Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

How To Be The Kind Of Leader Your Employees Need You To Be


Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Management Grand Rounds held at Boston Children’s Hospital. As with every speaking engagement I do, the part I look forward to the most is being able to meet with audience members to hear about their experiences and what insights they’ve gained from my talk.

In the case of my talk at Boston Children’s Hospital, it was wonderful to hear the level of interest among many of the leaders in the audience of how they could become better leaders for their employees. Seeing that drive and desire to not rest on their laurels but to embrace the challenges before them was energizing and inspiring.

After getting a tour of their remarkable facilities, I decided to wander around Boston to take in the sights, including a walk by Fenway Park during an afternoon baseball game.

As I heard the roars of the crowd rise up from the stadium, I noticed a series of banners paying tribute to some of the city’s beloved Boston Red Sox players. Among those banners, a name caught my eye – that of Babe Ruth.


Seeing that name on that red banner reminded me of a piece I had written several years ago on leadership lessons revealed from how Babe Ruth approached playing the game he loved as he grew older.

To show my appreciation for the warmth and generosity I received from the various leaders at Boston Children’s Hospital, I would like to share that story alongside three important leadership lessons on how we can be the kind of leader our employees need us to be.

In October 1932, the New York Yankees were facing off against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series Championship. For most of the Yankees team, things were going great as they were going into Game Three having won the first two. For Babe Ruth, things were far from great as he was in the midst of a batting slump.

As if things couldn’t get worse, at the halfway mark of Game Three, Ruth found himself standing at home plate with two strikes against him and his own home crowd booing him. In light of his declining physical abilities and the stream of negativity coming from the crowd around him, it seemed a given that he would strikeout at home plate.

And yet, when the next pitch came, Ruth not only hit the ball, but he hit it with such force that it became one of the longest home runs ever made at Wrigley Field.

At the end of the game, a reporter asked Babe Ruth what he was thinking about at that moment when he hit that ball out into the end zone. Ruth told him it was the same thought that comes to mind every time he’s at bat – of “just hittin’ that ball”.

It was certainly a humble and memorable response on Ruth’s part, but in its own way, this story helps us to understand three important lessons on how leaders can successfully lead their team in today’s faster-paced, ever-changing workplace environment. Click here to continue reading »”How To Be The Kind Of Leader Your Employees Need You To Be”

How Feedback Can Help Your Employees Succeed And Grow


With August now coming to a close, many of us – myself included – are feeling that bittersweet tinge that comes with the end of the summertime period. Indeed, contrary to so many of those back-to-school commercials, I personally am not eager to see the summer break come to an end for my daughters because I love having them around. Then again, as my wife likes to say, I’m not a fan of things ending.

The end of the summer period also brings to mind another ending that was marked this month – the end of Jon Stewart’s 16-year tenure at The Daily Show.

Now, to be clear, this piece is not about Jon Stewart’s legacy and whether you agreed or not with his socio-political viewpoints. Rather, it’s about an unscripted and honest moment that happened during his final show, and what we can learn from it about the nature of giving feedback and how it can help those we lead to grow.

The moment I’m referring to was when Stephen Colbert shared with the audience how Stewart made a point of telling his employees to never thank him because they owed him nothing, an idea Colbert said Stewart got “dead wrong” for the following reason:

We owe you because we learned from you. … All of us who were lucky enough to work with you for 16 years are better at our jobs because we got to watch you do yours. And we are better people for having known you. You are a great artist and a good man. … I know you’re not asking for this, but on behalf of so many people whose lives you’ve changed over the past 16 years, thank you.”

It was a wonderful, heart-felt moment that gave us a glimpse into what it was like to work under Jon Stewart’s leadership at The Daily Show. Of course, it also gives rise to a question about how will our leadership be viewed when we’re done – namely, what will be the impact those under our care remember the most about our leadership and what will that say about the legacy of our own leadership?

Granted, such questions can be quite daunting if not a luxury for many leaders to ponder given the complexity of today’s interconnected, global environment where things happening halfway around the world can wreck havoc on our strategies and plans here at home.

Indeed, if today’s leaders can’t Click here to continue reading »”How Feedback Can Help Your Employees Succeed And Grow”

Bringing Out The Best In Those You Lead

Image © Wharton Magazine

Image © Wharton Magazine

Of all the seasons of the year, summer is without question my favourite. From attending the various outdoor festivals that Montreal has become renowned for, to the annual summer vacation breaks with my family, there’s no question that summer is a time for renewal and rejuvenation.

Of course, renewal and rejuvenation is something that summer has also brought to my garden which, after several years of trying to grow various flowers and shrubs, is finally the kind of garden I had hoped to grow since we moved into our house many years ago.

The process of testing out what plants work best where, which ones failed and why, and how to replicate the past season’s growth successes brought to mind parallels in how organizations and their leaders also have to learn to adapt and evolve in light of changing conditions in order to successfully achieve their shared purpose.

To that end, I’d like to share these three steps leaders should take to bring out the best in their employees in order to drive the collective success of their organization.

1. Connect the changes you make with the vision you have for your organization
When I first started to build our garden, one of the things I had to learn along the way was adapting my vision for what I wanted to grow with the reality of what grew best in my garden. In some areas, low-light plants were needed; in others, pest resistant plants were the best to grow.

Naturally, this lead to a lot of trial-and-error in choosing plants for the garden, which also meant a lot of money wasted in those first years. As a gardener, I was willing to accept these losses, but for my wife whose not a gardener, this was money that could’ve been spent on other areas of the house.

After a few summers of some successes and more failures, my wife was understandably getting frustrated with the amount of money being wasted on plants that lasted for a few short weeks. As much as she wanted to make improvements to beautify our home, she began to feel our money would be better suited to other measures.

In order to get her on board with my vision for what I wanted to create around our home, I realized I needed to invest in more of the plants that were doing well to help her see how buying similar types would ensure repeated success going forward.

Sure enough, in time as our gardens began to fill year after year with the blooms of different varieties of the same kind of plants, she began to understand what I was trying to create, and she became more willing to accept the purchase of different plants that would accentuate the others.

Similarly, when looking at implementing changes in your organization, it’s important to Click here to continue reading »”Bringing Out The Best In Those You Lead”

3 Lessons On How To Promote Successful Collaborations


One of the benefits I garner through my work are opportunities to collaborate with different groups and individuals. Through these collaborations, I not only get the chance to learn and understand different perspectives, but to discover new ways to work with people who have different approaches to guide things forward.

Of course, as with anything in life, not all collaborations are created equal. Although I look forward to future collaborations with many of the people and groups I’ve worked with in the past, there are some collaborations that were not as satisfying or rewarding. Not so much in terms of how successful we were in attaining our objectives, but in how certain parties approached the collaboration process.

Interestingly, it’s a problem that my two oldest daughters also experience in high school where teachers assign them projects to collaborate on without providing any guidance or support on how to do this effectively. This no doubt mirrors our own educational experiences, where we were somehow expected to know how to collaborate with different partners in order to achieve a successful result.

Taken together, what this reveals is an uncomfortable truth about the nature of work: we understand the importance of collaboration, but most of us haven’t learned what that involves [Twitter-logo-smallShare on Twitter]. And in light of today’s rush to just get things done, leaders are not engendering a supportive environment for their employees to learn how they can successfully collaborate with different teams and departments in order to achieve their organization’s shared purpose.

As such, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned from my past collaborations, lessons I’ve shared with both my clients and my daughters on how we can learn to be successful in our present and future collaborations by gaining a better understanding of what it entails.

1. Clarify expectations in terms of involvement and contributions
When I look back at the various partnerships I’ve had with different groups and individuals, one trait that these collaborations shared in common was how there was this collective drive and enthusiasm to roll up our sleeves and dive into the work.

And yet, if I look at those collaborations which I enjoyed the most – those that have fuelled an interest in finding opportunities to collaborate in the future – there was something we did before we mapped out any plans or began assigning tasks.

Namely, before anything else was done, we made time to Click here to continue reading »”3 Lessons On How To Promote Successful Collaborations”

Why We Fail At Leadership


When it comes to studying leadership, the natural tendency is to focus on those leaders whose successes and achievements continue to inspire us and drive so many to emulate them in the hopes of replicating their accomplishments.

Of course, as much as it’s important for us to see what we can learn from those who understand what it takes to succeed at leadership, it’s also valuable for us to examine and consider what causes others to fail in the role of leading people towards a common goal or shared purpose.

To that end, I’d like to share the story of one leader whose example I hope will help us to appreciate one of the key challenges leaders need to address if they are to succeed in this role in today’s fast-changing, global environment.

When Albert* was promoted to head the division he had spent the past few years working for, he naturally jumped into the opportunity with a lot of enthusiasm and ideas of how he’d like the department to operate under his leadership.

Given how Albert was career-driven and had his eyes on playing a bigger role in the organization, he was determined to not only prove his ability to lead this department, but to get his former colleagues to view him as ‘executive material’, in order to support his efforts to move up in the organization.

In no time, Albert was sending out memos detailing new approaches he wanted his former colleagues to employ in order to ‘make things more efficient’ or to ‘make efforts more aligned with corporate policy’ as a way to prove his technical prowess.

He used team meetings to inform his direct reports of his interactions with various groups of executives and VPs to highlight his growing familiarity with those at the executive level in order to prove his comfort level with ‘playing in the big leagues’.

Of course, in his zeal to prove his ability to lead and step up into the executive circle, Albert ended up making a number of missteps which Click here to continue reading »”Why We Fail At Leadership”

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