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.


Daily Thought: The things that support us can constrict our true, natural power. Know the balance.


I’ve been wearing a soft foot brace for a tiny fracture below the fourth toe on my left foot.  I wear it especially when I run to support the foot and to try to avoid further injury at the very least, if not promote healing.  The brace does its job, while at the same time definitely making its presence known.  I feel it as the appendage it is.  While it keeps my foot compressed and still, it also creates pressure on the bottom of my foot and after a couple of miles, this is irritating.  Today, I ran without the brace.  In the first few steps, I felt a twinge of unease in that foot and nearly turned back to get the brace, afraid I couldn’t do it on my own power.  I kept going, gingerly, slowly, cautiously.  I gained my stride, the discomfort disappeared, I ran my entire distance sans brace.   As usual, I find many running metaphors suitable for advice on life.  In life, as well – the things that we think support us actually do constrain us helpfully.  They also can constrict if too tight, held onto too long, or do not honor our own power that lies just beneath the bands that tie and bind.  What is holding you closed right now?  Is it money you’ve borrowed, a salary you just have to have, a relationship that keeps you safe but chafes at you where your own power meets the road you’re traveling?  Then try a few steps on your own – no support, no artificial structure.  Just you, your power, your honor, your will. Although it might be uncomfortable at first, you just might find yourself hitting your stride quite quickly, and you will flourish in the movement, and in the knowledge that it’s all being done with your own, unfettered power.

Improve leadership skills, unlock potential, and improve your outlook through coaching

Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, this process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.                                                  ICF (

For communicators and business professionals, going through professional or personal transitions – I can help you create unique value propositions, improve networking and interpersonal skills, find professional opportunities that align with your values and goals, and improve your overall life experience. I have a BS in journalism, an MA in communication, and an MS in Organizational Behavior.

I am an executive coach, with more than 20 years of experience in communication and change, and first-hand experience with transitions and success as a business and communication leader.

My coaching is offered in three main areas, or tracks:  Career, Leadership & Teams, and Personal.  Change and transition are underlying themes to all three tracks.

Each would be customized for you. After an initial discussion, we would craft a coaching structure customized for your goals, schedule, and other preferences.

Here’s to an authentic, rewarding, lucrative future!

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Holiday Greetings and Best Wishes for 2016

jKB Holiday Greeting

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!

I heart work

radiating heartIn most workplaces, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have anything to do with work. (In fact, it can be downright distracting to watch co-workers get deliveries of flowers, balloons, and chocolates, especially if you’re wondering when your turn is!) The reason? Love isn’t really considered a professional emotion.

In a recent Chicago Tribune article (I just Work Here, January 20, 2014), Rex Huppke says that’s a shame because although office romances can be complicated, love’s broader meaning of kindness, respect, and empathy should play a central role in everyday interactions at work. I wholeheartedly agree.

Huppke cites a study by management professors Sigal Barsade and Olivia O’Neill. They have conducted a study that shows how “a culture of companionate love” is good for employees and clients and is one of the basic emotions of human experience.

The study defines companionate love as the sense of warmth, affection and the friendly connections that bind us. Barsade said she believes our inability to separate the idea of passionate love from companionate love is the reason love is so often overlooked in the workplace.

They said employees who felt they worked in a “culture of companionate love had less absenteeism, were better at teamwork, were more satisfied with their jobs and experienced lower levels of emotional exhaustion.” Further, they found that “people who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organization, and accountable for their performance.”

So if your workplace lacks companionate love, how can you improve? It’s up to leaders to create a culture where compassion, kindness, civility, and sympathy are encouraged, modeled, and rewarded. And it’s up to all employees to put this into practice, so that companionate behaviors are deeply embedded into the organization.

Know of any organizations where a companionate culture is thriving? Let me know! Meanwhile, I wish you a heartfelt day.

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.


Boo… not boo-hoo

cute ghostHalloween means plenty of delicious, fun scary sights and sounds. We like to be scared because it’s exciting and makes us feel alive in the moment. We also know, for the most part, that our Halloween-based frights aren’t real, so our brains don’t let us get too deeply afraid. Real life however, holds plenty of frightening experiences that, if not managed well, can hold us back from making our dreams come true. What to do? Here are some tips to keep your “Boo’s” from turning into “boo-hoo’s.”

1. Get to the bottom of your fear. What are you actually afraid of? What is the worst thing that could happen? How would you handle that? Visualize and plan for the worst possible scenario you can think up – you’ll get calmer.
2. Fear is a feeling, and feelings are fleeting. Wait for the feeling to pass, and be deliberate with happy thoughts and calmness to replace them.
3. Don’t dwell on maybe’s… many things might or might not happen. Remember your power in creating what you want to happen.
4. Forget what happened before – stay in this moment and don’t let past traumas or disappointments color your present experience unduly.

Sustainable careers require bliss, demand, and unique skills

flowers on lakeNever working a day in our lives because we love our jobs is the nirvana many of us have been seeking since college.  Now, Monique Valcour, a professor of management at EDHEC Business School in France, who has spent 15 years researching careers, adds dimension to following your bliss.

In a recent Harvard Business Review blog cited in a Huffington Post article, Valcour advises that,  when it comes to building sustainable success in your career, all of the self-awareness in the world is of little use if you can’t pitch your passion to a buyer.  A sustainable career is built upon the ability to show that you can fill a need that someone is willing to pay for.”

So what would a sustainable career even look like? As Valcour describes it:

Year after year, you perform work that makes full use of your skills and challenges you to develop new ones. Your work not only interests you, it gives you a sense of meaning. You enjoy opportunities for learning and development. You work with people who energize you. You are confident that your skills and competencies make you valuable and marketable and that you can access opportunities through your network. You are able to fit your work together with the other things in your life that are important to you, like family, friends, and leisure.

And… you get paid for it because it has value not only to you, but to others.

The article also offers five effective ways to be happier at work and build a sustainable career:

1. Analyze the data of your daily life.  Be aware and very observant of your daily experience at work.

2. Find a workplace that supports your priorities outside the office.  To me, it’s not really work-life balance; it’s more about work-life INTEGRATION.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of learning.  Continuous learning and growth is key to staying happy and fulfilled in your career over time.

4. Work with inspiring people. Work alongside smart, energetic, connected people who have taken an interest in you.

5. Develop rare and valuable skills. Develop passion around your work through the cultivation of rare and valuable skills. People who end up loving their work often follow a pattern of creating these sought-after skills, and then using them to better leverage their career trajectories.

I encourage you to read the whole article – it’s a valuable new perspective.


Change your perceptions, change your life

If I look at you superficially, we are different, and if I put my emphasis on that level, we grow more distant. If I look on you as my own kind, as a human being like myself, with one nose, two eyes, and so forth, then automatically that distance is gone. We are the same human flesh. I want happiness; you also want happiness. From that mutual recognitionw e can build respect and real trust for each other. From that can come cooperation and harmony, and from that we can stop many problems.

————-From “Insight from the Dalai Lama”

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