In general terms, and based on my own experience alone (so not quoting any HR or Professional Management source here), burnout is typically due to:

1. Career Treadmill: where your job or role has you on a perpetual treadmill feeling like you need to keep running forward to stay in the same place. You feel like you have plateaued, and your Management, Leadership or HR team does not seem to notice your predicament.

2. You are stressed out and cannot pinpoint exactly what the root cause is (it could be a personal issue, health issue, work environment,  Manager/Leader style issue, or other)

3. You are in a career bind where you feel your job is under siege so you are doing everything in your power to retain it – working overtime, taking on tasks and assignments that should really be addressed by others on the team and agreeing to deadlines and targets that are unreasonable.

What should you do?

Talk to someone – your manager, your HR focal , your mentor (if you have one )- these are typically your professional/work contacts who should be able to advise, assist and counsel you

See your physician and get his/her advice – you may be suffering from a health issue that needs appropriate medication and/or other expert treatment

Stop working – take a break for a few days, a week or whatever your physician and work associated recommend (or that you have available to you). Focus on your family, your hobby, your pet or that exotic, distant land you have always wanted to visit.

At the end of the day, this is your only life – you cannot go back to ‘Go’ and collect $500 – that happy rewind option only works on the Monopoly game board.

When your life is done, it is done – no comebacks – do you really think you are going to worry about what your Organization  is thinking about you when you are checking out for that great gig in the sky?

Na…you will be more concerned with how you lived your life – how you loved your family and friends…and what legacy you have left behind for them – how they will all remember you.

So go ahead and take that break…or else the burnout will kill you!


Charisma and Persuasive versus directive leadership style…

Let’s look at the Oxford Dictionary definition for Charisma: Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in other.
Now one may argue that most great leaders have ‘Charisma.’

Given the context of the current thread – Persuasive versus Directive approach on the part of the leader, it would appear from the definition that leaders with charisma may prefer to utilize a more persuasive approach…but then you run up against examples like Adolph Hitler who was  clearly directive to say the least…but can anyone doubt his obvious charisma?

So how then do we resolve this?
The only way in my opinion would be to separate charisma from other great leadership qualities.
I am particularly drawn to the Transformational leadership traits:
a. Being a positive role model
b. To Inspire and motivate followers to operate at high levels of efficiencies
c. Intellectual Stimulation – challenging followers to be creative and
d. Individualized Consideration – being responsive to the feelings and developmental needs of followers.

Once you look at the Transformational Leadership traits listed above you begin to get a sense of similar qualities that may exist in leaders whom we already know possess Charisma. Perhaps the only missing ingredient would be that all charismatic leaders are necessarily excellent communicators and orators, who are able to connect not just at the verbal level but at the deeper, emotional level as well.

Charisma is a function of the leaders’ uniquely attractive qualities that endear him/her to their followers, combined with their needs and identification with the leader as well as the situation they are all in, that calls for a charismatic leader.


Mastering your mother tongue by age Four?

Yes it is a fascinating subject how the young are able to learn with incredible little invested in them…I read recently that most 4 year olds have more or less mastered their mother tongues with little or no formal training along the way to age 4…go figure?

Here is a brief extract from an article I read by Vyvyan Evans, Professor of Linguistics at Bangor, Maine:
” Imagine you’re a traveller in a strange land. A local approaches you and starts jabbering away in an unfamiliar language. He seems earnest, and is pointing off somewhere. But you can’t decipher the words, no matter how hard you try.

That’s pretty much the position of a young child when she first encounters language. In fact, she would seem to be in an even more challenging position. Not only is her world full of ceaseless gobbledygook; unlike our hypothetical traveller, she isn’t even aware that these people are attempting to communicate. And yet, by the age of four, every cognitively normal child on the planet has been transformed into a linguistic genius: this before formal schooling, before they can ride bicycles, tie their own shoelaces or do rudimentary addition and subtraction. It seems like a miracle. The task of explaining this miracle has been, arguably, the central concern of the scientific study of language for more than 50 years.’

Noam Chomsky has also written about what he refers to as the ‘Language Instinct’ (that we all were born with a predisposition that allowed us to pick up language far easier than other hominid species)

Fascinating stuff…

Leadership style…persuasion versus direction

I will try to add some more confusion to this very interesting thread…First of all regardless of whether you utilize Persuasion or Direction as your preferred style – Leadership must always respect the Law…and his/her people (or followership).

Too, there is sometimes a negative connotation for the word ‘Persuasion,’ I am intrigued to understand why?

Anything that is expressed/deployed as a function of style needs to be analyzed in the context of the following two questions:
Is it sincere?
Is the intent honest?

Let me present a context for considering  ‘Persuasion’ to carry a negative connotation:
You are attempting to ‘persuade’ an employee to follow a specific course of action, as opposed to what the employee was considering.
The Employee wants to explore another option within the Organization in terms of job role, but you feel (without letting the employee know) that the loss to your team would be significant and the skill, difficult to replace.
So you try to persuade the employee to stay with his/her current role because you anticipate potential growth in the short term (this is not based on fact but just a carrot you are dangling out).
Whereas if he/she considers moving into a brand new role, growth will take far longer to achieve.

The points to note are that your persuasive argument is insincere and not founded on fact.
In addition your intention is dishonest (Both ingredients that must be in place for a persuasive style to be perceived to be positive).

In most, if not all instances, we must lead with a persuasive style and only follow up with  directive style, if persuasion fails. My example above would clearly not work if you tried to direct your employee to follow your recommendation, and revert to a persuasive style, when that failed?

The power of curiosity…

Probably the best (and real pithy) summation for the power of curiosity are the 6 faithful serving men that Rudyard Kipling alluded to:
“I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.”

In the 90’s I had the opportunity to visit the Fuji Xerox manufacturing facility in Japan. Later in life, I had the good fortune to attend a Kaizen workshop run by the father of the movement himself…Masaaki Imai. I recall to this day the simple anecdote he used to describe the benefits of being curious at all times…especially when one is seeking  to uncover the Root cause of the problem…and not just the symptom of the problem. Here is his anecdote on the benefit of asking “why?” at least five times:

At an Auto Repair Shop, a worker is seemingly throwing sand on the shop floor.
The supervisor asks: “What are you doing?”
Worker: “Throwing sand on the floor”
Supervisor: “Why?”
Worker: “Because the floor is slippery”
Supervisor: “Why is the floor slippery?”
Worker: “Because there is oil on the floor”
Supervisor: “Why is there oil on the floor?”
Worker: “Because oil is  leaking from the engine of this car we are servicing”
Supervisor: Why is the oil leaking from the car?”
Worker: “I don’t know”
Supervisor: “Let’s investigate shall we?”
The resultant investigation identified worn out gaskets to be the cause for Oil leaking onto the shop floor.

I still apply this analogy to this day when trying to teach basic Problem solving and Root Cause Analysis skills…the best example of putting curiosity to good and practical use.

Embrace technology…or die!

Why do we need to turn off technology to be present? We are only able to stay present because of technology. To say stop multitasking, don’t respond to all email and, focus on your breathing (as in meditation) is like saying “watch me squeeze this toothpaste back into its tube.”
An endeavor that is neither realistic nor even remotely practical.

We are living in a world where Gordon Moore’s Law applies, so get used to it!. Yes, the number of transistors we are able to fit on a square inch of an IC chip has been and continues to double every two years.
The reality is we will all look back on these days as “the good old days.”
So unless you want to be the other guy who blinked my advice is keep on multitasking, reply to those emails and breathe normally…for as long as the current Technology supernova allows you… and your job… to stay relevant.

What will cause us to lose our jobs…

What will cause us to lose our jobs rather rapidly is an obsessive fascination with management themes and recommendations that we already know of or have gleaned through great work from subject matter experts and others who have written and spoken ad infinatum on said subjects. So we know all about low emotional intelligence, or playing up to your manager, or negativity or an inflated ego – and the risks to one’s job thereof.

We need to shift focus to the real threat to our jobs – the Technology Disruption that is unfolding before us as we speak. Big data, Cloud, Deep learning systems, Robotics to name just a few of the drivers. We will see millions of Low/Medium/High skill jobs (Blue and white collar) disappearing as a result of the technology disruption above.
We need to stay focused on where the technology shift is happening and stay as far ahead of the curve as we possibly can. Though even that may not suffice to help us retain our jobs.
But that would probably be a better investment of our time, rather than worrying about sucking up to your boss or not having the right sort of ‘poker face’ to go with a well defined and developed emotional intelligence.

No – we need to ride the technology disruption wave so we don’t get swamped. You don’t want to walk into the office to find that an advanced robot from Boston Dynamics polishing an apple…in your seat!

Is brevity truly the soul of wit…?

It seems anathema to me that our marvelous English Language that has grown from strength to strength to its amazing current status of 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words (and the additional 9,500 derivative words that are likely to be  included as sub entries).
Source: The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary which contains full entries for all the above words.
So why skimp and scrounge with this embarrassment of plenty we have inherited in the way of words that are expressive, obfuscating, long, short, simple, complex, descriptive, emotive, onomatopoeic and …well i guess you get the drift. It’s like owning a dozen pairs of shoes  using  only one pair every day…why have the others at all???

Any change initiative needs to have a clear vision of what the future environment will look like – if not, the change or transformation from the ‘as is’ to the ‘desired’ state is doomed.

In my experience with two global Organizations that implemented very transformative change strategies, way back in the 90’s, the only way to deal with resistance to change is to understand the Kübler-Ross model of the emotional stages experienced by survivors faced with imminent death:  the five stages are Denial, Anger, Negotiation, Depression and Acceptance.

I learned that when faced with dramatic, significant change, Organizations, Teams and Employees at every level of the organization need to learn how to deal with the 5 stages.

Consistent communication, a clear Vision of the ‘Desired’ state and a Change Program that recognizes that the rate of change cannot be faster than the human resources or automation can keep up with – is fundamental to the success of any truly transformative Change Initiative.