Growing up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, I learned to survive by being scrappy enough to make-do and hungry enough to keep moving. Department stores were big buildings in places 100 miles away, and if a rattlesnake came between me and where I wanted to go, guess who came out on top?

As a kid I learned a lot about mental toughness. When I joined the FBI, I learned even more. My defensive tactics and firearms training drilled one thing into me: never choke when faced with an obstacle that looks bigger, meaner, or uglier than you.

In other words, always be game-ready so you can have the mental toughness to rebound from disappointments and missed opportunities. Our coaches trained us to have a hardiness for enduring the downside of a situation.

Entrepreneurs, leaders, and business owners have tough situations to face in today’s competitive environment. They need to be ready to meet those challenges with their best mental game. (read more…)

Once or twice a year, we hear or read about jobs moving overseas. Sometimes it is less than 100 while it is just as likely to be thousands. Constructing a plant or other building is often part of the deal. The reason for such action is usually lower costs or availability of talent.

Perhaps it is time to rethink such actions because they negatively impact the U.S. labor force and economics conditions. Leaders may want to consider actions that could solidify their corporate financial situation.

Other motivations of leaders could be:

  • it’s been done for decades, so I can do it
  • I like to visit country X so let’s get some business going there so I can visit
  • The people in the US may have the skills but won’t be committed to me and my business
  • It’s my business and I can do what I want!

Leaders may be able to ride out the uncomfortable ride created by their action to ship jobs away. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How knowledgeable are you about global megatrends?

  • Very — We monitor the pace of change, long-term, across all megatrends: 10%
  • Somewhat — We stay informed only about megatrends we think directly affect our business: 40%
  • Not very — Industry trends are our main focus: 29%
  • Not at all — Too busy fighting fires to look beyond our business and the present: 10%
  • What’s a megatrend?: 10%

The broader the better. While a slim majority of you are focused on trends beyond your own industry—such as global demographic, economic, political, environmental, societal, and technological trends—there is the possibility of missing out on key insights by being too selective. As this blog post points out, environmental disasters such as the recent earthquake in Japan can affect a wide range of U.S. (read more…)

There are a lot of things that can contribute to a toxic work environment – poor leadership, bullies and gossip, a high stress culture or even excessive bureaucracy. If any of these situations sound familiar, do read on:

People

Leadership

Culture

Bullies

Backstabbers

Gossips

Users

Axe-grinders

Cynics/naysayers

Lack of vision

Unrealistic expectations

Poor communication

Yelling, shaming

Favoritism

Lack of empathy

No feedback

Only negative feedback

Long hours

Excessive overtime

Constant rushing

Scapegoating

Constant criticism

Cliquishness

Toxic work impacts

Increased employee absenteeism or illness

Low morale

High turnover/loss of talented staff

Decreased teamwork/team spirit

Whatever the reasons your workplace is leaving you drained, there are steps you can take to keep yourself going, at least until you have made your game plan or found your next opportunity. Take the situation as a learning opportunity and set yourself up for success, despite the circumstances.

DO own your own integrity

Nobody agrees on how offices should be designed. Let’s just start there. We don’t even agree on the merits of the American version of “The Office” versus the British original (my 2 cents: the American version is unintentionally darker because it leaves those people in dead-end job stasis for nine years).

But we can all agree that the office can be improved. That’s why a recent Fortune article caught my eye. It explores the idea of the “flexible” office from a few angles, including how a startup customizes its workspace to allow for concentrated work, as well as the history of and current trends in office furniture. Here’s the thesis:

Evidence is mixed on whether open plans actually foster collaboration, and studies have shown that open office plans decrease productivity and employee well-being while increasing the number of sick days workers take.

What went wrong? And, if an open plan isn’t the solution to the modern workplace, what comes next? (read more…)