We’re re-running this blog post about getting back into the school groove as part of our revamped blog. Stay tuned and check back for more timely tips from Leila! 


Three Tips for Leaders from the
Back to School Groove

As I bought back to school supplies, had uniforms nice and clean for the first day, and attended back to school  night, some thoughts came to mind on how going back to school provides leaders with three tips on renewing their approaches, especially as they return from vacation and get ready for the latter half of the year.

1. Review the rules.

At back to school night, I learned about the steps my children’s teachers take to enforce the school’s discipline process.

As a leader of people, you probably won’t experience success with a stoplight system of green for great days, yellow for breaking one rule, and red for breaking more than one rule. That works best for 2nd graders.

Yet you will get traction if you clearly explain what actions you will take when an employee is not at least meeting goals.

Some of the toughest situations I coach clients through is what to do with an employee who is struggling yet has never received consistent, honest feedback regarding his/her inadequate level of performance.

Don’t wait for your organization’s annual review period to establish what the rules for performance are. Your next 1:1 is your next opportunity to discuss which actions are meeting your expectations and which ones aren’t—and what the consequences are.

2. Be on time.

When children arrive late at school, they are tardy. Lessons start with or without them. And teachers keep track of tardiness and inform parents.

When you arrive late to a meeting, you are. . . what? Simply late?

I see varying degrees of consequence from my clients on how their organizations cope with back-to-back meeting culture. I hear how being late to meetings is “part of the company culture.” Wow, that’s a lame (yes, very ’80s of me) excuse.

Each person contributes to a culture. Last Friday I had a call with a client, and in setting up our next meeting, she first said “4 pm.” She then said, “Wait, can we do 4:05? I have a meeting before hand and it will go at least until 4.” Works for me!

Be on time. If it feels impossible, try it just once a day. See how it makes you feel.

3. Be organized.

My children have new pens, markers, pencils, and color-coded folders. Green is the home folder, purple is spelling, etc.

Just a bit of organization goes a long way.

Create a space that works for you. Label hard and soft folders, place notes for separate projects into separate folders, and if you need to, figure out how to clear out that Inbox!

I love Levenger’s punching system: I can quickly insert notes, handouts, contracts, and place the history of a project into a sleek binder.

What do you think? How do you get back into the fall groove?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Kind regards from the San Francisco Bay Area,



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