An Often Missed Opportunity – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: January 26, 2019

Over the last decade or so, some of the leading companies in the world have made significant investments in employee wellness programs to support to their people making sustained improvements in wellbeing. It has been demonstrated numerous times in formal studies that employee wellbeing impacts productivity and engagement in the workplace and substantially impacts health and healthcare costs.

As senior executives and top talent look to build their leadership effectiveness, one important opportunity that is often missed is how leaders can strengthen routine communications in a way that positively impacts employee wellbeing and inspires teams to continue to deliver on the company’s purpose for existence.

Part of the success of some leading wellness programs in the workplace is the ability to acknowledge and integrate both the professional development (job skills) and the personal development (life coping skills) of individuals. As Gandhi famously said, “Life is one indivisible whole” so it is impossible to view someone in isolation as just a worker or just a parent, etc. Effective company wellness programs address the whole person.

The rhythm of most corporations enables senior executives to provide the customary communication updates on monthly or quarterly performance, annual goal setting, major change initiatives etc. to help keep the teams aligned and working effectively to achieve the company’s near and long-term goals. The most effective senior executives and top talent understand the reality that there is a need to consistently over-communicate to teams about plans, objectives, values of the organization, etc. in order to have industry leading execution.

The one important opportunity that is most often missed by senior executives to improve well-being and reinforce the traditional goals of the business is to take advantage of routine cultural milestones, celebrated national and international events, and real-time situations in the community. Effective communication around these occurrences can help senior executives to further inspire their teams, connect with individuals on a personal level, and gain greater alignment around the company’s objectives and mission. 

Here are a few examples of opportunities often missed to positively impact employee well-being and strengthen the engagement of individuals and teams towards the company’s mission:

  • National holidays like Labor Day, the 4th of July, President’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, etc. provide senior executives with a chance to reinforce the personal side of these celebrated national holidays along with how the company’s mission is aligned to the principles surrounding these events.
  • Various faith-based/religious holidays can be used as platforms to celebrate diversity of cultures and faiths along with how that aligns with the importance of a diverse workplace to succeed in delivering on the company’s mission.
  • Challenging situations in our culture and community also provide opportunities to reinforce the company’s values that not only translate to building a healthy business, but, if these values are lived out in other areas of life could help our communities and home life too. 
  • Many of these events are tied to company designated holidays or people are taking vacation days to be at home. An effective message around these events can enable a senior executive to reinforce the importance of life in the home and community which has been a proven effective component of employee wellness programs which acknowledge people are more than just someone who comes to work each day to give their best.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that employee wellness programs can provide support for people to build resilience to succeed in the workplace, the home front and the community. Senior executives have a significant opportunity in their routine communications to be more effective in positively impacting employee wellbeing and business execution by taken advantage of some of these traditionally “non-business” events to connect with teams and inspire them to reach their full potential. 

When senior executives take intentional action to improve employee wellbeing, they stand a good chance of earning the loyalty and commitment needed to build a long-term healthy business.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say?

Here are a few resources to help:

  1. Download FREE resources at
  2. Contact me. Email: (M) 269-370-9275

David Esposito

Group of businesspeople on a lecture. Mid adult businesswoman is giving a public speech.

Another Responsibility – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: January 19, 2019

Whether we are leading a large multi-national corporation, a local business, or an entrepreneurial start-up, of increasing importance in today’s marketplace is the responsibility that a business has in not just the “old school” parochial view of maximizing shareholder value but also in having a positive impact (or at least not doing harm) to the communities around them and the well-being of their employees and business partners.

Companies are placing a growing importance on accepting a larger civic responsibility to help improve the conditions of communities where they operate and the supply chain of partners that enable key operations of the business. This greater acknowledgement of the potential positive (or negative) impact that businesses can have on communities and disadvantaged groups is an important component to the long-term health and growth of a business.

Just as companies must play a broader civic role, senior executives have another responsibility that goes beyond the traditional job skill and leadership development programs.

Research highlights an alarming rate of over 50% of entrepreneurs reporting a mental health concern…which probably means the other half are not willing to admit it. The emotional toll on entrepreneurs, senior executives, and top talent leading on the forward edge of some of the most competitive, pressure-filled global markets in the history of business will continue to take its toll on their physical and mental health and their families.

The pressures of travel and life on the road to meet the increasing demands of customers, suppliers, and new growth opportunities continue at a rapid pace. It is not just rock-n-roll legends and movie stars that suffer traumatic outcomes from a life on the road. Often it is the entrepreneurs, senior executives, and top talent burning the proverbial “candle at both ends” who suffer traumatic outcomes in their personal lives that do not make the same headlines as movie stars. In addition, there are certainly very few academic researchers building the case for alarm bells to be sounding.

However, for all of us who have put forth considerable effort in building a business, we know all too well the significant challenge that comes with maintaining healthy relationships with those we care about most on the home front and maintaining our own mental and physical health. We may not have compiled the evidence with the formality of a PhD level academic, but the heartache that comes with conflict on the home front is often the most painful of all of life’s challenges. The missed family events, the wandering mind drifting back to the business while sitting at the dinner table (if we even sit at the dinner table anymore), and the potential for quiet time at home that is so easily taken away by an always-on smart phone tapping out a steady stream of business issues to address, eventually has families staring over the abyss of conflict and breakdown along with challenges to the mental and physical health of all involved.

Just as companies are stepping up their efforts to be more involved in civic activities and more cognizant of the positive impact they can have with a number of disadvantaged groups, there is another responsibility on the shoulders of senior executives to provide support and development for a more holistic approach to wellness which encompasses support for the physical and mental well-being of individuals and those they care about most, their families.

Here are a few ways that senior executives in some leading companies are providing meaningful and relevant support to their teams:

  • Encourage annual physicals and mental health assessments. A mental health assessment should be an integral part of the annual health assessment. Given the still present stigma around mental health, encouraging these assessments as part of a routine annual physical will help ensure they get completed without the embarrassment or shame that unfortunately still inhibits many of us from taking proactive steps with our mental health. (please reach out to an expert in this area if you want support for your teams. Dennis Gillan )
  • Recognize team members when making healthy choices around being present at significant outside of work events like family commitments, community events, charitable endeavors, etc. that help build a healthy, full, and purposeful life. Senior executives can play a major role in impacting these behaviors by not only encouraging them in their teams but most importantly, setting a great example themselves to make it easier for others to follow.
  • Offer educational events on important family topics like dealing with the impact of emerging technology on children, the pressures of college acceptance, making healthy transitions for school age children, caring for elderly parents, etc. These types of programs can help offer insight in areas where current society norms are to just let everyone figure it out for themselves. Given the amount of effort and focus employees are giving to their company assignments, many will be “winging it” in other areas of their lives that might create problems down the road.

People can endure a tremendous amount and keep bouncing back when there is alignment in the workplace, at home, and in their own personal journey for a purposeful life. Senior executives can play a significant role in creating an environment for healthy alignment.

When senior executives can show their teams that they are cared about and resourced beyond just delivering on business objectives, they stand a good chance of earning the loyalty and commitment needed to keep top talent and build a long-term healthy business.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say?

Here are a few resources to help:

  1. Download FREE resources at
  2. Contact me. Email: (M) 269-370-9275

David Esposito

Loud & Proud – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: January 12, 2019

Senior executive leaders have the distinct challenge of leading company strategy, ensuring excellent execution, and inspiring their teams to deliver on today’s challenges while making difficult decisions to meet the marketplace needs of the future. Effective executive leaders rely on a variety of inputs to support making key decisions. Given how our marketplace continues to grow in complexity, executive leaders need to ensure they have a series of well-informed inputs to make the most effective decisions.

In today’s traditional corporate operating environment, we can all envision the executive team meeting where debate, discussion, and then decisions are made. One of the critical guardrails that senior executives and the top talent on their teams need to put in place during these critical team reviews is to ensure the “loud and proud” don’t carry the discussion and the decision.

Quite often, there are time constraints, over-packed agendas, and data gaps that make these major strategic decisions even more complicated as executive teams come together to wrestle down key decisions for the business. The risk is high that the “loud and proud” carry the day in these discussions. The loudest voice in the room can quickly drive the team’s point of view and ultimately the decision.

Senior executives and the top talent on their teams need to maintain a level of discipline to ensure that all individuals present on their diverse teams have a voice at the table quickly and effectively to ensure they can be most informed in making these key decisions.

Here are a few ideas to help senior executives be more proactive and foster a full debate around key decisions for the company:

  • Understand the personalities: We can all appreciate the risk of the extroverts dominating the discussion and the introverts struggling to find an opening to share their thoughts. Leaders need to understand the personalities on their teams ensure all voices have a chance to be heard in the meeting. Many times, leaders should ask the “quiet ones” for their thoughts early in the meeting to ensure the “loud and proud” don’t steamroll the point of view too early in the meeting.
  • Appreciate the specialties: Leaders need to ensure that all unit leaders have a voice at the table. Quite often there are valuable insights from finance, manufacturing, operations, human resources, etc. that can many times get pushed to the side by a commercial team screaming about the importance of listening to customers. Addressing customer feedback is critical to the business, but leaders need to ensure the broader operational discipline is in place to ensure budgets can be met and key deliverables hit on time. Mismanaged cash flow and operational discipline can kill a business quickly just like not listening to customers. Leaders need to ensure all specialties have a voice in strategic decisions.    
  • Take a brief pause: We all want efficiency in decision making. Leaders need to establish an efficient cadence for receiving input and making decisions. When the debate is intense, the issues are complex, and the trade-offs are painful, it may be helpful for leaders to pause on a decision in the moment and take a 24-hour “sleep on it” reprieve for the team before making a final decision. It has been my experience that some helpful insight comes to individuals on the team when given the chance to unplug from the heat of the moment, marinate on the key issues overnight, and with a fresh pot of coffee the next day, a better, well-informed decision is made. Deadlines need to be hit, and the pause may not always be an option, but when the time is available, leaders may be better off by sleeping on it.    

Today’s senior executives and top talent set the tone for debate and discussion around key decisions for the business. Leaders need to ensure they have the organizational discipline and process in place to gain input from all relevant stakeholders to make well-informed decisions.  

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say?

Here are a few resources to help:

  1. Download FREE resources at
  2. Contact me. Email: (M) 269-370-9275

David Esposito

Angry manager talking to his team during a business meeting in a board room.

Moving Forward After A Mistake – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: January 5, 2019

We recently covered a few topics around difficult conversations with team members and some of the challenges of having a few “surprise” moments during performance discussions. The reality is for leaders, we don’t always make great decisions in these moments and we don’t always do things perfectly in the moment.

Let’s face it, if we have been leading people for more than a few days, we make mistakes. There are certainly times when we made a business decision that proved to be an ineffective choice financially or strategically for our group. However, in today’s writing I want to address when we make mistakes on the day to day personal interactions and meetings with our team.

Over time, little mistakes pile up into a string of behaviors which will soon become our team’s view of the culture of our leadership, so we need to maintain a level of discipline and intention about moving forward after a mistake on the personal and team level. These mistakes are much subtler than the catastrophic strategic business choices that are visible to everyone and below are just a few examples:

  • We simply spoke too much instead of listening and asking a few thoughtful questions. As a result, we could sense the person began to close down the discussion with an unresolved issue and we both moved on to the next pressing agenda item or meeting.
  • We made a comment while presenting a topic to a small group that either should not have been said or just was not received in the manner we intended. Whether it was a simple joke, a comment about an individual, or a situation in the business, in the moment, we could feel it did not go over well and most likely impacted the rest of our presentation.
  • We missed delivering on a follow-up item with an individual or group. Most people realize mistakes get made, but missing some specific, agreed upon follow-up, even if it was a “small” one, can become a real challenge to our leadership effectiveness over time.

Since none of us are perfect, here are a few ideas to help us move forward after we make a mistake:

  1. These day to day mistakes seem often minor in the grand scheme of things, so our first step is to continue to work on our self-awareness and emotional intelligence to better feel and sense the times when we were not effective in the moment. As leaders we may have multiple priorities bouncing around in our head, but we need to stay attune to the rhythm and emotions of others, in the moment, to be most aware of these types of mistakes.
  2. Put it on the table. Making a simple, direct acknowledgment of the mistake will go a long way. “I did not handle this well.” “I could tell I made a mistake as soon as we left the meeting.” “I dropped the ball on that one.”
  3. Ask those directly impacted for their thoughts and impressions to confirm or clarify what we felt was a mistake. “I felt my behavior did not foster the open discussion I intended, is that how you saw things?” “It seemed like my one comment about our sales shortfall, derailed the rest of the meeting, did you sense that?” 
  4. Genuinely acknowledging our mistake and commit to learn, grow, and adjust our behavior to be a better leader as a result will set an example for others to follow and will help our leadership effectiveness over time.   

Today’s senior executives and top talent set the tone for transparency, genuine humility in acknowledging mistakes and can provide a steady example of modifying behaviors when we go off course to help build an organization that continues to learn and grow. Organizations that thrive on learning and growing will be the most likely to succeed in the increasingly intense, uncertain, and complex global marketplace.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say?

Here are a few resources to help:

  1. Download FREE resources at
  2. Contact me. Email: (M) 269-370-9275

David Esposito

Shot of two young businesswomen talking to each other while being seated in the office at work