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Tuesday Tune-Up: Pink, Blue and You

Featured, Leadership Insights Apr 13, 2015 No Comments

Pink and BlueA recent article in The Economist (http://www.economist.com/news/business/21647611-tech-firms-can-banish-sexism-without-sacrificing-culture-made-them-successful-valley ) talked about ending sexism in Tech Firms. It was called “The Valley of the Dudes.”   The article reminded me of a lot of times in various other industries and even in the public sector (not just Tech Firms).

I was reminded though of the continuous but often conflicting, chatter I hear about meritocracy and diversity balance. It has become an issue that forward thinking leaders need to sort out.

Virtually every industry I work in as strategic advisor, I hear executives professing the need to have a fair and equitable meritocracy based culture. A culture where they hire the very best people available and then compensate their people based on the value they contribute.

Then, sometimes in the executive’s very same speech, I hear them talk about the dramatic need to increase the number of visible minorities, handicapped or females or males in the workforce.

I have actually sat in a presentation where the CEO of a 25,000 employee organization was talking to his Vice Presidents and sharing a PowerPoint presentation, complete with groovy graphics, and said “We have too much ‘Blue,’ and need more ‘Pink’ in our business.” He went on to say that from that moment forward, all new hires that were male, had to be reviewed and approved two-layers above the hiring manager. Yet, he also continuously talked about meritocracy. I sat there completely dumbfounded.

I have always based my hiring and retention decisions of team members based on their superior ability to do the job – It has never mattered to me if the candidate was Pink, Blue, African-American, Asian, short, tall, thin, wheelchair bound, etc. And I have always made sure whoever was doing a job was receiving salary compensation equal to their peers and were rewarded with bonuses based upon their going above and beyond in creating value.

If we as leaders in the business world are ever going to build an environment where we have a philosophy of hiring the very best candidate possible, then we need to start looking for and hiring the very best candidates. No quotas on Pink or Blue. No bias toward a particular age, race, religion or culture. We need to start today and lead with integrity and always do the right thing when it comes to building a culture of meritocracy and equality.

There cannot be Pink or Blue. There can only be “You.”

Robert Murray is an Author, Global Speaker and Strategy Yoda.  You can find Robert’s books on heart based leadership here.  You can follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook

Tuesday Tune-Up: Managers that throw their team members under the bus

Featured, Leadership Insights Apr 06, 2015 No Comments

School BusBeing called into the CEO’s office when I was a fairly new middle manager type in a growing company was nerve wracking. I was out of the office and received a phone call that the CEO wanted to see me right away.  I asked if it could wait until I finished my next customer meeting. The Executive Assistant on the other end of the phone said clearly that it could not. I needed to come right away.

The drive back to the office was full of fear, uncertainty and, did I say fear?

I walked into the office and his assistant took me into his room right away. I was sweating buckets.

Inside, I found the CEO and my boss. My boss looked scared. The CEO looked pissed off! Ian, the CEO asked me to take a seat. I sat down. Then he launched into a full on attack. Raising his voice and asking me who gave me the authority to implement a sales compensation plan to my group without approval?

It was clear right away by the look on my boss’s face that he had “thrown me under the bus.” A fancy way of saying that my boss had been questioned about an expense and he right away pointed the finger at me versus doing what great leaders do – get the facts and support their team.  In other words, take responsibility.

Ian had me. It was my plan. I did not get approval ahead of time. I had made the mistake of thinking that I had the authority to do so. I took complete ownership by telling him it was all my idea.

Fully convinced that the next thing out of Ian’s mouth was going to be “Your fired,” I began to mentally prepare for the unemployment line.

Ian then asked me what I had hoped to achieve by the plan? I explained that the plan was to  inspire some non-sales team members to prospect for new business that would pay them a small incentive for actual business that came of it.  The results were that for approximately  in $10K in expense, it drove over $300K in new business at a very high margin.

Ian smiled.

He then told me that if I had not taken ownership, he would have fired me. He thanked me for my honesty and for driving the business.

My boss got fired for throwing a team member under the bus. Turned out that he was also taking credit for a lot of the team’s ideas as well.

Why do some managers throw their reports under the bus and not take responsibility?

  1. Lack of confidence and authenticity
  2. Not living their own or the company’s values’
  3. Fear – which should really make you wonder, “Why on earth would any job in the world be worth living in fear over???”

As a leader, your number one responsibility is to the people you lead and the customers they serve. Your team will always watch your back if they know you are watching theirs. Your customers will be served better by team that feels safe, appreciated and respected by you, the leader.  This combination will produce a profitable business.  It is that simple.

Live authentically. Keep it simple.

Robert Murray is an Author, Global Speaker and Strategy Yoda.  You can find Robert’s books on heart based leadership here.  You can follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook

Tuesday Tune-Up: Are people tired of hearing the term ‘Leadership?’

Featured, Leadership Insights Mar 31, 2015 No Comments

Leader Fish - Robert Murray - April 2015If people are tired of hearing about ‘Leadership,’ why is it still an annual issue with most every company?

Everywhere I go on the planet, I will invariably hear a company executive tell me that they just got their Employee Engagement survey results.

I will then ask; “Let me guess. Your team is telling you that communications suck. Company leaders are too distant (do not spend enough time with the frontline), they do not know the strategy and direction of the company and they do not know how they contribute to the success of the business. Am I right?”

The executive in front of me, looking puzzled and bewildered, will then incredulously say; “My god, how did you know?”

The answer is simple… Leadership. When I tell the executive that, they will roll their eyes and tell me that they are growing tired of hearing that. Therein lies the problem.

If you as a leader or business owner, want to engage the minds as well as the hearts of your stakeholders (And by stakeholders, I mean employees, customers, vendors, partners, etc.), then you need live, sleep and breathe genuine, authentic leadership.

Driving data, analytics, metrics, market numbers is management and it is what most managers think is leadership.

Genuine leadership is all about connecting emotionally with people and involves:

  • Investing time in and with them
  • Working to understand what drives them
  • Sharing the organization’s goals and objectives
  • Helping team members understand how they contribute to the success of the business
  • Giving team members meaning and a sense of control over their world.

And this isn’t a one-time exercise. It is like brushing your teeth; it has to be done everyday.

The payoff… Higher levels of engagement, belief in leadership and the direction of the organization, lower levels of absenteeism, higher levels of customer satisfaction, higher levels of productivity, lower costs and… higher profits.

Now, is leadership still an over-used topic?

Join me at the European BPO Forum on April 22nd, 2015 in Vienna where I will be speaking.  For more information go to: European BPO Forum

Robert Murray is a Passionate Transformational Leader, Stark Raving People Apostle, Strategy Yoda and the author of the critically acclaimed book; “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing your innate leadership for business and life success.”   Robert’s new book; “Unlocked: Finding the key to practical leadership” is now available through all the regular channels.

Unlocked: Finding your Mojo

Featured, Leadership Insights Mar 09, 2015 No Comments

MojoHow do you find your passion?

I was doing a podcast this week with Mike Zaremba (one of the two brothers that founded ‘Floathouse’ a Vancouver based company that offers a unique sensory experience via Deprivation Tanks that allow customers an environment to do deep meditation, rest, recover and manifest creativity) for Vancouver Real.

Mike asked me a great question. “How do we find our passion?”

The answer is easy and it is hard.

Easy because I believe that deep in your heart, you know what excites you. You know that if you were doing what truly excites you, Monday morning would not be the worst day of the week. Lunch would not be the most exciting part of the day. And, Friday would not be “Thank God it’s Friday” to you.

If you are not doing what truly excites you though, this is the hard part… Finding the courage to chase your passion and not your pension. Chasing your joy and not money. Chasing our passion frees us. Chasing money enslaves us. And, it has always been my experience that when I am chasing my passion, I never have to worry about money.

Tips for finding the courage to break free from the enslavement so that you can chase your passion…

  1. Quit. Quit fast. Staying in a situation where you are not chasing your passion may pay the bills however I guarantee that it does not bring you joy. Without Joy, others area of your life – success, relationships, love, happiness all suffer.
  2. Follow your heart. Steve Jobs once said that if this was your last day on earth, would you exchange what you are doing right now for that day?
  3. Do not place limits upon yourself. Dream big dreams and let the journey begin because chasing your passion is about the journey not the destination.

Here’s a great YouTube video to help you get your Mojo going!


Robert Murray is a Passionate Transformational Leader, Stark Raving People Apostle, Strategy Yoda and the author of the critically acclaimed book; “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing your innate leadership for business and life success.”   Robert’s new book; “Unlocked: Finding the key to practical leadership” is now available through all the regular channels.

Unlocked: Motivation

Featured, Leadership Insights Feb 23, 2015 No Comments

MotivationMotivation.  How does one get it?  Where does it come from?  Do some people just naturally have it and others don’t?

All questions that I have heard.

The answer though, like most everything in life, is very simple.  Motivation comes from within.  You already have it inside.  
And, as a leader, it is impossible to motivate someone else unless you are motivated.

Motivation comes from love.  A deep, burning love for who you are and what you love to do in your life.  If you love to cook, you will be motivated to cook for anyone that is hungry.  If you love to dance, you will be motivated to dance like no one is watching. Chasing your passion comes with a deep motivation that cannot be matched.  It is like the burning desire to take a breath when you are trapped under water – All you want to do is breathe – You cannot focus on anything else except breathing.  

When you are doing what you love, you have greater expectations for yourself.  You are less worried about failure and making mistakes and victories taste all the more sweeter.

If you love to lead with vision, purpose and from a place of service, everyone around you will sense it and will be motivated to follow you.  That is how you inspire and motivate others.

Unlocked: Fail Faster for Greater Success

Book, Featured, Leadership Insights Feb 04, 2015 No Comments

No one can tell you that you are not good enough, not smart enough, not whatever enough without your permission. Nor can anyone tell you that you will fail at something without your permission.

Instead, become the person you believe in. Keep telling yourself you are worthy, smart, strong, and capable.

There is no shortage of people will tell you, “You can’t….” Don’t be one of them. Develop the “I can!” mantra. When you do, you will discover that things happen. Opportunities unfold in front of you. You will start achieving beyond your wildest expectations.

Let’s look at all the people who didn’t listen to the long line of people telling them they couldn’t, weren’t good enough, it’s too hard, etc…

Thomas Edison developed over 10,000 failed prototypes for the lightbulb—or as he put it, “I discovered 10,000 ways that a lightbulb would not work.”

Arguably the world’s greatest basketball player, Michael Jordan, was cut from his high school basketball team.

Steven Spielberg was rejected three times by film schools he applied to.

Beethoven’s music teacher once told him he was “hopeless.”

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job because he lacked “ideas.”

Bestselling author John Grisham was rejected by twelve publishing houses and sixteen agents.

Oprah Winfrey was replaced as the anchorwoman after only eight months in her first big television job.

Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harland “Colonel” Sanders was told “No” over 1,000 times when he was searching for someone to partner with for his now famous fried chicken recipe.

The list goes on and on.

When you are chasing a dream and pushing to be in the group of those who make things happen in our world, you will experience setbacks, disappointments, and failure. A long line of people will be saying, “I told you so.” There will be people you will lose in your life; friends, maybe even family members, will not talk to you anymore. These are probably the same people who were fighting hard to hold you back.

The key through it all is to develop the mindset that you believe in yourself and your dreams. Be secure in the knowledge that nothing worth accomplishing (nothing I have discovered so far that is) is easy. It requires a vision so clear and compelling you can taste it. It requires focus—laser beam focus. And it takes hard work—lots of it.

Every once in awhile, though, you will have setbacks and disappointments. I like to look at those as learning opportunities. They will happen—it is part of the journey to success. The key during these times is to remember that failure is an event, not a person.

Get back up, dust yourself off, learn, grow, and keep telling yourself you can. Believe that you can!

Unlocked: Keeping it simple

Book, Featured, Leadership Insights Jan 28, 2015 No Comments

“Life, business and leadership should be a simple thing however, it is often complicated by idiots.” That was my opening line at the TEDxBCIT talk I did on the weekend.

Everyday, our lives are becoming more complicated. Crazier. And at times, all consuming. It’s time for us to slow down and… smell the coffee so to speak. The energy we should be devoting to our families and to our own brilliance is being sucked out of us by the chaos in the world around us.

The insanity can stop with you simply saying enough. Saying “Yes” to what really matters and, saying “No” to everything that is not going to get you to your goals and takes unnecessary time away from the people you love and the things that you really love to do.

Ask yourself; “What does good look like for me right now?” Focus only on that.

The top athletes in the world focus on their greatness. The best footballers focus on being the best footballers. They do not try to be the best tennis players too.

Living by the mantra of keeping it simple – focused and deliberate – will actually bring you greater success, more love, more passion, more energy and greater satisfaction.

Let the idiots in your circle keep things complicated without involving you.

Unlocked: The Ultimate Christmas Gift

Book, Featured, Leadership Insights Dec 10, 2014 No Comments

Thank-you-sign1Well, most places on the planet are into full-on Christmas commercialization chaos!  It seems to me that it started super early this year too.  Not long after Labour Day stores were starting to sneak out their Christmas Displays, TV networks were running cheesy Holiday films in early November and… I actually heard a Christmas Carol being played the last week in October!

No wonder people get stressed out this time of year!

Thinking of the perfect gift?

The best one I ever got and have subsequently learned to give is… Gratitude.

Here’s the thing.  You are who you are and where you are because of your hard work, intentions and most importantly, because of the people you have had in your life.  Parents, teachers, coaches, professors, bosses (good and bad), friends, relatives, siblings, neighbours. the police officer that gave you a break, doctors, nurses – the list goes on and on!

Use this time of year – a time of reflection – to let people know how much you care by simply saying thank you for all their support and help through your life.

Your assignment…  Like Santa Claus, make a list.  A list of the 10 people in your life that you credit for helping you achieve your success.  Make it real by adding a picture beside their name.  Then reach out to the people on your list and thank them.  Tell them how much their support meant to you.  Tell them how much you love them.  Do it via FaceBook, Twitter, email, phone call, a card in the post, text message, a coffee get-together or a banner towed behind an airplane.

This is an amazing gift because it gives twice.  Once to the person you are thanking.  They will be touched in ways hard to imagine.  The second is for you.  Your heart will fill with warmth.  You will have an amazing energy renewal.  You will be thought of as someone that respects and appreciates other.  And… this will come back to you many times over.

Try it.  It is the greatest gift ever.

Robert Murray is a Passionate Leader, Stark Raving People Apostle, Turn Around Mercenary and the author of the critically acclaimed book; “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing your innate leadership for business and life success.”   Robert’s new book; “Unlocked: Finding the key to practical leadership” is now available through all the regular channels.

Unlocked: Why are you doing what you don’t want to do?

Featured, Leadership Insights Nov 25, 2014 No Comments

OrigamiI speak a lot about values, purpose and doing fulfilling work with passion to live your life with greatness.  Wow!  What a mouthful.  It might be better to simply say; “Do what YOU want to do.”

Are Monday mornings really hard to get out of bed for?  Are Friday afternoons the best part of the week?  Is lunch the most exciting part of the day?

If you answered “Yes” to one of those questions above, you need to seriously look at what you are doing.  If you answered “Yes” to all of the above, you need to quit what you are doing immediately!  You are most likely chasing your pension and the life changing benefit you are bringing with you every day is the ability to ‘fog a mirror.’

Chasing your passion is all about doing work that you can’t wait to get out of bed to do.  It means that you dream of doing it again the next day.

I am reminded of this from time to time.  I sometimes fall into the trap too.  It usually happens when I take on an project that I should not be doing.  I know this when I discover moments during the execution of the project when I feel like:

  • Surfing the internet to mindless, current news sites like CNN
  • Eating my lunch at 9:00 in the morning
  • Doing origami art out of the recycled paper
  • Making a post-it-note mural on the office window
  • Sending a “SOS” signal in morse code using the flashlight on my smartphone to the office in the tower across the way
  • Poking my eye out with a dull pencil.

The point is, as a leader, you ALWAYS need to be doing work that is in total alignment with your values, your purpose, your passion and that fulfills your greatness that you have to offer the world around you.  If we are not doing that, we will completely lack energy, enthusiasm, passion, meaning and… will be generally miserable.

I know a ton of executives and leaders that have walked away from great titles and good companies because the role was not ‘them’ and it was slowly killing them.  They are the lucky ones.  And… they have all gone onto to more fulfilling roles, more money and happiness (And happiness is contagious and spreads to every aspect of your life).

Are doing what you want to do?

Robert Murray is a Passionate Leader, Stark Raving People Apostle, Turn Around Mercenary and the author of the critically acclaimed book; “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing your innate leadership for business and life success.”   Robert’s new book; “Unlocked: Finding the key to practical leadership” is now available through all the regular channels.


Unlocked: Why am I here?

Featured, Leadership Insights Nov 15, 2014 No Comments

The Leader Within - Why am I here

Since the beginning of time when our ancestors were sitting around, feverishly rubbing two sticks together to start a fire, they were no doubt, grunting; “Why am I here?”   It is a great question!

It is a question I hear everywhere I go.  More and more people are questioning their purpose and their very reason for being ‘here.’  Like wise, as leaders, we are not immune to thinking, questioning and challenging ourselves about “are we making a difference?”

The real answer to those questions though is not as complicated as our minds will lead us to believe.  We believe the answer lies in being true to our passions.

For example, you have may noticed times in your life when you were totally ‘on top of the world.’  Those times when you were your absolute happiest, most energized and felt like you were living a dream.  I guarantee that those were times that you were living in total alignment with your highest values and in turn, living your purpose – Living your own personal meaning of “Why am I here?”

For myself, my purpose can be distilled down to; ‘Helping people and businesses uncover their remarkable potential.’  I know for myself, as a leader, when I am doing that, I am full of non-stop energy, passion and enthusiasm for everything in my world.

Take a moment and think about those times in your life when you were unstoppable.  Piece together as much of the scenes as you can.   You will soon find the answers to your purpose and your highest values.   Remember, it is not complicated nor should it be.  The reason why you are here is to live your highest values.

Those times when you are not happy, not energized, lunch is the oat exciting part of the day and you cannot wait until Friday, you will discover you are living someone else’s purpose.

Robert Murray is a Passionate Leader, Stark Raving People Apostle, Turn Around Mercenary and the author of the critically acclaimed book; “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing your innate leadership for business and life success.”   Robert’s new book; “Unlocked: Finding the key to practical leadership” is now available through all the regular channels.

Unlocked: Strategy versus Execution

Book, Featured, Leadership Insights Nov 07, 2014 No Comments

Vancouver 2010 - 3Rarely is the problem bad strategy.  It is usually crappy execution.

When we look at a business that is not all that it could because the culture is toxic or customer are churning away, the root cause is rarely a poorly thought out strategy.  It is almost always, no execution.  And that is a leadership issue.

We work with lots of organizations all over the world helping them develop strategy.  We often walk away with the feeling of “Wow!” that is a very simple strategy that is going to take the business to greatness.  Usually one of two throngs happen…

One is that the leadership team congratulates each each other and goes back to their day jobs.  They don’t share the vision, purpose or strategy with the entire organization – making sure that everyone from top to bottom completely understands their individual role in the execution of the plan.  There is no identified way of keeping score so that everyone knows how they are doing. There is no ongoing (never-ending actually) communication.  And finally, there is no governance to ensure that every aspect of the project (It is a project) is aligned and tasks are completed one-by-one.  Execution does not happen and then some rocket scientist will stand up and say that the team failed to ‘understand’ the strategy.

The other is an organization that understands that strategy needs to be simple – no more than 3 strategic objectives.  Strategy comes from the military.  Most military organizations are brilliant at executing on a plan because their plan is simple.  Military leaders that failed (Napoleon and Hitler) because they had complicated plans and were operating on too many fronts.  Resources get spread too thin and people don’t understand why they doing what they are doing.

A best in class example that we are working with is a major manufacturing company in Canada.  Led by a CEO that understands strategy and its need to be simple, they have invested in making sure that every single person in their entire cross-country organization understands the strategy and their role.  We are seeing magical things happen in the business with their team moving forward and creating amazing value for customers all over the world in a commodity market.

There is rarely bad strategy.  Most often it is leaders that want to prove how smart they are by creating too many complicated strategies and then failing to execute.

Execution takes vision, focus and a simple disciplined approach.  Do you have it?

Robert Murray is a Passionate Leader, Stark Raving People Apostle, Turn Around Mercenary and the author of the critically acclaimed book; “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing your innate leadership for business and life success.”   Robert’s new book; “Unlocked: Finding the key to practical leadership” is now available through all the regular channels.

B2B and B2C is dead. It is now H2H

Book, Featured, Leadership Insights Oct 27, 2014 No Comments

Heart2HeartB2B and B2C is dead. It is now H2H or, Heart-to-Heart.

I speak a lot about how the world has changed. It is now flatter, faster, more connected and so outrageously competitive that businesses and leaders are struggling with how to lead and thrive in the chaos.

Traditionally, most organizations develop plans and build structure to ‘attack’ the market with B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) marketing communications and sales teams. Wrong! In today’s environment, B2B and B2C approaches will usually result a very one-way, company driven strategy that fails to understand and truly connect emotionally with their customer. And… that is the key, emotionally connecting with people and forming ‘value connections’ that outlast a competitor’s lower price.

Now, winning leaders and organizations are figuring out how to emotionally connect with their stakeholders (I define stakeholders as anyone that your business touches – including employees) in what I call H2H.

I have to admit here that I was taught something very new this week by a client from AstraZeneca. I used to refer to H2H as ‘Human-to-Human.’ When I asked the group Heather and I were leading about: “what does ‘H2H’ mean?” The reply I got from Svetlana Shtankova,a very enlightened HR Director from their Ukrainian operation was; “Heart-to-Heart.” Wow! What an amazing twist on H2H!

It makes so much sense! The essence of leadership today in this flattened, crazy, chaotic world is touching emotions. What better way to touch emotions than touching hearts?

Last week, I was blessed to be on the stage at the #Enlightening3.0 conference in Bucharest launching my new book (Unlocked; Finding the key to practical leadership) and I was talking about the need to switch our approaches to be H2H. During the question period, I was asked to give an example of H2H. I wanted to reply that we (The person asking the question and myself) were having an H2H interaction right there in front of over 300 people as in my mind, it was just me and him having a conversation. However, the essence of H2H is just being ourselves and connecting sincerely with our hearts and the hearts of other people.

How? It is easier than you think. However, connecting Heart-to-Heart means parking your agenda and seeking to understand what is important to the heart you are connecting with. Making the other person feel special, appreciated and respected by working to truly understand what their challenges and needs are. Once that H2H feeling is created, you will then receive in return something incredibly special. Trust.

Once another ‘heart’ gives you their ‘trust,’ you will have a lasting bond with that heart that will outlive the cheap price of competitors.

It is now about H2H. B2B and B2C is dead. If you do not find a way to embrace Heart-to-Heart, you will lose employee engagement, customer loyalty and… you will only have cheap price as your competitive advantage. You choose.

Robert Murray is a Passionate Leader, Stark Raving People Apostle, Turn Around Mercenary and the author of the critically acclaimed book; “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing your innate leadership for business and life success.”   Robert’s new book; “Unlocked: Finding the key to practical leadership” is now available through all the regular channels.