Leadership Lessons from Colin Powell

Colin Powell offers some great advice on leadership that transcends typical military and business models:  he explains the essence of leadership in a very humanistic way:

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3 Fun Ways to Give Your Office a Lift

Got the boredom blues at the office?

Here are some ways to perk up the mood or give your staff an attitude lift:

1)  set up office mini-golf, charge a buck and give the proceeds to charity

We set up a course one Sunday evening, then surprised office staff Monday morning with a fun warm up to the day. Design two or three “fairways” using garbage cans, chair legs, bookends, office plants, coffee cups, business books or anything else you can think of.

Consider these options:

  • use pool cues, hockey sticks or other implements in lieu of golf putter
  • make one fairway a blindfolded start, another using reverse-handed strokes
  • create small prizes like office sticky pads, logo pens, ball caps, etc.
  • use video or photos to document your event, publish in employee newsletter

2)  arrange a tacky tie day

  • create an anonymous voting system for employees to choose their favorites
  • provide prizes for the tackiest, most inspirational, most original tie
  • document participants with photos and publish in a company newsletter/email

3) Create your own Office Olympics

Divide employees into a handful of teams, ensuring a cross section of employees and levels on each team.

Differentiate each team with a color or unique name.

Plan one event each week for the next 3 month period, where employees can win points for their house team.  Events might include:

  • baking or BBQ contest  – sell the goods for charity fundraiser (team who sells the most wins more points)
  • fun quiz contest – find quizes on google (entrants submit answers and scores count toward points for their house team)
  • “name the baby” contest – employees submit baby photos, teams try to match employees to the baby photo (most matches wins points)
  • golf putting contest
  • picnic lunch or spaghetti feed (charge nominal fee, proceeds to charity)
  • Chili cookoff contest
  • bocce or croquet tournament
  • photo caption contest – choose a handful of funny photos and have employees submit captions (print the funniest ones, vote on the best ones for points)

The goal is to think of fun ways to encourage comraderie and offset stress or boredom in the workplace.  Employees who laugh and look forward to work will become more productive in the long term.

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Less than Half of Employees Trust their Boss

This is a guest post from Dan Rockwell at Leadership Freak:

The number one reason employees are happy is they trust their leaders (Lamb & McKee).

Surprisingly, less than half of employees have trust and confidence in their senior managers (Baldoni, Lead Your Boss).

Six Creative Ways to Build Trust

  1. Declare what you want rather than what you don’t want. Saying what you don’t want stops things. Saying what you do want instills confidence to starts things.
  2. Trust is based not only on openness but on keeping a confidence. What you don’t say builds trust.
  3. Honesty plus ability builds trust. An honest electrician isn’t competent to renovate a master bathroom. He may be perfectly honest. However, don’t trust him with your toilet.
  4. Explain organizational performance. For example, don’t hide financial successes in order to keep people hungry.
  5. It’s hard trusting the captain when the ship’s adrift. Stand on the bow with telescope in hand and bravely call out the course. Do your people know where you are going?
  6. Let people know how they fit in and what their work means. Say something like, “When you do “X” it makes a difference.”  Explain the positive difference others make.

Leader as Trust Builder

Employee satisfaction is a complex mix of many factors. Research demonstrates the number one satisfaction-factor is they trust their leaders. Ask yourself the hard question, “Are my employees satisfied?” Perhaps the harder question is, “What am I intentionally doing to build trust?”


(The central premise of this post comes from research done by Lawrence Lamb and Kathy McKee (2005), Applied Public Relations: Cases in Stakeholder Management)

Additional reading, “How Investing in Intangibles — Like Employee Satisfaction — Translates into Financial Returns.”

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