Posts Tagged ‘ The Ken Blanchard Companies ’

10 Things You Can Do to Look Smart in a Meeting

Passion + Enthusiasm = Success?

What is “Passion”? The dictionary says: “a strong and barely controllable emotion”; “a state or outburst of strong emotion”; and “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something”. Passion is the positive emotional state of mind – which drives a willingness to apply discretionary effort; long-term commitment; peak performance; and satisfaction.

passion at work

The Passionate Leader

Leaders need to love what they do; otherwise, where are they leading their employees? Leaders who display passion can engage the hearts and mind of employees, foster their commitment and determination, and empower their employees to meet meaningful goals.

Passionate leaders create an environment that energizes others; mixing passion with employee involvement, and transparency. Communicating passion every day, and in different ways – a face-to-face engagement, an exciting meeting, or a quick e-mail – allows the leaders’ enthusiasm to shine. If an employee feels trusted and involved, they can share their leaders’ passions and develop their dedication to their organizations.

Leaders with a passion have the power to instill a sense of meaning – they can provide a “bigger picture”, making the work their employees do worthwhile. Passion makes work about more than just a paycheck. People who feel that their work is valued feel empowered to make meaningful changes for their customers.

The Passionate Employee

Employee engagement and employee passion are essential for productivity, profitability, and customer loyalty. An engaged, motivated, and empowered workforce is far more likely to work at optimal levels, and have a higher performance.

In 2006, The Ken Blanchard Companies embarked on a new study to explore the concept of Employee Passion more fully concluding that, for employees to be passionate about their work, they need to have meaningful work – which means they should understand how their work adds value to the organization and creates positive results. They need an organizational culture that encourages collaboration, sharing, interdependence, and team spirit. The work environment needs to be fair – benefits, resources, and workloads are fair and balanced. They should be given the autonomy to choose how tasks are completed; have the information and authority needed to make authoritative decisions – and know the boundaries of this; and be trusted to do their job without micro-management.

Employee passion is reinforced with recognition – which can be verbal, written, or monetary; praise or promotions – for their accomplishments, and the opportunity for growth, where employees are supported in future career planning. Employees also need to feel connected with their leader and their colleagues, which requires honesty and integrity at all levels; and making an effort to build rapport.

Studio isolated. Blonde girl working with computer. XLarge

Train Your Passion

By asking yourself what drives you to work hard; commit; achieve; and what makes you happy, you can grow your own enthusiasm for your work. Ask yourself:

  • What makes you feel energized?
  • What makes you get up in the morning?
  • What keeps you going when things get tough?
  • What makes everything you do worthwhile?

Passionate leaders spend time with their employees – learning about employee needs and desires, how to communicate with them, and what makes work meaningful to them. Employees with a passionate leader – where this passion is communicated and shared – are more enthusiastic and engaged. Organizations must provide meaningful work, autonomy, and opportunities for growth, encourage collaboration and recognition, and address the concept of fairness in order to maximize Employee Passion. Passion, in turn, creates driven, enthusiastic, committed and hard working employees.

Employees with a positive attitude create success.

Find your passion, grow it, and share it!

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About the author: Jemma Garraghan is an EMEA Project Manager at the Ken Blanchard Companies. She can be reached at

The Deadliest Sin of Leadership

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Albert Einstein

Excellence Road SignDivine Comedy tells the tale of one man’s journey through a three-phased adventure—Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise—in his quest for everlasting life. While stranded in the middle stage of his adventure, Dante has a chilling discovery about life in the everyday world. Stranded in Purgatory, an uncertain state where one’s soul awaits judgment between redemption and retribution, he is enlightened to the wandering ways of the world he has just experienced.

Here, he explains the ills of that world through seven distorted loves, better known as deadly “sins.” These include the excessive loves of Lust, Gluttony, and Greed, the deficient love of Sloth, and the malicious love of Wrath, Envy, and Pride. The abuse of the most pure forms of human interaction, Love, lead to a path of destruction and chaos in the state of Purgatory where Dante finds himself.

My work as a Leadership Consultant has led me through the mind-set of many organizations on a quest to find perpetual success and prosperity. While in this wandering state, I have discovered the most distorted perversion of leadership—the toleration of mediocrity.

Mediocrity is a cunning and crafty creature, the slinks and slides it’s way through a community of people intended for a greater good. It is sometimes guised in charm and humor, winning over fans with its good-natured country attitude. “Mañana! Tomorrow!” is the mantra sung at the end of the day, while rushing down the path toward the comforts of home. Sometimes, it no longer strives, begs, or craves for excellence, but is content with results that are, “good enough.”

When leaders turn a blind eye to, or minimize such attitudes within organizations, it can be a destructive habit-forming virus that slowly erodes the higher vision and values of the community. Far too often, leaders excuse a lack of desire for excellent work because of long-standing relationships with the individuals who consistently host such average behaviors. Some leaders do not know how, or may not have the will to address such subtle behaviors that beg, barrow, and steal from others’ great work, just to cover for their own lack of effort, dedication, or deferred experience to crafting their personal skills at a higher level. Some leaders are, themselves, guilty of the sin of mediocrity.

Millions of individuals throughout the workforce, from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups to non-profits, have pockets of people who, “Quit and Stay” at work. Others are lost or mislead by leaders within the organization, stuck in the rut of performing daily activities without a clear purpose or understanding of how their role contributes to the organization. Even worse, leaders allow average performers to cultivate the poisonous fruit of bitterness and gossip about other high achievers within the organization.

Organizations are only as great as they challenge or permit their contributors to be. If leaders within organizations do not take high performance and effort sincerely, they run the risk of creating a corporate Purgatory by breading a contempt and dismissal of individuals who do value excellence, effort, and efficiency. The deadliest sin of leadership is the aiding and abetting of mediocrity, at work, home, or in life.

About the Author:

Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He is Co Producer and Director of Stepping Up to Leadership with Scott Blanchard, at

Times Like These

I’m a little divided. Do I stay or run away and leave it all behind? —The Foo Fighters

There is something different to ponder, on a more intimate level, this holiday season. Slight of hand and a twist of fate have befallen our world, again, in ways we weren’t meant to imagine. With every moment of silence, (something we are not very good at, in our opinion driven, mainstream and social media networked world) I am left search for answers to questions I can’t even begin to understand. I have found very few this past week.

Times Like These

Times Like These

But somehow there, in those moments of silence, a thought, inside of a tune played by an American Rock band, The Foo Fighters, Times Like These, has hung on me like smoke from a camp fire that lingers on one’s clothes—reminding you of a place remembered.

I’m a wild light blinding bright burning off alone.

Some of the most destructive moments in life come from a bright light smoldering in isolation. A disillusioned soul that has some how forgotten or been allowed to retreat to an island and become cut off from others. There, in those places, are no political, theological, or philosophical commentaries—only the burning embers of what used to be or could be again.

Individuals are to be connected to others, collaborating on ideas that make the world a better place. And even though cultivating real and intimate personal and professional relationships is hard, it’s our calling as leaders and individuals to reach out and show compassion to those in isolation—even when we lack understanding.

One of the most vivid moments in Charles Dickens classic tale, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge wakes up after a harrowing evening of being visited by three ghosts who show him what he was and what he has become. Ebenezer recommits himself to reaching out to others and being more compassionate. And in one of the most touching moments of the story, he shows up to his nephews house for Christmas dinner, after rejecting his invitation the day before. After a gasp of surprise by the estranged uncle’s presence, family and friends warmly welcome the recently reformed soul back into the loving arms of community and fellowship.

There in those moments of silence this past week I have been reminded that, “It’s times like these you learn to live again. It’s times like these you give and give again. It’s times like these you learn to love again. It’s times like these time and time again.”

Don’t wait for a holy day—a day set apart from the others—to reach out to others who’s wild light may be flickering. It just may be the one light the world needs right now.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consulting Associate with The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is the Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a virtual learning experience that helps individuals effectively collaborate with others at a higher level.

Exploring the Hidden Secrets of Employee Engagement (pt.1)

As I walked out the door of our air conditioned building to go to lunch, I stepped though a stifling wall of heat that took my breath away. It was high noon and the temperature was 95 degrees farenheit…a stunning 20-25 degree difference from the comforts of my office. At that moment, I felt my energy level plummet and a number of thoughts began to run through my mind, including but not limited to, “I can’t wait to get home and put some shorts on,” and “I’d rather be at the beach or in the pool right now,” and “an ice cold beer would really hit the spot,” and “will I be able to recover and have a productive afternoon?”

In an instant, my level of engagement had been shifted by, yes, the weather. Is this example extreme? Perhaps, but is it really that far-fetched to think of a time when the weather outside affected your mood? In contrast to the previous example, a very cold day may have you daydreaming about snuggling up with your favorite blanket and sitting in front of the fireplace with your favorite book. When your mind wanders off to these places during your working hours or, in some cases, leads you to turn your daydream into reality, is that a reflection of your level of engagement and work passion?

My colleagues at The Ken Blanchard Companies have done some amazing research on the subject of employee engagement and work passion. To date, Blanchard has published four white papers on the subject which you can access by clicking here. In the latest installment, Blanchard identified 12 employee work passion factors within three different categories:

  • Job Factors – Autonomy, Meaninful Work, Feedback, Workload Balance, and Task Variety
  • Organizational Factors – Collaboration, Performance Expectations, Growth, Procedural Justice (process fairness), and Distributive Justice (rewards, pay, and benefits)
  • Relationship Factors – Connectedness with Colleagues and Connectedness with Leader

Without question, all of these factors are vital toward achieving an engaged and passionate workforce. What jumps out at me, and with most other’s research on the subject, is that the focus areas all tend to be very, for lack of a better word, work-centric. Whether you subscribe to the notion of work-life balance or work-life integration, my belief is that, in addition to these crucial work-centric factors, any number of outside personal factors may significantly influence an individual’s level of engagement and passion at any given time. And yes, this may even include an individual’s reaction to the weather outside.

It’s important to remember that regardless of your industry, you’re in the people business. Your colleagues and customers are human beings who are affected by other life experiences, both good and bad, besides those that occur while they’re working. We are individuals with unique needs, wants, situations, and emotions. In future posts in this series, we’ll further discuss situations and possible solutions to achieve a deeper understanding of what drives the engagement and passion of the unique individuals who make up your workforce.

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All Grunt Work and No Glory

Have you ever asked yourself what it is your people actually work on throughout the day (or night)?  I’m sure a lot of you know in general terms the type of work being done, but do you know the finer details?  More importantly, do you know how much of that work translates into something meaningful in the eyes of your people?   If you don’t, you might be contributing to a higher turnover rate at your company.

When I look at a job, I like to break it down into two parts:

1. The grunt work
2. The glory 

Think of the grunt work as repetitive, tedious tasks, that while necessary, are not the first things your people look forward to when they come in for work.  On the other side, you have the glory which is the new work that allows us to grow our knowledge/skill along with the recognition that comes from a job-well-done.  Almost all jobs contain some percentage of both.  The question is how much balance is there between the two of them.

Personally, a part of my own job deals with grunt work.  Every month a complete a time sheet to primarily track a lot of the billable work I do throughout that month.  I understand the reason for them and I know they are necessary, but that doesn’t mean I don’t cringe each time I have to work on them.

However, I also have a healthy portion of glory, as well.  A lot of the work I do impacts multiple people for the better, and there are always opportunities for me to take on new challenges.   I am also consistently recognized for doing well.  These are reasons why I haven’t been looking for employment, elsewhere.

In The Ken Blanchard Companies latest Employee Work Passion Survey, over 800 respondents were asked to rank 5 job factors in order of importance such as Autonomy,  Meaningful Work, Feedback, Workload Balance, and Task Variety.   In looking at the data, Meaningful Work had the greatest percentage of responses in terms of being ranked the most important.  More surprisingly, the majority of respondents ranked their immediate leader as being more responsible even over senior leadership when it came to influencing/improving these job factors. 

If you haven’t seen the results of the Employee Work Passion Survey, it is definitely worth a read.  You can see it here.

This meaningful work is one of the biggest factors when it comes to your workforce.  If your people feel this is lacking from the work that they do, they are likely going to look (or are already looking) for a different job.  Even if they aren’t looking right now, they likely aren’t using their full potential when it comes to their performance. 

Think about what you can do for your people when it comes to recognition, introducing growth through new skills, and showing them how their works impacts others.  In doing so, you may also find glory for yourself.

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The Surprise Reaction – How We Tend To Behave

Have you ever looked at someone and thought you knew how they might react to a given task or a bit of news?  Maybe you thought they would procrastinate.  Perhaps they would “forget” about it, with you knowing you would have to remind them of it later.  Maybe you knew they would outright dismiss it….

Instead, they wound up doing the exact opposite of how you thought they would react. 

My wife can guess with certain accuracy how I might react to bad news or the latest gossip around the family friends.  However, she cannot say with 100% accuracy how I will ALWAYS react (unless something in our house just broke – I turn into a raging gorilla).  She only knows how I tend to react. 

The same can be said about my behavior.  I usually follow the same patterns for unwinding after I get home from the office.  Does that mean I will always come home, get changed into fleece pants with a t-shirt, and sit down on the couch for a rerun of Hell’s Kitchen?  Certainly not!  Sometimes I have the need to do something different.  It’s not about what I will do, but rather what I tend to do.

Behavior is not set in stone.  We look at those around us (friends, family, coworkers, etc…) and say we know them and their behavior as if we can predict the future. 

Is it probable that someone might behave the same way we’ve seen in the past to a similar situation? – Yes. 

Is it guaranteed that they will behave that way? – Certainly not.  It’s an important distinction that we shouldn’t forget. 

The bottom line is that we need to stop judging/labeling people because of their past behavior.  Everyone has the ability to change their behavior, even on the fly, and as a result, can change how we perceive them.

Speaking of behavior, be sure to register for The Ken Blanchard Companies’ “Quit and Stayed” live broadcast coming up on January 25th if you haven’t already done so.  There will be lots of well known speakers and thought leaders sharing their perspectives on employee motivation in the workplace. 

You can find more information and register for the FREE livecast HERE.

Be sure to leave your comments!

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