Creating Love in the Workplace

LOVE in the Workplace

When I envision what goes into a loving and caring workplace, I think about more than just the other employees, location, facilities and technology. My ideal workplace is built on that “can do” attitude and is strengthened by the relationships we build with individuals and teams inside and outside our organizations. In order to accomplish this, leadership and teams must be:

  • Safe – a great workplace makes safety a foundational commitment for employees and the customers they serve.
  • Engaged – people are excited about their work, proud of their organization and eager to make their work environment better. They feel valued for doing meaningful work. They trust their leaders, and their leaders trust and empower them.
  • Diverse – a true team that is diverse, inclusive and reflective of the customers it serves. Diversity, in all of its many dimensions, makes workplaces stronger, including diversity of thought and experience.
  • Empowered – every employee is challenged to contribute to his or her full potential. They are encouraged to contribute and speak up when something needs fixing or improving.
  • Aligned – employees are committed to the organization’s core values and behaviors. They work together to win.
  • Committed – people are focused on excellence. They lead by example and know that integrity, openness, flexibility, accountability and results are expected and rewarded.
  • Opportunity for personal Growth and Development
  • Challenging and Respectful
  • Collaboration and cooperation are cornerstones of building trust and producing results
  • Giving your best effort whenever and wherever it is needed

The above characteristics make for a loving workplace which creates an exciting and challenging work environment – and that in turn gives us the freedom – to pursue the art of love and possibility.  And that’s exactly what successful organizations are doing around the world in leading the transformation of in the workplace from inequality, command and control and frustration or boredom to an Open, Agile, Loving, Caring, Engaged  and Accepting culture from bottom to top of an organization. The mantra is that everyone matters and needs to be respected.



Part I. Leadership Research: # 1 skill for Becoming Extraordinary Leader

High-Resolution Leadership a research study conducted by DDI identifies that “the single most important skill of a good leader may not be what you think. Although it is important to be visionary and a strategic thinker, a new study suggests that it’s more rooted in their daily conversations and interactions with people”.

According to DDI research on leadership, the leader who’s most effective in having successful conversations is most likely to do the best in developing their team and creating a successful business. “By the end of each day, leaders likely have had multiple conversations with a range of their constituents,” DDI’s researchers write. “Each of these interactions will collectively determine their ultimate success as a leader.”

This conclusion comes from a report called High-Resolution Leadership, which is the result of synthesizing assessments taken by 15,000 participants being considered for leadership from the front lines to executive levels at 300 companies in 18 countries. DDI evaluated the data from personality and intelligence tests as well as from “day-in-the-life” simulations that allowed participants to demonstrate their skills.


Vision of New 21st Century Leadership

Leadership and Growth Mindset

With increased self-awareness through dialogue and feedback from others comes more confidence in your ability to tackle challenges and be a collaborative leader. These practices are hallmarks of the work I do with clients, not only in our more formally organized leadership development programs, but also in my modules on self-coaching and growth mindset characteristics both of which provide people with extensive feedback on self-awareness and how others see them.

Out these insights I have developed a vision for what 21st century leadership looks like. In the 21st Century a leader’s ability to inspire others to “follow you over the hill” in the command and control style of leadership is of less importance than your ability “to align people around a sense of purpose and values…and then model and empower other people to step up and lead no matter what organizational position or level they are in. This sense of autonomy and self-direction are critical elements in this new style of leadership.

If you’re inspiring followers, self-awareness is less important than power and the natural charisma we’ve traditionally associated with strong leadership. Yet  if you’re aligning and empowering other leaders, your success will depend on your ability to connect with people not as “followers” but as independent decision-makers and to motivate and influence them by speaking to their needs and interests.  This requires a keen degree of self-awareness and the ability to see clearly through the eyes of others.

Bringing Love into the workplace

Daily quote: The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play. Toynbee

I call this accomplishment “Bringing LOVE to the workplace…I believe that a loving organization would be a dream come true for most of us. Specifically, this type of workplace environment would show respect and consideration for all people, it would be a place where purpose and meaning would be shared by all, where individual differences are celebrated; information is open to all not suppressed or spun; the company adds value to well lived life; where everyone one could earning a living wage; the climate would embrace selflessness not selfishness; the work is like play intrinsically fun and rewarding; and there standards and policies that place people’s well being and sharing in profits show in a concrete way the business owners care about their employees well being.

They have the faculty of calling out the best in them, appealing to their manliness, their sense of fairness, of justice, in doing as they would be done by.

“Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you.” All the philosophy of the ages is concentrated in this single sentence. It embodies the essential element in practical Christianity. All law lives in it, the principle of all reform. Its practice will ultimately swallow up all greed, and the time will come when every man will see that his own best good is in the highest good of everybody about him. The time will come when even in the business world the Golden Rule will be found by all to be the wisest and most businesslike policy.

Mr. H. Gordon Selfridge thinks that the labor problem would solve itself if employers treated their employees as they would like to be treated themselves, or as they would like to have their children treated. He says that the keeping these points in mind constitutes seventy-five per cent, of the secret of the success of his great department store in London, which, in the third year of his business there, made a profit of half a million dollars. Yet when he started his enterprise the best business men in London predicted that it would be a complete failure. Conservative people said: “He’ll be broke within a year. It can’t be done. We don’t like this kind of pushing business over here.” But by projecting the progressive spirit of Americanism into his business methods in the heart of London, where for centuries men had done business as their fathers and grandfathers and their remote ancestors had done, and by humane kindly treatment of his employees, he smashed old traditions and broke all business records.

Read more:


The Source of “Soft skills vs Hard skills” in Management Excellence

Daily Self-Coaching: For all of you who wanted to know where the “Soft skills and Hard Skills” idea came from don’t miss this historical summary by the management guru, Dr. Tom Peter’s. It first appeared in a HBR article and then was expanded in the award winning and ground breaking organizational and management effectiveness book In Search of Excellence. If you have not read this book it is a must read for all managers and leaders. You can download an e-book now. Below is a video where Dr. Peters asks, “If not excellence, what?” What else should you be doing with your time, your life? He agrees with Thomas Watson, Sr., the talented early leader of IBM, that you should make a personal commitment never again to do anything that is not excellent.

Want to Improve Team Effectiveness: Learn about Team Emotional Intelligence

Daily Quote: “Emotional Intelligence has had a real impact on individual growth and performance but the only problem is that so far emotional intelligence has not focused its research on team competency or effectiveness. The reality is that most work in organizations is done by teams. And if managers have one pressing need today, it’s to find ways to make teams work better”. Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff

“EXCELLENT” Meetings. Meetings are what bosses “do.” Meetings are de facto Leadership Opportunity #1. Act accordingly.  Dr. Tom Peters

How to make meetings more satisfying, productive and work more effectively? “Begin with the end in mind” or the vision thing. By setting a vision of what the team wants to accomplish and what a successful meeting looks like the changes of increasing engagement and having more satisfying outcomes increase dramatically .

We generally ignore priority setting or vision thinking in most meetings. For some reason there is pressure to get down to work quickly. This thinking goes like this “we can’t waste time on all this petty stuff we have important things to do”. So what happens is that most team leaders and members avoid or ignore answering these important questions: What is the most important thing to work on and accomplish while we are together this morning? Why are we doing this? What are we trying to achieve? Where are we trying to get to?’ What does success look like? How do we handle side issues that might come up? How do we get everyone involved, engaged and committed to what’s important to discuss and decide on today? What the leader and team fail to understand is how important it is to answer these questions not just to motivate thinking and members engagement but to guide how to use our valuable time together. Both “structure and processes” are key elements for increasing energy and productivity in meetings.  So my advice to those who are bored or frustrated by meetings is to –STOP, CLARIFY and GET AGREEMENT on what is important to focus on today.

Another important idea is presented by Druskat and Wolff in their Harvard Business Review’s article that the real source of a great team’s success lies in the fundamental understanding of group emotional intelligence. This understanding allows effective task processes to emerge like setting decision-making and communication norms and that cause members to commit to the shared established by the team. Their research says there are three conditions are essential to a group’s effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy.”

Planning and detail thinking are both about “how” to implement your vision, with planning being more at the 30,000 level and big picture thinking, and detail discussions are more ground level dealing with specific actions and commitments.   “This kind of ‘how’ to execute or work together is very difficult if you don’t have a  clear why these activities are a priority and important to the individuals, team and organizational imperatives.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Learning how to conduct effective meetings can’t be learned over night. To break the habits of poor meetings will take experimentation and practice. In the beginning instituting new group maintenance procedures or processes will feel unnatural or uncomfortable. So as a team leader it is important from a learning and mental stand point to stick with changes long enough to see if they can make a difference in your team’s productivity. Remember that ” A team can have everything going for it the brightest and most qualified people, access to resources–a clear mission and still fail because it lacks group emotional intelligence and understanding of group dynamics”.

So over the next month your challenge as team leader is to explore ways to improve your meetings through feedback and speaking-up. Start first by reaching out to team members on two questions:

1. How do they feel about the effectiveness of our present meetings.

2. Ask for suggestions on what needs to change in order to make them more productive?


Message for President Obama and Other Political Leaders On War

Open letter to President Obama and our Congressional Leaders:

A common requirement of leaders at all levels is having the courage to make tough decisions and take difficult actions. Many times this is required when the leader does not have all the evidence, information and time to wait for enlightenment. No person ever has a enough wisdom, evidence or analysis to predict the future. Usually it comes down to the best guess given the situation and information available. Many times this means relying on your “gut feeling” which is based on values, past experience and intuition. Courage may be the X factor that separates poor, mediocre and outstanding leaders. Yet, becoming a courageous leader involves a lot more than talking, rating, and or blindly trying to teach others a lesson. The dictionary definition of courage is “the state or quality of mind and spirit that enables one to face danger or fear with confidence and resolution; bravery; valor.” What does all that mean when it comes to making a decision to violently attack another nation? How does war provide answers for moral decisions? Where there are no final solutions or good answers for a situation maybe inaction or pausing is okay? In regard to striking Syria with surgical and limited bombing maybe taking a step back and exhausting all options before engaging in war is the right alternative. Who cares about a red line when our safety and security is not threatened. History teaches us that war and violence just begets more uncertainty, more war and violence. History tells us to rush into War does not need to be the first choice.

Maybe President Obama and our Congressional leaders need to reflect on JFK’s big idea and thoughts about the dangers of war itself.   JFK once warned us when he said:    “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” In my opinion we have the time to keep talking and it is time for courageous action of choosing Peace over War .

Warm Regards, Mark W. Hardwick  

Launch of Legacy Project–On Lessons Learned to Share with people in their 20’s

Legacy Project –May .13.2013 Learning from Hindsight–Seeing the Past with new eyes…

I have often wonder why younger people or for that why organizations or the government ( Viet Nam lessons not learned , so we plunged into Irag on false pretenses and little understanding of the differences of the Mid-East  culture or ideology and religions of the region) This approach to living seems to be set in stone. So we repeat mistakes that older generations have already experienced. I know the old saw that if you don’t study and understand history you are bound to repeat it. But that explanation is not enough. Maybe the younger folks just are not listen, or better yet maybe the older folks are not trying hard enough to share the lessons we have learned.  I would change the direction from external problems of health, Social Security prisons, politics and food to a more personal conversation. I have always been interested in reading and collecting the wisdom, stories and quotes of the ages. These would be reflections and principles that have guided your life and can be passed on to the next generation. As we all approach the “next act” of our life I wanted us to stop and take an inventory of lessons learned. These ideas, lessons, and thoughts will focus on how to enjoy a rich and fulfilling life.

These life lessons are made of experiences, stories, and teachings that you and I carry forward from our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, teachers, and mentors in life. These are the things we learned through our personal development and life experiences. These are the messages you might want to share with your grandkids or other younger people that might guide them through the ups and downs of life. I sense, in my discussions with people, a desire to pass on something more than material wealth. Many people have shared with me that they want to pass on something of themselves –something of the meaning and the spirit of living a fulfilling and good life. I think there is a yearning in all of us to share who we are and what life has meant and taught us.

So how shall we start the conversation? I have crafted the following thought starter questions to get us started. Please reflect and jot down your responses to the questions before the meeting and come prepared to share your insights and wisdom.

1. Let’s begin by sharing our most favorite quote in how to live life– I love this one–

“Satisfaction in life lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”  Mahatma Gandhi: non-violent activist who helped lead India to independence. He was assassinated in 1948.

Your favorite quote:


What meaning does this quote have for you and why is it a favorite?


What is the lesson  underlining this quote that you would want to pass on to the next generation?


Please pass this post on to all your friends and have then pass-on their ideas by emailing me at mwhardwick44@gmail .com or my face book page. Thanks for contributing you maybe providing a 20 something an idea or experience that will save them from pain or harm in the future. Or better yet with an opportunity to create a more meaningful life.

Boston Terrorism puts Everything in Perspective–One simple question for your Reflection

So sad and senseless is the tragedy in Boston I have only on question today–this haunting question comes from one of my favorite poets–Mary Oliver.

Quote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”


Daily Quote and Reflection: Work and the Principle of Meaning

Daily Quote and Reflection: It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. -Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great

Reflection: Have you ever contemplated what is the difference between work and play? Many people when ask to do this reflection say to me –work is work. It doesn’t have anything to do with play. Maybe maybe not I reply. I say what about organizations like  Southwest Airlines (Fun LUVing attitude not just words but real action in creating a family atmosphere and support programs to make communities a better place to live and work. The attitude is made-up of these principles–

  • Have FUN
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Maintain perspective
  • Celebrate successes
  • Enjoy your work
  • Be a passionate Teamplayer

The essence of work at Southwest Airlines  is  doing good while having fun. Of course there are many other organizations embracing this philosophy of meaning and fun at work like Tom’s of Maine, Zappos, and Patagonia who’s mission is to: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis..

Let’s brainstorm for a second the characteristics of work vs. play. Work conjectures up characteristics and thoughts of : required activity, pay for results or services, to survive and put a roof over your head, paid to do it, have to, sweat, challenge, bosses, be told what to do and how to do it, how to behave, command and control, schedules, boring, supervision, structured routine, time pressure etc… vs Play– want to, engaged, spontaneity, fun, freedom to choose, smiles, do it because I love the activity, enjoy the people playing with me, time is mine, etc…

So the question becomes how do we put more fun and meaning into work?

Daily Quote and Reflection: Making A Difference through Hope and Constructive Meaningful Living

My personal Vision: (passion, people and purpose) Is to bring love, trust, joy and inspiration into the community, workplace and my family by making a difference 1 person at a time, 1 day at a time, and 1 moment to moment at a time. This is what I call Constructive and Meaningful Life Coaching. Stop fooling and lying to yourself–If you surround yourself with people who speak the truth, and you lean in to what you do best, then the next step is to start evaluating your goals for 2013 with your head on straight and heart in the right place. You will never get anywhere unless you’re clear about where you are now and where you want to go, and how you are going to get to the future. You need to be clear on your goal, resources and support and the barriers you need to get through to do to get there.

What is stopping you from doing the things you need to do to gain control and improve your live?  So stop lying and denying the need for change. Embrace the reality and truth of your situation. Then put together a practical plan and start executing against that plan for change with the Smart-Step process. Here is my gift to you a friendly nudge and promise of support when you slip back into old habits or ways of thinking and acting that are self-defeating and rob you of creating and sustaining a meaningful and purpose filled life.

My Mission: To provide through teaching, consulting and coaching a way for people to become lifelong learners and problem solvers. I want you to reach your  full potential for living a balanced and fulfilling quality of life. Living and learner in this manner is the acknowledgement and embrace of hope and personal development through experience, reflection and problem solving. This process will require continuous assessment and feedback on your behavior. It will require the ability to be open in identifying new opportunities and challenges, being flexible in recreating, and updating your mental maps of the world through learning and planning and finally building support systems that mobilize you toward desired actions that make a difference in the world day in day out.

Key Principle in My Mission is the belief that Hope can make a Difference.  Hope is the glue that integrates our being and the magnet that attracts our resources and acts as the antidote to fear.  “To hope,” wrote Eric Fromm, “means to be ready at every moment for that which is not yet born, yet not to become desperate if there is no birth in our lifetime.” We cannot go on living without it.  Hope requires a strong personal believe and a positive self based on a belief that you can make a difference.  Hope requires that you acknowledge your strengths and that you are the primary change agent in your life. It requires that you sort through the events and things in life you can control and let go of those things that are beyond your control.  At the center of hope is an optimistic view of life.  It allows you to see positive things from dismal events by accepting the hurt feelings and pain; always trying to see the bright silver on the other side of despair and move on when you are ready. Hope is realizing the good fortunes and success you have had in the past and remembering that they will come your way again in the future.  It is risking and taking chances. “For to try and fail is at least to learn, but to fail to try is to suffer the loss of what life might have been.”

Part 2: Legacy and Finding your Purpose in Life

“It is essential to follow your commitments 100% of the time—Do you have a clear and meaningful life compass.”  HBR May 22, 2012 Clay Christianson

While vision and purpose in living a meaningful and constructive life are critical, they are rare. This is due to the fact that most individuals lead a frenetic and short-term life focused on activities, daily pressures, and attempts at immediate gratification. Many of us loss site of the “big picture” because life can be so tenuous and fragile. Research in Neurology ( brain), Social Psychology and Adult Development fields can facilitate our understanding of these life strategies. To summarize, research from the marshmallow studies on immediate gratification, brain scans, and emotional, intellectual, perceptual and development studies of adults suggest that effective problem solving, decision-making, personal development, effective communication and influence are not a random or prescriptive like a “bell-shaped curve” based on abilities or intelligence factors, but to large extent a function of emotional intelligence, openness to life-long learning, and one’s perceptual maps and world view.

Transformation occurs when existing maps, solutions, assumed truths and past decisions are exposed as unrealistic, and this new insight allows one to view the world from a more appropriate and empowering perspective. Here is what two prominent psychologist have said about development and personal change.

“The path of personal transformation is primarily a process of becoming aware of, facing up to and taking responsibility for one’s thoughts, feelings and actions, and then expanding this self-realization by communicating with others, retaining integrity whatever the response, and further enhancing the quality of communication with ever-increasing empathy and understanding. Through understanding others better, we can recognize their essential goodwill, however misguided it might have become, and begin to recognize the spirituality of humankind. ”

Abraham Maslow, Ph.D.

Rollo May, a distinguished psychologist,  describes the anxiety caused by a threat to some value which the individual holds essential to his development and existence as the self that he knows. He also quotes Kierkegaard: “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” May’s approach is existential: he conceives the self as a dynamic entity, alive with potentiality. His approach is also holistic, seeking to understand the whole reality and essence of a person’s being. Man is thought of as being and becoming, as a dynamic process, as a complex organism in relation to the universe. However, if an insight or perception is too hard at the moment, if it causes too much anxiety and threatens established beliefs – of self and/or of others – then it may be repressed, and cause fixation of development and afterwards be hidden by defenses.

What secrets or insights can you offer for creating a personal vision and purpose?

Let it be a life…Having Dignity and meaning

Quote: Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”  John Gardner 

Reflection: THIS QUOTE IS ALL ABOUT CAPTURING  YOUR LIFE UP TO THIS MOMENT… KEEPING SCORE ON HOW I AM MAKING A DIFFERENCE or how am I living with a clear purpose and meaning in life.

Action Point: Are you living on purpose or sleep walking through life barely keeping your head above water. When are going to define a clear purpose for your life? Maybe today is the day to start!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Learn More Persuasive Presentation Techniques–10 Secrets of Steve Jobs.

“People with Passion and Perseverance can Change the World” Carmine Gallo

If you are interested in seeing why Steve Jobs was such a great presenter don’t miss these tips. Ten ways to Sell your ideas the Steve Jobs Way. This video will provide many new ideas on how to repackage the old presentation methods by highlighting the many different persuasive ways Steve Jobs presents the vision behind their companies. In this talk, Carmine Gallo demonstrates how extraordinary leaders such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and others communicate the vision and the value behind their service, product, or brand.

10 Secrets of Steve Jobs


The Fox and the Hedgehog–How to build a lasting and Meaningful Career as a Generalist

Remember, if you try to build a career the same way everyone else does by being an expert in your field, it’s hard to imagine you’ll be in demand for senior corporate positions in the future. Don’t miss the following HBR article, entitled All Hail the Generalist by Vikram Mansharamani who is a Business Management expert and lecturer at Yale University. Here is a piece in the article to wet your interest:

“Approximately 2,700 years ago, the Greek poet Archilochus wrote that “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Isaiah Berlin’s 1953 essay “The Fox and the Hedgehog” contrasts hedgehogs that “relate everything to a single, central vision” with foxes who “pursue many ends connected…if at all, only in some de facto way.” It’s really a story of specialists vs. generalists. Don’t miss this important article on career changes and what corporations are looking for when hiring.

More tomorrow on thewick blog about how to start building a Generalist career portfolio.

New Poem –Life is a Gift by MW Hardwick


Life is a Gift by MW Hardwick 

Life is a GIFT , Receive and cherish it.

Life is short, make the most of it.

Life is nature, protect and conserve it.

Life needs a purpose, create and realize it.

Life is a challenge, face them…

Life is a game, learn the rules and play fairly.

Life is made-up of relationships connect, nurture, hold them dearly.

Life needs a purpose, create, and fulfill it…

Life is sad sometimes, embrace the feelings and move on…

Life is unfair, accept it.

Life is fun, enjoy these moments.

Life is an adventure, take some

Life is luck, be ready for it.

Life is fragile and precious, hug it…

Living and being in the one is living in the here and now…

Life is life, live it and love it… love it… Love every moment of it….