Knowledge, Inspiration and Education for Personal Growth

Knowledge, Inspiration and Education for Personal Growth

in the workplace

Knowledge, Inspiration and Education for Personal Growth

We’ve all heard it before—everyone has the same number of hours in a day, so it’s up to each one of us to decide how best to use the time we’re given. One part of using our time wisely is considering in whose company we spend our time. Do we keep to ourselves, ruminating over our thoughts or attempting to single-handedly address business concerns; seek escape in entertainment; or make a deliberate effort to choose the environments and inputs that will help us to move toward our goals?

Everyday choices, like these, can have much more than everyday influence on your life and progress toward gaining or refining vital skills. Be strategic in your choices; you have the power to nourish your mind and develop targeted learning goals. In a reversal of the old “garbage-in, garbage-out” scenario, wise consumption of information taken in consistently, can move you toward the transformations you seek. Put your time to work helping you reach your business and leadership goals and being a good human.

As business influencer Jim Rohn famously pointed out “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Let that thought help you filter the personal and professional development information you consume.

To help you get the most value out of the time you’re able to set aside for reading, listening, and personal growth, I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite resources categorized by topic.

Servant Leadership. Gaining attention in the 1970s, this style of leadership emphasizes relationships, and meeting the needs for growth and success of customers, team members, and others. For exploring the application of servant leadership in your business, some of my favorite books include The Leader of the Future by Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, Richard Blanchard; The Heart-Led Leader by Tommy Spaulding, Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead; and It’s Your Ship, written by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. Blogs, like Brené Brown’s or Humanergy give another perspective and a shorter read. Podcasts offer the flexibility to feed your mind while doing something else—painting the hallway, walking on the treadmill, or driving. These are some of the best ones I’ve found on servant leadership:

Communication Skills and Individual and Team Dynamics. The heartbeat of an organization is in its ability to communicate effectively. Combined with organizational dynamics, these topics reach into all corners of a business. One of the benefits of business coaching is to have an on-site evaluation and customized training designed for your organization. These are several worthwhile resources that can help you and your team prepare for the next steps toward improving communication dynamics.The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is an oldie but a goodie; I also recommend Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan; The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Ideal Team Player, both by Patrick Lencioni; and It’s Your Ship by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff also fits well into this category. Marshall Goldsmith’s article “Team Building without Time-Wasting,” is immediately applicable. Once again, expect refreshing insights from the podcast At the Table with Patrick Lencioni.

Strategic Thinking and Vision Casting. If you don’t have a plan for the future, how will you know when you’ve accomplished your goals? Cultivate the vision your organization needs with books that get the ideas moving. Among my favorites: The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, Powerful by Patty McCord, Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values by Fred Kofman, and Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by James C. Collins. Maintain the momentum with the podcast What’s Essential hosted by Greg McKeown.

New information, whether you take it in by reading or listening to it, is most valuable to you if you can remember it and apply it. James Clear shares tips for increased reading comprehension and retention, and John Rampton offers ideas for increasing the number of books you read this year—including the tip to stop reading a book that really doesn’t interest you instead of powering through to the end.

Jeff M. Miller encourages active and engaged listening to get the most out of a podcast; and when it comes to taking notes, Anne-Laure Le Cunff asks if you are note-taking or note-making, then shares her tips to help you retain more of what you hear from a speaker in person or on a podcast.

We have an unending banquet of resources available to consume on our own, yet a business consultation and in-person instruction adds a different level of expertise as well as accountability. Whether your current challenge involves Team Dynamics, Executive Coaching, Leadership Training, advanced Round Table workshops, or other business topics, we can help you make progress toward your goals. Call us for a free consultation to see where we can support your organization and its culture.



Nancy Owsianowski, Founder
RoundTable Consulting, LLC
574.360.1737 

 


Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

Ready for more?

Are you seeking a peer advisory group to strengthen and support professional and personal growth? We are currently recruiting members to the Senior Manager and Executive Roundtables through IUSB..

Contact me to take advantage of either opportunity.

Are you busy or are you productive

Are you busy or are you productive

in the workplace

Are you busy or are you productive?

March means Daylight Savings Time begins, at least in most regions of the county. Besides signaling the coming of spring, the name alone gives the impression that we’ll somehow magically have more hours in the day. Oh, if that were only true.

Don’t we often find ourselves wishing for more hours to accomplish more goals and see more results? As leaders, the challenges in the workplace—in-person or remote—continue to multiply and become less predictable. David Peterson, Director of Executive Coaching and Development at Google School for Leaders, describes the current world as “volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.” Within that context, he notes that leaders are faced with conditions that are “diverse, novel, and adverse.” That sounds like an accurate description of 2020.

Keeping up with the pace of change and the intense, rapid learning leadership requires, it could be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that multitasking is the way to increase productivity and level up skills. Sounds obvious—lots to do, so why not aim to do more at the same time?

Except productivity and effectiveness don’t work that way. Productivity isn’t about working more hours and piling on the activities; it’s about getting more accomplished in the hours worked. Increasing the beneficial results of time spent. Another way to put it, is that busy and productive are not the same thing.

Regardless of the shifting environment, resist the temptation to handle diverse demands on your time and mental energy through the popular but misguided methods of multitasking. Confronted daily with challenges of change and disruption, leaders need to strengthen personal skills that lead to results.

The juggling that we call multitasking is not so much simultaneous action as rapid task switching. Researchers report that productivity drops with each distraction or switch in tasks—whether that’s an interruption by a colleague stopping by to chat, that just-a-quick-look at a text message, or shifting between answering email and reviewing a spreadsheet. In The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan point out that multitaskers, compared to monotaskers, retain less of the information they take in, make more mistakes, and even lose sight of the true length of time needed to complete tasks. And with every disruption or switch, extra time is lost to the refocusing needed when switching back to the original task.

Valuable work requires attention—a vital, limited—but renewable–resource. We have only so much will power and mental energy available each day to apply to all aspects of life, another concept described in The One Thing. When we attempt to spread our energy over too many tasks, especially at the same time, we forfeit effectiveness for the increased number of tasks.

Last time I checked, none of us lives in an ideal world, free of distractions and disruptions. We can’t eliminate them entirely, but we can learn to apply methods that support our ability to focus instead of splintering it.

  • Choose your favorite technique to achieve sharp focus within a set period of time. The element of a time deadline is not optional, but rather is the driver that hones your focus. Time blocking your calendar, with chunks of time allocated to completing specific tasks is one approach.
  • Block the time in priority order—when willpower is strongest, early in the day, you’re best equipped to tackle the tasks that are most important to complete. Put it off, and you have a whole day’s worth of decisions and interruptions siphoning your energy and attention from what matters most.
  • Remove distractions—or at least tame them—before you begin. No, this is not the time to clean your desk or entire office as a way to postpone action. But do turn off computer notifications and silence your phone—better yet, put it in another room or safely out of reach. And get to work for the time you’ve allocated.

Scheduled blocks of time could be long—two hours or more. Other methods, like the Pomodoro Technique, rely on shorter periods of time interspersed with timed breaks. Whether or not you choose to use a tomato-shaped timer, give your mind the benefit of dedicated time to focus on one task at a time and time to rest at set intervals.

You may wonder if short periods of focus can do any good? Stephen Duneier, an expert in applying cognitive science to both business and life, describes his own experience with corralling his attention even for five- to ten-minute periods in his TED talk. Working within his self-described attention limits, in college he went from low C’s to straight A’s and maintained straight A’s throughout his graduate work at NYU’s Leonard Stern School of Business. Making even marginal improvements, as his example shows, can lead to a huge impact in results.

Whether we need to step back for a fresh look at priorities, methods, or the incremental habits we need to build to move us closer to a goal, spring cleaning begins within ourselves. So many authors and speakers have shared clear and eye-opening methods, there’s no reason not to take that first step toward mastering attention and focus.

Accountability and the perspective of someone outside your office or organization can make the difference between a temporary improvement and empowering transformation. RoundTable Consulting can help you bring about meaningful changes in productivity and effectiveness for yourself, your team, and your organization. Give us a call and find out how we can help.

Nancy Owsianowski, Founder
RoundTable Consulting, LLC
574.360.1737

Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

Ready for more?

Are you seeking a peer advisory group to strengthen and support professional and personal growth? We are currently recruiting members to the Senior Manager and Executive Roundtables through IUSB..

Contact me to take advantage of either opportunity.

How to increase your organization’s health in 2021

How to increase your organization’s health in 2021

in the workplace

How to increase your organization’s health in 2021

It’s January. Time to open that brand new calendar and think about goals, dreams, and the potential of the year ahead. With the new year, we get a fresh start and the chance for a new perspective. After 2020 drew our collective attention to health-related topics we have a greater appreciation for good health and the significance of strong relationships. We want a healthier life and healthier organization.

Evaluate, then plan
Before we can resolve to make changes, we have to assess the present condition and choose the personal and professional goals we hope to accomplish as we build on the lessons from the year past.

Many of us have found ourselves working under very different conditions, with far less structure and much more uncertainty. Odds are that we’ve also spent more time alone in 2020, in a work group of one, connected virtually to an array of teams. And for better or worse, we’ve been more directly accountable for how we spend our time. (Has anyone else experienced the workday creeping into personal time?)

All this time on our own has given us an opportunity for reflection and hopefully some growth in self-awareness. The way we care for ourselves, our physical health, and stress management skills, or lack thereof, affect our productivity and our contribution to an overall healthy business.

When we evaluate organizational health we can turn to Patrick Lencioni’s writings, which set some clear standards, easy to state, but not always equally easy to implement.

Set the goal
A healthy organization has a distinctly healthy culture that permeates the whole. Leaders are humble and unified in their beliefs and purpose, driven by a compelling mission; their communication is clear, open, and honest, rather than secretive or ambiguous. The resulting culture becomes one characterized by positivity, appreciation, and respect, where learning is a constant. It takes individuals with healthy attitudes, priorities, actions, and habits to form the foundation of a healthy organization.

In a perfect world, traits like these would come naturally. But for most of us, we have some learning to do to gain and maintain the type of healthy attitude that drives the progress of our workplace. Let’s look at what we learned in 2020 and use those insights to build a healthier 2021.

Cultivate self-awareness
Creating a healthy culture, one that’s built on trust and productive relationships, depends on a foundation of emotional intelligence and self-awareness, cultivated through practical steps:

  • Observe your habits and energy flow to identify the time of day when your energy is at its peak. Work with your nature, not against it, as much as possible. Work from home may permit you to adjust your schedule to maximize your energy and, with that, your productivity.
  • As a leader, observe the effect of your attitude on those around you, especially those who report to you. You’ll find that your team tends to mirror your attitude, for better or worse. This is your opportunity to set the tone. Be the exemplar of the habits you’d like your team to form.
  • Be open to change. If there’s one thing we learned in the past year, it’s that change happens and we need to be prepared to adapt. For an organization to have the flexibility to respond to change, to new and better ways of doing things, individuals must be similarly open to change.
  • Manage yourself. The ability to master emotions and control your temper smooths the way for easier conflict resolution and respectful dealings across the organization. Likewise, when you lower stress, sleep more, become cognizant of what you eat, and master methods to tame stress, you provide a model that sets the tone for the organization.
  • Practice empathy in your dealings with others. Listen well and work to see things from their point of view. Remote work doesn’t look the same for everyone; be cognizant of the challenging conditions others may face that differ from your own.
  • Claim your strengths and honestly identify those areas where your have room for improvement. Admit mistakes and be willing to be human, perfectly imperfect. Trust enters a relationship at the point where individuals are vulnerable, and with trust, the foundation is prepared for a team to form.

Put the power of one to work
An individual can have an impact on the health of an organization, whether or not you serve in a formal leadership role. The place to begin is with yourself, your team, and your circle of influence.

Daily decisions matter. From creating healthy boundaries between work and down time to stretching yourself to embrace change or adapting your schedule to make the most of the hours when you’re most productive. When mind, body and spirit are sound, you’re better equipped to contribute to the health and success of your organization.

In the coming year, what changes will you make first to build a healthier you and a healthier organization? An outside perspective can help you get an objective and accurate assessment as well as provide accountability that leads to success. Call me to schedule a consultation where we can address the many aspects of effective communications to create strong leadership that’s open and honest or focus on steps to create a healthy organization and see where this year can take you.

Nancy Owsianowski, Founder
RoundTable Consulting, LLC
574.360.1737

Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

Ready for more?

Are you seeking a peer advisory group to strengthen and support professional and personal growth? We are currently recruiting members to the Senior Manager and Executive Roundtables through IUSB..

Contact me to take advantage of either opportunity.

Gratitude practices: simple steps to powerful results in the workplace

Gratitude practices: simple steps to powerful results in the workplace

in the workplace

Gratitude practices: simple steps to powerful results in the workplace

November tends to make our thoughts turn to thankfulness and expressions of gratitude as we plan to celebrate Thanksgiving. We’re introduced to gratitude in childhood, when we learn to say thank you for things or kindnesses received, but it doesn’t need to stop there; it has a role to play in the workplace as well as at the Thanksgiving table. Today, the study of gratitude is a popular topic across several fields of research, including happiness, productivity, culture, and health. As an everyday action, rather than just a once-a-year activity, the simple practice of gratitude benefits both individuals and the organizations in which they work.

Reflecting on the year so far, gratitude may not be the first thought that comes to mind. The pandemic and the enforced isolation experienced by people everywhere have made us more keenly aware of the ties that connect us to one another, and an appreciation for community. Teams have been stretched to maintain focus, unity, and clear communications. Meetings that were once sacrosanct have been suspended or shortened as priorities shifted. We hadn’t realized how much the small daily exchanges with shopkeepers, distant acquaintances, and random coworkers balanced and enriched our lives until we found ourselves stranded at home, deeply craving connection.

Research studies, like those conducted by Glenn Fox of the University of California, explore the science of gratitude and the effects gratitude has on the brain. His work, and that of others, highlights the benefits a person can derive from adopting regular practices of gratitude, such as potentially better health and increased ability to connect with others to build deeper social connections.

Individual Benefits

Incorporating practices of gratitude into our routine is one way to help develop and restore strong connections, whether we operate in a work-from-home situation or workplace setting. Harvard Medical School has reported that expressing gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions and that in turn promotes stronger relationships, improved health, and greater ability to handle adversity. These outcomes all improve our ability to be effective employees and better team members.

Practicing gratitude can be as simple as routinely spending time daily writing out a short list of what people, experiences, things, relationships or activities you’re grateful for, or taking time to convey words of thanks directly to another person, aloud or in writing. Don’t expect overnight success, but with repeated practice, you may find that your outlook is becoming more positive and less anxious. This action takes your eyes off yourself and makes it easier for you to recognize blessings in your day. As an employee, we can approach each workday with more balance, and a greater sense of appreciation for others. We’re better equipped to handle events and circumstances that arise.

Organizational Benefits

Relationships are at the heart of any organization. Strong social connections promote psychological health, more positive emotions, and greater resilience, all factors that enhance the workplace environment. Gratitude pushes us to look outside of ourselves, to focus more on others and their favorable attributes; it requires humility also to recognize our interconnectedness and that many of the good things we experience in life have come to us through others. These are powerful elements in team building, collaboration, and developing resilient relationships.

Research on psychologically healthy workplaces draws attention to positive practices that these cultures embody and the advantages of these work environments. Healthy workplace attributes include work-life balance, support, and interpersonal relationships. Within a workplace characterized by positive practices, employees tend to be more satisfied and engaged and have a stronger sense of well-being. An organization’s overall performance–better quality work, higher productivity, and the like, is positioned to improve as positive workplace behaviors go up.

Workplace cultures that help people to thrive by supporting their goals, personal growth and well-being, showing appreciation for the individual–are widely valued. Leadership and gratitude can be connected in multiple ways. By employing practices that help individuals develop habits of gratitude, for their own well-being and to help to keep a positive culture going within the organization. And as an organization, we can express, with sincerity, our gratitude in actions, words, and practices, to those we employ.

While gratitude may not be a magic bullet for every set of conditions we face in life or in the workplace, research indicates that the benefits are real. As with any cultural shift, leaders have the opportunity and responsibility to take the first step. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him? We need not wait to see what others do.”

Nancy Owsianowski, Founder
RoundTable Consulting, LLC
574.360.1737

Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of ‘RoundTable Consulting’ where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

 


Ready for more?

Are you seeking a peer advisory group to strengthen and support professional and personal growth? We are currently recruiting members to the Senior Manager and Executive Roundtables through IUSB..

Contact me to take advantage of either opportunity.

Building Vital Relationships in Business While Working Remotely

Building Vital Relationships in Business While Working Remotely

Vital Relationships

Business is all about people and relationships. If we don’t pay attention to people and tend to these connections well, our business will suffer.

Many of us have been working remotely for months now and the novelty has worn off long ago. But whether your coworkers or team members are located steps away or in a different time zone, strong relationships are necessary to keep business operating smoothly.

Strong work relationships, especially in remote settings, don’t just happen. Effort and intentional steps are necessary to achieve success.

Connect. Make the effort to get to know others as individuals; find common ground. Even simple topics like pets or favorite hobbies can spark a connection. Remember to always approach the process with respect and honesty. Open, sincere communications allow trust to build.

Be human. You are a multidimensional individual; allow yourself to be viewed that way, foibles and all. Being vulnerable doesn’t require exposing your deepest secrets or bad habits. It does require strength to permit others to see your imperfections but the payoff is a deeper connection.

Follow through. This is where we need to ‘rinse and repeat’. Connection-building conversations are not one-time events; listen attentively and be sure that others know they have been heard. Use your active listening skills and then go a step further, remember what people have shared about themselves. Feel like your memory isn’t up to the challenge? Make notes for yourself on your phone or go old-school and use note cards.

Build rituals. Often the glue that holds people together, even what creates a dependable structure in your own day, is a form of ritual. The commute, breakroom chat, or regular lunch meeting establishes a unifying pattern to the day. Working at a distance disrupts these routines. In Fast Company, Professors David Schonthal and Loran Nordgren of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University stress the importance of establishing new, distinct rituals to bring fresh unity. Time for unstructured chat at the start of a virtual meeting could be all that’s required or perhaps create a new pattern for celebrating birthdays virtually or a regular date for socializing.

Give grace.Relationships’ in person, and especially those at a distance benefit from doing all we can to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Digital Project Manager, Lina Calin wisely offers this advice, particularly for remote relationships: Don’t let assumptions get in the way of true understanding; take time to ask the questions that lead to answers and effective communications.

Don’t forget, ‘work relationships’ aren’t limited to only those between people who share an employer; relationships with clients and customers deserve the same attention and will benefit from the time invested. New practices and new norms have given us all plenty of time to think, reevaluate priorities, and place a fresh emphasis on fruitful, authentic relationships.

Nancy Owsianowski, Founder
RoundTable Consulting, LLC
574.360.1737

 

Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of ‘RoundTable Consulting’ where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.

 


Ready for more?

Are you seeking a peer advisory group to strengthen and support professional and personal growth? We are currently recruiting members to the Senior Manager and Executive Roundtables through IUSB..

Contact me to take advantage of either opportunity.