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Ideas from Nihar – November Edition: “Managing an overly-ambitious person on your team; defining leadership in 5 or less words; and how to become more strategic”

I’ve been sending this Idea Sharing Series to you and others in my professional network since August, and I’ve been pleased to hear from many of you about topics for future installments to include.

November’s edition today offers ideas on a few topics that came to my inbox, including: “how to manage an overly-ambitious direct report;” “how to make sense of all the leadership ideas out there and what to apply;” and “how to become more strategic.”

So here are some ideas for each of them and I hope you find them helpful!


As leaders who want to achieve remarkable things, it helps to surround yourself with people who are highly talented, and in some cases even more talented than you.

But in a competitive world, where your brand and personal accomplishments determine your advancement in certain settings, how should you handle a team member that may be outperforming you?

In my latest article for Harvard Business Review, entitled “What to Do if Your Employee Starts to Outshine You,” I offer some advice for you if you find yourself in that situation.


A few weeks ago, one of my coaching clients who is an SVP at a Fortune 50 company, asked me an intriguing question: “Can you define leadership in 5 or less words?”

Every year, publishers put out thousands of books, articles and videos about leadership and everyone have their own anecdotes or research to define this concept.

It may never be something that we can perfectly define, but isn’t it interesting that we all seem to know good leadership when see it?

I told my client that in my humble view when you break it all down, leadership can be simply defined as:

“Making and keeping promises.”

The way I see it, the work of a leader in an organization involves nothing if not making both little and big agreements with others. The leaders that are successful, seem to make promises (setting a vision, driving a plan forward) and keep their promises (develop trust, show integrity).

You may or may not agree with my definition. But here is something to reflect on: what is a promise you made this past month that you kept?


What is a promise you made this past month that you broke?

No judgment from me here! But try this exercise yourself. The SVP found this activity to be insightful for him as he thought about where he can better lead others – and himself – in the coming months.


Last month, I received a request from a reader of this newsletter to provide some suggested resources on “becoming more strategic.”

When I help leaders become more strategic, we find the challenges take on different forms:

  • Some find it hard to make time to be strategic;
  • Others struggle with moving from a focus on details with their team to looking at the big picture; and
  • Many find it challenging to develop a strategy or vision because of the very nebulous nature of this work relative to executing a clearly defined plan.

Here are some useful articles that I’ve collected for my clients to help them become more strategic and if any resonate with you, I’d be happy to help you find ways to apply them to your work.

If Strategy Is So Important, Why Don’t We Make Time for It? (Harvard Business Review), by Dorie Clark. Dorie is a dear friend of mine and a brilliant strategist and branding, expert. This article helps you recognize that finding time to think strategically doesn’t have to be as complicated as it might seem. Just get started and find small pockets to expand your thinking on a daily basis.

4 Ways to Improve Your Strategic Thinking Skills (Harvard Business Review), by Nina Bowman. Nina’s article is a nice way to get started with shifting your mindset and your communication from a level down in the weeds to a higher, bigger picture focus.

Becoming More Strategic: Three Tips for Any Executive (McKinsey & Company). Consider ways to communicate in more innovative and engaging ways to demonstrate a more strategic approach to your work.

10 Principles of Strategic Leadership (Strategy + Business). Check out this comprehensive article for a menu of ways to lead strategically across the areas of systems/structures, policy/people and managing self. You’ll no doubt find something within these principles that is worth applying to your leadership journey and career toward becoming more strategic.

Let me know if you spot any ideas that resonate with you and your work!

Until next month,


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