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Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Are You A First Responder Or A Leader?

Learn how leaders can foster greater trust among their employees by focusing more on promoting their autonomy than on putting out fires.

The following is a guest piece by Elliot Begoun.

Mark looked up from his computer and took a deep breath. The frenetic pace of the day had given way to the serene quiet of an empty building. He both treasured this time and found himself tortured by it. The stillness and the lack of interruption, allowed him to finally focus without the chaos of the day constantly ripping him away from his work.

But, this time came with a big sacrifice. Sitting in his office at 7:30 pm meant that he had once again failed to make it to his daughter’s soccer practice, and was sure to miss dinner with the family. He shook his head as if to drive the thought away and returned to the spreadsheet that was demanding his attention.

The next morning Mark had his weekly breakfast meeting with his friend and long-time mentor Sam, who greeted him by saying, “You look like crap! When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep?”

Mark smiled and said, “I think it was that vacation we took 4 months ago.” Sadly, Mark was not kidding.

He went on to tell Sam about yesterday’s craziness. It started by having to run down to the production floor because there was a problem with the filler, and before he could even make it back to his office the QA manager had flagged him down. When he finally did get there, he explained that he was bombarded by emails and phone calls, all of which were in search of some solution or another. Sam just sat and listened intently.

When Mark finally wrapped up his recantation, Sam said, “It sounds to me like you are more of a first responder than you are a leader.”

A puzzled look washed over Mark’s face, so Sam continued. “You are Click here to continue reading »

4 Leadership Lessons We Can Learn From The Olympics

4 valuable lessons we can take from the Olympics for how we can inspire our employees to bring their best efforts to the work they do.

With the latest edition of the Summer Olympic Games now well under way in Rio, there is naturally much interest in the outcomes of various sporting events. Within the leadership and management field, there is also much interest in discovering insights that can help us to better understand how to inspire the best in our employees.

Of course, the typical focus on lessons we can learn from the Olympics tend to be on teamwork, communication, building confidence and the like.

But for this piece, I’d like to take a more broader view, using the microcosm the Olympic Games provide to examine what drives or motivates us to push ourselves to succeed. To that end, here are 4 key lessons leaders can learn from the Olympics on how to ignite their employees’ drive to bring their best selves to the work they do.

1. Success is important, but so is creating meaning and a sense of belonging
I have to admit that what sparked my interest in writing this piece was the story of the Canadian women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team and in particular, the events that transpired after their qualifying heat on Saturday morning.

Hours before the final swim, the decision was made that Michelle Williams, who had swam in the morning relay team heat, would be replaced by her team mate Penny Oleksiak to swim in the final that night.

Reports then came out about how the news had not only hit Michelle hard, but that her entire team was deeply upset by the change in the lineup. Although this is a commonly used tactic in this sport to maximize a team’s chances of winning a medal, for this group of first-time Olympians, it still felt like a betrayal for the hard word Michelle had given to get the team to the final.

Seeing how hard they were taking the news, the coach got his team together and told them that it didn’t matter who was swimming in the final that night because this was a team effort.

He reminded his team members that each of them played a key role in getting them to the Olympics and to now potentially winning a medal for their country. The coach then told them that what matters here is not who crosses the finish line, but how we work together to make that happen.

When the swimming finals came up that evening, the negative emotions these athletes had been feeling hours earlier were clearly replaced with a steely determination to deliver their best.

And deliver their best they did as this swimming team went on to win the Bronze medal, the first medal for Canada at the Rio Olympic Games and the first medal Canada has won in this particular swimming event since 1976.

Now while this story has that Hollywood-style ending that makes the Olympic Games so much fun to watch, the real message here is Click here to continue reading »

A Prescription For Empowering Employees To Succeed And Grow

A summer job experience reveals a powerful and important lesson for today's leaders on how to not only inspire employees, but empowering them to succeed.

Last month, my oldest daughter Alya began working at her new summer job and now that she’s worked for two different companies over the past two summer periods, it’s been interesting to hear her observations about the differences in how her bosses manage their employees.

These conversations with my daughter about her work has lead to recollections of my summer job experiences, and how one in particular has helped to shape my understandings of leadership and empowering employees.

When I was 18 years old, my uncle got me a job working in the warehouse of a pharmaceutical dispensary near his house in the Toronto suburbs. I was excited and nervous about taking on the job; excited because the pay was really good, but nervous because it meant giving up spending any time with my friends back in Montreal.

My boss, Mr. Hainsworth – the owner of this and another pharmaceutical dispensary in Southern Ontario – was what many people would call a straight shooter; you always knew where you stood with him so if he had a problem with something you did, he’d be sure to let you know.

For the first weeks on the job, I have to admit that being a teenager, I was a bit intimidated by his gruff exterior, even though many of his employees reassured me that he’s actually the sweetest man you’d ever know.

My job was pretty straightforward – I worked for the warehouse supervisor making sure the dispensary shelves were properly stocked, putting in orders to resupply our drug inventory, and basically managing the warehouse on the supervisor’s days off and when he took his summer vacation break.

The hardest part of the job was that the warehouse was located in the windowless basement of the medical office building, which is why I welcomed any chance to go upstairs to the dispensary in order to catch a glimpse of the summer blue sky.

On one of the warehouse supervisor’s days off, I decided to review our current inventory against upcoming renewal orders and I found that we had on our shelves a box full of medication that had expired a month ago. Given the large quantity of prescription vials, I decided to go see Mr. Hainsworth to ask him how do I go about disposing the expired medication.

After I explained the situation, Mr. Hainsworth paused from looking at his computer screen and looked at me. Instead of answering my question, he asked Click here to continue reading »

Creating A Customer-Centric Culture – The Disney Way

A lesson from the Disney organization on how storytelling can help leaders to build and sustain a customer-centric organizational culture.

The following is a guest piece by Bill Capodagli.

What is corporate culture? One of my clients once defined it as what employees do when everything else is stripped away or what they do when no one is looking. Twenty years ago, corporate or business culture sort of just happened…good, bad or indifferent.

More recently, executives have learned that creating a customer-centric culture can lead to a huge competitive advantage. In 2005, J. Kotter and James L. Heskett published their 10-year research project – “Corporate Culture and Performance” – in which they compared companies that intentionally managed their cultures to similar companies that did not.
Here are some of their findings:

Managed Their Cultures

  • Revenue growth of 682 percent.
  • Stock price increases of 901 percent.
  • Net income growth of 756 percent.
  • Job growth of 282 percent.

Did Not Manage Their Cultures

  • Revenue growth of 166 percent.
  • Stock price increase of 74 percent.
  • Net income growth of 1 percent.
  • Job growth of 36 percent.

Culture is now a common word in the lexicon of American business. In 2014, after a massive amount of searches on Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary site, “culture” was proclaimed the “word of the year. “ In 2016, 87 percent of respondents of Deloitte University Press’ Global Human Capital Trends identified “culture” as important to their organizations.

None of these findings surprise me in the least. In “The Disney Way 3rd edition”, we feature highly successful organizations that have realized great success with Click here to continue reading »

7 Steps To Foster Emotional Intelligence In Your Team

Discover 7 steps that leaders can take to develop and strengthen emotional intelligence among the employees they lead.

The following is a guest piece by John Rampton on behalf of The Economist Executive Education Navigator.

When Daniel Goleman released “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995, did anyone think that this best-selling book would transform the role of leadership?

After selling more than 5,000,000 copies and being dubbed “a revolutionary, paradigm-shattering idea” by the Harvard Business Review, it’s clear that Goleman struck a chord with business leaders.  But, is it possible to create emotionally intelligent teams?

In their landmark research findings published in “Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups”, Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff assert that emotional intelligence underlies the effective processes of successful teams and that such resulting processes cannot be imitated; they must originate from genuine emotional intelligence at the team level.

Druskat and Wolff use the following analogy to back-up their point: “a piano student can be taught to play Minuet in G, but he won’t become a modern-day Bach without knowing music theory and being able to play with heart.”

While creating successful teams isn’t as simple as mimicking the processes of emotionally intelligent groups of people, what you can do is create the necessary conditions in which team members can develop their emotional intelligence. Those three conditions are: trust among members, a sense of group identity and a sense of group efficacy.

Here are the seven things you can do to foster these three conditions that constitute emotionally intelligent teams: Click here to continue reading »

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