4 questions about better workplaces and my responses

I’m speaking at The Better Workplace Conference 2015 at the Hilton Lac Leamy Conference Centre in Gatineau this October 14 to 16. All speakers have been asked to respond to 4 questions that amplify conference themes.

The questions, and my responses, are below:

  • Q: What do you think is getting in the way of progress towards achieving a positive workplace culture in organizations today?   A: We’ve heard lots about how a lack of leadership, no clear return-on-investment, time-scarcity, organizational silos, or the intangibles of culture being significant barriers. What I think can help break through these barriers is a compelling vision of what a positive culture looks and feels like for your organization, clearly articulated by champions at all levels — not just from the top. This vision expresses the ideal future and gives change agents a rallying point for their efforts.
  • Q: What is the one ‘leadership decision do-over’ you wish you could have that could have impacted your organization in a more positive way?   A: None – I’m a self-employed consultant. But to put a slightly different and positive spin on the question, the one ‘do-again’ decision that shifted my career trajectory was to leave a university professorship for the world of independent consulting. That was 12 years ago. As a result of that decision to leave the confines of a university, I think I have been better able to help others become effective change leaders in their own organizations.
  • Q: What leader do you most admire and why?   A: Innovative collaboration has become a critical survival skill for people and organizations. Cultivating these capabilities requires inspired leadership. I find useful insights on how to do this by listening to  great orchestras. Two favourite examples: Wynton Marsalis (Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra) and Jeanne Lamon (Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra) have inspired groups of talented musicians, all soloists in their own right, to work together to create uniquely beautiful music. The process is an inspired collective effort, with a light touch from the conductor, and no two performances sound exactly alike.
  • Q: Words to live by…for a better workplace?  A: Isadore Sharp, founding CEO of the luxury Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, attributes his corporate success to the pursuit of a simple business philosophy: treat other people how you want to be treated (The Golden Rule). This ethos has made Four Seasons an exceptional place to work and ensures consistently outstanding experiences for guests. Simple, yet so powerful.