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27th February 2024

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Craemer Consulting Blog

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Really Knowing Others at Work

The ability to deeply see other people is important to develop and sustain relationships. This is beneficial in your personal life in order to live a long and happy one, but it is also important in the workplace if you want to successfully collaborate and lead others. A vast amount of research has determined that […]

Leadership: Decisive or Divisive?

Among the many important traits of the best leaders include motivating people toward achieving a common goal, continually delivering results, and making tough decisions with incomplete information. Being decisive rather than divisive. The decisive leader is one who can determine the best course of action when no perfect solution is readily available. They decide what […]

Best Friend at Work

Numerous studies have found that effective engagement in the workplace has to do with a number of factors, which include recognition, communication, culture, leadership, autonomy, and career progression. Another item especially important after the pandemic and with the hybrid work environment is having a best friend at work. According to a Gallup Workplace article titled […]

Work & Happiness

It’s a new year and time to reflect on whether your job is serving to increase or decrease your happiness. In an era where there seems to be little loyalty to employees or to employers, perhaps taking a more active role in your career can lead to greater satisfaction in what you do and greater […]

Listeners Lead Proactive Teams

A leader is someone who commands attention, has all the answers, and motivates people to accomplish a specific goal. The best leaders also share leadership, ask important questions, and actively listen to others. More often than not, when we think of an effective leader, we also think of an extrovert. But this does not mean […]

Civility at Work & Beyond

The workplace continues to evolve as hybrid models enable working from home while maintaining optimal productivity. Yet there is definitely a cost to remote communication and collaboration—no matter how effective are the tools we can use. This cost to communication and collaboration may be due to an overall lower level of trust or respect. It […]

The Greatness of Gratitude

This is the time of year my thoughts turn to being thankful for the abundance in my life. It is the Thanksgiving holiday, of course, but November is also the month I’ve suffered great tragedy and loss in my life. Through this tragedy and loss, however, I’ve been able to find grace and a focus […]

Reform Necessary to Remain Informed

Maintaining a democracy requires citizens who are engaged in contributing to the health and vitality of the country. At a minimum, this means following the news to best understand the issues and concerns, and then voting in federal, state, and local elections. Although participation soared in the U.S. 2020 election—nearly 63% of voting age people […]

Rethinking Retirement

I have reached the age where many of my siblings, friends and colleagues either left the workforce or are headed in the direction of what we call retirement. But this is not your parent’s retirement as people today are living longer than ever and looking to remain active, healthy, useful and, in many cases, engaged […]

Feedforward Follows Feedback

As Millennials and Generation Z people continue to make-up a larger portion of the workforce, it’s important to evolve in how we interact and communicate. Performance reviews, for example, are largely conducted annually to deliver and hear feedback based on past performance. Feedforward is focused on future performance and about what’s next rather than what’s […]

Success in Behavioral Change

Bringing about behavioral change is often at the root of what it means to successfully lead others. This is because leading often requires helping shift the way people act to produce the desired results. Helping others to change their behavior is not always easy, but you can certainly grow to be more successful at it. […]

Success in Working Remotely

Now that fulltime and hybrid remote work will continue as the new normal for many employees, it’s important to make this is successful for both workers and employers. This means adopting best practices for maximizing productivity and engagement, without sacrificing health and wellbeing. Ever since the pandemic began there’s been lots of advice about how […]

Leadership includes Managing Others

Many leaders assume the people they lead no longer need to be managed. That somehow managing others at the executive level isn’t necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. One might argue that you should manage things and lead people. While there is truth in this, leading people requires the ability to influence, motivate, […]

Embrace Debate for Sound Decisions

So often the decision-making process in the workplace can be difficult to navigate. Sometimes it’s due to simply not knowing whether the decision is made democratically or by a single person. Regardless, to make sound decisions it’s important to embrace debate among all the stakeholders able to contribute. Leaders who practice debate in decision making […]

ABG: Always Be Growing

Many professionals finish their undergraduate or master’s degree and conclude they can rely on that institutional knowledge alone to thrive in their careers. Yet those most likely to reach personal and professional goals are always growing and learning. This includes not only book (articles, podcast, lectures, TED Talks, etc.) learning, but also experiential learning that […]

The Value of Values

My teenage daughter recently spoke to me about an ethical dilemma she was facing—reconciling the fact that a musical artist, whose songs she greatly enjoys has been accused of sexual misconduct. Can she still listen to his music (although not purchasing “merch” and attending concerts) while still holding true to her values? This is increasingly […]

Making the Most of Feedback

[This is an excerpt from my book Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, which is currently available at Amazon and wherever you buy books. It was previously posted in March 2021, but seems appropriate to post again as a good reminder.] Leading others in the workplace requires a combination of successfully receiving and giving feedback. At a very basic […]

Trusted Leadership

Leaders are those who can be trusted. Sounds obvious but there are far too many examples of leaders in business and politics who fabricate, deceive, omit, obfuscate, or otherwise stretch fact into fiction. As someone who thoroughly appreciates fiction in the form of novels, short stories, movies and so many streaming series, I know that […]

Multiplying Upwards

The best bosses raise the leadership capacity of those around them. They motivate direct reports to deliver more than they thought possible and help them grow to be more effective doing so. These multipliers also work up and across the organization to spread their impact. On the flip side, there are bosses who diminish others’ […]

Leading Your Boss

If you’re like most people, you have a boss who greatly influences your job satisfaction, learning and development, career advancement and overall well-being in the workplace. And it is your responsibility to lead your boss to make this relationship work best. Your boss is very likely the gatekeeper for continued growth and promotion opportunities. In […]

Leadership Begins with Integrity

Think of an outstanding leader. He or she is likely charismatic, effective and a great communicator. And no matter who you’re thinking of, this leader very likely demonstrates integrity as part of their character. Without integrity, there can be no great leader. Leadership takes many forms and is defined in different ways. But to become […]

Managers Focus on Direction

With the recent layoffs of thousands of employees at high tech companies including Meta, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, managers may want to sharpen their focus to ensure others see their value. Though managers may have been let go not because of anything they did or not done, it’s always helpful to continue growing to be […]

Best Practices in a Return to the Workplace

The pandemic made it necessary for many of us to work from home and various technologies made that possible. For a number of tasks, our productivity increased. Now that it seems safe to work side-by-side again, many are resisting and it’s time to install best practices in returning to the workplace. Many businesses are offering […]

Purpose, Then Respect

Leaders with a clear sense of purpose are far more likely to be effective and gain the respect of those they lead. Seeking to gain respect prior to communicating a clear sense of purpose is misguided and unlikely to succeed. In a recent New York Times opinion piece titled “Men Need Purpose more than ‘Respect,’” […]

Leadership is Jacinda Ardern

So often I write about corporate leaders who deliver bottom-line results to meet shareholder expectations, while demonstrating leadership principles that respect employees and customers. Today I want to highlight a politician who during her tenure demonstrated extraordinary leadership and elevated what is possible in this time of political turmoil. In 2017 at the age of […]

All About Managers

The CEO is where we typically focus when we evaluate a particular company, which makes sense given that this is the leader with the biggest impact on the organization’s success or failure—at least in terms of profitability. However, when it comes to getting work done and employees being engaged, it’s all about managers. Managers are […]

Living an Intentional Life

With the coming of a new year, this is the perfect time to take greater control of your life and career. This is not limited to signing up for a new round of exercise or diet programs but living a more intentional life by being proactive and taking responsibility for the progress in reaching your […]

Team Advantage of Strategic Offsites

On the cusp of a new year many organizations are currently scheduling offsites for senior executives to review strategic goals and devise execution plans for the coming year. Healthy organizations who encourage their leaders to embrace each other as vital teammates will be the most successful. All too often offsites fail to deliver solid results […]

Gratitude Giving

It’s the time of year when we are reminded to give thanks. This often means breaking bread with friends and family to express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving has become less about being grateful and more about watching football, planning a Black Friday shopping strategy, eating too much, and joining extended family […]

Embracing Failure

The road to success is paved with failure. You cannot succeed if you don’t fail along the way and are able to learn from those setbacks. The fact is no one succeeds unless they first embrace failure, learn from it, and try again and again. Looking back over my career, I recall failures big and […]

Choose Healthy, Happy Relationships

Are you unhappy? Do you get angry too often? Or are you apathetic? Do you feel you’re a victim and have no agency? Many people have no choice over the relationships in their lives that influence these perspectives. But most of us can have healthy, happy relationships if we make the choice to do so. […]

New Boss = New Opportunity

The pandemic led many people to change jobs, get promoted or otherwise been assigned a new boss. Regardless, if this was the case for you, it’s important to quickly get aligned and make the most of the opportunity with this new relationship.   Perhaps what’s most important with a new boss is to be proactive […]

Trust Before Progress

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”  – Albert Einstein In my work as a coach and organization development consultant, a common concern I encounter with my clients is a lack of trust among colleagues. This includes team members, peers, and even senior executives. A lack of […]

Philanthropy: Wealthy or Not

It’s better to give than receive. Various studies have found this to be true in that spending money on others or giving to charity is more likely to put a smile on your face than buying things for yourself. We all know this to some degree, but we don’t necessarily practice it throughout our lives. […]

How to Live: Happiness vs. Meaningfulness

Living a long and happy life seems to correlate more directly with the value of our relationships than our accumulated wealth. Though this may seem obvious, it’s not so frequently practiced. In a famous longitudinal study tracking the health of 268 Harvard sophomores beginning in 1938, scientists hoped to learn the clues leading to healthy […]

Make Email a Useful Tool

Along with attending meetings, nothing dominates our workday more than tending to email messages. But does this have to be the case? Instead of allowing email to dictate how we spend our work lives, let’s put it back into the place where it belongs as just another tool that adds to rather than diminishes our […]

Success in Motivation

Maintaining motivation is challenged because we are so often focused on the wrong incentives. This is true whether it’s about our physical health or our effectiveness in the workplace. Seeking some far-off desired outcome is doomed without the right incentives to maintain motivation and succeed in reaching your goals. Using intrinsic rewards rather than extrinsic […]

Imagine a Four-Day Workweek

The pandemic has forever changed how we think about what it means to go to work. And though the hybrid approach is rapidly becoming the predominant model in many white-collar workplaces, perhaps we should consider a more radical change to the 40-hour, five-day workweek. Is it now time for the four-day workweek? Instead of simply […]

Time to Focus

In a world of constant distraction from incessant emails, text messages, phone calls, social media, and 24-hour news media, it can be difficult if not impossible to really focus. Yet, time to focus is exactly what we need to solve the biggest challenges we face as individuals, organizations, and societies. Today in the United States, […]

Wisdom of Peter Drucker

Nobody embodies my philosophy of leadership more than the late great management consultant Peter Drucker. And his notion of “serving the common good” distinguishes him from the “greed is good” mantra that guided so many companies in the previous century. According to Drucker’s theory, business leaders need to embrace the “spirit of performance” by displaying […]

Threshold of an Opportunity

The fractured discourse in society over race, abortion, guns, politics, public health, and many other things threatens the fabric of what makes this country so great. We used to respectfully disagree and continue to be united as citizens. Now we are dangerously polarized. Where once we could compromise, now there is only me or you, […]

Is LinkedIn My Last Refuge?

As a small business owner, I’ve used social media to promote my services, demonstrate my expertise, and attract new clients. This is done primarily via blog posts, which I repurpose as articles on LinkedIn. Though I’ve used Facebook and Twitter, these sites proved less valuable for connecting with clients and now conflict with my values. […]

Effective Communication Takes Two

In my work as an executive coach, one of the most common goals my clients choose to work on is to become a better communicator. This is usually not about public speaking, presentations or even writing better emails. It’s about learning to actively listen, interacting back-and-forth and understanding it’s not about what you say, but […]

Role Clarity in Leadership

The leader of an organization has many responsibilities, but perhaps the most important is ensuring that the right people are in the right roles to carry out the needs of the organization so it can thrive. This role clarity cannot be overemphasized. “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” This quote is attributed […]

Regards for Regrets

Do you have regrets? Perhaps your immediate reaction might be no, but—if you’re completely honest with yourself—you probably regret at least some things you’ve done or haven’t done. It’s part of being human and having free will.   Like all emotions, regret can be extremely helpful if we are able to learn what it reveals […]

Zelenskyy’s Virtual Executive Presence

Throughout the past two years many of us have been challenged to demonstrate effective executive presence while working remotely. But how do you convey leadership prowess when you’re not physically in the same room? Perhaps Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has most recently provided a great example of how to do this effectively—even while his life […]

Body Language in a Virtual World

With a return to the workplace, now’s a good time to reflect on the communication challenges we faced while working remotely. You were likely frustrated by the difficulty in exclusively communicating via Slack, Zoom or Teams, email, and texting. These alternative forms are certainly not going away, so it’s time to improve your digital body […]

Say Yes to Office Politics

Early in my career I worked for a rapidly growing mid-size company and experienced negative aspects of office politics firsthand. I saw men and women who regularly interrupted others, elbowed their way into interactions with senior leaders, pushed themselves into important discussions, and generally got promoted more quickly than the rest of us. I convinced […]

Strong (Empathetic) Leadership

Empathy is often difficult to discern by simply reading a resume, but most of us know it when it’s present and perhaps more so when it’s missing. When it comes to leadership, empathy is an essential quality. Tensions over Ukraine have been escalating and a recent poll by Yahoo News/YouGov indicates that 62% of Americans […]

Personal Accountability & Social Responsibility

Do you feel your life and career are within your control? Do you accept accountability for your actions and your inactions? Are you doing your part to better your workplace and community in which you work and live? Or do you feel that you’re a victim without agency, and complain about how bad things are […]

Milestone: 300 Blog Posts

During the past 12 years, I’ve written and posted articles about leadership, workplace communication, managing employees, executive coaching, organization development and other workplace topics. This blog post marks my 300th since I began writing them in 2009. From my first post Operational Inefficiencies are Hurting Your Business regarding a trip to Denver that highlighted deficiencies […]

Civility in the Workplace

Blame it on social media, politicians, cable news or our collective desire for confirmation bias rather than truth and understanding, but incivility seems rampant in our lives. Civility is about getting along with other people and treating others the way you would want to be treated. It’s about respecting and finding common ground with others […]

Building Trust & Connection via Zoom

Now that many of us have gotten accustomed to working remotely, it’s time to assess whether we’re optimizing our ability to communicate and connect most effectively. Zoom and Teams remain a poor substitute for sitting shoulder to shoulder in a conference room together, but there are certainly ways to strengthen our connection in this digital […]

Clarity in Communication

Communicating well has never been easier yet it appears we are continually falling short. Despite incredible leaps in technology, including a dedicated communication device in the palm of our hands, we struggle to communicate effectively. This is a huge problem for productivity and profitability. A 2011 survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited […]

Retaining Your Best Employees

The best organizations are those that hire and retain the best and brightest employees. Keeping these people engaged and satisfied is essential. If you’re not worried about employee retention, then you must work at a rare company these days. Consider the following: Currently, there are about 8.6 million people unemployed in the U.S. and nearly […]

Delivering Quality Feedback

To help direct reports improve and grow as leaders, it’s essential to provide quality feedback to best illustrate what they do well and what they do not do so well. When this feedback is behaviorally specific and delivered effectively, direct reports are more likely to receive the message well and take meaningful action. Most importantly, […]

Boss as Thought Partner

The relationship between boss and direct report is often fraught with problems stemming from being either too involved or not involved enough. Too much of a micromanager or an absentee manager. In many cases, the ideal between these two extremes is where you as a boss can be viewed as a thought partner.   Leaders […]

Three A’s of Successful Behavioral Change

An important part of what I do as an executive coach is help leaders discover what they should keep doing, what they should stop doing and what they should start doing to raise their leadership capacity. And behaviors can be difficult to change without awareness, acceptance, and sustained action.    When making the transition from […]

Cultivating Purpose

In the early 1960s, while on a tour of NASA, President Kennedy saw a man walking in the hallway with a broom and bucket. The President walked over to him, introduced himself and said, “what do you do here?” The man, who was clearly a janitor, replied, “Sir, I help put a man on the […]

Workplace Flexibility in Flux

As organizations determine the best way to bring employees back into the workplace, it’s clear no one size fits all. Workers have found the virtues and drawbacks of working from home, and many prefer flexibility. Company leaders suspect something has been lost by not being in the office but haven’t been able to fully quantify […]

Anxiety at Work

Do you feel anxious? You’re not alone. Anxiety is on the rise and blamed on everything from COVID-19 to political instability to economic insecurity to social media to unstable weather conditions due to climate change. Everyone experiences anxiety and stress at some point in life. While stress is a response to a threat in a […]

Right Job: Intrinsic Motivation & Creativity

After an extraordinary time working from home, many of us are nearing a return to the workplace. Seems like a good time to check-in with yourself to see if you are in the right job: One where you find intrinsic motivation not only to feel engaged, but also to be most creative. This creativity is […]

Best Teams: Individual Well-Being & Strong Relationships

Now that many companies are seeking to bring employees back to the office at least on occasion, it’s a good time to reevaluate how our teams can be most effective. The best teams are those that value strong relationships and individual well-being. That’s according to Jen Fisher and Anh Phillips, authors of Work Better Together: […]

Build Back a Better Workplace

With any crisis comes opportunity. The crisis of COVID-19 provides the opportunity to take what we’ve learned and make appropriate changes to build back a better workplace. A way to do this is by becoming more focused on tasks, strengthening our work relationships, and embracing a work ethic based on results. Companies—large and small—around the […]

Is Your DE&I Training Really Effective?

Though companies across the country recently created or increased diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) programs, to what degree have they been successful? Turns out, without significant investment in time and behavior-based training, much of this may have little long lasting value. Most DE&I programs focus on half-day or one day sessions where the content is […]

Renovating Corporate Culture

The influence of corporate culture on an organization’s ability to effectively execute on strategic objectives is well recognized. Yet all too often when culture is misaligned with strategy, leaders are unable to alter their organization’s culture and then fail to reach their objectives. One of the most important thinkers on management theory and practice, management […]

Habits Help Determine Success

To reach your goals—professional or otherwise—you need to be persistent and disciplined. You need to strive to make a little progress each day and expect that you will stumble and suffer setbacks. In many ways, habits help determine your ability to succeed. Whether you are talking about dieting, preparing to run a marathon or getting […]

Saying “No” for Better Time Management

It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about? – Henry David Thoreau In spite of your career success, you may find you are a slave to back-to-back meetings, an overflowing email inbox and never enough time for the strategic work you should be doing. Until […]

Carving Out Time for Strategic Thinking

In today’s workplace, everyone should learn to think strategically—no matter their position. But effectively moving from manager to leader is where I think strategic thinking matters most. As you move from being primarily responsible for the completion of a set of tasks or objectives to the alignment of people and processes, it is vital to […]

Making the Most of Feedback

[This is an excerpt from my book Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, which is currently available at Amazon and wherever you buy books.] Leading others in the workplace requires a combination of successfully receiving and giving feedback. At a very basic level, receiving feedback is about learning what you are perceived as doing well and should continue doing; […]

The Art & Importance of Small Talk

I’ve recently discovered that while many people don’t feel comfortable making small talk, some minimize its importance as a leadership trait. Why bother chatting about insignificant things when more important business matters should be prioritized? The verbal interaction between two people who just meet is an opportunity to make a connection. It has the potential […]

Leading by Example

[This is an excerpt from my book Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, which is currently available at Amazon and wherever you buy books.] Isaac was a senior account executive at a commercial real estate firm and consistently recognized for his sales expertise. He regularly exceeded quotas and, as a result, was given greater responsibility to […]

Adapting Work Habits That Demonstrate EQ

[This is an excerpt from my book Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, which is currently available at Amazon and wherever you buy books.] The behavior you demonstrate at work speaks volumes with regard to your overall emotional intelligence, and this behavior shows up directly in your habits. A habit—good or bad—is simply routine behavior repeated […]

The Peril of a Post-Truth Society

The January 6, 2021 attack on our nation’s Capitol should be a wake-up call to all those who fail to realize the severity of accepting and encouraging the post-truth world we’re now living in. Regardless of political affiliation, when we no longer trust reputable news sources for presenting factual information, we are doomed to lose […]

2020: A Stoic Adventure

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”― Viktor E. Frankl Here at the end of a very challenging year due to a global pandemic, it may be difficult to see the bright side. One lesson we might take away from this year is that it’s not the […]

Emotional Intelligence & Stress

[This is part two of an excerpt from my new book Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, which is available at Amazon and wherever you buy books.] Raising your level of emotional intelligence enables you to better manage the stress you may experience in workplace relationships. This is because EQ helps you adapt to change, be […]

The Importance of Strong Working Relationships

[The following is an excerpt from my new book Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, which is now available at Amazon and wherever you buy books.] Today’s technology enables you to meet face-to-face far less often. However, this can actually make it harder for you to communicate in an effective manner. Connecting virtually—even through video conferencing—means […]

Does EQ Matter in the Workplace?

[This is an excerpt from my new book Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, which is now available at Amazon and wherever you buy books.] The burly, barrel-chested vice president of operations entered the meeting room and the mood quickly dropped from jovial to somber. Earlier in the week Jonathon had reprimanded two meeting attendees, lashed […]

Human Behavior at Work

As an executive coach my focus is on helping clients raise their leadership capacity in order to lead more effectively. This typically involves tweaking certain behaviors, so leaders can to bring their best selves to the workplace. While changing one’s behavior can be extremely difficult, it is crucial in order to become a better leader. […]

Emotions in Decision-Making

Emotions impact our decision-making whether we admit it or not. These emotions are actually available to assist in evaluating an experience and then propel us to take some action upon it. We are informed through felt sensations in our body resulting in feelings that ultimately shape our views and perspectives. While the US Senate is […]

Be a Catalyst for Change

So often change efforts fail due to moving too quickly, not getting adequate sponsor support, not consistently communicating what needs to happen and other factors. In fact, nearly 70% of change management initiatives fail for these and other reasons. And yet, change is necessary, and we should adopt a catalyst mentality in order to be […]

Thriving in the Decade Ahead

In just 10 short years our world will be radically changed in both positive and negative ways. How we adapt to these changes will determine whether we thrive or merely hang on to survive. Developing and further honing creativity and social skills may be key. In Mauro F. Guillén’s new book, 2030: How Today’s Biggest […]

Gray Market Opportunity

Marketers target the youngest generation in order to capture spending by those early in their careers, starting families, buying their first home and generally seen as having the most disposable income. With a focus largely on the millennial generation, marketers are missing a huge opportunity with older consumers. In addition, employers should recognize the value […]

Why Positive Feedback?

In my work as a leadership coach I work with Millennials who often complain they don’t receive enough positive feedback from their supervisors. I also work with leaders in their 40s and 50s who claim their younger direct reports continually crave recognition for a job well done. Is the desire for positive feedback contributing to […]

Wanted: Authoritative Leaders

Authoritative leadership is especially important now because so many organizations are aimlessly adrift due to the health risks and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened focus on racial inequality. We need leaders who understand that these are things that require inspiring everyone to collectively do their part. A year ago I wrote a […]

Questions for 21st Century Leaders

To lead effectively requires many competencies. To be a great leader in the 21st century means you are also looking further out, valuing the diversity of thought, and are brave enough to let go of your tried and true assumptions. Roselinde Torres, senior partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group, found that performance reviews, […]

Moving from Equality to Equity

Most Americans, I suspect, believe in equal opportunity more than equal outcome. This means providing a level playing field, so everyone has the opportunity to reach their goals if they put in the necessary work. Yet without equity, we don’t have a level playing field. Huge advantages persist in the United States for those who […]

Thoughts on Troubled Times

As a middle-aged straight white man, I recognize the privileges I have simply due to my gender, sexual orientation and light pigment of my skin. I grew up in racially mixed suburbs of Chicago in a loving family where I learned the importance of hard work, self-reliance and compassion for others. I’ve struggled with many […]

Unmasking Emotions: EQ During a Pandemic

Demonstrating one’s emotional intelligence at work can be very beneficial, but also challenging—especially when trying to read another’s emotions hidden behind a mask. When workplaces open up again and we’re working in the same physical space as others, many of us will likely to be wearing masks. How well will you be able to read […]

Empathy in Leadership

Leaders who demonstrate empathy are more effective than those who don’t. This is because empathy can help leaders raise engagement, increase loyalty, and ultimately convey their humanity, which makes them more approachable and able to be influenced. Empathy helps convey that you are able to identify the feeling another has, touch that feeling yourself, and […]

Executive Presence in a Virtual Environment

Leaders demonstrate executive presence in the way they show up. This is hard enough to do in a conference room, but much more challenging in a video conferencing environment. Executive presence can mean different things to different people, but it is generally about demonstrating self-confidence, clarity and credibility. When one has it, they are perceived […]

Behavioral Change & Social Distancing

Even in the best of times, changing one’s behavior to break a bad habit, learn a favorable one or develop new leadership capacity is hard and takes time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our ability to change behavior is vital to the health and safety of everyone. If you’ve ever struggled with changing your behavior in […]

Crisis Reveals True Character

We are living at a time with a devastating pandemic in the form the COVID-19 virus, and leaders have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and take the necessary steps to protect people and the economy. Or they can shun that responsibility, blame others and ineffectively address the problem. President Donald Trump is doing […]

Values Precede Purpose

In order to find meaning in the work you do, it’s essential to align what you do with who you are. This means defining your purpose or vision for what you do based on your values. In the strategic planning I do with newer organizations, we begin by clarifying mission, vision and values. Typically, they […]

Ask and Thou Will Succeed

In today’s workplace people are often reluctant to ask for the information they need to be most productive. Failure to ask could be explained for many reasons, but it needs to change in order for individuals as well as organizations to be successful. Research shows that employees failing to share knowledge effectively costs Fortune 500 […]

Gaslighting a Nation

The current President of the United States is gaslighting our nation. I never thought I would write these words, but the fact is Donald Trump uses lies, denials, manipulation and confusion in order to rule over this great country. Though this post veers from the usual discussion of leadership in the corporate sense, I think […]

Playing the Infinite Game

Running a business over the long-term requires looking beyond what’s good for shareholders to see what’s best for all the stakeholders. This requires seeing business not as a finite game of winners and losers, but as an infinite game where you get to choose how to play. In the past 50 years it seems corporations […]

Leading Effective Meetings

Those in leadership positions spend more time attending and leading meetings than perhaps any other activity throughout the workday. But how effective are these meetings? More than 55 million meetings are held in organizations every day in the United States. The annual cost of these meetings (based on the average salaries of attendees) is $1.4 […]

Express Gratitude Far & Wide

This is the time of year when we gather to give thanks—primarily to those with whom we have close relationships. Perhaps we should extend this gratitude to our colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, and even to strangers in our workplace, community and throughout our country. It’s good for your health and the health of our country. The […]

Thriving as a Generalist

In my experience the most successful leaders are those who are able to apply what they’ve specialized in learning to areas outside their particular domain of expertise. No one can be an expert at all things, so each of us needs to embrace a generalist mindset in order to thrive in our careers. Getting a […]

Meetings Rule our World

As a coach and consultant, I regularly meet with clients challenged to find time due to other meetings crowding their calendars. Meetings rule many of our working lives and this requires we push back to make the best use of our time and to make meetings better. If you find most of your workday is […]

Leading with Intention

Knowing what you want and how to get it is important as it provides the vision and roadmap for achieving results. But leading without intention, may prevent you from getting results for you as well as your team. Intention is often defined as a mental state representing a commitment to carry out an action or […]

Better, Faster Decision-Making

No matter your job title or the line of work you are in, you likely make decisions all the time. And you may believe you are applying a rational and objective approach to making those decisions. Further, that you are right in those decisions most of the time. The trouble is, we have a tendency […]

Measuring Leadership Potential

Identifying high potential employees is an important and often difficult task. The difficulty is partially due to our methods for identifying and measuring leadership potential. Using assessments to better understand employees and identify them has been done with success for many years. They can be used to help individuals see how different perspectives can provide […]

Corporations Responsibility to Society

For more than 50 years American corporations have prioritized profits for its shareholders above serving customers, employees and communities. This may be changing as a significant number of Fortune 500 companies indicated a shift to also focus on customers, employees, suppliers and protecting the environment. Milton Friedman, the celebrated University of Chicago economist, proclaimed in […]

Building Self-Awareness in Teams

Qualities critical for workplace success include emotional intelligence, empathy, influence, persuasion, communication and collaboration. All of which stem from self-awareness. And self-awareness in teams can make them more efficient, effective, innovative and rewarding to be a part of. As I’ve written previously, this highly developable skill is perhaps the most important element for leadership. Research […]

Authoritarian vs. Authoritative Leadership

Leadership among other things is the power or ability to lead others. It is also about setting a direction and inspiring others to accomplish goals. Perhaps the word “inspiring” is the difference between those who operate from an authoritarian vs. authoritative leadership perspective. Though they may sound similar, authoritarian and authoritative leadership styles vary greatly. […]

Success: More than Ability & Effort

Reaching success in life requires many things, such as ability, effort, chance and other people. While many successful people stress the first two, it’s important to recognize and appreciate the role chance and other people have on our individual success. No matter how you define success, it requires a certain amount of ability and effort [...]

Astronomical Compensation at the Top

What happens when one person in a company or on a team is significantly compensated far beyond everyone else? Perhaps a superstar athlete or outstanding CEO should be paid a lot because of what they deliver. But what level of compensation inequality is appropriate? While the pay for athletes is very public, corporations try to […]

How to Think Strategically

One  common growth opportunity many of my coaching clients face is the need to think more strategically. This is true not only for senior leaders, but also mid-level managers throughout the organization. But how do you think strategically? No matter what your job title, taking the necessary time for strategic thinking flies in the face [...]

Retirement and the Pursuit of Joy

“I won’t retire, but I might retread.” – Neil Young With more than 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day in the United States, retirement is on the rise. However, old notions of the viability and the actual practice of retirement have evolved enormously. Retirement provides the opportunity to find meaning and pursue joy. The [...]

Self-Awareness in Leadership

The best leaders are self-aware. Are you? Most of us tend to over-estimate how self-aware we actually are. In the same way 80% of drivers think of themselves as above average, 95% of people say they are self-aware. Yet, according to a five-year research program, only 10% to 15% of people are considered self-aware. When [...]

Successful Givers are Otherish Givers

In every workplace there are givers, takers and matchers. Most of us are matchers, looking for something equal in return for what we provide to others. This reciprocity style is predominant because it is about overall fairness. Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and author of the book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, says […]

Real Leadership in a Time of Crisis

Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, is demonstrating what real leaders do in a time of crisis. The deadly attack on two mosques that left 50 people dead last week in Christchurch was a horrendous example of the rise of terrorism—specifically white supremacism—around the world. And Ardern is responding in a way that serves [...]

Saving the Planet Through Behavioral Change

Changing one’s behavior is hard and it is often necessary. This is true whether you want to become a more effective leader or help save the planet. But before you take action, you must first answer the questions: what, why and how. In my line of work as an executive coach, I help clients tweak [...]

Communicating with Listening Intelligence

Verbal communication is a critical skill in every organization, yet rarely do we think beyond the speaking half of what we call communication. Fact is, listening is equally important for effective communication and it is neglected on factory floors as well as in office cubicles, meeting rooms, C-suites, and board rooms. It’s time to raise [...]

Civility and Leadership Fundamentals

Despite the lack of civil discourse in these partisan times, we all have a choice as to how we show up in our communities and workplaces. We can either accept that this incivility is the new normal and that there’s nothing to be done, or we can actively behave in a more conciliatory and compassionate […]

Connective Listening is Key

At the time of this writing, the US government has been temporarily reopened after being shut down for the longest stretch in history. One reason for being closed so long is due to our elected representatives’ inability to listen effectively to each other. Leaders in politics and business who want to communicate more effectively require […]

Lead with Your Intentions

Poor communication is the reason for many misunderstandings. This can be due to the person sending the message, the one receiving it, or both sender and receiver. As a leader, to send an effective message, you need to begin by making your intentions clear. That’s because when you lead with intention, your message is immensely […]

Workplace Engagement Follows Appreciation

Here at the end of another year, my family and I will express and literally record statements of love and appreciation for each other in what has become an annual tradition. This simple exercise compiles what we appreciate about and wish for each other in the coming year—something started nearly ten years ago in order […]

Lonely in the Workplace

Loneliness is on the rise in America. This is a huge health concern and has ramifications in the workplace. The solution is complex yet maybe we can learn something from magpies. First some facts regarding the impending epidemic. A recent Cigna survey of 20,000 U.S. adults 18 years or older found that: Nearly half of […]

You Decide: Job, Career or Calling?

No matter the profession you’re in, you likely have the opportunity for it to be a job, a career or a calling. Sure, the paycheck is important, but finding purpose in the work can make it so much more rewarding. In fact, much of our satisfaction from work comes from whether or not we find […]

Demanding Jobs with Little Agency

The World Health Organization reports that the United States is among the most anxious nations on the planet. Our current political climate certainly contributes to this distinction, but much of our stress stems from feeling a lack of agency on the job. Agency is the capacity to act independently and make our own free choices. […]

Psychological Safety in Workgroups & Teams

Most of the important things accomplished in the workplace as well as society are done not by individuals but by groups of people. Workgroups and teams at their best are able to accomplish far more than a collection of individuals on their own. Effective collaboration is essential and this begins with psychological safety. Feeling psychologically […]

Focused Attention Through Intention & Discipline

In this age of intensified distraction, it’s hard to find time and space to concentrate on one specific thing to any significant degree. Yet if you want to be more productive, you need to focus, which requires both intention and discipline. Productivity means different things to different people, but we all know what we need […]

Men Abusing Power vs. Men Manning Up

The allegations against and removal of powerful men in entertainment, politics and the media has sparked increased attention on the issue of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Men abusing power in the workplace isn’t new, of course, but other men manning up to defend women seems to be especially lacking. The unfolding drama […]

Knowing What You Know

In the workplace as in life, accurate information enables you to make good decisions. We collect and analyze data like never before in order to determine when and who to hire, what to sell, where to invest, how to allocate resources, and many other business decisions. However, when we take opinions as facts or make […]

Sharpen the Saw to Keep Your Leadership Edge

Staying Mentally Fit With the approach of a new school year, I wanted to explore the importance of continual learning in order to maintain your leadership edge. This is about sharpening the saw to stay mentally fit. In Stephen Covey’s classic leadership book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit number seven is Sharpen […]

Manager as Coach

Making progress at something personally meaningful is the most powerful and motivating condition you can have at work. As a manager in charge of others, you should develop your coaching skills in order to help them experience this progress. According to research, the single most important managerial competency that separates highly effective managers from average […]

Rebuilding a Sense of Community

In this age of constant distraction and limited face-to-face time, I decided to drop some of what I call “anti-social” media and join real-time groups to help restore a sense of community. I suspect this lost sense of community has contributed to many of us no longer fully engaging with others in real conversations and […]

Being Busy vs. Being Productive

On any given workday I find myself continually distracted because I’m multitasking—constantly switching from one task to another: writing an email while listening to the radio, answering a phone call while responding to a text, thinking about a particular client issue while the kids bicker in the background. It’s not unusual for me to have […]

Women in Leadership

Whether it’s confirmation bias, the preference for promotional skills, or seeing risk-taking and certainty as positives for men alone, we continue to undermine efforts for women to reach parity with men in leadership roles.

Your Role in Job Satisfaction

Graduation season is upon us and college graduates are seeking to put their newly acquired knowledge to work by building skills and experience in order to pay off student loans, establish careers, and begin an enduring and satisfying adult life. Much of overall satisfaction with life comes from our relationships with partners, family and friends. […]

Motivation: Begin and It Will Come

Now that we’re nearing the half-way point in the year, how well are you keeping your New Year’s resolutions? Whether it be losing weight, exercising, learning a new skill, running a marathon, or whatever, it can be difficult to stay motivated. Perhaps you stopped because you lost interest, got distracted, couldn’t muster the willpower, or […]

Leadership and the To-Don’t List

At some point in our careers we have to face the fact that it may not be our lack of skills, experience or overall accomplishments, but specific behaviors that may prevent us from getting promoted to a higher position. What often defines those who are able to rise to the ranks of leadership is the […]

The Mid-Life, Mid-Career Slump Remedy

Milestone birthdays often serve as a reminder of the persistent passage of time. Whether it’s turning 30, 40, 50, 60 or beyond, reaching each decade threshold is a time to take stock of where we’ve been, what we’re grateful for, and where we still want to go. And these milestones can either bring about dread […]

When Saying No Gets You to Yes

Recently I helped my daughter choose an elective class for high school and when I suggested drawing, she said that although she likes to draw, she’s not very good at it. The fact that my 13-year-old is already doubting her creative abilities is disheartening enough, but it got me thinking about how important it is to say yes to things that may intimidate or scare us, especially when we are young.

The Need for Moral Leadership

Every leader faces crossroad moments where he or she must choose between the most expedient, popular and/or profitable versus what can only be labeled as the morally correct choice. Far too often, however, leaders choose the former. Take for example Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose company recently admitted that Cambridge Analytica, a firm that worked […]

Organizational Resiliency: Failing Forward

Emphasizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses is common not only for individuals, but for organizations as well. A relentless focus on success is certainly easier and more enjoyable, but at what cost is the unwillingness to acknowledge and learn from our mistakes? Every individual and organization regularly fails. It is inevitable and it is absolutely necessary […]

The Gift of Being Heard

In this age of extraordinary technological advances and accelerating change, our ability to effectively communicate has diminished severely. This is partly because we are not equally focused on sending and receiving messages. And we don’t listen in a way that demonstrates that the other is being heard. Despite the many powerful ways we have to […]

Success in Difficult Conversations

In our work lives as in our personal lives we encounter situations that demand initiating difficult conversations. These conversations are not easy, but shouldn’t be avoided because that can often make things worse. As much as the conflict avoider in us may want to run in the other direction, those who are able to courageously […]

Medium Makes the Message Meaningful

The popularity of texting and social media has enabled quicker and wider distribution of our thoughts and ideas, but at what cost? When these methods become the default medium for how we interact with others, receivers may make false assumptions, misunderstand our intent and become less rather than more clear on the message. This is […]

More (Positive) Feedback Please

Feedback. We all want it and perhaps those in the Millennial generation crave it more than most. But is anything less than positive feedback really appreciated and effective at bringing out our best performance? Years ago I wrote a blog post titled Six Tips to Successfully Deliver Employee Feedback where I suggested “. . . […]

A Return to Civility

So much of what is currently wrong in the workplace, government and our society can be linked to people simply not acting civil towards each other. Perhaps if we were a bit more courteous and polite it would lead to greater productivity, health and happiness. In the workplace, this lack of civility shows up when […]

Breaking the Silence on Complicity

On the one hand we’ve seen the recent rise in naming complicit behavior, and on the other hand the rising response that this behavior will no longer be tolerated. Yet many of our leaders remain sitting on the sidelines. Why? The word “complicit” was recently chosen as the word of the year by Dictionary.com citing […]

An Attitude of Gratitude

Beyond football, eating a big meal, and gathering with extended family, Thanksgiving should be a time of, well, giving thanks. In that spirit, I want to express my gratitude for all that I am thankful for in my life. First and foremost, I am grateful for my family, and the love and devotion they provide […]

(Precious) Time Management

There’s not enough time. Right? We’re all too busy in our personal and professional lives to squeeze in everything to make us feel happy and successful. But what is sucking away our precious time and how much control do we actually have over it? Turns out the answers are: 1) distractions and 2) a lot. […]

Leaders Who Lie

Leaders who lie do not deserve our allegiance. The only reason they are able to rise and then remain in leadership positions is because those who follow them refuse to hold them accountable. And this lack of accountability undermines the overall effectiveness of the very people and the organization they serve. Untruths. False statements. Stretching […]

Courage When Leaders Abuse Power

Three prominent founder CEOs have recently been removed from their companies due to sexual misconduct. These men are Roger Ailes of Fox News, Travis Kalanick of Uber, and most recently Harvey Weinstein of the Weinstein Company. This abuse of power must stop. Ailes and Weinstein were actually removed only after major news outlets reported the […]

United We Stand . . . And Kneel

There is a lot dividing us these days. Whether it’s on the national political stage or in our own local workplace, we should be wary of the wedge that seeks to separate us. On the national level are huge issues such as health care and race relations that require thoughtful and deliberate attention with respectful […]

Humility in Leadership

In my work as a leadership coach, I find that clients who make the most progress reaching their full potential are those who are able to acknowledge their weaknesses, and are secure in accepting the help to overcome them. This requires humility, and growing one’s humility leads to greater leadership. The word humility is often […]

Positive Morning Routine: Why it Matters

How do you start your day? It may very well determine whether you reach your goals. Maybe because it’s back to school time, but I’m seeing a lot of articles, blog posts and podcasts related to “what successful people do every morning.” All of us currently have a morning routine and most of us follow […]

Personal Integrity in Leadership

Now that the President’s manufacturing council has disbanded following a wave of defections, it’s worth exploring how personal integrity fits into leadership. At what point should a leader remove him- or herself from a situation where they feel their moral code is being challenged? One could argue that with the exception of Merck CEO Kenneth […]

Workplace Loyalty: A New Paradigm

Once there was a time when companies provided their employees with the security of lifetime employment. There was also a time when employees remained on the job despite opportunities to go elsewhere. That relational dynamic has certainly changed as many employers moved towards outsourcing, automation, and—for all too many—a focus on increasing shareholder value over […]

Working Smarter in the Age of Distraction

We live in a world of constant distraction. The internet, text messaging and social media all play a part in this distraction and yet we willingly choose to let these interruptions keep us from fully engaging in our lives. This is true not only in our free time, but in our workday as well. Employees […]

The Value of Organizational Values

In personal relationships we tend to choose others who share our values—regardless of whether they are friends or romantic interests. This is because values help define who we are and what we stand for. When this is shared between yourself and another, it provides the foundation to maintain a solid relationship both can depend on. […]

Leader as Listener

Boilerplate copy on resumes typically include the phrase “excellent communication skills.” But how many people really have them? Communication is so often thought of as speaking and writing well. While these are certainly important, it is not only the clear dissemination of thoughts and ideas, but also the receptivity and complete understanding of other people’s […]

Magnetic Leadership

For companies to thrive they need great leadership. So how do we define great leadership and what are the behavioral traits of a great leader? In his best-selling book Good to Great, author Jim Collins wrote about what he called Level 5 Executive leaders who build enduring greatness through the paradoxical blend of personal humility […]

STEM Alone Won’t Be Enough

In education today there is a focus to deliver qualified graduates to take on careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Not only is this where the opportunities are today and likely in the future, but there is a tremendous shortage of qualified Americans to fill the number of STEM jobs currently available. But […]

Three Steps to Effectively Using 360 Feedback

If you are lucky enough to receive a 360-degree feedback survey to help you grow in your effectiveness within an organization, it’s vitally important that you do something with the results. Constructive feedback from peers, direct reports, and bosses enable you to confirm and capitalize on your strengths and to neutralize your weaknesses in order […]

March for Workplace Health & Viability

The March for Science will be held in Washington, D.C. and more than 500 communities around the world on April 22, 2017. This coincides with Earth Day and it’s hard to believe that in the 21st Century there is even a need to demonstrate support for something so fundamental as the planet we live on […]

One Boomer’s Advice to Millennials

With the Millennial Generation now representing nearly 45% of the U.S. workforce, it’s clear we are experiencing a huge cultural shift. And while these younger workers may report to other Millennials, Generation Xers or Baby Boomers, there are certain protocols they should consider as they navigate their careers. The Baby Boomer generation was largely responsible […]

Social Media’s Impact on Workplace Communication

The Internet age has led to enormous changes in the way we communicate in virtually every aspect of our lives. Social media lets us connect with others in a way that was previously unheard of. With a smart phone in hand, we can now access anyone and anything around the world at any time. But […]

Communicating with Millennials in Mind

As the American workplace shifts from being filled with Baby Boomers and Generation Xers to dominated by Millennials, this generational shift also creates a cultural shift—one with younger workers who have different expectations and values than their predecessors. This is not your father’s cubicle. While technology, globalization, diversity and many other factors continue to impact […]

GRIT: Growth, Rigor, Integrity, Tenacity

Like any parent, I want my children to grow up to be successful. I also believe that success should not be measured merely in terms of a job or career, but in terms of satisfaction with all areas of one’s life. To reach this level of success, I encourage my kids to fail early and […]

Personality Assessments Best for Existing Employees

In my work as a leadership coach I often use personality assessments to better understand my clients, especially with regard to how they show up behaviorally in the workplace. This gives me a different lens from which I can often view their blind spots and leadership potential. Placing people into one segment of a four-square […]

Presence in the Age of Distraction

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but never before have I felt it so difficult to be present. Whether this is about mindfulness, grounded or being in the moment, the ability to stop multitasking and focus on one thing at a time has become harder to do. Technology certainly enables us to do many […]

Leadership Lessons from New POTUS

We can learn a great deal from leaders who model excellent behavior and traits we want to emulate. Other times, when we see poor behavior and traits that demonstrate ineffective leadership, we can learn from this too. With a new President of the United States, we have an opportunity to see a different kind of […]

Courage in a Time of Uncertainty

In the face of these uncertain times, it is necessary for each of us to be brave. Though it is easier to simply follow along and protect what we currently have, we also need the courage to stand up for what is right and risk being vulnerable. So many of us have been duped into […]

Leader as Storyteller

Let me tell you a story. Nothing perks up an audience like those few words because we are wired for story. It is in our very DNA as we have told and listened to oral stories from the very beginning of human history. Stories are also the most entertaining and effective way to convey information […]

Passive-Aggressive Behavior at Work

Effective communication is important to every successful organization because it enables the dissemination of information needed by employees to get things done and it builds relationships based on trust and commitment. Both are equally important. In the workplace, effective communication can increase efficiency and productivity, enhance employee engagement, and decrease turnover. Conversely, ineffective communication can […]

Collaborator in Chief

The result of the recent presidential election means Donald Trump will become leader of the United States of America. However, I don’t recall him ever previously referred to as a business leader or any kind of leader for that matter. While he is reportedly a successful businessman, he has absolutely no governing experience. Ironically, this […]

Thriving in the Workplace

We live at a time when employee engagement is especially low. Employees are dissatisfied, discouraged and disinclined to be optimally productive. This is bad for both employers and employees. According to Gallop’s 2012 State of the American Workplace, 70% of American workers said they feel they are not engaged at work. This comes at a […]

5 Steps to Behavioral Change

Whether you are trying to lose weight, run a marathon, secure a new job, or change your behavior to be more effective in the workplace, you are the primary driver of your success. As Henry Ford put it: If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right! I believe reaching any […]

The Value of Thought Diversity

As much as we have learned the importance of diversity in the workplace, it is often focused on gender, race and ethnicity. Thought diversity is more subtle, but just as important. That’s because our thoughts are guided by where we focus our attention and, all too often, we seek the comfort of confirmation rather than […]

Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict occurs in all relationships. It is natural and it can be detrimental only when it is ignored or not dealt with appropriately. When handled well at work, conflict can strengthen relationships, and lead to more energy, innovation and greater outcomes. However, when conflict is inappropriately handled in the workplace, it can lead to dysfunction […]

Lifelong (Workplace) Learning

It’s nearing the end of summer and time for the kids to go back to school. September should also remind us that lifelong learning is vital in order for each of us to stay relevant at work and vibrant in life. Whether you are just beginning your career, a mid-level manager or a seasoned leader, […]

The Measure of Leadership

How do you size up a leader? Do you choose and accept him or her based on the perspective of your particular newsfeed? Or do you assess a leader based on who your friends and family respect? Does it depend on the size of the company or organization, or on the particular political party affiliation […]

Telling the Truth to Yourself & Your Boss

Sometimes the most difficult part of being fully present and connected in the workplace requires simply speaking the truth: to yourself and to others. Because we are often reluctant to be emotionally vulnerable by expressing our thoughts, wants and feelings in the workplace, we sacrifice our ability to fully connect and be most productive. This […]

Tim Duncan: The Selfless Leader

Earlier this week a great leader and perhaps the best power forward to ever play in the NBA quietly retired from the game. In his typical understated fashion, Tim Duncan stepped away from the game he played with passion, consistency and unselfishness for 19 years. His presence will be missed beyond south Texas. Unlike talents […]

Reducing Office Politics Through Soft Skills

Admitting you don’t know the answer. Apologizing when you’ve made a mistake. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Not speaking poorly about someone behind their back. These are things we learned as children and know we should practice as adults, yet because many of us don’t, our workplaces are unhealthy and prevent us from being […]

Learning Skills: Knowing vs. Doing

So often knowledge and skills are linked together as a single unit. And while there is certainly a strong link between what we know and what we can do, these terms need to be uncoupled in order to better understand them. The knowledge we acquire is a direct result of our learning through school, reading […]

Listening Your Way to Success

How often do you struggle to get people to buy what you’re selling? I’m not suggesting you are a sales person, per se. However, all of us are selling something whether it’s seeking the boss’s permission to proceed on a project, persuading a co-worker to do something in a particular way, convincing your spouse to […]

Virtually Connected Yet Digitally Distracted

Our reliance on smartphones not only enables us to connect with each other at any time and any place, it has also changed the nature of our connections in a profound way. Because we have a phone that connects us to our families, friends, bosses, co-workers, acquaintances, and just about everything else, it has almost […]

Five Essentials of Meeting Facilitation

Sometimes seeing something done poorly makes me better appreciate why things should be done a certain way. This was the case when I witnessed a recent meeting facilitation. I had an opportunity to learn from a committee meeting where I was merely a spectator—not the facilitator or a participant. It gave me a unique perspective […]

Achieving Work-Life Balance

One of the biggest reasons for stress is the inability to find balance in our lives. Perhaps the focus on seeking work-life balance frustrates many of us because the equation is all wrong. Work is not simply one thing. It may be intellectually stimulating, but may not provide any physical stimulation and in fact may […]

The Compassionate Leader

The current tenor of the Republican presidential campaign has got me thinking about the lack of compassion expressed by our so-called leaders. It wasn’t that long ago when George W. Bush campaigned using the phrase “compassionate conservatism,” though you might argue he never really governed that way. For some reason the term compassion has become […]

Leaders Who Ask For Help

In my work as a leadership coach I regularly encounter senior managers and directors who desire to become leaders, but many fail to understand that the leap is much more than a title, salary and corner office. Leadership isn’t so much appointed as it is earned through your management track record and, perhaps just as […]

Employee Appreciation & Gratitude

Happy Employee Appreciation Day! It’s now the third month of the new year and if you have not yet recognized the impact and value of your employees, do something about it today. This annual holiday—celebrated the first Friday in March—is meant to remind companies to thank employees for their hard work and effort throughout the […]

Managing Millennials

The largest generation in the U.S. workforce today is composed of people born after 1980, and they represent Generation Y or Millennials. These 54 million workers are often called digital natives because they do not know of a world without computers and the Internet. And while they may not fully appreciate that FAX machines and […]

Millennials as Managers

Millennials now represent the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. These digital natives are often described as confident and tolerant as well as entitled and narcissistic. What does this mean in terms of their effectiveness as managers in the workplace? Stereotypes of the 54 million working Millennials include: lack of experience, immaturity, no long-term vision, […]

Narcissism in Leadership

Can a narcissist be a good leader? This is the question that comes up for me when I contemplate the possibility of a President Trump. The Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack […]

10 Tips to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss

People use Google to search for information on everything from local weather to “what happened in Paris” shortly after the terrorist attack. And sometimes people search random things they’re currently thinking about with the hope they’ll find help. “I hate my boss” is currently typed into Google’s search engine about 1,600 times each month in […]

Reward Evidence-based Decision-Making

“Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.”                                                         –Mulla Nasruddin, 13th Century Sufi sage/fool Success in business today requires many things. Perhaps most importantly, organizations […]

Thanks Giving to Employees

Aside from the Thanksgiving meal, football games and holiday shopping, this is the time of year when we are thankful. We pause to remember that it is really the people in our lives who make living so precious, and we ought to show our appreciation. While this is certainly important in our personal lives, it […]

Leadership and Apology: An Open Letter to POTUS

Dear President Obama, In the same way Apartheid came to define South Africa and Nazism defined Germany during and directly after World War II, slavery has continued to define and denigrate the promise of the United States of America. It is our national shame and I believe it is time for you to address it. […]

Judging Leaders Beyond Financial Performance

Amazon’s Jeffery Bezos is no longer at the top of the Best-Performing CEOs in the World ranking, even though his company just posted an unexpected profit and added $25 billion to its market capitalization. The CEO at the top of the list is now Lars Rebien Sørensen of Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company. If […]

Why Hire an Executive Coach

Companies used to engage executive coaches to help fix toxic behavior demonstrated by their top leaders. Today, most coaching is instead deployed in order to develop the capabilities of high-potential performers, including directors and senior managers. Coaching is no longer seen as an aspirin, but as a vitamin. An ever-increasing pace of change requires leaders […]

Successful Behavioral Change Linked to Values

Nothing will make people change their behavior—no matter how detrimental—until they can see how it is in conflict with their own value system. That alone motivates us toward successful change. As a leadership coach working with mid-level managers, directors and C-suite executives, much of my work is helping clients change their behavior in order to […]

Raise Employee Engagement via Encouragement

Despite his best efforts, your employee misses a critical deadline and an important business outcome is in doubt. How do you respond? This situation is something every manager or leader faces at some point. Will your response depend on the individual employee or on how well you have been informed throughout the process? Obviously, many […]

Leadership & Donald Trump

Donald Trump has garnered a significant lead in the early stages of the Republican presidential primary based—at least in part—on his bravado, brand recognition, and Washington-outsider perspective. Trump is also very good at saying provocative or ridiculous things that keep the discussion from more substantive issues. It is very early in a long campaign and […]

Misguided Notion: Pursuit of Happiness

“The Constitution only guarantees you the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” — Benjamin Franklin Most parents when asked will tell you that all they want for their children is for them to grow up to be happy. However, happiness is elusive and ephemeral. What makes us happy one day will […]

Futility in Infrequent Feedback

Most annual reviews are dreaded both by those giving and those receiving them, yet they are a mainstay in the corporate world. This is because annual reviews can help people stay on track to meet individual, workgroup and corporate goals. One of the problems is that annual reviews often feel contrived. Typically too much is […]

Values-Based Recognition for Employee Retention

Retaining the best employees is difficult, especially when the economy is on the rise and new opportunities are opening up all around. But keeping your talent is essential if you want to remain competitive. In the 2015 Employee Recognition Report published by SHRM and Globoforce, employee turnover/retention is the biggest challenge now facing HR leaders. […]

The Sarcastic Leader

Can you be sarcastic and become a great leader? Though you may gain some friends and even form a small following with this type of humor, you ultimately will not be a strong leader. Sarcasm will hinder your overall effectiveness. Sarcastic people may defend their sarcasm because it can help create levity and ease tension […]

Power Napping for Increased Productivity

It’s early afternoon and the yawning begins. That’s when many of us reach for an energy drink or another cup of coffee, both containing caffeine—the most-used drug in the world. What if instead we actually accepted what our bodies are telling us? We’re tired and we need rest. It’s that simple. Research shows that when […]

Charge Up Your Career & Life

Ever feel as if you have no control over your life? This is when you may feel you are a victim of circumstance, either at work or at home. It’s an awful time because you can feel helpless and powerless. It may seem impossible to get out of this condition, yet it’s imperative for your […]

5 Ways to Motivate Employees

Navigating one’s career has as much to do with managing a boss as it does with being productive and getting results. Anyone who has ever had to manage their boss knows this is difficult yet important for job security and career advancement. The boss has a responsibility in this too. In fact, more and more […]

Owning Up to Bias

Back when I was studying journalism in college, we were instructed to strive for objectivity. Our professors made it clear that because we are human and have unique perspectives, we were always going to skew a story in a particular direction. Regardless, the goal was to be unbiased. The Fourth Estate had a lot more […]

Don’t Underestimate Corporate Culture

Beyond salary, benefits, perks, and the nature of the work itself, a company’s culture is often the reason people stay in an organization. That’s because corporate culture—though not readily apparent or even easily defined—can make you feel like you are part of a team, that you belong, and that you are doing something important. It […]

To Lead or Not to Lead: That is the Manager’s Question

In my work as a leadership coach, I find many of my clients have leadership potential though they are often currently defined as managers. The question is whether they have what it takes and the desire to lead. An obvious distinction exists between a manager and a leader, and I have seen many managers who […]

Hiring Well is More Important Than Ever

It used to be when hiring someone you needed to determine whether the person could do the job (skills and experience) and whether he or she wants to do the job (motivation). But that didn’t always result in getting the best people. We now know there’s a lot more required to succeed in today’s workplace […]

Emotional Health for High Performing Teams

Why is it when we put together a group of highly capable individuals to form a team, this “whole” doesn’t necessarily exceed the sum of its parts? Obviously, teams won’t always exceed the collective contributions of the individuals, and sometimes these teams can backfire and produce even less. “It is relatively easy to find talent; […]

Better Group Decision-Making without Groupthink

As social beings, throughout human history, we make things happen primarily in groups rather than as individuals. Whether inside a business, government agency, school board, religious organization or any other group, you most likely interact with others in order to decide what to do. There is good reason for this: groups can often make better […]

Leadership, Grit & Russell Wilson

In my work as a leadership coach I regularly reference popular figures who demonstrate great leadership. These leaders are often found in business or politics, but lately I’ve been referring to those in my local sports team: the Seattle Seahawks. Witness the recent NFC Championship game where by the middle of the fourth quarter mere […]

Leadership Through Emergent Authenticity

Leadership requires many traits including integrity, courage, humility and the ability to communicate well. It also requires authenticity. But being authentic can be tricky as author Herminia Ibarra points out in a recent article titled “The Authenticity Paradox,” in the Harvard Business Review. As a leader it may be difficult to remain true to who […]

The Value of Working in a Restaurant

Back when I was a kid, my spending money didn’t come from my parents. I needed to earn it on my own. And these jobs provided me valuable lessons that served me well throughout my career. Beginning as a 10-year-old, I had two paper routes and delivered newspapers after school. I also had to collect […]

Leadership Out of Balance

Leadership is often described as the act of leading a group of people or an organization. Leading well requires knowledge, skill, and an ability to balance the immediate gratification of the near term with the security of the long term. According to author and organizational consultant Warren Bennis, leadership is the capacity to translate vision […]

The Value of a Mentor

In my work as a leadership coach I often request that my clients recruit colleagues to assist them in achieving their goals. That’s because leadership is a team effort and every leader needs others to direct and support their growth. As a coach I can help provide focus, add perspective, and ask the hard questions, […]

Effective Leadership: The Theory & Practice

Are leaders born or made? That appears to be an on-going question, but if you simply search for “leadership” on Amazon, you’ll find 124,676 titles currently available. There are, obviously, things to learn about leadership whether you are born a leader or are becoming one. And becoming a more effective leader requires both knowing why […]

Profiling Leaders: Tall, White & Male

When you think of a leader, how often do you conjure up the image of a woman or person of color? Today there are a number of famous women and minorities in positions of power: Mary Barra of General Motors, Meg Whitman of HP, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and President Barack Obama to name but […]

Effective Teams Begin with Trust

Dysfunctional teams can produce results, but not consistently and not over the long term. An effective team that produces results consistently requires many attributes, but they all must begin with trust. More than anything else, trust enables people to work together effectively. Stephen M. R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust, says this workplace […]

Work Friends & Social Recognition

All of us want to feel valued for our contribution in the workplace. But there may be a disconnect between what employers think drive this feeling of being valued and what employees actually want and need. It turns out that peer relationships can greatly impact our level of commitment and engagement. And the more friends […]

Your Side of Successful Communication

It’s back to school time and a reminder that we should all stop working so hard and start working smarter. Stop sawing and sharpen the saw. When it comes to challenges in the workplace, communication is an area that seems to impact just about everyone. More specifically: communication breakdowns. A great book on the subject […]

Appreciation for a Job Well Done

Employee engagement is by far the single most important HR challenge for organizations because it impacts recruitment, retention, absenteeism and productivity. In fact, according to a 2011 Gallup poll, the annual cost of lost productivity on the U.S. economy due to actively disengaged employees is $370 billion! And finding a way to improve employee engagement […]

Higher Engagement by Meeting Employee Needs

Employee engagement is a vital component of successful organizations. Nothing helps spur innovation and raise productivity like a highly engaged group of people who are passionately involved in what they are doing. “Because they [employees] care more, they are more productive, give better service, and even stay in their jobs longer,” writes Kevin Kruse, author […]

Resilience: A Recipe for Success

We all face adversity in life and, like the proverbial hand we’re dealt, the most important thing is what we do next. Effectively bouncing back (or forward) from a failure, tragedy or loss determines our resilience, and that resilience may contribute directly to our ability to succeed. In David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the […]

Is Your Personality Impacting Your Career?

How much is your personality contributing to or detracting from success in your career? One’s personality can directly impact their career because it can attract or repel other people. This matters in all relationships and it definitely impacts interpersonal relations in the workplace. Have you been told of specific behaviors in annual reviews, 360 assessments […]

How ENTJs Can Become Better Leaders

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is often used to improve overall performance in organizations. This tool can help workers gain self-awareness, improve emotional intelligence, and better understand how they—as well as those around them—operate in the workplace. No one of the 16 types identified in the MBTI are better than any other, although there are […]

Workplace Engagement Through Continual Learning

Maximizing your investment in today’s economy should be a no-brainer. However, when it comes to the selection of higher education, there seems to be way too much emphasis on which university to attend rather than the quality of the professors and a passion for a particular field of study. Having a prestigious university name to […]

Focus on Employees Before Customers

In my experience, the best companies put their employees ahead of their customers. This may seem counter to what most companies want to convey to the marketplace, but the ultimate value of products and services shine through if the people designing, producing and delivering them are served well. Think of Google, Zappos , Netflix, Costco […]

Organizational Health Key to Innovation

Is risk encouraged or discouraged in your organization? What happens when someone makes a mistake? When I talk with a potential client with regard to his or her organization, these are questions I like to ask because they provide me with an indication of just how much of a learning organization it may or may […]

Intention: Vital to Effective Action

“He who has a why can bear almost any how.” — Friedrich Nietzsche We all know intention without action leads to nothing, but what about action without intention? When we focus on accomplishing something before fully considering the purpose behind it, the action can be a wasted effort. Your intention is important because you gain […]

7 Tips for Effective Conference Calls

Today’s workplace means people are more geographically dispersed and this greatly compromises our ability to communicate well. There’s also an increased need to collaborate and this can be especially challenging when working in different locations. The ubiquitous conference call has quickly become the norm when it comes to meetings and makes for unique challenges in […]

Microsoft’s New CEO Signals Radical Shift

Though Wall Street may not thoroughly rally around Satya Nadella to succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO at Microsoft, I believe this so-called “safe choice” is a compelling one because it signals a radical shift in management style at the company. Nadella is described as smart, persuasive and likeable. He’s also known as a great communicator […]

Three Ways to Increase Employee Engagement

Raising employee engagement should be the goal of every organization because engaged employees are more productive than those who are not. Despite the fact that many companies are lavishing their workers with extravagant perks, overall employee engagement is still very low. Seventy percent of the country’s 100 million full-time workers are either not engaged or […]

Prepare to Demonstrate Expertise in Job Interviews

Securing a job in today’s economy requires more than a solid resume and stellar references. You also need the ability to show your expertise during job interviews. As reported in a recent Wall Street Journal article, Amazon is especially picky about the employees they choose to hire. And yet they hired some 80,000 since 2010! […]

Happiness Through Work

Social scientists have boiled down Americans’ level of happiness to three major sources: genetics, events and values. The first two are largely out of our control, but the last one is where we have a great deal of control with which can ultimately determine our happiness. According to a University of Chicago’s General Social Survey […]

Great Leadership Requires Asking Questions

So often we look to leaders to provide answers to the most challenging problems we face whether in politics or business. In fact, great leaders are those who instead ask the right questions and engage others to arrive at the best answers together. The media overly promotes a single businessman, politician or sports star as […]

Should a Good Leader also be a Good Manager?

President Obama’s leadership has recently come into question due to the Affordable Care Act’s website challenges. The Economist magazine recently suggested that even Obama’s supporters are now concerned that he is a terrible manager. It begs the question: Does good leadership require good management? Warren Bennis famously wrote “good managers do things right, while good leaders do the right things.” This […]

Increase Productivity Through Passion & Freedom

Greater productivity should be a goal of just about every organization. It is often challenged, however, by ever-tightening budgets and low employee morale. Nevertheless, increasing productivity can be accomplished without a lot of money and ultimately result in raising employee engagement. To do this, nothing works better than appealing to people’s intrinsic motivation and letting […]

Strong Leadership Requires More Humility & Less Hubris

As our congressional “leaders” fail to settle differences to negotiate a deal to keep the United States government open and resolve the debt ceiling crisis, I am troubled by our failed leadership in Washington. This leadership is failing because the representatives of “we the people” are firmly grounded in their positions (or those they are […]

Predictive Analysis to Motivate Employees

Predictive analysis in human resources is becoming a lot more helpful in determining how well-suited potential employees may be for a particular company and a specific job. What can it tell us about employee engagement? According to a recent Wall Street Journal article regarding a soon to be published study by Deloitte Consulting LLP, about […]

Valuing Diverse Personality Types in Workgroups

Today’s workgroups are made up of people from a variety of cultures, ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds. They also include different personalities. High performing workgroups are those that embrace and leverage these personality differences in order to achieve outstanding results. In my line of work I use many diagnostic tools and assessments to help evaluate clients […]

Talkin’ Bout Our Generations

Every generation seems to believe they had it much harder than the one that follows them. The reality is that each generation has its own set of values and unique circumstances that make it not better or worse, but simply different from others. Understanding and accepting these differences as well as dealing with them effectively […]

Evolving Role of the Middle Manager

“I would rather have a first-class manager running a second-rate business than a second-rate manager running a first-rate business.” — Jack E. Reichert Middle managers are essential to business, but their role is being questioned in this new business era. Last year nearly 11 million employees identified themselves as middle managers. This represents 7.6% of […]

Low Employee Engagement: The Cost and the Cure

An astounding 70% of U.S. workers are either not engaged or are actively disengaged, according to a 2012 survey by Gallup. Further, these actively disengaged employees are emotionally disconnected from their companies and as a result are less productive, more likely to miss work, more likely to steal, may negatively influence coworkers, and will drive […]

Six Tips to Successfully Deliver Employee Feedback

Leadership involves many interpersonal skills and for some of us the ability to deliver effective feedback can be the most challenging. Everyone who supervises other people is expected to provide feedback—both positive and negative—and yet it is often put off until annual performance reviews, which makes it even more stressful to both because of the […]

Trickle Down Employee Engagement

Leaders do many things but perhaps more important than anything is the behavior they demonstrate in the workplace. This includes how well they communicate, their honesty and integrity, and their overall level of engagement. This leading by example is something employees pick up on and often emulate without any directive. And a leader’s engagement level […]

Knowing Your Weaknesses Makes You Strong

“There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage.” – Cha’n Master Fuchan Yuan In a recent Wall Street Journal article Famous Job Interviews Through the Ages, Joe Queenan states that asking job applicants what their weaknesses are is a stupid question. “This is a rude, intrusive question, and nobody should be required to […]

Fostering Innovation in the Workplace

Today there is a great deal of talk about the need for more employee collaboration. This is because collaboration can lead to creative solutions and is directly tied to innovation. Though we often attribute innovative ideas to a single person, rarely do these ideas occur in isolation. Finding novel solutions to problems or creating new […]

Will Data Help You Hire Better Employees?

The cost of hiring and retaining workers can approach 60 percent of a corporation’s variable costs, so it makes sense to manage this extremely well. Can big data and software help do this? Nearly two-thirds of all workers are paid hourly in America and about half of them change jobs every year. Companies can save […]

Grown-up Responsibility in the Workplace

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is intended to inform, entertain and hopefully inspire you to take action towards improving your own or your group’s behavior in the workplace. While the information is based on the experience and expertise of the author, he takes no responsibility for the accuracy nor for any damages incurred from deploying this […]

Retaining Your Top Talent

Now that the U.S. economy is beginning to show signs of life and companies are looking to hire again, it’s important to remember that this also opens the door for existing employees to explore their options elsewhere. The last thing you want now is to lose your top talent to competitors. But if you don’t […]

Telecommuting: When Does it Make Sense?

Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer recently declared that her company’s employees may no longer work from home and this has created quite a stir—both inside and outside of the company. Telecommuting offers many benefits as it removes wasted time travelling back and forth to the job; it provides employees the flexibility to balance work and […]

What Business Can Learn from Finland’s Education Reform

Finland’s success in school reform provides valuable lessons that can be applied to the way we conduct business in the United States. Business reform is a lot easier than education reform, yet requires the same steadfast focus on results. As everyone in the U.S. is well aware, we have a crisis in education. We are […]

The Humble Leader

Is it possible to be a strong leader, yet remain humble? I contend that strong leadership, in fact, requires humility. When you think of humility your first inclination may be about being meek or timid. This should be revised because when it comes to leadership, humility is about maintaining pride in your achievements without the […]

Listening Into Others to Gain Influence

No matter what line of work you are in, you are likely seeking ways to be more productive and successful. And, regardless of the profession, how effective you interact with and influence other people can greatly determine your fate. That’s because it is all about relationship, and relationships should always be about the long term. […]

Making Your Pitch to an Internal Audience

Successfully navigating workplace relationships often depends on how well we communicate with others. And doing this effectively with an important person on the spur of the moment can be the most challenging. I’ve written a number of posts about improving workplace communication, but here I’d like to focus on capitalizing on those opportunities for impromptu […]

What will you do for an Encore?

“I won’t retire, but I might retread.” – Neil Young Just as the baby boom generation is entering retirement age, Americans are living much longer lives. For many, the idea of no longer working and retiring from a career simply does not make sense—philosophically or monetarily. Back when a typical life span reached only into […]

Rethinking the Role of Manager

Does your boss often get in the way of helping you be more productive? This is not entirely his or her fault as many organizational structures are based on an outdated incentive mentality that can actually be detrimental in today’s workplace. The workplace has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Secretaries are scarce, the […]

Group Accountability for Effective Teamwork

Effective teamwork depends on many things. At a minimum, it requires capable people working together cooperatively to achieve a common goal. According to author Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, truly cohesive teams trust one another, engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas, commit to decisions and plans of action, hold one […]

Getting Along to Get Things Done

The election is over and it is time for our elected officials to get to work. The American people have spoken so our leaders can stop campaigning and start governing. And governing means doing what we elected them to do, which is to get things done. Our politicians need to follow the lead of President […]

Embracing Conflict with an Assertive and Cooperative Attitude

Invariably, when I tell people what I do as a consultant, the area that gets the most interest is in my work helping people navigate conflict at work. It seems everyone is struggling with conflict these days. Little wonder. Conflict is prevalent throughout our personal relationships: quarreling with a spouse about money and division of […]

Employees (Engaged or Disengaged) Make or Break Your Business

When companies focus first on their employees, customers are likely to be satisfied. This results in profitability, which then makes shareholders happy. Things can go very wrong if employee focus is not at the beginning of this equation. In a new edition of Managing with a Conscience: How to Improve Performance Through Integrity, Trust, and […]

Failing all the way to Success

“Your attitude towards failure determines your altitude after failure.” – John C. Maxwell When he was just seven-years-old his family was forced to move out of their home and off their farm. Like other boys, he was expected to work to help support the family. When he turned nine, his mother died. At the age […]

Workplace & Leadership: This I Believe

In my work with organizations both as an employee and external consultant, I have learned (and continue to learn) many things over the years. Many of these have evolved or been entirely reversed, which is indicative of the fact that we are living at a very dynamic time. For example, in a recent article in […]

Organizational Behavior: Monkey See, Monkey Do

All too often I find organizations do things a certain way not because it’s the most effective or efficient way to do them, but because they’ve always been done that way. This is not a recipe for success. In fact, this inertia may be what keeps organizations from growing and thriving more than anything else. […]

Motivate Employees through Continual Progress

Actively engaged workers dramatically improve productivity and, according to a new book on the subject, the most effective way to engage employees is to help them make steady progress toward their goals. As I wrote in a previous post, employee engagement should not be merely an HR initiative to use when morale is down. It […]

Negative Emotions Impede Organizational Productivity

In your workplace you probably know a Debbie Downer or someone who is always able point out what is wrong and how the glass is really half empty. Such a constant negative perspective can have a contagious effect on others and should be monitored so it doesn’t impede productivity throughout the organization. Emotions, both positive […]

Do the Work to be Lucky in Your Career

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  — Seneca I often encounter people I admire who seem extremely lucky in getting a great job, regular promotions, and seemingly unlimited professional success. For the most part, I believe these people earned this fate through taking responsibility for their luck. What I mean by taking responsibility […]

Innovation through Trust and Accountability

There’s a great deal of discussion today about the need for innovation in business. Innovation is what fueled the enormous growth of American companies throughout the last century, leading to the proliferation of the telephone, television, and automobile, and made space flight possible. Innovation is essential to revolutionizing the way we live and help maintain […]

Increased Productivity Through Mindfulness

In this global economy with virtual meetings, social networking, and hyper-competitiveness, it is encouraging to see a large corporation choosing to embrace mindfulness. This mindfulness training is seen as a means to increase productivity as well as employee happiness. Google’s popular course called “Search Inside Yourself” was designed to teach emotional intelligence through practical, real-world […]

Conducting Effective Virtual Meetings

More and more meetings are now and will continue to be conducted without the benefit of being in the same room together. People are working from home or the other side of the planet, and it’s important to make these virtual meetings effective. Virtual meetings, which I define as anytime we discuss something with two […]

Three Rules of Thumb for Connecting in the Virtual Workplace

[Guest Columnist: Today’s post is written by Kyle Lagunas, an HR analyst at Software Advice.] The modern organization has changed—it is decentralized and increasingly virtual. For decades, “The HP Way,” which advocates “managing by walking around,” was a prime example of how to run an organization. But as the workforce continues to become more mobile, […]

Educating to be Creative in the Workplace

Though my young children are years away from entering the workforce, I can’t help but be concerned with whether they will actually have the skills necessary to compete for jobs when they enter it. These kids currently attend good public schools and are getting fine grades. But the knowledge they acquire there and in college […]

Collaborative Culture of the Coworking Contingent

The American workforce is going through a sea change with regard to how and where we work. The workplace of the future may no longer include nearly as many fulltime workers in cubicles, but instead provide only a gathering place for many contingent workers to collaborate on specific projects. Contingent workers—including freelancers, temps, part-time workers, […]

Corporate Values and Goldman Sachs

Corporate values are often what attract and keep many of us at the fine companies we work for. They are above and beyond the paycheck that give our working lives meaning. Corporate values are what attracted Greg Smith to Goldman Sachs 12 years ago. The values Smith describes at Goldman were “teamwork, integrity, a spirit […]

Would You Hire a Remarkable Employee?

At a time when employers can be especially choosy about hiring, should they now pass on great employees and hold out for those who are truly remarkable? While great employees may be reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, and demonstrate the ability to both lead and follow, remarkable employees are all these and can also make a […]

Effective Leading Means Continually Growing

A plant, an animal, a human being all continue to grow or they begin to die. The same is true for leaders and entire organizations. More than 20 years ago, Peter Senge wrote “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization,” and he defines a learning organizations as “…organizations where people continually […]

Working for the Best Companies

Fortune magazine’s recent “100 Best Companies to Work For” list made me curious as to how they determine such a list. I also wanted to know what traits these companies look for in potential employees. The 100 Best Companies list was compiled through a partnership with the Great Places to Work institute, and they determine […]

Mindfulness in Leadership Development

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” –Shunryu Suzuki In a recent Harvard Business Review blog, Polly LaBarre wrote about the wisdom of developing mindful leaders. Much of the billions of dollars companies invest in leadership development fall short of success because the programs are so heavily […]

10 Tips to Improve Workplace Communication

In the spirit of year-end top ten lists, here are my top ten tips to improve communication in the workplace—for this and every year. Better communication is important because it can provide more engaged employees, higher workplace morale, and greater efficiency and productivity. As I wrote in a previous post on how to improve listening, […]

Redefined Leadership through Greater Gender Diversity

Women have made great strides succeeding in every profession, yet still find little opportunity in the executive office and corporate boardrooms. By 2009 women made up more than half of America’s labor force, however, only 12 women were CEOs or presidents of Fortune 500 companies and just 25 of Fortune 1000 companies. Recently, former Ebay […]

Better Communication with a Direct Approach

An angry boss of an internet start-up firm is repeatedly coercing his employees to work long hours with the threat of losing jobs and the potential for vast riches if the company succeeds. If this man were to express his needs in a more respectful manner rather than through mandates, would he get more from […]

Joe Paterno, Penn State and Leadership

What do recent events at Penn State and the firing of legendary football coach Joe Paterno say about the state of leadership today? Many of the leaders at Penn State failed in various ways by failing to stop the heinous crime of child molestation. Assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is the guiltiest, of course, but […]

Increased Productivity Requires Focused Attention & Changing Bad Habits

In today’s workplace people are working harder than ever, yet the results may not reflect this in a way that shows increased productivity. Part of it may be due to a lack of focus on getting results. And part may be because bad habits keep us from succeeding. Getting results requires focusing on only that […]

Trapped Chilean Miners & Emergent Leadership

Visionary leaders like the late Steve Jobs don’t come along all that often, but strong leadership qualities can emerge in any of us and at any time. Sometimes it just takes a crisis before we see these exemplary skills come forward. Think of Sir Ernest Shakleton who, after failing to succeed at his original goal […]

Engaged Employees Make all the Difference

Is employee engagement really important or is it just nice to have and something to think about once economic times improve? The fact is companies with a high percentage of engaged employees are more profitable than those with fewer engaged workers. High engagement can improve employee retention and raise customer perceptions that directly lead to […]

Character and Success

Can you succeed in your career and life if you haven’t first learned how to fail? This is the prominent question in a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine article titled “What if the Secret to Success is Failure.” The writer suggests character traits, including the ability to overcome failure, may be just as important, […]

Prepare to Hire the Right People

At a time when the stock market is a frightful roller coaster ride, consumer confidence is extremely low and the US unemployment is over nine percent, it may seem silly to talk about hiring again. But things will improve and you need to be prepared for when it does. In Jim Collins’ seminal book Good […]

Courageous Leadership Requires Vulnerability

“Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.” — Miguel De Cervantes Great leaders have many attributes. Among them are clarity, vision, humility and courage. When we see these traits in our leaders we are inspired to follow. By courage I mean more than the ability to […]

Take Time to Think Offline

Working professionals today all seem to want wider and faster internet access on their mobile phones. We expect our smart phones to do everything our laptops can do. The result is we’re rarely unconnected anymore. Employers are coming to expect this too. But being connected all the time may mean we are losing the benefits […]

When Change Management Efforts Get Derailed

Countless change management efforts fail but when things start to derail, there are opportunities to self-correct and get back on track again. And a true learning organization with a strong leader will seize these opportunities. Organizational change is difficult to manage because it is especially complex and often involves more than one type of change […]

Managing Accountability

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” — Stephen R. Covey. Many of the organizations I see today reflect our society’s tendency to blame other people, act like a victim, and generally not take responsibility for our own actions. This lack of accountability is a problem in the workplace because it is unproductive, it negatively impacts employee engagement and […]

Email is our Biggest Distraction

We’re all beginning to learn and accept that multitasking is indeed a myth. Changing our multitasking behavior will lead to greater productivity, but it will also take time. Email may be the right place to begin. Dave Crenshaw, author of “The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done,” argues that the most […]

Overcoming the Resistance to Change

In my work with organizations seeking to implement change initiatives, I continually underestimate the amount of resistance that comes as a result. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because we all cling to the status quo. But why is this? What is it about change that makes us so reluctant to welcome it? Change is […]

What CEOs Look for When Hiring

Earlier in my career I was fortunate to work for a CEO who I admired and respected. When he first interviewed me, he said he was looking for two qualities in the people he hired. These were integrity and a sense of urgency. Since that time, I worked for many companies with employees who demonstrated […]

Increased Happiness Begins at Middle-Age

With my birthday on the horizon, it is the time of year when I reflect on what I’ve done with my life so far and what I still want to do. I try to take pride in what I have accomplished. I celebrate my good fortune at having a loving family, strong friendships, and continued […]

Statistically Significant: Effective Managers use Soft Skills

In 2009 Google began an internal initiative called Project Oxygen in order to better understand what makes an effective Google manager. They analyzed more than 10,000 observations about managers, including 100 variables on things like performance reviews, feedback surveys and nominations for top-manager awards. They correlated phrases, words, praise and complaints. This data-driven method for […]

Performance Previews: Linking Each Other to Our Success

The current turmoil over union rights in Wisconsin as well as the overall economic challenges facing both public and private organizations should provide a springboard for altering the way we do business. While I am not suggesting abolishing unions, I believe there is an opportunity for significant change in employee relations at this pivotal time. […]

Moving Beyond Organizational Stagnation

Change is the only constant in life, as the saying goes. And this paradox carries with it a monumental truth most of us are unwilling to embrace. There’s good reason for this: Studies in personality development show that individuals are most open to new ideas and change in their 20s, but this continues to decline […]

First Why: Then How and What

In Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why,” he writes that great leaders inspire people to take action by starting with an answer to the question of “why” as opposed to “what” and “how.” A simple idea, but one that is rarely implemented. According to Sinek, all too often leaders and organizations focus on what and […]

Social Networks Bottom-line Benefits Require Employee Focus

Companies embracing social networks both internally and externally appear to be achieving bottom-line benefits, but this requires more than technology. It also means empowering employees at every level to make decisions and provide them with more flexibility in how to solve problems. According to recent findings by McKinsey & Company, a new class of company […]

A Resolution for Wellness

“When the body is weak, it takes over command. When strong, it obeys.” Jean Jacques-Rousseau We are told of two certainties in life: death and taxes. I’m beginning to think it is the first over which we have greater control. We can not avoid our own demise, but we can certainly choose how to best […]

A Culture of Collaboration

In my last post I wrote about collaboration as one of the essential elements in order to thrive in the knowledge economy. Though most companies boast of their own collaborative workplace environment, all too often this is more of a public relations talking point rather than an internal employee reality. Changing the corporate culture from […]

Thriving in the Knowledge Economy

The American K-12 public education system is failing to keep up with our counterparts around the world. There is much blame to pass around and despite governmental programs like “No Child Left Behind,” many challenges have yet to be addressed. Recent documentary films such as “Waiting for Superman” and “Race to Nowhere” are helping to […]

5 Things Managers Should Say to Employees

With nearly ten percent unemployment, it may seem ludicrous that a manager needs to say anything nice to employees these days. But you might consider the upside of treating your people well in hard times as well as good times. In an earlier post, I wrote about things an employee should say to his or […]

Performance Management Process as a Model for Better Employee Management

[Guest Columnist: Today’s post is written by Sean Conrad, a senior product analyst at Halogen Software.] As managers, we sometimes get caught up in the formality of our performance management process. We focus on the questions in the forms, the ratings, the meetings, the approvals. We forget that performance management is really just about good […]

7 Things You Should Say to Your Boss

Working for someone else can be challenging no matter how good the boss may be. Nurturing this relationship can be important for your immediate job satisfaction as well as keep advancement opportunities front and center. With this in mind, there are many things you should never say to your boss. For example, “this is not […]

President Obama and Effective Change Leadership

Nearly two years after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States on the promise of hope and change, many Americans are reportedly disappointed that hope and change hasn’t yet reached them. Fair or unfair in this assessment of his first 20 months in office, I believe there are lessons to be learned in […]

Should Fun be Mandated at Work?

Encouraging employees to have fun while at work is all well and good, but this shouldn’t be a requirement. And what that fun looks like should not be decided by public relations or human resources departments in isolation of rank and file employees.

Thoughts of Workplace Empathy on Labor Day

Putting yourself in another person’s shoes can help you better appreciate his or her perspective. In the workplace, by knowing the particular concerns of others would enable you to make decisions that help rather than inhibit another’s work.

Taking Responsibility for Poor Wellbeing

Employers can begin by building an engaging work environment, which includes fortifying the organization with great managers and offering employees support and structure to reach higher levels of wellbeing in all dimensions.

The Value of 360-Degree Feedback

When a 360-degree feedback process is not properly implemented it can seriously derail its effectiveness. Like any training or development program, this process requires guidelines and oversight to ensure it is implemented properly and fairly throughout the organization.

Six Tips for Better Listening

Being on the receiving end of a conversation means more than simply preparing for when it is your turn to speak. In order to really understand a message being presented, you need to actively listen with all your senses. You need to stay present and fully tune in to understand.

The Pain Relief of Soft Skills

Soft skills should not be considered “touchy-feely stuff that’s nice to have, but can’t afford it right now.” Proficiency in these skills separate organizations who may survive yet another year versus those who grow, adapt and are able to compete in a global economy.

Workplace Wellness Programs for Waistlines and Bottom Lines

Many organizations have chosen to implement workplace wellness programs to reduce injuries, health care costs and long-term disability. They also do so to encourage employees to take charge of their own health and well-being. These programs are a good return on investment, but can be difficult to measure.

5 Tips for Workplace Communication

The ability to clearly convey our intention and message effectively is extremely important at work. Just as important, yet rarely emphasized, is our ability to carefully listen to what is spoken and what is unsaid yet conveyed through body language.

Silver Lining of Dark Clouds

Complaining about the clouds that get in the way of our growth is not a solution. In the same way plants and flowers can’t grow with only sun, we must appreciate the abundance in our lives and focus our attention on getting more of what we want.

6 Tips for Employee Motivation

The question should not be how can you motivate your employees, but how can you create the conditions where employees will motivate themselves? The answer is to foster an environment that enables them to assume responsibility and provide them with choice.

Finding Flow in the Workplace

Flow is present when people describe a feeling of effortless action in moments that stand out as the best in their lives. Athletes report of “being in the zone.” Flow is when we immerse ourselves into something and lose all sense of time.

Leadership & Effective Change Initiatives

The pace of change in organizations is increasing daily and there is no better time to understand how organizational change initiatives can become more effective. The short answer is stronger leadership.

Combining Best Practices of Expert Consulting and OD Consulting

Using an OD lens, the expert consultant could better look for signs of dysfunction, resistance, or a lack of trust within the client system. Paying more attention to these people issues can often mean the difference between a project’s success and failure.

Integrity First and Foremost

We should seriously question the leadership of those who have failed us with a lack of integrity. Leaders in business and elsewhere need to consistently demonstrate integrity or we should reject them. Because without integrity there can be no true leadership. And unlike other qualities of leadership, integrity is either there or it isn’t.

Motivating Employees in the 21st Century

Carrot and stick approaches for improving performance simply are no longer effective and it’s time organizations move to a more radical approach.

Is ROWE the Best Form of Employee Engagement?

The premise of ROWE is that employees are paid for results rather than hours worked. This provides both freedom for employees and results for employers. ROWE is based on the assumption that employees will do more and better work when given the latitude to decide how and when it is done.

Trustworthy Behavior: It’s Not Just For Kids

Trust comes about not from selective sharing, but through full disclosure. When leaders model this selective sharing, those who report to them are far more likely to follow suit. In the same way children model what parents do no matter how often we say something counter to it, employees follow the behavior of their supervisors.

Do you know Your Employees’ Strengths?

The great business writer and management consultant, Peter Drucker, once said “The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make the system’s weakness irrelevant.” Great leaders often emphasize their individual strengths and surround themselves with executives whose strengths in other areas minimize weakness in overall leadership. Similarly, managers and […]

Engaged Employees Produce Shareholder Value

Effectively engaging employees to achieve their best performance can directly lead to an increase in shareholder value.

Presidents’ Day and Great Leadership

Like the greatest U.S. Presidents, the best business leaders are those who map out an effective strategy, then inspire and enable their people to carry it out. Empowering employees with their own leadership responsibilities allows them to fully participate in leading the organization.

Genuine Praise Makes Good Business Sense

Having worked in for-profit and non-profit organizations provided me with an appreciation for both environments. In the for-profit sector, the pay was typically better and I generally found a greater sense of urgency for getting things done. In the non-profit sector, I felt a sense of altruism for what I was contributing to society and […]

When Employees Don’t Trust the Boss

Trust is a two-way street. It cannot be imposed on someone and it requires risk. The only way to find trust is to look for it and expect it in others. This is risky, yet it is the only way trust can build in any relationship.

Employee Feedback: Is There Ever Enough?

Employee feedback needs to be provided more frequently and needs to be effective so appropriate action can be taken immediately.

Leadership and Trust

Effective business has always been the result of trustworthy relationships. If your trust as a leader is in doubt, then your organization will suffer. Strengthening this trust will serve you as well as your employees, suppliers, partners and customers like nothing else.

Thoughts on Low Job Satisfaction

If less than half of those lucky to be employed today are happy with their jobs, what does this say about the state of the American worker? According to Tuesday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer article, employee dissatisfaction has been on the rise for more than a generation and is due not only to wages failing to keep […]

Great Managers: Key to Employee Retention

During this time of economic recession and double-digit unemployment, it may seem odd to focus on employee retention. But I contend this is exactly the right time to identify and strengthen relationships with great managers because they determine whether your best employees stay or leave the company. Recent research on employee retention found that people […]

Trust, Direction and Support in Group Development

Trust, direction and support all play a role in engaging employees and the wise leader knows how to apply them in a workgroup setting.

Dipping Below the Waterline

My wife and I recently got married and we merged her 9-year-old with my twin 5-year-olds to form one larger family. The roles for all five of us needed to be redefined because of this big and wonderful change in the way we live. The old way of doing things needed to be updated. And […]

Soft Skills of Leadership

Corporate leaders need to know their business, know their customers, and have the ability to execute a strategy successfully. And leaders need to be especially agile to stay current with their business as the pace of change has accelerated so dramatically. Great leadership also requires not only understanding customers’ current needs, but accurately predicting future […]

Effective Workgroups & Jazz

The other night a friend and I attended a concert featuring a jazz quartet. I was a bit disappointed with the overall performance, but couldn’t quite put into words why. My friend suggested there was a lack of “dialogue between the musicians.” All of them were technically proficient, he said, but it was as if […]

What is OD?

As someone who spent many years working in organizations—both for-profit and not-for-profit—I found the challenges with people far outweighed the challenges with technology. That is, it was the “who” that mattered more than the “how” or “what.” I came to believe that improving the interrelationships between human beings can go a long way towards increasing […]

Effective Teamwork in Virtual Teams

Effective teamwork may boil down to simply great communication, trust, respect and camaraderie. Implementing these five tips will go a long way in making teamwork on your virtual team more effective.

7 Keys to Highly Effective Virtual Teams

Virtual teams are on the rise in every industry and with good reason. The ability to accomplish goals as a team without being located in the same physical location can accelerate processes, reduce costs and enable true global collaboration. However, the challenges of virtual teams are also greater than those in co-located teams. A virtual […]

Are Your Email Messages Working Against You?

Choosing to use email to convey information versus face-to-face interaction or a telephone call should be carefully considered. Email, of course, has many advantages over the others. The trouble is, many email messages are not entirely clear and often misinterpreted. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ((Vol. […]

Working Smarter to Increase Productivity

Is there a connection between working smarter and greater productivity? How do we actually work smarter anyway, and why don’t we do it all the time instead of when we’re forced to do it? In spite of the current economy with rampant corporate downsizing, there are signs that most companies will actually improve their productivity […]

Five Major Pitfalls for Leading Effective Work Groups

Building high performing work groups is important for all organizations, but achieving them is easier said than done. For the sake of this discussion, an effective work group depends upon whether the output meets the quantity, quality and timeliness established, how well the process of the work can be carried out by the individuals interdependently […]

Turn Signals and Talk Signals

In the same way not using a turn signal can frustrate other drivers, failing to use language to clearly convey your intent equally confounds listeners. This lack of clarity may lead to road rage and accidents on the road and, in workplace conversations, can result in confusion, missed opportunities, or even dismissal. We have all […]

Employee Engagement in a Down Economy

When companies face challenging economic times, layoffs are often chosen as a viable way to reduce costs. In the short term, this makes the company’s balance sheet more appealing to shareholders and the company is more financially stable until the economy picks up again. In the long term, this workforce reduction can sometimes realign resources […]

Operational Inefficiencies are Hurting Your Business

For some reason traveling makes operational inefficiency stand out more dramatically than at other times. This may be due to how little control I feel while I am at the mercy of the companies that serve me when I travel. On a recent ski vacation to Colorado, I found three examples of inefficiency that made […]

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