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Jathan Janove

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When verbally attacked, how do you respond? Fight? – You return fire.Flight? – You retreat or grow quiet. You may answer, “It depends.” If it’s your boss, an important client or customer, or someone in a position of authority or importance, you might say “flight.” If it’s someone else, you might say, “fight.” There’s a better option than either fight or flight. It involves applying a verbal form of the Japanese martial art Aikido.

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Have you had this experience? You need to choose a course of action. Yet you wrestle with whether to run it by your boss first. You think, “Maybe she’ll say ‘yes.’ But maybe she’ll say ‘no,’ which will frustrate me. Or maybe she’ll say … nothing. I’ll be left in limbo, which is even worse than ‘no.’”

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Tom Robertson, Ph.D. specializes in organization development and has worked on major projects throughout the world. The former Director of Engineering and Chief Scientist at Lockheed Martin, Tom now works with companies through his consulting firm Thinking Teams. Recently, I interviewed Tom on the topic of project leadership and alignment.

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For six years, Sue Meisinger served as president & CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), the world’s largest HR organization. She now consults on human resource management and writes a column on HR leadership for Human Resource Executive Online. In my interview of her, Meisinger weighs in on HR’s complaint of not getting a “seat at the table.”

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In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins shares research showing that the most effective leaders combine humility with strong personal will. I’ve been fortunate to know such a leader, Homer L. Deakins, Jr. When Deakins became Managing Partner (equivalent to CEO), Ogletree Deakins was a relatively small southeast law firm. Under his leadership, the firm created an entrepreneurial culture and expanded throughout the country. It has now grown to over 750 attorneys in 46 cities across North America and Europe. In our interview, Deakins discusses the importance of humility in effective leadership. Here are his principal observations.

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Ravila Gupta is president of Umicore USA, a global materials technology company with 16 sites in North America. In my interview with her, Gupta describes how executive coaching has helped her grow as a leader.

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Why would a blog on employee engagement discuss bullying? Well, have you ever known a bullied employee who felt engaged? I had the opportunity to interview Dennis A. Davis, Ph.D., National Director of Client Training for Ogletree Deakins Learning Solutions, and an acknowledged expert on preventing workplace bullying and violence. In my interview, Dr. Davis addressed several important topics.

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If you’re serious about training your managers to increase employee engagement, what do you need to do? Jeff Bushardt is Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Comporium Communications, Inc. I worked with him on a project where training objectives included building trust, creating a shared vision, giving and receiving feedback, and improving accountability and employee engagement.

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Josh Greenwald is Head of Organization Effectiveness for TIAA-CREF, a financial services company with $613 billion in assets under management. In a numbers-driven industry, TIAA-CREF has made employee engagement a fundamental priority. In an interview, Greenwald shares what companies can do if they’re serious about increasing employee engagement.

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My first post discussed how engaged employees benefit their employers. My second post defined employee engagement. Here, we explore what creates a foundation for fully engaged workplace relationships. In my view, employee engagement rests on a three-legged stool.

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“Employee Engagement” is the management concept du jour. It follows in a long line—Management By Objective (MBO), Quality Circles, Total Quality Management (TQM), Kaizen, Hoshin kanri, to name a few. All focus on the question: “How do we get our employees to do what we need them to do?” Last week’s post connected employee engagement to business results. Here we focus on defining the term.

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Assume you are a member of your company’s executive leadership team. Your CEO is unhappy. Markets have tightened. Competition has increased. Costs have risen while revenue has declined. The CEO presses you and your fellow executives for ways to increase profits. Suggestions include launching a new marketing campaign, shortening sales and product cycles, and conducting layoffs. “I’ve got a solution,” you say. All eyes turn to you. “Let’s increase employee engagement!” What’s the most likely reaction from your CEO?

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