Companies routinely spend millions of dollars on complex initiatives to improve leadership and increase teamwork. Leadership consultant and expert Peter Bregman demonstrates that there are more efficient, simpler ways to get there by offering innovative strategies, ideas and tools that empower everyone to contribute their maximum potential.
As an advisor to CEOs and their leadership teams and author of Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want, a New York Post top pick for your career in 2015, Wall Street Journal bestseller 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, Peter Bregman connects with audiences through everyday stories that are refreshingly honest and offers lessons that are clear, actionable and memorable.
People who hear Peter speak often make simple changes that have an immediate and enormous impact on themselves personally and on their organizations. Organizational problems are often a series of personal problems and bad habits intersecting with each other. Peter helps organizations by helping individuals in very personal, constructive ways. From showing people a new, innovative path to productivity in 18 minutes a day, to helping people get out of their own—and other people’s—way in four seconds, to teaching people strategies for leading change without resistance, Bregman doesn’t just tell people how to improve teamwork, communication and productivity, he shows them how to do it.
Consistently the most-read blogger at Harvard Business Review, Peter is also the author of Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change and a contributor to five other books. His articles and commentary appear frequently in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Psychology Today, Forbes, CNN, NPR, FOX Business News, The Financial Times and PBS.
To book leadership speaker and consultant Peter Bregman call Executive Speakers Bureau at 800-754-9404.
18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done
We squander a tremendous amount of our potential – and organizations waste a tremendous amount of their people’s potential – by focusing on the wrong things or not following through on real priorities. It’s not that people don’t try hard enough, it’s that their efforts don’t reap the benefits they could.
Drawing from his book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, Peter sets out the new, simple rules for leading in a way that brings focus to an organization and makes the best use of everyone’s talents.
Organizations succeed when people use every part of who they are to take care of their top priorities in the most efficient way possible. In this counter-intuitive speech, Peter shows us how getting people to fit in or fix their weaknesses works against us. Instead, he tells leaders to help people embrace their weaknesses, assert their differences, leverage their strengths, and pursue their passions.
And then focus those talents – hour by hour – on the right things, avoiding the inevitable distractions that otherwise subvert our efforts. Because how people spend their time is the key strategic decision they make. Follow-through always appears easy but it never is. When people call, emails arrive, and meetings get scheduled – sometimes without us even knowing – we get distracted.
In this engaging, story-based, and very practical talk, Peter offers ideas, practices, tips, mind hacks, and gentle nudges to help leaders bring focus to their people and their organization. Peter will show audiences:
- How to build a plan that places people at the intersection of their strengths, weaknesses, difference, and passions, maximizing their success and impact on the organization.
- An 18-minute plan for managing their day and how it will enable them to get all the right things done.
- How to get traction, stick to their focus, ignore non-priorities, avoid the allure of unproductive busyness and master their boundaries so they can resist distractions.
Point B: Change Without Resistance
Seventy percent of all major change efforts fail, mostly because of rampant fear, anxiety and resistance. Do you think of resistance as an inevitable byproduct of change? Peter Bregman, author of Point B: A Short Guide To Leading A Big Change, argues that resistance is optional, an unintended consequence of the way most leaders try to execute change.
Peter’s key insight: “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Peter shows us how and why most change is executed poorly and most change management is counter-productive – creating stress in the leaders and resistance in everyone else. Done well, change isn’t something to suffer through on the way to something better (or maybe just different). Change is really an opportunity to deepen engagement and ownership. To create a workplace where everyone feels responsible for the success of the entire organization.
In this lively talk, Peter begins with the obvious fact that people don’t resist their own ideas. So to make a change happen, the wider workforce needs to have some control. The question for leaders is, how to share control without losing control?
Illustrating his talk with a case study of a successful change involving 2000 people globally in a large financial services firm, Peter shares:
- Three Change Rules that must underlie any organization change effort
- How to use the “Engagement Continuum” to diagnose and describe their own change initiatives
- Seven strategies for engaging the workforce during a time of change that shift the responsibility of change from leaders to the people who must take the daily actions to make the change successful.
Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want
The basic things we all want - to do good work, be successful, get along with others, produce value as part of a team—are surprisingly straightforward to achieve. But, more often than not, our knee-jerk reactions to the people and situations we face result in the exact opposite. We’re fighting against ourselves in a clumsy disconnect between intention and impact, wasting valuable time and energy and straining our relationships in the process.
Drawing from his most recent book, Peter points out the often funny places where our intuitive but counterproductive knee-jerk reactions get us in trouble, and he shows us how we can replace them with counterintuitive but productive ones.
Peter shows how a few small, individual changes can transform an entire organization—moving it from a silo mentality to collective leadership, and he offers practical ideas, tools and tips to help people work together in a way that they, and their entire organization, profits. Peter will show audiences:
- How to build a foundation of strength and inoculate themselves so they don’t get triggered by the things that other people do and say
- How and why we often they say the wrong things, and what to do and say instead to build relationships and get the most important things done together
- A three-step process for transforming poor habits into productive ones
Leading with Emotional Courage
Everyone in an organization–no matter their level—has the opportunity to lead. Unfortunately, most don’t. There is a massive difference between what we know about leadership and what we do as leaders. What makes leadership hard isn’t theoretical, it’s practical. It’s not about knowing what to say or do. It’s about whether you’re willing to experience the discomfort, risk and uncertainty of saying or doing it.
In other words, the critical challenge of leadership is, mostly, the challenge of emotional courage.
Emotional courage distinguishes powerful leaders from weak ones. It means standing apart from others without separating yourself from them. It means speaking up when others are silent and remaining steadfast, grounded and measured in the face of uncertainty. It means responding productively to political opposition—maybe even bad-faith backstabbing—without getting sidetracked, distracted or losing your focus.
In this engaging and interactive talk, Peter not only shares real-life stories of emotional courage in action, he gives audiences a taste of it. Peter shows audiences:
- Why emotional courage is so important, and examples of its power
- What it feels like—experientially—to have emotional courage through fun and effective exercises
- How to grow emotional courage to take bolder moves in their work, their lives and the world
CEO of Software Company Purchased by Oracle
For me as CEO, Peter’s greatest impact came in conversations that I just couldn’t have with individual team leaders. He helped me take honest stock of circumstances, and guided me to make good decisions through his insights and depth of experience.
CEO of a fast-growing start-up with inexperienced management
With Peter’s help, we improved how we hired and retained employees. We implemented efficient customer service processes so we were able to address new and complex customer problems effectively. We dealt with the escalating expectations of our customers, and lowered our risks and increased our capability for rapid and high quality execution. The ROI has been substantial.
CEO of a Hedge Fund
What I value most about Peter is the fact that he never talks from a purely theoretical level, unlike lots of other consultants. He brings his vast experience to the current situation, and helps me see options through specific examples of what has and hasn’t worked for others in the past.
CEO, Hedge Fund
Peter helped me implement 360 degree reviews that actually worked in the real world, for our firm, in our unique circumstances. He also supported me to develop a bold strategy about where to take the business.
You Need to Practice Being Your Future Self
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
I was coaching Sanjay,* a leader in a technology firm who felt stuck and frustrated. He wasn’t where he wanted to be at this point in his career.
He had come to our coaching session, as usual, prepared to discuss the challenges he was currently facing. This time, it was his plan for conducting compensation conversations with each of his employees. After a few minutes of listening to him talk through his plans, I interrupted him.
“Sanjay, you’ve had these kinds of conversations before, right?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“And, for the most part, you know how to do them, right?”
“Yes,” he said again.
“Great. Let’s talk about something else.”
“But this is what’s on my mind right now,” he protested. “It’s helpful to think it through with you.”
Read More »
A Simple Formula for Changing Our Behavior
Friday, October 16, 2015
“Whoa! What are you doing?” I asked aghast.
I had just walked into my daughter’s room as she was working on a science project. Normally, I would have been pleased at such a sight. But this time, her project involved sand. A lot of it. And, while she had put some plastic underneath her work area, it wasn’t nearly enough. The sand was spreading all over our newly renovated floors.
Read More »
How to Have Friends at Work When You’re the Boss
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Girish* is a client of mine who runs a 500-million-dollar business. He gets stellar reviews and is seen as a high potential successor to the CEO.
But he has a friend problem.
Several of his direct reports are close friends and he doesn’t hold them accountable in the same way he does his other direct reports. Often, they don’t do what he asks. And they aren’t delivering the results he expects. It’s hurting his business and his reputation.
When I speak with others on his team about the situation, they see it clearly and resent Girish’s friends. They don’t understand why Girish allows his friends to take advantage of him. And they feel demotivated and disengaged by Girish’s apparent unfairness.
But when I speak with Girish about it, he doesn’t see it at all. He’s filled with empathy for his friends’ struggles, which makes perfect sense since he cares deeply about them. But he’s blind to the damage they’re doing to him and the company.
There’s plenty of research supporting the idea that having friends at work makes you happier and more engaged. But here’s what the research doesn’t address: friendships at work are tricky, especially when you’re the boss.
So tricky, in fact, that many senior leaders avoid them.
Take Bill, who is also a client and the CEO of a highly successful, fast growing billion-dollar company. Like Girish, he gets stellar reviews from the board and his direct reports. But when people offer criticism, a single element comes up consistently; “I’d like to be closer to him.”
His response? “I’m not interested in having friends at work.”
It’s not that Bill is anti-social. He’s actually warm, gregarious, and authentic. It’s just that he’s learned, the hard way, that
“I used to have close friends at work,” he told me, “people who would come to my house for dinner with my family. But then I had to make hard calls for the good of the business, including firing one of them, and it became too painful – for me, for my family. And I became hesitant to make decisions because of it. So no, I’m not looking for friends at work.”
In other words, Bill doesn’t avoid friendships at work because he’s a bad guy. He avoids friendships at work because he’s a good guy. Which makes avoiding friends all the more painful and difficult for him.
Girish has friends who hurt his leadership and Bill chooses not to have friends to protect his leadership. Is there a good way to pursue friendships at the top?
1. Have a clear and super-strong commitment to your business objectives. You have to care enough about what you want to achieve that you are willing to make hard decisions in alignment with your purpose. You need to be open, transparent, upfront, and passionate about that commitment, while knowing that some people, probably friends, will disagree with you.
2. Be comfortable with strong emotions. This includes your own emotions and those of others. If you act on your commitment to the business with integrity, you will make people around you angry at times. They might resent you, withdraw, or get passive-aggressive. However callous this sounds, that’s not your problem to fix. You should be compassionate – you can listen, empathize, and support them – but you can’t be so dependent on the way they feel that you don’t lead your organization the way you need to.
3. Develop your friendship skills. If you’re going to drive your business with passion while experiencing a swirl of emotions, you need to master the skills that will enable you to maintain friendships in the face of disagreement and manage your dual roles of friend and business leader. These skills include unwavering integrity, empathic listening, clear speaking, and strong boundaries.
4. Be prepared to lose the friendship. Recognizing that you can’t ultimately control what happens to the friendship is critical to maintaining it. Even if you have clarity about your role as a leader, emotional mastery, and friendship skills, the other person may not be able to live with your decisions. If that’s the case, you need to be able to feel the sadness and move on. One thing that can help is to have a lot of friends. It’s not that friends are replaceable, but having enough friends will help you absorb the shock of losing one who can’t handle your decisions.
These rules are hard to follow. The critical skill underlying all of them is emotional courage – the willingness to act powerfully in the face of deep emotion. It’s what I believe is the secret ingredient to all great leadership. And it takes real practice.
But it’s worth the work.
Following these rules won’t just help you navigate the complexity of friendships at work. It will help you become a more capable leader overall.
Girish’s “aha” moment started with Rule #1, when he wholly committed to his business results. We evaluated the shortfall and he was able to see that his friends were more focused on themselves than the business and they weren’t doing the job he had been asking them to do. He knew they were capable, but realized they were being resistant.
Rule # 2 brought emotional challenges, as he initiated hard conversations with his friends. He told them he felt taken advantage of and clearly articulated his expectations of them. Throughout the process, he and I worked on Rule #3, developing his friendship skills, and he did a good job being present but firm in all his conversations.
The real test came with Rule #4: Ultimately he had to fire one leader. But the friendship – at least so far – seems intact and his other friends seem to be stepping up. The improved morale of the larger team is palpable.
And Bill? His challenge is different. He never had issues with Rule #1. His stumbling block was Rule # 2 — he was avoiding the hard emotions by not having friends at all. But now he’s taking more risks, getting more personal, and enjoying his colleagues more fully. He already has strong friendship skills, Rule #3, though now he’s exercising them more and getting even better at them.
Rule #4 is the scary part for him. He doesn’t like the idea of losing friends and he’s unwilling to weaken his leadership to keep them. But, recently, after a nice dinner with one of his direct reports, he came to me with the following insight:
Read More »