Leadership Lessons From Unlikely Authors

leadership lessons

I’m currently in the process of prepping my house to go on the market and our real estate agent has issued the edict that I have to box up some of the books in my office. So, I’ve been reluctantly working through the shelves, trying to decide which ones I can live without until we move sometime in the summer. Despite my initial resistance, the packing process has actually turned out to be a really good thing. In fact, I’ve discovered two really important things:

  1. I have a lot of books. In fact, I may have a problem. Even after donating a few to the local library, I’ve still got far too many, if I’m perfectly honest.
  2. Nearly each book on my shelf has been the source of a valuable piece of leadership insight that has helped me on my journey of continuous learning.

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Healthy Leadership Practices to Cure What Ails You

Healthy Leadership Practices

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months (and perhaps that’s where we all ought to be moving to right now!), I’m sure you’ve been inundated with updates, plans, and preparations for COVID-19. There are a lot of great resources out there that can help you know what to do as we move into a new way of working and leading. And there are plenty of experts out there with tips for building resilience and adaptability while leading under crisis. Folks like the Center for Creative Leadership and ProHabits have great resources available or on the way to help. But, I thought I’d share a few key practices that you may have overlooked in your efforts to lead your team through this current or any future crisis. Read More…

Building Empathy To Address Critical Talent Gaps

organizational empathy

Talent challenges continue to be a priority for most agencies across the federal government. Frequent turnover, hard to fill roles, and shortages in mission-critical skill sets are all too common in most federal agencies.

There are countless strategies and approaches agency leaders can, and have, tried to address these complex challenges. But, building organizational empathy may be just the tool HR leaders need to make a near term impact.

Building organizational empathy is a strategic element for organizations trying to hire and retain top talent in an increasingly tight labor market. Research by the benefits technology firm, Business Solver in their State of Workplace Empathy report reveals that empathy is a key driver of retention, motivation, and productivity. More than 90% of employees surveyed indicated they were more likely to stay with an empathetic employer. In fact, respondents were even willing to trade off hours and pay in favor of increased empathy.

In an increasingly competitive talent environment, building a culture of empathy should be a key part of the people strategy in all organizations.

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Webinar Download: Tips for Solving People-Related Issues

People-Related Issues

Did you know? Senior leaders spend 61% of their time solving people-related issues.

Imagine the impact you could have on your client’s business if you resolved these challenges. In this recorded webinar, we discuss HOW you can advise on talent and strategy to bring value to your engagements.

Learn from Tim Bowden, Partner at gothamCulture and Russ Thomas, Regional Director of Partnerships at The Predictive Index:

  • Practical tips for diagnosing people problems
  • How to use people data to drive solutions
  • How to align your client’s talent to their strategy
  • Lessons from the field

Access the webinar recording here.

Why Are We Still Investing In Engagement & Self-Actualization At Work?

For over two decades, since the concept came into awareness, many managers have been working to improve employee engagement. Historically, though, you can trace the roots engagement back to the work of Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. When Maslow’s general theory of motivation was translated into the world of management, self-actualization became the goal for all employees — an idea that many authors (e.g. here) have since related to employee engagement.

Since Maslow entered management, managers have pushed for engagement, finding fulfillment, or simply “doing what you love” on the job. But, this is a narrow interpretation of an already pretty narrow view of human motivation.

A quick look at global employee engagement suggests that the way we’ve been pursuing self-actualizing work is likely misguided. Despite massive investments over the past two decades, we’ve seen little change in global employee engagement. In fact, a recent report from Gallup celebrates a 1% increase actively engaged members of the workforce with no change in the percent who are actively disengaged — and says nothing about the consistent majority of workers who are neither actively engaged or disengaged.

All of the effort and investment in driving engagement and self-actualization typically ignores what we really know about motivation. Motivation at work, and beyond, is deeply individual. We know that work motivation isn’t simply a linear progression toward self-actualization, engagement, or happiness. What then should a well-intentioned manager who’s been overdosed with Maslow do to help improve employee experience and performance?

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Why I’m Taking a Day Off From Being Busy – And You Should Too

For the past 12 years since my family relocated to Northern Virginia, I’ve talked to my dad at least once a week on the phone. I’ve noticed over the past few weeks, though, that our conversations have evolved into a pretty familiar pattern. One that around various versions of one question: “What’s keeping you busy these days?” Of course, I’ve always got a list – starting new projects at work or at home, scrambling to get the next proposal in or find the next client, preparing for the sale of our house, or any other number of to-do’s whether large or small. Even my dad who’s been retired for the past five or so years also seems to always be busy. This phenomenon certainly isn’t unique to me and my dad.

The Culture of Being Busy
A few years ago the Atlantic published an article asserting that “Ugh, I’m so busy” has become the status symbol of our time. And in 2018, sociologist Anna Akbari’s Psychology Today article challenged readers to define their success not by their lack of time, but by the quality time they dedicated to the people and things that they loved. It seems our culture has come to embrace busyness over all else. The idea is that to be successful and happy we need to constantly have schedules filled to the brim. That being important means battling multiple conflicting priorities. Or that productivity means just having too much on our plate to possibly fit in one more thing.

And I think I’ve taken the bait, hook, line, and sinker. I pursue hobbies with such zeal that they look more like vocations. And I work so hard to provide my kids with opportunities, experiences, and activities that I stay busy keeping them busy. But at the end of the day, I don’t think I’m any more productive, significantly happier or more well off because of how busy I’ve become. Nor do I think any of the other folks I encounter who are constantly busy are any of these things either.

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Webinar: Tips For Solving People-Related Issues – March 11, 2020

People-Related Issues

Did you know? Senior leaders spend 61% of their time solving people-related issues.

Imagine the impact you could have on your client’s business if you resolved these challenges. In this webinar, we’ll discuss HOW you can advise on talent and strategy to bring value to your engagements.

Join us live on Wednesday, March 11 at 2-3pm ET to learn from Tim Bowden, Partner at gothamCulture and Russ Thomas, Regional Director of Partnerships at The Predictive Index:

  • Practical tips for diagnosing people problems
  • How to use people data to drive solutions
  • How to align your client’s talent to their strategy
  • Lessons from the field

Bring your questions for live Q&A!

Register Here: bit.ly/2SNZdou

Please note, you can access the recording of this webinar anytime here

Are Your Employees Ready For The “Superjobs” Of The Future?

I recently finished listening to the audiobook version of David Epstein’s Range, his 2019 counter punch to the drive for specialization, often represented by the 10,000 hour rule, as the best path for achieving future success. In his book, Epstein pushes back against the idea that deeper and deeper specialization is the best way to achieve success, especially in rapidly changing and unpredictably complex environments. “We are often taught that the more competitive and complicated the world gets, the more specialized we must get,” Epstein notes, but according to his research, given that most business environments today are not governed by standard rules and predictable patterns, maintaining a competitive edge will require organizations to hire or train generalists who are often more willing and better able to find solutions to novel challenges.

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends, many business leaders see the trend towards needing more employees who are capable of taking on diverse and varied job tasks. According to the report, a vast majority of respondents expect that the increased adoption and use of technology will mean that jobs in the future are far more multi-disciplinary than they have been. And that as artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies, and robotic process automation take hold, there will be a trend towards “superjobs”, or jobs that combine parts of different traditional jobs into integrated roles – these jobs will span the hyper-specialized areas of expertise of many current workers. Read More…