Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Learning To Focus On What Matters Most


One of the things that I enjoy about speaking at conferences and at various organizations is the opportunity to meet new people. In the case of the MHLC conference I spoke at last week, it was being able to meet up with friends I made from speaking at this conference for three consecutive years, as well as meeting colleagues in the leadership sphere who I had previously only connected with by email and on the phone.

Being able to spend time with these good friends was certainly one of my personal highlights from this conference. But there was something else that I came away pondering about, and it wasn’t my now infamous encounter with the drummer from ZZ Top (that’s a story for another time).

Looking back at the numerous conversations among those attending this conference, there was a couple of times where people told me how impressed they were with how well I remembered people’s names.

Now the reason why this caught my attention is because remembering names of people I just met is something I’d hardly say I’m good at, a fact I’m sure my wife will be happy to attest to given the number of times she’s had to remind me of the names of the people she works with.

The problem is that when I meet someone new, my sense of curiosity takes over and I become focused on asking questions to learn more about the person in order to develop that connection. Consequently, I end up remembering many details about the person’s life and their work – while their name tends to be a bit fuzzy around the edges.

As such, whenever I meet someone new, I do have to work at making sure I grab ahold of their name so that it sticks in my mind for more than a few minutes.

And yet, in thinking about those moments where people were impressed with my ability to recall the names of people I met a year ago, I realized that the common thread connecting them together had less to do with remembering their names and more to do with something more significant.

Something that leaders need to adopt if their are to be successful in tapping into the collective talents and experiences of those they lead.

Now to be clear, remembering a person’s name is important, but it’s only the first step in the bigger process of Click here to continue reading »”Learning To Focus On What Matters Most”

Leaders, It’s Time To Make Work Meaningful Again


Over the past couple of months, I’ve had numerous conversations with leaders in both the private and public sector, discussing some of the key issues they face today and what they see as the main challenges they’ll face going forward.

In many of those conversations, a common theme inevitably surfaces – how do I get my employees to care more about the work we do? How do I create that environment where people are internally motivated to bring their discretionary efforts to the table?

Naturally, such questions invariably lead to discussions of how can we make work more meaningful for our employees; of how do we help them make contributions that matter to them as much as it matters to our organization.

It’s a train of thought that came to mind a few days ago when my oldest daughter returned home from high school happy to share some great news – “Leslie’s back working at our school”.

To help put this news in context, my daughters’ high school has had to make some serious budget cuts this academic year, which unfortunately included having to let go of some valuable and greatly-appreciated personnel at our high school.

Without question, Leslie is one of these employees. But thankfully, the school’s administration has found some other way to keep him involved and present in the school community, much to the excitement and delight of the students.

Now I’m sure many of you are probably thinking that Leslie is one of the ‘cool teachers’ at my daughters’ high school. The truth, however, is that Leslie is not one of the teachers – he’s the school’s security guard.

So why would my daughter and the other students be excited about his return? It’s not because they go to a dangerous school – far from it. Rather, it’s because of how Leslie approaches his job.

Since the day he started, Leslie made a point to not simply sit in his security booth. Instead, he would reach out to engage with the students, wanting to learn about their successes, and taking part in the fun activities meant to break up to monotony of the school routine.

So when news broke out that Leslie would no longer be working at the school, many of the students were sad to hear it because for many of them, he was the smiling, friendly face that greeted them at the end of their school day. He was also the cheery presence that kept them company while they waited for their parents to come pick them up.

The way Leslie approached his job reminded me of a study I share in some of my talks which found that all of us view our work in one of three ways: as a job, as a career, or as a calling.

Now, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear a pediatrician or a firefighter talking about their work as being their calling. But for the majority of us, the more likely response we’d give is that we view our work as being our career.

In Leslie’s case, given how he used to be a professional guitarist whose work can be heard on certain album recordings, it should be a given that he’d view his current work as a high school security guard as nothing more than a job.

And yet, in my numerous conversations with him, it was obvious that Leslie never saw his role at my daughters’ high school as just a job, and he certainly didn’t view it as a career.

Indeed, it’s clear to anyone who spent time interacting with him that he definitely sees the work he does in our school as being his calling. Why is that? The answer is surprisingly simple – Click here to continue reading »”Leaders, It’s Time To Make Work Meaningful Again”

How To Be The Kind Of Leader Your Employees Need You To Be


Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Management Grand Rounds held at Boston Children’s Hospital. As with every speaking engagement I do, the part I look forward to the most is being able to meet with audience members to hear about their experiences and what insights they’ve gained from my talk.

In the case of my talk at Boston Children’s Hospital, it was wonderful to hear the level of interest among many of the leaders in the audience of how they could become better leaders for their employees. Seeing that drive and desire to not rest on their laurels but to embrace the challenges before them was energizing and inspiring.

After getting a tour of their remarkable facilities, I decided to wander around Boston to take in the sights, including a walk by Fenway Park during an afternoon baseball game.

As I heard the roars of the crowd rise up from the stadium, I noticed a series of banners paying tribute to some of the city’s beloved Boston Red Sox players. Among those banners, a name caught my eye – that of Babe Ruth.


Seeing that name on that red banner reminded me of a piece I had written several years ago on leadership lessons revealed from how Babe Ruth approached playing the game he loved as he grew older.

To show my appreciation for the warmth and generosity I received from the various leaders at Boston Children’s Hospital, I would like to share that story alongside three important leadership lessons on how we can be the kind of leader our employees need us to be.

In October 1932, the New York Yankees were facing off against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series Championship. For most of the Yankees team, things were going great as they were going into Game Three having won the first two. For Babe Ruth, things were far from great as he was in the midst of a batting slump.

As if things couldn’t get worse, at the halfway mark of Game Three, Ruth found himself standing at home plate with two strikes against him and his own home crowd booing him. In light of his declining physical abilities and the stream of negativity coming from the crowd around him, it seemed a given that he would strikeout at home plate.

And yet, when the next pitch came, Ruth not only hit the ball, but he hit it with such force that it became one of the longest home runs ever made at Wrigley Field.

At the end of the game, a reporter asked Babe Ruth what he was thinking about at that moment when he hit that ball out into the end zone. Ruth told him it was the same thought that comes to mind every time he’s at bat – of “just hittin’ that ball”.

It was certainly a humble and memorable response on Ruth’s part, but in its own way, this story helps us to understand three important lessons on how leaders can successfully lead their team in today’s faster-paced, ever-changing workplace environment. Click here to continue reading »”How To Be The Kind Of Leader Your Employees Need You To Be”

Why Compassion Is Key To Succeeding At Leadership


With the arrival of September, many of us are returning to our regular routines now that our children are back in school and the period for taking summer vacation breaks has come to an end. For myself, this September also marks a special milestone in my writing career – specifically, it marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of my first leadership book, “Leadership Vertigo”.

Since the release of my first book last fall, I’ve been on an incredible journey speaking to organizations and audiences in Europe, the Middle East, Canada, and the US, sharing my insights on leadership and how leaders can encourage and support their employees to bring their full selves to the work they do.

This journey of sharing my writings and insights on leadership over these past five years has lead to the achievement of another very special milestone this month – that of being invited to speak this Wednesday at the Management Grand Rounds at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

This prestigious leadership speakers series has welcomed in the past such leadership luminaries as Tony Hsieh, Doug Conant, Robert Sutton, Amy Edmondson, and Daniel Pink. Being invited to join the ranks alongside these renowned thought leaders as one of the speakers of this series is definitely one of the highest honours of my career to date.

The timing of these two milestone events has brought to mind some of the leadership insights I’ve shared in my book and there’s one in particular that I wanted to share with my readers as I prepare for this upcoming talk. Specifically, why it’s becoming increasingly important for leaders to cultivate compassion in their leadership so that they can succeed in bringing out the best in those they lead.

In fact, one of the recurring themes I’ve been asked to speak about this year is how do leaders embrace the elements of emotional intelligence that we hear so often about in articles and studies on successful leadership. There’s a genuine interest and desire out there to know how leaders can create an environment where people are willing to dedicate their native talents, creativity, and insights to their organization’s vision and shared purpose.

As I’ve discussed in some of the talks I’ve given this year, what’s needed here is Click here to continue reading »”Why Compassion Is Key To Succeeding At Leadership”

Are You Creating Purpose Through Your Leadership?


Over the past few months, I’ve been noticing a common thread in my work with various leaders and organizations, as well through my various speaking engagements with audiences in Canada and the US. Regardless of whether it’s the private or public sector, there’s a clear desire out there among many leaders to understand how to better engage their employees in the work they do.

No doubt a key factor behind this drive to better understand how to get employees to fully commit their discretionary efforts to their organization’s shared purpose stems from the realities of leading today’s organizations. Faced with increasing demands on their time, attention, and limited resources, it’s very easy for leaders to lose sight of what their employees truly need to feel inspired and empowered in the contributions they make to their organization.

Certainly, there are numerous studies out there which help shed some light on just how far organizations and their leaders have to go to improve employee engagement and productivity in their workplace.

From Gallup’s finding that only 13% of employees in 140 countries surveyed were engaged in the work they do, to Salary.com’s multi-year findings that 20% of a typical workday in US organizations is spent on non-work related tasks because employees don’t get a sense of value from what they do, it’s clear that this is a critical issue for every leader to consider and address.

Of course, when faced with such findings, it’s easy for leaders to either assume their organization is the exception to these findings, or that to address these issues requires some large-scale transformation in terms of the type of work they assign to their employees.

Regardless of how leaders choose to react to such findings about the realities found in today’s workplaces, one thing that’s clear is that in order to truly improve the way we work, leaders need to shift their focus from Click here to continue reading »”Are You Creating Purpose Through Your Leadership?”

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