How to Enhance Workplace Engagement and Results

Leaders often feel like they’re between a rock and a hard place. They want to create a workplace culture where people are motivated and engaged. They also must produce solid business results. They know engagement contributes to achieving business results over the long run. But they’re often too busy putting out fires to slow down and focus on the “soft skills.”

Does this sound familiar?

The Smile Experiment

These days, conversations with friends and colleagues have a tone of concern, even anxiety.  The presidential election is over. No matter which candidate you favored, it was eye opening to uncover the deep divisions in this country. Confronted with this, it’s tempting to wring one’s hands, get angry or disengage. But I recently learned something encouraging and highly actionable: Happiness spreads.

What's Your Engine for Success?

December 2001 was a time of great turmoil in the world and in my life. The world was still reeling from the events of 9/11 and its consequences. I had just learned that the nonprofit training and consulting business I ran was about to lose the majority of its funding literally overnight. I was faced with the question of whether to stay and rebuild the organization or go out on my own.

TED: Presentation Literacy for Our Times

Sometimes a book comes along that causes you to fundamentally change the way you think about something familiar.  

There’s a new book, TED Talks, which drove home the awesome potency of communication, something I’m afraid I’ve been taking for granted. I ran across a book review written by my colleague Dana Rubin that caused me set aside what I was doing and order it right away. Written by Chris Anderson, the Head of TED, it somehow manages to be both practical and profound.

How to Get Your Family to Clean the Attic: A Leadership Lesson

Meet Jeanine.

Jeanine has a really big change initiative in the works. Here she is in her own words:

“This may not sound like a big deal but I need to rally my family to clean out the attic before winter comes. We’ve got 25 years of stuff stored up there: Christmas decorations, luggage, the kids’ old sports equipment, and who knows what else. We haven’t been able to move around up there for years. Plus it’s really dusty and we’ve got mice and birds in there.

I’ve tackled organizational change efforts with fewer moving parts than this one!

Loving What Is

While this post isn’t exclusively about leadership, it does have leadership implications. Everyday life offers many relevant lessons. The natural world, in particular, provides a wealth of learning opportunities.

I don’t know how many of you are gardeners but I have a love-hate relationship with gardening. Being out in the warm weather is delightful. Watching green shoots pop up in early spring offers a thrill of anticipation…. and then there’s the inevitable disappointment.

Breathing Life Into Good Ideas

Here’s a quiz: Without thinking too hard, how would you finish this sentence?

“Creativity is…”

Until recently my first response has been, “creativity is frivolous.” I’ve long struggled with the mental model that creativity is a pastime you pursue only after finishing your real work.

That view has changed dramatically and I’d like to tell you why. 

Is Your Voice Giving You Away?

35 years ago, an acquaintance of mine—who was an English teacher—uttered this memorable statement during a dinner in Toronto: “When you open your mouth, your mind is on parade.” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation because I was immediately rendered so self-conscious that I felt like clamping my hand over my mouth. This feeling persisted for weeks after our dinner.

Defusing Hostile Interactions

“I’m the front desk person for a child protection agency. Clients come to our office after their children have been taken from them. They are angry, confused, embarrassed, and want their kids back. They don’t see themselves as responsible for what happened. In their view, our agency did this to them. 

“These clients often yell and swear at me. I still need to be professional and polite. I’ve been in my job for just a couple of months and already the stress is getting to me. What can I do to defuse these hostile interactions?