Joy at Work(er) Blog

Shoutout to Millennials

leadership Nov 07, 2020

Written by Roxanne Brown

Last week I came across an HBR article with the title: Gen-X is More Creative than Gen-Y, According to Harvard.

Being a Gen-Xer, naturally, it caught my attention. I didn’t post it here because the article seemed pretty light-weight and this comparison definitely does NOT feel like Joy at Work to me.

That afternoon I had a client meeting with a leadership team that’s working on scaling their company. Our focus was to talk about announcing a shift in the organization. After the team discussed the basics—messaging, sequence of events, anticipated questions—I asked the question, “How do you want the team to feel, both during the conversation and then afterwards?”

Their immediate, almost reflexive response was, “That’s a great question.”

They meant it. They talked about it in depth. They thought it through. They aligned on it. They made adjustments. It was awesome. The leadership team is made up of members...

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Before Change Can Happen the Leader Must Change First

change leadership Nov 03, 2020

Before change can happen the leader must change first. This seems pretty straightforward but applying it can be challenging!

When change is introduced, people notice how the leader is modeling the change they want to see in others – or not.

If you think you’re fine, it’s just that everyone else needs to change, that might be a problem. It’s a good idea to ask yourself from time to time…

  • How am I modeling the behavior I want others to adopt?
  • How might I be preventing others to change?
  • What am I willing to do differently to communicate to others that this change is important to me and to the company?

Even a subtle shift on your part could have a huge influence on others.

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Your Positive Ripple Effect

leadership Oct 30, 2020

Leaders often want more change than their team can handle. That’s because they have a vision they want to see come to life. They can see it! They also know it cannot happen without their people. They regularly wrestle with patience, openness to how change unfolds and the determination to reach the destination.

It can wear you out! Especially if you dare to wonder if it’s worth it. Especially if you lose touch with why you decided to lead in the first place. Especially if all you’re reminded of is what’s wrong and you don’t see what’s right.

What have you done lately, however small, that’s good for the world? How have you had a positive ripple effect? Why not hang out there for a while? It’s good for you.

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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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Leader as a Calming Force

leadership Sep 04, 2020

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 don’t know what they should...
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Thank You for Showing Up

leadership Sep 02, 2020

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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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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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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