Do You Feel Independent?

Next week is Independence Day, July 4, in the U.S. Undoubtedly, there will be lots of historical reflection and other reminders about the importance of this day in U.S. history.

I’d like you to consider a variation on this theme, which is how independent you feel about yourself. Do you feel in charge of yourself, for example, your professional direction, your ability to speak up as a leader, or how you influence others?

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Discovering Your People

How well do you really know your staff? Of course, you know the work they do and perhaps some of their interests. But how deep does your knowledge or insight really go?

One of my clients recently discovered that one of her employees is a regular marathon runner. He had competed in races for years and the only reason it came up was because another employee mentioned something about him raising money for a charity race.

Another client learned that one of her staff members was an enthusiastic traveler who successfully spreads out 2 weeks of vacation over long weekends and company holidays so that she takes 3-4 trips abroad each year. She had no clue.

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“But I Didn’t Say That…”

One of the perennial problems in the workplace is the ongoing gap in communication. It is the root of many problems and unfortunately, perpetuated by too many leaders.

Communication takes work. It takes energy to make sure that your message, whether oral or written, has the language, tone, and substance that will be clear and understandable to the person receiving the message. And in our time compressed world, people don’t take the time to pause to ensure that clarity.

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Relationships in a Time Compressed World

“One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone
is the gift of attention.”

– Jim Rohn

Relationships are so important, and yet in many cases, they are casualties of our time compressed world. Attention is one of our key currencies today, rendering Jim Rohn’s quote above more relevant than ever.

But increasingly, people have less time for relationships. Over time this is damaging and hard to reverse when the damage is done. The Catch-22 is that we unknowingly neglect our closest relationships because we feel that those who know us the best will understand what we’re going through.

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To Be Amazing…

Sheku Kanneh-Mason dazzled us with his beautiful cello solo at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last weekend. It’s always inspiring to experience such talent! Sheku delivered his performance beautifully, with confidence and poise.

It turns out that he is one of seven talented classical music siblings. CBS Sunday Morning featured the family in its most recent broadcast and encourage you to see the replay here.

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Change Your Perspective

It’s always good to get away to have a change in perspective. This doesn’t need to be a vacation; it can simply be a venue or environment that is different from your usual ones. By being in a different place, you’ll be able to experience things a little differently when you return to your routine.

Why is this important? We become increasingly insular with the day in, day out sameness. That’s why something as seemingly mundane as taking a brief walk can remove you from the sameness and expose you to something fresh.

The good news is that anything that is a shift from your regular routine can accomplish this. It may be driving a different route to or from work. If you ride public transportation, you can get off one stop earlier and observe what those extra blocks have to offer. You can even meander into a store that you’ve never walked into before.

These simple activities interrupt the patterns that are locked in your brain and open you up to new thinking and perspective. Even a small movement can make this happen: just getting up from your desk and moving around can be beneficial.

In fact, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Sitting is the new smoking,” When we’re out of our chairs, it improves our health!

Even better, take a short walk in nature. This is especially important if you’re a city dweller and concrete sidewalks are your idea of the great outdoors. Nature has the benefit of soothing your mind, so it’s a wonderful way to take care of yourself. You may not be able to do this every day, but try to fit in some nature time during your week.

Engage in these small changes to benefit from fresh perspective, which ultimately helps your mood and productivity. Share this with your staff, by the way, especially if they’re glued to their desks, day in and day out.

Have a great day!​​​​​​

“This Is Great, But…”

Discriminating leaders are often quick to find mistakes and slower to find the positives. After all, in your desire for excellence, you strive for the best outcomes. How you communicate these things, however, can make a big difference between affirming and disorienting your employees.

Example: A team member completes a large, high-profile project with a few lingering punch-list items. Praise the success of the overall project and keep the punch-list items in proper perspective. If you put your emphasis on the unfinished items and minimize the overall project, you’ll do a disservice to your employee.

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The Art of When to Jump In

When is the best time to jump in as a manager? If there was an easy answer, we’d be able to magically apply a formula that would predict the perfect moment. Nice idea, isn’t it?

Managers often struggle with this timing. If they enter too soon, they become micromanagers. If they wait too long, they may be too late and the employee may have made a big mistake. Each situation is different, which complicates this question.

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The Timeline Hack

One work place challenge which occurs in so many companies is the last-minute scramble to complete assignments. People start off with the best of intentions, but other work interferes. Suddenly, a deadline emerges, and the race begins.

A basic timeline can help your team members stay focused on milestones, due dates and the ultimate deadline. It’s an easy tool and can be done on a piece of paper or plotted in different types of software . It doesn’t matter what you use; what matters is using something.

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Institutional Malaise

Responsibility without authority. Too much work and not enough time. The feeling that nothing you do is right. An environment of ongoing criticism. These are just a few of the factors that create burnout in the workplace. Any one of them can cause weariness, but when people suffer from two or more, institutional malaise can creep in.

Surprising as it may seem, some leaders choose to ignore these danger signals. They are so focused on their own agenda that they overlook what’s happening in the trenches. They put down their staff. They are quick to criticize. They strut their titles. They are the hero of every corporate success.

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