There is an interesting story about the shortest letter sent to an English newspaper. The editor asked readers to respond to the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” The following response was reported to have been received from C.K. Chesterton, a well-known writer in the last century:

Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours Sincerely, C.K. Chesterton

When I learned of that story, I wondered how many leaders realize that the impact they make begins with what’s inside of them. The good “human” qualities that are expressed outwardly by leaders — courage, respect, restraint, empathy, compassion, generosity, etc. — start from within.

What that means is that when we look inside to develop these qualities, they can then manifest and become expressed through us to make an impact on the world around us.

So you, as a leader, have the opportunity to impact what’s right with the world through the positive qualities you express. (read more…)

Sweet 16?

When I was 16, I told my father I wanted to be a vegetarian.

“That’s great!” he said. He jumped up from the couch, went to his file cabinet, and pulled out old magazine articles and copies of nutrition guidelines. You see, my father was a vegetarian. The articles he gave me discussed how to balance amino acids and other nutrients. I studied those articles and got started, and I was a strict practicing vegetarian.

For three days.

So, you can imagine my reaction when, decades later, our 16-year-old daughter came to my wife and I and said, “Hey guys, I want to be a vegetarian!”

I explained to her that India was the cradle of excellent vegetarian cooking and that the very word came from an Indian word meaning “lousy hunter.” (Well, that’s what Andy Rooney said!)

Despite my fatherly wisdom (or perhaps because of it?) our daughter went on with her plan. (read more…)

Employee recognition used to be solely handled by the manager or by executives. This top-down approach had its flaws but worked well enough to survive in the traditional workplace where employees and managers met, mingled and interacted on a daily basis.

But in a world where many employees work remotely, employee recognition and incentives must adapt. At Endeavor America Loan Services, we let employees become the leaders in an employee-recognition system that is democratic, inclusive and engaging. We’ve have seen that effort pay off with a highly productive workforce with low turnover and high morale.

From the start of our company, which is headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., but employs remote team members across the nation, we recognized that employees are the best evaluators of performance. So we put incentives and rewards in their hands to increase engagement, collaboration and teamwork. In the past, democratizing employee recognition would have required a significant time investment and ongoing administrative manpower. (read more…)

#108359383 / gettyimages.com

In our leadership development training, we like to start out by asking people to list as many characteristics about their former leaders that they abhorred or adored. This tends to start out as a fun exercise, but takes a more serious turn as people then start to look at themselves and their own leadership skills and behaviors.

10 leadership traits that people adore

  1. Has a clear vision of how people’s work meets the leader’s expectations.
  2. Provides timely, clear, constructive feedback.
  3. Expresses appreciation and gives credit where credit is due.
  4. Actively listens and answers questions.
  5. Treats others with respect and kindness.
  6. Consistently fair in their treatment of others.
  7. Trains, develops, and grows their people.
  8. Willing to jump in and help out when things become difficult.
  9. Has an open door policy and is available.
  10. Supportive and protective of their people when things go wrong.

Obviously, this list is not comprehensive. (read more…)

A new employee’s first day(s) at the office can 1) confirm their feeling that they’ve made the right choice coming to work for you, or 2) make them wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake.

Needless to say, your chance of keeping the new person beyond the first few months goes up when their earliest days with the organization correspond to experience No. 1. So do the odds that the new hire will become fully engaged with your mission.

So what exactly goes into a good first day or three?

New hires need two big things from the onboarding process:

  • To feel as comfortable as possible, as soon as possible, and
  • To make progress in decoding the complex mix of values, procedures, customs, habits and jargon that makes up an organization’s culture.

The right space

Part of the “feeling comfortable” piece, of course, is a new hire’s impression that the employer has prepared an attractive, well-equipped work space for him or her. (read more…)