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…)

This post is adapted from “Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life,” by Tom Rath (Silicon Guild, May 2015)

“If you want to make a difference — not just today, but for many years to come — you need to put your health and energy ahead of all else.”

Some of the most caring people also tend to be the least healthy. This is what I observed, time and time again, while spending the last few years focused on health and well-being. After writing the book “Eat Move Sleep,” I heard from thousands of people who were struggling with their personal health and a general lack of energy.

Surprisingly, workers in the professions I admire most, such as nursing, are often the least healthy. One study found that 55% of nurses are overweight or obese. If there is any group that needs to be healthier and set a good example, it is people working in healthcare. (read more…)

One of my clients once had a cardboard cutout of himself made to “sit” with his team. Why on Earth would he do this? Because he was the leader of a dispersed team — he was based in the US and his team was half a world away in Singapore. If he couldn’t physically be with his team, he wanted a tangible reminder that he was there, at least in spirit.

Virtual, or as I prefer, “dispersed” teams are almost more common than not these days. According to the 2013 Global Workplace Analytics Survey, between 2005 and 2013, the number of employees who worked virtually grew by 80%. There are plenty of reasons for this rapid growth: extended market opportunity; increased efficiency, productivity, innovation and synergy; access to a wider pool of talent; better effort, performance gains and job satisfaction; and cost savings.

But for all the positives, there are a lot negatives that come with not sharing a physical space with your team and colleagues. (read more…)

Each month, When Growth Stalls examines why businesses and brands struggle and how they can overcome their obstacles and resume growth. Steve McKee is the president of McKee Wallwork + Co., an advertising agency that specializes in working with stalled, stuck and stale brands. The company was recognized by Advertising Age as 2015 Southwest Small Agency of the Year. McKee is also the author of “When Growth Stalls” and “Power Branding.”

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Beware the knights who say “NIH!”


When a company finds itself stuck in a rut, there’s a tendency for the management team to become insular, particularly if it’s feeling embattled by customers, employees or shareholders (and perhaps all three). That’s a road on which all sorts of bad behavior can arise.

Those who grasp the wheel may cling to it ever tighter, whether out of desperation to avoid losing control, denial that there’s even a real problem, or in hope that they can keep their issues to themselves. (read more…)

No Drama Leadership book jacketThis post is excerpted with permission from “No-Drama Leadership: How Enlightened Leaders Transform Culture in the Workplace,” by Marlene Chism (Bibliomotion, 2015).

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The difficult conversations avoided today become the lawsuit the company fights a decade later. Every single day, supervisors and managers complain about employees’ behavior and lack of accountability, but ultimately the problem is the leader’s lack of responsibility, the evidence of which is the evasion of difficult conversations.

If leaders are unwilling to take ownership, how can those same leaders blame the employee? Signs that indicate a lack of leadership include:

  • Blaming employees instead of coaching them
  • Avoiding performance feedback
  • Gossiping about the employee’s ineffectiveness
  • Transferring the troublemaker to another department
  • Firing a long-term employee who has had no warning
  • Making excuses for the lack of clear direction
  • Failing to communicate expectations

There are many reasons individual leaders struggle with responsibility and accountability. (read more…)