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When Humility and Leadership Coexist

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Humility comes from the Latin humiliates, where we get the phrase 'down to Earth'

Col. Steve Norris, MD went into the Marines out of high school, and while in college, decided he wanted to become an engineer. A biology class, though, piqued his interest. He’s a pretty competitive guy, so he went to medical school. As if that wasn’t enough, he joined the Air Force a year later, and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s still an active duty colonel with the 182nd Air National Guard Medical Group, and returned in January from a 7-week mission in Antarctica. Despite a…

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In a Big Environment, Manage Your Own Pillow

Transition Smoothly

Guide dog Phoenix relaxing on the grass

A few years ago, we inherited Phoenix, a retired guide dog for the blind, who is an almost-white, yellow Labrador Retriever. He is well-trained, knows well over twenty commands, and is a great dog that has gracefully transitioned careers, from working to being a household pet. He has learned—I think on his own—that he can be the master of his domain, not attempting to conquer every room within our home, but rather by focusing on five locations that are his. No matter the time of day, we k…

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In Your Award Acceptance Speech, With Whom Are You Really Connecting…and Why?

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Oscar Award

I recently attended a dinner dedicated to six people who were presented with lifetime achievement awards. These awards are the highest honor presented in the organization, and all of the winners are notified in advance. As I look back on that fun evening, the best acceptance speeches did three things that made them successful. The least useful speeches violated each of the three good qualities in one stroke. A clear goal will keep you focused when you are honored and surprised. Before comi…

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When “That Person” Shows Up: 5 Responses to the Over-talker

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I've been wondering lately if we realize how much we talk about ourselves. It's tough to know for yourself when you're talking too much, but you can certainly recognize it when other people are talking at you! This bad habit, no matter how prevalent in society, may mean a lost business deal, opportunity to learn, or chance for a friendship. You really don't want to be known as "that person" who talks too much. When you notice that you are, or your conversation-mate is, "that person," try any …

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Stop! Do One Thing Before Starting Your Next PowerPoint

Under Development

Cluttered PowerPoint screen

The next time you have a big presentation to do, a formal PowerPoint to construct, or a fateful gathering to influence, do one thing first: write down three things that you want your audience to leave knowing. Carry it with you for a few days, consult with others about it if you wish, reword/edit it a bit. Look at it some more. Don’t start writing your bullets or your PowerPoint for a few more days. Just gaze at the three themes. This will then become your first slide. Resist an "objectives…

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Do You Make These 3 Mistakes During Times of Transition?

Transition Smoothly

Teams in transition are a challenge because they flow to and fro at the same time as they are seeking a safe harbor. In short, they are egocentric not team-centered. What defines great leaders is not always what they do, but what they do "next" when confronted with a challenge. It's easy to prepare for what the boss will do; it's much harder to precisely anticipate what leaders "do next." Here are three easily made mistakes when working with a team in transition and how to decide what to do …

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Why Doesn’t Anybody Listen Anymore?

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The Wall Street Journal ran an article last week about the International Listening Association meeting in Montreal. The 300+ attendees devoted themselves to listening to presentations about…listening! I teach listening to graduate and undergraduate students at Chicago’s Loyola University as well as to physician and hospital executives. My students and I are always amazed when we open …

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Avoid Canned Speeches: Grow Facilitation Organically

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Farmers and chefs know that we love to eat foods described as "organic," because we know it means natural, pure and without pesticides. Most people have never seen advertisements for an "organic meeting" or one featuring an "artificial speaker," yet meeting attendees will tell you that interactive games feel "stale," group discussion questions seem "generic," or many speakers give a "canned" speech. When done well, an audience views facilitation—defined as, "the act of productively maki…

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Field Trips Can Be Useful for Team Building

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Team-building activities don't typically involve teaching the skills of extraordinary customer service, improv acting, fine dining or food preparation. Yet one executive used all four to teach his team of pharmaceutical scientists how to reflect on personalities, roles and goals. These field trips also resulted in a well-formed team, seriously fun engagement and a memorable experience beyond any ordinary team meeting. A scavenger hunt focused on branding that included visits to Chicago's…

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3 Often-Ignored Elements of Successful Team-Building Events

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Team leaders have a perennial dilemma: how can we educate, engage and develop our group in a substantial way that helps the team become better? "Team-building" is often seen as the fun add-on to a meeting devoted to science, sales figures and quarterly goals. These can include a ropes course, golf, a trip to the desert, horseback riding, softball, a cooking school and the like. Were these experiences useful toward the goal? If the goal is fun, distraction or an open afternoon, then these …

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