Is Innovation The Key to Leadership?

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower – Steve Jobs”. In our ever changing world innovation is key to stay on top of the competition; however there are other key qualities of a leader. Some of them include:

  • A strong sense of ethics
  • Superior communication skills
  • Ability to build relationships with people at all levels in an organization and with customer
  • Commitment
  • Decision making abilities
  • Great delegation skills…

What else? Join my conversation

Praise can be Powerful

When you receive praise genuine praise – how do you feel? I know I feel appreciated and want to continue to do the great work that I’ve been doing and I’m sure you do too.

Well thought out and delivered praise recognizes your work and accomplishments. It reinforces your actions builds self-esteem and motivation.

It makes you feel better about you.

Giving such praise can also make you feel better about you.

So be specific – “When you stayed late to work on the last minute changes to the pitch to our client, I was able to work on the financials so we got the client what they needed on time.” That praise is specific and lets the employee know what you appreciated. Chances are when you need them to help you out again, they’ll be there!

Generic praise is nice, but specific praise is wonderful. Don’t just tell an employee she did a good job. Tell her how she did a good job.

Not only will she appreciate the gesture, she’ll also know you pay attention to what she does.

Being Grateful at Work – Taking “Thank You” to the Next Level.

Saying thank you at work is terrific, but it has become something we are expected to say. It is often said without much thought and that means that it may not make much of an impact on the person we say it to.

Of course a polite “thank you” is always appreciated – but is there a way to take it to another level? Showing gratitude to a colleague is one such way to do so.

An article noted Francisco Gino and Adam Grant’s experiment where one group of volunteer fundraisers received no expression of gratitude; the other group of volunteers was told, “I’m very grateful for your hard work.”

The immediate result was the “grateful” volunteers made 50 percent more calls to potential fundraisers. 

Clearly, that’s an important result where motivation and output is concerned (in short, if your only goal is to improve productivity, “I’m grateful” is an effective tool), but just as important, the researchers found that saying “I’m grateful” can help people:

  • savor positive experiences,
  • cope with stressful circumstances, and
  • strengthen relationships.

This makes “I’m grateful” two really powerful words.

Coaching Challenging Employees

Coaching employees is one of the really important jobs that managers have. Coaching can help employees grow and develop and to correct behaviour that isn’t that productive. If the employee’s behaviour is really inappropriate, i.e. they are tactless, arrogant or lacking empathy, the challenge for the manager is that much greater. Before you coach make sure you are looking at that employee fairly. Is their behaviour really what you think it is? Before sitting down to talk to them, prepare what you want to say. Make sure you prepare behavioural examples of where they are not meeting your expectations. Saying “you are arrogant” is not as effective as saying “when we were in a meeting last week you raised your voice at Janet and rolled your eyes at her opinions which upset her.” There is no magic bullet for fixing an employee’s difficult behaviour but solid coaching and behavioural feedback are a great start.


“If you don’t like it. Change something . If you can’t change it change your attitude.” Maya Angelou. How true this is. Too often we want to change things that are outside our control.  All we can do is change our attitude to how something shows up in our lives. What can you see differently today? Is it a problem that can be seen as a challenge that you know you can overcome? Is it a difficult conversation you’ve been meaning to have with someone. Can you plan it out so it will be more effective?  A great plan will get you there.

Are You Procrastinating?

Are you procrastinating? I’ve heard it said that “’Some day’ is not a day of the week” When are you going to get to your to do list or even more importantly that big assignment?

There are always unpleasant things that we try to put off to doing later or perhaps another day. Reports, difficult projects, even things around the house. Sometimes that means we end up doing things at the last minute much to our detriment and then we have to get things done which can cause mistakes to happen and our work to be less that it could be. We end up tired, frustrated and not working at our best.

In order to overcome procrastination – just get started. If it is a difficult task set a timer for 15-30  minutes and just get working. At the end of the 15 minutes you’ll see that you’ve been able to take a bite out of what seemed to be a beast of an assignment. Try working on it for another period of time.

Also know your best time in the day. If you are a morning person, tackle the tough stuff then. Afternoon person? Do the opposite. Set milestone goal along the way, a timeline, and a deadline. Reward yourself for accomplishing small parts of your assignment.

Are there things in your workplace that distract you? Social media is a big one – put the phone away and log out of social media. If you need to concentrate more see if there is a workspace where you can focus if you work in an open concept  environment, or shut your door if you have one. Sometimes an accountability partner can be a great motivator, tell someone what your goal is and have them check in on you. 

Finally set a deadline for when you want to accomplish your project or assignment and celebrate when it is done!

To Run a Good Meeting, Get the Basics Right

Plenty of meetings are a waste of time. They’re unfocused, badly run, and way too long. But improving your meetings isn’t rocket science — work on getting the basics right. When planning a meeting, know why you are scheduling it in the first place. Having a specific goal in mind will help you create a useful agenda. Next, decide who truly needs to be there, considering the key decision makers, influencers, and stakeholders. If certain people should be in the loop but don’t need to attend, you can ask for their input beforehand and update them afterward. Open the meeting by clearly laying out its purpose and focusing people on the task at hand. As the facilitator, your role is to get attendees to feel committed to the outcome. When the meeting is over, take a few minutes to reflect. Did everyone participate? Were people distracted? What worked well, and what didn’t? Use your reflections (ask others for their thoughts, too) to keep improving for next time.

Running a meeting? Don’t miss out on the fundamentals. People often complain that they go to too many meetings where nothing gets accomplished. There are no agendas, people speak off topic and are distracted by social media. Have a desired outcome for your meetings – know what you want to get out of the meeting. Know also whether this is a regular check in meeting where you meet for a few minutes or a long strategic offsite that will take more time. Make sure you get the right people there – the right people doesn’t mean everyone. A good agenda will help you stay focused. Have someone scribe, someone facilitate and someone keep notes. At the end of the meeting take a few minutes and evaluate its success. Don’t forget the ground rules which can include turning off phones and devices that can distract!

“Making the Most of Meetings”

At work are you overwhelmed by the number of meeting to which you are invited? Do your meetings seem to go on for too long?  Do you sometimes wonder what the purpose of the meeting was and why often they don’t have the right people in attendance? Worst of all, are you bothered in meetings by people multitasking, looking at their phones seemingly bored or distracted or spending time daydreaming how to ‘finally get out of this meeting.’ So why bother? Would our work days be better off without meetings?

If properly planned and executed, meetings can be great tools for planning, getting agreement, doing work or getting a team on board. There are simple tips that will make meetings work. First and foremost know why you are having a meeting. Patrick Lencioni in his book “Death by Meeting” actually suggests that we have more meetings, but more of the right types of meetings. In a daily standing meeting we can check production levels, hand out assignment. These are literally standing meetings so they don’t go on for a long period of time. A weekly tactical meeting might benefit some work groups where more planning can take place. In addition strategy and higher level business planning should be more formal and given more time.

Great meetings have the right people in attendance at the right time. If someone only has to attend part of the meeting, invite him or her only for that portion so they don’t feel rude when they leave and so they aren’t bored by the parts of the meeting that don’t impact them.

Meetings without agendas shouldn’t take place. Ideally an agenda would be created and distributed ahead of time listing the items that need to be discussed with assigned time limits for each item. Worst case, at the beginning of your meeting create a number of desired outcomes, those things that you want to accomplish in the time allotted. Great meetings assign roles such as a timekeeper to ensure meetings don’t go on forever, a note taker and someone to facilitate the meeting’s flow.

Don’t book meetings back to back. Even kids in school get a short break to get to their next class. Outlook will default meetings to an hour. Consider limiting your meetings to 45 minutes or shorter.


Ground rules or operating norms will make meetings run more smoothly. If you are part of a team that meets regularly you will get more buy in to the rules of the meeting if you create them as a team. Many great meetings include rules such as no cellphones, one person speaks at a time, agree to stick to the agenda and its time limits. Posting these rules where people can see them makes it easy to bring people back in line when they’ve steered off-course.


Don’t forget to evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings from time to time. Not sure if you should have the meeting? Then don’t! Make the most of your meetings to get work done.  


Getting managers to give feedback

Well delivered feedback that focuses on an employee’s performance and described in behavioral terms is key to recognizing performance you’d like to see continued and stopping behavior that might get in an employee’s way. The problem is that managers don’t like to give feedback. Often they lack the skills to give useful feedback. Once you give managers the skills to give feedback, one way to ensure they give it is to ensure that you make sure that part of a manager’s performance review includes the quality and quantity of  feedback they have given to their staff in the last year.

Want to Sell More? Ask Good Questions First

Want to sell more? Ask good questions!

Want to sell more? Ask more questions, provide solutions later. Recently I walked in to the retail store of my cellphone provider in order to purchase a new car charger. After asking the purpose for my visit the salesperson offered to test my current car charger to ensure it was really broken. Upon seeing it her first words were to trash the brand since I hadn’t bought one “made” by my cellphone provider. The second salesperson when ringing up the new charger kept telling me how I could save more money if I had 4 cellphone lines. I’m a sole proprietor and not sure how 4 lines would help me. The salesperson kept pushing. I left feeling resentful about the whole process. Has this happened to you? You can prevent your customers from having a bad experience with your product or service by asking good open ended questions including:
“What brings you in today?”
“How can I help?”

Get to the root cause of the customer’s problem and if you want to sell, ask questions about their businesses, their current struggles and challenges. Ask first, sell later.