About Lindy Brewster

With 20 years of experience as a senior manager at board level, teaching and consulting, Lindy Brewster is the President of ORConsulting Inc. Lindy has an established international track record of successfully supporting top leadership of organizations in the Fortune 500 and teaching leadership self awareness and effective behaviors in the Business Schools at Lancaster (UK) and Georgetown Universities. She has developed organization-wide interventions that include adapting to culture change, increasing retention in a highly volatile market, increasing performance and managing effective relationships with trade unions.

Leaders: Prepare Your Remote Teams For The High-Tech Future, Today

There’s no denying that we live in turbulent times, especially when it comes to evolving technologies. Typical business practices, as they are commonly designed today, force many of us into an extraordinarily narrow and short-term view of the world around us. As leaders, we are often hyper-focused on our organization and customer goals and not paying close enough attention to the impact this approach could be having on the interrelationships of broader stakeholders. However, as uncomfortable as the notion may be, we can either choose to be fearful, resistant to change and reactionary, or we can lean into these fluctuations and technology developments and seize the opportunity to learn, adapt and thrive moving forward. I prefer the latter. While history teaches us that we cannot prevent change, it’s crucial for leaders to recognize the interconnection between all of the events we experience now and in the future. For example, consider technological advances that enable us to accomplish tasks now that we once believed an impossibility. In the early 2000s, I participated in a professional workshop led by a futurist. He spoke about a new handheld device on the horizon that was more powerful than any technology we had [...]

The Art Of Mastering Challenging Conversations At Work

Time after time, senior management executives face challenging workplace conversations that they may feel ill-equipped to handle. A challenging conversation is one in which we are out of our comfort zone, but also has the potential to make a significant impact for the better organization-wide. Examples of these types of interactions might involve providing developmental feedback, addressing poor performance, turning down an employee request, handling a complaint or disciplinary process, or meetings in which it is necessary to raise issues that potentially result in conflict, such as addressing critical and difficult organizational issues. Understandably, initiating a challenging conversation can feel overwhelming, and there’s a natural tendency for leaders to postpone taking action in the hopes that the issue will get resolved quietly – and without their intervention. However, this is seldom the case. In fact, procrastination rarely results in issues fading away. If specific problems are disregarded, they can escalate and become more challenging to resolve down the road. As a result, negative consequences not only arise for those team members directly involved but also for the greater company. It’s much better to face issues head-on at an early stage as it can help nip issues in the [...]

Embrace An ‘Integrator Mindset’ For Organizational Success

As leaders, most of us would like to believe that we have the ability to lead organizational transformation effectively. Expert and author Carole Dweck refers to this view as a “growth mindset” – when people work to improve their abilities and skills and, as a result, demonstrate significant improvements in leadership. One major benefit of the growth mindset, Dweck says, is how you view setbacks. People who embrace a growth mindset often view mistakes as learning lessons and their initial failures become part of the overall development process. Alternatively, there’s the “fixed mindset,” which assumes abilities are carved in stone with limited room for change. Fixed-mindset leaders are often more cautious and resist venturing outside their comfort zones, sometimes leading to failure in leadership and business success. It‘s essential that leaders not only understand their mindset, but have some understanding of the contributing factors, including the experience of organizational stages as described in a seminal article by Larry Greiner, and learning from the stages of human development and where they might be stuck. My research with hundreds of leaders over the last decade has focused on how we perceive the world through the lens of our personal work-life journey – and via our [...]

Developing a Mindset for Success

Over the past 10 years, I’ve been interested in how we perceive our world through the lens of our personal life journey and through our experience in organizations where we have worked. Both of these are a source for the mindset we find ourselves most comfortable in adopting. In addition our experience of what helps us succeed as leaders shapes and fixes our mindsets and these intuitively drive our behavior and approach. This can be helpful, providing us with quick solutions to what is facing us. Unfortunately as changes happen around us, these shortcuts can be our downfall In 1997 Larry Greiner’s seminal work “Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow” was reproduced in the Harvard Business Review. He re-affirmed that major phases of growth can be seen in organizations. Organizations evolve in stages and change through revolution in the form of crises. He defines the consecutive phases and crises as follows: Creativity - leadership Direction - autonomy Delegation - control Coordination – red tape Collaboration – in 1997 he proposed that the crisis following this phase is one of growth and requires a networked organization solution. He observes that leaders in each phase develop approaches that are adaptive for [...]

2019-07-25T17:03:53-04:00By |Leadership|

When Companies Collide: Maximizing Acquisitions

What happens when a $94 billion company acquires a $26 billion company¹? We don’t know the punch line to that question yet, but we do know that Microsoft has made news recently for acquiring LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. To date, that is Microsoft’s biggest purchase, dwarfing the $8.5 billion they paid for Skype. We know that Microsoft doesn’t have a perfect track record with acquisitions, writing down $7.6 billion in 2015 on Nokia, which virtually wiped out the entire value of that transaction². Microsoft isn’t the only company that has struggled to create value out of acquisitions. In fact, more than 80% of company mergers fail, and corporate culture differences is often at the root of these failures³. Microsoft says it will allow LinkedIn to function autonomously, but it is hard to know the degree to which this will be true and at what level of the LinkedIn organization employees will feel the changes. Any change creates uncertainty, and people don’t like uncertainty. Although we don’t yet know the outcome of this partnership, we do know that the leaders in both organizations have their work cut out for them to make this successful. Given how risky mergers and acquisitions [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:13-05:00By |Leadership|

Poor Leadership Comes with a Price Tag

We all know poor leadership when we see it. Virtually anyone who has held a job for any significant length of time has a story about the impact of a bad boss. Whether it’s inconsistent or surprising feedback, poor communication, unpredictable behavior, self-centered actions, lack of direction or guidance, or avoiding difficult situations, many have weathered the storm and learned lessons about what to avoid as a leader. However, not everyone weathers the storm; in fact, the number one reason people cite for leaving an organization is their direct leadership. I once met a man at a networking event who was very interested in the leadership work that I was doing. We talked about the organizational impact of a poor leader, and he gave an example of someone who set up a non-profit organization with a few friends. Within a year, it had grown to about 20 people. However, by the time the second year wrapped up, the organization had almost completely collapsed in on itself, as people couldn’t take the leadership style of the founder. The last time he heard, the organization only had three or four people in it. So, there is a cost to poor leadership, [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:13-05:00By |Leadership|

Mindfulness Beyond Meditation

I was recently at a great conference on mindfulness in the business environment, and a lot of good things were said about the necessity for business leaders to be more mindful in the workplace and to encourage their teams along the same lines. One thing that struck me, however, was the narrow view of mindfulness that many of the attendees and, indeed, the speakers had. The common refrain went something like this: “I regularly practice mindfulness. I’ve been meditating for 20 years.” If a pie graph on mindfulness were created, a small slice of that pie would be called Reflective Practice. A sub-slice of Reflective Practice might be called Meditation. Consequently, meditation is a small slice of a small slice in the mindfulness pie, but there didn’t seem to be much awareness of this in the conversations I had. So, what else is out there on mindfulness above and beyond the practice of meditation? In the 1960s, a psychologist named Walter Mischel ran an interesting study with young children (aged 4-6). He sat them down in a classroom and put a marshmallow in front of each of them. He told them they could eat the marshmallow at any time, [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:13-05:00By |Leadership|

What the World’s Greatest Athletes Can Teach Us

What do Hank Haney, Miller Huggins, Phil Jackson, and Bill Walsh all have in common? All of them had the opportunity to coach athletes who many believe to be the best of all time in their respective sports. Hank Haney coached Tiger Woods during his most successful years. Miller Huggins was Babe Ruth’s manager for the first decade of his career with the Yankees. Phil Jackson (Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant) and Bill Walsh (Joe Montana and Jerry Rice) each had the privilege of coaching two athletes who could throw their hats in the ring as the best of all time. I ran track in high school. My role on the team was as a sprinter/hurdler, but I also ran some middle distance relays. When I got to college, my coach thought I could find some success as a decathlete, but that would mean I would have to learn some field events. One of these events was the high jump. I had never done this before, and my natural inclination was to try to clear the bar with either a superman leap or with what is called the Western Roll. Both of these techniques keep your belly facing the [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:14-05:00By |Leadership|

Your Most Important Asset as a Leader is Not What You Think

Several years ago, Gallup did a poll that looked at the state of the American workforce. The results weren’t encouraging. When they tallied up the results, a stunning 71% of the workforce was not fully engaged in their work. For those keeping score at home, that means that only 29% are fully committed to doing their best at work. What’s worse, a Towers Watson study showed that 26% of the American workforce is actively disengaged. This means that almost as many employees in your workforce are doing little more than draining resources as there are those who are fully dedicated. If you imagine that your company is a rowboat, and your employees are the rowers, those who are fully engaged are rowing the in direction the company is setting. Those who aren’t completely engaged have basically pulled in their oars, and those who are actively disengaged are rowing in the wrong direction, essentially counteracting the other rowers. If you’ve ever felt like your company wasn’t going anywhere fast, this may be the reason. When I was on Active Duty in the Air Force, we went through periodic inspections to make sure that we [...]

2016-12-15T15:32:14-05:00By |Leadership|

Why ‘Flying By the Seat of Your Pants’ is Not the Best Version of You

“Let’s just throw it against the wall and see what sticks.” “I’m just winging it here.” “I feel like I’m really flying by the seat of my pants.” You may have heard (or even said) statements like these before in your work life. Comments like these indicate a lack of insight, feeling unprepared, rushed, and/or not in control. These are also statements that do not build confidence if they come from leaders in your organization. On the one hand, declarations like these show honesty and transparency, which is a good leadership trait. On the other hand, a leader who lacks insight, hasn’t adequately prepared, is rushing, or feels out of control is a leader who is on the verge of making mistakes. A number of years ago, my wife and I went out to dinner with some good friends and returned to my house to play some board games. When we arrived at my house, I noticed my friend do something very irregular. He put his to-go box in my refrigerator and put his car keys on top of it. Curious, I asked why he had done that. Experience had taught him that [...]

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