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Inspired People. Outstanding Results.

Doing what’s right

Dr. Craig Dowden reveals the business case for moral leadership

How to Find Time to Do “Great Work”

It’s the work we love to talk about

PLUS • Case studies for leading in difficult times • Looming labour shortage plays havoc on staffing • Invite yin energy for more balance at work



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O.B.C., LL.D. (HON.), D.Tech., CSP, CPAE, HoF Chairman and CEO/Publisher, Canada Wide Media Ltd.










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The Business Case for Moral Leadership Doing what is right breeds success

12 Leading in Difficult Times


31 Flex Time

It’s Time for the Workplace to Grow Up!

34 Self Compassion

An Essential Leadership Trait

Lessons learned from an eco-challenge and an Olympic soccer team

UP FRONT THE COMPASSIONATE EDGE Power Versus Productivity: Why You Can’t Always Have Both

36 THE BUSINESS-MINDED READER Since we’re all in the lifeboat together...

17 Your Workplace Conference 2013 Highlights of a leading-edge event


20 Suchness

You Might be Right, but You’re Wrong

The best leaders see things as they are SPECIAL LEADERSHIP EDITION

22 How to Find Time to Do “Great Work”

Inspired People. Outstanding Results.

Doing what’s right


It has meaning and impact. It’s the work we love to talk about.

25 Balance: Inviting Yin Energy into Our Work 27 A Tale of Two Cities

Two mayors. Two disasters. Different results.

29 Applying Positive Psychology at Work Embracing the pillars of PERMA

Dr. Craig Dowden reveals the business case for moral leadership

22 5

How to Find Time to Do “Great Work”

It’s the work we love to talk about

WHAT MATTERS Looming Labour Shortage Plays Havoc on Staffing; The Scandalous “ReplyAll”; Successful Outsourcing Calls for Investment in Skills

PLUS • Case studies for leading in difficult times • Looming labour shortage plays havoc on staffing • Invite yin energy for more balance at work

ON THE COVER: This Special Edition of Your Workplace explores the latest trends in leadership






Leading With Morality, Inspiration and Resilience. What Can Be Learned?


arren Buffet commented, “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. “Buffet’s words remind us of how important it is to have integrity in our business lives, and this starts with our leaders. Jen Amos takes on the topic of moral leadership in this special themed issue on leadership. Moral leaders place emphasis on the talent of others, rather than on their own abilities. The article talks about how moral leadership is not about rank, rather it’s about doing what is right. Unlike the novel by Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities (1859), set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution, Dr. Jack Muskat’s article “A Tale of Two Cities”, is about the leadership of two mayors in two cities. They each lead their communities through significant disasters, (the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005). The disasters had completely different outcomes, so how can that be? Learn more from Dr. Muskat as he leads us through a compelling story on leadership and larceny. Today’s corporations are looking for a special kind of leadership — the kind that can inspire employees to do their best work, position the company well in a competitive environment and pursue that big picture while protecting the bottom line. Most importantly,

organizations are looking for the kind of leadership that not only has savvy resilience during unpredictable, troubling times, but actually thrives in this environment. A new contributor to Your Workplace is Colleen Biondi who provides two examples of leadership at its best when situations, arguably have been at their worst. In “Leading in Difficult Times: Lessons learned from an eco-challenge and an Olympic soccer team”, we learn separate tips on leadership from Canada Women’s National Soccer Team coach John Herdman, as well as Executive Yvonne Camus, (who was part of the only “allrookie” team to ever complete the EcoChallenge in the Borneo forest). On the same theme of leadership, Craig Dowden, PhD covers the practice of self-compassion or personal forgiveness as a necessary adaptive strategy that may be a critical contributor to achieving our leadership potential. Stuck in a rut? Learn how to be inspired at work and how to find time to do “great work” in “How to Find Time to Do Great Work” by Karen Richardson. In this issue you can also find a summary of keynote presentations from the Your Workplace Conference held in Kingston, in early June, 2013. Enjoy this issue of Your Workplace magazine and, as always, please contact us at with your thoughts, opinions, cheers or jeers.


PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Vera Asanin CONSULTING PUBLISHER Joyce Byrne EDITORIAL ADVISORY COUNCIL Nancy Buck, Joyce Byrne, Sandra Carlton, Craig Dowden, Steve Jackson, Kim Macey, Sean Slater CONTRIBUTORS Jen Amos, Vera Asanin, Colleen Biondi, Adrienne Crowder, Craig Dowden, Wakeley Elbert, Jamie Gruman, Jack Muskat, Karen Richardson, Corry Robertson, Lisa Sansom, Whitney Wise ART DIRECTOR Charles Burke ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR Shaun Withers ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR Anthony Aird PRODUCTION MANAGER Betty-Lou Smith PRODUCTION TECHNICIAN Brent Felzien BUSINESS TEAM WEBSITE Andrew Place, Shaun Withers ADVERTISING SALES Anita McGillis SUBSCRIPTION INQUIRIES Your Workplace Fax: 905-509-3705 In Canada 1-855-997-5223 (1-855-YWPLACE) 101-345 Kingston Rd, Pickering, ON L1V 1A1 Contact (In U.S.) PO Box 197 Niagara Falls, NY 14304-0197

PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 40039657 R10701 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE MAIL TO: 23 Queen Street, Kingston, Ontario, K7K 1A1 Your Workplace is published six times per year by Your Workplace magazine, which is owned and operated by 1425545 Ontario Inc. Advertising sales for Your Workplace provided by Venture Publishing Inc. Print run is distributed nationally at newsstands and by single and bulk subscriptions; price for a one-year subscription is $98.00 and a two-year subscription $138.00, plus HST. Copyright 1998-2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publisher. ISSN Number 1496-4406. Printed in Canada. Freelance articles and illustrations will be considered for publication and should be sent to

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund (CPF) for our publishing activities.





Looming Labour Shortage Plays Havoc on Staffing Employers can play a role in improving the future for labour

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce lists labour shortage as the number one barrier to Canadian competitiveness and the forecast is not calling for improvements over the foreseeable future. At the same time Canada is experiencing high levels of unemployment and underemployment, especially among young Canadians, as well as nearly stagnant wages over the past decade. This apparent contradiction becomes clearer when we take a closer look at the talent market. Canada is facing a widening disparity between the skills required for the available jobs, and the skills possessed by available workers. Some industries are facing a labour shortage, where other industries have more workers than they know what to do with. In addition to this, there is also a mismatch between where the jobs are and where the available workers live. Dr. Kevin McQuillan, Professor at the School of Public Policy and Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary recently released his study, “All the Workers We Need: Debunking Canada’s Labour Shortage Fallacy”. Dr. McQuillan believes that finding balance in the labour market is not about merely increasing the supply. To make better use of available Canadian labour, we need a strategy. And luckily, Dr. McQuillan is a man with a plan. Dr. McQuillan’s study suggests that the federal government should cut back on the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and make better use of domestic labour. He also concludes that since there are worker shortages in specific industries and regions, Canada should

provide younger workers with the education, training and skills that employers require. To accomplish this, the government needs to encourage young people to choose career paths in fields where jobs are available. He says this could be addressed in two ways: 1. Strategic funding into programs that match labour market demands, and 2. Variable pricing tuition resulting in reduced tuition for programs when there is a high demand for workers, and increased tuition for programs leading to fields where there is already an abundance of labour. Finally, Dr. McQuillan suggests that the government should work closely with employers and look at ways of enticing Canadian workers to move from highunemployment provinces to provinces with jobs to fill. This mobility might be encouraged through tax breaks or moving cost rebates. The study concludes that better preparing Canadian workers of all ages is a more difficult and effortful task, but it is an essential part of our long-term labour plan. And while Dr. McQuillan has suggestions for Ottawa on how to improve the future for labour, there is also a role for employers. They can help bridge the gap by hiring talent who fit their corporate cultures, then training them for skills. Practices such as this will benefit employers as well as the individuals hired. It is up to us to plan the future of the Canadian workforce, and we need to start now. YW » BY WAKELEY ELBERT




READERFEEDBACK Cheering us? Or jeering us? Here’s what you had to say: I really enjoyed the article, A Lifetime Love Affair, on how to get the most from a book. I agree with the choices noted. My favourite [recently published] books include: Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, which is a great shift from “the what” [of what we do] to “the why”. Amanda Lang’s The Power of Why is another book that is written in a way that makes so much sense. It created many “aha moments” for me. Next is Ken Robinson’s, Finding your Element. It provokes questions that allow you to think, connect and transform. Peter Jensen’s Igniting the Third Factor includes some very valuable lessons. I love the switch from vision to imagine. I enjoy books that open your mind, allow you to see things from a different perspective or reenforce what you have perhaps forgotten or need a refresher on. K I M M A C E Y, C H R P


I never considered the analogy between work culture and family culture before, but I think it is correct. Thanks for the article, “Cultural Touchstones”, (issue 15-3), which provides a simple, yet accurate example of how to explain culture to your team members. I am Hey Your Workplace: Thanks for the valuable content that you provide. I would like to add my general opinion. “That’s not my job,” “I don’t own a nut or bolt in the place,” or “It will look great from the highway,” are phrases commonly heard in the workplace. Every day people go about their lives just getting by, taking the path of least resistance. Through their contributions, workers can demonstrate their lack of enthusiasm. Unfairly, some people aren’t as fortunate or given opportunities for a desired career. Economic reasons force them simply to “work” to put food on the table. I’d like to believe there was a higher meaning to life. At work, many people lack engagement. If the opportunity presented itself, some people would refuse to learn something new, refuse to act in a way that benefits the team, or refuse to simply take the initiative to begin a work-related task. A worker must work smart, but there is something to be said for a hard day’s work and with a little effort, many hands make light work. Speaking from a supervisor’s position, I’ve always kept this advice in mind — something that a former employer had instilled in me: “If this were your company, what would you

going to use it to help us define our existing corporate culture so that it can be changed to what we really want. Nice job and thanks! MICHE L T R E MBL AY

O T TA W A , O N

expect from your employees?” I find it disheartening that unless prompted by a supervisor, some people would sooner hide and do nothing all-day long. It’s also strange to hear complaints from these people brandishing a convoluted sense of entitlement. We should be thankful that we have jobs to go to, because there are plenty of people who do not. I am a strong believer in the underdog. Sometimes the unlikeliest person will surprise you, not necessarily by what they know, but by their positive attitude and work ethic. Regardless of this person’s educational background, they are willing and eager to learn. The opportunity for advancement is open to anyone who displays initiative and a drive to excel. It seems so simple, yet some people fight it stubbornly. While in my late teens, a supervisor took me aside and imparted, “Don’t be a follower, be a leader.” Advice I will never forget. Despite upsetting the status quo, continue to work with strong ethics and go to sleep at night, guilt free and proud of your team’s accomplishments. Imagine the possibilities if people utilized their true capabilities. D AV E D OR ME R


Get in Touch

Got something to say? We’d love to hear from you. Send your letters to Your Workplace, 23 Queen Street, Kingston, ON, K7K 1A1, or email letters to Please include your name, address, and telephone number. Letters and email may be edited for length, grammar and clarity. OUR PROMISE TO YOU: When we contact you, we’ll ask whether you’d like your name to be revealed in print or not. It’s your choice. If you would like to subscribe, call 1-855-997-5223 or visit





The Scandalous “Reply-All” Removing the option may be your safest bet

We have all heard stories that are cringe-worthy enough to drive us back in time: a catty message about the head honcho that accidentally ends up in everyone’s Inbox; a snarky comment about needy customers that finds the hands of your full contact list; or a deliciously salacious and highly erotic note meant for your sweetheart that lands on the screens of all your colleagues. Looking for a hole to bury yourself in? And all this could be yours with the single press of a button: “Reply-All”. These email mishaps can make you blush, and maybe even cause you to consider hitting the Want Ads. At times they can have even worse consequences, such as legal implications. Maria Fernandes, a former employee of a Mississauga health-care communications company, is a case in point. She claims the company’s director of operations hit “Reply-All” in an email to lawyers discussing her possible termination. She considered herself wrongfully dismissed and hired a lawyer of her own. The case has not yet been heard, so there is no verdict to share. But it is safe to say the company could have avoided a large legal bill and lots of hassle if the email had reached only its intended audience. One way to practice safe “Reply-All” is to eliminate the button altogether. Here are some tips on how to do this:

Outlook 2003 and 2007: Hold down the “Alt” key, and drag the “Reply-All” button off the ribbon. If you want it back, click on the arrow on the right side of the ribbon to customize your buttons, and reactivate “Reply-All”. Outlook 2010: A download of a free Microsoft plug-in called “No-Reply All” is available. This will add additional buttons to the ribbon at the top of your email. You can then click on the “Reply-All Disable” button to turn “Reply-All” on and off. In Gmail: Go into your general settings and change your default reply behaviour to “Reply” instead of “Reply-All”. You can also guard your colleagues against potentially grave e-gaffes (a social mistake or tactless act made online), or annoying email storms by changing the way you address your outbound email. When sending to a large group of people who will not need to communicate with each other, “Bcc” all recipients. This way they won’t have the option to reply to each other. Finally, whether you disable “Reply-All” or not, it is a good idea to exclude anything in your email that is private, sensitive, or that you wouldn’t want anyone else to see. Even when you reply correctly, you have no control over whether a recipient will forward your email to someone else. YW » BY WHITNEY WISE





Successful Outsourcing Calls for Investment in Skills

“Even though worker capacity and motivation are destroyed when leaders choose power over productivity, it appears that bosses would rather be in control than have the organization work well.” — Margaret J. Wheatley, American Writer and Management Consultant

Earlier this year, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) faced harsh criticism when it was alleged that its outsourcing supplier, iGATE, brought in nearly 50 temporary foreign workers to replace Canadian employees, and that these jobs were ultimately slated to be outsourced abroad. The workers were brought in under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The program was designed to allow employers who could not find Canadian workers for specific positions to bring over foreign workers. This form of outsourcing helps organizations get the talent they need and provides opportunities for skilled workers who hope to build their futures in Canada. Outsourcing is common practice, and TFWP admissions have nearly tripled in the last decade, with 213,516 workers entering Canada in 2012. Given the growing popularity, it is incumbent upon employers to ensure the development of skills, and not just benefit from short-term savings. Studies are suggesting that cost savings is usually the true driver of outsourcing, and often to the peril of other considerations — including skills. Accenture, a global management consulting and outsourcing company, recently released its report, “Is Good Enough Really Good Enough? The Great Talent Paradox in Outsourcing”. The report suggests that the outsourcing industry is not investing in developing their outsourced employees — foreign or domestic. Neither the purchasers nor the suppliers view advancing employee skills and competencies as their fiscal responsibility, and so it doesn’t happen. This failure to spend creates the talent paradox, where neither the outsourcing purchasers (such as a big bank) nor the outsourcing suppliers are truly supporting employees. To achieve results both purchasers and suppliers must focus on developing their talent. The report also indicates that the talent paradox is a solvable problem. Key recommendations include: 1. Invest in talent to enhance core business skills 2. Access the strategic talent of outsourcing providers 3. Revamp skills expectations for the existing team 4. Establish shared “stretch” goals to encourage development When you engage and make investments in people, including outsourced employees, you will be rewarded in the long term with strategic and sustainable value. YW » SOURCE: ACCENTURE




Some time ago, I was hired to coach a small team of women who had recently been promoted to leadership positions. It was not too far into the mandate when they started opening up to what was going on in the company. Clearly, Wheatley’s insight was at play. Let’s use a nursery rhyme to illustrate the power struggle within. Dad is nearing retirement so he decides to leave the company to his children: Jack and Jill. The sibling rivalry is fierce and nasty. While Jack and Jill are preoccupied with baiting their power struggle, they fail to recognize the growing disaster building before their eyes. If only they were open. The spreading poison between Jack and Jill is now infecting the entire organization and is starting to jeopardize performance and future success. Projects are being completed late and with errors and costs are running significantly over budget. Employees are declaring that “enough is enough” and are moving on. Predictably, clients are getting angry and are doing the same. In the beginning, Jack and Jill made a choice. They were more interested in vying for and holding power than in productivity and success of the company. This could change, but if they don’t wake up to the big picture soon, they will lose their competitive advantage. In the end, both Jack and Jill fell down the hill. YW



The Business Case for Moral Leadership »


“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” — Warren Buffet


arren Buffet’s words remind us of how important it is to have integrity

in our business lives, and this starts with our leaders. A leader uses his or her influence to bring about change, and yet when we think of the word “leader”, many of us imagine someone with authority over others, an individual who is literally a step ahead of the group. At times, this type of leadership can be self-serving and disempowering to others. Moral leaders place the emphasis on the talent of others, rather than on their own abilities. Moral leadership is not about rank, rather it’s doing what’s right. They have a deep sense of right and wrong, and are guided by their beliefs. We look to leaders for guidance and inspiration, and moral leadership can be critical to the success of the organization. YOUR WORKPLACE | VOLUME 15 ISSUE 4



Take, for example, Buffet, who is often described as the most successful investor this century, and one of the most wealthy and influential people in the world. At the same time, he is also a philanthropist, and has pledged to give away 99% of his vast fortune. In 2011 he called out the American government to “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich” and raise his own, and his peers’ taxes. This is not exactly the kind of leadership we are accustomed to from the corporate sector. This is in sharp contrast to profit-at-allcosts leadership, such as the now infamous Enron, which went from billions to bankrupt on account of fraud and corruption. When you compare moral leaders like Buffet to self-serving leadership, such as what may be described at Enron, it starts to become clear: moral leadership isn’t just “the right thing to do”, it’s the right thing to do for your business. WHY MORAL LEADERSHIP IS GOOD FOR YOUR BUSINESS At first glance, the idea of moral leadership might seem largely altruistic, but there are benefits to making it a priority in the workplace. In her 2006 book Moral Leadership: The Theory and Practice of Power, Judgement and Policy Deborah Rhode suggested that moral leadership led to more ethical employees and reported: “Companies observe less unethical behaviour and perform better when employees see their company as promoting ethical conduct and their leaders care about ethical issues.” In addition to this, Hannah, Lester and Vogelgesang, in their 2005 report, have suggested that moral leaders have more influence than their less principled counterparts, saying “A leader who is perceived by followers as morally authentic and imbued by altruism and virtuousness will be afforded greater influence and have increased positive effects on followers and organizations”. Other benefits include: • Higher employee satisfaction and morale • Improved customer satisfaction • Enhanced workplace trust, cooperation, and innovation • Money saved from costs associated with misconduct and surveillance to prevent it Aside from the benefits, there are also 10 


risks involved if companies do not adopt it. In an increasingly transparent global economy, organizations are under more scrutiny than ever before. Unethical practices such as improper expense claims, price-fixing, or bribery are more difficult to keep secret, and there is a high price to pay for indiscretions. All fines and punishments aside, a business leader may follow all laws and yet be highly immoral in the way he or she runs the organization. As a result, these organizations will have difficulty attracting and retaining employees, customers and investors. In the book, The Ethical Imperative: Why Moral Leadership is Good Business, author John Dalla Costa reports that by the most conservative estimates, annual losses due to unethical behaviour are more than the profits of the top 40 corporations in North America. POSITIVE IMPACT ON EMPLOYEES Despite all the evidence, many work-


places perceive a compromise between moral leadership and profitability. Dr. Craig Dowden, Managing Director of the Toronto, Ontario office of SPB, an Organizational Psychology Consulting firm, says this could not be further from the truth. “In my work the question [I am] asked is ‘Can we be successful as an organization and do the right thing?’” This perceived dichotomy of either “I can be successful” or “I can do the right thing” misses the mark. By doing what’s right for employees, companies set themselves up to succeed. Of the many influences a moral leader has, Dr. Dowden identified three that are most impactful at the recent 2013 Your Workplace Conference:

1. Providing a sense of purpose A moral leader will give his or her team a sense of purpose. Most of us want to feel like we have contributed to something above and beyond our self, and motiva-

limitations, and openly acknowledge their errors model humility instead of ego. As a result, they do not suffer any negative consequences, and other employees will be more open to admitting their missteps. Research has also shown that ego has a price tag attached to it. In 2006 researchers reported on a series of experiments called, “Your Money or Your Self-Esteem: Threatened Egotism Promotes Costly Entrapment in Losing Endeavors.” Students were given $5 that they could choose to gamble in a game of luck. Before the game began, some also received some “friendly” advice from an experimenter who said they might want to back out if they choke under pressure. Those who received the tip may have felt their ego was at stake (“I’ll prove that I don’t choke under pressure”). They played and lost more money, and their self esteem plummeted. This need to preserve ego can wreak havoc in organizations. Dr. Dowden says that the workplace is not immune to this scenario; employees pursuing favourable views of themselves can be costly and can even produce self-defeating behaviours.

3. Practising empathy

tion is vastly diminished when employees don’t see how their work contributes to the organization. Dr. Dowden points to a 2008 study, “Man’s Search for Meaning: The case of Legos”, which found that when participants were given identical wages and tasks, those in the less meaningful condition (where they witnessed the toys they were paid to build being disassembled) did less work than those in the meaningful condition. This suggests that we are not purely profit driven, and that we need an emotional connectivity to a task, otherwise our motivation dries up. A moral leader will ensure that employees are aware of exactly how what they do contributes to the organization. As a result they will be more engaged and more productive.

2. Exhibiting humility Leaders who admit mistakes and

Empathy, identifying with other people, and understanding their situation, feelings and motives, is critical because empathetic leaders can provide employees with support to deal with the challenges between them and their goals. By providing employees with the tools they need to succeed, moral leaders also build a sense of trust. This strengthens the relationships between them and their employees, and even the relationships employees have with one another. This leads to greater collaboration and improved productivity. Empathic leaders support their employees, and this in turn benefits the workplace. By thinking of others first, empathic leaders also serve their own goals. HOW TO FOSTER MORAL LEADERSHIP WITHIN OURSELVES Given the many positive impacts of moral leadership, Dr. Dowden says there are three steps we can do to foster moral leadership within ourselves and our organizations. 1. Identify core values and determine what truly matters. Knowing where

you stand helps guide decisions — large and small. 2. Check your egos at the door. Get comfortable with not having all of the answers, and embrace the fact that we all make mistakes. This will diffuse destructive self-interest. 3. Be curious. Ask open-ended questions and engage in active listening as it provides clues to alternative courses of action. THE BOTTOM LINE Moral leadership is about doing the right thing — for others and your own organization. Morals and success are not mutually exclusive — in fact they are intertwined. We not only improve leadership, we also give ourselves a competitive advantage. YW

Comparison of Moral and Self-Serving leadership Moral leaders are sometimes called a serving leader because they focus on the needs of others above their own. They do not brag about their accomplishments; rather they develop and spotlight the abilities of others. These leaders are the moral compass of an organization and the glue that keeps it together. Consider the following chart comparing the traits of moral leaders and selfinterested leaders. Moral Leadership

Self-serving Leadership


Ego, arrogance

Prioritizes needs of others


Honest and straightforward


Honours commitments

Breaches agreements



Takes responsibility

Blames others

Serves others

Withholds support

Stands up for what’s right

Lacks courage





Scenic vistas experienced during an Eco-Challenge




Leading in Difficult Times »


Lessons learned from an eco-challenge and an Olympic soccer team


oday’s corporations are looking for a special kind of

leadership — the kind that can inspire employees to do their best work, position the company well in a competitive environment and pursue that big picture while protecting the bottom line. Most importantly, corporations are looking for the kind of leadership that not only has savvy resilience during unpredictable, troubling times, but actually thrives in this environment. Here are two examples of leadership at its best when situations, arguably, have been at their worst: Yvonne Camus

When Yvonne Camus, an executive at the Fitness Institute in Toronto, got the call to join a rookie team and participate in the 500-kilometre Eco-Challenge (described as the “world’s toughest race”) in 2000, she jumped at the chance. After all, she had been active all of her life and was ready for a new adventure. This one involved running, cycling, paddling and otherwise navigating (the host country and Burnett selected additional unique sporting challenges) the terrain of one of the most remote regions on earth — Borneo, the largest island of Asia. She trained for months in advance of the race, getting up at 4am to row on Lake Ontario before work. At lunch break she would grab a weight-training workout and after hours she would cycle or run until late. A single mother at the time, Camus recruited her sister to help YOUR WORKPLACE | VOLUME 15 ISSUE 4



“Leadership consists of character and being invested in the interest of others.” look after her four-year-old twin boys while engaged in this grueling regime. But what happened next brought Camus, literally, to her knees and transformed her thinking about being a leader in organizations, particularly when times are tough. You see, in Borneo, things were very tough indeed. There was much uncertainty, for example. The finish line was not disclosed, so the team literally did not know where they were going. Each segment of the race was also kept secret until they reached the previous checkpoint. Team members had to learn new skills, such as map and compass reading, and how to travel at night, because there were 12 hours of darkness every day. They had to manage with meager resources — in this case, food and water — and members who were under extreme stress. (Burnett predicted the team had 0% chance of completing the race). These two things, combined with scrutiny (one billion television viewers), 14 


were ripe for meltdowns and burnout. Add in injuries and extreme humidity, dehydration, leech and beetle bites, cuts, scratches, swollen and bleeding feet and debilitating exhaustion, and you have the worst possible scenario. “Teams can be extremely fit, but do not finish (or succeed) because they can’t handle it when everything falls apart,” says Camus. “When the pressure gets high and the situation goes wrong, what do you do?” FROM BORNEO TO BOARDROOM

What they did in Borneo is what we can do in the boardroom. And it might be worth paying attention to Camus’s team, who was the only all-rookie team ever to complete the Eco-Challenge. To put that in perspective, elite Navy Seal teams have never completed an event. First, the four-person team set “rules of engagement.” They would be “hard on issues, and soft on people.” The question would always be: how do we improve the situation now? There would be no blaming or whining.


Finally, once a decision was made, the whole team was committed to that direction. “Leadership consists of character and being invested in the interest of others,” says Camus. When she broke her wrist, the team paddled harder, carried her pack and attached themselves to her by a bungee cord, so she could lean on them as she traversed the jagged path of a limestone ridge. To succeed as a leader you need to “surround yourself with incredible people who bring out the best in you, who believe in your brilliance,” she adds. When she was close to quitting (this was dangerous territory; if one team member bails, the whole team is disqualified) she was greeted at a checkpoint with a big stack of papers. They were 300 emails from home, including a particularly poignant one from her dad, filled with encouraging words and messages of pride. That was enough to motivate her to move forward and to spur on her team. To elevate performance you need to cultivate relationships and build trust; technical knowledge is not enough. When another team member was at the breaking point, he was reminded of his capacity, his importance to the team and that this was “a bad moment in a big race.” “But it is very difficult to do this when you are so frustrated,” Camus admits. “The heaviness of the silence can be profound.”

John Herdman

As a child growing up in Newcastle, U.K., John Herdman dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player, but that was not to be. He was too small and, quite frankly, not good enough to compete. Thus began a journey of another sort; he became a professional coach, living and loving soccer from the sidelines. While happily coaching the women’s national team in New Zealand, he got a recruitment call from Canada. He moved his young family around the world to take a job heading the Canadian women’s national soccer team, a “struggling squad” that had recently been humiliated at the 2011 World Cup in Germany. On the plane over, Herdman had a major OMG moment. He thought, ‘Am I crazy to do this? What if I can’t turn the team around?” “But I had to get out of my comfort zone,” he says. “That is where the magic happens.”And it certainly did. Nine months later the soccer team was on the podium receiving a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in London. How did they change from a broken mess to an award-winning, forwarding-thinking team with a vision to excel at the World Cup in 2015? Herdman knew a platform of trust was necessary before he could address performance issues. He developed a connection and rapport with the women by listening instead of telling, by taking the time to learn about them and understand what they had been through. He brought in a clinical psychiatrist to tackle toxic experiences and emotions which were wreaking havoc with the players’ self-esteem and confidence. Herdman knew the team had potential, he just needed to rediscover it. “I had 21 juicy brains in front of me. I wanted to invest in them,” he explains. Today he asks the team to reflect on the words of the national anthem. “It is about being glorious and free,” he says.“You have choice and you can

John Herdman

“But uncovering their humanness first, before concentrating on strategy and technique proved to be the winning formula.” make change. What are you ‘standing on guard’ for?” Although Herdman accepts less than 80% performance on a given day, he never accepts less than 80% character-wise. On the team, there is no room for complaining, for lack of personal accountability or for “closed door” communication, all of which serve to weaken a team’s foundation. When the vision is clear, when “true

north” is compelling, players will selfcheck and will self-regulate, he adds. The culture becomes one of development instead of obedience. Another way Herdman coached the team to master world-class skills and become resilient was by taking risks. “I am sometimes criticized for giving my kids (eight-year-old Jay and twoyear-old Lilly) too much freedom, but I love seeing them make mistakes and




Canadian Women’s Olympic Soccer Team

fall over. It is good for them. People need to feel safe to take chances in the workplace.” Relational strategies like these did not come naturally to Herdman. “My reaction previously would have been to focus on tactics, to look at the girls as resources and to just work harder.” But uncovering their humanness first, before concentrating on strategy and technique proved to be the winning formula. Being a leader, especially during challenging times, is hard and it can also take a toll personally. “There is so much travel in this job; home can be a place where you shut down. My wife might say, ‘If you could perform with us the way you perform with the team, you’d have a world-class family.’ The family can get the dregs. But I am aware of that now and I am trying to do better.” Self-care, including regular exercise, 16 


“It is about being glorious and free. You have choice and you can make change. What are you ‘standing on guard’ for?” balanced eating, stress management and the opportunity for professional development — is absolutely critical to the staying power of exceptional leaders, Herdman claims. But he doesn’t beat himself up if he misses a day at the gym or enjoys a beer and a burger. “It is about keeping it real,” he says. “You want to truly experience life. If you don’t, you’re missing out.” YW


Leadership Tips from Camus and Herdman • Enthusiasm is renewable and infectious, so ramp it up at the next meeting. • Leaders practice with the “intention of perfect,” says Camus. • Don’t be afraid to dream big. • Stack the odds in your favour: get enough sleep, eat and exercise well. • Infuse others with your passion; passion drives discipline. • Every day you’ll get annoyed about something. How are you going to handle that? • Encourage your team to focus on the here and now — not tomorrow, not yesterday. • Functional teams need a balance of performance, learning and enjoyment. The best leaders work “cleverly” across those three dimensions, says Herdman

Experts Deliver the Latest on the Progressive, “Well” Workplace at Your Workplace Conference 2013!





he opening keynote at the 6th annual Your Workplace conference was given by Dr. Linda Duxbury on Change Needed: The Business Case for Improving Work-Life Issues. Arguably Canada’s most accomplished researcher and speaker on work-life balance, Dr. Duxbury shared the results of the 2012 National Study on Balancing Work and Caregiving in Canada, which she authored with Dr. Christopher Higgins. The study asked 25,000 Canadians to weigh in on their work and life demands, and whether they were “sandwiched” between caring for children and parents. Dr. Duxbury explained that while this kind of sandwich is no picnic, there are accommodations the workplace can make to ease the stress on their employees. “Employers have to recognize that child care and elder care are quite different. The solutions that you might want to put in place for balancing work and child care are quite different. Child care is associated with joy as your children grow, whereas elder care is dominated by the emotions of stress, frustration and anxiety with watching your parents lose functionality and become more dependent on you.” Nearly 40% of survey participants said what would help them the most would be time off, or a leave of absence. Another 18% wanted flextime or teleworking, and 8% desired the support of an EAP. Dr. Duxbury claimed that those looking after elders need time during the day to deal with tasks such as medical and physiotherapy appointments, banking appointments, etc.

Work and family issues are not restricted to women, married people, or those with child care. “It’s going to become a lot more complicated. We’re going to have an aging population, an undersupply of youth, people having elder care and child care at the same time.” Addressing the needs of the sandwich generation will become increasingly more important, she said. “If you want to get and keep people in this talent shortage situation, you will have to deal very specifically with elder care, otherwise you will have older people retiring early and younger people refusing to take that promotion you want them to take for succession planning.” Dr. Duxbury also explained that a focus on policies is unlikely to have an impact on employee well-being. “True support comes from the workplace culture, front-line managers and flexibility”, she said. “It’s time to deal with workloads. Hours at work, bringing work home in the evening, and hours spent on email each day are all key predictors of work role overload. And you do not get cultural change by talking about it”, she added. It requires changes to organizational structure, performance management and reward systems and strong leadership.




Sustainable Engagement —  Costs, Risks and Benefits Aage Seljegard, Senior Consultant at Towers Watson, opened the second day by sharing the Canadian results of the 2012 Towers Watson Global Workforce Study during his keynote on Engagement at Risk: Driving Strong Performance in a Volatile Environment. Seljegard suggested that the traditional definition of engagement is not sufficient in today’s pressured and fastpaced work environment. Now more than ever, employees are facing significant stress and more than one quarter say they would leave their organization because of it.

A MORE MODERN, SUSTAINABLE ENGAGEMENT IS BASED ON THREE CORE ELEMENTS: • Being engaged: The extent of employees’ discretionary effort committed to achieving work goals • Being enabled: An environment that supports productivity in multiple ways • Feeling energized: A work experience that promotes well-being “If you can capture that in one index, in one measure, then what we find is that an organization’s performance on employee opinion in those areas gives an extremely strong prediction of how those organizations will perform over time,” said Seljegard.

THESE ELEMENTS COMBINE TO DESCRIBE FOUR SEGMENTS OF WORKERS WITH DIFFERENT TYPES OF ENGAGEMENT: • Highly engaged (33%): Those who score high on all three aspects of sustainable engagement • Unsupported (24%): Those who are traditionally engaged, but lack enablement and/or energy • Detached(17%): Those who feel enabled and/or energized, but lack a sense of traditional engagement • Disengaged (26%): Those who score low on all three aspects of sustainable engagement “The danger in the last three categories is that companies become vulnerable to lowered productivity, poorer customer service and greater absenteeism and turnover. With only 33% of Canadians scoring in the “highly engaged” category”, Seljegard said, “There is cause for concern there.” Commenting on the one-quarter (26%) of Canadians who are fully disengaged, he said, “They’re not enabled at work, they’re not energized, they do not have that sense of traditional engagement. This is a very high number, and higher than we’ve seen in previous studies.” Seljegard also brought to light the results of the “unsupported” group (24%), which refers to employees who may have a technical issue at work, those who have




high levels of bureaucracy, a lack of resources, or be involved in work relationships that hinder performance. “They are the good guys who really want to come to work to make a difference. They are all waiting to go the extra mile, they are all waiting to recommend your company as a great place to work, but they don’t feel they have been enabled to perform.” Overall the study highlights how important it is to understand what matters to employees, and how that affects their behaviour on the job. Without this insight, creating a compelling work experience and sustainable engagement is almost impossible. Seljegard warned that the insight in itself is not enough: high-performing companies don’t just ask... they act (or, plainly put, there’s more to it than being “naval-gazing, survey-nerds”).

Debunking the Myths of the “Flex” Worker “Remote worker”, “teleworker”, “resident worker”, “flex worker”, “home-based worker” and “partial-flex worker” and even “maxi-flex worker” are some humorous and confusing labels we have for employees who do not work in the office or have adopted a flexible work schedule. Jody Thompson, co-founder of Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), spoke about how companies can incorporate flex time into their workplaces and get up to speed with becoming a progressive workplace. Her strong dose of humour got delegates thinking about common misconceptions relating to employees with flexible work schedules, and even the way we still think about work itself. “Home-based workers must work either in the office, or at home, right? Do you know how old-fashioned that is?” she said. When managers tell her, “I want people to be available when I need them,” she responds with, “What year is it?”(Referring to the obvious modes of communication of phone, Internet, email, etc. available to us now). With a time clock “still in our DNA” it’s difficult to shed the notion of “face time” and some of our beliefs about work, said Rowe, co-author of Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It. One strategy is to manage the work with clear target scores, not the people. “No results, no job,” is really what it should come down to, she said. Otherwise, flexible schedules can lead to unfairness in the office. “In a results-only work environment people focus on results only, increasing the organization’s

performance while cultivating the right environment for people to manage all the demands of their life,” she said.

COMMON MYTHS A common question managers ask Thompson is, “How will I know my people are working if I can’t see them?” She told delegates, “Managers are concerned about whether people are working when they are not in the office, but are they concerned about whether they are working when they are in the office?” She recounted the story of an employee who told his boss he comes up with the best work ideas when swimming laps. To which the manager responded furiously, “You better not count that as work hours!” So while some managers are still in the dark ages, others are beginning to realize that progressive “work” these days is not always done in the “workplace”. “Flexibility isn’t what people really want –it’s autonomy,” she said. “The new thinking for the future of work is: ‘Each person is free to do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.’” All-in-all, the two days of the conference reminded attendees of the shared truth embedded in our work lives year-round: Although organizational health issues and employee engagement have been researched and discussed over the years, these topics continue to impact business success. The need for all influencers, regardless of their role, to consider research findings, discuss the issues and explore actionable solution options is critical to continue to achieve improvements. The Your Workplace Conference will continue to give delegates the space to do this in the years to come.

All Aboard the YW Anniversary Cruise! To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Your Workplace, guests enjoyed a three-hour sunset cruise of the world-famous 1000 Islands (which actually consists of 1,864 islands, to be exact). The tripledeck Island Queen wound its way from the Kingston harbour through to the small islands of the Admiralty group, featuring Napoleon’s Hat, Wanderer’s Channel, Bateau Channel and the historic sights of Kingston. On-board guests enjoyed the spectacular scenery, along with a lot of laughs, networking and speeches. Not to mention the stunning food provided by Dana Hospitality (seriously, we are all still talking about the maple flavoured candy floss) and generous complimentary beverages courtesy of Solareh. To close the conference, Vera Asanin, President & Publisher of Your Workplace, reminded delegates to embrace the journey, and celebrate how far we’ve come in these past 15 years. She predicted that in 15 years from now, people will look back and say that the problems and challenges that we are experiencing today will be solved by the people at this year’s conference. Then she smiled and said, “And, of course, there will be a whole crop of new issues ready for solving.” YW





“Reality is accessible through our senses: see, hear, smell, taste, touch. Living in reality can be described as living in “suchness”, which is simply what is so. It is a world that when seeing occurs one can describe what one sees and words like beautiful and ugly do not exist. It is a world in which taste occurs and can be described as sweet, sour, bitter but not as good or bad.”

Suchness »



The best leaders see things as they are here are a number of reasons leaders may make

less-than-optimal decisions. Some of these reasons involve time and information constraints. Other times, however, the reasons have more to do with psychology. Take, for example, leaders who involve their ego in decision-making by considering alternatives positively that cast the leader in a favourable light. Sometimes leaders’ past successes blind them to how circumstances have changed by utilizing earlier tactics that may no longer be effective. Leaders, like the rest of us, also habitually fall victim to numerous psychological biases such as the confirmation bias in which we seek, gather and interpret information in a manner consistent with our pre-consistent with our pre-existing preferences or views. Better decisions




can be achieved if leaders eliminate, or at least minimize, these psychological obstacles and more accurately perceive the situations they face. This practice is referred to as “suchness”. Suchness involves an honest and open perception of reality relatively unencumbered by desires, emotional states, personality quirks, and other forces that can bias one’s view of a situation and compromise one’s choices. Suchness involves seeing things for what they are, not for what you want them to be. Like the currently popular concept of mindfulness, suchness has roots in Buddhist thought. But the focus is different. Mindfulness involves non-judgmental attention and awareness of the present moment. Suchness takes this a step further by recognizing that all of the perceptions, viewpoints, attitudes,

and evaluations that we have at any given moment are limited and incomplete. This recognition opens leaders up to considering more viewpoints, ideas, and decision options, regardless of whether they come from the leaders themselves, or others, in order to better appreciate the reality in which the leaders are operating. Suchness thus requires humility, a characteristic that is often weakened by the very successes that land people in leadership positions. Management guru Jim Collins wrote in his book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don’t, that “when you start with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of a situation, the right decision often becomes self-evident”. However leaders are sometimes less interested in determining the truth of a situation than they are in advancing their interests, protecting their self-esteem, or preserving a cherished point of view that has helped them succeed. From a less ego-enhancing perspective, sometimes leaders are simply stuck in habitual patterns of thought and action. Either way, suchness asks leaders to appreciate the limits imposed by their own perspectives in order to foster individual, group and organizational success. Leaders need to make fast, effective decisions, often with incomplete information. This, coupled with the increasingly fast-paced world of business, sets the stage for mental shortcuts based on past experience, personal preferences, and psychological biases that can compromise a leader’s effectiveness. Suchness counteracts these tendencies by compelling leaders to think about such influences and rise above them. Suchness is not a leadership model. It complements existing models by expanding the leadership terrain. For example, transformational leadership is a well-researched, highly applicable model of effective leadership that specifies particular areas in which leaders should focus their efforts: charisma/inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Applying the suchness concept to transformational leadership opens up new vistas of leadership behaviour that can further promote success. Charisma and inspiration involve providing people with an energizing vision of a better tomorrow and expressing important purposes in easy-to-understand ways. A leader who practices suchness recognizes that his or her own view of the future may not resonate with others. Such leaders recognize that their own life histories and significant milestones largely determine what they view as important. Because they appreciate that other people have different histories and experiences, they also appreciate that they need to enlist the help of their people in crafting a vision that has broad appeal, and figuring out how to discuss important purposes in meaningful ways. Individualized consideration involves providing people

with personal attention and coaching. One difficulty in doing this is that leaders often fall victim to a psychological bias called the false consensus effect — the belief that other people are just like the leader. As an example, if a particular leader prefers to work independently, she is likely to believe that her staff probably prefer to work independently too, something that may be entirely inaccurate. Leaders who practice suchness are more likely to understand the limits of their own views and appreciate the uniqueness of other people. This is, in fact, a necessity for individualized consideration to produce its intended effects. Intellectual stimulation involves questioning the tried and true ways of doing things in order to produce innovations. Leaders who practice suchness are more likely to recognize that they don’t have all of the answers, are limited by their own thoughts, and will be eager to involve others in considering new possibilities.

How to implement Suchness So, if suchness is such an important and useful practice, how should you as a leader begin to implement it? As a start, when faced with important decisions (and on a more routine basis) consider these sorts of questions: What do I want from this situation and how might this desire influence the way I’m evaluating options and the potential risks? What prior experiences do I have related to this situation and how might the things I learned in those experiences limit my current viewpoint? Are there other, general life events I’ve had that lead me to typically see things in a particular way? Do other people have different perspectives about this situation and do their perspectives illuminate details that I haven’t considered? What psychological benefits do I achieve by seeing things the way I see them? Except for the few experienced mystics who occupy leadership positions, most leaders are stuck within the confines of their own heads. And although in the context of their work most leaders aren’t interested in trying to achieve enlightenment by purging all concepts from their minds, the most effective leaders nonetheless appreciate that their minds contain implicit rules, views, attitudes, and unconscious tricks that can compromise them in their leadership roles. Suchness helps them overcome these influences and perform at their best. YW Dr. Jamie Gruman is an associate professor of organizational behaviour. He has taught in the undergraduate program, MA Leadership Program, MBA program, and PhD program in Management at the University of Guelph. Dr. Gruman is a founding member, and serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association. Dr. Gruman has consulted and delivered seminars for Fortune 500 corporations, public and not-for-profit agencies.




How to Find Time to Do

“Great Work” »


It has meaning and impact. It’s the work we love to talk about.


n a busy organization it is difficult to find time to get

through your daily to-dos, let alone answer email, attend meetings and more. So how can you find time to focus on the work that really matters, and that “great work” you really want to do?




Excessive communication, multi-tasking and too much time spent on unimportant tasks are often barriers to doing “great work”. Ongoing deliverables and responsibilities, projects, “fire-fighting”, managing people, managing processes, administration, paperwork and email also get in the way. What is great work? It’s what inspires you and gets you jumping out of bed every

morning. It’s the “buzz” — the work we love to talk about, that gets the neurons firing and motivates us. Some might consider the Great Wall of China “great work”. Others, including Michael Bungay Stanier, Senior Partner at Box of Crayons, claim great work isn’t a measure of quality or achievement, but rather it is the process itself — work that has meaning and impact. “It’s about what it means to you individually, or what impact it is having for you, your team and your organization,” Bungay Stanier told delegates at the recent 2013 Your Workplace Conference in Kingston, Ont. There are three different types of work: “bad work”, “good work” and “great work”, according to Bungay Stanier, author of Do More Great Work: Stop the Busyness and Start the Work that Really Matters. “Bad work” is the bureaucracy, the emails, meetings and more. “It’s that lifesucking, soul-crushing work that gets in the way of doing great work,” he said.“It’s the work you wish you weren’t doing, but somehow you are.”At least 90% of managers spend their time in these kind of ineffective activities, he claimed, citing an article from the Harvard Business Review. But what Bungay Stanier defines as “good work” can be just as detrimental. It keeps you busy and keeps you feeling like you are accomplishing goals, but it doesn’t have the same impact and meaning. “‘Good work’ is your job description,” he said. “It’s productive, focused, so it’s important to you and it’s important to the organization. But the thing is, good work keeps you stuck in a comfortable rut, and good work is also what drives our sense of ‘overwork’ because good work just keeps coming at you.” To feel inspired everyone needs the right mix of good work and great work to keep our soul fired all day long. Generally, we want to avoid bad work like the plague.

IS YOUR TIME BEING SPENT ON “GREAT WORK”? In the workplace there is often tension between the work that an organization wants done (“bad” or “good work”) and the “great work” that is meaningful for us. One of Bungay Stanier’s important exercises is for employees to complete the “I Care/They Care” matrix. The matrix is a way of mapping out your time to find the “sweetest line between fulfilling your obligations to the organization and to your boss, and doing more of the work that lights you up.” It is also important to really understand what work your boss cares about. The matrix is divided into the following categories or “buckets” of time: I care/they care bucket: “This is the sweet spot, so do more of that work,” said Bungay Stanier. “Doing work in this bucket means that you and your role are perfectly aligned.” I don’t care/they don’t care bucket: Stop doing the work that neither of you care about! I don’t care/they care: This is the work that they care about and that your boss thinks is important, but you don’t care about. “This is the stuff you need to delegate. Make it more efficient and deliver it at a standard of ‘adequate’, not ‘excellent,’” said Bungay Stanier. I care/they don’t care: Finally, there is the work that you want to do, the work you care about that “they” (your superior or your organization) doesn’t care about. It’s important to spend some time to make your boss care about the great work. “Reframe it so that you can get your boss, and her boss on board,” said Bungay Stanier. He recommends three strategies for getting to the work that you care about: 1. Get your boss interested in it. Reframe it in a way that

uses language that she uses, that speaks to the goals that she has. 2. Use the innovator’s approach: “This is summed up by


the phrase, ‘It’s easier to apologize than to explain,’ said Bungay Stanier. “So, stop talking about it and start doing it. Get it a little bit down the path, because that is going to start making a difference, and will make it easier to sell.” 3. Finally, you may have to admit that you just may Michael Bungay Stanier, author of Do More Great Work: Stop the Busyness and Start the Work that Really Matters.

not get to do great work in this job, in your current role. You may need to find a different role within your organization or perhaps, find a different organization to work with.







GREAT WORK AND WHERE TO FIND IT How can you start doing great work? While some might start by pointing the finger at others, the more powerful place to look is within. Ask yourself how you might be getting in the way of being able to do great work. Bungay Stanier cites three key ways to start doing great work:

Keep in mind there may be resistance when you try to do great work. “It’s one thing to know what your great work might be,” he said. “It’s another thing to be brave enough to step out and start doing it.” 3) RESILIENCE

Resilience is all about being willing to keep going and keep pushing, standing up when you stumble, keeping going when you doubt yourself and getting across the finish line.


Get your boss interested in it. Reframe it in a way that uses language that she uses, that speaks to the goals that she has. 2) COURAGE

Have courage to begin your great work.



Now that you know how to start doing great work, Bungay Stanier explains that there are three places you can find it. The first place is from a disaster. “You rise to the challenge, you sort it out, push yourself, save the day, he said, adding, “If you have


to set your own disasters to find great work, you’re in real trouble!” The second place to find great work is having it delegated to you. You might get lucky and have a boss or a colleague give you a project that lights you up. But the greatest chance to do great work is if we find it ourselves, said Bungay Stanier. “Often our great work is lying there in the good work we’re doing, if we just gave it a little more light, energy and focus to make it really blossom into great work.”

SUCCESSFUL MANAGERS FIND GREAT WORK So what is the secret of the 10% of managers who spend their time in a focused, committed manner? According to Bungay Stanier, they have certain characteristics, such as self-knowledge, clarity of intention, and they actively manage stress through sleep, diet and exercise. They also have time valued and planned, and they protect their thinking time and limit communications. For managers he recommends the LinkedIN group “Tools for the Time-Crunched Manager” as a useful resource. Finally, successful managers are proactive, rather than reactive. “Most people start their day going through emails. Your precious pre-frontal cortex juice, your thinking juice, is being used to deliver the mail,” said Bungay Stanier. One important proactive habit to start your morning is: “Spend just 10 minutes before you crank open the email to step back and think about, what’s important today. What’s the one step I will take today that will move my great work?” This will help you move from being reactive to being tactical and strategic in your job — both components of great work! So be inspired everyday by thinking about what lights you up, what matters to you, and most importantly, why your organization should think it matters too. Make your work “great” work. YW

Karen Richardson is a writer, editor and blogger on business, health & wellness for Canadian and U.S. publications. She can be found on Twitter @worklifewriter.


Balance: Inviting Yin Energy into Our Work »



arder. Better. Faster. Stronger. Does this sound like your workplace? Maybe you would add other descriptors like stressful, fast-paced and everchanging. Workload and demands are high while resources and time are in short supply. The spectre of the 2008 recession has everyone running hard to avoid being the company that doesn’t make it or the employee who is made redundant.

Don’t misunderstand. Competition and working hard are good things. But sustainability and balance are equally important, and these qualities are scarce right now. Words like “family-friendly” or “employer of choice” appear in the text of companies’ websites, but they are not lived realities for most employees. Demographics in the workplace have changed greatly over the last 30 to 40 years. Women now account for half of the workforce, according to Dr. Linda Duxbury, Professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa and Canada’s researcher, writer and speaker on work-life balance. Working parents, or a single-working parent, are the norm. Juggling work and home demands are part and parcel of everyday living for most employees, both male and female. Gender roles and rules have softened at work: Dad drops off at daycare and Mum meets with a financial advisor before coming home. Even though there are more women in the workplace, our work culture has not embraced the

feminine; specifically the archetypical sense of female, not the masculine and feminine gender. Asian culture has familiarized us with the concept of yin and yang energies. Many natural dualities such as male/female, light/dark, hot/cold are considered physical manifestations of yin and yang. They are symbolized as balanced and complementary halves of a single circle, each containing the essence of the other quality to show their essential interconnectedness. I would argue that in our current work culture, yang energy occupies at least three quarters of the circle, encroaching on and stifling yin or “feminine” energy. As a working woman and single parent, I drank the Kool-Aid of working in a “masculine” culture for a long time. Work that required travel threw domestic routines for a loop. Long hours at the office resulted in a mantra of “hurry up” in all personal matters. Imagine experiencing a workplace that fully respected “feminine” traits — relationships, intuition,




“If many little people, in many little places, do many little things, the big world changes.” — African saying caring for others, nurturing, sharing and supporting — and held these in balance with masculine, “yang” qualities. The dominant rules of engagement in most organizations remain masculine and yang in nature: “Work-‘til-you-drop”, “Win-at-all-costs”, “Focus-on-ends-not-means”, “Don’t-expressemotions”, “Value-success-over-relationships” and, “At all times, look-out-for-Number-One”. I often wonder if people have heard comedian and actress Lily Tomlin’s great line: “The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” Unless we bring greater yin/yang balance to our work, our unbalanced yang-driven workplace will cause great harm. I’ve heard too many nurses talk about leaving the workplace because the reason they chose this profession — to care for others — has evolved into long work shifts of running from patient to patient, checking monitors and administering medications. The people side of the work that drew them to the role has vanished. Social workers burn out from high case loads and teachers take stress leaves as the demands of their role become more and more challenging. Manufacturing plants require workers to “volunteer” for extra shifts extending the work week and cutting into personal and family time. Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.

ENOUGH ALREADY! Maybe women are underrepresented in the board rooms of our nation because the “Old-Boys-Club” reigns supreme. Perhaps executive roles, as they are currently conceived, don’t align with

the experience of women who are also mothers and wives because they project an invincibility that contradicts female experience. Is it possible that we just need to invite yin energy into our organizations? In Tibetan culture, intuition is part and parcel of how key decisions are made. When the Dalai Lama is chosen, it is through a process of meditation and dreams. I realize that our culture is not about to let go of logic, but we could open up a space where both intellectual reasoning and intuitive processes can play together. A way of working where joy could find a place in the workday, where community is not something that happens only through a Christmas party or a summer BBQ, but is a daily shared experience. Where emotions are processed rather than repressed. Where “yin” is as valued as “yang” – because both, in balance, are necessary for health, be it at a personal, organizational or national level. There is an African saying: “If many little people, in many little places, do many little things, the big world changes.” We are the little people who can change the way we work one step at a time. Invite the feminine into your workplace by performing a random act of kindness, which will warm your heart and delight the recipient. Support integrity in employees by creating “personal day” practices that permit time off without having to pretend they are sick. Allow birthdays as a paid day off in recognition of all the work performed outside of work hours. It is really not difficult to rebalance our work to reduce over-inflated yang energies by infusing more yin qualities. This is a call to action. Let’s do this together. Kinder. Gentler. Lighter. Brighter. YW

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A Tale of Two Cities Two mayors. Two disasters. Different results. »

B Y J A C K M U S K AT, P h D


hat should we expect from leaders? At minimum we want leaders who can get things done, rally the people, motivate staff, resolve conflict, protect the public, manage finances and communicate a vision. We also want leaders who are honest, ethical, and can set an example for others. Some people would comment that leadership is all about character, but we tend to end up with “characters” in public office — flawed, vain, arrogant, self-serving and a bit dodgy. YOUR WORKPLACE | VOLUME 15 ISSUE 4



“Premier Dad”, Ontario’s own Dalton McGuinty, has left office in a haze of scandal over gas plants. President Obama, first elected on a promise of hope and change, is now in his second term, facing allegations of spying on his fellow citizens, seizing the phone records of respected news organizations and instructing the IRS to audit right-wing groups. The recent Rob Ford scandal has been sandwiched between stories of illegal expense claims by Senators Duffy and Wallin, and a $90,000 personal cheque cut by the recently resigned Harper Chief of Staff — Nigel Wright. And the list goes on. Leadership is the most widely studied and fastest growing field of study, both on and off university campuses. Everyone wants to talk about being a better leader, and the business shelves are filled with popular books on the subject — nearly 50,000 new titles each year — yet we seem no closer to agreement on what makes a good or great leader. Rather, we seem better able to identify leaders more by their lapses than by their accomplishments. That is because there are usually a dozen or more ways to fail, and only one or two ways to succeed. And don’t forget luck, the critical element in success. Luck provides the momentum, the timing, the joining of forces, the unseen spirit that makes it all happen. So should we just give up and say leadership is a “mystery”? That some people just have what it takes and others don’t? Do we give up studying the weather just because we can’t predict it? On the contrary, the more we see how hard it is to understand good leadership, the more we begin to appreciate its importance. Failures in leadership can point us in the right direction for the future. The 1906 earthquake and fire that devastated San Francisco could have been worse, were it not for the quick thinking Mayor Eugene Schmitz, a former musician and orchestra leader, who quickly rallied key business and government leaders into action. He ordered the army to dynamite houses to stop the spread of fire, issued a “shoot to kill” order to stop looting, commandeered supply trains and medical supplies from all over the Western U.S., and used Oakland as a communications base with Washington D.C. as its telegraph cables were still intact. He and others were truly heroes, exercising bold decision-making and good judgment. Contrast this to the disastrous leadership of Ray Nagin who caused chaos in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He evacuated the city five days too late — after numerous warnings by federal and state officials. He was unable to stop the looting, and supplies did not arrive for five days,




whereas in San Francisco, the first train rolled in the next day. And that was 98 years ago. Both mayors had one thing in common — a taste for larceny (the unauthorized taking and removal of personal property).

“…the more we see how hard it is to understand good leadership, the more we begin to appreciate its importance.” In 1907 Schmitz was convicted of extortion and forgery and was sentenced to five years in San Quentin state prison, but was released on bail while the sentence was under appeal. Nagin was the subject of corruption and conflict of interest inquiries in 2006 and was finally indicted this year for bribery, tax evasion money laundering and wire fraud. His trial begins in October. Two mayors, two cities. Two disasters, different results. Did you know that in the year 2000 the then New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani was living with a gay couple, after being kicked out of Gracie Mansion by his wife for having an affair with one of his aides right under her nose? His dreams of a Senate seat ended. Yet on Sept 11, 2001 he redeemed himself in front of his city, the nation, and the world. Where did his leadership come from? He was all but washed up. Perhaps we need to rephrase the question, “what should we expect from leaders?” to “what can we expect from leaders?” At the very least, we can expect them to perform, and to deliver on results. But can we be sure they will do this honestly, ethically, and with the public interest at heart? Our outrage at leaders, like politicians, is that they have positions of leadership based on our trust in them. And when they betray our trust, we don’t care how much they have done for us. They must be held accountable. Getting the trains to run on time did not save Italian politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party, Mussolini, from being hanged upside down. And so it should be. YW Jack Muskat, Ph.D., is a Toronto based organizational psychologist, writer and lecturer with over 25 years consulting and business experience with individuals and organizations. He advises senior executives and managers around selection and developmental planning. Dr. Muskat is an acknowledged expert on issues relating to organizational culture and leadership, succession planning and strategic management. He is currently an adjunct professor at the Schulich School of Business where he teaches courses on leadership and negotiation to second year MBA students.

Applying Positive Psychology at Work »



hen you hear the phrase “positive psychology”, you may often think about happiness. While happiness at work is definitely important, it’s not the only thing that keeps you going at work, and it’s not the only topic that positive psychology focuses on. In his book, Flourish, Dr. Martin Seligman outlines his five pillars of positive psychology: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, and Meaning and Accomplishment (PERMA). Using this framework of PERMA, leaders can enable greater satisfaction at work and greater productivity, for themselves and for their teams.

POSITIVE EMOTIONS When you think about positive emotions, what comes to mind? Often people can list a dozen emotions or so, and then the list ends. But there

are many more. Positive emotions can be high-energy states, such as joy or elevation. Positive emotions can be low-energy states, such as relaxation and contentment. We can also have positive emotions that are otherfocused, such as friendliness, or self-focused, such as contemplation. In the workplace, leaders can benefit from increasing positive emotions for several reasons. To begin with, people in a positive state feel safer, and therefore are more open to learning and new experiences. They may be more creative and collaborative. They are almost certainly having a better time at work in a positive emotional state. So how can leaders foster this positive emotional state more often? The first possibility is simply to shift focus —  to pay attention to positive emotions: to name them and celebrate them. The second possibility is to create opportunities for positive emotions. Celebrations, awards, pizza-lunch Fridays are all activities that we see in the workplace where positive emotions can flow.




ENGAGEMENT Engagement, or flow, refers to the psychological state when you are deeply immersed in a task. If you are a gardener, you may remember days when you started working in the garden after breakfast, and the next time you looked up, the sun was setting. You were not aware of time passing. You were not aware of the sun’s heat. You were not aware of being hungry. All you were aware of was a deep engagement with your work. Athletes may call this “being in the zone” and this experience is common across a number of activities where there is a physical or intellectual challenge, and we rise to meet it. This experience of engagement or flow is also common at work. Think about the last time you were at work and you got deeply engaged in the creation of a project, the manipulation of data, or the strategic discussion with colleagues. We need to know where we experience flow, and we need to know the flow for others on our team. Flow is a very recharging and productive state, and it’s important for our well-being.

RELATIONSHIPS We know that offices are full of “politics” and that sometimes it’s who you know and not what you know. While this has been typically seen as a negative attribute of the workplace, the honest truth is that we are hard-wired to create communities and relationships with other people. It is through these relationships that we learn, gather resources, gather ideas and produce output. When workplace relationships are especially positive, they can lead to better productivity, but also important HR metrics such as better attraction of new talent and better retention of existing talent. How often have we heard that people leave their jobs because of the boss? When a professional relationship isn’t working, it makes life miserable for many. Leaders can enhance positive professional relationships by allowing time for employees to socialize with each other in formal and information situations. For example, start your next team meeting by asking people to share a success story from the past week. This increases respect for colleagues when they talk about what’s working well. Remember — off-site team building activities are fun, but relationships take time to build. Simply having access to a common lunch room — and encouraging people to use it instead of eating lunch at your computer desk — will go a long way towards helping positive relationships flourish.

MEANING What gets you up out of bed, through your commute, and into the workplace every day? If you are going for the paycheque, you probably have a “job”. For a “job”, it’s a day-in day-out transaction, and you are likely not very invested in




your workplace. If you can envision staying at your current workplace for a few years, maybe going for a promotion, then you may have a “career”. People with a “career” are interested in the success of the workplace, but they are not fully engaged.

Positive work relationships can lead to better productivity, better attraction of new talent and better retention of existing talent. When people see the meaning in their work, it becomes a “calling”. Employees with a sense of “calling” feel very attached to their work, and it becomes an important sense of who they are. These employees are more likely to be satisfied with their work, and to put in extra discretionary effort when needed. They will also lift others up and help to orient new employees. Leaders can help to create this sense of meaning at work by helping employees see the larger purpose of their duties. Every job can be a calling. Cleaners in the hospital ensure a high quality of patient care. Sanitation workers keep the city clean and healthy for residents and visitors. Insurance salesmen help families be sure that they are taken care of in times of crisis and difficulty. Notice, however, that a sense of meaning is not linked to money. If a corporation says that its purpose is to increase shareholder value, employees are not likely to get on board. Meaning must be tied to something that aligns with our values and is larger than ourselves in a pro-social sense.

ACCOMPLISHMENT Workplaces are typically very good at promoting accomplishment and achievement. However, there are ways leaders can improve and be sure that they are promoting flourishing. When planning projects, do you build in success milestones? When employees feel a sense of progress, intrinsic motivation is higher and it encourages employees to persevere. Do you celebrate success milestones? This is a great opportunity to also create positive relationships by bringing everyone together and sharing stories of what went well. Do you have a method by which employees can recognize each other? All too often, we think that accomplishment has to be rewarded by the leader. Not true. Peer recognition is extremely powerful — especially when we want to build our team’s cohesion. PERMA is a great tool and, when combined with physical care (such as rest, healthy eating, proper hydration and exercise), it allows leaders to create the work environment needed for individuals and teams to flourish and really do their best work. YW Lisa Sansom is the founder and principal of LVS Consulting, which offers professional coaching services in leadership, interpersonal communications, change management, team dynamics and other areas of organizational effectiveness. She is an accomplished trainer offering courses and programs in effective interpersonal communications, Change Cycle, and cross-cultural understanding.


Flex Time

It’s time for the workplace to grow up!




ork sucks, right?” Jody Thompson, author and co-creator of the ResultsOnly Work Environment (ROWE), shouts gleefully into the crowd. She is the closing keynote speaker at the 2013 Your Workplace Conference. The packed room is silent for just a second. The conference delegates quickly recover by shouting back “No!”. This is probably not the response Thompson usually gets, but let’s face it, we are talking about a room filled with people who are obviously committed to a healthy, progressive work culture. Thompson explains what she means by saying “work sucks”. As adults, we don’t appreciate someone telling us when and where to do our work. And it’s not much better for managers. It’s frustrating to spend so much time fielding requests to leave early, come late, and work from home. She says it makes us feel like babysitters who sit and pine for when we actually get to work on strategy. According to recent research, Thompson might be on to something when she suggests employees aren’t happy with the status quo. The 2012 Global Workforce

Study by Towers Watson reports that 35% of employees are highly engaged, just over one quarter of workers are actively disengaged, and the rest fall somewhere in between. The report also states that 65% employees who are not fully engaged should be a cause for concern for companies. The associated reduction in productivity, poorer customer service and greater rates of absenteeism and turnover can cost an organization a lot of time and money. The good news, Thompson says, is that there




is hope: Workplaces just need to grow up and base their management practices on the measured work results from employees, not the “face time” of employees.

“FLEXIBLE” IS A DIRTY WORD Workplaces that have policies allowing for flexible work schedules may look like they have embraced the modern and employee-friendly approach. But, Thompson says that even when these policies are honoured (which is not always the case), flexibility is not the best way to keep your employees happy and productive. What they really want is to be treated as adults, and afforded some autonomy and control over their work and lives. Thompson says flexibility is a trap (a wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you will) for three reasons: 1. It’s limited: Because flexible work is still based on a schedule, there are times when it isn’t going to make sense. For example, if you work from home on Mondays, but the air-conditioning repair person can only come on Wednesday, you still need to get special permission to be there to open the front door. 2. It’s not fair: It will never be the same rules for each employee. There will always be a case where you say to one person “Yes, you can leave”, but to others, “No, you can’t”. 3. It’s career suicide: If you take advantage of flex-time, you worry that you don’t look as dedicated, and you’re not going to get the promotion. And, you’re probably right. Thompson believes that the boss-as-parent, employeeas-child structure of work is the real challenge of the

Start by Banning Sludge Slinging! For Thompson, “sludge” refers to comments we make about how other people spend their time. It is about guilt, judgment and “shoulds”. Getting caught up in the sludge distracts us from what we need to focus on: energy, creativity and productivity. Want to promote a more evolved workplace culture? Start by removing these phrases from your office vocabulary: “How nice of you to show up.” “Boy, those smokers get a lot of breaks.” “Can’t your spouse stay home when your kids are sick?” “How come she gets to work from home? She just started working here.” “He isn’t working, he’s being ‘flexible.” “Home-based workers aren’t as connected as we are.”




workplace. Grown adults find themselves in a position where they have to ask permission to get their work done in a way that makes sense. Simply being flexible does not address this. It is essential for employers to hire people they can trust to do the work without managers standing at the front of the room to make sure that everyone is in their seats until the bell rings. This improves the relationship between employees and their managers, which is one of the biggest predictors of employee engagement. A trusting relationship between leadership and employees also leads to two-way communication, and employees who feel confident enough to take risks — an essential for creative thinking.

A ROWE is not a flexibility program. The philosophy behind ROWE suggests that the only way work is optimized is when each person is free to do whatever they want whenever they want as long as the work gets done. MANAGE THE WORK, NOT THE PEOPLE A ROWE is not a flexibility program. The philosophy behind ROWE suggests that the only way work is optimized is when each person is free to do whatever they want whenever they want as long as the work gets done. You need to think about your work and how you can best accomplish it, and then make it happen, Thompson says. Of course, giving people this freedom means that you need to define precisely what the work is, and how you will measure success. This is one of the advantages, as it forces objective conversations and definitions. For example, clearly defining goals will look like: “The client proposal is due at noon on Wednesday the 12th“, or “Our target for customer satisfaction is a score of 85%.” And don’t be fooled into thinking that Thompson must be a soft touch because she believes in trusting employees to manage their own time. She takes a hard line on results, which are critical to a successful ROWE. She says, “It’s not a case of no results, then we’re going to take away your ROWE option. It’s no results: no job. It’s that simple.”

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? Thompson says a ROWE will be necessary for organizations that want to survive and thrive well into the 21st century. ROWEs will attract and retain the best talent because a ROWE provides true flexibility, and with that comes a greater opportunity for work-life balance and perks such as the potential for unlimited paid vacation time. Studies show that these perks are particularly important to the next generation of workers, she claims. A ROWE may also increase productivity. Thompson gives an

example most Canadians can relate to: a snow storm. Imagine you wake up and see there is a blizzard outside, but you don’t want to look like the office slacker. So, instead of calling in to see if you can work from home, you take two hours to drive to work in the snow. When you get to work you are stressed out, and not in the right frame of mind to get anything done. In fact, nobody’s working — everyone is talking about their commute in, and wondering when “the email” is coming out to tell you all that you can go home. This ultimately means hours of lost work. If employees were allowed to just stay home, they might be pajama-clad, but they would get a lot more done. Going ROWE also includes other benefits managers might not think of right away, such as saving on rent and utilities because employees spend more time out of the office. Oftentimes people will raise arguments against it that are not quite as sound as people think they are, Thompson claims. “How will I know my people are working if I can’t see them?” Thompson is quick to respond: “How do you know that they are working now?” Just because they are sitting at their desk where you can see them does not mean they are being productive, she claims. She is also told, “I like my people to be available in the office when I need them. I don’t want to be wondering where

to find them. ”As well as, “We’ll never be able to collaborate effectively if a lot of our associates are off-site.”When she hears these kinds of comments, she wonders aloud what year it is in their office. Here, in 2013, we have modern technology to help with this, like Smartphones and Skype.

THINK WORKFORCE, NOT WORKPLACE Thompson says it’s time to reframe how we think about work — it’s not about a workplace, where everyone has to show up to get work done. It’s about a workforce, people doing work in the way that makes sense for them. She is convinced that if you take the time to find the correct balance of autonomy and accountability, you will be rewarded by turning complacency into competence, and transforming your managers from 20th century hall monitors to 21st century results coaches. Her bottom line to managers is to stay focused on what matters: the work, no matter how or where it gets done. So, if you think best when swimming laps in the pool, enjoy! And if 3am is your prime thinking time, go to it! YW Jen Amos is a freelance writer, researcher, and editor based in Kingston, Ontario. She can be found on Twitter @jamos_ca.




Self Compassion An essential leadership trait »



xercising effective leadership is a worthy and challenging endeavour. Not surprisingly, there are numerous obstacles and setbacks faced along the way. Although resilience is undoubtedly important, it is likely not enough. Practising self-compassion or personal forgiveness is a necessary adaptive strategy, and it may be a critical contributor to achieving our leadership potential. Countless articles and books have been written on the topic of leadership. Not surprisingly, much of the discussion focuses on the traits, behaviours and models of effective leaders ultimately to reveal the “secrets” of better leadership. When talking about setbacks, most of the attention centres on team members, with the prevailing wisdom suggesting that leaders should be open and supportive of their direct reports when errors occur. And when leaders face obstacles, the importance of perseverance and maintaining a positive attitude are offered as sage advice. Unfortunately, an overriding emphasis on perseverance may mask the equally important, yet often overlooked leadership competency of practising self-compassion. In the 2012 study, Self-Compassion Increases SelfImprovement Motivation, conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers explored the effective-




ness of different reactions to failure situations. In some cases, participants were primed to think about a recent setback in a way that enhanced their self-esteem (e.g., to look at the situation in ways that focused on their positive qualities). In other cases, participants were distracted from focusing on their setback in a positive manner (e.g., to think about positive memories from the past). Lastly, a group of participants was instructed to view their failure in a way that encouraged self-compassion. This involved exercising some personal forgiveness and understanding, and recognizing that these types of challenges are human and are not a reflection of their character or their potential as human beings. Interestingly, those who took a self-compassionate approach experienced more benefits than those who did not. Specifically, the people who were self-compassionate were significantly more likely to view their failures as

changeable. Indeed, it motivated them to want to address these areas of challenge and work harder to improve their performance in the future. This finding was consistent with another separate study conducted by the Berkeley team in which participants were given the opportunity to take a test a second time, which they had initially failed. When faced with this

“…the more we see how hard it is to understand good leadership, the more we begin to appreciate its importance.” failure situation, people who were primed to be self-compassionate studied much longer (approximately 25%), which translated into significantly higher test scores than those who focused on maintaining or enhancing their self-esteem. So why is self-compassion such a powerful coping mechanism for these situations? Self-compassion

does not mean abdicating responsibility or lowering our expectations of ourselves. On the contrary, exercising personal forgiveness is to acknowledge our shortcomings as human beings. Equally important is recognizing that the existence of these challenges breathes life into the possibility of achieving excellence and success. It reinforces that these performance blips are temporary, not permanent, which can drive us to push ourselves to our higher limits. It is a more balanced view of our capabilities and a recognition that these can change across time and circumstance. Focusing solely on self-esteem may actually be problematic when it comes to improving our performance. Focusing only on the positive and ignoring the potential causes of our setbacks also makes personal learning exceptionally difficult. The first step to change is personal acceptance that there is a problem. Acknowledging the problem better positions us to learn from any setbacks. But constantly exercising selfcompassion may be the key to our leadership success and the best way to realize our highest potential. YW

Craig Dowden, PhD, is the Managing Director of the Toronto office of SPB, the largest Canadian-based organizational psychology consulting firm. SPB assists clients in developing and engaging their talent. SPB staff conduct psychometric assessment/360 feedbacks and offer coaching and training in organizational effectiveness.

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Since we’re all in the lifeboat together... »


French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre famously remarked in one of his plays that hell is other people. Sometimes, this is objectively true, but many times, it’s our own mindset that plays tricks on us. The question then becomes, what can we do differently to change the way we view the world, and change our impact on others, so that they have a better impact on us as well? Can you increase your chances of success by giving more? Perhaps by negotiating better? Or maybe by calming your own mental state? When all else fails, sometimes you just need expert psychological assistance to get through it. In any case, we are all in the same lifeboat existing in the workplace with others, so we need to make the best of it. Here are some new and old books to help you along.


A ISBN: 978-0-670-02655-5 Published by: Viking, 2013 305 pages

ccording to Grant, there are three types of people in the world: givers, takers and matchers. Pretty much as the names would imply, takers take more than they give, and givers tend to be giving without expectation of reciprocity. Matchers are quid pro quo — they will give and take in equal measures. Then the question is: who has the most success in life and at work? It turns out that, in the short term, the givers can suffer enormously — it’s easy for them to give and for others to take advantage of them. But in the longer term, the givers win out

in the end. Adam Grant has a lot of fun in this book following famous and not-so-famous givers and takers and showing how their styles contribute to their success and downfalls. Adam Grant himself is definitely a “giver”. (As one of my guest speakers in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program, he ran “reciprocity circles” that showed givers do benefit — they create meaningful relationships and they are well-viewed in the workplace). The key is to give without expectation of anything coming back your way. Easy to say, but sometimes hard to do.


A ISBN: 978-1-60882-031-3 Published by: New Harbinger Publications, 2011. 224 pages



re you looking for more calm and self-compassion in your life? You have come to the right place. Really. Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist who makes the quiet study of the brain and the psyche meaningful and real. With his tips and insights you can develop what he calls “a Buddha brain” through simple practices. How simple? Here are a few examples: Smile. Be Curious. Be Generous. Pause. Love. There are 52 chapters, which is just perfect for one reflection every week. Each chapter is only a couple of pages long and shares a bit


of the science (just a bit) as well as practical tips on how to do that specific practice. In an ideal world, this would make for a wonderful book club at home or at work: Members could meet once at the start of the week to discuss that chapter, with each person practising it for remaining of the week. Remember — there is a reason it’s called “practice” and not “perfect”. It won’t always be easy to, for example, see the good in yourself or to enjoy humility. But with a supportive group and intention, you will make positive changes in your life and your world view.


Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Second Edition) A U T H O R S : R O G E R F I S H E R A N D W I L L I A M U R Y, W I T H B R U C E P AT T O N


ISBN: 978-0-14-015735-2 Published by: Penguin, 1991 198 pages

etting to Yes is a negotiations classic that many people haven’t read — yet. However, if you agree that we are all in sales, as author and career analyst Daniel Pink claims, then it’s useful to read about how to negotiate and garner agreements. Why are we all in sales? Because, in one way or another, we are all trying to get people to change and see things from our point of view. The bottom line isn’t always money, but it is about convincing others to do things differently. For example, a receptionist has to convince an angry client to be a return customer. A corporate trainer has to convince leaders how to be more coach-

like. An Executive Director has to convince the Board to approve an important strategic motion. We are all in the business of persuading others — and this is why we all need to read Getting to Yes. Fisher and Ury artfully share insights into how to enlarge the mutual pie, so that a win-win is nearly always possible. They peel back the importance of knowing your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), so that you don’t lose when negotiating. And, perhaps most importantly for today’s business audience, they illustrate how to focus on the issue and interests at stake — not on the person or the position. Above all else, Fisher and Ury emphasize respect — and that it is something that we are often missing in today’s workplace, whether or not there are ongoing negotiations. Respect and win-win starts with you. This book tells you how.

Toxic Coworkers: How to deal with dysfunctional people on the job AU T HOR S: A L A N A . C AVA IOL A , P HD A ND NE IL J. L AV E ND A R , P HD


ISBN: 1-57224-219-1 Published by: New Harbinger Publications, 2000. 207 pages

ecently, in a conversation with some professional colleagues, our discussion turned to “those” people at work. We all have coworkers who are difficult — they may be stubborn, they may be negative, they may have very exacting standards. But there are a rarified few — and thank goodness they are rare — who are simply souldestroying. They may run over you, or they may simply run away whenever you need them. They may berate you to your face, or behind your back. They may completely ignore you and take credit for everything that you do. They may thank you and be extremely gracious in public,

but never have a good word for you in private. In other words, they are toxic — and they seem to emerge completely unaffected while you bear the emotional scars that last long after your association with that coworker is over. Toxic Coworkers is based on psychological assessments of specific personality types: narcissists, antisocial, passive aggressive and others. While you are probably not a psychologist, and therefore not equipped to accurately assess your coworker’s personality disorders, you can read this very helpful book. The authors spell out what each disorder can look like if that person is your boss, peer or subordinate, and provide tactical suggestions on how to manage it in any situation. One hopes you don’t have extremely toxic people like this in your workplace, but if you do, this is the best book I have ever come across on the topic. YW





You Might be Right, but You’re Wrong A lesson in discretion


was livid, raging mad, totally incensed when it happened, and I was too respectful to retaliate. My assistant berated me in front of others — many others. It was the first weekend in July, 2013, and I was one of the officials of an Ontario-wide soccer tournament for competitive girls’ teams aged U14 and U16. There are very few women soccer officials, so I was honoured when selected, and excited to be part of this prestigious event. The conditions are gruelling: six games to officiate per day for two days in hot, humid conditions. Let me reframe: that’s six hours of running in the midday heat, with teenage athletes barely out of the womb who do not require a reinforced bra. Look at my picture: It’s been a while since I was a teen! Yet, I was elated to be participating as a referee. There are three officials in two positions for each match: Centre Referee, who is in charge of officiating the match, and two Assistant Referees, who run the lines (primarily identifying off-sides and out-of-bound balls) to support the Centre Referee. I was Centre Referee when the affront occurred.

True leadership is knowing when to lead, and knowing when to stand down to allow others to lead. There was a player offense that occurred on the pitch, team side at mid-field — right in front of the coaches and players. I blew my whistle and made the call. The players involved and coaches who heard complied with my ruling. As I was walking away, my assistant shouted out that she disagreed with my call. I was shocked! I turned and stated that I made my decision, yet she continued. Due to my respect for others and my belief in 38 





the solidarity of the team when on the stage, (there is a time and place to disagree with one another) I was silent. Gratefully, I was able to blow my whistle for half-time, then speak to her privately. True leadership is knowing when to lead, and knowing when to stand down to allow others to lead. In the case of the latter, it is important for leaders to become followers for many reasons, like for the purposes of succession planning or to assist in the development of leaders within your organization. Being a mentor is a noble calling, especially for leaders who must, temporarily, relinquish their role and become a follower to enable the individual development of others. My Assistant Referee may have more experience with the rules of the game than my seven years. I do not know. I would have gladly listened to her opinion at halftime, or at the end of the match. However, that was not the issue. To be a great leader, you need to be respectful of others. You need to demonstrate fairness, compassion and kindness, and you must also do what is right. My assistant believed that she was right in ensuring that an accurate call was made at this match. She probably believed that she was morally obligated to uphold the rules of the game. She may have been correct (and I still am not sure if this is the case), but she was not correct in how she conveyed her opinion to me. Berating me in front of many others did not bode well for either of us, and the second half became very hard to manage as a result. In a competitive situation, when others perceive a weakened opponent, the vultures set-in. The coaches “assisted” and questioned every call I made. With bile in my throat and a tremble in my hand, never was I more pleased to end a match as this one. Undermining a colleague in front of an audience is highly disrespectful, and doing it to a superior is a career-limiting move. My assistant did indeed apologize, and, although I do not believe that she was intentionally malicious, my opinion of her professionalism has diminished. This will be short-term, however. Although my ego is still bruised, forgiveness is a value that I embrace. YW

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Your Workplace Magazine Issue 15-4  
Your Workplace Magazine Issue 15-4  

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