Nap rooms, on-site daycare centers and free food at gourmet cafeterias. These perks — typically offered by large companies with deep pockets — are often touted as evidence that the companies that offer them have “great” company cultures. If that’s the measure of outstanding company cultures, many small-business owners figure it’s out of their reach.

Don’t get discouraged, says Jessica Rohman of the Great Place to Work Institute. It’s true that larger companies have resources. But the very thing that prevents small companies from competing with the big players is also an advantage: their small size. Rohman studies and reports on trends in workplace culture for the institute. She says that her organization’s research finds that small businesses often outperform their larger counterparts because they are more nimble and able to connect on an individualized basis with their employees.

Small-business owners are also the de facto senior leadership team of their companies. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Johnson Controls.

Cities today face multiple security issues, including terrorism, civil unrest, soaring crime rates, cyber-attacks, emergencies and natural disasters. To compound the problem, city populations are growing at such a rapid rate (it has been estimated that as many as 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050) that cities are having a difficult time keeping their citizens safe.

Meanwhile, the “smart city” is evolving. A smart city uses information and communications technology to enhance livability, workability and sustainability. Its goal is to enhance the quality and performance of urban services in an effort to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with citizens.

Johnson Controls security expert, Michael Gagnon, answers a few questions on how city security needs are evolving.

 Question: How does the evolution of the “smart city” impact security needs?

 Michael Gagnon: With the evolution of the smart city, municipalities will search for ways to address today’s security and life safety issues with other city-wide technology solutions they are creating. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Have you ever had to deal with someone stealing credit for your work?

  • Yes — someone has publicly taken credit for my work: 85%
  • No — I’ve never had to deal with a credit thief: 15%

Confronting a Credit Thief. There are few things more frustrating than someone stealing credit for your work. Confronting that situation is dicey and uncomfortable. But you should absolutely say something. Start by assuming positive intent and a misunderstanding. If that doesn’t resolve things to your satisfaction, consider escalation approaches that are appropriate to the situation. Hopefully you can resolve the issue this time and prevent it from happening again in the future.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, author of “Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results” and “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.” (read more…)

Another 3-minute design lesson from “The Simplicity Cycle”

Imagine Sherlock without Watson, chocolate without peanut butter, or an accelerator without a brake. In each case, we would have something good but incomplete. Sherlock may be brilliant at solving crimes but he lacks a humanizing bedside manner, which Watson provides. Chocolate is delicious on its own, but the sweet notes are improved and elevated by the addition of a slightly salty peanut butter. And the gas pedal is terrific at making the car go, but at some point we’ll want to slow down or perhaps even stop. Thus, the brake pedal. In each case, adding something (a partner, a complementary flavor, an opposing mechanism) improves the overall experience. The story gets more interesting, the dessert more delicious, the vehicle more drivable.

As designers, coders, or engineers, adding to a design is one of the first creative steps we take. In fact, when we face a blank sheet of paper or an empty screen, adding is the only move available to use. (read more…)

Everyone says self-awareness is essential to effective leadership. It is, but there is another aspect to awareness that may be equally compelling and sadly overlooked. It’s self-management.

It’s one thing to know yourself. We know what we do well. Yay! That’s why we are so good at what we do. We may even know what we are not so good at it so we ignore it. Boo! That can hurt us.

Enter self-management. Self-management is a form of self-control. We do not control events; we merely control how we respond to them. For instance, I know I have a tendency to become short with customer service agents who, let’s face it, have the thankless job of dealing with people like me who think we have better things to do with our time than waste it with people like them.

So after much trial and error, I have taught myself to be more polite. (read more…)