We all could use a deep breath.
Most teams and companies are still figuring out how to help support their people and engage with them remotely, in hybrid settings, and in-person gatherings. With all that businesspeople have been navigating: differing modes of communication, the expansion of remote workers, global health, issues of racism, social injustice and equity, political and economic uncertainty, they are also expected to maximize the experience, product or service that you are delivering to the marketplace. Deep breaths are needed.
The process of breathing for the human body is “the process of moving air into and out of the lungs to facilitate gas exchange with the internal environment, mostly to bring oxygen and flush out carbon dioxide.” The leaders role in teams and organizations is to breathe oxygen into their people with mindsets and actions that fuel energy, possibility, connection and progress while flushing out negativity, blame and toxins.
The best leaders and teams on the planet understand their role is to help breathe oxygen into their people that helps give energy, hope and life so that all are able to thrive in a complex environment. These leaders and cultures are intentionally inhaling and exhaling with their people. The air they breathe and the mindsets they bring to stimulate action is everything.
6 Mindsets To Breathe Oxygen Into Your People and Culture
- Clarity — Vision + Direction is air that all need to breathe. Is your Mission clear? Is your Vision clear? Are you Values for how your team is committed to travel clear? Is your Strategy for the next priorities clear? If not, your team may be gasping for air. Every time you breathe oxygen into to these mindsets and concepts as a team, the air is easier for all to breathe. The path forward becomes clearer. Your team may not have all the answers, but they’ll have energy and clear direction on how to take the next step.
- Inclusivity — Leaders in the world play an enormous role in widening the circle so that more diverse backgrounds, ideas, perspectives, and experiences have a seat at the table. Teams and organizations will lead the way forward in society by modeling how to have civil, respectful dialogue and educate people on the strengths of diversity, equity and inclusion. When our teams are inclusive and welcoming, it breathes life and energy into all. We’re stronger together.
- Agility — Possibility + Adaptability is the name of the game in a changing world. Leaders have to practice breathing oxygen that allows their mind to find new ways of doing things and the courage to adapt to opportunities that emerge. If leaders return to the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mindset then they will sit back and watch the oxygen leave the room (and their people).
- Grit — Resolve + Toughness is critical to help people navigate their way through obstacles, challenges, negativity, finger pointing, and division. Leaders help their people breathe oxygen that stays focused on the present moment and the actions that are needed in order to take the next step. Toughness isn’t about being physically stronger than others, it is about being able to be vulnerable with your people and still have the resolve to find solutions, together.
- Rest — Teams and organizations have an unhealthy association with the concept of rest. Americans last year left 768 million days of vacation on the table with their employers. That equates to nearly $66 billion of lost benefits. We’ve forgotten that the research actually shows that deliberate rest is essential to elite performance. When we allow our bodies, minds and hearts to deliberately rest, we breathe more efficiently and are better at everything else.
- Ownership — Accountability + Action are mindsets and oxygen that the best leaders and team cultures on the planet breathe. They connect the things they say they will do with positive accountability and action. Accountability isn’t a negative word, it’s a positive mantra that all take ownership of. In a world where people are quick to gossip, point fingers, and be critics about what isn’t working, the best leaders breathe oxygen into their people and shift conversations from blame to solutions-focused.
The best cultures proactively help their people breathe and navigate through obstacles, together. They intentionally choose to inhale positivity and the 6 mindsets above and exhale negativity, blame, gossip and division. The air they breathe dictates the quality of air for all. The ecosystem of their culture is grown, developed, cultivated and led with intentionality, one breath at a time.
The process for developing high-performing and engaged teams never stops and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to breathing oxygen in how they hire, onboard, do performance evaluations, develop emerging leaders, and recognize excellence. The best leaders invest in their teams and the air they breathe, together.
If you’re experiencing a lack of energy, passion or hope for the road ahead, it may be the air you’re breathing.
About the Author:
Jason V. Barger is the globally-celebrated author of Thermostat Cultures, ReMember and Step Back from the Baggage Claim as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. His latest book Breathing Oxygen is set to be released in the Fall of 2021. As Founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, he is a coveted keynote speaker, leadership coach and organizational consultant who is committed to engaging the minds and hearts of people and growing compelling cultures. Learn more at JasonVBarger.com
The COVID-19 crisis has affected people in every way imaginable, including the way they view their life. For some, the pandemic has made them stop taking good things and people in their life for granted; for others, the silver linings are harder to find.
Having and showing gratitude in the midst of a crisis can be difficult, but research shows that it improves one’s health and overall quality of life. And in business, leaders and employees will strengthen the company if they prioritize gratitude during difficult times, says Michele Bailey (www.michelebailey.com), ForbesBooks author of The Currency of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures into Powerful Business Results.
“Times of true crisis may challenge our ability to experience and express gratitude, but such difficult times also demand that we work on enhancing our capacity for doing both,” says Bailey, who is also founder/CEO of The Blazing Group, a brand and culture agency.
“Gratitude is seated at the heart of any truly great company culture, and it results in employees who live and breathe your brand. Employees who practice gratitude across personal and professional relationships will not only drive their personal happiness, they will drive business growth. Gratitude is a currency in the sense that it accumulates as a result of being shared.”
Bailey offers ways to incorporate gratitude into your life and business during a crisis and the benefits of doing so.
- Lose the scarcity mindset. Bailey says a crisis often encourages people to fall back on scarcity thinking – what they don’t have – as pressures prompt some to react with fear and anxiety. What’s needed instead, she says, is an appreciation for each other that leads to people finding ways to help each other. “I cannot stress enough that a crisis is not the time to retreat to a scarcity mindset,” she says. “Instead, it’s precisely the time to think of others, deepen our relationships and recognize the importance of support networks. It’s time to show renewed commitment to customers and communities as well as sensitivities to the challenges they are facing.”
- Think of all you can do, and for whom. Learning to show gratitude on a wider scale starts with these questions, Bailey says: Who has gone above and beyond to help me professionally, and why? How will I show my gratitude to these people? How can I give back to others? How can I make a difference in the lives of those around me and in the lives of others in need? Who have I taken for granted?” ”I believe in my heart that gratefulness is a social disposition or an attitude,” Bailey says, “and as such, it requires that we express it – and exchange it – with others. This is how we connect with one another in a way that lasts.”
- Embrace the strength of your team. Bailey says the resilience that’s honed by steady leaders and unified teams becomes stronger in times of trouble. People feeling isolated and vulnerable need to be thankful for good teammates, approach them for support and reciprocate. “When times are tough,” Bailey says “we can embrace and feel gratitude for what we still have, and we can use that strength of team – of ‘we’re all in this together’ – to fuel our individual and collective forward motion. Identify the people who give you a sense of value and purpose and examine what you value most about your relationships. In times of struggle, it’s our relationships that pull us through.”
“The world may change in surprising and challenging ways,” Bailey says, “but that only makes gratitude more important than ever.”
About the Author, Michele Bailey
Michele Bailey (www.michelebailey.com) is the ForbesBooks author of The Currency Of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures Into Powerful Business Results and founder/CEO of The Blazing Group, a brand and culture agency born of her strategy-first approach to business and desire to enhance employee wellness in pursuit of business goals. She is also the founder of My Big Idea™, a mentoring program designed to propel individuals toward their personal and professional goals. Bailey has been recognized for contributions to women and entrepreneurship with honors such as the Bank of Montreal Expansion & Growth in Small Business Award and the Women’s Business Enterprise Leader Award in 2020. Bailey is a popular speaker and is also the author of a previous book, It’s NOT All About You, It’s About the Company You Keep.
Bad leaders have something over the good ones. Bad leaders have much better job security. Why? Simple. They run off anybody who is a threat to them before any damage can be done. Bad leadership is an art form. It’s not easy to make yourself into the kind of leader who nobody wants to follow anywhere. And because this underrated art form and the job security that goes with it are seemingly in great demand… here are Five Rules for Lousy Leadership!
WHAT’S RIGHT IS WHAT I SAY IS RIGHT!
A very simple way to let everybody know, right out of the gate, that there is only one person at the top, and that person is you. Your genius, your organization skills, your foresight and intelligence will take you on to new heights, despite your team’s ineptitude. From the start you simply tell them, “It’s all been carved in stone. I speak. You agree.” It’s amazing how effective a weapon this can be in your Lousy Leadership arsenal. You ever see those shows about Buckingham Palace, and how the help all stops and bow their heads whenever a royal walks by? Well, that’s how your people will be whenever you walk down the hall. Or, better yet, whenever you burst into a room and yell out, “Who’s working hard today?” Just the sort of thing to make their little hairs on the back of their insecure little necks stand on end.
KEEP THAT GREAT PLAN YOU MADE ALL TO YOURSELF
Somewhere deep in your desk drawer, although you’ve likely forgotten where, there is a copy of the master plan you drew up for the company. Well, the master plan the vice-presidents drew up under threat of loss of parking spaces if they ever deny you wrote it. It’s probably really a pretty good plan. Take the company forward, get everyone on the same page. But it involves a true terror for a Lousy Leader. To implement the plan, one department must know what another department is doing. And you can’t have that. So when you are asked about the plan you say, “Yeah, we have a plan. What great business doesn’t? But if I want you to know what’s going on in another department, I’ll tell you what’s going on in another department.” Quick about face and back to your private dining room.
IT’S NOT A LIE IF YOU BELIEVE IT
Your people know you to be a person of impeccable honor. (Right!) They must trust you because, to a large degree, you never have any interaction with them, so they must believe you are doing the top job just brilliantly. On those rare and unfortunate occasions when you find yourself forced to mingle, at a staff meeting, at the all too rare awards handouts or, god forbid, on Pizza Friday, there is a simple way to let everybody know that everything is alright. When called on to speak, just take the mic, fake that sincere look and say, “People – one thing is always true. You know I would never lie to my family!” Look out over their faces, bask in the warmth of their admiration for you. Quick about face and back to your office, door closed as always.
IT’S VERY SIMPLE REALLY
So many unknowing people think that leadership is a terribly difficult task to master. To get to that seven-figure salary level must take years of climbing the ladder, finding a mentor, and so on. However, you know the truth is that even though others helped you out (now and then) you made the climb on your own. There’s nobody to thank when they come to interview you for Forbes or Fortune. All the admiration is aimed at you because you did it your way. And now, at the top, you pass along this key piece of wisdom to your people. “I gave you your orders. Now carry them out.” Magic words that put you and your management style in sharp focus. And the great thing is, if you give them orders that are lousy, and they carry them out… then it’s their fault for doing a lousy job!
MAKE SURE EVERYBODY IS SCARED OF YOU
This last one is so obvious, it’s almost shameful to list it for you. The greatest motivator of all… fear. If you can arrange the office so that the mere sight of you makes breath catch in your people’s throats, you’re on the way to becoming a Lousy Leader. Everything else is small potatoes next to this rule. Tell them if they want a friend to get a dog. Nothing… NOTHING succeeds like FEAR.
OK, so sorry this isn’t written in the Sarcastica font. Nobody sets out to be a lousy leader. Some people can’t help it because it stems from their personalities. Some people fail because the training they got was woefully inadequate. Some can’t cut it because they are afraid of leading others. And some just think they’re naturals and they become General Patton-2.0, they want their people to feel the fear.
(SPOILER – IT DOESN’T WORK!)
About the Author:
Mark Oristano has distilled the leadership lessons he learned in 30 years as an NFL broadcaster into a concise, complete course in leadership with principle. Lessons learned from his years in the front office of the original Dallas Cowboys makes compelling, yet easy to implement, rules for solid leadership. For more information, please visit: https://markoristano.com.
Six men and I sat atop four and a half million pounds of explosives waiting for the fuse to be lit to begin our flight on the Space Shuttle Discovery. We knew that for the next seven days our lives would depend on our acting synergistically. If anything went awry during the flight, if we didn’t work together, we might not make it home safely.
How did we come to that moment in time? We had been selected for the Astronaut Corps and this particular flight because we had proven track records of being good team players, both as leaders – and as followers – and had the requisite skills to accomplish a variety of space missions with varying payloads. Many of the skills I learned about teamwork are applicable to any group coming together to accomplish their goals. Here are some of the specifics.
Everyone has been a part of a team at one time or another whether it be on the playing field or at the office, or even in your own home. Can you recall a mediocre team, a terrible one or a lazy disorganized one? There are strategies to choose team players, to mold them into a great team, to define their goals, to motivate them for success, to deal with “outliers” and to learn from failure – and success.
CHOOSING AND DEVELOPING TEAM PLAYERS
When you are considering putting a potential team together or adding new members to a current team, the interview process is crucial. Do applicants have the requisite skills or must they be trained? You should consider whether each of these people has experience working well with similar teams. Can he or she give examples of types of projects those teams have worked on and how success was achieved? Also be sure your current team feel comfortable with this candidate.
MOLDING A GROUP OF PEOPLE INTO A TEAM
Not all groups of people can come together to form a great team. You’ll find natural leaders, potential leaders and excellent followers who will carry the ball down the field for the rest of your team. Each of them has a role to play. It is up to your leadership to learn the competencies and capabilities of each one of them and how to put them to the best use to accomplish the work that needs to be done.
DEFINING TEAM GOALS
Your team will only be effective if there are clear cut, well-defined goals which all of the team members understand and are willing to work toward. The role of your management or team leaders is to be able to state these goals precisely and make sure the team understands and is on board with achieving the goals. Your leadership should take responsibility for monitoring progress of the group and each individual. Should the goals of your team change, all team members much be briefed so there is clarity going forward.
RECOGNIZING WHAT MOTIVATES YOUR TEAM
It is imperative that you understand what motivates the people on your particular team. For some team members learning new skills, a sense of accomplishment or a feeling of success will be the best motivators. Others may value the opportunity for advancement or recognition. Financial rewards, raises or prizes may work in your company. Often the praise of their fellow members is sufficient. Have you considered a little friendly competition? Only by asking the team members will you find out.
DEALING WITH OUTLIERS
What if one of your company’s team members is not performing well or is ill-suited to the team, making the workplace uncomfortable and jeopardizing success? Can you show data that his or her performance is not up to the standards you have set and expect? What about negative reports from coworkers? A frank in-person discussion about these issues is crucial and it is imperative you solve the problem or let the person go so as not to poison the morale of the entire team.
PRACTICING AND LEARNING FROM FAILURE – AND SUCCESS
When things go wrong, it is imperative that you seek to learn all the causes and fix them right away. You must also be sure that team members learn from the failure so the same mistakes are not repeated. Never forget that learning from success will make your team and your outcomes better, too. Incorporate processes or procedures that worked well in the past and be sure to recognize those team members who made significant contributions to the achievement.
Teams of all sorts are ubiquitous. Whether at a work site, on a sports team, in a nonprofit organization, or in a hospital operating room (or in today’s world, virtually or in-person), teams are everywhere. Undoubtedly you have been a team member and perhaps had the opportunity to be selected or hired as a team leader. Great teams that produce superior results are built following the following simple principles that lead to outstanding teamwork. You must:
– choose and develop great team members
– mold them into the best team for your organization,
– define your organization’s goals,
– motivate the team appropriately,
– deal with problem team members,
– learn from success and failure
And you’ll find you have built a team that is out of this world!
About the Author:
Dr. Rhea Seddon is a renowned speaker, Astronaut and the author of “Go For Orbit”, a memoir about her adventures spending 30 days in space aboard the Space Shuttle. She is also a former surgeon, healthcare executive and entrepreneur. Dr. Seddon speaks to audiences of all kinds on the topics of teamwork, leadership and taking advantage of opportunities. Visit www.RheaSeddon.com.
BY JASON BARGER
It’s an instant gratification world where people/employees/leaders want things to change immediately. They want progress to be a flip of a switch. They want the easy button. Every leader, team and organization wants to snap their fingers and magically arrive at their desired outcomes.
However, developing people and culture doesn’t happen like that. There is no quick fix or hack to developing leaders and the team culture you desire. It’s a process. It takes commitment, discipline and focus. The most compelling team and organizational cultures invest time, energy and resources into shaping the culture they want, not just the culture they’ve experienced in the past. They know that one of their greatest competitive advantages in today’s day is not just WHAT they do as a company, but the culture of HOW they do it. People want to be a part of a compelling culture and contribute their skills to something greater than themselves.
Every team and company wants to be known for having an amazing culture, but only some understand how they are created and are disciplined enough to lead a culture-shaping process. If you’ve studied change theory in your spare time (you know, the process for how any person or group stimulates change) then you understand the reality that we grow as individuals and groups one step at a time.
All change follows the same pattern. The best leaders and teams on the planet know that growing the ecosystem they desire within their organization takes proactive leadership and support. The best team cultures don’t just magically happen, they are intentionally designed and led along the process. And it’s not a top-down dictator style of leadership that is compelling to people, but a participatory style that invites cross-functional representation throughout the organization to share in the dreaming and creation of the culture they desire.
The process to create your culture requires 6 A’s and participatory leadership:
Assess — Many cultures don’t even know where they are on the map. Where are you succeeding and where are you falling short? You’ve got to be honest about your current state as a culture. Momentum begins to build when you can establish urgency and identify opportunities to improve.
Align — People are the lifeblood of every team and organization and in today’s world your people want to participate. They want their mind and heart to be engaged and connected to the “Why,” the Mission at the heart of your efforts. It takes time and space to establish alignment with your people and constant efforts to stay in alignment along the way.
Aspire — What do you want to be different in the future? You have to be able to dream together and paint the vision for the future culture you desire. Give your people the opportunity to see beyond your current reality and into possibilities for a newly created future.
Articulate — If you can’t describe where you’re going and the values you want to guide you as a culture then you can’t be surprised when it doesn’t exist. Your people need common language and the ability to see and share the story of where you’re heading, together. “Language drives behavior” so the best cultures have compelling language linked to actions and behaviors for the future they are creating.
Act — All change requires action. However, action without vision and alignment is a nightmare. Once the aspirational vision for the culture is established, the best leaders and teams empower a bias toward action and identify the next steps they will take to stimulate progress. All change happens when actions grow out of an intentional vision and spirit.
Anchor — Culture-shaping is not a drive-thru experience. It’s not a one-time company meeting or a singular poster on the wall. Every culture must create habits that anchor the values within their organizational ecosystem. The organization intentionally anchors them with their structures for how they hire, onboard employees, identify emerging leaders, do performance evaluations, raise the bar on leadership at all levels, and develop and empower culture ambassadors.
So, does your team culture get all A’s?
Good grades don’t just magically happen. Great schools, great companies, great teams, great communities, and great collections of humans anywhere and of any kind in the world, don’t just magically happen. They are grown, developed, cultivated and led with intentionality.
It’s way easier to ignore studying, practicing, engaging with your people, and just put your head down and “do your job.” And because that is easier, that’s why many team cultures do not become compelling places to work.
The process for developing high-performing and engaged cultures never stops and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to the continuous journey of development, vision, communication, engagement, authenticity, and action.
Good luck on your next test. I hope you get all A’s.
About the Author:
Jason V. Barger is the globally-celebrated author of Thermostat Cultures, ReMember and Step Back from the Baggage Claim as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. As Founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, he is a coveted keynote speaker, leadership coach and organizational consultant who is committed to engaging the minds and hearts of people and growing compelling cultures. Learn more at JasonVBarger.com