Posts for Tag: Corner Office


One lesson I learned is from a phrase I picked up called M.R.I. It means the “most respectful interpretation” of what someone’s saying to you. I don’t need everyone to be best friends, but I need to have a team with M.R.I.

Q. Can you elaborate?

A. You can say anything to anyone, as long as you say it the right way.

Maybe you need to preface it with: “I’m just curious, and I want to understand what you’re saying better. Right now, my point of view is quite different. So can you help me understand why you don’t want to do this, or why you wanted to do this?”

If you get people talking and challenging each other, you’re going to have the ability to arrive at the right decision so much quicker and so much easier. I just make it so it’s a human environment. I’m not going to motivate by fear, but I’m going to motivate by saying: “Let’s win. This is going to be so much fun to figure out. Let’s figure it out together.” I guess my management style is very much about like imagining we’re all children and really vulnerable. Because we are.

Here's a powerful concept for communication introduced by Robin Domeniconi at the New York Times, Most Respectful Interpretation. Maybe the name is what captures my attention because I've been through more MRIs than I care to admit; more likely it's because you can see in it such a refreshing perspective on the current discussion of civility in polltics.

Journaling as an Essential Leadership Discipline

At today's New York Times, Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and chief executive of, reflects on a lesson she learned from an executive coach after she became a vice president at a firm.

Q. So what did you learn from the executive coach?

A. The first thing she gave me advice on, and I give it to everybody, is to journal. Write things down. When you come out of a meeting, or you come out of an interview, or you just finished running a session, what’s on your mind? How did it make you feel? How did you make people feel? What’s going on? Again, it was raising my self-awareness around my management style. I think that was critical.

I haven't often seen the need for self-knowledge and reflection in leaders acknowledged so directly.

Building Credibility

Q. What was the lesson for you?

A. Every time you take on a new role, building credibility is incredibly important. I don’t think you do it by being smarter than everybody else or knowing more necessarily than everybody else. I think you do it by rolling up your sleeves, by showing commitment, by proving that you’re willing to learn, by asking for help.

All those things earn you credibility, especially if the people who work for you feel like you’re not going to sit back and take credit for what they do, and if they get a sense that you’re going to support them, help them grow.

Dawn Lepore's interview in today's New York Times contains this gem. I wish I worked for more people who believe this; I hope I show commitment to the people I work with.

A Speaker's Responsibility

I can remember when I moved to Brazil and I had spent two years learning Spanish. I was out visiting branches. I was working for Citibank at the time and had responsibility for consumer businesses there.

Brazil is a big country. I was living in Rio and it’s like living in Miami. I was out visiting a branch in the equivalent of Denver. Not everybody spoke great English and I hadn’t gotten very far in Portuguese. As I was sitting there trying to discern and understand what this branch manager was saying to me, and he was struggling with his English, the coin sort of dropped that this guy really knows what he’s talking about. He’s having a hard time getting it out.

As I thought about the places I’d been on that trip, I realized this was probably the best branch manager I’d seen, but it would have been very easy for me to think he wasn’t, because he couldn’t communicate as well as some of the others who were fluent in English.

I think that was an important lesson. It is too easy to let the person with great presentation or language skills buffalo you into thinking that they are better or more knowledgeable than someone else who might not necessarily have that particular set of skills.

From an interview with Robert Selander in today's New York Times. This is a vivid reminder of a speaker's need to rest a polished style on a foundation of knowledge and integrity. Later in the interview, Selander talks about presence and offers the opinion "Presence is knowing what to communicate, and how."

What bunker mentality and management can do to an organization.

Q. So what did you learn about large corporations?

A. Two really key things. One was that insecurity is incredibly damaging in a corporate environment. You end up making really poor decisions, a lot of things you do are based on fear, and eventually it will fail. When people are playing defense and they’re primarily focused on their own jobs, it ultimately ends up being a sort of losing strategy.

The second thing is that there’s a lot of time wasted in conversations that don’t happen face-to-face. When there are backroom conversations and dealings — as opposed to direct conversations — it’s less efficient and you get poorer outcomes. People could spend weeks building these political coalitions rather than just having a direct conversation.

The observation about back-room dealing rang true in my working life and still rings true for me today. I'd like to know whether the formal leaders of District 27 Toastmasters are aware of their members' needs and if they even care about them.