Tag Archives: leadership

Transform Your Words in 4 Steps

By Tony Robbins

In a previous blog post, Change your words, change your life, we talked about how our habitual emotional vocabulary shapes and controls much of our emotional experiences in life – how the labels we put upon our experience become our experience.

Today, let’s take a look at how you can transform the quality of your entire life simply by becoming conscious of what habitual vocabulary you use for negative emotions, and shifting them with words that break your patterns and provide you with new and better emotional choices.

Your assignment is very simple: Below you’ll see my 10-day challenge. I call it “Watch Your TV,” watch your “Transformational Vocabulary.” The labels you attach to your experience can transform the way you feel. Again, it’s not hard to realize that if you habitually take any intense emotion and say it’s “depressing,” it’s going to feel very different than if you say you’re feeling a little “down.” Being enraged by somebody’s reaction is very different than being a bit frustrated by their response. Saying to yourself they utterly rejected you, is quite different than they didn’t agree with your suggestion.

The real secret to transforming your life is to wake up and become conscious of the patterns that are currently unconscious and shaping the way you feel.

Ultimately the way we feel determines the quality of your life. You could have whatever you think life’s dream is—building a billion dollar enterprise or a family that totally loves and adores you—but if every single day you live with the emotions of feeling frustrated and angry, then the quality of your life is called frustration and anger—it has nothing to do with the economic opportunities you have, much less the love you are surrounded by.

The quality of our lives is the quality of our emotions.

The power of Transformational Vocabulary is its simplicity. It provides you with an immediate tool to increase the quality of your life. So here are the four steps to your 10-day challenge:


Become conscious of the habitual words you use to describe your unhappy or distressing feelings. Begin to notice the labels you are putting on things.

If you say something like, “I’m so worried about this,” stop yourself and acknowledge that “worry” might be too strong a word. Maybe what you really are is “a little bit concerned.” Monitor your language and make sure your language isn’t exaggerating the intensity of emotions. Or better yet, consciously pick a word that would lower the negative intensity (instead of saying that you are “furious” with someone, describe yourself as being a little “irritated” or “disappointed with their reaction”).

If somebody asks you, “How’s it going?” instead of saying, “Okay,” what would be a word that might put a smile on your face to even say, that would break your own pattern? Like, “You wouldn’t even believe how I’m feeling!” with a smile, to be playful with yourself. Or a simple response like “I’m committed” or “I’m lucky” or “I’m grateful.” And then take a moment to think about what you are grateful for. We often lose sight of what’s beautiful in our life because of a few things that are out of line with our expectations.

My wife Sage is truly a master of this. Her favorite language pattern is when most people would say “S**t” she says, “Sugar doodle,” or when something really brutal happens, she’ll often say “Ooooh Boy.” Her response seems so ridiculous. It’s not that she doesn’t know how difficult things are, but her state of joy is infectious – her language patterns don’t just break her patterns, but mine and everyone’s around her as well. She truly expresses more joy and happiness than anyone I know.


Write down three words you currently use on a regular basis that intensify your negative feelings or emotions. Maybe you use words like “I’m frustrated,” “I’m depressed,” or “I’m humiliated.” Come up with alternative words that will lower the intensity of those negative emotions. Maybe instead of “depressed” you say you are “a little bit down.”

What would happen if instead of saying you feel “humiliated” you say you are “uncomfortable” with how the situation was dealt with? You can soften emotional intensity even further by using modifiers like “I’m just a bit peeved,” or, “I’m feeling a tad out of sorts.”


Write down three words that you use to describe your experience that is somewhat positive. When someone says, “how’s it going?” come up with three alternative words that will amplify and intensify the positive feelings and inspire you. Instead of talking about how things are “all right,” replace those words with “incredible,” “outrageous,” and “spectacular.” What’s a positive word that if you really thought about your whole life, you could say and own congruently?


Get leverage so you follow through. Pick two key people in your life – a close friend and ideally someone you respect that you would not want to disappoint. Pull them aside and explain to them your commitment to replace two or three key words in your vocabulary.

Most importantly, give them permission if they hear you using the old word to ask you if that’s really the word you want to use to explain how you feel. For example: Let them know if you start to say, “John f’n pisses me off,” that you want them to intervene and ask you, “Do you mean John’s behavior frustrates you a bit J?”

I know this sounds ridiculous, but if you are committed, a simple reminder will get you to catch yourself and lower the intensity immediately. It will help you recognize that you have control of your own space in this moment and by simply selecting a different word, you can change the meaning completely. If you do this well, you’ll find yourself smiling while you do it, like an inside joke. But it’s impact is no laughing matter.

Or if you use a phrase like “I’m depressed,” you may want them to ask you, “Hey are you depressed about this, or are you feeling a little bit down?” Are you frustrated or fascinated by how people often respond to things? Making a commitment to make these changes to a dear friend or an important and respected colleague will give you the additional support and incentive to actually follow through and break your own patterns.

By carefully and consciously selecting the words you are attaching to your experiences and doing it for a ten-day period, you’ll find an immediate change in how you feel and this becomes positively addictive. I can tell you for those who have lived this ten-day plan, the experience can be life-changing.

Again, I know it sounds overly simplistic, but if you test it out and are diligent with it for 10 days, you’ll experience a transformation in your emotional patterns – and the emotional patterns we live are what control the quality of our life. You’ll even feel the difference in your body – a lot less pain and a lot more pleasure. Don’t you deserve to have a better quality of life? Plus when you’re in a great state, how do you treat others? The better your state, the more powerful the impact on everyone around you – your businesses, your friends, and your family.

Read the original article HERE.

Wayne Dyer On Leadership

By Henna Inam

Dr. Wayne Dyer was one of my favorite authors. He passed away on Aug 29, 2015 at the age of 75.

If leadership is about influencing others, Wayne Dyer was one giant leader in influencing millions of people around the world. He was a master salesman, making many of his 30 books best-sellers, and raising over $100 million dollars for public broadcasting. His essential leadership message was to lead from the power within us. Most remarkably, he lived the messages he taught. Here are ten of his most powerful quotes to inspire your leadership today.

1. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” The essence of this message is the power of perspective. Our leadership challenges and behaviors often come from how we see things and the “story” or “meaning” we make about what we see. We can transcend many of the challenges we face simply by deciding to find a more empowered perspective. Wayne Dyer lived most of his childhood (up to the age of 10) in an orphanage. His father walked out on their family and his mother could not afford to take care of three young boys. He was able to transcend his childhood difficulties and indeed used his challenges to teach others. What will you see differently today that will serve your leadership?

2. “A mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe.” Our 24/7 workplaces have us stressed and overwhelmed. More than ever, we need to find our center to make the right decisions. How do you find your center in the midst of the chaos and churn to make emotionally intelligent decisions?

Continue reading Wayne Dyer On Leadership

Seven Keys to Effectively Manage Conflict

By Andy Stanley

The role of leadership is to leverage the tension to the benefit of the organization.  That’s your assignment as a leader.  You’ve got to learn through your personality, your position and your gifts to leverage these tensions for the benefit of the organization because these tensions result in progress, progress, progress when properly leveraged.

Here are seven quick suggestions.

A.  First, obviously, is to identify the tensions to be managed in your organization, and this isn’t really hard to do. Sit down and work through with your team members, “Hey, what are the tensions that in that aren’t going away?”  And here’s the key.  What are the tensions that shouldn’t go away that we have to learn how to properly manage?  If you don’t identify these tensions, you will spend hours trying to solve problems that can’t be solved and shouldn’t be solved.  And if you are a peacemaker by nature, if you are a conflict-avoider by nature you will lean in the direction of bringing about peace and giving up the tension, which will impede progress, and you will make everybody happy temporarily, but you may undermine the strength of your entire church or organization.  Identify the tensions.

B. Create terminology.  Create new terminology.  The terminology we use in our organization is simply this.  This is a tension to manage.  I’m telling you, in the midst of conflict, staff conflict, volunteer conflict, all of a sudden it’s bingo!  We’re trying to solve a problem that is actually tension we must learn to leverage.

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6 Vows Great Leaders Are Willing to Make and Keep

By Pastor Rick Warren

Leaders are always defined by self-imposed standards. I’m not talking about standards set by other people, but standards they set for themselves. Great leaders always expect more from themselves than they do from their followers. They put forth more effort as well. That’s leadership.

If you were to look through the New Testament for the phrase “make every effort,” you’d find it six times. They represent six important vows we need to make as leaders. I believe these six vows will lead to an effective and productive ministry.

1) Vow to maintain integrity

“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. No one is perfect. To be spotless and blameless means to live with integrity. How do you maintain integrity if you’re not perfect? You need to be transparent. A person of integrity is not claiming to have it all together in every area. On the contrary, the person of integrity is willing to be open about their strengths and weaknesses.

Having integrity also means living what you say you believe. You model what you teach. And you tell the truth, even when it’s tough. All leadership is built on trust. And trust comes from having the reputation for living out what you believe and for telling the truth. As a pastor and leader, people must trust you.

Will you make a commitment to lead with integrity? Will you be honest about both your strengths and weaknesses? Will you commit to living your sermons out every week? Will you tell the truth to those you lead even when it’s tough?

Continue reading 6 Vows Great Leaders Are Willing to Make and Keep

The High-Potential Leader

By Ram Charan

The Urgent Need for High-Potential Leaders

The biggest concern I hear among senior leaders today is, How can we stay relevant in this increasingly complex and fast-moving world? The truth is, some can’t. They’re not equipped to help their companies reinvent themselves for the new game. Nor are the leaders next in line, who’ve been groomed to fit the same obsolete mold.

Companies big and small are coming to realize that it will take leaders with a different way of thinking and different skills to reinvent the business. They are having to redefine the very notion of what a successful leader looks like. Now the race is on to find those with high potential to lead the company onto new paths in a world of constant change.

You’ve heard it before—the changes being wrought by things like digitization, algorithms, and data analytics will be as radical as the Industrial Revolution. We’ve already seen companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon cause revolutions in consumer behavior and reach the stratosphere in market value in record time. More of these are yet to come, led by people with the capacity to conceive and grow them. In a decade, the $72 trillion global economy is on a trajectory to be 50 percent greater than it is today. Products and services not yet invented will give consumers entirely different experiences and make some companies obsolete.

This is a time for leaders who can thrive in the face of relentless change, complexity, and uncertainty. Many companies have such leaders buried at lower levels. They need to find them, develop them, and find ways to use them to help the company adapt. And they need to move fast on this. “Born digital” companies are on the prowl and will gladly poach whatever high-potential talent traditional companies overlook.

High-potential leaders themselves shouldn’t just sit back and wait to be discovered. They should decide for themselves whether they have what it takes to someday take a large team, business unit, function, or the whole corporation to new heights and make a plan to ready themselves to create the future.

Continue reading The High-Potential Leader

Ego Free Leadership

By Leading Blog

EGO IS A CONSTANT preoccupation with our self-worth.

Each of us has beliefs and fears about our value, and they cause defensive and/or self-promotional behaviors when under stress. Whether in a meeting, a presentation, or a relationship, part of our attention—sometimes all of it—is preoccupied by our view of our self. Are we competent? Respected? Intelligent? Liked? Attractive? Included? Each of us has a set of criteria we unconsciously judge ourselves against. When we measure up, we feel pride, even superiority. When we don’t, we feel uncomfortable, stressed, often afraid.

Ego Free Leadership is co-written by executive coach Shayne Hughes, president of Learning as Leadership and Brandon Black the retired CEO of Encore Capital Group. The book tracks Black’s journey from acknowledging to changing the destructive elements of his ego. Once he committed to change, the transformation began in his team and throughout the culture of the Encore organization. Quite effectively, Hughes and Black go back and forth sharing their perspectives on the unfolding transformation. Naturally, it’s not a step-by-step prescription, but it is instructive to see the process because we all share similar issues and thinking.

They begin by debunking the “ego is good” myth. Our egos limit us as we try to protect it in various ways. “Our ego can’t stand failure, incompetence, or weakness, so it avoids what is truly challenging us.

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14 Leadership Lessons From The Life Of Jesus


Even reasonable atheists must admit Jesus Christ is the greatest leader who ever lived.  No other person has been more talked about, more worshipped, had more songs and books written about their life, inspired more artwork, created a more successful lasting organization called the local church, and literally has history measured by when He lived on the Earth.  Jesus Christ is the greatest leader who ever lived.

I feel so strongly about this statement I previously wrote a post entitled Just 10 Of The Reasons Why Jesus Is The Greatest Leader Ever.  Portions of this post were even included in my book The 10 Indispensable Practices Of The 2-Minute Leader.

To further demonstrate the unmatched leadership of Jesus, I want to refer you to Matthew 20:29-34 where we find the account of when He gave two blind men their sight.

The following are just 14 of the Leadership Lessons From The Life Of Jesus we find in this passage.  First is the text followed by leadership principles we can all follow and implement.

  1. Great Leaders Have Followers – v. 29 “a great multitude followed Him.”  As John Maxwell famously said, “He who thinks he is a leader but has no one following is merely taking a walk.”
  2. Great Leaders Model Great Leadership – Still building off the previous text, as people followed in the “dust of their Rabbi”, Jesus modeled what transformational leadership looked like.  People do what people see.
  3. Great Leaders Have Developed A Great Reputation – v. 30 “when they heard that Jesus was passing by”.  When you pass by those you lead, what is the response?  Is it excitement?  Anticipation?  Hope?  Or is the response fear and anxiety?
  4. Great Leaders Show Great Mercy – v. 30 (the blind men) “cried out, saying, ‘Have mercy on us’”.  As Christian leaders, if we received what we deserved it would be death and hell.  It is only through Jesus we can stand blameless before God.  Therefore, the extension of mercy is part of our leadership DNA as well.  Who do you need to extend mercy today?
  5. Great Leaders Provide Great Solutions – v. 30 “O Lord, Son of David!”  This is a Messianic term.  The Messiah had arrived to deliver them from their sin.  When you walk into a room, do people feel burdens have been lifted and solutions are coming?
  6. Great Leaders Face Great Opposition – v. 31 “the multitude warned them they should be quiet”.  My pastor Crawford Loritts says, “Jesus’s popularity was always problematic.”  Successful leaders plan for opposition, challenges, and unforeseen obstacles.
  7. Great Leaders Have Great Persistence – v. 31 “but they cried out all the more”.  All leaders will experience failure.  We have all been knocked down.  Successful leaders stand back up, persevere and keep moving forward.  For more on this topic, read 11 Leadership Lessons I Have Learned From Failure
  8. Great Leaders Are Great Communicators – v. 32 “So Jesus stood and called them”.  Jeff Henderson says, “Leadership comes with a microphone.”  For more lessons on communication, read 26 Tips For Pastors And Business Leaders On Becoming A Better Vision Caster.
  9. Great Leaders Have Great Demands Placed Upon Them – v. 32 “What do you want Me to do for you?”  People are constantly asking things of leaders?  It seems as though everyone wants something.  How a leader handles requests effects the level of their influence.
  10. Great Leaders Bring Great Clarity – v. 33 “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”  Many times plans fail due to misinterpretation or lack of clarity.  Simple, straightforward instructions are necessary for success.
  11. Great Leaders Have Great Compassion – v. 34 “So Jesus had compassion”.  Lasting leaders have a sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
  12. Great Leaders Connect With People – v. 34 “and touched their eyes.”  The only appreciable asset any organization has is its people.  Making an emotional and practical investment in their development is critical to becoming a lasting organization.
  13. Great Leaders Deliver Results – v. 34 “And immediately their eyes received sight”.  Because leadership does come with a microphone, many leaders can talk a great game.  However, one of the characteristics of great leaders is they deliver results.
  14. Great Leaders Are Great Servants – v. 34: “and they followed Him.”  Saved people serve people.  And served people become saved people.

Read the original article HERE

Why the Lowly Dandelion Is a Better Metaphor for Leaders than the Mighty Banyan

By Vivek Bapat

Banyans are among the world’s largest and longest-living trees — one in India is more than 200 years old and is reported to be the world’s largest tree. Bigger than the average Wal-Mart, it has a canopy of more than 19,000 square meters. Not surprisingly, this visual distinctiveness has come to symbolize magnificence, immortality, and stature — attributes typically associated with strong, stable leadership. Particularly, in South East Asia, where it grows, the Banyan also has deep cultural reverence. It is designated as the National Tree of India.  Leadership Institutes, conferences, and management gurus reference the mighty banyan in their teachings.

There are good reasons the metaphor is so popular. Like the banyan, many well-regarded leaders get their start by capitalizing on a nascent opportunity. Similar to the branches and roots of the banyan, they flourish by surrounding themselves with like-spirited colleagues, bonding around the core. They successfully expand their span of control outward from the center, gathering more influence over time.

However, the same attributes that spawn initial success also expose some intrinsic flaws. As the banyan’s roots grow out from the center, into what resembles a formidable trunk, it completely surrounds and suffocates the original host tree, leaving a hollow core at the center. Correspondingly, leaders who grow their influence like the great banyan can unwittingly smother the initial spark of innovation and disruptive thinking at the core of an organization’s ethos — that magic that made it successful in the first place.

As they grow, banyans seek to dominate surrounding trees, discouraging other plants to grow in the dense canopy of their leaves. In the same way, as leaders’ influence grows, success can feed into their egos, encouraging them to surround themselves exclusively with executives who constantly validate and reflect their own beliefs.  Ultimately, this type of growth masks a lack of diversity and fresh thinking in the core of the management ranks causing many leaders, their teams and organizations to lose their way.

In stark contrast to the banyan is a small weed that lives an unremarkable, fleeting life — the dandelion.

From conventional reasoning, you’d be hard pressed to find a management guru who would recommend that we lead like dandelions. But, just as improbable as it sounds, could the small, frail dandelion — a sworn pest of the suburban yard, in fact, offer a better metaphor for modern day leadership?

Further inspection reveals some interesting characteristics that correlate.  Dandelions fall under a class known as beneficial weeds, which help the plants around them. Dandelions do this by sending taproots deep into the ground. These taproots pull nutrients up to the surface, improving the quality of the soil and feeding shallow-rooted plants nearby. Dandelions also attract insects that enable pollination, like bees, which help other flowering plants. Plants that might not otherwise have a chance to germinate or survive get a shot at life because of the nutrients and insects that dandelions send their way. Yes, dandelions are prolific and fight for territory, but they don’t grow large and they fade quickly after blooming, giving other species a chance to thrive. They may not be the showiest plants, but they leave the environment a better place.

The resilient, flexible, nurturing style of the dandelion might be more emblematically better suited to today’s modern digital world and its constant change than the rigid, inflexible style of leadership reflected by the banyan. Faster than ever before, technology-led disruption is wiping out companies that rest too long on the laurels of their past success. Like the dandelion, which knows its time is short, new leaders now have months, not decades, to succeed. Like the dandelion, leaders should use a faster, agile, flexible mindset to explore and exploit new opportunities presented by constantly challenging the status-quo, even when they are growing.

A dandelion can find a way to grow with the most minimal resources; who hasn’t seen one popping up between the cracks in a concrete sidewalk? Similarly, today’s most resilient digital companies are lean and dandelion-tough. While in the past, disruptive ideas often starved and died due to lack of capital investments, today, the democratization of technology — in computing, cloud, social, and big-data analytics — let business leaders deploy, test, and scale new ideas more cheaply than before.

The banyan might seem mighty on the outside, but an old banyan has a hollow core. In a fast-changing world, leaders must preserve the personal authenticity, moral compass, and clarity that defines them, especially as their companies grow. Just as the dandelion helps other plants to flourish, leaders must focus not on expanding their own empires (in banyan-like fashion) but on allowing others to thrive. Resilient leaders choose their metaphors carefully, keep their egos in check, and leave their environments richer than they found them, clearing the way for new leaders to take root.

The 1 Question Leadership Challenge

By LeaderTribe

The Video Blog is Here!

To kick off this new era of video blogs I’m bringing it hard when it comes to helping you be a success at work. I talk about an incredible project to rate the top 40 people in an organization and the 1 Question that separated the top performers from the wannabes. This one question will save you countless hours of frustration, and propel you toward your next promotion.
FREE! I’ve created the a free download of “6 Fog-Cutter Questions for Success.” The important question that I mentioned above is number 5 on the list. They are all great and they are all yours for free when you click here.

How to Keep Your Team Focused and Productive During Uncertain Times

By Amy Gallo

Uncertainty is uncomfortable for everyone. Whether it’s political turmoil or a reorganization at your company, employees who are concerned about their future are likely to be distracted and unproductive. What should a manager do? How can you keep people focused while also helping them cope with the feelings that change and ambiguity bring up?

What the Experts Say
Most of us feel overwhelmed, upset, and anxious when faced with uncertainty. “We have a fundamental neuroanatomy that orients us toward stress in highly charged times,” explains Rich Fernandez, cofounder of Wisdom Labs and an expert in resilience. And this can start an unhealthy cycle: “A symptom of distraction is more distraction. Then we feel more anxious,” says Susan David, a founder of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital and author of Emotional Agility. On a team, these feelings, and the resulting hit to productivity, can be contagious. “We subtly pick up on the emotions and start to feel or mimic them ourselves,” she explains. To help people stay focused despite what may be going on in the world or the office, Fernandez believes in “compassionate management,” where you “seek to understand how you can be of service and benefit to employees while balancing the need to keep them on task.” Here are practical ways to do that.

Take care of yourself first
You’ll be better able to support your team and model resiliency if you acknowledge and manage any stress and anxiety you feel yourself. Start by taking the time to understand what you’re feeling. “You want to label your emotions. Put distance between yourself and them so that you can make a conscious decision about how to act in a way that’s in line with your values,” David says. Ask yourself: Whom do I want to be in this situation? What’s most important to me? “If one of your core values is to be collaborative, for example, ask, ‘How can you help people feel like they’re part of the team?’”

Acknowledge the uncertainty
If you sense your employees are concerned about the future of the country, your organization, or their jobs, don’t carry on with business as usual. “These experiences are very real and can’t be ignored, denied, or repressed,” says Fernandez. Even if your intention is to keep people focused, bottling your emotions, or expecting employees to do the same, can be dangerous. People start to feel uncomfortable voicing their feelings or concerns, and “you start to get a rebound effect,” says David. Instead, directly address the issue. You might acknowledge that things seem chaotic and unpredictable at the moment. At the same time, you only want to commiserate up to a point — you should avoid “brooding,” where you get stuck in a negative spiral. Acknowledge how people are feeling, but then “move on to talk about how you want to act as a team,” she says.

Encourage self-compassion
Some of your team members may be looking around and wondering how their colleagues are keeping it together while they’re losing sleep and unable to be productive. Encourage them to have some self-compassion and acknowledge that stress is a normal, physiological response to feeling out of control or threatened. “Help staff recognize that change can bring about a lack of agency,” says David, which can send our brains and bodies into overdrive. If you’re feeling stressed, admit it, or talk about previous situations in which you’ve felt anxiety, so they know they’re not alone.

Ask people what they need
Talk with employees one-on-one and let them describe what they’re going through. Do some “perspective-taking by putting yourself in their shoes,” says Fernandez. You want to “truly understand what they think and feel, even if you don’t agree or feel the same thing.” This empathy forms the basis of trust so that you can move into problem-solving mode. Fernandez suggests saying, “It seems like a tough time. What would be most helpful at the moment? Let’s think about it together, because I want to help and make sure you can get your work done.” Maybe they need some extra guidance on how to reduce distractions, advice on prioritizing their work, or increased flexibility.

Focus on what you do control
Research has shown that even small rituals can reduce stress and improve performance, as can incremental progress toward clearly defined goals. You might also give people more flexibility in dictating their work schedule, so long as you “encourage them to plan in advance and make an agreement that the performance expectations remain the same,” Fernandez says. David recommends returning to values as well. Even when “a lot of power and choices are being taken away, you still get to choose whom you want to be,” she explains. So help employees clarify what’s important to them. You can do this with the whole team by asking, “How do we want to act during these times? How do we want to treat one another?” Members might agree that they want to continue delivering a quality product to your clients while being respectful and kind to one another, for example. “It helps a team stay grounded when you reassert and reaffirm a shared sense of purpose,” says David.

Encourage and model self-care
Sleep, exercise, and good nutrition are proven stress killers and productivity enhancers. So encourage your team members to take care of themselves, says David. For example, if an employee tells you she’s taking her phone to bed to read work emails or the news, you might suggest she leave it in another room. If you see people checking Twitter or gossiping about a reorganization during lunch breaks, you might invite them to  go out for a walk instead. It’s not a manager’s place to dictate these behaviors, but it’s OK to give advice, especially based on your experience and what’s worked for you. Mindful breathing helps to calm anxiety and increase focus, Fernandez says. Although it may seem awkward to remind your staff to inhale and exhale, you can share the research on its benefits.

Principles to Remember


  • Normalize stress — it’s a common physiological response to uncertainty
  • Increase employees’ sense of control over their actions and work schedule
  • Encourage people to take care of themselves by getting sleep, exercising, and eating well


  • Neglect your own anxiety and concerns
  • Ignore people’s emotions
  • Let the uncertainty be an excuse for not getting work done

Case Study #1: Talk about concerns openly and give people flexibility
Building up to and following the U.S. elections, Jan Bruce, cofounder and CEO of meQuilibrium, a digital coaching platform that helps people be more resilient, watched as the level of worry increased among many of her 41 employees. “People were talking about it and expressing concerns,” she says. Some were anxious about personal issues, such as the ability to pay back their student loans or renew their visas. Others were worried about the company and how policy changes would affect its ability to recruit from abroad. “It has certainly been a tense atmosphere,” she says. “People don’t like uncertainty. We’re wired to scan for potentially negative and scary outcomes, so it makes sense.”

Given her company’s focus, Jan knew what she needed to do. First, she made sure that people felt comfortable talking about what they were experiencing. “We set an overall tone, even prior to the election, that it was acceptable and encouraged to talk about politics in the office,” she says. Employees were able to “acknowledge what they were feeling, address it with their colleagues, and then move on to getting work done.”

Since people were able to express their worries, Jan and other managers at meQuilibrium could help strategize how to address them. “I see that fears often get magnified and people tend to blow up the numbers. They might say that we’re not going to be able to hire anyone because of the changes around foreign visas, but only 5% of our hires have visas,” she says. They talked openly about the risks to the business. “We didn’t sweep the concerns under the rug, even if the outcomes were usually less instantaneous or drastic than they feared.” With the issues on the table, they could move into problem-solving mode and talk about how they should guard against those risks.

Many staff members got more involved in politics after the election, and Jan made sure they had the control over their schedules to do so. “A few weeks ago we found people were leaving the office to go to demonstrations or marches. To us, that’s the same as going out for a dentist appointment. We’re not endorsing any political stance — we’re just giving employees the freedom to do what’s important to them.”

While Jan says that this may be a particularly tumultuous time in U.S. politics, her approach is not unique to this moment: “Transparency, social support, and flexibility are part of our values, no matter what’s going on in the world.”

Case Study #2: Provide a sense of hope
Naomi Hardy was the regional HR manager at an energy company during a merger of nine different entities. It was a stressful time for most employees, but there was one person in particular, a geologist, who was struggling with the tumult of the reorganization. “He was going over budget on project, time and time again,” she says. Because he’d been a strong performer in the past, “senior management was puzzled and the employee was distraught.”

When Naomi started talking with him, she discovered that “the changes going on in the workplace, the uncertainty, and the constant rumors were causing him anxiety.” As a result, “he’d lost focus, and what normally took him one hour to complete began to take him four or six hours to complete. He just couldn’t concentrate.”

Naomi worked with the geologist to focus on what was in his control. She reminded him that no matter what happened at the company, he had unique strengths and an impressive list of accomplishments. She coached him to “advance and learn during these times and make himself valuable whether or not he was laid off,” and even encouraged him to identify competitors “that would be happy to have him on their team, should the need arise.” At the same time, she emphasized the importance of managing his projects more effectively and meeting his clients’ needs.

Her efforts to increase his sense of agency and hope paid off. He got back on track with his project deadlines and budget, and “he was able to see a future, regardless of the future of the company,” she says. Although he was ultimately let go, he quickly found a job with a competitor.

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