5 Tips for Enhancing Team Morale in the Workplace

team morale workplaceIf you are responsible for managing a group of employees, then you should understand how important the concept of teamwork is in the workplace. Not only will it make your job easier, but it will also improve your productivity, your effectiveness as a manager, and your reputation amongst those above you. There are some very simple things you can do to promote positive, cooperative contributions from your employees. Follow these five tips for encouraging team spirit in the workplace:

Establish clearly-defined goals, guidelines, and tasks. If you want your employees to take responsibility for their roles on the team, then you need to make sure they know exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing. Make it a point to clearly describe every aspect of the project at hand, as well as what you expect from each of the team members.

Delegate, rather than micromanage. Part of having team spirit is acting autonomously toward the team’s goal. When you micromanage, you undermine a person’s ability to be autonomous. It is not only dehumanizing, but also a surefire way to suck the enthusiasm right out of the workplace. Delegate responsibilities to your employees, making sure to be very clear about what you need each one to accomplish, and to what standards, and then allow them to find their personal methods for working most constructively. Whenever employees know they are responsible for the outcome of their work, they are less likely to pass the responsibility or the blame on to a coworker and more likely to find ways to work together and support each other.

Provide employees with the tools they need to be successful. Prepare employees for a job well done by providing the education, mentoring, resources, tools and support they need. This makes them feel valuable and boosts morale, which promotes teamwork.

Communicate with the team on a regular basis. Have team meetings as needed so that employees can express to you any questions, concerns, or suggestions they might have, and so that you can provide them with useful feedback and encouragement.

Offer team incentives. Once you establish the guidelines for a new project, offer the team a reward for timely, quality completion. The reward could be a paid lunch out, a company party, or a paycheck bonus. Give employees a few options and let them decide together, as a team, which incentive they prefer.

Emerging Approaches To Leadership

emerging leadershipAfter beginning a two year research to propose some leadership theories which focus on a particular characteristic of a leader, leaving out the followers and situations from the equation, I’ve been able to break down leadership into the following four categories: Charismatic Leadership, Attribution Leadership, Transactional Leadership, and Transformational Leadership.

Charismatic Leadership

The theory behind Charismatic Leadership emphasizes the ability of a leader to communicate new visions of an organization to its followers and to raise follower awareness of the importance and core value of goals, often getting people to exceed their own interests.

Charismatic Leaders are dominant, able to express their vision, are exceptionally self-confident, have a high need for power, and have a strong conviction in the moral “righteousness” of their beliefs. They strive to project a magnetic personality which emanates success and competence, and they convey high expectation for and confidence in followers. Leader who possess and exhibit these characteristics inspire trust, confidence, affection, admiration, emotional involvement, obedience, and high performance in their followers. The Charismatic Leader often appears under conditions of uncertainty or in times of crisis which are stressful and make more cognitively and emotionally receptive to the ideas and actions of someone perceived as a so-called savior.

Attribution Theory

Attribution Theory deals with trying to make sense out of Cause and Effect Relationships. When an event takes place, people want to attribute it with a specific cause. This theory states that leadership is simply an attribution that people make about other individuals. The fundamental flaw is a bias in the perception process because people tend to attribute the behavior of other people to their own motivation and ability rather that the situation. Research has found that people tend to characterize leaders as having traits such as personality, understanding, intelligence, strong verbal skills, aggressiveness, and often at time display industriousness.

At the organizational level, attribution theory explains why people are prone to attribute either the extremely negative or the extremely positive performance of an organization to its leadership. This theory fails to take in consideration influences or forces from the external environment. Therefore, people have a “built-in” tendency to give too much credit to other people or to place too much blame on them.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional Leadership takes place when leaders and their followers are in some type of exchange relationship which satisfies needs for one or both parties. The exchange can be economic, psychological, or political in nature; and examples might include exchanging money for work, loyalty for consideration, and political favors. Transactional Leaders help organizations reach their current goals and objectives more efficiently by connecting job performance to valued rewards or by ensuring that employees have the needed resources to get the job done. Transactional Leadership is very common but tends to be transitory, in that there may be no lasting purpose to hold parties together once a transaction takes place.

James MacGregor Burns noted that while this type of leadership could be quite effective, it did not result in organizational or even societal change and, instead tended to perpetuate and legitimize the status quo. In conclusion, Transactional Leaders view management as a series of transactions in which they use their legitimate, reward, and coercive powers to give commands and exchange rewards for services rendered.

Transformational Leadership

The Transformational Leadership process is currently the most popular leadership perspective, and it moves way beyond the more “traditional” transactional approach to leadership. Transformational Leadership is related to charisma in that these leaders motivate people to exceed their personal interests for the sake of the larger community. It also produces levels of dependent efforts and performance that go beyond what would occur with a Transactional Leadership approach alone. In addition, Transformational Leadership is much more than just charisma. While the purely charismatic leader may want followers to adopt his or her “world view” and go no further, the Transactional Leader will attempt to instill in followers the ability to question not only the established views but eventually those established by the leader.

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus have defined four skills of leadership, which are required for the Transformational Leader to be successful: First, is a strategic vision or goal that evokes people’s attention. Second, is the ability to successfully communicate that vision through words, manners, or symbolism. The third skill set is to have the capacity to build trust by being consistent, dependable, and persistent. And lastly, the fourth skill required for a Transformational Leader to be successful is the capability of positive self-regard–by striving for success. The use of these four skills builds follower commitment and pumps them up to adopt the leader’s vision as their own. They also perform their jobs better, engage in more organizational citizenship behaviors, and make better or more creative decisions.

To close, Transformational Leadership is closer to the prototype of leadership that people have in mind when the describe their ideal leader and is more likely to provide a role model in which dependents want to identify.

This wraps up an 24 month long journey down the leadership road. One in which I’m very grateful to have traveled and will continue to do so. Thank you to everybody who supported me along the way. If you have any insight or wish to share your experiences – please consider leaving a comment to my closing questions.

Of the four categories of leadership I described above, which one do you feel fits best into your daily life? Is there anything that you disagree with? If so, what is it and why?

Community Leadership

community leadershipHave you ever been asked to help with a great cause to share and make a difference within your community?

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Shawn Murphy of Achieved Strategies to see if I wanted to contribute a guest blog post. It was a blog series titled “Revive and Thrive” and its focus was for this new year of 2011. Of course, I was willing to participate and help add value to the cause. Being able to contribute alongside the many great members of the leadership community was a great privilege.

At the time, I focused on four key areas in which I found to be important based on discussions with leaders from several communities, such as Lead Change Group, Twitter’s #CustServ chat which is focused on Customer Service and is held every Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern Time, and those from the 2010 World Business Forum Blogger’s Hub.

In a post titled “What’s Next” – The four areas in which I felt were important for us to ‘Revive and Thrive in 2011’ were: Relationships, Following, Leading, and Experience.

I believe that each of the four, are key areas in which we need to focus on during the rest of this year. The relationships we have in our lives today are paving the way we choose to live our lives tomorrow. With positive communication, we are able to help others achieve their goals and dreams. If any of these become hindered, we need to recognize and respond to it immediately. Almost all problems stem from lack of and/or poor communication.

The next two key areas I feel go hand and hand, a ‘yin and yang’ of principals if you will. Following and Leading. This is always a great topic of discussion, as many times people will ask “What makes a great leader?” “How can somebody lead all the time and never follow?” “If somebody is following others, how are they able to lead?” – I think you get the idea.

The fact of the matter is that both are equally important and tend to feed each other. Who we follow today are those we will lead tomorrow. And, those who we lead today will help those we want to follow tomorrow. If we continue to follow the “Define, Learn, Do” model – we continue to keep things moving in the right direction. Forward.

Lastly, I touched on the importance of Experience. All of us are here for a very short period of time. When we are able to connect with others, we are opening the doors to new experiences. Whether it is personally, professionally, or spiritually – what we do today cannot be taken away from us. There is so much opportunity available to us, only we can make the decision to make our goals and dreams become realities.

7 Abilities Of The Indispensable Leader

indispensable leaderAs some of you know, I’ve been reading a lot more than usual. I believe this to be a transformational period for me, one that I’m embracing more and more each and every day. For the past six months or so, I find myself reading 5 or 6 books at a time while listening to one audiobook each week while walking/running to and from the gym. After a long break, I’ve come to appreciate the views of many great authors. Some in which a lot of us have heard of and deserve all the credit they receive… if not more. And then there are the authors that many never hear about for one reason or another.

This takes me to the old saying that “You become the person you will be in five years from the books you read and the people you surround yourself with.” I find it more and more amazing each day how we can grow as servant leaders by seeing the world through other’s eyes. When a worldview is presented in front of us by somebody else, I often feel like it’s a paradigm shift. Of course, reputation and creditability have a huge impact on this, but what if they didn’t? What if we take what we’ve learned up to today and use our own judgment and choose to move forward by what we read and create something remarkable?

Ironically, I’ve recently finished reading Seth Godin’s latest, Linchpin along with re-reading Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind… back to back.

This has been very good for me, as for I’ve needed to step further into my creative (or lack thereof) side of life and out of my over-analytical logic based left brain. In addition to rewriting my first book and finishing up the outline for my second book, I’ve been racking my brain (or brains so-to-speak) to create something meaningful, something that will help others based on what I’ve learned and allow for it to be absolutely remarkable…even if it’s small.

Seth Godin has expressed 7 attributes which he feels are what indispensable leaders need to possess. I have taken some notes and highlighted them here:

1. The ability to provide a unique interface between the members of the organization.

Your organization is a network. What holds it together and why? Making sure that everybody is there for the right reasons. A mission…the tribe knows where they are going and racking up accomplishments along the way. An indispensable leader help lead while he or she connects with the organization. The organization also needs to include the customers and prospects…providing the bridge from the outside world to the company.

2. Being able to deliver unique creativity.

Creativity is personal, original, unexpected, and useful. It requires domain knowledge and trust. Being able to deliver unique creativity is the most challenging part…not only to help the organization grow as a team but to also allow for us to continue being indispensable.

3. The courage to manage a situation or organization of great complexity.

When situations get complex, there is no manual, or some say “no map.” Indispensable leaders make their own maps and find the way as they continue to focus on the tribes objective(s).

4. Demonstrating the ability to lead customers.

We are living in times where markets are shifting and audiences are spreading out. Consumers are seeking engagement. They are looking for people to follow. The traditional (or 20th century if you will) model of commerce defined a brand and a team of people goes sell it to those who are willing to buy. It’s a very static approach and definitely a one-way transaction. “Here is the latest widget… take it or leave it” and at the end of the day, it’s still a widget. The 21st-century model is very fluid, interactive and decentralized. Meaning, organizations need more than what they’ve been used to. It means that every person that interacts with a consumer, or a business, or even other team members who work from within needs to be focused on marketing as leadership. There is no script, no manual, no map… just the ability to lead.

5. Inspiring staff

A friend and I were having a conversation the other day and some of Newton’s Laws came up. This got me to somehow relate the laws to teams and their efforts. A team at rest tends to stay at rest and forward motion is not the default state of any group of people, especially large groups of people. When there are many levels of management, politics and such all become a factor and then before you know it…everything seems to slow down due to excessive process. If the work environment is that of an industrial platform, a factory or manufacturing facility, then this isn’t much of a problem, as for the owner or foreman controls the department heads, and the department heads oversee his or her shift leaders and so on.

6. Providing domain knowledge.

Combining knowledge with smart decisions and generous contributions can change the way things are done. Strategy and motivation, combined with emotion and confidence allow for the map makers of our society be able to contribute to our organizations in ways that allow for everyone to understand the meaning, the common goal so deeply.

7. Possessing a unique talent.

Leaders need to be able to see things that the follower doesn’t already. Possessing a unique talent/skill allows for a team to collaborate creatively and effectively. When seeds are planted, beautiful things begin to grow. It is up to us to decide how we are going to nurture and manicure it.

I am very interested in your to share your voice on this matter. How do you see these abilities playing a role in your life?

Three Key Elements Of A Performance Culture

carlos brito wbf2010During the World Business Forum, Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, explained to the audience his three elements of a performance culture: dream, people, and culture.


Dreams are important because they set the bar. Once you set that bar it anchors everything. You have to dream big. Dreams have to be stretched but credible. And you have to know about 80 percent how you’re going to get there; the rest you can figure out along the way.

The dream has to inspire and align people. Organizations are formed by people… this is obvious, but that can be easily forgotten. If leaders work in harmony on that dream, the company goes forward. When company leaders don’t work together, things stall and often begin to fall apart.

Keep raising the bar; don’t be afraid to dare and try harder. Be public about it. Make it measurable. Be remarkable!


Great organizations are formed by great people. No one says, “I’m going to hire average people.” Great people are the ones who, when given the right training and opportunities, will get better than the managers who hired them. If you’re afraid of hiring people better than you, you’re not a good leader. The benefit of hiring great team players is that those people will push you to do better, too.

Great people attract other great people, it’s a magic and a perpetuating experience. Conversely, mediocre people like to work together because it’s easier. Great people like a meritocracy; they like to know what their future opportunities are. Put pressure on your team. Good teams perform best under pressure.

You have to be the coach and spend time with people. Imagine if a sports coach didn’t coach and train his team. He’d be fired. Don’t say your agenda’s too busy. Make time for your people.

One of the few sustainable competitive advantages an organization has is its people. If you hire and train right, competitors can’t duplicate it.


Create a culture of ownership. If I’m an owner, failure is not an option.
Think about rental cars. People treat them differently than their own car. You don’t want that attitude in your companlong-termng job hoppers. You want people who think long term and who feel a sense of ownership in the organization. Zappos is an excellent example of this.

Show that you value great employees’ contributions by training and promoting people from within.

What are your thoughts about Carlos’ three key elements of a performance culture?

Jim Collins’ List Of 10 To-Dos For Successful Leadership

jim collins successful leadershipThis morning at HSM’s World Business Forum, Jim Collins, leadership expert and author of Built to Last and Good to Great shared a list of 10 to-dos for successful leadership:

1. Do your diagnostics. (There are free tools at www.jimcollins.com). Self-assess how you’re doing. Find weaknesses to improve upon.

2. Don’t focus on your career; focus on building pockets of greatness throughout your career.

3. Fill key seats with the right people. Ask yourself whether that’s the case in your organization. If not, start to make changes.

4. Adjust your questions to statements ration; focus on being interested more than on being interesting.

5. Ask yourself, How is the world changing and what are the brutal facts? Do a brutal facts inventory.

6. Turn off your gadgets and create white space. One day for every two weeks. No email, cell, etc., instead spend time engaged in hard disciplined thinking.

7. Time is truly the great equalizer. The question is not what we do, it’s what we have the discipline to stop doing. Rank order priorities and remove the bottom of the list.

8. Get insight into your passion; consider how you and your organizations can be useful in a way that society values.

9. Stop doing titles! The right people for key seats realize they don’t have a job, they have responsibilities.

10. Set big hairy audacious goals (for 15-20 years out) so you’re creating your own future. Spend more time asking how can be useful instead of show you can be successful.

“Never give in,” he said. “Never, never, never, never.”

World Business Forum 2010

world business forum 2010Six weeks ago, I received an invitation to be a featured blogger at the 2010 World Business Forum, which is being held October 5th and 6th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Come to find out, this is an invitation-only opportunity offered to a select group of top business bloggers and establishes a membership amongst the WBF10 Bloggers Hub.

As I read over the invite, I was uncertain if it was actually true. I expressed gratitude for kindly extending the invitation to attend the forum and asked why I was chosen to attend, as for I felt that I had yet to contribute anything of significance to the leadership community. Micheal Singer replied with: “I found your blog on someone else’s blogroll, and I took a brief look and liked what I saw. We’re looking for interesting viewpoints. And while many of our bloggers have institutional ties and recognition, etc., we also want some new voices. This is a great opportunity to stretch your voice and reach some new people if you want the opportunity. It’s that simple.”

Past speakers in the World Business Forum include political figures such as Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Rudy Giuliani, Tony Blair and Colin Powell, CEOs such as Jack Welch, Richard Branson, Herb Kelleher and John Chambers, financial experts Alan Greenspan and Jeremy Siegel as well as management experts Tom Peters, Peter Drucker and Jim Collins among others. This year’s World Business Forum boasts a dynamic agenda and a dizzying array of speakers, including former U.S. Vice-President/Nobel Prize Recipient Al Gore; Avatar director James Cameron; Blue Ocean Strategy co-author Renée Mauborgne and more than a dozen other exciting thought leaders spanning the spectrum of world business.

After inquiring with the management company responsible for putting together the forum, I found that as a member of the WBF10 Bloggers Hub, I will be spending two days with a bird’s eye view of these thought leaders as they explore the latest trends and changes in global business today. The Hub will also offer me an unparalleled opportunity to share their insights with my audience via blog, twitter, etc… something very important to me, as for its readers just like you that keep me at this.

To see a list of the bloggers who participated last year and to read a sample of their posts, visit the World Business Forum’s Blogger Hub; you can find complete details about WBF10, including all the conference speakers and topics here.

Big Dogs That Listen, Get Treats

listen treats“There are times when even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog waiting to see where the dog wants to go so he can take him there.” – Lee Iacocca.

The man who fathered the Ford Mustang and resurrected Chrysler from financial oblivion wasn’t born knowing how to pull off those magic acts, he learned them. While at Ford, he initiated careful research about how American demographics and the financial wherewithal of consumers would change during the 1960s. He listened to smart people tell him what the country needed and delivered a classic automobile.

Repeat proven results and continue to build on them.

Years later at Chrysler, Iacocca landed at a corporation in turmoil. Careful analysis showed that the company was in such dire straits that extreme measures would have to be taken to save it. Iacocca ended up needing loans from the government to keep Chrysler afloat. But once he got the money, he revived the company.

When we really listen to others, we learn more about ourselves and our abilities to help others achieve their goals.

In each case, the “big dogs” for Iacocca were the demands of the business: the need for new thinking at Ford and the absolute need for a survival plan at Chrysler. These dogs forced Iacocca to listen to them follow them, and ultimately steer him in directions that would benefit both companies.

We gather facts by listening, both with our ears and our eyes. Once the facts are in place, we can then make decisions that help everybody around us.

Managers who wag the dog make decisions without letting the facts tell them what’s right. Managers who take the opposite approach usually get the treats.

How important is it to you for other to listen while you are discussing an important topic? If you sense that you don’t have the listener’s full attention, how do you handle it?

What Can You Do To Impact Employee Engagement?

employee engagement geoff snyderThere’s a lot being written these days about employee engagement and retention. It seems employee engagement levels are pretty low right now, and many experts think we’ll see a significant number of workers looking for new opportunities once the economy improves.

That could spell trouble for a lot of companies. A big exodus of staff means significant recruiting and onboarding costs. But it also means a significant drain on your “brain trust” or intellectual capital. And that more than anything can impact your organization’s competitive position and ability to succeed.

So what can you do to drive up engagement?

From a talent management perspective, there are a few basic things every manager and leader can and should do. They include:

Be clear about goals and expectations, and help employees see how their work matters to the organization.
Reward, recognize and appreciate your employees in a fair and consistent way.
Give employees opportunities for growth and development.
These four things actually cover off a lot of the employee needs commonly recognized as contributing to employee engagement. Let’s look at each one in a bit more detail.

Give Employees Meaningful Feedback on a Regular Basis

For me, the two key words here are “meaningful” and “regular”. It’s about giving each of your employees the feedback they need to succeed. Tell them what you think they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Be specific. Talk about the “what” and also the “how” – this should map to their assigned goals and competencies.

Don’t just give them feedback during their annual performance review. Tell them every day, or at least once a week. This helps them know what’s expected of them, demonstrates that you care about them and their performance, and opens up opportunities for dialogue that can help you both understand the factors that underlie their performance so you can support their success.

Be Clear About Goals and Expectations and Help Employees See How Their Work Matters to the Organization

I think one of the best ways to do this is to clearly link employee goals to higher level organizational goals. Do the mapping for them, so they can be like that famous janitor at NASA who told a visitor that by sweeping the floor he was helping put a man on the moon. This kind of context helps employees know that their work matters.

Make sure their goals are SMART and they can actually be achieved. Employees have to have the knowledge, skills and tools to do their work, but also the control and responsibility to achieve their goals. Often, we assign people goals they can’t actually achieve, then penalize them for it later.

The other thing we need to do is identify the competencies that are important for an employee’s role, as well as for the organization overall. This again helps to set clear expectations.

Finally, keep employees informed about organizational progress. Let them know, on a regular basis, how the organization is progressing in achieving its goals. This too will give them a sense of contribution and help them better understand what’s expected of them and why.

Reward, Recognize and Appreciate Your Employees in a Fair and Consistent Way

This doesn’t just mean money. There are lots of ways to reward and recognize employees. The experts tell us one of the most effective ways is with verbal praise. This is part of the feedback thing too. Find out what your employees value in terms of rewards, then cater to their preferences. And make sure your rewards and recognition are rooted in performance. That’s the only way they work as motivators.

Give Employees Opportunities for Groth and Development

Discuss your employees’ short and long-term career goals with them, and put development plans in place that give them opportunities to improve their current role and prepare for future advancement. Keep them learning. This is another great way to demonstrate that you and the organization care about the individual, but also that you’re committed to them over the long term.


While some of the things that contribute to employee engagement are outside of our direct control as managers and leaders, most of them can be fairly easily addressed with good talent management practices.

Are You A Selfish And Judgmental Manager?

business manager employee“So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.” – Peter Drucker

It’s often tempting to judge employees at every turn. Managers often feel they are not doing their jobs if they are not judging. But good judgments require foundations. In a changing economy where knowledgeable workers now play the most important roles, Drucker believed that employees should be treated as well as you would treat volunteers because they can take their knowledge and go elsewhere anytime they want.

If you remember that your employees are the ones who came to you because they believed in what your business does for others, you’ll learn to appreciate why they are there every day.

But too often, employees are treated like possessions that can be stockpiled or discarded at management’s whim. To keep them and help them thrive, Drucker said, management needs to appeal to their interests. They will stay — and produce — when they have a clear understanding of what the organization is trying to accomplish when they have responsibility for results, and when they feel they’re gaining more of the one thing no one can take away: knowledge. Anytime management makes it difficult for an employee to understand the mission (by not sharing it), to be accountable (by failing to give consistent feedback), an organization suffers. The employees might be blamed in these circumstances, but Drucker would say that management needs to look in the mirror and judge itself first.

A great manager lets his or her employees know what the organization’s game plan is. By doing this, it allows for ideas to be expressed and shared with other employees. How are you allowing this to happen within your organization?