Eric J. McNulty

One important step that leaders can take is to explicitly acknowledge the circumstances in which either competition or cooperation is most likely to achieve the desired outcome. Then, as a leader, you can examine your organization’s structures, processes, and protocols to see if they align with the intended competitive or cooperative behaviors. Where there is dissonance, correct it.

Can You Handle the Truth?

Three ways for leaders to stop missing essential information from across their organization.

The Leadership Maker Movement

Rarely a day goes by without news about the maker movement — the DIY culture of hackers and traditional crafters that, with advances in 3D printing, is producing a dizzying range of items. An analogous revolution is also underway in how we adapt organizations for the fast-changing contexts in which they must operate. I call it the leadership maker movement.

After observing companies and speaking with … [ Read more ]

Eric J. McNulty

Principles, unlike rules, give people something unshakable to hold onto yet also the freedom to take independent decisions and actions to move toward a shared objective. Principles are directional, whereas rules are directive.

Eric J. McNulty

As you lead, try substituting and for but as often as possible. Note what opportunities for collaboration and novel solutions emerge. When contemplating your next strategic move, think about and instead of or. See what new perspectives this generates. And is one small word that can make a big difference in the way you think and lead.

How to Maximize Meetings

Some thoughts on improving meetings in your oganization, courtesy of reader feedback to columnist Eric J. McNulty.

Your People’s Brains Need Face Time

A look at the value of in-person meetings for dispersed teams.

Eric J. McNulty

No organization is perfect and there will always be flawed people who make bad decisions or take ill-advised actions. But the more comfortable the many good people in your company become at telling truth to power and the better the powerful become at hearing it, the less likely you are to confront an uncomfortable truth about your organization in the headlines. Resolve the small issues … [ Read more ]

Eric J. McNulty

It can be easy to reduce malfeasance to the acts of a few bad apples. This kind of thinking absolves the organization, and even the larger system, of blame — it’s a comfortable place for those invested in the status quo. I take a lesson from a healthcare system where I conducted a number of interviews earlier this year. Their quality ratings had gone from … [ Read more ]

Eric J. McNulty

Also known as the “outcome effect,” outcome bias is a cognitive process that causes individuals to evaluate a decision based on the final result, whether that outcome was achieved by chance or through a sound process. When a good outcome results, the entire effort is judged positively. Conversely, a sound decision process may be condemned if the end product is negative for reasons unrelated to … [ Read more ]

Let’s Argue About It

I recently came across some eloquent advice from Tufts University philosopher Daniel C. Dennett. He offers four useful insights that help inform collaboration, negotiation, and conflict resolution in organizational settings.

The Search for Hidden Talent Treasures

Organizations looking for outside talent pay an extraordinary amount of attention to resumes. Once people are inside, it’s almost as if some of kind of reset button is pressed: The details of their backgrounds seem to get dumped onto a far-off slag heap, and they become known only for what they do at the new organization. I call this phenomenon resumenesia — a malady causing … [ Read more ]

Put the Humanity Back in Human Resources

Poor human resources. Every 10 years or so, someone calls for it to be destroyed. Obliterated. Or at least drastically reinvented. I have seen the problem. And as I see it, the solution is deceptively simple, far more radical than organizational detonation, and far more sensible: Make HR the chief advocates of humanity in our organizations. Let’s put the human back in human resources. What … [ Read more ]

Eric J. McNulty

The truth is that the best managers tend to be pretty good leaders and stellar leaders know a thing or two (and usually more) about management. I look at it this way: management is the what and leadership is the why. If you have all what and no why, you wind up with a workforce just going through the motions with no real engagement. … [ Read more ]

The Accountability Equation

Inspired by the “trust equation” in the book The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Robert Galford, and Charles Green, I’d like to propose an accountability equation, with a structure that illuminates the multiple elements involved and allows for differing relationships between them.

The Four Rs of High-Stakes Decision Making

Former secretary of state Colin Powell said that once you have 40 to 70 percent of the information you need to ascertain your probability of success, you can make a gut decision. When you’ve reached the threshold, it’s time to apply the “4R Test,” something I’ve developed after watching leaders in action and studying literature on decision making.

Forget the Vision, Make the Connections

An executive stepping into a new role tends to have two top priorities: how best to allocate financial resources and how best to allocate human resources. And while that may seem like a logical way for new leaders to make their mark, Mindy Hall says that mind-set is problematic.

6 Ways to Challenge Your Leadership Assumptions

In a paper written almost two decades ago, Miles Bryant, a professor of education administration at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, compared Western leadership beliefs to those of Native Americans from six Plains tribes. Bryant and a group of graduate students sought to learn how culture figures in conceptions of leadership. The variances can be a catalyst for thinking more deeply about what makes an effective … [ Read more ]

Five Keys to Strategy in the Age of the Hack

How do you shape your strategy for the age of the inevitable hack?