Dave's Journal

Dave's Journal

coachingforleaders.com
Discover leadership wisdom through insightful conversations


Changed My Mind
Jun 11 • 4 min
When I was 16 years old, I discovered that the police department in the town I grew up in had an explorer program. Since I was interested in a career in law enforcement at the time, I attended a meeting and quickly joined. I was never a sworn police…
Apps and Operating Systems
Mar 5 • 4 min
Most of the devices we use each day have two essential software components: apps and operating systems. The best apps usually do a few things really well. The browser app on my iPhone make sure I can view websites easily. The task management app makes…
Jumping In
Feb 20 • 2 min
A client told me recently that his manager was concerned about a behavior he’d observed in customer meetings: You’re not jumping in fast enough. My client agreed with the feedback. He even offered to me that he’s noticed the awkward silence in some…
The Cheshire Cat
Feb 13 • 1 min
My son and I are reading the original Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This exchange appears in the book: Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?” The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice…
Did You Notice What I Didn’t Say?
Jan 30 • 2 min
One of our Academy members reached out to me awhile back. He was handling a delicate situation in his organization, requiring him to navigate tons of internal politics. He needed to suddenly give a lot of people a company line he didn’t exactly agree…
A Drop of Honey
Jan 23 • 4 min
This past weekend, I had to do something I’ve been dreading for awhile. It’s been looming over me. It’s been staring at me (literally) for years. The old paint cans needed to go. Several painting projects over the years had littered our garage with half…
Say Less
Jan 9 • 1 min
Mark Twain once received this telegram from a publisher: NEED 2-PAGE SHORT STORY TWO DAYS. He sent this response back: NO CAN DO 2 PAGES TWO DAYS. CAN DO 30 PAGES 2 DAYS. NEED 30 DAYS TO DO 2 PAGES. Twain’s point is as important for leaders as it is for…
Say Something
Dec 12, 2019 • 4 min
About fifteen years ago, I was sitting in the lobby of a building at a client site, waiting for an appointment. An employee walked into the lobby and started a conversation with the security guard. It seemed they knew each other well and the she either…
How to Prevent Micromanagement
Dec 5, 2019 • 4 min
Most of us have had that manager that annoyed us to all ends with micromanagement. They were in our face every three hours about a task because we weren’t quite doing it right and it had to be done their way. As a result, it’s been my experience that most…
Appeal to the Nobler Motive
Nov 21, 2019 • 3 min
I began my career working in a neighborhood education center. Early on in my new job, a parent called one day to inform us that her daughter, who was struggling with math, would not be continuing in our program. I spent a minute or two chatting with the…
You’re Not Helping
Nov 14, 2019 • 4 min
A client reached out to me recently and shared a struggle he’s been having. His organization is going through a difficult time — for reasons that have nothing to do with him, his team, or his part of the organization. Strong headwinds are at play for the…
If You Can, Move Your Feet
Nov 7, 2019 • 3 min
This week, I’ve heard lots of bad news. This has included things like an unexpected layoff, dealing with a mental health challenge, losing a major business deal, and an unwanted result from a doctor. The fact that bad things are happening in the world is…
Be a Stress Engineer
Oct 31, 2019 • 3 min
Years ago, I was instructing a training course for a group of engineers building fighter jets. During the introductions, several the participants introduced themselves as stress engineers. I was curious what a stress engineer did, so naturally I asked one…
The Irony of Selfishness
Oct 10, 2019 • 4 min
A decade ago, I responded to an inquiry from a new client who had reached out to talk about being more effective. During our first meeting, it became increasingly apparent that he was working a lot. At some point in the conversation, we got into detail on…
Get Your Emails Read
Oct 3, 2019 • 3 min
When I first started the Coaching for Leaders podcast back in 2011, it didn’t even occur to me to reach out to well known experts to appear on the show. At some point after the first year, I got a little braver. (Not smarter, but braver.) I started…
Giving the Gift of Feedback
Sep 26, 2019 • 4 min
When I was about six years old, my dad bought a Tandy 1000 computer from Radio Shack as a Christmas gift for our family. I remember learning how to use the floppy disks, how to connect the dot matrix printer, and the intricate details of swapping memory…
Green Lights Always Change
Aug 29, 2019 • 3 min
Many years ago, I was standing in the lobby of a customer’s building, waiting between meetings. An employee I had worked with years earlier noticed me and stopped to say hello. She explained that she was now working directly for one of the top people in…
One Alternative to Standing Meetings
Aug 22, 2019 • 4 min
There have been many meetings I have attended in my professional life that have not lived up to the intention that was hoped for when someone first put that meeting on the calendar. No meeting is more likely to cause this kind of disappointment than the…
Who Says So Other Than You?
Aug 15, 2019 • 4 min
You may have discovered this journal because of the podcast I’ve hosted since 2011 called Coaching for Leaders. Although for many years producing and hosting Coaching for Leaders was very much a hobby, the listening audience has grown quite substantially…
That’s a Great Question
Aug 8, 2019 • 4 min
You show up for a lunch date with an old friend you’ve not seen in awhile. You share a hug or a hand shake, sit down, and start catching up. You friend asks how you’ve been and what’s been going on in your life and career. You start telling them about…
Good Enough is Best
Jul 25, 2019 • 4 min
Between high school and college, I took half a dozen courses in economics. The details of these courses have long since faded from memory, but I remember well one principle that was repeated: Good enough is best. Economics is, after all, the study of how…
Neil Armstrong’s Other Landings
Jul 18, 2019 • 4 min
You already know about Neil Armstrong’s most famous landing on July 20, 1969. It’s his other landings you might have missed. Before becoming an astronaut, Neil Armstrong was a naval aviator and test pilot. In 1951, he lost part of a wing in his F9F…
If You Build It, They Will Come
Jul 11, 2019 • 3 min
A little over twenty years ago, I was completing my final year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In my last semester, I teamed up with two other seniors to launch a new student organization focused on leadership development. All three of…
People Are Watching, Always
Jul 4, 2019 • 4 min
My first full-time management job was as a center director for an education business. Part of my role was to supervise all the part-time instructors at our location. Like most managers who get promoted up, I inherited a team I didn’t select. I gradually…
Be a Little Bit Weird
Jun 27, 2019 • 5 min
Fifteen years ago, I was hired by the franchise owner of a Dale Carnegie office to help grow the business — and eventually develop into an instructor myself. Tom, who hired me, was the kind of person all of us hope to work for in our careers. He cared…
What’s Right and What’s True
Jun 20, 2019 • 4 min
Last week, a few minutes before I arrived to pick up our kids at summer camp, our 5-year-old daughter had fallen and hit her head. By the time I walked in, the nurse had already checked her out and she was perfectly fine. Her camp counselor, a teacher,…
Less Cessna, More 747
Jun 13, 2019 • 3 min
The airspace above our home is at least partially designated for pilots in training on small, single-engine planes. About once a week, I hear a small plane above us, that suddenly cuts its engine…only to restart it, shortly after. The pilots and their…
Keep Going
Jun 6, 2019 • 4 min
A decade ago, I was instructing a communication and human relations course for Dale Carnegie. We were about halfway through the multi-week program when a participant asked a question of me in front of the class: What do you do when your wife claims that…
3 Better Ways to Start a Presentation
May 30, 2019 • 4 min
For years, I’ve heard countless people give this well-intended advice on structuring a briefing or presentation: Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell them. Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em what you’ve told them. I bet you’ve heard that too. It might be advice for someone…
How to Drive Visibility of Your Work
May 23, 2019 • 3 min
Our house is just old enough to start having a few things go wrong. A few of our faucets were giving us trouble recently, so we hired a plumber to come in and replace some of the hardware. When he completed the work, he took the old hardware that he…
When Nothing Seems to Work Except Micro-Managing
May 16, 2019 • 4 min
Awhile back, a client was expressing his frustration with one of his managers. He said: I’ve delegated the work. I’ve made expectations clear on time, budget, and quality. I’ve set deadlines. But, this person isn’t on track. I see a train wreck coming. He…
Do This to Surface Great Ideas
May 9, 2019 • 2 min
In 1962, McDonald’s franchisee Lou Groen had a problem. His restaurant, in a predominately Roman Catholic neighborhood, wasn’t attracting customers on Fridays in Lent. Recognizing an opportunity, the Catholic businessman proposed a new sandwich for…
Are You Showing Up to Serve, Or to Be Served?
May 2, 2019 • 3 min
Over a decade ago, I arrived for a client presentation on a Friday afternoon. I’d contracted with the client for an hour in front of his team and had prepared an extensive series of exercises to teach several communication skills. I was a bit skeptical we…
The Best, Two-Word Question
Apr 25, 2019 • 4 min
In the part of the world I live in, it’s a common greeting to ask: Hi. How are you? And then to reply: Great. How about you? Usually that’s returned with some version of “doing well” or other generic, positive-sounding statement. This exchange regularly…
Keep Your Ideas From Being Stolen
Apr 18, 2019 • 3 min
When someone is working on a new idea they’ve shared with my in confidence, I often find myself suggesting that they also get input from their peers, executive team, or customer. Sometimes that generates a comment like this: If I start socializing this…
Fly the Plane
Apr 11, 2019 • 2 min
On December 29, 1972, Eastern Airlines flight 401 crashed in the Florida Everglades just outside of Miami, killing 101 people. It was the first ever crash of a wide-body aircraft and is still one of the deadliest events in aviation history. This crash is…
Stop Wasting Time on Confidence
Apr 4, 2019 • 2 min
A friend of mine who’s leading a small business sent me a message today. He wrote: I have a very hard time marketing, selling, etc. I need to just grit my teeth and be confident. When I read those words, I immediately messaged him back and suggested that…