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Ten Things Successful People Do to Become Experts

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, April 05, 2017

As a brand and culture strategist who helps individuals and brands define their unique position in the market, I meet many business owners, entrepreneurs and thought leaders who want to position themselves as Brand U experts.

Not only do they want to be known as key influencers in their field, they want to leverage and build a reputation so clients and business finds them, so media ask them for their opinion rather than them having to sell, sell.

I just read an article by Lolly Daskal from Lead From Within and it aligns so closely with the advice I give my clients that thought I would share a part of it here and add my personal commentary (my personal thoughts are included in italics). Thanks @LollyDaskal for the great resource!

Here are 10 simple strategies that can help you raise your profile and help you find the people who need your expertise (plus commentary from me):

1. Identify your skill.

When you know your skills and capabilities, it is easier to position yourself as an expert. What are your skills, experience, and knowledge?

(I recommend the Gallup Clifton Strengths Finder, you can also explore DISC, PCSI, Myers Briggs but my personal preference is the Strengths Finder - if you need help undertaking this contact us!)

2. Find your voice.

Create a website, define a target audience, and begin speaking from your experience. Let people find out what you know and what you stand for. Having a voice builds your authority and allows others to find you online.

(If you don’t have a website yet use a blog or LinkedIn articles like this to state your position).

3. Maintain your credibility.

Define what you know and draw a line. With your reputation at stake, this is not a time to practice "fake it till you make it." As you progress, remember that what is most important is to maintain your credibility and your reputation.

(Everything you say and do must be on brand to maintain this. Everything, especially online - post consciously. Expand your skills of course but don't bulls@#t about what you can and can't do).

4. Network generously.

The real currency of networking is not about getting; it is about giving. It is about being generous with those you meet and sharing what you have to offer. Networking is what will get you introduced; generosity is what will make a connection.

(My motto is always Give, Give, Give. Follow up – send a referral, an article a resource that will help them, and of course connect on LinkedIn).

5. Speak up everywhere you go. 

A great way to be acknowledged as an expert is to apply to a conference and get booked to speak. Speaking engagements are a great way to reach your audience and build your credibility. Find professional associations or company boards or town hall meetings. Are there classes you can teach, either in a noncredit program or a traditional academic program? When people start calling you to speak about your what you know, you have become an expert.

(Speaking is one of the best positioning tools – speak and you are perceived as the expert. To expand my speaking in 2016 I gave away 20 speaking gigs for free in the month of May, it got me focused, got me seen and helped me hone my craft).

6. Develop a blog.

Blogging provides you with a potential worldwide audience, and showcases your subject-matter expertise as well as your abilities as a writer. The key to writing a successful blog post is to keep the information useful and highly relevant, and to put out value articles frequently. Remember, you want people to see you as a resource, so provide the best information possible.

(See #2 - also keep track of what people like to read and the information they comment on, like or share - my two most popular blog post to date show people are having trouble with their bosses and leaders. Check them out here:  1 - How poor leaders are killing us and 2 - How to tell your manager they suck)

7. Become the source.

Journalists and writers are always looking for experts that they can quote in their articles. You can connect with these professionals with websites like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) or The Expert Connection (ProfNet); these sites can connect an expert with their audience.

(We have SourceBottle here in Australia. Also you can write opinion pieces for the journals etc that are in your clients field).

8. Produce something.

Produce your own informational pieces such as books, e-books, or monthly newsletters. You can also create learning platforms with webinars, podcasts, or online videos to promote your services. You can then feature these products on your website or blog, or give them away when people enquire about your products.

(Yes yes yes this is why I recommend many of my clients write a book or a white paper. You can check out my quirky book - it's only a plane ride read - here!)

9. Make use of social networking. 

Social platforms are important to getting your expertise out. Be active on all social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

(Use your expertise to add value, especially related to your keyword or key point of expertise whenever you can).

10. Help others along the way. 

You can also develop your reputation as an expert by using your knowledge and expertise to help others. Signing on to skill share is a great way to become acknowledged as an expert in your field.

(Connect, engage, and assist as many people as you can - even here on LinkedIn - that is how your influence will grow. Before you know it people will be asking for your experience because they know, like and trust you. My measure of if you are beginning to become a brand U expert is are you being asked to have coffees often because people want to "pick your brain").

Branson Vs Obama who dares wins

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Sir Richard Branson - aka Dr Yes - has been at his antics again!

This time the tie loathing adventurer and thrill seeker challenged Barack Obama to a kitesurfing v foil boarding competition around Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Not only do the photos (full credit to @hijack Jack Brockway for the awesome pics) and video Sir Richard  shared on social media depict a good dose of humour but they also show a relaxed and carefree former president lapping up the sun, surf and social life.

There are so many lessons we can take away from watching two world leaders at play.

As I talk about in my video Lessons From Necker Island I learnt so much about life and business from Sir Richard especially how much you can get done and the connections you can make when you are having fun and letting go. How wonderful to see Sir Richard invite Barack and Michelle down to his private island Moskito (across the channel from Necker Island) for a complete break after Barack finished as President and left the white house.

For eight years while in office Barack didn't get to surf, enjoy water sports or do any of the things he loved so it is wonderful to see him living in the moment, carefree and enjoying the water once again.

Sir Richard challenged Barack to learn to kitesurf before he could learn to foil board - on the final day they had a challenge - who could stay standing the longest - check out Branson's latest post to find out who dared and won in the end!

In this start of 2017 with my goal of it being the year of the JOYful Unicorn I look forward to continuing to incorporate fun, play and friendship into my world and business. What can you takeaway from watching two world leaders at play?

Have you ever said no to a big opportunity?

Alexandria Joy - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Have you ever said no to a big opportunity?

No I don’t want that new job and pay increase.

No I don’t want to go on that secondment to the other department.

No I don’t want to make a presentation to the Board.

I said no to a big opportunity last week, one that I’ve had on my vision board since January, and it was a tough call to make.

As a workplace futurist and someone who helps organisations plan and strategise their culture and brand for the future I am constantly scanning the environment, travelling throughout Australia and around the world, visiting companies that are on the forefront of modern work practices to bring those ideas back to leaders and organisations we work with.

I spend a lot of my waking hours thinking about the future. So you can imagine how excited I was to have been invited in March to speak at the World Futures Conference in Washington this past weekend. My topic – How to make work work in the future. Awesome and so right up my alley.

I had been planning the trip for some time, I’d already bought a conference ticket, accommodation was sorted and I’d been making connections on LinkedIn with peers that would be at the conference.

And then last week, life got a bit crazy, things weren’t lining up at work or at home and I came up against some pretty deep stuff – like feeling like a fraud and off course.

So I said no to speaking at the conference. I said no to a big break. To the crème de la crème of the futurists gathering. I said no to showing up regardless.

Instead I said yes. Yes to staying home. Yes to me.

For once I was totally and utterly honest with myself. I checked in and no it wasn’t fear making me back away, in speaking is one of my favourite things to do. It was just that the pull to say yes to being true to me was stronger.

I felt bad for letting the conference organisers down, but the truth was I was on day 2, not the headline, plenary speaker, a bit of reshuffling and the conference agenda would work fine. It was more a blow to my ego than an inconvenience to anyone else. Funny how the universe has a way of delivering harsh lessons at the most inopportune times.

I’d been having some hints and intuition that a change was necessary but a total transformation? Hadn’t seen that coming – some futurist I am ha ha!

I wrote a blog last week as this all unfolded and I was sick in bed with a stomach virus purging and transitioning. Some would warn against such a potentially career limiting article, however the feedback about the raw and real honesty has been a surprise to me.  

How did I get here? When did I forget the things that I love doing the most?

I love my work, I love helping people and companies unleash their uniqueness so they can show up authentically and love their work every day. It’s bloody awesome work. But somewhere along the way I had lost my own way and forgotten to heed my own advice.

I started asking some big questions about life, my business and how I want to work and who with. Magically new clients turned up immediately, precisely the kind I like to work with as if to say – here, do more of this!

Awesome nudges. Perfect clues. Thank you universe.

Luckily the conference organisers were very understanding and agreed that I could donate my conference ticket I had already purchased to a scholarship student who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend – awesome #generosityeconomy in action.

I was so relieved once it was done and of course a little disappointed.

But as with any decision, once made, energy has began to flow in the new direction and clarity has returned. I’ve begun making changes in my business, a new website, a new podcast, a documentary, a charitable collaboration and a new theatre style event are all now in the pipeline. Some of these will be launched in the very near future, some a little further off, but already synchronicities are beginning to happen.

So it’s possible to say no to a big opportunity and still find a silver lining!

This week I’m focused on getting even clearer about how I want to live and work, where and with whom so I can put it into action.

Making the decision to say no was the hardest part, once it was done it was done and I could move on again and regain my flow.

Are you finding yourself at a crossroads unable to say yes or no and feeling stuck and frustrated? Don’t worry pushing through the resistance is just part of the process, it’s a sign that you’re on your way.

If you need help and you want to know how to get clear on the future path for your career, business or brand visit www.uqpower.com.au and check out our services and offerings.  

Our videos, articles and resources are a great way to start the forward momentum yourself – whether it’s to grow your team, increase your income or profits or create the most memorable brand in your market.

Start saying no and releasing more energy and space to say yes to you and your dreams. You know you’re unique and you’re awesome and the world needs you!

Are micro managers sucking the life out of your people?

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, June 12, 2016

You know the kind.

The ones who invoke the sound of Dracula entering the shot in your head when they walk into the office. The Micro Manager. The energy zapper. The whingy, whiny, shouting, finger pointing painful manager. 

I call them Container Managers. 

Container Managers are basically the managers who find it hard to let go of the reins, to trust their team and get out of the way.

Container Managers are typically good at doing what has to be done. They are good at dealing with facts and not letting their emotions or other people’s emotions get in the way of making a decision.

Container Managers are great at developing procedures, implementing plans, and believe that no-one can do the job as good as they can.

Container Managers have a tendency to hold onto decision-making and undertake jobs that could be delegated which is not conducive to the creation of an effective culture and rather than creating a high performance team it is very probable that they are sucking the life out of your people.

Container managers are typically responsible for the bottleneck in organizations, where innovation is stymied and ideas are shelved. True they may be producing revenue and results in the short term however they rarely create a leadership pipeline, are reliant on the command and control approach and can ill-afford time off as their teams become co-dependent.

Container Managers approach may have worked in 1965 but it will not allow a company to survive in 2020.

The New Leadership Alternative

The best way for an organizations to begin to shape and construct a more positive and productive future culture is to start with its managers and leaders as well as with those in linchpin positions – in middle management.

In their book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown discuss how great leaders extract at least two times more capability from their people than poor leaders.

Expander Leaders build great, sustainable, positive cultures.

Expander Leaders live by the motto that you have to give power to empower.

Expander Leaders value inclusiveness and participation, they hand over the decision-making process, and let their employees govern themselves.

Expander Leaders deal with the facts, but also consider how it impacts people emotionally. They listen to their employees, realize their strengths, tap into their potential, and include them in the growth of business.

Expander Leaders understand the power of emotions and non-verbal communication. They create healthy relationships, a caring and trusting environment which brings out best in their team.

Expander Leaders appreciate others, engage in purposeful conversations and help their people to find work they love to do.

Expander Leaders create driven, loyal employees who are engaged and energized, who want to make a valuable contribution to the organization and go the extra mile.

If you want to read more about creating a culture that works with more expanders than containers read my article here.

Which leaders are you creating in your company culture? #startwithU


The Generosity Economy is Alive and Well

Alexandria Joy - Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I have always said if you want to change the world, you have to #startwithU.

However like me, many people express that they feel helpless or uncertain of how they could begin to take steps to change the world. They ask what could I possibly do? What could I give? How could I be of service?

It got me thinking after speaking to a friend who had returned from Nepal: in a world that is materialistically rich, yet spiritually poor, is it possible for a generosity economy to emerge and to flourish?

It’s not a new concept, in fact, historically as a race we survived on the exchange of gifts, goods and services; there was no artificial paper notes or numbers on a page assigned to give something value.

Is it possible then for us to reverse our materialistic focus and revert to operating from a place where we are rewarded for our productivity, our generosity and our service?

Rather than the old paradigm of ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’, the new generosity economy creates more of a circle of goodwill where people give and share freely and where everyone benefits.

I am delighted to say that I put this question to the test and saw evidence of this new economy in spades on a recent overseas trip.

It began in San Francisco, I arrived after a long flight to be greeted in the hotel foyer by my roomie and friend chief Sista Code blogger, Melissa Histon. Mel had generously waited around for me for more than an hour so she’d be there to take me to the room and help me settle in.

After unpacking we took to the streets in search of a restaurant to eat, deciding to catch a cable car. As we waited in line, a beggar came up along the line asking everyone waiting if they had any money to spare.

Everyone looked away, ignored them or grumbled under their breath. But not Melissa, she said bright and cheerfully to him, ‘I have something for you’ and reached into her wallet and took out a five dollar note to give him.

He mumbled thanks and moved on.

Someone in the line ahead of us cursed her saying something about ‘great there’s always a sucker now we’ll all be bothered by him’. Mel didn’t respond to them but once we boarded the cable car she whispered to me, “you just never know what someone’s going through and how your kind gesture might help.” I had to agree with her.

Later that week, while in New York, we walked past a church and saw a robed man handing out food to homeless people sitting waiting on the steps of the church. His movements were slow and deliberate with an air of kindness and compassion.

I took a mental note of how this simple act of generosity appeared to not only raise the recipients’ spirits, but also mine too. I realised that just by witnessing this act of generosity my energy levels had been raised as well. I pointed out the interaction to Mel and together we smiled in joy at the simple act of loving kindness.

It seemed that everywhere I looked on the trip from then on I began witnessing and partaking in the generosity economy. Whether it be the policeman or soldier in the street I randomly asked to pose with me for a photo wearing my cape who agreed generously and played along with the fun. To meeting a group of people protesting about the lack of abortion clinics for women in the USA who we gave a donation to and who shared their stories, stickers, ideals and hopes with us openly and enthusiastically.

The next leg of our journey was sure to be yet another extension of the generosity economy as it came about through the kind generosity of an amazing business woman Emma Isaacs, CEO of Business Chicks Australia and USA.

Emma had herself experienced a trip such as this a few years prior and rather than hoarding it or wanting it to remain exclusively hers she came home asking,“how can I share this experience with other women in our business chicks community?”

And this was just the tip of the iceberg, for the following week we travelled to the British Virgin Isles in the Caribbean to attend a Leadership Gathering on Necker Island I experienced even more pure, non-judging, generous behaviour.

Everything about Sir Richard Branson’s private island was done with a sense of service and generosity. Whether it be the generous free flowing drinks, the warm smiles and welcoming hugs of his fabulous staff to the new friends we made who joined us on the trip.

Richard himself was generous with his time, his energy, his laughter, his praise and his stories. I witnessed the conservation work being done on the island from flamingos to tortoises to lemurs, his generosity went beyond man and was extended to the environment and fellow animals, not for kudos or image but from a genuine, loving place. 

Read the rest of this article about my experience and see all the photos here http://thesistacode.com/want-to-be-uplifted-join-the-generosity-economy/#comment-858 

Germanwings Crash Why Leaders Must Discuss Mental Health Issues

Alexandria Joy - Monday, April 06, 2015

In the wake of the recent tragic Germanwings crash, the working world is reminded of just how far we still have to go to identify, treat and manage employees living with mental illness and experiencing extreme stress or anxiety in the workplace, especially in high-risk, high-pressure professions.

The tragedy raises many questions for leaders and organisations today and not just should we allow pilots with a history of depression to fly passenger planes? Here are some questions you should consider as a leader:

  • Should we promote employees who have required psychiatric care?
  • Should we approach a workmate we suspect of experiencing depression or anxiety?
  • Should someone on medication for mental illness be allowed to drive vehicles or operate heavy machinery on job sites?
  • Should we permit a person with a mental illness to be promoted to a stressful job?
  • Should an employee ask a supervisor or upline RUOK?

This is a complex issue and has no simple answers. When faced with such complexity it is valuable to begin with the facts:

Fact: Smart workplaces provide support. If profitability and responsible business practices are part of your company’s vision, mental health should also be a priority. Your commitment to mental health should be communicated openly and frequently to all employees. For example as part of induction, displayed in tearooms on posters, as policies and procedures that everyone is aware of and visibly reinforced through the practices of management.

It's one thing to have a policy in place to to accommodate employees with mental health issues, but it is another to create a supportive environment where they don't feel inhibited to take advantage of them.

Fact: Healthy workplaces discuss Mental Health openly. Mental illness is a cloak and dagger affair in many organizations, mentally healthy organisations on the other hand start and continue the conversation. A good test of how supportive your organisation is is to ask yourself this question: “How safe is it in your company for an employee to let their manager know that they are on medication for depression and/or visits a therapist?”

Addressing the issue of mental illness in the workplace has to begin with an acknowledgement that it exists and needs to be discussed openly.

Fact: Healthy workplaces promote a culture of respect. Sometimes the greatest help to mentally ill employees comes not from some kind of official policy but from peers or line bosses who are willing to listen and offer genuine support. The fish rots from the head - organisational leaders and business owners need to make visible, long-term commitments to mental health in their workplaces as they are in the strongest position to positively influence the company culture.

Ensuring robust policies around bullying and harassment is also important, as well as encouraging employees to call out or report any inappropriate behaviour they witness or experience.

My heart goes out to the passengers, crew, families and all those affected by the Germanwings crash, especially the family of our two Australian passengers. The loss of life is heartbreaking and yet it may have opened a door to many employers to start having difficult, compassionate discussions about mental illness. As tragic as it has been, let us not waste this opportunity to create more awareness.

PWC research shows $2.30 is the average return on investment for every $1 invested in creating a mentally healthy workplace. Better productivity begins with a mentally healthy workplace

A positive workplace environment and good mental health go hand in hand. Let's honour those lost by beginning this conversation today.

If you are a leader in your organisation have you tackled any of these questions? How have you opened up dialogue? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you would like to read more about the benefits of creating a healthy workplace environment then you may also like the following articles and videos:

How Balanced Leaders Create Healthy Workplaces

How Workplaces Are Making Us Sick

How Toxic Workplaces Are Killing Us

Balanced Leaders Create Healthy Cultures

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Most people today could share a story about someone they've worked for who was highly intelligent, highly skilled and got promoted to a position of leadership only to drive their workers around the bend and leave them running for the hills.

This common story told the world over suggests that identifying individuals with the right goods to be a great leader is not an exact science or exercise in who has the best resume. After all, evidence shows that the personal styles of the best leaders vary greatly as seen from my recent list of the 50 leaders I most want to interview.

Some leaders are quiet, conscientious and analytical, others are bold and boisterous preaching their vision and values to the biggest audience they can find. Regardless of their external personality traits however, we have found through our work at UQ Power that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they create healthy workplace cultures where their workers feel safe and valued.

In the course of the past year, my colleagues and I have focused on how leaders and managers can create the most physically, emotionally and psychologically healthy workplace cultures. Using our proprietary UQ Powerhouse Blueprint we have worked with numerous public and private organisations and examined the relationship between IQ - innovation and intellectual safety, EQ - emotional intelligence and psychological safety, BODY - cultural presence and physical safety and VISION - clarity of purpose and financial safety, especially in leaders. And we have observed how each of these four dimensions, the quadruple bottom line, shows themselves on the job.

Which is why most people today could share a story about someone they've worked for who had high IQ but low EQ and drove them around the bend. When we study organizational psychology, culture and well being we begin to see that one area connects to another, and another in such a way that it is hard to isolate one without considering the other. Organizations therefore could more appropriately be seen as a complex living organisms rather than simply as an organization.

Identifying what makes an organisation healthy is not a straightforward science as one needs to appreciate the UQ (uniqueness quotient) of each individual employee - basically every worker has different motivators and or stressors and each group or team has its own dynamic which in turn ultimately creates the organisation’s culture.

What we have found through our work is that just like any other living organism, an organisation needs to be nourished, maintained, and experience growth in order to sustain it over the longer term. It also needs some essential nutrients to ensure it maintains peak health including:

Nutrient 1 - Free Flowing Communication: Communication is always a two-way street and requires contextual listening (listening beyond words to what is being said, not said and felt). So many companies are built on top-down communication from management leaving employees feeling there is no point in saying how they feel as they have no direct channel and don't feel they'll have an impact. Effective leaders and managers are those who create an atmosphere that fosters trust and open, two-way communication. Communication can be critical especially during difficult times such as those recently experienced as a result of the economic downturn (Read this article to find out more about leading during a downturn).

Nutrient 2 - People emPOWERment: By understanding and appreciating the UQ (uniqueness) in each and every employee and leveraging their individual talents, a leader will build confidence and trust and empower individuals to self-manage. By empowering employees to be victors rather than victims, to celebrate their uniqueness rather than punishing their imperfections, by owning their responsibilities, a healthy empowered environment is created. Through an empowered workplace you will not only have the benefits of enhanced productivity but you can grow your reputation among your customers and stakeholders.

Nutrient 3 - Spreading PositivityIn The Happiness Advantage, former Harvard professor Shawn Achor argues that people who start off happy are more likely to succeed and using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how organisations can gain a competitive advantage by shifting employees to become more positive too. Similarly Professor Richard Boyatzis' Intentional Change Theory states that intense positive emotions will have a contagion effect on others. Likewise we must be conscious of the negative emotions one emits as well, Boyatzis suggesting that for every negative thought three positive thoughts are needed to counter the affect.

Nutrient 4 - Cool Collaboration: In short, teams that play together, stay together. A leader's job is to ensure everyone in the organization must work in solving problems while adapting change together. Cohesive organizations build unity toward improving and resolving issues as a team and not as isolated units. Simon Sinek frequently cites the Marine Corps for having found a way to build a culture in which men and women are willing to risk their lives, because they know others would do the same for them. It’s not brainwashing; it’s actually based on the biology of how and when people are naturally at their best. If businesses could adopt this supportive mentality, employees would be more motivated to take bigger risks, because they’d know their colleagues and company would back them up, no matter what.

The best company cultures are vibrant, healthy ones where the well being of individuals and the sustainability of the organization go hand in hand. It is ultimately a place where individuals are inspired to work, trust, and value the uniqueness in one another, while reinforcing the mission of the organization.

What interventions, improvement programs or cultural reviews have proven to work well for you and your organization?

What other nutrients do you believe support a healthy organizational culture, not listed in the list above? 

Feel free to share a comment or two about your experiences below, I'd love to know.

References
Achor, Shawn The Happiness Advantage
Adelson, S. and LaRoche, G . (n.d) The Power of Positive Emotional Attractors. Boyatzis, R. E., Soler, C. (2012). Vision, leadership and emotional intelligence transforming family business, Journal of Family Business Management.
Sinek, Simon (2014) Leaders Eat Last
Topping, Peter, (2002), Managerial Leadership. McGraw-Hill.

The Best Leaders Embrace Imperfection

Alexandria Joy - Friday, January 16, 2015


I have a dream.

I imagine a world where everyone has an opportunity to love their work and do their best work using their unique strengths every day.

Sadly many modern workplaces with their rigid policies, procedures, measures, position descriptions and obsessive overwork cultures are doing little to encourage individuals to embrace their uniqueness and quirky ways.

In my experience the most important people in organisations are not the executives at the top but the team leaders and middle managers as they are the catalyst for every success or failure a company has. Everything from communication, innovation, and change to productivity and growth, flows through the team leader or line manager.

We all know the old saying that people join a company but leave their manager and through my work I speak to lots of leaders, supervisors and line managers and they all say they want to build a great team culture – but they don’t always know how or where to start.

One of the first steps in becoming a great Expander Leader is to stop beating your self and your people up for not being perfect.

Perfectionism is not healthy striving. When we aim for perfection we focus on the negative, on what’s not working and what we are lacking.

Perfectionism is crippling. It’s the vice of a Container Manager. It comes from a place of low self-worth, of controlling, insecurity and devilish detail.

Imperfection is freeing. It’s the joy of being an Expander Leader. It comes from a place of growth and expansion, of delighting in possibilities and being comfortable with emotions and being authentic.

Think of the bristle of a paintbrush left stranded in a painting. The uneven glaze of a Japanese ceramic cup. The delightful quirkiness of a homemade go-cart.

Perfection comes out of moulds or off assembly lines.

Things made by nature or by hand, like us are imperfect. It’s the little things that make us unique and unlike any one else that allow us love our work and give our best performance every day.

The same is true for leaders, companies and workplace cultures too. There is no one perfect way to build a great culture or team or business. There is no best structure, framework or performance management system.

What makes Expander Leaders great is that they:

  • Are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses
  • Are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don't know.
  • Are the ones who can't do it all; they are the ones who look to others to help them.
  • Are the ones who don't try to be perfect, they try to be themselves.

If you are a manager, supervisor or team leader what's one thing you can do to celebrate the UQ (Uniqueness Quotient) in your people? Remember to #StartwithU

Now it’s your turn. Tell me, where has perfection held you back from progressing from doing your best work?

I'd love to know. Share your thoughts in the comments below.


How Poor Leaders Are Killing Us

Alexandria Joy - Friday, November 28, 2014
"Our jobs are killing us and the people who are responsible are our leaders."


I recently heard Simon Sinek say this in a YouTube video and it really struck a chord. How did you feel when you read that? Harsh reality? Don't believe me? Or perhaps you have had an experience yourself or heard someone say "my boss is busting my balls" or "my manager is killing me!"

These might be throw away comments around the water cooler but sadly they are a reflection of reality. 
In my view and experience leadership is not a rank or position – it is a choice. It is a choice to be of service and support others. Since first reading Robert Greenleaf's powerful book The Servant Leader when writing my thesis paper for my master's degree in my late 20's, to working for the General Manager of a large teaching hospital with 3,000 staff who clearly cared about his staff and how they cared for their patients, I began the journey of studying servant leaders.

Some of the most powerful lessons I learnt came from working in toxic environments where there was a clear container manager culture of restrictive, measured and fear based decisions that created a dog eat dog, dobber mentality amongst staff. Here I saw how even one container manager at the top could have a negative impact on people's self-esteem, health, wellbeing and relationships both at work and at home.

Almost as bad as the container manager was the disinterested manager where I witnessed people shrivel and lose their spark as they became undervalued and invisible.

And the research proves working for these poor leaders is a problem for individual employees as well as for the organisation. Studies from Europe and the US are showing that when people say “my boss is killing me”, quite literally this could be the case - around 25% of people who have worked for a poor manager for a short period of time and 38% of the people who have worked for a poor manager for a longer period of time are more likely to have a stroke or heart disease later in life as a product of working with them.

Biologically working with a manager who makes us feel paranoid and anxious and unsafe creates too much cortisol in our body which compromises our immune system, will make us self-interested and stressed, and makes us less empathic and considerate of others.

In addition, being ignored by a manager results in a 4 in 10 chance you’ll be actively disengaged in your job on a daily basis. If your manager tells you what you’re doing wrong – there’s a 2 in 10 chance you’ll be actively disengaged at work.

On the other hand if you are fortunate to work for an expander leader who focuses primarily on your strengths – there’s only a slim 1 in 10 chance that you’ll be disengaged at work.

So what is it that expander leaders do differently to poor leaders or container manager? Expander or servant leaders:
  • create more leaders – they are of service
  • see possibility in every individual employee and seek to find the Uniqueness (I call it the UQ) in every single person
  • are more likely to sacrifice self for the good of the many and the organisation
  • take care to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.
  • focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.
  • give control, not take control.
Of the company's I've studied over the past two decades, those with an expander leader driven culture experience:
  • less staff turnover
  • less OHS issues, disputes and claims
  • increased productivity
  • increased profit
  • increased stakeholder and employee engagement.
Creating a positive, productive and mentally healthy workplace culture is one of the important issues businesses face today. A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers report identified that ignoring it costs Australian businesses around $10.9 billion a year in lost productivity. And with stress, anxiety and poor mental health likely to affect one in five employees, by taking action the benefits can be profound.

The benefits are clear. Business leaders need to make a long-term commitment to a creating positive, mentally healthy workplace, not killing their people. By taking the initiative, you'll not only make your company a better place to work where people feel respected as unique individuals, you can help make it more productive and profitable. And that's just good business.

Want to change the world? Become an Expander Leader and #StartwithU
If you're sick and tired of working for a container manager and are at your wit's end you might like to watch my video "How to tell your boss they suck".

How Giving Chocolate Can Boost Company Culture and Profits

Alexandria Joy - Friday, November 21, 2014

Decades of research, in multiple countries around the world, has shown time and again that investing in a positive, high-trust workplace culture yields distinct, tangible business benefits. Studies show that great workplaces enjoy significantly lower turnover and better financial performance than industry peers. 

In a nutshell – positive teams means a positive workplace and positive profits. Sounds simple. The trick is making it happen. 

So what do most positive company cultures have in common? Let's call it the UQ factor (UQ = Uniqueness Quotient – recognising the unique strengths in every individual).

Our work and research has shown that positive employees work harder and are more productive than their less than chipper peers. The fact is these people choose to give their best work every day because they feel appreciated, valued and able to contribute their talents. The companies that grow these cultures recognise and deliver on the promise to value their people as their most important asset. 

It starts with the company recognizing and embracing the unique value of every individual employee and giving them an opportunity to do their best work. This means all managers must get to know their employees – their strengths and talents and take a sincere interest in understanding how they learn, grow and work best. 

Here’s three things you can give to create a more productive, positive and powerful workforce:
  1. Give feedback – people crave feedback, yet much of corporate communication is lacking in this area. When employees don't feel heard as an individual, they don't feel respected or positive about the workplace. When this happens, they begin to look for of greener pastures. Upskill your managers in how to have coaching conversations so they can start listening to, developing and leveraging the talent in their teams. Set up a quarterly or monthly meeting where the whole team can talk through their ideas and suggestions, and be sure to wave the flag when you implement an employee-suggested concept. 

  2. Give back - Most people want to work for a company they can be proud of, and this means doing well by doing good in the world. (This is especially important for Millennial workers). Your company needs to grow its capabilities in the EQ Quadrant of the UQ Powerhouse to become more socially responsible and more in touch with your local community. Get out in the local community and find ways to help, offer volunteer days off or align your company with a charity who is doing great work. 

  3. Give chocolate – Need I say more? Is there anything chocolate can't do? Rewarding and recognising staff for a job well done or for living according to your values and culture needn’t be reserved for the annual company dinner. Nothing works better than immediate, positive reinforcement so why not keep some sweet chocolate treats in the workplace for just such rewards? Workers like to snack during the day, and a quick word of thanks (or hand written note) with a special pick-me-up attached is sure to hit the spot. It’s a quick and easy way to improve mood and productivity
A great company culture can keep people productive and help you retain your best employees. If your bottom line needs a boost and you need to turn some frowns upside down then consider making giving a priority for your company culture. Using some of these outside-of-the-box methods, you can give your team a smile and give your company a productivity boost. 

Need help? Our UQ Power Pulse Check will help you find out how healthy your workplace culture is. 

What do you think? How do you improve employee happiness and productivity? Share in the comments below!

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