Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
February 2016

Spring Cleaning As Springboard for Creativity and Ingenuity

Oprah Winfrey recently announced that she will be doing Spring Cleaning at her old Harpo Studios in Chicago. On March 1st, she will be selling over 200 clothing items and 20 pairs of shoes on eBay! This exercise is not designed to enrich Ms. Winfrey’s bank account as clearly she does not need the money and all proceeds will be donated to the school for girls she established in South Africa. She said her reason for the spring cleaning auction was “to create a space that gives me access to the stuff that helps me.” She wanted to de-clutter to make room for what matters and create space to be productive and creative.

While it’s hard to think about Spring Cleaning while Jack Frost is still nipping on most toes across the country, Spring is just a few weeks away. To some, Spring Cleaning is nothing more than tedious drudgery to be avoided or delegated to cleaning staff. However, a different way to look at Spring Cleaning is as a therapeutic, energizing exercise. Indeed, a thorough scrubbing, scouring, polishing and organizing of home or office can be more beneficial than just making a space fresh and germ-free. It also helps to make room for things that matter, serve as a catalyst for creativity, and stimulate the imagination. A meticulous cleansing and tidying can not only serve to organize the physical world but the mental one as well. Continue reading

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It’s About Time

Even though time gives the impression of being endless, it is actually the most finite of all resources. Unlike money, which can be saved or lost, time cannot be saved; only lost. It cannot be stretched, stopped, hidden or paused. There is no back-up for lost time. Wasted time is lost forever. Even though the clock’s hands start its daily trek around the dial anew each day, making it seem like we have unlimited time, in truth time that has passed will never return. This is news to no one, and certainly not to any business owner. Most companies are hyper vigilant of employee time to ensure it is not squandered. Rules for the proper use of time take the form of warnings against the various ways in which staff are tempted to waste time. Office socializing. Texting friends. Posting or surfing social media. Tardiness.

However, that’s not how time is lost or wasted the most in business. The biggest source of time waste at companies is when employees are assigned to do work that is not the “best use of their time.” The concept of “best use of your time” is hardly given any consideration by most companies. Employees are often hired and managed with only a murky outline of what they are to do. Certainly no job description can capture every single aspect of what an employee does or how every minute of his time will be spent. A job description only gives a cursory understanding of the major tasks that an employee will handle, not the minutiae, and typically does not determine what percentage of time (throughout a day, week or month) should be spent on each task. And the higher the position, the truer it is. Instead of ensuring staff time is spent on the most beneficial activities to the company, employees – from entry level to top management – dribble time away on tasks that are either best handled by someone else or should be eliminated altogether. That is the ultimate waste of time. So how does a company ensure that all employees are spending the majority of their time doing the things that are “the best use of their time”? Continue reading

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EQ, IQ and SQ: The Leadership Trifecta

John Quincy Adams once said that “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” But the question of what makes a good leader has been dissected for centuries if not millennia. So much has been written about what it takes to be a great leader and how to spot leadership potential in others. Business owners and managers all want to possess and provide the kind of visionary leadership that makes an organization grow and thrive. Much has been said about the intelligence, skills and the emotional traits needed for great leadership.

Initially, leadership qualities were basically divided into two areas: IQ (intelligence quotient) which describes the person’s level of intellect or mental ability; and EQ (emotional quotient) which describes the individual’s degree of emotional maturity and strength. More recently, another silo of qualities has also come to be seen as essential to leadership. This is called SQ or Spiritual Quotient. A person’s spiritual quotient is not related at all to the person’s religion or religious beliefs. The Spiritual Quotient looks at a person’s ability to be creative, insightful, courageous, wise, authentic, compassionate, and peaceful, among a host of other traits.

It is believed that the most successful leaders are those who possess a high degree of IQ, EQ and SQ combined. In the search for visionary leaders, businesses should look for the IQ-EQ-SQ trifecta. So exactly what are the elements of IQ, EQ and SQ and can a person improve their IQ, EQ and SQ? Continue reading

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Money and Motivation

Every business owner grapples with the question of how best to motivate employees. And for good reason. Motivated employees are more productive. Motivated employees also have a better attitude about their work and a better attitude toward others. And motivated employees are more reliable, punctual, and loyal. Motivated employees are also less likely to leave their job and go elsewhere. In short, motivated employees are satisfied employees. And lots of research has shown the relationship between employee satisfaction and a company’s success.

So what motivates employees most? The average person would say “money.” People work to earn a living. So, more money should result in a more satisfied and motivated employee. Right? It depends. Money can be a huge motivator in certain situations. And it can also have little or no effect at all in other situations. A lot of research has been done by industrial psychologists and scientists about motivation, money and employee satisfaction. What is the relationship between compensation, employee satisfaction and company success? Continue reading

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Understanding Multiple Intelligences, Part 2

Multiple Intelligence Theory, first proposed by Professor Howard Gardner in his book Frames of Mind (1983), stated that people learn, remember, perform, and understand things in different ways. That didn’t sound like a revolutionary concept until he referred to these differences as “intelligences.” But Gardner wasn’t talking about a person’s level of intelligence, like IQ. Rather, he was talking about types of intelligence. Gardner put forth that there are eight types of intelligence, namely: language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, an understanding of ourselves, and an understanding of the natural world. Each person has different intelligences, and the ways in which those intelligences are used and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains also differs from person to person.

If Gardner’s theory is correct, then it stands to reason that aligning each employee’s individual intelligences with a job that most uses those competencies could help an organization increase productivity, service, profitability and staff satisfaction. For example, logical-mathematical analysis intelligence would be vital to a job as an Accountant or Statistician. While almost every career uses a blend of several intelligences, clearly some intelligences are more critical to performing certain jobs than others. The key would be to hire people whose key intelligences best fit the job. It would ensure that each employee was ‘made’ to do the job they had. Gardner called this “the clearest path to efficiency and engagement in the workplace.” In practical terms, how does a company do that? Continue reading

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