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We’re counting down until Thursday, January 24th!

CEO’s, Presidents and Senior Executives of small and medium-size businesses are invited to attend The Future Proof Leadership Retreat!

The connection between employee engagement and client loyalty will be revealed!

You will design a sustainable strategy that will support your company’s growth and culture with practical, powerful knowledge that you can use right away.

These strategies will increase your employee engagement & create an amazing work environment that everyone looks forward to going to…

This event brings together senior executives like you. The design of the retreat is interactive, experiential and collaborative promising a rich experience of relationship building and peer learning.

Who should attend?
You should attend if you are a business owner or senior executive of a small or medium size company with 10 or more employees. (If this doesn’t describe you, then you won’t benefit from our day together)
 To RSVP,  please click here.
(This retreat will take place at The Auberge Willow Inn in beautiful Hudson, Quebec.)

It is an honour to introduce you to our guest experts who will be leading table discussions:

Lianne Bridges, MBA Designing Transformation

Working with purpose is the alchemy for engagement

Lianne believes that when we are connected to our Purpose, we harness the power to transform worlds, starting with our own. She helps people transform their lives through meaningful work by offering strategic career, business and leadership guidance. Her proprietary programs, creative writing and inspiring speaking/videos help social entrepreneurs and change leaders make a difference doing what they love and aligning with their highest purpose and potential.
Lianne Bridges received a classical business training at Canada’s prestigious schools: University of Western Ontario (BA) and the Rotman School of Management (MBA). For the first fifteen years of her career, she worked in the corporate world serving multi-nationals like Unilever, Nabisco and United Technologies, including the global not-for-profit organization – Plan International. For almost twenty years, Lianne has been an entrepreneur — starting and leading a variety of highly successful ventures.
In 2009, when her husband died of cancer, she was left alone to raise her two small children. This crisis was a catalyst for her to redesign her life and work. She wanted the freedom to look after her children and do work she loves, while making a difference in the world. She began by drawing on her business experience of helping organizations define their long term vision and strategy. Lianne adapted this process by incorporating the world’s wisdom and consciousness traditions that she was using to transform her own life. In so doing, she developed a process to help individuals, leaders, and entrepreneurs lead with purpose. The result is a marked improvement in their impact, performance and prosperity.
Please read Lianne’s article below:

I’ve been passionate about this topic for most of my life. When my husband died, nine years ago, I became fanatically focused on discovering my own Purpose. I traveled the world, immersing myself in the study of Purpose. I learned about the transforming power of Purpose and the detrimental effects of a lack of Purpose on both individuals and society at large.Since the beginning of time, man has likely contemplated the meaning of life. The ancient religions and philosophies have tried to provide answers. In our multi-tasking, social-media saturated, information-overloaded world, we rarely take time to contemplate our Purpose. And yet the Japanese believe that the journey of uncovering one’s Ikigai (Purpose) is an important endeavor that brings great satisfaction and meaning to life. Current research is supporting this belief.

What is Purpose?

One of my favorite descriptions is by Frederick Beuchner, “Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs”. I also love author, Lynda Howe’s definition, “The Purpose of life is to experience and express the infinite love within in joyful service”.

On a practical level, Purpose can be anything we do to help transform lives for the better and/or contribute to the greater good in our own unique way. Some examples include: producing goods/ services that improve the lives of users, providing jobs and enhancing workers’ quality of life, developing a strong network of suppliers and business partners, or ensuring financial viability, which provides resources for improvements, innovations, and returns to investors.

Purpose is good for You

Growing research is revealing the many benefits of Purpose. According to a study done at Carlton University, having a Purpose in life is an indicator of healthy aging and longevity, no matter what time you find Purpose.

Author, Dan Buettner, discovered that Purpose was one of the top secrets to longevity of people in Blue Zones – places in the world where people live to 100 and stay healthy.

In Viktor Frankl’s ground-breaking book, Man’s search for Meaning, he revealed the leading indicator of resilience, based on his study of Holocaust survivors, to be a sense of Purpose.

Purpose is good for Organizations

Not only is Purpose good for the individual, but it’s also important indicator of success for teams, communities and organizations. Author, Daniel H. Pink’s, reveals in his book, Drive that having Purpose is one of the three key employee motivators, along with mastery and autonomy.

Working with organizations of all shapes and sizes, I’ve seen that those with a clear Purpose had stronger brands, connected more deeply with their clients and employees, and outperformed their competitors.

My own experience is supported by a growing body of research. Organizations that harness their Purpose see significant, measurable results. They get and keep the best employees (1.4 times more engaged, 3 times more likely to stay)(1). They attract, engage and retain more customers (2). Purpose-led companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 10 times between 1996 and 2011 (3). Also, Purpose-oriented employees are good for brands. They are 47% higher net promoters of brands (4).

“Rather than viewing organizational processes as ways of extracting more economic value, great companies create frameworks that use societal value and human values as decision-making criteria.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter (5)

The purpose is the Next Stage of Growth in the Economy

Authors, Aaron Hurst (The Purpose Economy), and Daniel H. Pink (A Whole New Mind), both forecasted Purpose to be the next great driver of our economy. The market for lifestyle of health and sustainability (LOHAS) has doubled to $600 billion in five years, covering products and services focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living and social justice.

If Purpose is where the economy is heading, and living our Purpose makes us happier, healthier, live longer, and is better for the organization in terms of brand advocacy, lower turnover and higher engagement, why are so few people and organizations embracing Purpose as a key driver for their success (only 28% of US workforce is Purpose-oriented (6))?

The Main reasons we’re NOT more Purpose-oriented include:

  • People don’t yet truly understand the value of Purpose in their lives, careers and businesses.
  • Individuals don’t know how to define their own Purpose.
  • Leaders don’t know how to define Purpose for their organizations.
  • Leaders don’t know how to incorporate Purpose into the strategy and business processes of the organizations.
  • Leaders don’t know how to connect organizational Purpose with employee Purpose.

Over the years of doing work in this area, I have discovered that whether we want to embody Purpose in our lives or organizations, the process is very similar. There are five key phases that include: Initiation, Alignment, Discovery, Envision, Mastery.

In the Initiation phase, we begin to imagine the improvement to our lives, communities and society. We learn the steps involved and become committed to making the change required to discover and step into Purpose.

In the Alignment phase, we acquire tools to help us to deepen our self-knowledge (whether individual or organizational) and begin clearing the elements that no longer serve our Purpose. Once that is done, we step into the Discovery phase where we take a 360-degree view of ourselves and environment/market to get a better understanding of our greatest strengths and ways that we uniquely serve our community to make a lasting impact. In other words, we begin to uncover our Purpose.

In the Envision phase, we define our vision, mission and approach, identifying the gap between ‘As Is’ and ‘To Be’ and then chart a path to manifest our Purpose. The last phase of the process is Mastery. This is where we cultivate the characteristics, skills, systems, and resources that will support our success in becoming an effective leader in our lives, work, teams and market. As we begin to actually manifest our Purpose, we learn what works for us and what doesn’t. Observing this, we Initiate a new process of transformation and the cycle begins again.

These five phases include ten steps – 2 steps per phase (see diagram above). Combined, they are part of my propriety process called the Designing Transformation Method. I incorporate this method into all the work that I do with individuals, leaders and business owners to help them align with their Purpose, and achieve greatest potential.

If you would like to learn more, please visit my website. Also, I’m launching a new program in January, 2019 (Ignite Your Life) that provides an introduction to Designing Transformation Method. I will also be leading a discussion on the Alchemy of Purpose at the Future Proof Leadership Retreat on January 24th, 2019 in the Montreal area.

Sources: 1: The Energy Project, What Is Your Quality of Life at Work, 2013.
2: Edelman, The good purpose study, 2013.
3: Raj Sisodia, Firms of Endearment, 2007.
4: 2015 Workforce Purpose Index (imerative.com).
5: Harvard Business Review, Nov 2011.
6: 2015 Workforce Purpose Index (imerative.com).

You can reach me at Lianne@DesigningTransformation.com

Helena Hlavenkova, MA Strategy and performance

Engaging employees, empowering leaders, delivering results.

Helena is the founder and principal consultant at OD&HR Base.

Along with her Master’s degree in Psychology, she brings in 20 years of experience in the field of human resources and organizational development. Fortunate to have been exposed to the best in class practices under some exceptional leaders in companies such as Unilever and Verizon during the first half of her career, she has successfully established her own consulting practice and is now helping leaders in small and medium-size organizations with organizational development, leadership development, and human resources management.

She has also recognized that coaching is a vital part of all improvement initiatives, therefore she obtained her coaching certification from Erickson College and is now coaching numerous leaders in both, public and private sectors.

Helena is extremely passionate about her work, driven and results-oriented, always striving to understand her clients’ reality in order to deliver the best and most effective solutions.

Helena has experience with various industries including telecommunications, information technology, education, transportation, logistics, government and also working with Indigenous communities in Canada.

Please read Helena’s article below:

“If you focus on results, you’ll never change. If you focus on change, you’ll get results.” – Jack Dixon

The other day I ended a leadership related training session with this quote and a personal example so fitting that I decided to share it with you as well.

About a year ago, I wrote an article on the power of commitment in goal setting. I used the very same personal example I’ll use today: my running.

It has been my goal to run 50km each month for the past two years. In my article a year ago, I described how I came under every month until I committed publicly to run those 50km. I did it that month, because of that extra accountability piece. I did it in October. And then again I didn’t in November, December or January. I wrote in that article (quote): Interestingly, my pattern of working toward something hasn’t changed, even when the goal was set. But the outcome has changed.

Little did I know that the outcome has changed for one month only. I haven’t achieved lasting change. The reason why I haven’t achieved lasting change is because I was completely focused on the result. I did have extra motivation and accountability in that commitment piece, but it still brought out my typical behaviors and patterns and later I couldn’t replicate the result.

It was only once I decided to focus on change that the results followed consistently. I set out to run 5km every second day. I made a point to concentrate on just that, nothing else. No counting was necessary. I had to be up early every second day and go for that run. It was a lot harder than focusing on the result. I couldn’t procrastinate anymore. It meant I had to change my pattern, my habits, I had to get out of my comfort zone and run even when I didn’t feel like it. I totally focused on the process, on the change. And trust me, more than once I almost quit, because it was really hard. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t what running was supposed to be for me. I was resisting it, hating it at times. Only the vision and focus on those small steps kept me going.

And I have changed that pattern! I have achieved lasting change. For the past six months, I consistently ran over 60km each month without necessarily reminding myself of the goal. I have different habits now, so it’s part of who I am and what I do. The process was painful, yes, change is a painful process, but it was the only way to achieve what I wanted.

If you want to change something, focusing on results simply doesn’t work. It may produce one-time results, but you won’t change. Focusing on the very process of change works. Concentrating on the next small step works. Most importantly, changing the very behaviors and habits that keep you in that comfortable safe place works.

Sharon Cohen, NHC Emotional and mental wellbeing

Build a culture without burnout

“I am a global leadership innovator specializing in leadership & team excellence. I am also an award-winning author and performance improvement professional.

“For 20 years, I have helped organizations design, develop, deliver & evaluate interventions that boost employee & management performance, enhance the customer experience, & impact organizational effectiveness.”

Please be sure to read Sonia’s article below:

Experience more fullness of heart through awareness of ego and gratitude!

Did you know that the ego is a necessary part of life?

The problems arise when ego thinks it is the soul. In many spiritual teachings you hear about getting rid of our ego, squashing it, killing it off or just ignoring it. Guess what? We will not get rid of it nor do we want to. It is part of who we are. It gets us up, dressed and off to participate in our commitments of the day. What is needed for greater freedom is to engage in ourself with an ego and get to know it’s movement intimately. We all have different flavours of self-focus; how we want ourself, others and our environment to be; what attributes we think we have or don’t have. We all strive for our idea of perfection and all have motives. We would not be in action about anything if we did not have a motive. Our motive is based on some type of perceived perfection which ultimately causes us stress. We are trying to be superhuman whenever we strive for what is outside the human reach and capacity, Many of us have a hard time distinguishing between being Mom/Supermom, wife/Super wife, accountant/Super accountant, coach/Super coach, teacher/Super teacher.

Are you beginning to get the message? We think if we are not Super something then we should sit on our couch and rot or something like that. What about being an appreciator of the universe? Is this not enough? Is it too passive? If we truly appreciated our gifts we would spend our time and energy developing them. Do you know your greatest gifts? If you are not sure of your gifts and talents, this is a great time to be quiet within yourself and get in touch with them or ask a friend. They will usually, easily see them. Also ask yourself what comes easy to you?

Focusing on developing your talents in deep gratitude and appreciation of what can blossom is very different than striving. Appreciating is being totally engaged. There is no goal to strive for. We are participating in the unfolding and allowing for what wants to move through us. For years we have been focused on goal setting in our male energy dominated world. When we get into appreciating, we may find ourselves after awhile back in striving and setting goals. The ego wants to own the souls gifts and be recognized for them. The ego wants to shine… It creates a false light which blinds us from our natural, transparent light of the soul. Are we working hard to be seen and acknowledged to be or being organically transparent?

To alleviate suffering, focus on what gifts you were born with rather than your idea of perfection that comes from your upbringing, socializing, beliefs, etc. The ego is always seeking to identify itself with something and maintain a specific idea of itself as a stagnant one, rather than a flexible being of light open to all possibilities. Notice the roles that you are living as parent, daughter, teacher, saviour, helper and free yourself from your identification from your roles. Ask yourself, what you are attached to being; the responsible one, problem solver, courageous one, all-knowing one, one who has it all together? These perceived roles get in the way of evolving, growing and responding to life. In your stagnation and inability to grow you may find yourself getting sick. With awareness you continue to notice yourself and possibly choose living these roles less and less and let go of judgement when you are. Be curious with yourself in relation to the roles you are attached to and your striving.

Awareness occurs naturally! We move from awareness to being self-conscious. Without awareness of our ego movements we may live super confidently as a certain President does at this time. He shows us our striving for money and power! As soon as awareness happens, it crushes our self-esteem and self-confidence. We think, maybe I am not as smart as I thought I was being. Awareness may bring us to a place of being uncomfortable at times. We do everything to not feel that way. When we become aware of the self in action we may feel embarrassed, avoid or justify what we became aware of. We think that everyone and everything should be perfect at all times. If all is not flowing in your life, you may feel that you are to blame or someone else is. To have high self-esteem and self-confidence all the time is to be unaware. Accept that at times you feel embarrassed, ashamed, victimized, want to hide or run, blind to imperfections or aware of them, embarrassed about them or making others feel bad. If you can accept all of this, it is true freedom! We do not have a choice as the role of the ego is to keep the organism safe. If it perceives itself a certain way it will want to keep that safe. If you have invested 30 years in a marriage or getting many degrees and that is threatened in some way how do you feel? Or if someone says you are a bad mother? Yikes!! With all I have invested in my children and their wellbeing. Are you feeling defensive? As humans this is what we all do.

Bring awareness in and surrender to it and accept that you go into reactions and become judgemental. In acceptance of this you can laugh more at yourself. True joy is knowing this and that we are always caught in it. Each one of us has different amounts of courage at different times. If one minute you justify, the next you could be blaming, and the next moment feeling like a loser or on top of the world then you are healthy. Health is the ability to adapt to different situations with different strategies. Once we see how quickly we can move through these states we can take ourselves less seriously and live more connected to ourselves, each other and all that is. Know that It is a conditioned pattern that is global to us all and that we have the choice to lighten up and allow humour to take the stage!

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The Future Proof Leadership Retreat is like a spa day for your business!

With a breathtaking waterfront location along the Lake of Two Mountains, The Auberge Willow Inn is the ideal retreat location.

We know that taking a day away from your business is a big commitment of your precious time so our agenda promises to deliver a fun, high impact day balanced with health breaks so you can check in on other priorities without the stress of having to worry about what is going on in your absence.

Take a look at our agenda:

8:00 AM – Enjoy a light breakfast with your morning coffee and start networking to get to know the other delegates.

8:30 AM – Culture by Design, Not Default

Is your culture the right fit for your strategy? Labour shortages and low employee engagement are causing business leaders to think of new ways to ensure that their companies continue to grow and prosper. We start the day by looking at culture-strategy fit so that you get great insights into how to future proof your strategy.

This highly interactive morning will dive deep into building a culture that will make you stand out as an employer of choice so that you will attract top talent during the current labour shortage. Retention is critical so you will discover how to lead so that your employees are happy to work for you. The ultimate goal is to lead an engaged and productive workforce that can achieve company goals and delight your clients.

This morning, you will gain knowledge, interact, collaborate and brainstorm to find answers to the questions that keep you up at night and create solutions that are right for you.

Noon – Gourmet Pub lunch is included

1:30 PM – Meet the masters in our World Cafe

Based on the insights and ah-ha moments of this morning, up next is your opportunity go deeper and think through how you will bring these new ideas to life.

Join conversations led by our subject matter experts. The afternoon is organized so that you will have the opportunity to join 3 conversations of your choice. Our experts are there to answer your questions and give you advice. Together with your peers, the guided conversation will provide a rare and powerful opportunity to brainstorm ideas, share solutions and gain rapid access to multiple perspectives. Meet the masters and learn more about their topic of discussion at www.CorryRobertson.Com/Retreats. Also, keep your eye open for our newsletters where I will introduce them one by one and will share more about them and their expertise.

5:00 PM – Cocktail hour (one drink and canapés included). This casual hour offers a lovely break to relax, socialize and enjoy the cozy setting.

6:00 PM – Gourmet Dinner

Never a dull moment, our masters will host tables and lead discussions based on the themes of the day.

Every great retreat needs great food!

I sat down with manager Julie Leadbeater and Chef Jamie Crockart to customize an exceptional culinary experience that will delight you and fuel you from morning to night! The dinner menu is below to give you a peek at what you will enjoy.

This menu is delicious, however, if you have dietary requirements, please let us know and we will make special arrangements for you.


Polenta Cheese Cake


House Charcuterie

Main Courses

Roasted Cod
Served with sour cream dill potato purée, seasonal vegetables, creamy white wine herb sauce


Braised Short Rib
Served with potato pavé, root vegetable purée, seasonal vegetables and bacon, bourbon, pepper sauce


Vegetable Croquettes
Served with root vegetable purée, seasonal vegetables, young greens garnish


Apple Financier Cake

Coffee or Tea

The Guest Rooms

For those who want to stay overnight before or after, the Auberge Willow Inn has 10 newly renovated bedrooms available for rent featuring lakeside views and fresh country air, our contemporary country charm will leave you feeling relaxed and renewed.

Get cozy under the 100% cotton sateen sheets, and puffy duvets. Each room is outfitted with Bluetooth speakers, USB charging ports, flat screen TVs and in-room temperature control. Be sure to enjoy the bathrobes and the Oneka Elements bath and body products that were created using certified organic and wild harvested herbal extracts.

Please contact the Auberge Willow Inn directly to make your arrangements: 450-458-7006

208 Rue Main
Hudson, Québec
J0P 1H0

I hope you can join us for what promises to be a spectacular day!

To purchase your ticket now, just click here. Early bird prices are available until November 15, 2018. You won’t believe your eyes when you see the early bird price and yes, the food for the entire day is included in that price!

Thank you to our sponsor:

Visit www.CorryRobertson.Com/Retreats to see all of our sponsors. I would love to share a sponsorship opportunity with you so contact me directly to discuss the options. 514-220-2832

See you there!


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Why do you need to think about Future Proof Leadership?

According to Gallup, 84% of Canadian workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged.

The Business Development Bank of Canada is warning that Canada is experiencing a labour shortage that will likely last a decade.

Companies that can’t attract a workforce or engage employees will face stagnation or demise.

Leaders need to know how to build a workplace culture that will set their companies apart as an employer of choice. This report will reveal how.

Part 1: Employee Engagement Not an Issue for You? Think again.

“What is your focus for today’s call?” I asked David my client of several weeks. David is an employee in the accounting department of a printing company employing almost 200 people. I was hired to coach several members of this organization, some of whom were HIPOs which is short for high potential employees. Then there were the employees like David. David was in the group that was on individual performance improvement plans.

To my opening question, he responded: “I don’t know. I haven’t given it any thought. Sorry.” The ‘sorry’ did not sound apologetic at all, but dismissive.

“What would make this conversation a really productive use of your time?” I asked

“I don’t know. What would you suggest?” David replied as though lobbing the ball back into my court.

Not a coach to allow my clients to get me to do their work for them I reminded David that: “A coaching conversation isn’t about me telling you what you should focus on. My job is to help you figure out where you want to go and how you want to get there.” Then I tried again “If you could walk away with one golden nugget to make this a productive call for you, what would that look like to you?”

“I really don’t know.” David’s short tone and lack of energy said more than his actual words.

Giving an inch I asked: “How does this sound? Would it be helpful if you talk me through how you are doing with a goal from your performance plan?” There was a long silence on the line as I gave David the time he needed to gather his thoughts and formulate his response.

“This conversation is confidential right?” his voice was slow and heavy.

“Yes it is.” I assured.

“I am just not interested in coming in here every day and be expected to work my butt off so Mr. Big Boss Man up there can get rich. Why should he pull up in a Lexus when I drive a beat up old Ford? Sorry but it makes me feel sick. I come in at 9 to do my job until 5, get paid and go home. No more. No less. That’s it, that’s all. You may think I’m a jerk but that’s just how I am. Sorry.”

This conversation, fictionalized enough to maintain the privacy of all involved, is important because it demonstrates the symptoms known as ‘quit but stayed’. David is a chronic under-performer who, while physically present at work, is contributing the bare minimum of effort to avoid being let go. He is disengaged and he is not a rare breed in Canada. Actually, he is just like most Canadian employees.

If you are thinking “if any of my employees are like David, then I am happy to show them the door” you are not alone. I have heard that opinion from many business owners. Letting employees go with the expectation that someone better will fill their seat is no longer realistic.

The Business Development Bank of Canada is advising that “Canada’s small and mid-sized companies find ways to adapt to a “new normal” of worker shortages that will likely persist for a decade” Pierre Cleroux, Chief Economist for the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Mr. Cleroux says that “A lot of people think this is only temporary, unfortunately this is not the case and it’s important to understand that, because they have to change the way they manage their human resources.”

And he urges a new mindset for company leaders:

“If you think this is temporary, you will take temporary measures — which is the wrong way to approach this issue.”

Letting the under-performers go is a temporary measure that will lead to long-term consequences. Every business depends on recruiting and retaining top talent if it’s going to thrive and grow because no matter how great the product or service is, if the company does not have the workforce it needs to fill orders, serve clients, and sustain growth the great company will stagnate, whither or worse.

Building a culture that leads to employee engagement is a long-term solution. You may think that employees like David are few and far between at your company. If that is so, you would be one of the rare employers in Canada with a well-engaged workforce.

Through its research, Gallup confirms that workers like David are the norm and not the exception.

Gallup found that 87 percent of workers worldwide are either not engaged or actively disengaged (70 percent in the US, 83 percent in the U.K. and 84 percent in Canada).

Engagement is the result companies achieve when they stimulate employee’s enthusiasm for their work and direct it towards organizational success. (The Hay Group)

There are three zones of engagement that leaders must be able to identify:

  • Engaged employees feel connected to their work, colleagues, and the company’s leaders. Their energy is positive and inspires everyone in their wake. The engaged do everything in their power to propel the organization towards growth and success. They are your HIPO’s.
  • Disengaged employees have ‘quit and stayed.’ They put in the time, but no discretionary effort, energy or enthusiasm. They do the minimum they need to do to avoid being let go, but nothing more. This level of disengagement can be hard to spot because these employees are like sleepwalkers who appear to be awake but their spirits are sound asleep. Managers can’t call them out on bad behaviour because they are not overtly breaking rules or screwing up.
  • Actively disengaged employees are chronically unhappy and frustrated at work. We say ‘actively’ disengaged because they are active in negative ways. These are the ones who undermine, intentionally or not, the progress of others and drag down the entire workplace atmosphere to their level. It becomes easy for others who are disengaged to be negatively influenced by these folks, and difficult for the engaged workers to constantly compensate for their underperformance and toxic energy. The damage they do to an organization is more insidious because you can’t really put your finger on the problem or its source so it is hard to correct. Like an invisible, odorless toxic substance that slowly seeps its way into the from person to person, rendering themselves and those around them to be burdens to the organization. They do as much damage as would a flu epidemic that sent everyone home to bed for an indefinite period of time.

I have never met a business owner who did not expect employees to be engaged, who was not baffled by the attitude of the disengaged and resentful of the actively disengaged. My vantage point as the coach allows me to see that the boss blames the disengaged and the disengaged, like David, blame the boss.

Where does the journey to improved employee engagement begin? The first step is to ask yourself some powerful questions:

-How many of my employees are driving my company forward?”

-How many are a stagnant force?

-How many are harming my business through active disengagement?”

-What am I going to do to correct this situation?

Part 2: Why Work Is Not Working

As discussed in part 1, Canadian employers are facing a labour shortage and Gallup found that 87 percent of workers worldwide are either not engaged or actively disengaged (70 percent in the US, 83 percent in the U.K. and 84 percent in Canada).

The good news is that improving the employee engagement statistics at your company will not involve money. Really. Put your cheque book away because raises, bonuses, privileges and material incentives will not improve employee engagement.

This solution will however require that you do some soul searching, some communicating and maybe even make some personal and organizational changes. One major reason why work is not working is because many of those disengaged Canadians could lack a sense of purpose.

Like Aaron Hurst said, The Purpose Economy, you will not find your purpose by meditating on a mountain top!

Your purpose is the reason why you do something yet many have bought into the belief that ‘purpose’ means a quest to satisfy an insatiable hunger for money and status. Common logic dictates that workers are intrinsically driven to achieve a high level of income and status that, once achieved make them feel successful. Then, that feeling of success will fuel higher and higher levels of engagement. In service to this notion, employers have generously allocated massive incentives that include raises, bonus, prizes, gorgeous offices, expensive privileges and promotions that come with impressive titles. Most employers have noticed that the positive effect that these have on engagement is short lived. Rewarding with money and status actually buys into the perpetual downward spiral of disengagement, underperformance or worse, and even failing companies.

To quiet the demands for more money, better benefits or improved working conditions you must deliver on the following requirements:

  • Fair pay and reasonable benefits according to industry and geographical standards.
  • Fair, safe and reasonably comfortable working conditions that respect the physical, emotional and mental health of the entire workforce.

Once the employees know that those criteria are securely in place, the demands for more money and better conditions come off the table but these do not establish a sense of purpose and they do not ignite engagement.

If money and status don’t ignite a sense of purpose, what does?

  • To feel a positive sense of connection to each other throughout the ranks.
  • To know their work contributes to the goals or the organization.
  • To be a part of the greater good that their company is in service to.
  • To feel challenged, to be learning, to be growing, to be getting better, smarter, and/or stronger.

In turn, this satisfied sense of purpose leads to engagement which leads to business success which leads to money and status.  The exquisite beauty of this concept is that there are no losers. Everyone benefits which means compound gain for employees and employers alike!

Leaders, lead the way!

Is it worth it to you to embark on the journey of igniting engagement or should you accept the principle that most of the success of your company is driven by a mere handful of people? Other research reported from Gallup may help you decide.  Organizations with high employee engagement experience:

  • 48 percent fewer staff safety incidents
  • 37 percent lower absenteeism
  • 28 percent less theft (employees stealing from the company)
  • 25 percent to 65 percent lower turnover
  • 22 percent higher profitability
  • 21 percent higher productivity
  • 10 percent higher customer engagement

The benefits of high engagement have been reported for several years. For example, research published by Blessing White in 2011 revealed that high engagement companies had total shareholder returns that were 19% higher than average while the low engagement firms fell 44% below average. That is a difference of 63%. (The 2011 Employee Engagement Report published by Blessing White Inc., Princeton NJ)

Business leaders can sometimes overlook the possibility that the level of employee engagement reflects their own and that employees already have that sense of purpose as outlined above.

Here are some executive coaching questions to help you figure out whether or not they do.

Level One

  • Why does your company exist?
  • What need does the company serve in society?
  • What kind of a workforce do you need to achieve your company’s purpose?
  • Does every member of your workforce understand why their job is important?

Level Two

  • Do you know how the members of your workforce would answer those questions?
  • Are their responses in alignment with yours?

Level Three

  • Who do you need to be as a person to lead that workforce?
  • What attitudes, behaviours and words do you need to use to be that leader?
Part 3: The Hornet Nest and Change Leadership

As with all of the stories that I share, I fictionalize them enough to conceal the identities of the companies, leaders and their employees. Here is one of those stories.

Jack described his not-for-profit organization to me with pride. He had been at that branch for a year and had come to know the employees as well educated, dedicated people. Despite this, a debilitating problem undermined the workplace. The employees could not do their jobs effectively and so their cause was negatively affected.

“Corry, there are days when there are so many complaints coming through my office that I swear, I don’t get any work done!” Jack said, then he went on, parroting some common things he hears “Jack! You have to do something about her! I can’t work like this!” and “Jack, got a minute? I have to talk to you about what he just said to me!” His voice revealing that after only a year in his role, he was totally fed up.

Jack’s assessment was that many years of misunderstandings, day to day conflict, and personality clashes had accumulated to the point where people disliked and distrusted each other so much that they now refused to collaborate, even with their own team members.

This is how the hornet nest grows.

Those familiar with the terrain develop a subconscious knowledge of where the danger lurks. It’s not always something that can directly be pointed out, just an instinct for whom to avoid, where to tread lightly. There’s an ever-present hum to which many have turned a deaf ear. The constant buzzing is ignored with the hope that it will eventually go away on its own. Yet the nest grows, it is always ready to swarm and always does when it is disturbed.

Jack and I designed a series of coaching workshops to bring everyone together on a regular basis so that they could co-create a better culture of their own making.

From the beginning of the mandate resistance was strong, especially from the most frequent complainers. I fielded complaints from the participants about the ice breaker activities, the dialogue exercises, and the workshop format.

“I’m sorry Corry” Jack said to me the morning after the third workshop and yet another round of complaints from the usual suspects. “I have to pull the plug on this project. I can’t force them to participate and they are refusing to come back. If I don’t have all of them in the room, then it defeats the purpose of co-creating a better culture.” He looked at me, his anger and frustration now at a tipping point “but believe me, no more Mr. Nice Guy. I tried the nice way and it didn’t work. Now I lay down the law and they are not going to like it. They are going to grow up or get out.”

As the weeks have passed after that conversation, I reflected on the program to figure out if we could have done things differently to complete the project with the desired outcome.

What I came to understand was that their nest was threatened. Jack and I were asking people to take part in building something better which meant they had to let go of a past that they were passionate about despising. They would have had to let go of hurts and angers that had become a part of their very identity. By letting go of their way of being, they in some way, were betraying something that was true for them.

One of the hardest things for change leaders like Jack is to endure what inevitably feels like being attacked by a storm of angry and unrelenting hornets whose nest is being attacked. Here are a few paradoxical truths that change leaders must be aware of.

  • People want to be heard, but not feel vulnerable.
  • People want their situation to improve, but they resist change.
  • People want help, but can feel threatened by it.
  • People want to be understood, but don’t always trust others with their truth.
  • People will listen, but often only hear what they already believe.
  • People can fight so hard to resist change that they harm themselves in the process.

I commend Jack and all the leaders like him who take on the nest. I honour the people who are suffering but afraid to change. Leaders must approach change with confidence and purpose, undaunted by the fear of upsetting the hornet nest. They must stay the course until the inevitable fury has calmed, which it will.

Part 4: The Path to Performance and the Case for Coaching Culture

Have you ever met a business leader who did not want their company to achieve its full potential? One thing that most companies have in common is that leaders want to maximize performance. Another thing that many companies share is low employee engagement.

The Problem

Already presented in this series, these stats are worthy of repetition. There is a labour shortage in Canada which demands that leaders do more to attract and retain talent. Through its research, Gallup found that 87 percent of workers worldwide and 84 percent of employees in Canada (70 percent in the US, 83 percent in the U.K.) are either not engaged or actively disengaged. That means only 16 percent of Canadian workers are driving their organizations forward.

Why is there such a ravine between what leaders are trying to achieve and how the workforce is responding?

First things first, salaries and benefits must be fair and work conditions must be safe and conducive to productivity. Once those two things are indisputable facts at your company, then you move on to engagement.

Part of that lack of engagement is due to poor leadership. You may have heard the saying that people don’t leave their companies or even their jobs. They leave their managers. It is important to realize that most people disengage from their work long before they leave the company.

• Up to 40% of a company’s performance is negatively impacted by a poor leader.
• Poor leadership can cost 7% of annual revenue.
• That’s over a million dollars a year..

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I am thrilled to announce that the next executive suite summit will take place on Thursday, January 24!

This retreat will provide business leaders with amazing knowledge and insights on powerful business growth strategies which may surprise you. Join us to find out the power of Future Proof Leadership.

Why is this retreat important now?

According to Gallup, 84% of Canadian workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged.

The Business Development Bank of Canada is warning that Canada is experiencing a labour shortage that will likely last a decade.

Companies that can’t attract a workforce or engage employees will face stagnation or demise.

Leaders need to know how to build a workplace culture that will set their companies apart as an employer of choice.

Thursday, January 24, 2019 | The Auberge Willow Inn | Hudson, Quebec


What is the future culture required to fulfill your organization’s purpose, execute your strategy and achieve your goals?

In an ever-changing world, the culture of today may not be what is needed for success in the future.

New ways of working are required and these ways will challenge existing belief systems as to the way to do things. This will require culture change to be successful.

Ultimately, you have a choice…allow your culture to exist by default, or design a culture with a purpose; to accelerate the execution of strategy and achievement of goals.

This event has the power to set your entire business on a new and exciting course.

Join us at the Willow Place Inn, Hudson Quebec, to gain insights that will make an immediate BIG impact on your workforce productivity, while simultaneously building a culture and community that is something most business owners and employees only dream of.

Visit our website for more details and watch out for coming news from me where I will share more about the great venue, the amazing food, the high impact agenda and the experts who will be onsite to give you advice, answer your questions and lead great conversations.

Interested in attending? Buy your ticket here.

Thank you to our sponsor:

If you would like a sponsorship opportunity for your company,

please contact me at corry@corryrobertson.com

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Abdulrhman Al-Bahar – aalbahar@kfshrc.edu.sa

Saudi Arabia is undergoing massive culture transformation and so too are the workplaces. This year I had the opportunity to visit 3 times to teach my coach training program to a group of leaders. During my time there, I had the privilege of getting to know my participants and the culture of the land which I can honestly say, made me a better person.  The article below was written by Abdulrhman Al-Bahar of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and published in the company magazine called Sanscrit. You will see me in the front row of the group picture with a smile from ear to ear. I love what I do and the people I work with. Coaching: Making The Positive Change in The Organization

by Abdulrhman Al-Bahar

Last March I attended the initial session of a coaching program held at KFSH&RC by the Staff Development Department under Training & Development Division. Prior to the first day of the course I was asked to sign an acknowledgment letter stating that I would be fully committed to the program, which is designed for delivery over three separate phases during 2018, with each phase lasting five days.

Between phases, there is a period of one to two months where I conduct recorded coaching sessions and e-mail them to the program facilitator, who reviews them and provides me with feedback.

The first three phases were concluded over March, May and July. At the end of all phases this year, I will continue working to complete a minimum of 60 hours of coaching, including both face-to-face sessions with clients and live online sessions.

This is a big investment by the Organization, and is led by Miss Hiyam Al Talhi, Acting Head of Staff Development in the Training & Development Division and it requires a full commitment from participants. Therefore, you may be wondering, what exactly coaching is and why we need it in our organization.

coaching program participants

What is coaching?

According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching professionals believe that all of us have great potential that we are not utilizing.

We are so busy with our everyday tasks and obligations that we fail to realize our true powers. This is where a professional coach comes in. The coach can help you increase your self- awareness and will inspire you to realize your true potential. This is done without directing you, because (believe it or not) you have the answers already; you only need to be made aware of them. Coaching is about connecting with people, inspiring them to do their best, and helping them to grow. It’s also about challenging people to come up with the answers they require on their own. Therefore, the coach doesn’t only help you solve a current problem; but also empowers you to unlock the ability to solve any similar problem in the future.

Miss Hiyam Al Talhi, Acting Head of Staff Development in the Training & Development Division

Why do we need coaching in the organization?

Coaching focuses on the individual’s untapped potentials. Therefore, a group of individuals utilizing their full potentials will result in a successful organization. By increasing employees’ engagement in their work, employees will take responsibility and be more productive, and that in turn will be reflected in the overall productivity of the organization. During a coaching session, the coach might discover those with high potential for leadership. This is very crucial for any organization, as it is always more convenient to find the next leaders from within. One other great benefit for coaching is that it identifies areas that need development. Therefore, organizations will have a better return on investment in training.

Finally, when an organization is investing in coaching, it shows that this organization is committed to invest in its employees and their career development. As a result, employees will have a stronger commitment toward the organization, increasing retention rates and gives the organization a more competitive edge in the market.

In-house coaching for King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center

King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center will have its own group of coaches who will establish the first Coaching Unit in the hospital. One of its significant missions is to provide their services to the staff members. As we are heading toward our 2020 transformation, coaching will be a must in realizing our employees’ best aspects and talents to meet that vision.

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I’m just back from a week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and still a little affected by jet lag. I had been over there twice already this year and this was the third and last phase of my signature coaching course for leaders. I love to teach people how to use coaching as a leadership style and while teaching, I learn a lot, too. One of my big take-aways from this experience is how the practice of mindfulness comes so naturally to the members of my group, 22 executives from an organization of 12,000 people.

I open all of my workshops with a moment of mindfulness which is like a mini-meditation. I am very aware of the discomfort this causes for some managers but I continue the tradition because of the proven benefits that come from practicing mindfulness throughout the day, including working hours. What struck me in Saudi Arabia was the distinct lack of resistance to this practice.

As I observed my participants and asked a lot of questions about their culture, it hit me that mindfulness comes easier to the Saudi people, most of them Muslim, because they share a lifestyle where they stop for prayer 5 times a day. This ah-ha moment brought me the clarity that the traditional prayer time allows people to slow down and clear their heads. Islamic prayers involve a ritual of first taking the time to wash your face, hands, and feet, which to me, is a reminder to take care of your body. The prayers are said in standing, bending, kneeling and bowing positions, which to me, is a reminder to connect with the earth beneath you as well as Spirit around you.

One of the executives in my group told me that prayer time gives her extra energy and the ability to focus better. I, for one, could use that, couldn’t you?

Most of us have heard about slow food and slow money. Now I would like to practice a bit of slow living. I don’t know exactly what I am going to do yet but as I figure it out, I will let you know how it is going.

Help me out with your ideas. What can you do to carve out sacred time to slow down and take care of yourself, body, mind, and spirit? What can you do to make ancient wisdom come to life in your own way? How do you use the ways of the world to make yourself a better person, happier or healthier or all three? Please share by leaving your comments.

Mindfulness as a positive practice at work

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Where the mountain river meets the ocean, I stood on the shore, my feet sinking into the sand. After a 45 minute jog along the coast of the Baie des Chaleurs in Maria Quebec, I began my yoga postures to regain my breath and stretch out my muscles. I come to this place for vacation every year and my morning run is a gift to myself. While here, there are no competing priorities that consume my precious running time.

I inhale power as I open my arms wide to the sky and gather the energy of the sea, the sun, the earth and the wind. I exhale peace as I bring my hands down in prayer position and rest them at my heart, I bow my head in reverence and gratitude. Namaste.

Last summer I had to walk the shore rather than jog it as I was recovering from a crushed tibial plateau and torn MCL. As I grounded myself today, I recalled how grateful I was last year just to be able to walk at all as I had been on bed rest for 6 weeks, followed by 4 months in a full leg brace.

Today, almost fully recovered I jogged and allowed that beautiful post-run feeling to expand within me. Although the injury was the result of a freak accident, my amazing recovery is not a fluke. I attribute it to all of the professional healers on my journey who helped succeed.

My doctor Sevan Ortaaslan, my physiotherapist, Jennifer Pullen, osteopath Elaine Carle, naturopath Toni Pigeon, reflexologist Veronica Butler, shaman Debbie Must and my athletic therapist Greg Lothian.

Each one of these special souls has dedicated their lives to helping other’s succeed.

Today, I repost my blog of May 2017 entitled Running Perceptions and Revelation in honour and gratitude for each of them and all of the other professional healers who are sharing their gifts and talents in service to others.

Running Perceptions and Revelations

I love to jog. It is a solitary pursuit that brings contentment to my body, mind, and spirit. One of my favourite places to indulge in this pleasure is along the Baie des Chaleurs coastline in Maria, Quebec – my father’s ancestral home since the first of us arrived from Scotland in 1755. I step out of the old, white shingled farmhouse with its green tin roof and begin with a walk down the long, tree-lined driveway to the seashore.

The unwelcome disturbances of my monkey mind are muted as I shift into the moving meditation. It is a cultivated pause from my ongoing thinking about my business and the other things that make up the design of my life, like the pattern on a bolt of hand-woven silk: beautiful, intricate, occasionally complicated by a dropped thread.

I warm up with knee lifts, butt kicks, and a fast walk down that ancient driveway towards the sea. I admire the pink water lilies luxuriating on the pond like divas awaiting Monet, the lock of handsome bulrushes swaying in the wind as though waving me onward. I notice the tiny steps of fungus growing on the dead birch and I am suddenly amused by my own whimsical thought that if I were a little elf, I would climb them.

The end of the driveway is the portal. There I enter my runner’s trance. My breath easily syncs with the lapping waves as I prepare to blend with nature for my one hour of devotion to the run and its promise.

I take the path heading east along the breakwater, which is usually shared by joggers and cyclists but also serves as the wide shoulder for traffic. However, at this early hour, I am alone. The glorious morning sun over the sea, an empress presiding over all that she warms, casts white rays through the gathering clouds onto the water to reflect a misty glow back towards the sky and to me. It feels ethereal.

The beach below is constantly gifted by waves arriving with agates, red jasper, quartzes, and sea glass – all beachcombers gems but hard on the bare feet of those out for a casual stroll. The shore is adorned with driftwood, some of it is roots as huge as tractor wheels and some is twigs the size of tiny nails – all equally weathered into a soft gray.  The waves are rough this morning, delivering reams of seaweed resembling loosely tangled balls of dark yarn. They emit the distinct scent of the sea crashing upon the sand.

Along the Chic-Choc Mountains, the sun brings out many shades of green upon the canopy of trees. It also throws dark shadows that tell of winds ushering shock white clouds into the area – giants that dwarf the mountains as they join those already assembled over the sea. This is the kind of epic view that does more than take my breath away: it inspires me, empowers me, makes me believe in God.

In reverence, I take up the slow jog and my spirit connects to the earth and sea. I think of my ancestors walking this land before me. I wonder what words they used to describe the view and if it made them feel the same as it does me: simultaneously humble and mighty. I think of their footprints and I wonder if mine are touching theirs.

I pull cool air deep into my lungs. The sound of my footfall is made richer by its splashing in shallow puddles.

Nature seems to want me there as the weather conditions adapt for my comfort. The clouds grow fuller and ease the sun’s glare so I no longer have to squint. The heavier clouds arrive with a breeze that cools me as I pick up my pace. Soon the clouds release a warm summer mist that gives way to plump droplets as though cued by my hot skin needing to be quenched. A few minutes later, rainwater drips off my ponytail over my shoulders, then wicks off my fingertips.

I loved this feeling of being baptized by sea mist and summer rain. It makes me feel cleansed, my burdens washed into the sea.

About half-way through my run, I reach my destination: a small park at the edge of the village bordered by a tiny cabin that had belonged to my first Canadian ancestors. I am proud of the place and the sign on the lawn that relates the story of The Mowatt House, the first auberge on the coast. How ironic though that a humble cabin boasts such an important place in the local history and tourist trade.

Turning around to head back, I start running against the wind just as the first wave of fatigue hits me. The road that was all mine is now filled with morning traffic.  The sea mist and rain that had been so welcomed now creates the spray of cars and trucks. It’s an assault to the senses to now smell the tires and dirty road as wet grimy speckles of mud coat my face and torso with every car and truck that passes. My shoes, now soaked and heavy, cause blisters through my socks and make me worry that I will twist an ankle as my feet slosh around inside them.

I am determined not to quit despite the suddenly unfavourable weather. The difficult conditions drew me out of my reverie and caused me to realize that the challenges faced by runners are like those faced by business owners. To distract myself from the discomfort, I muse about the similarities between physically running and operating a business. Maybe that’s why they call it running a business! As the comparisons arise, like the waves crashing on the beach just below, I commit them to memory to write later.

I am jolted out of my thoughts by a car directly approaching me. As I hop out of the way, I gesture my annoyance at the driver. With the grimy rain in my eyes, it would have been easy not to have seen his car. I could have been hurt. I was irritated at the driver for distracting me from my pace, focus and creative thinking. It took me a short while to regain my groove.

A few moments later, it happens again: another driver distracting me. This one pulls up right next to me, unrolling the window and slowing to a crawl.

Really, buddy? I think. Have you not noticed that I am running here? Did you not think for one moment that I maybe don’t want to be bothered?

I ignore him, but he doesn’t go away! He continues to cruise alongside me.

“Yes?” I finally snap, turning my angry, wet face to look directly at the guy.

“Have you noticed it’s raining?” says a man who is not actually a stranger at all, but my husband. “I’ve come to get you out of the rain. Get in.”

“Oh, hi,” I say on an exhale, my irritation also releasing slightly. “I’m good.” Not wanting to waste further breath on the conversation, I wave him off with no intention of giving up my run.

“Really?” he says, looking baffled about me. “Are you kidding?”

“I’m fine, almost done,” I insist.

“Ohhhh Kayyyy” he says, shaking his head, knowing there’s no point in arguing with me, as he drives off.

My driveway is now visible in the near distance, marking the day’s finish line. There’s no time to get back into that previous wonderful headspace. With the weather getting worse and fatigue setting into my bones and muscles as though in lockstep, I’m irritated at having my last stretch interrupted. What were the odds of it happening twice?

The sky turns stormier. Low thunder brews in the distance, while lightning sporadically glows behind the dark clouds. I dig deep to find the strength to pick up my pace. With that last surge of energy, I also have a flash of clarity. I realize that the first driver who interrupted me was also my husband. Knowing my route, he had come out to meet me, and when I did not recognize him during his first drive by me, he turned around and came back to try to give me a lift again. He was not a distracted rude driver but my concerned husband trying to anticipate my needs. I was so focused on my run that I didn’t recognize my own car or my own husband!

I reach the top of the driveway physically feeling and no doubt looking like the soppy, limp seaweed that rolled up on the beach. Body fatigued but mind and spirit soaring because I had achieved my goal, despite the difficult conditions and interruptions. Then, I have a flashback to something I always mention in my conflict resolution workshops: We judge others based on the impact they have on us. If the impact is in any way negative, we naturally assume that the intention was equally negative.

When an unidentified driver distracted me from the experience that I was enjoying, it really annoyed me. When I realized that the driver was my husband arriving to get me out of the rain, my perception completely changed along with my attitude towards the situation. Irritation gave way to gratitude.

In other words, when my perception changed, so did my feelings about the experience. My mood and subsequently my approach both improved once I had the full picture.

With a last burst of energy, I break into a full sprint up the driveway. My thoughtful husband and two beautiful sons step out onto the covered porch to welcome me back. They laugh with me as I pumped my arms up and down, cheering for myself.

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Thank you again for attending the Executive Suite Breakfast Summit on December 4. For those of you who were not available, we missed you! I have received many wonderful comments about how much the morning was enjoyed. Our guest expert Michelle Holliday was kind enough to share her DNA of Organizational Thrivability infographic with us. If you would like to have a conversation with Michelle about her signature concept, please feel welcome to reach out to her directly through her website or through LinkedIn.

I wish you the best for a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!

Corry Robertson

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