Joy at Work(er) Blog

Do You Need a Leader or a Manager?

leadership management Sep 07, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

The words leader and manager often are used interchangeably, and with that slipshod usage, their individual meanings can be lost.  Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis are often quoted as saying:

“Management is doing the things right and Leadership is doing the right thing.”   

This points to deeper insights.  Management is about making things happen. It is literally about manipulation.  The words management and manipulation both come from the Latin word manus, meaning hand.  If done well, there are efficiencies gained and improvements made in every aspect of what the manager’s organization is doing, but that success is circumscribed.  Great managers are still working under constraints that have been given to them.  They can be awesome but only with what is given to them.  Leadership is about seeing beyond the confines and setting a vision for something better.  The origin of the word is...

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Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor?

leadership Sep 07, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

The words coach and mentor are often used interchangeably making distinctions between them murky.  This is unfortunate because the value of each can be tremendous for a person’s career, but where and how that value shows up can be significantly different.  Furthering the confusion, people call themselves a coach or a mentor without even defining what they mean.  Some clarity is needed here.

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”
--John Wooden

As the coach of UCLA’s incredibly successful basketball team, John Wooden certainly knew something about coaching.  But is his coaching the same kind of coaching that we would want to see in business?  The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.  Coaches honor the client...

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The Leadership Bubble

leadership Sep 07, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

Leaders, who help to develop the skills and capabilities of their teammates, are giving a gift that returns again and again. Giving it, however, is not always so easy. These brave leaders are attempting a process that can be both difficult to do and even damaging if not carefully done. What makes this such a difficult undertaking is that the process of learning new capabilities does not always happen through instruction alone. Often, it happens best through experience. In order to truly grow, people need to try these new capabilities which means they will fail, certainly in the early attempts. Those brave enough to try may suffer a loss of credibility should they fail. They may lose confidence as they see the negative impact of their mistakes on others. Decline, not growth, is possible here.

Sage Advice from an Old Salt

To conceptualize their role leaders can use The Leadership Bubble. The Leadership Bubble is the concept of a leader placing a protective...

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When Leaders Introduce Change

change joy at work Sep 06, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

When leaders introduce change employees pay more attention to the words and actions of the leaders and influencers in the company. That’s because they’re trying to make sense of what’s happening and understand how they can be successful in this new situation.

They’re evaluating these things…

  • Are we really changing or is this a temporary focus?
  • Are all of the leaders on board with this?
  • What does my manager expect of me now? Does that match what their boss wants?
  • Do I have more or less value with this change?
  • How much work is this going to be for me? For my team?
  • What choices do I have?

As a leader you can think this through before you introduce change. Even if you spend 10 minutes on this you’ll get a more empathetic mindset so you can adjust your message.

Joy at Work is about trust, respect, belonging, cohesion, integrity, accountability, adaptability, growth, participation and commitment. It’s about helping...

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Leader as a Calming Force

leadership Sep 04, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

As a leader, sometimes you need to be a calming force for your people when change is happening. Sometimes you need to inspire and motivate but sometimes being a calming force is what people need.

This applies to the Change Professional too. Leaders and Change Professionals illuminate what’s happening as a change progresses helping others make sense of it. This has a calming effect on the culture, clearing space to focus on the work.

You bring calm when you acknowledge things that aren’t known yet, when you acknowledge decisions that seem inconsistent with the company’s values, when you acknowledge things may feel a little chaotic.

Just communicating that this is pretty typical when a company goes through significant change conveys your confidence in the process and in the company’s ability to successfully adapt.

How do you know when it’s time to bring calm to your organization? A few signs:

  • When people say that they...
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Thank You for Showing Up

leadership Sep 02, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

As a leader you learn things about yourself you may not like. It’s part of the deal and it’s also incredibly personal. This is one of the many reasons why leadership is hard on the leader. You can be misinterpreted and mischaracterized in a moment. That’s also part of the deal. You have to have thick skin and sensitivity at the same time. It’s a privilege to lead others because your impact is great. It’s also important to pay attention to your well being because the nuanced and subtle pain of leadership accumulates and can damage you in ways that are not apparent.

Thank you for showing up every day, even though leading change takes its toll on you.

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Own Your Impact

joy at work Aug 31, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

Own your impact. You were hired because you matter so do the work as if your work matters.

If your employer doesn’t know your work matters then you might consider a change in the future. Not to run away but to give yourself the gift of something better for your life.

Signs that your employer believes your work matters:

  • They spend time explaining why they’ve asked you to do something.
  • They spend time explaining the bigger picture to you.
  • They pay you/don’t fire you even when you make a huge, impactful mistake.
  • They spend time and energy doing damage control activities after you make a mistake.
  • They renegotiate timelines and expectations with others when you’ve dropped the ball.
  • They avoid you because they’re upset with you and worried that they might say something that would cause you harm.
  • They work with you to develop new skills or so learn from mistakes.
  • They invest in your growth.

Celebrate if you have this! And, do...

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The Subtext of Conflict

joy at work Aug 25, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

Sometimes this is the subtext of work conflict:

Employee to employer: I feel hurt by the way you treated me. [I work hard for you and this company.]

Employer to employee: I feel hurt by the way you treated me. [I’ve invested a lot in you, for you and this company.]

The power dynamic:
The employer has the power to retain or fire the employee.
The employee has the power to do the work in a more-or-less acceptable way.

The risk is inertia or a transactional employer-employee relationship. The risk is a negative impact to the culture, the business, customers, other people on the team.

Questions to ask: What is my part in this? What do I own? What’s in my power to do to rebuild trust between us? What would I like most from the other person? Why? How can I ask for it in a way that treats us both with respect?

It may not work out, but reframing gets to the constructive place.

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Joy at Work is not Happiness all the Time

joy at work Aug 01, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

Joy at Work is not rainbows and unicorns and happiness all the time. Experience and research indicate that we do our best work when these are present: Trust, integrity, belonging, cohesion, participation, commitment, accountability, adaptability, growth.

The Joy at Work dimensions that are the highest risk to the individual are participation, commitment and accountability. That’s because they are demonstrated by visible, public actions performed by an individual.

Sometimes it takes bravery to participate, commit and be accountable, especially if you believe you have a lot to lose. What you have to lose is also very personal.

How do you support the people that report to you to participate, commit and be accountable?

How do you reduce their personal risk and help them to be brave?

How do you help reduce the time they spend thinking about their personal risk?

How does your support help your people thrive and do their best work?

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Change is a Partnership

change Jul 31, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

As a leader, your words and actions have a big influence on how others experience the change you introduce. Even so, your people can decide how well they adapt and how they experience the change.

It’s a partnership.

Your job is to tune in to how people are impacted. Your job is to act with empathy, yet in a way that’s reasonable and respectful of everyone involved including yourself, your company and your customers.

You can’t control the response of the people you lead but you can invite them to decide for themselves how well they adapt and give them the tools they need to make adapting easier.

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