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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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Five Questions to Ask When You Take on the Top Job

When I wrote The Next Level, I included a case study about Amy, a fictional high performer who had recently been promoted to the executive ranks. She was fictional, but as they say about some TV dramas, her situation was “ripped from the headlines.” (Her story has resonated with readers and clients so much that I’ve left it in the upcoming 3rd edition of The Next Level.) The challenges Amy faced as a new executive were ones I see all the time as an executive coach. That’s not just true for first time executives; it’s also true for more senior executives who are promoted into the top job in their organization.

I recently spent some time with a friend who’s experiencing exactly that. He’s assumed the top role in a prominent organization after spending a number of years there in other senior executive roles. He’s a great guy and really grounded about himself and his role. That doesn’t mean, though, that the transition is easy for him. There is always a multiplier effect when you take on a bigger role. It’s even more exponential when you take on the top job.

Here...

How Strong is Your Leadership Pyramid?

Research shows that moving to the executive level is among the toughest transitions of any career. For example, a study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership shows that 40 percent of new executives fail within 18 months of being named to their positions. What’s going on here? Is it a case of the Peter Principle at work? Have 40 percent of all new executives simply risen to their level of incompetence? That seems unlikely. After all, to get to the executive level, you usually have to be pretty smart, accomplished, and competent. How do we explain the sudden increase in the failure rate when leaders move into next level roles?

Let’s look first at expectations. Based on my experience as an executive and coach in Fortune 500 corporations and large government agencies, I know that the expectations of performance for executives are very high. I also know that they are very rarely explicitly stated. Unfortunately, much of the time the only expectation that is shared with new executives is that they are to figure out what to do and how to do it. In an effort to make the implicit more explicit, I have identified nine sets...

Leaders, Don’t Be the Cheese in the Panini

You can consider this post an update of one I wrote back in the summer of 2009 about how middle managers can feel like the meat in the sandwich. I’ve used that analogy for years with my clients in middle and upper middle management. It really applies to any leader who is not working in the C-suite equivalent of their organization. When you’re the meat in the sandwich, you’re adding a lot of nutritional value while getting squeezed from the pressure of the slices of bread above and below you.

My experience since 2009 suggests the meat in the sandwich dynamic has become more pronounced. Since then, I’ve asked hundreds of audiences of executives to give me a show of hands if they’re in the same job they were in a year ago, but the scope of the job has gotten bigger in the last year. Invariably, including in an audience of around 100 executives in a presentation I gave last week, 80 to 90 percent of the leaders raise their hands.

A couple of weeks ago, in a session of the Next Level Leadership® group coaching program, I was talking with my clients about...

How a Simple Mantra Can Improve Your Leadership

One of the things I love about leading our Next Level Leadership® group coaching program is hearing leaders’ stories about how they’re following through on their most important development opportunities. As I’ve written here before, when they’re mapping out how to follow through, I always encourage them to look for repeatable actions that are relatively easy to do and likely to make a difference. Taking that approach has the benefit of jump starting the leader’s momentum and creating a positive impact through their behaviors.

In one of our current group coaching cohorts, I have several participants who have landed on simple mantras that are changing their leadership for the better. Here are a couple of examples of what they’re saying and the difference it’s making for them and their organizations.

One super high capacity leader in the program learned through her opening 360 degree assessment that she could do a better job of listening and not dominating conversations. That’s an opportunity that a lot of really bright, “get a lot of stuff done” leaders have. Their brain and problem solving process run so fast that they have a tendency to roll over people...

How to Diversify Your Happiness

If you’ve spent any time thinking about your retirement account or other investments, you’re probably familiar with the concept of asset diversification. The idea is to not over-invest in one particular company or class of investments but to balance your portfolio across different types of assets. As a simple example, it makes sense for many people to invest in both stocks and bonds since when one of the two is up the other is often down. You don’t get crazy high returns when you invest this way, but you usually avoid catastrophic losses. Over time, the balanced investment approach of asset diversification has proven to yield reasonably predictable rates of return. Not super sexy rates of return, but rates in which you can have some degree of confidence.

And, by now, you may be asking yourself, “I thought this was a leadership blog. What’s up with the investment strategy tutorial?” There’s a connection and it comes from a client I’m working with in one of our leadership development programs. On a recent group follow-up call, she and her colleagues were sharing what they’d been working on since our last in-person session on building...