Aon’s most recent “Trends in Global Employee Engagement” reprises a familiar refrain:

“Companies continue to struggle with providing growth opportunities for employees and other top engagement drivers. Career opportunities is the top engagement driver globally; however, positive perceptions surrounding this driver have fallen 3 points, to 44%”

Yet again, organizations, talent professionals and leaders have to face the hard data and hard reality that we’ve still not cracked the code on what matters most to employees: career opportunities. It’s not for lack of effort. Companies are investing extraordinary resources in skills training, portals, online systems and processes designed to make this happen. And it all falls short. Here’s why.

Dated definitions: We continue to hold tightly to and perpetuate the illusion that career development operates via the old career ladder, which (in days gone by) allowed for the regular, progressive and consistent movement upward toward increasingly desirable positions. Unfortunately, the ladder no longer exists. (read more…)

Have you ever been to a leadership training program and realized the concepts taught would be as much use to you at home as at work? According to research by Development Dimensions International, leaders who apply their newly learned skills at work also put those skills to use at home. The same is true in reverse: you can draw upon life outside of work to be a better leader at work. All it takes is sharpening your observational skills and a focus on seeing leadership lessons in life’s daily activities.

Leadership lessons unfold in unlikely places; it’s surprising how life can help you become a better leader. Look to these six potential sources for inspiration.

The arts. It’s riveting to watch other people navigate life’s challenges, especially from the comfort of our living room sofa. It can be instructive as well. Movies, theatre, and television all provide countless lessons on leadership, if you pay attention. (read more…)

You can learn a lot about thriving in your job from a poet.

I know that, as a savvy businessperson, that might seem incongruous. After all, what can someone who dabbles in words and the elegant turn of phrase tell you about revenue growth and bottom lines, about market penetration and innovation, or about slogging through the tortuous political landscape of a company that’s reducing headcount? You’re right. Absolutely nothing!

Yet a recent re-reading of David Whyte’s book “The Three Marriages” reminded me of just how much art informs life. In the book, Whyte posits that we all have responsibility for three marriages in our lives: with our inner selves, with our loved ones and with our work. Separating those marriages, he says, destroys the foundation of the happiness we deserve. But, when we embrace those marriages in an integrative way, we can bring our best selves to each of them. (read more…)

Good management habits are the foundation of great leadership. They grow at the intersection of knowledge, skills and desire. Leaders are passionate about acquiring the knowledge available and marshaling the skills needed to get the job done right.

It is work, hard work to cultivate those habits but they pay off by supporting your goals and by building the confidence to anticipate and look forward to meeting new challenges to the success of an enterprise.

Too often, success allows those habits to go fallow. When it is pointed out that they are not practicing the good habits that brought them success, some CEOs respond, “I have a good team around me and they need to practice those habits more than I do,” or, “I have to focus on strategy,” or, “My time is needed on building the new ____.”

recite-9bwgoMany CEOs think that applying new knowledge and utilizing new skills means losing their identity, abandoning what got them to the top. (read more…)

A number of leaders I know are beginning 2016 facing extremely challenging business and/or personal situations. I want to encourage them to keep moving forward because I believe their greatest contributions are yet to come. Here are four pieces of advice to help. (read more…)