adam millinger

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Team Chemistry Is the New Holy Grail of Performance Analytics

A talented videogame-designing friend had a ready quip whenever start-up executives asked him if he was a “team player.” “Yes,” he always responded, “team captain.” He usually got hired.<p>“Makes teams better” is fast-becoming both an essential ingredient to getting hired and a mission-critical …

Can You See the Opportunity Right in Front of You?

Do you find your household thermostat to be endlessly fascinating? How about that smoke alarm installed in your basement — spend much time gazing at it with wonder? Tony Fadell did. The founder of Nest has had a lifelong penchant for looking at mundane everyday household devices and wondering <i>Why</i> …

Why Good Managers Are So Rare

Gallup has found that one of the most important decisions companies make is simply whom they name manager. Yet our analysis suggests that they usually get it wrong. In fact, Gallup finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time.<p>Bad managers cost …

The Art of Crafting a 15-Word Strategy Statement

In the January issue of HBR, Roger Martin sets out some rules for avoiding common mistakes in strategy making. As he writes in “The Big Lie of Strategic Planning“, the first rule is “keep the strategy statement simple.” Rather than a long, often vague document, the company’s strategy should …

Eight Essential Questions for Every Corporate Innovator

One of the first, and most lasting, pieces of career advice I received came from Linda Bush, my first project manager when I was a wee pup working at McKinsey & Company. “Ask a lot of questions,” Linda advised me. “You might think you are being annoying, but it’s the only way you learn. And trust …

The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement

How did you feel about coming to work this morning?<p>I’m sure many factors influenced whether you felt like digging right in, but one of the most significant was almost surely your boss.<p>It seems obvious: Direct supervisors who set their teams up for success, observe them in action, ask for feedback, …

If You’re Not Helping People Develop, You’re Not Management Material

Skilled managers have never been more critical to the success of firms than they are today. Not because employees can’t function without direction, but because managers play a vital role in talent management. Gone are the comprehensive career management systems and expectations of long-term …

America’s Economy Is Officially Inside-Out

This is the first generation of Americans in modern history expected to enjoy lower living standards than their forebears. It is the first generation in modern history whose life expectancy is dwindling. It is the first generation of modern Americans whose educational attainment is declining. It is …

Learn How to Spot Portable Talent

My wife, children and I have a farm in beautiful and peaceful Patagonia, where we fatten cattle. Each fall we buy a few hundred calves, recently separated from their mothers, and then keep them for 11 months, letting them feed on our natural grass. Once they’ve gained enough weight, we sell them …

Stop Worrying About Making the Right Decision

Much of my work as a coach involves helping people wrestle with an important decision. Some of these decisions feel particularly big because they involve selecting one option to the exclusion of all others when the cost of being “wrong” can be substantial: <i>If I’m at a crossroads in my career, which</i> …

Tip: Build Your Emotional Agility

<b>Susan David</b>, coauthor of "Emotional Agility," explains how effective leaders manage their negative thoughts and feelings.

To Diversify Your Network, Follow the 2+1 Rule

Aimee, a senior executive at a global financial services firm, had carefully cultivated her network of sponsors and supporters over 15 years, but recently, she watched helplessly as waves of market dislocation, structural reorganizations, and headcount reductions battered the industry and shredded …

The Dangers of Denial

Great leaders tell it like it is. In other words, they focus on reality, no matter how painful or unpleasant it might be, and then figure out what to do about it. In contrast, less effective leaders sometimes avoid hard truths, argue with the data, and delay tough decisions.<p>While it’s easy to be …

Today, Just Be Average

Do you ever “back door brag” about being a perfectionist?<p>Unlike other obsessions and addictions, perfectionism is something a lot of people celebrate, believing it’s an asset. But true perfectionism can actually get in the way of productivity and happiness.<p>I recently interviewed David Burns, author …

Be a Minimally Invasive Manager

<i>So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work. —Peter Drucker</i><p>One of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to learn is that most of the time, the best thing they can do is get out of the way of the people actually doing the work. That’s the core tenant of what …

Dismantling the Sales Machine

Sales leaders have long fixated on process discipline. They have created opportunity scorecards, qualification criteria, and activity metrics—all part of a formal sales process designed to help their team members replicate the approaches of star performers. This is the world of the sales machine, …

Can You Invent Something New If Your Words Are Old?

Is “Orange Is the New Black” or “House of Cards” a TV show? We can watch them on our smartphone, tablet, computer or TV. And, unlike traditional TV shows, which are released an episode per week, we can watch the whole season at once, totally disrupting the sense of time the television channels have …

Nice Managers Embrace Conflict, Too

Most people want to be liked: It’s one of the fundamental tenets of human behavior. Because of that motivation, many of us have an unconscious desire to avoid conflict. We prefer to “get along,” “not make waves,” and “act as a team player.” We all want to be known as a great person to work with.<p>The …

Get the Right People to Notice Your Ideas

The email arrived the day after a speech I’d given in London. “You’ve definitely given me some food for thought about my career trajectory, and how to use branding to my advantage,” an executive at a management consulting firm wrote. In my talk, I’d emphasized the importance of content creation — …

How to Listen When Your Communication Styles Don’t Match

Why do people who consider themselves good communicators often fail to actually hear each other? Often it’s due to a mismatch of styles: To someone who prefers to vent, someone who prefers to explain seems patronizing; explainers experience venters as volatile.<p>This is why so many of us see our …

Economies of Unscale: Why Business Has Never Been Easier for the Little Guy

The American worker just can’t seem to get a break. Automation is wiping out whole job categories, from cashiers to machine-builders, while pressures from globalization, trade, and new Internet-driven business models have disrupted industries and displaced hundreds of thousands of workers. And the …

You Can Win Without Differentiation

For decades, strategy gurus have been telling firms to differentiate. From Michael Porter to Costas Markides and through the Blue Oceans of Kim and Mauborgne, strategy scholars have been urging executives to distinguish their firm’s offerings and carve out a unique market position. Because if you …

Just Make a Decision Already

Strategic decisiveness is one of the most vital success attributes for leaders in every position and every industry, but few leaders understand where it comes from or how to find more of it. It is not surprising that picking one strategic direction and then decisively pursuing that direction are …

Value-Based Health Care Is Inevitable and That’s Good

Vaccines. Anesthesia. Penicillin. Bypass surgery. Decoding the human genome. Unquestionably, all are life-saving medical breakthroughs. But one breakthrough that will change the face of medicine is being slowed by criticism, misunderstanding, and a reluctance to do things differently.<p>That …

Six Ways to Grow Your Job

In today’s resource-constrained environment, many of us are delivering 120% on the current demands of our job—but devoting little time to developing ourselves further or positioning ourselves for a future move. As one of my executive MBA students recently told me, “I know that I have to carve out …