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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Three Good Reasons to Embarrass Yourself in Public

Can you imagine what it would be like to stand up in front of a roomful of strangers and read selections from the journal or diary you kept as a teenager? If you find yourself in Denver on the right evening, you could have the opportunity to find out.

There’s a great story in the Wall Street Journal this week about a semi-regular gathering at the Contemporary Museum of Art Denver called My Teenage Angst. Similar events have been held in Seattle, Los Angeles and other cities around the U.S. The point of them is summed up by Ben Haley, an event organizer in Seattle: “Our guideline for would-be readers is to find something where your first thought is, ‘I hope nobody finds this.’ And bring that.”

Rachel Nyce, a participant in My Teenage Angst in Denver offers a good example of what Haley is looking for. This quote from her seventh grade diary about a crush she had on a boy ran in the Journal story:

“I wish I could take him to a brain wash place. Then I could brain wash him to like me! Wouldn’t that be awesome! Then we could go everywhere together ...

Do the Same Rules Apply to You?

If you’re following the news this week, you’ve seen the headlines about Hillary Clinton using a private email account supported by her own private email server during the four years she served as secretary of State. As far as this blog is concerned, I’m not really interested in speculating on her motivation or intent in doing so. Nor, am I interested in spending time here parsing the legalities of how she managed her email.

What I am interested in, though, is the prompt that this story provides to consider this question: 

“If you’re a leader, do the same rules that apply to everyone else apply to you?”

In Clinton’s case, it’s pretty clear that the expectation was that she would conduct her official email correspondence on a State Department email account. No doubt, there were plenty of people at the department (and not just the folks in IT) who knew she wasn’t sending or receiving emails at a state.gov email address. But how hard is it to push back on a leader with the profile of Hillary Clinton? Pretty hard, apparently.

If you’re the leader of a team of any size ...

Three Ways to Coach the Person, Not the Problem

Back when we were co-teaching The Flow of Coaching module at the Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program, my good friend, hero and fellow Davidson College alum Frank Ball used to do a funny bit with a bottle of water. To make the point that coaches and leaders should coach people and not problems, Frank would put a bottle of water on the table in the front of the room and say, “This bottle of water represents the problem.” Then he would start coaching the bottle of water. Needless to say, he never got very far. The bottle just didn’t have that many insights on what to change or how to change it.

That’s the thing. People have insights, problems don’t. If you’re a leader who cares about growing and developing your people, you have to coach them, not their problems.

That’s counterintuitive for a lot of leaders and even a lot of professional coaches. The solution to the problem is so obvious (to you) that you just want to jump in there and solve it for them.  That’s not coaching; that’s providing the answer. There’s not much growth in that approach. In fact ...

What Would You Say in Your Acceptance Speech?

So imagine this. You’re an Academy Awards nominee and you’ve just won a coveted Oscar. (Maybe even a super cool Lego Oscar like Oprah got.) You’ve got around 60 seconds at the podium to say what’s on your heart before the orchestra cranks it up and starts playing you off the stage.

What would you say?

Would you follow the lead of Best Supporting Actor winner J.K. Simmons and thank your wife and kids first and then wrap it up by encouraging people everywhere to call, not text, their parents and let them talk as long as they want?

Would you make a statement on societal issues like Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette did on equal pay for women or Best Song co-winner John Legend did on voting rights and sentencing and prison reform?

Perhaps you’d tell a moving personal story like Graham Moore, the winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay award for The Imitation Game. Making a connection between the life of the hero of the movie, Alan Turing, and his own journey, Moore disclosed:

“I tried to commit suicide at 16, and now I’m standing here. I would like for ...

A Lesson on Managing Expectations

My son Brad and I spent a couple of hours at CarMax yesterday afternoon. After moving to a new apartment building without enough parking spaces for his car, he decided to sell it. He strongly prefers public transportation over driving in Los Angeles anyway so the decision to sell it was pretty easy. He had to move pretty quickly, though, because finding parking on the street around where we live is a very hit or miss proposition. The process of a private sale would have taken too long so he decided to sell it to a dealer. I went to a local CarMax with him to start the process and, within a couple of hours, got a great lesson from Brad on managing your expectations and not getting too attached to outcomes.

Brad was selling a 2005 Volkswagen Golf with pretty low miles for a car that old. He had bought it from his older brother a few years ago when Andy moved to San Francisco and concluded that having a car in the city there was going to be an expensive hassle. When he decided to sell it this weekend, Brad cleaned up the car and did the research ...