There are many great books on leadership in the workplace but one I really like is Change-Friendly Leadership: How to Transform Good Intentions into Great Performance by Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan. He has a PhD in organizational communications from Purdue University and has worked with dozens of high level leaders including CEO’s of major corporations, two U.S. presidents and three senators. His work has focused on leadership, human performance, and the strategic management of change thereby helping individuals, companies and organizations learn, grow and develop leadership capacity.
He has a number of suggestions for managers to improve and strengthen their leadership skills and abilities, some of which are familiar but some are quite surprising, and refreshing. His first is that in order to gain power in an organization you have to relinquish some control and let others take the lead from time to time. When you do that your leadership team expands, you get the best advice and can make the best decisions. And while the glory is dispersed sometimes so too is the blame when things go wrong.
Duncan is also a great advocate for developing good listening skills as a top priority for anybody who wants to be a good executive or manager. This includes a favourite of mine, active listening, which involves using all of your senses to listen and learn from the challenges and successes of others. It also means being open to hearing from everybody in the room and all opinions in the organization, especially before making big decisions.
The other thing I like about Duncan and his book is that he isn’t afraid of dealing with the tough stuff and he encourages managers to stop burying their heads in the sand and to deal with the elephants in the room. This means not only naming the big problem that nobody wants to talk about, but creating a safe environment so that people can also talk about how to deal with it.
But top on my list of what leaders should know and Rodger Dean Duncan talks about this in his book is to know what you don’t know. Too many of us, myself including, like to think of ourselves as experts on a wide range of subjects, and some of that may be true. But the reality is that none of us have all the answers and we could all use some help and other ideas from time to time. So know what you don’t know and be open to suggestions
This post first appeared on my blog at http://www.jobs.ca
Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
He is also the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. The latest book is The Body on the T .
Martha Beck wrote a great book a few years ago that I often recommend to people who are unsure about their next (or even their first) career move. That book is called “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live”. The ‘North Star’ she is talking about is something that is pulling at you, pulling you in its direction. And if you really listen it will tell you where to go. It is what you were supposed to be doing all along. The reason that I find this book useful is that it lays out a plan to get there from here. The main way it does that is by getting people to focus on themselves first; on their hopes and dreams, on what they would like to do and not on what others would like them to do.
Martha Beck believes that every one of us has a core personality that encompasses one’s desires, emotions and preferences. But that core is sometimes, maybe even often, blocked by a social self that responds to external influences and cultivates survival skills. So when we are young we may have dreams of becoming a writer but because of pressure from our parents or friends we go into engineering. We are actually quite successful at being an engineer but it does not make us happy.
The place to start from is always you.
When I counsel job seekers I always tell them to follow their passion, whatever that might be. The first step is to develop their own vision. What would they like to do, what do they really care about? If you are going to work in a career, why not work in one that you actually think might make you happy. You are going to spend more time at work than anywhere else for the rest of your life until retirement, why not enjoy it?
Once you have the vision you can make a plan. You may not be able or even willing to give up your engineer’s salary and the lifestyle that has made possible right away. But you can ease towards that writing career. Implement your plan slowly, maybe even over a number of years. Keep your salary and assets as secure as you can for as long as you can. Then when you are ready you can make the jump.
What are you waiting for? Your passion and your new career may be just around the corner, already waiting for you.
This post first appeared on my blog at http://www.jobs.ca
Mike Martin is a freelance writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
He is also the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. The latest book is The Body on the T.
While all the data is not in yet, the 2013 winter flu season has shown a dramatic rise in both the rate of influenza infection and the spread of the disease. In Canada, which many believe to be the home of the cold and the flu due to our long, cold winter, the increase has been particularly acute. In January 2012 there were a total of 109 laboratory detections of influenza in Canada. This year according to the Public Health Agency of Canada that number had soared to 3,864 laboratory infections up to January 11, 2013!!
What that says to public health officials is that the flu is being spread far faster than normal. What it says to employers is that people are showing up to work sick. Showing up to work sick is called presenteeism, a phrase coined by organizational management psychologist Cary Cooper to identify the practice of employees who because they are sick are not functioning at their peak level of performance. And presenteeism is a big problem for both employers and the economy.
The estimates of the impact of presenteeism on American employers is that it will cost them over $500 billion dollars a year in lost productivity and the costs of this practice are almost 60% of the total cost of all worker illnesses. On an individual basis when someone shows up sick at work they also infect other workers and with many workplaces no longer offering sick leave benefits this means that that even more people are showing up and spreading the bug. You get the picture.
It’s not surprising perhaps that many people are showing up to work sick. As noted above they just won’t get paid if they don’t. Only about half of all American workers have access to sick leave and that number has been dropping for the past six years. But some employees present themselves for work in less than prime condition because they believe that the organization just could not function without them. That may be true, at least in their minds, but they can’t really be that effective when they’re huddled in their office sniffling with their coats on.
But lots of us do go to work sick, even when we have sick leave. According to a poll by Monster.ca, 61% of Canadians admitted going to work sick and 35% of these said that they went to work because they had to meet deadlines or were working on important projects. In the United States the problem is even worse according to a survey by CareerBuilder.com. They found that over 70% of Americans went to work while sick and among those a significant number cited deadlines and the importance of their work as reasons why they had to go into the office.
Experts from public health agencies to benefit providers are all giving a clear message to employees: If you are sick, please stay home. But apparently that message is not getting through. Clearly, employees are making their own judgement calls about whether or not they are well enough to go to work. So if you are making that decision what should your criteria be? Luckily for all of us the Internet, as usual, has all the answers.
According to webmd.com there are a number of factors that you should consider before deciding whether you are going to show up or lay up. They include making a judgement call about how effective you think you are going to be. If you think that you can perform all of the duties of your job you should think about going in. If however you don’t, then do yourself a favor and just stay home.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, for both yourself and your coworkers is whether or not you may be contagious. There are few self-diagnostic tools for this but if you have a high fever you may be contagious and if you have a viral or bacterial illness you will almost certainly expose your co-workers to your germs. The tricky part about the flu is that you can be contagious for up to five days once you’ve developed symptoms.
If you are taking medication for an illness or the flu that has any possibility to impair your judgement or ability to operate machinery or drive a car, do not even think about going to work. The danger to yourself and others is just too great, particularly if your job involves using things like a forklift or any sharp objects. It’s not worth saving a day’s pay if you have an accident that costs you a limb or a life.
But the most important consideration about whether or not you should stay home when you are sick is whether or not having a day in bed can help you to recover and get back to your normal, healthy and productive self. You don’t really need a medical expert to give you the answer to that question. So the next time you have the flu, do yourself and the rest of us a favor. And stay home until you get better.
Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant. He is the author of “Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.”
He is also the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. The next book, “The Body on the T”, will be out on May 1, 2013
Watch Out for the Petextrians
By Mike Martin
Some days I think it might be safer to walk on the street with the traffic than try and navigate my way along the sidewalk. Once all I had to put up with was annoying people listening to music that was so loud it bled through their headphones or some irritating phone conversation that really should have been held in private. Now I have to watch out for predatory texters who are oblivious to all except their tiny keypads.
They don’t look up. They don’t look around. They just bump into you, telephone poles, fire hydrants and even cars when they walk/run into the intersection. I even saw one girl, headphones on, singing loudly, stroll right into the side of a city bus. She didn’t even seem to notice that it was a bus. She still didn’t look up but mumbled ‘sorry’ and went around the bus and on her merry way. Amazing, but not that unusual.
Now we hear, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal about a survey of over eleven hundred people in Seattle, Washington, that people who walk and text (I’m calling them petextrians) are four times more likely to fail to look both ways before crossing the street, fail to follow traffic signals or cross in the middle of an intersection. We now have laws that ban texting while driving. Maybe it’s time to do the same while walking.
There are no statistics yet on injuries an accidents caused by petextrians but walk down any busy street at lunch time if you want to see the potential for mishap. So far the damage has been mostly limited to bruised heads and bruised egos but it surely cannot be too long before the carnage will be upon us. So on behalf of PATU (Pedestrians Against Text Abuse) please don’t text and walk this noon.
Mike Martin is a freelance writer and workplace wellness consultant. He is also an author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.
He is also the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries. The next book in the series, The Body on the T, will be released by Baico Publishing on May 1, 2013