Squirrels love our backyard. Our large apple tree is a miracle of productivity. Each spring the trunk transforms nutrients under the ground into pink blossoms on the tree. In the summer the leaves flourish, and during the early fall apples grow larger — lots of apples. That’s what the squirrels like — literally, the fruits of the tree’s labor.

Successful businesses bear fruit in the form of results such as profit, happy clients, quality products and satisfaction with a job well done. Much is written about the processes and analysis to produce “fruit,” but we don’t always think about the nutrients that are essential to creating the juicy, delicious result. Let’s talk nutrients.

If the apple tree bears fruit, and it equals business results (professional and person), the trunk represents our behaviors and choices that produce those results. Behaviors like collaboration, teamwork, listening, time management and self-responsibility drive successful results. Choices such as choosing suppliers, staff and marketing tactics set the stage for results. (read more…)

Happiness. What does it mean to be happy? And why should executives care? Businesses should care because workers who aren’t happy aren’t working hard. Gallup has found that 70% of American workers are not happy, and that this state of affairs translates into lost productivity of $500 billion. Suddenly, this whole happiness thing should be of great interest to corporate executives who want productive workers and a smoothly functioning culture.

So, what leads people to be happy?

Over the 30 years that I have taught people in the corporate world, I have concluded that there is one basic element that is common to happy people. They feel that they are “making a difference,” that their life has meaning. Absent that belief, people have a hard time feeling either inner peace or happiness.

Why is it that so many people don’t seem to feel that they are making a difference? I believe the answer has to do with allocation of energy. (read more…)

I’ve been speaking, coaching, and writing about how leaders can build high-performing, values-aligned cultures for over 25 years.

My proven framework helps leaders create an organizational constitution and then align all plans, decisions, and actions to it.

Your organizational constitution formalizes expectations in four vital areas:

  • Purpose (your company’s present day “reason for being,” besides making money)
  • Values and behaviors (what great citizens look, act, and sound like)
  • Strategies
  • Goals.

When leaders and team members all embrace these expectations, engagement and service go up (both by 40% or more) plus results and profits go up (by 35% or more), all within 18 months of starting the culture refinement.

This process works wonders.

And, I’m asked this question all the time: “What if I’m not the CEO of my organization? Can I change the culture of just my team — even when it exists in an organization with a lousy culture?”

Certainly. (read more…)

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

When it comes to leadership, this familiar proverb may be one of the least believed or practiced. Yet serving, or “giving” as the beatitude states, holds great advantages at every level of your career.

You’re at the bottom of the pecking order, and you wish someone would notice you. Study your supervisor to discover what produces their pain. Do your job in a way that removes or minimizes it. Solve their problems. Assure your boss that, whatever their nightmare, you’ve got it covered.

You’re in a pack of aspiring climbers, and you hope there’s room left in the company for you. Ask the serving questions: Does my work add value to this company? Will it amaze our customers? Can it generate cost savings without harming excellence? When you talk to your boss, keep the agenda on the welfare of the company, not on your need for recognition. (read more…)

They’re caring. They also get $tuff done.

It’s often the great debate of what defines an exceptional executive, the discussion of EQ (emotional intelligence) versus IQ (intellectual intelligence).

Go Google it and you’ll find plenty of mixed reviews and articles that point in different directions and various forms of measurement of both EQ and IQ. With all of the compelling arguments around both, the common sense answer is balance. Of course, this is the easiest answer, perhaps a cop-out, but the reality is that the most effective executives have a holistic leadership DNA. They combine the cognitive ability (which drives things like revenue) with the caring nature that resonates genuinely with the employees of the company.

The concept of IQ relates directly to business results, practices and execution. Smart capable leaders get down to efficiencies and the numbers of the organizations. It’s how things get done and the financial gains of the organization are directly produced. (read more…)