7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Does your organization think Win/Win? In most organizations their employee reward systems are hurting sales, fulfillment, profit, employee satisfaction and their brand reputation because their reward systems are designed to have employees compete against each other – not compete as a team in a Win/Win environment.


Imagine we have 10 sales people. The yearend reward system is structured as follows:

  • The Top sales person gets an all expense paid vacation. He/she feel great.
  • Next two sales people get a weekend away. Unfortunately, they still feel like they’ve lost.
  • The remaining 7 people (who still performed well), receive a standard raise, unfortunately they really feel they’ve lost.

In addition:

  • The Top sales person likely reached their goal early so stopped selling… or put off sales to help ensure they win Top prize next year.
  • Winner 2 and 3 might have also stopped selling early if they knew they could not catch the Top sales person.
  • The pride and morale of the remaining 7 has certainly taken a significant hit. In addition, they likely knew they were not going to be in the top three early on which means they stopped working on their stretch goal early on.
  • And finally… there are now between 7 and 9 people who likely feel under-valued and who might be looking for an employer who does make them feel valued (and the Top person might feel they deserve better).

There are many challenges with this all too common scenario including two often-overlooked disadvantages:

  • The company didn’t win; in fact the company lost because most if not all of their sales people held back sales or lost motivation.
  • The customers didn’t win because sales people likely delayed important sales or provided unmotivated customer service.

Imagine the benefit of a Win/Win environment where everyone wants to do their best. Imagine the success and the influence the Top 3 sales people could have had if they acted as mentors… not competitors… where they taught best practices to the other 7 members while utilizing their energy, excitement and creativity. Imagine the long-term benefit and brand reputation that develops when customers experience a fully integrated organization that is clearly focused on their satisfaction.

When the internal organizational structures are in place to support a Win/Win approach, personal ability and team performance are magnified. The success each individual – team – and organization experience are greater than if they were working against each other – not trusting each other.

Dimensions of a Win/Win Solution

Clearly when it’s Win/Win everyone benefits except the competition. When it’s Win/Lose there is someone who will not be 100% invested… which means employees, customers and the business are the losers while your competition benefits.

Stephen R. Covey describes the principle of a Win/Win relationship requiring 3 mutual experiences for all involved.  Those being:

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  1. Mutual Learning
  2. Mutual Influence
  3. Mutual Benefit

Stephen R. Covey also describes the principle of a Win/Win relationship needing to be supported by 3 personal / interpersonal and 2 organizational traits. I would suggest that All 5 of these foundational traits need to be nurtured by the organization… not just the last 2. Therefore, allowing room for my interpretation these Win/Win personal and organizational traits can be broken down as follows:

  • Character (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Integrity
    • Maturity
    • Abundance Mentality
  • Relationship (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Trust
    • Respect
    • Credibility
  • Agreement to Cooperate (Personal / Interpersonal and Organizational)
    • Goal
    • Guidelines
    • Resources
    • Responsibility / Accountability
    • Consequences
      • Financial
      • Psychological
      • Opportunity
      • Responsibility
  • Support Systems (Organizational)
  • Processes (Organizational)

The Win/Win paradigm believes that everyone can fulfill their dreams / goals because team success will provide enough for everyone to share.

Implementing a Win/Win Solution

One of the first steps when integrating an innovative Win/Win corporate environment is to align all internal reward and recognition systems. This is critical! Good faith and trust are paramount and can overcome previously existing structural and cultural barriers, however, if one department or Leader rewards Win/Lose (internal competition), then the whole organizational ecosystem and success is in jeopardy.

Win/Win cannot exist in an environment of internal competition

Win/Win can thrive in an environment of external competition 

External competition is good as long as it does not create competition internally – even between one team and another.  It can be used to help identify a goal – even a stretch goal for the team / organization to reach. Internal competition is not a friend of Win/Win – it undermines the trust required. One of the rare circumstances a variation of internal completion can be used would be to compete against last years results, market norms or other business / products / services in the market.

For Win/Win to work, the systems have to support it.  The training system, the planning system, the communication system, the budgeting system, the information system, the compensation system – all have to be based on the principle of Win/Win.” Stephen R. Covey.

Stephen suggests individuals / teams can align their objectives for mutual benefit by using a 4 step approach. I offer these 4 steps below – with my expanded insight:

  1. Look at the problem [assignment / situation] with an open [creative] mind [that considers what can be done – not what can’t be done.  This positive approach to thinking is called affirmative action]
  2. Identify [and agree upon] objectives
  3. Identify [and agree upon] approaches, [process, threats and resources]
  4. Identify [and agree upon] tactics to meet your objectives

In the end – living within a Win/Win paradigm requires individuals and organizations to embrace a culture of honesty, integrity, maturity and abundance. A Win/Win solution balances efforts on both the P (Production), as well as the PC (Production Capability)… caring for the output while also ensuring the process that creates the output is cared for. Stephen calls this investment ‘sharpening the saw’ in habit #3.


Having a business culture of Win/Win is within reach and quite inexpensive – especially when considering the financial benefits. The key ingredients of a Win/Win organizational culture and brand reputation is to design all access to information, reporting and rewards to ensure everyone when there is a win that everyone (the individuals, teams and the organization) win; hence the Win/Win paradigm.

Happy communicating, creating workplace harmony and reducing employee turnover.

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

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Reference Material:

  • Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
  • Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
  • My experience

Why Is Mindfulness At Work Important?

When I began studying mindfulness I immediately began to see how mindfulness at work would benefit every employee and every leader in every organization.

Mindfulness is about awareness; I see it as the core of the practice. Therefore, mindfulness at work would first and foremost provide the opportunity for every leader and every employee to see more possibilities; to be more creative and yes – to experience greater enjoyment from their professional and personal life. Mindfulness practices provide (sometimes slowly – sometimes quickly), a greater awareness of self – not in an egotistical way but in an empowering way.

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Mindful awareness is about seeing and listening and hearing and not making assumptions. As a business leader it offers a space that encourages more possibilities and these possibilities also generate answers that enable greater clarity (and I stress clarity – not confusion), about what path is the best path. As an individual, when you begin to have greater awareness of self you also gain a greater ability to see and care for those around you.

For leaders, mindfulness can encourage clarity about what you and your team define as your goals and success. Is success defined in the traditional business terms of ROI for the next quarter or the remainder of this fiscal year…  or does mindfulness also provide us the opportunity to consider a strategies that might provide less immediate success but greater long-term harmony and happiness for everyone? Strategies that might include:

  • Encouraging creativity
  • Not harming the environment
  • Educating your customer while also serving your customer
  • Caring for your employees and giving them growth opportunities

Whether your awareness is focused on yourself – your team or your company, mindfulness at work provides practical and proven techniques on how you approach your world. And mindfulness grows as you grow. It allows you to adopt and integrate some mindful techniques today – and – as you are ready to build in more mindful techniques tomorrow, creating an ever-expanding opportunity as you cultivate greater awareness and understanding of these techniques.

One empowering realization I’ve had on my awareness journey happened when I met Lindsay Wagner who is an amazing facilitator of her “Quiet the Mind & Open the Heart” retreats. During our first meeting Lindsay described how our reactions and feelings are the result of our previous experiences and personal expectations rather than the circumstance itself.

As an example, what I learned from my discussion with Lindsay was that how I react to a car driver who cuts me off in traffic is a choice I get to make… and my reactions are largely dependent on my expectations. I can take it personally and get angry and upset, or I can choose to let it go and accept there was likely a good reason (like a medical emergency… or even a simple mistake). Similarly, in a business environment if my boss or employee or co-worker does something I don’t expect I have the choice to consider it likely wasn’t a personal attack (before I respond with anger). Upon reflection it’s most likely that we were not fully aware of each others needs and expectations (therefore that’s where I should focus my energy). As leaders and business people the key is to stay true to our core values and core competencies and to do our best every time as we balance professional success and processional expectations.

The practice of mindful leadership gives us these tools. It teaches us to acknowledge the present moment, recognizing our feelings and emotions and keeping them under control, especially when faced with highly stressful situations. The mindfulness communication training I find most helpful includes helping us:

  1. Become familiar with your needs, beliefs, values, and principles
  2. Listen and watch actively
  3. Evaluate but pause your judgment
  4. Stop making assumptions – know it’s better to ask questions
  5. Validate needs and objectives (before moving forward)
  6. Pause when you need… a break or feel triggered
  7. Engage passionately – not personally
  8. Manage expectations
  9. Empower the people around you – personally and professionally

When we are mindful, we’re aware of our presence and the ways we impact other people. We’re able to both observe and participate while also recognize the implications of our actions for the longer term.

Happy communicating.

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

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What Is A High Performance Team?

Investing in a High Performance Team can consistently provide exceptional gains in productivity, increase product / service quality, lower costs, achieve faster time to market as well as improve individual job satisfaction. WOW! Sign-Me-Up!

What Is A High Performance Team?Bruce Mayhew Consulting Communication Blog

After a century of cutbacks, more and more organizations are looking to empower their employees and encourage collaboration to increase revenues and ROI… and High Performance Teams are an answer.

Yet it’s not a solution to be taken lightly. High Performance Team (HPT), must meet many priority criteria to function well and be worth the investment (listed below), otherwise the investment may simply generate employee frustration and low results. Most importantly HPT’s have:

  • The full support of the organization
  • Clearly defined goals that are important for all team players
  • Team players that demonstrate relevant personal talents
  • Thoughtful and effective communication
  • Shared respect for team players
  • Measurements for success

Members of High Performance Teams must also be committed to each other’s personal and professional growth. This combination can result in exceptionally high team performance and ROI for the organization. This combination also holds High Performance Teams together during inevitable setbacks.

And while this sounds logical and largely desirable, building a High Performance Team is difficult to accomplish. Telling employees they need to collaborate does not make them a team, especially a High Performance Team. The reality is that most work environments support an atmosphere where co-workers (and even team members), compete for reward and recognition. This may provide short-term results, however in the long-term employee competition is disruptive to employee morale and success of the company.

Team Lead Responsibilities

The success of a High Performance Team is empowered by the support of the team leader and their ever vigilant, positive focus.

Leadership serves the High Performance Team by aligning the diverse personal talents of team players and organizational resources to the goal. A team lead must build team confidence in each members ability to contribute meaningfully and to replace undesirable behaviour (like competition), with trust, cooperation and opportunity.

A team lead must also ensure the team and team members are properly supported. Support may mean removing obstacles like newly imposed budget restrictions, accessing training (growth), or perhaps securing technology that will provide a competitive advantage.

Measuring success and encouraging the individual and the team when performance doesn’t meet expectations is also a Team Lead responsibility. In contrast to the performance measurement most of us experience, performance measurement within a High Performance Team is constructive.

High Performance Team Characteristics

As I mentioned earlier in this communication blog post, establishing a High Performance Team is a solution that can not be taken lightly. High Performance Team (HPT), must meet many priority criteria to function and be worth the investment. Our list is as follows:

  1. Work in a safe, supportive environment where team players enjoy their work
  2. Specific, easy to understand, inspiring and achievable ‘stretch goals’ that challenge all team players
  3. Adaptive to environmental, organizational, team and personal needs and challenges
  4. A culture that embraces flexibility and creativity (may be with Appreciative Inquiry 1)
  5. Focuses on supporting a positive culture where team players and leaders focus on ‘making it better’ and ‘what is working’ (may be with Appreciative Inquiry 1)
  6. All team players must be committed to the team, its goals and share accountability
  7. Team players must choose to work with teach other – trust, respect and sharing can not be forced
  8. Team players must have complimentary the skills that are relevant to the team goals
  9. Team players with diverse backgrounds (may include gender, cultural, personality, experience), as this will enhance creative, diverse ideas
  10. Team players must trust and be respectful of each other, their skills and their backgrounds
  11. Team players must know their responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of every other team player
  12. Transparency (open collaboration), within the team
  13. Team players do not intentionally mislead, misdirect, disrespect or sabotage
  14. An agreed upon ‘process’ to identify the goals (if not already defined / confirmed)
  15. An agreed upon ‘process’ to solve problems, make decisions and accomplish the goals (with may be Appreciative Inquiry 1)
  16. An agreed upon ‘process’ to measure personal performance and team performance
  17. High Performance Teams learn to communicate in a positive, efficient and predictable way. They use face-to-face meetings to share ideas (again using AI principals), and email when it is appropriate (to confirm decisions and share information). They are mindful and respectful to each member’s needs and feelings and are equally open to share their needs and feelings.
  18. High Performance Teams get / accept training as required and or information required to assist them developing appropriately and therefore meet the defined goals


Being part of a high performance team and understanding its goals increases personal commitment and quality. One of the many wonderful outcomes is that problem solving becomes a creative rewarding opportunity rather than a negative experience (which often demotivates the team and hinders creative thinking / solutions).

Not every person will have the required skills to be part of every High Performance Team. That doesn’t mean they are not good team players – it may only mean they are not right for a specific High Performance Team.

Investing in the development of High Performance Team’s (goals, trust, skills, communication and attitudes), can provide your organization record gains in productivity, product / service quality, lower costs, and faster time to market.

Happy communicating.

1Appreciative Inquiry (sometimes shortened to “AI”) is powerful discovery technique that empowers a situation by exploring what is positive or what an organization does well rather than on what is undesirable.

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

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Teamwork & Team Players Increase Productivity.

Successful teams and teamwork magnify the accomplishments of individuals as well as the success of the projects. Do you see yourself as a bridge – a team builder who shares with others to achieve greater success? For some people it’s naturally easy – for others it’s naturally difficult. For example:

  • Many Millennials were raised to support teamwork – everyone works together and everyone wins.
  • Many Baby Boomers struggle with being a team player – they were raised there was only one winner so you better be the best.

I’ve been part of many successful teams; some small – some large. So, what can each of us do whenever we are part of a team?

Here are some team guidelines:


  • Trust – each of us has to be consistently trustworthy.  Be confidential, be respectful, be dependable even in the difficult times. Trust with the little projects leads to trust with the larger projects.
  • Empathy – be aware of the feelings of others and let awareness help you build relationships with your team. Slow down, connect, listen, and ask questions. Show your emotions and others will trust you with their emotions. Be a team builder – look for the potential within the project and your team members.
  • Accommodation – listen for other ideas. Let people be who they are. Let the team use each other’s personalities and talents. Nobody is perfect – we all need to be accommodated at some time. During the project your role will shift… especially during periods of transition. Take the lead freely and step aside freely to let someone else shine. Community is where you can be part of the bigger picture.
  • Mission – success is as easy as having one purpose – a shared common goal. Group activities can help but most importantly, the team needs to know what their objectives are. With this information the team can work together to explore and define tactics, timelines and measurements of success.


  1. Successful teams magnify the accomplishments of individuals and the organizations. While much of our current workplace emphasize winning and coming out on top – this behaviour demoralizes the creativity of the rest of the team.
  2. Fostering teamwork is creating a work culture that values collaboration and shared vision /goals. It doesn’t mean we have to regroup to make every single decision. It does mean we all get to benefit from the ideas and energy of others.
  3. If the team is struggling the challenge may be that a common objective and agreed upon tactics haven’t been defined. Don’t always assume it’s each other’s ability to work together.

Happy communication and email writing. 

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