“It’s not fun anymore”… words I was not expecting to hear from the CEO of a highly successful enterprise. Was he referencing the state of his industry or the workplace in general…or both? The CEO was lamenting the fact that everything has changed: Shareholder expectations, demanding clients and a new generation of employees. Sadly, he was losing his passion and belief that work could once again be as enjoyable as his first five, ten, or twenty years had been. Please don’t suggest that he “should” retire. There are many individuals at every level of an organization who feel similarly, regardless of one’s age or position. [Read more…] about Three Ways To Have More Fun At Work
”Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit”….Bern Williams
As the end of the year nears, we often tend to reflect on what has happened in our lives over the past twelve months. Looking back, we may be surprised by the challenges we’ve overcome, and the way we dealt with hardship, when in fact, our capacity for resiliency shouldn’t be a surprise at all. [Read more…] about Resilient Leadership: How To Rise Above, Resolve And Respond To Adversity
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. [Read more…] about Forget New Years Resolutions: Start With Your Mindset
Cynics may say that you would never expect a public servant to give outrageously good customer service. So let me prove you wrong. Ross, who works at the USPS located in Point Roberts, WA provided incredible service…so good that he puts many corporate retailers to shame.
Despite the fact that Canada Post has an outlet across the street from my house, I deliberately drove 45 minutes to the nearest U.S. border to mail my packages bound for multiple destinations across the United States. You may be asking “why”? Well, from past experiences I can tell you that not only are the savings enormous, the service that I have received at my Post Office across the border is second to none.
Last Friday, Ross delivered a customer service experience that I will never forget. As I placed my packages on the counter and waited for Ross to carefully weigh each envelope, he asked the game-changing question: “Can I offer you the “WOW” factor?” [Read more…] about The “Wow” Factor…Brought to you by the U.S. Post Office
Addressing the subject of change instills fear in many people. The very thought of disruption to the status quo brings up feelings of anxiety and distress in many individuals and organizations. Pending gloom and doom consumes the collective consciousness as people grapple with the new reality. Viewing change positively isn’t usually the norm, although it could represent an exciting opportunity to do things differently.
I will always remember the antics of one of my co-workers whose desk was beside mine at my first corporate job. Dan would saunter into the office whenever it suited him and immediately announce his arrival to the entire staff. In a bellowing voice, he would ask the same question every morning: “Who can I annoy today?” [Read more…] about Are you feeling the love? Five tips to be happier, productive and inspired at work
“Money doesn’t talk…It swears” – Bob Dylan
In my upcoming book, “Lead Yourself First”, I dedicate several chapters to the subject of values. Values drive our behaviour and decisions, as well as our professional and personal relationships. Making values – based decisions in business and life aren’t always easy, even when we feel that we know ourselves well. One of the most difficult areas pertains to money and finances, especially if we find ourselves at the crossroads regarding career change or making an investment in a new business venture. Although there are some simple truths such as having your finances in order prior to taking such bold steps, conversations around money are often emotionally- charged due to the fact that our values also come into play. Therefore, the subject isn’t merely about numbers, being practical or even logical. Going through the process of ascertaining what lies behind the rationale to leave a job or stay, to invest or not to invest; to save or spend is an important exercise because we discover more about what is actually influencing such choices. In addition, the manner in which we justify our course of action is also a reflection of our principles.
The financial values dilemma is not only felt at an individual level. It happens in corporations on a daily basis. If you listen closely, you will hear people frequently professing values-laden statements regarding their workplace or direction of their organization. It isn’t unusual for leaders to experience conflict in this arena, especially during these times of uncertainty. While working with one client recently, one member of the senior leadership team was frustrated due to the push-back he was experiencing from his colleagues. He wished to maintain the status quo in terms of staff retention…in contrast to a number of his peers who he felt were reacting by taking an ultra cautious approach; entertaining cutbacks and terminations. Critical business decisions such as these may appear to be based on fiscal evidence. However, the values of a core leadership team are often driving the process.
Is it possible to be completely objective regarding where one may stand on financial values, or indeed our entire values system? The challenge lies in the fact that we have all been influenced in varying degrees by the standards of others, be they family members, peers, associates, coaches or well-intended friends. Therefore, the sample inventory exercise below will reveal the extent to which you have allowed yourself to be governed by accepted morals or ethics that perhaps hinder your professional and personal direction. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Rather, your responses reflect your current position and beliefs and illuminate information regarding your financial values that my surprise you.
Values inventory clarification – Money
- What does financial freedom represent to you?
- Do you subscribe to a scarcity or abundance mentality?
- Were you taught to manage your money at an early age?
- When you think of the term “financially responsible”, how would you define it?
- What were some of the prevailing attitudes around money in your family?
- How has the recent economic volatility impacted your career? If you have not been affected directly, have you witnessed the effect on colleagues, business associates, and clients?
Leading yourself first in your organization, your career and your life requires clarity around questions such as these. Can you lead your team with confidence regarding business decisions that impact them directly? Do you trust yourself to take the necessary commercial risk to grow your business into a viable entity? Are you ready to take the leap of faith associated with a career change? When we truly understand that our values underpin everything about us that makes us tick, we are able to approach the crossroads with greater conviction.
Michelle’s book, “Lead Yourself First” is due for worldwide release this year.
Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D. has written a fascinating article in Psychology Today, entitled: “Six Ways Mindset Helps You Win at Work.” Thousands of employers in numerous industries and countries were asked if they would prefer to hire a candidate with “perfect skills and qualifications” or one with a mindset that fit the job and company. Almost unanimously—98 per cent—they chose the candidate with the right mindset. The companies further believed that they could predict the mindset of people they would want to hire within the next decade (96 per cent) and thought it far more likely that new hires would develop necessary skills rather than an appropriate mindset (97 per cent). People with the right mindset were chosen as more likely to receive a pay raise or promotion. Perhaps most incredibly, when asked how many ‘regular’ employees they’d trade for a person with the right attitude, the average response was 7.2.
Dr. Stoltz’ findings show that a positive attitude and a demonstrated positive mindset—one which shows “openness and connectivity,” “integrity and kindness,” “resilience, tenacity and intensity”—are a far more valuable attribute than any other, whether looking for a new job, a pay raise or a corner office. The right attitude makes any employee as valuable as seven of his or her peers in the eyes of coworkers and managers.
In recent years, we have witnessed a proliferation in the number of “happiness” books and surveys. It makes sense that most of us see this as the optimal way to live life and look for resources that help us to achieve this state of being. In fact, the quest to measure happiness has gone global. In 2008, the World Values Survey found that freedom of choice, gender equality, and increased tolerance are responsible for a considerable rise in overall world happiness.
In her book “Happiness at Work…Maximizing your Psychological Capital for Success” Jessica Pryce-Jones says that “the starting point of happiness at work is that it is self-initiated.” This supports my argument that practicing personal leadership; taking charge of our thoughts and actions, is a choice that is always available to anyone who is ready and willing to lead themselves.
Try this quick quiz (answer “yes” or “no”) to see if you are in the right headspace at work:
- I speak well of my colleagues in their presence as well as their absence
- I express any concerns regarding people and processes in a positive manner
- I give the same level of service internally as I do with my external clients
- I am aware of my non-verbal communication
- I think before I speak; most of the time
- If there are misunderstandings, I am able to let them go rather than ruminating
- I think of my work in “big picture” terms, rather than routine or mundane
- I recognize positive consequences of honing my listening abilities
- I am conscious of my mood and how it impacts others
- When I attempt doing something that takes me outside of my comfort zone, I consider the “best case” rather than “worst case” outcome.
7 – 10 “yes” responses
You understand that your mindset contributes to the overall atmosphere. When you put your best foot forward, you realize that your actions create synergy. You can “rise above” the differences and maintain a positive outlook.
4 – 6 “yes” responses
You are conscious of your thoughts, however you often feel powerless over them. Although you recognize that changing your outlook and responses could be liberating, you find that concentrating on the positive takes more effort
3 or less “yes” responses
Focusing on the “negative” is habitual and your self-perception is limiting your opportunities; professionally and personally. The willingness to view people and situations through a different lens isn’t a priority. You may be at “burnout” and need more than a vacation or a job-change to get out of your own head.