In the Streets of Sofia, Bulgaria

I’m sitting in the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria. A European city filled with hidden gems and almost a feel of Barcelona, Spain…but not quite.

This morning I’m finding refuge and laughter in one place where everyone speaks a universal language and shares the same love for a modern vice…Starbucks! I adore immersing myself in foreign cultures, but for whatever reason this Cafe Americano tastes so good.

My lesson this morning is unity through commonality. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can always find commonality with the person or people that surround you. You just have to stop and get curious to find it; when you do unity is inevitable (if even for just a moment).

Today, get curious about the people around you, and find refuge and laughter in the one commonality you share. You may be surprised on how this moment of unity can heal even the most tumultuous relationships.

Death By Corporate Speak 😳

Word to the wise… if you’re a leader who’s trying to move an idea, project or corporate initiative forward stay far away from “corporate speak”. Seriously, there needs to be a book called “Death by Corporate Speak”. Regardless of the effort, the only way to get anyone to want to help you is by using real language that’s super clear and speaks to the heart. Ditch the spin, stop trying to be fancy and just be real. Simple language moves mountains.

Turn Around And See All The People

I was asked by a client today, “Why do so many companies have problems with engagement?” 87% of US employees are disengaged to be exact.

It’s not rocket science… It’s because most leaders are faced in the wrong direction. Spending so much time appeasing “higher-ups”, Wall Street and making sure that the lastest initiative gets launched that they forget to turn around and see all the people….people who are the bread and butter to the company. Without people you have nothing.

The sure fire engagement strategy is simple. Every executive needs to model a “people first” management philosophy. Walk around and talk to people, care about them and recognize their value. If you’re thinking you don’t have time for this…then you don’t have time to be a leader and should take up a new individual contributor role. Harsh but true.

Today make your top priority taking Suzi out for a coffee to tell her how valuable she is to you and the company. Then everyday after that take a different employee out for coffee and tell them the same thing. Before you know it, I guarantee you’ll have higher engagement, greater profits and happier customers.

What Zoos Can Teach Us About Employee Performance

I walked into a client’s office yesterday optimistic and full of life. A great nights sleep, healthy breakfast and ahead of schedule. I was ready to conquer the day.

I sat down in my office disguised as a cubicle and jumped right in. Then an unexpected turn of events happened.  After my first meeting I started to feel drained. My Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah pep turned into a series of yawns and random walks around the building to revive myself. No worries, I recovered and got my groove back right before meeting #2. After meeting #2 all shit broke loose. I felt myself completely unmotivated and almost stir crazy. Yikes! I couldn’t even get myself to look at the computer screen let alone get anything accomplished. I was being overtaken by the ugh syndrome before noon! I thought, “Oh, no. What’s happening?”

I started looking around at all the gray–I noticed everything was literally covered in gray. All I could hear was the humming of the air system and florescent lights. Without realizing what was happening all my stuff was packed in my bag and I jetted out the door as fast as possible. I felt absolute relief once I got into my car and started driving away. From there I decided to work from home and the day began to turn itself around.

So what happened at the office? What in the world came over me? I’m not Sherlock Holmes but the mystery was not too difficult to solve.

First, I’m not alone. In fact, there’s a good chance most of you reading this blog have experienced this phenomenon multiple times in your work life. A phenomenon caused by one simple fact–you’re a living human being. Yep, being alive caused me to jump out of the cubical and run for the door. Here’s why…

When you’re at work, you’re no different from an animal in a zoo. Follow me here, it’ll make sense. Have you ever seen a wild animal running and playing freely in its native habitat? They’re happy and performing at their best. Compare that to an open zoo where animals roam in beautiful habitats similar to their natural environment? Not always ideal, but for the most part the animals are relatively satisfied. Now go a step further… Compare the last two examples to a zoo that puts animals in covered cages with concrete floors and glass walls where they stare at the same damn thing everyday. In the last example animals become depressed, slow, sleepy and unmotivated to interact and play with each other. For a human, working in gray cubical land can create the same feeling as being an animal held captive in a concrete cage.

Morale to the story… environment plays a significant role in how productive a person is at work. Air quality, lighting, plants, music, natural light and color all ramp performance up or drive it down into the ground. Even the direction you face in your cubical can play a significant role in how you feel and you’re ability to focus. Feng Shui at the office works. That said, if you don’t have the luxury of designing your office space try these tips to revive your mojo the next time you’re feeling squirrely at work:

  1. Drink water: Believe it or not water is scientifically proven to have the same “wake-up your soul” effect as coffee–but better! Water will keep you hydrated and alert without the crash. By no means am I telling you to stop drinking coffee. I love the stuff! Just keep it balanced and make sure you’re drinking more H2O especially on those days you need to focus.
  2. Just add color: I know, can it get more basic?! Yes, the human mind needs color. Again proven, lack of color is one of the most significant reasons you’re falling asleep at your deck. For you business owners out there, if your office is covered in gray you’re simply asking for employees to fall asleep. An easy fix for those who feel they have no choice, start splashing your work area with colors that energize and keep you moving.
  3. Plants, plants and more plants: Fill your space with greenery! And no, plastic does not count. If you’re scared of killing your new green friend buy a Chinese Evergreen, they’re durable, hearty and can go longer than most plants without water or sunlight. Here’s the deal, plants aren’t just pretty they’ll purify your air and keep you alert. If your office has a no plant policy break the rules and sneak one in any way! Your boss will thank you when they see your performance improve.
  4. Headphones: If you want to keep your groove moving at work start listening to your favorite tunes while cranking away on that spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation. From classical to death metal…makes no difference just so long as it makes your heart sing and keeps you focused.
  5. Go into the wild: Like animals you do better in your natural habitat. If you have the ability to work from home do it. If not, leave the building at least every couple of hours to breathe some fresh air. Even five minutes of fresh air and walking can turn your day around. And for those freeze babies who live in the arctic tundra with me, throw on a hat, coat and gloves and start walking! You’ll be glad you did guaranteed.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Email Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter. 

3 Ways to Increase Employee Engagement

Published By: David Fralinger                                                  

Have a nagging suspicion your employees are a bit disillusioned? Disenchanted? Just plain bored? They may be suffering from acute employee disengagement, and they’re not alone.

In fact, recent Gallup polling has identified an estimated 30 percent or less of the US workforce as actively engaged in their work—a dismal reality for employers concerned with innovation and productivity.

The cold hard truth? If your workers are disengaged, your company’s losing money.

Engaged employees feel a passionate connection to their company’s mission and values—a connection that compels them to innovate, problem-solve and think outside the cubicle. Increasing employee engagement is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary to maximize productivity and bolster morale within your company.

So what are some ways you can wrangle your workers away from their Instagram pages and into your office infrastructure? Industry expert, Gina Soleil, sheds some light on specific strategies that promote engagement and foster employee trust.

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Expert: Gina Soleil
Site: GINASOLEIL.COM

 

Soleil believes openness and transparency are vital components for increasing employee engagement. She views transparency as “choosing to convey the truth in it’s entirety, absent of any PR Spin,” and openness as “the willingness to become vulnerable and exercise courage by sharing the truth with the masses—because it’s the right thing to do. In other words, honesty is the best (corporate) policy.

“When done right, key messaging is not only 100% truthful, but gains loyal support from employees because people feel trusted and believe the business has their best interest in mind. If employees have a gut feeling that information is missing, or incorrect information is being communicated, they’ll fill in the blanks. If that happens (and it will), a business then will have to manage misinformation, gossip and employee fear.”

Be honest with your workers. Once lost, employee trust can be difficult to restore, and a persisting lack of trust promotes a culture of discomfort. Infuse your key messages and virtual communications with Soleil’s transparency and openness.

Untitled picture 3 stooges                                                                          Source: Dilbert.com

Avoid the mutiny. Tell the truth.

Still unclear on how to foster that feeling of solidarity and motivation in your office? Soleil has you covered. She’s crafted a practical check list that can help you create an engaging environment for your employees.

1: Executive sponsorship: A culture of openness and transparency starts at the top. You’re the leader of your office, so don’t neglect to lead by example.

2: Have a strong communication plan: A strong internal communication plan “becomes the check and balance of truth and integrity,” says Soleil. She recommends designing your intranet as a core vehicle with the intention of “communicating truthful information that impacts employees, the community (local and global), and the earth.”

3: Employee Involvement: Your workers want to feel relevant. Without a sense of inclusion, their motivation dwindles. Soleil recommends creating employee-based intranet communication teams that generate video content, post content, interview employees, etc. “The overall goal,” she says, “is to support employees in their quest to make the intranet ‘their space.’”

In today’s high-speed environment, enduring employee engagement is critical. Harnessing the communicative power of your company’s intranet, and applying Soleil’s strategies for increased openness and transparency with help you engage every member of your team—persuading them to abandon their status updates and rejoin the social community you’ve created.

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About Gina Soleil:

Gina Soleil is known for her fresh new approach to business. For nearly two decades, she has been leading teams through transformational change within Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Today, she is a published author of Fuel Your Business: How to Energize People, Ignite Action and Drive Profits, blogs for Huffington Post, and is a speaker, coach, energy practitioner, artist and business owner. Her expertise is creating a workplace where people are energized, feel good and are happy—and demonstrating how to create a work life they’ll love. Soleil lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Visit GINASOLEIL.COM and follow her on twitter @GinaSoleilWorld.

How to Make Love in the Boardroom

redefining-love-work-foster-sense-connectionPeople are looking everywhere for ways to feel valued and appreciated. We want to be surrounded by other people who are mindful of our needs in a way that says, “I hear you.” We want to be in the presence of other people who joyfully give us the freedom to be authentic and walk in our truth. We want to feel honored by other human beings with acts of integrity and compassion. We want our creative expression to be celebrated and recognized by others, to be forgiven easily without judgment, and to have other people take responsibility for their own actions. To sum it up in one sentence, in our personal lives we say, “I want to be loved.”

In business we don’t call it love. Oh no, that wouldn’t be politically correct. The word love may not go over well in the boardroom. Heaven forbid we use a word that might make people feel uncomfortable. Ironically, the very thing that makes people feel uncomfortable is the exact thing every human being in business is looking for from their leader and company. Rather, in business we call love “engagement”. You see, when people feel loved they want to give love. In business, we call this exchange of love “discretionary energy”—and this discretionary energy is evaporating from business faster than the speed of light.

Today people feel the void of love more than ever, and most businesses have yet to acknowledge the reality that the only way to have an engaged culture is to have leaders who show-up and live high-character values. Values that include: mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness, integrity, and responsibility. In other words, having leaders who are able to show acts of love. It’s only then that people will become fully engaged and the business can create a high-performing culture.

What gets in the way of leaders being able to show acts of love?  Fear of becoming vulnerable.

Vulnerability is the magic ingredient to showing acts of love and receiving the love that others show. Not only is vulnerability the magic ingredient, it’s the hardest thing for a business to attain because it requires not intellect but heart. Vulnerability is the willingness to do something without a guaranteed result, having the courage to be imperfect, having the ability to be kind to ourselves first, and believing that the things that make you most susceptible and weak to the world are what make you most beautiful. The key to joy, love, and happiness is vulnerability.

In business, vulnerability is overshadowed by fear and shame. As a means of survival and protection from fear and shame people have become experts in denial. We pretend things that are uncertain are, in fact, certain; we pretend we are what we’re not; we put ourselves on a conquest to prefect our existence. All the while, at the core of our human nature, we want to be vulnerable and feel connected. We want to feel loved.

Together, vulnerability and living high-character values is the way forward in business—it’s the solution to employee engagement. Vulnerability is the only way people feel loved, and living high-character values is how love is shown. That said,vulnerability always follows character–it will never happen the other way around. When leaders show up living high-character values, exhibiting acts of love, the culture begins to feel safe. When a culture feels safe people are willing to let their guard down, become vulnerable and give love right back to the business.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profits. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil at ginasoleil.com and follow her on Twitter.

THE REAL STORY: Why Transparency in Business is Important

images (4)Are you transparent at all costs?

From e-mails to texts to the intranet, people are writing and reading 24/7. Writing is a great art and privilege. People rely on the written language for everything. It’s how we communicate messages, transfer information, gain alignment, and stay connected. That being said, “You can’t believe everything you read” is a statement that holds true in many businesses. To fuel healthy energy, you need to make sure that the messages being written in your business are transparent, and free from deceit, manipulation, and lies. If the words you’re choosing do not deliver a clean message, the whole story, and a positive intent, people will sense deceit a mile away. When they do, your business throws trust right out the window, and the toxic energy those words create will destroy the productivity of your business. People will go from wanting to work for you, to having to force themselves to show up and do the bare minimum just to get paid. No one wants to do anything for someone who uses deceit to manipulate their actions. You need to ensure that your business is not using the art of writing as a form of manipulation. It happens more than you think, especially when the financial stakes appear high.

Transparency is the bridge between truth and clarity, and it’s the action that keeps a business honest. Transparency is how a business delivers the whole story and presents all the details. Transparency is the living action of truth. You might be thinking, A business can’t always be transparent. Spin it however you want from a business leader’s point of view:

We don’t want too much information getting out. If all the information came out it would be detrimental to revenue and profits, and our stock would go down.

We don’t want to rock the boat and harm performance.

We don’t want to take people’s focus away from what they really need to be doing.

They don’t need to know all that information to do their job.

They can’t handle the truth!

Here’s the deal: The truth is going to come out sooner or later. All the information will reveal itself, whether you want it to or not. If you’re not transparent, the truth will start as gossip, and people will take the gossip as truth because that’s the only “information” they have to hang onto. A leader may break under pressure and share everything with a line-level friend, and that line-level friend will share her version of the truth with everyone else. Before you know it the news has spread like wildfire. Now the business has to spend hours fixing, smoothing over, and making excuses for why it wasn’t transparent to begin with; not to mention the effort that now has to go into rebuilding trust rather than nurturing the trust that already exists. Rebuilding is always more costly than maintenance.

As a business leader, you have choice. You can choose to be transparent by delivering truth and clarity with conviction, or you can you choose to only deliver a partial message that causes confusion and emotional turmoil. For every leader there is a defining moment: Someone will ask you to withhold the whole story. If you do, the people in your business will see you as a liar. I get it; you’re in a high-profile business, and some very important people who make six or seven figures are telling you to “Keep it a secret. Don’t show anyone. For your eyes only—and only while you’re in the club of leadership.” I get your reality, but here’s the deal: If you choose to continue the dysfunction by not sharing the whole story, you are a liar. That personal label never feels good, and it’s incredibly difficult to get rid of.

If you’re not being transparent, you can’t justify being frustrated that people aren’t doing what the business needs them to do. That’s like inviting someone to a meeting, not telling them the room number or time, and then getting upset because they didn’t show up. When someone has clarity because he inherently knows that he’s being told the whole story, he’s motivated to move the business forward.

Let’s take it a step further. When was the last time you were excited, motivated, and inspired to do something nice for someone who was deceitful and manipulative to you? When was the last time you walked up to your significant other or friend and said, “I really wish you we’re a complete liar. That’s the type of person I want to be around. That’s the type of person I want to give my all to. That’s the type of person who gives me energy.” Yeah, the green kind that comes in the form of slime. Yuck! If you think this is harsh, you’re right, it is. And it needs to be, because it’s the truth. It’s the whole story that no one wants to talk about. Or it’s talked about, but we don’t allow it to get personal. We justify it by saying “It’s my job.” No, it’s not. It’s called leadership dysfunction at its best.

We convenience ourselves that being a liar is okay as long as we’re getting paid to do it. The more we get paid, the more we’re asked to lie. The more we lie, the more toxic energy gets dumped into the business. You and everyone one else in the business are now caught in a cycle of perpetual deceit that generates enough destructive energy that your whole body feels like it’s stuck in cement and you can’t move anywhere—certainly not forward. Yet we still go back to justifying it. Hell, we even feel important when we make it to the top and get to be one of the few people who not only know the whole story but also get to lie about it. When you look at it from the perspective of being in a personal relationship, you know it’s sick, demented, and wrong.

Just thinking about being on the other side of deception is enough to give anyone anxiety and heartache. Think about the last time you were lied to, the last time you were impacted by someone who chose not be transparent and give you the whole story. Do you remember the feeling of heaviness? Can you feel it now just thinking about it? That heaviness you’re feeling is the toxic energy that lives in a business when the business is unhealthy. It’s the same heaviness that every person, from the part-time janitor to the CEO, gets to carry when the business chooses to withhold truth. It’s the heaviness that businesses are asking leaders at all levels to deliver to the rest of the people in the business. Congratulations—you’ve made it to the top. Now the question is, do you have the courage to change it?

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Email Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

True Leadership: Courageous, Compassionate and Vulnerable

flower-in-cement-smallest-blog-nymucdLet me start by saying, “You are a leader.” It doesn’t matter where you sit, what your title is, if you have people reporting to you or how much you’re being paid. Maybe you’re part-time Joe cleaning the toilets, or maybe you’re sitting in a cubical wondering if anyone knows you exist. It doesn’t matter the box you think people put you in, or the box you put yourself in; you are a leader. And there is no one person who is better or more important than you.

Our society has created an industry of “leadership development” with fancy rules and sophisticated terminology one must know in order to be a great leader. In businesses of any size, the word leadership often separates those “who have arrived” from those “who have a way to go”; creating a perception that those in leadership are special. In fact, there are special meetings for these special people, and these special people get special perks. One of which is special training on how to be a great leader. And if you’re really special, you get to even sit in mahogany row with a window.

Let me break the news to you…true leadership is not granted by special made up rules created by someone higher-up in a business. Many people sitting at the top are not leaders at all. Yes, they may be management. They may have been given authority, title and money to run a portion of the business. And they may have participated in hours of leadership development courses in order to help them become a great leader. None of which makes them a leader. These fancy privileges will never cultivate the authenticity, vulnerability and courage exercised by a true leader. In fact, these special privileges, driven by our society’s ego, are often the very thing getting in the way of true leadership.

We all have a true leader within us. Wherever you are in this moment, scrubbing floors or sitting in mahogany row, you can make a choice to exercise your true leader within to change a business, your life or the world. Your energy, intent and actions have tremendous power, and when fueled in a specific direction with courage, compassion and love that power can overcome and accomplish what is perceived as the impossible. Be careful, some of you are thinking, “You can’t run a business on courage, compassion and love alone.” You’re right, you can’t. That’s what management practices and processes are for. Don’t confuse them.

True leadership is having the courage to stand up and walk toward your fear in order to make your life and the life of others better. It’s having the strength to accept yourself exactly as you are, messy and full of baggage, in order to help others gain the strength to accept and value themselves exactly as they are. True leadership comes in our moments of vulnerability. It’s in our moments of vulnerability that we stop long enough to see the people in front of us as human beings–beautiful human beings that together have the collective strength to change the world.

You are a leader. No books, buzz words or special perks needed. Today, make a choice to stand up and walk toward your fear of vulnerability. Accept and love yourself exactly as you are–beautiful, strong and full of life accomplishing ability. Then be a true leader and reach your hand to someone who needs help seeing their strength and beauty. In that moment, as one, walk forward to accomplish the impossible.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

Leadership Transparency: How to Show the World You’re Human

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Great leaders understand the power in human-connectivity and the importance of personal transparency.

Leadership transparency is about showing up to the workplace authentically and allowing people to see that you’re human. It’s about connecting with people on a personal level and having courage to become vulnerable. Leaders who value personal transparency show people they care through both words and actions, and they clearly understand that leadership effectiveness comes not from “driving numbers”, but from having strong one-on-one relationships with the people on their team and throughout the business.

Leaders who are transparent are liked and respected by all; generating a following of people who want to work for them no matter what area of the business they’re leading. People want to know their leaders are human. In fact, the perception of leaders not being human is incredibly harmful to the business, because people only connect to other people who show their vulnerability and have a genuine desire to be in authentic relationships.

If you have leaders in your business choosing to avoid transparency and human-connectivity, they’re fueling your business with toxic energy. No one wants to follow a leader who chooses to not show people they care. If they do, it’s out of fear, and they will leave that leader as fast as possible and never look back. In the meantime, performance and engagement will be a constant uphill battle that’s impossible to win.

Moral to the story… If you’re a leader, take off the mask and show the world you’re human. Your team and the business will thank you for it.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

How to Communicate and Get Results

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Destination Mapping is a communication process that works! It’s designed for one-on-one conversations, written messages and any presentation no matter how small. The process can be used by anyone who wants to become a better communicator, eliminate costly errors and/or have easy conversations that actually get results. Although the process is designed for business, it’s just as effective when used in personal interactions.

Here’s what the mapping process looks like.

  1. State your true intent. This should be the first sentence out of your mouth or out of your pen. The intent is why you’re communicating. The intent may be to change minds, provide information or create action. You need to make sure your intent is positive. If you’re not confident that your intent will be seen as positive to the person(s) receiving the message, don’t communicate the message. If you do, people will know the intent is sour and you’ll contaminate the culture of your business.
  2. Give people the destination up front. If the communication is successful, where will it get you, the people receiving the message and the business? Everyone loves to jump right to the how before making the destination crystal clear—that’s like asking someone to get into a car and drive without telling them where they’re going. Before you jump into thehow, you need to clearly state the where.
  3. Paint a vivid picture of the destination. Even in a one-on-one conversation you need to paint a picture of the destination. If you don’t, it’s no one’s fault but your own if the communication fails. A vivid image describes what the destination looks like, feels like and tastes like. This is how you help people emotionally connect to the message. When people emotionally connect they want to support you. If you skip this stage all you have are sterile words and an apathetic message that goes nowhere.
  4. Give the roadmap. Here’s where you share how the destination you just vividly painted will be reached.  If you want to reach the destination, you need to be crystal clear and provide step-by-step directions. That said, stay flexible and be willing to make changes–your way is not always the right way.
  5. Ask for input. Ask for input and be willing to incorporate the feedback—there may be a hundred different ways to get to where you want to go. If you are unwilling to ask and receive input don’t communicate the message at all. Healthy cultures thrive on reciprocity. Businesses that have a healthy culture understand that everyone’s feedback, regardless of the person’s level within the business, is important and should be taken seriously if the business wants to move forward successfully.
  6. Ask for commitment. No matter how small the communication, everyone giving or receiving the message has a role and needs to make a commitment—but they’re not going to make it, and follow through, unless you ask for it. The commitment might be as easy as agreeing to read the information, complete a series of tasks or be a sponsor and influence change from the top. Regardless of the commitment, if you don’t ask for it you’ll never get what you want.
  7. Do your part and follow up. Lastly, follow up with everyone who received the communication, gave you input or made a commitment. If someone gave you input, you need to let her know how you incorporated it, or provide specific reasons why the input was unable to be used—the reasons need to be valid and make sense to everyone involved. If the intent of the communication was to create action, then the follow-up needs to clearly state the progress. And if a commitment was made, send an e-mail to everyone involved that summarizes the agreement. Most importantly, let people know how much you appreciate their input and effort toward the destination.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Visit Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.