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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute – a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

Be proactive – think like a chess grand master to avoid a "checkmate"

In chess, a checkmate occurs when a player's king is under attack, and has no alternative plan or course of action available because every possible escape route is blocked. At the moment of checkmate, the game is already lost, so the only way to avoid being checkmated is to be proactive, to strategically think several moves before ever getting to this point. Chess grand masters, able to visualize permutations and combinations involving ten or more moves into the future, have perfected this skill. Fortunately, it's far less complicated to avoid a checkmate in the world of work! In fact, there are only three elements needed to develop a leadership approach that is effective in avoiding a workplace checkmate.

  1. First, pay attention to "checks". In chess, a "check" (called by a player when the opponent's king is under threat of capture) serves as a warning that a checkmate is imminent and gives the opponent a chance to take evasive action. Checks are also present in the workplace, alarm signals to leaders that things are about to go awry. But it's up to leaders to pay attention. Whether it's an increase in errors, a rise in customer complaints, or grumbling around the staff water cooler, it's up to leaders to heed the cautionary signs and take evasive action.
  2. Second, pay attention to the pieces on the board. In chess, there are six different piece types (king, queen, rook, bishop, knight and pawns) and each moves differently. Good chess players know how to maximize the value of each piece based on how each one is able to move and progress on the board. In much the same way, good leaders realize that they have to get to know their people – who they are, what their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations are – and put them in situations where they can showcase their talents and mend their flaws.
  3. Third, recognize that time is a factor. Many chess games, particularly those played by professional or club players, are under a time control, which means that players must make a move or someone must win before the clock runs out. Which also means that it's necessary to take action, decisively and promptly, on the chess board AND in the workplace. You can't avoid a checkmate by doing nothing, so as a leader, it's critical to do something – assert yourself, take defensive action, proactively deal with a problem customer or employee – firmly and without delay, in order to progress forward. If time runs out while you evaluate and hesitate, then you'll end up in checkmate anyway.

How else do you think we can avoid a "checkmate" in the workplace? What are you doing to proactively avoid such a situation? Would love to hear your perspectives online at my blog at:

The excitement continues! The latest installment in Merge's regular column in The Globe & Mail, another article in a trade magazine, a new online learning program, several radio interviews, and Merge's expertise was sought for an article in a professional magazine! Read on for all the details!

Merge's latest column in The Globe & Mail pulls in readers yet again

Don't gripe about millennials at work, appreciate their talents instead went live in cyberspace on April 30, and was so popular that it got picked up (once again) in the Business section of the newspaper's print edition on Friday May 2. If you haven't read it yet, find out what others are saying about it (and add your own comments) at The Globe's site. Or if you'd prefer, you can share your perspectives on our blog:

Merge pens an article for CFM&D (Canadian Facility Management & Design) Magazine

Selling to Senior Executives offers four specific ideas on how to persuade (and improve your credibility within) the C-suite. What do you have to add to the list? What have you done to increase your influence and integrity with the senior leadership in your organization? Add your ideas to our blog:

Stop the Self-Sabotage: Breaking communication habits that are hampering your success

On April 30, approximately 55 people joined Merge in an exciting live online event, focusing on recognizing and eliminating the most common inadvertent communication blunders that jeopardize people's credibility and confidence. If you missed it, don't worry, you can still access the archived version. Please visit the Online Learning section of our Leadership Store.

Merge interviewed for an article in CPA Magazine

Merge's expertise was sought for an article in CPA Magazine about dysfunctional workplace behavior. Learn about cookie lickers, mushroom managers and credit grabbers in Nailed! Knock out unhelpful patterns of workplace behaviour. And then, please offer your advice on our blog here:

Radio interviews

Following the viral storm created by Merge's column Four things Millennials hate about you in The Globe & Mail on March 31, 2014, several radio stations interviewed Merge. We've archived most of those interviews in the Radio Clip Archive section of our website.

Turning Managers into Leaders

That Merge designs and delivers leadership skills training uniquely crafted for your organization and your people?

Merge's professional practice is focused entirely on turning managers into leaders; on helping great people become exceptional leaders by turning people power into real and tangible results. In any training design, there are many elements to choose from, and Merge will work closely with you to determine your specific needs and establish objectives that are relevant and meaningful to you. Your final outcome could be a one-time training event or a series of graduated learning programs; it could involve online or distance-learning modules; it could contain audio or video components, it could incorporate the use of social media or "virtual study groups"; it could even include peer support or one-on-one mentoring. Whatever it is, it will be uniquely "you", and Merge will expertly craft and deliver what you need to turn your managers into leaders and your people power into results. Visit our Training Services section at our website for more information. Or for a first-hand look at what Merge can help you accomplish, read through our Training Case Studies.

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