Category Archives: Leadership

Why is flextime so important?

Why is flextime so important? According to Gallup, it’s because people deeply crave freedom. They want to be in control of their own lives.  This lines up nicely with happiness and depression research. Lawyers (especially first and second year lawyers) and ER nurses are the unhappiest workers. What’s the connection with these two occupations? Their work is high stress, low choice.  We crave choices (but not too many choices). And we sometimes don’t notice the door of the cage is open. Psychologists call this ‘learned helplessness’. If flextime is important to you, grade yourself on how well you identify and enjoy your current level of flextime. For example, lunch is built-in flextime. How free are your lunches? (data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

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What percent of companies offer some form of flextime?

Only 44%. Is flextime important? Along with listing at as the most valued employee benefit, Gallup says that: Employees would trade some of their salary for flextime.63% of millennials would change jobs for flextime.53% of all employees say work-life balance and wellbeing is ‘very important’ when considering whether to take a job I know I would – and do – trade money for flextime. I work for myself so flextime is easier to negotiate. And adding up all my working years I’ve probably passed up on multiple millions of dollars for flextime – that’s how important it is to me.  If you don’t offer your people flextime, you’d better start or they’ll find somewhere that does. And if you’re making a good salary but are still not as happy as you want to be, try negotiating to increase your flextime. At the very least take all those personal days that are piling up. (data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

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What perk do employees value most?

What perk do employees value most relating to their engagement and wellbeing? Here are some possible choices: Health InsuranceVacation/Paid Time OffPerformance BonusesPaid Sick Days401(k), Retirement Plan and/or PensionFlexible ScheduleEmployee Development ProgramsTuition ReimbursementEmployee DiscountsGym Membership or Wellness ProgramsStock Options and/or EquityA Diversity Program According to Gallup, the #1 perk is….a flexible schedule, aka ‘flextime’. If you can’t give your people a raise but want to give them something, now you know – give them flextime. (data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

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To each their own carrot, to each their own stick

For every person you manage – employees, children, siblings, significant other, etc. – you need a carrot and a stick. The carrot is a way to entice, encourage and ignite positive behavior. The (metaphorical) stick is a way to inform, show where the boundaries are and reorient negative behavior. Most of us do some version of this, but it tends to be one way (usually the way we’d respond to). But there’s no one-size fits all. Each person responds to a unique carrot and a unique stick. Every person requires their own playbook.

Also posted in Change | Comments closed

If I ignore it, it will go away

Weird lumps don’t go away when ignored. They grow. Opossums playing dead don’t deter an approaching automobile. Leaders hoping their people and culture problems will solve themselves? What do you think? When I start coaching a leader I usually hear some variation of the “if I ignore it, it will go away” hope/failed tactic. Also, “I’m too busy/tired/worn down to do anything but give up.” Often managers will add, “It’s just easier to do it myself.” That means your people have trained you well. You’re now doing their work for them. What’s an important challenge you’re ignoring? Has it gone away yet?

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I tried once and nothing changed

“I tried to play the guitar once.” “I tried to drive a car once.” “I tried to use a smart phone once.” “And when I was really young I tried to walk once. I also tried to use a fork once, to use the toilet once, to say my first word, etc.” When I begin coaching a leader I usually hear some variation of the above words about the people they’re leading. “I tried to change their behavior once, nothing changed. I tried to change the culture once, nothing changed.” Yep. I bet so. That’s not how change works. Or more specifically, that’s not how change succeeds. It’s important to initiate change. But the next step is more important. How do you persist after initial failure? If you can walk upright, use a fork and use words to speak you’ve got what it takes to keep trying.

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Two boys playing with $100,000,000

Dunkirk Director Christopher Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema are everywhere in behind the scenes photos of the filming of the movie Dunkirk. It looks like the $100 million movie that two boys filmed. That’s the two of them in the water next to the plane in the photo above. Hoytema is the bearded man on the left and Nolan is the blonde man on the right. After all the preparation for filming – I’m sure it’s a long journey from idea to writing to funding to first day on set – the arduous task of actually filming the movie is like finally arriving at your favorite playground. They weren’t letting anyone else do the fun part – the actual doing the work, filming the movie. And that was where they played with their creativity. Story after story in interviews told of ‘never been done before’. Like Roger Bannister’s miracle mile they turned impossible into reality. It was not easy. Hand in hand with ‘never been done before’ is ‘how do we do this’? Trial and error involves a lot of error to learn. In a $100,000,000-spending high stress situation there’s a lot riding on success. And the water in the English channel is not known for its balmy temperatures. 59 degrees Farenheit is normal for June. Most of the movie was filmed outside in the real original Dunkirk locations. Weather was unpredictable and rarely cooperative. Towards the end of filming production moved onto a set for some of the water scenes. Many of the crew and producers were relieved that everything just got easier – controlled environment, temperature, no worries about rain, tides, waves. But not Hoytema. “On days like this Chris and I would look at each other and say, ‘I don’t like this.’ It’s warm, the water is acceptable in temperature. This is all too convenient and it’s all too nice. [Laughs] It’s something you have to learn to live with.” Play isn’t meant to be easy. Too easy, too ‘convenient and nice’ and the fun is drained from it. Play is meant to engage us, enthrall us, take us over. To finally be immersed, joyfully engaging a challenge. If you want to play more, you might look for the places that are difficult already and bring in the play element. Or if you’re really brave, look for your equivalent of $100,000,000 on the line. Take the leap and jump in. The water’s either fine or (hopefully) cold enough to shock and excite you into play.

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What do you want to see in 2020?

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke dreamed up the film and the book 2001: A Space Odyssey. George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984 in 1949. It’s 2018. The next number with meaning is the year 2020. That is now about 100 weeks away. Numbers like these are tools to help us think bigger. What do you want to see 2020? What do you want to see clearly 100 weeks from now? The time to start on what you want is now. Today. There is no need to look back when you hit 2020 and wish you had worked on something else more important for the last two years. There is something in you, something about you that is unique to you. Some change you want to make and help the world with. What is it now? How will you be the change you want to see in the world when you can see clearly – 20/20?   Learn more: How to Lead Change –  Learn how to be an effective change leader and lead positive change that lasts.

Also posted in Purpose, Persistence, Change | Comments closed

Strategic or Tactical?

There is a tension between thinking strategically and tactically. We tend to just live tactically. We humans don’t do well with tension and tend to just go to one side or the other. And the daily grind is where we usually go. It’s the path of least resistance. Carl Jung said the sign of a true adult is to be able to live in the tension of the two opposites. You have 100 weeks. What do you want to see 100 weeks now from now 2020? What’s your tension between now and then? Today is day one of not giving up. Today is the day to happily rest in the tension.

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Books to Support Your 40 Days To Change For Good

Books to Support Your 40 Days To Change For Good Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward by James O. Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente [Still the most useful and easily applicable book on personal change I’ve found yet. Highly recommended.] Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own And Other People’s Minds (Leadership for the Common Good) by Howard Gardner [Great research as to what makes people change their minds, and what doesn’t work. This work is one of the cornerstones of Quixote Consulting’s change and influencing work. Be forewarned: It’s very dry and dense]  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth [A well-researched, readable look at the positive psychology of persistence.] Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey [Endlessly inspiring and entertaining, here are 161 famous creative artists’ rituals – from Mozart to Einstein] The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity At Work by Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer [Completely in a work context. Repeated small successes combined with meaningful work lead to happiness. Small failures at meaningful work lead to unhappiness. Meaningless work is a straight path to unhappiness.] Gandhi An Autobiography – The Story of My Experiments with the Truth by Mahatma Gandhi [Surprisingly, it’s a page-turner. A fascinating and inspiring account of a man dedicated to personal change and through that his country and beyond] The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr [The ‘Taking Action: The Power of Positive Rituals’ chapter is a very nuts and bolts look at rituals and incremental change.] What You Can Change . . . and What You Can’t: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement by Martin E. Seligman [Especially recommended for those of you who like to know what the research has to say. There’s no self-help ‘Seven steps to lose those pounds, be loved by everyone and transform your life in just 20 seconds a day!” silliness here, just what science has found can be changed and what can’t.] The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller [Profoundly helpful and beautifully written, the title says it all. You’ll either know immediately it’s the book you need to read right now or you’re not ready for it…yet. Loss and sadness are either visiting you or they’re not. The chapter on ritual is from a spiritual/mythopoetic view.] The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg [Written from a journalistic viewpoint, it’s heavy on stories and light on actionable content. Three sections: individuals, organizations, societies] Leading Change by John P. Kotter [Exclusively aimed at change leaders in organizations, but the general principles are sound.] Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar [You’ll find a short section on rituals and negative (a ritual to NOT do something) rituals – which is an interesting concept]   Learn more about 40 Days to Change For Good here.

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