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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?

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


Leaders. Get your head in the clouds

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, April 17, 2016

The big picture doesn't cut it any more. It's the friggin HUGE picture that matters now.

Remember that famous analogy of the rocks, pebbles and sand that Dr Stephen Covey made famous? (If you've been living under a rock - pun intended - thencheck out this video from FranklinCovey). Well in the 90's and early 2000's that was a great way to plan, execute and manage your time.

But today in 2016 it's simply not going to cut it.

As suggested by Gary Vaynerchuk, today you need to act more like a futurist and have your head in the clouds and far ahead on the horizon as well as still keep your feet in the sand (Gary says the dirt but I prefer the beach) at the granular level.

Today the companies and leaders who succeed have learned to reach up high and tap down low, to think 30 years ahead and to execute and innovate in the now. Think like Apple and Tesla.  

Think about your own industry for a moment. Where do you see it heading in 30 years time? Will it still exist? Will it have been replaced by robots and artificial intelligence? What technology will be needed to support the people driving change?

And what can you do about that now? How can you begin to be more like sand in the surf, being flexible and nimble, light and able to shift and move with the current. Or are you still focused on the rocks, stuck, stagnant and unable to adapt and adopt? Is there a massive ship about to crash into your rock and because you weren't checking the view from the lighthouse in the clouds, and now you're unable to adjust course and move your business left or right, up or down?

VISION is worthless without EXECUTION

and 

EXECUTION is pointless without VISION.

You not only have to know your craft intimately (your sand) but also understand where your business and industry is heading (your clouds). If you stick with the rocks you'll be average and get average results. You have to start reaching up and tapping down rather than spreading out. Gone are the industrial age days of growth for growth sake. Bigger larger plant sizes, more staff, bigger contracts, even when the margins were getting smaller and smaller and profits less and less we saw big companies still aiming for lateral growth, taking up space, wasting energy on their middle aged spread.

Tomorrow's successful businesses will be vastly different they'll be grounded, long, lean and wiry, reaching, reaching, reaching for the clouds. They'l be architects and masons. Grounded yet unsettled. Think Uber, Air BNB and Alibaba.

Those companies stuck in the middle bland land will get lost in the sea of sameness, stuck with massive overheads, large volumes of wasted stock, with buildings, land and machinery of little worth. They'll have large footprints that take up a lot of space and have massive environmental impacts. They'll play it safe when safe is no longer a valid strategy.

If you're thinking 1-3 years in the future, you're leaving yourself and your company vulnerable and exposed. If you're spending three days at a leadership retreat planning your three year strategic plan and then reporting blindly for the next three years against that plan then you're essentially dead in the water. 

You need to forget the big picture and aim for the HUGE picture. You need to think where do we need to be in 2050 not in 2017. All the best leaders and companies now are bringing in futurists to consider 10, 20, 30 years into the future and then executing in three day, three week and three monthly cycles. 

Remember just five short years ago Netflix weren't streaming movies, and Snapchat and Instagram didn't exist. Where did they come from? The clouds.

You can't go for incremental improvement any more, you need to evolve. Start losing yourself in the clouds and then getting gritty in the sand. That way you're more likely to create something remarkable, something epic that will change the game.

Leaders you have to be the brains but you have to get your hands dirty too. Stop stressing so much about the dumb little sh*% and start playing the bigger game. Most of our daily grind is just a result of not having clarity about the huge picture 30 years out. Once you have that kind of huge clarity, everything falls into perspective.

Build an epic vision and a huge why, solve a future global problem, then build and create all the time listening to the market as you course correct, adjust and improvise every day. Oh yeah and remember to keep your eye on the clouds!

If you want to read more about this topic see my recent presentation for the April meetings of Higher Power Leaders Network here on Slideshare.


Three secrets to sticking to your new year goals

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, January 17, 2016

What kind of life do you want to live in 2016? 

Have you set a goal? An intention? Or chosen a keyword to guide you?

The concept of setting New Year's Resolutions is not that new. In fact it has been around since the Babylonians pledged to return borrowed objects and repay their debts at the start of each year, and the Romans started each new year by making a vow to the god Janus.

Each year for the past 12 years I have written a gratitude letter that maps out all the things I'd like to have happen each year. Each year I get better at sticking to those plans and manifesting many of the things I desire to have happen. 

Most people however say that their resolutions only last about 7 days, so why is it that sticking to something that matters to you so hard to achieve?

What is it that separates the resolute minority who stick to them from the majority of fallen masses? 

Is it that you've set yourself unrealistic goals - maybe you're a size 16 and you've set a goal to be a size six in 3 months, can you really make that happen? Your goals need to be achievable in the time given. 

Is it just a matter of willpower or are other magical, mystical powers at work? 

Or could just be that you're not working with your own psychology and are setting yourself up for failure from the beginning?

Perhaps it's a combination of all of the above. Here's three ways to work with your mindset and stick to your new year goals.

1 - Who you are being is more important than doing. 
Achieving your goals begins with who you are being. Unfortunately most people start the process with want they want to have, then what they have to do to get it, when really they should begin with who they are being. And while strategy (what you will do) and results (what you will have) are of value, you'll get no where without the right Mindset (who you are being).

2 - What you think about you bring about


Of the 60,000 thoughts we have each day researchers have found that 80 percent of the thoughts were the same thoughts we had yesterday so if you want to achieve new goals and become someone new you have to become aware of the thoughts you are having. In particular you can become aware of the thoughts you have about yourself. What is your internal dialogue saying to you?  How many times during the day do you beat yourself up?  We tend to think this random chatter in our head is just that, random.  We also pass it off as insignificant, however each time you bash yourself internally it creates an emotion within you.  Thoughts have energy.  Scientists can measure a thought. It has weight. It has vibration and it has an electrical current.  As does emotion.  So, when your mind feeds your spirit these negative thoughts it ignites emotions, whether it be sadness, despair, fear, or even joy, it creates an energy. This vibration also radiates outward and creates your experience with others.

The best way to combat the negative dialogue is with positive affirmations.  Affirmations are one to the most effective tools in your self care arsenal. This is the daily affirmation I have on my mirror at home "I am loveable, valuable and unique." - you are welcome to borrow it or make your own!


3 - Whatever is familiar becomes your success thermostat's set point.
If you’ve read any of the work of Sonja Lyubomirsky, you already know about the “Happiness Set Point” but, if you haven’t, take note. About 40 per cent of anyone’s happiness is governed by the “happiness set point” which involves intentional activity—what we do for ourselves. The real problem is that most of us aren’t focusing on either the right things or approaches that might make us happier. So as you set your new year's goals this year consider where your success thermostat is for each goal. If you're not conscious, your thermostat will naturally return to it's former set point. So if you want to achieve more you have to raise the temperature on your thermostat and then make that feel familiar, it needs to become your new and permanent set point, doing so will help your new formed habits stick and help you achieve more. 

What one thing will you do differently this year to make your new year's goals a success? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I'd love to know. 

Choosing your boss is important for your health

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, November 15, 2015

Let's say your boss asks you to come into their office and as you enter they close the door behind you. How do you react? Nervous? Scared? Excited? 

Chances are, regardless of whether their intent is good, bad or merely informative your body will have already reacted and your cortisol levels will have spiked and sent waves of electric energy through your veins within seconds. 

And whilst we've all heard people say that we no longer have to run from lions and tigers and really don't need this survival mechanism in the modern day world, evolution hasn't yet caught up and our body would still perceive this threat as very real.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels can suck the life out of a company culture and its people, increasing their risk for depression, mental illness, and scarily even lower life expectancy. Recently, two separate studies were published in Science linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience.

You can read more about this epidemic in my post about the Killer Disease Bad Bosses are Spreading.

While there are many factors that contribute to depression, being disengaged at work appears to be a leading indicator of a subsequent clinical diagnosis of depression. 

Encouragingly however, research also shows that as workers become more engaged, their physical health can improve in parallel. Which is why choosing a good boss may be more important to your health than choosing the right health insurance. 

A study of 3000 workers in Sweden found that those who deemed their managers to be the least competent had a 24 per cent risk of a serious heart problem. Those that worked for a poor manager for more than 4 years, the risk increased to 39 per cent higher.

Gallup research shows that if your manager ignores you there is a 40 per cent chance you'll be actively disengaged or fulled with hostility about your job. However if your manager understands your UQ Power and focuses on your unique strengths and getting the best of you, the chance of you being actively disengaged drops to just 1 per cent.

So while you may not always get to choose your boss, understanding the profound impact this relationship can have on your engagement at work, your physical health, your sense of confidence and your overall sense of well being is critical.

Many organisations give lip service to the concept of their people being their most important resource. Clearly it is time to move from awareness to action.

What can you do? I encourage you to #startwithU

You can read more about this in my full article also on LinkedIn. 

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.

50 Leaders I Most Want To Interview

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The world around us is changing and what we need are a new era of leaders – expander leaders who are breakaways, disruptors and renegades. People who challenge the status quo and are of service, who value people over profits.

This year I’ve compiled a list of 50 thought leaders I’d most like to interview through UQTV to inspire you to grow flourish and make the shift to lead in this new world of work.

Check out my list of people and let me know if there’s anyone else you’d add to the list or if you can make a connection and introduction for me.

  1. Sir Richard Branson
    Founder of Virgin Group www.virgin.com/richard-branson  
  2. Simon Sinek
    Visionary, author www.startwithwhy.com/
  3. Ken Blanchard
    Chief Spiritual Officer at Ken Blanchard Companies www.kenblanchard.com  
  4. Brené Brown 
    Professor at the University of Houston www.brenebrown.com  
  5. Bono
    Lead Singer, U2 www.u2.com
  6. Daniel Pink
    Author www.danpink.com
  7. Lolly Daskal
    President and founder of Lead From Within www.lollydaskal.com
  8. Benjamin Zander
    Conductor, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra www.benjaminzander.com
  9. Jane Wurwand
    Founder Dermalogica www.dermalogica.com
  10. 10. Lisa Messenger
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief The Messenger Group www.collectivehub.com
  11. 11. Liz Wiseman            
    Founder of The Wiseman Group www.thewisemangroup.com  
  12. 12. Traci Fenton
    Founder, CEO WorldBlu www.worldblu.com/
  13. 13. Marshall Goldsmith
    Founder of Marshall Goldsmith Group www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com
  14. Amy Cuddy
    Body language expert, founder of Power Posing https://www.ted.com/speakers/amy_cuddy
  15. Tony Hsieh
    CEO at Zappos.com www.deliveringhappiness.com
  16. Vishen Lakhiani
    CEO Mindvalley www.mindvalley.com
  17. Chip Conley
    CEO Joi du Voie www.chipconley.com
  18. Daniel and Justine Flynn
    Co-Founders Thank You Water www.thankyou.co
  19. Todd Nielsen 
    The Execution Expert www.toddnielsen.com/
  20. Gary Zukav
    Co-Founder, Seat of the Soul Institute www.seatofthesoul.com
  21. S. Chris Edmonds
    Founder Purposeful Culture Group www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com
  22. Tim Elmore
    Founder of Growing Leaders www.growingleaders.com  
  23. Nina Godiwalla
    CEO at Mindworks www.mindworkscorp.com
  24. Michael Hyatt
    CEO at Intentional Leadership www.michaelhyatt.com  
  25. John Kotter
    Founder of Kotter International www.kotterinternational.com
  26. Jim Kouzes
    Author www.leadershipchallenge.com
  27. John C. Maxwell
    Founder of The John Maxwell Company www.johnmaxwell.com
  28. Sheryl Sandberg
    COO Facebook www.facebook.com
  29. Herb Kelleher
    Co-founder, Chairman Emeritus Southwest Airlines www.southwest.com/
  30. Tom Peters
    Professional agitator at Tom Peters Company www.tompeters.com  
  31. Michael E. Porter
    Professor at Harvard Business School www.isc.hbs.edu/pages/default.aspx
  32. Emma Isaacs
    Founder, CEO, Business Chicks www.businesschicks.com.au
  33. Jane Huxley
    Managing Director Pandora Australia www.pandora.com
  34. Ricardo Semler
    Chief Executive, Semco www.semco.com.br/pt/
  35. Wendy Kopp
    CEO and Co-founder Teach for All www.teachforall.org/en
  36. Jesse Lyn Stoner
    Director Berrett-Koehler Foundation www.seapointcentre.com
  37. Gail Kelly
    CEO Westpac www.westpac.com.au
  38. Anne McKevitt
    Founder Million Dollar Plus Club www.annemckevitt.com
  39. Mala Yousafzai
    Advocate for education rights
  40. Charlotte Tharuup-Owen
    Clinical Mindfulness Expert www.creativetransformations.com.au
  41. Aung San Suu Kyi
    Chair National League for Democracy
  42. Gen. Joe Dunford
    Commander US Forces Afghanistan
  43. Jeff Bezos
    CEO Amazon www.amazon.com
  44. Jack Ma
    Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group www.alibaba.com
  45. Jane Cay
    Entrepreneur and Founder of Birdnest Clothing Online www.birdsnest.com.au 
  46. Nancy Lublin
    CEO Do Something www.dosomething.org  
  47. Pinky McKay
    Author and Mothers’ Advocate www.pinkymckay.com
  48. Susan Wojcicki
    CEO YouTube www.youtube.com
  49. Robin Sharma
    Founder of Sharma Leadership International www.robinsharma.com
  50. Mark Miller
    Author www.greatleadersserve.com



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