I typically work with huge datasets and draw conclusions based on thousands of leaders. Recently, however, I was working with a small dataset of just 30 leaders. These leaders work for a high tech company with more than 60,000 total employees. This group of 30 were considered to be some of the highest potential leaders in the company. The average age of these leaders was 43. Twenty two were male; eight were female. In the time I spent with these individuals, it was clear they were a select and impressive group.

We measured their effectiveness as leaders and found that…


Most of us are familiar with the basic concept of cross-training. For example, a person who aspires to be a serious runner concludes that there are only a certain number of miles she can run per week. After reading magazines and talking to other accomplished runners, she decides to engage in a series of other activities such as weight lifting, bicycle riding, and swimming. Other runners have chosen to do rowing and water aerobics. Why? Because people who engage in these other activities have found they help them to run better, to be in better physical condition, to gain aerobic…


I travel frequently. In the past, I would often forget where I parked my car. Sometimes it would take me as long as 20 minutes to find it, which was very frustrating at the end of a long trip. I needed to change this behavior and solve this problem. So to prevent this from happening I would try to write the location down on a piece of paper. But sometimes I was in enough of a hurry I couldn’t write it down, or I lost the paper. Then I bought a memory course, listened to the techniques, but because I…


Recently I read an article in Inc. by Minda Zetlin about difficult workplace personalities. She talked about Narcissists, Passive-Aggressive Types, Gossips, Anger Addicts and Guilt Trippers. As I read through the descriptions I realized I have worked with all of these types throughout my career. As a leader I can’t even comprehend how many nights I’ve stayed awake wondering how to help them change. Zetlin lamented, “Running a business would be easy if only you didn’t have to manage people.” But, in fact, you do. And thankfully there are approaches that actually do work well towards enabling positive change.

I…


As the pace of change increases, the ability of leaders to make high-quality decisions quickly and accurately is a critical leadership capability. One might think with the influx of information available to us today that good decisions would be easy to make. In many ways, a tyranny of choice occurs when leaders have access to so much information and so many potential choices: decisions become more difficult to make. Bad decisions can put organizations in jeopardy for obvious reasons, but delayed decisions can also hurt by losing competitive advantage. Organizations need leaders who can quickly look at the facts, discuss…


Some personal preferences have a significant impact on the way we work and how we relate to others. They also impact how others relate to us. Understanding a strong preference can help people to navigate the world and influence others better. Awareness is the beginning of acceptance and change. For every preference, there are always positive and negative impacts. Albert Einstein was credited with saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Having a strong preference leads most people to act in a similar way over and over again. Often, people don’t like…


Donald Miller is an avid student of stories who carefully analyzed countless movies and books to learn the common factors these stories held. Miller determined that a key element of great stories is the hero: Luke Skywalker, Batman, James Bond, Harry Potter — the list goes on and on. However, these stories also contained guides, without whom our heroes would have struggled and possibly failed: Yoda, Alfred, Ian Fleming’s M, and Dumbledore.

Heroes are always smarter, stronger, quicker, and better-looking than the average person. Miller explains that rather than making themselves the hero, companies should be the guide, who in…


You may know a leader who has a habit of taking credit for others’ accomplishments. Their motive typically is to make themselves look more effective, hardworking, or intelligent than others. The reality is that in most situations at work it’s difficult to accurately assign who deserves credit. Even in situations where a leader does all the work on a new initiative, often their direct reports had to take care of many other assignments to allow the leader the time to produce the new work.

But does taking credit for the work of others, as a strategy to get ahead, help…


As the pace of change increases, the ability of leaders to make high-quality decisions quickly and accurately is a critical leadership capability. One might think with the influx of information available to us today that good decisions would be easy to make. In many ways, a tyranny of choice occurs when leaders have access to so much information and so many potential choices: decisions become more difficult to make. Bad decisions can put organizations in jeopardy for obvious reasons, but delayed decisions can also hurt by losing competitive advantage. Organizations need leaders who can quickly look at the facts, discuss…


Is being bold always a good thing? Recently, Zenger Folkman did some research on the impact of bold leadership. Bold leaders speak up in difficult conversations, take risks, volunteer for assignments and often think in unconventional ways. However, there are some negative consequences of boldness as well.

I created a bold leadership index with seven items from Zenger Folkman’s Extraordinary leader 360-assessment survey. I looked at data from more than 76,000 leaders who receive evaluations on average from 13 others (manager, peers, direct reports). …

Joseph Folkman

Joe Folkman is the president and co-founder of Zenger Folkman. He is a respected authority on assessment and change, best-selling author, and speaker.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store