The Library

We’ve pulled together a collection of reading materials you need on your path to becoming a truly great leader. Learn and get inspired.

Insights

Get practical insights that you can apply today, based on our 20+ years of experience consulting with top leaders, along with the best thought leadership from others. It’s all here for the taking.

Insight

Grant autonomy and watch the team thrive

We all remember what it was like the first time someone gave us ownership of a piece of work. The sense of pride sparked by that autonomy made us more engaged, more accountable. It’s an almost universal principle, though often under utilized: Autonomy is what inspires people to step up. Why? According to Cameron Doody, co-founder of Bellhop, a start-up which contracts local college students for small-scale moving help on demand, “Fulfillment at work comes with the freedom to make decisions and own your position.” The “autonomy-principle” is true in every organization and on every team. When we give people the latitude to problem solve using their own experiences, instincts and creativity, they often do so in innovative and highly efficient ways — ways that would never have been possible had the reins been held too tight. As a result, people become more self-reliant and more capable. Doody lays out some valuable principles for granting autonomy in “5 Ways to Give More Autonomy at Work” on Inc. Here’s our take on a few of our favorites: Set the what, give room for others to define the how. As a leader, your role is to set the goals. By the letting

Insight

Visualize it: The power of the doodle

In the world of work, we too often rely on words and conceptual thinking to make our point. When we visualize our thinking, we help others see what we mean — and invite them to push our thinking. Visualizing can be as simple a doodle. In her TED Talk “Doodlers Unite!” Sunni Brown shows how the word doodle is still defined as doing “something of little value, substance or import….nothing.” Ouch. Science to the rescue! Rather than something we do as a distraction, studies have found that sketching and doodling prevent us from being distracted. If you’ve ever found yourself mindlessly sketching during a meeting, you know this to be true. According to Brown, “People who doodle when they’re exposed to verbal information retain more of that information than their non-doodling counterparts.” Sketching and doodling deepen our comprehension of something and profoundly affect the way we process the information needed to problem-solve. There are four modes in which we take in information: visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic. Research shows that to deeply comprehend something, we need to engage at least two of these modalities, or one of them coupled with an emotional experience. Here’s where it gets interesting:

Insight

Make protecting time-off a shared responsibility

Be they economic, technological or psychological, the roots of our 24/7 work martyrdom run deep. For some the ambitions are financially fuelled, for others it’s pressure from higher ups or clients. And every one of us can admit to being frequently tethered to our always-on devices. Yet mounting evidence proves working long hours, without regularly disengaging and recharging, is not only unsustainable, it’s a direct threat to our health and that of our companies. One much-cited Stanford study even showed that we get no more work done in 70 hours than we would have in 55. Those 14 extra hours a week we wear as a badge of honor are, essentially, useless. Despite all the warnings to pump the brakes on our 50+ hour work weeks, we may fear that anything less could jeopardize our careers, our businesses or our relationships. We fear looking like less than a team player, failing in our pursuits, and letting our team down. We need to make protecting our time, lives and energy a team sport. In the Harvard Business Review article “Making Time Off Predictable and Required,” Leslie A. Perlow and Jessica L. Porter show that teams who work together to create more

Insight

Make gratitude a part of your day

It can be a heavy feeling: that crushing sensation of our project, our team, our families resting on our shoulders. In those moments, it’s easy to play victim to circumstances beyond our control. This mindset, however, darkens our outlook, and as a result our relationships and even our health can suffer. Here’s how to turn it around. According to famed researchers and psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, “People who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional wellbeing and physical health than those who don’t.” Gratitude, it turns out, is not just for Thanksgiving dinners. It’s a powerful tool for bringing our attention into the present and deepening our relationship with the people, things and work we love. Deepak Chopra explains, “What we put our attention on expands in our life. By offering gratitude for all the goodness we experience, we’re inviting the universe to give us more and more of what we want.” And Emmons’ and McCullough’s research proves it. People who practice expressing appreciation: Experience greater levels of joy and happiness Feel optimistic about the future Exercise more regularly Have more energy, enthusiasm, determination and focus Make greater progress Sleep better and awake Feel stronger during trying times Enjoy

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Perspectives

Don’t just take our word on the skills necessary for 21st century leadership. Some leaders we admire share their perspectives.

Nicolas Maitret on creativity in leadership
Perspective
On creativity

Nicolas Maitret

Principal, SYPartners

Steve Semelsberger on authentic communication
Perspective
On Authentic Communication

Steve Semelsberger

President, Products, SYPartners

    Ben Stuart
    Perspective
    on Optimism

    Ben Stuart

    CMO, Surescripts

    Tiago Forjaz
    Perspective
    on Optimism

    Tiago Forjaz

    Chief Dream Officer, MighT

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    Blog Posts

    Get the latest news, quick tips, and more.

    imagine positive solutions
    Blog Post
    February 21, 2017
    Steal this: A way to come up with positive solutions

    Let’s say it’s 4 p.m. on a Friday, and a client emails you: “We’d like to see another concept for the home page.” Oh, no, you think. There goes my weekend. From there, you start to spin: It’s going to take me all weekend to come up with the comps they need. And what’s the point? If they didn’t like the other ideas I shared, they probably won’t like this one, either. Whoa. It’s time to take stock of what you know for sure versus what you’re assuming. You almost definitely have many more options available to you than you realize. Steal this worksheet to summon your creativity It’s human nature to make assumptions, particularly in a fast-paced culture that rewards quick thinking and decisive action. But it’s important that we train ourselves to pause and be mindful of the story we’re telling ourselves in a given situation. It’s in these pauses that we learn to summon optimism. With practice, it becomes our instinct, no matter how stressful the circumstances, to imagine the possibilities rather than assume the worst. In the scenario above, there are actually multiple ways you might respond: You could gather the team and work all weekend.

    letters from leaders: recognizing your team
    Blog Post
    February 7, 2017
    Letters from leaders to leaders: Thank you for seeing me

    Leaders are shaped by other leaders, especially former bosses. On one end of the spectrum, they might be case studies for what happens when leadership falls short. On the other end, they’re proof positive of how great leadership impacts people’s lives for the better, even beyond the workplace. What do we see in the leaders of our past that stays with us? What would we say to them now? This week, Leadfully explores this through a letter of gratitude from Amanda Hirsch to Cindy Johanson. Cindy (@cinjo) is the executive director of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Amanda worked for her at PBS, where Cindy was the Senior Vice President of Interactive and Education. Dear Cindy, I was such a baby when I started working for you. I lacked both hobbies and children, so being a workaholic was exceedingly easy. You saw something in me — actually, no, scratch that: you saw me. I’ve had other bosses who haven’t understood me, but you did. You rooted for me, too, and you had my back. That’s the main thing I learned from you about leadership: You need to have your team’s back. Our whole department was like one big family. We

    leaders in a world that will not stand still
    Blog Post
    January 24, 2017
    Leading in a world that will not stand still

    This week’s post offers a broader perspective on Leadfully’s purpose — what we believe and why it matters — through the eyes of our parent company, SYPartners. There you stand. Seemingly on stable ground. And then the world shifts. You are untethered. It takes effort, but you stabilize yourself and your team. And then the world shifts around you, yet again. This is leadership. •   •   • As leaders, how do we need to be? As we come to the mindful realization that we control very little, and command even less, the definition of what it means to lead changes. Much of what we’ve been trained to do as leaders is no longer enough — linear thinking, defining decision rights, hierarchical management practices, optimization strategies, process, change management. All necessary, none sufficient. So what is the missing ingredient? Over the past two decades at SYPartners, we’ve been learning from, and inventing with, some of the world’s most successful companies and organizations — as they confront waves of change and therefore start to view the abilities of constantly adapting, constantly becoming a better version of oneself, perpetually transforming as the real work of leadership. Starbucks. Apple. AARP. IBM. Girl Effect. Hyatt. The Future

    2017 leadership intentions
    Blog Post
    January 10, 2017
    It’s a new year. What will you do with it?

    The best leaders are fueled by a sense of purpose and clear intention that keeps them going — even when things seem fuzzy. It’s not just about what you will do, but why and how. To help you lead fully in 2017, we’ve put together a quick exercise to help you get you started and build some momentum: 1. Explore these twelve ideas and next steps to change your leadership behavior for the better. 2. Use the tips below to keep yourself on track and revisit your leadership intentions on a more regular basis: Write it down and put it where you can see it. Calendar events, computer desktops, sticky notes in places you can’t avoid — give yourself a visible reminder wherever works for you. Create rituals and habits that work with your life, not against it. Odds are you’re a busy person. Think about when you tend to have energy during the day, where you might find extra pockets of time, what could be done more efficiently or more thoroughly, etc. — and take it all into account as you find ways to follow through on your intention. Outsmart your inner cheater and find an accountability partner. When it comes to changing our behavior, sometimes the most effective

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