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Showing posts from December, 2010

The King's Coach

The new film The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffrey Rush, is a lovely and touching true story of how Britain's King George VI, struggling with a life-long debilitating stammer, ascended to the throne on the eve of England's entrance into the second world war.

Not only is this a worthy movie for any who enjoy a high quality film, but this is one with particular relevance to those in the field of coaching. In fact, you could easily rename this film The King's Coach as it centers on the efforts of one Lionel Logue, a speech therapist from Australia, who is enlisted to work with "Bertie" (as the King was known by his family).

Late in the film, when Bertie is informed by his handlers that Logue is not a doctor and has no credentials, the King is enraged and accuses Logue of being a fraud. Then, in one of the film's most moving sections, Logue explains himself. He never called himself "Dr." Logue. He never claimed to…

Three Wishes for Workplaces in 2011

As we swiftly glide toward the end of 2010, many of us in the blogosphere turn our thoughts to the changes we wish would come true in the New Year ahead. In this post, in keeping with an age-old tradition, I will make only three wishes. At the same time, I will keep in mind the saying "Be careful what you wish for..." because you might get something you did not intend at all.

Wish 1 - That more workplaces will become truly great places to work, i.e., ones where management understands their stewardship role that putting Purpose, People, and Planet ahead of short-term Profit is the true path to sustainability.

Wish 2 - That more workplaces will become Results Only Work Environments (ROWE) where people are expected to produce, are supported to excel, and trusted to do what needs to be done to serve the customer.

Wish 3 - That more workplaces will become high engagement systems that bring out the best in people, leading to extraordinary results for customers and for employees.

As …

The Employee Engagement Equation

Even though many organizations demonstrated clearly by their recent decisions (i.e., downsizing) that they see people as costs, I still buy into the saying that "people are an organization's most important asset." Why? Look at the research emerging in the past twenty years or so around the Employee Engagement Equation:

~ the more engaged your workforce = the more productive and profitable your company

What many had believed for so long is now evidence based. Trouble is, do business heads know it? Do they get it?

The challenge before HR and OD practitioners is to do a good job of convincing our clients in the C-suites that investments in people will grow the business.

Recently fellow blogger Lance Haun posted his thoughts on the reasons why CEOs don't care about employee engagement. I added this thought:

"Good post, Lance. If I may add my two cents, one of the blockages that some CEOs have is that "they are funny that way." Meaning, they are wired to focu…

On Being Humble

During a recent supervisory skills class that I was teaching, the group agreed that an effective boss is humble. Now there's a perspective you don't run into a lot. So let's take a closer look at the meaning of being humble.

My wife Joan is an avid gardener. Someday I hope to see her earn the Master Gardener certification because she is certainly a good candidate. For one thing, she is not afraid of getting dirty. In fact, if she is having a good day outside, you'll find her covered from head to toe in dirt. And loving it!

As a child, I too was really into dirt --digging in the backyard, exploring gullies that fed into the Raritan River, or tunneling in sand at the beach-- much of it in search of rocks, old coins, fossils, and shells for my collection.

Last year, I saw a science news story that said how important dirt is for our health. Dermatologist Professor Richard Gallo, of University of California at San Diego, said: “These germs (present in dirt) are actually good…

When the Going Gets Tough

Why do employees hate their bosses?

Is that question stated too strongly? Is "hatred" too strong a term? Recently on LinkedIn, someone asked a similar question. And most of the first twenty or so replies reacted to the word "hatred."

Having worked with many diverse organizations for thirty years on management and leadership development, I've got a take on this.

Sometimes the boss becomes the focal point for employees' "hatred" because they see him or her as the source of their unhappiness at work. In some cases, the boss may indeed be a contributor; being "boss" is not a job for just anyone. In other cases, the boss is simply the conduit or messenger of pressure from higher levels.

There is an old expression "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." While there is truth in it, we need to create some new sayings to accompany the first one.

- When the going gets so tough that the pressure starts to make employees crack under …

Little Monsters

A client of mine remarked that coaches have to be careful because, if they push too hard, the result can be monsters rather than good team players.

I was teaching a class on managerial coaching and we were talking about our own life experiences of coaches and coaching. The client's comment about creating monsters sparked the entire group into a lively conversation about the impact that coaches can have on children, and perhaps on adults as well.

He told us the story of his son who is a champion swimmer in high school. When this swimmer was much younger, there was a certain swim team that he competed against, a team that was so driven to win by its coaches that they were the meanest and most feared club in the league. When they won, they triumphed. When they lost, you did not want to be there. At one such match, the silver medal went to one of this team's swimmers. The child angrily threw his medal to the ground and stormed off to the parking lot, cussing as he went, his haples…

On the Meaning of Work

My old friend, who is passing through New Jersey on his way to Virginia to visit his grown children, told me at dinner the other night that he plans to build his daughter and son-in-law a work bench in their garage and a cabinet for their TV.

My friend is retired. And has been in retirement for years since leaving AT&T after a long career.

I'm often amazed at the industriousness of some retirees!

For my friend, these projects he will undertake are not "work." To be sure, these projects will require planning, measurement, and skillful execution. But they are not a drudgery for him. In fact, he looks forward to them with great anticipation and can't wait to see the delight on his kids' faces when they behold the final result. For him, this work is a pleasure.

Have you ever felt that way about your work?

What is it, sometimes, about work that doesn't feel like work? Recently at my church, St. Matthias in central New Jersey, we explored this question.

Our Emplo…