It All Matters: I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone by Paul Cummings

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I'm always drawn to books that can help me find clarity, focus, and more confidence. There are so many distractions pulling at us from every angle. Our brains become fuzzy, our goals fall to the wayside, and we feel disconnected and off track. I'm excited to share this insight from Paul Cummings on how you can start to see clear again and the importance of doing so.

I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone

By Paul Cummings

Do you know who Johnny Nash is? In my opinion, he is a genius who provided a tremendous life lesson hidden in the lyrics of a great song. If you investigate the meaning behind the message, you’ll discover the impact of his words.

Have you ever realized that your perception of life is the lens through which you view your life? Our perception truly shapes our reality. Is your lens clear, and do you like what you see? Or have you allowed circumstances in your life to cloud up your lens and change your viewpoint and perspective?

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone.”

I love this lyric. Here is a person who has cleaned his lens. The rain was blocking his vision of life. When the “hard rain” is pouring down all around, it’s easy to miss the beauty around you, the opportunities open to you.

“I can see all obstacles in my way.”

This person has arrived at a moment of clarity. Now that the rain is gone, he can finally see the obstacles preventing him from the goals and dreams he has been pursuing without success. Once you define and acknowledge your obstacles, you can create a compelling plan of action to turn these obstacles into tangible opportunities.

“Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.”

Wow, this is such a powerful use of words! We have all experienced "dark cloud" moments in our life. We have been hurt and disappointed. We have experienced losses and unexpected moments of sadness. We have been this close to a major victory only to fall short and have to start over. To me, these powerful words represent a message of hope. The dark clouds in our life will disappear. We will maintain our faith and belief that things can and will work out in the end.

“It’s going to be a bright bright sunshiny day”

Beautiful optimism! What an inspiring and positive outlook this lyric project. This person has cleared off the lens, recognized the obstacles, removed the dark clouds, and replaced his blindness with a powerful vision. The road ahead is bathed in bright sunshine.

Johnny Nash's words are open to interpretation, but I believe the rain could have been a series of negative emotions. The obstacles could have been the source of that (rain) pain. The dark clouds could have been the acceptance of those negative emotions causing blindness to the possibilities. The bright sunshiny day could be the moment the person said, “No more! From today forward, I will take hold of my life and choose to look through my lens with the hope, faith, and confidence that a bright future brings.”

Clear your lens and embrace your future - every day. What song has a lot of meaning to you?

Make A Difference Today,


More about Paul Cummings

Paul Cummings is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Paul D. Cummings World Wide Enterprises, a global training and teaching company that has motivated and inspired hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses to make real and lasting change. Fueled by his personal and corporate desire to give to others, Paul developed skills and techniques in Leadership, Goal Setting, and Sales Techniques, including his Grid Square Technology.

Paul continues to revolutionize the way people and businesses learn by making learning simple, affordable, fun, and efficient. His Level 10 philosophy has become the benchmark that others have aspired to achieve. His latest book, It All Matters: 125 Strategies to Achieve Maximum Confidence, Clarity, Certainty, and Creativity releases October 9, 2017. The book provides an all-encompassing framework for achieving the life of your dreams offering strategies to inspire professionals—and help them develop skill sets, build knowledge, improve attitudes, and develop work habits that pay off.

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Lessons for Self Leadership

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I am a big fan of Ken Blanchard and his One Minute Manager books. Each one teaches valuable lessons through storytelling and there is no better way to learn and become more motivated to grow. I'm delighted to share some thoughts from Susan Fowler from the new book Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager.

Originally Published at Blanchard LeaderChat on 8/17/17:

I can’t get what I need. My boss doesn’t understand me. My organization’s systems don’t work. I don’t have the resources I need. My job doesn’t take advantage of my strengths. No one appreciates me. My boss micromanages me. There’s no room for me to grow. They don’t understand how much I could be contributing if only they’d give me a chance.

If you’re human, I imagine you’ve thought or invoked one of these statements. I know I have.

Even though we may be able to justify these types of statements, they often reflect our own assumed constraints: beliefs that allow us to escape personal accountability and fall victim to circumstances or the actions of others. In the new Self Leadership program I co-created with Ken Blanchard and Laurence Hawkins, we teach that self leadership is about having the mindset and skillset to accept responsibility and take initiative.

While it is wonderful to learn how to ask for the direction and support you need to be successful in your role, it’s also important to remember that when something goes wrong, there’s no one else to blame.

The Hard Truths about Self Leadership

  • Sometimes you misdiagnose your competence. Not knowing what you don’t know can be dangerous. Enthusiasm and high commitment are blessings, but don’t mistake them for high competence. Self leaders are able to appreciate where they are on the learning curve, diagnose their development level on a goal, and recognize the times and tasks where they need direction. Self leaders also have the wisdom to ask how to do something they’ve never done before.
  • You have to ask for feedback. One of the most important habits of a self leader is proactively asking for feedback every day instead of waiting to get it. Recent research suggests people are more likely to listen to feedback when they have asked for it. And neuroscience shows the brain is more ready to integrate feedback when it’s asked for and received at a time that is most relevant to the learner.
  • The best person to solve your problems is you. Nobody knows your problems better than you do. With experience, the best person to solve a problem is the person who identifies it. Self leaders go beyond problem spotting to proactive problem solving, which has been shown to reduce workplace stress and result in higher energy at the end of the day.
  • You must stop blaming others. Even if your manager is ineffective, dismissive, or a micromanager, you need to build on the positive direction and support you do get from them—and manage up or around to get what you still need to succeed. When you take the lead in regular one-on-one meetings with your boss and ask for what you need, you may discover they simply weren’t aware of those needs.  

Who Benefits from Self Leadership?

At an organizational level, recent research shows that the most important key to successful initiatives in organizations is the proactive behavior of individual contributors—self leaders who have the ability to accept responsibility and take the initiative to make change happen.

At an individual level, self leadership helps you liberate yourself from the perceived tyranny of organizational life, which frees you from assumed constraints that can limit the quality of your work experience. Being able to respond effectively to everyday challenges can be personally and professionally rewarding.

The responsibility for your success at work falls to you. The good news is that you have a choice. Is developing the mindset and skillset required to be a self leader worth your effort? Yes! A not-so-hard truth: the benefits of self leadership are as good for you as they are for your organization.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains Why Motivating People Doesn't Work ... And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the newly revised bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs, such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit


Have you heard about The New Leadership Literacies?

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Effective leaders need to commit to managing their own energy, health, and wellbeing. That's not enough in today's hectic world. We need to do the same with our people and everyone that we have contact with day in and day out. Following is a guest post from Bob Johansen author the new book The New Leadership Literacies.

Four Elements of Well-Being

In 2010, I worked with Humana and Gallup on the topic of well-being, beyond just sick care. Gallup was just beginning its remarkable work on global well-being and Institute for the Future was focused on the future of what we started to call the global well-being economy. The last big economic driver was engineering and the digital economy. The next big economic driver will be biology, the life sciences, and the global well-being economy. Engineering will still be important, but it will be bioengineering.

Building on that work and the work I’ve done since then, I’ve become convinced that well-being for leaders will involve so much more than not being sick.

If leaders are going to thrive in a future of extreme disruption, they must not only manage their own energy, they must encourage, model, and reward positive energy in others. The tools for energy management are so much better now than they ever were—and they will get ever better over the next decade. Leaders have no excuse now. Fitness will be a price of entry for top leadership roles. Extreme fitness—physical, mental, and even spiritual (thought not necessarily religious)—will be required for most leadership roles.

These are the elements of well-being that I believe will be most important in the future:

Physical Well-Being: While there is much debate of almost every healthy living practice, everyone seems to agree on the importance of exercise. Here is what former chief medical officer of Google Kelly Traver says: “Exercise physically changes your brain. It helps you learn and remember better. It promotes alertness and enhances creative thinking. It elevates mood and lowers stress. In short, exercise is your biggest ally in achieving and maintaining good health.”85 When I was president of Institute for the Future, I worked with an excellent executive coach named Pierre Mornell, who reminded me again and again: “more stress, more exercise.”

Mindful Well-Being: The good news is neuroscience will get very practical over the next decade. Leaders will have a wide range of new resources to help them develop brain-smart ways of leading.

Interpersonal Well-Being: Family, friends, neighbors, and those with whom you have direct communications. As Charles Vogl said in The Art of Community86, interpersonal well-being is defined as the community of individuals who you feel you could call at 3am when you are crying.

Societal Well-Being: How well linked are you to the culture, the society, and the planet around you?

Financial Well-Being: I’ve always been intrigued with the notion of “making a living.” For many people, making a living means having a job. In the future, however, there will be fewer traditional jobs and lower job security for those who do have jobs. On the other hand, the new ways of working will allow much greater flexibility and many more ways to make a living. Dee Hock, the founder and former CEO of Visa summarized this logic well: “Money motivates neither the best people nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit.”

Well-Being in Work: When I was in divinity school, I was always intrigued by the notion of a “calling.” A calling is a strong urge, a push even, in a particular vocational direction. In a religious context, a calling often comes from God or a representative of God. I don’t believe that is always the case, but certainly a career calling is much more then a casual choice of what you want to do with your life. Leaders, particularly in a work-oriented country like the US, are at their best if they truly believe in what they are doing at work.

Spiritual Well-Being: I mean having a sense of meaning in the face of a world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Spiritual does not necessarily mean participation in any organized religion. While I am a student of world religions, I am not an advocate of any particular brand of religion. Religions can provide a sense of meaning for leaders, but there are many different approaches. The key is a sense of grounding, a sense of meaning that allows a leader to maintain a center in spite of being encircled by disruption. Meaning will be illusive in the VUCA World, but there will be a wide range of options for leaders to develop a sense of spiritual well-being, some personally uplifting, some socially constructive, and some downright dangerous.

About Bob Johansen:

Bob Johansen is a distinguished fellow with the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. For more than 30 years, Bob has helped organizations around the world prepare for and shape the future, including corporations such as P&G, Walmart, McKinsey, United Rentals, and Syngenta, as well as major universities and nonprofits.

The author or co-author of ten books, Bob is a frequent keynote speaker. His best-selling book Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present was selected as one of the top business books of 2007. His latest book is The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything discusses five new leadership literacies—combinations of disciplines, practices, and worldviews—that will be needed to thrive in a VUCA world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. 


Where Your Moods Really Come From: The Answer Might Surprise You by Dr. Larry Senn


Ever feel moody or irritated but you don't know why? Do you work with people who have mood swings and it impacts your day? This guest post by Dr. Senn is a must read. Pick up his book Mood Elevator and learn not only how to control your mood but tose around you.

If you ask someone who is in a bad mood to tell you why they aren’t feeling happy, they’ll usually rattle off different reasons that may sound like “my wife and I got into a fight, my work didn’t grant me the vacation time I asked for, I haven’t been sleeping well, etc.” The list could go on and on. Most people think that their feelings and moods are connected to outside circumstances that are out of their control.

What most people don’t realize is that our moods don’t come from the outside world, they come from our thinking. This explains why two people who go through the same circumstance have completely different reactions. A seemingly bad situation could cause one person to go into a tailspin and for the other person it’s barely a bump in the road. On the outside, they experienced the same thing but on the inside it was almost as if it was two separate events.

Good thoughts, bad thoughts, scary thoughts, and worried thoughts will all pop into our head daily. We can’t necessarily control the thoughts that come into our heads. We can however, make a decision of how we are going to deal with those thoughts.

Let’s take worry for an example; a thought like worry can pass through our mind like a car passing on the highway. On the other hand, we can also take a thought like worry and nurture it, feed it, and embellish it, and that’s where we can get into trouble. The point is not that worry is necessarily all bad, worry can have some benefits when it comes to motivating us or planning for the future. When worry gets to a point that it’s consuming you, causing you extended periods of unhappiness or affecting your work or personal life it’s time to take some action. Sometimes that action is simply telling yourself, “Don’t go there.”

There are some thoughts that are good to nurture. Thoughts of gratitude, happiness, appreciation, and creativity are great to stay in for a while- you can do things like making a gratitude list or sharing thoughts of appreciation to remain with those thoughts and feelings. It’s the thoughts that evoke the feelings on the bottom of the Mood Elevator that we need to starve.

Ask yourself the following questions:

·       Are there certain things or people that make you impatient or frustrated? If so, do you find yourself brooding about those experiences, savoring the details and stoking the flames of your annoyance?

·       Do you frequently feel irritated or bothered? If so, do you feed those emotions by complaining about them to friends and family?

·       Are you habitually defensive or insecure? If so, do you feed those emotions by constantly reminding yourself of your weaknesses, failings, and mistakes while forgetting about your strengths, victories, and accomplishments?

If you’re like most people, you do any number of these things. These are the kinds of actions that will keep you in your negative thoughts and feelings. Instead of embellishing worry or insecurity, you can acknowledge you feel that way and then take the next indicated action step. Sometimes the most important thing is to take some action instead of staying in your head. There is a saying that you can “act yourself into right thinking but it’s very difficult to think your way into right action.”

Now on the flipside, ask yourself these questions on how to be towards the top of the Mood Elevator more often:

·       Would you like to be more creative and innovative? If so, try giving yourself permission to expand your thinking to embrace more non-routine, out of the box concepts, whether on the job or in your personal life. Set aside time to brainstorm, daydream, and play with ideas.

·       Would you like to be more hopeful and optimistic? If so, make time every day to think about your future in a positive, upbeat way. Imagine something you’d like to achieve, then take one concrete step toward making it happen.

·       Would you like to be more patient and understanding? If so, strengthen these traits by practicing them whenever they are needed. When stuck in line at the bank, use the time for a quiet moment of mini-meditation; when annoyed by a colleague’s careless errors, offer to demonstrate a better way to get the job done.

Remember, you don’t have to be a passive passenger on the Mood Elevator. You can make a conscious decision where you want to spend more time and take the steps to feed the thoughts that will take you there.

About Dr. Larry Senn

Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website,


Lessons for the Wine Industry to the Coffee Farm

A guest post from Sandra E. Taylor

A guest post from Sandra E. Taylor

My work with sustainable agriculture began in the coffee industry, during a period of tremendous growth in high-quality coffee shops and retail categories around the world. As a senior executive at Starbucks Coffee Company, I led the company's global responsibility efforts focused on rigorous approaches to sustainable agriculture for coffee, tea and cocoa, fair and responsible relationships with farmers and engaging consumers in this effort. The company successfully implemented strategies to integrate sustainability into its coffee supply chain and social responsibility in farming communities with its ambitious C.A.F.E. Practices program.

While researching the wine industry I instinctively grasped the similarities between both agricultural commodities. Coffee occupies a place in the market and in our cultural life analogous to wine, and the experience of it can teach us a great deal when it comes to understanding the elements of a sustainable wine industry. Neither is a nutritional necessity, but both are integral to our food habits, consumed for pleasure. And the aroma and flavors of both have the potential to connect those who imbibe with the lives and fates of people throughout the world, to their culture, their nation, their soil. What we enjoy is a direct result of their care of the plant, precision in processing, careful transportation and handling, and diligence in preparation. Consumer awareness of coffee cultivation, and its sometimes negative effect on people and the land, foreshadows current expanding developments in the wine industry.

The industries that produce and bring these two drinkable commodities to market also share important similarities. Vintners confess that wine is made in the vineyard, and the same holds true for coffee. Both are agricultural products from specific regions that are grown according to exacting standards. There are grades and flavor differences based upon where it was raised, how it was processed and flukes of nature that are recognized during evaluation, and priced accordingly. The soil, weather, orientation of the sun, altitude and rainfall - in other words, terroir, affect the flavor of coffee beans and grapes. Even the way we taste them and the words we use to describe those sensations are quite similar.

Granted there are very clear differences: wine and coffee operate along two very different supply chain structures. For wine, growers of the fruit and producers of the beverage have traditionally supplied their own region of consumers and the supply chain for wine is still largely immediate and fairly tight. If a winery does not literally own its own vineyard, for example, it is often within arm's reach of one as well as the other links in the value chain.

Coffee on the other hand is produced quite far from its eventual market. The coffee tree is a tropical evergreen shrub that only grows in a defined area above and below the equator, often called the "coffee belt" typically in poor regions of developing countries, also biodiversity "hotspots." The coffee supply chain is often complex and varies in different countries but typically includes many layers and the grower is often squeezed, receiving a small share of the value of production. The second most traded commodity in the world after oil, market swings in the price of coffee can have a profound effect on incomes of small coffee farmers who are sometimes forced to sell their beans for less than they cost to produce.

Yet some of the largest coffee corporations continue to reap enormous profits from the growth in trendy coffee shops and consumer demand for high quality Arabica based beverages. Some farmers cut down trees in rainforests to make room for planting more coffee trees, thereby destroying vital biodiversity and affecting green house gas emissions. This has resulted in a heightened level of activism by environmentalists, social justice campaigners and fair trade advocates, concerned with the negative impact of coffee growing on tropical rainforests and human inequity in the coffee supply chain.

The sustainability performance of the wine industry has yet to receive the kind of media scrutiny and activist interest that other industries like coffee have in recent years. But such issues have started to gain prominence, as consumers want to learn the cultural and environmental stories behind the wines they drink. And a day of reckoning for the wine industry is fast approaching judging by the increasing number of complaints over land use, objection to permits for new vineyards, water rights disputes, protests over pesticide spray drift and legal actions that producers face as a result of the health impacts of chemical use in vineyards. The industry should heed the lessons from the coffee experience.

In Sonoma County, California for example, the industry's growth has sparked strong blowback from many rural residents, who say unruly crowds, loud noise and traffic on narrow, winding roads is detracting from the peace and quiet of their neighborhoods. Critics object to the commercialization of agricultural lands and diminishing the rural character of the county.

In France pesticides awareness groups have sprang up in most viticulture regions and anti-pesticide protests have been rife in 2016 in the Gironde region, with Bordeaux at its epicenter, as the country's largest user of pesticides. Pressure groups in Burgundy and in the Maconnais area have demanded that grape growers cut pesticide use. Also a Bergerac vineyard worker successfully sued her ex-employer over pesticide-related illness — believed to be a first in France.

The industry is being shaped by rigorous, compulsory environmental regulations, voluntary assessment and certification, local activists, as well as by more environmentally conscious consumers who want to be sure they are purchasing products that respect the environment.

Sustainability issues extend beyond the natural environment in the vineyard. Producers and winemakers must also address environmental stewardship throughout the production and distribution of the wine, with regard to packaging and fossil fuel use, as well as maintain social responsibility towards workers and in their community to be considered truly "sustainable." In this the coffee industry experience can be instructive.

About Sandra Taylor
Sandra Taylor is an expert on environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and agricultural supply chains. After many years as a corporate executive with companies like Starbucks and Kodak, Sandra’s life-long passion for wine led her to the wine program at Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Bordeaux-Ecole de Management (Bordeaux Business School in France), where she earned an MBA. Today, through her Sustainable Business International consulting firm, Sandra helps clients in their corporate responsibility (CR) efforts, in areas like global supply chain sustainability, environmental risk management, international trade, and partnerships. Her debut book The Business of Sustainable Wine offers a new view of how the industry can be an important element in sustainable agriculture and provides a unique insight for the consumer on what to look for on supermarket shelves.


Are You Crowding Out Your Team?

Like so many of you, I spent the holiday weekend planting flowers.  A lot of flowers. Before planting my annual flowers I had already renovated some garden beds and moved shrubs around. As I planted flat after flat of flowers I resisted the urge to revert to my past gardening habits.  I have a habit of filling in every empty spot in my garden with a plant. I hate empty spaces and holes. On the plus side, my garden is lush and full by summer’s end. The negative? Some of my plants don’t appreciate being crowded out and can’t flourish in their spot.

You don’t need to have a green thumb to know that cramming anything into a constricted place won’t work.  Plants, animals, and people need their space and room to grow. We have seen the results of overcrowding in so many areas of the world. Why do so many leaders still try to “plant” people so close without a second thought or neglect them and expect them to grow?

Have you ever had a manager that micromanaged you day in and day out? Perhaps they had sound intentions, however; their actions were stifling and wore you down every day until your passion was crushed. You dragged your feet to work feeling like you were crowded out.

A few years ago I had a manager that was obsessed with controlling everything that our team worked on. She went as far as standing over our shoulders when we wrote critical emails. She "coached" us on what to say and when in presentations. We had a difficult client at the time, and in her mind, she was protecting us to keep the customer calm. Needless to say, her actions had the opposite impact, and our group was being crowded out.

Micromanaging isn’t the only way that leaders crush growth. Unfortunately, the result is the same. People grow weary, lose their confidence and purpose, and end up leaving where they know they will have a chance to grow.

Here are some more ways that managers crowd out their people

·         Leaders may avoid challenging folks with new projects or opportunities

·         Neglect to offer vital resources or equipment

·         Provide minimal if any, guidance or critical information to assist in work

·         Fail to build strong teams that work together and support shared goals

·         Lead in front, not from behind. This pushes teams and clouds results

·         Neglect employee opinions and input

·         Refuse to listen to alternative options or points of view

·         Undermine employees to save face with other departments

·         Leaders who take credit for the achievements of their employees

·         Managers who refuse to support and back employees when crises arise

·         Weak leaders hold their employees to higher standards than for other teams

If you have ever felt crowded out or demoralized in your career, you probably have some more suggestions. As a leader, look at your "garden" of employees to verify that everyone has the resources and space to grow in their spot. Offer them the resources, support, and leadership that they deserve to sustain and grow those around them.

Are you ready to give your people space?


Photo courtesy of Vlado at

How Are You Growing Your New People?

Spring has arrived in the Mid-West, and people are scurrying around plant nurseries like frenzied squirrels preparing for winter. The sun and warmer temps along with a wave of nursery ads have convinced many of us to fill our carts with an array of colorful perennials, annuals, and fragrant shrubs.  Yes, I have been right in the middle of the chaos because gardening is in my blood. My reaction has been a bit different than my fellow shoppers. I’ve wanted to throw my hands up in the air and yell “No! They aren’t ready yet”!

Mother Nature has a way of getting even with us. Just because it looks and feels like spring, we need to wait until we know that the season is ready for planting. It was 29 degrees here last night and promises to be another cold one tonight. My fellow gardening aficionados that bought colorful plants and welcomed them into their gardens may have tears running as we speak. The plants that they bought can't take cold temperatures and are probably a lifeless brown color by now. Our actual frost date in Michigan is at the end of May. Trust me; I learned early on that you never put a plant in the ground until the plant and the environment are ready.

In many ways, our new team members are like a young plant. You are both eager to plant them where they will flourish. However, new people need some gentle babying similar to a young flower. New employees need to learn and become accustomed to your culture. Like plants, you can’t just pull them out of a warm greenhouse, plop them into the 50-degree soil and expect them to grow. You need to immerse them in the area with some dedicated mentoring until they adjust and are raring to go.

New employees should be planted in the right spot within your organization. You can’t plunk a Hosta in the middle of a hot spot in the yard in the midst of a cactus garden and expect results. Likewise, be cognoscente of your new player’s skills and strengths and place them where they can contribute and thrive.

Leadership responsibility doesn't end after your new team member is planted. They need periodic touch bases with you to learn how they feel in their new role and what support they require along the way. Periodically, you need to fertilize your people and nourish their growth and progress. Checking in with people should be planned, consistent, and heartfelt. You've invested a lot in your members, and you don't want to wake up some day learning that they are listless and leaving the organization.

Seedlings are fragile and small in the spring, yet they can outgrow their space in a matter of months and become overly crowded and no longer thriving. Perhaps they are shaded by other companions or being choked out by weeds. Don’t let this happen to your newer teammates. Don’t assume that life is just humming along fine. Get out there in the trenches and see how your people are interacting and growing. What areas need attention? Is there some weeding that needs completing so that others can continue their work and grow? Do your people have the support that they need so that they can have an impact where it's needed? Are they receiving enough doses of information to succeed?  Get out into your “garden” every day to walk around and notice anything that just isn’t thriving.

A garden is a sanctuary for those that plan, prepare the environment for planting and spend precious time picking the right "plant" for the right place and nurture growth. You need to think of your team and ask yourself how well you are tending to your work "garden".

Photo courtesy of IMGPK via








Guest Post from Kris Boesch author of Culture Works How to Create Happiness in the Workplace

Kris Boesch’s new book Culture Works How to Create Happiness in the Workplace is an engaging book that guides leaders to create unique and extraordinary work culture. Kris’s book will keep your eyes glued to each page as you experience some new innovative concepts, engaging stories, tools, and ideas “Action Jackson” activities to embark on with your teams.

Anyone can impact the culture of an organization and Kris has some very insightful ideas about a variety of factors that impact the organizations that we work in. Following is a guest post from Kris Boesch regarding taking things personally which can be a sensitive issue for most of us.

It’s Personal

·         When someone gives you “constructive” feedback, it’s personal.

·         When someone suddenly takes you off a pet project, it’s personal.

·         When someone talks behind your back, it’s personal.

We’re told to not take “things” personally – especially in the workplace.  And I would like to suggest instead that you take it to heart – especially if it’s tough to hear.  Feel the sting.  Don’t react.  Don’t run.  Don’t hide.  Don’t justify and defend.  Just see if it uncomfortably resonates.

And then if it does, thank the person for their candor and change your attitude or behavior.  To gain clarity on how to move forward, you may want to ask this individual, or those who are a stand for your success, “What would it look like if I were being a different way?  If I changed X attitude or behavior?”

And if it doesn’t, ask for more clarity – “Help me understand why this is your experience of me?  What am I missing?”  You can always let them know you don’t see what they see, and that it doesn’t resonate, but that you’re willing to try it on over the next few weeks to see if there’s something there.

Many would tell you just to “let it go”.  And the truth is, we don’t.  We fester.  We close off.  We fake.  We may even obsess.  Until you’ve actually considered the potential validity of what’s been posed, you can’t let it go.*  So consider it.  And thoughtfully respond.

And remember…

·         When someone praises you, it’s personal.

·         When someone promotes you, it’s personal.

·         When you’re asked to head a project, it’s personal.

*Confessions of a culture consultant:  I once had a close colleague tell me she didn’t know if I really cared.   I was horrified – me?  Not care?  How’s that possible? I’m Choose People, people! I did the “right” thing by my internal accommodator and I apologized.  Though I really couldn’t believe it – and so I apologized for that which I wasn’t sorry for. I wanted off the hook, without considering the validity.  And then I mentally obsessed and defended some more.  And I was mad – how could she think that of me? I care.  I care a lot.  (And I do.) I was sad and frustrated and definitely not feeling close to her.  This was personal. It wasn’t until I confessed to not really understanding her perspective and asked how she arrived at that experience of me that I was able to move forward. What would it look like for her to know I cared?  And surprise, I considered her responses as a way to improve myself.  Personal indeed.

Ever since, I start with curious inquiry rather than an accommodating apology.


Kris Boesch is the CEO and founder of Choose People, a company that transforms company cultures, increases employee happiness and boosts the bottom line. Her new book, Culture Works, and accompanying workbook are available now on her website and will be available on Amazon around May 15.


Ready to Turn Conflict Into Compassionate Accountability?

If you are like me, you dislike conflict. Perhaps you even hate it. I know few people that revel in it and those that do tend to be lifelong instigators. Do you know a few? I do! Over the years I have been surprised to learn how many active leaders hate conflict. Even some people that I admire have admitted in confidence that they resent conflict. They tend to put it off or send in someone else to do their “dirty work” to resolve conflict. Even though I detest conflict, I am always the first one to jump in and try to soothe things over and quell tempers. Intervening is well worth the stress of conflict.

As a manager, I have experienced my share of employee conflict and drama. I remember years ago when two of my highest sales performers were in a fight in the break room. They were ready to come to blows because they both had volatile personalities and rubbed one another the wrong way. Naturally, I jumped in and separated them in the nick of time. We were able to eventually have a conversation where we agreed on some key points. They never became friends and merely tolerated each other but their conflicts rarely interfered with our team dynamics or success.

Not long ago I worked with a team of interesting personalities with differing agendas. My role this time was different. I was part of the team, not in the team leadership role. In fact, there was clearly no leadership direction on the team at the time because our "leader" was too busy micromanaging and cleaning up after our client. I watched the team drama from the side. Depending on who was present my team members played a different role. For instance, when our boss or our client was there, one member, in particular, played the role of "saving the world" or had all the answers complete with political correctness. Conversely, she turned on our manager and client the minute they left the room and urged others to chime in.  It was literally like watching a soap opera drama on a daily basis.

 I recently read Conflict without Casualties A Field Guide for Leadership with Compassionate Accountability by Nate Regier Ph.D. Immediately the dynamics of my employee/team conflicts jumped back into my head and played like a motion picture. Nate shares that conflict doesn’t need to be a dirty word. It shouldn't be ignored, and we should snap to attention when it rears up. Conflict without Casualties shows us how conflict should be viewed as a creative force because there is energy behind it.

Nate asserts how conflict can be turned around and utilized to grow innovation, build trust, and further engage people. His views will change your perspective on conflict, people, and how it can be used to make us more accountable. Where was Nate when I found myself in some adverse situations? I could have used his advice on fighting drama as a result of people struggling against others, or themselves, without any thought as to how they come across or impact others.

Conflict without Casualties is a practical toolkit for managing conflict. One factor that jumped out at me was when Nate introduced the nuances of workplace drama through the “Drama Triangle” offered by Dr. Stephen Karpman. It illustrates the roles that people take on in the conflict process. People may play the victim, rescuer, or persecutor, none of which are healthy. The Drama Triangle is depicted above and may help you understand the dynamics of the roles people jump into. I am a visual person, and the triangle helped me to understand where people fit into unique roles at during conflict and how they switch roles depending on the situation. Yes, I was quickly able to label my cast of characters from previous drama encounters.

Here is a synopsis of our characters. Perhaps you have found yourself playing one of these roles?

·         Victim: Victims avoid conflict, try to hide in the background or play it safe, the second guess themselves, or just know something bad is coming down the pipeline. Their time in a role seems to protect them, or they have tenure that protects them. They may avoid everything.

·         Rescuer: Rescuers love to breed a culture of rescuing. They are frequently promoted because they are responsible and hard working. As leaders, they probably never learned how to empower others and prefer to be indispensable experts with all the answers.

·         Persecutor: Persecutors know that fear, guilt, or intimidation work. They love the feeling of power. People tend to be afraid of them, and they know it. No one will stand up to them, so they don't need to be accountable. These drama peeps are my worst nightmare!

Since learning about the Drama Triangle, I admit that when I encounter conflict, I quickly peg a role onto those involved. It assists me in identifying issues and motives. By knowing the role that someone may be playing I better understand how they feel, where they are coming from, and even understand a bit more about their motives. This triangle only scratches the surface of conflict. It’s a starting point.  Conflict without Casualties offers in-depth insight regarding not just how to manage conflict but leading with compassion and accountability. Nate offers an alternative of Dr. Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle called the Compassion Triangle. This triangle provides counterparts to our Drama Triangle of persistence, openness, and resourcefulness. These skills can be used in the healthy conflict, and Nate shows us how each of these competencies has strategies to "lean into conflict and out of drama."

Like death, none of us can escape conflict. It's around every corner and in every organization. What you can do is learn how to identify conflict and the roles that people take on. Once you understand this, you are on your way to turning negatives into actual conflict which holds others accountable, and you work together through conflict. We all need to bring some compassion and understanding into resolving conflict with openness, resourcefulness, and persistence.


Tackling Workplace Conflict: Research and Best Practices to Stop the Drama by Nate Regier

Nate Regier is the author of the new book Conflict Without Casualties. Nate's work sheds some new light on the conflict in the workplace and the costs that arise when we don't address it. If you have ever avoided conflict or don't understand how to deal with it pick up Nate's book today. Here is a guest post from Nate to help you start taking on conflict at work this week.


Tackling Workplace Conflict: Research And Best Practices To Stop The Drama

By Nate Regier

On average, employees around the world spend about 2.1 hours per week, or over one day per month, dealing with workplace conflict in some way. In the US, that number is higher (2.8 hrs/week) equating to approximately $359 billion in paid hours. Non-profit sectors experience the most workplace conflict, with nearly 48% of employees reporting conflict at work.

What is the actual prevalence of conflict in the workplace, what causes it, and what opportunities are there for positive changes? To answer this, I’ve studied the most comprehensive workplace conflict research I could find, a 2008 study commissioned by CCP Inc., one of Europe’s leading business psychology firms, and Fellipelli, one of South America’s leading business psychology firms. The study included survey data from 5000 employees at all levels of their companies in nine countries around Europe and the Americas and remains some of the most comprehensive and useful research available. Here’s a summary.  

Costs of workplace conflict

Conflict often escalates into personal attacks, insults, or absence from work.

  • 2.1 hours per week spent dealing with conflict (Belgium was the lowest at 1.3 hrs/wk. Germany and Ireland, the highest at 3.3 hrs/wk).
  • 90% of respondents experienced a conflict that escalated, most often into personal attacks and insults, sickness or absence from work, and cross-departmental problems.
  • Feeling demotivated, angry, frustrated, nervous, and stressed are the most common psychosocial consequences.
  • Negative conflict with customers is risky since it is less costly to keep an existing customer than to replace one who has left dissatisfied.  

Causes of workplace conflict

Personality clashes are the number one cause of workplace conflict.

  • Personality clashes and warring egos top the list at 48% overall, but much higher in Ireland (66%), the US (62%), and the UK (59%).
  • Stress, too much work without enough support, and poor leadership are also significant (around 30%).

Who is responsible to deal with it?

  • Everyone! 62% of respondents believed conflict is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Surprisingly, only 15% felt that HR should be the ones to deal with workplace conflict.  

What should leaders do to improve how conflict is handled?

  • Identify and address underlying tensions before things go wrong (54%).
  • More informal one-to-one conversations with direct reports (42%).
  • Act as mediators (40%).

Research reported in Harvard Business Review revealed that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees.

  • Provide more clarity and guidance over healthy behavior (40%).

* Twelve key leadership behaviors were highlighted by respondents in this study. Our PCM and LOD training and certification programs target all 12 areas.  

What have companies tried and how did it work?

  • Less than half of the employees surveyed (44%) have received any formal conflict training. Belgium and France have the lowest level of workplace conflict training (28% and 27% respectively).
  • 27% of those receiving formal training said it helped them feel more comfortable and confident in handling a conflict situation. Confidence is one of the biggest predictors of success (which is why our trainers use NEOS to measure changes in self-efficacy for their conflict communication training programs).
  • The most frequent positive outcomes of training were better understanding of others, improved work relationships, and finding a better solution to a problem.
  • 39% said training provided no help at all. We concur with the researchers that many conflict-communication training programs do not target the right issues and skills, especially personality differences and communication skills.
  • Conflict can generate positive outcomes. Three quarters (76%) of respondents had seen conflict lead to something positive.

In a nutshell

  • Conflict is costly.
  • Personality and ego clashes are the top cause.
  • Everyone is responsible.
  • Coaching and mentoring through daily conversations is the key to improvement.
  • Conflict can be positive and requires targeted training at all levels of an organization.  

Best Practices

Companies will make the most gains around workplace conflict by following these guidelines;

  1. Implement formal training targeted on understanding and communicating with different personalities.
  2. Focus not just on individual competencies, but skills to coach, facilitate, and mentor others during difficult conversations.
  3. Adopt a pro-active approach that recognizes conflict is inevitable, and is a source of energy for positive outcomes.

 Train these Core Competencies

Search for training programs that assess, develop, and measure these competencies:

  1. Self-awareness and recognition of positive and negative conflict in self and others.
  2. Awareness of personality, communication, and motivational differences in self and others.
  3. Ability to assess and respond to individual differences in and out of conflict.
  4. Ability to lead self and others out of drama and into positive conflict conversations.

About Dr. Nate Regier
Dr. Nate Regier is the co-founding owner and chief executive officer of Next Element, a global advisory firm specializing in building cultures of compassionate accountability. A former practicing psychologist, Regier is an expert in social-emotional intelligence and leadership, positive conflict, mind-body-spirit health, neuropsychology, group dynamics, interpersonal and leadership communication, executive assessment and coaching, organizational development, team building and change management. An international adviser, he is a certified Leading Out of Drama master trainer, Process Communication Model® certifying master trainer and co-developer of Next Element’s Leading Out of Drama® training and coaching. Nate has published two books: Beyond Drama and his latest work, Conflict without Casualties.