Author: leadabove

It’s NOT the Millennials!

… nor is it the boomers, the Exers, the white men, the working moms, nor [insert your cohort of choice] causing conflict, frustration, and a seeming clash of ideals in the workplace. Nope – it’s not about the “whom” but rather it’s about the “why.” The modern-day workplace is jam-packed with diversity of every variety (age, race, gender, capability) AND is moving at the speed of light. And the intersection of these two factors can cause our capacity for empathy to be squelched. Many of us think of empathy as having to do with kindness. Giving. And yes – it includes both of those elements, but at its core, empathy is about being able to put oneself in another’s shoes and imagine their perspective. So try this. Next time someone comes to the table with a view that you perceive as selfish, demanding, uninformed, off-the-wall, etc… before you react try asking yourself – where is s/he coming from? Is s/he really just being demanding? Or does s/he have a set of goals that are perhaps different to mine? Oftentimes by simply asking clarifying questions, we can pave a path to understanding which can lead to greater empathy and ultimately stronger outcomes such as compromise, trust, and collaboration. Seriously. Try it. And let me know how it works out for...

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In Fitness… “Failure” is King.

Those who know me well know that I have a passion for fitness. More specifically, for lifting weights. I’m a big believer in the “strong mind strong body” idea. And frankly, I’m not above admitting to the bittiest bit of vanity. There’s a lot I love about lifting… but for today’s purposes I’ll focus on one: the eternal strive for failure. In the gym, failure is not just OK – it’s the goal; the North Star. You lift until failure; until you literally can’t eek out another. In the gym, failure is how you know you’ve accomplished what you set out to achieve. It means you pushed to your absolute limit; you emptied the tank. In business, “failure” is having its day… sort of. We espouse the power of “learning from failure,” and yet we continue to do whatever it takes not to fail. We promote the idea of taking risks, but we continue to reward the tried-and-true strategies that yield predictable results. How do we really begin to shift this paradigm? How do we make risk taking more compelling, and failure less “Ruh-roh I’m gonna get fired” and more “Now that was an idea worth testing – and here’s what I learned from it!” It’s the million-dollar question. But here are my own personal focus areas for 2016… Go small. In the gym they say, “Go big or...

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Will Your Gratitude Portfolio Yield Dividends?

Here in the US, we’re gearing up for Thanksgiving. A glorious day of binge- eating and gratitude. Two of my favorite things. Gratitude seems to be having a near-paparazzi-worthy moment. It’s walking the red carpet and rubbing elbows with A-listers like grit, resilience, and risk-taking. People are making lists, journaling, popping Post-It notes – doing whatever it takes to keep that magical awareness – the sense of unconditional appreciation – front and center. But how is this idea playing out in the workplace? In the glam world of Organization Development, accepted as fact is the notion that behavior is strongly and directly correlated with incentives. In other words, people’s actions will follow the dollars. So common sense tells us to align our compensation programs with the outcomes we desire. Makes good sense. But how about the currency of gratitude? If we look back on that leadership red carpet… the grit, the resilience, the risk-taking… are those the semantic celebs we’re honoring with our non-financial incentives, such as our thank you’s, our positive feedback, our public recognition and acknowledgement? I work with numerous leaders who are fabulous at remembering to thank their team members who delivered strong outcomes, great results that shifted the bottom line. But how many of them are doing the same for team members who went out on a limb, tried something new, completely failed, but took...

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Hustling… 21st Century Style

Recently I posted this wonderful piece from Forbes about the importance of not just hustling… but understanding the truth of what outstanding hustle really is. Per the iconic dance of the 70’s (thank you kindly, Van McCoy & The Soul City!!) “hustling” is associated with constant movement… largely of the hip-thrusting variety. What this article calls out is the distinction between being a true hustler, and being a grinder (let’s not talk about that dance). The grinder, in essence, being one who moves frenetically at any cost, while the hustler is the reflector. The thinker. The one determining the direction in which to move, strategically speaking. But what’s missing for me at least, is the answer to this: What if I’m a grinder, but I’m ready to hustle? How do I start to put that into practice? And must there be a disco soundtrack playing in the background? (Here’s hoping not!) In the same vein, I was listening recently to an episode of the podcast Where There’s Smoke, entitled A New Type of Hustle (Stillness). And I had some disco-ball-moments (my 70’s version of the light bulb). I’ve reflected on them, and have captured below my interpretations of the ideas with the greatest resonance for me personally. The key to great outcomes is understanding more versus doing No disrespect to the doing – it still matters. But constantly doing,...

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Does your leadership model belong on a bumper sticker?

True confession: I heart bumper stickers. Sometimes I even brake for them. Bite-sized insights about complete strangers are delightful. Generally, they’re catchy, and intended to provoke a specific result (perhaps a chuckle, a moment of outrage, or even a political epiphany!). But once the car passes, the sticker’s job is complete. It’s made an impression, left a feeling. As passersby, we are the intended consumers of the message. But in reality, they exist for the vanity of the driver. Businesses – fueled only by the noblest of intentions – have a tendency to take a bumper-sticker-like approach to articulating...

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