Backbiting, Leadership Tangles, and the State of the Union

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Jan 25, 2012

Last night during his State of the Union address,  President Obama spoke about the special forces  who worked as a team to "take out" Osama Bin Laden. His point was that every member of the team was singly focused on successfully completing their dangerous mission. They relied on each other for communication, air cover, and support. When one of the rescue helicopters crashed, they didn't stop and point fingers and blame each other. They covered for each other. They helped each other up the stairs and made sure that every one got out alive. Every member of the team operated with mutual trust.

Continue Reading

When Leaders have Each Other’s Backs, Teams Have Less Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Mar 11, 2010

Jake Pavelka, the Bachelor (yes, I secretly watch the show—I am a romantic at heart) said that he wanted to find a mate who “had his back.” I have facilitated dozens of team effectiveness offsites and invariably participants will claim that they either want to know their teammates have their backs, or recall that their highest performing teams were those with members who “had their backs.”  I am not sure when or how the term entered the lexicon. I know that it is permeating the language now and particularly in team settings.
Continue Reading

You Can’t Hurry Trust . . . You Just Have to Wait

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Feb 18, 2010

There is an old song first sung by the Supremes, and later by Phil Collins and others, called “You Can’t Hurry Love.” The lyrics often run through my mind when I am working with leadership teams. Only the problem isn’t love. It is trust. You really can't hurry trust. As an organizational consultant and executive coach, I have often been hired to help teams who are struggling to perform optimally. More often than not, I find that there is a fundamental trust issue within the team.
Continue Reading

Leaders: Avatar, Differences, and Organizational TanglesTM

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Jan 20, 2010

There’s a buzz in the air about the movie Avatar. My husband and I trekked over to our local IMAX theater ( this past weekend and were not disappointed. The movie truly sets a new standard for moviemakers and moviegoers alike. I was transported to Pandora, a totally different world, light years away. My senses were delighted with lush landscapes, new animal species, and an indigenous population of 9 to 12 foot tall blue inhabitants, called the Na’Vi.  With the 3-D glasses, I truly felt like I could touch and feel the distant future, 2154.
Continue Reading

How to Build a Culture of Fear in 3 Easy Steps

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Oct 15, 2009

Leaders, follow these three easy steps if you want to ensure that tough issues are never raised, that you don't receive early warning signs, and that employees are seen and not heard. If you follow these steps faithfully, you and your executive team will hold all the power. You will be secure in your conference room, knowing that no outside influences sway your decisions. You will be assured that you are right, and all others are wrong! But beware; pursuing this path could result in a totally avoidable train wreck. What if Merrill’s Board of Directors hadn’t turned a blind eye to internal risk managers who saw the dangers of collateralized debt obligations? What if AIG’s Board had recognized the folly of not holding its executives accountable for unsavory business practices?

What follows are the three surefire steps:

Continue Reading

What Yoga Teachers Can Teach Leaders About Untangling

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Feb 27, 2009

I just returned from what is now an annual week long sojourn to the Ixtapan de la Sal Spa in Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico. Located two hours south of Mexico City, in an idyllic village, it is easy to unwind, reflect, and relax. The spa itself is reasonably priced and clean, with friendly staff. Visitors enjoy pampering and veritable feast of classes. Every day, I attended a yoga class with Maria. Maria has a soothing voice, with a German accent, and guides students through a series of stretches and exercises that calm the mind and body.
Continue Reading

More Crooked Tangles—Who Can We Trust?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sat, Dec 20, 2008

In the past week, I have been repulsed by news of one of the biggest scams of all time. Bernard Madoff, head of Bernard L. Madoff Securities, allegedly conned scores of wealthy investors, lulled by promises of higher than average yearly returns. Madoff was the CEO of a company with over 200 employees. We don't yet have all of the facts. However, what is remarkable to me is that so many, including Madoff employees, did not question consistent financial returns that defy explanation. How could so many allegedly smart people believe that there are special algorithms that are immune from market forces? And how could so many ignore the red flags of a leader who became gruff and angry when questioned about his strategies?

Continue Reading

Building Trust during Merger Integrations

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sun, Dec 07, 2008

According to a November 2008 McKinsey study, 22% of over 1400 executives from a cross-section of industries, geographies, and functional areas anticipate that they will be seeking merger and acquisition opportunities. That is, those companies that are still in fairly good financial shape will take advantage of opportunities to purchase complimentary companies at a lower price than usual.

When times are tough, it is human nature to batten down the hatches. However, when business is reduced to just a set of metrics and numbers without consideration to the human side of business, growth and productivity are unintentionally squelched. Several years ago some colleagues and I were making a sales pitch to the CEO of a large chemical manufacturing company set to make major large-scale change. We argued that there was a need to manage the human side of the change in order to get the desired return on investment. The CEO remarked that his employees would just have to "get over it." Fortunately, we were able to persuade the CEO and CFO that they could not afford to be distracted by employees who were not on board and aligned with the desired changes.

Continue Reading
Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all

Recent Posts