leadership

[Book Review] It’s My Pleasure

by Nursetopia on August 17, 2016

IMG_0906Dee Ann Turner, Chick-Fil-A VP of Corporate Talent, details her organization’s service and wow-culture in It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture. Named for a saying that’s the norm in the food chain that now permeates businesses everywhere, It’s My Pleasure shares lovely stories of the people making Chick-Fil-A a powerhouse business continuing to innovate and wow customers.

Because Chick-Fil-A knows the people doing the work matter, they take great measures to steward their people – hiring the right people and then growing those people into their leaders at every level of the business. It’s refreshing to see often word-only business concepts like “loyalty” in a different way through Turner’s examples of how the company creates raving fans not only in their customer base but within their ranks, as well. And while most of us rarely consider dining in a fast food chain as a great “experience,” Chick-Fil-A works for just that purpose, delivering “second-mile service” rooted in deep faith principles.

Easily read in an afternoon, if you’re curious about culture change and how great organizations practically implement unparalleled service, It’s My Pleasure is the book for you.

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[Book Review] Emotional Intelligence 2.0

by Nursetopia on August 15, 2016

Few things determine success like emotional intelligence (EQ) – being able to recognize personal emotions as well as the IMG_0897emotions of others and manage those emotions within the environment or to attain the goal-at-hand.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is Travis Bradberry’s and Jean Greaves’s first update in several years to their sentinel book. It’s a compact book with many brief chapters (2-4 pages each) separated into the four EQ skill sections of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The book – when purchased new – includes a link to a free EQ test to assess strengths and opportunities for improvement, which can be especially helpful when reading the various sections.

As a leader I’ve seen great people with strong work skills crumble under the inability to recognize their emotions and get lost within them in critical moments or their inability to manage the emotions of others in tense moments, losing the leadership reigns. I have pointed many people to this book, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t helpful personally. Recognizing and managing emotions in self or others is a key skill any leader should possess, and this book can absolutely assist with that in those struggling as well as those looking for reminders and perhaps new, practical skills to continue in successful work.

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[Book Review] Brilliant Mistakes

by Nursetopia on August 14, 2016

Brilliant MistakesBrilliant Mistakes is authored by Paul J.H. Schoemaker and narrated by Dave Courvoisier. With nearly five hours of audio, this book will keep your attention with great stories like finding the Beatles to the development of immunology and discovery of penicillin to Steve Jobs’s happenstance interest in calligraphy that revolutionized computer fonts.

Schoemaker does a lovely job discussing the types of mistakes – tragic, serious, trivial, and brilliant, and there are plenty of quotes that will spur you on when you’ve failed 573,298 times. He purports that companies must speed up deliberate and purposeful mistake-making to accelerate success, and that mistake-making risk must be diversified – just like finances. The more risk averse you are, the more you must diversify and, thus, make more mistakes. It’s counterintuitive because mistakes made together often have a synergistic hedging effect than a single mistake. Organizations that leverage frontline associates to generate and try ideas in work or those with robust R&D departments are the ones that most benefit from this concept as literally hundreds or thousands of ideas spread the risk of “mistakes” across a broad “area.” To be successful in failing frequently, organizations must deliberately hardware mistake-making and learning from them to accelerate the business or mission.

Brilliant Mistakes is chock full of great information. Pick it up or download the audio version for practical ideas and inspiration for “successful failing.”

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Does ‘Chance’ Favor You?

by Nursetopia on August 13, 2016

ThePreparedMind

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SoupSoup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture, by Jon Gordon, is a simple, easy-to-read (or listen to) book. It provides basic organizational culture strategies through the “stirring” story of a young female CEO struggling to revitalize her company only to realize the key ingredients after talking with the Grandma-in-Chief at Grandma’s Soup House, a nearby restaurant always with a bustling crowd.

The foundational leadership concepts are simple enough for novice leaders and powerful, quick reminders for expert leaders. It resounds that the person stirring the soup matters and that relationships (e.g. people) are the root key to everything we do in business and service. While the table of contents is long, each chapter lasts only a few minutes; you can finish the book in about 2.5 hours, and since the chapters are short, it is an easy book to read while commuting.

While it wasn’t a part of my business school curriculum, I am sure it is a part of someone’s, and this would be a great book for any new leader or a new leader development book club. All-in-all, Soup is an imaginative read with practical implications.

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[Book Review] Mistakes I Made at Work

by Nursetopia on August 12, 2016

MistakesIMadeAtWork_croppedI’ve done quite a bit of reading over the last few months, so it’s time to catch up with some book review posts! If you’re looking for a “new” book to read (or not), get cozy because there are several reviews heading your way via Nursetopia. So let’s get started!

Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong is edited by Jessica Bacal; I opted for the audiobook version (narrated by Karen Saltus), which I was able to finish over about 2.5 hours while traveling. “Finish” is the correct word because I, unfortunately, have a hard time stopping any book I start; I wish I had the mental fortitude to have stopped this one, though. I kept thinking, “It will get better…one more chapter.” [sigh] It never got better. Each chapter focuses on a different businesswoman and a key mistake she indicates shifted her career in some way. I found the stories of the mistakes to be rather shallow in description at times and a bit choppy to listen to.

I was really looking forward to reading the book as I have an interest in “mistakes” and “failures” that propel entrepreneurs and innovative ideas forward. I was hoping to get encouragement from successful women’s stories of mistakes and missed opportunities, but I was only left hoping for an end to the book. I do believe the book would have been much better if the chapters were actually read by the different women, sharing their stories in their own voices.

From the Amazon reviews of this book, my opinion – to pass on Mistakes I Made at Work – is the minority voice. Still, I think there are several other books about springboard failures that would be much better investments of your time and focus.

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Under New Management

by Nursetopia on August 11, 2016

What a difference the leader makes. There are leaders I deeply desire to work alongside, and then there are leaders I would do just about anything to avoid having to work with – because I imagine it would be more like working “for” in a never-ending nightmare of egomaniacal power trips. Similarly, there are businesses that have me as a raving fan because of their culture – no doubt set and continuously influenced by a leader or many leaders; and, there are businesses I choose never to use again simply because of their lack of service or misaligned culture – again, no doubt continuously influenced by a leader or many leaders, whether they know it or not.

I’ve always been intrigued by signs to the public that include the word “management.” I laugh – or roll my eyes – every time I see a posted sign saying something along the lines of “Please close the door. Thanks, Management,” or “Please have your ID ready. -Management.” Really? Who writes that…Management?

via Flickr.com via Flickr.com

The other “management” sign that frequently catches my eye is one that always makes me wonder…Under New Management. It conveys the principle that – no matter what we may say out loud – we all know the leader matters. Still, when I see these signs, I cannot help but think of the previous leader and the current leader and which one is the better one – the one who has left or the one who is being touted by the sign. Because “new management” isn’t always “better management,” but it does remind me that the leader matters…even when it sometimes feels like that’s not the case.

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We all go through moments in life when we’re pretty sure we want the next step, the promotion, the additional responsibility, the praise. Whatever that thing is, we all experience it in some way over the course of a career. We think we know what’s next, and we run after it with everything within us.

And then we don’t get it.

We miss the mark, the promotion goes to a colleague, the praise is deferred, the next step is no longer in sight. It’s a rough spot when you’re living it; a crazy number of emotions flood into your life and work, and if you’re not careful, they can sweep you away into drowning, turbulent waters.

Sometimes, though, what we think we want isn’t actually what we want, and life does us a favor, or as I view it…God orders our steps along a much different path that perhaps shades us from the scorching sun we may not have even anticipated. It’s only in retrospect, however, that we can see the saving, the “oh my goodness…I’m so glad I missed all that” moment. I’m humming Garth Brooks’s Unanswered Prayers right now.

I think about this frequently as I move forward in my career because as I look back on my career, I can now easily see how my work and passions have shifted and how things would have or could have been dramatically different if I had chosen other paths or other work. For example, and I’ve written about this a few times, when I first became a nurse, I thought I was going to work in labor and delivery; it was only through a series of events that I became an oncology nurse, a nursing specialty that I now love deeply. I’m so thankful that what I thought was a tragedy at the time happened; I am who I am because of it.

And because of those past experiences, I am able to find the beauty in missing moments I thought I really wanted. And I move on, focusing on what is right around me…because there is always opportunity for improvement right in front of us if we look for it. It’s in those moments of working diligently to build the next steps for others around us that typically our next steps appear.

There’s an ironic beauty in it all.

Have you ever been through these unanswered prayers experiences? If so, how did you move forward when you were living those moments?

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Leader, Leader quite legendary,

How do your nurses grow?

With sharing wells, and mentor swells,

And encouragements that overflow.

Grow, by Susy Morris, via Flickr.com Grow, by Susy Morris, via Flickr.com

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6 Hacks to Optimize Your Leadership

by Nursetopia on September 22, 2015

I’m not an expert on time management, but over the course of 10 years in leadership, I have never had an assistant manage my schedule or emails. I squeeze a lot of goodness into jam-packed days. Students, new leaders, and those I have the privilege of leading often ask me how I get so much accomplished between work, family, volunteering with numerous organizations, church, and hobbies. Here are a few tricks I’ve incorporated into daily work to help optimize my time:

1. Always have a blank notecard and envelope on-hand. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve needed to write a quick, special note. Sometimes it’s because I’ve forgotten an occasion; other times it’s because I just learned of something happening quickly. Because I have the tools on-hand, I can always contribute in meaningful ways that align with my leadership style. Hand-written notes are rarities these days, which means anyone who gives them is quickly set apart from others. It’s an incredibly easy way to differentiate yourself. Popping a few blank notecards and envelopes into your briefcase, outer purse pocket, or work binder takes little effort with maximum opportunity.

2. Easy-access reading material is a must. There will be downtime in your day no matter how hard you try to avoid it. You should always be reading a book or a journal, no matter how long it takes you to finish it. Learning never stops. So, carry journals with you, have audio books downloaded for travel between off-site meetings, make sure you have an e-book ready for a quick chapter read when you can fit it in. You’ll whiz through your reading pile in no time…all during your “downtime.”

3. Incorporate post-meeting follow-up time into your calendar. This little jewel of a tip has been a sanity saver for me as I’ve grown in leadership and in responsibilities. Some days are  continuous meetings, and if you’re not careful, you can end up with 40+ hours of meetings and equally as many evening, early morning, and weekend hours of desk work resulting from those meetings. No thanks! Make sure you schedule follow-up time immediately after most meetings to complete your action items. This tactic can help you seek clarity throughout meetings in anticipation of completing actions following meetings, and it can also help expedite work that can easily get dropped through the proverbial leadership cracks. Even better? Complete low-level action items during the meeting as you discuss them.

4. Schedule your to-do list. I used to keep a list of everything I needed to accomplish. It worked at one time in my career, but now I cannot manage the moving pieces and deadlines of numerous strategic initiatives via a to-do list. I’ve learned that my daily calendar is the best way to set a deadline and work backwards, actually scheduling the milestone work. Covey’s “begin with the end in mind” always delivers.

5. View your calendar one week at a time. If there’s one thing nursing has taught me it’s that priorities change. The same is true in any kind of leadership. The days never look the same, so as meetings get delayed or something else needs attention, I can attack portions of the schedule later in the week or move around daily work to readjust for unexpected moments.

6. Prioritize your day the day before. The last thing I do each day is look at my calendar for the next business day. I often number my scheduled items for the day to ensure I take care of the most important work first whenever possible because – as number five pointed out – priorities change, and what sometimes feels like a priority may not be one at all. Viewing my calendar prior to the next business day helps me refocus. In addition, I often set my desk up so I can jump right into work – separating files and projects in order so I can more easily move throughout my day and work.

And while all of these hacks are great at the office, they most certainly work at home, as well. I am not quite as scheduled at home, but I always have blank notecards/envelopes with me, I am never without reading material, and the next school/work day is always prepped the night before with clothes, lunches, and backpacks. It just makes for a happy and productive day.

So, hack away and have a happy day! What tips do you have that help keep your days humming along?

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