Monthly Archives: March 2013

Creating good behaviors


A friend of mine once told me: “What we celebrate, we will get more of.”  This advice has paid dividends for me.

As leaders, we are given an opportunity to validate and invalidate what we observe on a daily basis.

If we see an employee bending over backwards to do a great job, we need to validate that employee’s actions.  That action needs to be very clearly recognized so that it will recur.

Conversely, if we see an employee wrongly acting, we need to invalidate that specific action so that it will not recur (note: invalidate the ACTION, not the person).  It’s very simple.

What are the behaviors and attitudes that we want around us more? How do we celebrate those things so they become perpetual? These are valuable questions for all of us to ask for every situation in life, especially when seeking to create a culture of success and goodness.

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More inspiration


“You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.” – Richard Branson

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5 questions with Kat Cavanaugh (my sister)

I’m going to begin a new feature called “5 questions with…” where different folks will be asked about leadership experiences they’ve witnessed or experienced. The questions will be the same; the people will not. Some people may be managers whereas others may have simply worked under leaders. Either way, we can all learn a lot by having a conversation together. So here goes!



Name: Kat Cavanaugh

Location: Orland Park, IL

Position/Job: Nurse’s Assistant by day/Hair Stylist by night

1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

They focused on the things I was doing well and was sure to compliment me so I kept doing a good job.

2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

I was unmotivated when my boss was negative and didn’t display what she wanted out of the other employees.

3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

A positive attitude

4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

Everyday I motivate my workout partner to not give up.

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

Have a good attitude and smile, it goes a long way.

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“Jump first, worry later.” – Michael Yaconelli

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Hierarchy of…employee satisfaction


Jez Styles recently posted an interesting article, applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to employee performance and satisfaction. I’d like to respond to that because I think it is a really important concept.

In case you’re not a fellow psychology nerd, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs basically is a pyramid that asserts the most important and foundational needs a person requires are physiological, then safety, then belonging, then esteem/respect, and finally self-actualization at the top. The original idea asserted that it is hard for a person to reach the next level up if a more pressing foundational need is not met. There have been multiple discussions about this idea in the last 50 years and most agree it’s probably not a black and white concept but it is a valuable concept.

Styles does an interesting job applying it to the work environment, suggesting that the employee’s hierarchy of needs are: 1. pay  2. job security  3. belonging  4. sense of value  5. will i grow/develop.  I think this is a commendable application but I do not believe it’s a pyramid.

I’d like to suggest that employees, especially in a millenial and post-millenial society, desire all of these to be met simultaneously. The days are waning where employees just want to “make a buck” (even though those situations are still out there and physiological needs are probably still the most important to meet completely). If you look at it from a productivity standpoint, the most productive employees are employees who have all 5 of those categories met. They are paid well enough to live. They do have job security. They’re constantly reassured that they belong. They believe they have value and are reminded of it reguarly. And definitely not last or least, they believe that they can grow, learn, and advance personally and professionally in their profession.

How often do we as employers and leaders analyze each employee on these five levels and ensure that they’re being done right by us? Do we stress certain areas more than we ought to and neglect others? How can we provide better balance to our most valuable asset, our workforce? Important questions to analyze and balance is paramount.

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be creative!


I updated my resume today – not because I’m not happy at work (I enjoy my job) – but its a good thing to do from time to time. Staring at my Word document, I felt that it lacked…life… so I redid it in Illustrator. After an hour of playing, the result was one of the same information as in the Word file but with colors, design acumen, and an overall compelling look.

How often do we miss out on being creative in our leadership roles? It could be in hiring, training others, working with customers or teammates, whatever… but how much more effective would our efforts and energy be if we added some color and ingenuinity to our routine?

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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams


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