About Erika Andersen

Over the past 30 years, Erika has developed a reputation for creating approaches to learning and business-building that are custom tailored to her clients’ challenges, goals, and culture.

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Archive for December, 2012


Next Time You’re Absolutely, Positively 100% Sure About Something…

OK, before I say anything else, please watch this video:


A colleague and friend, Cindy Franklin, sent this to me on Saturday.  I watched it with my husband, and we both completely missed the important element (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here).  In fact, we were so committed to our sense that the whole thing was somehow a trick, that we immediately rewound  the tape to see whether the element was really there. We both thought, Wow – how could we have missed that?

What a great example of – exactly as the title of the video says – “selective attention.”

Often when I talk with executives, I notice that there are big, important pieces of the picture they’re simply not seeing.  This little video helps me understand more clearly that we when we miss critical elements, it’s often because we’re over-focusing on what we’re already looking for…to the exclusion of the things we may not be expecting.

I was just talking to a client the other day who is a senior executive in a large company – almost 50,000 employees.  Her boss is about to retire, and has already named his successor, a very smart man who has risen fairly rapidly through the ranks to his current position.  She likes this guy, and thinks he’ll be a good CEO, but is astonished that, in her words “he’s just starting to recognize that it’s important for him to be a good people leader.”  She’s very focused on leading her own people well, and sees that as an important element of her success.  It seems to me that her boss-to-be has been focusing exclusively on what are to him the players-in-white-passing-the-ball parts of the business; he’s very financially and operationally focused, so it’s essential stuff – it’s just not all the essential stuff.  I think himself-as-leader-of-people has been the invisible gorilla in his movie.

So, here’s a suggestion.  When you’re thinking about an important situation, professional or personal, and you want to make sure you’re focusing on all the important elements, try this. First, unhook your brain from the assumptions and conclusions you’ve already made (i.e., “I’m doing everything I can,” “It’s all their fault,” “I just need this set of facts,” “I don’t need to think about…”). Question those assumptions and concclusions, and assume they might not be accurate. Then step back and ask yourself “What am I not seeing?”

I predict you’ll be surprised at all the metaphorical gorillas that wander by.


Why I Love Talking About Leadership

[NOTE: To all my long-time readers who are used to seeing a post from me at least once a week; we got hacked and had to clean and move the site – it took a while.  My apologies!]

Last week I did an interview about Leading So People Will Follow with Wayne Hurlburt on Blog Talk Radio. Wayne has interviewed me for each of my books, and it’s always a great conversation: he asks thoughtful, insightful questions, and he’s genuinely curious about the answers. Unlike a lot of interviewers, he reads his authors’ books thoroughly and tries to make a personal connection with what he reads…it makes for a great interview.

And I realized, as we were talking – I love talking about leadership.

Here’s why.  If you define leadership, very broadly, as influencing and guiding others toward a positive outcome, then we’re each called upon to lead in various ways throughout our lives.  The opportunity, and the responsibility, to lead well is an intrinsic part of the human condition.  Learning to lead well is critical to success – ours, our followers, our enterprises of all kinds.  It’s really important to help people do it as well as possible.

Those are the rational reasons.  The heart reason, the thing that makes talking about leadership feel like singing, at least to me, is: leadership is a noble endeavor that – done well – calls out the best in us.  It allows us to operate on all cylinders, to inspire and enable people to work together to go beyond their individual limitations and achieve great things.

I love helping people become the best leaders they can be. I get huge satisfaction from supporting people to understand the power of leadership, and their own potential to be leaders, and then offering them the tools they need to undertake that important journey.

So thanks to Wayne, and to all my interviewers, clients, colleagues and readers, who give me the opportunity to sing every day.