Really Knowing Others at Work

February 27, 2024

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 the secret to a long, healthy, and happy life has to do with the quality of our relationships. This has been found to be more important than diet, exercise, genetics, wealth, education, and other factors.

Perhaps most famously, the Grant Study—a longitudinal study begun in 1938 that followed 268 Harvard sophomores—found that close relationships and social connections are crucial for our well-being as we age. That’s because supportive relationships help us cope with stress and protects our overall health. This finding proved true across the board not only among men in the Harvard study, but also participants studied from the inner-city.

In the workplace we may diminish the importance of how we relate to each other. Some may think it should only be about the work and that if we simply focus on the task at hand, the messiness of people won’t complicate matters. The problem with this perspective is that we are all emotional human beings and cannot simply show up as logic-minded, “Spock-like” characters in the workplace.

David Brooks, author of How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen, says this ability to really know another person is all too rare.

“There is one skill that lies at the heart of any healthy person, family, school, community organization, or society,” writes Brooks. “The ability to see someone else deeply and make them feel seen—to accurately know another person, to let them feel valued, heard, and understood.”

Brooks goes on to describe some people as Diminishers, who make others feel small and unseen; things to be used, not as persons to be befriended. Diminishers use stereotypes and ignore other people because they are so involved with themselves. Qualities of these Diminishers include egotism, anxiety, objectivism, and a static mindset.

On the other hand, Brooks highlights Illuminators as those with a persistent curiosity about others, knowing what to look for and how to ask the right questions at the right time. “They shine the brightness of their care on people and make them feel bigger, deeper, respected, lit up.” The qualities of Illuminators include tenderness, receptivity, active curiosity, affection, and generosity.

Do you recognize Diminishers or Illuminators in your workplace? If you’re fortunate, you work for an Illuminator who really sees you and supports your growth. They are the ones you should strive to work for and follow.

Diminishers are those who may be holding you back from being your best self at work. They are more interested in themselves than those around them. These people may be in leadership positions, but they are not true leaders. You should shun Diminishers whenever possible.

What about you? Do you show up in work relationships in a curious, attentive, and empathetic manner or do you show up in a manner that is more transactional, competitive, and self-focused?

True collaboration and teamwork require more of the Illuminator qualities. And leaders who embrace these qualities are more likely to build solid teams and organizations that are based on psychological safety, trust, rapport, and productivity.

Until artificial intelligence replaces us in the workplace, we will need to get along by recognizing our own emotions and those of the people we interact with. This requires elements of emotional intelligence to really know others in a way that helps them feel seen and to help others to really see ourselves. Seek to be an Illuminator in all your relationships so that you live a long and happy life, and you are more effective in the workplace.

Listeners Lead Proactive Teams

December 26, 2023

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 introverts can’t be effective leaders. In fact, introverts can be more effective leading simply because they may be better at listening.

This is not to suggest extroverts aren’t capable of listening well. The most extroverted leaders can be excellent listeners if they avoid dominating discussions and encourage others to share their thoughts. If a leader is not giving adequate airtime to others and engaged in hearing the ideas and arguments of others, he or she is not going to encourage proactivity.

“When we select leaders, we don’t usually pick the person with the strongest leadership skills,” writes Adam Grant in his book Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things. “We frequently choose the person who talks the most. It’s called the babble effect. Research shows that groups promote the people who command the most airtime—regardless of their aptitude and expertise.”

If you’re like me you may have found this to be the case in your current or previous workplace.

“We mistake confidence for competence, certainty for credibility, and quantity for quality,” continues Grant. “We get stuck following people who dominate the discussion instead of those who elevate it.”

In a research study conducted by Grant and his colleagues, they sought to examine whether extraverts were more effective leaders than introverts. He found that the ideal leadership style is actually more nuanced, and what made for effective leadership depended on how proactive a team was.

This proactivity means team members were engaged in problem solving and ideation without waiting for their leader to intervene. It means team members felt their leader had confidence in their competence and trust that they were collectively capable of coming to the best solutions.

“But when teams were proactive, bringing many ideas and suggestions to the table, it was introverts who led them to achieve greater things,” writes Grant. “The more reserved leaders came across as more receptive to input from below, which gave them access to better ideas and left their teams more motivated. With a team of sponges, the best leader is not the person who talks the most, but the one who listens best.”

Learning to actively listen is one of the most common behaviors leaders seek to improve upon in my coaching practice. Too often people mistakenly believe it’s important to speak more than listen to best demonstrate value. However, as one rises into leadership, it is more often the questions that elevate conversations and engage in greater discussions that lead to better solutions. That’s value.

This takes practice and the belief that your team has the ability to contribute effectively. By engaging each of your people and showing appreciation for their contributions, you will build confidence in their collective competence. They will then be viewed as a proactive team and you as their effective leader.

Civility at Work & Beyond

December 6, 2023

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 could also be because there is now an alarming lack of civility throughout our lives.

Look no further than our representatives in congress to see how dysfunctional our so-called leaders have become. Cable news programs are less about conveying news and information so viewers can draw their own conclusions than partisan battles that are all about dramatic one-upmanship to keep viewers tuned in. Social media is rampant with vitriol that clearly fails to deliver Mark Zuckerberg’s mission to “give people the capacity to form communities and bring the globe closer together.”

We are actually moving further apart because we are talking over each other, failing to fully listen, seeking only confirming data that supports our perspective, and generally choosing to stay within the confines of our own tribes.

Civility is the deliberate practice of treating others with courtesy and politeness, yet many people are choosing not to do so. A Harvard Business Review study found that 98% of employees have experienced incivility at work. Half of the participants reported that they were treaded badly at least once a week.

This lack of civility can show up in the workplace in various forms:

  • Passive-aggressive communication
  • Failing to assume positive intent with email messages
  • Not giving others the benefit of the doubt
  • Keeping the camera off in a Teams meeting
  • Miserable performance feedback meetings

These things can all contribute to a lack of engagement, poor performance, lower productivity, and greater turnover.

Our behavior in the workplace may be a reflection in how we behave in our personal lives, and I suggest this needs to change. Showing general kindness and compassion to others—regardless of whether we know them—can make both you and others feel better.

When I reflect on random acts of kindness and compassion in my own life, there were so many times where I received a helping hand, generosity, and comfort. But two acts I performed continue to stick with me as I felt so much joy in initiating these actions:

  • Many years ago, while visiting a sick loved one in the hospital, I was unable to leave the parking garage as the woman in front of me didn’t have cash to pay for her parking. I gave her $5 and, although she asked for my address with the promise of paying me back, I held no assurances. I simply felt good about my ability to help someone, who very likely was also visiting a sick loved one. A thoughtful card with the money arrived a few days later.
  • While walking across a bridge near my home, I witnessed a young woman lift a leg across the railing with the intent to jump off. I quickly crossed the street, put my hand on her shoulder and engaged her in a conversation to prevent her from jumping. Several other people assisted in helping this troubled woman, and before long the police arrived who I’d like to believe provided greater assistance. It was a powerful moment that lifted my spirits on how I as well as several other strangers all engaged to be helpful.

In the workplace, communication and collaboration can improve via greater kindness and compassion by practicing giving others the benefit of the doubt, assuming positive intent, listening with our full attention, and delivering critical feedback while demonstrating care.

Make it a point to behave with kindness and compassion throughout your life. Practice and encourage more of this in your workplace. Both you and others will feel better and you will help make your workplace and our world a more civil and peaceful place.  

The Greatness of Gratitude

November 10, 2023

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 on what I have rather than what I’ve lost.

As I’ve written about previously, Thanksgiving is the time of year when we are reminded to express our gratitude, yet certainly shouldn’t be limited to only this time of a year.

In fact, many studies have found that having a grateful outlook and regularly expressing gratitude to others has positive effects on our emotional health as well as our relationships. Some studies have further discovered that our physical health can also benefit by expressing gratitude.

“Gratitude heals, energizes and changes lives,” says psychologist Robert A. Emmons. “It is the prism through which we view life in terms of gifts, givers, goodness, and grace.”

Some studies asked participants to write letters of thanks or list positive things in their lives. The effects of those acts revealed mental health benefits such as reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, increased self-esteem, and overall greater satisfaction with life.

What is especially profound is that not only does this expression of gratitude improve the well-being of the giver and receiver, but it may also be good for those who simply witness it. Observing an act of gratitude between people can cause the one watching to feel warmth towards the others.

Here are some suggested ways to express gratitude:

  • Write a handwritten note of thanks to people you are grateful for. This can have a dramatic effect as it is so rarely done in this age of electronic communication.
  • Thank your direct reports and colleagues for their contributions. Be specific on what you are grateful for as this dramatically improves its impact.
  • Perform random acts of kindness: use your turn signal when changing lanes or making a turn, open or hold a door for a stranger, simply make eye contact and smile when passing someone on the street.
  • Write down what you are grateful for each night before going to sleep. This will help you sleep better and improve your outlook in the morning.
  • Create a gratitude jar and provide slips of paper where you can easily write down what you’re grateful for and drop it in the jar. Watching the contents grow will continually remind you of the abundance in your life.
  • Catch yourself when you find you’re feeling jealous of others’ good fortune. Avoid comparing yourself to others by limiting your time on social media.
  • Remember to appreciate what you have rather than what you lack. This could be your health, family, friends, job, or your freedom.
  • Take a walk in nature and be grateful for all that cannot be adequately simulated by technology: Physically moving your body, breathing fresh air, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of all that surrounds you.

Regardless of how you express gratitude, find ways to do it regularly as this will sustain your good health and well-being.

“I think the benefits of gratitude activities truly unfold through long-term habits,” said Joel Wong, a professor of counseling psychology at Indiana University’s School of Education. Dr. Wong has a list of 100 questions as prompts for expressing gratitude. These include both micro and macro gratitude questions, as well as those that are interpersonal and redemptive.

The greatness of expressing gratitude is how simple and meaningful it can be. It’s good for your health. It doesn’t cost anything. It will likely improve your relationships. And expressing gratitude may benefit even those witnessing it from the sidelines. Be grateful for yourself and for others.

Success in Working Remotely

August 31, 2023

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 to set up a home office to make remote work most effective. Adopting the right technology was paramount as was carving out a quiet space in your home.

A study by the Harvard Business Review found that remote workers are actually more productive than their office workers because they are less likely to take time off and quit. Another study found that employees who work remotely save up to $4,500 annually on commuting costs.

However, one of the challenges in working remotely has to do with the loneliness or alienation that comes from no longer being around colleagues. This should not be minimized as two important elements of job satisfaction have to do with a positive relationship with your boss and whether you have a best friend at work. These relationships are maintained and strengthened when you’re interacting in person. Whenever you are in the office, you should maximize face time with these important relationships.

Here are other best practices for success when working remotely:

  • Discipline – Maintain a routine and act as if you are in the office to maintain consistency in your productivity. Although you have greater flexibility, demonstrate that you can be relied upon at the times when your boss and colleagues expect you to be.
  • Boundaries – Intentionally separate work from the rest of your life as much as possible by clarifying with family or housemates when you are working and when you are not. Maintain those boundaries and perhaps take a walk after work to help you transition.
  • Communication – Be more intentional and frequent in your communication with colleagues to ensure you are continually aligned with them. And use the right medium for your messages depending on what works best.
  • Professionalism – Dress appropriately for your workplace and practice online meeting etiquette to ensure your online presence demonstrates you are in work mode. Limit distractions so you can stay focused whether you are on camera or not.
  • Accountability – Ensure that you deliver what you are charged with delivering. And continually seek clarity around what is your responsibility as well as your priorities.
  • Health & Wellbeing – Since you are not commuting, you are likely not moving around as much and you may need to be more intentional about your health. Schedule time at the gym, go for a walk with a friend, eat and sleep right. Be intentional about keeping your mind and body fit.
  • Feedback Loop – Since you’re not in the office as much, it’s vital to know if your virtual presence is demonstrating your value. Continually check in with those you work with directly as well as your boss to ensure you are meeting their expectations.

As a manager of remote workers, you should also seek feedback from your direct reports to ensure they are getting the direction and support they need. Schedule your one-to-one meetings in person whenever possible and focus on maintaining a trusted relationship to drive performance and engagement.

Success in working remotely will ensure you don’t have to return to fulltime work in the office again. It is therefore important to demonstrate your remote work is beneficial to both you and your company.

Embrace Debate for Sound Decisions

July 21, 2023

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 not only help lead to better outcomes, but also more fully engage employees and maximize their potential.

In her book, Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter, author Liz Wiseman describes Multipliers as those who “use intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of people around them. They inspire employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations.”

Wiseman further defines Talent Magnets as those who attract talented people and use them to their fullest capacity. Unlike Empire Builders, who she describes as those who hoard resources and underutilize talent, Talent Magnets enable people to work at their highest point of contribution. These Multipliers attract the best talent because people flock to work for them.

Multipliers are those who have the right people to assist in making tough decisions, and it is therefore incumbent upon them to engage this talent in the decision-making process.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do,” wrote Steve Jobs in Steve Jobs: His Own Words and Wisdom. “We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

To practice effective debate making with your team, Wiseman describes three practices to reach sound decisions that fully engage people. These are:

  1. Frame the Issue
    1. The question: What is the decision to be made?
    1. The why: Why is this an important questions to answer?
    1. The who: Who will be involved in making the decision?
    1. The how: How will the final decision be made?
  • Spark the Debate
    • Engaging – Ask a provocative question to get everyone involved
    • Comprehension – Seek assurance that everyone understands what’s at stake
    • Fact based – Opinions are not wrong, but facts should carry more weight
    • Educational – Encourage learning throughout the process
  • Drive a Sound Decision
    • Reclarify the decision-making process
    • Make the decision
    • Communicate the decision and the rationale for it

This debate making process will lead to better outcomes no matter who and how the decision is ultimately made. It also has the added benefit of fully engaging employees and optimizing their talent and expertise, so they feel more valued and appreciated.

Make sound decisions by framing the issue and sparking the debate so that your organization and people continue to thrive.     

ABG: Always Be Growing

July 9, 2023

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 is available to you all the time. This means learning from setbacks by making changes, so you don’t repeat mistakes in the future. It means continually taking a “beginner’s mind” perspective so that you remain curious and open to innovation and ideas.

A huge part of this continual growth comes from knowing yourself so that you can continually recognize where you are in relation to where you want to be. Welcome both positive and critical feedback as information to help you better understand how you’re showing up.

“Become the world’s greatest expert on yourself so that you can become the very best version of yourself.” This is the advice of Greg Harden, author of the book Stay Sane in an Insane World. Harden, the executive director of athletic counseling at the University of Michigan, has a track record of working with high profile athletes including Tom Brady, Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson, Michael Phelps and many others, who were able to use his advice to reach incredible athletic goals.

Harden’s guidance includes the idea that you should practice, train, and rehearse by giving one hundred percent, one hundred percent of the time. “Because if you make this your mindset, then on your absolutely worst day,” he writes, “you’re still going to be better than the average person on their best day.” Harden sees no shortcut to greatness.

This doesn’t apply only to Olympic and professional athletes. Giving one hundred percent one hundred percent of the time can be applied to everything we do on or off the field.

And all too often we can be our own worst enemy by being overly critical when we should practice self-love and self-acceptance. By doing so, we’re more likely to welcome the opportunities we face every day to learn and grow.

According to Harden, it is our attitudes and behaviors that can either support or detract from our growth. We should recognize that:

  • Self-defeating attitudes and behaviors hold you back from reaching your goals.

while . . .

  • Self-supporting attitudes and behaviors help you cultivate reaching your goals.

All too often our self-talk is critical or dismissive of our efforts. This can undermine our ability to grow. Instead, we should treat ourselves the way we would counsel and support a close friend or family member. We should be compassionate and supportive.

“Become the very best friend you ever had in your life, because your very best friend has to be you,” writes Harden.  

To always be growing means taking this advice and using it to assist you. Reduce your self-defeating attitudes and behaviors; embrace your self-supporting ones. Be your own very best friend and give one hundred percent one hundred percent of the time. Do so and you will always be growing and reaching your goals.

Making the Most of Feedback

June 4, 2023

[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 level, receiving feedback is about learning what you are perceived as doing well and should continue doing; understanding what you should not do and stop doing; and learning what you don’t currently do, but should begin doing.

Similarly, to give feedback effectively, you need to state what the other person is doing well and encourage them to continue; inform them of what they should not be doing and redirect as necessary; and communicate what they need to begin doing in order to be more effective in their role. Effectively receiving and giving feedback are essential in every career, but especially when seeking to lead by example.

It’s important to look at the feedback you receive as a gift by valuing the perspectives others have for how they see you showing up in the workplace. Ideally, this would come in the form of a 360-degree feedback appraisal, so you can learn how you are perceived by people up, down and across the organization. This collective perspective provides an overall picture in how you show up. It may differ from how you perceive yourself, yet this helps you gain an external perspective to increase your overall self-awareness.

When a comment is from one individual, you should see it as an opinion; when it is from two, you should treat it as a trend; and when it is from three or more people, you should view it as factual and especially important to consider.

Don’t dismiss the positive comments as these represent your strengths that helped you reach where you are today. Embrace this positive feedback and own it as part of your overall reputation and personal brand. Receiving feedback effectively means you are able to hear and accept both positive and critical information without dismissing, overreacting or becoming defensive. Developing self-awareness is based not only on how well you can accurately see yourself, but also on how aware you are of how others see you. This can come only through feedback from others. And it’s vital you are able to receive it well, determine what it means for you, and choose to act where appropriate in order to bring about any necessary changes to help you grow.

Getting feedback can be difficult in many workplaces because it may not be embedded into a performance evaluation process. Many companies that deploy annual performance appraisals find them dreaded by both supervisors and employees, which further undermines the potential for success in receiving useful feedback.

The best organizations deliver feedback as often as quarterly in order to course correct and pivot more quickly. This enables tighter communication, so employees can more immediately take corrective action and continually improve. The 360-degree feedback method can be especially helpful, but may not be used throughout your organization or used consistently. Regardless, top-performing leaders are those who regularly seek out feedback on their performance, according to Tasha Eurich in her book Insight: The Surprising Truth about how others see us, how we see ourselves, and why the answers matter more than we think.

“If anything, we are socially and professionally rewarded for seeking critical feedback,” says Eurich. “Leaders who do are seen as more effective, not just by their bosses, but by their peers and employees.” It’s important that you get the feedback you need in order to succeed in your role and throughout your career. Just as importantly, you need to receive it with a growth mindset so you can take appropriate action on what you get.

“If we can receive feedback with grace, reflect on it with courage, and respond to it with purpose, we are capable of unearthing unimaginable insights from the most unlikely of places,” she says.

The 3R Model

Eurich developed the 3R Model on how to best stay in control regarding surprising or difficult feedback. Using this 3R Model enables you to receive, reflect upon and respond to such feedback effectively.

  • Receive – Mine the insight potential by seeking specificity on where the particular behavior shows up and examples of when it was seen.
  • Reflect – How well do you understand the feedback? How will it affect your well-being? What affect will it have on your long-term workplace success?
  • Respond – Do you want to act on this feedback, and if so, how? Can you develop and communicate a plan for how you will go about this action?

Feedback should not be taken as judgment, but only as information that can be helpful to your growth.

“When faced with feedback in an area that plays into our self-limiting beliefs,” says Eurich, “merely taking a few minutes to remind ourselves of another important aspect of our identity than the one being threatened shores up our ‘psychological immune system.’” Using the 3R Model will help you make the most of the critical feedback you receive.

If you can be courageous enough to seek feedback, be sure you are also capable of receiving it well, reflecting on what it means, and responding in a way that helps you to grow.

Leadership Begins with Integrity

March 30, 2023

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 a great leader, there needs to be a foundation of integrity above and beyond all else.

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway with a current net worth of $104 billion, has had a long and successful career demonstrating integrity. He also promises to give away 99 percent of his fortune to philanthropic causes.

“We look for three things when we hire people,” said Buffett. “We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.” In other words, don’t hire anyone without integrity.

Integrity is about the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It’s about doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Those with integrity are the people you want to surround yourself with—both in the workplace and in your personal life.

When I was interviewed for one of my first professional jobs, the president of the company told me he was looking for two characteristics in the people they hire: integrity and a sense of urgency. Years later, after leaving the company, I discovered how rare it was to find both characteristics in the people I worked with at other companies.

Many use the word “integrity” indiscriminately when describing the values that are important to them or to spice up their resume. But integrity is less about what people claim in words and more about what they demonstrate in their behavior. “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do,” wrote James Baldwin. Your actions speak louder than your words, as the saying goes.

The best leaders are those who continually demonstrate integrity in the way they conduct themselves and they demand it in those they hire.

Integrity is revealed in character traits such as being responsible, honest, respectful, and trustworthy. It shows up in expressing gratitude for other people.

Those with integrity, model it by:

  • Taking responsibility for their actions
  • Treating everyone with respect
  • Seeking to learn at every opportunity
  • Remaining humble regardless of their position
  • Being accountable always
  • Helping others without expecting something in return

Think of leaders in your own workplace. Do they model this behavior? The ones who do are those you should emulate if you want to continue to grow as a leader yourself. If you can’t find someone within your company, seek to find one in another company who you can model yourself after. And maybe consider moving on to another company where you’ll find leaders with integrity.

In the workplace, you can demonstrate your own integrity by:

  • Doing what you say you will do—be dependable and follow through on your commitments.
  • Communicating in a way that is transparent and true to your word.
  • Owning up to your mistakes and holding yourself accountable.

These three things will help you to grow in your leadership capacity. They will also help you demonstrate that you are a person with integrity. And nothing will propel your career more than demonstrating integrity in all your behavior.

Living an Intentional Life

December 26, 2022

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 goals.

Many may believe there is little to do to control their life and career, and this is certainly true for some. Most of us, however, have a great deal of agency for steering the direction we want our lives to go. Intentionality means accepting, embracing, and exerting this agency.

I’m embarrassed to say this, but throughout my twenties and thirties I was merely a passenger on the passages in much of my life and career—simply waiting for an enticing offer, opportunity, or path to present itself. Yet I now see that when I am intentional about my daily decisions and choices, this can lead to the most beneficial outcomes.

Such decisions included pursuing a master’s degree in applied behavioral science, starting my own coaching and consulting business, and writing this bi-weekly blog for more than 15 years that led to business opportunities as well as writing a book on emotional intelligence. In my personal life, I chose to ride a bicycle across the country twice, climb to the summits of Washington’s three highest mountains and continue telemark skiing into my sixties.

Each of these accomplishments required consistently planning and working to reach them and would not have happened without being intentional in my pursuit.

Choosing to be intentional about your life and career means you are proactive. This doesn’t mean you control everything, but you are no longer passive and simply hoping to reach what you want to achieve. It means you have a clear goal or north star, yet you can be influenced and inspired by supporting opportunities and take advantage of them when they arise.

Intentionality means taking responsibility for your progress through discipline and persistence. It is also about holding yourself accountable.

It’s especially important to Identify and stay true to your values as they can serve as guardrails to inform you of when you stray from what is most important.

Accept that short term pain can lead to long term gain and reaching your goal is even more satisfying when you have worked hard to attain it.

Roman philosopher Seneca once stated, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Certainly, luck plays a part in reaching any goal, so it’s important to prepare for the opportunities that are certain to come about. This means being more intentional in your daily decisions.

Make this new year more intentional by identifying what you want, aligning it with your values and who you are, and then being proactive and persistent to reach your goals. By this time next year, I’m certain your intentionality will bring you closer to what you want in your life and career. Happy New Year!

Gratitude Giving

November 23, 2022

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 and friends you may often dread due to heightened stress over divisive opinions shared all too freely.

It’s been said that when you are looking to grow, you should compare yourself with who you were yesterday rather than with someone else. Unfortunately, one of the bigger problems with social media is that users often post their most glamorous words and photos, and this can make others feel inferior because—consciously or unconsciously—we do compare ourselves with others.

Expressing gratitude can help refocus on what we have instead of what we lack. This simple act can build greater confidence and acceptance.

All too frequently we tend to focus on problem solving rather than appreciative inquiry. We look for what’s wrong rather than what’s right. We search for the flaws that somehow overpowers what is without flaw. We notice and are critical of the cracks in everything, but fail to appreciate as Leonard Cohen so artfully put it, that’s how the light gets in.

In psychology research, gratitude has been strongly associated with greater happiness because it helps people feel more positive emotions, improves their mental and physical health, enables them to deal with stress and build stronger relationships.

For me and my family, the past several months have been particularly challenging. After a lifetime of taking my physical health for granted, I came face to face with concerns that no longer allow for this. The loss of loved ones reminds me of my own mortality and that it’s important to make the most of the time I have left with the ones I love most.

It’s also a reminder to give thanks. By appreciating and showing gratitude for all that I have, I can shift from a focus of scarcity to one of abundance. I can express to myself and others what I value and what truly matters. Sharing gratitude means I can be fully present to what I have.

Here are some very simple ways to regularly express gratitude:

  • Do it in person with the people who mean the most to you. By intentionally sharing your appreciation for each of them, this will bring you even closer together.
  • Write a heartfelt letter or email to express your appreciation for people in the workplace or friends and family far away. Like an old fashioned thank you card, a personalized message is extremely beneficial and will be savored by those who receive it.
  • Before falling asleep at the end of each day, make a mental note of five things you’re grateful for. This can be as simple as your partner, your health, your job, or whatever you appreciate today. You’ll end up sleeping deeper and rest more fully.  

Thank you for reading this and thank you for your continued connection. I value you and appreciate your thoughts and impressions. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Choose Healthy, Happy Relationships

October 27, 2022

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.

This means choosing to surround yourself with people who bring you up rather than bring you down. It can be difficult to sever relationships, but nothing will change if you don’t.

Perhaps as we return to the office and social gatherings where we can engage with colleagues and friends in the same room, it’s the perfect time to evaluate whether these people help us to thrive or not.

In both your personal life and professional life, you first need to decide whether you are closer or further from who you want to be when you are with these people. If you’re not who you want to be, you should evaluate the value of these relationships. My wife tells our teenagers that when they are with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s important to determine whether they can be their best selves or not. If they can’t, then something is obviously wrong.

I think this is true in all aspects of our lives. The people who we surround ourselves with can dramatically influence our overall well-being. And we do have a choice in the matter.

In the workplace, this means ensuring that you help foster relationships that include trust and rapport. Treat others with the same respect you expect to receive from them. Choose positive intent when reading an email or text that could be taken otherwise. And until you’ve proved otherwise, believe that your boss and colleagues are doing the best they can.

Regarding the relationship you have with your boss, this can be tricky. But as I wrote in my last post, you should work hard to make it work as best you can because there is a huge opportunity in getting things right with this relationship. And, if you’ve really done all you can and still cannot make it work, you may need to severe this relationship and move on.

As I wrote in my book Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, being successful in your career does not mean bringing your whole self into the workplace, but your best self. This means being authentic while remaining professional. Remember that you are entitled to your feelings and responsible for your behavior.

If your social media feed leaves you feeling worse about politicians, celebrities, business leaders and “Facebook friends,” perhaps you should stop following them and take away their power to negatively influence your well-being. See if you can engage with important social media friends in the real world to foster deeper and more meaningful relationships. I don’t believe rewarding relationships can be built or sustained exclusively online.

Barring another last-minute change of heart, the mercurial Elon Musk appears to be acquiring Twitter. I’ve decided to drop this social media app because I do not want to support Musk’s brand of “absolutist freedom of speech.” Call me old fashioned, but I still believe shouting fire in a crowded theatre when there is no fire is not only wrong but dangerous and should be outlawed.

Take control of your health and happiness in both your personal and professional life by choosing to engage with people who bring out your best. Doing otherwise is detrimental to you and to your career.

Success in Motivation

July 29, 2022

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 ones is helpful whether you’re trying to keep a healthy body or mind.

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) posits that all humans have three psychological needs—autonomy, competence, and relatedness—that underlie our growth. This 50-year-old theory challenged the once dominant belief that the best way to get people to perform tasks is to reinforce behavior with extrinsic rewards.

However, half a century later, all too often organizations continue to incentivize employees primarily with external rewards rather than focus on these psychological needs.

Autonomy is feeling you have the choice to willingly behave in a certain way. In the workplace, this means you have agency for how to approach the task and complete your work.

Competence is the experience of mastery and being effective in your activity. This means making gradual progress, learning along the way, and feeling like you’re capable.

Relatedness is the need to feel connected and belonging to others. It’s about feeling valued by the people around you. This social aspect is often overlooked, but vitally important in maintaining motivation.

According to Richard Ryan and Edward Deci, authors of the book Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior, the human psyche needs these three elements to flourish just as the human body requires protein, carbohydrates, and fat to run properly.  

In the same way managing overall physical health is greatly influenced by our habits and the lifestyle choices we make, so too are our behaviors and mindset in the workplace.

When it comes to physical health, this means ensuring that you focus on the proper fuel necessary to feel good and maintain proper health. Your physical health can thrive if you are motivated to consume the nourishment your body requires and limit the empty calories, sugary products and junk food that gets you into trouble.

Similarly, your psyche needs the right fuel to operate best by having a choice in how you approach the work (autonomy), experience mastery at being effective and making progress (competence), and feeling connected and belonging with others (relatedness).

Relatedness is likely compromised as we do more remote work and struggle to connect with others without being in their actual physical presence. As valuable as video conferencing technologies are in enabling remote work, not being in the physical presence of others limits our ability to fully connect. Motivation may be undermined because this social interaction is really crucial to feeling connected and belonging to something larger than oneself.  

As we continue to strive for a healthy hybrid workplace, keep this relatedness factor in mind when deciding how to make the most of your days in the office. Whenever possible, choose to have face-to-face interactions, impromptu casual conversations, team lunches, and other social engagements to build further connection and the feeling of belonging. This will help sustain motivation and keep you engaged.

Time to Focus

June 30, 2022

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, teenagers can focus on one task for only 65 seconds before being distracted. Adults working in an office can do so for just three minutes. These are the findings of author Johann Hari, which he explores in his book Stolen Focus: Why you can’t pay attention—and how to think deeply again.

Further, the number of Americans who read books for pleasure is now at its lowest level ever. Gallup found that the proportion of Americans who never read a book in any given year tripled between 1978 and 2014. Currently, 57 percent of Americans do not read a single book in a typical year. While average Americans spend 17 minutes a day reading a book, they spend nearly five-and-a-half hours on their phone.

The advent of the internet and smartphones have certainly been beneficial to our society. But at what cost? What we consider essential tools to help us be better informed, more connected and improve our productivity, are in many cases causing us to be misinformed, increasingly lonely, and unable to focus on anything long enough to solve real problems or make progress.

Think about this for a minute. When was the last time you had an hour of uninterrupted time to think deeply about something? How about just 15 minutes before you were distracted and had to switch back to focusing again? Was it something external that distracted you or was it your internal desire to reach for your phone for just a second?

The problem is not only the amount of time you are distracted. It is the switching back and forth because it takes so much time to be fully focused again.

We can certainly find fault with those companies who are focused on creating and running the devices, websites and apps that keep us in this distracted state of mind. These companies are incentivized to keep our eyes glued to what they’ve created. Facebook could easily create a feature making it easy for you to find out who in your network is in a particular location so you could meet up with them. You would then have a real social engagement, but Facebook would lose the ad revenue once you disengage the app.

Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and Indistractible, says there are things we can do as individuals to fight back. He suggests the 10-minute rule: When you feel the urge to check your phone, wait ten minutes. This short pause can help you stop simply reacting to the behavior that’s become a habit for all of us.

The moments in our lives that push us to give in to bad habits are what Eyal calls internal triggers. “An internal trigger is an uncomfortable emotional state,” he says. “It’s all about avoidance. It’s all about—how do I get out of this uncomfortable state?” He suggests thinking about our triggers nonjudgmentally. Find ways to disrupt them. When you are triggered to pick up your phone or Google something you’re curious about, instead, simply make a note and plan to do it later. Rarely, is it something you need to do immediately.

Other suggestions include:

  • Silence notifications on your phone so that you’re not constantly interrupted.
  • Turn on “do not disturb” when you want to focus or move your phone to another room.
  • Delete all the apps you can from your phone, especially social media.
  • Set up limits on how much time you can use each app so you are forced to disengage.
  • Unsubscribe from email lists that are not important to you.
  • Choose to have “office hours” for when you’ll read and respond to emails and stick to it.

My 18-year-old daughter recently attended a training where nobody knew each other. They were first seated in a circle and, although everyone else in the group pulled out their phones and began staring at them, she chose to simply sit and be present. Though no conversation ensued, I think that if only more of us would behave in this manner, we might begin to reclaim our humanity. We may realize our phones are simply a tool, which can be used by us or ruled over us.

Choose productivity over immediately satisfying your curiosity. You’re more likely to remain focused and you’ll be able to think deeply about things that really matter.

Effective Communication Takes Two

April 26, 2022

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 what others hear.

Ironically, the plethora of tools created to help us communicate has not increased effective communication. In fact, I would argue it has gotten much worse. Look no further than the negative impacts of social media.

Effective communication requires back and forth exchange, otherwise it’s just talking at people. Sending and receiving messages requires active participation on both sides to enable accurate understanding. This is especially important in the workplace to ensure the results management wants is what employees can deliver.

“We have been working at communications downward from management to the employees, from the superior to the subordinate,” writes management consultant and author Peter Drucker in his book The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. “But communications are practically impossible if they are based on the downward relationship. The harder the superior tries to say something to his subordinate, the more likely is it that the subordinate will mis-hear. He will hear what he expects to hear rather than what is being said.”

This back and forth is all too often missing and leads to managers upset when they repeatedly tell their direct reports what they want, yet the employee fails to deliver. Perhaps it’s less about telling and more about asking.

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of doing the right things rather than simply doing things right. When those on the front lines (closest to the problem or opportunity) are consulted on what’s the right thing to do, leaders are likely to make better decisions. This involves two-way communication that balances listening with speaking.   

Drucker suggests effective executives should ask their knowledge workers the following:

  • What should we at the head of this organization know about your work?
  • What do you want to tell me regarding this organization?
  • Where do you see opportunities we do not exploit?
  • Where do you see dangers to which we are still blind?
  • What do you want to know from me about the organization?

“In every area of effectiveness within an organization, one feeds the opportunities and starves the problems,” writes Drucker. “Nowhere is this more important than in respect to people. The effective executive looks upon people including himself as an opportunity.”

Apple’s Steve Jobs once said “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” This advice should be followed by all executives as an organization can only be as effective as its people.

George Bernard Shaw once said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Ensure that your communication includes active listening, back-and-forth interaction, and that what you say is what they hear. Then it won’t be an illusion.

Regards for Regrets

March 29, 2022

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 to us. There is wisdom when we reflect on what this regret means on a deeper level.

Regret can occur when you believe your past action or behavior, if changed, may have produced a better outcome. We all have regrets about something at some point in our lives and it’s best not to deny feeling it. Regret can often be closely associated with feeling guilt or shame and can then be expressed to others in an apology.

According to Daniel H. Pink, author of The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, there are three options for responding to regret. Acknowledge that 1) feeling is for ignoring, which results in delusion; 2) feeling is for feeling, which results in despair; or 3) feeling is for thinking, which results in better decisions, improved performance, and deeper meaning.  

This third option is all about emotional intelligence and welcoming the information derived from your feelings without dismissing or getting overwhelmed by them. It means recognizing and responding to what you’re feeling in a way that helps you navigate your life, particularly when regret surfaces.

Pink says the deep structure of regret can be about the human need for stability, growth, goodness, or love. For example:

If you find yourself saying things like “if only I’d done the work,” this is likely a foundation regret that reveals your need for stability. Or when you find yourself thinking “if only I’d taken the risk,” this is about boldness where you are perhaps concerned about growth. When you think “if only I’d done the right thing,” this is likely a moral issue where you are concerned with goodness. And when you think “if only I’d reached out,” this is very likely a connection issue where you are missing the love that passed you by.  

To learn what regret is telling you, it helps to write about it or talk about it with others. Pink suggests that you relive and relieve regret to reduce some of the burden and begin to make sense of it.

“Writing about regret or revealing a regret to another person moves the experience from the realm of emotion into the realm of cognition,” says Pink. “Instead of those unpleasant feelings fluttering around uncontrollably, language helps us capture them in our net, pin them down, and begin analyzing them.”

This ability to analyze your regret means you can learn what the feeling is trying to tell you. Perhaps you need to apologize to someone who you’ve offended. Or maybe you need to reach out to someone with whom you’ve lost touch. You could act now to relieve your regret and likely unburden you with the weight you may be carrying as a result.

Other regrets such as not choosing a different career path may be difficult to reconcile, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t something to be learned from what you’re feeling. You could certainly choose to look at it differently. That is, you may believe that a different career path would have been better, but how do you know? Rather than ruminate on what might have been, maybe you could celebrate all that you have, which may not have been possible with another career.  

So often it is only after the passage of time that we can see the thread that connects the events and people in our lives. If you embrace the feeling of regret and learn what it can teach, you are more likely to regard it as meaningful and move it from a debilitating feeling into meaningful action.

Zelenskyy’s Virtual Executive Presence

March 14, 2022

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 is being threatened and his country devastated by the Russian invasion.

First and foremost, Zelenskyy has led with values and demonstrates courage, vision and inspiration to Ukrainians and people around the world. Becoming famous by first acting as a fictional president in “Servant of the People,” perhaps the war has verified his ability to truly embody the notion of a servant to others.

Clearly, before becoming president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy understood how to communicate effectively as he rose from comedian to commander by capturing more than 70% of the vote. This effective wartime president has been able to gather worldwide sympathy as well as support for him and the Ukrainian people.

Whether President Putin may have simply underestimated the Ukrainian people’s resolve or President Zelenskyy has effectively held back a quick and decisive victory is still unclear. Regardless, the Ukrainian president is certainly effective in demonstrating his leadership.

Here are some examples how President Zelenskyy demonstrates executive presence:

  • Leads with values – speaks of freedom and independence for the Ukrainian people.
  • Speaks in terms of “we, the people of Ukraine” rather than “I alone can fix it” language.
  • Knows his medium: capitalizes on social media to effectively communicate his message.
  • Takes his own video selfies using not only words, but visuals of him wearing fatigues, sitting with his troops, and using backgrounds effectively.
  • Targets message to his audience: speaks Russian to Russian citizens, speaks English as necessary, and channels Winston Churchill in House of Commons speech: “we will fight in the fields, in the forests, in the streets . . .”
  • Demonstrates courage: When offered a safe way out, says “The fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.”

When it comes to conveying leadership presence in less precarious and dangerous positions, perhaps there are some lessons to learn from Zelenskyy. Running an organization or any team of people requires showing up in a way that demonstrates you as a leader. This is about how you are perceived by others.

As I described in a previous blog post titled Building Trust & Connection via Zoom, it’s important to show you value others, carefully communicate, confidently collaborate and trust totally. Beyond the importance of digital body language, demonstrating executive presence in a virtual environment means:

  • Actively listen and take careful note of participants’ body language, focused attention, and whether they are engaged in the way you want.
  • Ensure that you remain fully engaged and are not distracted by multi-tasking.
  • Facilitate discussions to make everyone feel included and valued. Build on ideas, summarize information, and appoint actions to be taken.
  • Watch your tone of voice to ensure it is appropriate given the subject matter and the people involved, especially as this carries more weight without being in the same room.
  • Dress appropriately and groom yourself as if you were in the office. This falls under the category of “look the part of a leader.”
  • Use positive language and recognize that you may have to work harder to convey warmth due to the digital distance.

When you do these things effectively, you will show up in a way that others perceive as that of a leader. Since you can’t demonstrate how you physically carry yourself when you walk into a conference room, do all you can to accentuate the medium you are confined to. This is about how you look, how you speak, how you listen, how you participate.

Don’t disregard the importance of optimizing the medium you find yourself to bring out your best self. You’ll not only act like a leader but look the part as well.

Civility in the Workplace

December 7, 2021

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 despite our differences. So obvious and yet all too rare.

If you’re like me and think incivility and rudeness are on the rise, you would be correct. In fact, in a 2019 poll run by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, 93 percent of people across America stated that uncivil behavior was increasing, and 68 percent said this was a major problem. That was before the pandemic and the January 6 insurrection, so things have likely worsened.

The one bright spot is that this has not necessarily been true in the workplace. In fact, over the past decade, people reported fewer rude incidents in the workplace—from 43 percent in 2011 to just 29 percent in 2019. Perhaps we should look forward to going back to the office if only to find some civility in our lives.

Another finding is that Americans continue to identify their place of work as a civility safe zone, with 89% of those who work with others describing their place of employment as very or somewhat civil.

Could it be that it’s too risky to be rude at work as it may cause us to lose opportunities for promotion or even cause for dismissal? Or is it due to a positive shift in attitudes signaling a move from divisive silo mentality to one of cooperation and collaboration?

Regardless, if we’re more likely to practice courteous behavior while at work, maybe returning to the office would be good not only for the organization, but beneficial to our society as well.

From the same research poll, when Americans were asked what actions could be taken to improve civility in our society, 55% said parents should be teaching civility to their children, followed by many workplace actions, including:

  • Warning or taking disciplinary action against people who are uncivil in the workplace (42%)
  • Civility training in the workplace (37%)
  • Employers’ training people how to intervene when others are being treated uncivilly (35%)
  • Employers encouraging employees to report incivility at work (35%)
  • Firing people who are uncivil in the workplace (32%)
  • Employers ensuring they hire civil people (21%)
  • Employers should discourage employees from discussing controversial subjects that could turn uncivil (21%)
  • A coalition of companies that promotes civility in society (18%)

Clearly, the workplace is not only viewed as a safe zone for civility, but also perhaps a template for how to encourage more of it throughout society.

While politicians, social media companies, cable news networks all have a role to play in making our society more civil again, business leaders can encourage civility in the workplace. This will make their workplaces safer, more collegial, collaborative and productive. And that’s good for the company’s bottom line and ultimately good for our society as a whole.

Thriving in the Decade Ahead

September 17, 2020

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 Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything, the author lays out an astonishing list of things to expect and how these will impact all of us in very dramatic ways. Among them:

  • Percentage of the world’s wealth owned by women in 2000: 15%; 2030: 55%
  • Percentage of Americans projected to be obese in 2030: 50%
  • Number of people entering the middle class in emerging markets in 2030: 1 billion
  • Percentage of world’s urban population exposed to rising sea levels in 2030: 80%
  • Percentage of American workers considered part of the “creative class” in 2030: 50%

The huge influx of people migrating to urban areas will further increase inequality as those in the “creative class” will thrive. This creative class, defined by author and University of Toronto professor Richard Florida, are those in knowledge professions, such as scientists, engineers, architects, artists, designers as well as those in healthcare, business, finance, legal and education.

Florida says what it takes for a city to develop a dynamic creative class with the concept of “the three T’s”: talent, tolerance and technology. While talent and technology may be obvious, it is tolerance that has attracted a lot of attention. This tolerance is defined as a melting pot of diverse people, including members of the LGBTQ community, artists, musicians and others.

“Tolerance and openness to diversity is part and parcel of the broad cultural shift toward post-materialist values,” writes Florida. He says this tolerance provides an added source of economic advantage working alongside technology and talent.

An increasing number of jobs also require non-routine analytical skills, according to David J. Deming, an economist at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Social skills involving coordination, negotiation, persuasion, and social perceptiveness are and will continue to be in high demand. By 2030, Deming’s research suggests a majority of jobs will require the use of social skills and creativity.

The coming decade will likely bring self-driving cars and an ever-increasing amount of automation throughout our lives. It is therefore vital to maintain our (dare I say) human advantage.

[By 2030,] “. . . there will be more computers than human brains, more sensors than eyes, and more robotic arms than human labor in manufacturing,” according to Mauro. In fact, a single robot will displace an average of five to six workers in the manufacturing sector.

Rather than resist or deny the rapid innovation inevitably coming our way, I believe we should embrace the opportunities that will accompany it. In the same way we previously adapted to massive revolutionary technology change in existing industries, markets and occupations, I think we can again. We need to acknowledge and embrace the unique skills we humans (at least currently) have over artificial intelligence.  

This creativity and social skills should continue to remain our competitive advantage. This means learning to regularly think “outside the box,” do more lateral thinking and develop strong social skills. The ability to grow our emotional intelligence to navigate workplace relationships effectively will also be increasingly important in the future.

No matter your profession, the ability to stay relevant and thrive in your career over the next decade will require more than simply staying up to date on your domain expertise and general business knowledge. You will also need to expand your ability to think creatively and strengthen your overall social skills.