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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.
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ESPN’s Stuart Scott Brings You the Best 15 Minutes of Your Day

Last night at the ESPY awards, SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott took up the mantle of Jim Valvano when he accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award.

Scott has battled multiple forms of cancer for seven years now. As recently as last week, he had four surgeries in seven days because of complications from his latest round of treatment. And yet, he stood on stage last night and delivered a speech on living and loving that you need to watch. It will be the best 15 minutes of your day—even if it makes you cry.

What Leaders Can Admire in LeBron James’ Letter to Cleveland

Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed that I don’t write as often as I used to about leaders in the news. There are different reasons for that. One of the biggest is the great examples seem fewer and farther between. Another is that I’m skeptical about being spun.

You may have heard about the way NBA superstar LeBron James shared the news last week that he’s returning to his hometown to play again for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rather than staging a press conference or a media spectacle like the classless broadcast The Decision in which he announced four years ago that he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” he posted an open letter on the Sports Illustrated website.

So, yeah, I recognize that when someone as famous as LeBron James makes a big announcement that I am, to some degree, being spun. In this case, I don’t care. The points he made in the letter and the way he made them are, at their most basic level, ones that leaders can admire.

In reading through it, I identified six admirable traits that are worth reflecting on and aspiring to.

Perspective. Early on, James ...

3 Executive Productivity Hacks That Any Leader Can Use

One of the things I love about my work is getting to meet and learn from some very talented top executives. That happened again recently when a senior vice president in a Fortune 500 client company stopped by for a lunch conversation with participants in our Next Level Leadership® development program.

She was one of the clearest thinkers and communicators I’ve met recently. Her organization is responsible for billions of dollars in sales so, as you might imagine, she has a very full plate. Recognizing that her time and attention are limited resources that she must deploy as effectively as possible, she’s come up with three productivity hacks that help her determine where she needs to focus.

They’re simple, effective and can be applied by leaders at any level in any organization. Here they are:

1. Three Things on the List. Over the years she’s learned that in any given week she can effectively focus on no more than three big things at once. She carries an old school paper based planner that she uses each week to review what’s on her plate and to boil it down to the big three. She confirms that ...

Put the Phone Down, and No One Gets Hurt

If you’re reading this while you’re on vacation or getting ready to go on vacation, this post is for you.

Please, please, please, give yourself and your family a break.

As I wrote a couple of years ago, the Europeans have it right. They don’t go on vacation, they go on holiday. Here in the States, we don’t holiday, we vacate. As in vacate the office and take your work with you.

I hear way too many stories from clients who insist on checking in every day and keeping up with their email and conference calls while they’re gone. I hear too few from people who actually let their team and colleagues handle things while they’re away for a week.

Can’t image not taking your work with you? Consider this story.

Back before iPhones and Androids had BlackBerry for lunch, I used to talk in leadership programs about a story I’d seen in The Wall Street Journal. It was titled “BlackBerry Orphans” and was about how upset kids were with their parents about checking their email at all hours of the day. It was accompanied by a drawing of a little girl ...

7 Ways to Keep Wizard of Oz Syndrome From Killing Your Organization

Every so often I come in contact with an organization where everyone is on pins and needles. They’re afraid of their own shadows. Everything is on an urgent deadline. The smallest mistakes or surprises are crises. Any sense of humor remaining is solely of the gallows variety.

Here’s what every one of those organizations seems to have in common—the “little people” view the senior leaders as if they’re the great and powerful Oz (and by Oz, I mean the man behind the curtain, not the doctor on TV).

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her gang were petrified by the idea of meeting the Wizard. An entire mythology had been built up around him and the carnival huckster who played the role did everything he could to reinforce the myths.

The Oz Syndrome is playing out in a lot of organizations. Knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or not, the senior leaders have created an aura around themselves in which “the littles” are scared to approach. (For more on how that happens, revisit this post from last year, “What Happens When Executives Freak Out.”)

I get to see the impact of this and it’s not pretty ...