Monthly Archives: April 2011

Reduce Stress and Raise Productivity

 |  Leadership

Many leaders and teams tell us that the “normal” setting for their day to day work entails stress. While some stress is normal and can be a good thing in short bursts, living and working in constant and intense stress is not conducive to high performance, is not healthy, and is not sustainable.

Stress can impact productivity and therefore can hinder revenue growth, raise costs (due to downtime, distractions, and sick days), and increase the risk of costly mistakes and missteps in execution.

A while ago I posted a two minute video clip of a beach sunset. I got some terrific responses to that clip. If you need another break, go back and watch it again and again. I recently had a conversation with Jaqueline Ryan Brodnitski of Conscious Success. Jacqueline teaches leaders and teams how to reduce stress in order to raise engagement, performance, and thus productivity. She’s created a three minute meditation audio to enable listeners to take a time out once or twice a day to focus their breathing in order to reduce stress. It is a great resource. Here is the link:

Stress Reduction Meditation

Let me and Jacqueline know how it goes. I wish you and your team a stress-free week ahead.

Lights, Camera, Leadership, Action!

 |  Leadership

I witnessed some terrific leadership in action this weekend on the set of a music video being directed by my daughter. The coolest part of it wasn’t that she was awesome (she was; but I am biased.). It was how during the whole shoot leadership seamlessly passed around the team she had assembled to make it all happen.

It was clear to everyone that as Director, she had final say on any activity. It was also clear that at any given moment, another team member was leading the action. Whether it was the Director of Photography or the Gaffer or the Camera B Operator, when it was appropriate for them to lead, they led. And everyone tacitly agreed that leadership is passed around depending on the need of the moment, while the leader (Director) is keeping an eye on the whole operation and tending to the needs of the team.

I noticed that these young professionals collaborated with ease. They had a high level of trust for one another’s competence, reliability, and professionalism. I also observed that they were skillful at listening to one another and taking direction after all opinions were voiced and all options discussed.

I see many lessons for leaders today in my experience over the weekend; two stand out. First, I am more convinced than ever that we need to build cultures of strong and shared leadership at every level in our organizations. It speeds things up. It invigorates and engages people to voluntarily give their best. In this type of organization there are no followers, just leaders. What are we doing to build leadership at every level?

Second, leadership in organizations will do well to recognize the way that the “Net Generation” (those born after 1990 and now entering the workforce) have been raised to collaborate. They have been doing “group work” all through their education. The people of this Net Generation will gravitate to organizations where they can collaborate, have a voice, and share responsibility for designing the process and driving to the agreed-upon result. What are we doing to build cultures of communication and collaboration that will engage the workers and leaders of the future?

That was the leadership lesson I witnessed. I hope you had as much fun this past weekend as I did.

Cultivating Leadership

 |  Leadership

There are flowers blooming all around us at the moment so I had a thought. (Always dangerous!). We can’t make a flower; but we can create the conditions in which a flower will grow. We can cultivate the soil, provide water, air, and sunlight and over time, the flower will grow and bloom. Strong and effective leadership is like a flower; we can’t make it, but we can create the conditions in which it will develop.

We begin by cultivating the soil, entering into self-reflection and dialogue that results in greater self-awareness and self-management and an increased capacity to engage and inspire others. We create the atmosphere for developing leadership by seeking opportunities to learn and practice a new mindset and skill set for leadership. When we enter into the ongoing practice of leadership, we are on a path. While we are on the path, our leadership will develop. When we stop or leave the path, our leadership will suffer and so will those around us.

A final thought… As much as we might want to rush a flower, it will bloom in it’s own time. If we try and take a pair of pliers and force it open, it dies. People on the path of leadership will develop in their own way and in their own time. But just by being on the path, they are miles ahead of most of the folks around them. You can always spot the flowers amongst the weeds.