Improving Workplace Culture with Positive Power

positive power workplace

Being Positive

Over the holidays, my family and I went to see A Christmas Carol. We got to sit up close, and it was such a fun experience. During the performance, Scrooge has a monologue with the ghost of Christmas past, who has taken him back to a time with his old boss, Fezziwig, whom he apprenticed under in his early days. The ghost goes on to show Scrooge their interactions and how pleasant of a cultural environment they worked in. He realizes at this point of the story that Fezziwig didn’t have to make his work life delightful, but he chose to. Which ultimately made him enjoy the work he did and brought him happiness.

This is the positive power concept. The choices that we make as leaders and the impression that we leave on our people, how they remember us, really makes all the difference. How they see us at work and how they see us show up is what they’re going to take to heart. So when Fezziwig took Scrooge back to the past, he was showing him that he had the ability, the power, to control and change the environment for his people.

That is what caring leadership is all about. Leaders set the mark. You build that framework of caring leadership by your example. If you come in for the day with a good mindset, that will reflect on your team. If you start your day well and take the time to fill yourself up, you can pour yourself into other people. On the other hand, if you start the morning off with negativity, that will trickle down and affect everyone throughout the day. YOU hold the power to make the difference.

Always involve your heart in your decisions. If you are measured by the impact you have on the bottom line, it is easy to lose sight of what is best for your people, particularly when you are under pressure to perform. Just remember that your success has been driven in large part by the people who work for you. Don’t forget or minimize their contributions by treating them like a number.

Do your best to eliminate negativity by not always focusing on wrongdoings. Instead, recognize individuals and your team by celebrating their wins. By making sure the environment you are creating is a safe space, people will be comfortable being themselves and be more willing to take calculated risks. Create an environment that is cultivating and not crushing. That’s what positive power really is.

204: Leaders with Heart Connect People

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In this episode, Heather sits down with Jane Grote Abell, the Chairwoman of the Board of Donatos Pizza. Over the last four decades, Jane has held a variety of positions at both Donatos Pizza and Jane’s Dough Foods, including Chief Executive Officer. Her father, ​​Jim Grote, and their family built Donatos into a successful pizza chain, then sold it to McDonald’s. After seeing it struggle under McDonald’s, Jane convinced her family to buy the family business back. Since then, Jane and her family have dedicated both time and money to the chain restaurant’s home city of Columbus, Ohio. Jane has been named various titles, such as the YWCA Columbus Academy of Women of Achievement, CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO Magazine, and a Top 24 Women in Franchising by Franchise Update Magazine. Take a listen.
 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Connecting with people is the truest form of leadership
  • Their company was sold to McDonald’s and then bought back when it was struggling
  • Leadership is a choice
  • Giving back to your community is essential
  • Giving back doesn’t always have to be about money
  • Sometimes it’s best to keep the business within the family

A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane Grote Abell currently holds the title of Chairwoman of the Board. Over the last four decades, Jane has held a variety of positions at both Donatos Pizza and Jane’s Dough Foods, including Chief Executive Officer. 

In 2003, Jane was a major catalyst behind the decision to purchase Donatos back from McDonald’s. Following the buy back, Jane led the company through a $10.5 million turnaround. 

Since taking over as Chairwoman of the Board in 2010, Jane has had time to focus on work outside of Donatos.

Because her roots trace back to the first store on Thurman Avenue on Columbus’ south side, she and her family remain committed to the area’s success. Evidence of this was the nearly $2 million donation that the Grote family contributed to help a city plan to revive the South Parsons Corridor. She has been an advocate for this project from its inception in 2012 and, along with Tanny Crane, co-founded the Reeb Avenue Center, a social-services center housing 14 non-profits that focus on education and workforce development and South Side Roots Café and Market, a pay-it-forward café and affordable fresh foods market.

Jane is a founding member of the Ross Leadership Institute and serves as a member of the Columbus Partnership and the Otterbein Women’s Leadership Advisory Council. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Reeb Avenue Center, Action for Children, Experience Columbus and I Know I Can. 

Jane has received a number of awards and recognitions. In the last 5-years alone, she was named to the YWCA Columbus Academy of Women of Achievement, CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO Magazine and a Top 24 Women in Franchising by Franchise Update Magazine.

Toxic Charity

If you haven’t read the book, Toxic Charity, you should. I think a lot of us go into less fortunate neighborhoods and assume what they need, and that can be really toxic. Instead of helping, we are actually harming the communities. That’s why one of the things I learned about leadership is to hire people smarter than yourself. That’s what I did, and we put together an amazing team and distributed surveys to get to the bottom of what these people truly needed or wanted. That’s a much more efficient way of doing things, instead of guessing what they need. We distributed those surveys to 2,700 homes and the results were shocking. 

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203: Leaders with Heart Write Out a Plan

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In this episode, Heather talks with her listeners about an encounter she recently had with her son about his future. He was telling her how much he wanted to be a soccer player, but Heather points out that he isn’t really putting in the work he should be. Heather reminds him that people who want to reach their goals must put in the work and write out a plan. Hear her four steps for achieving your goals in 2022. 
 

Key Takeaways: 

  • It’s a lot easier to make excuses than to put in the work necessary 
  • In order to achieve your goals, you must write out a plan
  • Be ready to fail 
  • When you fail, make sure to get back up 
  • Break large goals into smaller ones

Heather R Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, two-time author, and the CEO and Founder of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm, where she is on a mission to help leaders understand the power they possess to ensure people feel valued at work. 

Known as The Employee WhispererTM, Heather harnesses humor, warmth, and an instant relatability to engage and uplift audiences and inspire them into action. 

Rooted in her belief that employees aren’t just numbers on the payroll but human beings with ideas that matter, Heather’s talks and workshops are dedicated to helping teams, leaders, and organizations shine by improving how they listen to, communicate with, and empower employees on their journey to Caring Leadership. 

Four Simple Steps

  1. Plot Out Baby Steps You Can Take Everyday
  2. Do a Daily Examination
  3. Give Yourself Time and Recalibrate 
  4. Commit to Having an Accountability Partner or Coach

We don’t have to get to our goals by ourselves. Check with HR to see if there are funds for a coach, or invest in yourself and hire that coach that can take you to the next level. Do all this with grace and don’t forget to take care of yourself. Practice self-care and give yourself time to achieve these goals. 

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What Excuses Are You Making in 2022?

excuses

“I want to move forward in my career, but I’m too unsure to ask for a promotion.”

Or “I want to be a better manager, but it’s hard to change my ways and make people feel heard.”

How about “I want to lose weight, but I’m not willing to give up junk food.”

Less excuses, more reasons.

I was in the car with my kiddo recently, talking about goals for 2022. He talked about how he wanted to become a better soccer player but kept giving me excuses about the ways he would accomplish that. Which made me think, what excuses are we constantly making to ourselves? What reasons do we ignore? Reasons to be successful, reasons to stay motivated. Excuses are human nature when we really don’t want to do something, right? We’ve all made them! But we commonly make those excuses out of fear of failure. So how can you make a commitment to both yourself and others that you WILL accomplish the goals you set for yourself in 2022?

The Breakdown

The best way of accomplishing any goal is to break it down into smaller goals. Really give yourself the opportunity to understand how you want to reach your end goal. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What steps do I have to take to accomplish my goal(s)?
  • How can I hold myself accountable?
  • What can I do to move me closer to my goal?
  • How can I track my progress?

Begin by plotting out tiny baby steps goals of where you want to be. Create a list and check it off one by one as you go. That visual of accomplishment will fuel you to keep going. Afterwards, check in with yourself. Do an examination daily or on the weekends about how you’re moving along. How did the week go overall? Could anything have gone better? Are you moving forward or falling behind – did you make any excuses to put something off? Set aside some time to analyze your progress and see if you have any areas you’re struggling with.

Once you’ve checked in with yourself, recalibrate your own expectations. You may need to take a step back or increase your productivity to move forward. This would be a good time to have a coach or accountability partner along for the ride. Sometimes we battle within ourselves to keep going, or maybe we just need a second pair of eyes. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Successful goal setting and accomplishment is a team effort!

Most importantly, don’t forget to dig deep and give yourself grace and self-care in between the moments where you may be struggling. Sometimes we do just need to hit pause and reboot. 

Lastly, surround your goals with emotional support and encouragement. Give yourself daily affirmations, both personal and goal-related. 

  • I CAN do this.
  • We can have a kinder, more enlightened world.
  • I am strong.
  • We can treat each other with respect and dignity without losing any of ourselves.
  • I am capable.
  • Every person has a right to pursue a life that harms no one else on their own terms.
  • I am successful.
  • People are the bottom line, not money.
  • I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
  • There is no shortage of resources. There’s only a shortage of sharing.

We can all have a better life. We can all excel. Let’s kick those excuses to the curb. Here’s to 2022!

202: Leaders with Heart Move Forward

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In this episode, Heather talks directly with her listeners about what 2021 brought for her and her business. From turning 50, to sending her first child off to college, to all the accomplishments and challenges she faced in 2021 – she sits down to reflect and share her thoughts. Plus, she shares a bit of what is to come in 2022 for caring leadership. Take a listen. 
 

Key Takeaways: 

  • There is a lot to learn from 2021
  • Take some time to reflect on what you learned in 2021
  • Adversity leads to growth
  • Plan your goals for 2022
  • We learn the most from our biggest challenges
  • Not everything is what it seems online, take time to focus on yourself and your mental health

Heather R Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, two-time author, and the CEO and Founder of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm, where she is on a mission to help leaders understand the power they possess to ensure people feel valued at work. 

Known as The Employee WhispererTM, Heather harnesses humor, warmth, and an instant relatability to engage and uplift audiences and inspire them into action. 

Rooted in her belief that employees aren’t just numbers on the payroll but human beings with ideas that matter, Heather’s talks and workshops are dedicated to helping teams, leaders, and organizations shine by improving how they listen to, communicate with, and empower employees on their journey to Caring Leadership. 

From 2019 to 2022

I think we all feel like we skipped from 2019 to 2022. It really went by so, so, so fast that it seems like a blur. Yet, I hope we don’t fully forget everything that has happened. Actually, I’m hoping we remember each step. That’s because I believe it’ll make us that much better in the following years. What we experienced in the last few years was tough. But what comes from adversity and tough times are the greatest diamonds. So, let’s not forget. Instead, let’s remember each part and take the good of it all with us into 2022.

Embrace the Magical Power of Empathy in the New Year

magical power of empathy

Imagine you are transported to a place where you have never been before, accessing emotions that another person feels and with the ability to heal them and all while having the ability to return home when you choose.

That’s the magical power of empathy. Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another to sense their pain or struggle.

An Empathy Epiphany

My family and I just returned from a road trip to Arizona over the New Year’s holiday. As we do every Sunday, we attended Mass. The church was beautiful, and the traditions were unique. But, as I sat and listened to the pastor go over the readings and then his sermon, I had an epiphany!

The pastor shared that he had been trying to console the parishioners for the last couple of years regarding COVID and the damage it creates. Loved ones were sick. Some even passed away. He tried his best to be there for them. Then, he got COVID 19 and was so ill that he was in the hospital for five days. He felt alone, scared, exhausted, and unsure. As he laid in the hospital bed, he began to think a lot about his parishioners.

Thankfully, he was released from the hospital and was better. He admitted that now he finds it much easier to empathize with those around him as they go to him and expect a compassionate reaction. He prays harder. He is more present with them. But, most importantly, he now understands their pain.

As I sat there listening to him, I recalled when team members would come to me with some issue inside or outside of work. I did not necessarily have the same or even similar experience as they did, but I committed to leaning into their circumstance and releasing my filter or past. I wanted to truly understand what they were going through and what they needed from me or others. I did learn to protect myself while doing so, because otherwise empathy and compassion fatigue would kick in.

That priest made me realize the magical power of empathy if done right. If we commit to fully leaning in without our preconceptions. Without our baggage, without our personal frame of the other person’s situation, we can become like wizards, transporting ourselves from our world to their world without having to live in their world physically. This is a powerful concept that I know can be seen as philosophical or metaphysical.

The Next Steps

As Caring Leaders, though, we must take this concept and make it real in the lives of those who look to us for guidance and leadership. We don’t physically need to “be in the hospital” with those we lead. We just need to have a desire and a willingness to step fully and deeply into their shoes to truly understand their plight. I know I am asking a lot, but I believe we can get there. We only need a pretend wand, a desire to transport, and a heart that is focused on others. See you on the other side of empathy!