Leaders Don’t Need Self-Esteem

One of the enormous joys of teaching at a university is that students appear with passion to learn, grow, and become. I can sense it in my classroom of 65 and in the mega-class that holds 700.  But I especially feel it during office hours or my weekly lunches with students. They are wisdom seekers, … Continued

Every Good Supervisor of Others . . .

Students come back to me or write to me: “Professor Mulhern (or usually, Dan), my manager clearly never took your class!” And they explain.  Many of these alums quit within 18, 12, even less than 6 months. Yes, they are “millennials,” but believe me, the supervisor tales they tell are unbelievably sad.  And the scary … Continued

How to Manage Conflict with the Powerful and Entrenched


Thanks for the wonderful feedback on my just-completed 3-part series on how to constructively engage when there is CONFLICT.  I got wonderful push back, too.  Some argued against the usefulness of my prescriptions in important cases.  For example, my deliberate, humble and honest approach to engaging conflict seemed to these readers to be of questionable … Continued

The Subordinate Partner Speaks Out on Partnership

This belongs to the general series on the incredible power of partnership — of “paired leadership.”  And this is the last for now in the mini-series on “leading a subordinate to partnership.” The first 4 are all available at danmulhern.com/category/reading-for-leading.  I have been writing about helping lead a subordinate to become a partner. And last … Continued

How to Lead a Subordinate to Become a Partner – Part 2

Paired Leadership — 3rd in a series —  This series is written for people who can imagine that creating a PARTNERSHIP with a key report (or child or student) might generate much better results and much more satisfying relationships than “managing down.”   What I call “Paired leadership” or partnership is mysterious, but when we take … Continued

A Step-by-Step Process for When GRRRRR You’re Stuck

(Note: RFL generally runs about a page. Today it’s about 2 pages; not as quick a read, as it required more explanation.  Next week, I expect to return to shorter pieces, but I hope you find value in this one.) Last week, I wrote about those “Grrrrr, what do I do?” moments, where inner frustration keeps … Continued

Next Week Will Be Great But In a New Way

I am guessing that you did not notice that I first published last week’s “Reading for Leading” about Dr. King in January of 2007.  (I updated one line about Black Lives Matter.)   Many of you weren’t even getting “Reading for Leading” in 2007.  I am coming upon my 16th anniversary of birthing RFL (God … Continued

Movies and Leadership – Who Grabs You?

When a scene is well written, directed and acted, we can feel targeted or triggered. We are treated or entreated — we are drawn to something that evokes what’s best in us. These dramatic figures are like a gift to us, and they hit each of us in our own way, in our own spot. … Continued

Leaders Are Big – But Forget It

Last week I wrote about how my former TA, Hannah figured she was being listened to and appreciated, because, as she said, “I get invited to a lot of meetings.”  That story prompted this response from a reader: “I remember very vividly one early morning when I was working in the Executive Office, and Governor … Continued