The Leading Smart podcast is the show about Managing in the Brainpower Age. It’s a field guide to joys and challenges of leading and working in the modern workplace.
Stories, Ideas, & Insight
I’m your guide to the stories and ideas that I hope will inspire you to be a better leader in the world of knowledge work. I’ll be drawing from my own experience as a 40-year veteran of the corporate world, and also having been in the top HR job near the top of the Fortune 500. I’ve not only been a lifelong student of organizational dynamics, but also leader of some very large and successful teams. I’ll relate some of the lessons I’ve learned through the years, and provide insight on how to manage in the Brainpower Age.
In each episode, we’ll explore everyday problems and provide practical tools you can use to be a better and smarter leader. The episodes are bite-sized, targeted to be about 20 minutes, just long enough to provide great value for your precious time. Each episode page also has room for your comments and feedback, or you can send your feedback to email@example.com. Let me know what you think.
New episodes of the podcast are released semi-monthly, on the fifteenth and the last day. A bit like your paycheck. I hope you find it almost as useful.
The challenges of leading in the Brainpower age exist across a broad range of disciplines and industries. Whether it’s in the corner office, the classroom, the laboratory, the courtroom, or the studio, smart people can be difficult to hire, motivate, review, reward, or fire. Sometimes coping with these issues requires skills and techniques that aren’t obvious. Subscribe to the Leading Smart podcast and we’ll explore them together.
Use these direct links to the show in your favorite app:
The Hit Man
Introducing the Leading Smart podcast — How a job in the car stereo business ended up being mostly about firing people. And how that lead to a lifelong fascination with management, organizations, and team building.
The Brainpower Age
How a simple question about failure of a single project lead to the most important research project of my life. And how that lead to the realization that everything about work has changed in the last few generations. We’ve entered the Brainpower Age.
Duck and Cover
How a brutal performance review meeting ended with me getting a stapler hurled at my head. And how that lead to one of my most steadfast rules: in the workplace, no surprises.
First episode of two looking into the annual ritual of performance reviews. This episode focuses on the process, and why it doesn’t have to be painful. If you’re willing to do it all the time.
Accentuate the Positive
A song from 1944 sets the tone for good employee feedback. This episode features an upbeat cover from 1972, and far too many sandwich metaphors, yet still offers hope for great performance reviews.
Hiring senior level brainpower workers is much more than posting the job and sifting through the resumes. It’s beyond hiring, even beyond recruiting. It’s hunting. In this episode we look at two examples and see how to develop hunting skills.
Hiring junior level brainpower workers can be overwhelming. There are simultaneously too many candidates and not enough good ones. Many organizations result to testing and other filters to cope. But this just makes the problem worse. In this episode we look into the limits of testing, and how to source great junior level talent.
Interviewing brainpower workers is the search for intelligence, passion, communication skills, and a thirst for learning. There are lots of ways to do these interviews, but a softer touch is usually the key. In this episode we explore how to get the most from a brainpower interview.
Fits and Starts
One of the challenges of hiring brainpower workers is finding that “perfect fit”. But often when you do, that’s when you should start to worry. In this episode we explore why the perfect fit often isn’t and explore how to insure a great brainpower hire.
Once you’ve decided on that great candidate, the next challenge is convincing them to take the job. Brainpower workers want more than just a paycheck and that makes this much more difficult. In this episode we explore how to land that great brainpower hire.
A clear, crisp vision is the foundation for a successful project, especially one that involves brainpower workers. And a project with a poor, or no, vision is almost guaranteed to flounder. This episode begins a series on the importance, development, and communication of visions.
How the greatest business failure of the 20th Century was largely caused by the lack of a good vision. And how success lies in the framework of Mission, Vision, Strategy, and Tactics. This second episode on vision explores how what you say impacts what you do.
Mark My Words
Why words matter, especially words you use for your mission and vision. We also explore how wasting words is an easy trap to fall into. In this third episode in the series on vision, we show how to craft a clear, crisp vision for your project.
In the final episode on visions, we take a look at how to use your well-crafted vision. And explore how overheard conversations provide a window into the impact a great vision can have on team effectiveness.
This is a special episode prompted by the Stay at Home orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this episode we explore the movement from centralized headquarters to remote work. And offer several tips and best practices for managing teams at a distance.
This episode begins a multipart series on firing, on when and how to let go. The exploration starts with that special person, the amazing performer who appears to be the cornerstone of your project. The Superstar. What’s behind the magic?
The exploration into firing continues with a look at the low end. What is magical about the bottom ten percent? How does stack ranking cheat some people out of a good performance review? What exactly is poor performance? This is Bottom Feeder.
In this third episode on firing, we ask a lot of questions. When is performance bad enough to cut your losses? When is a superstar worth having around? What is it about attitude that answers the question? Time to explore Trading Places.
Pulling the Plug
The fourth episode on firing, this time for the hard part: actually firing someone. We explore the do’s and don’ts of firing an individual. How it’s so easy to do it badly, and what it takes to do it right. This time, we’re Pulling the Plug.
A short announcement about the exciting changes and additional voices coming to Leading Smart with Season Two. It starts in just a couple of weeks, with a new look, new music, and lots of great conversations with smart leaders.
Conversation with Matt Horvat
Leading Smart Season 2 begins with the first of my conversations with leaders. This inaugural is on leadership in education. All about managing and leading teachers as they work to improve in their craft. This is a conversation with Matt Horvat.
In the fifth and final episode on firing we look at how to do a layoff. The pandemic has given us a number of great examples of how NOT to do it. We explore the right way to lay people off, prepare for a fresh start and avoid a mass exit.
Conversation with Brad Silverberg – Part I
Brad Silverberg’s fascinating life in the tech world included leading the creation of Windows 95. In this first of three episodes, he shares the serendipity and persistent vision that built his amazing career. This part one of my conversation with Brad Silverberg.