Director's Corner


Employee Engagement Past and Present: More in Common Than Different

“Any plans this weekend?” “That was some game last night!” The concept of “water-cooler talk” serves a beneficial purpose. Of course, I’m speaking of those friendly, non-job-related conversations that spring up at work. Some of my most-treasured memories have been impromptu talks with co-workers in the hallway—or in the break room as I waited for my food to come out of the microwave. These types of experiences go a long way toward employee engagement—an important benchmark for a leader to fulfill.


Continuing Education as an Investment in Yourself

The belief that our days in the classroom come to a close following high school, trade school, or college is, undoubtedly, a thing of the past. Here’s what Peter Drucker, the managerial expert whose ideas helped shape modern business concepts, said: “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change.” And because change is certain, it’s necessary to instill a mindset of perpetual learning—seeing it as an open-ended process—to capably adapt as your career goes forward.


5 Skills of Successful Project Managers

Whether you chose project management early on or fell into the role later in your career, organization, time management, and planning likely come naturally to you. It’s why you’re a project manager, after all. But shepherding projects across the finish line in today’s ever-evolving business landscape requires more than just traditional competencies. To take your effectiveness to the next level, make sure you’ve honed these 5 skills of successful project managers.


Resilience in 2021, Resilience Always

If you’re familiar with the plot of Homer’s epic The Odyssey, you know its protagonist, Odysseus, is a compelling character. Enduring storms, monsters, and other formidable obstacles, he manages to steer himself and his fleet back home to Ithaca after the Greek victory in the Trojan War. His successful return isn’t possible without a number of shrewd dealings and fortunate interventions. The perilous voyage takes 10 years to complete! Odysseus is nothing if not resilient.


A Reminder to Be Thankful—Even in 2020!

In composing this year’s annual Thanksgiving blog, I’ve been reflecting upon the historic events of the past 11 months. Mutually, our country has gone through the wringer. Spring brought the ongoing pandemic along with many life-altering modifications. Then, summer saw social divisions resurface and escalate. And fall culminated in a contentious election season. Emotions have been running high. Despite its challenging nature, however, 2020 has reminded me of the blessings I’m thankful for.


Leaders Act the Part

My favorite actor is Academy Award winner Russell Crowe. He’s performed marvelously in a variety of roles in memorable movies such as Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, and L.A. Confidential. Like many of the greats of the profession, Crowe brings a plausibility to his craft that makes you forget—for a few hours, anyway—he’s acting the part of his character. But “acting the part” isn’t only for those who tread the boards. Behaving in a way proper to a particular role or given situation is appropriate for anyone in a position of responsibility.


Anticipate, Prepare, and Decide

The best leaders constantly strive for peak performance and efficiency. But those ideals are usually held under the premise of “normal” circumstances. What happens when things go sideways? I’m reminded of this gem from Maj. Richard Winters: Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind. In the last six months, this principle became particularly meaningful for USF Corporate Training and Professional Education. A new way to conduct business was in order.


Leaders Earn the Respect of Their Teams, Part II

The key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character. I used this precept from U.S. Army Major Richard Winters’ memoirs as a jumping-off point to write last month on the importance of leaders earning the respect of their people. In summary, I noted three particular behaviors leaders should either avoid or exhibit. First, leaders do not seek credit when their teams succeed. Second, leaders are accountable for their team’s function. Lastly, leaders should be able to deliver difficult news.


Leaders Earn the Respect of Their Teams

Respect. Aretha Franklin famously asked for it in song. Rodney Dangerfield went to hilarious lengths to claim he got none. Actually, respect is a big deal. If you’re a manager in any workplace, respect from your team signifies its trust in you. As one of my aforementioned role models, U.S Army Major Richard Winters, wrote in his memoirs, “The key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.” Here are some of my thoughts on earning your team’s respect through leadership.


Teamwork: Contribute Together, Win Together

As a country, we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic and, in more-recent events, listen to voices calling for civil justice. Both are topics of immense, historic importance and deserving of our attention. I would also remind my audience that this month marked the 76th anniversary of D-Day, when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to undertake one of the most pivotal military campaigns of World War II. That massive operation required teamwork—thousands of personnel carrying out roles to help save the world.