Getting caught up on my never-ending stack of periodicals on a cloudy Sunday morning, I read with delight and admiration about Salesforce.com’s creative approach to allowing pets at work — hardly surprising, it’s called Puppyforce.

But the cute name is not what differentiates it, and permitting pets at the office is not necessarily a new perk. What stands out to me is the strategically innovative way in which Salesforce went about designing their version of this employee benefit and the bona fide emphasis placed, in general, on building a highly engaged workforce.

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Puppies for Success

Fortune magazine’s Christopher Thaczyk describes how Puppyforce took shape via discussions on Chatter, the company’s enterprise social networking platform (think Yammer but tied to the Salesforce CRM). Incorporating feedback from employees concerned about allergies, hygiene and noise, Puppyforce ultimately took shape as a separate soundproof workspace with rubber floors and a reservation system. (read more…)

You have worked hard to get to where you are and can rattle off significant times in your career that gave you great satisfaction. Perhaps you experienced a big promotion, dinner with the CEO or heading up a large successful initiative. Spend a moment thinking about one of those, and you will likely feel a wash of warm pleasure.

Congratulations. You know what makes you happy. Or do you?

Recent studies have shown that we significantly undervalue the more ordinary or mundane events in our lives. These events can also produce happiness even if they seem insignificant when they occur. We may not notice them since they are a part of our everyday experience.

Why do happiness and joy matter to your leadership? Happy leaders tend to be more productive at work, make better decisions, express more creativity and have better social interactions (among many other benefits). I think you can see how all of these things would impact your ability to be the best you can be at your craft. (read more…)

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” The Great Gatsby

The year’s cadence naturally increases in September as workers return from vacations and student return to school. Take advantage of the crispness of fall by injecting new energy into your teams and refocusing them on year-end goals.

Students benefit from the excitement of new classrooms, supplies, teachers and subjects so there’s no reason those of us in the working world can’t grab onto a nugget of that crack-open-the-new spiral freshness and use it to attain this year’s annual goals and provide clarity to plans for the year ahead.

The following are five tips leaders can use to focus themselves and their organizations:

  1. Review your personal “Why” and that of your department or company.” Do they make you excited? Are they relevant to your environment? To the marketplace? Are they aligned? If not, figure out what’s changed and if the Why needs to change as well.
  2. (read more…)

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“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch

The message didn’t really fit directly with the lesson that the professor was delivering. Perhaps that’s why I remember it most clearly from everything that he taught during that entire course.

In the late 1990s, I was taking a methodology class for teaching Social Studies at Roosevelt University in Schaumberg, Ill. The instructor did a wonderful job in helping his class understand the importance of making history come alive for students. We learned about engaging lessons with clear themes and plenty of opportunity for students’ creativity.

But where he really helped me as an educator was with a message that he shared following a conversation that he had with an executive at nearby Motorola. The topic of education had come up between the two men and the exec really laid into his professor friend. (read more…)

According to Bersin by Deloitte, U.S.-based companies invested more the $15 billion in 2013 to develop their leaders.

The dollars were spent on a variety of activities designed to build leadership competencies and skills. These activities included external educational programs, partnerships and internally developed face-to-face workshops, webinars and e-learning. They include development experiences, stretch assignments, 360-degree surveys, one-on-one coaching, action learning teams and communities of practice, simulations and assessment centers, job rotations and strategic mentorships.

No expense has been spared in many organizations to surround leaders with the activities, resources, and tools necessary to elevate their capacity to guide, inspire, and influence individuals and business results. Yet other organizations are shifting their focus in a profound way. Rather than dishing up external experiences to build leadership capacity, they’re beginning to explore a new — internal — frontier.

For the average leader, life is filled with an kaleidoscope of challenges that offer tremendous opportunity for learning and growth. (read more…)