In the dynamic and often high-pressure world of STEM and academia, the success of teams and projects heavily depends on the individual contributions of each member. A common yet critical oversight many leaders face is failing to recognise and appreciate these invaluable contributions, especially from their most committed team members. This oversight can lead to a significant loss – both in terms of talent and morale.
(Particularly in academia, this can become difficult when the way in which people contribute or judge productivity is linear but quite diverse - not simply coming from the business and productivity frame but having distinct outcomes with broader implications for humanity, truth, and justice, making it a multifaceted and nuanced endeavour).
The Unnoticed Departure of a Valuable Team Member
Imagine this: an essential contributor on your team decides to leave. This departure isn’t due to a lack of challenge or opportunity but rather because they don’t feel sufficiently seen, heard, valued or appreciated. As a leader, you might be grateful for their contributions and believe you’re expressing your gratitude, but if these feelings go unshared, they feel unnoticed.
This scenario is more common than one might think, and it brings to light an essential question: Can you identify the indispensable individuals in your team? These are the ones who demonstrate your values, consistently deliver, innovate, mentor, and drive your endeavours forward. Recognising others is just the first step; the crucial part is developing a system and leadership practice of never taking them for granted and ensuring they know their worth and contribution to the team.
This is for you, Leaders:
As you develop your system of recognition, you will be putting your money where your mouth is. After all, it’s not just enough to think it - you must ‘lead by example’. Set a precedent for appreciation and recognition within the team. When team members see leaders appreciating each other, they are more likely to do the same.
Listen Up Non-Leader
If you're not in a leadership position, you still play a vital role in fostering a culture of appreciation. Here are a few skills and actions that when applied authentically, can signal a step change in your leadership influence:
In the world of STEM and academia, where the focus is often on data and results, the human element can sometimes be overlooked. It’s important to remember that behind every successful outcome, project, discovery, or innovation, there are people dedicating their skills, time, and passion. Valuing these individuals not only enhances team morale but also drives better results, fosters innovation, and creates a more fulfilling work environment.
Click on the image below for a quick reference guide I hope will assist you on your leadership journey:
Are you curious about who the key players are on your team? Do you want to explore effective ways to show appreciation and foster a culture of recognition in your team? Let’s catch up over a coffee and discuss the strategies that can help you and your team thrive. Together, we can ensure that every member of your team feels valued and appreciated, paving the way for continued success and innovation in your field.
Leadership challenges are a ubiquitous part of organizational dynamics, often stemming from the influence of individual values and personalities. These challenges can lead to conflicts, contentious decisions, and hindered progress. In this article, we will delve into the areas most susceptible to the influence of leaders' identities and beliefs and explore the extremes that may arise. Additionally, we will discuss how cultivating personal and group fluency can serve as a powerful antidote to address and overcome these challenges.
The Fractured Social Contract: Historically, the professional realm operated on an implicit agreement: a linear path of long-term employment, loyalty to one's employer, and a clear separation between personal and professional lives. This social contract is facing challenges as younger generations, in particular, no longer adhere to these tenets. They seek fluidity, flexibility, and a sense of purpose from their professional pursuits.
Demand for Work-Life Blend: Rather than balancing work and life as two separate entities, many now seek a blend, an integration that provides meaning and satisfaction on both fronts. This paradigm shift is rooted in an increased emphasis on individual well-being and the understanding that personal happiness can drive professional success.
The Offshoring Consequence: The rise of remote work has underscored a pressing concern - the more employees detach from physical office spaces, the easier it becomes for companies to consider offshoring operations. While remote work offers employees flexibility, it also challenges businesses to weigh the benefits of local expertise against potential cost savings from offshoring. Many workers have yet to realize that by adopting a work from home existence, they have effectively made off-shoring a much more viable and ethical option for businesses.
Redefining Human Rights in the Workplace: The conversation around work-life balance is not just about personal preference; it is about basic human rights. Every individual deserves the right to lead a fulfilling personal life without compromising their professional ambitions. This requires employers to adopt a more holistic view, understanding that employee well-being directly impacts organizational success. When values of diversity, equality or inclusion are threatened or violated we must respond with action.
Culture - Defined by Tolerated Behaviors: The culture of a business is, invariably, defined by the worst behavior it's willing to tolerate (paraphrasing Gruenert and Whitaker). As employees demand better work environments and transparent values, companies must set clear behavioral expectations. This means actively addressing and rectifying behaviors that do not align with the company's stated values.
The culture of any organization is, invariably, defined by the worst behavior it's willing to tolerate.
The Empowerment Imperative: Companies, now more than ever, need to stand firm on their values. This involves not just passive adherence but aggressive defense and promotion of these values. When values are clear, actionable, and consistently upheld, they create an empowered workplace where individuals thrive.
Action points to address conflicts and contentious decisions:
The evolving social contract around employment, intertwined with the complexities of navigating leadership challenges influenced by individual values and personalities, marks a critical inflection point in today's professional landscape. As the demand for a work-life blend establishes itself as the new norm, organizations must not only reassess their cultural foundations and re-evaluate offshoring decisions but also foster personal and group fluency. This involves understanding and aligning personal values with the organization's vision, championing open dialogue, embracing diversity and inclusion, and creating a culture rooted in trust.
The evolving social contract around employment, intertwined with the complexities of navigating leadership challenges influenced by individual values and personalities, marks a critical inflection point in today's professional landscape. Lead into it.
By actively owning and addressing these intertwined challenges and opportunities, leaders create an environment where their workforce is more engaged, satisfied, and productive. Such a holistic approach ensures that organizations can harness the collective strengths of their teams, drive innovation, and secure mutual growth and sustainable success in an ever-evolving business world.
Within leadership circles, the notion of servant leadership has achieved substantial recognition, marking a pivotal focus on leaders dedicating themselves to the needs and development of their teams. However, a critical discernment of its potential pitfalls is crucial, particularly for leaders embedded in academia and STEM organizations. Leaders, by understanding and addressing these warnings and fostering a balanced leadership interlacing self-care and personal progression, can optimize their leadership prowess in these dynamic environments. This opinion piece embarks on an exploration of the pertinent cautions surrounding servant leadership and presents practical strategies for leaders seeking to refine their leadership stance.
Unearthing the Challenges of Servant Leadership:
Digging into the thoughts of eminent thinkers in servant leadership like Larry C. Spears, Robert K. Greenleaf, James Dittmar, and Brene Brown, we uncover crucial insights into potential challenges. Spears (2010) underscores the need for leaders to strike a balance between serving others and achieving organizational goals. Greenleaf (1977) warns against the risk of neglecting one’s own needs when prioritizing the needs of others. Dittmar (2014) explores the various manifestations of servant leadership that may hinder its effectiveness. While Brene Brown’s work doesn’t directly address servant leadership warnings, her expertise on vulnerability and excessive empathy offers valuable considerations within this context.
Redefining Self-Balance: A Prerequisite for Effective Leadership:
It’s time to break free from the misconception that pursuing self-balance is self-centered or counterproductive for leaders.
Too often, leaders suppress their own ambitions, personality, and even desires in a well-intended but misguided attempt to embody what they think a leader should be, or what the group needs. Counterintuitively, this selfless approach disconnects them from both their work and the people they lead. They begin filling a function but not finding fulfilment. Remember, leaders create connection, joy, and balance. You can't give away what you don't have. My cautions against servant leadership do not advocate abandoning the approach altogether. Rather, I want you to ponder the importance of being a 'whole leader'. Your health, engagement and growth are part of the commitment to serve others. By embracing this balanced outlook, leaders can sustain their impact over time.
Decision-Making and the Essence of Self-Balance:
Servant leaders often face the dilemma of decision-making, prioritizing individual needs over organizational goals. Cultivating self-balance can provide leaders with the capacity to make enlightened decisions that are in sync with both team requirements and organizational objectives. Nurturing one’s development and well-being facilitates an empathetic and clear approach to decision-making.
Cultivating Autonomy and Responsibility:
In the context of servant leadership, the potential for engendering over-reliance amongst team members is a prevalent concern. Beyond mere empowerment and support, it is incumbent upon leaders to instill a sense of autonomy, responsibility, and reflective thinking within their teams. Maintaining a harmonious equilibrium between direction and independence catalyzes skill development and personal growth among team members.
Implementable Strategies for Balanced Leadership:
Leaders aspiring to achieve a balanced leadership style can incorporate the following strategies:
Hotspots for Leaders:
Changing Team Members Based on Compatibility:
A leader's well-being is tied to a harmonious and productive team. Making changes for compatibility isn't self-serving, it's about building a team where everyone can flourish.
Prioritizing Personal Well-being:
Taking time for oneself isn't a sign of detachment but a necessity for rejuvenation. A balanced leader is more effective, which serves the team's best interests.
Holding Back Certain Information:
A whole leader understands that not everything can or should be disclosed. Transparency has its limits and respecting those boundaries is integral to effective leadership.
Restructuring the Team Aligned with Leader Preferences:
A leader attuned to their own strengths and preferences is better equipped to build a team that aligns with organizational goals.
Allocating Resources Differently - Cutting Some Areas and Investing in Others:
A balanced leader makes data-driven decisions about resource allocation, considering both immediate needs and future goals.
Stretching Team Capabilities When Necessary:
A whole leader knows when to push and when to pull back, balancing ambition with employee well-being. It’s about stretching the team for collective success, not just personal gain.
Adopting a Mixed Hierarchical Structure:
A flexible approach to hierarchy shows a leader who understands the need for different styles of governance in varying circumstances, supporting a more holistic leadership model.
These are the things leaders may be criticised for, despite their motives. These hotspots therefore serve as practical examples of how a 'whole leader' applies a balanced outlook in making tough but necessary decisions. By doing so, they not only serve their team but also themselves, sustaining impact over the long term.
In the ever-evolving professional landscape, recognizing and addressing the implicit cautions of servant leadership is imperative. By weaving self-balance and a multifaceted leadership approach that integrates individual development with a service focus, leaders can navigate inherent limitations and enhance their leadership effectiveness.
Leadership is an ongoing odyssey, necessitating continual reflection, adaptability, and exploration of diverse strategies. Let's abandon the notion that self-balance equates to selfishness and endorse it as a cornerstone of effective leadership.
Remember, the key to becoming a more effective leader is anchored in discovering your leadership equilibrium.
If refining your leadership balance resonates with you, please feel free to connect. Let's collaboratively navigate the nuances and opportunities intrinsic to contemporary leadership landscapes.
Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). The Power of Servant-Leadership. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Spears, L. C. (2010). A Conceptual Clarity of Servant Leadership in Comparison to Other Value-Based Leadership Approaches. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31(1), 37-50.
Dittmar, J. (2014). Exploring the Dark Side of Servant Leadership: Perspectives and Warnings. Journal of Business Ethics, 127(3), 627-636.
Ramsey, D. (personal communication). Expert insights on leadership and personal finance.
As the energy sector experiences a paradigm shift, executive teams face unprecedented challenges. These aren't just strategic. Leaders themselves can experience the fear or apathy associated with challenges and change coming from all directions.
The need for an entrepreneurial mindset is evident, but the change also breeds apprehension. Is it wise to rely on instincts honed in a past era of abundance and success? The answer is a nuanced "yes". But can we trust our leaders intuition? Or do our instincts need recalibration? Failing to do this can paralyze decisions makers.
The good news: we can sort this out - but it requires openness and vulnerability - properly structured conversations can help us make this process safe. It is not intuitive. Read through to the end to discover what you can do about it.
The Evolving Energy Ecosystem and a Conundrum of Tradition
Emerging technologies in renewable energy and sequestration are rapidly altering the landscape. Established companies must not only adapt but become agile players. To do this effectively, marrying data-driven strategies with well-honed instincts can offer an insightful narrative that fosters optimized decision-making.
Leaders are grappling with a disconcerting reality: the instincts that once provided a stable foundation now seem less relevant. But should these be entirely disregarded? No. The challenge is to blend old-world wisdom with new-age strategies through a dialogue-centered approach, enabling actionable insights.
There is an urgency for large organizations to rekindle an entrepreneurial mindset:
Leaders, Intuition, and the Team Dynamic in Uncertain Times
Old rules are changing, but core leadership competencies remain invaluable. This duality can be managed by trusting your gut while also embracing a culture that values communication as a tool for making sense of uncertainty.
As we navigate uncharted waters, we may feel unqualified. Trust in one’s intuition and others' judgment wanes.
To combat this we have to have suffcient fluency in the structures of belief and emotion that steer our thoughts. If we can understand what internal tensions exist, and that we have choice, we can confront challenges that may seem nebulous. Once we're able to see our place on the innovation horizon, we can navigate the nebulous effectively. We can give ourselves permission to take calculated risk, and trust our instincts and subconscious. For decision makers this helps alleviate the need for data (that may not exist) and experts (that are learning as they go, too.)
Why 'Learning to Learn' Matters to the Bottom Line
In a fast-changing sector, the ability to continuously update skills and knowledge is vital. Old methods may offer a foundation, but openness to new learning experiences can be facilitated through candid, peer-to-peer conversations.
But more importantly, navigating these complex times requires a surety of self, and a kindness towards our own thought process. The knowns of yesterday were comfortable. We are simply not approaching the unknowns of today - where agility and innovation are essential from a blank page. So a developed practice of listening to our intuition, and then decide if we must pause to adapt or trust in tried-and-true instincts will be the difference between a leader who can navigate decisions quickly - and move when there is no perfect answer. They will be easier on themselves, easier on the team, and more likely to find a way through first... rather than waiting for the answer.
My Parting Thought.
It can't be understated that today's energy transition continues to disrupt. It has laid bare just how comfortable and complacent many had come. It also shows us that leaders we thought were original and first-movers were actually traveling very deep tracks that had been cut by previous generations.
Today the path forward involves a balancing act between intuition and innovation. Leaders who can embrace the uncertainty and adventure see which intrinsic strengths they can leverage in new ways, and which asumptions to throw away, will find that they become experts and leaders. They will have a clearer compass move forward, and a foundational trust in self needed to change at a pace that the world requires.
Leader and Team Actions Checklist
Navigating the modern energy sector's complexities demands a balanced approach. It's about being agile, innovative, and re-establishing trust in your instincts. The future is navigable, especially when equipped with the right tools—old and new— for open dialogue and actionable insights.
In this engaging episode of the Sweet on Leadership podcast, Tim Sweet interviews Tracy Borreson, an entrepreneur and advocate for authentic leaders. Tracy shares her insights into what it means to be authentic, how to avoid taking servant leadership too far, and how to build team dynamics. She highlights the importance of self-awareness and balancing leadership responsibilities to avoid burnout. If you're an entrepreneur who feels like you're juggling all the things alone, this episode is for you!
The conversation explores the concept of authenticity as being true to oneself and fostering honest communication. The episode emphasizes the need for leaders to prioritize self-care, create a high-performance culture, and encourage team members' involvement in solving problems. Tracy also introduces her upcoming conversation series, "Crazy, Stupid Marketing," where she tackles marketing misconceptions with a panel of experts. Listeners gain valuable insights into authentic leadership, team engagement, and effective marketing strategies.
Tim chats with his cousin Dave Sweet, homicide detective, author, and consultant, on the overlapping themes between leadership in business and in the world of policing. You’ll hear fascinating insight...
Tim chats with his cousin Dave Sweet, homicide detective, author, and consultant, on the overlapping themes between leadership in business and in the world of policing. You’ll hear fascinating insights into how our minds manifest and manage fear and align with strategies to help your teams open up, give feedback, and share ideas. Whether it’s eliciting opinions during a board meeting or encouraging a witness to give a statement, when leaders empathize and give speakers the freedom to be honest, the more valuable the information given will be.
Dave talks to Tim about the idea behind his book, why he pivoted to the world of consulting, and what is next on his horizon. Dave’s desire to show up as a leader, see people as they are, and serve the community is what drives him in his profession as a detective and as a writer. Tim confirms that his cousin is perfectly matched for his job and that as leaders when our work aligns with our passion, it no longer becomes work but a calling. This episode will have you assessing your leadership skills, inspired to improve your communication, and learning to overcome your irrational fears. Stay tuned for part two of this conversation coming soon.
Have you ever basked on a golden beach, your toes buried in the warm sand and your mind wandering to new horizons? Maybe in a place where saying "sorry" isn't a reflex? And suddenly, you're covertly checking out local real estate prices and potential jobs, seriously considering putting those French or Spanish lessons to real use, and fantasizing about a full-fledged relocation. It’s as if the break from routine opens up a window to a world of possibility, something fresh, exciting and unexplored. We’ve all been there.
Yet, once the vacation ends and the tan begins to fade, so do those enticing dreams. But why? Let's explore the reasons and what we can do to capture the essence of those fleeting ambitions.
The "I'm back to my 9-5" Syndrome
Actionable Insight: Create a roadmap for change. Start small, build momentum, and take calculated risks to explore the new path you're interested in.
Leaders: Develop clear strategies within your organization to foster innovation and creativity. Empower team members to explore their dreams and align them with organizational goals.
That moment when you were looking at the stars and felt an overwhelming sense of purpose? It was real, but now it feels like a distant echo. Without a clear plan, those emotions fade into the background noise of daily life. That dream felt so right on vacation but now seems as unclear mountains in a foggy morning. What was a clear goal a week ago moves far away, and becomes nebulous.
But you can recapture them. You can translate that nebulous dream into something tangible, something that fits into your life’s puzzle. You can make it real.
Leaders: Foster a culture of clear goal-setting and accountability within your organization. Guide your team into translating their dreams into actionable steps.
The "Just A Dream" issue
Leaders: Create platforms for brainstorming and exploration of new ideas within the organization. Don't dismiss unconventional ideas; they might be the next big innovation.
Carry a Compass
Leaders: Encourage continuous learning within your organization. Promote mentorship and provide resources to help team members grow.
Commitments Belong on the Calendar
Finding time for change might feel like solving a complex puzzle. But it's time to take stock. What are your non-negotiable commitments, and what can be adjusted, or abandoned? You already have simple tools you can use to help you find room to maneuver. Juggling responsibilities is tough, but if it is real and important we give it space on our calendar.
To chase dreams, use this same logic in reverse. Put it on the calendar and it becomes real. It's an investment of time that will make dreams real.
Relationships, Homes, Businesses, Passions... it's the time we spend on something that makes it real.
- Tim Sweet.
Leaders: Support team members in achieving work-life balance. Encourage prioritization and help identify unnecessary commitments.
Get others looking up.
Your dreams may seem like solitary musings, but sharing them might bring unexpected treasures. Talk with family, friends, and co-workers about your dreams. Share your visions, like the excitement of showing someone the Northern Lights for the first time. Getting others excited will help you stay inspired, and illuminate your path and make your dreams a reality.
Keep in mind - your dreams may scare them, and they may try to protect you from what lies outside the box. Take time to process these fears and understand them - but don't blindly buy into them. You'll be stronger for it.
Leaders: Foster open communication within your organization. Create a safe space for team members to share their ideas and passions.
Finding True North
Once you get a sense of the harmony needed to make sweet music, strings out of tune get more noticable. Don't become deaf to sourness, consider how you might tune your existing responsibilities to harmonize with your new desires.
Leaders: Encourage a harmonious work environment. Support individual passions while maintaining alignment with organizational goals. Break down complex conflicts into parts so we can see what's in-tune or sour.
Beyond Fantasy: The Deep Dive into Meaning
You deserve to dive into what these fantasies mean. Perhaps it's the need for a change in career, relationships, or lifestyle? Get chunky and explore beyond the surface and discover the essence of your desires. Dive deeper, and you might find it's less about the location and more about the flavour of life you crave.
Your time on this planet is limited, so don't waste it living the wrong life.
Leaders: Encourage self-reflection and exploration within your team. Recognize individual needs and align them with the organization's vision.
Feeling hot hot hot - Keep the vibe.
You don’t need a complete overhaul - changing the vibe can make a big difference.
Leaders: Promote a culture of continuous improvement within your organization. Encourage small changes that align with larger goals.
In closing, take time to harness the power of dreams and those vacation "aha" moments. They’re more than just passing thoughts over a different sunset; they're potential life-changers. And remember, a vacation might be temporary, but the spark it ignites doesn’t have to be.
So, before you've washed the last of the sand out of your ears, and before the memory of that still morning when all was right in the world fades, make a real effort to put transformation in motion and commit to your dreams.
I hope you enjoyed this article, but it is no substitute for the real conversation, challenge, and commitment. So, if you ever decide to make that move, look me up.
Try a team building meal that blows the buns off ordering in food!
Get a few volunteers (both frontline and management), dust off the ghetto blaster and put-on a free lunch for staff. The result is an inexpensive and memorable event that builds relationships.
everyone is served and can be enjoyed standing up. This inexpensive meal is not only delicious to the North American palate but offers a real cultural experience. It takes advantage of the great corn grown here in Western Canada on sale from the backs of trucks everywhere. Don’t be surprised if after you try it, it becomes your favorite way to serve corn at home.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR 60 PEOPLE:
• 100-120 ears of good local corn (look for Taber or Jensen’s Trucks, or a local producer at a farmers market)
• 1 950g jar of REAL mayonnaise (I like the superstore NN brand, because it has more yolk, Don’t use Miracle Whip!)
• 2 750g containers of good sour cream (the best I’ve found is Olympic Premium, 14% MF)
• 6 limes (pick smooth heavy fruit, don’t use plastic limes)
• 2 tsp of Salt
FOR THE CONDIMENT TABLE
• Chili Powder (Make sure it is a FRESH bag or shaker, I like to by from the ‘Indian Cuisine’ section at the supermarket, as these inventories turn more frequently)
• Hot Sauce (an assortment of your favorites) MATERIALS NEEDED
• Paper plates (cheap and flexible), Napkins, Toothpicks
• Extra heavy skewers (almost pencil thickness) or bamboo chopsticks (1 per cob)
• Propane Picnic burner (commonly known as turkey fryers.) Check with employees (someone usually owns one of these) or buy from Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart
• A really, really big pot (often sold with the burner)
• A BBQ, coal or gas, pre heated and set low
• Full propane tanks for picnic burner and BBQ
• 2 Baking sheets or big roasting pans to hold the corn.
• A butchers block or stout table.
• Bowl, Whisk, Rubber Spatula
• Stereo (and Latin American music perhaps?)
• Garbage Cans
2 Hours before the event:
• Get the water boiling with the pot 2/3 full. Add enough salt to make the water taste like tears.
• Husk all the corn ahead of time, being careful to remove the silk.
• Make the dressing: Juice the limes, removing the pulp and seeds. Mix the juice with all the mayo, sour cream and 2 tsp of salt. DON’T ADD ANY CHILLI OR HOT SAUCE. Retain the containers. Blend completely with the whisk. Pour back into the empty containers (You’ll use these for dipping the corn). Refrigerate until needed.
½ Hour before event
• Start boiling the corn. The water should be a rolling boil when the corn goes in, and completely cover the corn. Get it in as fast as possible, as you want it to cook evenly.
• Light the BBQ, pre heat at medium, then set to low. Set the condiment table with spices, sauces, napkins and toothpicks.
• After 10 minutes since the last piece went in the water, remove all the corn and stack tightly on the cookie sheets or roasting pans
• Get water boiling, add water if necessary, and Add next batch of corn to the water and repeat
• Start to push the skewers into the end of the cobs. Holding the corn with a clean dry towel or oven mitt and use the cob as hammer. Drive 1/3 of the skewer into the center the corn by striking it against a solid surface.
10 Minutes before the event:
• Put corn on grill and slowly turn to toast and keep warm. When the first employee arrives
• Dip the corn into one a container of dressing covering the corn almost completely. Let the excess run back into the container. Don’t waste it.
• Put on a plate, and show the guest where the chili powders are (which they can add themselves based on taste and heat preference).
TURN UP THE MUSIC AND HAVE A GREAT TIME!
So, here's a valuable tip:
Sure, keep your focus on the bigger picture and the grand impact your company aims to make in the world. But let's also be real here, that concept can often feel distant and abstract. Right now, at this very moment, let's shift our attention to savouring today, maybe even the next hour. Embrace the challenges that come your way and relish in the opportunity to showcase your talents.
Oh, and let's not forget the beauty of collaboration, my fellow humans. We are social creatures, pack animals even, and there's something special about finding pride within a pride. Even conflicts can be enjoyable if they lead to positive outcomes for everyone involved.
If we genuinely want to find joy in our work or anything else in life, we need to tap into the essence of deriving satisfaction from our efforts. It seems like this sense of satisfaction is slipping away from us.
We’re becoming rabid consumers - society and tech spoon-feeding us and constantly bombarding us with ready-made answers and solutions. Right now creativity is under threat as artificial intelligence starts to supplant what it means to be innovative.
Escaping the clutches of helplessness and nihilism calls for the need to engage in creative thinking. It's about envisioning what's possible and then taking action to make it a reality. Paint a vision for yourself, and then get your ass in gear to make it happen.
Don’t live vicariously through the lives you see on Instagram.
About work: Yeah, it's gonna suck from time to time. But hey, that's the nature of work. The good news, you’re built for it. You see, we tend to forget that we're still wired as Homo sapiens to doggedly pursue, to sweat, to take action, to fight or flee. Not so long ago, a day at the office for our ancestors meant chasing down antelope until they keeled over from exhaustion—that's some serious work, my friend. And sure, they were rewarded with a full belly - but also the satisfaction of contribution.
Starting today, pay attention to areas where minimizing effort is the focus. This doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or having a lower-quality work experience in the name of efficiency. Instead, consider how you and those you work with can apply themselves more effectively.
Let's embrace the joy of working in a way that makes us feel good. It’s not about doing less - just doing it with genuine enjoyment. Let’s build cultures that access dedication, genuine care, and unwavering effort as a vital role, essential elements to build a sense of excellence and growth we achieve.
In a world obsessed with shortcuts and quick fixes, let's not sell ourselves short. There is satisfaction to be found in the very brief journey you’ll have on this spinning cosmic marble, my friend. You can revel in the purpose and integrity that comes from doing good and meaningful work.
Remember, your career is not just about work—it's about life. It's about living with intention, purpose, and a healthy dose of humor. So, learn to honor and apply your unique style, your unapologetic effort, and find purpose in everything you do, whether it’s work, play, or relationships.
If you’re eager to become more fluent in who you are and how to derive joy from a career that matters to you - let’s get into it.
But reality can be a noble ally or a cruel judge - toy with it, and eventually the universe will give you a slap.
By accepting both the positive and negative aspects of who you are and adopting a growth mindset, you can unleash your true potential and create a life filled with purpose and fulfillment.
Throughout this article, we'll explore insights from experts and thinkers who have navigated this path, providing you with the guidance and inspiration you need to embark on your journey of self-realization.
In a society that perpetually demands conformity, it takes courage to be true to yourself. The first step towards self-realization is understanding and embracing the real you. As Robert Fritz wisely said, "When you know what you want, and you want it badly enough, you'll find a way to get it." It's time to peel back the layers of masks and expectations that have accumulated over the years and discover your true desires, strengths, and weaknesses.
Take a moment to reflect on your life and ask yourself:
What do I truly want?
What are my passions, my dreams, and my values?
Embracing the real you, requires a deep sense of self-awareness. Take the time to explore your inner landscape, and don't be afraid to confront the aspects of yourself that you may have ignored or hidden away.
Remember, it is through embracing your authenticity that you can truly thrive.
On your journey of self-realization, achieving clarity and peace within yourself is of paramount importance. Carol Dweck, renowned for her research on mindset, introduces us to the concept of a growth mindset. As she wisely asserts, "Becoming is better than being." This perspective challenges the notion of fixed abilities and qualities and instead encourages us to view ourselves as capable of growth and transformation.
So, how can you cultivate a growth mindset? Start by embracing challenges as opportunities for growth. Instead of shying away from difficulties, lean into them and see them as chances to develop new skills and expand your horizons. Embrace the power of "yet" - acknowledging that you may not have achieved something yet, but with dedication and effort, you can.
This shift in mindset empowers you to approach life with curiosity, resilience, and a hunger for continuous learning.
To embark on the transformative journey of self-realization, you must confront reality head-on.
As Richard Young, who coaches Olympians and champions of sport, teaches us, "The willingness to experience negative emotions may be the key to psychological flexibility and well-being." This means embracing the full spectrum of human emotions, including the uncomfortable ones. Instead of pushing them away or burying them deep within, allow yourself to feel and experience them fully.
Embracing reality also involves accepting yourself unconditionally. Recognize that you are a complex being with strengths and weaknesses. Let go of the need for perfection and release the chains of self-judgment. Embrace the beauty of your imperfections, for they make you unique and human. When you stop fearing judgment, you create space for growth, acceptance, and self-compassion.
As you journey towards self-realization, it's essential, even crucial, to acknowledge the interconnectedness of your life and the world around you. Peter Senge's wisdom resonates deeply: "People don't resist change; they resist being changed." In other words, you have the power to shape your own destiny and create the life you desire.
But how can you unleash your true potential?
My approach with clients considers the structures of belief and identity, as well as the leverage and choice that surround us.
Take a step back and examine the bigger picture. See how different aspects of your life are interconnected and influence one another. By understanding these complex relationships, you can identify leverage points and make intentional changes that have a profound impact.
However, it's not just about understanding the systems around you; it's also about mastering yourself. Personal mastery, as Peter Senge advocates, is a lifelong journey of self-improvement and self-discovery. It's about honing your skills, developing your intuition, and aligning your actions with your authentic self.
To embark on this journey of personal mastery, start by setting clear intentions and defining your goals. What do you want to achieve? Where do you see yourself in the future? By establishing a clear vision, you can create a roadmap that guides your actions.
But personal mastery is not just about setting goals; it's about developing the habits and practices that support your growth. Cultivate a mindset of continuous learning and improvement. Seek out new knowledge, challenge your assumptions, and embrace feedback as an opportunity for growth.
Remember, personal mastery is a lifelong commitment to becoming the best version of yourself.
Take what resonates with you, adapt it to your unique circumstances, and forge your own path. Embrace the challenges, setbacks, and victories along the way, for they are all part of the transformative process.
As you continue on this path, surround yourself with a supportive community of like-minded individuals. Seek out mentors, coaches, or friends who can offer guidance, accountability, and encouragement.
Remember, while the journey is yours alone - you are not alone on this journey.
Pay attention to the quality of what you consume - and consume in moderation. Creating is the source of fulfillment and deep joy.
The world is eagerly waiting for the unique gifts and talents only you can bring. Embrace the opportunity, embrace your authentic self, and let your light shine bright.
A Call to Simplify: The Need for Transformation in STEM Leadership vs. Adding More Skills and Complexity
STEM leaders excel in learning and adapting, but the real key to sustained success lies in transformational thinking. In this blog post, we'll delve into this concept and the importance of strategic simplicity, language alignment, and performance well-being - insights from a recent conversation I had with Richard Young Phd, former olympic athlete and coach. By the end, you'll understand why the future of STEM leadership relies on simplifying, not complicating. You’ll further understand how these factors can be applied to foster a transformational, even seismic shift in the mindsets in STEM leaders wanting to increase their impact.
If we’re not already connected on LinkedIn, follow me, Tim Sweet at Sweetleadership, linkedin.com/in/sweetleadership and remember to also hit the notification bell to be sure not to miss the launch of the Sweet on Leadership podcast, May 31st.
Let's face it - STEM industries are in a constant state of flux. A PwC survey revealed that 97% of tech industry CEOs consider innovation a top priority, with 61% planning to increase their innovation investments. But, are we focusing enough on the human element of this innovation?
Transformation is not about adding more to the mix; it's about creating a fundamental shift of what it means to “be”. It is not building on what is already existing, it's about measured, intentional destruction and conscious reengineering.
Compare this to an adaptive and additive approach - something STEM professionals do very well. Because it is a preference, STEM leaders are often very open to the idea of ‘transformation’ - but then try to accomplish it through a linear additive process. This is flawed; let’s discuss the alternative.
Richard Young's theory of strategic simplicity, language alignment, and performance well-being offers a roadmap for embedding transformational thinking in STEM leaders. Let's break down these components:
Strategic simplicity involves identifying your strategy down to its core elements and focusing on them. It's about understanding your organization's purpose, values, and goals, and aligning all efforts towards achieving them. Strategic simplicity helps teams stay focused on what is essential and avoid distractions that can lead to loss of time, energy, and resources. The benefits are significant, enabling leaders to stay agile and adapt to changes in technology, globalization, and workforce dynamics. By focusing on the core elements of their strategy, leaders can avoid getting dogmatic, and bogged down in the complexities of their roles, or the myths of their disciplines. It helps maintain clarity and direction and openness. Additionally, strategic simplicity helps leaders communicate their vision and goals to their team members, enabling them to align their efforts towards achieving shared goals by leveraging the most fundamental.
When Steve Jobs rejoined Apple in 1997, he simplified their strategy to focus on user-friendliness and innovation. This move birthed the iPod, iPhone, and iPad - products that disrupted the tech industry. He simplified what market performance had to be.
Creating a shared language and culture that bolster your strategy and goals is crucial. It's about using inclusive, empowering language to cultivate a culture that promotes growth and learning. Language alignment helps STEM leaders create a shared vision and culture that enables their teams to work towards shared goals.
The importance of language alignment cannot be overstated. Quality of communication precedes quality of performance. When leaders use language that is unclear and confusing, it can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings among team members. This can create a lack of trust and collaboration, hindering the team's ability to work towards shared goals. By creating a shared language and culture, leaders can foster an environment of transparency, trust, and collaboration, enabling their teams to work together effectively.
Performance well-being refers to employees' physical, emotional, and mental health, which are essential for optimal performance. This involves creating a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes employee satisfaction, productivity, and creativity. Prioritizing well-being can foster a positive and productive work environment.
But to help others, leaders need to also advocate for their own wellbeing. Professionally, nothing is more important to a good work-life balance, then finding a job that fits.
Embracing Transformation in Leadership
To instill transformational thinking, consider integrating Richard Young’s theory of strategic simplicity, language alignment, and performance well-being into your approach.
Ask yourself these three critical questions:
What does this look like from a strategic perspective?
Four likely Initiatives for leaders are:
Transformational thinking is crucial in business, but particularly for linear and additive thinkers, such as STEM leaders who want to stay ahead of the game. By adopting Richard Young's theory of strategic simplicity, language alignment, and performance well-being and applying these practical strategies, you can foster a culture of innovation, create a positive work environment, and steer your organization towards success. A great framework for developing a transformational mindset!
While STEM disciplines focus on additive and linear approaches, a leadership future in STEMis not about adding more skills or tasks to your plate, but transforming to lead others effectively.
I'd love to hear about your experiences with transformational thinking in STEM leadership. Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Just before Obi-Wan Kenobi died in Episode IV, he said, "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
It is a powerful idea - through destruction, we can become more powerful. Obi-Wan's purposefulness endured, and his legacy and teachings would empower Luke, who followed. And that's exactly what transformation is all about.
Just like Jedi Masters who achieved enlightenment and joined the force, leaders in business also go through a transformation to be able to inspire, empower, and lift up others. They have to destroy that which they were for something new.
Nowhere is this more evident than when working with technical or academic experts. They've developed in specialized roles and environments - so taking the lead of people can seem like a galaxy far, far away.
Finding success in a specific discipline, then being promoted into leadership can be a shock. When undersupported, it can lead to struggle, which leads to apathy and fear. It's a trip to the Dark Side many may take, and it unnecessarily risks the success of the organization. It can be avoided - but you need a guide. You need to forget all you know or think you know.
Don't be a Nerf Herder.
- Center for Creative Leadership found a whopping 77% of organizations noticed a marked improvement in their leadership skills after taking part in a leadership development program.
- Bersin & Associates discovered that businesses with a robust leadership development program saw a 37% increase in employee retention rates.
- HR .com revealed that as much as 86% of companies observed improved employee engagement and higher morale thanks to leadership training programs.
To achieve transformation, leaders must learn to value themselves and make development intensely personal. As Yoda once said, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."
Transformation is not an easy process. It requires hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn and grow. It often requires an expert to present new ideas and perspectives. As Obi-Wan said, "Your eyes can deceive you, don't trust them." Leaders must be willing to question their own assumptions and beliefs to achieve true transformation.
Transformation is a necessary process for leaders in business, just as it is for Jedi knights. It requires vigilance, dedication, and a willingness to learn and grow, then "The Force will be with you, always."
May the Force be with you on your journey toward transformation and leadership success.
#leader #leadership #maytheforce #starwarsday #obiwan #transformation #stem #accademic #maythe4thbewithyou
On April 1st, I received a mass email
subject: This year, it's no joking matter
This April Fools is no joke.
On a day typically about having a few laughs, we're serious about renewing our commitment to you. We know travel has been challenging over the past few years. Regardless of the challenges, you deserve friendly, reliable, and affordable service every time you fly with us.
So, instead of making jokes, we're making changes. We're growing our fleet and schedule, investing in technology, and improving processes for our people and guests.
Because we want to make sure you're smiling on the other 364 days of the year too.
See the changes at westjet.com/nojoke
Alexis von Hoensbroech
I understand why disgruntled travellers and shareholders want reassurance that they take operational and customer service issues seriously. But a flight infused with humour and lightheartedness can enhance the overall experience, build customer resilience, and even camaraderie with the staff - which can counter air travel's frequent and unforeseen stresses.
As a proud Calgarian, it saddens me to see WestJet, a local company that was once known for its "employees/owner" culture, move even farther away from its roots of Western Pride, Hospitality and Irreverence that made it famous.
While I understand the need for reliability and affordability, operational efficiency, humour, and lightheartedness are not mutually exclusive. Personal, positive vibes still are a competitive advantage in the airline industry.
Empowering employees to have fun created the space to provide unique and enjoyable customer experiences is no small feat, and humour was a hallmark of WestJet's brand both inside and out. WestJet may survive by getting serious - but will it thrive again as a cherished Canadian brand if it equates delivering reliable and affordable service with being cold?
And abandoning humour and levity could ultimately harm the employee experience and retention.
"Furry Family" cabins for pets on their flights, launching a "SmartSeat" that could detect and respond to passengers' emotions and unveiling a "Flyre Festival" package that parodied the failed Fyre Festival.
WestJet has always stood out from other airlines by embracing their humanity and not taking themselves too seriously. Take, for example, their April Fool's classics of the new "KargoKids" service in 2012 that promised to keep kids entertained in the cargo hold on long flights so parents could enjoy their flights. The modified baggage area would even include a kiddy feed trough to keep Junior happy.
And in 2018, to become more Canadian and cut down on departure confusion, the airline announced it would switch to metric time. Now travellers could perform a simple conversion:
Take the 17 x 60 to get 1020,
add-in the 42 to get 1062 and divide by 1.44 to get your new
flight time: 737 Milliminutes.
It's as simple as switching Fahrenheit to Celsius!"
The meme of a WestJet flight attendant giving a hilarious preflight demo went viral worldwide.
Studies have proven that allowing employees to have fun at work leads to increased engagement, productivity, and employee retention. A 2017 Great Place to Work Institute study found that companies with a positive and engaging workplace culture have higher levels of employee engagement and retention.
So, what happens now that WestJet has decided to ditch its April Fool's jokes? It's unlikely that becoming more "serious" will help them overcome operational challenges... and with less emphasis on humour, this move could ultimately result in a less engaging customer experience and a less enjoyable workplace for employees. WestJet will take another step to become an average airline, failing to remain committed to that that differentiated it in a competitive marketplace.
WestJet's decision to abandon its April Fool jokes is misguided. The airline is risking its brand, customer experience, and employee experience by moving away from this commitment to levity.
Customers who have come to expect and enjoy WestJet's annual April Fool's jokes may be disappointed or perceive the company as losing its playful and customer-centric approach. Employees may lose creative expression and morale if the company eliminates this longstanding tradition.
Other airline companies are ready to make this their calling card... so the decision to stop kidding around may carry a very un-funny risk of diluting WestJet's brand and corporate personality and losing one more differentiating factor in an unforgiving airline industry.
What data pushed them to assume operational issues somehow conflicted with levity?
This same thinking leads to the "Resting Work Face," where walking around looking serious or acting overworked makes employees seem busier or more indispensable. Ultimately this does little for the employee or the company.
While providing friendly, reliable, and affordable service is essential, Profitable, reliable service can be achieved more effectively and sustainably when the fun and engaging culture that made WestJet a legendary Canadian brand is intact.
I hope that CEO Hoensbroech realizes WestJet can be "serious fun" and chooses to keep the humour that made the company unique. Customer experience and employee engagement is no joke, and if you abandon the competitive advantage of humour, you are completely missing the punchline.
Decision-making during a pandemic - how to choose from bad options and disagree while preserving your important relationships
As the weather cools, children return to schools, and the holiday season approaches, we will have to take a different approach to the mitigation of exposure risk than what we’ve experienced so far.
If you’re finding it hard to make one or more decisions right now - it might be time to take a different, more structured approach.
Years ago, I took a six-week course through Stanford University on SDG’s Decision Quality framework - this model sorts decision types by both frequency and value:
The Decision Quality model considers six elements when making important, strategic, high-quality decisions:
- Set the right shared frame (purpose, perspective, and scope)
- Consider alternatives;
- Gather meaningful data;
- Clarify values and tradeoffs;
- Use logical reasoning; and
- Commit to action.
When we disagree with someone important in our lives on issues that challenge our core values, it can be tempting to prioritize merely reaching an agreement. To maintain a healthy working relationship, openness and trust, and reach high-quality, collaborative decisions, we need to ensure we are listening and seeing each other along the way. The journey is as important as the destination - quick agreement is damaging if it comes at the cost of belonging and security.
It’s equally important to realize that a well-made decision (making the best decision with the information you have at the time) can still have disappointing outcomes.
Consider the six attributes of decision quality, stay true to your core values, and work on building bridges of validation with those you care about.
If you’d like help finding perspective and balance between the roles you fill in your life and work, we’re here to help. Book a free consultation.
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Time to face it: leaders have an enormous responsibility for safety and should wear face masks in the workplace. Use these facts and practices to help your team breathe easy.
By Michael Fiss, Kate Bourque and Tim Sweet
Workers are now returning to offices and bringing with them a wide variety of opinions and sensitivities when it comes to wearing masks. Meanwhile, more and more jurisdictions and businesses are implementing mandatory mask-wearing laws and policies.
Mandatory masking has become an issue of personal identity and polarizing values. Unchecked, this conflict threatens to unravel corporate unity and undermine cultures of safety. How will your organization respond in a way that is credible and consistent with your values and established safety culture?
After reading this you will have five data points and four behaviours you can use to inspire a safe, consistent approach to phased reopening.
34 years ago, my dad took me to see Crocodile Dundee in the theaters. I remember standing in line in a spring rain, popcorn, and sticky floors. The theater was huge by today's standards, and people still regularly applauded during the movie.
Trust me, it was a big deal.
In celebration of Mick and Sue, I thought I'd share this. Be sure that when you picture "Team" in your mind, you don't have your lens cap on.
Staying calm is good. Carrying on in the middle of a crisis - not so much.
When you should step-up and declare your commitment to do better in the middle of a crisis?
Now… three years on, I’m telling clients to think twice before adopting "Keep Calm" when designing change and improvement slogans. At best it's overused... at worst it's harmful and counter productive. Leave it out of your HR and Change Management campaigns – and, do not promote it as a virtuous leadership behaviour.
An Opiate for the Masses
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Fantastic to meet and have conversations with Professor Sodhi, my friend (and Co-Author) Jaydeep Balakrishnan, Shawn Baker, Fernando Torres and many more.
Dr. Sodhi (whose work you'll find in the Sloan management review and the Harvard Business Review) nailed home the point that organizations can incur an incredible loss if they fail to deal with supply chain challenges at the appropriate 'level' (operational, supply chain, social.) The analogs presented demonstrated the effect of failing to have an appropriate response when a threat materializes.
I left with the feeling that this risk will become increasingly relevant if organizations go insular on increasingly public social issues, or go to social media to justify poor internal decisions or quality issues.
We've seen disastrous of this mismatch when Airlines, Automobile Manufacturers, Technology and Government deal with mistakes that harm stakeholders.
I found the learnings extended far beyond supply chain; being equally valuable for governance and regulatory, and safety teams to consider.
A big thanks to Alliance and the Haskayne School of Business CASL for putting on this excellent series.
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