The Library

We’ve pulled together a collection of reading materials you need on your path to becoming a truly great leader. Learn and get inspired.

Insights

Get practical insights that you can apply today, based on our 20+ years of experience consulting with top leaders, along with the best thought leadership from others. It’s all here for the taking.

Insight

Ditch the sports metaphors

Sports coach metaphors, with their drills and locker room speeches, fail to translate to organizational coaching, which is more about long-term growth. The authoritarian approach, for all its assertive bravado, can snuff out honest dialogues and crush creativity. Samuel Bacharach, author and head of Cornell’s Institute for Workplace Studies, puts it this way: “Proactive leaders understand that coaching creates a learning environment where individual and collective challenges are the first priorities.” In sports: Iconic coaches, like Tom Coughlin, are usually depicted as champion motivators, powering their team forward with relentless repetition and strength training. In organizations: Coaches stand beside their people, listening and encouraging each step of the way. By developing only the strengths that will win you the game, you risk missing the bigger picture. Victories are won with more than just know-how. “You want your protégés to possess the necessary skills to accomplish their goals, but you also want them to be cognizant of the dynamics of the organization,” says Bacharach. In sports: The relationship between coaches and their players is usually constrained to a single season. In organizations: Coaching talent has a more amorphous time frame. No shot clocks. It’s a process where people are encouraged to “personally discover

Insight

Lead for creativity

Few things are discussed more in the world of business today than creativity — and the role of leaders play in sparking and harnessing it. Yet creativity often seems unattainable. Something that only a few people are good at. Of course, this is the stance of a fixed mindset — a belief that our talents are unchanging. As behavioral scientist and expert on creating habits James Clear explains, “Nearly every person is born with some level of creative skill and the majority of our creative thinking abilities are trainable.” Like a lost language, any leader can and should reactivate inventive thinking, reintroduce play into our teamwork and problem-solving. Tapping into those latent skills and behaviors, however, takes a growth mindset — or a belief that we can get better at anything with practice and a willingness to experiment with new ways of working. Throughout your Leadfully Practice, we will go deeper into various strategies and techniques to champion creativity in your work and your team. For now, here are some useful guiding principles: Embrace constraints. The fewer tools we have, the more resourceful we become about using them. “Dr. Seuss wrote his most famous book when he limited himself to 50

Insight

Renew your energy

Poor sleep. Bad diet. Fractured and fragmented relationships. A generally negative outlook. These are the signs that you are not taking care of yourself. As Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy astutely observe in Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time: “Most of us respond to rising demands in the workplace by putting in longer hours, which inevitably take a toll on us physically, mentally, and emotionally.” Sound familiar? The flaw in that thinking, Schwartz and McCarthy point out, is that time is a finite resource. Energy, on the other hand, can be renewed. Individuals, particularly leaders, can first own and then minimize their energy-depleting behaviors as a way to nurture themselves and set the tone for their teams. Piloting a “renewable energy program” at Wachovia Bank, Schwartz and McCarthy focused on instilling simple rituals individuals can take across the four sources of the energy within us, the body, emotions, mind and spirit. The results were impressive: “Sixty-eight percent reported that it had a positive impact on their relationships with clients and customers. Seventy-one percent said that it had a noticeable or substantial positive impact on their productivity and performance.” So what can we take away from this study and apply to our Practice?

Insight

Do nothing

As Olympian multi-taskers, we take pride in the number of things we can juggle. But how good are any of us at doing nothing? Not just being physically still, but mentally too. No worrying, no dreaming, no thinking back, no planning ahead. No list making. Not so easy, is it? What if doing nothing, for just 10 minutes, wasn’t a rinse cycle at the end of a lousy day but a daily health routine that kept your mind running like a high-performance machine? “We depend on our mind to be focused, creative, spontaneous, and to perform at our very best in everything that we do. And yet, we don’t take any time out to look after it. In fact, we spend more time looking after our cars, our clothes and our hair…,” laments mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe. In his TED Talk “All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes” (clocking in at 5.5 million views), Puddicombe talks about the transformative power of spending just a few minutes a day in the present moment. A place, according to a recent Harvard research paper, where we spend remarkably little time: “…our minds are lost in thought almost 47% of the time…this sort of constant

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Perspectives

Don’t just take our word on the skills necessary for 21st century leadership. Some leaders we admire share their perspectives.

Alex Castellarnau
Perspective
on Optimism

Alex Castellarnau

VP of UX/UI, NextEV

Andy Raskin on authentic communication
Perspective
On Authentic Communication

Andy Raskin

Messaging Strategist, Raskin Studio

    Gaella Gottwald on being a creative leader - Leadfully
    Perspective
    On Creativity

    Gaella Gottwald

    Creative Crusader and Art Director

    Melvin Galloway on humanity
    Perspective
    On Humanity

    Melvin Galloway

    EVP and COO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

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    Blog Posts

    Get the latest news, quick tips, and more.

    Individual superpowers add up to team strengths
    Blog Post
    April 25, 2017
    Play to your team strengths

    At Leadfully, we believe in superpowers. Superpowers are the strengths that define us. Not skills or areas of expertise that we learn over time, like managing projects or creating presentations, but innate talents or capacities that are part of our identity — for instance, creative thinking, problem solving, or grit. When you’re channeling your superpower, you’re totally in your element. On a team, knowing what superpower each person brings lets you take advantage of the team’s full inherent potential. As leaders, our job is to discover those individual strengths and create opportunities for them to shine. Look for complementary strengths Create powerful duos by pairing up people with complementary superpowers — for instance, someone who’s strong in systems thinking with someone who’s strong in experimentation. Working with someone whose superpower complements your own helps fill in any gaps or weaknesses in how you might approach the work alone. Finding complements will also reveal which superpowers don’t mix so well. A peacemaker and a provocateur, for example, may not see eye to eye. Plan for potential conflicts by understanding where people’s strengths might work at cross purposes. Strive for balance A team is usually more effective when there’s both a diversity

    how to deliver bad news to your team
    Blog Post
    April 11, 2017
    How to say the hardest things

    In November 2004, Tysabri, a drug treatment for multiple sclerosis, received a rare boost from the FDA. Because the disease is so serious and the drug held so much promise, the FDA decided to fast-track Tysabri’s path to MS patients. A celebratory mood took hold at Biogen and Élan, the two pharmaceutical companies that collaborated on the project. Three months later, everything froze. The FDA put all clinical trials of Tysabri on hold. They ordered the drug to be pulled from the market. Three patients had developed brain infections, two of them fatal. Imagine yourself in the shoes of one of the leaders at Biogen or Élan. How do you address your team at such a moment? How do you deliver such devastating news without torpedoing team morale for months to come? At some point in their lives, every leader has to stand up in front of their team and deliver a tough message. Here’s what to do when that time comes. Reflect on what the news looks like from your team’s perspective. You have a million anxieties swirling in your mind. But what are your teams’ concerns? Identify and acknowledge their top worries. A simple and powerful exercise mentioned

    Blog Post
    March 28, 2017
    Learning to lead: 3 big questions to ask yourself

    Leadership isn’t just about leading others — you have to first be able to lead yourself. This takes constant learning and self-awareness, a knowledge of yourself that’s best gained through reflection: understanding your superpowers, your shortcomings, and how you show up in different situations. It can be hard to create space for reflection, especially when you’re caught up in the challenge of learning to lead, but try — you’ll be surprised by how much you can learn. Here are three big questions that can help you look deeper into how you are leading (and a few smaller questions to help you reflect on each one). What makes you lead the way you do? One of the first examples of leadership we experience is our parents. When we’re children, parents represent natural authority in our lives. For better or for worse, their model of leadership has a deep impact on how we relate to the concept of leading. For me, for instance, I think it resulted in me placing too much importance on the ability to inspire and awe people through impressive actions. It wasn’t until much later in life that I learned more subtle approaches to leading. So think all

    The multi-generational workplace
    Blog Post
    March 14, 2017
    The multi-generational workplace: One Gen Xer’s personal journey

    Lesson 1 Collar, cuffs, sleeves, front, back. In that order. My first paid job was pressing my father’s dress shirts. He wore one every day with a sport jacket to his aerospace engineering job in Los Angeles. It was the late ’70s. The workforce was heavily represented by the boomer generation. There was a properness to work culture back then. Work etiquette, if you will. Less collaboration, more “follow the leader.” Leaders were senior. They made decisions. Their people executed accordingly and generally didn’t question the decisions that were made. My mother returned to the workplace around that same time, in the security business for a government contractor. She wore the female equivalent of my dad’s business attire: the skirt suit and pantyhose. Lesson 2 Clear nail polish can stop a run in your L’eggs stockings. I had a brief stint in retail in the late ’80s, trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I made it all the way to associate manager of the women’s sportswear department at Robinsons-May. Retail was the one industry that women largely dominated at the time, often incentivized by a discount on clothing. It gave me my first

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