Focal Point Blog



1. Good Bosses maintain control and get things done.

Amazing Bosses know efficiency can be the enemy of efficacy in the long run and so they work to create an atmosphere of expansive thinking. They empower their team with time, resources and techniques, to solve big issues with big ideas instead of Band-Aids and checklists.

2. Good Bosses foster a sense of community, making room for everyone.

Amazing Bosses form an internal culture by design rather than default, making sure they attract the right people to get on the bus and then get them in the right seats. They also make sure that the wrong people never get on the bus, or if they do, they get off quickly.

3. Good Bosses invite creative thinking.

Amazing Bosses know how to integrate creativity into daily conversation and procedures so that every employee feels natural about being creative and facilitating productive creativity when interacting with others in the company.

4. Good Bosses create an open environment for voicing concern and frustration.

Amazing Bosses create an environment where people are empowered to make change on their own to improve product, process, and procedures. They integrate open communication to the point where the expression of honest concerns is expected, required, and desired by everyone involved to achieve the highest levels of team performance.

5. Good Bosses encourage career development for their employees.

Amazing Bosses integrate individual learning and development into every job description so that personal growth is required and rewarded. They know companies that do this thrive thanks to new leaders rising from the inside. They make sure the company apportions time and dollars toward personal growth so that everyone shares reasonable expectations of commitment and success.

6. Good Bosses run effective and efficient meetings.

Amazing Bosses make sure that everyone on the team understands the difference between a valuable meeting and a waste of time and resources. They educate the team on facilitation techniques and give each person consistent practice at structuring and leading effective meetings with postmortem feedback.

7.  Good Bosses build trust so people feel safe.

Amazing Bosses encourage constant interaction and high performance within the team so they succeed or fail together, creating tight bonds of loyalty to the company and each other. Successes are met with equal high praise and rewards, while failures are met with encouraging acceptance and postmortem learning discussions yielding next-step improvements. (Of course amazing bosses know how to make sure people and teams fail safely in the first place.)

8. Good Bosses generate happiness in the workplace.

Amazing Bosses constantly seek and execute ways to help employees gain deep personal satisfaction from their responsibilities so they are inspired and excited to come to work and perform well every day.

9. Good Bosses make sure people are responsible for their roles and actions.

Amazing Bosses promote personal accountability by providing clear communication and buy-in as to the culture, vision, and goals for the company. They know how to effectively and efficiently align the team, communicate in rhythm, and measure progress so they can adjust quickly with minimal risk.

10. Good Bosses know how to praise and show gratitude.

Amazing Bosses know how to instill a deep sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment in individual team members. They help employees develop a strong sense of self-confidence and self-praise that outweighs any pat-on-the-back or award provided.

At the beginning of “Walden,” Henry David Thoreau makes a concise case against the complexity of modern life. “Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” he writes. “[L]et your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail….Simplify, simplify.”

Every facet of our lives is complicated by an ever-widening array of choices, including dozens of options for jam or mustard or frozen foods.

That was the 19th century, though, and we live in the 21st. In a typical day, we encounter dozens—if not dozens upon dozens—of moments when we are delayed, frustrated or confused by complexity. Our lives are filled with gadgets we can’t use (automatic sprinklers, GPS devices, fancy blenders), instructions we can’t follow (labels on medicine bottles, directions for assembling toys or furniture) and forms we can’t decipher (tax returns, gym membership contracts, wireless phone bills).

Every facet of our lives, even entertainment and recreation, is complicated by an ever-widening array of choices delivered at a frantic pace. Consider:

• More than 800,000 apps in the Apple App Store

• 240-plus selections on the Cheesecake Factory menu, not including lunch or brunch specials

• 135 mascaras, 437 lotions and 1,992 fragrances at

In 1980, the typical credit card contract was about 400 words long. Today, many are 20,000 words. “Fine print” complexity costs us money in the form of hidden fees (about $900 per year for the average consumer, according to research conducted by the Ponemon Institute), denied claims and unanticipated charges ($2 billion in one year for landline phone customers, according to the Federal Communications Commission).

Who has 90 minutes to read 20,000 words or the time to select a Medicare Part D prescription plan (a Web search on will return 45 plans for you to consider)? Ponder the fact that a dermatologist must sign his name to forms almost 30,000 times a year, according to a 2008 article in the Southern Medical Journal. We are on autopilot—blindly signing, agreeing, working and spending.

How did we get into this mess?

Read more…

Sure, you want your company to be a great place to work. Here’s how to do it, starting today.

Paul Spiegelman, the founder and CEO of BerylHealth, a hospital call-center business, talks and writes often about the importance of building a strong company culture–not just because it’s a nice thing to do, but because culture can also improve your company’s financial performance.

Since Spiegelman wanted BerylHealth to be a premium provider, and to charge 30 percent to 40 percent more than his next closest competitor, he had to also offer a premium service. A premium service requires top-notch talent, and, he says, a workplace that values its employees.

In 2012, Beryl was acquired by Stericyle, a $9 billion (market capitalization) publicly-traded company with 13,000 employees, in no small part due to the culture Spiegelman has created. Spiegelman was named Stericycle’s chief culture officer, with the objective to roll out Beryl’s culture to all Stericycle.

At Inc.’s GrowCo conference in New Orleans Thursday, Spiegelman outlined how you can make your company culture just as strong:

1. Define and communicate your core values.

“I was a cynic about all that, until I realized how important it was,” said Spiegelman. So years ago he asked his employees to define what Beryl’s core values are, and gave them credit for it. Now, one Beryl core value is to “never sacrifice quality,” another is to “always do the right thing.” These became guideposts for decision-making. If a potential new client would require Beryl to sacrifice it’s quality, Spiegelman and his lieutenants would be empowered to turn it down.

2. Get in the dunk tank.

Culture is all about fun. “I don’t care what business you’re in,” says Spiegelman, “you can have fun.” Beryl, for instance, hosts events for families, and publishes a full-color magazine that is sent to employees’ homes. Spiegelman hosts a Halloween contest, and has done the Harlem Shake. It’s not about just being goofy; it’s about actually trying to blur the line between personal and work life.

3. Show your employees you care (really).

If you want to build loyalty among your employees, make sure to show you care about them in the totality of their lives, Spiegelman says. When they start working for you, find out their kids’ birthdays and their wedding-anniversary date, to commemorate those events with a card or a call. Ask about their hobbies and interests, so you can talk about those things, or reward them in ways they’ll actually enjoy.

4. Hire for culture fit.

Alhough finding people who are the right fit for your company is very hard, it’s an irreversible priority. At Beryl, Spiegelman screens candidates through tons of interviews. For every 125 people, his team hires only three–and that’s for call-center jobs.

5. Get rid of whiners, losers, and jerks–today.

Among an audience of 75 people at Spiegelman’s session, only two raised their hands to say they have no “whiners, losers, or jerks” on staff. Spiegelman recommends you give employees the tools they need to succeed. But if they don’t then succeed, and they have a negative affect on morale overall, you have an obligation to act and get rid of those people–now.

6. Contribute to the community outside your office walls.

Ask your employees what they’re passionate about in your community, and organize a way for your company to get involved in it. Get your hands dirty. Get your people doing good for those nearby.

7. Do the math.

Measure your employees’ satisfaction periodically, and then respond to their feedback. If your scores go up, convey your improvements and get “credit” for it.

8. Realize job satisfaction ain’t about money.

Sure, everybody wants to be paid, but what’s more important is how people are made to feel at the office. They want acknowledgement, respect, recognition, and a simple “thank you.”

9. You’re a teacher.

Ninety-nine percent of employees want to feel there’s a path to professional growth and a way to move up in your organization, says Spiegelman. You need to offer training and development programs, and show that you’re committed to their education, improvement, and advancement.

10. Commit to a higher purpose.

Make sure you convey your company’s higher purpose–to improve patient care, say, or advance the world technologically–so they have something they believe in beyond just a “job.”

Even if you’re eager to get going building your company culture, Spiegelman recommends you start slow. As does any solid foundation, it will take time to build, so don’t rush it.

In a scene from the television miniseries, “Band of Brothers,” Major Richard Winters is seated in a parked jeep when he notices Captain Herbert Sobol walking by pretending not to see him so as to avoid saluting. “Captain Sobol!” says Winters, stopping the captain in his tracks. “We salute the rank, not the man.”

What’s up with Sobol’s disrespectful behavior? I believe it stems from a failure to separate his identity from his role. Allow me to explain.

As you will recall if you’re familiar with the story, Winters and Sobol shared considerable history. Sobol had been Easy Company’s commander through their basic training at Camp Toccoa, GA, where he was credited with having the finest company in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. But later, during training in the UK for the Normandy invasion, Sobol proved incompetent as a battlefield commander and was reassigned. At the end of the war he remained a captain. Lieutenant Winters, on the other hand, who served under Sobol at Camp Toccoa, received combat promotions to captain and then to major.

When Captain Sobol spotted Major Winters in the jeep that day, because he confused his identity – who he really was – with his role – in this case his rank – pride welled up. In Sobol’s mind to salute one of his former platoon leaders who now outranked him would be to acknowledge Winters as the better man.

Not unlike Captain Sobol, I’ve had my struggles with confusing identity and role. Unless I miss my guess, I’m in good company. Of course, not all leaders make this mistake, and we can learn from those who don’t, Abraham Lincoln for instance.

George McClellan, the Union Army commander in 1861, was arrogant and snobbish, at times even insubordinate to the president. On one such occasion Lincoln’s assistant, John Hay, was enraged when he observed McClellan snubbing the commander-in-chief. But Lincoln told Hay, “I’ll hold McClellan’s horse if he’ll only bring us success.” The president did not allow McClellan’s insolence to affect his self-esteem. (Note: Lincoln did, however, fire the insolent general when he proved to be ineffective.)

Here are several advantages of differentiating our identity from our role. Greater flexibility, meaning we can more easily adapt when circumstances require (something Captain Sobol was unable to do). The freedom to genuinely serve those we lead because we are not risking anything. Finally, we avoid the self-esteem crisis that occurs when our identity is centered in our leadership role and all of a sudden we are no longer the leader.

Proverb 27:19 offers a clue to how to keep our identity and role separate: “As water reflects a face, so the heart reflects the real person.” He says that the real you and the real me is about our hearts – i.e., our character and sense of intrinsic value as a child of God – that sort of thing, rather than about our professional position (or appearance, financial status, education or exploits). The implication is that the more we focus on character development and our intrinsic value, the more clearly we will be able to distinguish our true identify from any role we might be playing, and that cannot help but make us more effective leaders.

Page 7 of 7« First...34567