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...

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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

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 structure around each member...

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A Thought Experiment for Today

leadership May 03, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

I'm struck by the more frequent, genuine kindness in language and actions today, especially at work. Checking on others. Showing real concern. Smiling wider at seeing someone appear on a video call. Space given on those calls to listen to what others are going through. Proactive reach-outs. Grace. People sharing real confessions and downfalls in how they’re coping. For most, this amount of generosity is not the typical experience of work. 

Maybe we are reconsidering what it means to be kind at work. Reconsidering boundaries. Still professional yet more authentic. We're all actively coping. We’re all immersed in this grand experiment.

This got me thinking: What if someone designed this thing we’re all going through as an experiment we agreed to enter into? Why might such an experiment be created? What would be its purpose? Why might you agree to be part of it?

Initial thoughts: Maybe to…

  • Test how well you work with...
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How not to freak out in a global pandemic

leadership May 03, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

As we go further into the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of low-level anxiety is increasing.  The end is uncertain.  We may have much further to go.  Although many have a low probability of danger from the virus, the very existence of a global pandemic coupled with consistent news stories and press conferences that describe terrible scenes of overwhelmed hospitals and exhausted medical staff all fuel the anxiety that seems to be within us all.  On top of all of this, the economy has slowed and tens of millions are out of work, furloughed, or dealing with reduced hours.  I’ve had two significant experiences with persistent low-level anxiety.  What I learned from those experiences is helping me now as I deal with my own anxiety as well as helping my loved one’s anxiety.

Finding Inner Calm
In 2018, I was diagnosed with oral cancer.  I did not smoke.  I exercised.  I was in good health.  It was a...

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Do you need a coach or a mentor?

leadership Jan 19, 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 is significant.  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 as the...

Continue Reading...

3 questions that tell you when to lead (instead of manage)

leadership Jan 12, 2020

Written by Ed Cook

The words leader and manager are often used interchangeably and with that, their individual meaning is lost.   Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis are often quoted as saying:

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

It’s pithy and 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 managers’ organization is doing but that success is circumscribed.  Great managers are still working inside the confines of 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 very...

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Conducting Joy

leadership Dec 08, 2019

Written by Ed Cook

While watching a symphony or orchestra or choir, I’ve often wondered what the value of a conductor is to the other musicians. Afterall other music groups seem to do fine without one. Rock bands, jazz groups, a cappella ensembles, all manage without a conductor. I got an interesting glimpse into just what a conductor does after viewing this smile-inducing clip. A professional ensemble sets up on a city street with a sign that invites passersby to “conduct us.” We are then treated to a series of would-be conductors who produce...what? The ensemble does not need them to create music. Yet each of these conductors brings something special...joy!

As the first conductor steps forward, the glee on the faces of the musicians is striking. They are truly ready to take on whatever the conductor can provide. As each new conductor steps forward, we see some take on a persona of a conductor, some test the limits of their powers by spotlighting a particular...

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What is your context?

leadership Sep 10, 2019

Written by Roxanne Brown

In work, I often feel pressure to offer others an insight or something else that may be valuable within just one conversation. That means giving something without attachment to whether or not it’s received as I intend. I recognize the limitations of that because I can’t fully know their context. I can only try to get a glimpse in that one moment. 
 
The pressure I feel is self-imposed. It’s based on my interest to try to alleviate the pain, self-doubt, and confusion people feel when working together. I try to give others new words, a new concept, a new frame that comes from my belief that people are generally good at their core. I believe people want to do work that’s meaningful in some way, however small.
 
This personal interest began with a childhood decision. At a very early age, I remember very clearly that I made a conscious decision to work, to have a career, so I could be independent. I had a fierce independent...

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