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

Leading After the Shutdown

Last week I flew from Los Angeles to Baltimore and back and, like just about every other American who flies, was so grateful for the professionalism of the TSA agents and air traffic controllers whose job it is to keep travelers safe and alive. And, of course, last week they were in their fifth week of doing their vital jobs without pay because of the government shutdown. For so many reasons – safety, fairness, economic health – we can all be grateful that the shutdown is over (for now) and 800,000 public servants will again be paid for their work. (I could go on about how many of us feel about this situation but will defer to the words of FBI director Christopher Wray who summed it up far more eloquently than I could.)

So, this week it’s back to work for federal professionals who have been furloughed since the holidays and back to work with pay for those who were ordered to keep working without pay during the shutdown. It has me thinking about what the leaders of these folks might do in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition back. Actually, to give full credit where it...

Are You Triaging or Prioritizing Your Work?

If you’ve ever had to make a trip to the emergency room (hopefully not) or watched a medical drama on TV (probably so), you’ve seen a team of doctors, nurses and other team members doing triage.

Triage is the process of assessing which patients need immediate treatment or attention and which can wait until after the more urgent cases are addressed. It’s a big reason why you might end up hanging out in the waiting room for hours if you go to the ER with the flu or to get some other non-life-threatening condition treated. The patients who are literally knocking on death’s door are going to be seen before you.

I’ve been thinking about triage lately as I’ve been working with my executive coaching clients. Just about every leader I work with is operating in an environment where they and their teams have more to accomplish than the time available to do it all. So, they spend a lot of effort prioritizing their work. I’ve concluded, though, that what a lot of them are doing is not really prioritizing but triaging. Here’s the difference between the two.

When you’re triaging...

What Habits Are You Building This Year?

Welcome to 2019. By writing this, I am following through on one of the habits I set out for myself in my annual planning period between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. The particular habit I’m talking about is to write at least 500 words a day, Monday through Friday, in 2019.

Why am I setting that up as a habit for myself? Because I realized during my annual retreat with Diane (my all-star life and business partner) that I am better when I write regularly. (You can read our tips for how to do a great annual retreat here.) I think more clearly and deeply. I’m more creative. I see patterns better. I learn more. I connect with more people more frequently. My 500 words can take the form of a blog post like this one. It could be an entry in my journal. It could be working on a longer essay or article, or it could be taking notes as I brainstorm other ideas or projects.

Like a lot of people, I’m always looking for ways to manage myself more effectively. (That’s the first of three key leadership imperatives I address in the...

Three Reasons Leaders Should Ask for Help

There’s a hero myth that can build up around leaders. The great leaders stand alone, indomitable in the face of adversity, accomplishing their goals in the face of all obstacles. The last thing they need is help from anyone else. Their strength, wisdom and resolve brought them to this point and will, of course, carry them forward.

There at least two problems with myths. One is that they’re not true. The other is that, because they appeal to the full range of our emotions, they can suck us in to believing they’re true. And, like Icarus who fell to earth when his wax wings melted in the heat of the sun, buying into the hero myth can cause leaders to crash and burn.

All of this came to mind recently when I had the opportunity to listen to an accomplished executive leader speak about his journey during a coaches conference sponsored by one of my client companies. He’s the leader of a team that’s running some very challenging and game changing technology initiatives for the company. As the leader told his story, his confidence and competence came through loud and clear. He spoke rapidly and...

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.