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How A Tomato Boosts Productivity

Simple Tools For Increasing Productivity, Including A Skillful Use of A Tomato

Over a year ago, I attended a wonderful workshop at the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) conducted by Jim Lilkendey of Apogee Coaching.  The topic was being more productive.

Jim drew from his experience as a business coach and from two books, The Power of Full Engagement and Getting Things Done, which are both bestsellers.  Interestingly, both books, and Jim’s discussion, seemed to point much less at simple organizational skills, which one might expect from a course on being more productive, and more towards the deeper, root causes of either being productive or not.
At root of it all is something that may sound obvious, but I think is rarely considered when considering ways to increase productivity – the alignment between what we’re doing and our deepest aspirations.  In the workshop it was suggested that if we’re not doing something that we’re passionate about, our productivity will likely suffer a great deal.
The secondary focus, as I saw it, was on energy management.  Jim mentioned the truth that we actually have no control over time.  Thus, “time management” is a misnomer.  What we can manage, he said, is our energy.
In addition to numerous practical exercises from David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, Jim mentioned the Pomodoro Technique.  This program (named after a tomato timer used while cooking) is based on the idea that we humans can only focus our attention for so long before we become easily distracted and increasingly less productive.  Thus, with the Pomodoro Technique, we are encouraged to work in a very focused way for 25 minutes, and then take a 5-minute break.
The effects are very interesting.  When we know that we only have to remain focused for 25 minutes before we have break, it is much easier to stay true to the task at hand.  Further, when we return from the break, we often have fresh insights into projects that we wouldn’t have had if we had continued to sit and struggle through it for hours.
I had been employing the idea of taking mindful breaks for some time.  However, I would typically just practice some mindful breathing while seated at my desk.   After Jim’s Workshop, I changed it up to more closely follow the Pomodoro Technique, and have noticed numerous benefits. I’m getting more done, I have more energy, and I feel significantly more relaxed throughout the day because I find it easier to remain focused for 25 minutes than for hours at a time.
Here’s My System
I use a timer that I set for 25 minutes, and begin working mindfully on my current task or tasks on my “to do” list, aware of my body and state of mind.  I do not allow my attention to stray to incoming phone calls or Facebook or surfing the web.   When the time expires, a nice harp on my phone lets me know that it’s time for a break.
To begin my 5-minute break, I stand up and take one deep breath in and out, practicing the same power breathing technique that we teach to youth in the Kids Kicking Cancer (KKC) program. 
After taking my Breath Brake, I go for a brief walk outside, in mindfulness.  I let go of any thinking and simply open my awareness to walking, what comes through my senses, and the state of the body and mind.  This effort to be mindful and let go of thinking serves as a great recovery period alone.  Seeing the blue sky or some trees further ads to the rest from the computer.  
Also, I think this change of postures is essential.  By walking, I’m increasing blood flow to the head, which energizes me mentally for when it’s time to sit back down to work.

I hope you find this as helpful as I have!

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Better SEO – Self-Effectiveness Optimization

A Different Type of SEO – Self-Effectiveness Optimization:  

How mindfulness training improves our personal effectiveness.

Optimization seems to be one of the most common buzzwords “buzzing” around these days.  I most often hear the word in the context of SEO, which is search engine optimization.
I wonder how many of us have a solid plan for optimizing our most important engines – our minds.  Let’s explore this most important aspect of another type of SEO – “self-effectiveness optimization.”

I feel pretty confident that everyone reading this has a solid understanding of how to optimize ourselves physically.  There is an abundance of information (perhaps too much) on how to eat well, sleep right, and exercise to ensure that we can optimize ourselves, physically.
But what do we do to optimize the most important tool we have – the mind?
Traditional schools of thought posit that we should get as much education as possible.  However, there is a lot of evidence that shows an inverse correlation between higher levels of education and personal effectiveness.  For instance, according the research of the Perth Leadership Institute, there is actually an inverse correlation between higher levels of education and profitable behaviors.  And, thanks to the well-known research of Daniel Goleman and others, we now know that emotional intelligence is twice as important as IQ for high levels of personal and professional performance.
Although knowledge is definitely helpful, it seems that even more important is how well-trained our minds are.  This is why so many top companies like Google, Intel, Raytheon, and General Mills are training their people in the practice of mindfulness.  They know that mindfulness is an incredibly powerful tool for training the mind to be most effective.  This is why I am also an advocate for incorporating mindfulness training into our personal development efforts.
Mindfulness practice can really be boiled down to two main elements: attention training and wisdom development.
The heart of the practice is training ourselves to become less distracted by thinking.  We train our attention to be aware of our own thoughts and emotions (self-awareness), as well as the rest of the present-moment reality.  This helps us remain more attentive to tasks we’re working on and, over time, actually makes the mind more efficient by reducing the amount of useless thinking that serves no purpose other than to sap our mental energy. (Although I’m sure that this doesn’t apply to anyone reading this.  We never get caught up in conversations in our heads that are completely useless right?)
As we develop our ability to remain free from distracting thinking, awareness becomes much more powerful, allowing us to see subtle aspects of our world that we don’t normally pay much attention to – like how everything is constantly changing.  We all know this intellectually, but most of us haven’t had deep personal insight into the universal truth of impermanence.  By developing this wisdom, we find that we are much more effective in life because we deal with change more effectively, things don’t bother us so much, and we become much less attached to our own ego, which makes us much more effective when dealing with other people.
The heightened self-awareness and insight into impermanence that result from mindfulness practice make it a very powerful tool for developing the emotional intelligence skills that, as mentioned above, are more important than IQ for improving our effectiveness.
If you’re already utilizing mindfulness as part of your SEO (self effectiveness optimization) plan, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
If you’re new to mindfulness, please feel free to leave questions in the comment section.

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Capitalize The “We”

Great Leaders Focus on Capitalizing the We

i can’t believe that i never noticed this before.  Reading the other day, i wondered why the personal pro-noun “i” is always capitalized, but not “We”.  Great leaders focus on capitalizing the We.

Although we might just view this as a convention of language, to me it is quite striking that our language capitalizes the “i” but no other personal pronoun.  It is a reflection of our attachment to the importance of the individual over the importance of the greater good.

Perhaps this can help explain why we tend towards selfishness.  Language is a key element of our worldview.  If our language is set up to value ourselves over others, our minds are more inclined to do so as well.

As i reflected on this, it occurred to me that the more ideal language structure would be to only capitalize the personal pronoun, “We.”

Great leaders know that one of the keys to success is focusing on the We more than the i.

If we’re promoted into a leadership position, it’s probably because we’re really good at what we do.  One of the most difficult challenges most leaders face is to continuously be shifting away from the idea that “i have to do it,” and moving towards, “We do it together.”

As leaders our success is no longer measured by our personal accomplishments. Our success is measured by what our people accomplish as a team.  This requires a whole new skill set.  It requires us to always be thinking in terms of We.

When We think in terms of We more often, We naturally find ways to better serve our people.  When We serve our people, they better serve our customer or members.

This is the secret to success isn’t it.  The organization that best understands and meets the needs of the customer or the member is the one that wins in the long term.

Here’s an interesting experiment.  Try eliminating the word “i” from your vocabulary for a day and replace it with “We”.

What do you notice when you try this out?

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Surprising Links Between Cockroaches, Compassion, and Profits

A Guest Post that Appeared on The Huffington Post on the Surprising Links Between Cockroaches, Compassion, and Profits

On a recent Saturday morning, when walking into my guest bedroom, I noticed that a rather large palmetto bug (a.k.a. cockroach) had found its way into my home. This happens occasionally during warm months. Usually the bugs are on their backs, near death, or already dead. However, this one was spunky!
I practice catch and release with these critters (I’ll explain why in a moment), covering them with a cup, then sliding a thin piece of cardboard under the cup, carrying the critter outside, and quickly sliding the cup off of the cardboard. This sends the bug falling safely onto the earth, where they usually scurry off to hide from the light.
The little feller I released on this particular Saturday didn’t like the idea of falling safely to the earth and decided to fly: Not just to break his fall, he really started flying! In fact, he flew right back at me. I stepped to the side quickly to get out of the way and when I looked to see where he had landed, I couldn’t find him. There were only a couple places to hide on my small porch – under my running shoes, or on me.
To read the rest of this post, please click here to see it at the Huffington Post.

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

How to Create a Highly Innovative Culture (Part 2)

Last week, in Part 1 of this post, we clarified what innovation is, and discussed how we can predict whether or not someone will be innovative based on the strength of a cognitive bias called the status quo bias.  Here in Part 2, we’ll discuss how to apply this knowledge toward creating a highly innovative culture.
Because of the skill required to work with highly innovative people, organizations that are fortunate enough to have such people on their team often find it quite difficult to keep them on the team.
This is especially true for large organizations.  Nothing will drive away highly innovative people more quickly than high levels of bureaucracy.  Most large organizations become increasingly bureaucratic as they grow.  As a result, they drive away innovators and gradually become less innovative as an organization.
There are, of course, exceptions to this general trend.  It is possible, even in large companies, to create a culture that attracts and retains highly innovative people and, perhaps more important, helps people who are not naturally very innovative (the vast majority of people) to be more innovative as well.  The key ingredient for creating and sustaining such a culture is being committed to serving and caring for our employees. 
Two excellent examples are Google and the software giant, SAS, which are among the most innovative companies in the world.  Every year, these two companies are also both highly ranked among the best companies to work for.  On the 2013 list of the Fortune Magazine Best Companies to Work For, they were listed as number one and two, respectively.
The examples of how Google works to care for employees are almost legendary.  They include free, on-site haircuts; gyms; pools; break rooms with video games, ping pong, billiards and foosball; on-site medical staff for easy doctor appointments; and the option to bring one’s dog in to work. 
But Google didn’t invent this type of incredible workplace culture.  They actually emulated the culture at SAS, a company that has produced absolutely phenomenal business outcomes.  SAS has posted record earnings for 37 consecutive years, including $2.8 billion in 2012.  CEO Jim Goodnight often says that the secret to their success is taking care of their employees.
One reason serving and caring for our people is so effective for building and sustaining a highly innovative culture is that when we truly care about our people and are committed to helping them grow, we don’t stifle innovation by worrying about our own position.  Instead of thinking that we have to come up with all the good ideas to look good as leader, we are happy when our team has great ideas.  Leaders who are more focused their own performance, instead of on leading their people well, tend to micromanage, which erodes trust and crushes innovation. 
When we truly care about our people and are committed to helping them grow, we are also much more likely to trust them and give them high levels of autonomy.  Providing high levels of autonomy is one the most important elements of attracting and retaining those rare, highly innovative people who abhor bureaucracy but can add so much value to our organization. 
Perhaps more important, serving and caring for our people can help employees who are not naturally innovative to become more innovative.  Most people have a fairly high status quo bias.  As we discussed in Part 1 of this post, this means that they are very unlikely to suggest and act on ideas that are contrary to the status quo – i.e. ideas that are innovative – because of their fears of rejection and not fitting in and, in the case of the business world, fear of being fired.
When we are focused on serving our people and consistently caring for them, these fears are alleviated.  With consistent care and trust, our people trust us more, and they know that we will not fire them for taking appropriate risks and making mistakes.  The more secure people feel, the more likely they are to suggest and act on innovative ideas.   We are essentially removing the status quo bias by removing the status quo.
Jim Goodnight of SAS offers a great example of just how powerful this can be.  In the fall of 2008, the Great Recession was imminent.  SAS faced the same issues that every other company in the analytics software industry faced.  Sales plunged due to the budget cuts almost every business was making in preparation for what seemed like a long downturn.  Other companies in the industry started laying off large numbers of employees. 
But Goodnight’s response to the recession was dramatically different, as Mark C. Crowley, author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century, describes in an article he wrote for FastCompany:

“In early January 2009, Goodnight held a global webcast and announced that none of its 13,000 worldwide employees would lose their job. He simply asked them all to be vigilant with spending and to help the firm endure the storm.  ‘By making it very clear that no one was going to be laid off,’ Goodnight told me, ‘suddenly we cut out huge amounts of chatter, concern, and worry – and people got back to work.’ What likely will be astonishing to many is that SAS had record profits in 2009 even though Goodnight was perfectly willing to let his then-33-year track record of increased profit come to an end.

“At 70 years old, Goodnight holds the conviction that ‘what makes his organization work are the new ideas that come out of his employee’s brains.’ He therefore holds his employees in the highest esteem. So while he fully anticipated that the recession would constrain the firm’s short-term revenues, he instinctively knew that his team would produce breakthrough products while his competitors were cutting costs.  And even four years later, his commitment to his people has paid off handsomely. Said Goodnight, ‘new stuff we’re rolling out this year is going to take the market by storm.’”

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

How to Create a Highly Innovative Culture (Part 1)

In the business world today, “innovation” is quite the buzzword.  We’ve all likely heard things like “innovation has to be a top priority in our organization,” “we must be continuously innovating,” “innovation this,” and, “innovate that.”  Although the word is used often, there seems to be a lack of clarity on what innovation actually is.  In Part 1 of this blog post, we’ll discuss some fascinating research on profitability from the prestigious Perth Leadership Institute that clarifies the issue, and will lay the foundation for how we can create a highly innovative culture in our organization, which we’ll discuss in Part 2 of the post.
Dr. Prince, the founder and CEO of the Perth Leadership Institute, conducted groundbreaking research that links the personality traits of managers directly to impacts on gross margin and expenses.  Each personality trait is the result of what is known in Psychology as cognitive biases.  Although Dr. Prince found 10 cognitive biases that have significant, direct impacts on gross margin and expenses, there are two biases that, according to his research, have the greatest impact on the bottom line. 
One of them, the status quo bias, is also an excellent predictor of whether or not a person will be innovative.  The research of the Perth Leadership Institute shows very clearly that innovation has a tremendous impact on gross margin.  In fact, we can predict quite accurately how a manager will affect gross margin simply by measuring how innovative that manager is.
Even intuitively, I believe this makes perfect sense.  There is a direct correlation between how unique a product or service is and the price someone is willing to pay for it.  Thus, the more innovative someone is, the more likely she is to create products and services that add value for the consumer, which also increases the profit margin for the organization offering the product or service. 
The status quo bias results in a strong preference for maintaining things the way they have been.  It is based on our need to fit in.  As you might guess, most people have at least a moderately strong status quo bias.  The need for belonging is one of the most powerful human needs, and doing things that buck the status quo can certainly be associated with taking the risk of not being accepted by others.  Unfortunately, the stronger this bias is in a person, the less likely he is to come up with innovative solutions to problems that add value to his organization or for customers.
A person with little or no status quo bias is a person who will consistently innovate.  This is the type of person who has no problem suggesting and acting on ideas that are completely outside of the proverbial box, even if that idea is rejected as silly by numerous people over long periods of time.  In others words, someone with little or no status quo bias typically doesn’t care what other people think about them or their ideas.  A good example is the late Steve Jobs, who was known for being one the most innovative people of our time, and also for being a bit of jerk.
One thing you might have noticed in the description above is that creativity was not mentioned.  Perhaps the most common misperception about innovation is that it is synonymous with creativity.  Although creativity can assist in innovating, it is certainly not necessary.  In fact, there is research showing that people who are “too creative” are actually very unlikely to innovate.
This is because innovation has a lot more to do with execution than it does with creativity.  Someone who has too many creative ideas often never sticks with one of the ideas long enough to create the disruption in the field, marketplace, etc., that we refer to as an innovation.  The most important element of being innovative is the ability to stay with an idea long enough, even in the face of significant opposition, to actually make the idea a reality and have it adopted by at least a small group of people.
A perfect example of this is Bill Gates, another one of the most innovative people of our time.  Gates did not create DOS, which was the foundation on which Microsoft was built.  He bought DOS from people that were likely much more creative than him.  But those people weren’t innovators.  They didn’t have the vision and the guts to stick with their idea for years, despite having no real market for it, until the market emerged around their idea.  But Bill Gates did.  He is an innovator.

In Part 2 of this post, which will appear next week, we’ll discuss the ironic and surprising essence of applying this knowledge toward building a more innovative culture in your organization.  

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Can You Do Good and Still be Successful?

Our world is filled with endless choices.  Do we focus on social media or personal relationships?  Do we eat low carbs or low fat, or both?  Do we take the red pill or the blue pill?

But it has become increasingly clear to me over the years that we might not need to choose between as many of those options.  Things are often not so black and white.  I see more and more examples of “grey-ness.”

Although at first this may seem as though it would add to confusion, there’s another way of looking at it.  It also means that compromises and win-win situations are much more likely to occur than we may have previously thought.
One of my favorite examples of this is the realization that we don’t need to choose between being successful and living a deeply meaningful life that makes a significant, positive impact on the world around us.  
In fact, it turns out that the two are quite interdependent.  By focusing on what we can do to be of service to others in the short time we have on this planet, we actually dramatically increase the likelihood that we will be successful in our businesses or careers, especially as leaders.
I was recently reminded of this when I read a fantastic blog post by Skip Prichard .  In the post, Skip interviews Jeff Klein, who is an executive team member of Conscious Capitalism Inc., and the author of Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living and It’s Just Good Business: The Emergence of Conscious Capitalism & The Practice of Working For Good.
Jeff summarizes his thoughts on the benefits of “working for good” as follows:
Purpose is among the highest motivations for human beings. If your work is infused with purpose, then you are inspired and energized to bring all that you have and all that you can to the work.

Love and care similarly bring out the best and most in people. If you care about and for the people you work with and if they care about and for you, your connection to them is deep, and you are motivated to serve and support each other.

When people are aligned and alighted in purpose, supporting and serving each other — and others who they come in contact with (including customers and other stakeholders of the business) — the business is alive. It attracts attention and fosters relationships built on trust and loyalty, which leads to resilience and sustainability.

This is very good for business!

In his blog post, Skip goes on to share some of Jeff’s very valuable insights into how we can make daily progress toward living a life that allows us to consistently and successfully “work for good.”
I highly recommend that you take a few moments to read this post (you can see the full post here). 

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Seek A Meaningful Life Instead Of A Pleasant One

Would you like an incredibly simple yet powerful tool for excelling as a leader and living a happier life?

Try focusing more of your energy on doing things that make life meaningful instead of on trying to make life more pleasant.

We could never make every moment of life pleasant.  It’s an exercise in futility.  No matter how hard we try, there will always be ups and downs, sickness, loss, old age, and death.  Thus, from a logical standpoint, trying to make our lives more pleasant is not the best place to focus our energy.

Also, deep down, we know that pleasantness doesn’t result in greater happiness. We know that there are countless wealthy people, living the most pleasant lives we can imagine, who have to take medication to deal with the emptiness and depression they feel.  In fact, there is now over ten years of research from the field of positive psychology demonstrating very clearly that our happiness has little to do with how pleasant our lives are.

But, we humans can easily becomes creatures of habit, conditioned by our surroundings to behave in certain ways. In our modern culture, we are bombarded with the idea that we’ll be happier if we have more stuff or make our lives more pleasant.  As a result of this conditioning, it’s easy to start believing that it’s true.

Unfortunately, when we get caught in the trap of thinking that life will be better if we make it more pleasant, there are numerous negative ramifications.

One ramification is focusing too much on money at the expense of people.  This can result in great short-term success, but never in long-term success.  If we don’t care for our people – customers, vendors, and employees – our success will not be sustainable.

Focusing on pleasantness also results in avoiding tough conversations that we need to have.  According to my friend, John Spence, one of the top executive trainers in the world, this is one of the biggest issues faced by businesses today.  Many businesses simply aren’t talking about the things that are tough to discuss, but really important to the success of the business.  Avoiding these conversations helps keep life pleasant in the short term.  But, in the long term, the consequences of avoiding tough conversations are often detrimental.

Over time, focusing on making life pleasant in the short term results in leadership failures and dissatisfaction with our lives.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  We can gradually end the habit to seek out pleasantness and form the habit of creating a meaningful life.

If you want to excel as a leader and live a deeply meaningful and happy life, simply shift your focus to how you can better serve the people around you instead of how you can make your own life more pleasant.

The first step is to make a clear distinction between what we need in our lives, and what we simply want.  I’ve found that the more I replace things and activities I simply want with efforts to be of greater service to those around me, the happier I have become and the more excited I am about waking up to start my day because it is filled with increasingly greater meaning.

Assuming that we’re taking care of our basic needs, we can start shifting our focus away from making life more pleasant to creating a life of meaning by asking this question every day, several times a day: What can I do to better serve the people around me?

If you try this for a month, I believe you’ll see a significant, positive shift in your life.

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

Are You A Leader, Or Just A Manager?

It seems that on almost a daily basis I see or hear the words “leader” and “manager” used interchangeably.  In fact, I sometimes catch myself using them interchangeably, too.

But, when we look closely, it becomes clear that “leader” and “manager” are not necessarily synonymous.  A leader doesn’t necessarily need to be in a management position.  And there are many people in management positions that are certainly not leaders.

Confused?  I hope to clarify below.

What is a manager?

The first definition of “manager” that appears when I search with Google is “A person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization.” For a person to have such responsibilities, they almost always have a title like “manager” or “supervisor” or “director”.  But having a title doesn’t make someone a leader.  If a person has a title but no one is willingly following her or him, then she or he is not a leader.  She or he is just a manager.

What is a leader?

We are only a leader when we are influencing people’s behaviors in a way that results in them willingly following us.   The ability to influence people’s behaviors doesn’t require a title or management position.  The two leaders who were arguably the most influential in history, Jesus and Gandhi, had no title at all.  But they influenced billions of people’s behaviors and billions of people willingly followed them (many still do).  Gandhi’s leadership ended the oppressive British rule over India, liberating hundreds of millions of people.

These two leaders also built their influence in exactly the same way.  They both focused on loving and serving the people around them and they had impeccable character.  I believe that there is no better way to build influence than this.  When people know that we truly care about them and want to help them, they are much more willing to follow us.  When they see that we consistently do the right thing in a caring way, even when it is very difficult to do, we inspire our followers by our example.

What are some ways you are leading by example, whether or not you have a title?

How focused are you on serving your people in ways that help them grow as human beings and achieve greater personal and professional success?

Thanks for reading this post!  As a gift, I’d like to give you this excellent eBook for FREE!  

Just CLICK HERE, and I’ll send you this eBook, featuring chapters from John Spence, Jeff Klein, Charlie Kim, Michael Carroll, Ted Prince, David Marquet, and Ben Lichtenwalner.

What Can I Give? – A Powerful Question for Being a Great Leader

Want an extremely simple way to dramatically improve your effectiveness as a leader?

Start thinking in terms of what you can give the people you lead instead of what you can get out of them.

To go from being just a “manager” to being a leader, we should shift our mentality from being a taskmaster to being a mentor.

If we’re doing our job as a manager, it should be a given that we set clear expectations for our people and let them know that we’ll hold them accountable to meeting those expectations.  But that definitely shouldn’t be where we focus our energy.

We should focus our energy on finding ways that we can help our people to be happier, both at work and away from work, and to continuously grow both personally and professionally.

We should know what goals and aspirations our people have, both at work and away from work, and do whatever we can to help our people reach those goals (provided they are positive of course).

What happens when we personally invest in the development and well-being of our people?

For one, by truly caring about our people and consistently demonstrating that we care, we build influence.  People want to do great things not because of fear of reprisal if they don’t do them, but because they don’t want to let us down.

We also build a culture of trust and service that people want to be around.  This is a simple way to gain one of the few competitive advantages that still remain in today’s business world – the ability to attract and retain top talent.  One company that has been proving this for years is nextjump, which had a 0.2% hire rate last year (almost 18,000 applications for 35 positions) and has almost no turnover.  Their stated reason for existing as a company, their “Why”, is “To do the little things that allow others to do the great things they are meant to do.”

Most important in the grand scheme of things it that we find we’re happier and enjoy going to work more.  Being a mentor who helps people achieve greatness is much more rewarding and meaningful than being only a manager.

What are some ways you are helping your people to be happier and continuously grow?

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