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How To Motivate Others? Be a Leader Worth Following.

Think back to the best boss you’ve ever worked for. How would you describe them? Often, words such as inspiring, motivating, caring, and authentic come to mind. It’s these leaders that employees want to follow and who make a lasting impact on their career.


Outstanding bosses are able to combine their interpersonal and communication skills to inspire the people they lead. It’s these skills that motivate others and creates within them a desire to follow, or be part of, their vision. Although interpersonal and communication skills are often considered to be something people are born with, it can be broken down into different techniques that can be learned, making it possible for every leader to be one that others want to follow.



There are ten traits that together combine to create a leader that has the ability to motivate and draws others to be part of their team.

1. Be Happy.

It projects a sense of personal confidence and well being and tends to make others feel positive about the culture and excited about the team they find themselves on. Employees want positive work relationships and when their leaders foster a happy environment it increases motivation, morale, and stronger bonds.

2. Be Decisive.

Others will be confident in your leadership, the direction, and actions being taken if decisions are made quickly and those decisions are well-informed. Most importantly, a decisive leader makes decisions that are clear and final.

3. Be Knowledgeable.

Being well-prepared breeds confidence. It allows the decisions that are being made to be done so decisively, and on the basis of relevant information and facts.

4. Listen.

Everyone appreciates being heard and being listened to. When employees know that their thoughts are being considered, they feel freer to express their ideas, opinions, and perspective. One study found that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel motivated and empowered to perform their best work.


5. Have Innovative Ideas.

Being prepared with ideas, alternatives, and new solutions that others have not considered, naturally allows people to turn to the one with ideas for suggestions and direction. Be prepared by thinking in advance of possible ideas which are creative or innovative, and certainly different from those which are usually put forward.

6. Communicate Clearly.

Acquiring the ability to communicate in a way that can be understood by others is an essential leadership quality. Leaders who communicate clearly help teams understand expectations, give feedback and coaching that results in performance improvement and develop deep, authentic connections with others.

7. Be Encouraging.

Everyone wants to know if they’re doing a good job. Encouraging others is demonstrating the ability to spot something positive in the midst of a task, or at its completion, and then speaking encouraging words. When you’re a leader, your words are magnified and hold immense power. When you positively affirm an employee, that encouragement motivates the employee to continue.

8. Create an Atmosphere of Fun.

People enjoy working in a fun-filled environment, and often a little bit of creative thought and energy focused on creating an environment that is a pleasant one to work is worth the effort. For example, one of our leaders at Eagle’s Flight has a kids bowling set at the end of a long hallway. Any time a team member has a “win” they get to take a bowl. This motivates the entire team, creates an atmosphere of fun, and celebrates that employee’s success.

9. Tell the Truth.

We may believe people would rather not be told the truth, however, this is rarely the case. In most instances, people appreciate the truth if it is delivered clearly and kindly. This in turn creates trust that people are able to rely on what you say.

10. Be Enthusiastic.

Attitudes are contagious. When you’re enthusiastic this energy overflows to others. Remaining positive, outgoing, and excited about the future will result in others wanting to be part of that excitement and follow your leadership.

Leadership traits are learnable and by consciously making an effort to exhibit these ten traits, your employees will be more motivated and inclined to follow your lead. By doing so, one day, when your employee is asked to think of the best boss they’ve ever worked for, hopefully, they describe you.

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3 Benefits of Developing Coaches Within Your Organization

Good leadership is about more than just developing strategies and delegating tasks. Excellent leaders are skilled at helping others gain new skills and guiding them on a path that leads to performing better and reaching personal goals. When this aligns with organizational goals, everybody wins: Employees enjoy personal growth and a work environment that supports it, and organizations build a high-performing, engaged, and loyal workforce.

When leaders are actively invested in developing employees’ skills and competencies, they will see their efforts bear fruit. In addition to strong training and development programs, coaching plays a valuable role in developing and engaging talent day to day, leading to a broad range of benefits such as empowered employees, improved performance, and higher engagement.

1. Empowered employees

Coaching helps empower employees to come up with solutions and implement their ideas. This benefits the organization because empowered employees know they have the freedom to be proactive and make decisions that will improve the company.

Why Empowerment Matters

When employees understand the boundaries and freedoms that have been defined for them, they are able to use their knowledge and skills to the fullest. Research from the University of Iowa shows that employees who work for organizations that promote employee empowerment are more engaged, take more initiative, and report greater job satisfaction. When employees are granted the autonomy to make decisions within their scope of expertise, not only do they feel valued, but they also make their organization more responsive, more innovative, and, ultimately, more productive.

How Coaching Helps

Identifying the appropriate level of autonomy for individuals is not as simple as using a template. Because each employee has a different working style and every task has unique requirements, boundaries have to be determined at the individual level. Often, when an employee has too much freedom, they can feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, when they are too restricted, they can become frustrated and disengaged because their talents are not being used to the fullest.

When employees work directly with coaches to determine the right balance between freedom and restrictions, they are able to grow to their potential. As employees learn and develop, their boundaries should be adjusted to continue the cycle of empowerment. Communication is a critical element of this process. Coaches must both listen to the recommendations of empowered employees and have the ability to provide the honest feedback that will help them grow.

2. Improved performance

Another benefit of coaching is that it can greatly improve individual performance.

Why Performance Matters

Most employees want to do a great job. In addition to providing training and the necessary resources to do the work, organizations that also provide one-on-one coaching are able to improve individual performance, which ultimately leads to better organizational performance.

However, Gallup research shows that traditional approaches to performance management are falling short and not reaching stated performance management goals. Only two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. When only 20 percent of employees feel motivated, it is nearly impossible to achieve organizational excellence.

How Coaching Helps

The importance of ongoing interactions in a coaching relationship cannot be overstated, especially when the goal is to improve performance. It starts with providing clear direction for a specific task or goal and laying out a path to achieving it. If the interaction stops there, the employee might be able to successfully complete the task based on the clear direction, but if that’s all they get from their manager, it’s a missed opportunity for improving performance.

A good coach will periodically check in—ideally, at least once a week—to discuss the progress that has been made, help overcome any hurdles, and highlight areas for improvement. This continued engagement enables the employee to make incremental (and sometimes drastic) improvements that will allow them to become an overall better performer. Modeling behavior is important, but even the sharpest employees cannot rely on observation alone. When coaches explain why something is done a certain way and how that method evolved, employees gain new knowledge and can apply it to other work.

3. Higher engagement

Improving employee engagement is a goal for many companies, and coaching is one way to get individuals to stay tuned in.

Why Engagement Matters

Gallup estimates that the cost of poor management and lost productivity from employees who are either not engaged or are actively disengaged is between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year. This loss can have a major impact on the bottom line, especially for companies with larger workforces.

Despite this dismal statistic, the modern workforce wants to be engaged. Employees want to understand how their roles connect to the larger team and to the organization as a whole. According to the Gallup study referenced above, employees who strongly agree that they can link their goals to the organization’s goals are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged. Unfortunately, only 44 percent of employees say that they can see this connection.

How Coaching Helps

Engagement is directly linked to the frequency of communication with a manager and the content of those conversations. The same Gallup report indicates that employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are 3 times more likely to be engaged than those who receive feedback once a year or less.

Gallup has also found that employees who have had conversations with their manager in the past six months about their goals and successes are 2.8 times more likely to be engaged. This is a substantial return for a relatively small investment of time and energy from a coach. However, only 20 percent of employees say that they have talked with their manager in the past six months about steps to reach their goals, indicating a lost opportunity for increasing engagement. It’s clear that communication needs to happen more frequently and that it must address employee goals and successes.

Goal-setting through coaching also leads to better engagement, but only 30 percent of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in the process of setting goals. These employees are nearly 4 times more likely to be engaged than other employees, but for the ones who are not involved in goal-setting, the consequences can be damaging. According to Gallup:


“Unfortunately, the majority of workers tend to sense an unfairness or injustice in how their performance is managed and evaluated. They are held accountable for work that they don’t always have the tools or support to accomplish successfully, and they often are not even invited to a conversation about how work could be done more effectively.”

Coaching can help eliminate these negative feelings. Actively setting goals together, creating milestones to achieve them, and tracking progress along the way give employees the chance to be involved in their own development and feel that their leader has their interests in mind.

Creating accountability through coaching and goal-setting also helps improve engagement because employees own the results of their actions and behaviors and are accountable to both themselves and their coach. When individuals know that they are responsible for completing a task or behaving a certain way—and have the skills and competencies to do it—they are motivated to stay engaged and meet their goals.

Develop Coaches Within Your Organization

The benefits of coaching extend beyond just increased engagement, better performance, and empowered employees. Developing leaders from within the organization helps build the leadership pipeline and grows institutional knowledge.

Teaching leaders how to be coaches also helps them become better at their jobs. They learn how to give and receive feedback, set measurable goals, and track milestones. They must also model the behavior they want to see in their employees, which means they are more accountable for their own actions and behaviors. All of these skills can be applied in future leadership positions, as well.

Leaders don’t automatically know how to be good coaches, but they can be taught with leadership development that offers practical strategies for coaching teams toward sustained performance improvement. Just like any other skill, coaching can be taught through experiential learning. It can also be honed over time through real-life practice and additional training to learn new techniques and approaches. If you want to empower employees, improve individual performance, and develop an engaged workforce, consider making an investment in developing coaches within your organization.

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Getting Started with Employee-Driven Development

When you think of organizational development, you might imagine a team of high-level managers gathering a few times a year to create and implement a strategy that includes training programs, benchmarks, and reporting systems. While this is certainly a valuable approach, it’s not the only one. Many organizations are discovering that employee development can—and should—be driven not only by leadership, but also by the employees themselves.

Employee-driven development is beneficial to organizations of all sizes. When individuals define their own paths at an organization, they tend to stay longer because they know where they are headed and that their destination is in line with their career aspirations. Employees also stay more engaged when they are active participants in their own development. A recent study showed that almost half of employees in the U.S. are not engaged at work, primarily because they wanted to learn something new. If that need isn’t met in your organization, chances are employees will find it elsewhere.

If you’re not already factoring individual goals into your organizational development plan, it might be time to introduce employee-driven development. Here’s how to get started.

Let Employees Lead the Way

Collaborate with individuals as they set their own goals for career development. When managers set goals for employees, it can lead to missed opportunities because they don’t necessarily know what employees want or what their capabilities are. On the other hand, when employees are given the latitude to define their own paths, the result is a higher level of engagement and more people in the right roles doing what they enjoy.

Of course, the majority of these individual goals must also benefit the organization and support the business objectives. Start by clearly stating the organization’s goals and asking the employees to set their goals to support these.

Provide the Necessary Resources

After defining individual goals, the organization should offer support by providing access to the necessary resources. These might include:

  • Funds for outside training
  • Internal training programs
  • Membership in professional organizations
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Recommended resources
  • Peer discussion groups

Knowing how to provide meaningful feedback and accepting honest evaluations from others are essential skills for employee-driven development. Providing training for these fundamental competencies will give individuals a strong foundation for participating in their own development.

Maintain a Dialogue

Employee development is not a single training event or feedback provided during an annual review. The plan should consist of short- and long-term goals with realistic, achievable milestones. Ongoing communication is also essential for the success of any type of development program. Even when employees are leading the charge by setting their own career goals and being proactive about accessing resources, they need coaching and feedback from their managers about their progress.

It’s important for the organization to have a two-way communication process that allows both employees and managers to voice their desires and concerns. It’s not enough to assume that employees will speak up when they have ideas or criticisms. Open communication has to be built into the company culture and employees must be provided with mechanisms (surveys, 360 evaluations, and so forth) for providing feedback.

Build it into Your Hiring Process

Before an employee is even hired, you have the opportunity to set expectations about learning and development. If self-learning is an important company value, that should be communicated to candidates during the interview process. This approach brings self-starters to the forefront because they will be seeking opportunities for growth. Employee-driven development will help you attract and retain the high-potential individuals who want knowledge and a level of control over the future of their careers.

Of course, employee development is not a one-sided equation. Leadership still needs to guide the overall strategy so that any development programs align with and support business goals. Striking the right balance between what each employee wants and what the organization needs is crucial.

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6 Strategies for Breaking Down Silos in Your Organization

The relentless pace of change in the corporate world today requires teams to collaborate and innovate. Therefore, company culture must overcome silos and support effective, cross-functional interaction between teams. When teams break out of their silos, the organization has a better chance for long-term success. In a survey of global operations managers, 61 percent cited cross-functional collaboration as being the key to helping the company reach strategic goals. Here are six strategies that can help break down silos and foster greater cross-functional collaboration across the entire organization:

Communicate a Unified Vision

Often, organizational silos form because individual or departmental goals have become such a priority that they become all-important, causing employees to lose sight of broader company goals and purpose. A unified vision that is broadly communicated among employees helps individuals to understand that individual and team goals are secondary to organizational vision.

For organizations that have grown accustomed to operating in silos, the vision will need to be communicated often and across different mediums so that it remains top of mind. When people see the bigger picture, they can begin to understand their unique place in the organization, as well as that of others. In time, a focus on self and team will expand to include other individuals and teams that are also part of the company vision.

Create Shared Accountabilities

Once a unifying vision has been established and communicated, it needs to translate into the everyday behaviors of teams and individuals to take hold. Teams can benefit from having shared goals that pull them together rather than divide them. For example, an organization might align the IT department’s goals with those of other departments to ensure more efficient use of internal IT systems. To further break down organizational silos, it can also be helpful to have two or more teams work together on a task force that ends with a joint presentation to senior management.

Bring Teams Together

Breaking down organizational silos and increasing cross-team collaboration doesn’t happen on its own, but will be more likely when individuals have opportunities to interact and work together. Joint meetings, focus groups, and chat sessions can provide employees with opportunities to get to know people from other teams, who does what, and how they can help each other to achieve company goals. Other activities that bring teams together include combining similar teams under co-heads, or co-locating teams that can benefit from being in close physical proximity, as in the case of companies that sit sales and marketing teams together. Organizing a corporate events can also promote collaboration, build trust, and encourage relationships between teams.

Get Leaders On Board

People on different teams will be unlikely to collaborate and will remain in silos unless they see leaders modeling collaborative behavior. Company leaders need to set the example to demonstrate that they expect cross-functional teamwork and information sharing from their employees. Leaders can support greater collaboration in the following ways:

  • Talk about shared goals between teams
  • Assign a team member or two to keep another team in the loop on a key project
  • Regularly communicate and spend time with leaders of other teams
  • Recognize and reward individuals who demonstrate collaboration with other teams

Incorporate Collaboration Tools

In the digital age, there is a range of workplace collaboration tools that can bring teams together in the cloud, making it easier to share ideas and information. Digital collaboration tools can be particularly helpful in unifying remote teams and individuals. Some examples include:

  • Project management platforms with chat and virtual whiteboard capabilities
  • Shared documents that allow multiple teams to access and collaborate
    on presentations, proposals, and project plans
  • Data management tools that incorporate data from other platforms—for example, a CRM that integrates with company dashboards used by various teams

Shift Mindsets and Behavior with Training

A great way to help employees break free from silos is to train them to engage in behaviors that support more teamwork and collaboration. With the help of accountability, communication, and leadership training to name a few, employees can learn more about the dangers of silos, see the benefits of collaboration, and practice useful techniques for breaking down silos back on the job.

Organizational silos stand in the way of innovation and growth. They also limit the success of individuals, preventing them from realizing the positive benefits of teamwork and collaboration. By using strategies that encourage individuals to think of themselves as part of the broader organizational team, more cross-functional collaboration can become a reality.

6 Strategies to Help Leaders Break Down Silos At Work

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How-To Increase Employee Engagement In Healthcare

The overarching goal for healthcare organizations is to deliver patient care that heals and saves lives. With advances in technology and a highly skilled workforce to deliver exceptional patient care, healthcare organizations also need a highly engaged workforce that is productive and committed, in order to reduce turnover and gain a higher patient satisfaction. In fact, in a study conducted by Gallup of 200 hospitals, it was found that the engagement level of nurses was the number one variable correlating to reduced patient mortality, even more important than the number of nurses per patient. In other words, patient outcomes improve when employees in healthcare are engaged with their job.

While it can be challenging to tackle employee engagement in healthcare, it is a realistic and achievable goal. The key is to focus not on engaging those that are disengaged, but to focus any efforts on improving the engagement of those who already are engaged. There are three ways you can begin to increase employee engagement in your organization:

  1. Deploy Employee Engagement Assessments and Use the Data to Make Changes
  2. Provide Training for Leaders
  3. Create Opportunities for Mentorship and Coaching for New Employees

Now, let’s discuss these in more detail.

1. Deploy Employee Engagement Assessments and Use the Data to Make Changes

The data and results these assessments show have the potential to identify and execute improvements related to employee engagement. However, the issue is often too much measurement with too little action. To highlight this point, 80% of executives say high engagement (the employee experience) is critical to their organization, yet only 22% have a plan on how to improve it. If healthcare employees are to feel that their opinions are valued and it was not a waste of their time, actionable steps must be taken.


2. Provide Leadership Training

According to a study conducted by Gallup, leaders account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement. So while the importance of technical skill programs is not to be underestimated, a great deal of the patient and employee engagement has a human element involved. By training leaders with people skills, such as communication, conflict management, and collaboration, they are more likely to be successful for their employees and patients. These skills are also important so healthcare leaders can work through any challenging situations and provide the best customer service to their patients.


3. Create Opportunities for Mentorship and Coaching for New Employees

The most engaged nurses have only been on the job less than six months. In those months they are enrolled in a carefully crafted onboarding program and are just beginning to familiarize themselves with the culture and the job. When this time comes to an end, engagement begins to fall.

Counteract this with a program that gives them coaching, networking, and mentoring opportunities. When employees in healthcare are paired with people that have a track record of success, they can learn valuable lessons about the nuances of the job and the organization they are just beginning to work for. Mentorship also allows for further on-the-job observation and in-the-moment coaching so questions or challenges can be handled effectively and efficiently.



For healthcare employees, excessive or unpredictable overtime, a stressful workload, and lack of workplace flexibility can all contribute to low engagement. Though you can increase employee engagement in healthcare, improve retention rates, and improve patient outcomes, by starting with these three things.


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The Art of Persuasion in Leadership

A big part of any leader’s job is to persuade others. Sometimes it’s to get everyone on board with their vision for the organization. But often, the persuasion is more subtle, such as when inspiring an individual to strive to reach their fullest potential.

Regardless of the end goal, when leaders understand how to use persuasion in their communications, they can be more thoughtful and intentional about their language and, ultimately, be more effective. Consider these five factors to improve your persuasion skills every time you communicate.


When trying to persuade others, it is useful to begin by making sure they have the facts and information that led you to the position you are trying to champion. This can include stories and lessons learned in previous situations, data related to the current landscape, and any emerging trends that can help predict future direction. When you show people how you arrived at your vision, you have more credibility, and people are more likely to get onboard.


Timing is everything when it comes to persuading others. By considering what else is going on in the organization or in an individual’s specific situation, you will find it easier to identify times when people will be more approachable and receptive to new ideas. Because gaining alignment is a two-way process, it is also often better to address specific topics face-to-face and with more time than you think you might need. This allows you to read the situation, connect with how people seem to be interpreting your message, and provide opportunities to explore the vision through questions and open discussion.


The amount of information shared correlates with the level of trust between a leader and the people they are trying to persuade. In situations where it is necessary to build trust, providing more information earlier leads to a higher degree of trust. Delivering information in digestible chunks allows time for it to sink in. Receiving information is also critical to build mutual trust, so hone your listening skills and learn how to elicit feedback.

Keep in mind that if there is a high degree of mistrust early in the process, too much information delivered too early can backfire. First address the reasons for the trust issues, and then provide more information as the relationship evolves.


When persuading others, the final outcome has to be reasonably predictable to both sides in order to get to the same conclusion. When two parties start with two different sets of expectations, the gap between them should be narrowed incrementally over time. This serves to build trust and results in an outcome that is acceptable to all concerned.

Mutual Benefit

The final piece of the persuasion puzzle is mutual benefit. Ensure that both parties gain something from the decisions made and that everybody feels that the encounter was successful. As you approach the deadline or the final outcome, make sure that you can see what the other person will gain from it. Keep track of these gains and share them along the way so that it’s clear how they are benefitting from being persuaded to your view. This also helps to generate buy-in throughout the process.

Persuasion Is a Key Communication Skill

The art of persuasion is not about learning sales tactics. It’s about communicating effectively to convince others to adopt your position or share your perspective and feel good about it. By understanding what others want and need—information, time, trust, and so on—leaders can be more persuasive, whether inspiring an individual to do their best or rallying an entire organization to support their vision. To learn more about how you can be more persuasive as a leader, read our Guide to Mastering Communications in the Workplace.


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Why Great Leadership Requires Conviction

Leaders are often responsible for implementing change, promoting a new approach, generating enthusiasm for a given course of action, solving a problem, or seizing an opportunity. All of these actions have one thing in common: they require conviction. Can a person be a leader without conviction? Possibly, but they can’t be a great leader who motivates and inspires others to change. Although senior leadership sets the strategy and the course for the organization, it is up to mid-level leaders and supervisors to execute it. Without conviction from leadership, it is difficult to maintain the momentum necessary to capture hearts and minds at every level.

Put simply, conviction is a prerequisite of effective leadership. Let’s discuss why.

Conviction Breeds Results

Conviction serves as the foundation for any type of initiative, whether it’s changing a culture or executing a strategy. When an initiative starts without conviction, the team often has to double back and reassess, reducing productivity and delaying deadlines. On the other hand, when leadership has personal conviction about the plan, they are far better able to lead their team and instill the same conviction in their employees.

Conviction allows individuals and teams to overcome obstacles when they arise because they have a strong belief in what they’re doing, regardless of the struggles and challenges faced along the way. Without this conviction, obstacles can quickly become permanent barriers to success. Conviction also sparks passion, which is a great energizer because passion and energy are infectious to those around you. Conviction helps overcome resistance, both external and internal. Resistance comes in many forms, but having a foundation of conviction allows you to persevere in the face of it.

All of these benefits of having conviction—overcoming obstacles, sparking passion, and overcoming resistance—lead to results.

A Formula for Conviction

Although it’s true that conviction can come naturally to some leaders, it is also a concept that can be taught and nurtured. From a kernel of passion, conviction can be fully developed by ensuring that these four elements are present:

1. Knowledge

Conviction must be built on a foundation of knowledge. This can come from a variety of sources, such as research, observation, experience, and judgment. Leaders must have deep subject matter knowledge to support initiatives that require conviction, whether it’s a product launch, culture change, or market expansion. Without this solid foundation, there is very little to build upon. Knowledge lays the groundwork for conviction because it gives a reason, most often based on data and metrics, for change.

2. Passion

Passion is the essential element of conviction that enables leaders to inspire others. Passion is persuasive and it has the power to ignite conviction because building an inner fire helps light the fires of those around you. However, in order to be effective, it must be genuine, deep, and heartfelt. Passion is the emotional element of conviction. It gives people a reason to care about the greater strategy. One way leaders use passion to get their employees to care is by relating how achieving a shared goal will affect them on a personal level.

3. Purpose

In order for a leader’s conviction to transmit to others in the organization, there must be a clear understanding of the reasons, rationale, and benefits of the expected outcome.

  • Reasons demonstrate why we are taking a specific action or adopting a certain approach.
  • Rationale explains why we were motivated to take action. This serves as a window into the leader’s thinking that led to their personal convictions.
  • Benefits describe the value of this course of action and what consequences we should expect.

Passion alone will not keep others excited about initiatives; there must also be a purpose. Purpose is the logical, intellectual element of conviction. It gives everyone something to work toward and a basis for holding each other accountable, even when things get tough.

4. Belief

Leaders don’t always know for certain that the approach they are taking is the right one, but a key element of conviction is that they believe that it is. However, belief can’t stand alone when building conviction. It’s not enough to just feel that something is a good idea; it has to be backed up with knowledge, passion, and purpose. Without the belief that a new, different future is possible, conviction can fall flat. Leaders must believe that the untested, unproven, untried approach will work because they can visualize its success. Belief is the visionary element of conviction.

Proceed with Conviction

All four of these elements are necessary for conviction in leadership. Without one, the others can falter. The combination of knowledge, passion, purpose, and belief is a powerful one, and the leaders who master it will drive organizations to success. When a leader shows conviction that they’ve chosen the best course of action, they create certainty in everyone who follows them and allow them to absorb this belief and the accompanying emotional state. The next time you find yourself in a position of leading change in your organization, ask yourself if you have the knowledge, passion, purpose, and belief to inspire others to follow you.


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5 Benefits of Experiential Training in the Workplace

Employee development is a high priority for many organizations because it helps increase engagement, build loyalty, and achieve organizational goals. The types of training available to companies as part of an employee development strategy are countless, from self-directed online courses to immersive multi-day experiences. Using multiple training approaches helps ensure that you reach all types of learners and allows you to maximize your training budget.

Including experiential learning in your development program offers several important benefits, such as:

  • Driving conviction to change behaviors
  • Connecting conceptual ideas to actual situations in the workplace
  • Delivering a fun and engaging training experience for employees
  • Producing measurable results and the ability to track progress
  • Providing a training framework that can be used in multiple areas

Let’s dig deeper into each of these benefits so you can see how experiential training can support your professional development strategy.

Drives Conviction

The main objective of any training initiative is to change behaviors in order to achieve a specific outcome. If participants are not aware of that outcome or not invested in accomplishing it, they are less likely to change their behaviors.

Experiential learning starts by building conviction so that participants learn not only how to do something in a new way, but also why it matters. They see the positive effects of using their new skills in the training environment and become motivated to test them in the real world because they have both the confidence that it will make a difference and the conviction to make the effort that will lead to change.

Connects Concepts to the Workplace

Many training formats effectively teach new concepts, but do not provide a safe environment to practice applying those concepts. For example, a classroom-based lecture about leadership skills can enhance the knowledge of participants, but that doesn’t mean they will know how to apply new skills in the real world.

Experiential learning is different because participants not only learn new concepts and skills, they also have the opportunity to try them in a scenario that indirectly mimics their reality. Because the scenarios are metaphors, many people don’t realize they are learning new work skills until the debrief at the end of the training. At this point, a facilitator guides a discussion that prompts participants to make strong connections between the lessons they learned in the activity and similar scenarios on the job.

Participants Have Fun

Employee development is serious business, but that doesn’t mean training has to be dry or boring. The importance of engaging participants during training cannot be understated. If they are not paying attention, they simply will not learn what you need them to.

Experiential learning fully immerses participants, making the full length of training fun and engaging. They aren’t interested in checking their phones because they want to solve the next challenge or see if they can improve their team’s results in the next round. Being fully engaged means that participants are more likely to absorb the information being presented to them, and because they are doing something that has immediate consequences, the experience is much more meaningful.

Provides Measurable Results

Training ROI is a high priority for anybody working with an employee development budget. Collecting feedback surveys or testing participants after a seminar is one way to gauge training results, but these methods do not guarantee long-term behavior change.

Experiential learning provides some of the best results of any type of training program because participants retain more information when they learn by doing. The learning decay curve shows that most people forget up to 70 percent of what they learned within the first week of learning it. Experiential learning, especially when combined with a retention strategy, helps overcome learning decay by instilling conviction, connecting the training concepts to actual behaviors in the workplace, and giving participants a common experience to reference.

Can Be Applied across a Wide Variety of Topics

Some training methods are better than others for certain topics or types of learners. For example, learning new software should include hands-on training. Similarly, digital training platforms are not always effective for people who are not comfortable using new technology without assistance.

Experiential learning can be used to teach to a broad spectrum of skills and competencies. Whether you want to teach time management to every employee or leadership skills to rising stars, experiential learning will produce results. Participants of every age and experience level benefit from this type of training. Programs can be customized to your organization, and even specific teams, so that they incorporate the company culture and internal language that will resonate with participants.

Next Steps: Adding Experiential Training to Your Development Initiatives

Experiential training has quickly become a favorite among HR and training professionals, as well as employees, because it creates conviction, connects the training experience to the real world, and delivers measurable results. Not to mention it’s fun and engaging, and can used to train a variety of topics, including leadership, customer centricity, and sales effectiveness. As you design your employee development initiatives, incorporate multiple types of learning methodologies, and be sure to include experiential training.


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3 Leadership Activities That Improve Employee Performance at All Hierarchical Levels

One of the leaders’ top priorities – whether they manage a small team or an entire organization – is to find ways to improve performance. Technology upgrades and improved processes certainly lead to productivity and quality improvements. However, we cannot underestimate the value of simple and easy-to-implement leadership activities that bring the team together and teach important and necessary skills in the workplace.

Use these three leadership activities to improve performance.

Communication: coaching of builders

Effective communication is essential to maintain high productivity and generate results that meet expectations. Executive leaders, supervisors and employees can benefit from better communication skills. This exercise highlights the importance of listening to and using succinct and clear language to avoid misunderstandings and errors. Follow these steps:

  1. Divide participants into groups of 4 to 7 people. Offer each group two sets that have at least 10 mounting blocks (Lego, for example). Before the exercise, you must assemble a simple object (such as a house) with one of the sets of blocks.
  2. Assign a leader, a dwellee, a builder, and a person responsible for taking notes. The latter should observe and document how people behaved during the activity, what seemed to work and when participants made mistakes.
  3. Give the leader the item you’ve assembled, taking care that only he can see the object. Mark 10 minutes on the clock. When the activity begins, the leader will pass instructions to the delegante on how the constructor should mount an exact replica of the object. Remember that the delegante should not see the object and the constructor should not hear this conversation.
  4. The delegante hears what has been said and then goes to the builder and repeats the leader’s instructions. The delegante can return to talk to the leader as many times as he deems necessary during the 10-minute period.
  5. The constructor uses the other block sets to construct exactly the same object that the leader can see, using only the delegante statements as guidance. The delegante should not see the object during construction.
  6. After 10 minutes, compare the leader object with the constructor’s to confirm that they look alike. Discuss what was frustrating or easy during the process and discuss what each person would do differently to get better results next time.

Accountability: clarity on objectives and expectations

When expectations and deadlines are not met, we sometimes attribute these results to lack of accountability. Often, however, this is not because the individual responsible for the task did not try hard enough, but because the expectations of this individual were unclear. If team members start work without actually understanding the purpose or objectives of a task and also the desired outcome, they will make mistakes that can be costly and cause delays.

This leadership activity teaches employees how important it is to clarify the issues before starting a task to increase accountability. Here are some scenarios in which this activity can be useful:

  • Meeting with managers organized by an executive.
  • Daily quick meetings conducted by supervisors with their direct subordinates.
  • Teambuilding session with all employees.

Here’s what to do:

At the beginning of the meeting, tell the group, “You are sitting the wrong way for today’s meeting. You have 60 seconds to improve this organization.” If team members ask for more information, repeat the instructions. Perhaps some of them will keep insisting, while the others will already start moving the seats. Note what they do, but don’t give other information, feedback, or instructions. After a minute, ask them to stop and ask these questions:

  1. “Have you achieved the goals? How do you get it?” Talk about how the team might not have achieved the goals because they weren’t clear.
  2. “Who asked for an explanation? How did you feel when I refused to give you more details?” Explain that when participants do not ask for an explanation and when the person responsible for the project does not clarify the doubts, everyone runs the risk of making mistakes and not being able to complete the task.
  3. “How has the pressure of time changed your behavior?” Tell them that when people are stressed or under pressure, they usually start work in a hurry, without confirming if they understand what was requested, which often causes problems.

Finally, this activity will show how employees should handle a task that generates questions. It will also show the leader how to set clearer expectations and create a culture in which communication is clear and accountability is the rule.

Ability to solve problems: team collaboration

When facing a new challenge or dealing with an idea or project, teams need to know whether to organize on their own, create an action plan, solve problems, and work together to achieve a common goal. With this exercise, you’ll encourage participants to test their creativity and ability to solve a team problem:

  1. Offer a variety of materials such as paper, cardboard, wooden blocks, pencils, paper clips, canudos, and more.
  2. Divide participants into teams of four to eight members. If the group is smaller, teams of two or three members are sufficient.
  3. Explain that the goal is to build the tallest tower in 20 minutes using any of the materials offered.
  4. Then talk about each group’s strategy and ask:

○ Who planned before it started and who started the task in a hurry? What were the results of these two approaches?

○ How did the groups define who would do what?

○ Was there a leader? Or did everyone do their part?

○ What was the hardest part of the task? And the easiest?

○ How can you apply these learnings to the projects you are currently participating in?

Depending on the type of group that participated in the activity, the following questions may be different. For instance:

  • For individuals of any hierarchical level: based on this activity, which communication strategies of the leader were most useful?
  • For supervisors: in this activity, when did communication failures occur? How have they harmed the creation process?
  • For executives: As a builder, what would you need to receive from the leader but didn’t? As a leader, have your instructions been followed accurately? How could you improve accuracy and understanding?

These three activities help develop some of the most important leadership skills: communication, accountability and problem solving skills. They are important for individuals of any hierarchical level in the organization, from the executive team to the employees. With each exercise, they learn to work more efficiently,both individually and as a team. With this, the performances improve throughout the organization.


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How to Be a Great Leader Through a Merger or Acquisition


Organizational changes come in all stripes and many flavors. Some changes are small, such as moving your office, which ranks at about a two on a scale of one to ten. Implementing a new accounting system ranks about a five. The changes encountered during the merger and acquisition process are, on a scale of one to ten, hovering right up there near the double digits. With the merger and acquisition comes a culture transformation and the overall sense of identity within the organization. Individuals may even be worried about their job status. A merger or acquisition is a time of uncertainty and adjustment. Clearly, it’s a time that calls for not just good leaders to guide your organization through merger and acquisition, you need a great leader.

Here are seven things great leaders do to shepherd organizations through the unique changes organizations undergo during the merger and acquisition process.

1.  Decide on Your Approach to the Culture

Most M&A teams are great at thinking through the legal, financial, and operational components of a transition but what can be missed is the people who are undergoing this change asking: Will I fit? How do I fit? Do I want to fit?

These question will always be in reference to their previous experience of the culture they worked in before the merger or acquisition. As a senior leadership team you must have one of the 3 basic approaches clear in your mind.

  1. Transform one of the cultures to align with the other.
  2. Amalgamate the two cultures leveraging the strengths of each
  3. Create a new culture free of the stigma of either of the previous cultures

2. Create a Compelling Vision

A compelling vision will be the North Star and set the direction for the majority of actions to be taken. A vision is broad sweeping and encompasses dreams and hopes. A vision is a motivating force, though action steps must be drafted to move toward that vision. Your vision will most likely encompass the mission and the culture of your organization following the merger and acquisition.

Once the vision is clear, ensure the articulation paints a clear distinction between current reality and desired future state, especially in regards to the culture you will ask people to fit into. This will help people fill in the blanks required to answer the “fit questions” they are asking. It will also clarify the expectation of the type of things that must be different.


3. Set a Series of Goals

Goals translate the vision into reality. Reach your vision by setting, then executing, a series of sequential goals that will result in the overall vision for your company, following the merger and acquisition. When goal setting, keep in mind each goal must be:

  • Specific: Goals should have a specific, deadly-accurate deadline–not a fuzzy or flexible one.
  • Measurable: A well-thought out goal is one in which there is some way to measure the outcome.
  • Crystal Clear: Goals should be expressed so simply and so clearly they are truly “crystal clear” to everyone. Any questions should be addressed and the goal statement clarified.
  • Action-oriented: Goals describe what is to be done; they should not be expressions of intent or desire.

4. Manage the Project

Managing this transition is a lot like managing any other project. Think of it, in fact, as project management. Working back from how the merger and acquisition will look and function when fully implemented, create incremental goal steps—and a timeline for completing them—that will get your organization there.

  1. Get buy-in from managers and teams affected by the changes.
  2. Based on your goals, assign tasks to managers, departments, and teams.
  3. Keep managers, teams, and yourself, accountable. Hold weekly check-in meetings with managers to assess progress.
  4. Continue to gather feedback. Make changes to tasks or timelines if necessary.
  5. Take responsibility to ensure your managers and their teams meet their assigned goals.

5. Collaborate

The secret to collaboration is the willingness to listen and seek input, making sure those on the journey with you feel heard and esteemed. For clear collaboration, follow these steps:

  1. Listen to others’ opinions and even frustrations. The most effective solutions come out of overcoming the criticisms of those who haven’t yet bought in.
  2. Be willing to change tactics after getting feedback early in the process.
  3. Provide opportunities for team members to contribute to the discussion.
  4. Ensure effective dialogue around new assignments prior to them being finalized so that people work on outcomes they feel they can be successful in delivering. Nothing will erode trust more than people perceiving they are being set up to fail.
  5. When working with managers and team members, be willing to voice your thoughts and opinions in a proactive way.
  6. You become a great leader by being willing to listen to others, to give them their chance to lead the discussion while you listen quietly and incorporate feedback.

6. Engage Every Function and Level

During massive change, a significant percentage of people will default into a “victim of change” mentality and not proactively seek to do what is needed to succeed and bring the new culture to life. Skilled M&A teams intentionally build events into the transition period that create conviction around the new behaviors that must be adopted. The best initiatives deputize every employee as soldiers in the battle for the new culture as opposed to people who must be converted.

Engagement is accelerated when the achievable benefit is experience. Smart leads are diligent at ensuring early, visible wins that are relevant to front line employees, middle managers and support staff.

7. Develop Change Leadership Capacity

Feeling overwhelmed by the task? The majority of executive teams are, which is why smart leaders ensure that they and their teams are developing themselves both individually and collectively. This investment helps accelerate the adjustment period of the merger but also serves as an organizational asset post-integration. Winning companies in today’s market place are increasingly agile and able to rapidly adjust to change and effective leaders are the lynch pin of this agility. Nothing transforms a company culture quite like a merger or acquisition. The question is whether the new entity is transformed into a stronger organization delivering on the improved synergies and profits promised pre-M&A or whether it is transformed into a less productive bureaucracy that underperforms relative to what your team envisioned when you started this process. Where you end up is largely a function of your team’s ability to enhance the collective leadership skill to cause others to positively and rapidly adapt to change from the C-suite right down to the front line manager. This doesn’t happen by accident but requires a well-structured approach.


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