Overcome Your Resistance To Change

Everybody resists change. Sometimes resisting change is good… but often it’s not.

  • Resistance is good when it helps us pay attention and focuses us.
  • Resistance is unhealthy when it paralyzes us or holds us back from being our best.

Being aware of what you are resisting and what is holding you back is informative and empowering. If you are going to be the best you can be, you have to learn to explore what is going on when you feel resistance. In today’s world, not changing usually means falling behind and eventually being left behind. But, by adapting to change you are more likely to reach your full potential.

So, lets explore how to overcome your resistance to change.

Step #1: What Do You Feel?

You don’t resist all change – even today. Change is exciting for many reasons, like when you get a new smartphone, a new car or a new home. Under those circumstances you deal with the learning curve and discomfort with a big smile.

Change is also difficult for many reasons. For example, when you are feeling:

  • Disrespected from not being involved
  • Frustrated with the amount of work required
  • Loss of what you built and will have to leave behind
  • Fear from not knowing what is going to happen next.
  • Other?

Nothing is going to empower you more than understanding the source of your resistance. When you begin examining what‘s holding you back, you may find the exact resource you need that will help you move forward productively.

And yes, you will likely feel vulnerable. If you are the strong confident type who others depend on you are likely not used to exposing your vulnerabilities. You are going to have to find a safe space or a safe person who you can confide in. You need to create an impartial, reliable, qualified support system. Note: your best friend may be reliable, but they may not be impartial or qualified. This is where a professional, certified coach may work. More on this below in #5.

Step #2: Consider The Upside Of Change 

Many people resist change because they fear the unknown and/or don’t want to repeat a negative experience. Unfortunately, using resistance as a way to protect yourself often backfires because it limits your experiences. Instead of looking at the limitations and risks that come with change, try to look at change as the very thing that opens the door to your next opportunity.

Most beliefs are learned or put in place to protect us emotionally and physically. So, choose to believe that change is a good. When you choose your perspective, you can easily rewire your internal system around change. For example, you can choose to believe “change is doable because I are resourceful,” or “change brings me amazing opportunities”.

Ask yourself “What would I do if I wanted change to work?” Explore what is important to you – and what isn’t? And, it’s always a good idea to explore how your resistance may jeopardize your personal / professional priorities.

Step #3: A Little Research Goes A Long Way

Find out more about the change you are being asked to make. Empower yourself by informing yourself, especially if you are naturally risk averse.

If change is happening at work, speak with your supervisor or someone appropriate. Why is the change happening? Your senior team should have explained this, but if your nature requires more detail then it’s OK to ask for it. Another way you can find out more is to go online and do some research on the topic. If your company is using a service provider, are they leaders in their field? Are there other service providers? Are there product or service reviews you can learn from?

Step #4: Stop Playing Hide-And-Seek

Pain and discomfort only happen during the transition… soon you’ll find the requested change isn’t so bad after all.

Hiding the problem won’t make it go away. If you start isolating yourself and / or you have lost interest in important things like work, hobbies, friends and family, be careful that you are not sliding into a depression. Monitor your anxiety is negative self-talk. The story you tell yourself can seriously affect your default behaviours. If you catch yourself saying, “I’m scared,” replace it with, “I’m courageous,” or “This is the right move forward.” Judging yourself only keeps you stuck… so stop it.

Accept that the future will be better when you do what you need to… for you, your family and/or your company. Be proud of yourself, and each time you do remind yourself that you are human and that it’s ok to lean on someone from time-to-time.

Warning: Too much positive affirmation can become an endless circle of never-ending non-action. You have to take action – don’t get stuck in reflection and planning. Care enough for yourself to not get stuck.

Step #5: Involve Someone Else

Resisting change is a serious thing. A little can be tolerated but a lot can really hold you back. When you are faced with a big decision and you are resisting, look for someone experiencing the same change request. If you are at work there is likely are a few of you being asked to change, so help each other. I don’t mean get together and groan because misery loves company. Instead, get together and explore how you can support each other to move forward and accept, influence and implement change… to get over your resistance. Explore the upside of change together.

A coach can help ensure you are held accountable and can provide the reality check you need. Things are less scary when you have someone with you. Note: Not every coach will be the right fit for you / your personality. If you go that route, interview a few and see who fits.

Step #6: Take A Step – Do Something

Make a list, take baby steps if necessary…but do something. Even if you can’t change 100% right away, do something to help you build a new habit. One approach when you are unsure how to start is to start anywhere. At least you are doing something and you can always back-track as necessary.

Accept that it is scary… and may be humbling, especially if you are used to being in control. Accept you will not be perfect… at least at first.

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” (John Lubbock: Banker, Liberal politician, Philanthropist)

Conclusion: Overcome Your Resistance To Change

Resisting change is the same as resisting reality.

Embrace a learning mindset in every situation. Evaluate the change request before you respond to it. Ask yourself, “Would I want to work with someone looking for solutions or someone known to resist change?” Hopefully you want to work with someone looking for solutions.

Change always takes time and effort. Change means you have to build new habits – and this usually takes 20-30 days to lock down a new habit. You have to reinforce that bundle of nerves in your brain to change your default settings.

You can’t hold onto something (a job for example), whose time has passed. This will only narrow your options… quickly. No amount of wishing, manipulating, forcing. or hoping can change that. Change allows you to be innovative. Now is the time to learn as much as you can. Don’t miss all of the wonderful opportunities that are right in front of you by staying focused on the past.

PS: People often get to a point where they are done resisting, they can’t do it anymore because they realize there is a far to great a cost to their:

  • Self-esteem
  • Reputation
  • Talent
  • Attitude
  • Emotion
  • Weight
  • Relationships
  • $ / Job / Promotion
  • Health

I hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you for sticking with me – I know it was a long one.


Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

Our Brains Get More Capable When We Challenge Them.

Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset… and what Leaders should know.

Our minds are powerful tools that can ignite sustainable change and unlock new possibilities throughout our lives… and for the organizations that employ us during our careers. Only when we are aware of our potential can we effect the meaningful positive change we are capable of achieving. This is where the concept of Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset is important for individuals and their leaders.

Dr. Carol Dweck coined the terms ‘Growth Mindset’ and ‘Fixed Mindset’ as she described what people believe about intelligence and their ability to learn. The key question is, “does an individual believe that with awareness and consistent effort that their own mental abilities like critical thinking, creativity and even curiosity can be enhanced over time… or do they believe intelligence is fixed?”

What Is Growth Mindset?

Neuroscientists have shown that when our brains are routinely stimulated, our mental capacity and abilities are not fixed. It is called growth mindset when people know their mental effort can have a positive physical, emotional and an intellectual benefit. Let’s look at these three benefits one at a time.

Physically, the brain has the ability to grow new neurons every day. Each of us can easily boost this process within our own minds by being curious, asking questions and thinking through challenges. In addition, scientists have found a growth mindset not only helps build new neuron, existing neuron networks are strengthened and/or build more insulation which speeds transmission of electrical impulses.

Emotionally, knowing our brain can grow makes most of us approach learning and difficult situations (challenges) differently including being more likely to take an active role in learning. People who believe in growth mindset see learning as an opportunity to develop new skills and are curious about what they might be able to accomplish as they challenge their brains.

In a study where students were taught the mind grows, three times as many students showed an increase in effort and motivation compared with the control group. In addition, when we believe our effort matters, we are more likely to choose a greater challenge rather than look for an easy win and, we are less likely to give up when we experience difficult mental (and physical), challenges. It isn’t only our belief in ourselves and our effort to learn new things from our surroundings that matters. There is also a correlation between our ability to grow new neurons and external influences like good sleep habits and what we eat and drink (saturated fat and how much alcohol we drink are harmful). When people recognize our mindset is not fixed – that growth is not fixed – it’s also likely to lead to increased intrinsic motivation.

Intelligence also improves when people believe in growth mindset. People get smarter because they practice / study / research… or in other words, because of the effort they apply to learning. Because of their effort to challenges (their perseverance), their investment will likely lead to higher achievement and success as they increase their experiences and knowledge. People with a growth mindset also see failures as learning opportunities – not ‘failures’. They see feedback as valuable information to consider and enjoy putting in effort because they know hard work pays off. They might say, “Even if I make a mistake, I can learn and/or experience something new – and if I keep trying, I will get better and eventually I will succeed.”

In a nutshell, our belief and confidence in ourselves and our ability to learn influences our actions and therefore our future possibilities / successes.

People who believe in a growth mindset understand that as they learn a new skill, that learning is difficult and their progress will likely be slow. They know they may even make mistakes, but by trying over and over the challenge (opportunity) gets easier. As we learn our brain is building new neurons and/or strengthening existing pathways.

What Is Fixed Mindset?

Fixed mindset is when people believe their intelligence is ‘what it is now’ and their ability to learn / to become good at something they are not good at now is limited. People with fixed mindset believe more in ‘natural talent’ rather in their ability to learn. Studies show fixed mindset believers tend to put less effort into learning than people who believe in growth mindset and less effort in personal practice / study / research. Fixed mindset believers often see mistakes as failures not learning opportunities and are more likely to give up when they experience failure rather than to try again. They might say, “I’m likely going to make a mistake, so I don’t want to try, I don’t know how to do it and I don’t have the natural skills, so I can’t learn.”

Every successful person has failed and… they have not given up. A growth mindset is especially important for people who are aware of their natural talents because ‘talented people’ can easily learn to rely heavily on their talent and give up (far too easily), when they begin to struggle. They must learn they can reach even greater success (and awareness), when they study and work through difficulty.

For most of us our mindset is reinforced by our social environments and especially by our parents and teachers. For adults our mindset is often reinforced by our leaders at work and mentors. For example; as a teacher or a leader do you encourage your students or employees to choose a project that will challenge them… or do you give them projects they can complete easily? As a teacher or a leader do you act as a mentor and a coach? Just as people with a growth mindset are motivated by other people (and their environment) to exercise their cognitive abilities, people with a fixed mindset (sadly) learn to conform and embrace status-quo from the people around them and their environment.

Fixed Mindset language you might hear at home, school or at work:

  • “I give up.”
  • “You can’t do this. Try this easier project.”
  • “I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake.”

Growth Mindset language you might hear at home, school or at work:

  • “I’m not good at this yet.”
  • “You can do better. Take until tomorrow to see what you can come up with.”
  • “When I make a mistake I will learn – at least what not to do.”


Our brains get more capable when we challenge them… when we experience new things and information.

Our mindset is a choice, it really is.

We all have beliefs about ourselves; what we are good at, what we are proud of, what we can and cannot do. The important thing to learn is that even though we may struggle at first and look like failures, the struggle is often the most important part of the road to success.

And it’s important to be clear that I am not suggesting you ignore your natural talents and strengths. I am not! Playing to your strengths is likely going to be satisfying and profitable. What I am saying is to not only do what comes easy for you – there is great benefit when you challenge yourself – including within the area of your strengths.

In today’s workspaces change is everywhere and constant. That is why today’s leaders must bring a growth mindset and language into your workplace culture; the alternative is to fall behind. If individuals and teams are not learning they are falling behind. When leaders adopt a growth mindset approach to how they lead, they apply a whole new level of motivation and excellence.

The most important aspect of a growth mindset environment (after knowing growth is possible), is to feel safe. We must feel safe to make mistakes and we must learn to learn from them. Feeling safe from mistakes isn’t a go-be-irresponsible get out of jail free card. We all have to be responsible and accountable. But when employees feel safe and experience a growth mindset environment, they begin to see every project as an opportunity to improve their skills, enhance their knowledge, make a positive difference… and as a way to show off their existing skills (all of which are especially important to Millennials and GenZ). These employees will also be more loyal.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

Beliefs & Change Management

About a month ago I wrote about beliefs. I frequently discuss beliefs – most often in the Difficult Conversation training I do – but I think a discussion is relevant in this public forum because how beliefs impact our minute-by-minute experiences and behavior. I also think the discussion is relevant because the current international political climate provides many a unique ‘global’ examples of how beliefs impact change as well as strengthen and weaken bonds.

At a basic level our beliefs define us and our behaviour. As I said in my earlier post, Beliefs are the foundation for what we believe about ourselves and the world around us… they may also represent what we WANT to believe about ourselves and the world around us.”Beliefs and Change Management

So as a discussion point, let me begin by asking you… “What motivates you to change your beliefs?” I’m sure you’ll agree that it takes a lot to change your beliefs… especially deeply held beliefs. Changing a belief is rarely easy; it usually takes time and patience – even if someone is open to listening / learning. But imagine trying to change someone’s belief who has a vested interest in keeping his or her belief intact. For example:

  • Imagine I believe I deserve a promotion (and then don’t get it).
  • Imagine I believe the way we’ve always done it is how we should do it moving forward.
  • Imagine I believe a politician will bring my job back – even though automation has been shrinking the global workforce for years.
  • Imagine my whole life I’ve believed I hate all green vegetables, (even though I’ve only ever tasted spinach… once… 20 years ago).

Trying to force people (or countries), to change their beliefs doesn’t work. Personally, I hold on steadfast if I feel pressured – I bet you act similarly. Or, if we are forced to change our belief – we may do it only to get our bosses off our back or to fit in (peer pressure), and we go back to our original belief as soon as we can. Pressuring others to change his or her beliefs just doesn’t work.

But change is inevitable and change is accelerating. This means we have to learn safe ways to challenge each others beliefs. Change management requires we help people make informed decisions and help each other evolve to take advantage of new opportunities… and not hold onto beliefs that will hurt us in the short or long-term.

Sure – believing you hate green vegetables isn’t going to do you much harm (I hope you are eating other vegetables). But holding onto the belief that your product / service shouldn’t evolve may have long-term negative consequences.

When we question our beliefs and they remain intact then that is great… in fact, we might find a deeper understanding of our beliefs. But, we must be open to the exploration… and to the reality that our beliefs may change… and that either way we will be better because we’ve evolved.

How do we begin the process of exploring our beliefs? Or, how do we introduce the idea to our team? My recommendation is as follows:

  • Step 1. Set ground rules for engaging – set a space of mutual respect
  • Step 2. Everyone must be open to listen, learn and share, but never try to force change.
  • Step 3. Agree to set aside negative judgment or biases.
  • Step 4. Everyone must accept science, data and proven theories – we cannot accept lies or untruths.
  • Step 5. Faith is OK. However, if you want others to respect that you have ‘faith’ – you must respect other people’s ‘faith’ equally.

I strongly agree with a famous quote from Senator Daniel Patrick “Pat” Moynihan, (March 16, 1927 – March 26, 2003), “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” I believe that we can choose to believe in something – have faith in something that is unproven… but our belief can not dispute what is scientifically proven or state your unproven belief as fact (or Alternative Facts).

Since 2017 may go down as a year of ‘Alternative Facts’ I think Senator Moynihan’s words are critically important. Basically, I believe what Senator Moynihan means is if I’m going to say I hate all green vegetables, I had better have tried all of them… or at least most of them. I can’t dismiss all green vegetables if I have only had one experience.

If you are a leader, consider the people around you. When you help them understand their beliefs and enter into respectful dialogue about those beliefs (not a threatened argument), you can trust them to make good decisions in the context of change management.

All of this assumes that the beliefs in question aren’t morally or legally problematic or go against corporate values, mission or vision. For example: If my belief is that I should be able to drive 120kms in a school zone… then I’m going to have to change… no compromise. And if my belief goes against society norms or law, I will accept the consequences of standing up for my beliefs.

In the end, I cannot correct your beliefs and I cannot be responsible for your beliefs or actions… only you can.

As long as we are both speaking truth and can back up our position with reliable data, we have to accept each others statements and beliefs. I can engage you – challenge you – I can even express if I agree with you or not – but I can not force you to change. And, in the end perhaps you don’t change your belief – but after an open, honest respectful dialogue we have a better understanding on how to move forward… with (hopefully), greater mutual respect. And, through the experience we may learn there are multiple ways to understand the world. Your way and my way are not mutually exclusive.


We owe it to ourselves to ask difficult questions and to watch, listen and learn from people we respect. And, we also need to respect proven data and think independently. In the end, you and I are the only people who can truly determine what is best for ourselves.

And yes, unfortunately there are truly hateful people – people bent on cheating others, but when we know better we do better. When we are aware of our beliefs and our core values we can act independently and make decisions with confidence. We can be sure our beliefs will guide our actions well.

Happy communicating… mentoring… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Change Beliefs At Work

Changing a belief is rarely an easy thing to do (if at all possible). On one hand beliefs can be as socially harmless as food preferences and on the other hand beliefs can be as socially controversial as religion and politics. At work, beliefs can hold you back professionally and hold back the future success of the organization you work for… if your beliefs cause you to resist change.

Changing Beliefs

Changing beliefs is like a house of cards.

People resist change because beliefs help define our social network; and frame how we behave; they establish boundaries. Beliefs are the foundation for what we believe about ourselves and the world around us… they may also represent what we WANT to believe about ourselves and the world around us. They begin developing when we are born and we never stop building new ones or reinforcing the ones we already have.

Don’t expect all beliefs to be rational. We – as a species our natural pattern builders. That is often how we learn and often how we build beliefs… including irrational or untrue beliefs. For example: Say you tried spinach as a young child and didn’t like it. Justifiably, from that moment on you would believe you didn’t like spinach. And then, you were introduced to kale and lettuce. It is likely you would believe – without even tasting kale or lettuce – that you also do not like those vegetables. That ‘pattern building’ is called Cognitive dissonance (see below).

Pressure to change beliefs and embrace new ideas can catapult us into a scary, undesirable departure from the security we know and depend on. Also, beliefs are built one on top another; one belief may be a cornerstone of many… so changing beliefs is often like a house of cards – one impacting many others. To change (or evolve), one belief, many beliefs may be ‘adjusted’.

Understand Beliefs / Change Beliefs / Evolve Beliefs

Changing a friends’ or co-workers’ beliefs can take seconds… or years. Blind spots, prejudice, and ingrained biases are among the hardest things to overcome. In general, when trying to change beliefs show emotion but don’t be emotional. To do this, listen with empathy and understanding not judgment or attitude. NOTE: This doesn’t mean you have to agree.

Before you begin to influence others, take a look at yourself. How do your beliefs control your opinions and actions? Are you open to new ideas? Where did some of your most prominent beliefs come from… you know – the ones like food preferences, politic and religion? Did you inherit any of them from your family?

Already – by reading this post you are far ahead of the next guy when it comes to understanding and changing beliefs (yours and theirs). Most of us are not aware our thoughts, feelings and actions are largely controlled by beliefs we’ve never explored or questioned. So, be mindful that it’s natural for people to put up a wall / get defensive when they feel judged, fear of being wrong, looking stupid or losing their social network / standing. Your friends or co-workers may be putting up a wall because they feel vulnerable and attacked.

Much of our ability to rationalize unsubstantiated, hurtful and even harmful beliefs is explained by Cognitive dissonance and Confirmation bias… neither I will explain here – but I do recommend you look into further.

  • Cognitive dissonance: When your mind tries to hold two conflicting ideas at the same time – like doctors who smoke and justify their habit because they believe it helps them not gain weight… another health risk they may be justifying as more risky.
  • Confirmation bias: Seeking confirmation of our beliefs using any possible evidence… even far-fetched evidence… thereby minimizing the importance of conflicting, highly relevant evidence.

Until we become self-aware and willing to explore ‘old’ biases and a ‘new’ ideas, our beliefs will – at some point – block our future potential. The wonderful thing is that once people voluntarily change / evolve beliefs, the new behavior is usually permanent and fully supported by the individual.

Remove The Threatening Voice

I find it really helpful to find a common goal and to acknowledge that while we my have different beliefs, we agree to have a respectful discussion. I like the idea of each of us self-identifying how / where / when our beliefs create possibilities for us… and also limitations. Create a safe place… socially and emotionally. Explore your and their beliefs by looking at:

  • Why they were formed
  • How are your beliefs helping you
  • How  your beliefs are hurting / restricting your / our possibilities now
  • Could there be new evidence that supports or disproves your beliefs

Give people encouragement and space. Perhaps though listening and non-threatening discussion, the person will likely come to their own conclusion that their beliefs are holding them back and it’s time to change beliefs / evolve beliefs. You may be surprised of the power of deep – non-judgmental listening.

At some point you may feel you can ask them if they want to change their belief and the impact it has on their life and the people around them. At this stage you may need to explore what is (has been), holding them back from changing (Cognitive dissonance / Confirmation bias). But be careful, if you make someone feel wrong or feel threatened, their defenses will likely turn on strong… and once defenses are up it will be near impossible to gain their trust.

When you help them understand why some of their beliefs exist and the impact they have on their actions / thoughts… you can begin to help them accept new beliefs (without judgment). When you do there’s a very good chance that you both will become even more committed to your relationship.


Remember, we can really only control our own beliefs… so allow yours to be elastic – not rigid. Recognize when your beliefs are holding you and or others back. Learn to listen to your subconscious and to respond with thoughtfulness and compassion – not ReAcT… which often comes across with frustration and judgment.

The important part is to never stop exploring your own mind and your reasons for your actions – otherwise, you might find yourself holding on to out-of-date beliefs that are limiting your potential before you know it.

Work on changing hearts – not minds. Once you change a heart you make a permanent change.

Happy communicating… interviewing… mentoring… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Organizations Are Finding Stability

Organizations are finding stability – but not stability that rests on lack of change; that stability often leads to organizational distress.

I’m talking about stability that includes a responsibility to your business, your employees, customers, environment and the economy. Stability that is foundational; guiding principals that influence daily activities and encourage employees to collaborate and explore future opportunities with shared purpose. The kind of security that is critical when organizations are changing and the economy is in flux (everyday). Stability that understands that pushing boundaries sometimes means taking one step forward and two steps back… and those steps are all learning opportunities to be celebrated… not failures that compromise job security, trust and therefore creativity / progress.beach stones

Organizational stability is a savior when it’s rooted in values that are honored, celebrated and respected by all employees. Values and guiding principals that drive:

People repeat behaviour that is rewarded. You can’t positively affect the organization’s cultural core without bringing your team along. There has to be trust, communication and fairness.

Some of the hardest work is to address a top performer who isn’t a team player. Why? Because they do undermine corporate values and organizational stability… which is why they can’t be allowed to continue. It’s easy to measure their individual success – but difficult to measure the negative impact / loss they cause throughout your organization by lowering others engagement, productivity and loyalty. They may seem to be star earners, but what about the harm they do undermining everyone else’s progress? They may be costing more than they bring in as they create a work environment that causes talented employees to walk away.

Good employees leave bad cultures and / or bad bosses. Losing strong, dependable, collaborative talent [for whatever reason] disrupts organizational stability and increases hard-costs, as you have to hire and retrain new talent. I see it far too often how lone-wolf employees erode organizational success and the potential within team dynamics.

How your treat your whole team is your culture.

Holding people accountable does not mean you have to be mean or cruel, it means you have to be confident and fair. You have to hold people accountable to the corporate values, success of the business, its customers, any individual you are speaking with AND all of the other employees. Holding people accountable provides organizational stability everyone can trust… during slow times, busy times and even during times of great change.

Organizational stability expands productivity and creative engines exponentially.

Your team is the energy that drives your organization forward. Stability requires dialogue that may not be easy at first (difficult conversations), and often requires training and practice to learn how to move forward – consistently.

Happy communicating… and hiring… and mentoring… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:


Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.


Leadership Styles, Leadership Qualities, Leadership Skills

Business is about people — it always has been although sometimes we forget this and put the bottom line before customers and employees needs. In the short-term we get away with the putting bottom line first, but soon goodwill begins to drop, employee and customer loyalty drops and turnover increases; creating a very risky and more expensive organizational challenge.

And while human capital is an organization’s most important asset, in today’s job market employee loyalty is low – in part I believe because employer loyalty has been on a steady decline for the last 30 plus years. Many employees wonder why they should be loyal if the company isn’t. So, most full-time employees (especially Millennials), see themselves as entrepreneurs who are working a contract and happy to move on. Why? Because all the evidence has taught them they are dispensable.

A Bruce Mayhew Consulting I enjoy helping leaders create leadership development plans and create great teams. To help you do your own not-so-quick analysis of the state of your leadership development plan, here’s an extensive list of 20 important leadership development goals.

1. Focus On Strategy

The leadership team need to know and support its business strategy, key objectives and stakeholders of the organization.

Without doubt I believe having and sharing a vision is one of the most important goals of a Leader. Their next most important role is establishing and supporting their team… what I will call Talent Management (point 2).

I’ve mentioned in some of my other blog posts how during one of my corporate jobs I had a boss who rarely shared a clear vision with the team. And he was so involved in the ‘doing’ of our work that he became a bottleneck for productivity and a significant drain on moral and creativity. The result was the department regularly missed deadlines and frustrated employees (like me), left.

2. Talent Management

This is a big area.

Leaders hire (using BEI), by thoughtfully considering the talent AND soft skills required for the job as well as the team/department.

Leaders mentor their staff to collaborate and depend on each others talents, look for opportunities to grow and to not be shy about adding their opinion or discouraged if/when another recommendation is made or someone builds upon their recommendation.

In best cases, leaders keep a written list of their employees strengths close at hand.

3. Increase Knowledge

Working hand-in-hand with Talent Management, ‘Increasing Knowledge’ is a way leaders better themself as well as inspire their team. One of my most favourite leadership qualities is to always look to improve. Increasing your knowledge or gaining a new skill keeps you fresh and open to new ideas. Whether its reading a book, finding a mentor, listening to a pod cast, group training or attending night-school, increasing your knowledge sets a motivating example to employees.

As employees see their leaders participating in training and development and reaching personal goals, they are encouraged to do the same. In addition, great leaders work with employees to plan team and individual goals. Increasing knowledge is critical at all employee levels and supportive step as they set high performance challenges and encourage employees to step out of their comfort zone.

Want to engage your team more? Turn this into a team-building, collaborative exercise by asking team members what group training they want. Work with each employee to create their personal development plan – both for their professional and personal goals.

4. Tap Into Your Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Emotional intelligence is a persons ability to draw on their soft-skills and to mindfully interact with others. Emotional intelligence builds trust and supports a mutually beneficial relationship. More technically EI founders Peter Salovey and John Mayer define EI as follows;

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.

– Mayer & Salovey, 1997

A department head that lacks emotional intelligence is just as unqualified as a department head that doesn’t have technical knowledge and experience.

5. Practice Coaching

Coaching isn’t easy.  Coaching creates an environment that’s conducive to growth – helping individuals succeed by expanding their abilities (knowledge, experience and soft skills), and move up their professional ladder. And lets not forget work/life balance.

Leaders who coach help their employees to recognize their strengths, develop their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

6. Support Collaboration

Leadership creates and maintains an environment that supports collaboration where team members respectfully share information, decision-making, responsibility, learning and recognition.

One of the most important leadership qualities is the ability to guide employees to see how their work and work habits support the greater vision and goals (personal goals, professional goals, team goals, organizational goals).

7. Motivate

Motivation often sits hand-in-hand with ‘Communication’ (point 16), and together they inspire employees to give their best. When leaders learn motivation skills they maximize effectiveness and improve employee engagement and loyalty.

Employee motivation can take many forms – from wanting to work for leaders who make decisions quickly so the team keeps moving forward (point 20), to many other non-military motivators like telling someone they did a great job and/or are a valuable part of the team.

Zenger Folkman have done lots of great research here as well.

8. Manage Off-Site

What are the chances that your next best employee lives within 50kms of your office? Slim!

More and more employers are using technology to plan, communicate and collaborate virtually with their team members. And, more and more employees are embracing the work-from-home (or Starbucks), lifestyle. Millennials are naturally used to working, managing and being managed off-site… and more and more Boomers and Gen X are seeing the personal and professional benefits.

9. Manage Difficult Conversations & Conflict

When we avoid a difficult conversations the issue can never get resolved… until valuable talent or clients leave – and then it’s just gone… not resolved. I write extensively within some of my Blog Posts and Difficult Conversation Training that when we participate in difficult conversations we have an opportunity to build trust and respect which means our relationships with other people and/or organizations improve greatly.Long Term Gain

When we participate in difficult conversations we demonstrate we care enough to bother. Short term pain = long-term gain.

10. Practice And Encourage Time Management

Time management lets us be consciously aware of being proactive – not reactive. Time management and Leadership skills mean leaders help their teams practice good time management skills and focus on their important work / strategic work vs. busy work. Sometimes this means learning how to say ‘No’ or ‘Not Now’ to some requests.

Being a good leader also means learning how to prioritize, delegate tasks, set realistic deadlines and avoid distractions. Time management helps employees effectively manage their workload, thereby spend more time on the projects and tasks that have the greatest contribution to personal and professional success.

11. Embrace and Steward Change Management

Most people are naturally resistant to change even though change management is necessary to stay current and relevant. A successful leadership quality is the ability to have a clear focus AND also be open to change.

Setting change management goals is a first step to motivate employees to embrace change. Then, bring employees into the discussion on how to implement change – letting them add to the discussion and become part of the implementation solution.

When you incorporate change management into your training and development plan, you will experience increased employee retention, productivity, and your employees will get used to staying open to change – not resistant to change.

12. Cross Train Employees As A Motivational Tool

Cross training is a leadership style often overlooked by organizations looking for VERY low-cost ways to improve profitability, team performance, collaboration and employee retention. All leaders should use this as a highly beneficial, non-monetary recognition AND investment in their employees.

Aside from the confidence that there will always be someone available to get a key activity done when (not if), an employee is sick or on vacation, almost all employees see cross training as their employer making an investment in their personal and professional future. In addition, employees see this as a desirable way to expand their personal and professional knowledge/experience (Win/Win).

13. Industry, Competitive And Customer Knowledge

Moving away from supporting their team, one of the best leadership qualities is to fully understand their industry, who are their competitors and to know what their customers need and value.

14. Trust & Be Trustworthy

We all have experienced people who ignore our suggestions or who take credit for others’ ideas. Employees must trust their leaders just like customers must trust your product / service. Employees must trust their leaders to be knowledgeable, fair and to support them when they need to escalate challenges.

In addition, employees must feel their leaders trust their judgement, knowledge and that they are acting in everyone’s best interest.

Trust is a two-way street.

15. Read The Financials

My least favourite leadership skill is spending time reading, interpreting and using financials even thought I know its an important part of improving business strategy.

This is an important part of being a leader… and now I’m moving on.

16. Mindful Listening / Communication

Leaders know productivity and motivation is tied to communication. Effective leaders openly share goals and vision and other relevant information in real-time… keeping the team up-to-date.

One of the most important leadership qualities is how leaders communicate to build a community and an appreciative workspace that also respects work/life balance. Leaders teach their employees to be clear and to get to the point with their verbal and written communication.

When communicating, skillful leaders use mindful leadership and mindful listening techniques like not judging, waiting to respond vs. react during conversations, and asking open-ended questions. Mindful leaders demonstrate patience and caring.

17. Look Around

Leaders also don’t wait for a performance review to tell people how they’re doing. Millennials especially want coaching and feedback on a regular basis – even if all you share is “Thank you – you did a good job on that report”.

Leaders notice employees’ unique, specific contributions and they take the time to acknowledge those contributions. Leadership skills also include having respect for others no matter if they are a Secretary or a CEO.

18. Lead Effective Meetings

Practice and share your meeting skills. Most of us spend too many hours in meetings. Great leaders keep coach their team to use meetings sparingly… and to be efficient when you do have them. The following are a few general points to keep in mind in order to lead effective meetings:

  • Start & finish on time
  • Always share the purpose of the meeting in advance so attendees can prepare
  • Everyone has an equal voice
  • Decisions get made
  • Action items get assigned
  • Document decisions and action items
  • Everyone acts on agreed upon decisions and action items in a timely manner

19. Find The Right Job For The Right People

Great leaders work with their staff to understand their talents, their passions and their aspirations. The better the leader the higher the engagement.

Great leaders put and keep the right people in the right jobs. When people love their jobs they are more productive and creative. If a promotion is the right decision for an existing high achiever, a great leader helps that employee understand any gaps that may exist and help them overcome those gaps (develop a new skill), with coaching and training.

20. Speed and Agility

Nobody likes to work for an organization or leader that can not make a discussion or move forward.

This may also be a leader that gets stuck at 95% on a project and try to hit 100%. While there are places (like space travel), where 100% is important, in many cases the effort to go from 95% to 98% will be similar to the time and cost to get a whole new project up to the 95% level.

Great bosses always understand the vision – and allow that vision to make decisions quickly. This means that employees always know what they have to do next… and are always moving forward… learning, doing, accomplishing greatness.


Leadership is no easy task – it takes lots of work just to lead… which supports the idea that leadership is a full-time commitment to strategy. Quality leaders can’t be knee-deep into doing the ‘doing’.

When you are planning your strategy and managing the other 20 steps, be sure the goals you set are:

  • Realistic – While goals should be challenging, they should also be achievable.
  • Appropriate – for current personal and professional goals.
  • Clear – Managers should easily understand the goals they’re working toward and why those goals are necessary.
  • On A Timeline – When goals have beginning and end points, team members work to reach the finish line.
  • Measurable – The ability to identify progress encourages employees and boosts confidence.
  • Rewarded – If a goal is achieved, it’s essential to give recognition. This heightens employee confidence and encourages further progress.

The biggest challenge leaders face is the desire to forgo long-term strategy for short-term gain. Decades of research on leadership styles and leadership skills demonstrate that emotional intelligence and social skills are critical for long-term leadership and organizational success.

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates training and development courses including Difficult Conversations, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.


Millennials Are Leaders And Are Leading Change

Millennials have always gone after what they want and therefore they have changed – and are still changing how we all work.

In many ways they have always been leaders whether we knew it or not… and now Millennials are becoming senior management… managing other Millennials – or perhaps Boomers and Gen Xers.

Millennials Birth Years

Their values are a bit different based in part on the way they were brought up by their helicopter parents. And as Millennials become senior managers they are in a powerful position to really change everyone’s expectations about work and work/life balance. In the end most Boomers and Gen Xers are OK with it… especially once they see that the changes can be good for them as well.

Millennials are leading the drive to change workspace… including:

  • Greater workplace flexibility
  • Shorter work weeks
  • Greater desire for and ability to work in teams (Collaboration) – teamwork is important to most Millennials.
  • Wanting to be challenged – to be learning / improving
  • The possibility to have a part-time or hobby-job on the side
  • Wanting our contributions are recognized – frequentlyMillennial Leadership

With four generations in the workplace, the leadership style that works well is the one that includes everyone and cares for everyone. As we care and invest in each other, we all become better people – which makes us better, happier employees. And you know what happens when we are happy? We don’t switch jobs every 18 months, we are more creative and we are MORE PRODUCTIVE.

What company doesn’t want greater employee loyalty and productivity?

This is important because retention of the Millennial workforce is one of the TOP challenges many organizations have. We all know that employees rarely leave companies; they leave poor leaders / poor managers; that has been true for years and is not limited to Millennials – its just happening at a faster pace with Millennials. If a Millennial doesn’t feel their boss is supporting them or respects their work – they’re going to leave.

Lets see what we can do to work together and take the time to understand and respect each other.

One way to accomplish this is to promote mentoring between employees from different generations. Millennials and Gen Z employees can learn from the experience of Gen Xers and Boomers while they teach senior employees how to use new technology and to see challenges from new point of view  (like company motivation and recognition).


Millennials (Gen Y) are the fastest growing segment of the workforce and the younger, more technologically connected Gen Z’s are coming up behind them. We have to pay attention.

No matter what generation you represent, as a leader or future leader it’s important you explore the ideas and needs of everyone – openly – in order to be the competitive organization you want to be. Happy Training.

This is likely the shortest blog I’ve ever written. I hope you enjoyed it.

Please share and/or Tweet this post if you like it. It’ll only take a moment and will help us both share thoughtful business best practices.

Some popular ‘It Feels Good To Share‘ links are at the end of this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting If you enjoyed this Business Communication blog post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew is founder and President of Bruce Mayhew Consulting a Professional Development firm that excels at quickly and easily tailoring programs to meet the unique needs of our clients and their employees. In addition to being an effective professional development trainer, Bruce is a popular conference speaker, writer and has been featured on major TV, Radio and Newspaper networks ranging from CTV to Global to The Globe & Mail. Connect with Bruce on TwitterGoogle+ and Linkedin.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness, Time Management and more. Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to the right to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Change Management: Why The Process Matters

Change Management means that project timelines are often shorter with greater results, less cost and less disruption.

Change sucks, but it’s always happening. The options are to hope for the best, or to plan for the best. Change Management is about planning at the front end to thoughtfully, collaboratively, mindfully:

  • Plan all things that need to change
  • Plan all things that don’t need to change
  • Collect choices / options
  • Evaluate choices and impact… on everything and everyone
  • Agree upon a vision and tactics

My preference is to think of Change Management as ‘Recalibrate’ vs. ‘Overhaul’. Identifying and resolving challenges early, before they turn into emergencies and/or conflict. I believe Change Management is our best chance to exceed expectations and to keep communication and all personal / professional relationships, honest, safe, respectful and supportive… recognizing that sometimes that means having difficult conversations.change management

Organizational Change Requires Individual Change

Mediocre adoption of any new process / system means mediocre results – or worse. Managing the ‘people’ side will always be the most important part of Change Management success. What people? Change may impact you… your family… or employees, clients, suppliers. Realistically, change will impact all of these groups… and more.

Most of the time, people don’t like change… and this makes change difficult for companies. If you’ve ever had to quit something – like smoking – or start something new – like a new job, you know it takes time to become familiar with a new behaviour / habits and to leave a deeply rooted behaviour behind. Familiarity lets us work quickly and confidently – change slows us down and increases the risk of mistakes (and therefore our professional reputation); and yet, the reality is that when managed well, change will drive greater benefits after a short adjustment period.

All For One, One For All                

Change Management establishes a clear vision and universal agreement. When we all participate we all take responsibility – and the benefit is great.

At times joint responsibility means managing difficult conversations (and opposing objectives) – but that is OK. Better to be open to our concerns and get difficult questions and conversations in the open so they can be managed proactively, mindfully, collaboratively. Lets face it – challenging situations and opposite objectives are part of all change – so better to have a process that deals with them vs. letting them surprise us at the 11th hour.


As stated, a key part of change management is collaboration; this includes continuous input from departments like Legal… a department that is often at odds with representatives from departments like Marketing, Communication, and Product Development.

With input from your Legal department, concerns can be flagged early which means roll-out strategies, training, language – even target audiences can be aligned early by the team (which includes a legal representative), to address Legal concerns. This can avoid an 11th hour project shut-down (and expenses), to address missed legal concerns. Lets face it – legal is there to protect us – so better to bring them in early and let them help us identify opportunities and challenges… and get their approval early… and often.

Change Management Leadership

To succeed, change requires universal collaboration, leadership, support and respect.

Change Management requires supporters at all levels of the organization. The leadership team needs to support the process – which means giving everyone an opportunity for input. Successful Change Management is a collaborative, creative plan – no one person or department can be expected to see / know and anticipate every opportunity… and every risk.

100% adoption is often one of the greatest challenges to change. Why? Because as mentioned above, change sucks; change slows us down and increases risk of mistakes (and therefore our professional reputation). If we are discussing employees, Leaders must ensure no one person – even a high-performer can ignore the new, agreed upon organizational culture standards. Without participation from all people at all levels the best-intended plans risk not meeting target adoption rates and therefore benefit (and profitability).


Change Management lets us better understand what is required; be it change or deciding not to change.

When employees know the benefits of change they become motivated to a common goal – not fearful of it.

Highlights Of The Benefits Of Change Management:

  • Goals are agreed upon
  • Scope and clarity of scope is defined and understood
  • Challenges can be anticipated
  • Surprises are reduced
  • Disruptions are reduced
  • Scope creep is reduced / eliminated
  • Employee engagement is increased
  • Resistance to change is reduced
  • Adoptionis increased:
    • Adoption rate (who is using it)
    • How quickly they are coming onboard (adapting / adopting)
    • Accuracy with the new adoption
  • Stress is reduced at all levels
  • Collaboration is increased (harmony)
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT), goes smoothly
  • A successful change process is greatly increased

Happy communicating.

Please share and/or Tweet this post if you like it. It’ll only take a moment and will help us both share thoughtful business best practices. Some popular ‘It Feels Good To Share‘ links are at the end of this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

If you enjoyed this Business Communication blog post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew is founder and President of Bruce Mayhew Consulting a Professional Development firm that excels at quickly and easily tailoring programs to meet the unique needs of our clients and their employees. In addition to being an effective professional development trainer, Bruce is a popular conference speaker, writer and has been featured on major TV, Radio and Newspaper networks ranging from CTV to Global to The Globe & Mail.

Connect with Bruce on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Mindfulness, Time Management and more.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to the right to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

%d bloggers like this: