Why Is Change So Hard?

We all have strengths and weaknesses. The best way to improve upon our weakness is to practice a new behavior, right? Practice practice practice. But how easy is that?

The answer is not as easy as you may think. We are creatures of habit; habits we aren’t even aware of. This is why change is so hard for many of us. We can learn a new behavior, sure, but how quickly…and when does it stick?

What steps should we take to sustain changed behavior?

  • Be VERY specific on the habit you would like to create (which may also be stopping a certain behavior).
  • Understand the reason why you want to change. What are the benefits to be derived from this changed behavior?
  • Create a plan of action and STICK WITH IT! Consistency is key. Stay committed to your plan.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Our brain creates pathways for behavior. We need to repeat and repeat and repeat to create new pathways.
  • Expect resistance from your body, from your moods, added stress. This is your natural resistance to creating new pathways. Don’t give up!
  • One day, and you won’t know when and where, your behavior change will become your new habit.

If you are interested in further readings on creating habits, here are some excellent books on the topic:

  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (name one of the best books of the year by NY Times)
  • Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results
  • 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Get Results in Your Life

“Our actions change our minds, our minds can change our behaviors and our behavior can change the outcomes.”
–Manish Abraham

Challenge: Touch Emails Only Once – 2 Easy Tips

Let’s be honest. How many times do you read the same email message over and over again?  Guess what? The information hasn’t changed. You’re just procrastinating.

I have a personal rule: I will only read each message once, then take the appropriate action. The goal is “Inbox: 0” every day. Now, honestly, I don’t do it every day.

I do it almost every day, and I always keep my emails under a hundred. But I have met people who have thousands of emails in their inbox—with hundreds, sometimes even more than a thousand, unread. This is not helpful. Not only is it potentially bad for your personal brand, it also makes email far more time-consuming than it needs to be.

The key is not to get bogged down, to keep moving, to deal with each email message once and only once. The way you do this is to start by asking, is this email actionable? Does somebody expect me to do something with this email, or is it asking me to do something?

  • If no, there are three possibilities;
  • If yes, there are three different possibilities.

These are taken from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. And this summary will help you deal specifically with your email.

TIP 1: HOW TO PROCESS NON-ACTIONABLE EMAIL

If the answer to the question ‘Is this email actionable?’ is NO, then you have three options.

  • Delete it. Yes, there really is a delete key when it comes to email. My own philosophy is if it’s really important, somebody else somewhere in the world has a copy.
  • Add it to you Someday/Maybe list. If I don’t want to lose the idea but there’s nothing to do with it just yet, I can drag it into Evernote or a saved folder and return to it another time.
  • File it. When in doubt, file. Why? Because you can always get back to it if need be, and it really doesn’t take up a lot of space. Here is what’s important: I use one and only one folder for my filing. It’s called “Processed Email.” The reason I do this is because it keeps me from getting distracted and wasting time. The moment I have to start answering questions like, “Where am I going to file this? This is about Project X from Client Y, so do I file it in Project X? Or do I file it under Client Y? What if it’s about two projects? Do I make a copy and put a copy in each folder?” It can become very complex very quickly. And that means time down the drain. Instead, I just put it all in one folder and let the software do the searching when I need to find that message. I can get back to almost any message in a matter of seconds. It takes less time than me having to remember what folder I filed it in. But what if the email is actionable?

 

TIP 2: HOW TO PROCESS ACTIONABLE EMAIL

  • Just do it. Here is where I use David Allen’s two-minute rule. If you can take care of the action in two minutes or less, why even take the time to put it in your task list? You run the risk of losing it, not getting back to it, or not being as responsive as you’d like to be. So just go ahead and do it.
  • Defer it. It may need to get done, but it doesn’t need to get done now. So go ahead and put it on your calendar, create a reminder, but defer the action until a later time. You can drag the email to Processed and set a reminder in a task manager like Basecamp. You can also drag the email into Evernote or Notes and add a reminder. Email apps like Dropbox’s Mailbox let you defer emails with a swipe or place it on a todo list. However you manage it, the thing is to get it out of your email inbox.
  • Delegate it. I am preaching to myself here, by the way. I’m kind of a control freak, and I have this unspoken assumption that nobody can do it as well as I can do it. But the simple truth is that we’re not always the best person to handle every task. You probably have other people on your team more competent than you at one task or another. They may be colleagues. They could be contractors.

 

Recommended Resource: Robyn Marcotte’s note:   One of our favorite Podcasts is Michael Hyatt’s Lead to Win

Check it out here:  https://michaelhyatt.com/leadtowin/

 

Source: Excerpt From Michael Hyatt’s “How To Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week”

Why Keeping Commitments is Critical to Your Influence

When we think of someone with integrity, we think of someone we can count on to come through on what they promise. Unfortunately, that’s not always a safe bet today.

Over the last several years I’ve noticed a change in the way we use the word integrity. The word used to mean staying true to your word—even if it’s difficult, inconvenient, or expensive. But today I hear more and more people using the word as if it means being true to themselves—even if that means leaving someone else to clean up the mess.

This might look like a win if we’re trying to save ourselves from difficulty and discomfort, but it will come back to bite us in the end. Nothing destroys our credibility faster than bailing on a commitment.

Why is integrity so important?

  1. Trust depends on integrity. If people can’t rely on your word, they won’t trust you. They may extend some grace, but eventually, people will doubt and disbelieve.
  2. Influence depends on trust. People will refuse the influence of leaders they distrust. Just look at how this plays out in politics or the media. We follow people we trust.
  3. Impact depends on influence. You can’t make the impact you want unless you can influence others and shift their behavior.

Now think of other relationships: marriage, parenting, church, whatever. The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us. If we’re not true to our words, that means our relationships will be as unreliable as we are.

“The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us.” – Michael Hyatt, Author

Create Accountability—Reignite Your 1:1 Meetings

Great 1:1 meetings drive accountability by continuously keeping top priorities, top priorities.

 

If you feel that your one-on-ones aren’t especially useful, then it’s time to improve your process. I truly find that 1:1’s are the single most important meetings of my week. It helps me set expectations, communicate priorities, and listen to the struggles/challenges that each person on my team is having.  When done well, 1:1’s drive engagement and accountability.

 

Trap: Don’t get caught by the misconception that 1:1’s are just another meeting or that the “open door” policy is better.  I truly believe by focusing 30 min of time each week on each of your direct reports, you will free up hours of meetings by delegating decision making power, and eliminate last-minute fire drills by getting ahead of problems before they blow up while results by motive each person to stay focused on your team’s top priorities.  When done well you will also reduce email and phone calls because both of you have a predetermined weekly time to talk through or share key information.

 

How to create more effective 1:1 meetings

1-Recurring, scheduled meetings:  Weekly, bi-weekly depending on your role/business.

2-Brief – 30 minutes.  It may look like this:

15-20 min:  Progress on goals and priorities

  • Progress should be reviewed for each goal; share with your leader any issues or blockers they may need to help with to ensure that the target will be achieved.

5 min:  Share recent accomplishments – ask for feedback

  • Ask for feedback from your leader. Any good work or praiseworthy behavior should be recognized and encouraged. Be open to it. It is a gift!

5-10 min:  Development and open-ended Communication

  • Leave this open in the agenda – where does your leader need help? It may be an opportunity!!
  • What are you working to further your career development? Discuss ideas.

3-Location:  Consider having your one on one meeting outside or out of the office – the change of venue can contribute to a more relaxed session.

4-Timing:  Consider the timing for the recurring meeting.  4pm on Friday is not ideal for a focused conversation about your career development.

5-Commit to your 1 to 1 meeting – make it a priority: The first thing you need to do is make your one on one meeting a priority. It’s easy to skip meetings, so schedule a recurring calendar event each week to ensure the appropriate time is set aside.

6-Establish the 1:1 Meeting Agenda Format:  Setting a mutually agreeable agenda allows the both participants to show up prepared and with aligned expectations.

7-Prepare so you can look forward, not backward:  Thoughtful preparation. If you submit your template to your leader the day before your one on one meeting, each will arrive at the meeting knowing what will be discussed and allow you to spend the bulk of your time looking to the future, brainstorming, creating action items, and connecting personally.

8-Focus on you and your projects and development:  Avoid discussing other employees’ work during your time together, unless it’s specifically applicable to the conversation.

9 Sensational Traits of Highly Promotable Employees

What criteria do you use when promoting employees? See if your list of qualities matches this one.

One of the most common questions employees ask is, “What can I do to get promoted?”

It makes sense: Often employees assume there is a key initiative, a specific action, a high-visibility project, or a critical role they should take on…and if they do, a promotion is just about guaranteed.

Maybe that is sometimes true. Maybe that’s how you make promotion decisions.

 

 

Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot (No. 666 on the 2013 Inc. 5000), takes a different approach. Dharmesh focuses on the employee’s attitude.

His reasoning is simple. Attitude informs action. Attitude informs behavior. Attitude is the driving force behind every achievement, every accomplishment, and every success.

Attitude, where performance and therefore advancement is concerned, is everything.

 

Click here to learn the 9 traits of highly promotable employees.

 

  1. Are humble, not arrogant.

Humble people ask questions. Humble people ask for help.  Humble people automatically share credit because they instinctively realize that every effort, no matter how seemingly individual, is actually a team effort.  Humble people are willing to take on any job, no matter how menial, because they realize no job is beneath them…and in the process, they prove that no job is above them.  Ultimately, success is not limited by how high you can stretch but by how low you are willing to bend.

 

  1. Are servants, not self-serving.

Great teammates make everyone around them better. Great leaders focus on providing the tools and training and culture to help their employees do their jobs better–and to achieve their own goals.

Great companies serve their customers first; they know that by serving their customers they ultimately serve the interests of their business.  The employee only in it for himself will someday be by himself. The employee in it for others may not get all the limelight…but the right people definitely notice.

 

  1. Are optimistic, not pessimistic.

Optimists add energy to a situation or meeting or business; pessimists drain away energy. Optimists try more things and take more (intelligent) risks simply because they’re focused on what can go right. Pessimists never get started because they’re too busy thinking about what might go wrong.

 

  1. Think execution, not just planning.

Planning is definitely important, but too many shelves are filled with strategies that were never implemented.  The best employees develop an idea, create a strategy, set up a basic operational plan…and then execute, adapt, execute, revise, execute, refine, and make incredible things happen based on what works in practice, not in theory.

Success starts with strategy but ultimately ends with execution.

 

  1. Think forever, not one day.

Real leadership isn’t short-lived. Real leaders are able to consistently inspire, motivate, and make people feel better about themselves than they may even think they have a right to feel. Real leaders are the kind of people you follow not because you have to…but because you want to.  Other people will follow a real leader anywhere. And they’ll follow a real leader forever because she has a knack for making you feel you aren’t actually following–wherever you’re going, you feel like you’re going there together.  Creating that level of respect, that degree of trust, and that type of bond takes time. Great employees consider not just the short-term but also the long-term–and then act accordingly.  And in time, are placed in positions where they can truly influence the long-term success of their team, their unit, and their company.

 

  1. Are volunteers, not draftees.

They volunteer for extra tasks. They volunteer for responsibility before responsibility is delegated. They volunteer to train or mentor new employees. They offer to help people who need help–and even those who don’t.  Why is that important? Volunteering demonstrates leadership aptitude. Leaders are proactive, and proactive people don’t wait to be told what to do.

 

  1. Are self-aware, not selfish.

Self-aware people understand themselves, and that awareness helps them understand the people around them. Self-aware people are more empathetic. They are more accepting of the weaknesses and failures of others because they know how it feels to fail.  And they can lead with empathy, compassion, and kindness because they know how it feels to be treated with disregard, disdain, and scorn. They do everything they can to help others reach their goals, because they know how it feels to fall short.

Self-aware people solve for the team, the organization, and the customer–not just for themselves.  Every organization needs self-aware people in key roles. (What is a key role? Every role.)

 

  1. Are adaptable, not rigid.

Things constantly change in high-growth companies. Inflexible people tend to grow uncomfortable with too much change and consciously–even unconsciously–try to slow things down.

 

Anyone can follow guidelines and procedures. Great employees are willing, even eager, to change. Great employees respond to new circumstances and new challenges with excitement, not hesitation. Employees willing to adapt and adjust tend to advance more quickly because that is what every company–especially a high-growth company–desperately needs. Otherwise, growth will be a thing of the past and not the future.

 

  1. Are teachers, not truant officers.

The best people like to teach. They don’t hoard knowledge; they spread it. They share what they know.  A truant officer’s job is to make sure people show up. A teacher’s job is to make sure people learn.  Besides, truant officers tend to give “advice.” Do this. Don’t do that. Go here. Don’t go there.

 

A teacher gives knowledge. A teacher helps other people gain experience, gain wisdom, gain insight. A teacher willingly and happily gives other people tools they can use.

In the process a teacher builds teams.  And a teacher advances because a true team builder is a rare and precious gem.

 

Source: Adapted from an Inc. Article By Jeff Haden

Contributing editor, Inc.

 

8 Things That Set Truly Confident People Apart

Successful people often exude confidence—it’s obvious that they believe in themselves and what they’re doing. It isn’t their success that makes them confident, however. The confidence was there first.

Think about it:

  • Doubt breeds doubt. Why would anyone believe in you, your ideas, or your abilities if you didn’t believe in them yourself?
  • It takes confidence to reach for new challenges.  People who are fearful or insecure tend to stay within their comfort zones. But comfort zones rarely expand on their own. That’s why people who lack confidence get stuck in dead-end jobs and let valuable opportunities pass them by.
  • Unconfident people often feel at the mercy of external circumstances.  Successful people aren’t deterred by obstacles, which is how they rise up in the first place.

No one is stopping you from what you want to accomplish but yourself. It’s time to remove any lingering self-doubt. With proper guidance and hard work, anyone can become more confident. Embracing the following behaviors of truly confident people will help get you there.

  1. They Take an Honest Look at Themselves

True confidence is firmly planted in reality. To grow your confidence, it’s important to do an honest and accurate self-assessment of your abilities. If there are weaknesses in your skill set, make plans for strengthening these skills and find ways to minimize their negative impact. Ignoring your weaknesses or pretending they’re strengths won’t make them go away. Likewise, having a clear understanding of your strengths enables you to shake off some of the more groundless feedback and criticism you can get in a busy, competitive work environment—and that builds confidence.

  1. They Don’t Seek Attention 

Confident people always seem to bring the right attitude.

Confident people are masters of attention diffusion. When they’re receiving attention for an accomplishment, they quickly shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help get them there. They don’t crave approval or praise because they draw their self-worth from within.

  1. They Seek Out Small Victories

Confident people tend to challenge themselves and compete, even when their efforts yield small victories. Small victories build new androgen receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for reward and motivation. When you have a series of small victories, the boost in your confidence can last for months.

  1. They Speak With Certainty 

It’s rare to hear the truly confident utter phrases such as “Um,” “I’m not sure,” and “I think.” Confident people speak assertively because they know that it’s difficult to get people to listen to you if you can’t deliver your ideas with conviction.

  1. They Exercise

A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more competent socially, academically, and athletically. They also rated their body image and self-esteem higher. Best of all, rather than the physical changes in their bodies being responsible for the uptick in confidence, it was the immediate, endorphin-fueled positivity from exercise that made all the difference.

  1. They Dress for Success

Like it or not, how we dress has a huge effect on how people see us. Things like the color, cut, and style of the clothes we wear—and even our accessories—communicate loudly. But the way we dress also affects how we see ourselves. Studies have shown that people speak differently when they’re dressed up compared to when they’re dressed casually. To boost your confidence, dress well. Choose clothing that reflects who you are and the image you want to project, even if that means spending more time at the mall and more time getting ready in the morning.

  1. They Are Assertive, Not Aggressive

Aggressiveness isn’t confidence; it’s bullying. And when you’re insecure, it’s easy to slip into aggressiveness without intending to. Practice asserting yourself without getting aggressive (and trampling over someone else in the process). You won’t be able to achieve this until you learn how to keep your insecurities at bay, and this will increase your confidence.

  1. They Get Right with the Boss

A troubled relationship with the boss can destroy even the most talented person’s confidence. It’s hard to be confident when your boss is constantly criticizing you or undermining your contributions. Try to identify where the relationship went wrong and decide whether there’s anything you can do to get things back on track. If the relationship is truly unsalvageable, it may be time to move on to something else.

In summary…

Your confidence is your own to develop or undermine. It’s the steadfast knowledge that goes beyond simply “hoping for the best.” It ensures that you’ll get the job done—that’s the power of true confidence.

 

Source: Dr. Travis Bradberry’s Coauthor EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0

Article dated Dec 18, 2018

6 Tips to Deal with A Workaholic Boss

Having a workaholic boss often means working long hours and sacrificing personal time to meet all the demands. Forget about having any work-life balance — for workaholics, work is life. You can’t change your boss,  but you can take steps to deal with the demands:

  1. Avoid notorious workplaces. Do your research to find an organization in line with your views of work-life balance.
  2. Set your own boundaries… Don’t be afraid to share your work philosophy with your boss to help establish boundaries.
  3. … and stick to them. If you decide to go in over a weekend to finish up a project, make sure your boss knows this is an exception, not an expectation.
  4. Acknowledge, then negotiate. If a deadline is too tight acknowledge the request and then work to find a compromise.
  5. Find the right balance. If weekend work is unavoidable, make it part of your schedule so it doesn’t disrupt your personal and family time too much.
  6. Show your sacrifice. If you have to skip out on family or personal time for work, let your boss know and work to find a compromise that won’t interrupt your life.

The key is to coexist with your boss. You can’t change their approach to work, but you can manage your expectations to ensure a successful collaboration.

“Most people chase success at work, thinking that will make them happy. The truth is that happiness at work will make you successful.” – Alexander Kjerulf

Adapted from CNN Business.

6 Ways to Speak Like You Mean It

Repetition can be a useful communication tool, but if you find that you constantly needing to repeat yourself, your communication style may be to blame. By following the six part “speak like you mean it” framework you can spend less time repeating yourself, and more time on what matters.

  1. Be authentic. Be true to who you are when you communicate.
  2. Be clear. Think about the recipient, is your message clear to them?
  3. Use influence. What does your message mean for your team? Keep it relevant and influential to what’s going on now.
  4. Inspire. When your team member feels it, they’re more likely to be part of it.
  5. Use physical and vocal energy. Your body language and tone help you connect with your message recipient.
  6. Bring the conversation to life. Stories, anecdotes, and metaphors make the conversation more relatable.

By using this framework, you can get your message across most effectively. Staying on the same page with your team takes work, but speaking like you mean it can make things easier!

“If you aren’t authentic and people don’t feel that you’re being real, it’s a little bit like a dart hitting a dartboard, but there’s no point on it… you can’t connect with somebody who’s not real.”
— Melissa Gordon

Adapted from Leadercast.

Are Leaders Supposed to be Optimists, Realists, or Pessimists?

The answer is… Yes! The key is knowing when to be which.

In some circumstances a leader must be a grim-faced pessimist, while in others it requires being a cheery-faced optimist. How do you know which -ist to be? Here four easy guidelines to get you started!

Number 4: A leader must be a pessimist when…
… making financial forecasts in a challenging season.
Any leader who has led through tough times will tell you the first step to stop the bleeding is by taking a worst-case scenario approach to budgeting.

Number 3: A leader must be a realist when…
… developing the team.
Nothing will crush the spirit of a rising leader quite like giving them too much responsibility too soon. Effective leaders must be realistic when it comes to each team member’s potential, and design their development plan accordingly.

Number 2: A leader must be an idealist when…
… Casting vision.
Effective leaders embrace the ideals of their organization’s mission and vision and communicate them with authentic passion.

Number 1: A leader must be an optimist when
… building a healthy culture.
When the going gets tough, it’s the leader’s job to remind the team that, together, things are going to get better. The mission is worth pursuing, and success will come.

Effective leadership requires being a combination of pessimistic, realistic, idealistic, or optimistic. As a leader you can develop the skills to know when to be which!

 

“Often times success doesn’t come from strength, but from flexibility and adaptability”  — Debasish Mridha MD

3 Tips to Reduce Tension Across the Generational Divide

Generational differences are real and can result in real tension on your team. While everyone may have the same goal in mind, growing up in vastly different times means team members will come up with different approaches to the same problems. Let’s take a look at some of the tips you can use to reduce tensions and successfully lead across generations:

  1. Avoid pigeonholing. The majority of differences among employees are not driven by generation, but by their unique personalities. Get to know each team member as an individual instead of simply focusing on the year they were born. As a leader you can focus on their individual needs, rather than generational stereotypes.
  2. Examine your style vs their expectations. If you feel resistance from an employee who is much older or much younger than you, it’s possible they have legitimate concerns because your style is different from how they expect things to be done. Address these differences head-on, and help your team understand the reason you lead the way you do.
  3. Tap into your empathy. Sometimes resistance isn’t about your leadership style. An older employee might be reacting to the youth of their peers because it reminds them they have been passed on their career track. A younger employee might be responding to the perception of the organization as being slow and rigid. Be empathetic to how difficult this can be, and work with your team to handle the emotional backlash.

One thing you can count on is that, regardless of age, everyone wants to be valued. Start by engaging each person in a conversation that demonstrates you are interested in their thoughts. When most people know their voices are being heard, they will help build the bridge that crosses any divide.

“We all require and want respect.” – Aretha Franklin

7 Secrets to Leading with Gratitude

Even as the world changes at an ever increasing pace, kindness and gratitude will never go out of fashion. Science tells us that grateful people are happier, healthier, and nicer to be around. Leaders who express gratitude build a team culture that reflects their values.

How can you cultivate an attitude of gratitude? Here are seven tips to help you get started:

  1. Look for the good in everyday situations and in those around you.
  2. Make a list of what you’re grateful for.
  3. Develop a culture of appreciation for the people and things in your life.
  4. Verbally express your appreciation to those who have a positive impact on your life.
  5. Write thank you notes and letters of appreciation to others.
  6. Meditate on the things you are grateful for.
  7. Start having positive conversations with yourself and others, focusing on the good.

Remember: what you focus on gets magnified and manifested. Give yourself the gift and power of gratitude, you’ll feel better and do better!

“Gratitude is the single most important ingredient to living a successful and fulfilled life.” – Jack Canfield

3 Excuses Leaders Make to Avoid Hard Decisions

Leaders have to make hard decisions, and the further you are in your leadership journey the more tough calls you have to make. As a leader, it’s important to know not only how to make tough calls, but when to make them.

All too often leaders push tough decisions down the road.  Hard decisions get more complicated the longer they’re deferred, and delays can cause more damage than whatever fallout the leader was trying to avoid.

As a leader, you can learn to recognize when you are putting off making a decision because it seems unpleasant. Here are three of the most common excuses, and their consequences:

  1. “I’m being considerate of others.” If leader is afraid of disappointing their team they might delay a tough decision. This only puts off the inevitable emotional fall-out, and gives team members less time to process their disappointment.
  2. “I’m committed to quality and accuracy.” If a leader is uncomfortable with uncertainty they may delay action under the guise of gathering more data. This behavior sends the signal that “looking right” is more important than “doing right”.
  3. “I want to be seen as fair.” Instead of recognizing high performers and coaching low performers, leaders may fall back on treating every member of their team in the exact same way. This type of behavior can undermine performance and ultimately cause friction down the line.

As a leader, how you make hard calls shapes the culture of your team, and the culture of your organization. These excuses teach team members that self-protection and self-interest are legitimate motivations for making difficult choices. Whatever temporary pain you might incur from making a tough call should pale in comparison to building a culture of thoughtful, positive decision-making.

(Adapted from Harvard Business Review)

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” – Nelson Mandela

We’ve Updated Our Privacy Policy!

Hello!

This is Robyn, CEO of Aha! Leadership and this a quick update about our privacy policies.  First off, we want you to know that your privacy is of critical importance to us.  With the new data protection laws in place we’ve made sure to update our written policies:  Privacy and Terms of Service.

We also want you to know we have ALWAYS protected your privacy.

We never have and never will share your information with an outside third-party, aside from the systems we employ to optimize your experience.

By continuing to receive content and use our websites… you are acknowledging these updates and agree with the updated terms.

You are welcome to contact us if you have any questions:  aha@ahaleadership.com

Kind regards,

Robyn Marcotte and Team

8 Remarkable Benefits to Leading with Gratitude

Grateful people are happier, healthier, and nicer to  be around. Research has shown that thanking others and explaining why we’re grateful is one of the most powerful ways things you can do.

What are the benefits of expressing gratitude?

  • It builds and strengthens relationships. When others know we need them, our relationships deepen.
  • It improves health. Gratitude positively impacts our health by reducing stress.
  • It makes us nicer to be around. We can all do with a little more social capital; expressing gratitude builds those networks of relationships.
  • It creates optimism. Gratitude shines a spotlight on things we have, rather than drawing attention to what we lack. This fosters a culture of abundance within us, making us optimistic about the future.
  • It reduces anger. A practice of gratitude makes us more open to receiving negative feedback and strengthens us over time.
  • It causes us to be more people-centered. Gratitude shifts attention away from ourselves and directs it to others.
  • It eliminates negative emotions. With a focus on positive emotions, room for negative thoughts becomes smaller.
  • It feels good. When we express gratitude, it helps our meed and allows us to feel better about our circumstances and ourselves.

Give yourself the gift and power of gratitude. It will foster stronger relationships, and help you live happier. What are some of the ways that you express gratitude in your life?

(Adapted from Leadercast)

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar

4 Ways to Help Employees’ Soft Skills Shine!

We may live in a digital world, but soft skills like communication, problem solving, collaboration, and empathy are becoming more valued than technology. It’s time to elevate soft skills to a topic worthy of frequent leadership inspection.

Here are four ways you can develop your team’s soft skills on the job with minimal financial investment:

  1. Set the stage. Help your team members understand that developing their people skills is part of their path to internal career mobility; and that only focusing on their technical abilities will hold them back in the long run.
  2. Put soft skills front and center. Celebrate wins that highlight people skills. Give equal praise for how something was done as well as what was achieved.
  3. See the opportunity in challenge. Setbacks are an opportunity to coach employees through the speedbumps of organizational life while building a portfolio of critical soft skills. Work with your employees to overcome these challenges and they will come out the other side stronger than before.
  4. Get clear about what good people skills look like. Consistent detailed feedback is core to leadership. When offering feedback highlight specific things your employees said or did that demonstrate their soft skills.

The modern workplace demands top-notch soft skills. Help your team members shine by developing their human skills in equal measure with their technical skills.

“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”
– Roger Enrico

(Adapted from Smart Brief)

3 Tips to Create Lasting Motivation

If motivation were an exact science, leaders would have no problem keeping their teams motivated and moving forward. From experience we know that motivation is an art that requires a mindful approach. Especially when our goal is to motivate others to do something not because they were asked, but because they want to do it. Inspiring this kind of lasting motivation is an important skill for leaders to develop.

Here are three strategies for how you can motivate others in a way that lasts:

  1. Model motivation. Make sure you are motivated, because that sets the tone for your team. If you’re lacking passion, eventually your team is going to lack passion. If you lack motivation, your team is going to lack motivation. The team follows the tone the leader sets.
  2. Create a culture of appreciation. The single biggest reason a person leaves an organization is they don’t feel appreciated. If you want to motivate, appreciate. Appreciate more than you think you should, and then double the appreciation you show.
  3. Address performance issues directly. One of the most demotivating things we can do is consistently accept unacceptable performance. Ignoring destructive behaviors means the whole team suffers.

As a leader, your role is to set up your team for success. You have the power to create a motivating atmosphere that keeps your team motivated through almost any challenge.

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Stop Wasting Time: 3 Tips for Getting the Most out of Meetings

Team Coaching Aha! Leadership

We all spend a lot of time in meetings, and we’ve all spent time in meetings where nothing really got accomplished. As a leader, you can change the culture of meetings and make them more productive and collaborative by following these three simple steps:

  1. Only include agenda items that require a meeting. Some things require human interaction and collaborative thinking. Problems that don’t have solutions yet, or conflicts that haven’t been explored. Meetings are best used when we need to take time to let creative solutions emerge.
  2. Everyone necessary should  be present. Sometimes we send our bodies to meetings while our mind focuses on other things. Pull folks out of their smartphones by including agenda items that focus on decisions that make a difference.
  3. Communicate what needs to be accomplished beforehand. No one should be hearing about something for the first time in a meeting. Send out an agenda beforehand to let folks know what to expect, and give them time to process and prepare before they arrive.

By following these three tips, you can create an environment where attendees become active participants. In other words, great meetings are not only pointed at getting things done, but also create an atmosphere of reflection, focus, and collaboration.

“We cannot waste time. We can only waste ourselves.” – George Matthew Adams

3 Tips to Drive Innovation

Innovation is important, but few companies are really good at it. Why? In part because leading innovation is different from leading ongoing business operations.

Managers and individual contributors responsible for managing change need more emotional support to take the risks and deal with the uncertainty that makes innovation possible. As a leader you drive innovation when you:

  1. Demonstrate trust and empower. Let your team know that you trust their talents, efforts, and decision making. This will allow them to trust themselves in the midst of the inherent ambiguity of their work.
  2. Keep the purpose of the innovation front-and-center. Keep focus on the benefits that ultimately come from the innovation project. Help those who are striving for innovation to know what they’re doing is important and valuable.
  3. Partner with innovators as equals to contribute and share the risk. Being an equal partner means participating not as a boss, but as part of the team. Sharing the risk means helping your team know that they’re not in it alone.

As a leader you provide this support to your team, and ensure their innovation efforts are sustained and rewarding.

“The difficulty is not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones” – John Maynard Keynes

This article was adapted from Center for Creative Leadership’s 10 Leadership Resolutions for a Successful 2018.

10 Truths for Making Successful Change

Change is inevitable, but intentional change takes work. As a leader you guide your team through changes, and you often act as a change agent yourself. Here are some truths about change management that will help you navigate even the choppiest waters.

  1. Change is about people. You can’t force your will on people. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.
  2. Change takes time. Changing hearts, minds, and workplace cultures can’t be done at the snap of your fingers.
  3. Change requires vision. Describe what success looks like, and allow that vision to guide the change process.
  4. Change requires buy-in. Identify who will be affected by the change, and get them involved and invested.
  5. Change means trade-offs. Making new priorities means reducing or letting go of old ones.
  6. Work with the willing. Assemble a team of people who share your vision to champion the change.
  7. Overcommunicate — and then communicate some more.
  8. Listen. Look hard for the useful nuggets in what people tell you, and incorporate them into your plan.
  9. Empower the silent. Reserved team members may be more comfortable communicating their thoughts in private or anonymously.
  10. Learn as you go. Create new learning opportunities and career paths to support the change.

Each of these tools has its place, and success lies in its application. While knowing these tools is important, the role of a leader is modeling the behaviors you want to see your team demonstrating.