A CEO client of mine is struggling to grow his business revenue and market share. The good news is that he is getting new clients and contracts. The bad news is that he is frustrated with his leadership team’s inability to deliver the quality and service levels that are key to the company’s reputation. When we met last week, he was bemoaning a recent gaff – a client deliverable was sent out late due to last minute errors showing up in the work. This incident sharply illustrated that the desired business growth will be stymied by his leadership team’s inability to build operational infrastructure fast enough to support the new client expectations.
Lately I’ve been thinking about motivation and engagement at work, what drives some folks to be upbeat and others to be dragging in the same work environment. One thing I’ve noticed is that there is an aura of anxiety nearly everywhere due to the gloom of the government shutdown. Yet as I walk the halls of corporate America, I see some folks busily at work contented with their life and at ease with the turmoil around them. How is it that some individuals can navigate rough waters and others seem to sink in misery when things go wrong?
My dog Sophie loves to chase squirrels. She is the living embodiment of the aphorism: barking up the wrong tree. When she pursues her grey quarry, the furry bugger escapes by climbing up the nearest tree. Sophie will then patiently wait at its base while the squirrel aerially leaps from tree to tree then descends into a neighbor’s yard. Sophie will stare up the tree for hours, assuming what goes up will surely come down the same tree.
“Trust me boss, I can handle the next Board presentation on the budget for 2014.” Are there two more feared words in the English language for leaders than “trust me”? On one hand, extending trust evokes risk. On the other hand, not trusting damages relationships, sometimes permanently. Handling issues of trust diplomatically can be a daily challenge for harried leaders.
In my June newsletter I wrote about compassion as an essential quality of a great leader. Since the newsletter hit inboxes, I’ve receive quite a bit of feedback from my readers. Compassion seems to be a term almost universally admired yet suspiciously absent in the business world.
Last week, I had a lively discussion with a senior executive. He asked me a provocative question: “Can one have too much compassion at work? Can unfettered compassion be at odds with being a successful business leader?”
“Why does it matter where I work as long as I get my job done?” This is the sad lament I hear from employees whose request to work remotely is denied by their boss. Telework options are rapidly becoming the norm with organizational leaders realizing that the benefits in allowing employees flexibility in their work schedules far outweigh the challenges in monitoring work. Telework polices and procedures abound making implementing remote work schedules much easier than it has been up until now.
When I talk with business leaders about the importance of effective communication, I stress how critical it is to choose the best context and setting for the message. If you want to praise someone for a job well done, you want as many ears as possible to hear it so that you are communicating to a wider audience that this is the kind of work you value. Conversely, if you need to correct someone’s work, you need to do so in a setting that allows for them to question your feedback, respond to it, and take notes about what they will do differently next time. (more…)
Last week I participated in a fun and informative yoga workshop called The Art of Sequencing. In yoga, sequencing refers to the order in which you do yoga poses, going from simple stretches to more complicated poses. When one has a yoga session properly sequenced, the physical effort builds up slowly toward the final, most challenging pose.
Did you know that certain watercolor paints do not stain the paper and can be lifted by rewetting and blotting? The paper returns to its original white and you can start over and try again. Just like erasing a bad pencil line, your muddy mess disappears as if it never happened. But the type of watercolor paint matters; you must use non-staining colors to be able to completely erase their presence. Staining watercolor paints cannot be fully lifted and leave a dull under shadow when removed.
“How did your week at art camp go? Did you finish a painting that you like? Did you create a work of art?” These were some of the questions I heard from friends and colleagues when I returned from my week of watercolors in North Carolina. My favorite summer vacation is to attend painting classes taught at residential art schools. Two years ago I attended Penland School and wrote about the experience in my August 2011 newsletter. This June, I went to the southern highlands of North Carolina and visited the John C. Campbell Folk School (www.folkschool.org) to learn plein aire watercolor.