What an Aircraft Carrier Can Teach Corporate Leaders

What an Aircraft Carrier Can Teach Corporate Leaders

The modern U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is both an engineering marvel and a triumph of human organization. Its 3,000-member crew—plus up to a few thousand more staff personnel and aviators when fully outfitted—run a massive, nuclear-powered machine that simultaneously functions as a busy airport for fighter jets and a floating city. 

It can seem like a maze of passageways and a blur of activity, but

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Train Your Unit as a Team

Train Your Unit as a Team

“Where is your squad member? Why isn’t he here?” 

Probably because he slept in, I thought. He should’ve gotten here on time (i.e., early) like the rest of us. 

In those pre-dawn moments on the dewy grass outside of John Barry Hall on the campus of Villanova University, a lecture was underway. No professors were involved—it was far too early in the morning, and I suspect few of them, had they been awake or aware of what we were doing, took much interest in our initial training as new members of the university’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. 

Rather, this

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Be Vigilant for Your Moment

Be Vigilant for Your Moment

Despite its sometimes harsh weather and a professional football team that continually disappoints its fans, Cleveland, Ohio, is home to one of the world’s best orchestras. 

And that’s not just my amateurish opinion. Gramophone magazine, for example, compiled a list of the 20 best orchestras in the world, based upon ratings from top music critics—whom, I would readily assume, know more about classical music than I. 

The Cleveland Orchestra, on this list, is number seven.  

It’s rated higher than the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and a number of other great orchestras in the United States and around the world. 

So the Cleveland Orchestra is, quite naturally, a point of pride for northeast Ohio. 

And during the holiday season, the Cleveland Orchestra turns its attention to performing a variety of holiday tunes in its annual Christmas Concert series. 

As I have in the past, I found this year’s performance to be splendid. But during the performance, I noticed something that got me thinking. 

It was

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Sometimes, Be Less Predictable

Sometimes, Be Less Predictable

“I’m going to leave the room. When I come back, you will each need to be able to introduce five of your classmates to me.

"You have five minutes, starting now.”

This is frequently how I start a class at its first meeting of the semester. Sometimes, but not always, I stick my head back in the classroom after a minute or so if I don’t hear robust conversation and yell, “Get talking! You have three more minutes!”

The outcome is predictable. It’s a breath of energy and fun that kicks off the semester in a wonderful way. 

But the action itself is certainly not predictable. And that’s part of why it works.

Most of the time, most of us like clarity. We seek predictability in those around us; we engineer predictability into our daily routines. Such tendencies are helpful because they can help us be efficient and save our decision-making brain power for matters that truly need it. 

But being unpredictable has its place, its time and its value. 

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Make Your Meetings Matter

Make Your Meetings Matter

Like most people, I've spent my fair share of time in meetings at work during which stabbing myself in the eye with my stainless steel Zebra ballpoint pen began to seem like a good idea. 

Anything to get me out of that room. 

Anything to change the scenery.

Anything to end my forced participation in something that added no value to my existence whatsoever. 

But the truth is

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What LeBron James Gets About Leading in Adversity

What LeBron James Gets About Leading in Adversity

Both the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers and their opponents in the 2016 NBA finals, the Golden State Warriors, are extraordinary professional basketball teams. 

But on Thursday, June 16, the Cavaliers became only the third team in history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals to force a seventh game in the series. Clearly, Cavaliers star LeBron James is central to their performance. They’re one win away from taking the championship, but even if they don’t win, there are some interesting insights we can take away from how James has led his team in the midst of adversity.

Most of the time, we have little insight into what happens behind the scenes within professional sports teams. Or when we do, it might be well after the fact, from memoirs of players, coaches or confidants. 

The case of the 2016 Cavaliers is different. 

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