Archives For July 2012

Historic Old Main building at Penn StateThis week, the NCAA imposed severe sanctions on Pennsylvania State University. The Freeh Report described an “unprecedented failure of institutional integrity” in which the football program was held “in higher esteem than the values of the institution, the NCAA, higher education, and human decency.”

The university took decisive action when abuse allegations were made public late last year. The leaders responsible for this failure of integrity were immediately removed. Time will tell if the university’s new leaders can align behavior to the values and standards Penn State was founded upon in 1863.

The NCAA sanctions, though short of abolishing the football program entirely, will impact the university and its student-athletes for years to come. I support the NCAA’s penalties of Penn State. The behavior of leaders who tolerated well-known abusive behaviors by an ex-coach could not go unpunished.

Who is Responsible for Organizational Integrity?

Organizational integrity is the degree to which the organization delivers on it’s promises – in Penn State’s case, education, research, and character. Organizational integrity does not exist independently; it is driven entirely by the leaders of the organization. Leaders’ daily plans, decisions, and actions reveal their underlying beliefs and values.

When leaders’ plans, decisions, and actions are aligned with the espoused vision, values, and strategies of the organization, that organization experiences HIGH integrity. When leaders’ plans, decisions, and actions are NOT aligned with the organization’s vision, values, and strategies, that organization experiences LOW integrity.

If your organization has published it’s vision, purpose, values, strategy, and goals statement, it is a simple task to evaluate the alignment of leaders’ plans, decisions, and actions to that statement. It’s a little more difficult to gauge organizational integrity without a published statement, but it can be done.

Assess Your Organization’s Integrity

Answer these questions to gauge your organization’s current demonstrated integrity:

  • Are values expectations clear & agreed to?
    Even if your organization hasn’t formally defined what a good citizen looks like in the workplace, it’s likely you have benchmark citizenship “stars.” To what extent is good citizenship acted on daily in interactions with internal and external customers?
  • Are promises made and kept?
    Keeping one’s commitments is a foundation of integrity. Do you, your peers, your boss, your team, etc. make commitments clearly and deliver on those promises?
  • Is trust and respect demonstrated in every interaction?
    Trust and respect creates ever greater trust and respect. This is a foundation of personal and organizational integrity.
  • Do leaders, team members, and teams “do the right thing,” no matter what?
    Serving the greater good builds integrity more than serving the selfish good.
  • Is there zero toleration of mis-aligned behavior?
    When promises are not kept, when citizenship is poor, when trust & respect is eroded, how do leaders respond to those behaviors?

One doesn’t have to be a senior leader to increase organizational integrity. Create a “pocket of excellence,” ensuring integrity of your own plans, decisions, and actions. Encourage the same in your work team. Today.

Join in the conversation! What is your experience with organizational integrity? What do you do to increase your personal integrity daily? Share your insights in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

Photo (of the Old Main building on the Penn State campus) © iStockphoto.com/catnap72

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!


The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Father teaching his son to ride a bikeI love learning. I was “over the moon” when the amazing Lisa Zigarmi agreed to co-author the #POSITIVITYATWORK tweet book with me. Lisa is one of the smartest and kindest humans I know. Her understanding of the science behind happiness and well-being is deep and wide! I’m grateful and inspired for all she’s taught me.

One critical understanding I have gained is that each of us is responsible for our own well-being. Others – parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, organizations, teams, etc. – cannot boost our well-being. They can choose to create an environment where our well-being activities are supported, but they are not responsible for it. We, as individuals, are.

Increased personal well-being has been proven* to generate benefits beyond happiness. People with high personal well-being:

  • Deliver 31% higher productivity
  • Demonstrate 3 times higher creativity on the job
  • Are ten times more engaged by their jobs
  • Are 40% more likely to receive a promotion within a year
  • Generate 37% greater sales figures
  • Are three times more satisfied with their jobs

* The Economics of Wellbeing by Tom Rath & Jim Harter and Positive Intelligence (from the Harvard Business Review‘s January/February 2012 issue by Shawn Achor

Create the Habit of Proactive Well-Being Management

The research on how many days it takes to change a habit is challenging the initial work in the 1960′s. It seems that a range of 21 to 66 days is more accurate, depending on the lousy habits being quashed, desirable habits being embraced, the complexity of the new behaviors, and the habit-resistance of the humans involved. The following “boost your well-being” suggestions are actionable and can be implemented quickly. AND, making them a habit will take you somewhere between 21-66 days.

  • Intentionally apply your skills to serve team colleagues, goals, and customers, every day.
  • You are not what you DO. Consciously BE your best self, daily.
  • Be a source of kindness and grace to others, in every interaction.
  • Experience joy and pride in your work done well.
  • Don’t make your challenges anyone else’s issue. Seek help and guidance, but proactively deal with challenges.
  • Attune to and express delight with things that go well in your world every day.
  • Express gratitude and appreciation for others’ effort AND accomplishments daily.
  • Be optimistic. It promotes positive coping, action, initiative, better moods, and sociability.
  • Give of yourself – volunteer to help a colleague with a big project or volunteer to help others in your community, regularly.
  • Clarify your personal mission, values, and life themes. Act on your strengths and purpose.
  • Create connections. Most workplaces create isolation. Humans are social beings that thrive on connection.
  • Struggles are an opportunity to learn. Find the learning and move through.
  • Manage distractions effectively so you can focus for 15 minutes straight on one key task.
  • Your fingerprints are on every activity, goal, and task you manage. Work so you are proud of every personal output.

I post actionable suggestions for boosting personal well-being (like those above) in my Twitter feed every day. Follow me for regular prompts to take responsibility for your own well-being.

Join in the conversation! What proactive habits or practices help you manage your well-being? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/berc

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!


The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Driver of car waves handMy lovely bride (of 33 years), Diane, is a native Texan. We’ve visited her family there on many occasions and lived in Dripping Springs, TX for a few years before we found our way to Colorado.

While automobiling around the state, you’ll see “Drive Friendly” signs along most highways. The Texas Dept. Of Transportation defines this approach as yielding to other drivers and being courteous.

When driving on two-lane Texas highways in daylight and a car approaches you, 95% of the time the driver will give a small wave. It’s part of the Texas culture.

Let’s bring this idea into our organizations. Wouldn’t it be great to have an authentically “friendly” work place? Does your organizational culture provide a courteous, safe, inspiring environment where people thrive, where work gets done, customers are wow’ed daily, and stakeholders are equally thrilled?

Work Friendly

Creation of a truly friendly work environment for ALL staff, from senior leaders to front line employees, does not happen casually. It happens only when senior leaders are intentional about their corporate culture, when they place equal emphasis on performance AND values demonstration.

There are three levels of workplace cultural health:

  • The most basic level is CIVILITY. This level is an absolute minimum; an un-civil workplace creates stress, frustration, and distrust. None of those create consistently high performance, values-aligned work environments. Civility means that all staff are treated with respect: their roles are respected, they (as persons) are respected, their knowledge & skills are respected, their goal commitment is respected. Civility is typically a passive experience; active conversations shift the workplace up into the next level of health. Note that if ONE un-civil interaction occurs at ANY TIME, it means your culture doesn’t meet this minimum level of cultural health.
  • The second level is ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. To reach this level, civility must be firmly embedded in the organization’s work environment. Acknowledgement is the active recognition and expression of thanks and gratitude for staff effort, commitment, skills, productivity, citizenship, service, etc. This acknowledgement happens in various and frequent forms in the work environment; certificates, stories on the company intranet, verbal thanks, applause for people and/or team efforts, etc. The words, “Thank you” are heard a lot.
  • The most advanced – and desirable – level is VALIDATION. To reach this level, acknowledgement must be firmly embedded in the organization’s work environment. Validation is the active valuing of team members’ ideas, skills, enthusiasm, and talent. Validation is often seen in the form of delegation of authority and responsibility. Talented, committed team members thrive when their leaders – and the organization’s members – show trust and respect for their skills, commitment, and potential.

How do you know the level of your team or organization’s cultural health? ASK EMPLOYEES. Regularly (twice a year, at least). Act on the data you gather by validating elements (and players) that support your desired culture and redirecting/removing elements (yes, and players) that don’t.

Join in the conversation! How “friendly” is your team or organization’s culture? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/-101photo-

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!


The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

iStock_000005390942XSmallMy mission on this earth is to help leaders to 1) understand the incredible power of corporate culture to drive performance and employee work passion, and 2) proactively manage their desired culture, every day.

Two very relevant articles caught my eye this week. Both articles highlighted senior leaders who, in their vastly different organizations, created corporate cultures that resulted in poor performance, poor morale, day-to-day frustration . . . and worse.

The first article described how the head of the USA’s Missile Defense Agency mismanaged his office, harassed and bullied senior staff, and failed in his leadership of the Pentagon’s largest program. A scathing investigation and report found the commander regularly yelled and screamed obscenities at subordinates (too often in public), demeaned employees, and created such a difficult work environment that at least six senior staff have left the MDA under his regime. Particularly telling: in 2011, the MDA was ranked 228 out of 241 “best places to work in the federal government” according to the Partnership for Public Service.

The second article described how the ex-CEO of France Telecom was indicted by a court in Paris this week over allegations that he “led a culture of bullying and harassment that resulted in the suicide of at least 35 employees.” Many employees felt desperate and depressed during the CEO’s aggressive restructuring. Most of those who died left notes blaming pressure at work for their actions. We will see how this court case plays out – but the fact that an investigation found evidence supporting these charges is truly astounding.

How Safe and Inspiring is Your Organization’s Culture?

Most bosses are not tyrants – yet some can have very negative impact on employee performance and work passion. Margie Blanchard, co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies, strongly believes that “people are doing the best they can” at work every day. I believe that is true – and, unless bosses are tuned in to employee perceptions, workplaces may not be as safe and inspiring as their leaders think they are.

Influencing efforts by senior leaders don’t always have the expected consequences. Leaders must check in on how employees are doing AND feeling to ensure the leader’s efforts are helping, not hurting or hindering, employee performance and passion for their work.

What separates mediocre or even OK bosses from great bosses? Great bosses demonstrate servant leadership. Servant leaders know that their effectiveness is solely measured by their employees’:

  • Understanding of the business’ vision (future state) and purpose (present state)
  • Continued refinement of skills to meet/exceed customer requirements of company products and services
  • Satisfaction with work relationships (with peers and boss), and
  • Feeling of safety and inspiration at work, every day.

How well does your team or organization’s culture inspire employee connection, performance, and work passion? Tell us in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/yuri_arcurs

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

iStock_000005339918MediumMy best boss, Jerry Nutter, helped me understand that everything a leader does either helps, hinders, or hurts the employee’s performance or the leader’s relationship with their employee. Leadership stupidity carries a big cost.

Two examples come to mind – both from my non-profit days.

An Example of My Leadership Stupidity

The first example is from one of my earliest management experiences. I was a newbie at influencing others. I tried my best every day. Some things I did worked great – and a few things were NOT remotely helpful.

In this instance, I was struggling with a highly skilled employee who wasn’t contributing like she once was. She was demonstrating all the classic signs of demotivation. In staff meetings and during individual conversations, she’d sigh heavily or roll her eyes if she was asked about her tasks or deadlines. Other staff members were complaining about her behavior. One day I decided to “take the bull by the horns.” I set up a meeting with her and, as soon as we sat down, I told her that she was a valued member of the team but that she had a crappy attitude. I used a more colorful term than “crappy.”

If I was hoping to shock her, I did. Unfortunately, my language derailed any hope of getting to the core issue – her “demotivated persona.” It took me weeks to get back on an even keel with her and to attempt to address her behavior.

The Impact of My Boss’ Leadership Stupidity

The second example was later in my non-profit career. Fundraising is a big part of non-profit work and this was the closing dinner of a month-long fundraising campaign. More than 100 staff & volunteers were in attendance from branches across the county. My board chairman and I were ready to announce the total raised by our small branch – more than they’d ever raised before. Just before the program began my boss pulled me aside and asked me to announce a higher total than we’d raised. “You’ll continue raising funds through the year – are you confident you’ll hit this number by December?” he asked.

I hoped my boss’ suggestion was well-intended; we would continue raising funds. However, he was asking me – and my key volunteer – to “stretch the truth” that night. I refused.

The relationship with my boss was destined for difficulty from that evening forward. I experienced a values-mismatch that I could not ignore. Within a year, I had left that organization.

Leaders cannot afford to hinder or hurt employee performance or relationships. Two ideas may help: Integrity and Impact.

In his book, The Integrity Dividend, Cornell University professor Tony Simons found that when leaders 1) do what they say they will do and 2) demonstrate their organization’s values, employee commitment goes up, customer service rankings go up, and profits go up. Those are powerful and desirable outcomes of leader integrity!

Leaders must also keep their “fingers on the pulse” of their impact on employee performance and relationships. How do leaders gauge the quality of their relationships? Ask employees! Leaders will learn where and how they can refine behaviors and approaches to help – not hinder or hurt.

What leadership stupidity have YOU experienced – or even delivered? What was the impact of that stupidity? Tell us in the comments section below.

Get your FREE EXCERPT from my new book, #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet, written with the delightful Lisa Zigarmi. View our video on why we wrote the book, understand the research on positivity in the workplace, and more!

Photo © iStockphoto.com/yzak

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes!

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”