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Tag Archives: growth

Looking for ways to develop employees? The simplest is to invest in training

Earlier this month, I promised that this year I would give you a series of frequent quick video blogs focusing specifically on ways to develop employees – explicit, pragmatic and actionable ideas to develop and grow your people not only into accomplished professionals, but also the future leaders in your organization.  Today, I am excited to kick off this brand-new series with one specific suggestion that I hope you’ll find quick and easy to implement.  And expect more of the same in the weeks and months to come.

Invest in training

So here is the first instalment in ways to develop employees: invest in training.  Not much of a surprise, is it?  The key word here is “invest”.  An investment creates an expectation of a positive return on that investment, and thoughtful, good-quality training rarely disappoints.  When you invest time and money into training and professional development for your people, it tells them that you value them, and it is this very aspect of the training investment that causes people to pay attention, absorb and put their learnings into action, all for the benefit of your organization.

Two common objections

Now I’ve heard many of the common objections to this strategy.  Continue reading

How to develop and grow your people

Brand-new video series for 2019

Last year I did an entire video series of short focused tips on how to motivate employees, each one outlining a specific way that leaders could inspire, engage and energize their employees.  This series got such great feedback from so many of you that I knew that I needed to do something in a similar format once again.  So it got me thinking about what this year’s subject area should be.

If you have ever attended one of my live leadership training events, you know that I usually spell out the two basic philosophies of leadership.  Principles so fundamental that if you don’t live, breathe and truly believe these values, then you simply should not be in a leadership role.  If these leadership philosophies are not your core beliefs, then with great respect, you cannot be a great leader.  You will hate being in a leadership position, and quite frankly, your employees will dislike it too.  The first of these two fundamental philosophies of leadership is your belief that “You are a coach and developer of people”.  As a leader, you HAVE to be a coach and developer of people.  Else, you cannot be a good leader, let alone an exceptional one.

2019 – one full year of focused tips on how to develop and grow your people

So … with that in mind, this year’s topic for our video series is going to be … drum roll please …. “How to develop and grow your people”Continue reading

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

Grow your mind and develop your abilities

Stephanie Staples is my professional colleague, a good friend, and a past guest blogger right here on the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog.  And she also hosts Your Life Unlimited on CJOB 680 Radio AM, airing across Canada on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  I was very excited to be her guest on March 11 and 12.  We talked about strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities, based on my best-selling book Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell?

Listen to the show!

You can listen to the archived radio show here – my segment starts at about 14.45 mark.  If you don’t have the time to listen to the whole interview, you can still read about 17 strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities at this same link.  These 17 strategies are selected from the 171 strategies that are listed in my book.

grow your mind


Well, I’d love to hear your thoughtsI’ve used this lobster metaphor for a long time to illustrate and emphasize the overarching leadership themes of growth, change, transition, seizing opportunity, and continuous learning,  This is  both in the book of course, as well as in my signature keynote of the same name.  But I’m always excited and interested to hear about how this metaphor resonates with you (or not!).  Please add your comments below.

What can goldfish teach us about creating a positive working environment?

Goldfish in aquarium isolated on white background.

Creating a positive working environment is key if you want your department or organization to reach new heights and accomplishments.  And trust in the workplace is a critical component.  But a positive working environment comes from something much more basic and fundamental.  Let me explain.

Did you know that goldfish only grow to the size of their enclosure?

Which is ironic, given that goldfish are actually indeterminate growers, which means that unlike humans, they have the ability to grow until they die.  In fact, depending on the breed, goldfish can grow to a maximum of 4 to18 inches!  But most of them don’t.  They don’t because they are restricted, both by tank size, and the poor quality of their water.  Small aquariums and fishbowls usually have little or no filtration, and often infrequent water changes; as a result, the water quality is typically poor, and the goldfish’s growth is stunted.  So they remain, underdeveloped and constricted, held back from reaching their full potential.

The leader sets the tone

Which takes me to the leader’s role in the workplace.  Continue reading

Straight roads do not make skillful drivers – the importance of continuous learning

LombardStreetAt my youngest niece’s high school convocation ceremonies earlier this week, the class valedictorian made a short speech to celebrate the group’s accomplishments and to encourage his classmates to further learn and challenge themselves. During his address, this quote by Paulo Coelho, celebrated Brazilian lyricist and author, caught my attention.

Straight roads do not make skillful drivers

– Paulo Coelho

From the perspective of the graduation ceremonies, it was obviously directed at the young people in the room who were about to embark on their adult journeys and adventures. But it occurred to me that this piece of wisdom was just as applicable in the workplace, particularly in the context of continuous learning. Continue reading

Step outside your comfort zone

LobsterResizedAs long-time readers of this blog know, I am a huge advocate of the importance of pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone as it is the only way to learn and grow, both as an individual as well as an organization.  Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? is the title of both my flagship keynote as well as my first book, and both are based on this very premise – in order to continue to grow and develop, you must be willing to step outside your existing boundaries and take calculated risks; to not do so means stagnation and eventual demise.

The challenge of course lies in developing the courage to take the leap, and in acquiring the skills and abilities to actually pull it off.  So here are three ideas to do exactly that:

  • Focus on what’s in it for you.  If you push yourself to network more, speak publicly, volunteer to spearhead a change initiative – how could that help you advance your career?  If there’s a clear personal payoff, it makes it easier to make the first move. Continue reading

To become a better leader, find a “mirror”

TwoMirrorsLeadership growth is a voyage of discovery and learning. And one very useful ally in your journey is a trusted colleague (or mirror) who is also in a position of leadership; someone with whom you can discuss issues, celebrate successes, share challenges and commiserate about disappointments.

Don’t underestimate the value of such a partner. Consider this: two mirrors placed directly across from each other create an infinite number of reflections. When you have someone who can listen with an understanding and empathetic ear (because they “get” your issues and difficulties), this person can reflect what you are doing and saying, and offer insights to your situation that you might not have considered yourself. And you can offer them the same in return. Continue reading

Exceptional leadership arises from adversity

Last summer, I had the opportunity to explore China, and one of my stops was the National Museum in Beijing.  While there, I marveled at the porcelain collections from the T’ang and Yuan dynasties – strikingly attractive pottery that was beautiful and sturdy, yet practical and delicate at the same time.  Turns out that this amazing porcelain pottery actually started life as your basic clay pot.  Porcelain is just clay and rock – kaolin, or china clay, mixed with pegmatite, a coarse type of granite – and water.  But what I saw in China certainly didn’t look like clay and was definitely not as frail and brittle as baked mud.  So how does a simple clay pot go from plain and fragile to porcelain that’s tough and strong, you ask?  The answer: heat – incredibly high heat – approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit or 1,200 degrees Celsius that turns the brittle clay into a strong mixture of glass and mullite.

As I learned about the process of creating porcelain from clay that day, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to growth in leadership.  Just like the white-hot heat of the kiln converts basic clay into strong porcelain, it’s the tough situations and the difficult experiences that crop up in the day-to-day workplace that grow average leaders into exceptional leaders.  Whether it’s an overflowing schedule or a myriad of deadlines; a thorny discussion about poor performance or a difficult conversation about body odour; a shortage of staff or an excess of complaints; it’s the “heat” that toughens and strengthens you and takes you from average to exceptional.

Worth remembering the next time you’re facing a tough day at work!

A short history of the “Lobster”

As many of you know, my most popular keynote has and continues to be my flagship program Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? In fact, this is also the name of my book, which went into 2nd edition printing last summer.  What many people don’t know though is that both the Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? keynote and the book started life as a Monthly Mega Minute.

Every month since July 2002, as part of my commitment to offer leaders everywhere a quick and easy source for continuous growth and learning, I have written 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.  Back in October 2002, I wrote the issue titled A life’s lesson from a lobster.  Later that year, the “Lobster” keynote took shape, and then in 2004 the first edition of the book was published.

Sometimes I enjoy a stroll down memory lane … if you’d like, you can read the original “Lobster” Mega Minute here.

A life’s lesson from a lobster