Every once in awhile you find yourself somewhere listening to something and you have one of those aha moments. I had that experience just recently. I was at mass listening to the priest give his homily. The point he chose to highlight from the Gospel reading was, discipline.

For most of us, we think of discipline as the need to “discipline” another be it a child or a worker. There is often that connotation of having done something wrong and needing to be punished. However, the priest spoke about the origin of the word coming from Old French and Latin disciplina as meaning instruction and knowledge.

This got me thinking…

Although I knew he was making a point about the importance of being disciplined in one’s religious practices, the importance of reframing discipline became crystal clear to me. Discipline, when used properly in the workplace is transformative, not only to the individuals involved but to the company or organization as a whole. Just think about it.

What if we were able to introduce the importance of increased knowledge and instruction through continuous learning and skill development communicated in a compassionate constructive fashion? Employees would not only be engaged in the tasks at hand but, like a stone thrown in the center of a pond ripples would spread out. Can you imagine the shift of energy in the workplace? Enthusiasm, an engaged workforce. What if you went home every night after a full day of work and felt exhilarated? What impact would that have on your family--spouse, partner, children, neighbors? The trickle down effect is almost inconceivable.

I ask you, how do you think of discipline? When someone at work f..ks up how do you react? Do you punish? Or do you constructively impart knowledge and educate. Years ago Bucky Fuller wrote an article entitled, The Mistake Mystique. I, for one, grew up being afraid to make mistakes. In the article he pointed out how essential it is for all of us to make mistakes and learn from them; to correct and keep moving forward.

I welcome your comments and suggestions. Lets create a community where we share with one another. Let’s help each other be bold, brave and be our best.

Do YOU Have a Personal Statement?

I dug deep to pull out the following piece, which really is one of my favorites from long ago—2010 to be exact. I’ve recently had a death in the family and have simply been unable to create anew this week.

While attending an entrepreneurial conference in Calgary last week I had the good fortune to meet a lot of fascinating people. Some were young enough to be my grandchild and some old enough to be my parent. What struck me most was the enthusiasm all had about being engaged entrepreneurs and learning to live their life with greater authenticity. During a break I met a charming young man who told me he blogs regularly and recently wrote on the subject of the thoughtful leader. In less than 15 minutes Kyle McNeil from Edmonton and I covered a wide territory including grieving for a recently deceased love one and finding out that he does business from Edmonton with the daughter of a business partner of mine in NY. Just amazing! I asked him to send me his blog and after reading it decided to quote it. I am thrilled to know that our young people are thoughtful about their lives, the future of business and the planet. He blew me away when he said he had a mission statement for his life. I’ve heard Steven Covey talk of this but had never written one myself. So here are excerpts from Kyle’s blog:

“3 summers ago I wrote down a mission statement to “positively & deeply impact at least one million people over the course of my life”.

“From that space, I realized to be a “thought leader” is good … what about being a thoughtful leader! That fits much better.“

With that in mind, here are 7 KEYS to becoming a thoughtful leader.

  1. Have pen & paper ALWAYS available – the ideas will come fast & furious when you least expect it. Be ready to capture inspiration. Like in so many books that profess the power of writing things down – MY GOODNESS it’s true. Write it down!

  2. Acknowledge profound insights & powerful actions in yourself in others – celebrate this – it’s a gift. The more you honour this, the more you’ll receive. This is abundance.

  3. Serve YOU. Your core purpose is to love you & feed your soul. Without you – you can’t serve others. Death, sickness & unhappiness greatly reduces our impact. Set time aside for your body, mind & spirit – make it a priority.

  4. Explore your why – in other words, why do you do what you do? What’s your mission? The deeper this resides inside you, the bigger impact you’ll make & more results you’ll see. Will & determination ALWAYS wins.

  5. Take action – get involved – this is where your name will grow & thoughts & heart will touch others … the universe loves speed (action) and will show you the way. Expect challenge, failure & success. It’s just part of the journey. Sitting back thinking about how to change the world is important. At the same time, if this is 100% your plan … we’ve got a problem.

  6. Be impeccable with your word – Conscious & clean in your delivery of messages with people. Don’t spill your “crap” onto others. Your words make a long lasting impact. Also be aware, that trying to be perfect & not “hurt anyone’s feelings” will keep you in the backseat — trust me I know this intimately.

  7. Drop the me-me-me, ego and LISTEN! To be a thoughtful leader, you must be considerate of others, if you never stop talking … you’ll never learn what is important to them & you will lose them (especially now that we’re in the civic cycle)! Find out what moves them & what they need though; you’re GOLDEN!”

Kyle’s blog taught me some things. I am starting to work on my own mission statement. What about you?

Please note, this blog of Kyle’s is no longer but he can still be found all over social media, positively influencing others!


Civility- The Time Really is Now

Yesterday we celebrated Independence Day or as many refer to it, the 4th of July. A celebratory time of family barbecues, vacations and firework displays throughout the country. We too celebrated with friends. However, I must say my heart was not in it--I am pained by the humane disregard and anger I see around me on a daily basis. And I’m even more pained when I realize some of it is rubbing off on me. It seems like it takes a lot of energy to remain engaged.

This past Sunday morning I turned on OWN's Super Soul Sunday to see who Oprah would be interviewing. It was Sister Joan Chittister who was talking about her new book The Time Is Now. I met Joan Chittister many years ago while visiting Erie, PA where my partner Dan Snow grew up. She and Dan's father (Dr. Daniel S. Snow) knew one another and I believe actually did some work together. Joan an American Benedictine nun is an author, theologian and activist; a steadfast voice for justice and women's rights for more than 60 years.

I am seriously concerned about the demise of civility, our moral compass and character in our country. As you know, my work focuses on transforming the workplace and helping people to be their best and recoup a sense of personal responsibility for their work life. It’s also about helping companies develop so that they too can be their best with products and services delivery, and creating companies in which employees are proud to work and communities feel is not their foe.

This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of many significant events and happenings. 1969 was characterized by the anti-war movement, Stonewall, landing a man on the moon for the first time, Woodstock, and my NY Mets winning the World Series. It was a time of great accomplishments and significant upheaval and unrest. People, especially the young, were using their voices boldly. Today, some segments of society are making their voices heard such as #BlackLivesMatter, the students of Parkland, and #MeToo. Unfortunately in today’s workplace we are more likely to hear “that’s not my problem” or “I don’t get paid for that.”

We need to create conditions in which the courage to speak up in a civil manner when you see or hear behavior and/or language at work that is upsetting or inappropriate becomes the norm.

Sister Joan is truly eloquent and makes some very important distinctions to which we all should pay attention. Now that the festivities are behind us and you are likely to have some quiet time I ask you, during this celebration of our country's birth, to take some time to either listen to the interview or read her book, The Time Is Now. I invite you to have table discussions at home with your family and friends. At your office, ask colleagues to buy and read the book; and of course discuss the book at work. We all have something at stake here, and if we wait much longer, we may not be able to self-correct.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. Please write or call me. Let me help you introduce this to your organization, family or neighborhood.

No More All Work, No Play

Did you know that out of the 30+ richest nations in the world, the U.S. is the only one that does not require that employers provide paid vacation time to workers? Yet more than half of those that do receive paid time off, don’t use it all.

Despite the fact that studies continue to show that taking a vacation is good for you, many US workers are reluctant to use their time for fear of being seen as less dedicated to their job, or the feeling that their workload is too heavy.

Taking a vacation or even just taking a break from your work is good for you, both physically and psychologically. Your stress levels are lowered, your mind has a chance to clear, and your mood gets a good lift. This list can go on.

Let’s take this a step further—taking a break from your work improves your work.

The impact of an all work, no play mindset tends to stifle creativity and ingenuity.

Perhaps it’s time to reflect upon the philosophical implications of a position that sees paid vacation time as a perk as compared with the position that it is an essential right of every member of society so that they can recharge themselves by doing something relaxing and non-work related for an extended period of time.

As we officially begin the summer season, I wonder just how many people will be texting, calling, emailing or tweeting while supposedly spending the afternoon on the beach with family and friends. Why not take this time to change that mindset of constantly working and the never-ending job to relaxing and fun experiences and interactions with friends and family.

As a self-employed person, I too need to address this issue. Can I really take two weeks at the beach this summer without bringing work along? It’s an epidemic. What do you think?

Human Dignity... on the daily

I have this client who, over the years has also become a close friend. Passionate about buying and wearing Brunello Cucinelli (luxe Italian designer), she's spoken of the interplay of his sense of Italian style and quality along with his commitment to outstanding customer experience whether in person or ordering special items from Italy. Although his clothing is out of my price range even when on sale, I was fully aware of his sense of style and commitment to quality; but I was not aware of his philosophy about work. Believe me, it is worth knowing about.

We could all learn from Brunello Cucinelli...

  • His company and his philanthropy have amost single-handedly restored the town of Solomeno, Italy

  • His emphasis is steadfastly on the moral and economic dignity of the human being

  • His father's message to him growing up remains at the foundation of his daily existence: "the only thing that matters is for you to be a good man"

  • His workers are paid well

  • Work stops at 5:30pm because “overwork steals from the soul”

Yes, he is the owner of the company; plus you might say to yourself he's a billionaire and can do anything he wants. All of this is true. Yet I share this today to ask you to reflect and ponder, "What can I do?” What might you do to transform the experience you are having at work? What might you do that will make a difference to the people who work in roles directly under your management. Most people today are overworked. Their exhaustion and malaise is demonstrated by global statistics found in Gallup and Deloitte Touche annual surveys. I hear, as I am sure you do, comments like “above my pay grade” and “the powers that be are only concerned about money.”

I am asking you this weekend to ponder and reflect on the statement, “moral and economic dignity of the human being,” and to do some soul searching. What kind of visceral reaction did you have when you heard or read that phrase? What small thing might you introduce into your life this week to support yourself or another. If each of us agrees to take a step in the right direction each week, I know we can transform the world of work. And... If we do that, we know we can transform the world.

*In case you are interested, here is a recent piece that CBS' Sunday Morning did on Bruno Cucinelli*

Do I Need a Coach or Consultant?

It's human nature to periodically get stuck, frustrated or stale in our business. Whether a managerial leader of a mid to large corporation or a small business owner, in today's world of rapid change and uncertainty it's easy to get stale or stuck which results with staying within our comfort zones. What this does is actually shield ourselves from new opportunities and ways of thinking; and provide the feeling that one more new thing, or decision could be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back. This is why I want to share with you an innovative and unique program to help you and your business.

The Strategy and Inspiration Infusion

The Strategy and Inspiration Infusion provides an unprecedented opportunity to go deep to ignite the light inside you that perhaps has been under a bushel, afraid to shine brightly; an opportunity to become unstuck, move forward and create your own change; an opportunity to work with a pair of fresh and expert eyes providing new insights and identifying manageable action steps for the business issues in which you've been too enmeshed.

With the Strategy and Inspiration Infusion you'll get:

  • A solid block of time to think and express emotions (3-3.5 hours)

  • Focused attention of a master consultant/coach

  • Topics identified by you (for example: a management issue the company is grappling with; a difficult employee; building a team; needing to get re-energized or refocused)

  • Wisdom, knowledge and intuitive insight

  • Truth telling

Not only that, you will also walk away with clarity, fresh perspectives, new ideas to research, and a plan of action with substantive action steps.

This Infusion regularly costs $999.99. However, you have the opportunity right here to book your own Infusion session at a special discounted price of $850, now through close of business on May 23rd. (And, we make paying easy--we take Veem and Paypal, checks or cash!)

Let’s get started!

Are You Up For An Experiment?

I was reading a feature story about Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube in Sunday’s NYT’s Business Section when I came across the phrase, “living in a crisis of trust…” attributed to Marc Benioff, Chairman of Salesforce. It got me to thinking.

My work resonates with this phrase. It’s nice to hear that the Chair of a major company is also grappling with this issue. I truly think we are living in an era where the concept of trust has and continues to erode. I ask you, without trust what do we as a people have?

I am not sure if there is an agreed upon definition of trust in the English language. My Macbook Air’s dictionary says the verb to trust means: “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of.”

At the core of my mentor’s work, Dr. Elliott Jaques was building trust inducing work systems. As many of you know, his body of work known as Requisite Organization informs much of my organization development consulting. In the Revised 2nd Edition of Requisite Organization, A Total System for Effective Managerial Organization and Managerial Leadership in the 21st Century he defines trust as “the ability to rely upon others to be truthful and to do as they say, and to follow established rules, procedures and custom and practice.” I love this definition. Its specificity is not only helpful to employed people but allows for dialogue on clarifications and applications to specific aspects of work.

The erosion of trust in large work systems is attributed to a confluence of many factors. Some fairly recent like the steady decline of employee engagement, the impact of the home mortgage debacle and recession on working people, and the spark that may have ignited it all traced back to the late 1970’s when Milton Friedman’s article articulating corporations’ primary responsibility was investor returns. The Friedman article was latched onto by Wall Street and is only now being touted as having a deleterious impact on corporate America and our society as a whole.

Lack of trust breeds discontent, uneasiness and puts workers off balance. This goes back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Security is at the base of his pyramid.

Below are some suggestions for you to experiment with both privately and with your teams.

  1. On a scale of 1-10 where do you peg the level of trust in your organization?

  2. On a scale of 1-10 where do you peg your own level of trust in your group?

  3. At a staff meeting ask everyone these same two questions. Assure them their response to Q1 will remain private, unless they choose to share it. Then ask them to write down anonymously and hand in for tallying, where on the 1-10 scale they think the organization falls (Q2). If you feel courageous, ask them to indicate where your group falls.

  4. Have a member of the team talley Q2 parts 1&2. Post on a whiteboard or large easel pad and encourage reflection.

  5. Set rules for responding. Like using a talking stick for example. Ask everyone who would like to say something to say something. But at this time do not allow rebuttals. Only allow questions of clarification.

  6. Ask people to think about what they hear overnight and over the next few days, and jot down some notes for themselves. At the next staff meeting ask people to share.

  7. Ask people to suggest ways to move the score, moving the needle to 10.

  8. Do this exercise with your team on a quarterly basis.

This exercise is intended to help you begin a constructive dialogue with your staff and perhaps get an honest reading of what people think about the company and your unit; to move forward and to BE their best. Ask people to share concerns; and have someone chart responses on a whiteboard or large easel pad. Ask for suggestions to improve.

Building trust is no easy task, but it is essential to a well functioning workforce be it under ten, in the hundreds or thousands. Trust is earned. It can erode in an instant, requiring months or even years of rebuilding over time. I’d love to hear how you did.

Mastering Those Difficult Conversations

We have all been there. Needing to have a conversation with either an employee, an independent contractor or a vendor we are not pleased with at the present moment. I am sure each of us can name multiple situations when faced with this. It could be someone’s work has fallen off and is no longer at the standard it used to be; or it could be someone just not responding in the same timely manner they used to; it might even be a feeling that your work has slipped in the hierarchy of the individual’s priority.

First of all, say something at the very first inkling that something not going right. Ask if everything is ok. The person may say, “Yeah, why are you asking?” Then you can say what you’ve noticed. They may or may not respond. If not, just keep noticing and even making some notes to yourself. In fact you can create a notebook and write down thoughts, ideas, and feedback for each employee or independent contractor with whom you are working. Notes should include all the positives as well as that which needs improvement.

Sharing the positives is always much easier. It is sharing what needs improvement that is often most challenging. If you wait too long to say something, your list just keeps on growing, and you wind up with a pile of things with which you are dissatisfied. It’s like telling a spouse or child to hang up their clothes at the end of the day. If you wait until weeks go, they’ve created a very big pile and you are really annoyed. As a result, your comments are much stronger, and you might even explode.

It is much easier for a person to receive needs improvement feedback in small doses. They can then take specific action steps, some of which may be your suggestions, to improve. In the long run this builds trust as the person realizes you are not out to get them, but rather are coaching them to be an outstanding employee.

Although independent contractors are not employees, this is also true when working with them. All too often, people just say I won’t hire them again. Sometimes it is worth the extra effort to let them know where improvement is necessary. Wouldn’t you like to know if you were in their shoes?

My best tips when preparing for these discussions:

• Keep a list with specifics dates, times, situations

• Check in with yourself—did you provide the needed information or parameters?

• Be willing to own up to the person if you didn’t share the responsibility

• What is the best outcome you can imagine, or what do you want to happen?

• Take at least three deep breaths before scheduling, and then again before having the conversation with the other person

I’m open to hearing any additional suggestions you may have. Please share your ideas here, or reach out via the Contact Us page. I’d love to hear from you.

Are You a Good Manager?

There are generally so many working parts to an organization that it can be difficult to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong when morale is down, employees jump ship or business suffers. When these things happen, one of the first places to look toward should be management.

Management, unlike leadership, has a rigor associated with it. While leadership, on the other hand has a more amorphous quality. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of management is accountabilities—being accountable for the outputs of those who work directly for them. And being a good manager means taking such accountabilities very seriously.

Of course different managers have different management styles. That we can all agree on. But we may not agree on what it is that makes a manager good or bad at managing.

Whether it is a Fortune 500 company or a small start up, bad management is bad management. And, bad management impacts everyone and everything in an organization. It is entirely possible for a large, multi-tiered company to experience dissatisfaction and turnover among its ranks or a financial slowdown, while that start up is cruising happily toward success—and with a happy staff. But it can certainly be the reverse as well.

All types of organizations, big and small, have their share of both good and bad managers. Where do you fit in?

A demanding job—which many of us have—can be both frustrating and fulfilling. The frustrating part might come into play when you have less control over your own actions, how you do your work and what you do to fulfill your responsibilities. Inevitably this causes stress; and stress can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and even depression.

This is where a good manager comes in offering perhaps a different perspective, support and/or autonomy. A good manager is one who understands what helps vs. what hurts employees. Meanwhile a bad manager is what stands between happy and productive employees, lower turnover and business success.

What other accountabilities do you think managers have? What quality to do you find important in a good manager?

Stand Up & Lead

Martin Luther King was the epitome of true leader, a great leader. A driving force behind (and in front of) the civil rights movement, Dr. King’s legacy extends far beyond the fight for racial equality and human rights. Dr. King showed the world that you can indeed stand up in peaceful protest with tremendous impact. The effects of his leadership will continue to be felt for generations to come.

This weekend, people are gathering throughout the United States for the second Women’s March. Women everywhere galvanized since the election of our current president; the many accusations of sexual harassment and violence led to the #metoo movement; and the actions of singer R Kelly has caused advoceds to rise with #MuteRKelly and such movements.

Leaders emerged. Leaders have and continue to emerge in response to so many important issues. The young survivors of the Parkland High School shooting are now outspoken advocates on gun control; new leaders have come out in response to the immigration injustices; new environmental leaders are stepping up to help our planet. I can go on and on. People today are really energized by what they believe in. Strong new leaders are emerging to step into their own leadership.

If asked, I am sure we could all name leaders we greatly admire—civil rights leaders like Dr. King, activists, former presidents, community leaders, business leaders, spiritual leaders, and so on—all of whom have different passions, leadership styles, priorities, etc. It seems during this tumultuous period of American life that we are in, new leaders emerge in all sorts of capacities, for a myriad of reasons and from communities all across our great country.

Just as life and social changing movements require great leaders, so too does business. Without strong managerial leadership, a business will certainly struggle.

What leader has impacted you? What are you doing to stand up and be a great leader?

Indeed we all have a lot to think about and reflect upon this long weekend.