Height & Light Blog

Play by a different set of rules

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The Horizontal Organization Chart

In an earlier post, Peripheral Vision, I talked about the importance of focusing on peer relationships, especially during the first several months in a leadership position. I argued that, while building first-rate relationships with your manager and your direct...

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Dirty Word #4 – Happy Adversity

I recently talked with a client who had undergone a setback in his organization. In his case, a key staff relationship had blown up in his face, necessitating the departure of a colleague from the organization. Make no mistake, it's a difficult situation. There will...

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Who to engage?

In my recent post on Peripheral Vision, I argued that a crucial focus for leaders new into a role is to build strong relationships with peers. Our recent research bears this out and I'd guess that many see it as common sense. But it does beg the question: of all the...

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Dirty Word #3 – Thoughtfulness

I had lunch with a client recently. He's crazy-successful - top flight MBA, top consultant in his field, was running a significant firm by age 40, charismatic, - your basic nightmare. Like most leaders, he's had some bumps in his career. Much as we'd like to portray...

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Who to Coach: Winners or Strugglers?

Quick quiz: If you walked into the office of one of your highest performers and said, "Hey, I'd like you to think about having (fill in the name of a respected person) coach you," what response would you get? If your organization is like most, your star performer will...

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Who to Coach: Addition or Multiplication?

Some time ago, one of my clients decided to invest time in coaching members of his firm. He's the managing partner of his firm and has an informal board of partners who advise him on how to best contribute to the company. One day, he called me, a little puzzled. "My...

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Dirty Word #2 – Gentleness

Quick, scan your leadership library. Or better yet, do a word association with the word "leadership." I can almost promise you won't find the word "gentleness" in the top 1000 words associated with leadership in our society. Strength? Yes. Courage? Yes. Determination?...

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Peripheral Vision

In the research my team recently completed on what makes certain leaders get started faster than others, we asked a group of 80+ leaders from a variety of organizations what newly-appointed leaders should focus on in the first 90 days. The top vote-getter (in a...

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The Need for Speed

In a few days, my colleagues and I will be releasing some research. It's titled, What Makes Leaders Fly Fast, and summarizes results of a survey we did about critical actions high-level leaders can take to get started quickly in executive roles. I'll leave the survey...

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Dirty Word #1: Forgiveness

One of the biggest jokes I've ever heard in organizational life comes in the form of this innocuous statement: It's nothing personal, it's just business. Of course, this comment usually follows one of the following: We're going with your competitor. We've turned down...

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What matters in the First 90 Days

Recently, I was on hand for a CEO's first day on the job. He steps in to lead a $400+ international consulting firm. He asked a small group of his senior people a very important question: Starting today, what do you think is most important for me to do over the next...

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What my son taught me in piano lessons

Do you ever wonder why, despite your best efforts, people you coach don't get any better? I do. My son helped me learn part of the answer in our piano lessons recently. First, some background: I grew up taking piano lessons. I was lucky enough to have a top-notch...

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