Tag Archives: leadership

Two Faces of Courage

In his book, Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy, then a senator, wrote about three pressures that kept his fellow senators from acting with courage. that kept his fellow senators from acting with courage. 

While Kennedy wrote about what he called “political courage,” his insights apply beyond the legislative chambers. Anyone in leadership is prone to such pressures. 

The three pressures

“The first pressure to be mentioned,” wrote Kennedy, “is a form of pressure rarely recognized by the general public, Americans want to be liked – and Senators are no exception.” The same applies to many people in positions of authority. It is so much easier to get along with people if they like you. At the same time, if the price of being liked is to forgo hard decisions, the costs can be ruinous. The role of a leader is to make hard choices. Often those choices are not between right and wrong, but rather between two rights (whom to hire or whom to promote) or two “bad” (what people to let go).

Kennedy got to the root of political expediency with his next statement about pressure. “It is thinking of the next campaign – the desire to be re-elected – that provides the second pressure on the conscientious Senator.” Politicians run for office and want to stay there. Same for executives. Their campaigns for higher office are not in public, but they are long and arduous. They involve doing what it takes to move up the proverbial ladder. They may endure hardships in the form of long hours, time away from family, and even competition from rivals. Better to keep your head down and go with the flow than decide that while good, your boss is, in reality, bad for the team.

“The third and most significant source of pressures which discourage political courage in the conscientious Senator or Congressman,” Kennedy wrote, “is the pressure of his constituency, the interest groups, the organized letter writers, the economic blocs, and even the average voter.” Outside pressure is nothing new to senior executives; no business operates in a vacuum, and it should be responsive to the needs of its stakeholders. At the same time, when what’s good for business is bad for the community, or what’s good for the community is bad for business, the executives must make the tough calls.

Courage is the ability to remain resolute in the face of crisis, show bravery, and persevere in adversity. Doing so with grace under pressure is the mark of leadership, an example that encourages others to follow.

Globally acclaimed and award-winning business leadership speaker, John Baldoni is an educator, thought leader, certified master corporate executive coach, and author of 15 books that have been translated into 10 languages. John’s thought leadership is reflected in his writing as well as his choice of media: columns, videos, and books. Even today John continues to experiment. He integrates piano improvisations into his keynotes which he illustrates with his still life photos.  John is also the host of LinkedIn Live’s Grace under pressure interview series, a platform that has enabled him to interview more than a hundred global business, academic, and thought leaders and doers.

There’s a new “PPP” in town

There’s a new “PPP” in town…and not applying it to your business objectives will cost you millions!

What is it?

PPP = Produce Poachable People 🤩

If you’re in a #humanresources or #leadershipdevelopment role, you would do well to start Producing Poachable People.

People for whom your competitors would do anything to hire!

❓ “Greg, why should we do that – they’ll take all of our talent!”❓

If that’s your concern, you’re not alone.

The most commonly cited reason for under-investing in training & development is: we’re worried they’ll leave.

But with research showing that:

▪️ Most employees will “boomerang” once in their career (return to a previous employer after voluntarily departing), and
▪️ Most workers will have between 9-11 jobs in their career…

It makes good business sense to produce poachable people.

Create a place so compelling to work, grow and make an impact that when they do see the grass isn’t greener they come running back.

Word will get out about the investment you make in your people and your talent management department will be overflowing with candidates.

And the ones who do leave, and don’t come back, will be ambassadors for your brand.

When they’re asked about their time with you they’ll say things like “Yeah, the culture wasn’t for me but BOY do they invest in their people” 😍

TL;DR: Produce Poachable People – it’s good for business.

Gregory Offner is the “Man with a Million Dollar Voice” having recently undergone 14 surgeries needed to repair and rebuild his vocal cords!  Greg has become an expert at Disruption having gone through this experience that nearly left him mute, wondering if he would ever speak or sing again in public, and what would be the next career path if these surgeries failed!  This also ignited the critical spark needed to transform his work from a “personal curiosity” to a “professional mission” – to help individuals and organizations identify the “one change that can change everything!” Call 888-766-3155 to book Greg for your next event.

The Power Of No: How To Deal With Overload And Burnout

In most teams I visit, inevitably there are a handful of stressed-out workhorses putting in seventy-hour weeks while other employees appear relatively happy-go-lucky, enjoying much lighter workloads.

Let’s face it, some employees are driven intrinsically to impress and take on more and more, and managers tend to over-rely on these people because they are so willing. These employees end up doing disproportionately heavy lifting until—often—it becomes too much and they burn out.

Whether you are an individual contributor, a manager or an entrepreneur, it takes guts to be able to say “No, I realistically can’t get that done on time with everything else I have on my plate.” It even takes courage to say “Maybe” when so many of us worry our jobs are constantly on the line.

In our new book Anxiety at Work, Dr. Rita McGrath of Columbia Business School offered a metaphor for taking on more when you are already feeling overwhelmed: “Your day is a truck, and each hour is a box on the truck,” she said. “When someone delegates to you, be clear to them that a box will have to come off the truck to fit the new one. There are consequences. When it comes to overload, we are not terrific at articulating to each other what our priorities are and what we are working on.”

Pushing back on assignments that will overwhelm us can especially ratchet up anxiety for lower-power people, underrepresented minorities, and younger workers. “It’s almost a disloyal thing to say I’m really overloaded, and this will push me over the edge,” said McGrath. “It’s important for managers to make it okay to have that dialogue; and for leaders to remember that the more senior they are, the more their suggestions are commands.”

McGrath recalls being a PhD student at Wharton. She was busy running a research center, managing undergrads, and completing her own studies, all while commuting an hour each way and raising two kids under the age of four. “I showed up one day and the head of our center introduced me to a visiting scholar from Singapore. He wanted me to escort the professor around for the day. I asked for a word in the next room, and I told him that if he thought that was the best use of my time, I’d do it; but I made him aware of all the things that would not get done that day. His eyes got wide, and he admitted he had no idea.”

McGrath had the courage to speak up to her department chair and have an open dialogue about priorities because trust existed in the relationship. But what about those who feel they just can’t say no to the boss?

There is an acronym I’m hearing lately: GEPO, which stands for “good enough, push on.” GEPO can remind us not to bog ourselves down looking for perfect results, but to focus on delivering a satisfactory service or product and moving on the to the next project. Remember that perfect is the enemy of getting things done.

What about entrepreneurs in this discussion? Small business owners often have a habit of being blown off course by potential revenue sources that don’t quite fit their model or they can be seduced by the latest fads. Lisa Nirell, chief energy officer of EnergizeGrowth, says many entrepreneurs fall into the “Shiny penny syndrome.” As a small business owner herself, she admits she’s not immune: “I love the idea of looking busy, launching new ideas, and putting them in my to-do list—my piggy bank.”

Nirell explained, “On any sidewalk, pennies are the easiest to find; even though they are virtually worthless. Many business owners treat new opportunities the same way. They may have no clue whether the opportunity is going to generate any return on investment, but they love the excitement of finding that shiny penny!”

While Nirell does suggest allowing some flex time in our daily schedules to explore new opportunities, she advises her clients to focus on what they do best and ask themselves (before picking up that penny): “How will this either advance or hurt the fulfillment of our company’s and my personal purpose and vision?”

Meet Adrian Gostick, Global Workplace Expert and Thought Leader in the Fields of Corporate Culture, Leadership, and Engagement! Adrian is the founder of The Culture Works, a global training company along with his partner, Chester Elton! They have co-authored over 14 books together, many of which are #1 best-sellers, and have sold over 1.5 million copies! Their company in 2020 was recognized by Global Gurus as the #2 World’s Best Culture Development Programs.  
Call 888-766-3155 to book Adrian for your next event!

Gratitude is Vital to Managing Remote Teams. Here’s Why.

In the past year and a half, employees have gotten really good at working from home. Even though, some managers still find it challenging to inspire their teams when they don’t see them daily.

This week I had a chance to interview Robert Glazer, author of the new book,How to Thrive in the Virtual WorkplaceHe says part of managing remote employees is setting clear expectations and consistently tracking employee outcomes. Managers and leaders who regularly connect with their direct reports make them feel valued. Bob points to gratitude as key to connecting with our remote workforce and provides three easy steps.

  • Make Gratitude Focused on Accomplishments

With many organizations working remotely, employees can feel their colleagues or boss don’t notice their hard work. It’s more important now than ever to over-communicate. Consistently expressing gratitude, publicly and privately, helps address this pain point.

Bob says it’s crucial to show gratitude right away. The best leaders are fast to thank and credit others, and one of my favorite ways is to send a simple handwritten note of thanks. I guarantee this will make your team feel appreciated.

And for those employees who like to be publicly recognized, highlight someone who’s made an extra effort during a team huddle or on a group message board. Bob said, “When you’re sharing your team or department’s wins with your greater organization, take care to thank your team members by name who helped move the company forward (not just a generic ‘thanks to my team’).”

  • Check-In with Gratitude

Of course, you don’t need to reserve gratitude for big wins. Bob suggests regularly reaching out to others in your organization—colleagues, teammates, even your manager—and letting them know why you’re grateful to work with them. You don’t need a reason to tell the people you work with that you appreciate them. These small check-ins will strengthen the bonds within your team, especially while working from home.

An extra benefit of being grateful for your teammates is that it’s an excellent way to energize ourselves. We all face challenging days, weeks, and even months at work. Many of us have faced some of the most challenging work experiences of our lives in the past year. But when we can ground ourselves in gratitude for our colleagues, we will find it easier to keep pushing forward, even when things go wrong.

  • Create Gratitude Buffers

When working remotely, the lack of a commute can be a double-edged sword, says Bob. While no one likes sitting in traffic or cramming onto public transit, commuting helps us separate our work and home lives.

He suggests remote employees create a similar effect with a buffer at the beginning and end of the day. He said, “It’s helpful to start the day with a morning routine that helps you ease into the day, rather than jumping on your work email as soon as you get out of bed. And having a clear shutdown routine at the end of the day will help you transition out of work mode and into your home life”.

The consistent thread running through these buffers is to practice gratitude. Bob recommends starting a gratitude journal and writing down three to five things you are grateful for at the beginning and end of the workday. Not only will doing this help you signify when it is time to start and stop working, but it will also help you begin and end your day with a positive mindset, which is crucial for effective leadership.

Let’s face it, remote work is an adjustment, especially if you’re leading others. Building more gratitude into your life and leadership will help you thrive and inspire others.

Whether you’re planning a small executive retreat or searching for a dynamic keynote speaker for your annual conference, Chester Elton gives you a highly sought-after New York Times best-selling author and business strategist, who brings energy, substance, and real-world experience to your stage! One of today’s most influential voices in workplace trends, Chester Elton has spent two decades helping clients engage their employees to execute on strategy, vision, and values.
To book Chester for your next event, call 888-766-3155.

Give Me A “T” for Teamwork

Dysfunction is prevalent across many organizations and so management responds with an increase in training.

Yet holding team-building activities when management is in flux, standards are declining and behaviors are eroding is akin to selling life insurance policies as the Titanic is sinking — meaningless.

What makes a team is defined by a common purpose, and if there is no common purpose, then teamwork is superfluous. When lack of focus is endemic, the responsibility falls at the feet of those in charge.

Building teams is a perennial effort in organizations — so much so that when we use the term “team building,” many employees roll their eyes. They also do a mental checklist of all the team building exercises they have experienced — “radioactive contamination” exercises,  trust falls, whitewater-rafting trips and backyard ropes courses.

Dysfunction stems from lack of trust. The way to build trust is through commitment that emerges from listening to employees to determine the problems.

Members of dysfunctional teams live lives of daily misery because their ability to make improvements is disregarded by their bosses, who know only how to make things worse.

Savvy managers challenge individuals to solve problems and empower them to put those remedies into action.

Meet John Baldoni, a Global Leadership Expert who helps people use their Purpose to achieve Positive results! Mixed with stories of great men and women, and leavened with light-hearted humor, John shares down-to-earth practical advice that individuals can apply immediately!  He blends his passion for leadership with genuine enthusiasm for helping people achieve their leadership ambitions. Call 888-766-3155 to book John for your next event!

4 Crisis-Tempering Leadership Qualities

The COVID-19 crisis has turned our world upside-down and is forcing us all to assess our personal and professional lives. In response, I found great comfort in re-reading a great book about leadership during crisis. The book: Endurance, Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing chronicles Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated trans-arctic expedition of 1914. While reading about this expedition, I considered the incredible leadership qualities of not only Shackleton, but also of the many leaders with whom I have worked. Below are four leadership qualities vital for dealing with seemingly insurmountable crises.

1) Be Present and Available … Communicate!
The worst leaders disappear during crises. The reason? Fear. For most, they fear not having answers to solve whatever problem the team faces. Their fear of not appearing to be in control drives their decision to hunker down … to vanish. The best leaders get into the field (virtually, these days) to gather information, share ideas, and let people know they are present by:
• Contacting customers, patients, clients to let them know they’re available. They
communicate creatively, fully taking advantage of telephones, Zoom meetings or
FaceTime sessions. The current reality of social distancing isn’t an excuse to shut down interaction.
• Reaching out to employees, staff, colleagues. The constant exchange of ideas, strategies, next steps, (and concerns!) is both comforting and can lead to solutions.

2) Fuel Creativity with Optimism and Honesty:
Sugar-coating a tragedy is not the answer. Yet, the best leaders look for opportunities despite the barriers. Regular meetings with stakeholders (clients, employees, etc.) to assess only the challenges can be depressing. Leaders who can share even the smallest successes (perhaps derived from what they learned from getting into the field) build optimism, and optimism fuels creativity.

3) Embrace What They Can Control:
Instead of falling into the helpless victim-state and complaining about everything that has changed, great leaders maintain a laser-focus on factors they can control. Prime examples of this are the first two topics listed above (Communicate and Fuel Creativity).

4) Create Stability from Chaos:
Great leaders know the value of structure and predictability even when chaos reigns. From a personal resilience strategy of looking forward to their daily walk, cup of tea, or meditation session, they plan their day. Vitally important is to weave in some fun or recreation activities. And they encourage their employees to do the same. Bottom line: They take control and lead by example.

Doug Lipp is on a crusade to help your audience strengthen their corporate culture, boost business performance, and unapologetically, have fun while doing it. As an International Keynote Speaker, Best-selling Author of “Disney U”, Former Head of Disney University Training Team, Doug is one of the most trusted and respected business speakers in the world! Doug leaves his audiences with a blueprint for creating and perpetuating a culture of significance unique to their organization. To hire Doug for your next Virtual or In-person Hybrid Event click here: https://bit.ly/3okRdYF

3 STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE COMPANY CULTURE IN A VIRTUAL WORLD

One of my favorite clients works in the manufacturing space, and lucky for them, 2020 was a great year. Despite the pandemic, they grew, added more staff, and increased profits by 32%.

Working together, we spent most of the early months of the pandemic navigating the consistent increase in demand. We spent our time helping over three-quarters of their staff learn to work remotely and the other one-third adjust to the new regulations and protocols to ensure a safe working environment.

For the first few months, company culture was the last thing on anyone’s mind. The team was engaged. Most of their employees were grateful to have a job, others driven by the urgent need to help their customers and team members. Pretty much everyone was willing to do whatever it took to keep the company growing.

Now we find ourselves 10-months into this crisis, and the tide is shifting. Team members are getting burned out and starting to disengage. They suffer from ‘Zoom fatigue.’ They struggle to achieve work-life balance, and they are getting frustrated.

For the first time since this pandemic began, the leadership team is wrestling with how long will this go on? How do we keep our team engaged? And how do we maintain and enhance our company culture in a virtual world?

Those are great questions that many leaders are challenged with today because building a culture and leading a team in a remote environment is different. It requires new strategies and a new set of ideas.

3 Strategies to Enhance Company Culture In A Virtual World

Before we jump in and start discussing the strategies you need to build and maintain your company culture, let’s talk about what culture is and why it matters, even more so in a virtual world.

Culture is the set of values and beliefs a company has. When your culture is strong, your employees not only understand those values and beliefs; they use them to drive their attitude, their behavior, and the experience they create for team members and customers. With a strong culture, you get a more engaged team, a more productive work environment, and more satisfied customers.

Now culture matters because employees are more engaged, more productive, and tend to stay longer when they work for a company whose values and beliefs are aligned with theirs. Let’s look at the facts: companies with winning organizational cultures have 72% higher employee engagement ratings. 65% of employees say their company culture is a deciding factor in whether they stay long-term or not, and 77% of employees believe a strong culture enables them to produce higher levels of work.

So, culture matters, and in a world where employees can work from anywhere and for anyone, giving them something to believe in, be a part of, and contribute to is one of the best tools you have to keep top talent.

There is so much value in investing in your company culture, so how do you get it right in a virtual world and working with a remote team?

1. Overly Communicate:

Very few leaders communicate enough and far fewer communicate enough in a virtual world. You have to realize the moment your team started working from their homes, they felt disconnected, shut off, and isolated. They are unsure of how your company is doing, what challenges you’re facing, what you are focused on for 2021, and how they can best contribute.

You need to be answering their questions, and much more. You need to ensure that you communicate with your team often and provide opportunities for them to communicate with you. Communication is a two-way street, and if you want to drive culture, you need to ensure your team is talking to you as much as you are talking to them.

BEST PRACTICES: Here are some of the best ideas we see successful leaders today putting into place.

Weekly kick-off video – the CEO starts each week with a video that lets the team know where the focus needs to be, what she expects of them, and then rewards and recognizes individual contributions.

Town Halls – monthly or quarterly, town halls with the CEO and/or leadership team allow employees to get relevant updates and, more importantly, ask questions, get first-hand information, and heard on significant challenges.

Monthly Financial Updates – humanizing the business model by allowing employees to learn from the CFO how the company makes money, what they can impact, and how their contribution directly connects to the bottom line. This does more than any other strategy we have seen to decrease expenses and drive revenue.

2. Create Connection:

Gone are the opportunities to grab lunch with a co-worker, tell a joke before the meeting starts, or participate in the monthly birthday celebration. What remote work has given us in productivity and efficiency has cost us in the areas of communication and relationship building.

People spend so much time at work, even if that work is remote. To be successful; they want to feel like they are connected to their co-workers, know their boss, and feel heard and understood by the people they work with. In a virtual world, you have to be more innovative to create that, and you have to build on those opportunities proactively.

BEST PRACTICES: Here are some of the best ideas we see successful leaders putting into place

TECH MATTERS – just like you invested in your office space, you need to invest in technology. If you want people to feel connected, they need to have the tools. Video is critical, strong audio is a requirement, and the right software and tools make it so much easier to engage.

CREATE SPACE – allow people to connect just like you did at work. Instead of the monthly pot luck dinner, create personal channels on your SLACK, TRELLO, or intranet accounts. Start rooms where team members can talk about their pets, taking care of aging parents, or what it is like to homeschool your kids in the age of COVID.

DONUT MEETINGS – beak the silos and communication issues by building relationships between departments and leaders you need to work together. Donut meetings are meetings set up between two and three team members who don’t interact regularly but need a better connection to work more effectively together.

3. Bind with Purpose:

At the end of the day, in a traditional or remote work environment, people want to do work that matters, and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

If you want your team to engage, then you need to give them something to engage in. That something is a purpose, who you are, what you stand for, and the impact you are making.

BEST PRACTICES: Here are some of the best ideas we see successful leaders putting into place

BEGIN EVERY MEETING – and end every meeting reminding your team members of your purpose, and how what they are doing matters, the impact they are making.

REWARD/RECOGNIZE – team members and situations that underscore the importance of your purpose. Tell stories and develop case studies that detail how the company’s purpose is to create change and help people.

NORTH STAR – use your purpose and core values as your litmus test, your north star in deciding whom to promote, whom to hire, and what new initiatives to implement in your company. You show your team just how important the core values and purpose are and why they matter to the company’s success.

Your Culture Is Your Best Investment:

Yes, investing in building culture in a work environment can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. It is also one of the best investments you can make. One of the few advantages you have left in this constantly shifting and highly competitive marketplace is your team’s engagement level. Invest in your culture, and your team will invest in you.

Meridith Elliott Powell, Keynote Speaker, Best-selling Author, and One of the Top 100 Sales Experts on LinkedIn is an award-winning leadership and sales expert. Meridith’s cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge will make your audience laugh and learn as she walks you through the sales and leadership strategies you need to succeed. Meridith Powell is one of the most sought after Sales Strategist and Leadership Experts! Book Meridith Powell today: https://bit.ly/2Vvm4XG

The Power Of TRUST

What makes a company great? Its CULTURE.
What makes a great corporate culture? LEADERSHIP.
What makes a great Leader? TRUST.

If you want to hit that trifecta, great company, corporate culture and leader, then you need to delve deeper into the word TRUST. I can’t tell you how many leaders I’ve known, who were extremely talented, but needlessly lost the TRUST of employees for preventable reasons.   They chose “not” to adhere to the rules they asked others to play by.  They asked others to make sacrifices they weren’t willing to make themselves.

Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, found that people would rather do business with (and employees will follow) a person they trust. Trust is a confident belief in a person, product or organization. Trust is confidence in the honesty, integrity, ability and character of a person. Former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, once said, “Leadership is about two things – Trust & Trust.” In our quest to stay up with the latest and greatest management fad, I feel we are losing sight of the most important ingredient in making a company successful, TRUST. Employees want to work for leaders who are trustworthy, reliable, responsible, considerate and consistent.

One of the phrases being used a lot in corporate America today, is having employees who are “fully engaged” in their job. Why is it important to have “fully engaged” employees? According to a Towers Watson Global Workplace Study, companies with “fully engaged” employees “had operating margins almost three times those of organizations with a largely disengaged workforce.” That is an impressive number. But an alarming statistic the study uncovered is that only 21% of employees are “fully engaged.” OUCH!

Another scary statistic is employees are also four times more likely to leave an organization because of lack of appreciation and TRUST so, leaders need to have an “attitude of gratitude”. Look for ways to compliment and recognize employees for a job well done. TRUST thrives in this type of environment. Create a “Corporate Culture” that influences the level of TRUST for all employees.

Here is a simple acrostic that I feel identifies several necessary characteristics any leader needs to possess if they have any intention of creating TRUST.

T  Transparent
R  Reasonable
U  Understanding
S  Supportive
T  Thoughtful

You need to understand that every action you take will either increase or decrease the level of TRUST employees have. Marketing guru, Seth Godin, who has also authored 19 international best-selling books, addressed the importance of TRUST this way; “Earn TRUST, then worry about the rest.” Employees have learned not to TRUST words, they TRUST actions.

Great leaders think beyond themselves. They have found that employees put TRUST in those who truly care about them. What have you done to gain the TRUST of your employees? What actions have you taken recently, that proves your involvement in their success?

YOU DON’T DEMAND TRUST – YOU EARN IT

Robert Stevenson is one the most widely sought after professional speakers today. He understands what it takes to succeed. His ability to connect with an audience is amazing; be it a strategic planning session for a Fortune 500 company to 20,000 salespeople at a virtual conference event, he excels at blending humor, facts, inspiration, conviction and audience participation. With now over 29,000 followers on LinkedIn, Robert makes a big effort to share something every day that will help people succeed on either a personal or business basis. To Book Robert Stevenson for your next Virtual or Hybrid Event call today: 888-766-3155 or visit https://bit.ly/3mTwU3N

Learning the ABCs of Leadership at 16

Whether you’re heading up a team of 100 or just a team of one, the more you step into a leadership role, the more you’ll excel, and the more you’ll provide value for those around you. The term “leader” gets thrown around a lot, and often gets bogged down with so many details, that we overlook the most foundational A, B, C’s of leadership; AwarenessBeing Flexible, and Connection

Who would’ve guessed where I would have witnessed the power of a true leader and the impact they could have both on team engagement and customer service. This life lesson happened at the tender age of 16, while working in a local ice cream parlor chain, in my hometown of Elmont, Long Island; a gazillion years ago.

 Scene opens. It’s my first job with working papers, curfews, and all. While I was “good enough” at the basic operational aspects of the job, my real strength was my people skills. I definitely got the schmoozer gene from my Mom, Edie. And you could bet your bottom dollop that when combined with my two favorite things in the world; conversations with strangers and ice cream, not necessarily in that order, my shmoozer gene went into full tilt.

In a matter of moments after taking customer’s orders, I managed to hear their life stories, dietary needs and aspirations (yes you can go low cal/low fat and still engage in the festivities) while joking with the kids, making up silly voices and play games with them. Who says you can’t multi-task and Sparkle at the same time!

Since we pooled the tips, the other workers weren’t thrilled with me even though I definitely pulled my weight. Ironically, there was not a lot of room for fun in this joint. They were very strict across the board from very specific protocols on how to address customers, wipe the counters and memorize the exact initials for all 55 flavors. Mint Chocolate Chip was MCC! No periods no commas, nothing else but MCC. And if you wrote down anything else, you’d be written up. Lots of rules; lots of chores; and two hours of clean up every shift. Ice cream became not fun, very quickly! How is that possible?

The manager was a lovely guy who, while appearing laid-back, had a deep emotional intelligence and understanding of efficiency.

One Easter everyone poured in after church. There were lines out the door and lots of crying children. We were short-staffed and sweating it. I’ll never forget what he did. Amidst the mayhem, he gave me a few plastic hand puppets that were freebies, he moved all the families with young screaming kids into the same section, and told me to put on a puppet show.  The other employees started to whine. “Why does Lois get to have fun while we’re working so hard? We shouldn’t have to split the tips with her?”

He shook his head and said, “You don’t understand. Lois is working just as hard—even harder, in fact, because she’s under more pressure. Her work just looks different. If we don’t quiet the kids down, three-quarters of the customers will leave and you’ll be twiddling your thumbs for the rest of the day. Do you want that?” Of course, they all shook their heads, “No.” “But if she quiets down the kids and entertains them, then everyone will be happy. They’ll stay longer, order more, tip generously, and we can accommodate the rush. Reluctantly, everyone agreed.

Step-by-step, he threw away the official manual and broke all the rules. He moved everyone around into positions that highlighted their strengths. One girl, who knew the cashier keys by heart, was put on the register. He utilized the big guy who could carry eight sundaes on a tray by leveraging his sweat equity. He moved the other girl, who could recite the acronym of all 55 flavors in her sleep, to the role of the head ice cream scooper.

An entire third of the restaurant with families of screaming kids was moved over to my section and was transfixed by the puppet show. Instead of crying, they were literally squealing with delight. Their parents were beyond grateful for the reprieve. Other people came by to listen. They kept ordering more food. The rest of the team was on fire because they were utilizing their best skills and what they enjoyed doing most. We felt like superstars. We were like this fast-food fireworks show that was lighting up the sky.

Customers felt our energy and focus. That day, I learned the magic of what is possible when, like Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, says, when you put the right people in the right seat on the right bus: the bus moves on its own. 

While it may be important for employees to expand their skill sets and stretch themselves, it’s a far more effective strategy to celebrate and utilize each team’s strengths and be willing to change. Put your team members in positions where their natural talents shine. By doing that, they get to celebrate their unique contribution and everyone wins!

As a leader, how often do you apply the A, B, C’s of leadership: Awareness of your team’s strength, Being flexible to move things around, and Connection with your team. 

Lois Barth is a Sparkling Funny Motivation Keynote Speaker, Human Development Expert, Coach, and Best-selling Author. She delivers powerful solutions in a playful way!  “Where there is laughter, there is learning”, therefore Lois’s principles and tools for what she calls “trans-fun-mation,” are delivered in a very playful yet powerful way, mixing in thought provoking Lois-isms to enhance learning and retention. Book Lois today. Whether Onstage or Online (Virtual) she is still In Person! https://bit.ly/2K4ljhx

Leadership Through Change

The modern workplace has significant levels of stress. It can also be immersed with conflict related to change-management and downsizing. Technological change can cause conflict, as can changing work methodologies. Sometimes change would come in the form of a new boss. Someone coming in with new ideas and new methodologies. Just reorganization alone, which is some workplaces tends to be almost chronic, leads to tremendous amounts of stress and conflict.

While leadership is about change, change causes anxiety to many. In some instances, nothing is worse to productivity that extreme and disturbing anxiety in the workplace. This is when people constantly focus on their sources of anxiety (job loss, loss of power, loss of advantages) rather than on their own productivity and the success of the company overall.

Change interferes with autonomy and can make people feel that they’ve lost control over their territory and power. It also creates excess uncertainty. If change feels extremely uncertain, then people will reject it. People will often prefer to remain in misery than to head toward an unknown. In life in general, as much as in the workplace, we all need a sense of safety. Oftentimes with change, much unknown creates much irritability.

Leadership Definition – How it Connects to Change

Leadership is defined as the act of leading a group or organization. But sometimes leadership is faced with challenges in the face of change. Any decisions that imposed on people suddenly will cause anxiety and distress.

Everything seems different. Routine, as much as complained upon, brings certainty and confidence to many. Sudden decisions will create much bitterness and talk in the hallways.

In departing from the past and moving towards newer regulations, many will worry about loss of respect, face and status. Perhaps there are things that they do not really know. Maybe there are things they are not really good at. Things that were sort of protected by the older regulations. The concern would be that the newer regulations may expose inadequacies or incompatibilities.

Change also brings up concerns of being able to adapt to the newer requirements. Especially with technology, those that are not as technologically savvy may take longer to learn and feel extremely intimidated and agitated.

Many will worry that more will be required of them and are not sure how.

Leadership & Change – Getting Past Resentments

Resentments will come in two major forms: past resentments and present resentments.

Past resentments are sometimes staying put and quiet as long as everything is steady. But once anxiety is up, and things are steady no longer, these old resentments may surface again. The older they are, they may be harder to resolve. New resentments may arise stemming from the newly created circumstances.

Oftentimes, when older generation employees feel threatened by newer generation, and feel that their knowledge and experienced are not valued or may not be valued in the newly created circumstances.

The threat of change and the anxiety it causes are more than understandable. Change is promising to some, vital to the organization, dangerous to others. Because of that, change requires proactive conflict management practices. This is done in order to prevent escalation of conflict through change.

How to Lead Through Change

Here are some effective tips for leaders on successfully working through organizational change, without unnecessary drama:

1. Engage and Involve:

People tend to comply much more readily and easily if they feel a sense of ownership. This is rather than them feeling that things are imposed on them. While clearly change IS imposed on the employees, it would be a good idea to engage them in the process. And, to provide them with as much information and rationale as possible. This is in order to give them a sense of ownership rather than risk a sense of resentment.

2. Communicate, and Be Available to be Communicated With:

To keep your employees engaged, motivated and focused in a change-saturated environment, you will need to make yourself more available. This is good for you. As a leader you want to be able to monitor first-hand how things are managed under the organizational changes so that you can react quickly and effectively, and nip disasters in the bud. It is also good for your employees. They will have questions, and they will need clarity. The worst possible situation for an employee in a change saturated environment is to feel that there is no one to talk to other than water cooler talk with other employees.

3. Clarify Roles and Rules:

There is no difference between bigger and smaller corporations when it comes to low levels of clarity in terms of the scope of employees’ work or company policies. Regardless of the size of your organization, a lack of clarity will always lead to conflict.

The rule of thumb when it comes to employees’ scope of work and to company policies is “detail, detail, detail.” Detail aids clarity. In every situation where things are defined in a vague or partially vague manner there are problems. Messages are open not only to interpretation, but also to negotiation and power struggles. This isn’t because employees are necessarily trying to allocate more power to themselves. This may very well be the case, but it’s not always. But, because employees may truly make different assumptions as far as the scope of their work goes, what the policies are, and what is expected of them.

When their perceptions of expectations, scope, and policies clash, they will interpret that clash in a personal manner. Then conflict becomes inevitable. After all, when employees are unsure of what is expected of them, how can they be expected to perform in the best possible way? They can’t. That is why detail and clarity are so important.

4. Be Clear to Battle Fear

In departing from the past and moving toward newer regulations, many will worry about loss of respect, face, and status. One example of this could be a lack of skill or knowledge. This lack may perhaps be protected or hidden by older regulations. An employee may fear that these inadequacies or incompatibilities are about to be exposed.

Similarly, change also brings concerns of being able to adapt to the new requirements. This is especially true with technology. Those that are not as technologically savvy may take longer to learn new systems. They may feel extremely intimidated and agitated. Many will also worry that more will be required of them once the new changes are in place, and they are not sure how to meet those requirements.

The threat of change and the anxiety it causes are more than understandable. Change is promising to some, and perhaps vital to the organization. But, it’s dangerous to others. Because of that, change requires proactive conflict-management practices. In other words, management need to prevent conflict before it escalates. The Red-Shift Blue-Shift model, which we will talk about in greater detail later on, aims to do exactly that.

This model assists organizations in creating a language of effective conflict management. It does this throughout the organization during times of change or turmoil. It’s done in order to proactively address conflicts when they are still small, to increase engagement, and to create a company culture of true teamwork.

5. Promote a Company Culture of Adaptability- and Demonstrate It Yourself

To do well as a leader within your company and to build an adaptable team, you need to be able to accomplish five things. For the most part, what that means is that you need to create a corporate culture that recognizes the opportunity in every challenge.

As you accompany and support your employees through organizational change, remember that change related challenges are opportunities for growth. Highlight that in every conversation, meeting and communication. And furthermore, don’t forget to believe in it yourself, truly and whole-heartedly.

Dr. Michelle Rozen, International Keynote Speaker, Change Expert and Author, is a highly influential Social Media Expert, and featured on NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX News and many other media outlets discussing change, motivation and how the human mind works to become exceptional in every area of our lives, professionally and personally. Dr. Michelle Rozen is one of the most sought after International and National Keynote Speakers!  Book Dr. Michelle today: https://bit.ly/34QbHPv