Receiving Feedback:
The Strong Force of Resistance

Receiving-FeedbackReceiving feedback may be one of the most difficult things leaders should learn to do well and it is key to successfully leading others and inspiring a culture of learning. How leaders react to negative feedback can be the difference between success and failure.

Experiencing unpleasant observations and opinions at work can be painful and hard to take. The need for acceptance is universal, so we instinctively move toward enjoyable encounters and away from those that are painful.

But let’s face it: As humans, we are wired to avoid unsettling issues and, consciously or unconsciously, will avoid pain. These natural survival traits drive us as far away from the feedback loop as possible. Read More »

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The Art of Receiving Feedback

Receiving-FeedbackReceiving feedback with grace is a valuable leadership skill, yet many managers struggle with it. While we’re often quick to critique others, being on the receiving end involves an entirely different set of emotional and psychological skills.

I observe this in the organizations where I consult. Leaders invite hearing feedback from staff, but don’t always receive it in ways that are encouraging or fruitful. Read More »

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3 Kinds of Difficult Conversations

Difficult-ConversationsFifteen years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project has produced some interesting information about what goes on during difficult conversations and conflict.

In Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen and Roger Fisher (Penguin Books, 2010), the authors explain there are three basic kinds of conversations, no matter what the subject.

In each of these conversations we make predictable errors that distort our thoughts and feelings. Read More »

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Keep Difficult Conversations on Track

Difficult-ConversationsMany people I know and work with will do anything to avoid difficult conversations. Usually it’s because we fear strong emotions might get triggered and we’ll end up ruining a relationship.

That fear is genuine and real. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever experienced an emotional hijacking —a sudden flare of strong emotions coming from the brain’s amygdala that derails any plans you had for a mutually satisfying outcome.

Rebecca Knight, in an article in Harvard Business Review, gives us pointers on getting what you need from the most challenging conversations and still keep relationships intact. Read More »

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Disentangle Difficult Conversations

Difficult-ConversationsWhy do we avoid difficult conversations? At some point, many of us have had to deliver the dreaded line, “We need to talk.”  And this often precedes an argument rather than any conversation.

How do you disentangle difficult conversations? Some conversations are so difficult that we’ll do anything to avoid them. This is possibly because:

  1. We are stuck between what we feel and knowing what we really shouldn’t say.
  2. We are distracted by our internal thoughts and uncertain about what to share.
  3. There’s so much going on in the relationship with the other person, it’s confusing.

Read More »

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Leadership Growth:
Heroic and Post-Heroic Stages

In my previous posts, I introduced you to developmental theory for adults and how developmental stages are being applied to leaders. A better understanding of leadership growth can help organizations and coaches approach leadership training with an expanded perspective.

The theory of developmental stages for leadership indicates that if we try to grow leaders’ inner game, rather than outer competencies, leaders increase their capacity to handle more complexity and thus lead more effectively. Read More »

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5 Levels of Leadership on the Way to Mastery

Leadership-DevelopmentIn my previous posts, I presented different theories of leadership development based on the fact that leaders, like all adults, progress through 5 levels of leadership growth as they mature.

Because the development stage theorists use different descriptive words for the stages, it can be confusing. They all have characteristics in common, however.

Using a broad brush, one can summarize the various stages of leadership development as follows: Read More »

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Developmental Stages and Leadership Growth

Developmental theories have been around for decades, based on 50 years of psychological research into how adults mature. How are developmental stages applied to leadership growth? How do leaders grow into more effective levels of maturity, wisdom and agility?

Organizational psychologists have since applied the basic tenets to leadership development. Their conclusions are summarized here: Read More »

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The Urgent Need for Better Leaders

Better-LeadersWith all the disruptive technology and rapidly expanding nature of global business, there’s an urgent need to grow better leaders as I wrote in my last post. To develop truly effective leaders, executive coaches need to address leadership stages.

Yet, few leadership-development initiatives address the inner game: how leaders perceive, find meaning, make decisions and handle complexities. I’ve recently reviewed two books on this subject:

Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams, authors of Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results (Wiley, 2015), applied developmental-stage theory to create the Leadership Circle Profile, a 360°assessment tool that measures leaders’ developmental stages. Read More »

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Grow Better Leaders: 5 Developmental Leadership Stages

Leadership-developmentDoes your organization do a good job of developing truly effective leaders? The increasingly complex and chaotic marketplace poses an urgent need to grow better leaders. Companies that seek to maintain competitive advantages require strong leadership.

Yet from what I observe in my work in organizations, many leaders remain confused about how to strengthen leadership competencies. I don’t believe that formal training and higher education has sufficiently prepared leaders today for all the disruptive innovations and global challenges. While some leaders thrive, others barely survive. Many of today’s executives feel as though they’re in over their heads. Read More »

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