May 27, 2016

You Don't Know

As leaders, they can be the three most powerful words you can say. Some may feel it shows weakness but I’m of the belief it shows tremendous strength. A job title doesn’t make you perfect. Do you think Richard Branson pretends he knows everything? Is it possible that Oprah Winfrey had some help along the way?

"I don’t know" can be tough to say when you are told to lead others. After all, the company believes in you enough to put you in the position to make these decisions but that doesn't mean you can't get things done, motivate your team, and create a more social business with openness.

The Human Org Chart

"I don’t know" to some, may appear indecisive. Some fear it may show investors the company is on shaky ground. But leaders who show they rely on their entire team for ideas and solutions can build a stronger foundation than those who get out the pom poms during good times and hide during challenges.

It’s clear that some feel they must appear infallible once gaining a leadership position but since the rest of the room knows it’s not the case, a pay stub every two weeks is hardly a strong enough strategy to keep your best people. Asking for feedback, opinions, and ideas strengthens your team.

You won't always know and that's the point.

May 24, 2016

19 Ideas

Surround yourself with smart people. Quality not quantity. Remove negative people from your life. Have a flexible strategy. Avoid playing favorites. Follow your passion. Tell them you love them. Stop worrying about others' opinions. Go for it.

Believe in you. Do what you say you will do. Recognize the efforts of everyone on your team. Don't pull rank. Take one think day every month. Pay it forward. Read and seek knowledge daily. Imagine often. Forgive yourself.

Never stop learning.

May 18, 2016

Demographics and Assumptions

We live in a time when there can be 3-4 generations inside your company; sometimes within each department or team. That can provide dynamic collaboration. Yes, age is just a number, but it's a deeper issue than birthdays. There are socioeconomic and psychographic complexities if you have teams with members in many demographics.

I'm a walking contradiction because I'm a big fan of assessments, analytical data, and research, but I'm also not a fan of sweeping generalizations. Men are this; women like that; baby boomers prefer that; millennials are like this, etc. Nothing replaces one-on-one conversations to assess each and every person your team.

There's a right way to get on the bus.

I was recently involved in an on-boarding exercise that was far less than optimal. There were a lot of assumptions; the new employee was left to "figure it out" with no formal training; while biases and assumptions made it an excellent study in how to not bring in a new employee.

Do your research and get to know the different styles and preferences of each age group within your company; then drop the data and have human conversations while adopting one key element.

Keep an open mind policy.

May 16, 2016

Cleaning the Records

Back in January, I had the privilege of speaking at TEDxGuelphU. The theme of the day was "From Theory to Reality". It was a humbling experience because it wasn't a workshop or a conference about business or leadership or marketing; it was TED, which meant it wasn't about selling wares or boasting about accomplishments or sharing an idea in a work environment.

TED is about an idea worth spreading and a chance to share your experience on the hope it will give audience members something to apply to or think about in their lives. In my talk, I share three theories and the roller coaster ride along the way.


May 13, 2016

Five C's

The topic of what makes a great leader has been debated since we humans could say the word. When you think of the values a mentor has brought to you, it's often those intangible aspects which are more difficult to define.

In business, it's tough to be thrown into a new role when you may be good at the work but not as well versed at the people part.

It’s easy to point to those who have handled leadership with grace but it's not a skill you learn in short order. And it can certainly be a balancing act when the company continually reminds you profit is the goal.

Fear can be why strong leadership is often as rare as great customer service.

Communicate | To impart knowledge or to make known.
Collaborate | To work and learn with another.
Cooperate | To act together for a common purpose or benefit.
Considerate | To show awareness or regard for another's feelings.
Compassionate | To have a feeling of sympathy for another.

Without human elements, your bottom line may not exist.

May 10, 2016

Pray. Don't Eat. Fail.Try Again.

We've heard it, read it, thought it, shared it, and known it for most of our lives. It takes time to be successful at anything. A lot of time. And work. No one gets to be successful without scars to prove their journey. We all get smacked on the side of the head when we least expect it and life isn't always chocolates and rainbows.

It took you a while to get good at what you do now. But are you doing what you truly love? Are you doing something that you love more than you love yourself? Have you found your purpose? How do you define what success means to you?

Imagine your work becomes world renowned

You could become Barton Fink – the fictional character who suffers debilitating writer’s block trying to recreate your success – or you could be Elizabeth Gilbert.

In 2006, Gilbert wrote Eat Pray Love that spent 199 weeks on the New York Times best seller list, became a movie in 2010, and made her a success beyond the dreams of most writers. Then she had two choices and explains how failure can mean success.


May 6, 2016


A choice can require additional data or more time. Members of the team need further deliberation to make an informed call. The customer has to check budget allocations. You're unsure it’s aligned with the overall strategy.

Waiting can be justified but excuses can also be the reason we wait. Some decisions require time, others aren't made because we're in the way.

We look for leadership to be decisive and crisp. It’s about helping people get better, keeping everyone on track, and getting stuff done. But it isn't always smooth in real life. How often have you finally pulled the pin and the relief quickly replaces your fear?

Some inspiration as we deliberate

The only person you really have control over is yourself.
Deborah Reber

It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.
Tony Robbins

When you make the right decision, it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks.
Caroline Kennedy

Peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.
Rita Mae Brown

Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.
Brian Tracy

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Listen to your gut, make the decision, then stop deciding.

May 2, 2016

Human Business

It’s been said for generations that bringing your life to work is frowned upon. It has often been stated work is for work and if you want to interject something that is happening in your life, do that after work or during lunch, but work is for working.

While we see four generations trying to mix cultures in the workplace plus more telecommuting, virtual teaming, technology, and flex time, we are seeing a shift and the process may not be going smoothly in many cases. I’m not a fan of stereotypes but generally older employees are more resistant to change while the younger employees adapt quicker.

This isn't to suggest comfy lounge chairs and basketball nets in the boardroom will create a collaborative culture but blending generations, mixing perspectives, and allowing life to permeate your company will make it personal and that’s a good thing.

Make your organization human and your team will reciprocate.
© Kneale Mann people + priority = profit
leadership development business culture talent development human capital