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Category Archives: Leadership Tools

Self-discipline and restraint are admirable leadership qualities

self-disciplineA bowl of dried beans offers two possibilities.  One, you can cook them up for a satisfying protein-rich meal.  Or two, you can plant them, and watch the successful seeds produce many, many more.  Your choice will determine whether you have food now, or food later.  This situation is reminiscent of the Stanford marshmallow experiment.  The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification and self-discipline in the late 1960s and early 1970s, led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University.  If you are interested in learning more about the marshmallow experiment, I wrote about it (in 2007) in a Mega Minute titled Marshmallows, self-discipline, and success.

Beans … now or later

Let’s go back to the beans however.  If you’re the kind of person who guards your bowl of beans so that you can consume them all yourself, then you’ll certainly have a satisfying meal.  But your triumph will likely end there.  On the other hand, if you’re the leader who is willing to exercise self-discipline and self-restraint, at least in the short-term, and one who plants those seeds far and wide, you’ll create much greater potential.  Not only will you ensure a longer-term food supply for yourself, but you’ll also nourish others and build incredible goodwill with your staff, your colleagues, and your clients.

So, are you the leader who is willing to apply self-discipline and share your resources with others – information, your expertise, and your time – in order to build long-term success?  Or are you more interested in hoarding your sources and means because you are focused on victory today?  I hope you are the former, but I’d love to hear your perspectives.  Please share your thoughts below.

Leadership literacy is essential; ignorance is unacceptable

leadership literacyLeaders have a responsibility to be literate.  And by the word “literate”, I mean knowledgeable.  Now that information is ubiquitous, available through our fingertips at the closest keyboard, twenty-four seven, there is no longer any reason to claim that you don’t know.  Ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.  But real leadership literacy also requires critical thinking.  It is possible to tell the difference between genuine data and pseudo-science; between real facts and false news.  It requires however that you read beyond the headlines and evaluate the sources and the author.  It is possible to appreciate and comprehend the people you work with.  But that means that you need to make the effort and take the time to get to know them.  Leadership literacy is not only essential, it is completely achievable.

5 Rules of 21st Century Leadership Literacy

With this cautionary counsel in mind, here are five rules of 21st century leadership literacy that every leader should follow: Continue reading

Last chance for high-quality cost-effective leadership training in the Edmonton area

Earlier this fallHigh quality cost effective leadership training, I told you that we were beginning our third exciting year of partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) to deliver a series of “open enrollment” full-day leadership training programs in Edmonton and Calgary. Well, the last two events for Edmonton are coming up at the end of the month! If you live in or near Edmonton AB, don’t miss this opportunity to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development at a very reasonable cost (which includes continental breakfast and lunch!), and a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors.

Last chance if you live in the Edmonton area!

These are the last two events in this series scheduled for Edmonton, so if you want in, the time is now!

Open-enrollment means “open to the public”

Because these are open-enrollment courses, you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register.   Which is a great advantage if you happen to work in a smaller organization that doesn’t normally have the budget to bring in onsite leadership training programs.   Do not miss out on this cost-effective opportunity to get the leadership skill development you need! Click on any program link above for further information or to register directly at the CPA Alberta site. You will need to create a secure account on their system in order to register, a very quick and easy process.

And please, let me know if you’re planning on joining me for any of these upcoming events. That way I know to look forward to seeing you there!

Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial?

As workplace demographics shift, with the boomer and the generation-Xer increasingly leaving the work force and the millennial entering, the common belief is that employees are no longer loyal to their employers. Young people are regularly maligned for being self-absorbed and entitled; not willing to “pay their dues”; and impatient to get the promotions and compensation they feel they deserve. As a result, the unfortunate, widely held sentiment is they cannot be counted on to stick around for the long haul, nor ever be loyal to a company.  But this point of view is flawed.  And my latest column in The Globe & Mail‘s weekend Management series focuses on why.

millennial

The reality is that workplace loyalty is not dead.  However, “loyalty” has a different meaning than it might have had 20 or even 10 years ago.  You can read Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial? here.  In this column, I offer three proven ideas to successfully attract and keep employees in this new age of loyalty.

As always, I’d love to hear your point of view.  What has been your experience?  And please, pass the link on to others in your departments and organizations who may find it of interest.  When we all dialogue about this subject, we are on our way to finding sustainable and effective solutions.  Please comment directly at The Globe’s site, or post your response right here on the blog.

Sometimes, The Globe puts my columns behind their paywall. If that happens and you are unable to access the article directly through the link above, you can read a pdf version at this link.

What the earth sciences can teach us about creating a positive workplace culture

As regular readers of the blog know, I often discuss what it takes to create the right workplace culture.  A recent conversation with a manager at a client organization made me realize something that I (even though I instinctively know) have never fully articulated before – that the most powerful and positive workplace cultures are created over time.  Let me explain.

colcacanyonperuColca Canyon in southern Peru is one of the deepest in the world, and at a depth of 3,270 metres (10,730 ft), it is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States.  Looking at it from above, you might think that this colossal fissure on the earth’s surface was created by an earthquake or other cataclysmic event.  It wasn’t.  The Colca Canyon was formed by thousands and thousands of years of erosion of volcanic rock along the line of a fault on the crust of the earth.  Unceasing erosion – water erosion from the Colca River that flows through the mountains of rock; and wind erosion carrying away the loose sediment exposing even more surface area to the elements – created the spectacular geological formation we see today.  The Colca Canyon wasn’t the result of sudden dramatic change, it is the outcome of thousands of small changes, over time.

Small changes, over time, produce significant results

Small changes, over time, can produce significant results; it’s a thought worth considering as a leader in your workplace.  Continue reading

Leadership training events this month in Edmonton

CPALast month, I was excited to announce that for the third year in a row, I am partnering with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta) to deliver high-quality cost-effective leadership skills training in a series of “public” programs.  What is special about these programs is that they are open to ANYONE from ANY organization.  As many of you already know, most of my leadership training events are for specific client organizations, which means that only their employees can attend.  With this partnership with CPA Alberta though, even if you work in a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget to conduct an onsite leadership training program, you now have a cost-effective way to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development!

The first two events in this six-month series are coming up at the end of the month in Edmonton.  So if you live in or near Edmonton AB, don’t miss this opportunity to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development at a very reasonable cost, and a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors.

Remember, this leadership training is open enrollment!

Again … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register.  And if you are a member of a profession that requires continuing education credits, this is a fun, informative and relatively inexpensive way to meet your annual professional requirements.  Continue reading

Is your customer service helping you laugh all the way to the bank?

MikeKerr1Later this year in November, I will be sharing the mainstage platform with my professional colleague, friend and all-round funny guy Michael Kerr at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary.  Which is why I am thrilled that he agreed to guest on the blog again today.  Well that, and of course, because his messages are always so on-point.  Last time Mike was my guest on the blog, he wrote about the Seven messages leaders need to deliver to their customer service team.  Today, he poses the question:

Is Your Customer Service Helping You Laugh All the Way to the Bank?

One way to exceed your customers’ expectations and stand out from the herd to be heard over your competition is to look for creative ways to add a bit of fun to your customer service. Here are just a few ideas from my latest book, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank, to help you get your creative juices flowing: Continue reading

Announcing another season of “public” leadership training events in Edmonton and Calgary

CPAFor the third year in a row, I am very excited to announce our partnership with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta (CPA Alberta), delivering high-quality cost-effective leadership skills training in a series of “public” programs.  Most of my leadership training programs are for specific client organizations, which means that only their employees can attend.  However, these “public” leadership training programs are open to ANYONE from ANY organization.  Which means that if you work in a smaller organization that doesn’t have the budget to conduct an onsite leadership training program, this is your chance to invest in yourself and your leaders’ competency and skill development!

Anyone from any organization can attend these sessions!

Over the next six months, I am delivering eight full-day leadership and workplace communication programs in Edmonton and Calgary. These programs are available to anyone from any organization … you DO NOT have to be a member of CPA Alberta to register. These one-day sessions are very reasonably priced at a fraction of what it can cost through some commercial vendors, and if you register early, you can get even more savings.  Add in a continental breakfast and lunch, and the fact that you get to hang out with me for the day … how could life get any better?  🙂

Here are the dates!

Here is the list of the programs from now until the end of March 2018. Continue reading

Leaders need to exude a positive confident energy

jeffmowatt_2Earlier this past summer, my professional colleague, friend, and widely-respected customer service strategist Jeff Mowatt wrote a guest post titled How to motivate younger employees.  His contribution was received with such interest that I asked him if he would guest again, and I was delighted when he agreed.  His column today is about the importance of the positive, confident energy that leaders should create and model in their organizations, and it follows below.

P.S. I am excited that Jeff and I will be sharing the platform later this fall at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary.  We’ll both be delivering mainstage keynotes at this November 15 event, and if you are thinking about attending, you need to act now because this event is already tracking to be a sellout.  Early bird pricing is still in effect so get your tickets while you can.  More information about the Summit is at the end of Jeff’s post below.

How would Others Describe Your Energy?

Having worked with literally hundreds of managers and business owners who’ve brought me in to provide customer service training for their teams, I’ve discovered that when it comes to a leader’s vibe, there is a magic mix. To inspire others, a leader needs to be positive and optimistic while also being realistic. And your energy needs to be higher than average without being frenzied. In other words, the most effective leaders are those who exude quiet, confident energy. Easier said than done. Here are 3 tips for setting the kind of tone that positively engages teams. Continue reading

Don’t set employees up to fail

I often blog about how managers, sometimes inadvertently, set employees up to fail.  Unfortunately, this issue comes up repeatedly.  Which leads me to the opening question in today’s post: if you want to successfully run a marathon, would you do it blindfolded?

Would you run a marathon blindfolded?

set employees up to fail

Of course not.  Yet, it is exactly what is asked of so many employees by their managers in workplaces across the country!  And every time they do that (often unintentionally), they set employees up to fail.

When people are asked to complete tasks or fulfill responsibilities but they are not given the tools and information they need in order to successfully get the job done, it is the metaphoric equivalent of trying to run a marathon without the benefit of sight.  Even if there are people on the sidelines shouting out instructions, yelling louder does not get the runner to the finish line.  What the marathoner really needs to be successful is an overview of the course with a mental picture of the finish line, adequate running gear (shoes, etc.), mile markers at strategic points to indicate progress, onlookers offering encouragement along the way, and oh yes, the crystal-clear ability to see where s/he is going.

How would you remove the blindfold at work?

In a work environment, the metaphoric “removal of the blindfold” includes: Continue reading