Employees want to know that what they are spending their time producing, creating, designing, delivering, . . . has meaning. Employees want to know their work is significant to their manager, leadership, team, and the broader organization. They also want to know that, in the process of their work, they are learning and experiencing that which will help their continued development and growth.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is helpful in understanding at a very basic level, human motivation. Inspiring engaged employees means affecting people at the highest point in the hierarchy – self-actualization. This is the place where people are seeking to become all they are capable. Leaders in pursuit of more engaged employees can use any of these probing questions in group or one-on-one situations:
- How can I better support you?
- What can I do to help you?
- How can I enable your success?
- What else should be considered?
- What suggestions do you have for my continued improvement?
It takes courage, humility, and discipline to graciously ask, hear, and act on what employees’ share. There’s much to be gained for everyone in this process. However, if this type of inquiry is new for you, proceed thoughtfully. The winning formula to inspiring employees to be more engaged requires leaders to ask questions and respond timely and meaningfully.
The truth is none of us started where we are. With every experience and interaction we mature, evolve, and transform. Top Coaches share personal reflections they wished they’d known sooner in their careers and tips on reducing workplace stress. We’re delighted that our Principal, June Stewart joined the discussion.
June Stewart, Principal and Chief Talent Officer, with Amplify Partners, LLC (amplifypartners.co) a boutique management consulting practice based in Ohio, has been accepted into the Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches.
June Stewart joins other Forbes Coaches Council members, who are hand-selected, to become part of a curated network of successful peers and get access to a variety of exclusive benefits and resources, including the opportunity to submit thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics for publishing on Forbes.com.
Forbes Councils combines an innovative, high-touch approach to community management perfected by the team behind Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) with the extensive resources and global reach of Forbes. As a result, Forbes Council members get access to the people, benefits and expertise they need to grow their businesses — and a dedicated member concierge who acts as an extension of their own team, providing personalized one-on-one support.
“I am thrilled to join this prestigious network of professionals,” said June Stewart. “Our work at Amplify Partners, LLC is about transforming individual and organizational performance from good to great. My membership with the Forbes Coaches Council is the right compliment for my brand and business. I look forward to tapping into the Council’s resources and network to further enable my delivery of game changing executive coaching.”
Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, says, “We are honored to welcome June into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world.”
For more information about Forbes Coaches Council, visit https://forbescoachescouncil.com/. To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit forbescouncils.com.
How is it that some people suffer hardships, setbacks, and difficulties and not waver? ? That colleague who isn’t able to regain their confidence after a job loss or hearing contrary feedback. Friends who avoid relationships after a betrayal of trust or can’t bring themselves to love again after a divorce. “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.” (Dean Becker)
The skills and behaviors that feed and enable your resilience are critically important to develop and nurture now more than ever. The combustive cocktail of daily public provocations associated with political, social, and natural disasters, the pervasiveness and popularity to be mean and demean others, along with our ever-present personal challenges increase the likelihood that our contingency plans (aka Plan B), will one day move from thought to reality.
The Center for Creative Leadership defines resiliency as the ability to bounce back from a difficult moment, a rough day, a big setback, or a life-changing hardship. Resilience is also about tapping into what you need daily to avoid paralysis when you can’t see thru the forest or when you just don’t know the next move. While deeply personal resiliency, has profound business implications. A global survey of over 100,000 employees found that employee depression, stress and anxiety accounted for 82.6% of all emotional health cases in Employee Assistance Programs in 2014. This is an increase from 55.2% in 2012. What I know for sure is that when people are sad, angry, reactive, and anxious they are unable to be at their best in any role. Decision-making and interpersonal interactions take a hit.
The good news is like most things resiliency can be learned. It is built by a set of attitudes and behaviors associated with optimism, flexibility, continuous learning, creativity, confidence, mindfulness, and vision orientation.
Resilience is a core leadership competency for anyone on the #boss track. Make sure you’re practicing these enabling behaviors. They demonstrate your resilience to others:
- Effectively communicating your intentions.
- Being receptive to feedback; requesting feedback; and responding by acting on the feedback.
- Building positive trusting relationships.
- Willingly take bold risks and try new approaches & ideas.
- Having a vision for change. Embrace change. Inspiring others to change.
- Decisive effective decision-making enabling forward motion. When you misstep, quickly edit and course correct.
The race isn’t given to the swift, nor to the strong, but to the one that endures to the end (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Flex those new muscles that surviving the experience created.?? Use the learning to relaunch, redirect, transform… Take a step, make a move, fly, soar, leap… whatever. Maintain your bounce to live and live well.
With the end in mind, I created my personal vision statement. I had no idea how meaningful this would be. This vision statement is my north star, guiding and inspiring the direction for my life; defining success for me, and keeping me intentional and on purpose. Having this statement to reference has been invaluable in minimizing stress, simplifying decisions and giving real meaning to my life. A tool that’s lasted 29 years was certainly worth the 30 plus days it took to create.
Bringing into existence your life’s vision is a process requiring commitment and discipline. A personal vision/mission statement is a powerful tool that expresses your sense of purpose and meaning in life. It acts as your personal constitution by which you make and evaluate decisions, choose behaviors, and create results. As a first step, transfer what you envision from the mental realm into the physical. You may have heard it said, “Write the vision, make it plain or where there is no vision people perish . . .” There is power in this process!
Six Essential Questions To Answer
- What will be the center of my life? Think about those things you want to build your life around. There are many choices like family, career, spirituality . . . What’s most important is that you identify what will keep you rooted and will be unshakable during life’s twists and turns.
- What things do I want to have that I feel are important and why?
- What is it that I am or want to be about?
- What character qualities and traits do I want to emulate?
- What’s the legacy that I want to leave?
- For what do I want to be remembered? Think as if you are writing your obituary.
In need of a little inspiration? Try these helpful exercises and resources.
- Write for 5 continuous minutes in response to questions 1-6 noted above. Keep writing until nothing else comes to mind. Don’t worry about what it looks like. The goal is to get your thoughts on paper. Think one person brainstorming.
- Review inspirational poetry, quotations, blogs, stories, biographies, and autobiographies.
- Establish a list of positive character traits that you’d like to develop and live by.
- Keep a journal to reflect on your passions and the principles & values important to you.
- The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
Opportunities and possibilities can easily become distractions when we are disconnected or unclear about what’s important to us. A personal vision/mission statement provides a path for success, and it gives you permission to say no to the things that are distractions. Once written, regularly review your mission statement and use it to create goals and produce results. Test and validate its functionality, relevance, and value by frequently asking, does my mission statement:
Represent the absolute best that is within me?
Challenge and motivate me?
Address all the significant roles in my life?
Provide me direction and purpose?
Provide me security and comfort?
Express timeless principles that produce quality of life results?
“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. But unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them — the path to their personal legends and to happiness” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
. . . Heart and Hard Work
All too often, we bare witness to people washing-out simply because they didn’t spend enough time on their personal foundation. Or as I like to say, they had a lapse of judgment that was rooted in a character flaw. The hard truth is it takes more than degrees, certificates, networks, and intellect to have sustaining power, emotional agility and the kind of mental fortitude that you can thrive no matter the circumstances. The strength or weakness of your character will make or break you – professionally and personally.
Our daily news feed is filled with stories of politicians, clergy, athletes, entertainers, business and community leaders… loosing position and income, derailing careers and their lives because of seemingly minor transgressions of exaggerated truths, distorting facts, disregard for governing policies and laws, and contrary dispositions. That’s a nice way for saying they lied, stole, cheated,. . . Thorny character traits come with the skin we live in. Everyone is vulnerable. Derailment and distractions due to underdeveloped character happens to regular folk – regularly. Most of us can name at least one person in our circle of family, friends, and colleagues that fell from grace (personally and professionally) due to a poor choice rooted in a character flaw.
Reflecting on my 30 years of navigating these types of issues in the workplace, I observed a diverse group of people ranging in age, profession and years of experience. They represent every gender and ethnic group. These folk live in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. There are two interesting similarities in this group: (1) All are Homo sapiens; and (2) Each possessed underdeveloped character traits that enabled life and career derailing decisions. ? Anyone who isn’t committed to continual character development can fall prey to its unyielding power.
Investments in education and technical training are essential to having qualifying skills. Competence is the price of admission and only half of the ticket. Equally important and the other half is your character. Competence is what gets you hired; character is what sustains you. Attributes like integrity, courage, compassion, contribution, responsibility, fidelity, accountability, empathy, deference, discernment, forgiveness, humility, honor, self-control, respect, justice . . .
Don’t believe for a second that organizations only care about results. How you got those results is discussed and for a multitude of reasons, you haven’t been brought into the conversation. In fact, you may receive high praise, one or multiple promotions before anyone approaches you with how. . . Hopefully your response won’t be a career staller or worse, a deal breaker. In the words of Stephen Covey, “The development of character offers you enduring effectiveness.” If you really want career longevity and long-term success, you must do the work on yourself that goes below the surface. This is the heart & hard work that creates authenticity. Balance your professional development investments to be equal parts competency development + character development. The combined investment will leave you richer at every level.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT enables you to skillfully manage an ineffective boss or rude colleague. It equips you to remain level-headed in the midst of chaos. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT urges you to resist your ego when it threatens. It will empower you to acknowledge when you are wrong and will convict you to self-correct. It will keep you humble, gracious, and grateful. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT fuels your emotional intelligence and compels you to inspire and serve. It equips you with an understanding of your worth and empowers you with insight to know when it is time to walk away. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT will help you distinguish valuable feedback from BS and respectfully disagree. It equips you to nurture healthy relationships – especially with those not like yourself. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT readies you with the grit required to take a stand, push beyond difficulties and propel yourself forward. It empowers you to give others praise and recognition. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT prepares you to challenge groupthink when it is demeaning, compromising, threatening…or just plain wrong. It will keep you from compromising your integrity. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT enables you to speak truth when a lie is more comfortable or convenient. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT qualifies you to live authentically.
Character Development Tips
Review and edit your circle. These are the people who are closest to your heart. They are your confidants and those you trust with the issues of your life. You must be able to rely on them to check you; tell you when you are wrong; give visibility to your blind spots.
With every project; every assignment, ask the people you work with (in a 1:1 setting), what can I do to be better? Think: Start, Stop, Continue. Whatever you do, don’t settle for “your great” or “nothing”. NOBODY is great all the time. Let them know you really want to hear – whatever it is. When people start to share, quiet yourself to hear with your heart and head. Only ask questions in the moment that will provide you clarity. Say thank you and put your improvement plan in motion!
Ask your partner, spouse, children what you could do to be more supportive, more loving of them. And like #2, don’t settle for “your great” or “nothing”. As they share, don’t shut it down by being defensive. Show maturity and wisdom by listening with an open heart and mind. And when they are done, hug and kiss them while you are saying thank you. Put your improvement plan in motion!
Seek professional help if you haven’t been able to figure it out.
If you believe in the power of prayer, pray for a heart to see yourself clearly; the insight that will help you change; and the courage to transform.
Create a daily ritual of reflecting on your words, actions, thoughts, and decisions. Put your improvement plan in motion.
Celebrate your successes.