Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Employees have less loyalty to their employers and most seek more than just a paycheck. They want a positive culture, strong teams, recognition, and opportunities to learn and to contribute. Sadly, a majority of employers don’t share the same goals and are hyper-focused on numbers and results, not engagement.

I have worked for a few companies that lack a strong or caring culture. They are all talk, and it shows up in employee engagement scores and overall company performance. One of my previous employers has recently fallen prey to lower sales and production. They took their eyes off of their employees and neglected to engage them, recognize their efforts, and apparently didn’t care about people or even work-life balance. Moreover, employee engagement was non-existent, and now the company is suffering.

Some of my experiences with prior employers were a stark reminder of the pitfalls of poor culture and low engagement. When I read Mark Miller’s new book, Win the Heart – How to Create a Culture of Full Engagement it hit home. Mark is very passionate about employee engagement and adamant that culture is the key to employee engagement and productivity. Engagement requires a certain level of care which is reflected in both overall attitudes and actions.

High performing companies have four things in common:
1.    Bet on leadership
2.    Act as one
3.    Win the heart
4.    Excel at execution

As leaders, we should take ownership and be proactive in creating an environment where our people will thrive, and success follows. The CARE Model is an active process to guide us on our journey.

•    Connection – People crave connection, and it drives ideas, engagement, and action
•    Affirmation – Use words and actions with our people
•    Responsibility – Entrust people with taking responsibility, and they will move mountains
•    Environment – Create a positive, appreciative, and forward-thinking culture to bring achievement

I enjoyed Mark’s relaxed and relatable style of writing. I read Win the Heart in one setting not only because culture is one of my passions, but he shares ideas and strategies through storytelling. I quickly fell into the story and felt like I was on the journey with the characters. Each chapter had me cheering them on, and I was engulfed in their struggles and wins.

Our story starts with our main character, Blake, the leader of a successful company. His team felt that everything was flowing smoothly until Blake slowly realized that everyone was just showing up to work and going through the motions every day. He started doing some digging and found out that indeed the culture was sluggish and employees weren’t heavily engaged. Blake's team began a courageous journey to travel the world to see what other companies were doing to engage employees and change the culture. Every company he met with had unique struggles and found ways to facilitate change.

Our journey with Blake opens up our minds to new ideas, solutions for engagement, and how to win back the heart of employees. We learn that employees are extremely vested in wanting to love where they work and strive to care what they do every day.

Blake’s team meanders through their journey walking into obstacles and challenges; however, it is so engaging to see how they handle the process and continue on because of the intense passion that they have for their people and the company. They have a strong commitment to winning the hearts of their people and placing them first because they know it will be an emotional and financial success.

Mark does an incredible job of writing this tale to bring the reader into the story for the entire book. I felt like I was a part of the team and was learning without even realizing it. I was thoroughly engrossed in learning about the perspectives of each character on Blake’s team and intrigued how they were able to bring their various ideas and differing views to work together for success – not always an easy feat.

Pick up Mark’s book today and jump into his story. You will go on intriguing adventure learning along the way, and I guarantee that your head will be swimming with new thoughts, ideas, and obstacles. You WILL win over the hearts of your people.


Monday, January 21, 2019

The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success - It's All About You! by David E. Nielson

I am a voracious reader and always looking to learn new ideas and approaches, and then I try to apply them to my personal growth. I enjoy books that aren’t overwhelming with affluent scientific gibberish because I want to be one with the book, not be overcome by statistics and theories that I won’t use on a daily basis. The new book The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success – It’s All About YOU by David E. Nielson is my kind of read. I was immensely drawn into the book and took notes on how I can personally grow, differentiate myself from others, and live my purpose.

David’s writing style is personable, interacting, and full of real-life stories and examples that I can relate to. The book takes us on a journey to be present, be noticed without being flashy, and how to experience personal success. One of the keys to the book is his framework for Conscious Success. Moreover, the Conscious Competence model is a continuum that explains how most people learn and how we can become more aware of how others learn and implement knowledge.

David was curious about what drove people whom he deemed successful about what they felt are the elements of a successful leader to help us grow and develop healthy habits. His informal survey asked five key questions, and he compiled the results. In the end, he didn’t throw out any of the factors because they are all critical. The categories ranged from purpose, knowledge, self-awareness, and social awareness – 12 elements in all. All or any of these factors are critical to success, and because we are so individual, we will dwell on some factors more than others. In short, there is no magic bullet, we are all unique, and each piece is critical. It’s like putting a puzzle together – but it’s our own puzzle.

Throughout his experiences and research David developed a Conscious Success Model.

3 Elements + 6 Differentiators = 9 Dimensions of Success

It’s a practical and easy plan for us all to use and many of us may be implementing pieces of it today without realizing it. He determined that our success foundation contains the following elements:
1.    Purpose
2.    Self-Awareness
3.    Social Awareness

These elements are the solid foundation for defining your success. He also identified six differentiators which together make up the 9 Dimensions of success.
1.    Authenticity
2.    Work Ethics and Personal Responsibility
3.    Listening for Results and Connections
4.    Articulate for Impact
5.    Humor
6.    Gratitude

If you notice, Purpose is a crucial foundation for your success. When you know it – share it when you are comfortable doing so. From there, set annual and long-range goals, consider personal development plans, and most of all LIVE YOUR PURPOSE.

We are all unique in a busy world. Whether we like the idea or not we need to sell ourselves every day, and it’s not comfortable. As cold as it may seem, think of yourself as a commodity and discover how you can best differentiate and sell yourself to live out your purpose. David offers some effective tools to help us along similar to the 5 Ps of marketing. He provides the 5 Ps of YOU:

1.    Presentation - Impressions count folks, and you need to outwardly live your brand
2.    Proper Placement – How are you placing yourself in the market? Will the job that you have now position you for the future? Do you have the right skills?
3.    Active Promoting – Are you putting yourself out there networking and meeting new people? Building your centers of influence?
4.    Profit/Value – Know your value to yourself, others, and your company.  What are your skills worth?
5.    Perceived Gain – What will people gain by working with you? It’s not always about you but what you can offer as well.

The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success is an outstanding book to not only develop your skills and growth, but it will help articulate how you come across and sell yourself to others. I finished this book in one sitting because I lost myself in the ideas and possibilities. David E. Nielson offers real-life examples and how implementing his models will have an impact on your life. There are action steps and lessons throughout the book. The book is down to earth filled with humor and the many mistakes that David and others have made during their leadership and life purpose journey. This book is a winner, and it should be one that you pick up today to start your journey!


Sunday, December 23, 2018

LeaderShop - Workplace, Career, and Life Advice From Today's Top Thought Leaders by Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan


Inspiring to be a better leader and manager takes an added effort from all of us. Some people learn better hands-on or working with a mentor. Others are visual and jump into resources like books, online learning or podcasts. Combined with a variety of real-life experiences and being proactive to learn on your own will also build your leadership skills.

I am a huge bookworm. There have been so many books that I have read where I would love to sit down with the author and chat one on one. Often after I finish a book, I have questions that linger and are relevant to my life or issues on how I can be a better leader.

If you are like me, a comfortable real experience book resonates more than theoretical ideas written by people who have committed themselves more to building theories than sharing practical skills. The new book LeaderShop – Workplace, Career, and Life Advice from Today’s Top Thought Leaders by Dr.Rodger Dean Duncan is a must read. He brings together conversations with over 50 leaders on a myriad of topics that can be used as your tabletop “bible.” The chapters read like friendly conversations from authors including Brian Tracy, Marshall Goldsmith, Stephen Covey, Mark Sanborn and more.

I loved the variety of topics we get to eavesdrop on. Dr. Duncan asks leaders questions that speak to us as leaders, and he doesn’t just address work situations. The conversations also focus on personal success because work isn’t everything. There are tableside chats that pertain to so many topics the reader will find numerous ones that resonate. I loved the casual talks and wrote down some ideas and goals from almost every chapter.

Here are some of the topics in LeaderShop:

•    Meaning and Purpose
•    Mental Maps
•    Workplace Practices
•    Communication
•    Feedback and Accountability
•    Culture
•    Career Management
•    Personal balance

There are few other sources where you will find so much wisdom all in one book. The book can be read chapter by chapter, or you can choose a particular chapter depending on your mood or even a situation that you are encountering. This is the perfect book to keep in your office library to grab for reference and to solve problems.

LeaderShop is volume 1 from Dr. Duncan and I hope that there are numerous more versions to come. This is one of the best reads that I’ve had the opportunity to become engrossed in, and I felt like each leader/topic was talking with me, not at me. Pick this gem up today!




Monday, December 10, 2018

Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry by Joan McArthur-Blair and Jeanie Cockell Book Review



Leadership is a journey that doesn’t have a definitive playbook. It’s helpful to have different ideas and models to guide and mentor as we improve our leadership skills. The new book Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry by Joan McArthur- Blair and Jeanie Cockell offer a unique roadmap that they call Appreciative Inquiry. This model illustrates how to build resilience in leading oneself and those around you. It’s an approach for positive change in organizations, individuals, and groups. The process engages people by telling and listening to stories to build the future of people and organizations together in an engaging manner.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) can be used in strategic planning, team development, coaching, organizational development, and research. Ultimately, the process shows leaders at all levels how to build long-term resilience by using AI to reflect on and explore leadership through hope, despair, and forgiveness. This process builds leadership resilience in not just us, but our people. AI helps us navigate through difficult situations as leaders. It guides us in connecting with others.

The book offers personal and real-life leadership situations for readers to see AI in action. It’s useful to know the impact of AI by introducing several valuable models. Moreover, each chapter opens with an inspiring poem and ends with reflection questions to really get us thinking as leaders and asking how we can use the lessons in the book to be stronger leaders who can impact the people around us and the organizations that we work in.

What I enjoyed most about the book are the first-hand stories about AI and how it can change people and organizations. It helps to bring all the various ideas in the book together for that “aha” moment. It helps everything to gel and assists the reader to start down on a new path to leadership.

For those that really see the benefits that AI can bring to your organization or team, there are some excellence chapters at the end of the book to help you practice AI and even conduct your own AI workshop with your team with the support of other leaders in your organization.

If you want to explore a new leadership method, pick up a copy of Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Clarity First by Karen Martin Book Review



Over the years I have lost count of how many useless meetings that I have sat through with colleagues listening to countless KPI numbers, reports, financial updates, and other meaningless reports. We all nod as if we understand and that the information is meaningful. Sound familiar?

Too many leaders spend time pouring over numbers and creating reports that lack clarity, relevancy, and actionable information. The new book by Karen Martin Clarity First offers strategies, guidance, and examples of how we should be mining and presenting clear information for our employees, customers, and leadership teams. Karen introduces us to some lean and value stream processes that are useful and manageable without overwhelming with statistics and mumbo-jumbo that goes over the reader’s head.

Karen addresses five key areas that need to be addressed to bring clarity to organizations and teams. Here are the five Ps:

1. Purpose
2. Priorities
3. Process
4. Performance
5. Problem-solving

Organizations that lack clarity drive waste which prevents leaders from achieving goals and only brings confusion. Surprisingly, many companies avoid clarity because it means “putting” everything out there. Lack of clarity alienates employees, stakeholders, and leaders. Everyone within an organization should be encouraged to champion clarity and make it a vital part of the company culture.

Not enough leaders realize that clarity can unleash the power of employees by empowering them. If encouraged, they have unleashed potential, insight, innovation at various levels, and encourage every single person at every level.

Clarity First is a must-read for leaders at any level. Here is what clarity can bring:

Highlighting organizational purpose
Set achievable priorities because clarity exists
Deliver better customer service and value
Encourage transparency
Build stronger problem-solving skills and capabilities
Develop personal clarity to individuals

Clarity isn’t something that should be feared. Every organization should embrace transparency and clarity as a key factor to success. Write relevant reports. Share the good and bad with clarity. Manage transparency at all levels with a variety of data points. Encourage people to bring clarity to work with them every day. Clarity First by Karen Martin can start you on your own clarity journey.



Sunday, October 14, 2018

What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back


Too many leaders today are leaders in title only. They don’t possess relevant skills, and they read book after book or attend seminars to tell themselves that they are indeed strong leaders. These leaders lack conviction in their teams or often fail to see how their misuse of their “leadership skills” only demoralize or make teams feel powerless and unappreciated.

What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back by Jim Haudan and Rich Berens is one of my favorite leadership books that I have read in quite a while. They acknowledge that too many “leaders” don’t understand how they are holding themselves and their teams back. Sadly, these same leaders have no idea what the top leadership misconceptions are and what to do about them. By not recognizing how they are holding others back, entire teams and companies are underperforming and lack the ability to empowering people.

The authors offer tools, strategies, and stories about how blind spots have an adverse impact. Only 30% of our workforce is actively engaged, and that hasn’t changed for years.  It won’t change until authentic leaders recognize their blind spots and engage in restoring purpose, engagement, and connection.

Here are the 5 leadership misconceptions that hold leaders back:

1.    Purpose: Too few organizations operate purposefully. This adversely impacts people, profits, and growth. The authors share how to build a strong purpose statement that will resonate with teams and aren’t just words. Make purpose personal and be passionate about the purpose, not the numbers.
2.    Story: Too many companies think that they have an unusual and compelling story to tell that everyone wants to hear. You don’t. Leaders have it in their heads but can’t articulate it to anyone else. What do you need to do? Proactively close the gap between what you say and what you mean. Also, don’t let your stories kill your strategies. Last, don’t place foolish emphasis on WIIFM.
3.    Engagement: Let’s face it. Enough companies today encourage little to no participation within the organization or with teams. They don’t listen to what their people want or even really care. ASK what your people need. Focus on the emotional versus the rational. The authors suggest using dialogue to reach the hearts and minds of your people. Last, flip the switch for your people. Take the challenges of the organization to your teams and listen.
4.    Trust: Too many leaders think that people won’t do the right thing unless what they are told what to do. Make priorities clear, invite people to use their strengths, and embrace human variability rather than reduce it. Clear-headed leaders clarify hard lines, guidelines, and no lines to make the complex simple.
5.    Truth: Let’s face it. Many leaders don’t want to hear the truth. They feel safer living in a world where what they think is right and think they know what is best for everyone. Wrong. Teams need to feel like they are heard and leaders care. People want to know the truth. Don’t let rumors and a lack of communication rule the day. Use humor every day because it breaks down barriers and walls. People feel safer. Make it a priority to create a truth-telling culture. Be committed and don’t waver. As Haudan and Berens share, “To thyself be true, and others will follow.”

Leaders at all levels need to understand their leadership strengths and weaknesses. Too many fear to see the truth. We all need to be aware of the leadership misconceptions that plague us every day to grow as leaders and bring our teams along as authentic leaders. Pick up a copy of Blind Spots today!

Thursday, August 23, 2018



For years, leadership has meant strength, control, absolute, and a lack of flexibility. Fortunately, new leaders are learning that serving their people, being more personable, and becoming humble benefits teams and entire organizations. Leaders are finally focusing on personal relationships rather than outdated transactional role relationships. Just because you are a leader does not mean that people must follow. These days employees demand respect, relational interactions, and want to work for humble and uplifting managers.

The new book Humble Leadership – The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust by Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein offers a new approach to leadership. Leaders need to be humble. Relationships should change in design and evolve over time. It’s a challenging balance for leaders and their teams. The balance between being too formal or too intimate is a struggle in this day and age. Being humble is key to cultivating a strong culture of cooperation and trust. Years ago empathy wasn’t considered a leadership trait and it is a strength that can pull teams together.

Leaders today need to be adaptive and very in tune with their actions, behaviors, and treatment of teams so that organizational culture thrives and in turn impacts employees. I have worked in organizations with great cultures and those that are toxic. When an organization is toxic turnover increases, sales and service take a dive, and organizations fade.

The authors offer four levels of leadership relationships. Level two represents the most effective balance for most organizations.

Level  Minus 1: Total impersonal, domination, and coercion
Level 1: Transactional role and rule-based supervision, service, and most forms of “professional” helping relationships
Level 2: Personal cooperative, trusting relationships as in friendships and in effective teams
Level 3: Emotionally intimate total mutual commitments

The authors assert that learning and rewarding humility is a learning process. Without focus and commitment, leaders can’t change. They need to practice focused reading and reflection, create homework around designing work relationships and build their behavioral skills through fieldwork and learning.

Humble Leadership doesn’t just present theories and ideas. The real meat in the book are the lessons at the end of each chapter which invite the reader to reflect. There are several chapters detailing real situations in companies and even the military where humbleness has been transforming. These stories r bring the ideas and concepts in the book together. For instance, we learn lessons from a major medical center, an international company, and even the US military.

If you are ready and willing to become humble and change your organization pick up a copy of Humble Leadership today. You don’t need to be a CEO – you can have an impact in your role and within the teams that you work with. If we all make small changes we can have an impact.