What Do You See in the Clouds?

Leadership Perceptions

 

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” –Edgar Degas

 

An artist I know loves to show me a blank canvas and describe, in detail, the painting. To her, it’s so clear. Where I see only a blank canvas, she sees an entire landscape full of vibrant colors.

An entrepreneur I know once took his family on a tour of a remote piece of property. He shared his vision for where buildings would go and all the customers who would be mingling in various parts of the land. The family couldn’t imagine it, but he saw it all vividly. And, today, it looks exactly like that. It’s a thriving business.

An author friend of mine creates characters in her mind. Month after month, she dreams about them, talks with them, listens to them. They become so real to her that, when she finally starts writing, it’s as if she is merely recording what happens instead of inventing it.

 

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” –Vincent van Gogh

 

That’s the power of imagination. It’s the power of creativity.

  • Seeing something magical where others see mundane.
  • Seeing something beautiful where others see garbage.
  • Seeing potential in someone they don’t see in themselves.
  • Leaders inspire us by seeing a positive vision for organizations.
  • Successful people see opportunities when others see problems.

If there’s one skill you want to cultivate, it’s seeing the positive, the beautiful, the magical in others, in yourself, in challenging times, in dark places.

Because that change of perspective can make the difference in your outlook.

 

“To change ourselves effectively, we first have to change our perceptions.” –Stephen R. Covey

 

On a recent vacation, my wife was relaxing on a deck with a view of a mountain. As she often does, she was bringing people into her mind and praying for them one by one. Mesmerized by the beautiful scene in front of her, she decided to take a quick picture with her phone.

When we returned home, she was looking at her pictures and shared this one with a few close friends. Immediately, the responses started coming back. There’s something in the clouds!

 

“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” –Chuck Palahniuk

3 Forces of Intrinsic Motivation

3 Forces of Intrinsic Motivation

What motives you?

Daniel Pink’s work on motivation is likely the most well known, the most quoted, and the most discussed in management circles. We tend to think that we are either motivated by a fear of punishment or the excitement of a reward; the positive and the negative, the carrot and the stick. All of these forms are extrinsic, and they work only in certain situations. In fact, rewards can backfire in certain situations.

Instead, Pink concludes that we are more motivated by intrinsic motivation, the desire to do things because they matter. This completely upends the traditional thinking about motivating behavior. We have a desire to be part of something important, something larger.

 

Study: In 8 our of 9 tasks Dan Pink examined, higher incentives led to worse performance.”

 

Pink argues that we are motivated by other forces: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Autonomy. This is the need to self-direct.

Mastery. This is the intrinsic motivation to get better, to master a skill.

Purpose. This is the ability to connect to a larger cause. And, according to Pink, it’s the highest form of motivation.

These 3 forces are especially powerful in motivating the knowledge workers and the creatives.

How are you using the shifting nature of work and the research on intrinsic motivation in your organization? Are you changing the way you incentivize employees?

 

“Questions are often more effective than statements in moving others.” –Daniel Pink

 

“Especially for fostering creative, conceptual work, the best way to use money as a motivator is to take the issue of money off the table so people concentrate on the work.” –Daniel Pink

 

“One of the best predictors of ultimate success…how you explain your failures and rejections.” –Daniel Pink

 

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” –Daniel Pink

 

“Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead.” –Daniel Pink

 

“The course of human history has always moved in the direction of greater freedom.”

 

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How To Create An Optimistic Workplace

Make Work Happy

Do you want to create an optimistic workplace?

How does a strong purpose help in difficult times?

How do leaders set a positive leadership presence?

 

“The climate suffers when employees don’t believe their leader has their back.” –Shawn Murphy

 

My friend, author and speaker Shawn Murphy is the CEO & Founder of the leadership blog, Switch & Shift. His new book, The Optimistic Workplace, is a guide to creating and maintaining a powerful, positive, optimistic culture that creates results.

Previously, Shawn shared with us the powerful implications of positive, contagious emotions. I wanted to go deeper into the research for his new book, and so I asked Shawn to share more about the leadership insights he gained from decades of working with business leaders.

 

“Optimistic climates support employees’ exploration of purpose.” –Shawn Murphy

 

Find Your Purpose

I was fascinated by the research on eyeblinks. How does the eyeblink reflex relate to purpose?

Researchers used startle probes to measure the reflexive eyeblink caused by a stimulus, in the case of this research it was an image. The images ranged from positive, to neutral, to negative.

What researchers learned was the length of the eyeblink gave insight into the person’s emotional response to the pictures. The longer the eyeblink, the more unpleasant the response to the picture.

How this connects to purpose is that the researchers, Carol Ryff and team, found that those who had a clearer sense of purpose in life recovered faster from negative images. The research gets at a person’s resiliency. Purpose in life strengthens the core of our identity. The clearer our sense of purpose, the stronger our resiliency is; we can recover faster from negative stimulus in our life.

In a work context, we can summon our purpose to guide us through difficult times at work. It can also help us make better decisions, as purpose serves as a guide in decision making: Does this opportunity support my purpose?

 

“Resilience can be strengthened when a person has a sense of purpose.” –Shawn Murphy

 

Start Small to Cultivate Optimism

To cultivate optimism in the workplace, you say, “Start small,” and, “Forget about the ‘big bang.’” Most people who have a passion for culture want to jump right in with sweeping initiatives and major change. Why start small?

In my 20+ years as an organizational change management consultant and in leading change in my own company, I’ve learned that the big bang causes more confusion, comes across as rah-rah, and alienates people from what the change purpose and message is.

 

“Workplace optimism is the belief that good things will come from hard work.” –Shawn Murphy

 

So, rather go for broke, start small. Create a pocket of excellence. The change starts in a small group within the organization. The group is typically a supporter of the change. Let the small group experience success and gradually widen it to other pockets within the company.

Word of the success travels through networks of people. This approach organically builds support through achieved success and not through possible success. It’s the latter that is the focus of big bang change efforts. It’s what disillusions people about change efforts.

 

Research: You can transform the work experience by focusing on the best positive realities.

The Top 14 Posts of 2014

Leadership Insights

Every year, people ask me to recap the year’s most popular posts. It’s always a challenge to develop a list. For this list, I am including only some of my original posts. I will separately share the interview list.

Unpredictable Results

Talk to any blogger and you will likely hear the same thing.  It is always a surprise to see what becomes popular.  I may work like crazy on something for hours, post it and it may see very little traffic.  Something else ends up taking off and it was almost a last minute thought.  You just can’t predict.

In putting together a list of popular posts, there are also so many ways to look at the data.  Do you measure purely by the traffic?  If you do it that way, doesn’t that give an unfair advantage to content posted in January?

After looking at the statistics, I decided to pick the top posts by traffic with a weight based on the date.  If a post was dated later in the year, it received a slightly higher weight to equal things out.

 

The 14 Top Original Posts

In reverse chronological order, here are the top 14 original posts of 2014:

Dec 22, 2014: 50 Things to Drop Before the New Year

“To design your future effectively, you must let go of your past.” –Charles Givens

 

Nov 25, 2014: How to Live a Life of Thankfulness

“A spirit of thankfulness attracts others to your cause, ideas and goals.” -Skip Prichard

 

Nov 17, 2014: Assume the Positive

“See the best in people and watch how they fight to prove you right.” -Skip Prichard

 

Sep 29, 2014: Why Standing Out is More Important than Ever

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” –Dr. Suess

 

Sep 25, 2014: 11 Leadership Qualities of Nelson Mandela

I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying. –Mandela

 

Aug 18, 2014: Leading With Others in Mind

“Servant leaders give more in value than they receive.” -Skip Prichard

 

Jul 28, 2014: 4 Ways to Get Appreciated at Work

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  -William James

 

Jun 11, 2014: Leading with No

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” -Tony Blair

 

May 10, 2014: 9 Leadership Lessons from Mom

Leaders create results by letting others shine. -Skip Prichard

 

Apr 24, 2014: The 3 Most Limiting Words

Only you have the power to determine whether your future mimics your past. -Skip Prichard

 

Apr 19, 2014: 7 Characteristics Leaders Share With Peeps

“Leaders use failure as a fuel to propel future success.” -Skip Prichard

 

Apr 16, 2014: Selling to the C-Suite

“Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” –Zig Ziglar

 

Mar 12, 2014: The Price of Right

The joy of being right is short-lived. The joy of peace lasts a lifetime. -Skip Prichard

 

Feb 12, 2014: The Outs and Ins of Employee Loyalty

“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back.” -Tommy Lasorda

 

And the most popular guest post of the year is from March and was written by the very talented Thai Nguyen:

Contentment is the enemy of improvement. -Thai Nguyen

 

My mission for this blog remains the same:  to have a place to rant about whatever I want!  (Ahem!  Let me try that again.)  It’s all about leadership insights, ideas, and information that will make us all better leaders.  Whether through more productive meetings, healthier living, better use of social media and technology, deeper friendships or strategic vision and execution, I hope you find it a useful resource. I’d love to hear your ideas for future posts or the direction for Leadership Insights.

Thank You

I especially want to thank you for reading and a special thanks for those who have taken the time to comment and share these posts. For years, I would read blogs and never comment. When I started to participate, it was amazing how different of an experience it was. I began to develop relationships and get to know people on a deeper level. Try it – consistent sharing and commenting will likely help others as you share your own experience.

I wish you a happy and successful 2015!