Imagine that you’ve just completed your team meeting to wrap up the first quarter of 2017. You did it. You hit your goals. The team is energized. You look at your team and you see smiles, pride, even laughter. Then, as you’re packing up, the most skeptical team member, the one who started the year with their arms crossed, walks up to you, shakes your hand, smiles, and says, “Wow, I didn’t think we could do it. But we did—and we even had fun along the way. I get it now. Thank you.”
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Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.
If you google “workplace culture,” you’ll find hundreds of articles and resources on why it’s important, how to build a better culture, and tons of examples of companies that are “doing it right.” But when you pull back the curtain on employee happiness, the truth remains that 16% of millennials are considered “actively disengaged” and likely to do some damage at work as a result, according to Gallup. As leaders, we should ask ourselves, “What can I do to help cultivate employee happiness in my business?”
My Comment: Your organization has a culture – the question is whether or not its an intentional culture that aligns with the work you do and the results you want to achieve. Fayad shares how he and his leadership team built a positive leadership culture. Two of his tips that I would particularly highlight: first, hire for fit. You can’t teach values and personality. People bring those things with them. Make sure you’re getting people who will contribute to the culture you want to build. Second, ‘on-the-ground’ leadership. Simply put, you’ve got to be connected to your people , the reality of their daily work life, and have meaningful, regular face to face contact.
How to Clear Your Head and Boost Your Productivity by Dr. Rick Goodman
When you run a business or lead a team, you’ve always got a thousand things on your mind. There is always much to juggle—issues that need to be addressed, obstacles to overcome, goals to achieve, people to connect with, appointments to keep… the list goes on and on.
It’s enough to create some serious mental congestion in your head. See, all of those balls you’re keeping in the air can effectively cause a traffic jam in your mind. You may sit down to do your work but find that it’s hard to let a creative thought through; you’re too focused on all the day-to-day stuff that you’re supposed to keep track of.
My Comment: As a business owner I can certainly vouch for the feeling of ‘mental congestion’ and overwhelm that will prevent you from being successful at leading your team and achieving lasting results. Dr. Goodman offers straightforward suggestions that will help. Among them: don’t begin your day with email. In Winning Well we suggest identifying your MIT (Most Important Thing) and doing that first if at all possible. Distractions are inevitable; focus is a choice.
Elections End, But Your Life’s Work Does Not by James daSilva at SmartBrief
You may have noticed, SmartBrief on Leadership takes a slightly different approach than the Trumpian style. We’re a bit quieter, and we spend most of our energy emphasizing that leadership, communication and self-development is a never-ending journey, requiring persistent work and reflection. If we’re doing our jobs correctly, we’re a companion guide to you throughout your daily work.
The presidential election’s outcome doesn’t change that mission or its importance — and it wouldn’t have affected what we do had Clinton won (or Evan McMullin in the craziest timeline). Here’s why:
My Comment: As the US election entered its final days, you may have wondered what the race for President had to say about your leadership or the leadership you see in your organizations. I’ve had many conversations with people concerned that one candidate or the other’s approach contradicted and undermined the healthy, positive leadership principles that I share and that are the key to lasting results. daSilva does an excellent job drawing the distinction between elections and day-to-day business leadership while encouraging us to stay focused on what matters for you, your team, and your purpose.
Why Employee Experience Trumps Company Culture by Sarah White
There’s been a lot of talk about engagement in the workplace — whether or not employees are happy and satisfied, and what that means for their work performance. In a two-year study of the American Workplace, Gallup found that as much as 70 percent of the U.S. workforce is not engaged at work. This isn’t a recent trend, either. The report indicates that over the past 15 years, engagement has consistently held under 33 percent.
Engagement is often tied to company culture — the idea being that providing the right perks and environment for your workers will boost engagement. But the stats suggest that the past few years of focusing on company culture hasn’t done much to boost engagement. That’s why Aye Moah, chief of product at Boomerang, a company focused on productivity software, suggests backing off company culture and focusing on the “employee experience.”
My Comment: This article was the most contentious – several readers noted that experience derives directly from culture so it isn’t that helpful to say the outcome is more important than its cause. That said, there are good point to be made here: it’s not about the perks, it’s about connection.
The Fraud Who Isn’t by Carlin Flora
Fifteen years ago, when Kate* started graduate school at an Ivy League university, her ID card didn’t always successfully swipe to let her into the buildings, and she decided that something more than a technical glitch was to blame. “I had this jokey narrative that the school was trying to tell me I didn’t belong,” she recalls. “Everyone was talking about Noam Chomsky. I didn’t even know who he was! When my mom came to visit, I cried and told her I wasn’t smart enough to be there.”
Kate in fact graduated with high grades and now works at Google. Yet the gnawing notion that she’s not good enough and that she’s bound to be exposed as the impostor she really is—or rather that she thinks she is—has haunted her every step of the way. Paradoxically, she tends to aim high, putting herself in situations that exacerbate that very feeling. “Every time I embark on a new challenge, I think, ‘Why do I keep doing this to myself?’” she says. Her sense of being unworthy of her own accomplishments pushes her to work harder and to excel. But, she says, “it also makes me insecure and annoying.”
My Comment: In Winning Well we emphasize the role that confidence plays in leading for lasting results. However, many of the most effective leaders I’ve ever met have wrestled with feeling like they weren’t up to the task, that they were a fraud, and that people would realize it at any moment. Flora takes an in depth look at what causes these feelings of being an imposter and how you can overcome them to practice the confidence it takes to lead well. If it’s been a while, you might revisit my article: What To Do When You Feel Like a Fraud
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