The Best Leaders Tip #12 – Lead holistically

This is my final of 12 posts about how to be among the Best Leaders.  In these, I provide inspiration for everyone seeking professional and personal growth as a leader of people, projects, groups, teams and organizations. I welcome your comments and feedback.  Visit my website for more information.


Best Leader Tip #12        Lead holistically.  The academic field of leadership is evolving to this, more holistic view of leadership. – where although we understand and acknowledge the various types and styles of leadership and when to use them, we lead as whole people, embracing our teams with all their differences, demonstrating values-based behaviors, setting a clear vision and motivating our people to achieve it, communicating authentically and powerfully, and making sure our organizations are aligned with their entire systems.  This is also known as integrative leadership

To me, this sums up all the steps to being the best leader.


The Best Leaders Tip #11 – There is no direct line between working around the clock and success

This is my 11th of 12 posts about how to be among the Best Leaders.  In these, I provide inspiration for everyone seeking professional and personal growth as a leader of people, projects, groups, teams and organizations. I welcome your comments and feedback.  Visit my website for more information.


Best Leader Tip #11        Take care of yourself.  The most effective leaders know that there is no straight line between success and working around the clock.  Not having a social life, never exercising, eating poorly, and letting your body and mind get out of balance, however, IS a direct path to feeling bad and even illness.  Take care of yourself while you work hard.  Be super organized with your time and you’ll find room for all your priorities, which must include your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health.

The Best Leaders Tip #10 – Be a Grown Up: Don’t gossip

This is my 10th of 12 posts about how to be among the Best Leaders.  In these, I provide inspiration for everyone seeking professional and personal growth as a leader of people, projects, groups, teams and organizations. I welcome your comments and feedback.  Visit my website for more information.


Best Leader Tip #10        Guard the reputations of others as if they were your own.  Gossip has ruined many solid professional reputations.  Get to know people one on one, and believe your own experience rather than coffee-room whispers.  Forming relationships based on trust and mutual respect allows you to more easily approach people directly if you have questions about them or their work, and to hold the necessary difficult conversations. If you don’t do it for others, do it for yourself:  gossipers create untrustworthy reputations for themselves in the long run.

Today’s Thought: Remove obstacles – with your mind


In running cross country, there are hills, valleys, and plateaus, twists, turns, uneven ground, shady spots, sunny patches… spots that are easy to navigate and those that make muscles ache and lungs gasp.  Just like life.  When I face a steep hill, I can inwardly groan and panic, wondering how or if I’ll make it up the hill, remembering how hard it was last time and dreading every second.  Or I can remove the hill.  I can tell myself it’s not that difficult, not that steep, the downhill is just ahead, remember that the incline is easier on the knees and gives my calf muscles a stretch.  The hill – or any challenge or obstacle – is only an obstacle if you tell yourself it is.

What’s your hill today?  Big meeting, unpaid bills, long commute, important interview, difficult conversation… those “obstacles” can be  difficult, challenging, troublesome, laborious.   Or they can be nothing but the wind in your hair. You choose.

Designing Leadership: Thought of the Week

Lesson for Success (from running)-

To get where you want to go, keep your eye on the horizon. And, to know how you’re progressing, notice the passing scenery, who’s in front of you, who’s behind you, the roadblocks that might come your way, and the openings. Stay in shape and above all, just keep going!

Being creatively brave

Many of us are doing our 2015 strategic planning, and I found this AdAge December article relevant and wanted to pass it along (link is below).  It is an 8-step plan to bring more value to the organizations we serve,  and includes ideas like “get noticed by the right people” and “put business results at the center” as well as “ask tough questions” and “disrupt your processes.”  I love the final tip –  “recognize that your product is creative bravery,”   asking us to provide magic to organizations by being brave enough to bring ideas that challenge convention and the status quo.  While I’m not quite sure I agree we are still in a slow growth economy, I was inspired.  So what do you think?   Are you ready to be creatively brave?  Look forward to your thoughts!


Designing Leadership – Thought of the Week

Committed to designing effective organizations and courageous leaders, this Thought of the Week series provides tips for reflection and your use.

Be Compassionate.
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. ”
― George Washington Carver

Four things that make companies great in 2014

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Forbes recently published the Glassdoor 2014 Best Companies to Work For – one of the intriguing lists that gets the full attention of engagement and communication pros like me. We want to know how to get our clients on those lists, yes – but also we want to find the secret to creating happy employees, and being happy ourselves! We’re not alone –  ‘best company’ lists and articles usually get a lot of traffic.  Everyone wants to know if there are better jobs or better companies out there.

In the spirit of improving the companies where we already are,  I borrow from Erika Andersen.  In a recent blog, she quotes Samantha Zupan, a spokesperson for Glassdoor, who says:

Andersen agrees with us when she says these four elements come up time and time again her engagement-related work. She says, “People want to build and work for companies that 1) have a strong positive culture, firmly grounded in a meaningful purpose, 2) offer real chances to grow professionally, 3) provide the opportunity to work with people they like and respect, and 4) offer work that requires them to stretch their brains and skills.”

Here is more explanation of each of these, adapted from Andersen:

A strong positive culture, firmly grounded in a meaningful purpose.  ’Culture’ has, too often, come to mean ‘perks.’ But while a ping-pong table in the break room and coupons for burgers are fun – they’re not the core of a great culture.  What people are looking for is an environment that supports and rewards excellence, honesty, mutual support, and fair dealing; where people get great results and they’re treated well….and neither is optional.  Truly strong cultures are supported from the C-suite on down: the employees report that their boss – and their boss’ boss, and so on – live by the espoused values.  People also want to feel that their strong culture exists to support meaningful work.

Real chances to grow professionally.  Although great companies focus on providing substantive growth opportunities for their employees, this doesn’t necessarily mean ‘career pathing’ in the traditional sense. Good managers in excellent companies look for ways to match employees’ skills and passions with the organization’s needs.  They do this through good old-fashioned observation and conversation.  They observe what needs to get done at the company that’s not getting done, or not getting done well.  They talk with other managers and leaders to find out about new initiatives or projects that might need people.  They observe  what the employee is good at doing.  They converse with the employee to find out what he or she is interested in learning or doing, and how he or she would like to see his or her career unfold.

The opportunity to work with people you like and respect. This one has both a universal and a personal aspect. The universal: excellent companies generally have a firm “no a**hole” rule. They don’t hire people who are dishonest, narcissistic, abusive, prejudiced, lazy, etc. Beyond that, “people you like and respect” is more individual.  For instance, some companies tend to hire fun-loving, informal, uninhibited people.  Other companies hire more serious, reserved, intellectual people.

Work that requires you to stretch your brain and skills. Human beings are wired to overcome challenges; it’s a deep survival mechanism that has allowed us to successfully adapt to new environments again and again over the millenia.  So it makes sense that we want this in our jobs, too: we like to figure things out, to get good at things, to crack codes and solve problems and make breakthroughs.  Great companies don’t assume that people are slackers who just want to do the least possible to get by: they recognize and call upon this built-in human attraction to challenging work.

It seems simple when you lay it out like this: a great company is a place you can do great things while having a great time, with others who want the same.  But it’s not easy to create this simple, powerful thing – it requires real focus and consistent effort on the part of the company’s leadership to build the needed structures, processes and systems; to hire the right people with the right attitudes and the rights skills; and to inspire and hold people accountable every day to the high standards you’ve set.

But that investment pays off tremendously: you end up with a company that attracts the best talent, creates excellent products and services, and figures out how to do it better, faster, and smarter than the rest.


High performing cultures require diversity!

A high performance culture (as measured in research conducted by PA Consulting Group and reported in a recent Bulldog Reporter article), is one in which:

  • There is a clear mission and vision, deriving directly from the organization’s strategy.
    The organization is highly adaptable and responds rapidly to the influences of the external market place and customer needs.
    People are aligned and engaged and there is a “team” orientation
    Values, systems and processes are in place and aligned to support performance.


How to achieve a high performance culture:

  • Begin by reviewing the organization’s operating model, reward system, and its mission and purpose.
  • Build talent from within and challenge roles. Lack of diversity must be rooted out on the road to executive leadership, and this means the next challenging role has to be visible and achievable.
  • Look to the future.

There is a link between how clearly an organization articulates its mission and the percentage of women in executive roles. This link is vital to the long-term engagement of the best female talent.


In honor of MLK, Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech…

Touched by An Angel
by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.


mlk jr

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