Archives For September 2012

iStock_000018271188XSmallI love old sports cars. Performance cars are very different, model to model – some have flat-out speed, some corner like slot cars, some have lively steering, etc. Few cars have “everything desired” – each model has strengths and compromises.

Autocross racing intrigues me – it’s track racing made accessible to enthusiasts like me. Early on, a peer coach helped me understand how to get the best performance and most satisfying experiences while racing.

He said, “It’s not about pure speed. It’s about feeling the car ‘in the moment,’ every moment.” The best drivers are very attuned to the subtle weight shifts that signal where and how a car is poised on the track. Driving straight is easy. When you’re passing cars or turning to find the most efficient line through a corner, the car’s subtle weight shifts give you clues about how it’s handling.

Feeling the nuances of weight transfer, and leveraging that weight transfer for efficiency and speed, is much more art than science.

Proactive Culture Management Requires “Feel”

Managing your team or organization’s culture is also more art than science. Vital culture elements – clear performance expectations, clear values standards, and accountability for both – don’t make a team’s culture perfect. Just like a track car’s weight shifts in the race, your team’s culture shifts, moment to moment. To ensure your culture is serving your organization, customers, and employees equally well, you must learn to “feel” the subtle shifts that provide clues about how your culture is operating. Where you see clues of aligned behavior, celebrate and praise. Where you see clues of “less aligned” behavior, redirect the culture back “on track.”

Here are the top three “culture shifts” I coach leaders to pay attention to:

  • Values Demonstration – Are valued behaviors modeled daily, no matter the temptations to short cut a process or gain an unfair advantage? Stay attuned to values by observing leaders working with team members and team members interacting with each other and with customers. Promptly praise raise aligned behavior and redirect mis-aligned behavior.
  • Promises Kept – Are commitments made by the team and by team members diligently honored? Any promise not kept is an unhealthy action that can lead to further eroding of your team’s integrity, as well as the integrity of individual team members. Every day, observe and inquire about team members doing what they say they will do.
  • Celebrate Progress & Accomplishment – Do team members praise and encourage each other, day to day, or are they more interested in catching others doing things wrong than in doing things right? A validating culture looks for and celebrates things done well and going well.

Please join in THIS conversation! What are the culture shifts YOU pay attention to? Share your thoughts 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/vesilvio

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_000012681402XSmallAre you your employees’ best boss?

If you’re not, you may be surprised how quickly you can become their best boss. It’s not complicated.

Think about your own best boss – the person you worked for who created an environment where you were immensely productive and you loved going to work every day. What did your best boss do to create that environment for you and your team members?

I’ve asked this question of clients for over 20 years. The answers are remarkably consistent across a wide range of industries, organization size, country of origin, even personality. From my research, these are the most consistently reported “best boss” behaviors:

  • They care. Each team member is a valued person.
  • They celebrate. They give praise, encouragement, and credit.
  • They listen.
  • They validate others’ ideas, efforts, and accomplishment.
  • They’re available.
  • They inspire increasing performance in service to customers.

Notice the pattern of these great boss behaviors. They are primarily about support, validation, and connection – not about, for example, pay, goals, or metrics. Certainly great bosses must inspire terrific consistent performance. And, for these “best bosses,” they spend more time creating and maintaining positive personal relationships than they do driving results.

The payoff for leaders that connect through conversations with employees? Better results.

Knowing these consistent great boss behaviors is one thing – demonstrating them every day with team members is another! The simplest, most effective avenue for leaders to connect to employees is through regular conversations.

Two colleagues have written a terrific book that helps leaders have more authentic conversations with employees. Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni’s book, “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go,” is available today. Beverly and Julie present a vibrant model that outlines the importance of proactive, frequent discussions about progress, opportunities, and career.

Their model describes conversations that engage leaders and employees in hindsight (learning from past effort and identifying what employees are good at AND love doing), foresight (considering the changing business environment and what those changes mean for the future), and finding insight, the “sweet spot” where hindsight overlaps foresight, illuminating paths to enhance employee skills, contribution, and career.

Being a great boss is not complicated. It simply requires proactive engagement on the leader’s part to invest time, attention, and conversation with each team member. Where those conversations enable the employee to feel cared for, listened to, validated, and inspired, the leader is on the path to being that team member’s best boss.

Please join in THIS conversation! What did your best boss do to create an inspiring work experience for you? How do your great bosses engage you in career conversations? Share your thoughts 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.”

Blood pressure examinationIt felt like I had an invisible elephant sitting on my chest. I struggled to breathe. Shooting pains ran down my arms. Instead of thinking, “These are the classic symptoms of a heart attack,” I told myself, “Huh. I may not go into work today.”

It was December 17, 1993 and my life changed that day. I became a heart attack survivor and a heart patient for the rest of my life.

In the weeks before my myocardial infarction, I experienced symptoms that were consistent with clogged arteries. I ignored them. I had work to do. I had a job I loved – actually two jobs: internal consultant with the Federal Reserve Bank and director of the YMCA Pacific Region High School Conference, held each Thanksgiving weekend.

I was driven to succeed in those two jobs. That drive caused me to make lousy choices. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t eat healthy. I compromised my relationship with my family – all because of my focus on my work and my desire to be successful.

A heart attack gets your attention! It let me know that my current path wasn’t a good one.

Most importantly, I learned that unless I was my healthy, best self, I was of no earthly good to anybody. Not my clients, not my family – nobody.

I may be slow but I’m not dumb. I changed my habits quickly. Healthier foods and daily exercise helped me lose 25 pounds in four months. Weekly blood pressure readings, quarterly blood panels, and annual stress tests helped me gather data about the condition of my heart and body.

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer had a similar experience. His drive to succeed as the Florida Gators football coach caused him to experience a frightening health scare that caused him to leave that coveted job. After a year off, Ohio State pursued him for their head coach role. Meyer sought his family’s blessing to take the job. They gave their permission only after Urban signed an agreement that includes:

  • My family comes first.
  • I maintain good health.
  • I go no more than nine hours per day at the office.
  • I communicate daily with my kids.
  • I sleep with my cellphone on “mute.”
  • I trust God’s plan and am not overanxious.
  • I eat three meals a day.

Meyer says that meeting these requirements is a “work in progress.” He’s trying hard to be present and intentional with his health and his family relationships – so he can serve them and his football responsibilities equally well.

What gets in the way of YOUR best self today? How might you reduce the time you spend, boost your efficiency, or lower the anxiety you feel at or about work? How can you be more present for family, community, and friends so you can be of service and of grace, not discontent and anxious about work and life?

My health is good these days. I’ve lost another 20 pounds over the past two years on the slow carb diet. And, I am a work in progress!

Join in the conversation! What gets in the way of you being your best self? Share your thoughts 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/miqul

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.”

untitled-50aMany of you know that I’m a working musician in my free time. I was invited to join the Jones and Raine band in 2007; it is the most talented, musical, and enjoyable band I’ve ever experienced. The reason why may surprise you. It’s not about musicianship or cool gear or great songs or even teamwork – though all those things certainly help. It’s about listening.

Live music is an interesting challenge. Great live performances are not created by individuals playing their parts at full volume! That creates noise and static which is not pleasurable to listen to.

Great live performances require well-prepared, skilled players who work WITH each other, listening carefully to leave space for others’ contributions, and not step on anyone’s toes with an unfortunately timed vocal or instrumental. Every note played, every word sung, needs to serve the song’s message and the listener’s receipt of it. Every tune played needs an intentional strategy to guide the players and the performance.

Recording in the studio is a different deal. In that sterile setting, individual players can lay down perfect tracks. The producer and engineer(s) mix and master those tracks to position parts (instruments, vocals, lead instrumentation, etc.) in the stereo soundstage, to ensure clarity of tracks, and to present the song in it’s best, final form. For performers, studio work is less complex than live shows – you come in, play your parts, and then leave the mixing and mastering (HOURS of hard work) to the pros.

In a live setting, it is all too easy to create a “wall of sound” that doesn’t distinguish vocals, keyboards, or guitar performances – or the song’s meaning. The best bands – like the best work teams – listen carefully, in the moment, to work together to present the best possible combination of skills and performance for the receiver(s).

Does Your Team Create Music or Noise?

In organizations, it is all too rare that a team cooperates, listens, and leverages team members’ best selves in service to internal and external customers. Most teams create noise – where individual performers do their thing without clear regard for the total package.

That noise may not be intentional. It could be that individual performers see themselves in a “sterile setting” much like that of a recording studio. They perform and leave the “mixing and mastering” to someone else.

In most cases and with most teams, there isn’t someone else to pull it all together. If you want your team’s live performance to be pleasurable to your “listeners” (customers), every team member needs to bring their best performance, listen for the right space to contribute, and offer space for team mates to contribute, too.

Please join in the conversation! What are your experiences with work teams – has it been music or noise or something in between? Share your thoughts 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 © Kevin Krayna at Creation Photoscapes

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.”