The Lead Yourself First Blog

Sink Or Swim? How To Anticipate Change

Why do organizations repeatedly react to rather than plan for change? Why are leaders often stupefied by the glaring realization that their workforces are aging, or that their customers have “suddenly” switched allegiances?

Consider the example of Mike, a manager working in the wholesale grocery business. Mike sought my advice to lead his department through change. He had just received a list of his company’s soon-to-be retired employees. Continue reading “Sink Or Swim? How To Anticipate Change”

Leadership Lesson: How To Retain Great Employees For Long-Term Success

“What could we have done differently?” This is the burning question on every leader’s mind when a great employee decides to leave. There is no question that the cost of rehiring and retraining, the impact on the bottom line and the stress associated with repeating the exercise takes a toll on every type of business. However, the good news is that you can break the cycle by relentlessly adhering to the following strategies: Continue reading “Leadership Lesson: How To Retain Great Employees For Long-Term Success”

The Usual Suspects: Three Reasons Why Difficult People Win... And What You Can Do About It

The Usual Suspects: Three Reasons Why Difficult People Win… And What You Can Do About It

“She’s not happy unless everyone around her is panicked, nauseous or suicidal.” One of the unforgettable lines from Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) describing her boss, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”. Fortunately, Andy realized that she didn’t need to play her boss’s game, refused to be a doormat and ultimately rose above Miranda’s outrageously dysfunctional behavior. Not only did she gain her respect, she learned to respect herself, succeeded in detaching from the drama and set impenetrable boundaries. Sadly, the same cannot be said for many individuals who work with difficult people. How are they able to push every “hot” button with ease? Why do they win? And what can be done to minimize their negative impact on morale, productivity and workplace cultures? Continue reading “The Usual Suspects: Three Reasons Why Difficult People Win… And What You Can Do About It”

@remaining humble: Remembering the Founder of Email

Last week the world lost a real pioneer; a man who transformed communication and revolutionized the way we do business. Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of email and the creator of the “@” symbol, was described as “humble, kind and generous with his time and talents”. Mr. Tomlinson spent almost 50 years with the same employer, the Raytheon Company (formerly known as BBN Technologies). He worked there until his death. Joyce Kuzman, a Raytheon spokesperson, said of Tomlinson “people just loved to work with him…He was just a really nice, down-to-earth good guy.” Paradoxically, unlike the millions who frequently use his invention today, Mr. Tomlinson was not addicted to email. Continue reading “@remaining humble: Remembering the Founder of Email”

Here Today. Gone Tomorrow…Why Customers Go Elsewhere In A New Economy

In a memorable Seinfeld episode, Jerry and Elaine are incredulous as the customer service representative from “Worthy” Car Rentals informs them that her company has no mid-size cars available, despite the fact that Jerry has reserved one. The exchange becomes heated when Jerry exclaims “you know how to take the reservation…you just don’t know how to hold the reservation.” The customer service representative discusses the matter with her supervisor and offers Jerry a compact size vehicle instead, which he accepts. The scene ends as Jerry agrees to take full insurance on the vehicle, informing the agent that he will be sure to “beat the hell out of this car.” Continue reading “Here Today. Gone Tomorrow…Why Customers Go Elsewhere In A New Economy”

It’s Not You, It’s Me. Four Reasons Why Some Leaders Need to Look In The Mirror

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall. Who’s the Fairest of Them All?” And the Wicked Queen would wait for the magic mirror’s expected response:  “My Queen, you are the fairest in the land.” And so it was, until one day the mirror shockingly revealed that times had changed:  “My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White beyond the mountains at the seven Dwarfs is a thousand times more beautiful than you.” Instead of facing the truth, the Wicked Queen vowed to poison Snow White, plotting revenge at every opportunity. Continue reading “It’s Not You, It’s Me. Four Reasons Why Some Leaders Need to Look In The Mirror”

“Icon Genuine Crown In Olive Leaves” by vectorolie

Leadership Lesson: Lead With Your Character, Not Your Title

As I listened to the CEO’s concluding remarks at his organization’s staff appreciation event, I noted that every attendee was completely engaged; hanging onto every word. Five employees were being recognized for their service, and their leader enthralled the crowd as he shared anecdotes about each person. It was clear that the CEO’s expression of appreciation was heartfelt as he described his professional relationship and history with each individual in great detail. The stories were not about reaching sales targets, completion of projects or new client acquisitions. Rather than focusing exclusively on their contribution to the success of the business, the CEO spoke about the manner in which each honoree had made an impact on him and what he had learned from them in order to be a better person. Continue reading “Leadership Lesson: Lead With Your Character, Not Your Title”

Ladder reaching up into the sky

Leadership Lesson: Look for the Good!

“She’s always whining,”  “He’s retired on the job”,  “Not worth the trouble trying to motivate her”,  etc. etc.

When it comes to managing employees who have seemingly tuned out, shut down and stopped contributing, it is easy to understand why leaders and managers become frustrated, abandon hope of a turnaround, and give their attention to the more engaged team members. After all, dwelling on the negative employee is an energy drain, hinders our effectiveness and takes a toll on managing higher priorities.

As leaders, most of us agree that managing difficult people is challenging. The usual default position of leaders who give up on unproductive employees is based on the premise that they are simply too much work. However, can we be certain that our summation is entirely accurate? Continue reading “Leadership Lesson: Look for the Good!”

Three ways we kill our creativity

I recently had the opportunity to take Cayden, my eight year-old grandson, to a hockey game. Fortunately for me he loves watching hockey as much as I do. As we walked into the arena, Cayden immediately noticed all the merchandise for sale. He asked the salesperson how much a “Number 33” jersey would cost, knowing that the price would far exceed his (or grandma’s) budget. He’d already pictured himself wearing one with pride, whether we attended a game or watched on TV. What he didn’t realize was the fact that I already had a “plan b” in the works to purchase one elsewhere. As we took our seats a few minutes later, Cayden said: “It’s OK, Grandma. You don’t have to worry about buying me a jersey. Santa is going to bring me one.” I savoured the moment, having no intentions of shattering Cayden’s imagination. Santa would deliver! Continue reading “Three ways we kill our creativity”

Forget New Years Resolutions: Start With Your Mindset

As we reflect on the events of the past twelve months, we are inundated with advice regarding New Years Resolutions, why they fail and what we need to do to achieve our goals. Like most of us, I look forward to the beginning of a new year with positive anticipation. However, while I do believe in setting objectives, I don’t make resolutions, nor do I place unrealistic expectations upon myself. Instead, I’ve come to the realization that if I wish to change any aspect of my life, the process starts with my attitude. I cannot create new outcomes without adjusting my thinking. Continue reading “Forget New Years Resolutions: Start With Your Mindset”