posted by Kim Benedict on Monday, 23 February 2015
posted by Kim Benedict on Sunday, 15 February 2015


What we are Reading

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Relevant Musings

Current thoughts on leadership.

Category: Leadership

Mindful at Work

Here are some excerpts from an article on Mindfulness from Christy Matta on

Many people have heard the definition of mindfulness: paying attention in the present moment, on purpose, nonjudgmentally.

Mindfulness is being used in schools, colleges and universities to help teachers and students to improve their attention, interactions with each other, and understanding of others.

In other work settings, business leaders, workers and HR departments are using mindfulness training to reduce workplace stress, improve focus, communication, creativity and productivity.

And mindfulness is widely used in the treatment of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. It’s also used to assist people with medical conditions, such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, hypertension and insomnia and to improve the symptoms of stress.

If you don’t have access to a mindfulness training program through your work or through therapy, how do you start a mindfulness practice?

It’s hard to learn on your own. It is possible, just as it’s possible to teach yourself to play the piano by reading books and practicing on your own. Mindfulness can be learned on your own through books, apps, YouTube videos and other resources.

However, like playing the piano or learning a sport, good instruction can significantly improve your learning.

And so, the first step to a mindfulness practice may be to research work programs, the possibility of accessing programs through your insurance or a mental health provider or mindfulness opportunities in your community.  

Here are some resources for Mindfulness programs, books and apps:

Our Leadership Breakfast Club speaker, Jeannine Myrvik, teaches individual and corporate mindfulness sessions. You can contact her at 651-964-9632 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Book:   Kabat-Zinn, J (2012) Mindfulness for Beginners

Apps:   Headspace

            Stop, Breathe, Think

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Are you self-aware?

As a leader, self awareness is essential.  Not sure if you are?  Here is a great article on the topic.


5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware

by Anthony K. Tjan


You can’t be a good leader without self-awareness.

It lies at the root of strong character, giving us the ability to lead with a sense of purpose, authenticity, openness, and trust. It explains our successes and our failures. And by giving us a better understanding of who we are, self-awareness lets us better understand what we need most from other people, to complement our own deficiencies in leadership.


The question, then, is how can we cultivate and develop it further. There are many ways to do so. Below are five that I have found to work best:


Meditate. Yes, meditate. As most people know by now, meditation is the practice of improving your moment-by-moment awareness. Most forms of meditation begin with focusing on, and appreciating the simplicity of, inhaling and exhaling. But these don’t need to be formal or ritualistic — greater clarity can also come from regular moments of pause and reflection. Speaking personally, I try to gain greater awareness by simply finding a few seconds to focus on my breathing, often before sleep, and sometimes with one of the many apps available to help. During these meditations, I also ask myself a set of questions, among them:

  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • What am I doing that is working?
  • What am I doing that is slowing me down?
  • What can I do to change?

But the most frequent form of “meditation” I practice derives from carrying out seemingly mundane tasks that inspire a degree of therapeutic serenity, including washing dishes, working in my garden, and spending early Saturday mornings writing in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts as I wait for my son to be dismissed from his drawing class.


Write down your key plans and priorities. One of the best ways to increase self-awareness is to write down what you want to do and track your progress. Warren Buffet, for one, is known for carefully articulating the reasons he’s making an investment at the time he makes it. His journal entries serve as a historical record that helps him assess whether or not future outcomes can be attributable to sound judgment or just plain luck.

Li Lu, a co-leader of the Tiananmen Square student demonstration and today a highly respected investor, told me once about a practice he followed for years, inspired by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin kept a “balance sheet” of both the assets and liabilities of his personal traits. By diarizing any new strength he believed he could learn from someone else, and marking down any self-perceived weaknesses, he could better assess whether the “net worth” of his character was growing over time.


Take psychometric tests. In Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck, my co-authors and I developed a simple “entrepreneurial aptitude test” in order to understand which traits readers were most likely to be biased in business-building and in life. Among the best known of these tests are Myers-Briggs and Predictive Index, but all are aimed as serving as a data point towards greater self-awareness. A common design point with all of them is that there are no particular right or wrong answers. Instead, they are designed to compel respondents to consider a set of traits or characteristics that most accurately describe them relative to other people. In our own version, (which can be taken at, and is free) we ask people to consider forced choices in paired question sets – e.g. Is your success best described by analytics or instincts? Are you more driven by passion or by action? Reflecting on forced trade-off questions such as these help test-takers better understand their own true characters.


Ask trusted friends. None of us is altogether aware of how we come across to others. We have to rely on the feedback of our peers, friends, and mentors. To have your friends play the role of honest mirror, let them know when you are seeking candid, critical, objective perspectives. Make your friend or colleague feel safe to give you an informal, but direct and honest view. This can mean saying something like, “Look, I am actually asking you as a friend, please just be straight with me on this matter. Okay?“

Another strategy is to ask friends to call you out when you are doing a behavior you already know you want to change. For instance, “Look, I know I am a ‘story-topper’ who needs to one-up every conversation, but do me a favor and each time I do that, let me know – preferably discreetly – so I can learn to stop.”


Get regular feedback at work. In addition to informally and periodically asking friends and family, use the formal processes and mechanisms at your workplace. If none are in place, see if you can implement more formal feedback loops. Provided it is done well, constructive, formalized feedback allows us to better see our own strengths and weaknesses. At my own venture capital firm, Cue Ball, we have begun encouraging entrepreneurial founders to institute a formal, annual 360-feedback process that provides feedback across multiple areas of competencies and work styles.


The keys to effective formal feedback is to a) have a process, and b) have an effective manager of it. The latter either requires really good internal HR people, or bringing in outside facilitators and consultants. We’ve found the approach with external folks to be more effective at both small and large companies, because they come without the baggage of pre-conceived biases or reporting lines. Once the feedback process is completed, it is important all involved to reflect on it by writing down their top takeaways. Note both any surprising strengths and any weaknesses or blind spots.


In the end, we all want self-awareness. Without it, one can never fully lead effectively. It’s only with self-awareness that one can journey closer to a state of “self-congruence” — in which what we say, think, and feel are consistent. Building self-awareness is a life-long effort. You’re never “done.” But these five pragmatic practices will help you move faster and further along the way.

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Three Rs of Training

As your company quickly moves into 2015, hopefully training and learning initiatives are scheduled as needed for the different areas of your organization.

BLR recently had an article to remind employers about the three Rs when it comes to building training programs:


Workers will tune you out if they can’t see how the training topic applies to them or will help them perform their jobs. Make sure they understand early on in a training session exactly why they need to know the information you are giving them.

For example, are supervisors aware that they can be held personally liable for sexual harassment? Do they understand that the company could be in murky legal waters if performance problems are not properly documented, and an employee later claims to have been terminated due to race or age, rather than poor performance?


Repetition improves retention, and practice improves the execution of skills. Learners need more than one chance to hear information and more than one opportunity to practice newly acquired skills.


Reinforce learning whenever possible. After training, ask learners to demonstrate a particular skill. Train supervisors to acknowledge learners’ mastery of a new process or safety procedure.

Keeping the three Rs in mind is essential for successful training initiatives.

If you don’t have the time or the staff to build and maintain training at your organization, feel free to contact us at




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Leaders with Empathy

"Successful leaders lead with the heart, not just the head. They possess qualities like empathy, compassion and courage. They also have the ability to establish deep, long-term and genuine relationships where others trust them.” ~Bill George


What is the definition of empathy? According to Merriam Webster dictionary, it’s the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions, or the ability to share someone else's feelings

Empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with your employees 100% of the time, but to have the ability to comprehend what they are going through. There are benefits from being able to understand what those around us need, as opposed to what we perceive is required.

Successful leaders take the time to understand the needs of their employees and offer the support they need when dealing with workplace challenges or issues. In doing so, leaders can build a sense of trust, thereby strengthening the relationships they have with their employees and consequently, the relationships employees have with one another, leading to greater collaboration and improved productivity.

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Motivating People You Don't Like

Great article!

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Nine Minutes to Monday...even though today is Wednesday

Yep, it's Wednesday, but I came Nine Minutes to Monday chart today by James Robbins.  I tend to like visuals like this. As leaders, we have to keep the environment, the employees and the job in mind. If we do so, this allows for you and your employees to produce results, to excel and develop personally and professionally. 

Be honest.  What's missing in this chart for you?  More importantly, are you going to ignore it, or are you going to change what you are doing from today until next Monday? 


9 minutes monday

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Who's the Boss

National Boss’s Day is next week, on Thursday, October 16th.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 6.4 million people work in managerial roles. There are many workplace surveys confirming that one of the most important elements of job satisfaction is a positive relationship between a manager and their employee.

Check out this infographic. As a manager, do you remember to do everything on this list? More importantly, do your employees see or hear you doing everything on this list? We are all going to drop the ball at some point. Perhaps you forgot to give someone credit for a job well done. Or you were overwhelmed by yet another project, when in reality you should’ve delegated it to someone else.

The most important thing is take a few minutes each day or week to re-focus. Some quick questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I using my strengths and time effectively?
  2. Have I checked in with my team and provided enough communication, guidance and resources?
  3. Am I delegating enough to my team, or do they have enough on their plate?
  4. From the items on the infographic, what are the top 2-3 things I can improve on this week?

Making an effort to continually develop as a manager will reflect positively on your work and to your employees as well. Hopefully your diligence in doing so will be appreciated by your employees, and they will do the same for you.





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Leaders in Dark Places

What's wrong with this picture?



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Dealing with Difficult Employees

Most employees don’t come into the office and think “I’m going to be a real pain in the butt today.” So, why are they? It is frustrating, but keep in mind there could be many different reasons for this behavior.   It could be a short-term personal issue going on in their life, or a coping mechanism they learned at an early age. Or, maybe it’s due to a mental health issue? If it is, then this is something you should discuss with your Human Resources department before you address the situation.


So who are these offenders? They come in many forms:



This individual will put more effort into avoiding work than actually doing their job.



No matter how constructive you are with this person, they will be on the defense about most everything. They will attack you and/or other employees and do whatever they can to avoid responsibility for anything.



You can give this person all the valid reasons you want when it comes to changing policies, procedures or their role, but they will not give in or change how they act or work.



You could get a new system to make this person’s life easier, but they will complain about it. They could earn a bonus, but it won’t be enough.   It’s like nails on a chalkboard working with this person.


Why do these employees continue to act the way they do? Because their managers and co-workers enable them do so!!! In many cases, they feel it’s easier to let this behavior continue because thinking it will be more painful addressing the difficult employee. But instead of enabling this person, maybe they should ask, “How is this behavior affecting the other 99% of the good employees in the department or organization?”.   It’s hard to ignore the issue when you look at it from this perspective.


Most of these employees can improve. It’s not always easy, but it’s doable.


1.  When addressing the employee about their behavior, have a plan and decide on the outcome you want before you meet with them. If you don’t have a plan of action, before you know it, they will avoid, defend, or whine their way out of the conversation.


2.  Hold people accountable for their actions and let them know the expectations. More importantly, if expectations and they aren’t met, the follow through on the consequences.


 3.  Model good communication skills and build awareness within your organization from the top down. Provide continual training and guidance on positive communication and behaviors in the workplace.


If you are in need of an outside, neutral source to provide guidance on employee issues, maybe it’s time to utilize an Employee Assistance Program such as The Oasis Group for managers and employees. Feel free to contact Jim Printup at


Or if you are looking for additional teamwork or leadership development sessions for your organization, contact Chris Kelly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Communication is Key

I thought I would share this BLR article with you.  What are you doing to ensure effective communication is taking place at your organization?


Communication tops the list of skills training provided to individual contributors, according to a survey of executives and managers from more than 700 organizations by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association. AMA Enterprise provides organizations with assessment, measurement and tailored training solutions.

The survey probed development programs for individual contributors, workers who may have no direct reports, or formal leadership position. Those whose expertise is important for an enterprise’s success.


Among organizations that offer development to individual contributors, two-thirds provide communication training, more than any other content type. Next are skills or competencies specific to an individual’s role, such as information technology.

One question asked was, “If your organization makes an effort to develop individual contributors, which of the following kinds of content are included in such programs? The results below show that communication development tops the list.


Communication 65%
Skills/competencies specific to individual’s role 60%
Leadership development 53%
Project management 49%
Interpersonal skills 48%
Collaboration 43%
Decision making 40%
Critical thinking 38%
Cultural sensitivity/diversity 32%
Creativity/innovative thinking 32%
Ethics      30%
Business/financial acumen 30%
Emotional intelligence 25%
Global perspective 14%
Other  6%


“Being able to write and speak, as well as, understand others is so central to the functioning of the organization that it can’t be taken for granted, even for individual contributors who don’t operate as part of a team,” said Sam Davis, vice president of AMA Enterprise.

Developing interpersonal and communication skills ensures mutual clarity and understanding when dealing with others, advised Davis. “Such training and development will help to maximize all business interactions and aid the achievement of critical goals.”

For more information on this survey, view the AMA Enterprise press release.


Relevant Movement is a division of

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Please don't let this be you...





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Leadership and Learning

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
~John F. Kennedy



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Words and Ideas

Listen to your employees. Be open to their ideas. It can take so little of your time to do so, but can make a big impact on them.  


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Leadership Deficit

According to the APQC, there are some alarming deficits in leadership skills in many companies.  This may not surprise some, but it should be alarming to all. About 80% of those surveyed feel their organization’s leadership practices are ineffective and almost half of employers place little or no priority on leadership development and learning initiatives.

Yes, leadership development programs take time and money.  However, what it’s costing your organization to NOT provide leadership development?   Leadership development offers you to chance to improve your succession planning strategies. If an employee understands that you are grooming them for a particular position, they will be more engaged and committed to the company, and will feel a greater sense of belonging and accountability. Not only is this a benefit to the employee, but it is a helpful retention tool and can result in significant turnover/hiring cost savings to the organization.


 So where do you start? Check out for your customized leadership options. Or, you can contact Chris Kelly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Is Average Ok?

If I asked you to name an average employee at your company, I’m betting a name or face would quickly come to mind. They come in to work their regular shift but rarely put in more than 40 hours per week. They do what is told of them, but don’t ask for more challenging projects. They don’t volunteer for committees, or take the initiative to go above and beyond.

Yes, it would be wonderful if you had all dynamic “A” players on your team, but in the real world, that’s not likely to happen. At some point, you will manage an average employee.

So how do you help this employee reach their full potential? It’s important to have conversations (yes plural) on a regular basis, and not just at their annual review. Find out what motivates them and what they enjoy in their role, as well as their frustrations. Ask them ideas of how to improve processes or procedures in their job or department. Sometimes as managers, if we just ask the question, that in itself is motivating to the employee — they know you care.

Be honest with them. This can be difficult, for example, when they’ve had another manager for years that lead them to believe they were a top employee in the company. They were given the impression they were doing a fantastic job, when in reality, they are just average. And now you come along and have different expectations. This can be a little dicey, but if you set the expectations from the beginning, and continue to have open conversations on a regular basis, it makes it easier for everyone to be on the same page.

Remember the flip side too. Your team is made up of people with different talents, strengths, speeds and priorities. That average employee might also be your most dependable, may never complain, and/or keeps the balance amongst all the personalities within the department. They may not be the leader of the group, the go-getter or the fastest employee in the group, but they may possess strengths that may be overlooked as well.

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Lights, Camera, Respect

Have you ever seen the movie, “Ground Hog Day”? Bill Murray plays Phil, a TV weatherman working for a local station hoping to someday be promoted to a national newscaster. He displays charm and wit on camera, but off camera he is bitter, rude, self-centered, and is horrible to his co-workers. He is sent on an assignment he despises, which is the Groundhog Day festival in Punxsutawney, PA. When he is there on assignment with his crew, a huge snowstorm strands them in the town. As the story continues, he wakes up each day re-living the same day over and over and over again. He begins to go crazy and even considers kidnapping the groundhog, thinking it will break this spell. However, as the days go on, he is forced to look at other people’s perspective and eventually begins to care for and respect others.

Some managers are like Bill Murray’s character Phil. They put on the charm in front of company executives and clients, but don’t show the same respect for their co-workers or employees. If you aren’t being genuine with everyone, your employees will see right through that, and may reciprocate the same bad attitude you are modeling to them. Don’t be like Phil--show your co-workers and employees the respect that they deserve, but do it from the start.


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Communication Quotes of the Day

"Communication works for those who work at it."

~John Powell


"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said."

~Peter F. Drucker


"Communication is a skill that you can learn.  It's like riding a bicycle or typing.  If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life."

~Brian Tracy

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Thanks to our Military!


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As the water continues to rise (hopefully not much longer!) and people are coming together to help in local sand-bagging efforts, I felt this was article was fitting to share right now.


We all have those symbolic sandbags that are full of procrastination, impatience and improper responses to problems. Let’s shed those sandbags right now and use that energy in a positive way to help those around our community fill and stack sandbags. Watch the news, ask around, you won’t have to look far to help those in need.

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Play ball!

Since we are in full swing of the baseball season, I thought I would share some quotes from baseball legends.


“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.”

-Bob Feller


“About the only problem with success is that it does not teach you how to deal with failure.”

-Tommy Lasorda


“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of 10 and be considered a good performer.”

-Ted Williams


“Find something you love and go after it with all of your heart.”

-Jim Abbott


“Herzog’s Rules: Be on time.  Bust your butt.  Play smart.  Have some laughs while you’re at it.”

- Whitey Herzog


Now it’s your turn. Share some of your favorite quotes from baseball players with us!


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