We all could use a deep breath.
Most teams and companies are still figuring out how to help support their people and engage with them remotely, in hybrid settings, and in-person gatherings. With all that businesspeople have been navigating: differing modes of communication, the expansion of remote workers, global health, issues of racism, social injustice and equity, political and economic uncertainty, they are also expected to maximize the experience, product or service that you are delivering to the marketplace. Deep breaths are needed.
The process of breathing for the human body is “the process of moving air into and out of the lungs to facilitate gas exchange with the internal environment, mostly to bring oxygen and flush out carbon dioxide.” The leaders role in teams and organizations is to breathe oxygen into their people with mindsets and actions that fuel energy, possibility, connection and progress while flushing out negativity, blame and toxins.
The best leaders and teams on the planet understand their role is to help breathe oxygen into their people that helps give energy, hope and life so that all are able to thrive in a complex environment. These leaders and cultures are intentionally inhaling and exhaling with their people. The air they breathe and the mindsets they bring to stimulate action is everything.
6 Mindsets To Breathe Oxygen Into Your People and Culture
- Clarity — Vision + Direction is air that all need to breathe. Is your Mission clear? Is your Vision clear? Are you Values for how your team is committed to travel clear? Is your Strategy for the next priorities clear? If not, your team may be gasping for air. Every time you breathe oxygen into to these mindsets and concepts as a team, the air is easier for all to breathe. The path forward becomes clearer. Your team may not have all the answers, but they’ll have energy and clear direction on how to take the next step.
- Inclusivity — Leaders in the world play an enormous role in widening the circle so that more diverse backgrounds, ideas, perspectives, and experiences have a seat at the table. Teams and organizations will lead the way forward in society by modeling how to have civil, respectful dialogue and educate people on the strengths of diversity, equity and inclusion. When our teams are inclusive and welcoming, it breathes life and energy into all. We’re stronger together.
- Agility — Possibility + Adaptability is the name of the game in a changing world. Leaders have to practice breathing oxygen that allows their mind to find new ways of doing things and the courage to adapt to opportunities that emerge. If leaders return to the “this is the way we’ve always done it” mindset then they will sit back and watch the oxygen leave the room (and their people).
- Grit — Resolve + Toughness is critical to help people navigate their way through obstacles, challenges, negativity, finger pointing, and division. Leaders help their people breathe oxygen that stays focused on the present moment and the actions that are needed in order to take the next step. Toughness isn’t about being physically stronger than others, it is about being able to be vulnerable with your people and still have the resolve to find solutions, together.
- Rest — Teams and organizations have an unhealthy association with the concept of rest. Americans last year left 768 million days of vacation on the table with their employers. That equates to nearly $66 billion of lost benefits. We’ve forgotten that the research actually shows that deliberate rest is essential to elite performance. When we allow our bodies, minds and hearts to deliberately rest, we breathe more efficiently and are better at everything else.
- Ownership — Accountability + Action are mindsets and oxygen that the best leaders and team cultures on the planet breathe. They connect the things they say they will do with positive accountability and action. Accountability isn’t a negative word, it’s a positive mantra that all take ownership of. In a world where people are quick to gossip, point fingers, and be critics about what isn’t working, the best leaders breathe oxygen into their people and shift conversations from blame to solutions-focused.
The best cultures proactively help their people breathe and navigate through obstacles, together. They intentionally choose to inhale positivity and the 6 mindsets above and exhale negativity, blame, gossip and division. The air they breathe dictates the quality of air for all. The ecosystem of their culture is grown, developed, cultivated and led with intentionality, one breath at a time.
The process for developing high-performing and engaged teams never stops and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to breathing oxygen in how they hire, onboard, do performance evaluations, develop emerging leaders, and recognize excellence. The best leaders invest in their teams and the air they breathe, together.
If you’re experiencing a lack of energy, passion or hope for the road ahead, it may be the air you’re breathing.
About the Author:
Jason V. Barger is the globally-celebrated author of Thermostat Cultures, ReMember and Step Back from the Baggage Claim as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. His latest book Breathing Oxygen is set to be released in the Fall of 2021. As Founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, he is a coveted keynote speaker, leadership coach and organizational consultant who is committed to engaging the minds and hearts of people and growing compelling cultures. Learn more at JasonVBarger.com
The COVID-19 crisis has affected people in every way imaginable, including the way they view their life. For some, the pandemic has made them stop taking good things and people in their life for granted; for others, the silver linings are harder to find.
Having and showing gratitude in the midst of a crisis can be difficult, but research shows that it improves one’s health and overall quality of life. And in business, leaders and employees will strengthen the company if they prioritize gratitude during difficult times, says Michele Bailey (www.michelebailey.com), ForbesBooks author of The Currency of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures into Powerful Business Results.
“Times of true crisis may challenge our ability to experience and express gratitude, but such difficult times also demand that we work on enhancing our capacity for doing both,” says Bailey, who is also founder/CEO of The Blazing Group, a brand and culture agency.
“Gratitude is seated at the heart of any truly great company culture, and it results in employees who live and breathe your brand. Employees who practice gratitude across personal and professional relationships will not only drive their personal happiness, they will drive business growth. Gratitude is a currency in the sense that it accumulates as a result of being shared.”
Bailey offers ways to incorporate gratitude into your life and business during a crisis and the benefits of doing so.
- Lose the scarcity mindset. Bailey says a crisis often encourages people to fall back on scarcity thinking – what they don’t have – as pressures prompt some to react with fear and anxiety. What’s needed instead, she says, is an appreciation for each other that leads to people finding ways to help each other. “I cannot stress enough that a crisis is not the time to retreat to a scarcity mindset,” she says. “Instead, it’s precisely the time to think of others, deepen our relationships and recognize the importance of support networks. It’s time to show renewed commitment to customers and communities as well as sensitivities to the challenges they are facing.”
- Think of all you can do, and for whom. Learning to show gratitude on a wider scale starts with these questions, Bailey says: Who has gone above and beyond to help me professionally, and why? How will I show my gratitude to these people? How can I give back to others? How can I make a difference in the lives of those around me and in the lives of others in need? Who have I taken for granted?” ”I believe in my heart that gratefulness is a social disposition or an attitude,” Bailey says, “and as such, it requires that we express it – and exchange it – with others. This is how we connect with one another in a way that lasts.”
- Embrace the strength of your team. Bailey says the resilience that’s honed by steady leaders and unified teams becomes stronger in times of trouble. People feeling isolated and vulnerable need to be thankful for good teammates, approach them for support and reciprocate. “When times are tough,” Bailey says “we can embrace and feel gratitude for what we still have, and we can use that strength of team – of ‘we’re all in this together’ – to fuel our individual and collective forward motion. Identify the people who give you a sense of value and purpose and examine what you value most about your relationships. In times of struggle, it’s our relationships that pull us through.”
“The world may change in surprising and challenging ways,” Bailey says, “but that only makes gratitude more important than ever.”
About the Author, Michele Bailey
Michele Bailey (www.michelebailey.com) is the ForbesBooks author of The Currency Of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures Into Powerful Business Results and founder/CEO of The Blazing Group, a brand and culture agency born of her strategy-first approach to business and desire to enhance employee wellness in pursuit of business goals. She is also the founder of My Big Idea™, a mentoring program designed to propel individuals toward their personal and professional goals. Bailey has been recognized for contributions to women and entrepreneurship with honors such as the Bank of Montreal Expansion & Growth in Small Business Award and the Women’s Business Enterprise Leader Award in 2020. Bailey is a popular speaker and is also the author of a previous book, It’s NOT All About You, It’s About the Company You Keep.
Bad leaders have something over the good ones. Bad leaders have much better job security. Why? Simple. They run off anybody who is a threat to them before any damage can be done. Bad leadership is an art form. It’s not easy to make yourself into the kind of leader who nobody wants to follow anywhere. And because this underrated art form and the job security that goes with it are seemingly in great demand… here are Five Rules for Lousy Leadership!
WHAT’S RIGHT IS WHAT I SAY IS RIGHT!
A very simple way to let everybody know, right out of the gate, that there is only one person at the top, and that person is you. Your genius, your organization skills, your foresight and intelligence will take you on to new heights, despite your team’s ineptitude. From the start you simply tell them, “It’s all been carved in stone. I speak. You agree.” It’s amazing how effective a weapon this can be in your Lousy Leadership arsenal. You ever see those shows about Buckingham Palace, and how the help all stops and bow their heads whenever a royal walks by? Well, that’s how your people will be whenever you walk down the hall. Or, better yet, whenever you burst into a room and yell out, “Who’s working hard today?” Just the sort of thing to make their little hairs on the back of their insecure little necks stand on end.
KEEP THAT GREAT PLAN YOU MADE ALL TO YOURSELF
Somewhere deep in your desk drawer, although you’ve likely forgotten where, there is a copy of the master plan you drew up for the company. Well, the master plan the vice-presidents drew up under threat of loss of parking spaces if they ever deny you wrote it. It’s probably really a pretty good plan. Take the company forward, get everyone on the same page. But it involves a true terror for a Lousy Leader. To implement the plan, one department must know what another department is doing. And you can’t have that. So when you are asked about the plan you say, “Yeah, we have a plan. What great business doesn’t? But if I want you to know what’s going on in another department, I’ll tell you what’s going on in another department.” Quick about face and back to your private dining room.
IT’S NOT A LIE IF YOU BELIEVE IT
Your people know you to be a person of impeccable honor. (Right!) They must trust you because, to a large degree, you never have any interaction with them, so they must believe you are doing the top job just brilliantly. On those rare and unfortunate occasions when you find yourself forced to mingle, at a staff meeting, at the all too rare awards handouts or, god forbid, on Pizza Friday, there is a simple way to let everybody know that everything is alright. When called on to speak, just take the mic, fake that sincere look and say, “People – one thing is always true. You know I would never lie to my family!” Look out over their faces, bask in the warmth of their admiration for you. Quick about face and back to your office, door closed as always.
IT’S VERY SIMPLE REALLY
So many unknowing people think that leadership is a terribly difficult task to master. To get to that seven-figure salary level must take years of climbing the ladder, finding a mentor, and so on. However, you know the truth is that even though others helped you out (now and then) you made the climb on your own. There’s nobody to thank when they come to interview you for Forbes or Fortune. All the admiration is aimed at you because you did it your way. And now, at the top, you pass along this key piece of wisdom to your people. “I gave you your orders. Now carry them out.” Magic words that put you and your management style in sharp focus. And the great thing is, if you give them orders that are lousy, and they carry them out… then it’s their fault for doing a lousy job!
MAKE SURE EVERYBODY IS SCARED OF YOU
This last one is so obvious, it’s almost shameful to list it for you. The greatest motivator of all… fear. If you can arrange the office so that the mere sight of you makes breath catch in your people’s throats, you’re on the way to becoming a Lousy Leader. Everything else is small potatoes next to this rule. Tell them if they want a friend to get a dog. Nothing… NOTHING succeeds like FEAR.
OK, so sorry this isn’t written in the Sarcastica font. Nobody sets out to be a lousy leader. Some people can’t help it because it stems from their personalities. Some people fail because the training they got was woefully inadequate. Some can’t cut it because they are afraid of leading others. And some just think they’re naturals and they become General Patton-2.0, they want their people to feel the fear.
(SPOILER – IT DOESN’T WORK!)
About the Author:
Mark Oristano has distilled the leadership lessons he learned in 30 years as an NFL broadcaster into a concise, complete course in leadership with principle. Lessons learned from his years in the front office of the original Dallas Cowboys makes compelling, yet easy to implement, rules for solid leadership. For more information, please visit: https://markoristano.com.