Insights of 2010

Insights of 2010

In 2010, my newsletters focused on communication, leadership and management, and personal career development. Following is a summary of those newsletters, organized by topic.


Corrective Feedback

Giving someone honest feedback can be a true gift. It is neither easy to do nor to hear, but it allows someone to modify her behavior before her career suffers.

To do this successfully: choose a good time and place for the conversation; prepare; watch your tone of voice; try to have the conversation face-to-face; keep it short and direct; be specific; describe the impact of her behavior; and avoid starting with open ended questions.

When to Have a Difficult Conversation

Open communication is very important in both personal and professional relationships. However, the workplace will not function well if everyone discusses every issue that bothers him or her. In the workplace, you should initiate difficult conversations with a co-worker if the underlying issue is negatively affecting your ability to do your job and there is no solution on the horizon. Your goal is to work well with someone, but you do not need to be her best friend.

In other words, it is important to learn how to give corrective feedback, but choose when to give it. You do not need to address every issue.

Body Language

Much communication occurs through body language, which includes your posture, facial expressions, movements, eye contact, tone of voice, and the amount of space between you and the other person.

Learning to manage your own body language can help ensure that you deliver your message effectively. Learning to read other people’s body language can give you clearer insights into what someone really thinks and feels.

Avoid Sending Political E-mails

At work, focus on issues relating to your organization’s mission. Which means, do not use company email to vent your political opinions. These e-mails can insult and infuriate people, cross personal/work boundaries, and violate company policies.

Leadership and Management

Types of Leadership Cultures

The Center For Creative Leadership identifies three types of leadership cultures: Dependent leadership cultures, which assume that only people in positions of authority are responsible for leadership; Independent leadership cultures, which assume that leadership emerges as needed from a variety of individuals; and Interdependent leadership cultures, which assume that leadership is a collective activity. There is no one type that is the best.

Managing a Slacker

If you are a manager and someone on your team is not pulling her weight, you need to have a direct and honest conversation with her. Do not try to ignore the issue, hope that someone else will confront her, transfer her, do some sort of reorganization to eliminate her job, etc. Not only will this not solve the issue, but it could backfire by hurting morale, causing conflict, etc.


The FIRO-B is one of several assessments that examine how people interact. It measures three interpersonal needs: inclusion, control, and affection. In addition, it measures two dimensions for each of these three needs: expressed behavior and wanted behavior. In other words, how much inclusion, control, and affection do you initiate, and how much inclusion, control, and affection do you want other people to initiate towards you?

The FIRO-B is most often used for team building because it can help ascertain the compatibility of team members. It can also be used for leadership development and for personal career development.

Personal Career Development

Managing Up

“Managing up” means stretching yourself to enhance your manager’s and your organization’s work. Hopefully, it does not mean working around an incompetent manager.

Specific steps to take include: look for ways to be helpful; bring solutions, not just problems, to your boss; be as honest and straightforward as possible and keep your boss informed; learn your boss’s preferences and communication style; try to maintain a good attitude; and strive to understand your organization’s culture and politics.

Task Organization

Many people are finding that changes in the work place, including fewer experienced administrative assistants, the expectation that people will now manage their own scheduling, paperwork, etc., and the rise of new technologies, are negatively affecting their ability to manage all the details. They seek the “perfect system” that will help them be more organized. But, at least for most people, there is no perfect system. People outgrow or get bored with their systems, which is absolutely fine. The trick is to let yourself move on to the next gadget/notebook/system when the old one is no longer working for you.

Career Paths

The Career Path Theory posits that there are four primary paths that people’s careers take, based on their individual definitions of success. Linears strive to continually rise in an organization until they reach the pinnacle of the hierarchy. Steady State Experts are motivated to achieve a high level of expertise in a particular area. Spirals are motivated by learning and personal growth. Transitories are motivated by variety and novelty. Often people are some combination of these four types.

In other words, the definition of “career success” is highly personal. You will be most successful, and happiest, if you understand your personal definition of success and look for or create jobs that support that definition.

I hope you enjoyed this recap and have a wonderful, restful, holiday.


In addition to management consulting, conflict resolution, and executive coaching, I offer tailored programs on a variety of related topics, including how to delegate, communicate more effectively, deal with difficult people, manage conflict in the workplace, manage up, facilitate meetings, manage your career, and network.

Please let me know if there are other topics in which you are interested. If I don’t already have a program on that topic, I am happy to develop one that meets your needs.