Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Recognizing Our Power To Lead And Inspire Others


Over the course of this year, I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over North America speaking at conferences and with organizations about how we can do a better job being the kind of leader our employees need us to be.

As I travelled from the East Coast down to the South Coast, and just two weeks ago, to the West Coast when I spoke at an IT-education conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, I couldn’t help but notice a common line of inquiry being brought forward by some of the leaders in attendance.

While the exact circumstances and dynamics varied among these different leaders, there was nonetheless a common thread at the heart of each of these questions being asked – how do I get those in charge above me to be more like the leaders you demonstrated are necessary for an organization’s long-term growth and success?

Regardless of the focus of my talk or the industry in which these leaders serve, I always began my answer with the same starting point – the fundamental truth is that we can’t get people to do what we want or need, even if at times it’s in their best interests.

Consider, for example, those times when we’re given advice by our doctors for how we can improve our health. How many of us openly embrace the changes to our lifestyle that we’re being told to make? Most often we don’t, that is until our health deteriorates to the point where we no longer have the choice but to follow our doctor’s directives.

But what’s really interesting about this question is not how it surfaces in such diverse groups – from businesses to public institutions, from government agencies here in Canada to multinational organizations based in the US. Rather, what’s interesting is how in each of these situations, the leader standing before me is essentially giving up their power to be the change they need to see in their organization.

Of course, the almost immediate response most of us have to discussing power in the workplace is to view it within the lens of our organization’s structure; that the degree of power one has is relative to the position you hold within the organization.

While it’s understandable to view power from this perspective, the problem I have with this viewpoint is that it leads us to Click here to continue reading »”Recognizing Our Power To Lead And Inspire Others”

3 Factors That Prevent Leaders From Creating Workplace Optimism


The following is a guest piece by Shawn Murphy.

For too long people have been taken for granted in the workplace. Leaders attempt to control, manage, dictate, coerce people to do what is needed. A people-centric approach to running a business is celebrated as an accomplishment in foreword-thinking organizations.

We need more leaders who motivate people to mobilize them to achieve great things for the company. It’s the latter scenario that best positions a leader to create workplace optimism.

Workplace optimism is a description for a climate that gives employees hope that good things will come from hard work. Optimistic workplaces emerge when leaders purposefully highlight what’s right with the environment and what’s possible when finding solutions to problems.

Employees don’t need to be optimists to appreciate workplace optimism. What makes such a positive environment effective is that it’s rooted in what unites us as humans: relatedness, purpose, goals, and even meaning.

Yet, many leaders are unaware of how the work environment influences employees’ perceptions of the workplace. And when relatedness, purpose and meaning are absent, workplace optimism struggles to emerge.

So, what snags leaders from creating workplace optimism? Below are a few symptoms, and their antidote, that you need to avoid if you want to create a positive work experience for your team. Click here to continue reading »”3 Factors That Prevent Leaders From Creating Workplace Optimism”

Let’s Not Confuse Hard Work With Meaningful Work


The following is a guest piece by fellow author Dan Ward.

Like most authors, I get a lot of questions about my books. One question I struggle to answer is “Was the book hard to write?”

On the one hand, writing my books required considerable time and effort. Researching, drafting, editing, re-editing and then re-re-editing all involve a certain amount of mental exertion and can get taxing after a while. Plus, I was on active duty in the military while I wrote my first two books, so the only time I could carve out uninterrupted quiet time to write was at 5:00 am. Getting out of bed so many dark mornings in a row is nobody’s idea of easy.

On the other hand I enjoyed the experience so much that I hesitate to call it “hard.” In the wee hours before dawn the house is quiet, the coffee is hot, and I have the whole world to myself. I find the blank page inviting and exciting. I love the feeling of creative expression and I don’t even mind the editing process.

In fact, the hardest part most days was having to stop writing and go do other things. And of course habit makes things easier too. The 100th early morning was easier than the 1st or 2nd.

So if I’m pressed to answer the hard question, I must say Click here to continue reading »”Let’s Not Confuse Hard Work With Meaningful Work”

Understanding Leadership And The Meaning Of Life


Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to participate in a number of projects and initiatives looking at collecting the thoughts and perspectives from a diverse set of experts, thought leaders, and personalities. For some of these projects, the contributions being sought were straight-forward and to the point.

But others tended to take on a more thought-provoking approach. The most recent example of this came in the form of a web project I was recently asked to participate in where organizers asked people from different fields and life experiences to give their answer to this question: what is the meaning of life?

As I began to write down my response, I couldn’t help but note how my answer to this profound question also revealed something about the very nature of leadership in today’s workplaces, and what’s required for us to be successful in bringing out the best in those we lead.

Of course, if there was ever a question that continued to capture the imagination and promote a healthy intellectual debate about the value of our collective humanity, it’d be the question what’s the meaning of life.

Lately, it would seem that the answer to this question for our contemporary Western society is the pursuit of happiness, and not surprisingly so when we consider that while the majority of us are not rich, we have nonetheless attained a level of materialistic and gastronomic comfort.

So it would seem that all that’s left for us to grasp for is attaining a constant level of happiness in our daily lives.

Certainly, this is a common theme that’s found in many books and articles looking at how to reignite the internal drives of our employees – that to boost employee engagement in today’s organizations, we need to promote a “happy workplace”.

And yet, if you ask me, the answer to finding the meaning of life – and with it, a greater level of employee engagement and motivation in your organization – is Click here to continue reading »”Understanding Leadership And The Meaning Of Life”

Leadership Is About Alignment


The following is a guest piece by Marlene Chism.

There are as many definitions for leadership as there are companies that have leaders, yet at the core, leadership is about alignment. When we hear the word alignment, we think “walking the talk” or acting from integrity. We have all had the experience of observing a leader who doesn’t “walk his talk.” There an incongruity, an imbalance, or lack of agreement in one or more area.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of alignment is to arrange things so that they form a line or are in proper position: to change something so that it agrees with or matches something else.

Working in and living in alignment is difficult because alignment requires you to make decisions and take actions that are in agreement with many goals, ideas and beliefs, some of which may be in conflict. Click here to continue reading »”Leadership Is About Alignment”

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