5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of June 12, 2017

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Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

How to Have More Joy At Work by Karin Hurt

The other evening, I was sitting at the kitchen table putting the finishing touches on next week’s keynote for the American Health Quality Association. They’d invited me to talk about “finding joy in your work,” a subject that’s at the core our entire Winning Well philosophy, but that I’m not usually invited to address head on. I kept feeling I was about 90% there when my son, Sebastian, walked in and plopped a crinkled sheet of notebook paper down my keyboard.

“Mom, here’s my story for the 5th-grade graduation speech contest. What do you think?”

I read the words he’d painstakingly written, full of the usual “I’d like to thank my parents and teachers.” I’m not sure if it was the look on my face or the fact that he knew it wasn’t his best work, that revealed my concern.

“It’s not that good, I know,” Seb winced.

My Comment: Employee engagement is not employee happiness. If you’re focused on employee happiness, you’re likely to be disappointed. People are happy or not for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with you or your organization. Add to that the point that Hurt makes here: there are times where the pursuit of excellence and breakthrough results means real travail and struggle. You probably don’t describe yourself as happy in those moments…but like Sebastian, you are engaged.

Why Feelings Matter, From Someone Who Thought They Didn’t by Dan Rockwell

Feelings matter more today than they did when I was young. I’m old school. It doesn’t matter how you feel. You show up and do the work. Being brought up on a dairy farm in New England where feelings are an inconvenience contributed to my orientation.

Back on the farm, work centered on work. Today, organizations are moving toward a people-centric focus. Translation? We care how people feel.

Back in the day, you sacrificed enjoyment on the altar of advancement. Drive was more important than enjoyment.

Drive still matters. You’re on a dead end without it.

My Comment: I love one of the concluding thoughts in Rockwell’s article: “One reason engagement levels are abysmal is leaders push for performance but neglect purpose.” I would suggest that feelings, and purpose, have always mattered, whether we were conscious of them or not. The greatest leaders have always made it clear how what we’re doing matters.

Four Conversations That Boost Employee Engagement by Kristi Hedges

There’s a lot of communicating at work. It’s hard to find someone who wishes for more meetings, conversations or emails. Many workers feel inundated by the sheer amount of communications that’s required of them. For leaders in particular, it can seem as if you are never not communicating. Even when you’re silent, all eyes are watching for nonverbal cues.

All of this is true, and yet, there are important conversations that don’t happen enough.

My Comment: We are big believers in the value of the important conversations that aren’t happening well or often enough in teams and organizations. Hedges looks at important conversations you can have with your employees that will help release their energy and motivation. We would add many Winning Well conversations to the list, including how to Own the UGLY, Coaching Strategies for Busy Leaders, and How to Communicate Bad News.

Leadership: You can’t do it that way! You’re 40 feet tall! By Wally Bock

In 1963, Richard Burton advanced from mere fame into superstar status when he signed to play Mark Antony in the movie Cleopatra. It was on the set of that movie that he and Elizabeth Taylor began the love affair that would rid them each of their spouses and put them together, at least for a while. They married and divorced twice.

Even though Burton was already a star and had done several films, he was still primarily a stage actor. Taylor was the more experienced film actress. She helped Burton develop the specific skills that make for a great movie performance.

At one point, when he had just done some histrionic stage-actor thing Taylor is reported to have said, “My God, Richard, you can’t do it that way! You’re forty feet tall!”

Her point was that the very actions that were effective for a stage actor might be outrageous when your image was projected on a forty-foot-high screen. Being a screen actor called for different behavior and different skills.

The same thing is true when you become a boss, someone responsible for the performance of a group. Suddenly your actions have an outsized effect.

My Comment: I love this analogy. I recently had someone remind me that in a leadership role I held, my words and actions are magnified. Realizing the way you come across and being aware of your impact will help you to be more influential, get more done, and have more engaged employees.

Death by Indecisiveness by Steve Keating

I’m not sure if there is anything more useless than a leader who cannot or more likely, will not, make a decision.

I know that sounds harsh but I’ve really held that belief since I was a seventeen year old High School senior. As a Senior Officer in my Military High School I had the responsibility of overseeing the small bore rifle range for a Freshman military class.

One day a student’s rifle misfired and the student turned toward me looking for instructions on what to do. (We had only explained the proper procedure 1000 times) As he turned toward me the barrel of his rifle also tuned toward me and I hesitated to give direction for a split second. That was long enough for the round in the chamber to go off striking me in the foot.

My Comment: This is an interesting perspective. I agree with Keating that leaders need to be decisive (as well as with the band Rush: “If you decide not to decide, you still have made a choice.”) That said, there is a difference between impulsive constant decision-making and getting sufficient information to decide well. How much information is enough? That depends on the time frame and context. As General Patton said, “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Action usually wins. Try to aim for plans that are at least “good.”


We’re booking companies and association events for 2017 fall and 2018 spring. Email or call to bring us and Winning Well to your leaders. Invite David and Karin  to help your leaders transform their results without losing their soul (or mind) in the process. Available for keynotes, deep-dive breakout sessions, and corporate training.

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