Category Archives: Leadership

Lighthouse leadership

 “If you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Working from home? Feel like you’re in a bubble? You can lead from right where you are, right now. You can be the lighthouse. Lamott was talking about writing but you can insert anything in place of that. You don’t have to go anywhere physically. You can reach out to your team, to your loved ones not with you via phone, email, text, slack channel, Facetime, anything.  Stand where you are, shine and lead.

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What’s the best form of feedback?

Before we answer that question, a quick review. In a study, people were told that their efforts would be compared with how well hundreds of others had done on the same task. They then received praise, criticism, or no feedback on their performance. The highest ranking came as you’d expect – after praise. But the second highest ranking came from receiving criticism. The lowest ranking came from getting no feedback. So, we know that feedback is important. Gallup took this idea one step further and looked at the efficacy of strengths-only feedback vs. strengths and non-strengths feedback combined. They found the best form of feedback is…drum roll….. The best form of feedback has a primary focus on developing strengths. But there’s also an awareness of and discussion about how to manage non-strengths so they don’t become weaknesses.  Don’t be afraid of both positive and negative feedback. We want to know. And we do better work when we get both, with an emphasis on our strengths. AND we want to be coached on how to use our strengths more effectively. (data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter)  PS – Leader Quest is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research! How can we unite our people and rally them to a better future? How can we empower people in every position to lead? Click here to start transforming your team.

Also posted in Purpose | Comments closed

What kind of feedback do people want?

In a study, people were told that their efforts would be compared with how well hundreds of others had done on the same task. They then received praise, criticism, or no feedback on their performance.  Rank self-confidence with a score of 1, 2, or 3 after receiving praise, criticism, or no feedback.  The highest ranking came as you’d expect – after praise. But the second highest ranking came from receiving criticism. The lowest ranking came from getting no feedback. If you’ve been waiting to give criticism that is needed, wait no longer. You’re hurting more by withholding feedback than giving that negative feedback. PS – Leader Quest is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research! How can we unite our people and rally them to a better future? How can we empower people in every position to lead? Click here to start transforming your team.

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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) 

Also posted in Passion, Happiness, Positive Psychology | Comments closed

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?

Also posted in Persistence, 40 Days Change, Coaching, Influence | Comments closed

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.

Also posted in Passion, Change | Comments closed