Engaged For Success

The Challenge. Employee engagement is a priority for every leader. Engaged employees are much more effective and motivated workers. One of the best tools for promoting this factor is vision: it is the driving force for the business and, if communicated, can be the driving force for employees as well. However, if employees are not in tune with the company vision, or are not even aware of it, how could they possibly become engaged with it?

The Facts. An amazing 84% of engaged employees feel that they can positively impact the companies they work for, and this is a very powerful concept that business leaders can capitalized upon. However, in the workforce, approximately 54% of employees are not engaged at all—that’s more than half. When employees feel disengaged, employers can expect a loss of creativity, innovation, problem solving, passion and even well-being. Ouch.

The Cure. Leaders can openly share the company’s vision early and frequently. If it changes, grows or adapts, employers can share that too. If everyone doesn’t understand what their purpose is in the company and how to align with it, they are essentially flying blind, which makes it very easy to become disengaged and disinterested. When someone gets off track, leaders can take note and redirect them. This maintains a focused and envisioned group of employees that will far outperform disengaged workers.

Essentially, the more engaged the employees are the more productive, innovative and happy the workplace will be. In order to make this happen, leaders must play their part. Vision is one of the most powerful tools in their belt, and if communicated effectively, it can change the way employees feel: more engaged, more creative, more passionate about their work.

Crim, Dan, and Gerard Seijts. ” WHAT ENGAGES EMPLOYEES THE MOST OR, THE TEN C’S OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT.” Ivey Business Journal. N.p., Apr. 2006. Web. 12 Sept. 2012.


Business is full of surprises. From unexpected expenses to unforeseeable outcomes, it’s impossible to continually predict what will happen as we operate from one day to the next. But, in order to open new possibilities, possibly we should be inviting in more surprises and more unknowns.

In his new book, “Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs,” author Soren Kaplan suggests that to offer our clients something unexpected, we have to ourselves invite in the unexpected. Kaplan argues it’s learning how to manage the ambiguity that leads us to the big breakthrough ideas that will delightfully surprise clients and crumble competition.

When I read Kaplan’s book, I was enamored. As leaders, we daily do all we can to keep a thousand little fires from growing into uncontrollable flames. Our efforts are spent trying to anticipate industry changes and strategically position ourselves to avoid (or at least ride out) the next storm. It’s the proactive thinking that gives us the ammunition to survive, but often times we do all we can to eliminate the unknown instead of inviting it to come inside.

Welcoming unpredictability goes against basic business fundamentals. Business leaders are typically hardwired to steam forward by building well-oiled machines that deflect wrenches when they are thrown their way. As leaders, we hash out strategies, map our goals and formulate plans that account for as many variables as we can possibly include. But, even with all this effort and sweat equity, surprises are still going to, well, surprise us. Instead of spending long nights anticipating the unexpected, how would our strategies change if we adopted ways to invite surprises and incorporate them once they revealed themselves? Is it possible that doing so could expand our vision from beyond the straightforward path we have spent so much effort keeping surprise-free?

As Kaplan states in the first chapter of Leapfrogging, “Individuals, groups and organizations that leapfrog old ways of doing things often become the new leaders of the future.” Furthermore, it’s not just the ability to leapfrog old ways, it’s the ability to leapfrog our own mindsets that will help us grow into something truly special–something truly unexpected.

Leapfrogging – a new book by Soren Kaplan.  http://www.leapfrogging.com/book/

5 Tips to Quit Complaining and Start Creating


“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou

In his book “The No Complaining Rule,” Jon Gordon calls people who spend their time complaining, “energy vampires.” He says that this practice sucks the energy out of any situation. At the very least they suck all the positive energy out of a room and fill it with negativity. There are a few practices that can help you break a negative attitude and create a more positive, more productive outlook.

1.    The Jolly Journal- Instead of using your journal to vent, try using it to celebrate your day. Even the worst days have something positive happen. Take the time to break your day down. You can start by creating a list of things you learned during the day or list a couple of events that brought you joy or made you smile. You may find that the day wasn’t as bad as you originally thought.

2.    Choice Map– One of my favorite tools is Dr. Marilee Adam’s Choice Map. She recommends that you redirect yourself when you start feeling negative by asking learning questions like: What’s possible? What are the facts? What are my choices? Instead of negative questions like: Whose fault is it? This creates a much more constructive perspective on the situation, allowing for the development of solutions.

3.    Take a Hike– Not the metaphoric “hike,” but go for a literal hike or brisk walk depending on how much time you have. I’m not sure why but it is a wonderful tool that works like a charm for me.

4.    It’s Alllllllllll Right– In the words of famous photographer, Dewitt Jones, “celebrate what’s right with the world.” Take a step back and find something that is “right” in the situation. This helps to adjust your focus and may open new doors in the search for solutions.

5.    Let It Out– Give yourself five minutes to just let it out. Put it all on the table, everything that is bothering or annoying you. Be brutal with it, how unfair or bad it feels. Just let it all out. Then, after the five minutes is up, take a couple of deep breaths and just let it go.

Life is all about attitude and the attitude that comes with constantly complaining is anything but constructive. The most important thing is to clear the negativity as quickly as possible, complaining in and of itself rarely accomplishes this. Cultivating the ability to address problems with a reasonable and appropriate energy and then moving on has made both my business and personal life much more enjoyable.


  • The Quotations Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012.
  • Adams, Marilee. “Choice Map: We choose moment by moment.” Inquiry Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012.
  • Gordon, Jon. JonGordon.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2012.