Linda's Blog

Quit Pretending All is OK… And Communicate with Your People

I read recently about a restaurant owner who tried to deal with his difficult situation by pretending everything is OK… …when it definitely was not OK. Prior to reopening his dining room, he chose not to get rid of tables and create space between them. Instead, he kept all his tables and filled several of…

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Now is the Time to Conduct Strategic Planning

Now is the Time to Reimagine and Reinvent Your Organization

I recently asked a business owner what her highest priority will be when her office reopens.   With no hesitation, she said, “Revise our strategic plan.”  I’ve heard other business leaders say they can’t plan now. There’s too much uncertainty. Their plan: Go into survival mode, cut costs, and tread water until they can return to…

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Staying Grounded During a Global Pandemic

I have a colleague who’s on edge. The pandemic sparked it. He and I discussed how he can deal productively with it. He’s generally an even-keeled kind of guy. But he told me how stressed out he was when a potential client didn’t return his emails. “I went through this whole range of emotions from…

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Reflect on Failure to Achieve Success

Last month, I shared the story of how “groupthink” in President John F. Kennedy’s administration led to the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion.

Here’s the next chapter of that story: How JFK applied lessons learned from that setback to achieve his greatest foreign policy success.

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How Groupthink Undermines Foreign Policy… and Your Business

President John F. Kennedy presided over one of the greatest foreign policy blunders of the 20th Century — the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. The failure could have been avoided if Kennedy and his advisors had not been suffering from “groupthink.” It happens in the White House “Situation Room,” and groupthink probably happens in your meeting room. Here’s how to avoid it…

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The Swing Vote

We all make a variety of decisions every day. Some are so routine that we make them without giving them much thought. But difficult or challenging decisions demand more consideration. Here are a few tips to help you make better decisions:

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Prioritize Prioritizing

Whether you lead an organization, community, or board, nothing significant gets done if you don’t prioritize. Without priorities, goals and initiatives trigger chaos, not progress. How do you prioritize when everything seems like a priority?

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What NIMBYs Can Teach Us

When I was Mayor of Clayton, MO, we sometimes locked horns with residents when we proposed development projects in their neighborhood. These were the residents who wanted no change at all… EVER… …The residents were referred to as NIMBYs (Not In My BackYard). Sound familiar? Dealing with NIMBYs is a major challenge for government officials.…

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Redefine BHAG to Achieve Big Goals

I once knew a CEO who was fond of BHAGs — big, hairy, audacious goals. He encouraged his employees to think bigger. He prodded them to fill strategic plans with one BHAG after another. Then, he asked me why those plans collected dust. Because, I told him, there’s a difference between “audacious” and “achievable.” Those…

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How to Keep Your Team Focused and Productive in Challenging Times

With the possibility of a recession looming over us, global warming threatening the future of our planet, and mass shootings horrifying us way too often, who isn’t more than just a little distracted these days? Leaders have always had to lead amid some level of uncertainty, but the stakes for today’s issues are higher and…

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Encourage Your Team to Have a “Good Fight”

In a 1995 interview, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was discussing the importance of teamwork and shared the following anecdote to make his point: “When I was a young kid there was a widowed man that lived up the street. He was in his eighties. He was a little scary looking. And I got to know…

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From Campaigning To Governing: Advice For Newly Elected Officials

“It’s easier to run for office than to run the office.” Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill Congratulations, you ran for public office and won! Campaigning and getting elected is a great achievement and you should be proud of your new status.  The people have spoken and they’re confident you are the best person to tackle…

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Lessons from the SNL Writers Room: How to Build an Effective Team

I recently saw a hilarious video clip from the third season of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Producer Lorne Michaels asks the Beatles (all still living at the time) to reunite and perform on the show… …for $3,200, a laughably small sum, even in 1977 dollars. It made me wonder how SNL and Michaels did it.…

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Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Power of Surveys

How Stakeholder Input Can Keep You and Your Team on Track If it hadn’t been for accurate data, I wouldn’t have realized I was barking up the wrong tree. Most people are motivated to run for political office because they want to make a positive difference.  I was no exception.  So when I was approached…

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Overcoming Cultural Conflict

During my years in the commercial flooring business, my company acquired one of our competitors with a very different culture than ours.  My organization was predominately women and we marketed to the architectural and design community; the company we acquired was a typical construction firm…all male.    There was such a huge difference in cultures…

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Team Building is a Process, Not an Event

Recently I was invited to meet with an elected Board because, as one member said, they “needed a little team-building.”

After some preliminary discussions, I arrived at City Hall ready for the first session, which was scheduled for two hours. I expected this would be a multi-session team-building process.

My contact greeted me and said, in an apologetic tone, “We’ve had an emergency and you have 45 minutes.”

That’s how much time the Board had allotted for team-building.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

The session was a flop for several reasons — the same reasons many team-building processes fail.

If you want stronger teams, if you want to disaster-proof your team-building process, here are three principles to embrace:

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How Municipal Government Can Save Money With Energy Benchmarking

Local Governments & Energy Efficiency   How can you save money, invest more resources in your community, fight climate change, and offset rising energy prices? Sounds like a trick question, but it’s not!  Energy efficiency is the answer to achieving all those goals. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, government agencies spend more than…

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2018 Leadership Tips

Five Key Issues That Can Make or Break Your Plans   “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” ~Charles Darwin For those of us in the change management business, 2017 provided us many opportunities and challenges. As we look forward into 2018, here…

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Supercharge Your Team!

Why Your Board, Team, or Business Needs a Vision Statement and Action Plan Nothing is going to be handed to you — you have to make things happen.”                                                      ~Florence…

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Bite-Size Leadership

Inspirational Quotes & Lessons from Legendary Leaders Great leaders never stop growing, and what better way is there to learn than through the insight and advice of others? Here are five of my favorite leadership quotes. These “bite-size nuggets of wisdom” stand on their own merit and don’t need much commentary from me.   LESSON…

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The Best Leadership Books in My Library

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”    ~Harry Truman Staying informed, inspired, and up to date on best practices is essential for effective leadership. There are so many inspirational and educational leadership books out there but, if you’re like me, you have some books that you read over and over again.…

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Leadership Lessons

Five Leadership Lessons from the Intersection of Business & Politics

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. — John Quincy Adams Let me start out by saying that I’m a very big fan of local government. Serving as an alderman and then as my community’s first woman mayor, I came to appreciate how…

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Leading Change and Successful Citizen Engagement

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy Change is inevitable and that’s especially true when it comes to local government. Public policy revisions are necessary for growth, staff members retire or leave for other opportunities, and elected…

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