Keep the Fire Burning!

Employee Engagement

How To Get (And Be) A Better Boss

Your relationship with your boss is arguably the most important work relationship you have. Unfortunately for many people it is also one that is fraught with frustration, awkwardness, or simply lack of sufficient trust. In my executive coaching work, I find that 80% of the time the relationship with the boss can be improved significantly and is strengthened as part of the coaching process.

We often assume that the boss has significantly more power, and often this is the case. But, as a savvy leader, you can use the tool below to create a powerful partnership with your boss. This is not about who has more power in the relationship, but about how powerful the relationship is, and together what it can help you both accomplish. Here’s a great tool-kit to help you.

Acknowledge A Co-Worker Everyday

You-matter-backIn the U.S., Thanksgiving is over and most of us are tempted to quickly move forward with only hazy memories of the food coma from all that yummy food. After all, the stress of the holiday season is upon us and we rush forward into the frenzy.

Here’s a challenge though to hold on to the gratitude. My latest Forbes blog post is a 21-day challenge to truly feel gratitude for and powerfully acknowledge one co-worker every day. Neuroscience research shows that small acts of generosity create enormous benefits for both the giver and the receiver. So minimize your stress, feel good, and create a healthy work culture through one simple act of gratitude everyday.

Here’s the link to the Forbes blog and some simple tips to create a culture of gratitude in your workplace. YOU can be the change! I would love to hear from those of you who are taking the challenge about how it’s impacting you, your co-workers, and your organization’s culture! Share your learning with our community and inspire others to BE the Change.

Gratitude is a Leadership Practice

GratitudeJane is overwhelmed at work with more on her to-do list than she can get done. John has a co-worker that is just plain difficult to work with.  Claire has an inner critic that is really loud and she can’t get a break. Michael is trying to motivate his team but just can’t get them engaged. Know anyone facing these types of issues? A friend, perhaps even you? If you face any of these challenges, starting a gratitude practice will help.

In my book Wired for Authenticity, one of the seven practices I talk about is “Give Yourself An A”. This practice is about fully accepting and appreciating all parts of you (including your flaws) as a way to be more powerful as a leader. This mindset of finding the good in yourself, in others, and in every situation helps you lead adaptively from your core and build a culture of engagement, resilience, innovation, and productivity.

How does practicing gratitude help us be better leaders?  What are some simple ideas to practice it? Read on.

Why We Need Authenticity in Workplaces

Beware of zombiesI was at a speaking engagement last week and the next day received the following letter from an attendee. To me it speaks of the very personal experience of a former corporate leader and why she left her workplace. I share this letter with you because I want us to engage in a conversation about why authenticity is so needed in workplaces. In my upcoming book Wired for Authenticity (June 2015) I share neuroscience data showing that authentic connections with one another in our workplaces are good for our health (our immune systems, our stress levels, our cardiovascular health). They also create inclusive environments where innovation and engagement happen. Read on for Mary’s experience of inauthenticity in her workplace.

Why Love is Essential to Leadership

Love 2.0Love in corporate America. An oxymoron? A new steamy reality show? For those of us who are jaded it seems impossible. Yet Kouzes & Posner, best-selling authors of the classic book “The Leadership Challenge” in their final chapter conclude “Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.”

The authors cite the example of a retired U.S. Army General, John Stanford talking about how he developed great leaders: “The secret to success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done than other people…I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is“.

A new book called “Love 2.0” by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson now adds the weight of science to these words. Dr. Fredrickson is a professor of psychology and Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology (PEP) Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In my interview with her, we discussed surprising findings on how our body experiences love, why it is essential to leading organizations of today, and practices to bring more of these “micro-moments of connection” to our work lives.

Five Keys To Drive Employee Engagement

Engage CoverDoes this sound familiar? You lack energy to go to work.  Work feels like a paycheck and you focus your passions elsewhere. You want to make things better but you’re tired of your ideas not being heard, so why bother?  If this is your state of mind, you may be suffering from symptoms of disengagement.  By the way, this disease is highly contagious and is at epidemic levels (according to some Gallup surveys 71% of people are disengaged).  This costs the economy $450 billion in lost productivity. The good news is that we can do something about it.  And we must re-engage, for our own well-being.

I spoke with Karin Volo, co-author of the book “Engage!” which looks at 15 “amazing” companies who have created enormous levels of engagement.  In the book, the authors identified five cultural keys common to these companies.  According to Karin, these cultural keys are often driven by a more “female” style of leadership, and often (not always) the culture change is driven by the women in these organizations.  Here’s what they are.

The Power of Appreciation

AppreciationMost of us have pretty 24/7 work and family lifestyles. Business and busy-ness engulfs our lives.  If you believe the employee engagement survey results, 71% of us are disengaged.  Recently I was having one of those disengaged “blah” days. It was a combination of anxiety over a speaking engagement I had later that day (yes, after doing tons of these I still get anxiety) and just a general dark cloud I couldn’t shake.

“Who wants to be in a room with Ms. Sulky?” my inner critic said, as I tried all kinds of techniques to get my mojo back – without much success.  Getting to the speaking engagement, I couldn’t help but notice the young woman at the security desk. She greeted me with a big smile. “You have a beautiful smile”, I said to her. She lit up. “You made my day!” she said. I lit up. That’s all it took.  No fancy techniques, just plain appreciation.  How do we bring this type of appreciation to our workplace?

Building Trust – Whose Job Is It?

Broken TrustTrue story about one of the biggest regrets I have in my corporate career.  At one point, I was part of a C-level leadership team where the business was facing immense challenges. Our prior two CEO’s had been fired within 18-24 months of one another. We were behind our competition in innovation. We had major supply issues which made our customers unhappy. Employee morale was low. Many of us were new and there was lack of trust within the leadership team as each of the regions fought to get their customers the limited supply of product.

As I look back on my career, one of the bigger regrets I have is not stepping up to stop the dysfunction. I’m not sure I had the skills. I’m not sure that I thought it was my job. At one point, the trust was so low, I’m not sure that I cared enough. It was a career low. I was one of those insidious 30% “actively disengaged” team members that engagement surveys talk about.

How To Influence Others Powerfully

InfluenceWould you like to have greater influence with the people you work with? I will make a confession. I have always had this secret fantasy. In my fantasy, I have a magic wand. When I wave the wand, people always agree with what I say, and do exactly what I tell them to do. Alas, I am still waiting for this fantasy to come true. As an executive coach, I often work with clients to help them expand their influence with people across functions and geographies, people who often don’t report to them.  In my corporate life as a global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), I would wish for that magic wand where our country organizations would line up and say yes to our marketing programs.  Here’s one simple rule I discovered through personal failure.