a New Personal Organization System

Adopting a new system for organizing ourselves can be daunting. We can do it with ease, though, if we follow two principles, watch out for three traps, and adopt seven habits, one at a time. And we can get going immediately with a quick-and-dirty start-up method.

Two driving principles

  1. Record every task that you could/might/should do in such a way that you can, at any moment, pick out the one next best thing to do/work on/complete.
  2. Feel good. Then act. (See related posts here and here.)

Three related traps

…that will kill any organization system:

  1. Keeping things (tasks, ideas, reference material) in your head,
  2. Getting things out of your head but writing them down in multiple, random places, or
  3. Writing things down in one or a controlled few places but in an unwieldy, jumbled mess.


And these are the seven habits to build. Start with any of them and build up over time. To build these or any habits, try this.

Quick-and-Dirty Start-Up

A quick-and-dirty way to get started includes building one giant list and one, daily small list. From here your organization system can grow to contain these lists over time.


In your corner,


PS: You can find more effectiveness and organization ideas and tools in other Daily Notes here.


Today’s photo credit: Erunion cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email

Knowing When To Lead Differently

We nimble leaders have four ways to lead. We can conduct, coach, collaborate, or convene. We select a way to match the situation:

  • We conduct in emergencies and when others need to build competence (when we need to show them how).
  • We coach when others need to build confidence, build capacity, and when we no longer want to do a particular chunk of work ourselves.
  • We collaborate when the problem or its solutions are bigger than any of us.
  • We convene to give great people a structure for success lest they trip over each other and tumble into politics or chaos.

Of course, there are many times when we will use two, three, or four of these at once.

Lead on.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Theresa Thompson cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email

Struggling with Something? C’mon Back

Struggle means getting caught in a do-have loop.

Whenever we are struggling with a problem, we are most assuredly doing things over and over in an effort to have the results we think we want.

“I’ll do this in order to have that. Oh, that didn’t work? I’ll do this other thing to have that other thing. Then I’ll do a little of that and have a little of this. Do this, have that. No? How about Do that, have this? Do-have, do-have, do-have…”

To exit the loop, we need to take a step back. Yes, because taking a break helps. And, pulling back, we see another place to start: be. How will we choose to be in order to open things up, feel good, and succeed with ease? We can raise our buzz, ask ourselves that question, and trust the answers we give.

Normally, the answers will include one or more of, “I choose to be calmer,” “I choose to raise my buzz,” “I choose to be confident,” “I choose to be that person who I most admire,” and “I choose to be caring.”

Once we’ve chosen a new, good-feeling be, we will see and be inspired to try a new do. And what we want to have will come with much more ease.

This sort of step back is one we will take again and again because it feels good and works well.

C’mon back!


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Viewminder cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email
beat up

Learning to Argue

Turns out that the best course of action is rarely the one we (first) thought of. To get the most out of them, we need to beat up our ideas. We need to mash them with other people’s ideas, finding the way forward that wouldn’t have occurred to any of us otherwise.

Sadly, though, we tend to take things personally.

We subtly conflate our ideas with our identities. When our ideas get attacked, we feel attacked. Conflict brews but then social norms kick in. We try to be nice to each other and deferential to bosses. We quickly avoid or shut down conflict.

Sometimes we return to a genteel steady state with our colleagues. And sometimes the conflict burns on, hidden. It flares up later in politics, turf battles, or simply as another personal conflict over the next issue.

Through it all, our ideas remain unchallenged, unannealed. Meager, puny little ideas that can’t really help us end up in front. We and our organizations suffer because we can’t argue well.

The solution, of course, is to disconnect our worth from our ideas. We can choose to have our ideas torpedoed, stomped upon, and (horror) even changed. And we can encourage others to do the same. The trick is to explicitly and repeatedly affirm our respect and care (sure, even love) for each other before, during, and after the meetings where we beat up the ideas. Once everyone knows that they are not the target, we can argue well and find the best ways forward.


In your corner,


PS: Another good way to argue: agree on the what and why before the who, how, and when.


Today’s photo credit: cc

Get notes like this one daily or weekly via email