As leaders, we have many pathways to help our team members. What is the best approach? That may depend on the individual. Regardless of the path we choose to be helpful, when we believe in the people with whom we work, it can be magical.

My friend Kerry Douglass, a spiritual director, composer, and musician, writes about the beauty of knowing and being known by another person. She has seen the transformation of
individuals when they find they are accepted. She told me she finds confidence and courage to share her gifts with others when she is reminded of her uniqueness, creativity and
resourcefulness.

Acceptance as we are is very powerful. Being believed in can be deeply gratifying and energizing.

If we believe in our team members, if we show that we accept them and trust them for who they are, and we give them clarity of our expectations and goals for them, they will work hard to live up to our level of trust. (read more…)

Leading change starts with a compelling leadership vision for change. According to leadership expert John Kotter, a lack of leadership vision is one of the most common reasons why transformational change efforts fail.

A leadership vision isn’t just for large, CEO-led, companywide transformational changes. Leaders at all levels need to inspire people to change in order to overcome significant challenges and achieve important goals.

“Transformational” is always relative and defined by those most affected by the change. While an office reconfiguration at a branch office may seem insignificant and trivial to a CEO and his executive team, it’s probably considered transformational to the employees that work in that office. It’s up to the branch office manager to have a vision for that reconfiguration or the move is going to be met with skepticism and resistance. The change could take longer than it needs to without even achieving the desired results. (read more…)

Focus is a difficult state to achieve and even more difficult to sustain over time, even for longtime entrepreneurs like Chip Paucek, CEO and co-founder of 2U.

If you read Paucek‘s resume, you might think, “Nothing but success!” He founded Cerebellum, which created the “Standard Deviants” educational program. CEO of Hooked on Phonics, which those of a certain age can remember be ubiquitous in advertising. All that before 2U, which had its initial public offering this year and has real revenue.

And there is success in those first two companies, with each finding success and becoming cultural touchstones for a generation of children. But according to Paucek, who spoke recently at a Startup Grind DC event, he feels he’s finally hit it big with 2U, which helps universities offer degree programs online through cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions.

Cerebellum and Hooked on Phonics weren’t failure, Paucek said, but each had shortcomings — broadly, in how the idea transitioned to a long-lasting business model. (read more…)

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…)

RadioShack is on the ropes. What can be done to save it? (read more…)