In the midst of our intense discussion, Dom, a vice president at a financial management firm, told me, “I don’t need great rapport, I just want Karl to show respect by doing what I ask.”

Dom wanted to prepare this smart professional for a more senior role and was very frustrated by repeated failed attempts to help Karl increase his business development abilities. He tried pointing out to Karl where his approach was lacking, giving guidance on better ways to create partnerships and support annual planning with clients. But over time, there was no real improvement. Dom attributed the lack of success to Karl having a real attitude problem. When I asked Dom whether Karl felt comfortable with him, he responded, “What difference does that make?”

The key to unlocking Dom’s challenge lies in unwinding the contention that great rapport with employees is not needed. Having employees comply with directives only takes them so far, and certainly lacks the engagement and developmental factors. (read more…)

The best executives with whom I have worked make a point of hitting the road.

Executives who get out of their offices and make treks to the front lines, as well as to customer locations, get firsthand impressions of what is happening, as well as what is not happening. And it’s not enough to show up.

You need to engage. Have real conversations about how the work is going, and especially listen to how people respond.

Ask questions. And, most important, listen to what you hear.

Hitting the road to discover what’s going on is time-consuming and wearying, but it is necessary for any executive who expects to lead with a clear head, and an even more clear vision of the future.


John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. (read more…)

I remember once sitting around the table with my faculty advisory committee. The committee consisted of four teachers from different grade levels and disciplines within the school and was designed to offer me feedback on various programs and change initiatives as well as be my ears on the ground.

At one point the conversation moved to hand written thank you notes that I had penned for each staff member over the summer and left for them on the first day of teacher meetings. The text was largely the same for each note, with one unique line for every staff member that highlighted a personal quality. It read: “I really appreciate the way that you…” and would focus on something like a teacher’s passion, creativity, contribution to the team, etc. One committee member commented on how much the note that she received meant to her. She had posted it on the wall above her desk and looked at it often for inspiration. (read more…)

If you could bring your best boss into your current team or organization right now, what would she do? What would she change or refine to ensure team members are engaged, serving, producing, and feeling trusted and respected every day?

My best boss was Jerry Nutter. I spent 15 years in nonprofit management and enjoyed some good bosses, some lousy bosses and one really amazing great boss: Jerry. He created a work environment that was a joy to operate in. Team members knew exactly what was expected of us — goals were clear, formally defined, and aligned to our team strategy. Values were also clear. Team members knew exactly how we were to treat each other and our customers — those customers inside and outside of our team.

Jerry held us accountable, in every interaction, for aligned performance and aligned values. And we thrived.

We loved coming to work. We worked hard and were amazingly productive. (read more…)

Bosses, CEOs, and strong leaders are commonly stereotyped as powerful, soulless and money-driven individuals.

But great leadership requires much more than a desire for power and money; you also have to be empathetic, courageous, compassionate, caring and creative. Summed up: You need to be mindful.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Jack Canfield, author of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, and pick his brain. He stressed that the best leaders are ones who possess a mindful, big-picture outlook.

So how do we find this deeper meaning in our work? And, as leaders, how do we guide our teams down this path of mindfulness?

Before we answer these questions, let’s take a closer look at why mindfulness is so important.

Being mindful of mindfulness

Here are the three main reasons why being a mindful leader is crucial to your professional and personal growth:

  • It broadens your view. Mindfulness changes your perspective on the world.
  • (read more…)