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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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A World Class Example of Dopamine Derailment

In the latest installment of the story that wouldn’t die, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced that the two Price Waterhouse partners responsible for the Best Picture award snafu will never work the Oscars again.

There’s all kind of evidence that the lead partner, Brian Cullinan, was distracted by Tweeting and snapping photos of Best Actress winner Emma Stone in the very moments that he should have been focused on making sure that Warren Beatty got the right envelope before he went on stage to award Best Picture. Even after Beatty was on stage, if Cullinan had been paying attention to his job instead of to his phone he could have subtly given Beatty the right envelope while the film montage of Best Picture nominees was rolling.

Sadly, for Cullinan and his partners at PwC (and for the La La Land and Moonlight teams), he was focused on his smartphone. I feel bad for Cullinan in a way because what happened to him while he was on the job could happen to any of us while we are on the job. I call it a dopamine derailment.

Here’s how a dopamine derailment works...

Three Leadership Lessons from La La Land’s Jordan Horowitz

No doubt, you heard all about it: It’s the end of the Academy Awards ceremony and Hollywood icons Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway have just announced that Best Picture goes to the popular musical "La La Land." The producers and cast joyfully come on stage to accept their Oscars and make their speeches. The main producer, Jordan Horowitz, goes first and then, as his co-producers start giving their thanks, the hub-bub begins. Guys with headphones are scrambling around the stage. Warren Beatty is huddling with people. For the first time all evening, the host, Jimmy Kimmel seems at a loss for words. And then, as reported in the Washington Post, Horowitz steps to the microphone and says:

“Guys, guys, I’m sorry. No. There’s a mistake,” he said. “‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture.”

“This is not a joke,” Horowitz repeated. “‘Moonlight’ has won best picture.”

Horowitz then held up the card that proved it: “‘Moonlight’ … Best Picture.”

You can read the details elsewhere about how it all happened, but the Oscars ended with the biggest surprise of all. The crew from one celebrated movie gave way to another when the producers, creators and actors from "Moonlight" came...

How to Work for a Human Tornado

Chances are good that, at some point in your career, you’re going to work for a human tornado. In my speeches and workshops, I often say that leaders control the weather. When I talk with my audiences about that, I’m assuming that it’s a room full of healthy, positive people who can make smart choices about the weather they’re creating as leaders. Unfortunately, though, many of us will at some point work for a leader who creates all kinds of terrible weather. They’re the human tornados.

The experience of working for a human tornado can feel a lot like being on the plains in a summer storm. You know the conditions are ripe for destruction and devastation, you just don’t know exactly where the tornado is going to hit, which way it’s going to turn, what it’s going to sweep up in its path and destroy and what it’s going to leave standing. Waiting for the inevitable but unpredictable forces of a tornado and then dealing with the damage is a very high stress experience.

Working for a human tornado can create a similar but different phenomenon. At least with a...

The Ten Behaviors of Strong Personal Leadership

Since writing the first edition of The Next Level in 2006, I’ve coached, spoken with, and observed thousands of leaders in action. Many of them have been good leaders. Some have been great leaders. The great ones have one big thing in common. They don’t just lead at their best; they live at their best. They understand that to lead others effectively, they first have to lead themselves effectively.

Great leaders practice and exhibit strong personal leadership. They endeavor to live at their best so they can lead at their best. Their lives are structured for continuous improvement.

Here are the ten behaviors of personal leadership that I’ve seen the great ones practice:

  1. Self reflection. Great leaders take the time to identify and articulate how they are at their best and then organize their life so they consistently show up with those qualities. They use their understanding of how they are at their best as a reference point to regularly, often daily, stop and reflect on where they’re hitting the mark, where they’re not and making one or two adjustments to get back or stay on track.
  1. Self awareness. Great leaders are aware and intentional...

It’s a New Year—Have You Transformed Yourself Yet?

It’s hard not to get caught up in all of the annual (and predictable) “New Year, New You!” hype we’re reading everywhere this week. Yes, this is the time of year when we are bombarded with messages saying now is the time to change whatever you need to change to turn your life around.

Get organized. Lose weight. Quit drinking. Be nicer. Read more. Get stronger. Do more. Do less. Be a better parent. Be a better leader. Be a better person.

Just reading the list can make you exhausted. No wonder the research shows that less than 50 percent of the people who make resolutions are still following through on them six months later.

Is putting pressure on yourself to change with the changing of the calendar the right approach, though? Can we sustain the kind of instantaneous reset behavior we’re encouraged to exhibit, or is this work harder than the various “ten tips” listicles would have us believe?

Any time can be a good time to change. My experience is that the new year is as good a time as any to make progress in the direction of leading and living at your best. The...