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Opinions and information on leadership and leadership development by Dan McCarthy
Updated: 1 hour 2 min ago

Why Dumpster Fires at Work are Powerful Teachers

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 06:00

Guest post by Maki Moussavi:
We've all been there. We've experienced the situation at work that pops up and is immediately followed by thoughts about how our day is suddenly going off course, that priorities have shifted in favor of the fire that needs putting out. Of course, this is to be expected from time to time. 
But what if the thought that bubbles up is a variation of "Here we go again"? When chaos is cyclical, reacting to and addressing the fire is reactive and only addresses the symptom of a much larger problem. This is the equivalent of treating recurrent heartburn with a pill instead of searching for the underlying issue that's causing your discomfort. It's a bandage on a wound that requires more than a surface solution. 
Many of you are either very good at (or have a team member or leader who is very good at) going into damage control mode to quickly triage a situation. All of the energy in the room gets funneled in the direction of applying the bandage, and even if there are important observations about an element that contributed to the fire that needs to be addressed, it's all too easy to set that aside in favor of the immediate actions that must be taken. Once the chaos has subsided, you may have a debrief and make a plan to correct underlying issues, but the reality is that plans of that nature tend to be put off for the future, or to be derailed by the next situation that pops up. 
One of the most frustrating aspects of managing cyclical challenges is that the cycle itself can create a false sense that there's no good way out of the pattern. That you're fighting a losing battle, and the powers that be don't get it and won't make the necessary changes to avoid the same issues in the future. You become resigned to fighting the fires instead of preventing them in the first place. All kinds of limiting mental chatter crowd into your head that reinforce your sense that you don't have the authority to make people listen or to create change. You and your colleagues may even get together to vent about this very thing, further reinforcing the idea that you have no power to make it better. 
Let me say that again: You get to the point where you believe you have no power to change the situation. 
It's easy to fall into the trap of this belief. After all, the culture of an organization is a powerful factor in the way chaos is handled. If all you see is how it's mishandled, you will naturally believe that future situations will be similarly mishandled. But where are YOU in all of this?
The next time a dumpster fire shows up, you can handle it in a way that empowers YOU, even if the desired outward change is slow in coming. 
Your to-dos:
  • Become an observer. Yes, you may be feeling some pressure, but do your best to truly see the situation. Are there key players who tend to be part of the cycle? What repetitive elements do you notice? How is this time the same or different from last time? Did something go unaddressed between the previous and current situations?
  • Note your mental chatter. What are you saying to yourself as this unfolds? Note the thoughts alluded to above that reinforce the cycle by telling you there's no way out, that the cycling is inevitable. Even more importantly, note how you feel personally. Are you feeling powerless? Anxious? Resigned? Frustrated? Ask yourself what you have been tolerating and accepting even when it's clearly not working for you
  • Take inventory. Have you ever taken a proactive approach to the solution in the past? If so, what did you do and how did it go? Did you involve others? What could you do this time, taking your observations into account, that may make a difference? Whose help can you enlist? 
  • Create a plan. Get through the chaos and then approach the people from your inventory exercise to create a way forward. You have no guarantee that it will work, but it is a proactive (empowered) rather than reactive (disempowered) way to build some positive momentum. From there, work with those you trust to chip away at a system that's not working. 
  • Know your limits. Go back to your mental chatter - what have you been tolerating? What do you no longer want to put up with? How long are you willing to put in effort toward change, and what will you do if you don't see it? There's no rule that says you have to stay in an organization that operates in chaos. If you truly run up against leaders who are unwilling to make changes, that's helpful information to have as you consider your career path.
  • You have a choice. You always have a choice. If you decide to stay and tolerate what's not working for you, that's a choice. If you tell yourself that there are no better options out there for you, it's a choice to believe that. One of the most powerful decisions you can make is to consciously catch your disempowered thoughts and reset your perspective to an empowered one. It takes practice, but your entire life will be better for it. 
 Maki Moussavi is a transformational success coach focused on helping people create lives defined by their desires rather than societal or familial constructs of success. Too many put up with a life spent surviving rather than thriving. Maki’s passion is helping people discover their personal programming and the patterns in which they operate in order to break through to a life where they unapologetically live according to their own expectations, not those of others. She specializes in providing a process around transformation to streamline the path to change.
Maki has a Master of Science degree in genetic counseling and counseled patients before embarking on a 12-plus year corporate career prior to becoming a coach.
Her upcoming book, The High Achiever’s Guide: Transform Your Success Mindset and Begin the Quest to Fulfillment released on October 15. This book challenges unfulfilled higher achievers to examine what drives them, how they hold themselves back, and what it takes to define a new vision of life by facing their fears, using their voice, trusting their instincts and committing to a new way of being.
Categories: Blogs

Ethical Leadership for Sustainable Wellbeing

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Dr. Ian Hesketh and Sir Cary Cooper:
Which style of leadership behaviour is the most effective has been the challenge for most executives for many years. Trying to meet the challenges of modern-day working practices and the demands of a 24hr global demand under increasing constraints is a real conundrum. Ethical Leadershipis proven to improve employee wellbeing and promotes extra-role effort. Further, ethical leadership can decrease emotional exhaustion and increase work engagement. It can also result in a willingness from employees to make suggestions to improve the organization. Our experience is that the concept of feeling trusted in the workplace magnifies ethical leadership and can also result in further extra-role effort.  So, what are these concepts and how easy is it to implement them?
The great news is that these are easily learned and adaptable to all workplace settings. Ethical leadership is the notion that the leadership approach involves promoting ethical standards in organizations and encourages followers to behave more ethically. Although historically it is born out of the philosophical concept that it improves wellbeing, it has been popularized of late due to questionable business practices and huge corporate scandals; together with evidence that it improves both employee wellbeing and organizational performance.
Here is why. Ethical leadership leads to increased extra role effort. That is, what employees are prepared to do that is above and beyond what is expected of them by their employees. It also leads to employees feeling trusted to make decisions on their own that are appreciated and acknowledged by their employees. Further, it leads to reduced occurrences of feeling emotionally exhausted, that is the cognitive or physical strain that one feels from workplace pressures. It also leads to increased employee engagement, this is the way employees view their work as a positive challenge and are prepared to interact, to suggest new ideas and feel part of the organization. For example, employees are more likely to speak highly of their employer, both inside and outside of work. Employees are more likely to promote the business; and encourage other colleagues to do so also.
What to look out for? Ethical leaders are people-oriented. They look out for the long-term interests of colleagues and are unwavering in this quest. They authentically promote ethical behaviours, both inside and outside of the workplace. They live their own lives ethically. They make fair and balanced decisions.
To conclude, ethical leadership is good news for all business and for successful organizations is being proactively sought after. If you have leadership responsibilities or are concerned with human resource management and are recruiting or promoting your next tranche of leaders, look for the qualities outlined in this short article. These qualities in leaders can result in sustainable high performance. In this high performing environment you will witness employee pride in working for a reputable organization. One in which people are attracted to be part of and speak highly of both inside and outside of the organization. If this is your goal, ethical leadership is the way to go.
Ian Hesketh, PhD and Sir Cary Cooper, CBE are the authors of WELLBEING AT WORK: How to Design, Implement and Evaluate an Effective Strategy. Both are associated with the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work (UK). For more information visit: https://www.koganpage.com/product/wellbeing-at-work-9780749480684
Categories: Blogs

Great Leaders Focus on the Why and the What—Not the How

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 06:00

Guest post by Steve Coughran:
In my two decades of business experience, I have encountered many different flavors of leadership. Some leaders are strong-willed and autocratic, some are open-minded and democratic, some employ laissez-faire, employee-centric leadership styles, and most fall somewhere in the middle. While leadership style varies, in my experience, leaders across the board provide employees with a sincere depiction of the Why, an explicit description of the What, and freedom on the How.
Many of you reading are likely familiar with Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. His premise suggests that great leaders motivate with the “Why”, a deep-rooted purpose, before defining the “What”, the product or service, or the “How”, the process.  Expanding on Sinek’s thoughts, I believe that not only do great leaders deprioritize the “how,” but the most influential bosses leave the “how” to their employees to figure out.
Have you ever been in a work situation where your boss or manager is explaining in specific detail how to do your job? It’s frustrating when managers live in the weeds. Poor leaders provide specificity around how to complete a task but fail to share the big picture, the why, behind the request.  No one likes to be micromanaged. Unfortunately, many leaders result to meddling with the process in attempts to maintain a false sense of power. Micromanagers focus explicitly on the how, which often results in short-term success at the expense of the long-term strategy, overall scalability, and employee satisfaction.
Great leaders give little input on the how. Of course, this approach first requires leaders to equip employees with the tools and skills to solve for the how. They must invest heavily in training to ensure employees are prepared to think through the processes.
Training alone, however, isn’t enough to produce the desired results. After reinforcing the why and enabling employees, they get specific about the what. Great leaders share explicit expectations. When I first launched a high-end design build firm, I learned the hard way the importance of clearly communicating expectations. I was feeling on top of the world as my company flourished; customers were lining up for projects, and I had a diverse and talented staff to uphold my brand. To maintain this status, I was also working like a dog, putting in eighty-hour workweeks to keep up with demand. I jumped at my first opportunity to take a two-week vacation, leaving the company reins in the hands of one of my top managers. We were working on a high-end project, but I trusted my employees. I gave little instruction—my manager knew the business as well as I did—and was off to relax on a beach in Mexico and forget about work for a while.
I returned frustrated with the lack of progress. While I was away, the high-end project suffered from operational issues that led to cost overruns and schedule delays resulting in an upset client and some delayed payments. While I was upset with my team, I too was responsible for the situation. What did I count on my managers and employees to do while I was away? More importantly, how would I ensure they held up their end of the bargain? I failed to create an accountability structure. Through this experience, I learned a critical lesson: strong leaders follow up.
Great leaders build accountability structures that clearly define the desired results. Results are laid out specifically and comprehensively, often incorporating qualitative and quantitative data. By leaving little room for confusion, leaders establish fair expectations, which provide a foundation for equitable evaluation and constructive feedback. They create a “return and report” culture where employees are sent off with an understanding of the overarching strategy and the goals of the assignment. They present their findings after independently problem solving.
Giving employees freedom shows that you trust them (which according to research is critical for workplace engagement and productivity). Additionally, by encouraging employees to think, leaders boost their team’s development. Seeing how the employee problem solves allows his or her manager to clearly examine their comprehension of the task, the big picture, and detect any gaps in understanding or skills. They can then address these knowledge gaps with training and coaching, bringing the employees’ development full circle.
As we all continue along the journey to become the best leaders we can be, keep in mind Simon Sinek’s words of wisdom, “There is a difference between giving direction and giving directions.” Emphasize your purpose, explain your product or service, and leave the rest to your well-equipped team. 
About the author:  Author, CFO of an international billion-dollar company, and management consultant, Steve Coughran has over two decades of experience driving business excellence. His newest book is Outsizing: Strategies to Grow your Business, Profits, and Potential.  For more information visit www.SteveCoughran.com.
Categories: Blogs

Three Keys to Values-Aligned Experiences

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 06:27

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:
Being around values mis-aligned people lowers trust, discretionary energy, and performance. Our research suggests three key steps you can take to ensure values-aligned experiences:
1)    Be clear on your own values. Define the behaviors you will demonstrate when you are living your values, and take time regularly to reflect on how you’re doing with modeling those valued behaviors.2)    Observe the decisions and behaviors of others. It is not your responsibility to change their values, but it is up to you to insulate yourself from those whose values are inconsistent with your own.3)    Actively cherish and celebrate the people around you who DO share your values.

I’ve been very lucky throughout my career to be attracted to jobs and opportunities where I’ve worked with people who share my values and life principles. There have been times when I’ve engaged in project work with players who were clearly not values-aligned with me . . . and much learning resulted!
I have bragged about one of my best bosses, Jerry Nutter  (a long time executive with YMCAs in California) in previous posts. Jerry taught me to observe others’ behavior as “that will give you insights into their values” and to surround myself with values-aligned people. “Life is too short,” Nutter explained, “to do otherwise.”
Day-to-Day Decisions and Behavior Reveal a Person’s Values
You likely have seen these behaviors in the workplace during your career:
●     Engaging in gossip●     Withholding information from peers to make oneself look better/smarter/more productive●     Teasing and/or making fun (sometimes in the name of “teambuilding”)●     Complaining about someone’s behavior to a peer, team lead, or boss without going directly to that person to address the concern
These and dozens of other similar behaviors happen in organizations every day. If your organization has not intentionally defined their desired culture and values base, norms often evolve that tolerate (and even support) behaviors like these.
Decisions reveal values in the workplace, as well. If you’ve had a boss belittle a team member (in front of them or behind their back), take credit for work others have done, or promised to do “X” yet moments later did the exact opposite, you are seeing the values they embrace.
The Hole In One
I experienced an epiphany about values misalignment years ago on the golf course. A work colleague and I enjoyed golf and began playing together at a local course on Saturdays. This colleague (let’s call him Bill) had a reputation in the company for making fast decisions that served him and his team well . . . even if it meant stepping on toes. I’d seen Bill publicly belittle others more than once, so had that gnawing feeling in my gut about this gentleman’s values. Because of that, I was always on guard around Bill, even outside the workplace.
We approached the par 3 17th hole and Bill set up his tee shot. He pushed the ball into the greenside creek. He cursed up a storm while placing another ball on the tee. He swung and hit a very nice shot towards the pin. It took one bounce and dove into the cup!
I said, “Nice par!” Bill’s first ball in the water cost him a penalty stroke, so he was hitting his third stroke on the tee. Bill looked at me angrily and said, “I’m taking that as a hole in one!” I was not surprised at Bill’s self-serving stroke tallying . . . but realized at that moment that I was at fault by spending time on the golf course with someone whose values were very different than mine. I fixed that immediately – I preferred playing golf with strangers than with Bill.
The bottom line: Do the right thing for your sanity, productivity, and spirit.
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here
Categories: Blogs

Boost Innovation by Strengthening the Organization’s Immune Systems

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 06:00

Guest post by Kris Oestergaard:
Today, every business is looking to find ways to streamline its innovative abilities. Those successful in establishing a culture of innovation have addressed their organization’s “immune systems.” Just as the body’s immune system keeps it healthy, stable and tolerant of change, an organization’s immune system must be strong in order to handle the task of innovating. 
But in a rapidly changing world, many of the defense mechanisms organizations utilize are no longer appropriate -- and can even put organizations’ innovation at risk. Too often, when innovation processes fall short, top managers make the impulsive diagnosis that it’s because their people are simply unwilling to change. This assumption is pervasive: A recent study revealed that 76 percent of managers believed their organizations didn’t have the capabilities needed to move into the future. 
But this conclusion is inexact. Every organization’s immune system is affected by an individual immune system, an organizational immune system and asocietal immune system. Organizational leaders need to address all three in order to transform into innovation champions.
1. Understanding individual’s resistance to change. Humans have different risk profiles. Some are thrill-seekers while others avoid exposure to risk at all costs. Knowing this, management needs to make a very compelling case if it wants to convince its staff to join in the organization’s innovation journey. Otherwise, the individual immune system kicks in and those with a low tolerance for risk, reluctant to change if the outcome is uncertain, won’t get on board. 
2. Assessing your organizational immune system. Transformation processes demand risk taking, the development of new staff capabilities and a strong focus on innovation. But very often, organizations attempt to kickstart a large transformation process without adapting their policies for measuring and rewarding employee behavior to the new reality they have set out to create. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and rewards systems make up a large part of the organizational immune system. Unless these are aligned with the organization’s strategic long-term goals, they aren’t supporting the motivation and attitudes needed to drive innovation efforts.
Grundfos, the Danish water pump manufacturer, is among the legacy organizations that have intentionally restructured their rewards systems to boost innovation. Grundfos evaluates employees on new parameters, including a willingness to help others and motivation to undertake a new digitization journey. Another example is Microsoft, which now includes sharing and building on the knowledge of others among its KPIs. These performance indicators help employees become aware of and work in a way that builds the desired innovation culture of the organization. 
3. Taking the temperature of the societal immune system.Organizational innovation efforts are subject to changes in the societal immune system as well. These can take the form of legislative inaction in regulating new industries. Consider Uber’s entry into the ride-hailing world, pushing the regulated taxi companies to the sidelines. Or, look at how the cryptocurrency Bitcoin has disrupted the regulated banking industry. Legislation can also serve to established industries by keeping new players out of the market and limiting innovation. But new business models can also seek out places where restrictions don’t apply. 
Longtime suppliers and customers represent another subset of the societal immune system. Both need ongoing education and encouragement to keep them well informed of and up to date on any new directions and developments you create. For example, helping clients stay up to speed with technological upgrades of products is critical to maintaining the organization’s market share.
It’s essential to understand the influence that individual, organizational and societal immune systems have on increasing an organization’s innovation capacity. Business leaders need to analyze and address each of the three immune systems to create the best possible foundation for their innovation strategy. 
Kris Oestergaard is a sought after speaker, facilitator, researcher and expert on innovation in legacy organizations, corporate cultures and exponential organizations. He is co-founder and Chief Learning and Innovation Officer at SingularityU Nordic, a collaborative venture with Singularity University in Silicon Valley. His new book is Transforming Legacy Organizations: Turn Your Established Business into an Innovation Champion to Win the Future (Wiley, June 10, 2019). Learn more at  krisoestergaard.com.
Categories: Blogs

Ethical Leaders And Workplace Culture: The Foundation Of Ethical Decision Making

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 06:00

Guest post by Dr. Steven Mintz:
Ethical leaders create a culture in the workplace that promotes moral values and establishes an ethical tone at the top. Creating an ethical culture means setting a standard that decisions are made and actions are taken that are right, not wrong; good, not bad; and they benefit the stakeholders of the organization. Ethical leaders are role models for others in the organization to follow. They “walk the talk” of ethics in everything they say and do. Ethical leaders empower others to achieve success through right actions. They make decisions that contribute to the common good.
Employees want to work for ethical organizations. Ethical organizations treat employees with respect and promote fairness in the performance evaluation process. Employees are compensated based on results and not biased choices where one employee is favored over another and compensated higher for the same quality of work. The gender pay gap is one such example.
An ethical workplace culture is one where moral values define relationships between employees, the organization and other stakeholders. The congruence of employee-employer values facilitates ethical decision making while gaps in those values can promote conflict and create an ethical dilemma. For example, a superior who pressures a subordinate to overlook financial wrongdoing creates a dilemma for the employee that can best be expressed as: Should I do what my superior demands or what I know to be the right thing? 
Turning Moral Values into Virtues
The moral values of an ethical leader include honesty, integrity, respect for others, fair treatment, being responsible for decisions and accountable for one’s actions. Moral values encourage positive relationships built on respect, trust and transparency.
One way to understand the role of moral values in an ethical workplace is through the concept of virtue. Virtues are characteristic traits of behavior that ethical leaders should aspire to adopt. They are often thought of as excellences of character and categorized as either moral or intellectual. Moral virtues govern our behavior (e.g., courage, justice, self-control and truthfulness) while intellectual virtues deal with our thought process and are acquired through understanding, good judgment, reasoning abilities and practical wisdom. Intellectual virtues are gained by deliberating about what should and should not be done.
Turning virtue into ethical action requires a commitment to do the right thing regardless of the costs to oneself and the organization. Sometimes this is easier said than done because internal pressures create barriers to ethical decision making as in the case of financial wrongdoing.
Ethical Decision Making
The ethical decision-making process begins by identifying the moral values in play. The following example illustrates how ethical judgments are made.
It is 5 p.m. on Dec. 29 and the chief operating officer (COO) meets with the production manager about a major shipment of product to a customer. The COO tells the production manager to ship the product within the next two days to ensure it is counted as revenue in the current year. The motivation is to pay larger bonuses based on the higher level of revenue and profit. The production manager reminds the COO that an agreement exists with the customer to inspect 100 percent of the product prior to shipment and it cannot be done by December 31. What should the production manager do?
The production manager knows that what is being asked is wrong. After all, why should the customer be burdened by possible defects in the product that went undetected because inspections were not made? The COO is motivated by short-term considerations – higher profits and greater bonuses – rather than long-term ethical behavior.
An ethical production manager should be guided by the following virtues:
Honesty.Shipping the product without inspecting it violates the agreement and potentially compromises the trust of the customer.
Responsibility.The ethical question for the production manager is: How would I feel if the customer identifies a defect in the product and I failed to insist on 100 percent inspection? What if the product defect caused harm to the customer? Can I ethically defend my decision to go along with the COO?
Courage.Integrity is the key meaning to have the courage of one’s convictions to do the right thing precisely because it is the right thing to do. The production manager should be willing to stand up to the COO and not give in to the pressure, even if threatened with retaliation.
Good judgment.An ethical leader relies on reasoning methods such as teleology, or consequence-based ethics, and deontology, or duty ethics. The reasoning process for the production manager follows.
Ethical Reasoning Process
Teleology. Teleological ethics relies on an ethical analysis of the outcomes or consequences of each action. The best choice is that which maximizes the benefits to the stakeholders while minimizing the costs. The benefits are higher revenue, greater profits, and bonuses. The costs are largely unknown because it is unclear whether any defects exist and, if so, how they might affect the customer. This uncertainty is why cost-benefit analysis is problematic. 
Deontology. Deontological ethics, or duty ethics, bases moral decision-making on foundational principles of obligation. A major approach is rights theory under which each individual has certain rights that should be respected and decision-makers have an obligation to satisfy those rights. Simply stated, the customer has a right to use a product and expect it to operate as intended. The company has an ethical duty to meet the legitimate rights of the customers for a fully functioning product.
Ethical Decision
Knowing what the right thing to do is and doing it are not the same. The fear of retaliation can negatively influence ethical decision-making. However, an ethical production manager should understand that going along with the COO can create an ethical slippery slope problem where decisions in the future are tainted by unethical behavior in the present that has to be covered up. This is no way to promote ethical leadership and create an ethical organization environment.
Dr. Steven Mintz (www.stevenmintzethics.com), author of Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior, has frequently commented on ethical issues in society and business ethics. His Workplace Ethics Advice blog has been recognized as one of the top 30 in corporate social responsibility. He also has served as an expert witness on ethics matters. Dr. Mintz spent almost 40 years of his life in academia. He has held positions as a chair in Accounting at San Francisco State University and Texas State University. He was the Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at Cal State University, San Bernardino. He recently retired as a Professor Emeritus from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo.
Categories: Blogs

10 Magic Phrases That Will Make You a Better Leader

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 06:00
By Dan McCarthy:


Want to be a better leader? Then try improving your vocabulary. No, I'm not talking adding the latest management and leadership buzzwords or jargon to your repertoire. I'm talking about adding some powerful phrases to your vocabulary that will engage, motivate and inspire others.


1. "How can I be a better leader?"
Variations of the question include "How can I be a better parent?", "How can I be a better spouse?", and "How can I be a better child?"Just make sure to listen and say.....

2. "Thank you."
Use these two powerful words as a response to constructive feedback (which should be seen as a gift), positive feedback, as a way to express gratitude for going the extra mile or a job well done, or when someone brings bad news or a problem to your attention.

3. "Nice Job."
Variations include "Good work!" and "Way to go!" Giving positive reinforcement becomes even more powerful if when it's specific, timely, and you can explain why (positive impact), but let's not over-complicate it too much for now.

4. "What do you think?"
Asking someone for their opinion or ideas is the ultimate demonstration of respect. And when you get those ideas, don't forget to go back to #2.

5. "How can I help?"
Often used as a way to express support during a development discussion, in problem solving, when someone is going through personal difficulties, or when problems or ideas are brought to your attention.

6. "What's possible?"
Instead of coming up with reasons why something won't work, ask yourself and others "What's possible?". And if they do come up with examples of how similar ideas have been tried in the past and have not worked, use the phrase "Up until now."

7. "I don't know."
Use this when you truly don't know the answer to a question or solution to a problem - it demonstrates humility and authenticity. It goes well with "what do you think" as a follow-up.

8. "Why is that important to you?"
This question demonstrates that you care, and you'll learn a lot about the person's motivation and values.

9. "Help me understand."
A much better way to understand someone's logic, reasoning, feelings, etc... than "Really?!", or "Seriously?!", or "What are you thinking?!"

10. "I believe in you."
What a way to express confidence in someone's ability or potential!


Dan McCarthy is an expert in leadership and management development. For over 20 years Dan has helped thousands of leaders and aspiring leaders improve their leadership capabilities. As the owner of Great Leadership, Dan works with organizations and individuals to optimize their leadership capabilities. His expertise includes leadership coaching, succession planning and leadership development consulting, training, speaking, and writing. You can contact Dan via email at dan@greatleadershipbydan.com and follow him on Twitter @greatleadership.
Categories: Blogs

5 Ways to Deal with a Job that Sucks

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Steve Farber:

A buddy of mine has a step-daughter who works three or four 12-hour shifts each week as aclerk in a hospital emergency room. She’s a single mom with three kids, all still at home, all still outgrowing their shoes every other week, and all seemingly capable of eating Walmart’s entire grocery section in a single sitting. She took the job in part because it paid a couple of bucks an hour more than her previous job and because she liked the idea of helping people who were sick or hurting.

Everything started off great. She was energetic about her work and enjoyed serving the patients and the hospital staff. A month or so into it, though, her supervisor called her in and said they had made a mistake on her pay scale. She was going to have to take a cut, but, thanks to the administration’s amazing benevolence, she wouldn’t have to pay back anything from the checks she’d already cashed.

She thought about fighting the decision, but she really needed the job. She felt trapped: stay quiet and take less money or speak out, risk getting fired and possibly end up with nothing. She couldn’t afford nothing so she stayed quiet. Now she hates her job, doesn’t trust her supervisor, and dreads going to work.

The hard, cold reality is that hundreds of thousands of people don’t love what they do. They might be clerks in an emergency room, CEOs in a corporate office, or managers on a factory line, but they find no joy or fulfillment in the efforts that produce their paychecks. For them, work sucks.

What to do?

I don’t have a can’t-miss, silver-bullet solution. But I do believe that everyone can and should do what they love in the service of people who love what they do. It’s highly aspirational, I know, but why settle for less? If, however, you find yourself in a my-work-sucks situation—or if you are counseling someone in that situation—here are a few tips for dealing with the dilemma.

Don’t give up. We’re told from an early age that we should do what makes us happy, but happiness is circumstantial. Sometimes work is hard, even if you love what you do, and sometimes we simply have to adult our way through the tough times. Typically, we learn from those tough times, grow from them, and emerge better in almost every respect. So don’t start with the assumption that you’re in the wrong place and have to leave. That could be true, but don’t operate with that assumption or it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Remember how you got there. What were the events, jobs, projects, and other experiences that led you to your current role? I recommend that people literally draw a map on a piece of paper with “I Am Here” in the middle of the page. Above that, write down the milestone events of your career, good and not so good, and then connect those dots with a line. Now answer these questions: Why did I take this job/start this company/enlist in this program? Are the ideals that I started with still in place today? If not, how can I bring them back to life?

Inventory your work/job/career. The bottom of the page represents today. Use it to write a list of everything you can think of that’s related to your work—every task, project, role, responsibility, colleague, supervisor, employee, customer, client, underlying value, etc. Then circle the aspects you enjoy and draw a square around the ones you don’t.

Plant a gratitude tree. What are the things on that list that truly resonate with you? What do you love doing? What people do you really care about? What values do you see that you strive to live by? What things make coming to work worthwhile? Use a highlighter to mark those things on your list. Find anything and everything about your work that you do love, or even just like, and make note of it.

Spend time in that tree. Review those highlights daily, ideally in the morning or before your work begins, and allow yourself to feel genuine gratitude. That one simple, reflective practice can help stoke or re-kindle a love for the work you do.

In some cases, things will change and you’ll realize you actually love what you do and where you work more than you thought you did. In fact, your change in attitude and commitment will likely be part of the reason things improve, not just for you but for everyone around you.

In some cases, of course, the job or the culture or both simply aren’t worth the stress and anxiety that come with them. You can do your part, but you can’t fake a love for the work and you can’t force other people to change. You can love them and influence them, but you can’t force them to change. The tips might provide a stop-gap solution to help you survive a few weeks or months with more joy and satisfaction, but the ultimate solution might be to leave. That takes courage, because the next place you land won’t be perfect, either. The goal isn’t to find a job with no problems or challenges, but to do something you love so much that you are willing to sacrifice and even suffer when necessary. That job is out there. Find it and fill it with love.


Steve Farber is president of Extreme Leadership Inc., an acclaimed speaker, bestsellingauthor, and consultant. His new book LOVE IS JUST DAMN GOOD BUSINESS (McGraw-Hill, Sept. 6, 2019) follows The Radical Leap, a bestseller cited among The 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten; The Radical Edge and Greater Than Yourself. He and his family live in San Diego.
Categories: Blogs

What a Success Plan Is (and Isn’t)

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Chris Meroff:
Investing in your people should be the end game for you as a leader. They come to the workplace every day and invest their significant gifts and talents in an effort to help you and your organization reach an agree upon goal. Their success is your success. 
So, it makes sense that we as leaders would want to create a success plan for our people. But first, we have to define success. And that can be a moving target.
A success plan is much more than an annual performance review. Though they are sometimes lumped into the same category they are quite different. Annual performance reviews focus only on what’s born out of hard skills and tend to boil your people down to metrics around what they’ve done for your company. The general goal of these meetings is to determine a number that your company thinks your employee is worth. This (not so subtly) communicates that their value is based only on how much they can do for the company.  What Is a Success Plan?I tried the typical annual performance review in my company for several years, and it left both me and my employees feeling unfulfilled. In those meetings everyone was primarily concerned with their compensation, which is to be expected. Many were not interested in having a meaningful conversation about their passions and goals at work, let alone their passions and goals outside of work.
It became clear that I needed to revisit these get-togethers and figure out a different agenda, one that would serve the company and the team member. I realized that if these great people who were bringing their bests selves to my company every day were having to ask for my time and space to talk about their fulfillment, then I probably wasn’t doing it right. Why should they have to wait for their next performance review to have a dialogue with me about their dreams, their success plans, or their jobs?
When I realized that a change was needed, I started at the beginning. I redefined the whole notion of a success plan. Here’s my new definition: A success plan is dedicated space to focus on the success of your people, both personally and professionally, to move your employee to fulfillment. The success plan focuses on fulfillment through their soft skills and requires you as the leader to practice more intentionality and engagement on who they are personally, not just professionally. It’s a daily engagement toward ultimate fulfillment. Not that I said daily and not annually. Dialogue can and should happen anytime. Not just when I schedule it.
To be successful at success planning you have to know the full person. You have to know what makes them tick and what might influence their idea of success. This is where the pursuit happens. This is where you show your people their value beyond what they bring to work. Pursue your people and do it on purpose. Yes, it takes a great deal of time and effort to pull this off. But the benefits for everyone involved-the company, the employee and yourself- are worth it. Meaningful InvestmentCreating a personalized success plan for each of your employees requires that you reallyunderstand your people. You have to understand how they define success personally and professionally. This takes time and sustained effort; you can’t rush through it. 
Throwing pizza parties and happy hours doesn’t necessarily create these opportunities for meaningful investment and relationship building. If you care about your people and serving them toward fulfillment, be genuine and authentic in your pursuit. Talk to them about their families and home lives. Ask them how they spend their free time and what their interests are. Find out what really motivates them and how they define what’s commonly known as work-life balance. 
In my organization, we no longer use the term ‘work-life balance’. Emphasizing work-life as a balance is a win-lose proposition. So, we use the phrase work-life integration. This is meant to create more alignment between our personal and professional lives. In a work-life balance model, something gets cheated; it communicates that you need to be all things to all people at all times, which is impossible. But by working toward work-life integration, the gap between the two is bridged and we communicate that the two should complement each other instead of competing.
Figure these things out on an individual basis for each person in your organization and you will find that success becomes clear. It will be different for each person, but you can help them attain it, whatever it looks like. In exploring your people’s definitions of work-life integration, you’ll find some people who want more structure at work and others who would prefer to have more flexibility. Neither one is wrong—it’s just who they are.   
You can do all this through informal conversations that can and should happen anytime that they are needed.  
  Chris Meroff has spent more than 25 years supporting leaders in education at both the campus and district levels. Through his work in 17 states and across thousands of school districts, he’s seen firsthand the frustration administrators feel when their efforts don’t produce the alignment they desire. He’s made a career of testing new leadership ideas to see what works—and what doesn’t—in service-oriented leadership. His business, Alignment Leadership Consulting, exists to teach leaders how they can boldly pursue a workplace culture that prioritizes employee fulfillment. You can learn more at www.AlignLeadThrive.com .
Categories: Blogs

What It Takes to Be a Leader

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from David Nielson:
As a leader, taking on a new challenge, making a change, or leading a team can be challenging. Be it in business or in life, it isn’t just a test of your ability to know what to do. It’s a test of your ability to hold yourself 100% accountable to follow through on what you promise (or commit) to doing.
However, we often get caught up in thinking about getting things done, or looking to others to guide us through difficulties. What we should be doing is committing to taking action ourselves and holding ourselves accountable for the goals we set out to do. We can’t simply rely on others if we expect to be leaders.
To be successful as a team leader, your outcome will be dependent on 3 main aspects:
·         Commitment (to a goal)·         Focus (on achieving that goal)·         Force of will (taking action on achieving that goal)
These things don’t happen by accident. You have to make them happen.
So where do you begin? It may seem cliché, but there is a very good reason for doing this. It works. Here is a simple formula you can follow:
·         Write down your goal (you are committed to it).·         The words you write become a reminder (holding your focus).·         When you read your plan to reach your goals, you are reminded of what to do(force of will).
Writing Down Your Goal
Start by writing down exactly what you want to achieve, and name a time frame in which you want it to occur. An example of this could be, “My performance evaluation six months from now will have at least two or three comments characterizing me as fun or easygoing, as well as professionally friendly.”
Next, you must have 2 or 3 actions every day to do to achieve this goal. Simply saying “I’m going to be funnier today” is too vague. It has to be an actionable statement, such as, “I’m going to smile whenever I begin a conversation.”
Finally, you must have a way to verify and review the results of your effort periodically. This can be done by yourself or through a colleague who can provide you feedback. From here, you can take the feedback you get and make new actionable changes to your plan.
Holding Focus
What good is a framework or plan if it is buried in a folder or desk drawer?
Out of sight—out of mind.
Once you have created your plan, you must see it as a living, breathing document that you refer to often. You can condense parts from the plan, such as the action steps, and write them on notecards or sticky notes.
Place them on your computer, bathroom mirror, or even your dashboard to serve as prompts for focusing on them. If you are like me, you have a million things running through your mind during the day, each vying for your attention.
Having written reminders is a great way to store information outside all of the brain chatter. The point is that you need your goals and action steps in front of you to be sure they remain a focus throughout the chaos of a typical day.
Force of Will
At the end of the day, being a great leader requires you to be completely responsible for making things happen. But it will never come from the actions of anyone other than yourself.
There are plenty of professional speakers who espouse life-changing ideas and concepts. There are brilliant coaches and consultants who have the knowledge and experience to change people’s lives—but not one of these people or books alone can change anything. They have no mystical power. They are not a pharmaceutical cocktail that can be injected.
Influence Others – ModelingThe other reason this process is so important as a leader is that you are modeling the behavior you seek to see in your direct reports.  It will be much more effective to expect others to set and execute good goals if they see you model it.
There is only one person who has the knowledge, the experience, and the power to be a great leader—the one staring at you in the mirror.

David Nielson is the author of The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success: It’s All About You! Published by Sound Wisdom. He is the owner of David Nielsen & Associates (DNA). A management consulting firm. David Nielson brings over three decades of corporate, Fortune 500, and private consulting experience in organizational change management, leadership development, and training. David has helped guide large-scale change initiatives and business strategy driven by ERP, mergers, restructuring, and the need for cultural change.
Categories: Blogs

Why Businesses Must Grasp Millennial Thinking or Face Economic Calamity

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 06:32

Guest post from Gui Costin:
When it comes to shopping and buying, the Millennial generation appears to play by its own rules.
And businesses that fail to understand the Millennial mindset are destined to fall behind their competition – and perhaps plummet into irrelevancy, says Gui Costin, an entrepreneur, consultant and author of Millennials Are Not Aliens.
“Millennials are changing how we buy, how we sell, how we vacation, how we invest, and just about everything else,” Costin says. “If you’re running a business, you have to pay attention to how they think and act.”
Millennials are the generation born roughly from 1981 to 1995, meaning that the older millennials aren’t that far from 40. There are about 80 million Millennials, or nearly one-third of the adult population in the U.S. – and that’s a lot of buying power.
Millennials grew up under very different circumstances than Baby Boomers and Generation X, though, and the way in which they came of age greatly influenced them.
One example is their relationship with technology.
“All of us, regardless of which generation we belong to, have been impacted by technology,” Costin says. “But the generation most affected by the digital, connected world are the Millennials. You could think of it this way: If technology were a geyser, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have been sprayed by its impact, but Millennials got drenched.”
And their natural use of technology transformed the way they act as consumers, Costin says.
“Bargaining is a part of their process,” he says. “Because they are facile with technology, they rely heavily on their cell phones to price shop and hunt the best deals.”
Costin says there’s plenty that businesses need to understand about Millennials, but here are just a few other facts about their consumer habits worth paying attention to:
They let everyone know about their buying experiences. It is not uncommon for Millennials to candidly share details about their buying experiences, good or bad, on their public social media platforms. “This can translate to bad news for businesses that underperform or, conversely, great news for those that exceed expectations,” Costin says.
Big purchases can happen virtually. For many older people, it’s difficult to even conceive the idea of buying a car, for example, without ever physically seeing or touching it first. “Millennials do it all the time,” Costin says. “In fact, they are the very first of all the generations to make a large purchase without first performing an on-site inspection.”
Brand loyalty means something. No matter how fickle many people believe Millennials to be, they are extremely brand loyal, Costin says. In fact,60 percent of Millennials say they almost always stick to brands they currently purchase.
Information is essential. Millennials scour the internet to learn about a brand or product before making a purchase. They check websites, blogs, or peer reviews that they trust.
Instant gratification is paramount. Because they have grown up in a digital age, Millennials are used to speed and immediate gratification. “They value prompt feedback and communication and do not like wasting time,” Costin says. “Think emails, text messages, and online messaging.”
“The environment you grow up in determines what you become accustomed to,” Costin says. “Gen Xers and Baby Boomers need to realize that how they grew up is affecting the way they are selling and marketing their organizations. But you cannot sell and market to Millennials the same way you were sold and marketed to.
“The good news is, many companies are listening. They are actively replacing dated, manual processes with more efficient, cutting-edge tools to promote the convenience and speed Millennials crave.”
About Gui CostinGui Costin (www.guicostin.com), author of Millennials Are Not Aliens, is an entrepreneur, and founder of Dakota, a company that sells and markets institutional investment strategies. Dakota is also the creator of two software products: Draft, a database that contains a highly curated group of qualified institutional investors; and Stage, a content platform built for institutional due diligence analysts where they can learn an in-depth amount about a variety of investment strategies without having to initially talk to someone. Dakota’s mission is to level the playing field for boutique investment managers so they can compete with bigger, more well-resourced investment firms.
Categories: Blogs

Why Training and Development = Success All Round

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Royston Guest:
Growing and developing is a two-way partnership between the individual and the business. I think of it as a ‘soft contract’, the rules of engagement for how both parties can achieve maximum value from the relationship. If you are able to link your personal and professional growth to the organisation, you are more likely to stay and participate at a higher level through increased commitment and loyalty.
As part of this ‘soft contract’ of growth and development are three core principles which underpin its very essence, and which results in a win-win for all involved.
#1 An individual’s never-ending thirst for learning I believe every person owns their own performance through the conscious choices they make and one of those is undoubtedly having an attitude of constant curiosity for learning.
Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like we are just going through the motions.
But the day you stop LEARNING is the day you stop EARNING!
It’s the day you slip into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’ – no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where just enough is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self.
In an increasingly competitive world, there is no such thing as standing still. All around you, people are actively moving forward and standing still really means you’re falling behind.
Do not get to the point where your people feel like they are falling behind, because from this point on, you will be just playing catch up, trying to reach the point where they think they ought to be. And that place is no fun for anyone.
#2 Setting your people up for success. If you asked your people what great performance looks like, feels like and acts like in their role, how aligned would their answer be with your version? There should be one version of the truth, and in my experience perception and reality are often misaligned.
If you haven’t created absolute clarity about what the expectations are for their role, explained and demonstrated what great looks like, and set them up for success, it’s almost predictable that you and your people will be working to different models and interpretations of what great looks like.
Create clarity of purpose for your people. Enable them with the mindset (attitude, determination, will), the skillset (technical or soft skills) and the toolset (tools to do their job) to truly unlock their potential and deliver excellence within their role fueling their inner self worth, igniting their self-motivation, building their confidence and their loyalty will be inevitable.
#3 Empowerment without enablement is a train crash! Empowerment is often an overused word which means little without enablement. The one without the other is simply a train crash.
Often training is created to serve the majority of the needs of those carrying out a general role, rather than catering for the individual needs of each unique employee. Although there is some efficiency in the traditional way of thinking, there is magic in making learning and development suit the individual.
Enabling an individual so they have the capability to contribute their whole self gets them to return next day inspired, motivated, and enthused to be the best they can be.
The success of any business is hardwired to the productivity of its people. Organisations that consider people as merely a paid resource have difficulty retaining good people and generally end up overpopulated with under performers.
Organisations that value people as their greatest asset and demonstrate it through their actions are positioned to get the best out of all employees whilst retaining their top talent or high potential - a catalyst for business growth.
Royston Guest is a leading authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. Entrepreneur, author of #1 best-seller Built to Grow and RISE: Start living the life you were meant to lead, CEO of Pathways Global and founder of The Business Growth PathwayÔ and Pti Worldwide. His new book RISE is a practical guide using a coaching framework to help the reader identify where they’re going in their career, and life, and how to get to there. It shares a plethora of ideas, strategies and practical tools that enables the reader to become more self-aware – unpacking their relationship with their past and understanding their present in order to make the conscious choices that will help them unlock their potential at work, unleash their success and create the future they want.
Categories: Blogs

What Business Leaders Can Learn from JFK’s Powerful Speech that Brought Us to the Moon

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Dick Richardson:
A simple definition of leadership is “Leadership is influencing others to do what they would not do if left to their own accord.”
Consider the most memorable speeches meant to persuade people: Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I have a dream…” speech, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and John F. Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the moon” speech at Rice University.
What made these speeches so persuasive was not necessarily their oration, but their vision and appeal to the heart as well as the mind, and their construction. Let’s focus on Kennedy’s “We go to the moon” speech. This address followed a common structure for enrollment speeches—speeches to persuade.
Kennedy used two organizing principles for his talk. The first was chronology, starting with the past and ending with the future. The other was Aristotle’s three forms of persuasion: logos, pathos, and ethos—logic, emotion, and credibility.
The Past Kennedy started by talking about the past and what led the US to its current situation. He described in detail the breakneck pace at which technology was evolving, likening 50,000 years of human history to fifty years.  Continuing with this analogy, he said: “Then about ten years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels.” And at this pace, man will have “literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.”            Kennedy wanted to propose that reaching the moon was almost within our grasp, should we choose to travel there; that our past has now presented us with this opportunity.
The PresentHis speech then shifted to the present, hinting at the fact that no matter what we do, Russia would continue with its space program: “the exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not.” He contrasted the Soviet Union with the US. Both were competitors, but one would win. He said that the US must “become the world’s leading space-faring nation” in order to increase our own safety and security. Traveling to the moon was necessary to preserve our way of life, Kennedy inferred.
The FutureIn order to achieve this objective of landing on the moon inside of ten years, Kennedy then described what the country had already done to prepare for this future endeavor. He talked about the investments that had already been made in facilities, technology, Saturn rockets, and satellites, and the benefit to the American people of investing their hard-earned tax dollars in the mission—namely, a growing availability of high-paying jobs for skilled scientists. By committing to this future mission, we would be continuing the work already started.             Parallel to this presentation of history, current challenges, and future achievements, Kennedy used the framework of logos, pathos, and ethos.  
LogosLogos, or logic, is one element that Kennedy used throughout his Rice speech. He described all the investments made up to that point in space exploration and crafted a logical argument for why the US needed to invest at a more aggressive rate in order to gain the upper hand against the Soviet Union.
PathosAmericans were already on edge after Russia demonstrated superiority in space. So, Kennedy leveraged that insecurity, tapping into that emotion, fear and expressing sympathy for those real feelings.  That Russia might soon control the skies created a security weakness for the US. But Kennedy also appealed to our pride. “But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward—and so will space.”
EthosKennedy also demonstrated source credibility or authority—ethos—as he spoke, so that those in the audience did not question his statements.
On top of making a logical case for investing heavily in space exploration, Kennedy made Americans feel. They were afraid, then hopeful, then resolved, and then proud of the ambitious plan their president had outlined.
In addition to chronology and Aristotle’s forms of persuasion, Kennedy also used tried and true communication patterns.
Communication Patterns
If you listen to Kennedy’s speech, you will notice the following speech patterns and speaking style points:
  • Simple words. Kennedy doesn’t try to impress by using multisyllabic words no one recognizes. He makes the information he’s sharing accessible, understandable.
  • Short sentences. Kennedy also uses short, crisp sentences containing a single idea at a time.
  • Systematic. When Kennedy makes a statement, he then backs it up with an explanation or proof. He makes his point in a methodical way.
  • No extra fluff. He chooses his words carefully, packing a punch in as few words as possible. He chooses words that generate an emotional response whenever possible, such as “pride” or “un-tried.”
  • Repetition. Many of the great speeches, including Kennedy’s, use repetition for effect. Abraham Lincoln repeated the words “cannot” in the Gettysburg address: “Cannot dedicate…cannot consecrate…cannot hallow…” Similarly, Kennedy used the phrase “We choose” three times in his speech, just as Martin Luther King, Jr. used the phrase “Now is the time.”

Bio:  Dick Richardson is the founder and CEO of Experience to Lead, a firm that offers unique, immersive experiences to improve the leadership skills of senior business executives.  He is also the author of Apollo Leadership Lessons (Authority Publishing), a book that demonstrates what how the tactics employed by the moon program’s key decision-makers can be applied in business today, from the C-suite on down to the frontline. 
Categories: Blogs

How to Beat Scrutiny During a Culture Change

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:
When leading a culture change initiative, scrutiny of senior leaders’ plans, decisions, and actions increases heavily. I tell senior leaders that they’ll never be able to run a yellow light at a traffic signal in their town again! Yes, even senior leader behavior away from the workplace is scrutinized.
Consequently, it is extremely important for senior leaders to model their declared values – every day, with every interaction.
Too often senior leaders “manage by announcements,” publishing a set of expectations or rules that they declare are to be embraced from that moment forward, yet they do not actively demonstrate those expectations themselves, measure how well others embrace those expectations, etc. No wonder leader credibility suffers in many organizations. Only when senior leaders model desired valued behaviors will the rest of the organization trust those leaders, follow those leaders,and model those desired valued behaviors themselves.
Here’s a great example. A client shared an interesting perspective about his boss, a gentleman he’d been working with for over a year. His boss – let’s call him Tom – is a fabulous champion of the company’s culture change process. Tom has effectively led culture change initiatives at his last two organizations and has begun work to refine the culture of his current organization. Tom started with his senior leadership team by sharing his leadership point of view – his philosophy of leadership – and his values. He asked his direct reports to hold him accountable to those values and the valued behaviors Tom has defined.
In addition, Tom chartered his senior leadership team to refine that group’s purpose, values, behaviors, and norms to ensure everything they do helps the business grow and succeed and is consistent with their agreements.
The client’s comment unintentionally described the scrutiny Tom is under. He said, “I keep waiting for Tom to be inconsistent.” Two things are clear –
  1. Tom has really put himself on the line by declaring his values and asking his staff to hold him accountable for those values.
  2. For over a year, Tom hasn’t yet acted in conflict with his declared values. That’s really powerful!

Does Your Culture Serve Customers, Employees, and Stakeholders Equally Well?
If the existing culture is not serving customers, employees, or stakeholders consistently, it may be time for a change.
Senior leaders can refine their organization’s existing culture by doing three things:○     First, clarify performance expectations and gain employee agreement on those expectations.○     Second, define values in behavioral terms and gain employee agreement to demonstrate those behaviors.○     Finally, hold themselves and all organizational leaders, managers, andstaff accountable for both performance and values.
Most senior leaders have not experienced successful culture change. Even fewer, across the globe, have led successful culture change. The journey to become a high performing, values-aligned organization is both intense and gratifying. Senior leaders may not be aware of it, but they are both the sponsors and drivers of the organization’s current culture. When you are ready, we’re here to help.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here
Categories: Blogs

Having the Courage to Trust Your Team

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 06:00

Guest post by Bill Treasurer:
Leadership is typically associated with action—with trying, doing, and achieving. However, there’s another side to leadership that focuses on the followers: trust. As leaders, we need to actively trust our followers, teams, and employees. While this sounds simple, it’s often a hard task for those of us who are goal-oriented.
Trusting other people requires us to let go of the impulse to control outcomes or people. It requires us to quell our defense mechanisms and ditch our preconceptions about “what’s right.” For Type A, coffee-clutching personalities, this goes against everything we stand for and believe. Trusting others is at odds with the take-charge spirit that permeates the business world. For example, in many companies, the most valued employees are those who force order, control chaos, and take decisive action. As the Roman poet Virgil said, “Fortune favors the bold.”
However, business success springs from empowered employees, and that requires mutual trust. On the one hand, you need your employees to trust you if you want them to follow your direction enthusiastically. On the other hand, you need to monitor their performance, which, if done too closely, comes across as distrust. To make matters worse, many leaders and managers work in organizations layered with forced hierarchies and inherently distrustful systems. It’s more difficult to instill trust in your workers if you’re an extension of a system that doesn’t trust them. “Oh, sure,” your workers may think, “I’ll trust you … just as soon as you stop monitoring our e-mails, stop drug testing, or stop requiring to-the-minute time reports.”
Establishing trust is hardest for new leaders
New leaders and managers, in particular, have the hardest time establishing what I call “TRUST Courage,” the courage of relying on others. For instance, consider how challenging it is for new managers to delegate important tasks to their direct reports. If an employee screws up, it reflects on the manager, not the employee.
Consequently, new managers struggle to let go of delegated tasks; instead, they hover over workers like smothering helicopter parents. In doing so, they thwart their employees’ development and keep themselves mired in tasks they don’t have time for—and should have outgrown at this point in their careers.
Delegation is a hard task for new (and even experienced) managers because it involves intentionally refraining from controlling an outcome. If a manager doesn’t trust that an employee will get the job done, he or she will take that task back—or worse—won’t even give the task to the employee in the first place. The result? Managers and employees become trapped in an unhealthy leadership dependency in which workers wait to be told what to do, like baby birds waiting for a meal. Inevitably, a dangerous cycle ensues: the manager completes the tasks, which prevents workers from gaining the experience and skills they need to perform the tasks, which keeps the manager from delegating the tasks, which requires the manager to finish the tasks—and it never ends.
Breaking the cycle
To break the cycle, you must build TRUST Courage. Yes, TRUST Courage involves taking on risk, gambling on other people, and accepting that you might get harmed in the process. It can be risky. You might feel vulnerable. You’ll be forced to rely on others’ actions, which are beyond your control. It will take courage to let employees do their jobs. It will take courage to keep yourself from interfering, to accept that employees will make mistakes. But the end result will be a more productive, efficient, and innovative workforce.
How can you trust your team more this week? What would that look like for you?

Bill Treasurer is a workplace expert, courage pioneer, and author of Courage Goes to Work: How to Build Backbones, Boost Performance, and Get Results.  Founder of Giant Leap Consulting, a consulting and training company specializing in courage-building, he advises organizations—including NASA, eBay, Lenovo, Saks Fifth Avenue, Spanx, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates—on teaching workers the kind of courage that strengthens businesses and careers. Learn more at GiantLeapConsulting.com.
Categories: Blogs

When Going Gets Tough, Action and Attitude Carry the Day

Tue, 07/30/2019 - 14:33

Guest post by Marc Demetriou:

There are two words that literally have everything to do with the everything in your days, as you go forward to live your dream and fashion your success: Action and Attitude.
Action: The lazy and uninspired will never inherit the earth, nor even the slightest speck of it. In order to achieve anything, you must be up and doing, actively engaged, and ever in motion. Building a best life requires more than mere motion, and more than mere effort or baby steps. It truly requires enthusiasm, zeal, and zest, along with the unbridled passion discussed in the previous chapter. Action is for those who are willing to sprint and go all out. There are no half–measures or shortcuts.
Each action taken must be considered, measured, and weighed, as each must fit into the larger context of the overall plan. Success is ultimately the province of the one who is on fire, the one who is utterly determined, and the one who will keep shoveling and shoveling in the resolute belief that he or she will indeed move the mountain placed in his or her path, no matter its girth or its mass. When you are going all out, fear itself gets cast aside and all systems are go, because the committed, engaged, and utterly active have no time for fear.
Of course, it is you who must implement your plan, as there is no magic in the moonlight out there that will do it for you. Plans are always the wellsprings of action, and, as such, your plan is not made to gather dust. Action is passion in motion. As Pablo Picasso said, it is “the foundational key to all success.” As Bo Bennett, author of Year to Success, writes, “A dream becomes a goal when action is taken towards its achievement.” May you make what he says your daily mantra, for your road to success must follow just such a course—from the dream, to the goal, to the action, to the achievement, bit by bit and step by step, inexorably onward, until you can truly exhale, breathe deeply, and smile broadly after having fulfilled what you set out to accomplish. It can take a long, long time, but it’s not the time spent that matters. Rather, fulfillment is in the doing. That’s action.
Attitude: Attitude is a larger–than–life word. Your attitude is the embodiment of the very way in which you grapple with life. It is the living expression of your acceptance or rejection of what life dishes out to you. It is your signature, your logo, your mark. Ralph Marston went so far as to say, “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” John C. Maxwell said, “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”
So, yes indeed, attitude is one very big word. To add to this potent litany of quotes about attitude is a popular saying that goes “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Are you positive, upbeat and smiling when you try to succeed at anything, or are you down on the world and predisposed to think in skeptical terms about what is possible? Do you look for the good in people or rather expect to find the worst in them? Do you expect to take without giving or are you rather a “reap what you sow—you only get what you give” type? Is the cup always half full, or half empty?
If you think that you can take without giving, if you expect the worst from people, if you are generally negative and slow to smile, or predisposed to give less rather than more, then you might want to save yourself the time and effort and put this book aside right now, because success and a best life just might not be your thing. That is, of course, unless you are willing to do the hard work, and change! The truth is that you can begin to change your attitude by simply biting your tongue and smiling when it hurts. You are capable of changing and improving the way you behave and act, if you only have the will. Even the worst of attitudes can be made right with a little spit polish, glue, and hand–holding therapy. Believe it or not, no matter how hard or angry, ditching the negative and accenting the positive just might feel good. Why on earth would you want to hold onto a negative world view and attitude
The great American composer Irving Berlin who wrote in his book, Gathering No Moss: Memoir of a Reluctant World Traveler, “Life is 10 percent what you make of it and 90 percent how you take it.” What I am telling you is that 90 percent of what we are after here is largely the province of the upbeat and daring, the positive and determined, and the smiling and lighthearted. Yes, 90 percent of it is for those who will go forward undaunted, taking the hits and the failings and climbing over the pitfalls and the potholes, and even the occasional quicksand that will be placed in their paths. It is the positive and the upbeat who can deal with the vagaries and surprises of life. As Grandpa Charlie taught me, “Never stop moving in the direction of your dream.”
About the Author: Marc Demetriou is nationally ranked mortgage broker based in New Jersey and author of the book, Lessons From My Grandfather: Wisdom for Success in Business and Life.
Categories: Blogs

Taking Chances to Lead Change in the 21st Century: Why It’s Cool Not to Be So Cool

Thu, 07/25/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Julie Benezet:

The internet changed all the rules.
Life has always had its challenges when new things showed up, but most of the time we thought we could handle them. While we didn’t love dealing with adversity, because we knew the people and situations involved, things seemed under control, familiar, . . . comfortable. At least that’s what we thought.
Then came the internet. With its global reach and instant transmission of vast amounts of information, we find ourselves living in a fast, hyperconnected world. Relentless change has become the norm. People, situations, and places we don’t know can have a direct impact on our lives, significantly altering the competitive landscape.  So much is unknown, and the new is everywhere--new technology, new economic models, new politics, new cultural norms, and new products and services. Much feels unpredictable, out of our control, . . . uncomfortable.
What does this have to do with leadership?  Everything.
The job of a leader, whether of a large corporation or small project team, is to discover new ideas to make life better for their customers, workforce, and communities. Then they have to convince others to join them in testing those ideas. The role has not changed since the concept of leadership was born. What has changed is the level of complexity, which is the gift and curse of the internet.
The job of 21st century leaders is to steer their organizations through the unknowns of the new toward a better place, and to treat its scariness as an asset, not a liability.
The internet introduced an infinite number of unknowns into business life. To succeed, leaders must find new ways for their organizations to satisfy rapidly evolving market and organizational demands. That involves experimenting with new concepts that carry no guaranteed outcomes. It can be uncomfortable, but that is how change happens.
Trying out a new idea is also awkward. Exploring its possibilities requires asking difficult questions about issues others want to avoid, talking to people you barely know, or suggesting fresh approaches that make them uneasy. Nevertheless, to create a winning idea, you need to learn as much as you can about the stakeholders whose lives you want to improve.
We work so hard in the 21st century to be cool, acting as if we know it all, but being cool rather than risking awkward conversations could cost us opportunities.
Charting a Course toward New Possibilities

Traveling on the road of discovery to realize new ideas requires taking chances. It is lined with uncertainty and reasons for turning back. Nevertheless, leadership calls for forward movement.

The Journey of Not Knowingâ sets forth four principles that provide navigation lights through the discomfort of pursuing something new.

The Core Four:
1.  Dare to dream. Choose an idea you believe will move people to a higher plain. It could be a different company communication culture to overcome people’s reluctance to give each other valuable feedback. You could explore a new market outside of your core business based on customer requests for help.  Or, you could find a different way to build teams, allowing team members rather than managers to choose and evaluate their members.
A dream often is something you’ve been ignoring, either because the underlying problem deeply bothers you or you know it will be hard. If it scares you, however, you probably are on the right track.
Once you identify a dream, crystallize it by soliciting feedback from the people who will benefit from it. 
2.  Get comfortable with the scariness of risk.
Adopt a healthy attitude toward risk and its contribution to success. As you test new ideas, much can go wrong.  Your friends, colleagues, or customers might think the ideas are stupid, irrelevant, or expensive.  If you lead a team, your teammates might greet them with suspicion or annoyance.
Their reactions could cause you anxiety, adding to an inner dialog already running through your head about the possible consequences of your experiment: Will they laugh at me? Will it fail? Will I lose my reputation, or my job over this?  Or, will they love it?
Nervousness comes with the adventure of pioneering ideas. It is part of driving change. It also signifies you are on the road to something better. Embrace discomfort as a reminder to pay attention, learn from mistakes, and recalibrate as needed.
  C.  Watch out for self-sabotaging behaviors.
Recognize that human beings are messy. That includes leaders.
When leaders try something new without knowing the outcome, the walls of resistance will rise.  People react defensively to cope with fear. Their reactions are normal.  Defenses give people short term comfort but prevent achieving better things. The biggest resistance, however, might come from you and stand in the way of your dreams.
Everyone has defenses. They appear in many well-known forms: Micromanagement, personalizing, and conflict avoidance top the list. To overcome their impact and return to the quest for new ideas, start by recognizing when your defenses are triggered. Understand their negative impacts. Then broaden your strategy to support your mission.
D.  Find drivers to fuel your travel through discomfort of the unknown
To move through the discomfort on the road to new things, you need a purpose or “driver” for traveling on it. Your purpose can be as simple as, “I so despise that guy competing against us on this proposal that I will work with our frightening analytics team who will assure a winning bid.” 
The strongest drivers arise from one’s values, life stories, and vision for the future. The deeper you go, the more fuel they will give you.  Self-knowledge is power. It means getting to know and accepting who you are, lending strength and clarity as you face the discomfort of the new.
In short, it’s cool not to be so cool.  Successful leaders plunge into the awkwardness of the new to learn about themselves and the needs of the people whose lives they want to make better. Their reward is the thrill of making a difference.

Julie Benezet spent 25 years in law and business, and for the past 17 years has coached and consulted with executives from virtually every industry. She earned her stripes for leading in the discomfort of the new as Amazon’s first global real estate executive. She is an award-winning author of The Journey of Not Knowing: How 21st Century Leaders Can Chart a Course Where There Is None. Her new book, The Journal of Not Knowing, offers a self-guided discovery mission to pursue one’s dreams and overcome the scariness along the way toward achieving them.  She can be reached at www.juliebenezet.com.
Categories: Blogs

Effective Leadership Begins with a Strong Foundation

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Tabitha Laser:
What is leadership?  Since joining the workforce more than 25 years ago, and serving as a leader for numerous organizations, it’s apparent that leadership means very different things to different people.  Simply put, leadership is the art of inspiring, motivating, empowering, supporting, and assuring a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal.  Unfortunately, the term is often confused with management, which can be defined as the process of dealing with or controlling things or people.
Why, in our current environment, is there confusion around these two terms and does what makes a strong leader still exist? 
Part of the problem lies with our current misconception around how organizations are led.  A day doesn’t go by where I don’t read or hear the term “led from the top.” This is what I believe to be a ‘deadly practice’ because it creates unhealthy competition, acts as a barrier for growth, and limits an organization’s ability to achieve sustainable success.  Allow me to elaborate on that.
Imagine your organization as a building, where its leaders are at the roof of the building.  Now imagine the workforce, processes, and equipment as the walls, fixtures, and foundation of the organization below, and your customers, market factors, and environment as the external pressures being applied to your building. 
If your building is made of bricks, picture the three little pigs’ scenario. Your organization will be able to survive quite a beating.  If your building, on the other hand, is made of straw, then it’s likely your organization will succumb to the slightest pressure.  
Regardless of your building’s strength, when your leadership forms the roof of the organization, you are creating a situation where they are practically forced to take on more of a “management” role that one of “leadership,” making it extremely difficult for that organization to grow.  In some cases, there has been growth; however, it has been as a result of falsifying data, back-stabbing, and other counterintuitive behaviors. That’s not a sustainable way to grow any business.
So, how can we fix this conundrum?  
First, we need to flip the script, and start requiring leaders to lead from the basement.  Not just from the bottom up, but from the basement.  They need to be the ones who define success, illustrated by the location for the organization and the expectations necessary to achieve success, which form the foundation for the organization.  When organizations are led from the basement, the challenge to build around them to grow is eliminated, and the building is encouraged to innovate, experiment, and expand far beyond the organization’s expectations for success.  Only then leaders will be properly positioned to truly spearhead their organization and provide the inspiration, motivation, empowerment, support, and assurance necessary to sustainably grow without limitations.  In other words, 
“The sky is the limit for a roofless building built on a strong foundation.”
When organizations are led from the basement, management is ultimately unnecessary.  This is a difficult pill for most to swallow, but a necessary step every organization needs to consider if they want to survive and thrive long into the future!

About Tabitha LaserTabitha Laser is a multi-faceted professional with over 25 years of leadership experience in a wide variety of industries ranging from oil and gas, energy, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and many more. Her diverse background has provided her with numerous opportunities to work with government agencies and some of the world’s largest companies, including Fortune 500 companies like BP, 3M, and General Mills.  Her experience and education have fueled her passion to help shape the next generation of leaders, especially millennials, to avoid the pitfalls of their predecessors and lead beyond best.  Tabitha is the author of the book, Organization Culture Killers.  This is the first in a series of leadership books she calls “The Deadly Practices.”
Categories: Blogs

6 Ways to Just Say No to Stress

Wed, 07/10/2019 - 07:12
Guest post from Janelle Bruland:

There is a growing epidemic that is killing us as leaders, and it’s completely curable. Our culture is filled with more anxiety and stress than ever. None of us were built to handle what we are all dealing with on a daily basis. The average knowledge worker today is interrupted every 11 minutes by some form of communication. Many of us wake in the morning and immediately reach for our phones which we strategically placed on our bedside table the night before so that it will be the first thing we see each day. The people in our lives expect an answer to their messages in seconds, and they think we are ignoring them if we take even a few minutes more than that.

The result of all of this is chaos and chaos creates stress. Stress is a killer. It effects our health, causes confusion, and steals our joy. If it goes on long enough it might steal our time here on this planet and that would be even more tragic.

So, what can we do? My guess is that if you are reading this you have probably been overwhelmed recently. In fact, many of you live in a constant overwhelmed state.

I have learned firsthand that living this way is not sustainable. I have a successful business that I started in 1995. In a time of exponential growth and expansion, my husband got in the car and drove away leaving me with three young children to raise. If there was such a thing as a stress meter, I would have been afraid to know what the numbers were at the time. How in the world was I going to continue to lead my company and keep up with my duties at home (and anywhere else, for that matter)?

Sometimes challenges like these turn out to be a blessing because it forces us to figure out how to change things. I did just that. My heart was broken but there was no time to grieve. I had to get to work on a solution. I didn’t always do it perfectly, but I did discover transformational systems and practices that not only allowed me to survive, but to thrive in the most stressful time of my life.

I would like to share a few of them with you:

1. Write a list of things you are going to say no to. That’s right. Not a to-do list, but a not-going-to-do list. For example, I say no to the opportunities that come up that I am not completely passionate about.  When we choose to participate in something, we should be excited to be involved, not doing it out of guilt or obligation. I also say no to things that are not aligned with my core values and priorities.  To stay true to our values, our words, behavior, and actions must be in line with our beliefs. I decline requests that are not in my wheelhouse. Often, we are asked to do things that truly belong on someone else’s “to do” list. Be sure to pass on those, or delegate them to a more appropriate person.

I have learned to avoid those things that drain me of energy as often as I can.  Our time should be spent on activities that we enjoy and give us energy, not deplete it. And finally, I say no to relationships that are unhealthy. We will never be our best if we are constantly having to lift ourselves up from interactions with unsupportive or negative people. Eliminate these relationships.

2. Cut back on technology. I know. Easy to say. Hard to do. We are all afraid we might miss something, right? But it will be there when you come back to it. It’s not going anywhere. This is a tough one, but doable. At first you will literally have a physical reaction to leaving your cell phone behind or turning it off. But keep doing it and eventually you will experience the freedom that it brings to be unhooked and you will want to do it more often.

3.Train the people in your circle about how and when you will be responding. If you have just walked into the gym and get a call that you know is not a life or death matter, let it go to voice mail and don’t feel guilty.  Schedule a time in your day for phone calls and email. Pretty soon, people will know that you are not ignoring them. Do this one thing and you will begin to live a proactive life instead of a reactive one.

4.Take care of your health. We are no good to anyone else if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Commit to self-care. Fuel your body with healthy food. Find an hour a day to walk or go to the gym. Most of us are too sedentary. We work at desk jobs. Get moving. Schedule it and then don’t let anything keep you from it.
Exercise release endorphins that give us euphoria and joy. Endorphins are stress killers!

5.  Be grateful. Most of us live better than 90 percent of the world. Our complaints are usually, as one person said, “First world problems.” You will drive to work today in a decent car. You most likely live in a safe and warm place. Remind yourself often about how good you have it. If something needs to be changed, change it. One practice I use is to write down three things I am grateful for every day. This activity shifts my mindset.

6.  Go to sleep. If you do all these de-stressing activities you will find that you also start doing perhaps the most important thing to help relieve stress and clear your mind: sleep. Most of do not get enough sleep and, when we do, we don’t sleep well. Sleep is vital to winning the war on stress and having the life we always dreamed of.

These 6 practices were life changing for me. Incorporate them and enjoy the positive effects when you just say no to stress.


Janelle Bruland is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-performance coach
who inspires others to live impactful and successful lives. She is Founder and CEO of Management Services Northwest, a company she started in her living room in 1995 and has grown into an industry leading company, named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. magazine. The CPO of Microsoft, Mike Simms, describes her as a true pioneer in her field. Janelle is also the Co-Founder of Legacy Leader, a leadership development company that teaches business professionals how to build a legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. She is the author of The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind.



Categories: Blogs

Does Your Email Inbox Dictate Your Day — And Should It?

Tue, 07/02/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Dianna Booher:
A reporter for Newsday called recently for a comment about his story on executive stress and the connection to email. As I shared stats from my organization’s recent survey, the reporter passed along comments from a CEO he’d just interviewed: “Email interrupts me all day long. I can’t focus on my core work. It’s 1:30. I have a project in front of me right now that should take me an hour and a half to finish. But because of the email distractions, it’ll take the rest of the afternoon to get it done.”
Do you feel this executive’s pain – the frustration of disruptions in focusing on your core work? The bad news: You’re not alone. The good news: There are simple solutions (not easy solutions, but simple ones).
My organization, Booher Research Institute, recently commissioned a survey of email habits and productivity from the Social Research Lab at the University of Northern Colorado. Here’s what a representative sampling of knowledge workers across multiple industries reported about their email habits:
  • 42 percent spend 3 hours or more per day reading and writing email
  • 55 percent check their email either hourly or multiple times per hour
  • 31 percent spend more than 20 minutes per day searching for information or files to include in responding to emails

Conclusion: If your inbox feels like an email monster, you’re not fighting it alone. Here are five proven strategies to getting through your inbox faster so you can focus on your core work and the important emails.
DeclutterIf you’ve ever tried to move your belongings into a closet or garage previously used by someone else, you understand this principle: Get rid of the items that served someone else’s purpose before you reload that space. You’ll typically sort the previous owner’s junk into piles: garbage, donate, sell.
Look at your email box the same way: Over the years, you may have let it become a collection of junk serving everyone’s purposes but yours. And your own purposes may have changed over time as your role has changed. Cutting your email clutter can be the easiest way to carve away a big chunk of wasted time.
In the earlier mentioned University of Northern Colorado (UNC) survey, a whopping 69 percent of the participants identified clutter as their biggest email problem. Once you set your mind to the idea, decluttering goes quickly. Let’s get even more specific about how.…
Ask Team Members to Stop Hitting “REPLY ALL” and Stop Doing So YourselfInstead, of using “REPLY ALL,” send congratulatory comments directly to the person who deserves kudos. Offer thanks directly to the person who helped you. Turn down an invitation only to the appropriate person. Why clog up seventeen other inboxes, only to have all seventeen recipients echo back?
A good rule of thumb on the REPLY ALL feature: Is your response helpful to all on the distribution list?  If not, fly solo. Granted, changing the culture can be difficult. But aim to set the example.
Cull Your Distribution ListsChances are great that you get copied on many emails you don’t need. Their usefulness to you has long since passed. But you’ve found it quicker just to delete those periodic emails than to take yourself off the distribution list permanently.
In fact, according to the UNC survey, knowledge workers report that fully 35 percent of the emails they receive are either irrelevant  (22 percent) or redundant (13 percent). (Irrelevant emails refer to those about topics that do not apply to you. Redundant emails are those with the same information sent by multiple people.)
That “quick and easy” decision is understandable when you’re dealing with just one email. But over time, that decision amounts to thousands of distractions.
You also may be surprised to discover that culling your distribution lists for emails you send may increase engagement with the interested parties on important projects. As with meetings, the larger the group, the lower the individual participation. When emailing for input, the same principle applies: When you copy a large list, people feel anonymous, and fewer feel it’s necessary to respond. If you need their input, cut the list and you’ll increase response.
Stop Responding on CCs Sent for Promotion or PressureHidden agendas. Backhanded compliments. CYA attempts. Whatever the label, you recognize these tactics when you see them. When you respond to such CC emails about projects and issues not directly involving you, this encourages the sender to keep up the self-promotion and the pressure tactics on colleagues.
If you’re ever tempted to write such an email yourself, by all means, do so. Just don’t send it. This strategy in particular may demand a new mindset and a major emotional adjustment. An email cannot be both a productivity tool and a weapon. While it may motivate some, it will demoralize others.
Turn Off Email Alerts or Disable Automatic RetrievalIn the UNC survey, 55 percent of the participants said they keep their email open either always (37 percent) or most of the time (18 percent). That’s a major distraction from your work – unless your primary job is to read and respond to email!
Instead, handle emails only two or three times a day: ideally in the early morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day. Responding every time an email pops into your box breaks your concentration, wasting minutes and energy with each interruption. Productivity studies show there’s no such thing as multitasking – just rapid attention-switching. That in itself creates stress, increases the chance for error, and reduces overall efficiency.
How you handle email can often determine the trajectory of your career—whether you piddle away your time or focus on your core work. Master your emails—make them faster, fewer, better —and you’ll stand out as a leader who communicates clearly and delivers real results.
Dianna Booher’s latest books include Faster, Fewer, Better Emails; Communicate Like a Leader; What MORE Can I Say?; and Creating Personal Presence. She’s the bestselling author of 48 books, published in 61 foreign editions. Dianna helps organizations communicate clearly and leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence. For more information, please visit www.BooherResearch.com   
Categories: Blogs