Culture is wind in your organization’s sails

Every organization has a culture. It is not always documented or even discussed, but it’s there, and it affects outcomes. Leaders can supercharge performance when they align it with strategic goals and resources like technology and people, but culture can also sabotage new initiatives that conflict with tightly held organizational norms and beliefs. For Stuart […]

Solving problems through people

Managers are problem solvers. The best problem solvers rise through the ranks and become organizational leaders. As they rise, the problems become larger until, one day, a career-defining problem outstrips their capabilities. Facing a problem that you can’t solve might be one of the most important career tests. Like failure or significant loss, it teaches […]

Mastering Cultural Agility

Culture is an often-unseen element of an organization, one that influences how people interact and accomplish, while reflecting true values and unwritten rules of success. Employees who align with the culture find support and belonging that leads to quick success. Those who don’t understand the culture or feel included can become isolated and ineffective. Culture […]

The fantasy of a self-made career

No one wants the “needy” label. We all love self-made heroes—the great American success stories where individuals overcome adversity and succeed alone. Business is no different. We celebrate the trailblazing executives who seemingly succeed without any help. But believing that myth could ruin your career. To those who think they can do it alone, Larry […]

The fallacy of perfectionism

The quest for perfection has undermined many a career. Endless analysis and second guessing paralyze decision making and leads to failure. Brent Turner, CEO Summit Behavioral Healthcare, relays timeless advice to the people joining his team: “don’t be worried about making a mistake.” He notes that he didn’t make perfect scores in his MBA program […]

Stop planting the seeds of failure

The airplane crashes; the hospital bursts into flames; the business collapses. All these tragedies share something in common—a spectacular failure that demands action. Crisis managers and pundits are quick to look for answers and access blame. The pilot froze; the mapping software crashed; the trader was desperate. General William Hickman (MG-R US Army) points to […]

Discovering Empathy in Courageous Conversations

In times of shared distress, empathy is sorely needed yet sometimes feels lacking. With the social isolation of the past 6 months, it is easy for leaders to become disconnected with the needs of customers, partners, and those working on the frontlines of the organization. Now more than ever, leaders need to be having conversations […]

Leaders must own the past and push for the future

Many can lead when times are good. The challenges of the past year separate leaders and managers. In a recent interview at Vanderbilt, Steven Reed (MBA’04), the Mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, argued that managers can keep the status quo, but leaders are needed to drive change – a necessity when times are tough. As Montgomery’s first […]

Overcoming business startup blues? Ask – what would Disney do?

A question facing every organization returning to business is how do you make both customers and employees safe and comfortable? Masks, warning signs, and social distancing feel inconvenient to everyone and downright scary to some. At Vanderbilt, we are working through many of the same issues as we prepare to bring students back to campus. […]

Perspective is the first step to solving any business problem

Business problems can sap days’ worth of energy and result in more than a few sleepless nights. But Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association, notes that it doesn’t have to be that way. In a recent interview at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, Sarah listed four steps to consider in problem solving: […]