Category Archives: Bring Out the Best

10 Things Leaders Do Wrong For Employee Engagement

Unity in Diversity

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Here are ten things that leaders do wrong to engage employees. Employee engagement is hardly rocket science but many leaders are daunted by it. They may have a tendency to run the other direction when they hear the phrase “employee engagement”. Employee engagement is a positive step that you can take in order to develop your workplace into a happier, healthier and more productive environment. Employees who are seriously engaged in their work are better employees so stop making simple engagement mistakes today. David Zinger gives us 10 things every leader must stop doing in order to engage their employees.
  1. Stop waiting for a magic moment to engage.
  2. Stop mistaking engagement as someone else’s job or responsibility.
  3. Stop conceptualizing engagement as a problem to be solved.
  4. Stop searching for a stronger business case for engagement.
  5. Stop thinking of employee engagement as an extra.
  6. Stop believing you need more data to begin.
  7. Stop seeing the CEO or President as someone other than an employee.
  8. Stop wasting time formulating big programs and splashy launches.
  9. Stop extensive consulting with experts so that you have time to consult with employees.
  10. Stop trying and start doing.

…More at 10 Stops for Employee Engagement — Employee Engagement with 

Employee engagement very often relies on the leadership to get involved. Employees look to their leaders for guidance and if they don't know how important their engagement is then they simply can't get more engaged. Actively making an effort to improve employee engagement is bound to be a vast improvement over doing nothing at all. Even if the engagement program fails miserably, you will have a starting point for where to head next on your journey to improve employee engagement. Miss these pitfalls and you will be well on your way to enhancing employee engagement, so get started today!


Leaders: Here are 5 Ideas for Keeping Employees Motivated

Rainy Day Inspiration :: You Must Believe In Yourself!

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Five ideas for leaders to keep employees motivated. A great leader has the ability to bring out the best in their team. One skill that every leader must deftly perform is keeping employees motivated. Keeping employees motivated is a task that every leader will come up against when leading a team for any length of time. Stagnation is a burden to success in business and one to be avoided. Employee morale is a key component of successful companies. Guy Farmer brings us five ideas on how to keep employees motivated. 

It can be challenging to keep employees motivated in any organization in the face of deadlines, workloads, interpersonal conflicts, rules and directives. Proactive leaders are able to motivate their employees even when times get tough because they understand how to help people inspire themselves instead of forcing them to think and act a certain way. Here are some practical ideas on how to keep your employees motivated:

1. Praise employees. Catch people doing things well and let them know that you value their work. Praise desirable behaviors, it will increase the likelihood that people will behave that way in the future. Reinforce positive behaviors rather than correcting people when they’ve, “Done something wrong.”

2. Design and implement motivational activities. Create a weekly program in your workplace where people celebrate each other. You’ll appreciate how much you can boost morale by setting aside twenty minutes weekly so people can praise each other for a job well done.

…More at How to Keep Your Employees Motivated Guy Farmer

An effective leader has to find a way to keep their team together working toward a common goal. Providing your team with a unified purpose with clear goals will go a long way in building a foundation of teamwork that will breed success. People want to be valued with meaningful work so engaging people in work that they feel makes a difference is key. Be committed to your plan for motivating employees by offering incentives and activities that value hard work and dedication. Employ these five ideas for keeping employees motivated. How do you inspire greatness in your workforce?


Engaging Employees is Crucial to Success

Would You Fly to the Clouds?

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Employees are a leader's most valuable asset. It is crucial for leaders to appreciate their employees and to see them as integral to success in business. There are many ways to keep employees engaged in their work and it all starts with a good leader acknowledging and valuing their employee's talents. Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden give us some ideas on how to keep employees engaged. One method is to guarantee that employees know that they are working for a common purpose.

You should run the organization in a way that permits all legitimate stakeholders–managers, employees, owners, and customers–to benefit, each in their own way. In other words, we must take care to ensure that the interests of each core constituent are meaningfully represented. Of course, this doesn't make everyone an equal equity partner. But we need to recognize that, regardless of the endeavor, each of us is silently (usually) asking the question, “What's in it for me?” (Or “WIIFM?”) Until you satisfactorily address that question, you really can't unleash much productive effort.

….More at How To Foster Outrageously Awesome Employee Engagement

Many leaders fail to purposefully give their employees the intrinsic motivation that can be required to keep an employee constantly engaged. The first step in meaningfully engaging employees is to unite your employees in a common purpose that clearly lays out what they are doing and why. This along with providing meaningful work, high standards, appropriate benefits, and a level playing field will go a long way in getting your employees to remain engaged in their work for everyone's benefit. 


Developing Employee Potential for Leaders

Child Tending Broken Baby Seedling

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Potential. Everyone has some “potential”, but what does this mean? It means a proven ability to do well and it should be a goal of every leader to maximize the potential of their team. A leader needs to provide encouragement and instruction to nurture potential in their employees. 

Executive coach Joel Garfinkle gives us five ways to develop talent and unleash the potential of our teams. 

1. Give employees time to focus. With the frenetic pace of business, it's easy to get lost in a sea of deadlines and shifting priorities. The best leaders encourage employees to spend time absorbed in a single project or area of focus—especially when it's a stretch assignment that will challenge their abilities.

Some of the most innovative companies in the country put a priority on free or flexible time. For example, Google developers and engineers receive “20 percent time”—eight hours a week they can devote solely to projects of their choice. Likewise, Bell Labs—one of the biggest American innovators of all time—gave scientists and engineers the opportunity to spend years researching a single product.

2. Promote the value of learning. Leaders should be on a constant lookout for professional development opportunities. Taking time to focus on learning helps employees crystallize their goals and determine what skills and areas of growth are most important to them.

As I mentioned, General Electric is one example of a company that places a premium on promoting the value of professional development and learning. The company has a Chief Learning Officer and spends $1 billion a year in training its employees through the GE Global Learning initiative. That's about $3,500 per year for each of their 290,000 employees.

3. Ask lots of questions. It's no secret that leadership requires clear and effective communication. When it comes to developing talent, leaders should focus on the listening side of the communication equation. Find out what's important to employees, what experience they have, where they see themselves in the future, and what excites them about the company.

Colin Powell nicely sums up the importance of listening and effective communication: “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.” His words are just as true in the corporate world as they are in the military one.

4. Give frequent, specific feedback. It's far too easy for managers to only give feedback during performance reviews or to offer vague platitudes. The best mentors provide quality feedback that's timely, genuine, and focused on desired behaviors. It's also important to be positive and forgo any personal judgments.

To reinforce how critical providing quality feedback is, try Googling “leaders and the importance of feedback.” The search yields over 18 million results (and lots of good advice).

5. Treat failure as an opportunity for improvement. Nobody likes failure, but everybody enjoys saving face. When employees fail, they're often at their most vulnerable. And that's a good thing. It means they're open to receiving feedback, trying new approaches, and improving areas of weakness. Stay positive as you help your team members take advantage of these opportunities.

Some of the most meaningful learning in my life has been in response to failure. A beloved high school teacher of mine often used the mantras, “Failure is a better teacher than success,” and, “The bigger the failure, the bigger the lesson.” Obviously, no one wants to encourage failure, but it's important to realize that it will happen—and embrace it for what it is: a learning opportunity.

…More at The Myth of Potential: 5 Ways to Develop Talent

Developing potential is an ongoing process that every leader should be actively undertaking. Without performing these five development techniques you may be losing out on increased productivity and creativity. True innovation can be gained by allowing teams time to focus and an ability to fail. Great leaders allow their employees to succeed by inspiring them to excellence. 


Forward Focus Through Accountability

Winspit Cove, Dorset

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How often do you have forward focus through accountability? The two go hand in hand, I really like what Christina Lattimer has to say about accountability below.

Working alongside senior managers across different organisations, I realised getting things done on time and to the standard required was a BIG problem.  It wasn’t just about meeting deadlines; it was about quality of work and also lack of right actions.  I realised some people inherently didn’t quite get “accountability”.  Even worse, some managers didn’t either.

I pondered this for a long time and one by one a number of factors came together.  One day I finally got it. It was a big learning curve and one which made me change the way I led my team.  This dawning once I had it, resulted in me leading hugely successful teams which achieved great results.   What I learned was this:

People do not accept accountability because they do not see the “Why” in what they do.  Lacking purpose, they are resistant to being told what to do because what they are told to do holds no meaning. As a result they remain in their comfort zone and limit their effort.

Don’t get me wrong:  I don’t think people consciously or deliberately hold that stance, but it exists and resistance shows up like this: They will say:

  • They aren’t capable; don’t know how;  don’t have the capacity…..
  • It’s too lengthy;  too complicated;  too expensive;  too messy; too confusing……

…More at The Most Important Question to Ask to Get Great Results

Accountability is another way to create forward focus. By providing the why in what your team members are doing and focusing on things going right, you are creating forward focus through accountability.




Motivational Skills That Drive Others

I love the video link for Daniel Pink‘s book Drive shows motivational skills that drive others. We all strive to find what motivates others and this RSA Animate presentation gives a great synopsis of his book.


As this clip shows, motivation sometimes comes from providing autonomy, mastery and purpose. Providing your team with these three things can improve forward focus.

What motivational skills that drive others can you incorporate today?


Do You Lead From the Backseat?

view from the backseat

I am reading a book on social media metrics. It’s not really a leadership book, but in the first chapter the question Do you lead from the backseat? came to mind. While introducing ideas on how we track marketing, Jim Sterne points out:

“Are we there yet?” is the question asked from the back seat. “Are we still going in the right direction?” and “Is there anything in the way?” are asked from behind the wheel and lead to business and career success.

Keep in mind that he was discussing keeping an eye on critical factors in today’s real time world. Prior to the internet assessing how a new program was going or how a product or service would do in the market was down the road a month from implementation. Today it is possible to track in real time the course corrections that need to be made. We are more able to keep a forward focus on staying on target. Sitting in the back seat and asking “Are we there yet?” is the wrong question. Are we still going in the right direction? is the question of forward focused leaders. For example, Microsoft as noted below is beginning to ask the right question.

What can we learn about leadership and followership from Microsoft? First, followership. Windows continues to guide Microsoft’s vision and generate the lion’s share of its revenue, while historically it has influenced almost every significant action that Microsoft has taken. As a result, with few exceptions, emerging market opportunities not connected with Windows or Office have not resulted in the types of projected success the company had hoped for. Microsoft was an early entrant in the search and mobile markets, for instance, but lacked the clarity, focus and business model innovation required to succeed.  The Nook partnership is another example of Microsoft playing catch up.

There is a way to grow additional revenue streams, enter new markets, and innovate at a faster pace –to resume leadership – but in order to do so, Microsoft would need to do things differently…More at Microsoft Moves from Followership to Leadership

It is interesting to note that in the above article Microsoft’s vision is lead largely by Windows. Window is behind the wheel. Now it would appear that Microsoft is turning that around and asking “Are we going in the right direction?” Leadership is moving behind the wheel.

Take a look at the questions you ask your team and then ask yourself “Do I lead from the backseat?”

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What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do Book Review

Too much to do? Join millions! Laura Stack‘s What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do takes a fresh approach to productivity with a forward focus. The book will show you 6 basic steps to help you put forward focus back into your work.

The Productivity Workflow Formula™ (PWF)

1. Determine what to do.

2. Schedule time to do it.

3. Focus your attention.

4. Process new information.

5. Close the loop.

6. Manage your capacity.

ROI is a key performance measure used in business. Stack takes ROI to the personal level asking you to look at your PROI (Personal Return on Investment). Do you know where you stand? What is important to you? What are your time wasters? Stack provides quick checklists for each step to help you get on your path to productivity quickly.

Full of useful insights and tips to pare down your task list to a manageable level while providing forward focus, add What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do to your reading list.


Musings on Leadership – Recognition

James, I think your cover's blown!

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Everyone wants recognition. Don’t believe me? Think about it – a desire for recognition starts early. As an infant we cried for recognition that we needed something. As we became toddlers and could voice our needs and wants, we said “mom” repeatedly or may be poked our mom until she stopped what she was doing and paid attention to us.

In large that is all that we are looking for in recognition. It isn’t just about getting praise for a job well done. It is about being acknowledged.

Shift your focus from yourself to the team.

All great leaders put their team’s interests ahead of their own. As Jack Welch counsels new leaders, “It’s about them, not about you.” Think about why each person is involved and what’s in it for him or her if the team succeeds. Set up touch points that have value for each team member – financially, professionally or intrinsically. For example, before sending your next email, think about what additional value – such as information sharing, recognition or coaching – you can add beyond addressing the specific task at hand. Can you share an update on a related project? Maybe you can provide a strategic view of how this work fits into the bigger picture. Is there something the team has recently done that deserves praise? Moving from a task focus where you manage others to a mission-led focus where you serve your team opens up the potential for deeper engagement, better alignment and higher performance….More at Managing Virtual Teams: Three Keys to Success

Trish Gorman’s suggestions apply not just to the virtual team, but to any team. Further, recognition can be as simple as awareness of the individuals on your team. If you know your team and put them first, you will find greater success. Recognition big and small count in their eyes.

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Musings on Leadership – Reflection


We don’t often take time to reflect in leadership. And some don’t ever use reflection as a tool. So I was excited to see Mike Myatt‘s post today:

I love history, and have always enjoyed being a student of history. Earlier this week we launched a new project: The History of Leadership. The project consists of an interactive historical timeline of the world’s greatest leaders dating as far back as 2000 BC. Since history has been recorded, so have great lessons in leadership. The ultimate test of leadership has always been, and will always be, whether or not it can endure the test of time. Time tells a story, validates or invalidates theories, positions, and philosophies, and ultimately, time shapes a leader’s legacy. While anyone can be great in the moment, few can sustain greatness over time. Put simply, there is much to be learned from viewing anything through a historical lens – especially leadership….More at Leadership & History

Reflection gives us an opportunity to evaluate where we have been and plan where we want to go. The project outlined by Myatt provides an additional line of reflection. It allows us to reflect on leaders of our past. An opportunity to find leaders we wish to further explore to learn from not only our past, but their’s.

Knowing that The History of Leadership site is still new and they are looking for feedback, I can forgive oversights in the timeline. I look forward to checking the timeline for leaders to spend some reflection time on leadership. I challenge you to do the same.

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