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: […]

Resolve to stop confusing activity with progress

The holidays are a great time to reflect on your calendar. If you are like me, your calendar is packed with activity. I like being busy, and much of my action reflects a drive toward important goals. Cindy Kent, Executive Vice President & President of Brookdale Senior Living, cautions us to look closely at how […]

Four tips for successful change management

The only thing that is constant… is change. That pithy line rings true for nearly every seasoned leader I have encountered. Sometimes change is forced on us. Other times, it is chosen. Regardless, few leaders find it easy to navigate. Studies of major corporate transformations show miserable success rates. Even the simplest changes can undo teams […]

Mentors are useful. Sponsors and champions can do more for your career

I regularly hear from young professionals searching for mentors. They typically view that person as a wise leader with a big network who can help them transition into a new role or company. My advice is to look for more. Mentors are great and play an important role in any career. Everyone should have several […]

How do you recover from major setbacks?

Everyone faces rough patches in life. For Lynn Good, 2002 was a career-defining year. As a partner of the 89-year-old accounting giant Author Anderson LLP, her career couldn’t have been better. All of that changed on March 14, when the U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment of a single count of obstruction of justice related to […]