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daily-writing

Safety not guaranteed

It’s not an act of courage to enter a grocery store. Unless it’s on fire. We expect firefighters to be courageous enough to run toward situations we run from. When the situation isn’t dangerous, courage isn’t necessary. Anyone can do it. When we ask our team to “speak up” with courage, we’re subtly acknowledging that…

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Build better relationships through coding

When I first started this list, back in 2014, I wrote that technical leaders should stop coding and focus on their teams. Now, here I am, working as an Engineering Manager, and I’m learning Go and Kubernetes. Why? I need a shared vocabulary with my team to be an effective leader. After all, if my…

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The uneven distribution of onboarding

Onboarding might be defined as, “A process of experimentation necessary to learn the unspoken rules, expectations, and norms in a new environment.” Never heard that before? I’m not surprised, as I just made it up. But, let me explain it. It’s a process – It takes a lot longer than you think, and doesn’t move…

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Junk-food for the Manager’s Soul

In the second week of my new job, I’m feeling some strong urges. The urge to make a big impact. To be seen as a high-performer. To take action, make big moves, and leave my mark. The urge to impress.   But satisfying this urge will bring the opposite of what I really want. To…

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A thought on Relational Onboarding

Okay, so you know I started a new job. Can I use that as an excuse not to have worked on the book much? Hmmm… as I write this, the word ‘excuse’ stands out. I think I have my answer. Thankfully, I get another try next week. And you do too. 🙂 Instead, I’ll send…

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Office Space Cathedrals

I’m going to try something new this week. I’ve been feeling stuck writing the book lately. I’ll spare you the gory details, but needless to say, the publishers are getting pretty antsy about the project. Frankly, I think I’m spending more time avoiding writing than actually writing. So, in the spirit of eating my own…

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Debugging problems

Virginia Satir, the pioneer of family therapy and human systems, said: “The problem isn’t the problem; coping is.”   Ponder this for a moment: Today, the ‘problem’ that you have, or see, or is brought to you, isn’t a problem at all. It’s simply a situation, or some facts, or a pattern. There’s no naughty…

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My three hopes for 2020

This has been a year of change for me. Old friends passed, new friends came. “Sure fire” ideas failed, and “long shots” succeeded.   Somehow, without my noticing, this email list became more than a “marketing channel.” And you become more than just a “target customer.” It might be a stretch, but I think we’re…

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Reverse engineering meetings

It’s easy to feel that meetings are a waste of time. “Too much talk, not enough action” frustrates some people. This seems especially true when the “talk” is mostly complaints. But I want you to reverse engineer your meeting. Pretend the meeting is an opaque, black box system. The visible outputs are what is said,…

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When should you code, coach, or consult?

There are many things you could do today. Three options are coding, consulting, or coaching. Each has its place, but how do you know which is fit for a given problem? Here’s how I think about it. Coding (or any hands-on work) is helpful when your team needs: A particular skill that you have, which…

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Foresight is 2020

Ever notice the same problems keep cropping up, year after year? It’s like “problem whack-a-mole” – you handle it in one situation only to have it pop up in another place. Most of us continue doing the same things, expecting different results.   I think we can do better. Let’s do different things. Think different…

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How marketing ruined leadership

Marketing has taught us “confidence equals competence.” After all, who would buy laundry soap which claims, “Gets out some stains, if you use it right.” No, we buy the soap which claims, “Gets out your toughest stains, guaranteed!” A confident leader looks and sounds good, but may not be competent. Of course, a competent leader…

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Put me in coach, I’m ready to play

Next March I’m attending Coaching Beyond The Team, a workshop by the amazing Esther Derby and Don Gray. It’s March 10-12, 2020 down in my neck of the woods, in Medford, Oregon. I met Don and Esther in person when I attended the Problem-Solving Leadership workshop in May. This is the life-changing workshop which has…

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What can you find, but never keep?

Nathan Chen is my spirit animal. Your balance. Striving to keep your balance is a fool’s errand. Instead, learn to improve your balance, allowing you to recover your balance faster. Consider an Olympic ice skater. They work very, very hard to keep their balance. And yet, they fall. Just like we do. If anyone would…

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Can I run an analogy by you?

For my upcoming leadership book I’m trying to figure out if the analogy between learning to program and learning to lead is helpful. Would you take a minute and hit REPLY with an answer these questions? There’s no right/wrong answer – I just want to see if what ideas/insights the analogy brings. ==== On learning…

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