Seeing Everyone for Thanksgiving Has You Stressed? Here are 9 tips!

For many, Thanksgiving becomes a stressful long weekend, despite the gratitude-theme to the holiday. If this is the case- and even if it isn't for you- here are some short tips on remaining mindful during Thanksgiving! Enjoy the holiday!

Original Article by Nicole Christina:

Nine Ways to Make Thanksgiving More Mindful

Holidays can be stressful. With a little mindfulness, we can direct our energy toward the good amidst the chaos. Here's how.

By Nicole Christina | November 23, 2015

laszlolorik/Dollar Photo Club

In spite of the glossy ads making it look like Thanksgiving is one big joyful, harmonious day, for most people Thanksgiving can be somewhat…..challenging. Or as one of my clients put it, “A day of living Hell.” So what can be so bad, you ask? Family? Tons of food? Trays of desserts? Sitting around the table with relatives? Alcohol readily available? Exactly.

I’ve put together some guidelines I developed over my 20 years of practice to make it a little easier for you this year:

1. Accept what is. Uncle Louie will probably drink too much, as he always does, and may even dance on the table. As much as you wish it weren’t so, not all family members would be your top choice for friends. So don’t argue with reality. You can feel frustrated, angry, sad, and resentful. And know that there are some things that will not change. Where do you want to put your energy?

2. Allow the good parts to really soak in. This is what Rick Hanson talks about so eloquently in his mindfulness books. What is delightful? Haven’t seen your cousin in a long time and felt a nice connection? Allow it to light you up; focus on it. Give it lots of space.

3. Remember that it’s only one day. Many women are in labor longer than one day. You can get through it. Even if it’s a disaster, it will be over soon.

4. Ask yourself what would help. Do you need to take a little breathing break in the powder room? Take the dog for a quick walk? These little grounding tools can really help with perspective.

5. Arrive at the table slightly hungry, but not starved. This is tough if you plan to eat in the early afternoon. Although it’s tempting, don’t make the mistake of skipping lunch. If you are starved, you will feel like a rabid wolf, and that will lead to problems later on. It’s not your fault; the body doesn’t appreciate being starved.

6. Eat mindfully, as much as possible. It’s not going to be perfect. You might feel distracted by all the chaos. But do try to chew and taste your food. Slow down as much as possible. It helps with digestion, and knowing when you are full. It also increases enjoyment.

7. Breathe. Make sure you are breathing into your belly. It helps your body and mind stay calm. You can put your hand over your belly to make sure it’s rising and falling. No one will notice. They are too busy with their own worries.

8. Pick something quirky and personal to be grateful for. It’s nice to be thankful for family, a roof over your head, and food to eat, but what about the fact that your kid finally passed his math test? That your dog got through a walk without rolling in goose droppings? That your favorite show just went to Netflix? You get the idea. Make it interesting; it’s much more powerful that way.

9. Remember to be gentle with yourself. So you ate too much pie, then cleaned out the Cool Whip container with your finger? It happens. It’s a tough day, and sugary foods help, albeit temporarily. Nothing will be gained by berating yourself. Research is quite clear that self-compassion is the only way to go if you are looking to change behavior. So try something more like: “Well, that’s not what I was hoping for. I know how stressed I get around _____; next time I will try _____ instead.” You will be much more likely to get back to healthier ways than if you abuse yourself.

And, by all means, if you come up with something else that is helpful, please share! I’m always looking for new ideas to add to the list!

Compassion is Gratitude in Action: Reflecting (and Acting) on the Coming Holidays

As Thanksgiving nears, so many think past the holiday of gratitude, and focus more on the "wanting" of presents instead of presence. This article was posted just about a year ago, and highlights some thinking on the deeper meaning of what Thanksgiving and the December holidays mean.

Driving home from a wonderful family Thanksgiving feast on Black Friday, past big box store after big box store with parking lots filled to the brim, I couldn’t help thinking how easily and quickly we shift from holiday of gratitude to the season of “wanting”.  I overheard someone say this past week that they were saddened that there was so little popular notice of Thanksgiving.  It seemed to her, she said, that we went from 6 weeks of Halloween to the eight weeks of Christmas with only an overnight swap of retail merchandise and décor.  Increasingly, the marketing around the holidays bothers me – the unapologetic pitches to kids and adults alike to create peak experiences or a new lease on life from getting “that perfect gift” are everywhere. 

Seven years ago (when I first drafted, and sadly never posted, this article), I wanted to delve into gratitude as a leadership competency.  I googled “gratitude and business performance” and found most of the top sites were advertising gifts to give staff and customers at the end of the year.  More conspicuous consumption - definitely not what I was looking for!  Today, however, the same search yielded top articles from both HBR and Forbes about the use and positive impact of gratitude in the workplace.  While I’m sorry I missed the chance to be a trailblazer on the topic, I’mgrateful that the value of gratitude has begun to take hold in our business and personal lives.

Now, with all that has taken place in our country over the last six months, I am moved to ask the question – what’s next?  Is gratitude enough?  We seem to be still be “wanting”.  Wanting a change, wanting a different outcome, wanting an explanation… What do we really “need”?  Clearly practicing gratitude by replacing thoughts of “want” with recognition of “abundance” is not only difficult for many; it is nearly impossible for those who have been left behind economically, socially and even spiritually.  We who have resources and the ability to influence our families, organizations, and communities need to put gratitude to work.

For me, gratitude in its purest form awakens compassion.  Beyond pity (“I see your suffering”), sympathy (‘I care about your suffering”) or even empathy (I feel your suffering), compassion moves us to ACTION (I want to alleviate your suffering).  Throughout the holiday season many of us challenge ourselves financially to alleviate the suffering of others through charitable works and donations.  I would suggest that during the holiday season and beyond, there are other ways to put compassion into action to alleviate a kind of suffering that often goes unseen.  This is the suffering that we create for ourselves and others when engage in judgment, name-calling, and the demonization of the “other”  - - when we create, maintain, or strengthen the divisions in our collective humanity. 

These practices (shifts in thinking that result in shifts in behavior) that start to bridge divides are simple, yet difficult:

·       Slow down – This really is the hardest part isn’t it? There are many techniques for improving your ability to do this, most notably mindfulness/meditation.   

·       Shift from “furious to curious” – Restrain your “animal instinct” to interpret any challenge to your status quo as requiring fight or flight.  Instead approach these challenges with curiosity and inquiry. “I wonder why that makes sense to that person?”

·       Challenge your assumptions – Try to visualize the automatic “tapes” that play in your head and ask yourself where they came from, if they are still valid and if they are still serving you well.  Often these are self-protective strategies that may have helped you to survive in the past but will never allow you to thrive!

·       Choose something different – We are so often on autopilot, doing those things that we believe work for us.  In every moment, we have response-ability – that is, the ability to respond, to actively choose a different thought and a different behavior.

·       Observe – Take time again to notice how intentionally choosing to act differently changes the energy of a situation for both you and for others.  Recall this shift when you next encounter the urge to judge and separate.  Use it to fuel your willingness to slow down and practice compassion once again


Compassion, acted upon, IS a leadership competency – for all who want to lead us toward better versions of our organizations, our communities, our nation, and ourselves.

I can imagine that there may be some discomfort at these suggestions - - imagining personal and organizational complacency or worse ignoring or “normalizing” immoral behavior.  That is not the case at all.  Compassion is an ACTION requiring us to live in integrity with our values while also challenging our belief that “we have the monopoly on the truth”.  Calling on us “first to understand, then to be understood”.  It is only here that we will shift from the persistence of “want”, feelings of scarcity and fear of “otherness” to capture the possibility, abundance, innovation and even joy in our differences.

This is a tall order – but can we as leaders, as humans, hope for or work for any less?


A variety of resources for additional contemplation:





Fall is ramping up, halloween is right around the corner, and before we know it, the holiday season will be upon us. With all of the craziness that is coming, balancing yourself as a leader will important not only to you, but those around you. Check out this nice article from Robbie Steinhouse. 

Original Article:

How To Become A More Balanced Leader

By Robbie Steinhouse

October 25, 2017

With so many current examples of unbalanced leaders in the world, the idea of becoming a balanced one sounds appealing. But it also sounds a little boring. Must one lack passion or even be inauthentic?

No. To me ‘balanced’ is quite different: it means having plenty of passion and energy, but being able to bring them to bear in the right way at the right time.

The balanced leader is self-aware. In the past, inner reflection was derided as ‘navel-gazing’. But the best leaders know themselves, and spot when their emotions are getting the upper hand. They have ways of dealing with this, of internally stepping out of whatever situation is causing this.

Self-aware people learn to spot physical signs of growing stress and can put a stop to it before it goes too far. Many feel tension in a particular part of the body: this can be a message from our subconscious mind that we are overlooking something with our conscious mind. Financier George Soros claimed that pain in his back meant that he needed to look at whatever trades he was doing at the time.

Our minds also can fill with overdramatic and critical self-talk, which we can learn to spot. We have the choice to turn these tape-loops off, detaching from both the situation and a pre-programmed reaction to it that is no longer helpful to us.

The above are all about stopping imbalance. How can we actively become more balanced? I am a great believer in mindfulness, which is achieved through practicing meditation. Once regarded as ethereal, this practice is fast becoming mainstream. One can acquire sufficient skill at it without too much effort – though some, of course, is required. The mindful leader can keep cool in a crisis and manage and maintain their energy (and thus their emotional wellbeing and resilience). Mindfulness provides a ‘space’ where the leader can choose the right role in any given situation. They can avoid relying on old habits acquired during their old, pre-leadership job – they can instead act with balance and poise.

If you want to be a balanced leader, it is wise to lead a balanced life. I advocate taking an hour a day working on yourself. This can involve a range of activities: meditation, exercise, listening to music, reading (especially on personal development). These activities have nothing to do with work, but are actually essential to working well, giving you the time to develop the deep reserves of energy you will need in difficult situations.

The material above might make the balanced leader appear too inward-looking. But the good leader balances their self-awareness with a keen awareness of other people’s emotional states. Coaching skills such as building rapport and asking open questions help build this awareness, which soon becomes second nature.

Spot rising inner tension and learn how to stop it. Meditate; lead a full life outside work; and hone your ability to intuit what other people are feeling. You will find all these give you more passion and energy, not less.

Re-post: <1% Turnover in a 500-Person International Company? How they do it

This article, originally by Ian Fosbery of Recktor, on writing for Fast Company looks at the Scandanavian company Recktor. He points out some tips that we could all use in some form or another when trying to surround ourselves and coworkers with talented, effective, fun individuals.

Original Article: Fast Co

From shorter workweeks to high marks for employee happiness, many Scandinavian companies seem to have figured something out about work culture that others haven’t. Unfortunately, those successes haven’t always translated elsewhere around the world.

But as a Finnish company with 500 employees across four countries and three continents, we’ve been trying to change that–and so far, it seems to be working. Here at Reaktor, our current turnover rate is less than 1%, and that includes the more than 40 employees in our New York office, where we’re working within the city’s super-competitive talent pool. In reality, hiring and keeping great talent doesn’t require lavish benefits. Here are five things that we’ve found work just about everywhere.


Don’t get me wrong; I think HR is great. But to hire the best people, you need candidates’ prospective colleagues to do the interviewing. No matter what, we always interview in teams, pulling in people who might not otherwise be involved in the hiring process. This means that everyone gets interviewing experience, and when we mix and match our interviewers, we can get fresh sets of eyes and perspective on our job applicants.

And in our experience, it’s important to cross-pollinate. We have designers interviewing engineers and engineers interviewing designers. That way, we make sure that all of our new hires get along with people from across the company, not just the boss and HR. We’ve also found that this approach brings up more interesting questions. As a result, the whole interview experience better resembles what it’s really like to work at our company.

To be fair, this might not work for everyone. At Reaktor, we have a flat hierarchy and build digital products from start to finish, which means we hire generalists who can execute with precision. When it comes to hiring decisions, everyone gets an equal say in who gets hired. But even if your business isn’t set up this way, it’s worth considering what somebody in another department might have to say about candidates for a role that they’ll have to work with–even if not on the exact same team.


The best people don’t want or need to be interviewed. They want to have a genuine, interesting discussion with people they can respect as equals and would enjoy working for.

We never want to make the recruitment process feel like an interrogation, which means letting go of some of the traditional formality. Hiring managers typically approach with a mind-set of, “now’s your one shot–impress me!” But this can create a stiff, uncomfortable exchange. Interviewers have to let go of their ego and treat the other person as their counterpart.

In our experience, a more informal discussion-style interview eliminates stress. If we sense that an interviewee is in the middle of a bad day or just too nervous, we usually invite that person in for another chat later. Too often in American culture, applicants only get one shot at an opportunity. It may sound inefficient to give people multiple chances, but it’s more than made up for in the smart, long-lasting hires you’ll make by being more patient.


Being honest and upfront is the only way to build trust. And it has to go both ways: as an interviewer, you can’t pull tricks and expect the candidate to be frank with you. Many companies want to portray an overly positive image to applicants, but this isn’t going to help anyone in the long run. When we’re candid about the challenges our employees face on the job, we’re better able to find people who will enjoy (and grow from) those challenges.

This creates a whole new level of openness in discussions with our applicants. Often we’ll ask things like, “What makes you nervous?” or, “What would a previous coworker say about you?” to see if the person will stop bullshitting and get real with us. We even ask the applicants to interview the interviewer, and their own questions to us can be non-work related too–we’re willing to get personal (within legal and ethical bounds, of course.)


Even in our New York City office, we still offer the same Nordic working culture with generous benefits. All our employees work eight-hour days, and everyone gets four weeks of vacation a year. And unlike at glossy startups and tech giants–where the vacation days are technically endless but everyone is too afraid of getting fired to use them–we require everyone to rest up and use their vacation days.

And it isn’t just about fending off resentment between employees on either side of the Atlantic. It’s because we genuinely believe that work-life balance leads to greater creativity, productivity, and loyalty than pushing people to the brink of burnout. In other words, it’s a strategic means of attracting people who are not only curious about the things they’re good at–the work they do for a living–but also about the world around them. That makes for great employees, who actually want to stick around.

Ian Fosbery is a senior software engineer and architect at Reaktor in New York City, where he spends a lot of time on recruitment.

Re-Blog: Sorting Out the Facts About Mindfullness

In this weeks article, from Fast Company, we hear from Aaron Orendorf. He argues that the increase in awareness to mindful practices has had the effect of "watering down" the field. Mr. Orendorf bring out those who are looking to depend the empirical and scientific evidence that helps to clarify what mindful practices are really doing for us. 

Original Article

How To Make Mindfulness A Working Advantage (And Not Just Cuddly Nonsense)

Step one, according to researchers Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson, is ditching the “neuromythology.”


“When we started,” says Daniel Goleman, “there were two journal articles on meditation that we could cite. Today there are more than 6,000.” So, the first thing Goleman, a leading expert on emotional intelligence, and psychologist Richard J. Davidson did when they set out to write their new book, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, “was go through those 6,000 and identify 60 solid enough to stand up under pressure,” Goleman recalls.

Today, mindfulness is big business. From book-length treatments and quick-tip guides to downloadable apps and virtual reality, mindfulness has moved not just into the mainstream but onto the Main Street of commercialism. And it’s gotten more than a little misconstrued in the process. As Alison Carter, a principal research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, recently put it, “Attitudes toward mindfulness in workplaces tend to be binary: it’s either considered brilliantly effective or cuddly nonsense.”

Goleman and Davidson think we need a more realistic–and scientific–framework for thinking about mindfulness. What’s more, they believe that dispelling the most pervasive “neuromythology” on the subject is the key to making mindfulness not just a private, individual practice but something that teams can practice together, and see great results.


Some of the shakier popular claims around mindfulness are that it shrinks the amygdala–when, in fact, researchers found “a longitudinal decrease in right amygdala activation”–recalibrates emotional set-points–which by-and-large are biologically determined–and can even slow aging. Despite making headlines three years ago all the way on up to CNN (another site declared, “Nobel Prize Winner Shows that Mediation Significantly Slows Aging”), the real finding was far more about the side effects of reduced stress than any direct correlation.

Goleman readily admits the actual limits of mindfulness. “What we think now is that increased neural activation may happen at first, but it doesn’t keep going the way some people, in the business world especially, have claimed. The brain only has so much give.” The substantiated benefits of mindfulness now include: reduced stress, stronger intimate and social relationshipslower blood pressurebetter emotional regulationincreased gray-matter density, and some cortical thickening in areas associated with attention and sensory processing.

In other words, the brain–and, therefore, the body–can be reshaped. And mindful activities like meditation are potentially powerful tools to aid that reshaping. However, rather than thinking of meditation like a pump and your brain as an ever expanding balloon, a better metaphor would be mental fitness. “Mindfulness is like developing your biceps and doing reps,” explains Goleman. “If you want to go deeper, that’s fine. What’s important is to not overstate the initial benefits as if mindfulness’ basic practices will grow exponentially over time.”

The good news is those “basic practices” are precisely where businesses can benefit most.


At a personal level, mindfulness revolves around three disciplines:

  1. Purposeful breathing
  2. Physical awareness
  3. Mental observation

Introductory guides tackling all three areas abound, but most focus on individual applications. The question is: Can you apply mindfulness collectively in a working environment? Goleman says yes and offers a few steps to get started.

First, set the stage. “Instead of starting your workday on autopilot or with a meeting, come together to breathe together. Naturally, your mind will wander,” Goleman says. “When it does, that’s a moment of mindfulness. Bring it back to your breath, and do this as a group.”

For individuals, experts recommend 10 minutes a day of mindful breathing to strengthen the brain’s executive functions. Goleman suggests the same length is effective for groups as well.

Second, watch. “Throughout the day, create a kind of balcony in your mind where you just watch your thoughts come and go. This transforms impulses into choices,” Goleman explains. “Instead of obeying them, you can observe them and then make the decision of what to do.”

Teams can practice this collectively by taking the time to intentionally slow down during difficult tasks. It’s also helpful to develop shared habits for pausing–like taking two-minute timeouts–anytime things start getting heated.

Third, cultivate compassion. “Think of people in your life who have been kind to you, and wish them well. Think of yourself, and wish that you’d be healthy and happy. Then, think of the people you work with and do the same,” Goleman advises.

Practiced regularly, these simple mental exercises can strengthen the brain’s circuitry for caring. And organizations where people care are organizations that work well together.


Of course, those collective benefits are all grounded in personal practice. But untethered from empathy and a purpose larger than ourselves, most people’s ambition tells them, “I want to be a success–my way, for mybenefit, at whatever cost.” Needless to say, this attitude can get in the way of practicing mindfulness.

“The nervous system,” Goleman explains, “was not designed to be on high stress all the time, so if you put yourself in that mode–which, in many ways, corporate culture rewards–you’re going to burn out or you’ll burn out the people around you. Mindfulness comes to the rescue because it says, ‘Hey, why don’t you just take a pause–regularly–and not blindly charge ahead?'”

When you boil it down like that, mindfulness sounds a lot less like “cuddly nonsense” and a lot more like a strategy for better collaborative problem-solving. And indeed, larger-scale mindfulness projects are also underway.

Anthony Stephan, for instance, a principal at Deloitte, is currently leading 100 executives through a program built around core mindfulness principles like vulnerable communication, reflective listening, and gratitude. Conceived in early 2017, Anthony spent the first 100 days of the initiative meeting with leaders one-on-one and in town-hall settings, not to simply expound the virtues of mindfulness but co-create the “intentions and behaviors” the program would foster. Deloitte is still a month or more away from quantitative measurements, “but already,” Anthony told me, “we’re seeing far more collaboration and efficiency.”

The benefits of mindfulness to individuals is profound–that’s why the concept became so popular so quickly. But it doesn’t need to be a solitary affair. Instead, teams, departments, and even entire organizations that learn to apply mindfulness practices together can build more productive, empathetic relationships. You just need to cut through some of the junk science first.

Aaron Orendorff is the founder of iconiContent and a regular contributor at Mashable, Lifehacker, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and more. Connect with him about marketing, behavioral economics, and bunnies on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Re-Share: Grit- Is it What Determines Our Successes or Failures?

Here is a great Ted Education Talk from Angela Lee Duckworth that takes aim at what it is that makes people successful. Is it education level? Is it wealth? Is it IQ? While not discounting these and other factors, Ms. Duckworth says the answer is often Grit: passion and perseverance for long term goals. The big question is then: how do you teach or build grit? Check out this great talk:



Re-Blog: Weekend Mindfulness

Vacations are done, the kids are back in school, and you're definitely back to working at least 5 FULL days each week. Prevent the days from blurring together and practice mindfulness after work and on the weekends with these three incredibly easy tips. 

Original article:

3 Mindful Things to Do When You Get Home from Work

Using mindfulness to picture your perfect Friday—and put it into practice.

By Elisha Goldstein | June 24, 2016

When we’re at work—especially on a Friday—home is not far from our minds. We yearn for some down time, and the relaxation that comes from being with friends, family, or just resting by ourselves. But as the work day comes to an end, maybe we get stuck in rush-hour traffic, or we have to run a few errands that take more time than we’d like, and that picture-perfect Friday starts to dissipate. We arrive at our doorstep exhausted and irritated, and another night seems to fly by without us really noticing.

Bringing mindfulness to this experience can help us savor and appreciate the final hours of the day. You made it through the week, and you deserve a happy hour (or three!).

Bring these three mindful tips home with you and see what you notice.

When you get home from work:

1. Set your intention: Before you even step foot in the door, take a deep breath, soften your body as a way of becoming present, and take some time to think about how you want this evening to unfold. Do you want to spend time with your family? Do you want to relax in another way?

2. Hug something: It could be an animal, a loved one, or if there’s no one else there, curl up in a ball and hug yourself. Hugging allows us to feel connected, soothes the body, and it sets us up to feel good for the rest of the evening.

3. Control your environment: Put on some soothing or playful music, bring some play into your environment, or put on some candles if you want it to be a relaxing evening.

About the Author:

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is hosting an online course to help people fully integrate mindfulness into their lives in a deep way in order to realize more enduring change. The in-depth 6-month online course called  Course in Mindful Living runs this SeptemberSign up now to join a community of people growing in confidence, calm, compassion and a life you love.

Re-Post: Leadership- Back to the '80s?

Should we always embrace the next best business books? This article, by Eric McNulty takes ever-changing business and leadership themes and mantras and reflects on one from 1983. When it comes down to it- its tough to argue with: "Grow the company profitably. Share the wealth with employees. Ensure that everyone is having fun."

Original article by: Eric J. McNulty

Eric J. McNulty is the director of research at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and writes frequently about leadership and resilience.

Each month I receive an email with a preview of the latest leadership books. There are always five or six new entrants in this already crowded field. Meanwhile, my Twitter feed overflows with three steps, five tips, and seven ways to improve engagement, build trust, and employ mindfulness.

Yet with all this knowledge available, employees don’t seem to feel as if they are being led any more skillfully than in the past. In my travels, I encounter people frustrated by seemingly arbitrary rules, vague visions, out-of-touch bosses, and a lack of development opportunities. They are confused by labor laws and company policies, which often are evolving more slowly than the work arrangements of an agile, tech-enabled economy. Further, data from Gallup has shown that workforce engagement has hovered around 30 percent for years.

This is why I was stopped cold recently by a simple formula for effective leadership. In the book The Leadership Challenge, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, first published in 1983, a CEO offers this straightforward philosophy: Grow the company profitably. Share the wealth with employees. Ensure that everyone is having fun.

I was stopped cold recently by a simple formula for effective leadership.

As I reflected on this direct and open prescription, I wondered why anyone has ever felt the need to write anything else on how to run an organization. This seemed like an intensely prudent yet humane approach to business. Growth satisfies investors and provides funds to increase internal rewards, sustain training, and fuel ongoing innovation. Sharing the wealth reflects consideration for the full range of stakeholders: employer, employee, and shareholder. And what better way to measure employee engagement than by people enjoying what they do? If you can pull off all three, it seems logical that the organization will thrive.

Perhaps, I wondered, we could take significant steps forward by forgoing fancy formulas and returning to the principles articulated back in 1983, being mindful to incorporate the changes brought by globalization, technological advances, and the increased diversity in the workforce.

To test my hypothesis, I reached out and interviewed people who are focused on engagement and leader development. I asked them to react to the quote from Kouzes and Posner’s book. While generally embracing the idea, each of them added important nuance that strongly emphasized humanity.

Focus on culture. Organizational psychologist Nicole Lipkin said that humanity “is the crux of everything” in organizations, yet “we've gone against human nature in how we’ve designed them.” She said that excessive rules go against the “sticky culture” of a great team, one on which people appreciate one another and their respective contributions. Instead, these rules instill fear of stepping out-of-bounds. That stifles the willingness to treat people as people.

Lipkin summarized people’s needs using the SLAM model: social connection, leadership excellence, aligned culture, and meaningful life. “No matter how old you are, or your status, these are the things we need as humans,” she said. “We underestimate the social connections — they can make a mediocre job enjoyable. It requires leaders to pay attention to the pulse of the culture. We are so busy rewarding for performance that we forget to reward for the behaviors that make an organization a great place to work.” Lipkin noted that the expectations millennials have for flexibility, investment in their development, and work–life integration actually play more into our psychological need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness and how we naturally interact with people than do industrial-age structures.

Give and take. Leadership coach and former Inc. 500 CEO Alden Mills is a former Navy SEAL, and thus has learned from a group renowned for its leadership excellence. He told me that “to lead is to serve and to serve is to care.” There, once again, is the importance of humanity. Mills noted that although people want to be part of something larger than themselves, they also want a reciprocal process. Executives who expect employees to be all in for the mission yet treat them as disposable units of production fail to understand the second half of the equation. “Truly great companies treat their employees like they treat their customers,” he said.



Stop to connect. Modesta Lilian Mbughuni, a serial entrepreneur and human-capital consultant from Tanzania, reflected that when she launched her first venture, she thought that a vision that highlighted substantial tangible rewards would be enough. It fell short. “The people must have ownership in the vision,” she said. “They need to be enabled to accomplish it. If there is one investment you should make, it is [in] people.” She looks for service-oriented people who are interested in a purpose higher than themselves. She noted that there is a relatively small pool of top talent in Tanzania and multinationals can always pay them more. To attract and retain this talent, “I had to continually ask myself, ‘What did I do by them?’”

Mbughuni said that those who aspire to lead have to be humans first: truly “seeing people,” having genuine conversations, demonstrating respect, and being willing to say “I don’t know.” Some executives shy away from emotional encounters. She takes the opposite approach. “Sitting down for a heart-to-heart talk can be messy,” she said. “However, ultimately we are more efficient when we take time to stop and connect.”

Reframe the question. Executive coach Michael Bungay Stanier suggested a simple way for leaders to ask their subordinates effective questions: Adding the words “to you” to the end. For example, “What does this realignment mean?” invites abstract analysis. “What does this realignment mean to you?” makes it much more personal. It injects humanity into the conversation.

Commit to diversity. Anka Wittenberg, chief diversity and inclusion officer at global software firm SAP, is concerned with the challenges of creating an aligned culture, which spans many national boundaries, ethnic identities, and social norms. “I strongly believe that if we give people opportunities to grow and have fun, the company will grow,” she said. “However, some people are always left behind. Patterns and processes don’t include those who are underrepresented, so we have to think about the sustainability of the culture.”


To address culture sustainability, SAP has committed to actively foster diversity with four focus areas: gender, generations, cultures and identity, and disability. For example, the company met its goal of filling 25 percent of leadership roles with women this year. It has committed to hiring 650 people with autism by 2020; more than 110 have been hired so far.

Such initiatives open doors, though they also add complexity. Here, I think that the final component of Lipkin’s model is useful: making work part of a meaningful life. Meaning and satisfaction are derived through building skills and achieving goals as well as through participation in a welcoming culture. For example, Wittenberg noted that SAP’s research shows that when members of the LGBT community can out themselves in an inclusive environment, their productivity goes up 10 to 20 percent.

Should executives in 2017 revert to 1983? In some ways, yes — organizations are still populated by people and thus humanity matters. Given the increasing levels of technology, automation, and business rules that come with the efficiency of enterprise-wide software systems, finding ways to acknowledge people’s needs as humans is more important than ever. Globalization and increased diversity in the workplace also require a human focus if we are to create environments where as many employees as possible contribute to the fullest extent of their abilities.

The three principles stand the test of time as guideposts for thoughtful discussion of how to bring — and sustain — humanity in your organization. Don’t restrict your thinking about humanity to just an executive retreat and don’t be afraid of those messy conversations. “You must serve your people so they can serve you,” Mbughuni said. “They want to see their aspirations fulfilled —and they have options.” So, too, do leaders. I suggest opting for profitable growth, sharing, and embracing a bit of fun. 

Original link:

Re-Post: Managing to Liberate Energy

5 Powerful Shifts That Help Leaders Liberate Human Energy

This article/interview, by Kathy Caprino talks about how leadership styles have changed over the past couple decades, and about the paradigm shifts that have brought us to the world that we live and work in today.  

Original article:

Kathy Caprino ,  CONTRIBUTOR

I cover career and personal growth, leadership and women's issues.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Part of the Series “Today’s True Leadership”

Liberating energy and unleashing potential

In my work as a career success coach over the past twelve years, I’ve witnessed a significant shift in focus among the leaders and directors I work with. While these leaders still wish to learn new ways to expand their own success, impact and growth, they’re also keenly committed to helping all the people around them – their employees, colleagues, partners and all those they come in contact with on a daily basis – become all they wish to be. In short, there’s a clear commitment toward helping their entire work culture thrive.

To learn more about this trend, I was excited to speak with Renee Moorefield, PhD, CEO of Wisdom Works.  Renee has been a trusted adviser to thousands of leaders—from Fortune 500 executives to socially-conscious entrepreneurs—committed to unleashing human potential for thriving, optimal performance, and positive global impact. She speaks at major conferences internationally and writes for outlets such as Experience Life, Coaching World, and Huffington Post. Renee chairs the Wellness at Work and Wellness & Government initiatives for the Global Wellness Institute, and has a deep passion for creating a well world through wisdom in leadership.

Here’s what Renee shares:

Kathy Caprino: Based on your work with leaders, what do you see is different about leadership today versus 20 years ago?

Renee Moorefield: The notion of leadership has changed dramatically. When I started advising leaders in global companies decades ago, “leader” meant the one person in charge (usually male). Leadership was about hierarchy, titles, and management controls.

This leadership style generally fit the nature of work at the time. You worked at a specific location with set hours, your work was pigeon-holed from the rest of your life, you expected long-term job security from your employer (and vice versa), and the meaning you gained from work was defined by money and prestige. You “climbed the ladder of success.” Of course, this wasn’t true for every company or person—but it was by and large the accepted culture of corporate life.

Practically no one can relate to those days now.

Caprino: If we’re not “climbing the ladder of success,” what are we focusing on now?

Moorefield: We’re getting work done by collaborating across geographies and worldviews with a scale we couldn’t imagine years ago. We’re working from anywhere anytime—and this calls for greater personal leadership and self-direction. We’re still seeking meaning through work, but we usually find it by contributing to something larger than ourselves—a noble purpose, a social innovation, an extraordinary team, or visionary goals.

Caprino: How does that impact how we lead, manage and approach our work?

Moorefield: It turns the old way of leading on its head.  The fluidity of work has transformed what it means to lead. Effective leaders today facilitate positive outcomes by tapping into the power of human energy. They know work can be glorified drudgery in some cases, yet when energized by a person’s whole being, it can become joy.

Happiness, wellbeing, wisdom, dignity, trust, care, and love are not considered “soft” concepts as in the past; they are strategies to build exceptional work-teams and thriving organizations.

Caprino: What do you see is at the heart of this shift?

Moorefield: Deeper questions are guiding leaders, for example: “How can we lead in a way that unleashes human potential?”

Everything about work—relationships with colleagues, organizational culture, space and place, the act of work itself—is a potential agent of vitality, rejuvenation, meaning, and growth. Effective leaders ask: “How can we create the conditions where everyone can bring their best selves to work and leave work more capable and well than when they came?”

Caprino: How do you talk about this with organizations that want to cultivate better leadership?

Moorefield: I enter this conversation through the doorway of thrivingThere isn’t a person or organization I know that doesn’t want to elevate their capacity to thrive. Because most of us operate from a deep-rooted, usually unconscious, belief: If we work harder (longer, faster), we will finally get in front of the complexities we face. Our hamster wheel of stress will stop soon.

It’s exhausting …and, ultimately, quite unproductive.

When we pause to examine this belief, we realize it is groundless. There will not be a foreseeable future that isn’t (as the military so aptly puts it) volatile, complex, uncertain, and ambiguous. I’d add: astoundingly disruptive and networked.

When IBM interviewed 1,500 CEO’s of global organizations, 79% forecasted complexity to rise across the planet and over half doubted their ability to manage it. Yes, over half. World-shaping leaders feel ill equipped to handle the escalating complexities that we, in our civilizations and our personal lives, experience as the norm.

As disheartening is Gallup’s 2015 poll of managers. 65% of the leaders studied reported being disengaged or actively disengaged… basically, checked out. Kathy, I wonder what your readers’ experience is?

Ill-equipped, disengaged leaders are more likely to replicate that way of being wherever they are. I believe the sincere cultivation of a new standard of effective, thriving leadership within all of us is more important now than ever.

Caprino:  In my readership and community, I’ve seen there’s complete agreement with what you’re sharing. However, I see too that there are still so many leadership development programs out there that miss the mark entirely, and focus on the wrong things. What do you find is missing?

Moorefield: Forward-leaning companies want to continuously innovate and transform, yet often don’t grasp a basic tenet: they cannot evolve any faster than the consciousness and capabilities of the people leading them. This means they choose leadership development strategies that miss the boat in at least three ways:

Too superficial.

Their approaches don’t help leaders plumb the deeper values, biases, and beliefs driving how they lead. Yet it is at this depth of exploration—the leader’s internal operating system—where a generative shift of mind and heart can take place to activate a genuine leap forward in leadership effectiveness and impact.

Failure to embrace the whole self.

Great leaders use their whole being to get results with and through others. Yet leadership development strategies often lack the holistic approach that helps leaders amplify mental and emotional well-being, instead of reactivity and stress.

Lack of real change.

Many leadership development approaches awaken leaders to new possibilities for healthier ways of leading, yet still lack a system of accountability and learning to support sustainable changes in leadership behavior. 

After many years of working with leaders around the globe, we purposefully designed our Be Well Lead Well® leadership development programs to tackle these issues.

Caprino: What changes do you notice leaders making through your work with them?

Moorefield: When leaders are willing to travel the path of well-being and leadership transformation with us, we see five powerful changes:

They are committed to knowing themselves.

They are willing to really look at themselves—their gifts and their gaps—and reinvent how they lead based on authenticity, passion, and wisdom from within. This creates a tremendous boost. There is a quickening of energy that occurs when you operate from the truth of your being. For these leaders, it is as if the energy that was once tied up in “how I should be” is now freed.

They operate with greater clarity and balance.

Organizations need leaders who can lead from the inside out—where their inner world is so vibrant that the outer world doesn’t rattle them. This enables leaders to bring clarity, discernment, and balance to their teams and organizations, cutting through the organizational noise.

They are more inclusive.

When leaders appreciate themselves as whole people, they treat others as whole people too. They seek to understand how all people see the world differently, and they use these differences as catalysts for innovation, connection, and trust.

They proactively boost thriving in teams and organizations.

Too much or too little stress can erode performance. So, these leaders consciously make thriving a game-changer in their teams and organizations. When mind, body, and spirit come online together, people can create the extraordinary.

They cultivate shared wisdom and leadership.

Because these leaders make a positive impact by empowering leadership in others, they gain access to new ideas, relationships, and experiences—wisdom they might have been closed off to before. How they lead is an invitation to evolve.

Caprino: In our conversation, you mentioned that men dominated leadership roles in the past. What about women in leadership today?

Moorefield: Beyond the value of embracing the brilliance of women (just as you would embrace the brilliance of men), promoting women in leadership makes business sense.

Overwhelming research from well-known organizations, such as Credit SuisseMcKinsey & Company, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, shows companies with more women in leadership, particularly senior and culture-shaping roles, experience a higher return on equity and greater organizational effectiveness.

On the other hand, excellent research by Mercer finds women executives three times more likely than men to leave a company. They aren’t as interested in the “climbing the ladder” approach of the past, and health, wealth, and career issues clearly differ for women than men.

To address this head on, we’re now launching an exclusive version of our Be Well Lead Well® programming for current and high-potential women executives. It is a yearlong transformative and groundbreaking journey where women leaders explore two profound questions: “What enables me to thrive?” and “How can I cultivate the conditions where others thrive—at work, at home, and beyond?”

We’ve incorporated revolutionary personal wellness genomics, mindfulness training and neurofeedback, somatics, pioneering leadership assessments, and other transformative practices and tools to assist women leaders in tapping into their deepest commitment to thrive—mind, body, relationships, and spirit—plus uplift their consciousness and capabilities for driving cultures of thriving wherever they lead.

To learn more, visit

For more from Kathy Caprino, visit her career and personal growth programs and her TEDx talk "Time to Brave Up."