SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How engaged are the members of your team?

  • Highly engaged: 27.49%
  • Mostly engaged: 48.86%
  • Somewhat engaged: 17.76%
  • Not engaged: 3.65%
  • Actively disengaged: 2.43%

You need them all engaged. While it’s great that almost 80% of you have a mostly or highly engaged team, having 20% of people out there who aren’t is a huge drag on the organization. You’re likely spending 80% of your time on that 20% group of disengaged people. That’s a tremendous productivity drain because engagement matters more than you think it does. Spend a few days figuring out not now to cure the symptoms of their disengagement but rather how you can change their role or their perspective on their work to get them more engaged. (read more…)

In many workplaces today, there seems to be a reward for looking busy. The more overwhelmed you are, the bigger your payoff.

But what is the real payoff? If you’re a chronic rusher, a confirmed multitasker, what’s your reward? Perhaps more important, what is the quality of work you’re producing? And what, if anything, should you do about it? Ask yourself these seven questions:

Statements Contributing To Rushing


Do you feel your projects are more important than those of your colleagues?


Do you feel irritated when other people take too long to get things done?


Do you habitually rush from one activity to the next?


Do you push your people to get things done faster?


Are you impatient when listening to other people talk?


Do you often feel there’s no way you can get it all done?


Does your workplace culture reward busyness? (read more…)

I’m not a gamer, but when I hear the phrase “call of duty,” the popular video game immediately comes to mind.

In fact, I’ve heard it so much that when I hear the phrase outside of the gaming context, I sit up and take notice. Just what does call of duty mean in the real world? It sounds like a summoning, urging me to take a stand.

Embodying the call of duty

There are so many people who exemplify following that call, but Mahatma Gandhi immediately comes to mind for me. Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa. His call of duty was in representing the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. We all know the rest of the story.

Applied in our everyday lives

I asked some of my compatriots in the Lead Change Group what the phrase “call of duty,” meant to them. (read more…)

Leadership just isn’t what it used to be. Thank goodness! We’ve all known of organizational cultures where the managers’ use of command and control is a source of power. Because we are now in an age of flattened organizational structures, global broad based knowledge, and speed-of-light decision making, real leadership power lies in work relationships that are formed and intentionally sustained.

In the next 20 years, we’ll see more change in how managers lead. Although here are still pockets of managers who grasp for power through force and strength, they’ll leave and be replaced with a new type of manager. This manager will be adept at real power. They’ll share influence by being a catalyst to bring out the best in their stakeholders and organizations.

They’ll focus on others as a significant investment as opposed to simply checking off items on a “to do” list. The managers who are adept at force and control will not survive, except perhaps in rare cases where safety and security may be necessary. (read more…)

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In February, CVS announced it would stop selling tobacco products, and take a $2 billion hit to the bottom line, because they were starkly at odds with the company’s core purpose of promoting customer health. Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a news release, “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do … to help people on their path to better health. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

More recently, Starbucks unveiled the College Achievement Plan for any Starbucks employee that will cover some or all of the tuition for Arizona State University’s online degree programs. If only 3% of its workforce takes advantage of the program, then it could cost Starbucks $50 million annually. That may sound like a lot of money. But, Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, told the press that the program would not only lower attrition, increase performance, and attract and retain talent, but it is also in alignment with Starbucks’ mission: to “inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” What inspires and nurtures the human spirit more than getting a good education? (read more…)