Posts by Wayne Olson

Plant a Tree to Grow Empowerment and Accountability
I know that look.  Something went Kabloo-ey and I’m going to hear about it. One of my direct report managers is standing in my doorway; I swear I can see smoke coming out of her ears.  She scheduled a 2-hour kick-off meeting – starting in a few hours – for a very important initiative that has executive management visibility.  In order to accommodate everyone’s calendars, she scheduled the meeting over lunch, and quite appropriately, planned to order pizza for the group.  And that’s where the trouble arose.  A couple of months prior, the organization decided expenses had to be trimmed; a directive was issued requiring a Request Form and CFO approval for all non-customer meals.  The form was submitted in advance, but then it sat – untouched and unsigned.  So, no pizza got ordered.  Hence, smoke-emanating-ears.  What should the manager do?  Hunt down the CFO – who was traveling –…
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How to Lead from a Distance
With our lives – business and personal – having been thrown into disarray, setting priorities, and defining what’s truly important all of a sudden has a different feel to it.  Attributes that were rarely considered before – how the health of others impacts me, how my health affects them – are now front and center as we try to keep our companies moving forward.  To make matters worse, for many organizations creating and sustaining priorities has never been an easy exercise; tap-dancing around the pandemic only adds an extra degree of difficulty. Difficulties in Teamwork I’m sure many of you have attended your organization’s annual planning events and come away with your prize: the obligatory 3-inch thick ‘Strategic Plan’.  In the binder are some really nice-looking graphs, SWOT analysis, organizational priorities, the works.  All in all, a very slick production.  And where was that shiny document a week after the…
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How to Lead Through a Crisis

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Leading through a crisis
The First Crash In 2001 I was working in the tech industry during the dot-com crash and subsequent economic recession.  Shortly after the wheels started falling off the US economy, the stock market, and my company’s book-to-bill ratio, I received a promotion to a top leadership position.  This was great for my career, but the promotion came with a caveat:  I needed to start wearing suits to work.  Wait, what? The tech bubble pop was a hard and sudden shock to my company (similar to coronavirus in 2020), and it was obvious to the entire organization that a correction – in the form of layoffs – was coming.  Everyone was nervous and on edge.  What do people do when they’re nervous and on edge?  They look to their leaders for reassurance and guidance.  This was my manager’s explanation for the suits – since everyone will now be watching me all…
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