Like Songs, Leaders Can Produce Earworms

I woke up today with an earworm. It’s driving me nuts. No doubt you’ve experienced annoying earworms too. You know, that “little fragment, often a bit of the chorus of the song, that just plays and replays like it's stuck on loop in your head,” explains Elizabeth Margulis, director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas and author of On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind. Researchers have found that over 91% of us get a song stuck in our minds—earworms—at least once a week. The term "earworm" originally comes from a translation of the German word 'Ohrwurm'. If you’re a songwriter, earworms are the stuff of dreams. You want your song to stick in people’s minds. Songs like "What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis, and The Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" are tunes researchers say generate earworms. I've noticed that Meghan Trainor’s "All About That Bass" seems to catalyze earworms in old and young alike. But alas, (most) leaders are not songwriters. If we’re not careful, repetition of catchphrases or buzzwords become earworms that can blow our chance to inspire others or worse, close followers' ears completely. Earworms at Work As an entry-level employee, I … [Read more...]

It Doesn’t Pay To Be Stingy With Praise by Sue Caba

Do you praise your employees five times more often than you criticize them? If not, you’re missing one of the most cost-effective techniques for building employee engagement, increasing profits, improving safety records and lowering absenteeism. Praise, after all, is free. Employees who don’t get enough praise or feel their boss doesn’t listen are 30 percent more likely than other workers to suffer a heart attack and three times more likely to look for another job within a year, according to research by Harvard, Gallup and The Aberdeen Group. Positive feedback doesn’t have to be--in fact, shouldn’t be--excessive.  A simple “thank you,” or “Hey, loved the way you worded that letter,” is often appropriate, so long as it’s sincere. Why does it work? Because receiving an “atta-girl” gives your brain a little shot of dopamine--the body’s feel-good hormone and neurotransmitter. And that little burst of pleasure prompts you to repeat the behavior that prompted the rewarding feeling. Yet, very few managers practice the art of praise. The Gallup Organization has analyzed the responses of many thousands of employees, surveyed on job satisfaction in the past five decades. Only … [Read more...]

Want a Healthier Workplace? Sing!

The power of singing became apparent to me in Nepal. My friend Clare and I got lost hiking in the Kathmandu Valley. We stumbled upon a Nepali army outpost and were surrounded by soldiers who aimed their machine guns at us. Long—true—story short, we sang our way out of it. Thinking back, I still cringe at our stupidity, our illiteracy. I marvel at the kindness, and the singing, of Nepal's soliders. They even taught us a Nepalese marching song. It involves stomping one’s feet and yelling something like “Denah, denah, denah haah.” Tramping around Nepal alone isn’t recommended (in fact, I believe it may be illegal). The key thing I learned is that you can, indeed, sing your way out of trouble. “If everyone started off the day singing, just think how happy they’d be.”— Lauren Myracle, Shine We have abysmal employee engagement rates in the U.S. according to Gallup research. In a 2013 Monster.com study, more Americans said they hate their jobs than other developed nations’ workers. We need—pun intended—concerted action: we need to sing. I’m not talking about the irritating guy on the other side of the mouse-maze of florescent-lit cubicles, the one who won’t stop humming “What … [Read more...]

5 Spring Renewal Tips for the Exhausted

Women frequently tell me how exhausted they feel. I get it. Imitating Superwoman is exhausting. In 2013, Lifetime’s "The Week the Women Went" gave us the rather unreal, reality TV version of what might happen if we women just stopped doing all we do. The so-called social experiment series followed families of Yemassee, South Carolina for a week in which 150 of the community's adult women left town, leaving the men in charge of everything, including child care, house work and maintaining their jobs. Guess what happened? The men said they were exhausted. 5 Quick Renewal Tips From my experience coaching working women, I find that few stop and celebrate themselves. (And yes, I find this with men I coach too.) Busy, busy. A tendency to move onto the next thing on the to-do list. A constant filling of time with electronic gadgets and mindless TV moments can strip us of energy.  Or, like many women I know, you may work through the weekend doing paid work or unpaid (yes, "second shift" housework). In honor of spring, I thought I’d share a few quick tips-into-practices-into-habits that my coachees have used effectively to to boost their energy. I'll tell you the spring secret … [Read more...]

Lead Yourself First

Guest post by Susan Caba The ancient Greeks said it first: “Know Thyself.”  That timeless piece of advice was inscribed on the Temple of the Oracle at Delphi, and it’s been the basis of philosophical, psychological and self-help theories ever since. Most great leaders know themselves--their strengths, weaknesses and motivations--very well. Their self-awareness contributes to their effectiveness as leaders. Why? Because in order to lead others, you must be able to lead yourself. Self-leadership only comes with self-knowledge. It gives you insight into how others see and respond to you; it confers the ability to interact more successfully with others. This is as true for a relationship between two people as it is for the CEOs of enormous organizations. 4 Ingredients There are four basic ingredients in everyone’s personality or behavioral style. All four are present in every person, to different degrees. Just as the flavor and texture of a particular bread depends on its ratio of ingredients, spices and baking time, an individual’s personality depends on the varying ratios of all four traits. Nobody is all one style or another; no particular mix is better than the myriad … [Read more...]

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