Boss vs Leader

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Power of Appreciation

thanksThis is by no means a new topic. Who can really argue that showing appreciation to others – friends, family, coworkers, employees and others – is not a good thing? So why is it still an issue we see recurring in exit interviews of employees and in failed or unhealthy relationships? The most common answer is lack of time. And I think we can all safely label that as terrible excuse. My take is that we do not really understand the true value of appreciation, and this devalues its role and priority in day to day interactions. 

From a neuroscience perspective, know that we are wired to retain, store and retrieve negative experiences with more functionality than positive experiences. I’ve blogged research on how on average it takes five positive experiences to dilute (chemically) just one comparable negative experience physiologically in our body. This is the same rule discovered by psychologists in healthy marriages and employee retention where people can recall five positive experiences for every negative one they have within a relationship or place of work. Appreciation, which can be done so simply and so frequently can account for 3 to almost all 5 of those positive experiences that is required daily to manage the negative experiences that are simply inherent in both life and virtually guaranteed to occur at work. An Emotionally Intelligent (EQ) leader does not leave to chance the occurrence of those positive experiences. Whether it is a smile, an acknowledgement of work, a verbal “thank you” or “please”, or a gently re-worded email or giving someone time to express their thoughts without interrupting – all these ways add up to the five plus positive experiences needed so that people around you can feel good which is the bedrock for effectively using skills to get to creativity and innovation.

This week, in every experience you have, proactive insert an “appreciation” tactic. Observe what happens afterwards. What you will find surprising is that you will get the most out of it!

All Emotions are Contagious

contagiousSo you walk into an office and your boss is visibly unhappy about something. Or you are an athlete, and your team member is upset, or a fellow competitor starts to get under your skin. The probability that you will subsequently adopt the emotions of the environment and people around you is very high, and mostly subconscious. We have “mirror neurons” in our brain that simply mimic the emotions of people around us. Why would we be designed for this? Because our physiological makeup was not wired for the world many of us live in today. It was designed so that when we saw danger in someone else, whether rational or justified, we would trust that danger as a sign for us to fight or flight. And for thousands of years, that served us well as a survival mechanism. Continue reading

Do versus Change

Change-management-communicationA CEO asked a senior executive candidate in an interview what she changed at her last job? The candidate gave a list of all the things she did. The CEO politely asked again,”No. I didn’t ask what you did. I asked what you changed?” The candidate was not prepared for this question. She did not get the job but years later, when she became a CEO herself, she talked about how that question changed the way she “did” her job.

 Certainly, there are parts of everyone’s job that require you to “do” but the “doing” has to result in a positive change, she now argues. She adopted this approach for herself, her team and her company. It is the first question she asks when she does anyone’s performance review.

This week, think about this question. Look at your calendar and take inventory of your work. How much of it is “do” versus “do and change”? Start to build a repository of all the things that you are changing (making better). You will find that not only will you be able to have a great answer in your reviews/interviews, but you will delightfully enjoy them both and alot more of what you “do”!

Power of Core Values

core valuesI will often ask an audience to tell me what their core values are. Some seemed surprised by the question, as it is not one that comes up in most conversations and relationships. Most, however, respond with values like Integrity, Honesty, Respect, and such like. After the first few, people typically throw out many others that are similar but it is obvious to me that they are responding in “brainstorming mode” as opposed to a mode where these values are carefully thought of and selected.  I then ask how they feel when one or more of these values are compromised? Do they feel good? How upset do they get? For how long do they “check out” from that relationship? How many violations of each core value need to occur before giving up on the relationship? The reality is that we all have values but only a few of us have truly processed them, prioritized them, analyzed their roles in our lives, and have prepared ourselves for a response when they are violated. Continue reading

No Action … is Action

actionA few years ago, my son and daughter got into a typical sibling brouhaha. I was in an adjacent room and could hear the entire exchange. It was a low-level issue, to me, and I chose to let them work it out. About 30 minutes later, my son walked into the room I was in and appeared shocked to see me. “What?!” he yelled. “You were here the whole time? Why didn’t you say something? You always take her side!” Right or wrong, he felt terribly betrayed by me. I have told this simple story many times at leadership conferences on just how powerful an action of ‘no action’ can be to followers. Continue reading

Workplace Athletes

teamsportsAs someone who lives both in the business workplace and in the professional sports world, I often get asked what the similarities and differences are between the two. I have answered this question in many ways but now realize that the biggest difference is in Performance Management.  The professional athlete gets constant feedback (statistics on each game) and it is objective. In golf, for example, the athlete can look at about a dozen different personal statistic at the end of each weekly tournament. Her coach can show actual video of what she did well and not so well. And very quickly, a plan is put together to address that weakness within hours or days. At the next tournament, the same thing is done and she may have fixed the problem from the week before but the feedback shows different issues and the focus changes to improve the new issues. This constant cycle of feedback is what creates the bedrock for that one competition where the magic happens. So let us juxtapose this to the professional worker who also gets paid, like a pro athlete, for her performance.

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Happiness – Part 3

happinessThe key objective of the first blog on this topic was to define or redefine happiness from something that you pursue, to something that you eliminate – fear. For the second blog, it was to identify 3 distinctive scenarios of causes of that fear – yourself,  others and situations – or perhaps any combination of these. In this final part, let’s focus on removing fear specificallly from each of those scenarios. Continue reading

Happiness – Part 2

happinessLast week, I offered a simple neurological definition of Happiness – the constant pursuit of eliminating fear in how we feel, think, and do. This week, let’s discuss where and how fear manifests itself so that you can recognize those experiences both as they occur and preferably, before they occur. There are three distinctive scenarios for causality of fear: (1) those that we cause (2) those that others cause and (3) those that a situation causes.  Any of these causes by themselves can release significant levels of cortisol – the opposite of the happiness hormone. Any combination of these or worse, all 3 together, can result in debilitating trauma that can cause long term or even a permanent state of unhappiness where no amount of happy moments can result in happiness. The absolute worst case scenario is when as a result of this, you, as an initial victim, now become a perpetrator and create a cycle of unhappiness. These are reasons to really understand just how powerful of a positive impact removal of fear can have on your life, happiness, and performance.

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Happiness – Part 1

happinessThere has never been a shortage of ways to describe happiness. If we are lucky enough to have our basic needs (Maslow) of food, water, shelter and security met, then the pursuit of happiness comes into play. Because we have some form of “power” after meeting these basic needs – a purchasing power, a hierarchical power, a physical power, etc – we want to naturally use that power to pursue or in most cases, purchase happiness. The scientific studies and evidence correlating happy workers to productive workers and high degrees of innovation are abundant and at least 40 years old. There is indisputable evidence suggesting that happy workers or athletes outperform those that are not. It is therefore, worth making Happiness a workplace discussion topic. That is why it has been the most popular class at Harvard University. This is Part 1 of a 3 part Series on Happiness. Continue reading

Can’t to Can

CantAdmittedly, this topic has been well chronicled in the leadership space. There are wonderful stories of the journey from “can’t” to “can” from people – everything from weight loss, to athletic achievements, to financial success and personal happiness. You would think by now there would be a well-defined methodology for everyone to follow to convert their Can’ts to Cans but there is not. Each person’s history is different as are so many other variables like motivation, support structure, and skills. Even if you manage to successfully take an endeavor from Can’t to Can, then there is the stickiness factor – how long can you live in the new Can world and avoid what many regrettably do which is to regress to the Can’t. Here are some tips on this complex personal tribulation. Continue reading

Do a Social Media Cleanse

cleanseThis time of the year is quite popular for crafting life, career, and health goals. Media is replete with ads catering to this annual ritual. One popular activity is to do a nutritional Detox or a Cleanse. I am not qualified to evaluate these but they do trigger a different kind of cleanse that is relatively new. I do it many times a year and recommend it you. I call it a Media Cleanse. Continue reading

Choose your 2015 Competition

competitionI want you to pick your competition for 2015. Go ahead – write it down. Who do you want to be better than in 2015? If your answer was another human being, then you have under performed already and arguably already lost. Continue reading

Take 2014 Inventory

chklistsThe next two weeks are my favorite time of the year. It’s the holidays and for most, work slows down and many take time off. It’s also the end of a calendar year which is a perfect time to take inventory of 2014. Here are list of questions that I invite you to answer – I recommend having at least three responses to each question. Put them down in a document that you can refer to regularly – preferably on your mobile device. Continue reading

Coach or be Coached

coachEveryone has the capacity to coach someone else at something – whether it is coaching kids in a sport, an after school program, friends, family, neighbors, people that you work with or those that work for you. There is a skill set or knowledge you have acquired that someone else could benefit from. There are many benevolent reasons why this can be both personally rewarding as well as having a positive impact to the recipient – coachee. If that is not enough reason, then consider a much more self-serving one – it will make you better at just about everything you want to do. How so?

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