Debates on how and why technology like computers and internet disrupt our life are daily. While hearing those endless conversations I cannot stop thinking of the people who discovered fire, wheels, electricity and cars. They had the same questions as we do: How dangerous can be this new thing? The question that never arose in the public place is :”How dangerous are we?” because really technology without a man is like still water. It does not hurt.

The tendency is simply to reject the responsibility on something exterior to avoid the moment of truth. You know this moment when you realize this is all because of you. Those epic moments that we love to see in TV shows or films. This is when the main character realizes that his life is such a mess because he let it happened and not because of his family, boss or friends. It is most of all because of him. People do not want to hear that “technology is as dangerous as human can be”. This unpopular thinking makes us create a separation between the problem and us, the perpetrator and the innocent, the creator and the created, the issue and the solution. We as individuals, as team and as department in companies do it. I do it too. We do not assume who we are and all that it implies. We, you and I do not try to solve the problem at its roots but the symptoms of it. We see the fire and try to stop it without understanding why there was fire in the first place. Trying to stop a fire caused by electricity with water is far from being a good idea for example.

First, we need to understand the very nature of human beings. We have to acknowledge that in some circumstances we are all able to:

A question that has been with me since I can think is: “Why do people end up acting against their own interest and the one of others?”. I realized with time that there are various causes. Some of them are based in the individual history and the way they enter and relate to the world. Sometimes people lack important connexions in their life or are mistreated which sometimes lead them to just reproduce what happened to them.  We have to be carefull with that because it is not representing those who went through hell or had very difficult lifes and still are compassionate and peaceful. So there are situations that can expose a person to negative behavior but that does not mean that the person will too engage in them. The theory is that the individual has some kind of free will that he can exert in order to choose other behavior. 

So far, different philosophy and religions tried to get ride of the negative aspect of human behings by sometimes controlling us or creating very strict rules. It may have help create common basis of negotiation and discussion but it does not stop people from acting "negatively". In my opinion, we should accept those pitfalls and find ways to prevent them while understanding the person and not punishing him / her. We can also make a difference between people who are mentally ill and cannot make the difference between what we call good and bad. I believe there is always a way to relearn behavior and to decide to no be the victim of our own actions. It is hard but feasible.

A good way to prevent people from crossing the line is to first understand what can lead a person to act against himself or others. Just to name a few:

Technology is really not the problem but the way we relate to it. Our impression that technology will either save us or kill us makes us blind to the possible solutions. We need to work toward organization and individual development so that we reduce the risks of having people destroying themselves and the world around them. Our role is not to change the world but to take the time to change ourselves. We can only change when we desire it  and take the time to self-check and try at our best to improve ourselfs.

Are you ready to change just one little thing in your life that could have such an impact that it will change your world?
One of the main point of organizational development is to help develop efficient organizations that are able to adapt to the ever changing world. The OD Consultant goal is to empower organizations and make them independent in their work. Knowing how your organization processes and they interconnect with each others gives you the capacity to identify places where resources and energy are wasted.

In small and big organizations this knowledge is sometimes nonexistent or not structured. One employee knowing only the process of his specific role and maybe the ones linked with it. This may end up in Information loss or even worth secrecy. This absence of transparency slows down the company and can bring it to crash when an other organization is able to provide better, faster and smarter services or products. Relying on few key employees to take care of the whole process can be dangerous for the company. Your company can be paralyzed because the “expert” is not present or not sharing vital information to keep his hold on the power he has. The tendency is to wait that the person is gone or that the company cannot work further to start working on process transparency.

There are advantages to transparent processes:

You are may be thinking: “How long will it take us to identify our processes?” my question to you is “How many hours if not days do you lose because the work process is not known, too slow or simply broken?” "How many unsatisfied clients will never come back because there was no way to get the services they were expected from you?" How many employees stopped caring about their work when they realized nothing really works?" The most important is to become aware of the consequences of nontransparent processes and the ways you can use to clarify them. You have the choices of the detail level. Do you want to know step by step the process with all possible cases (like a tree-choice) or do you want to know who is responsible for what and where does the responsibility change from hands. What makes sense for your organization? The process mapping can be done by the employees themselves or by an external person. You can always ask an organization development consultant to help you figure things out. The consultant can either do the introspective work for you or help mediate discussions and group works.

Here are the different approaches you could try:
  • Draw a flowchart 
  • Make a video explanation 
  • Make a cartoon 
  • Use the swim lane method 
  • Create a forum where questions from employees can be answered by their peer
  • Create a wiki with answers to questions regarding the processes 
  • Use the Big Picture method
  • …Be creative in the way you display the process 
Once you mapped your processes you may identify issues that you desire to resolve. The main point is then to identify how to improve the current situation. The first step is to diagnose the issue and develop an intervention plan and finally evaluate if the improvement brought the expected success.
Whatever the size of your company there will be a time when you will have to face a crisis who implies directly or indirectly your customers. An issue with one customer can quickly escalate if the customer brings it to the social media sphere. This online presence makes it easier for angry customers to vent their bitterness. It can also bring you more engaged customers thanks to online recommendations. Customers do write recommendations when they are either very satisfied or totally outraged. This online presence can be seen as a strength as long as each of the customers’ expectations are fulfilled. Customers can become angry when they realize that a product or a service does not follow the firm or the market standards. There are few reasons why customers can be unhappy:

There are in fact many more reasons for a customer to be upset about a company. It is most of the time linked to trust issues, the feeling of being unheard or dumped.

Many companies faced crises and will do. The question is: how should you respond in time of crisis? You do not need to be an international company to think about it. You should consider it even if you are an entrepreneur creating your company. As we say in France “Prudence est mère de sureté” which translate to “Caution is the mother of security”

What will you do when you make a mistake and a customer is upset about it? What will you do when a default product is brought back to you? What will you do when your worth nightmare becomes true?

There are two ways to approach a problem. They relate to two different mindsets. You can believe that your mistakes define the person or the company you are. It leads you to hide your mistakes or avoid to face them. You can also believe that mistakes can happen anywhere and that the most important is to learn from them in order to find a solution with all your intelligence and energy. I will call those mindset the Avoidance mindset and the Improvement mindset.

Those two mindsets create two very different reactions. You may not react at 100% with an Avoidance or an improvement mindset. . Moreover, most of us tend to operate with a mix of Avoidance and Improvement mindset which depends on the situation, the other person reaction, and our emotional state. Our reactions are unique and depend on our personal history. Some of us get along with stressful situation. Especially when it comes to admitting a mistake and trying to solve the issues that emerged from it. We can learn from people with an Improvement mindset by observing their actions and thinking of ways to replicate them in our life. Your behavior may also differ depending on the type of mistakes you made. Some mistakes are easier to see as things that can be improved while others may seem to be inherent to the person or company you are and then unsolvable. All that depends on your beliefs because in the end “We are what we believe”. The human race is probably the only one that sees the world through beliefs.

It is essential to have the courage and the strength to recognize the impact of our beliefs in the way we react to failures. As individual and companies we should identify the situations in which we behaved based on our Avoidance or improvement mindsets. We can then evaluate if we should to attempt to change from one mindset to the other. It is not necessary to change your mindset at all costs. Sometimes an Avoidance Mindset can help you overcome a difficult situation. We are talking here of the importance of those mindsets when we have to deal with a public. In this case, there are behavior that you would wish to practice in order to improve your relationship with your customers. If you believe that you are a very bad at dealing with complains regarding your presentation skills you will for sure end up with an avoidance mindset but let’s look at those two mindsets more closely.

Here is a comparison of the two mindsets:

 I already hear some of you saying: “what do I do when I tried everything implied by the Improvement mindset and my customer is still not satisfied?” The answer is not simple but it would look like something like that. Some people (and customers too) do not want to be offered a solution or even consideration. They just want to show you your flaws for reasons you may never understand. They use their complain as a call for attention. As a company you have to decide when to stop caring. Do you really want to lose your energy with this one client? What will you lose / win by letting him alone? Are you really willing to lose your time, energy and joie de vivre for a big check at the end of the month?

Most of the time, taking the time just to listen to the customer is enough to reduce the tension. Considering their experience as important is as vital as solving the issue. The human side of business should never be forgotten because it is the base of organizations. People working with people to satisfy a common need.

At the end of the day, you should always remember: You can learn anything, it is a question of time, devotion. The customers you face give you a great opportunity to learn and retrospectively find ways to provide a better service or product. The importance of your work will be recognize when you face a crisis with awareness of yourself and the people impacted by your behavior.

And most importantly, next time you think, I cannot do it: Ask the question: why not?

Is that true or a false belief? How can I learn from this experience? Where can I learn more ?

Let's face it, we would love to change things around us. Sometimes it can be the behavior of an employee or a colleague. We want them to change and we do not realize that our behavior play into the dissatisfaction game. We may say: "My work would be so much better if only Marc changed". This type of thinking takes your power away. The type of changes that we would love to see in others reflects what we do not accept in ourselves. Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence are essential skills to develop. We have to make sure that the enhancement we foresee are aimed at the organization betterment not to transfer our anger on others. To raise awareness about ourselves, we must stop looking outside for a minute. The answer lays within you but it can be hard to accept. I invite you to make the following exercise:

1. Become aware of your mindsets and assumptions:

I encourage you to list the behavior you want other to improve when they work with you.
Should they be more organized?
Should they communicate better?
Should they...

The areas of improvements you see in others mirror your own flaws. We see in others what we have inside of us, the bad and the good. Take a time to reflect about those points you wrote down, how do they come into play in your life? How uncomfortable do you feel facing the unorganized office you left yesterday?

2. Understand the sources of your mindsets and assumptions

In order to evolve and become a better leader and person there is a need to understand the origin of your beliefs. Why do you assume that those "flaws" are flaws? Where does those beliefs come from? How did they became a belief? This can bring you to old events which are most of the time linked to high emotional charges. You may feel ashamed, sad, angry and it is normal. Understanding the source of a "negative" belief or belief that create negativity is the beginning of the change process. Accept those thoughts, write them down so you do not keep them inside. Get them out. Using a change journal can help you.

3. Recreate better alternatives or beliefs

Now that you know what assumptions you made and where they originated from. I invite you to redefine your beliefs and needs. For each beliefs that you discover, write your antidote. Imagine an unorganized employee. He may in fact believe that he is not organized enough to succeed at work. Owning this belief made him an unorganized person trying to hide it to himself and the world. He came to realize that this was just a belief and he could choose to believe in something else. He could think of himself as learner who can integrate new strategies to become more and more organized. One step at a time.

4. Pay attention to your self-talk  

One of the most difficult things to do is to make this little voice visible. You know the one saying: "You cannot do it", "They all know you are a messy person", "No one can change". First, it takes some time to be aware of it because it can also be an emotion. Second, when you pay attention to it you may still believe it.

5. Recognize your old frames and use the new ones

As the observer take the time to recognize your old frames and think of the new frames you recreated. There is a need to distance yourself from your beliefs or self-talks. A good way is to either list them in a distanced way. In spite of saying: "I am messy", say "I have the feeling that I am messy". The phrasing makes a big difference as it allows you to be the observer and not anymore the actor.

6. Take responsibility for the way you feel

At the beginning of this article we saw that we may have a tendency to accuse other of causing our emotional reactions. Taking responsibility of our emotional state puts the power back into our hands. We then have to take action because we recognize our role in the creation of our negative emotional state. This is not an easy thing to do. If you understand how hard it can be to change yourself you will be able to help people who are also trying to change and maybe Marc is not such a bad in the end.

Change is not difficult because we are lazy. Change is difficult because we do not understand that we have to change our beliefs and assumptions in the first place. Self-awareness is essential to assess ourselves and understand our intentions. Look in others to find what makes you tick. This is probably something you have to work on. Learn about yourself and you will understand the world.
In my last post, I wrote about the four reasons why leadership programs fail. The good news is that you can always improve your current program. A functional leadership program is composed of 3 elements which will describe later. There are ways to enhance existing leadership programs as they may already contain one or two of the three elements. You invest time, energy and money for the betterment of your leaders or your own leadership. It is important to consider all aspects of learning when improving those programs. Most of the time, companies want leaders to deal with complex issues. They have to consider various perspectives and understand the influence of external and internal factors. They need to think strategically while getting the buy-in of their teams and their company in a larger scope.

Nobody is perfect but everybody is perfectible. Leadership programs are built on the principal that leaders can learn and become better at what they do. A leadership program is not a cakewalk. It requires the leader to grow and to sometimes change assumptions and behavior. It obligates to part with the chrysalis leaders live in. It can be a painful process when boundaries loosen or totally disappear. Leadership programs are there to support leaders in their transformation.  

Becoming a better leader is not just fancy or a wish that you make. It is a a need and a commitment that both the leader and the company take together. Leaders need a framework or a process that allows them to grow in a "safe" environment. Their learning process will be encouraged and fostered. Research lead by the Center of Creative Leadership gives us an insight on what are the main components of a effective leadership program. So take your pen and get ready to take some notes.

The first element is "the heat experiences - the What":
We know what the word learning means but do we understand its implication in leadership. We learn when we face a (new) situation for which we do not know the answer. Remember learning how to read? You need first learn to recognize the letters, then assemble them in syllables, then words, then sentences and then paragraphs... In the end it makes sense but you have to face "heat experiences" before learning. Not having a clue of what is going on and what you are supposed to do with those letters. This causes confusion and it may feel really uncomfortable. Leaders have to be challenged to learn but not discouraged. Leadership programs should come into place when leaders are facing big challenges such as moving abroad for the first time. You should be able to answer the question: What is the leader supposed to learn?

The second element is "The colliding Perspectives - The who"
Your leader is facing an uncommon situation, he is stressed, he does not know how to go about it and may start to panic but you, the program, is here for him/her. The program should help the leader to approach his/her situation from a different point of view, the one of others. Putting them in someone else shoes can help better understand the new situation. Discussing with peer facing the same problem gives a multi-angle vision of the event. The new insights allow leaders to envisage other options he may have not considered. Remember the last time a suggestion helped you solve a problem? This is it. You should be able to answer the question: "Who can help the leader open up his/her mind?"

The last element is "the Elevated Sensemaking - The how"
Leaders can look for new perspectives but not integrate them as valuable lessons. This is when a coach or a specific program can be used. The most important is to help the leader make sense of his new situation and perspective. The leader has to grow, to be more open-minded than before. Having a mentor that went through the same learning process can facilitate the leader's evolution. The leader has a higher level of consciousness. At this stage, you should be able to answer the question: How can we help the leader make sense of the situation?

Those three elements are essentials to build or select a leadership program. Seen in this way, leadership programs cannot be punctual event. Leaders need continued assistance and support through programs, peers, coach, and mentors. Leaders should not be left alone when facing big changes or challenges. The possibility to share ones story helps to bring some relativity to what is happening and come up with solutions. Leaders are not only responsible for themselves and we should not expect that they will do everything on their own. They need to know what to learn, with whom they can learn and how to do it. Being a leader as never been easy which makes leadership programs imperative to ensure successful evolution of the leader, his/her team and company.

As some of you may have noticed, I am very interested in Leadership and how it can impact a team and an organization. One of my mentor, Ted Hayes, my former teacher in Employee Engagement at George Washington University forwarded me a very interesting white paper written by +Nick Petrie  from the Center for Creative Leadership.

He worked on what is called Vertical Leadership Development which needs our attention. I base my article on his white paper that you can find here.

We all heard of Leadership development which are used to assess and develop leaders development at work. There is also this belief that we cannot improve our leadership which I understand when I see leaders going to workshops and coming back with more knowledge than before but not implementing critical changes in their work.

This is where Vertical Leadership comes into play. As Nick Petrie mentions it, current leadership development focus on providing more knowledge or proofs that leaders have to change. Another issue can be that the programs do not talk to the leaders which may also come back to work with no to few support to implement their changes. It can also be hard to implement a change when the program length does not go over few days. Unfortunately, I am not going to become the best cook ever by reading cooking books but by trying and getting advice from experts. This works the same way for leadership and many other subjects.

In the white paper "four common issues" are cited when explaining the failure of current Leadership programs:

  1. "Wrong Focus": Too much information not enough practical advice
  2. "Lack of connectivity": Program's content does not fit Leader's need
  3. "Leader in isolation": Back to work leaders are left alone without supports to help them change.
  4. "Too short": The programs lack a long term aspect. 
There are very good informational leadership programs. They give you a basic information on the topic you are interested in but the practical advice are either not "practical"enough or simply unexciting. 

Imagine going to a Leadership Program thinking that you will learn how to deal with the complex negotiations but you end up in a program about anger management. The program is for sure interesting but do not give you the key elements to achieve your goal, dealing with complex negotiations. 

After your super leadership program you come back to work with the determination to implement some recommendations you received. All exited you talk about your plans with your coworkers and employees but no one seems to truly care. You may try some tricks but it will never fully work because people are too absorbed by their work. 

Another pitfall with Leadership Program is their shortness. They are sometimes planed as vaccines with yearly injection but no follow up in between programs. That may trigger a feeling of hopelessness that ends up in low employee engagement. You, as an organization, may provide tools to help your employees and leaders to grow but you do not give them the support needed to implement the changes necessary. 

Leadership programs can be disregarded by leaders because they do not find the help they are looking for or they are not really interested in growing. Growth is a long and hard process where your assumptions are shaken and where you need to change your mindset in order to go further. Growth can be very beneficial for your organization and its individuals but it is not easy. 

As we know that growth take time and effort when need to consider the impact of both factors on the way we develop leadership programs. The aim of Vertical development is to accompany leaders in their development by providing adequate programs, with the required support and length.

The question is now: How can we develop better leadership programs?  

We are all in some kind of way leaders but the impact of our decisions is not always the same. A decision made by Larry Page impacts much more people than the CEO of a medium size company. The scale of the impact can also vary depending on the change it implies. We have a tendency to believe that people at the top of organization are supermen/women of businesses. They are able to see further than others and anticipate some changes that seem unpredictable.

There is no magic in being or becoming a "great" leader. Some leaders are followed by so many that we try to understand what makes them so special. It is a complex question that cannot be elucidated in one blog-post. We face different issues answered with different theories when trying to elucidate the Leadership Power: Does it come from personality traits, behavior, life experience, chance? I have a tendency to believe that it is a mix of all theories that exist out there. You have to get a chance to lead which may come from the way you already behave which is possibly linked to your early life experience that helped you form your personality. I would guess that with time research will have enough data to prove that nothing really predicts who is going to be a great leader but more how can anyone become one.

Furthermore, we sometime believe that there is a leadership talent that only few have. Imagine if we were wrong and that becoming a great leader was possible to anyone willing to put in the hard work. The question is more: Are you willing to work harder in order to get better? and all that just for the sake of improving yourself. You may never become Bill Gates or any other well-known Leader. On the other hand, you will positively impact the life of your followers. Is it worth it? yes, of course!

In the last few weeks, I read different books and article about learning and leadership. I have now the conviction that we can learn anything, even to become a better leader or improve an organization processes. You have to be willing to learn, to challenge your assumptions, to work harder than before and to look for improvement.

Here is a sum-up about learning:

  • Have a learning mindset like Dr. Dweck explains it in her book "Mindset the new psychology of success" 
  • See "failures" as indication of learning needs. e.g. Can't communicate clearly. Learn what good communication is and practice.
  • Find your purpose, find your fuel.
  • Focus Practice on improving specific skills 
  • Break the skill into smaller pieces
  • Learn the whole skill piece by piece 
  • Find a mentor, someone ahead of you who can show you the way.
  • Never give up

To become a better leaders you have to put in the hard work and be ready to expand your knowledge and experiences in order to achieve your goal. You are a learner even if you do not realize it. When you will face a difficult situation . Do not give up or stay with a fixed mindset. Be ready to accept to learn and grow. The question is are you ready to grow? Are you willing to see the world differently with more shades of grey and not as black or white?
The first questions you may have are: What is a vision and why should my company have one? You had a reason to start your own business or to take over your current leading position. You wanted to solve a problem or to satisfy a need you identified. You had a purpose. A business without a clear purpose is not going to develop well and will face different types of issues.

A vision is this beautiful picture, the feeling you have when you think of what your purpose is. It is looking into the horizon and watching the sunset without being able to touch the sun but feeling the warmth of the sunbeam on your skin. A vision is what clarifies what should be done in your company to achieve your purpose. It is like perfection, we know we can't achieve it but every attempt drives us closer to it. A vision helps overcome issues we face because we know where to go.

Your vision should help you go through the coming storms because your gaze is fixed and secured. It is like when you have a cup of coffee and walk back to your office, if you only pay attention to your coffee while walking back, chances are that the coffee will spill over but if you look in the distance and walk toward your goal the coffee will be safe as well as your clothes.

Having a clear vision, not a blurry and unclear one, helps to set best practices, become an example, encourage positive behavior, dictate the way you treat employees, customers, and stakeholders. Big and small companies face different issues with their vision. The small one may not know how to proceed and write a vision on their website while not living up to it. Big companies may face difficulties to spread the vision to all employees so that it irradiates inside and outside the company.

It is important to find your vision, not the one of your concurrent with a bit of salt and pepper. I mean, your vision for your company life. The thing that makes you go to work with a smile and give your best. You need time. You will not come up with your vision by reading my blog, but it is a starting point. If you are reading this you are ready to start the inquiring process. You have to articulate your vision until you can say: Now, I see in which direction we have to go.

Be careful to not mix up vision and mission! As I said a vision is like looking into the horizon while the mission is connecting the puzzle pieces together in order to move forward. For example, my vision is "Effective organizations with mindful communication and positive interactions" while my mission is to "Foster communication about organization efficiency with a focus on Human Capital". They are both similar in the general way but one is an illustration of what I want to see in the world while the second one focuses on the thing I will do to go toward my vision.

You could use the following questions to start elaborating your vision. Keep your business in mind while answering them

  • Why did I start a business?
  • Which problems/needs did I identify?
  • Why do I want to solve this problem / answer those needs?
  • How could things be better? 
  • How could it be in the future if I answered those needs or solved this issue?
  • What is my equivalent of a sunset? 
Take a piece of paper and start to write down every idea that pops up. Do not try to organize it at first. It can also help to do it with someone who will ask you questions to deepen your understanding. Then, when you got it all out, you could use the snow-card technique to organize the information. I wrote an article about it few months ago. Once your organized your ideas in clusters you can start to write sentences that encapsulate your idea. Select the sentence that reflects your ideas the most. Keep it simple as it will help you lead the way.  

You will naturally come up with some ideas for your mission. The things to do to get closer to your vision. I invite you to answer the following questions to determine your mission:
  • What do I offer?
  • How do I offer it?
  • Who are buying / using my services or products?
  • Who are my providers?
  • How do I behave with all stakeholders while following my vision?
  • What type of actions could damage my vision? 

Once your vision and mission are clear you can look back at you r organization and ask the question: Do we live our vision and mission everyday? if the answer is no, you could decide to let things as they are. However, I encourage you to identify the points that you have to improve in order to find ways to fulfill your mission and vision.

You are few step away from your dreamed organization. Just go for the distance.
When I talk about my passion for Human Capital people usually identify it with Human Resources. In some ways Human Resources and Human Capital are similar, they both deal with people. However, the mindsets that gave birth to both concepts are very different. The first one considers human beings as resources comparable to computers, locals, and other costs while the second one considers human beings as assets capable of generating capital. I came across a German article (also wrote in German) on Human capital management. This article helped me a lot to articulate the differences between Human Resources and Human Capital.

Those two approaches or mindsets paved the way people are treated in organizations. The Human Resources approach identifies employees as costs and considers how to reduce costs even if it means firing employees or treating them like numbers in an excel sheet. This has implications on companies  moral, financial success and can drive to loss of competencies. I think that we can agree on the following fact: "Humans' life should not be monetized" and yet the Human Resource approach attempt to do it in some ways.

The problem that we are facing today is that the we attempt to give a monetary value for each employee following the stock exchange evolution. It works well as long as your company is growing but when a company starts to lose money the "value"of it employees is also waning. This makes absolutely no sense, does it? Did your employees quality of work decreased overnight with the stock exchange? not at all. We must stop to base our value system on the stock exchange and start to look at offers and demands in the job market. Organizations need to find and retain employees with specific knowledge, experiences, skills while employees look for organizations for which they can use their uniqueness. As soon as we take this approach things start to change. It encourages to take the time to train employees, integrate them in change efforts and make them part of the organizations' life. Organizations want employees to be able to fulfill their goals which serve the organization mission.

The Human Capital approach on the other hand considers that each employee (when well selected) adds value to the organization. The uniqueness of employees' competencies, experiences and knowledge is stressed. Their are valuable assets for organizations. We can talk about capital-gains. For Human Capital employees have something to bringing to the table. The importance of employees is refocused and efforts are made to make the work process more efficient while considering Human factors.

The role of Human Capital is to evaluate organization needs in employees & skills and estimate where optimizations are needed while focusing on the future. This evaluation & optimization should be holistic starting from evaluating employees competencies and risks, to finally make sure that there are no loss of Capital due to bad communication or untapped potential.

Human Capital refocuses the dialogue on people. Money was a principle created to facilitate exchange not to value our worthiness. The day you wake up and realize that your employees are what makes your company different from all others. Then maybe you will start to offer them the best in order to attract them, keep them and thrive with them.

The (re-)emergence of Human Capital in organizations shows a desire to distance ourselves from the "stock exchange" evaluation and look forward to a two-way communication between organizations and their employees.


in German. Zehn Postulate für dasHuman-Capital-Management, Professor Dr. Christian Scholz, Dr. Volker Stein and Roman Bechtel,

I had to think twice before writing this blog post. I did not want to create any debate about the topics I am covering today because there are already plenty of places for discussions. Nowadays, we consider diversity in companies as a very important and urgent topic to be dealt with. We also forget that Rome was not built in one day. Things need to change before people from the diversity groups have equal chances to become part of the top-management. Most of the time mindsets have to be changed.

If we go back in history and have a look at the first companies in the industrial age. Those that we call diversity (any person who is not a white man in good health) did not have a voice or were not expected to use theirs. Basically, the European and American corporations were built by men for men. Slowly for many reasons those in the diversity groups gained power over their own fate. They acquired, for example, the right to vote, to get married to whom ever they wanted (still in process in some countries) and also the right to work. They slowly accessed to the corporate world.

The thing is, when you stay among people who look like you, speak like you and think like you, you end up developing group behavior and rules. Those preferred behavior are visible in communication , leadership and even strategic management.  The people outside the group cannot really fit in even if some efforts are made because they do not have the "cultural background" to evolve or they are simply let apart by the main stream group. When diversity groups are included in men made companies they bring other perspectives and ideas that make the team and company more productive and effective. You cannot exclude more than half of the population for too long.

A study made in 2014 by Mckinsey showed that men did not recognize the hardship women have to face when trying to access top-level positions. It is probably true for other diversity groups. I guess it caused by the fact that men do not realize that the system they work in is dominated by masculine rules. A woman having a child will have less chances to get a promotion because companies were not built considering this situation. I do believe that we can work together to create more diversified organizations which answer demands from a much wider customer base.

We know that gender, skin color, sexual orientation and belief do not influence our capacity to succeed and contribute to the betterment of the world. On the opposite being so different from one another gives us a chance to better understand what is going on.  Like every change "diversity" will take some time to get integrated in the corporate world but we are on the right track.

In order to go further we should as suggested by the McKinsey survey:
  • Encourage and increase sponsorship
  • Diversify performance models
I would also add that all men in organization have friends and relatives who belong to the so called diversity groups. We have to work all together to empower each other and share our knowledge and competences to thrive together in our organizations. In the coming years, we should encourage collaborations. We all have many things to learn from each other and diversity management is one way to achieve it.

Source: Moving mind-sets on gender diversity, McKinsey Global Survey Results
I had the pleasure to read the book from Carol S. Dweck "Mindset - the new Psychology of success" in which she explains that people belief about their capacity to learn has huge impact on the way they deal with challenges. We either believe that our skills can be developed or that they are fixed like talent and cannot be improved. Our belief system varies depending on the area we deal with. Some people may believe that they can learn to play soccer while learning a new language is out of their reach.

Nowadays, people have a tendency to believe that they can improve their physical appearance through sport, diet, fashion... while being restricted by their mental abilities. You are either good at math or not. You can recognize a good wine or not. You can [ability of your choice] or not.

The consequences of such a limiting belief lead us to "avoid effort by not getting involved". Why would we dare spend our free time on learning Spanish? You will definitely "give up easily" on learning Spanish [or anything else] if you believe that you do not have the "talent" for it. Furthermore, you will not see effort as necessary to achieve your goal but as a "useless pain". The criticism that you will receive will be seen as a degradation of  your person an then "ignored" to protect your ego. You will "feel threatened by the success of others"and when your colleague will be  say few words more in Spanish than you, your relationship with him may get worth.

On the other hand, when you believe that a skill can be developed you will have a "desire to learn" which will make you "embrace challenges" as they are opportunities to learn and grow. You will "persist"in your effort to learn as obstacles are indicators of what should be worked on. All your efforts and criticism you receive lead you to foster your learning. The success of others gives you "inspiration" to go further and develop better learning strategies.

The Diagram by Nigel Holmes bellow resumes the two tendencies very well. I would like to add that we can believe in our ability to learn a new skill but face periods in which our fixed mindset come to say hello and stop us from learning. It is then important to be aware of those apparitions and consciously decide to come back to the growth Mindset. Sentences like "here you come again Fixed Mindset" can help you distance yourself from what is happening in order to take correcting actions.

The most amazing point about Carol S. Dweck book could be summarized in one sentence: "Your ability to learn depends on your learning belief".

There are for sure predisposition that facilitate your capacity to master a skill. Someone who can analyse situations will be better off when evaluating risks than someone who did not develop this skill. The main idea is that you can always improve your skills even a bit which can give you the keys to a new position in your organization.

It is nice to know that you can improve your language, math or analytically skills but can we improve our leadership? There are different schools of thoughts that defend both this thesis and antithesis. In my opinion, we can learn new behavior to become better leaders. The question lays on the durability of such a change. Habits become then an interesting topic. Can we develop new durable behavioral habits?

I guess that we can, looking at all people quitting drugs and alcohol or people learning from their eating disorders. There is a need of awareness, desire to change and support by the company and relatives. You can learn and that's the most important thing to remember!


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
As researchers and some of us noticed the best predictor of success are our past behavior which can be in some instance measured by employees' reputation. This is one of the reason why 360 Degree feedback are so loved by consulting firms and their clients. Those evaluations are based on the perceptions of other about one's behavior at work. What about employee personality and more precisely the one who are suppose to lead teams - the managers?

In the research field, big debates and research are led in order to shed a light on the importance of Personality on one's success and its repercussion on the organization success or failure. One very important framework to study personality is the Five-Factor Model developed by Wiggins. As Robert Hogan and Timothy Judge explained it in Personality and Leadership "We use reputation to predict what people will do; we use identity to explain why they do it". Understanding the reason why someone will do "what" he does helps build  a coaching practices as well as develop empirical research.

People personality can be explained as the tendency to express our bright or dark side. Our bright side manifest itself when we are handling ourselves well whereas our dark side shows its face when we stop "monitoring"ourselves. Every individual expresses a mix of bright and dark side which can then be identified as specific behaviors by external actors. This framework should be seen as a continuum more as a didactic explanation of personality.

We evolve between our dark and bright side as on a continuum. Those tendencies express themselves at different times and in different situations. It seems important to add that an excess of a bright side may become a dark side and a dark side can also become a bright side.

Our bright side (based on Robert Hogan and Timothy Judge, Personality and Leadership):

  1. Adjustment/Emotional Stability: Self-confidence, self-esteem, stable moods  
  2. Sociability/ Social Ascendance: Extraversion, energy, status seeking
  3. Agreeableness/Interpersonal Sensitivity: Charm, tact, warmth, diplomacy
  4. Prudence/Consciousness: rule following and compliant
  5. Inquisitiveness/Openness: imagination, curiosity, tolerance
Our dark side (based on Horney's (1950) orientation definition):
  • Moving away: Trying to succeed by intimidation and avoiding others: Excitable, Skeptical, cautious, reserved and leisurely. Hogan & Hogan 2001)
  • Moving against: Trying to succeed by charm and manipulation: Arrogant, Mischievous, colorful and imaginative. Hogan & Hogan (2001)
  • Moving toward: Trying to succeed by ingratiating others and building alliances: Diligent and Dutiful. Hogan & Hogan (2001)
Our aim as managers or as consultants is to better understand how those different sides influence our behavior and how we can benefit from them. It is also useful to use this knowledge when trying to improve our managing practices. 

Robert Hogan and Timothy Judge defines good leadership as the capacity to "create and maintain a team, group or organization". The personality of a leader and his actions impact his relationship with the people he works directly with. It is then important to identify success factors in leadership which can be linked to bright and dark side personality. Research shows that Managers are successful leaders when they can adjust and are emotionally stable. On the other side, sensitivity has a negative effect on leadership success. 

McCall  and  Lombardo  (1983) studied derailed management and found ten reasons for their failure:" (a) specific business problems; (b) insensitivity; (c) arrogance; (d) betrayal of trust; (e) inability to delegate; (f) too ambitious; (g) inability to build a team; (h); inability to think strategically; (i) inability to adapt to a new boss; and (j) too dependent  on  a  mentor." some features are directly linked to dark side personality. A research by Kaplan, Klebanov, and Sorenson (2008) found out that the most important factors in leadership effectiveness are : integrity, decisiveness, competence and vision.  

The way employees view their superior influence the way they work. Employees have higher level of job satisfaction when they work with a leader that shows positive bright and dark sides personality. It is then important to keep those information in mind when determining the type of managers you want to select in your organization. 


Hogan, R., & Hogan, J. (2001). Assessing leadership: A view of the dark side.  International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9,  40–51. 

Hogan, R., & Judge, T. (2012). Personality and leadership. Unpublished manuscript.

 Kaplan,  S.  N.,  Klebanov,  M.  M.,  &  Sorenson,  M.  (2008).  Which  CEO  characteristics  and  abilities  matter?   Paper presented  at  Swedish  Institute  for  Financial  Research Conference  on  the  Economics  of  the  Private  Equity Market, New Orleans, LA. 

McCall,  M.  W.,  Jr.  ,&  Lombardo,  M.  M.  (1983).   Off   the track: Why and how successful executives get derailed  (Tech. Rep.  No.  21).  Greensboro,  NC:  Center  for  Creative Leadership. 

 Wiggins, J. S. (Ed.). (1996).  The five-factor model of personality. New York: Guilford. 

Work-life balance is a big topic those days, probably because we feel that creating such a balance is impossible. What if we switched our vision on that issue? We all have the tendency to see the world either as good or bad, as interesting or boring, or as nurturing or starving. Even in my blog, I usually present a good and a bad side and reflect on ways to go from good to great. Aren't we a mixture of good and bad, interesting and boring, nurturing and starving?

Their are conditions that foster our darkest side as well as our brighter one. We should have a look at them in order to create work conditions that allow relaxation and anticipate the ones that create stress. When it comes to work-life balance programs, we should look at them in an integrative way. Work is part of your personal life as your personal life is part of your work. There is no way to really disconnect one from the other. We are subject to stress at home and at work. This means that we have to find ways to reduce the impact of stress in both personal and professional life. Stress is useful as long as you do not feel pressure from it.

In theory, we know how to reduce stress but in practice we do not take the actions necessary to reduce it. We have to learn how to implement those stress reduction strategies in our lifes. Usually, we see ourselves as victim of stress when we actually are part of the problem.

Living a stressful life may not really bother you but in the long term your physical and mental health may pay a high price. You could go through a burn out or simply get so tense that your relationships at work and at home may suffer. Take the time to reflect on the source of your stress but do not stop there. Take action. Even 10 minutes of reading or relaxing can help you lower your stress.

Negative Stress affects:
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Relationships 
There are several strategies to reduce stress. You may already implement some of them but what if you complemented new ones.

Stress reduction strategies:

Identify your stress factors: This means also to take the responsibility for the stress you are causing to yourself: Being always late, procrastinating, not taking notes, avoiding...

Feed yourself well: Take the time to eat and eat well. Decide in the morning that you will eat healthy and not fall for a fast food.

Exercise: It is maybe time to go to the gym or take the decision to avoid escalator, lift and so one.

Sleep well: Your body rests when you sleep. The quality and length of your night will influence your reaction to stress.

Take time to do nothing "productive": Learn how to do nothing and your imagination will wonder and drive you to possible break through.

No phone & computer rule: There should be moments in the day when no screens are on. You will be present for the people around you and for yourself.

Discover the artist in you: You link to sing? Enjoy the traffic jam to let your artistic side illuminate the time alone in your car.

Set boundaries: Say "no" when you are not able to fulfill a request. It will save you time, energy and probably confrontations.

Differentiate "should" & "must" do: Your priority should be to execute all tasks that are a "must" and evaluate if someone could help you with the "should" one.

Avoid useless stress: There are situations when you can avoid stress such as not starting a discussion about your favorite team with someone who dislike it.

Accept what you cannot change: The weather, people's emotions and many other things are not under your control. Just let it be and learn how to detach yourself from it. This is a good time to use your sense of humor.

Forgive yourself and others: No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Learn from them and do not judge people because of their them.

Express your feelings: Say it out loud. Today was not your day and you would like to be left alone. That's ok as long as you do project your anger on others.
Managing Work-life balance is learning how to listen to yourself and others in order to have harmonious relationships with all the aspects of yourself, bad or good.  
There is something very weird about the way we solve issues especially when it comes to help others. We either give them the solution considering that they cannot solve it alone or we give them the tools and knowledge they need to do so. We can see this in organization on a daily basis. Some bosses will always look down at you while leaders will give you the power to achieve your goals. I already clarified the difference between Bosses and leaders behavior in a post. The bosses are not ready to transfer their knowledge. Leaders on the other side guide your learning and give you hints when you need them. Sometimes we just repeat what we were told without really understanding what it means. We know that 1+1=2 but do we know why? In very specific situation 1+1 can equal 1 or 3. It depends on what those numbers and signs represent.

We created common frameworks of knowledge that allow us to communicate ideas quickly but sometimes we forget that the person in front of us may not have the same understanding or knowledge as we do. This is when we try to help them. This is when we think they need to know what 1+1 gives. This is when we assume that we know better when in fact we just know our way and not theirs. How many conflicts emerged when someone or a department wanted to help others and gave them a ready to use solution and then the solution was regarded with disdain and rejected? Doesn't it sounds familiar to you?

Well, then you faced a situation where someone was trying to assist you. You may welcome assistance because your need is punctual. In this case, it may make no sense to learn a new skill. I would encourage you to learn new skills when the issues happens more often.

There are 6 main differences between empowering people and assisting them. Here they are:

  1. Understand the person/group background
  2. Assess competences
  3. 2 ways communication
  4. Suggest possible ways to solve the issue
  5. Teach appropriate tools and knowledge 
  6. Guide and give hints

  1. Come as the savior
  2. Not pay attention to people background
  3. Underestimate people capacity to learn
  4. 1 way communication
  5. Use specialized language that only the helper understands
  6. Giving directives without explaining their consequences
Empowering employees seems to give them responsibilities for their fate while assisting them put them in a dependent relationship to their helper. It is true that we are all interdependent and that each department has a specialization. Unfortunately, the belief that IT people cannot understand or learn from HR issues or that Finance cannot work hand in hand with R&D creates paralyzed organizations. Working in organizations where everyone is assisting each other does not permit to dig deep in the issue and find its real roots. This may cause the issues to appear again and feed a vicious circle where the helper always has to help over and over again.

I am not saying it is easy to change from assisting people to empowering them. I am saying it is a must if we want to work in companies where solutions are found, people are creative, issues are opportunities and learning is a common thing. It is also more rewarding to see people go beyond their boundaries and find solutions to issues they know very well.

Who is the most competent to solve an issue than the one who is having it?

People do not need your assistance they need to be consider capable to solve their own issue.

Here is how you could go from Assisting your employee to Empowering them.
  1. Check background by asking questions.
  2. Assess competencies and knowledge
  3. Develop a 2 ways communication with feedback from both sides
  4. Define together learning necessities & ways to solve issues
  5. Teach skills and knowledge 
  6. Guide employee in the solving process
Empowering your employees helps to foster their engagement. We also have to take into consideration that some employee may never have the desire to be empowered and remain assisted. It will be your role to evaluate this need and make sure to keep your employee engaged.

I really appreciate when you share my posts and comment them. Feel free to write a comment. I will come back to you with pleasure!

Few weeks ago, I wrote a post on Bossy bosses and leaders. It was centered on behavior that make an employee hates or loves his superior. There are no perfect leader! Every person has tendencies to act in a positive or negative way. The best would be that all our tendencies foster clear communication, problem solving, positive conflict management, financial awarness, change capability, adaptation and so on.

In reality, there are days when we feel like fighting all fights and others when we would prefer not to get out of bed. There are also people with whom it is easier to work and those unexpected changes that come along your way. Being a perfect leader works very well in movies. Saying the right thing at the right time to the right person. Life is not like a movie script. There is no music to let you know that something is coming to you. There is no subtitles for the words that were not clearly said. There are no "stop" and "play" buttons.

In order to become better leaders we must understand the world we live in, ourselves included. We should be aware of its evolving shape. We can use different tools such as the one mentioned in my management tool box to better understand the corporate world.

The second aspect to take into account is that there are things we cannot change. This duality between what is malleable and what's not can be hard to apprehend but we can do it. We cannot for example change dirt into gold or change instantly any negative emotions into positives one. If you know a way email me!

We also have to be conscious of the things we can change. The mindset we are in  highly impacts the way we contemplate the changing face of the world. A learner mindset will allow us to evolve and as it is named learn while a judging mindset will cut you off all opportunities to learn. The book "Mindset - The new psychology of success" by Carol S. Dweck is a great read for those interested in learning more about the power of mindsets. The the book “Change your questions, change your life” written by Adams Marilee can also help you to become a learner.

Here is a 3 steps process to evaluate your leadership and improve it:

1 - Evaluation

Get at least 3 people you trust to answer the following questions and then answer the same questions about yourself. Make sure that those three people interact with you in the same domain. Do not ask your best friend and two colleagues to participate because you use different skills in those relationships. You can always add questions to this list to fit your needs. It does not pretend to cover all aspect of leaderships.

On a scale from 1 to 6 (1 negative  and 6 very positive) how strongly do you agree:
  • How clearly does X communicate about goals?
  • How clearly does X communicate about his/her values?
  • Does X walk the talk?
  • How well does X listen to others?
  • How clearly does X formulate his/her expectation about you and your work?
  • Can you approach X with your issues?
  • How well does X listen to your feedback?
  • Does X take actions after listening to you?
  • How strongly does X acknowledge your work?

2- It is not a flaw but a flow to follow

Now, you should have a better idea on what people see in you and what you see in yourself. Are they differences? if yes. Why in your opinion?
Make a list of the competencies which score is between 1 and 2, 3 and 4,  and 5 and 6. The categories will be low leadership competencies, average leadership competencies and then high leadership competencies. You can decide to reinforce your low or average competencies. Those are not flaws but flows to follow in order become a better leader. You can practice being more aware of people issue. At first, you have to acknowledge that you do not do it.

3- Step after step

At this stage, you should write down the actions that you can to take in order to follow the flow. For example, if you have a tendency to not clearly formulate your expectations to others. You could write a list of expectation you have and share them. Do not try to improve every aspect at the same time. It will be too hard and overwhelming. That may force you to stop your learning process and come back to your good old habits.

I hope this post helped you to create your personalized plan. I remain available for question at: You can also write a comment and I will come back to you.

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Becoming a better leader

Globalization is a phenomenon that has impacted everyone's life at some level. In the workplaces, it means, having people from different cultures working together. Managers are also more inclined to relocate abroad for few years. There are few things that you may expect and others that take you by surprise. It has usually always something to do with communication.

The first thing you want to avoid when working in multicultural teams is to offend people. Here are some facts about cultural differences:

Words are not everything.

We know that communication is not only made through words. Our behavior and body language impact the way the message is received. In some countries, talking to someone without looking at him in the eyes is taken as a liar or  a shifty behavior. In other countries, the same behavior is interpreted as a respectful one. Such behavioral rules are taught to children with sentences such as: "Look at me in the eye when I talk to you!"

1. Explicit vs. implicit communication.

In some cultures you do what you say or write and in others you can interpret what is said or written. The big difference can be explained the the schedule of a meeting:
An explicit communicator will say "let's meet at 3 pm" (he means it) and an implicit communicator will understand: "Let's meet some times after 3 pm".
The explicit communicator will be at the meeting at 3 pm if not a bit earlier while the implicit communicator will eventually arrive 10 to 15 minutes late, if not later.

In this situation the explicit communicator will probably be upset at the implicit one who may not understand what's wrong.

2. Us vs. Me

Some cultures are centered around the group other around the individual. The consequences of such differences is that a "us" person will generally position the group before him while the "me" person will take decision based on his needs. In the workplace, this can impact the relationship between employees. One could be seen as egoistic or too intrusive with people life.

3. Time perception:

Some cultures value time as a precious object that should not be wasted but organized while other cultures take time as an elastic object which use can vary. Imagine the relationship between a "time oriented" person and an "elastic time" person. The report has to be done as soon as possible for the "time oriented" person but the "elastic time" person estimate he has the time to do it. Seems familiar to you?

4. Hierarchy

The hierarchy can be either flat or with levels.  The more levels there are, the bigger is the distance between people at the bottom and at the top of the organization. A big distance implies  that roles are defined and fixed while a small distance amounts to a capacity to exchange roles.


There are a lot of things to say about cultural differences but they should not stop us from working together. We have the responsibility to acknowledge them and to adapt to them when possible.

The bigger risks when working in multicultural teams are: 

1. Stereotypes:

This is one of the most important point I want to make. Do not make assumptions on people's behavior based on the idea you have about their culture. First, your stereotype may be totally wrong and second being french do not make me a lazy person who will strike when I am not happy. I encourage you to read my post "Do not make assumptions, ask questions" to know what I exactly mean.

2. Language level difference

You may all speak the same language but some of your peer may not be native speakers. They can also be learning the language used in the organizations and may need more time to express their ideas clearly. Keep in mind that people can avoid asking for clarifications. Writing down the main points of a discussion can keep your peers engaged. Furthermore, having problems to express yourself in another language does not mean you are stupid. You probably agree with me right now but in practice we have a tendency to judge people intelligence based on their language level.

3. Exclusion

Another tendency we may have is to exclude people who differ to much from our culture. It is always easy to accuse Mr. New to not make efforts to integrate himself to the team but it is something else to take the responsibility to include him.

What can you do then? 

You can pay attention to your own stereotypes. Why don't you write a stereotype journal in which you will explain what you expect from a person based on your assumptions. This will be an eye opener exercise as it will make you realized how much you assume and how much you really know.

Be patient with your employees who are learning your language. Give them time to express their idea and why not offer them an advance course to help them improve their communication skills.

Always include your employee and be curious about his culture. How does he see the situation A? What would he do in his country? What differences chocked him when he first arrived? Why don't you try a "cultural dinner" where you will all bring a specialty from your own country /  region / city?

Any other ideas? Share them with us with a comment:

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We often think of workplaces as well organized with perfect workflows. It can be true for most organizations or at least some of their departments. How is it in reality? Well, as long as you do not look at the whole process you cannot spot organizational issues. You may already have a Quality Management (QM) book which explains and describes the procedures your organization has (should have). Is your QM process close to your everyday workflow? Are you satisfied with the way things are done?

In organizations, we may starts with big ideas on how things should be done. We write procedures and imagine assessments to check that everything is alright. We anticipate our needs and create idealized version of reality. Let me explain. In a perfect world, things will be done as written in the QM book, delay will not exist, last minute issue either. Unfortunately, in real life there is always something happening that was not planned: an ill employee, losing an important client, new competitors...

Here is how a perfect world would look like:
  • Perfect timing
You asked for the report to be on your desk at noon today but in fact it was ready yesterday. 
  • Flawless Humans
Your employees are engaged and provide the best service ever which impacts the customers loyalty and foster your brand fame. Your leaders promote equity, employees wellness and help each other to create a strong organizational culture that drives your company to success.
  • Perfect anticipations
You have planed all possible events and communicated the procedures to your employees along with perfect training. 
  • Perfect demand and offer
Your clients ask exactly for the services or products you can offer. In case of atypical demand you  have the means to satisfy your customers demand. R&D is your second nature. 
  • Perfect environment
The environment in which your organization evolves promotes your development. Laws are supporting you, competitors are not to scary, the economy is stable. Your dreams can become true.  
  • Flawless two-ways communication
Obviously, every time you communicate people understand what you mean and interpret every silence as wisdom. On the other side, you have the capacity to understand everything communicated to you. There are no language barriers, no misunderstanding.

This was the description of a perfect world but we all know that this is most of the time not the case.
In reality we have:
  • Usual time issues 
Your department was under so much pressure that you did not have the time to write the yearly report. 
  • Normal Humans
Leaders and employees are subject to emotions that can surface in the workplace at any time. Your employees may not be engaged and your leaders can be bossy bosses who do not foster wellness and slef-development in the organizations.
  • Inability to anticipate everything
We are not able to predict the future. We can only anticipate possible trends and get ready to react to impromptus events. This means that organizations have to be flexible enough to change directions when necessary. It sometimes easier said than done.
  • Variable demand and offer 
The demands varies in function of the environment in which your organization evolves. You may also lose some of your top talents which will impact your offer. 
  • Evolving environment
"The only constant is change" What ever is out there, it changes continuously. Laws are passed, competitors come and go. Economy collapse and grow. Global warming is real. Globalization too. Nothings seems to remain the same expect change.
  • Difficult communication
Communication is probably the most difficult area we have to deal with. It seems like we cannot understand what the other person says because we do not listen. On the other side, the person cannot understand us because they do not use the same frame or language to interpret the world. We have a tendency to have a one way communication which do not foster real exchanges.


There are ways to get closer to the workplace of our dreams. We should be more realistic and accept what is. We have to look at our workplace realities and find solutions that fits its employees, environment, communication and culture. Otherwise, any attempted change will fail. 

Systemic way to improve your workplace:

  • Observe reality and take notes 
It can be tempting to make assumptions on the problems' causes. It is then important to observe the current process in your organization. I encourage you to talk with the people involved in the process you are looking at in order to get their point of view and have a better understanding of the problem. Do not hesitate to create visual workflows by using for example the Swim lane diagram. 
  • Describe your dream
Take the time to dream about your goal. Do it in group with all the employees who are involved in the area you want to improve. Ask them what would make the situation better for them or ask them where do they face difficulties. There is probably a solution to your problem and talking about it may help to surface it. You can then create a Swim lane diagram of the dream process.
  • Identify gaps between Reality and Dream
Now that you have a clear understanding of what is and what could be, you can use the Swim lane diagrams and compare them. Where do the differences lay?
  • Investigate on action that could be taken to achieve the dream state
 Do you need to invest in a new software? Should you reorganize your workflow? What actions should be taken?
  • Create a step by step model of improvement
In this section, you should carefully think of breaking down the big project in small and accountable steps. You should create a check list of steps to be taken.
  • Implement the model
Now, it is becoming real! You will start implementing the change with the help of your employees. Find your Change agents in order to spread the change willingness.
  • Check if it works. Otherwise adapt the model to your needs
You may take time to check if the improvement process is smoothly or if some problems emerge. You should be ready to modify the model you created because your aim is to create improvement not to follow the process from A to Z.
  • Celebrate small success and recognize employees work
Every time a box is checked on your to do list you should celebrate it or at least mention that you are done with it. It will help people to see the evolution and keep engaged with the change.
  • Do your best to achieve your dream. It is normal if you do not fully achieve it.
Sometimes you cannot achieve exactly what you were aiming for. It is totally normal and acceptable as long as you did not worsen the initial situation. If the situation is worst it may be because you neglected the human aspect of the change or that the communication was not clear enough.

There are various Areas of Improvement that you may wish to look at. I would suggest you to improve one area at a time and to start with one that do not need to much amelioration in order to test your process.
  1. Time management
  2. Relationships between employees and leaders
  3. Innovation capability
  4. Environment assessment 
  5. Communication
Do not forget that in the end the result and the people well-being matters more than the process. You should be ready to change your model and to rethink your process in order to ensure the success of your change as well as the happiness of your employee. Now, Enjoy the journey.
I worked in very different organizations from a monolingual one, to an international start-up and then for an international organization. I also had the chance to hear about "fabulous" boss stories along the way. I had the chance to look at different ways of managing and could list few characteristics that created anger and disappointment in employees when they had to deal with their boss.

Here are some bosses' behaviors that made me tick as well as some of my peers:
  • Do what I say, not what I do.
This type of boss rely on their verbal power to make you work while they do not walk the talk. They may ask you to work harder while spending their morning reading magazine.
  • I listen to you, well no...
You come to your boss with a question or a news. They listen to you while gazing at their phones or anything else but you. 
  • I am not micro managing you, I am controlling your job.
The boss cannot let it go. He needs to know what you do, how you do it and even gives you advice on every little steps you take. Some of them are aware of it and explain it as a way to verify your work. 
  • How could you make a mistake like this? oh, I forgot to tell you. Bad for you!
You made a mistake in the final report, a mistake that could have been avoided if your boss had given you more information. In the end, he blames you for it and do not take responsibility for his miss-communication. 
  • Barbara, Let Robert take care of the printer... (doesn't sound sexist to you?)
Your boss always makes comments about gender, skin color, sexual orientation without an ounce of open-mindness. He may discriminate you and this is really unacceptable.
  • Your paycheck / extra hours from last month? I forgot about it.
I was very chocked to learn that some small organization's bosses take all the time they need to pay their employees. This can lead to serious problem when you do not receive your pay two months in a row. How could an employee accept that? He may not have the choice. Remember there is a job crisis going on. Losing your job is far too dangerous. 
  • This is a very boring task. Do it while I have fun with the interesting ones.
Your boss hired you because you had the perfect degree but on the daily basis you always to the " easy, boring" work. You are never challenged and you know he keeps the best work for himself. 
  • Do you have a problem? Let's talk about it...later 
You came to your boss to talk about an issue you are having at work. Unfortunately for you he is always too busy to listen or to give you advice.

How could anyone work well and be happy with a boss like this?  

Now, I also had the chance to work with wonderful leaders and to hear about good ones. They give us the desire to go for the extra mile, to stay longer after work hours, to be creative. In fact they helped us be engaged in our work! Here is what they do:
  • Last time you mentioned X and I decided to help you deal with it.
They always come back to you when you mentioned a issue or asked a question. They were always ready to teach you something new or encourage you to learn new skills.
  • You don't have a problem. We have a problem and we will solve it.
When one employee is faced with a problem the leader takes it personally. He gives his time and energy in order to help you find a solution.
  • If you made a mistake it is because I did not explain well.
The leader takes the blame on him when a mistake is made. He goes on the first line to defend his team. It can sometimes feels like he is indestructible. I would suggest to say thank you when he does that because he still took the hit for you.
  • Feel free to ask me questions.
The leader always has a door opened. He takes time to listen to your ideas and encourage to ask more questions. He helps you grow and ask you questions back. 
  • Your goal are X, Y, Z. Now go for it!
A leader gives you a vision of what he expects and lists your goals. He then gives you "carte blanche" to achieve them. You know why you have to work and in which direction you should go. 

How could anyone refuse to work with a leader like this?

I intentionally used two different words to describe the team managers: boss or leader. The boss is usually centered on himself and do not pay attention to others. He may consider you as replaceable meanwhile the leader works with his team to achieve a common goal. He considers each employee as a key player in the success of the team.

A question that many employees have when working with a boss is: "How can I handle this situation?". Some bosses can change into leaders but it seems difficult for employees to participate to this transformation. Unfortunately, employees faced with toxic bosses may have no other choice than survive with them. We are told to go away from toxic people but with the job market crisis in Europe, or the office politics, it can be just too dangerous to leave your job or talk about it. Here are few ways to deal with a bossy boss:

  • Confront your boss.
Just be bold and tell him what you think. After all, your boss is human and can be under lot of pressure. He may need a reminder that his behavior impacts others. This may be difficult for some of us and I will therefore encourage you to do it if you feel sure.
  • Find an interlocutor in the organization.
You may be surprised to find help and support from people within your organization. You should mention the issues to HR and explaining your point of view. No need to attack your boss.
  • Understand his process.
Your boss has his own ways to get what he wants. You can identify andrealize that there are times when you can avoid tensions.
  • Acknowledge the toxicity of the boss.
Just acknowledge that your boss can be toxic or create a negative environment. It will help you to better deal with it. 
  • Use your sense of  "humor".
A bit of humor always helps to deal with difficult situations. If you can laugh about it, you can overcome it.
  • Look for institutions that could help you defend yourself.
It can also happen that your boss is acting in total illegality. I suggest you to make a search on the behavior you are facing at work. You may be bullied, oppressed, harassed, discriminated and all those things can be legally punished. One of the difficulty though is to prove your point. 
  • Look for another job.
Your best option sometimes is to leave your job. Having worked with a "boss" you will be able to ask subtle questions to understand the working way of your future manager. We all hope the new one will be a leader. 
  • Talk about it with someone external.
You may also consider to talk about your issue with someone exterior to your workplace in order to avoid a snow bowl effect. In the organization, you may speak to someone, who will speak to someone, who will speak to someone and then a rumor may spread wider and be out of control. You never know how deformed your initial complain could come back to you. Just be careful. 
  • Learn meditation or practice sport.
You could learn new ways to relax or practice more sport. The healthier we are the better we can react to negative situations. You may also discover your inner self which is worth the try. 

Did you ever work with a bossy boss? How did you deal with it? What would you advice to someone in the same situation?