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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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How to Tame This Attention Span Killing Device

If someone tried to force you to take a drug that would reduce your ability to mentally focus by 33 percent, you’d probably do everything you could to get away, right? Yet, the chances are you’ve already done that to yourself over the past several years. Your partner in crime is your smartphone.

In a 2015 study commissioned by Microsoft, researchers found that the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. A goldfish, on the other hand, has an attention span of 9 seconds.

So, what else was going on during the period that human attention spans dropped by 33 percent? The mobile communications era really took off. The first mobile email device, the Blackberry (remember those?) was introduced in 1999. The first modern smartphone, the iPhone, was launched in 2007. Is it a coincidence that attention spans have dropped during more or less the same exact period? Unlikely.

Smartphones kill our attention spans because they’re addictive. You know this intuitively, right? If you do, perhaps you’ll be comforted to know that, according to a 2015 study conducted by the National Safety Council, more than...

Three Leadership Rules for the Shark Cage

If you haven’t already seen it, watch this video of a great white shark attacking a dive cage. It runs about a minute and a half and is straight out of Jaws.

OK, now that you’ve watched it, we need to draw some leadership lessons from what happened there. (Great thanks and props to my client Brian Schools who CC’d me on an email he sent to his leadership team at Chartway Federal Credit Union in which he shared the video and some similar lessons.) Since no one got eaten by a shark, we can, with a clean conscience, break the video down into some takeaways for team leadership. You may or may not be leading a team in a physically dangerous situation, but no matter the circumstances, it can get pretty rough out there. So, based on a true story, here are some leadership rules for the shark cage.

Know who’s in the cage. We hear a lot in team settings about having each other’s backs. As the shark cage video demonstrates, you can’t protect somebody else’s back if you don’t even know where their back is.

Here’s the breakdown...

Three Best Practices for Creating Effective Talking Points

Before we go any further, this is not a post about the 2016 presidential election. I have nothing to add to the millions of words that have been written about the topic already other than, like many people, I wish it was over.

So, this post isn’t about political talking points, it’s about leadership talking points. If your organization is like most of those I coach, you’re likely undergoing some kind of significant change that affects the way people work, who they work with or, perhaps, whether they’ll keep working there at all.

Too often, leaders lay low in situations like this because they don’t want their words to get ahead of events or because they simply don’t know what to say. The problem with that is nature abhors a vacuum. In the absence of solid, authoritative information, people make up their own. Insecurity rules and rumors fly. The rumors are almost always scarier than the reality of the changes.

The way to avoid that situation is to take some time up front to develop some consistent talking points for your leadership team to use in conversations with their teams. You may not be...

Why Too Many Meetings Leaves You Feeling Stupid

Last week I was on the phone with an executive coaching client who, like many of the people I work with, was lamenting the insanity of her schedule. It was Friday and she was finishing up a week of back-to-back meetings every day, all day. (To her credit, she kept her coaching call with me.)

In talking about her schedule, she described the impact in a way that I had never heard before. She told me that, “Having so many meetings makes me feel stupid.” She is most assuredly not stupid so I asked her to explain what she meant. She talked about how running from meeting to meeting with literally no time to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom in between had overloaded her brain. All of the input and all of the gear shifting between topics left her mentally depleted.

And then, as if reliving an awesome dream, she told me about “last Wednesday. I had a daylong meeting that was scheduled and then cancelled that morning. I had the entire day to myself to catch up, think and actually get ahead of things. It was wonderful!”

We both agreed that full days that...

How to Prepare for Your Meetings Like Olympians Prepare to Compete

Last night, Diane and I were watching the U.S. women’s gymnastics team compete in the opening round of competition in the Rio Olympics. The floor exercises were the most astounding thing I saw. Tiny young women like Simone Biles, Laura Hernandez, and Aly Raisman stand at one corner of a springy floor, gather themselves, seemingly go from zero to 60 in about half a second and then launch themselves 8 or 9 feet in the air to do a couple of flips while they lay their bodies out flat in the air, rotate themselves on another plane, land solidly on their feet and immediately start another move that’s even more amazing.

One of the things I love about watching the Olympics is when the camera zooms in on the face of the athletes right before they compete. They all do the same thing. Their eyes appear to fix on a point that only they can see. They take a deep breath and then they go. With the women gymnasts you can see them holding the fixed gaze and taking the breath in the middle of their routines as they start another run that launches them into more...

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