On being a servant leader


servant leadershipWhat does it mean to be a servant leader?  Whether we recognize it or not, as leaders we have an enormous responsibility to those who follow us.  And the higher a leader is within an organization, the greater the responsibility. A leader has the ability to provide or withhold resources that others need to be successful. Access to training, coaching, tools, technology, or a psychologically safe work environment are all within the leader’s control. A servant leader focuses on how s/he can provide these resources in order for others to achieve success.

When the leader shares a vision, provides appropriate support, encouragement, and resources, and then trusts followers to work toward achieving that vision, amazing things happen!

How does it make an organization better when leaders embrace a servant-leadership mindset? If everyone within the organization acts as a servant leader, the focus within the organization turns to how each member can best support others to make them successful. When everyone has this attitude the potential for achievement grows exponentially.

As you reflect on your role as a leader, consider what your actions say about your leadership philosophy. Are your actions, beliefs, and values in alignment? Are you giving your team the support it needs to thrive?


To learn more about the servant leader philosophy, check out these resources:


Is yours a healthy workplace?


Do you go to work each day in a healthy workplace, or do you consider it toxic? If it’s not as healthy as you’d like, what can you do to improve it?

You make choices every day that can influence the overall culture of your workplace – and that includes influence over how healthy that culture is.

When you hold an early morning meeting, do you bring: doughnuts? bagels? fresh fruit?healthy workplace

Do you use candy as a motivator in training sessions?

Do staff members eat lunch while sitting at their desks, trying to get caught-up on their work as their energy is draining away?

Do you do anything to encourage playfulness in the workplace? Toss a nerf football around, perhaps, or take a break to shoot hoops?

What about meetings? Do they always take place indoors with attendees sitting around a table? Have you ever tried moving your meetings outdoors, or at least into a room with lots of windows and the feel of the outdoors? Or what about a “walking meeting”?  Among the many benefits of walking meetings: brain studies have shown that we think better when we’re moving, and it’s much less likely for the meeting to expand arbitrarily just to fill the hour.

If you are looking for ways to make your workplace healthier, there are some great resources out there for you. Many cities and counties have developed Healthy Communities programs to partner with businesses, schools, and other organizations to find ways to make the healthy path the easy path. Here’s an example of a program in San Diego.

Small changes can make a big difference. What if you improved the lighting in your office stairwells and hung employee’s or their family member’s artwork there? What if you offered oranges at a training event instead of candy? What if everyone were encouraged to spend 30 minutes being physically active during each workday? Have you ever noticed an increase in your own energy and productivity after you’ve moved around a bit or eaten a healthy snack?

Imagine what you could accomplish if you worked every day in a healthy workplace! What small step can you take today toward creating that kind of environment?


Less is More


A neighbor of mine writes an inspirational note each day on a whiteboard hanging on a fence. Sometimes the messages are quite long, but the other day all it said was, “Less is more.” Which, of course, got me thinking.

How can it be that “less = more?” It’s not logical, not rational. But does it have to be logical or rational to be true? How often do you find yourself rushing through a day overflowing with meetings and tasks, and yet have no sense of fulfillment at the end of the day? And if this starts to happen day after day? It’s easy to fall into a pattern of busy-ness that gets in the way of meaning and purpose.

ReflectionHow to break out of that cycle? It may seem counter-intuitive, but one way is to set aside time for reflection. Intentional, focused reflection. You may find that as you think about your experiences you discover insights and meaning that you might have overlooked while racing on to the next item on your “to-do” list. You may realize that some less-important tasks are eating up most of your time, keeping you from accomplishing those that are more meaningful. Your time is limited and valuable. It’s worthwhile to use some of that precious time for reflection to help you make the most of the rest!

If you’re not already in the habit of reflecting, it may seem foreign to you at first. Find a method that works for you, and be persistent about it. Perhaps writing in a journal at the end of every day is ideal for you, while someone else might benefit more from taking brief moments throughout the day for reflection. And another might get more from having a deep conversation with a friend or colleague.There is not a single right way – all of these have been useful for me at one time or another.

What about you? Have you found reflection to be useful? Have you experienced situations where “less” was actually “more?”

Feeling lethargic? Try this group energizer!


How many meetings have you sat in this week where the minutes dragged by as the group crawled through agenda items at what felt like a snail’s pace? Were attendees interactive or disconnected? How productive were you?

Here is a simple and fun activity that will re-energize any group, and at the same time allow members to build stronger connections with each other. This activity works great at the beginning of a meeting as an icebreaker, or at any time during the meeting when energy seems to be dropping. It gets people moving, and helps everyone get to know each other a little better at the same time.

Beach Ball Energizericebreaker energizer

Start with a basic beach ball. Take a few minutes ahead of time to write a question on each different colored panel. Questions can be generic, or have some relevance to the meeting topic. Generic questions might include things like:

  • What’s the last book you read?
  • Where is your favorite place to eat?
  • What kind of music might we find playing on your phone right now?
  • What do you like best about the community where you live?
  • Where would you like to travel in the next six months?

To start the activity, toss the beach ball to anyone in the room. Ask that person to answer the question under his or her left hand. Anyone in the room can ask follow-up questions if they’d like to know more. After answering the question, the first person tosses the beach ball to someone else in the room for another question. Continue in this manner until everyone in the room has caught the ball at least once.

Any time you get people moving, you will create more energy in the room. After sitting for about 45 minutes, blood pools in the lower parts of our bodies, when what we want is for it to be circulating freely and carrying lots of fresh oxygen to our brains! So take a few minutes to stand up and move around at least once an hour. That short break will help you and everyone else in your meeting to be more productive.


Improve your thinking


An innovator's guide to productive thinkingHave you ever thought about your brain’s remarkable capacity to solve problems?  How does it do that??  And how can you develop habits that make the most of your creative capacity?

Tim Hurson answers those questions and more in Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking. Hurson offers a six-step process to improve the way we think about problems and how to solve them.  Using practical tools and techniques within each step, you’ll discover how to gain clarity about what the actual problem is, generate a wide range of solutions, and take effective action to solve the problem.

Start thinking better today!

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The Hamster Revolution for Meetings


Do you find yourself continuously attending meetings that don’t seem to accomplish anything?  Do meetings lack focus or stray off-topic? Do you ever find yourself saying, “I am spending so much time in meetings that I can’t get anything done!”?

hamster revolution

Authors Mike Song, Vicki Halsey, and Tim Burress offer solutions in The Hamster Revolution for Meetings: How to Meet Less and Get More Done. They take a fun approach, while offering specific and practical steps you can take to make meetings productive and engaging. A case study and examples make it easy to see how the concepts can be applied in real-world settings.

Check it out, and let me know how the ideas work for you!



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