You are the Captain of Your Own Ship

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Jun 24, 2022


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What Does it Mean to Be Accountable?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sat, May 14, 2022

Several years ago, I worked as a consultant for a Fortune 500 high-tech company. I was part of a team of consultants hired to help this company make significant changes. Specifically, I was hired to assist with the human side of change, which meant building strategies to ensure buy-in and adoption. I was part of a team of other successful consultants. I remember one particular moment when our team gave each other feedback at the end of the project. One colleague commented that I was accountable. I remember being very flattered and validated. Yet what did this mean?

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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Power of Emotional Contagion

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Mar 17, 2022


I have been closely following the news about the invasion of Ukraine with horror, and like so many, have been in awe of President Zelenskyy’s leadership. As an Associate Professor, I oversee a Master's of Leadership program at Golden Gate University and designed most of the courses. Because of my fascination with neuroscience and its application to leadership behavior, I've included that information in many of our courses.

One of the topics that we cover is emotional contagion. We start that discussion by describing mirror neurons. Mirror neurons were discovered quite by accident by Italian researchers. The story goes that they were researching Macaque monkeys. The monkeys' brains responded not only when they picked up food but when they saw a researcher pick up an ice cream cone. The experiment was replicated in humans. Researchers further discovered that the mirror neurons fired even before observing a specific action. 

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The Two-Faced Backstabbing Tangle

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Nov 30, 2021

I coined the "Two-Faced Backstabbing Tangle" after experiencing a particularly painful personal interaction. Naming it led me to reflection and discovery and the recognition that this is a common phenomenon. I also discovered some ways to mitigate its impact. In my capacity as an executive coach and consultant, I have seen this nasty tangle snarl teams. Here's the story of its origins, its biological underpinnings, and how to not get snarled in the emotional pain this nasty tangle can inflict.

Topics: tangles
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Strong Leaders are Win-Win Negotiators

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Aug 24, 2017

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STOP IT! Actually You Can!

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Aug 09, 2017



A few years ago, some of my Silicon Valley executive coaching clients asked me if I had seen the Bob Newhart “Stop It” video. It was making the rounds in their company. When I saw it, I understood why they wanted me to watch it.

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Avoid Team Tangles--Call Pinches Before They Escalate

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Apr 28, 2017

Are you or your team experiencing frequent pinches? The unwillingness or inability to verbalize and share missed expectations, or pinches, tangles team relationships and slows down productivity.
I learned about the "pinch model" many years ago while working at Wilson Learning. I have found it incredibly useful and n ow use it in my MBA classes and with clients. The Pinch Model was developed by John Sherwood and John Glidewell and then Sherwood and John Scherer  expanded it further.
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Know Your Brain, Grow Your Leadership

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Apr 04, 2016

I have been learning about and teaching basic neuroscience principles for the past three and a half years. I use a brain-based coaching approach in my executive coaching practice. I have come to appreciate how much a basic working knowledge of our brains can help leaders function more effectively.

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VUCA Revisited Again –Volatility Rouses Fear

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Oct 09, 2015


I first wrote this post in early 2011, just after I  began teaching in the MBA program at Golden Gate University as an adjunct professor. Since then, I have become a full time graduate level professor and still maintain my practice as an executive leadership consultant and coach. This continues to force me to stay current with leadership research and weave that research into a pragmatic solution for clients and business school students.


Topics: VUCA
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Know Your Brain, Accelerate Leadership Performance!

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Aug 17, 2015

Last fall, I was privileged to be included in the first group of global executive leadership coaches certified in My Brain Solutions (MBS). The Academy of Brain Based Leadership sponsored the certification training. MBS is the only scientifically validated assessment that truly measures brain performance and has been used effectively by clinicians for several years. It was developed by an independent consortium of over 200 neuroscientists, led by Dr. Evian Gordon.  It was redesigned in 2014 to improve the effectiveness of business leaders.

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Leaders--does your physical space optimize performance?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Jul 15, 2015

Fascinating Study

In late June, 2015, I had the opportunity to visit the charming town of Kolding in Denmark. There, nestled atop a scenic city, we visited a ecently restored old castle. As we got to the top of the castle, we were delighted to see an exhibit of student work. We found out that the Kolding Design School offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in design. The exhibits were from their most recent graduates. 

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Leaders: How effective are your teams?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Jul 07, 2015

I recently had the good fortune of meeting a very successful businessman who works globally. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I work with executive teams and teach graduate courses in team dynamics and leadership. He asked me if I knew the definition of a team.

“Yes,” I replied, and I would like to hear yours. He answered that the U.S. definition of a team is based on the acronym, TEAM. “Together everyone achieves more.”

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Executive Leaders: Tips to achieve goals, greater satisfaction

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Jan 24, 2014

We are still within the first month of 2014 and The Chinese New Year arrives on January 31th.  The Water Snake symbolized the last Chinese year and was a year of reflection. In contrast, January 31st ushers in the year of the Wooden Horse. This year is all about action. Before the era of modern transportation (think cars, jets, rocket ships), horses symbolized speedy success in China. They were the fastest means to get from one place to another. Horses also symbolize a desire for freedom, passion, and leadership. If we follow the symbolism implied by the year of the horse, we will all need to mindfully set clear goals for this year. 2014 promises to be a busy year.

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Leadership Skills:One on one coaching tips from a professional dancer

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Jan 16, 2014

A colleague of mine, I’ll call him Aaron, is a professional dancer who has worked in a international professional dance company for five years. He and I got to talking about his work and the leadership tangles that have presented themselves. As we spoke, I realized that therewere some lessons to be learned for all leaders. Here is the first excerpt of an interview I conducted over a period of several weeks.

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What Executive Leaders Can Learn from Fly Fishing Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Jan 22, 2013

Last summer, we took a road trip from San Francisco, through Zion, Bryce, and on to Telluride, Colorado. While in Telluride, we took a fly fishing lesson from Marty at Telluride Fly Fishers. Marty was a great guide and very patient with this city girl! I had piled on several layers of clothes in anticipation of wide temperature swings in the Rockies.

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What Effective Executive Leaders Can Learn from Geese--Lesson 1

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sat, Jan 19, 2013

Your intrepid Tangle Doctor has been tied up, so to speak, implementing new ways to untangle corporate leadership knots and teaching MBA students how to work well together and be effective leaders. So many tangles, so little time! 

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Leaders--Time to Dress Up So You Won't be Dressed Down?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, May 22, 2012

Recent research suggests that what we wear impacts how we feel and how we perform. As an executive leadership coach who often works with leaders to enchance their executive presence, this is really helpful information. I often coach women leaders to observe how other senior women, who they perceive as competent and powerful, are dressing. Often the differences, i.e., in accessories, shoes, etc. are subtle, yet worth noting. I sometimes advise clients to change and/or upgrade their wardrobe. I have also advised male clients to make sure that their shoes were polished (I learned this from my grandfather who always said you could tell a lot about a man by the appearance of his shoes.) My clothing advice was based on my own experience in the corporate world and observation. Now, with the power of this research, and recent articles, I feel even more confident in strongly arguing that clothes do make the man and woman!

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Executive Women Leaders--Talk Less to Gain Power?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, May 16, 2012

I was astounded to read about the results of a recent study by a Yale university professor. Apparently, women who speak more are perceived as less competent. On the other hand, men who speak more are viewed as more competent. Professor Jennifer Brescoll suggests that how much we talk has implications for how powerful others perceive us to be. The frightening thing about this study is that women may interpret the results to mean that if they talk to much, they will experience a backlash. 

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Increase Team Effectiveness--Avoid Violated Values TanglesTM

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Feb 24, 2012

 Executive leadership teams regularly develop values statements to explain what is most important to them in fulfilling the company mission. Teams go through exercises to identify values they hope to live by.

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When Leaders Struggle with Complex Challenges--Qualifications Matter

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Feb 09, 2012

When you have a toothache, would you consult a car mechanic who took a year-long, part-time course in dentistry, even if you felt he had a knack for it? If your child has a high fever and hacking cough, would you take him or her to your neighbor for treatment, one who has two children of her own, and works as an accountant? Probably not.

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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.

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Three Tips for Executive Team Effectiveness

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Jan 06, 2012

Nothing tangles potential organizational effectiveness than a top leadership team mired in unproductive interpersonal dynamics. These manifest as turf wars, political battles, and hidden agendas. The result is a lack of honesty and an inability to raise tough issues. Bad feelings between two key functional leaders trickle down to the rest of the organization. I once worked with a team in which two senior leaders had a visceral dislike of each other. Direct reports two to three levels down felt the tension, and were in turn mistrustful of each other. The result? Gridlock.

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Untangle Leadership Team Knots Through an Extraordinary Game

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Oct 20, 2011

Think of a leadership team as a web of interconnected relationships. Mix in clashing egos, hidden agendas, and lack of trust. Agitate with different personality and thinking styles. Sprinkle in unproductive norms, power plays, and cultural and gender differences. Throw in a propensity to blame. Complicate matters with a complex business challenge--you know the kind--a frightening new competitor that threatens to eat your lunch, declining market share, a scarcity of cash to invest in needed resources--the kind of challenge that only this team can solve. The problem is, this team is mired in what I call a Strangling Team TangleTM. In almost every tangle, and I have named nearly two dozen distinct tangles, you experience unproductive working relationships, snarled lines of communication, and fuzzy lines of authority. Emotions run high and there is plenty of conflict, blame, and “us versus them” thinking and behavior. Sound familiar?

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Leadership Wisdom for Executive Leaders--No Excuses--Tip #3

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, May 16, 2011

It is so easy to make excuses when things don't turn out as you planned. How often are you tempted to point the finger of blame? As an executive leadership coach, I have worked with leaders who have gotten in the bad habit of blaming others and are surprised when they don't get the results that they want.

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Leadership Wisdom for Executive Leaders—Tip #2

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Mar 29, 2011

Star leaders give willingly without a price tag attached to what they are giving. They operate from a “full cup” mentality. Their cup is full and they don’t need to take from others to fill theirs up. There is no price tag attached to their requests.

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Leadership Wisdom for Executive Leaders--Tip #1

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Mar 21, 2011

Leadership is both an inside and outside game. In this series of blogposts, I will share leadership wisdom I have gathered and found useful in my own leadership development and what I have observed in my work with executive leaders. As the Tangle DoctorTM, it is my opinion that leaders who create productive, accountable cultures are better able to minimize Organizational TanglesTM –unproductive working relationships, snarled lines of communication, and fuzzy lines of authority-- demonstrate the leadership qualities I will share in a series of blogposts.

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What could an executive leadership coach tell Japan's Naoto Kan?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Mar 17, 2011

According to John Brinsley, from Bloomberg News, "Three days ago, Prime Minister Naoto Kan was fighting for his political life. Now, the success of his government may hinge on how he responds to what he calls Japan’s biggest crisis since the end of World War II."

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Why You Must Start Re-thinking the Way You Communicate Today

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Mar 14, 2011

Do you realize that every time you speak to peers, direct reports, and Board members, you have the opportunity to transform your relationship? Do you know that you can align your mind, brain, and conversations to create a more productive working relationship?

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VUCA Revisited –Volatility Rouses Fear

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Feb 18, 2011

I recently began teaching in the MBA program at Golden Gate University. Being a full time executive leadership consultant and part-time professor forces me to stay current with leadership research and weave that research into a pragmatic solution for clients and business school students.

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Executive Leadership Tip for Thriving in VUCA and Accelerated Change

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Dec 13, 2010

Last Friday, I facilitated a panel discussion for Fountain Blue's When She Speaks Women in Leadership forum. Approximately 50 women and 3 men attended the discussion about how to thrive in times of accelerated change. Each of the four women on the panel holds a responsible leadership position in Cisco, EMC, IBM, and HP. I was struck by the high level of both technical and interpersonal expertise each demonstrated. I was also struck by the pressures facing each of them, and our audience members. All are challenged to cope under rapid changes in their marketplace and technology. For instance, the advent of the cloud is causing each company to think through their product mix. Companies that used to develop products internally are becoming much more aggressive in looking for start-ups with innovative technology to buy and integrate. Top down, hierarchical management is being replaced with collaborative management.

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Executive Leaders: Three Ways to Improve Your Approachability

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Nov 19, 2010

I've been a student of leadership and organizational behavior for a long time. In my own recent research, I found that a CEO who is open and approachable is much more likely to get learn about early warning signals, before they become bad news. This has been validated by research studies. Leaders who are agreeable and access the extraverted part of their personality are easier to approach. They are more likely to listen without judgment and not bite off the head of those who bring unpleasant news. They create a culture of openness that trickles down throughout the organization. In cultures of openness, individuals aren't afraid of speaking up.

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Why a Good Organizational Consultant Can Level the Playing Field

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Nov 08, 2010

One of my favorite things to do on Sundays is read the New York Times. I especially enjoy Adam Bryant's Corner Office. Yesterday was no exception. Adam interviewed Martha S. Samuelson, the President and CEO of the Analysis Group. Samuelson underscored a point that I consider central in my work as an organizational consultant. A skilled outside consultant can ask questions, solicit feedback, and offer feedback in a way that removes the power dynamics.

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Three Lessons Executive Leaders Can Learn from the S. F. Giants

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Nov 04, 2010

Okay, I admit it. I am a fair weather San Francisco Giants fan. I tuned in to the team in the last weeks of the series as they began their championship playoffs. I found myself playing catch up, learning the names and stories of the players. All of a sudden I really cared. As the Giants came closer and closer to winning the World Series, a goal that eluded them for 56 years, I put on my Tangle Doctor hat. How did the team's management orchestrate this turnaround? What can business leaders learn from a team that seemed so unlikely to win a championship trophy?

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Night of the Living Dead, VUCA, and Strangling Tangles--Revisited

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sun, Oct 31, 2010

Last Halloween, my husband and I locked ourselves in our darkened home, and watched a dvd of  Night of the Living Dead. I had never seen it before and to be honest, I can’t say that I truly watched the whole thing. I spent part of the movie hidden under a blanket! If you haven’t seen it before, it contains some very gruesome scenes. However, as your intrepid Tangle Doctor, I couldn’t help see applications for saving corporate America form their own nights of the living dead.
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Executive Leaders: Are you Playing to Win or Not to Lose?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Oct 14, 2010

In a recent episode of AMC's Mad Men (Season 4, Blowing Smoke), a fledgling ad agency is faced with the fallout of losing one of its key accounts, a major cigarette company.  Even though the show is fictional and takes place 50 years ago, the situation and reaction of the firm's senior partners felt eerily current.

Topics: Fear leadership
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Women Leaders: Are These Three Brain Knots Sabotaging Your Career?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Oct 11, 2010

Over the past several years, I have consulted with dozens of women leaders who want to excel in the executive ranks. Many have already made it to the S. V.P. level, and some to  E.V.P. or even CEO. Others are Directors wanting to move to the V.P. level. Typically, the person hiring me states that the individual has received feedback that she needs to improve her executive presence. Sometimes, the request is for assistance in improving influence skills. Other times, the assignment is more general as in, "we feel she is a high potential and needs some help in moving to the next level." Sometimes, the request is for a C-level female executive who needs to improve her emotional intelligence.

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Executive Leadership Strategies When Volatility is the New Normal

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Jul 22, 2010

Consider this. Economic pundits have declared that volatility is the New Normal. Markets are fluctuating wildly day to day. Executive officers, guiding their companies, are afloat in a sea of uncertainty. Investors generally take fewer risks during volatile times. It takes guts to invest when the downside may be greater than the upside. It also takes courage to make major business decisions.

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Does Your Executive Leadership Team Value Truth or Peace?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Jul 22, 2010

I was working with an executive coaching client recently who mentioned that some organizational cultures emphasize peace over truth. I hadn't quite thought about it this way and found the statement profound. In this case, my client was a very forthright individual, and he was being asked to tone down his style. I have also worked with executive coaching clients who needed to be more assertive and strong in speaking up. Both individuals needed to adapt to cultures who emphasized either peace or truth.

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When Leaders Struggle with the Soft Stuff—Hire a Qualified Expert

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Mar 22, 2010

The toughest leadership challenges include navigating tough organizational changes, leading tricky merger integrations, or smoothing out ugly personal dynamics on an all-star leadership team. It is tough enough to work your way through these situations even with the best of help. Merger integrations and strategic change efforts often fail because leaders don’t hire the right help. I recently came across a situation in which a large company asked someone with light educational credentials and a marketing and branding background to lead a mission critical and yet nasty change integration.  This person hired on others with similar backgrounds to guide the change process.
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Cough it UpTM How to Rid Yourself of Corporate Hairballs

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Mar 19, 2010

When I began my research into seemingly unsolvable corporate messes, I used the metaphor of a cat hairball to conduct my inquiry. Some people loved the metaphor. Others had negative visceral reactions.  Hairballs subsequently became tangles, although much of my work is inspired by my research results on corporate hairballs. I had a lot of fun comparing a cat hairball to a corporate hairball. What follows is just a taste.
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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.
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Leaders . . . Untangle Your Own Fears and Minimize Your Corporate Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Mar 09, 2010

As the leader of my own firm, the hardest thing that I have had to do during these challenging times is manage myself . . . and my own fear. The newspaper headlines do not help. This morning, one of the top headlines in the Wall Street Journal screamed "New Fears as Credit Markets Tighten Up." This was like a red light, siren alert: Marcia, arm yourself, and hold on, it is getting worse. As an expert in human and organizational dynamics, I intellectually know that I am "catastrophizing." That is, I am taking one data point and in my mind, extending it out to its worst possible consequence. I know that this is not healthy emotionally, psychologically, or strategically. It is difficult to shore up my confidence and come up with creative business solutions when my mind and body are frozen with fear.

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Shaun White, Olympic Gold Medalist, and VUCA Leadership

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Feb 26, 2010

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Oprah. I don't watch it live so when I do have a few free moments, I turn on the digital video recorder and catch up. Last week, on February 19, Oprah had Shaun White, the Olympic Gold medalist on as one of her guests. He flew overnight from Vancouver to Chicago to be on her show. I have to admit that I hadn't been following Shaun White, his career, or his sport--snowboarding. I did catch his medal winning half pipe performance and his exuberant reaction to winning gold. When he spoke to Oprah about what it takes to pull of such a daring performance, my ears perked up. There is a relationship to VUCA and tangles I thought!
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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.
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Why Exceptional Leaders Provide Air Cover . . . And Prevent Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Jan 28, 2010

As an executive development expert, I’ve facilitated dozens of 360 degree leadership assessments, team development, and new leader assimilation processes. Along the way, I have learned that leaders get dinged if they don’t provide air cover to their direct reports. When I first heard the term “air cover,”  I was surprised. On the other hand, military language, like sports talk, permeates the business lexicon. I decided to delve deeper and see what it really means.
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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.
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Last Minute Holiday Shopping? Give the Development Gift Pack

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Dec 23, 2009

I have agreed to be a sponsor to Lominger, a division of Korn Ferry International? Why did I agree to do this? I was trained in all of the Lominger products in 1998. Since then, I have been using them as a regular part of my organizational consulting and executive coaching practice. I like these tools because they are smart, research based, and provide leaders with actionable feedback and a variety of developmental remedies.
Topics: Lominger VUCA
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Invest in Developing Leaders Who Must Lead in Turbulent Times

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Dec 09, 2009

This morning, I was browsing the Wall Street Journal online, looking for some good news. I came upon two articles byDana Mattioli. Her first article, "Despite Cutbacks, Firms Invest in Developing Leaders," brought a smile to my face. Apparently, many firms realize that they need to continue developing their leaders if they are to thrive during these turbulent times.

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Today’s Leaders Must Up their Game

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sat, Dec 05, 2009

We are living in tumultuous times. Today's business leaders need to be more discerning in gathering and processing business and environmental data. They need to be more accurate in setting strategy, and more effective in leading the execution of that strategy. Additionally, leaders must work harder to focus employees on being productive, while at the same time helping them make sense of the current reality and direction. Finally, today's leaders need to be masterful in both nurturing top talent and motivating the workforce, particularly if they have had to reduce headcount. In a word, leaders must up their game. Are you up for the task?
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Night of the Living Dead, VUCA, and Strangling Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Nov 09, 2009

This past Halloween, my husband and I locked ourselves in our darkened home, and watched a dvd of  Night of the Living Dead. I had never seen it before and to be honest, I can’t say that I truly watched the whole thing. I spent part of the movie hidden under a blanket! If you haven’t seen it before, it contains some very gruesome scenes. However, as your intrepid Tangle Doctor, I couldn’t help see applications for saving corporate America form their own nights of the living dead.
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Warning Signs that you have a Jangle TangleTM

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Oct 28, 2009

Thank goodness for TiVo. My husband and I love it to catch up our favorite television shows. One, Brothers and Sisters is an ABC drama about an exceptionally close, yet dysfunctional family. Sally Fields plays Norah Walker, the matriarch. Norah has five adult children, each with their own lives and own dramas. As I watched the October 11 episode of season 4, Almost Normal, I jolted out of my comfortable chair and furiously took notes. Here is a scene that relates to my “Leadership Tangles Blog,” I thought! Better yet, it’s a Jangle Tangle TM.
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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:

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Beware: The Shadow of the Leader Can Become the Shadow of the Gang

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Oct 14, 2009

I once had a boss who used to tell our national sales force, “The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.” In my work as an executive consultant, coach, and “detangler,” I have met some incredibly brilliant and talented leaders. All of them were exceptional in some way, and all had areas in need of development. I would amend my ex-boss’s statement to, “the shadow of the leader is the shadow of the gang.”
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5 Reasons it’s So Hard to Give Tough Performance Feedback

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Jul 23, 2009

There are no two ways about it. It is tough to give good constructive feedback. Not providing clear tough feedback to peers, direct reports, and staff exacerbates performance problem and contributes to situations that tangle forward progress. For example, I’ve had clients whose direct reports continued to come up short in developing product roll-out strategies. Rather than confront that poor performance, senior leaders complained to each other, but not the person.  As a result, customers were disappointed and company revenue suffered.
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What Leaders Can Learn from Michael Jackson

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Jul 01, 2009

I was stunned when I heard about Michael Jackson's untimely death last week. As a huge Thriller fan,  I remember watching Jackson and being captivated by his music, his dancing, and his beat. He really was a musical genius. I never paid too much to the tabloid headlines swirling around his life. However, in the last few days, given the constant news coverage about Michael Jackson and his life on Larry King Live, 20/20, and other news shows, I got to thinking what leaders might be able to learn from Michael Jackson's life, and how it ties in to organizational tangles. One category of tangles that I often encounter in my work as an executive coach are what I call individual or internal tangles.
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What Leaders Can Learn from Twitter, Facebook, and #Iran Election?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Jun 22, 2009

For the past ten days, I have been glued to the media and social networking sites, especially Twitter. I am not alone.  I have been awed by the level of interest, caring, and actions taken by so many after the June 12 election. As I sat in my office, watching my computer screen, I felt empowered to take a small step, to lend my voice of support to a situation unfolding half-way around the globe. I followed #Iran election, with thousands joining the conversation every millisecond. I retweeted (RT) messages that provided helpful information, and posted my own thoughts. I watched as Facebook friends joined in the discussion and became a fan of sites allegedly providing credible information. I didn’t know if I was making any difference at all, but felt I was a part of something historical, important, and much bigger than me.  
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Leaders: Ignore Warning Signs at Our Mutual Peril

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Jun 10, 2009

This blog typically focuses on business leadership topics related to what I call organizational tangles. Today I focus on a different type of tangle, a Cascade Tangle, and one that might well ensnare us all. Cascade Tangles are a multi-system mess that like dominoes, result in a cascade of failure. The recent financial meltdown appears to be a result of the failure of multiple systems, and like a house of cards, may still be on the brink of collapse.
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What’s Divorce Got to Do with It?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sun, Jun 07, 2009

Tina Turner made a singing comeback in 1984 with her hit song, "What's Love Got to Do with It?" My husband, a family law specialist in San Francisco has recently worked with some male clients, who I call alpha males, struggling through their respective divorces. Tina Turner claims that "love is a second-hand emotion." However, from what I am hearing, anger, blame, and transference are first-hand emotions and reactions. Going through a divorce at any time is a trying and emotionally draining experience. However, the stress and tension is now exacerbated by the economic decline. Individuals who have enjoyed unfettered economic success, and the ability to buy and demand whatever they desired, are  now finding their world crumbling beneath them.

Topics: Fear blame anger
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Generosity and Organizational Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Jun 04, 2009

A colleague of mine  just sent me this video clip--Gesto de Amor. This was a first place winner for commercial short films at a Cannes Film Festival. This film illustrates a large and personal act of generosity. I have found that small acts of generosity--listening deeply to others, giving others the benefit of the doubt, asking questions before reacting-- all contribute to collaboration, better thinking, and higher productivity. What act of generosity have you performed today?

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How Organizational Structure Contributes to Organizational Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Jun 03, 2009

Wall Street Journal reporter Kara Swisher interviewed Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo, at the recent All Things Digital Conference. I was struck by Bartz's assertions that organizational structure has limited Yahoo's ability to innovate. Bartz's comments validated findings from my own research. I was interested in uncovering the organizational enablers that contribute to the unwinding of organizational tangles. I define tangles as those interpersonal, political, and human dynamics messes that tie organizations up in knots. What I found in my research is that an organizational structure that ensures clear levels of authority and accountability creates clear channels of communication, and removes the fuzziness that stalls forward progress.

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Ten Best Practices for Leading Organizational Change

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, May 15, 2009

Based on my more than 20 years of experience as an organizational change strategist and executive coach, the following ten best practices will ease the pain of large-scale change and ensure successful implementation.

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A Realistic Approach to Decision Making That Avoids Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sat, Apr 25, 2009

Jason Zweig, author of the Wall Street Journal's Intelligent Investor, writes that "smart people trying to do good, honest work on behalf of others" may have been responsible for the financial crisis. Zweig's article masterfully lays out some of the challenges that investment committees, boards of directors, and state boards of trustees can face in decisions to invest or not invest. His insightful column also can provide advice to corporate leaders making decisions regarding strategy and strategy execution.

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Active Listening Tips for Avoiding Strangling TanglesTM

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Apr 22, 2009

A Strangling TangleTM paralyzes organizations and can lead to plummeting profits, lost revenue, and precipitous falls in market share. There are a number of causes for Strangling Tangles. Based on my experience and research, organizations with corporate cultures that discourage speaking up and sharing bad news are particularly vulnerable. Leaders play a huge role in building, maintaining, and changing corporate culture. One way leaders can change the culture is by learning and demonstrating active listening skills.

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Raise Your Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Boost Your Profits

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Apr 21, 2009

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on Emotional Intelligence (EQ). This is a follow -up. Many years ago, I worked at Wilson Learning , which was then a global provider of human resource development products and services. One of our flagship products was a course called Managing Interpersonal Relationships (MIR). The goal of MIR was to help individuals reduce relationship tension. In many ways, it was a precursor to Goleman's work on Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman expanded the notion of interpersonal skills. Laura Crawshaw recently added to our understanding by explaining how we can tame abrasive mangers.
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Are Your Emotional Intelligence Habits Saving or Sinking You?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sun, Apr 19, 2009

According to recent studies, executive leaders who possess emotional intelligence are more likely to outperform their peers than those with high intellectual horsepower. In other words, it is not enough to just be smart. A leader needs to be intellectually smart and people smart.

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Return the AIG Bonuses--No Pay for Non-Performance

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Mar 18, 2009

This past Sunday, I was so upset about the AIG bonuses that I wrote a letter to the editors of the San Francisco  Chronicle and New York Times. I received a call from the Chronicle's editorial section on Monday, saying that they planned to run my letter. I am happy to report that it was the lead editorial in today's  (March 18) letters to the editor section (page A12).

Topics: AIG
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How Taking Accountability Eases Tangles: The Case of a Local Police Sergeant versus Bernard Madoff

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Mar 13, 2009

Earlier this week, I received a call from a sergeant in our local police department. He didn't leave a specific message, although he said he was from the narcotics division and asked me to call him back. Last August 2008, I had parked my car in front of our home in a nice neighborhood in San Francisco. When I went outside, the whole front of my car was gone. The hood, bumpers, and half of my engine. Needless to say, I was angry and shocked. I eagerly called the sergeant back, thinking that they had caught the criminals who had destroyed my car.

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More on Untangling Leadership Fears

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Mar 10, 2009

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." Ambrose Redmon

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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.
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More Leadership Wisdom From Captain Chesley Sullenberger

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Feb 18, 2009

Captain Chesley Sullenberger III continues to teach us all the  lessons of true leadership. Today's San Francisco Chronicle features a letter from Captain Sullenberger. He  writes that he learned early on that anyone who takes a leadership role is responsible for the welfare of those he commands. He goes on to say "During every minute of our flight, I was confident I could solve the next problem. My first officer, Jeff SKiles, and I did what airline pilots do: We following our training and our philosophy of life. We valued every life on that airplane and knew it was our responsibility to try to save each one, in spite of the sudden and complete failure of our aircraft."There is so much richness in this statement, and much applicability to our business leaders. As a leader, Sullenberger was confident because he had a roadmap and values that guided his decision making process. He could have blamed his plane and given up. He did not.
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US Airways Captain Sullenberger, Leaders, and Strangling Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Feb 11, 2009

On January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 took off from New York's La Guardia Airport. By all accounts, this was a routine takeoff, like many that occur day in and day out. However, on this particular flight, something unexpected occurred that required leadership, quick thinking, and skill. The plane hit a flock of birds, disabling both engines. Captain Chesley Sullenberger III deftly guided the plane for a safe landing in the Hudson. All passengers survived. This miraculous story offers great insight for leaders who want to avoid catastrophes, or what I call Strangling Tangles.  A Strangling Tangle is a complex business challenge, further complicated by messy human dynamics that leads to a precipitous drop in revenue or even business failure.

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Three Ways to Thrive In Volatile Times?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Feb 05, 2009

My corporate clients are in a panic. Their business reality, as they knew it before mid September 2008, has shifted. Companies with strong cash reserves are holding back on spending. Companies without strong cash reserves are shedding employees and cutting capital expenditures. The rules of the game have changed. Yet, we all know that some firms will not only survive, but thrive during these shifting times. What will make the difference?

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Making Sense of Wicked Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Feb 04, 2009

I recently conducted a rigorous research study on how key stakeholders in an organization make sense of a seemingly intractable complex challenge exacerbated by human dynamics issues. The current economic mess is a wicked tangle because it involves multiple stakeholders, each with a different view of the situation. Each stakeholder not only has their own interests, but also a different idea of how the situation should be solved. The photo above gives a snapshot of the myriad of stakeholders enmeshed in this wicked tangle. When faced with wicked corporate tangles, it is helpful to draw a picture of all of the stakeholders, and identify their positions and underlying interests.

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Are Negative Emotions Fueling Your Leadership Tangles?

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Feb 02, 2009

Like many, we had a group of friends over to watch the Superbowl last night. Some of us rooted for the Pittsburgh Steelers, while others were backing the Arizona Cardinals. That was good old-fashioned sports rivalry. However, we were all taken aback by the negative energy that emanated from some of the commercials. As reported in today's San Francisco Chronicle, many of the ads were downright aggressive and hostile.

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Ending Strangling Tangles Starts at the Top

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Jan 20, 2009

I watched today's inauguration of President Barak Obama on a large screen television in front of San Francisco's City Hall. A large and diverse crown gathered and there was a palpable sense of expectancy and hope for better times and change. A change in leadership always presents the opportunity to right past wrongs and chart a new and more successful course.

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Today’s Economic Crisis is a Wicked Tangle

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Jan 16, 2009

Last night, Jon Stewart , host of the Daily Show , interviewed Bethany McLean , a contributing editor of Vanity Fair about the current economic crisis. Stewart opined that while we can understand the Madoff fraud, it is much harder to wrap our heads around the economic meltdown. Jon Stewart commented that money seemed to disappear in this crisis, and wondered how it could be recovered. This got me thinking. I coined the term Wicked Tangle, after the term wicked problems. I define a wicked tangle as a multi-system tangle that involves challenges without definitions and boundaries. Everything is intertwined, and the solution to one part of the challenge creates problems elsewhere. The Feds give money to the banks and the banks tighten their lending policies. You can never truly solve a wicked tangle. What differentiates a wicked tangle from a wicked problem is that the human dynamics of greed, ego, and lack of transparency both create and exacerbate wicked tangles.

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What Hard Choices are Sabotaging Your Business Ethics?

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

Most professionals -- doctors, lawyers, dentists, and psychologists - are regulated by a written code of ethics. These standards dictate minimum, not optimal standards for purely ethical behavior. For example, even though an attorney can represent both a husband and wife in drafting a marital settlement agreement, a highly ethical attorney would not consider this course of action because it is not in the best interest of both parties. Even with strong rules of conduct, there are always gray areas and professionals often have to make hard choices.

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Three Ways to Recession Proof Your Business in 2009

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Jan 13, 2009

At a meeting last week someone commented that many people stayed up to midnight on December 31, 2008, just to make sure they were awake to say good-bye to 2008. 2008 was certainly not the best of years. The economy began contracting early in the year, and by mid-September was spiraling downward, out of control.

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What Leaders Can Learn From Nano Knots

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Jan 12, 2009

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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?

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The Crooked Tangle—How Personal Greed Can Strangle Organizations

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Dec 10, 2008

Today's Wall Street Journal headline story outlines the case of Illinois Governor Rod. R. Blagojovich . The chief executive of the state of Illinois was arrested today for attempting to sell President-elect Obama's Illinois Senate seat. He was also charged with conspiring to bribe others and committing mail and wire fraud. Federal authorities also allege that the governor attempted to bribe the head of Children's Memorial Hospital in exchange for state funding. Further, the FBI alleges that the governor wanted Chicago Tribune reporters who were critical of him to be removed in exchange for a speedier sale of Wrigley Field.

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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.

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Avoiding Tangles during Merger Integration

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Fri, Dec 05, 2008

I have consulted to a number of companies struggling with merger integrations. Merger integration processes are ripe with opportunities for tangles. I have coined the term organizational tanglesSM to cover a broad spectrum of human dynamics challenges that block productivity and results.  Based on my years of experience as a consultant to leaders, as well as my research, I have created a taxonomy of tangles. A tangle is characterized by strong egos, protected turf, and a propensity to blame others. A common hallmark of tangles is "us vs. them" thinking and behavior.

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Five Tips for Leading Through VUCA

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Dec 02, 2008

It's official. The United States is in a recession, and has been for a year, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. And for many I have spoken to, this recession feels very different from past ones. I believe that the difference is the level of VUCA, or volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Regular readers of my blog know that I have posted a number of blogs on the topic. Simply put, VUCA is like an E ticket ride at Disneyland , in dense fog, with a stuck stop/start gear.
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Leadership Communication Tips in VUCA

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Dec 01, 2008

Several years ago, I was on a cross-country flight. The pilot came on and told us that we were going to encounter some turbulence. He explained that we were going through a patch of rough air that was akin to being on top of pot of boiling water. He went on to say that he and the copilot were committed to finding calmer air space. As I recall, he explained that the bumpiness would last about 15 minutes. During that time, we could expect the ride to be quite bumpy. Having a clear picture of what was happening, why, and how long it would last certainly helped relieve the collective passenger anxiety.

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Why Putting People Issues on Back Burner Is a Bad Move

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Nov 24, 2008

According to a recent Conference Board Report, described in the November 20 edition of the Wall Street Journal, executives are now putting people-issues on the back burner. Top executives' highest concern is excellence in execution, and consistent execution of strategy by top management. While it makes sense that efficiency and flawless execution are front-burner issues, I believe that this is an over-correction that will come back and bite executives once the economy starts to straighten itself out.
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Three Tips for Heeding Warning Signs Before They Strangle Your Business

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Nov 18, 2008

The current economic meltdown seemed to come out of the blue. Sure, there were warning signs that the economy was slowing, beginning early this year. I was in Taiwan on business the week of September 15, and was stunned to read headlines that the whole global system was in danger of a systemic meltdown. If ever there was a lesson in the importance of reading and heeding warning signs, this is it.
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Courage to Continue in Tough Times

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Nov 17, 2008

This morning's San Francisco Chronicle featured a story in remembrance of the Jonestown massacres thirty years ago. In the front page article, Congresswoman Jackie Spier recalls her trip to Jonestown with Congressman Leo Ryan . For the past several weeks, the daily financial news has been grimmer and grimmer. Business leaders are faced with rising costs, uncertain revenue projections, and a shortfall of cash and credit.

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Merrill Lynch's Culture of Fear Led to Strangling Tangle

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Sun, Nov 09, 2008

In today's New York's Times, Gretchen Morgenson recounts the rise and fall of Merrill Lynch. I read the article and said to myself, eureka, this is a Hush-Hush Tangle! According to my definition, a Hush Hush Tangle occurs when critical information is not shared, and lines of communication are cut off. Everyone knows that there is a problem but no one talks about it. It becomes a tangle because human dynamics are further complicated by a very complex business challenge. Complexity doesn't do justice to the complicated nature of collateralized debt obligations (CDO's). CDO's are a financial product group comprised of derivatives. Merrill Lynch became enchanted with this product and it led to the company's precipitous fall.

According to Morgenson, E. Stanley O'Neal, Merrill's CEO, is described as an autocratic leader. Two of his lieutenants discouraged open communication between the risk management arm and the sales arm. One of the lieutenants was Osman Semerci. Semerci she wrote, "often played the role of tough guy . . . silencing critics who warned about the risks the firm was taking." He also "would chastise traders and other moneymakers who told risk management officials exactly what they were doing." We can only infer that important lines of communication and necessary discussions to determine true risk were cut off. Most likely, not talking about the obvious, unexpected, or anything out of the ordinary became the norm. Some employees described Semerci as intimidating. Like the frog who gets comfortable as the temperature of the lukewarm water rises, Merrill employees no doubt became used to the culture of fear and didn't speak up.

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Yes We Can

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Nov 06, 2008

Yesterday, after the votes in the U.S. Presidential election had been counted and the winner decided images of the world's reaction to the election of Barack Obama filled our television screens. As I watched crowds and individuals from all over the world chant "Yes We Can" with tears in their eyes, I too found myself succumbing to a tsunami of emotion. Hope filled my heart as my eyes filled with tears. I cannot remember a more universal, positive, or global transcendent moment.

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Ambiguity—Dealing with the “A” in VUCA

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Nov 06, 2008

I talked about the volatility, uncertainty, and complexity in previous posts. In this post I discuss ambiguity, the fourth element of VUCA. In my executive coaching practice, I have encountered business leaders who have varying degrees of comfort with ambiguity. When things are ambiguous, they are not clear. Sometimes the situation itself is unclear. Sometimes the problem and/or solution are both unclear. Often, the very business environment itself is ambiguous. When leaders are not clear about what a particular event or situation means, they become frozen and cannot make decisions. For instance, in our current financial environment, we know that the Federal government has released funds to banks. What is unclear right now is how those funds will be disbursed, or if they will be disbursed, the level of risk, and if the stimulus packages will even work.

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The “C” in VUCA—Coping with Complexity

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Tue, Nov 04, 2008

Nearly twenty years ago, I was working for Wilson Learning, an international human resource development firm. In my first role as a Consultant, it was my job to understand our national clients and the business environment in which they operated. In the late 1980’s, I was attending a meeting of consultants in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. One of our consulting colleagues from the east coast commented that an emerging theme was the globalization of American corporations. Many of our national accounts, like AT&T, DuPont, IBM, and others were going global in a big way. Shortly after, as I moved into an Account Executive role on the west coast, it became clear that my high technology clients were expanding their existing operations in Europe and Asia. Selling intangibles to large accounts was already complex. We had to understand the products, markets, competition, organizational cultures, leadership styles, and our own competition. It became imperative to also understand the offshore cultures, as well as the impact this expanded globalization had on the organizational dynamics of our client firms. This was all before the advent of technology.
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Dealing with the “U” in VUCA in a Down Economy

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Thu, Oct 30, 2008

Volatility is the first aspect of a VUCA environment. Uncertainty is the second. Today’s economic environment is volatile. Yesterday, the stock market rose to 800 points or 10% in spite of gloomy news about the economic outlook. Consumer confidence is down, the housing market continues to slide, yet federal money is beginning to flow. The future is indeed uncertain.

More than ever, not everything is knowable to an organization’s leaders. Owen Jacobs, who I referred to in yesterday’s post, argues that leaders may have all of the important elements of a situation but may not be able to connect all of the dots. The information may be coming from the outside environment, or within the organization. Therefore, in order to help their organizations connect the dots, leaders need to design their organizations so that information can more easily turn into knowledge, and that knowledge can be acted upon quickly.

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Leadership Tips for the "V" in VUCA in Today's Down Economy

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Wed, Oct 29, 2008

In yesterday's post, I made reference to the term VUCA. VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Executive leaders have been increasingly challenged with VUCA, but in today's market, more so than ever. In the past six weeks, it feels like we have been collectively on an “E” ticket ride, although not at Disneyland! As the stock market has risen and fallen at dizzying levels, and with the credit markets in a vise, we have held our collective breaths. The business leaders I have spoken to or visited are struggling to make sense of the situation. Today, I will address the “V” in volatility.

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Welcome to Leadership Tangles

By Marcia Ruben, PhD, PCC on Mon, Oct 27, 2008

Welcome! I have been meaning to write a blog for a long time. As I have watched the financial markets spin out of control, and my leadership clients express true concern about their futures, I could hold off no longer. I have been in the field of leadership and organizational development for a number of years. I am in this field because I am passionately committed to igniting leadership potential and organizational transformation. Six years ago, I decided to up my game by entering a doctoral program. I graduated with my Ph.D. in March, 2007. Through that intense process, combined with more than twenty-five years working with leaders in a multitude of corporations, small, medium, and large, I feel uniquely equipped to lend my voice to these troubled times.

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Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

Marcia Ruben Ph.D, PCC, CMC

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