How to balance reassurance while managing performance

Given everything we’ve been coping with, it’s not surprising that job performance has suffered at times

How to balance reassurance while managing performanceIt has been challenging for many of us to deliver consistent, stellar performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given everything we’ve been coping with, it’s not surprising that job performance has suffered at times. Even though there are good reasons for it, it doesn’t make us feel any better about ourselves. Failing to live up to…

Are you suffering compassion fatigue?

In the midst of the pandemic, a great deal of pressure has fallen on managers. Here are some tips to help deal with the increased stress

Are you suffering compassion fatigue?Lucy is a manager who oversees a large team of sales reps. Like many other organizations, hers quickly made the transition to work-from-home. It was a new experience for a team used to working from their downtown office. Lucy used to be able to monitor her team with regular walk-arounds and check-ins. She had a…

Want the best advice on coping in a pandemic? Listen to yourself

Your intuition works by drawing your attention to something your analytical brain can’t see. And it has your best interests at heart

Want the best advice on coping in a pandemic? Listen to yourselfAt the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts rushed to provide advice and offer expertise on how to respond in the face of crisis. Much of it was very helpful – and overwhelming in its sheer volume. That has subsided significantly. Perhaps consultants got busy with other things or ran out of things to say.…

5 sure-fire ways to destroy organizational excellence

Building and sustaining organizational excellence requires exceptional people dedicated to the task

5 sure-fire ways to destroy organizational excellenceA blog from a couple of years back by marketing guru and all-round provocative thinker Seth Godin entitled The fruitless search for extraordinary people willing to take ordinary jobs took me back to a boardroom conversation about executive pay. Every company has a ‘compensation philosophy’ that it uses to guide how it sets the pay…

How working from home could be bad for your career

Working from home could enhance your work-life balance, but negatively impact your development and career trajectory

How working from home could be bad for your careerAs we approach three months working in pandemic lockdown, many organizations are toying with the idea of making remote work a more permanent fixture. The potential advantages are obvious: financial savings from reduced office space, reduced commuting time for employees, the ability to hire from outside the region. For many organizations, the experiment with virtual…

Why mission matters now more than ever

Encouraging everyone to look at what they’re doing through a mission lens can help your entire organization

Why mission matters now more than everI often find inspiration for my column from something I’ve read or heard. This month’s column was inspired by a podcast with Tobi Lütke, co-founder and CEO of Shopify. Shopify has been on a tear lately, overtaking even RBC to become Canada’s most valuable company. As a very small shareholder, I couldn’t be happier for…

Finding opportunity in the middle of pandemic

How COVID-19 is allowing us to challenge our assumptions about preparedness, speed of execution and what’s important

Finding opportunity in the middle of pandemicTo quote Albert Einstein, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” As difficult as this pandemic is, it’s also exposing a wealth of opportunities. As businesses, leaders and individuals, we’re being confronted with the opportunity to challenge our assumptions on all fronts. There are some positive lessons to be learned through this COVID-19 crisis, and…

How to keep it together when everything is falling apart

In the face of the coronavirus, keep perspective. Focus on what matters and what you can control. Strive for a sense of well-being. And stay busy

How to keep it together when everything is falling apartI remember writing about personal and leadership resilience during the financial crisis. I guess the good news is, until now, we haven’t had an event so universally significant and impactful to test us. But here we are again. Unlike the financial crisis, where it was (just) about money, this time it will be – at…

How to say ‘yes’ to pro bono work and feel good about it

Calling it ’knowledge philanthropy’ rather than ‘pro bono’ makes me feel like I am giving, rather than giving something away

How to say ‘yes’ to pro bono work and feel good about itAs an entrepreneur I get a lot of requests to give away expertise ‘for a good cause’. Many times I have to say no. However, I have started to intentionally incorporated knowledge philanthropy into my lifestyle portfolio (not my business portfolio). Here are some of the lessons I learned around how I say ‘YES!’ to…

The power of a good question

A really good question is fuel for our reflection, awareness and insight. We like to solve our own problems and good questions invite us to do that

The power of a good questionQuestions are one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenals as leaders, professionals, parents and humans. One of my favourite stories about the power of a question comes from an interview. My final interview for a job I really wanted was with the CEO of the company. After peppering me with questions,…

Success strategies for working through chronic stress

How do you deal with stress?

Success strategies for working through chronic stress"Every day is a new day." At no time in recent memory has this phrase been more poignant. The situation has gone from one of sudden, unexpected crisis to that of chronic, daily stress. It is emotionally and psychologically exhausting. In the workplace, the pressure to make good decisions and produce good results has never…

Tips to becoming a strategic thinker

The good news is strategic thinking can be nurtured

Tips to becoming a strategic thinkerI once started working with a leader who suddenly found herself on the executive team. A corporate restructuring resulted in skipping a level and now she is sitting around the table asking, ‘am I strategic enough to do this job?’ Her question is not unique. Twenty years of developing leaders has taught me there are…

Tough times require tough bosses

Seven basic management skills to motivate your workers

Tough times require tough bossesFor over two decades we have been training leaders to manage people by empowering them. Leaders who were authoritarian, who behaved like a parent instead of a coach, were seen as dinosaurs at the end of their era. Times change. I remember how a conversation I had with a client, an enlightened and successful leader, unfolded:…

5 questions to ask yourself before accepting that new position

Being offered a promotion or a chance to do something new at work may be your dream come true. But is it?

5 questions to ask yourself before accepting that new positionBeing offered a promotion or a chance to do something new at work may be your dream come true. But is every opportunity a good one? Before you jump and say ‘yes’ ask yourself these five questions. Why me? Organizations re-assign people for a variety of reasons. Brent took two back-to-back ‘Acting’ roles and was…

Five ways you can practice kindness at work

By being kind, we give those around us hope and inspiration

Five ways you can practice kindness at workMindfulness is a hot trend in organizational effectiveness, with employee programs popping up in innovators like Google and stalwarts like General Mills (Why Google, Target, and General Mills Are Investing in Mindfulness, Harvard Business Review). The demonstrated benefits of mindfulness practices, such as meditation, are mounting. As good and important as mindfulness is (I am…

How to behave like a millennial, and like it

At mid-life, as we long to reshape our lives and careers, and do something more meaningful, we could learn a thing or two from millennials

How to behave like a millennial, and like itSeveral years ago, I had the sudden, blessed opportunity to step off my hamster wheel – the success-oriented, fast-paced career where I put my work first and tried to shoehorn in everything else. Balance was a see-saw – when one side went up, the other went down. It was a life of sacrifice and compromise,…

Five steps to improving your life in 2020

By focusing on simple things that improve your life, you'll become a happier person – enabling you to make a broader contribution

Five steps to improving your life in 2020I relish the opportunity to reflect on the year – and give thought to what I want to be different going forward, and how I will accomplish that. I gave up making actual resolutions years ago; like everyone else, my follow-through was short-lived and ended in disappointment. But I like to experiment with new habits…

Why New Year’s resolutions never stick

Change isn't difficult. What is difficult is doing things when you don't really want to

Why New Year’s resolutions never stickSo it's a new year. The pressure to look optimistically and confidently ahead, to resolve to change old ways and embrace the new, is palpable. The media, with tiresome predictability, are chock-full of advice from the experts on how to make and stick to your resolutions. Forget it. Most people really don't want to change,…

A leader’s main job is to manage chaos

A leader provides his team with vision, values and guidelines critical to helping people make the best possible decisions for the company

A leader’s main job is to manage chaosA leader I met with once said something that has stuck with me. "Most people are trying to do what they believe is in the best interest of the organization. The trouble is they may not have the same point of view on what that is. And that leads to chaos." As an example, take the…

Six mistakes people make when they start a new job

25 per cent of people who move into a new job will fail. Paying attention to these six common mistakes will help make sure you are not one of them

Six mistakes people make when they start a new jobWhat happens when leaders take on new roles or responsibilities in their company? 'Onboarding' – the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating and accelerating new team members, whether they come from outside or inside the company – has focused almost exclusively on employees who join from the outside. But there is usually a lot more internal…

Banish the dreaded performance review in 3 easy steps

You don't engage your employees by handing them a report card like they are grade-school students, but by helping them paint a picture of their future

Banish the dreaded performance review in 3 easy stepsThe dreaded performance review is quite possibly the most detested human resources program ever invented. It doesn’t matter what process, form or technology is in place to accomplish this task, it is always bad. And it doesn’t work – ever. The reason I know this is because I spent a year thumbing through job descriptions…

Your guide to unsticking your team’s potential

How to deal with three team-member dysfunctions that can get in the way of team effectiveness

Your guide to unsticking your team’s potentialThe 'team' is probably the most complex and irritating relationship in an organization. As individuals, we seem to be able to work with most people one-on-one, perhaps in groups of threes, and also as an entity of hundreds and even thousands. Where we struggle most is when there is a medium-sized group of us clustered…

Understanding what causes stress and how to handle it

Ask yourself (and maybe someone close to you) the following questions to get a better understanding of what causes it and how to handle it

Understanding what causes stress and how to handle itStress afflicts us all and is a common precursor to mental distress. While there is plenty of good advice about how to manage stress, I don’t think we spend enough time talking about how to anticipate, and avoid, it. It starts with self-awareness. What is your stress profile? How each of us responds to stress…

Talent management lessons from the playing field

Lessons learned on the playing field have shaped many a business leader

Talent management lessons from the playing fieldProfessional sports teams are in a unique position - their sole purpose for being is to win championship cups and their only significant advantage is people. How does that affect how teams manage their human resources? What if companies approached human resource planning and management in the same way? Business, and society, would think about…

Being a good leader means being a good listener

Here’s what you're missing if you don't listen well – and how you can improve your listening skills

Being a good leader means being a good listenerLast week, my friend was lamenting the fact she was away for her 16-year-old son’s first day of school and wouldn’t be there to pick him up. Obviously, her son doesn’t need his mom there. But driving him home lets her listen to him vent. It gives her insight into what he’s thinking, how he’s…

Lack of role clarity impedes organizational success

The real problem with a lack of role clarity is that it cascades into a much bigger problem for organizations: misalignment

Lack of role clarity impedes organizational successI am convinced that one of the key things getting in the way of individual, team and organizational success is a lack of role clarity. This point was reinforced during a meeting I attended to help a client establish her development plan which ended up being a conversation about role expectations. Or, specifically, her lack…

Why you should stop outsourcing leadership development

Start focusing on helping employees develop critical skills and capabilities as they work

Why you should stop outsourcing leadership development  If you ask a successful leader to recall his or her most impactful development experience, chances are it happened while engaged in real work. This was once reinforced during a project designed to help organizations transfer and retain the business-critical knowledge of retiring baby boomers. Interviews with more than 40 successful, long-tenured leaders confirmed the best…

Why you should take a vacation

Breaking away from work in a meaningful way, for a significant period, is critical to our health and well-being – as humans and as workers

Why you should take a vacationI just returned from a two-week road trip in Newfoundland with my sister, a trip I highly recommend. Being away, really off the grid, gave me time to reflect on all the reasons it’s important to take annual leave. That’s how vacation used to happen – annual leave where you left the office, packed up…

How managing your impulses will make you more successful

Self-regulation puts us firmly in the driver’s seat of our own life. But it isn’t easy

How managing your impulses will make you more successfulRecently, I was admiring a burst of tulips in the back garden. I commented on how striking they were. My husband commented on how they were ill-placed. Irritated by his lack of appreciation for the riot of colour, I grabbed a pair of scissors, snipped them off and announced he would no longer need to…