It was the breakthrough that we had been looking for. We had been talking for about forty minutes and my client was spinning their wheels the entire time. Was it a strategy that I had given? Was it a piece of advice? A new tool? No, it was a question that had allowed the person to reflect. Researchers spent some time in a knowledge-based customer support and back-office service company (i.e. call centre) and conducted an experiment with a portion of its employees. Half the group was asked to resume their daily work activities. The other half was asked to spend the last fifteen minutes of their day reflecting on their learnings for that day and to record those thoughts in a journal. After ten days of the experiment, the researchers stopped the study and looked at the data. What they found was that the employees who spent fifteen minutes at the end of each day reflecting about lessons learned, performed 23% better than those who did not take time to reflect. Peter Drucker was quoted as saying, “Follow effective action with quiet...

The moment Erin walked through the doors of her workplace, she made a beeline towards her office. She greeted a few people, even exchanged a few “how’s it going?” pleasantries, but never really stopped to hear her colleagues’ answers. She would close her office door behind her and get on with her day’s work. On the door to her office was a sign which said – “My door’s always open for you” – alongside a sign-up sheet to book a meeting beside it. Erin would routinely meet with her staff, help them with their problems, and then turn quickly back to her work. I used to meet with Erin every month and it became clear that she was missing the best kept secret of the most successful leaders that I know. Erin had a demanding job, a big task list that required her to get a lot done each day, and a department of staff that relied on her guidance and assistance. However, Erin did not love the people around her. Yes, she loved what she did, but to her, the...

It is time to go. Leave the business. Exit your partnership. Whether you simply don’t have the heart for the products and services your company offers, the conflict or frustration amidst your partners, or even if you are simply seeing other opportunities out there in the world, it’s time to go. Regardless of why you want to leave, you are getting ready to approach your partners and say those three little words – I am out. There will be lots to talk about with your partners – division of the company, potential buy-outs, starting competing businesses, etc. Notwithstanding these, there are three things from a negotiation and relationship perspective that you should also be thinking about that may guide your next steps and approach: What are the interests? The first thing to keep in mind is to get curious. It is easy, in these situations, to jump into a judger mindset – where you are casting judgements on everything others say. People will typically start by expressing their positions (i.e. I want this, you want that, etc.) and if we come into...

Over the past year I’ve given my share of charitable donations. The only one that I don’t get a tax receipt for, however, is the monthly donation I give to one place. It’s called the gym. I know, I know, it is not a charitable place, but I am giving them a monthly payment to not go at all, so it kind of feels like it is a charitable donation! When I first got my gym membership, I went to the gym probably 2-3 times per week. Then after a while, it was once per week, then none. My intentions were good, I want to get healthy, but there was this slight barrier. I was too busy. How could I possibly make the time to go to the gym when there were other things that I should be doing? Many of us have had a similar problem. Think about the last time that someone asked us how things were going? We probably responded with, “pretty good, you know…keeping pretty busy!” We’ve also used it to say no, without saying no –...

Coming into a role where you are expected to get others to work together efficiently and effectively to create the best possible product or service isn’t an easy task. Especially if you have not had much experience with this type of role before! What do you need to do to set your team or department up for success? How can you motivate your employees to consistently put out a good product or service? How can you build a thriving team or department? Here are a few things that all new leaders should understand. Self-Awareness One of your biggest assets as a leader is knowing your strengths and challenges. Self-awareness is probably one of the most underrated parts of leadership and yet, one of the most crucial. Who are you? What type of leadership style do you have? In what areas of your life do you excel at and struggle with? What do you expect from yourself? Others? How do you deal with conflict? Delegation? Pressure? Leadership Vision You’ll likely have had some experience with good and bad bosses before. So what type of leader do...

Years ago, Michelangelo’s neighbour was sitting on his front porch swing and observed Michelangelo rolling a rugged boulder up the street and onto his front porch. He took out his hammer and chisel and began to pound away at the boulder. The neighbour, thinking the man had lost his mind, crossed the street and and said, “Hey Mick, what are you doing hammering on that boulder?” To which Michelangelo responded, “There’s an angel inside and I’m trying to let it out!” Why is it that some people see the boulder while others see the angel? Why is it that when we are in conflict situations we approach these situations from a place of judgement? It’s not uncommon for me to sit down with the two parties in conflict and hear the people say about one another, “They’re being completely unreasonable!” When we are in conflict with one another, it’s easy for us to see that other person as a boulder. We look at the other person and all we see is their complaints, how their actions have affected us, the pieces...

The other day I heard a story about a mom that had decided to go back to school to get her Masters Degree to further her career. She was in the middle of exams and before she started studying, she told her 5-year old, “Mommy has to go study now so that I can do well on my test. Can you promise me that you will not interrupt me and go and ask Daddy if you need any help with anything, alright?” The child nodded in understanding and promised her mom that she would do so. After several hours, the child entered the room, “Hey mommy!” The mom snapped at her child, “Didn’t I tell you to not interrupt me? I’m really need to study! Please go and play with your daddy!” The child left and several hours later the mother emerged from studying only to be confronted by her husband. “Why did you yell at our kid? I sent her in there to say goodnight to you and see if you wanted some coffee to stay awake while you...

Ah yes, the season is upon us. The season of Christmas full of egg nog, presents, and functions. Work parties, family gatherings, dinner parties, and so much more. It’s festive and fun! What’s not to love? There are gifts, singing, food, spiked cider, family traditions, and I’m just talking about one of those gatherings! You get the point. It’s a happy time of year. Or is it? One thing we know is that when two or more people are gathered, the likelihood of conflict increases by roughly 1000%. We might get stuck in our room with a colleague that only wants to critique everything we do, perhaps our mother-in-law won’t stop making degrading comments about what we wore, or our boss drinks too much nog and starts an unhealthy monologue about your department… Work, family and friend gatherings can bring a lot of stress and anxiety during the holiday season. I don’t want you to feel this way, so here are some tips on how to get through the next couple of weeks of holiday parties…and who knows! Maybe you’ll even crack...