Posts by Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse, CEO of KLR Consulting, partners with clients to provide coaching and leadership development programs that are direct, specific and improve an organization’s bottom line results. Kristi ensures all programs, customized to address specific challenges, inspire leaders and teams to higher levels of productivity and collaboration. She is a nationally-recognized motivational speaker, who since 1987 has educated executives on how to create more meaning in their personal and professional lives.

Leadership and The Ugly Four-Letter Word: Fear


We all have different ideas of what fear looks like.  Some people fear taking risks, others fear conflict or confrontation, and still others fear rejection by peers, just to name a few.

So what is fear?  

My Fear of Failure

Personally, I struggle with fear of failure.  I am a perfectionist by nature, as are many of us in the corporate world.  As children we are taught making mistakes equates to failure, and accumulated failure makes it impossible to become successful.

Further, failing can sometimes feel like a knock on who I am as a person-I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not driven enough, etc.  It has taken me many years to unlearn the lies I was fed as a child, however this fear still holds me captive from time to time.

“Everybody has their own Mt. Everest they were put on this earth to climb.” ~Hugh Macleod

The Four-Letter Word

The point is that we all have fear in our lives.  If we all face fear, though, why isn’t it more readily discussed in the workplace?

“Fear” is often viewed as an unmentionable four-letter word.

  • Uttering it is received with feelings of discomfort and disdain.
  • To admit fear is to accept defeat.
  • Society at large views fear as a sign of weakness.
  • We are expected to be big, bad, courageous trailblazers.
  • Overlooking the presence of fear, though, gives it power.
  • Inability to face our fears allows them to grow and fester until they paralyze us.

Thus, the first step to ridding oneself of fear is admitting that it exists.  From there, one can begin to understand the fear that holds him/her hostage and create a plan of action to confront and overcome that fear.

“The key to release, rest, and inner freedom is not the elimination of all external difficulties.  It is letting go of our pattern of reactions to those difficulties.” ~Hugh Prather

Facing Uncomfortable Circumstances

Freedom from fear does not involve changing or avoiding our circumstances.  Rather, freedom is found when we face our fear-invoking circumstances head on.  This confrontation helps to release us from our bondage to fear.

“The circumstances of our lives have as much power as we choose to give them.” ~David McNally

A Choice to Be Made

So, then, at the root of fear is a choice:

  • Do I allow my circumstances to define me? 


  • Am I willing and able to overcome my circumstances?

In Maximum Leadership,John C. Maxwell poses the question, “Which emotion will [you] allow to be stronger?” (2012) Choosing faith over fear is a moment-by-moment decision.

  • Will I choose to face my fears or will I let myself be overcome by them?
  • Do I have faith enough in my abilities and belief in what I am pursuing to overcome my fears?

These questions, and others, are what define who we are as leaders and team members.

The Solution

So once we face fear, what is the next proactive step to keep it away?

Learning to trust.

In Oestreich and Ryan’s book, Driving Fear Out Of The Workplace, the authors discuss the benefits of creating a high-trust workplace environment.  The authors interviewed 260 people at 22 organizations about fear and how each workplace handles the fear they face.

In the book, “fear” is defined as “the belief that speaking up about on-the-job concerns may result in adverse repercussions.”  An overwhelming 70% labeled this situation as one that provokes anxiety.

Why does this matter?

The workplace can be full of change and uncertainty.  Fear affects us all as both individuals as well as a corporate body.

On Anxiety, Trust and Fear

Anxiety and fear in the workplace creates:

  • Insecurity in workers
  • Fear of honesty, vulnerability, and openness
  • Anger as a result of misunderstanding, miscommunication, and ego defense
  • Lower levels of creativity
  • Lack of concern for the company

Trust has the power to eliminate fear.

Trust creates an environment that fosters positive vulnerability among coworkers.

When trust is present, people:

  • do not fear they will be rejected as a result of speaking up
  • feel comfortable and are willing to take more risks
  • are willing to be more open and honest with coworkers and company leaders
  • push themselves further, knowing they will have the support of their coworkers/leaders
  • have greater commitment to work at hand and the company as a whole because the ability to trust at work creates loyalty to coworkers/the company itself

Anxiety inhibits, trust relaxes and releases. 

For more information on trust, check out my trust blog entry here.

Continuing On In Freedom From Fear

Over the course of the next four months we will be discussing different types of fears that inhibit growth for leaders and teams as well as the steps necessary to overcome these fears.

We will also be discussing Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team as it relates to overcoming fear in the workplace.  The five dysfunctions include:

  • Inattention to Results
  • Avoidance of Accountability
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Fear of Conflict
  • Absence of Trust

“Striving to create a functional, cohesive team is one of the few remaining competitive advantages available to any organization looking for a powerful point of differentiation.” ~Patrick Lencioni

My hope is these tools for overcoming fear will create more cohesive teams and more effective leadership within your company.  I hope you will join me in reading the upcoming blog focused on exploring the fear of conflict.

What fears in the workplace hold you captive? What tips do you have for dealing with these fears? Do you tend embrace fear or run from it? Do you believe trusting relationships can truly combat fear? Do you have another way of handling fear in your life/at the office?


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626


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Leaders: To Be Great, Be Grateful

Grateful“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

I am convinced that the key to lifelong success is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle: gratitude. If you were asked to make a list of things for which you are grateful, how long would it be?

Most likely it would include your health, your mind’s ability to function well, your family, teammates, and your friends.

But what about the “small things” we could forget in our day to day crazy lives? I would certainly include that morning cup of Peet’s coffee prior to my 5:00 am workout!!

On Leadership and Greatness

If you want to become great, you have to focus on being grateful. You can change any situation in your life by simply redirecting your mind to focus on what’s right about it versus what is wrong.

Expressing gratitude is really the art of noticing — noticing what others do and how it affects you.

One suggestion I share with my clients that often elicits surprise and sometimes draws skepticism:  is to engage in the mindful cultivation of gratitude every day. Practicing generosity shifts your attention away from what you don’t have to what you do have, and away from yourself toward others.

Forget yesterday – it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow – you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift – today.”
― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

A Sense of Gratitude

People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s working and wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.

By contrast, people who lack gratitude are never truly happy.

If they succeed at a task, they don’t enjoy it. For them, a string of successes is like trying to fill a bucket with a huge leak in the bottom. And failure invariably makes them bitter, angry, and discouraged.

Therefore, if you want to be successful, you need to express more gratitude.

True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.

The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”
― Seneca

Practice Each Morning and Evening

The best time to exercise gratitude is when you first wake in the morning and before you rest your head on your pillow at night. Take out your tablet (electronic or otherwise) and record the events of the day that created positive emotions, either in you or in those around you.

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?”
― William Arthur Ward

Ask yourself this:

  • Did you help somebody solve a problem?
  • Did someone help you?

Write it down.

  • Did you connect with a colleague or friend?

Write it down.

  • Did someone give you a big smile just when you needed it; send them an email and let them know what it meant to you.

Exercising Your Gratitude Muscle

You are programming your brain to notice more reasons to feel gratitude. Over time, your “gratitude muscle” will become so strong that you’ll attract more success into your life, not to mention greater numbers of successful (i.e., grateful) people. You’ll also find yourself thanking people more often. That’s good for you and for them, too.

This method works:

If you don’t believe me, try it for at least a week. You’ll be amazed at what a huge difference it makes.

On True Thanksgiving

One Thanksgiving, I decided to keep a Thanks Giving journal for my 11-year old daughter. Every day for an entire year I logged at least one thing I appreciated about her—the way she interacted with her friends, how she cared for our dog, the big hugs and smiles she gave me, her true desire to please others, her thoughtful prayers each night,—whatever.

I looked for the things she was doing that touched me, or revealed attributes, characteristics, or qualities I appreciated. I wrote them all down secretly for the entire year. By the end of that year, I’d filled an entire journal.

When I gave it to her the following Thanksgiving, she cried, calling it the best gift she’d ever received. (Even better than the iphone I’d given her for her birthday!)

The funny thing was that the person most affected by this gift was me.

Getting Positive

All that journaling forced me to focus on my daughter’s positive aspects. I was consciously looking for all the things she was doing “right.” That heartfelt focus overwhelmed anything I might have otherwise complained about; even the typical teenage behaviors!!

My appreciation, gratitude, and intention to find the best in her was something I held in my heart and eyes each day.

As a result of choosing to take a mere five minutes every day or so to document all the reasons why I was grateful for her, it truly changed both our lives and I have continued this journaling for the last three years; I even started one for my husband!! 

Don’t forget about notes — handwritten, please. While e-mails and texts might be convenient, most are easily brushed aside. But the occasional handwritten note can make a big and lasting impression on employees, colleagues and even your boss.

How can you rebuild your gratitude muscle? What does your list look like? What best practices can you implement in your daily routine to notice what you and others do and then acknowledge and express your appreciation?


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626

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Leaders: Trust Can Change Everything


Building trust is one of the most critical challenges facing our society today. It is what we as leaders should all be about.

We are in a crisis of trust. 

It affects us on all levels; societal, institutional, organizational, relational, and personal. And It has a perpetuating effect.

Research shows:

  • Only 51% of employees have trust and confidence in senior management
  • Only 36% of employees believe their leaders act with honesty and integrity
  • Over the past 12 months, 76% of employees have observed illegal or unethical conduct on the job. If exposed, these actions would seriously violate the public trust.

What Drives Employees Away?

The number one reason people leave their jobs is due to their  bad relationship with their boss.

In my years of work with 360° assessments I have found that the question, “Do you trust your boss?” is question thought about with true concern.

This is the one question that is more predictive of team and organizational performance than any other question we ask. Trust is the glue that bonds great people, processes, and environments; it ensures long-term success. In life and business, relationships are important, but they are empty unless they are established and based on trust.

“Trust is the fundamental building block for a brand and it is the glue for any lasting relationship.”~ Horst H. Schultz

There are 10 drivers of employee engagement. Trust people had in their leader is the #1 driver. When the organization trusts its leaders, and everyone becomes trustworthy, then people can operate synergistically and non-defensively.

Trust enables employees to work quickly and efficiently to achieve great results for their employers.

Implementing Trust and Engagement

Trust and engagement are twin engines; as you increase trust it drives engagement and becomes a virtuous upward cycle.

Trust is the root driver of engagement.

If people don’t trust you, they won’t engage no matter how many other drivers are working. Employees need to trust you have their best interests in mind.

When you move the needle on trust you will increase engagement.

“No quality or characteristic is more important than trust. It is the foundation for building a team.”~ Patrick Lencioni

  • You always need to start with yourself:
  • How engaged am I with my team and people?
  • How credible am I?
  • In my presentations I often ask audiences to consider the question, “Who do you trust?”

A friend? A work associate? Your boss?

  • Why do you trust this person?
  • What is it that inspires the trust of others?
  • Then I ask them, “Who trusts you?”
  • What is it that inspires the trust of others?

According to a fabulous book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” the definitions of trust include:  


  • Environment of good will and caring
  • Positive interactions
  • Appreciation expressed
  • Fair
  • Confidences maintained
  • “Well-being” is looked after
  • People willing to go the extra mile


  • Walking the talk
  • Truthfulness
  • Agreements honored
  • Authenticity
  • Responsibilities accepted
  • Manipulation avoided
  • Committed to doing what is right


  • Consistency
  • Dependability
  • Demonstrated commitment
  • Dedicated to mission
  • Diligent


  • Open communications
  • Genuine talking and listening
  • Sharing important information
  • Important information not hidden
  • Shared decision-making
  • Shared power


  • Perform to expectations
  • Demonstrated skill in areas of professional accountability
  • Setting standards of excellence
  • Results oriented
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Willingness to fulfill responsibilities

Trust Starts with You

It is about our willingness to be vulnerable, our credibility, and how you behave. Do what you say and follow through with actions. Make a commitment and keep it.

“If you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.”~ Steven Covey

Has your team built a high trust culture?

Build it Yourself

Trust is tangible, measurable, and most importantly, something that we can build more easily than we think.

“I am convinced that in every situation, nothing is as fast as the speed of trust. And, contrary to popular belief, trust is something  you can do something about. In fact, you can get good at creating it.” Steven Covey.

It is possible not only to build trust, but also to restore it. I have seen in done over and over again. Obviously, there are some circumstances in which trust has truly been damaged beyond repair or where others may not give us a chance to restore it, but I am convinced that for most of us, these circumstances are few.

I believe our ability to restore trust is much, much greater than we think.

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.”~ Chinese proverb

Trust is at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team.

Patrick Lencioni’s organization has an incredible assessment I have very effectively utilized to help companies learn how to use the Five Dysfunctions to transform their organizations. If you are interested in learning feel free to leave your input and any way I can further assist you with your interest/questions.

How would you rate yourself on these behaviors? How would you team rate you?Are you believable? Are you credible? Am I someone my people can trust? Am I someone I can trust? Has your team built a high trust culture? When are you going to start and what are the first steps you are going to take?


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626

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Leaders: How to Find Your Voice

Find your Voice

You have to know yourself before you can effectively lead others. Many leadership experts call it “finding your voice”, and it is the best starting point when you decide to make improving your leadership skills a priority.

Over the past two decades, my work in executive coaching and leadership development programs always begins with assessing and focusing on an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

I have met many leaders who have learned how to do everything smarter; they are focused, passionate and committed to their life and work; understanding the importance of self-reflection.

I offer up the following questions which were developed based on my experience coaching these successful leaders and are meant to help you create more opportunities in your life.

Ask yourself these questions:

Value of Self

1. Do I clearly see my dream?

If your core values and vision are not clear, no strategy will work and it will be impossible to prioritize correctly. It is vital for today’s leader to bring others along on the journey; but you first have to know where you are going.

Clarity of values will give you the confidence to make tough decisions, to act with determination, and to take charge of your life.

2. How do I spend my time? 

After setting your priorities evaluate how you spend your time.

John Maxwell said:

“Nothing separates successful people from unsuccessful people more than how they use their time.”

3. Are you clear on what you bring to the table? 

You need to truly understand your strengths and weaknesses, be comfortable with them, and help everyone around you understand their assets. Using a tool like the DiSC assessment can help you and your team better understand one another.

The leader has to take the lead on this self-evaluation. Focus on exploring and enhancing what you do well and reap the benefits of simplicity, standardization, and deep experience.

 People: Your Most Valuable Asset

4. Do you have the right people on the bus, the right people off the bus and the right people in the right seats?

Determine the knowledge, skills and abilities each job requires to support the business strategy and culture, and design an interview process to find the “right” people.

“The toughest decisions in organizations are people decisions – hiring, firing, promotions, etc. These are the decisions that receive the least attention and are the hardest to unmake,” advises Peter Drucker, management expert.

5. Do I invest in training and employee development? 

Your employees must have the tools to do their best work and this investment also strengthens their commitment to the company.  According to John Maxwell, leadership expert, developing people means: I value them

  1. I commit time to them
  2. I mentor them
  3. I equip them
  4. I empower them

6. Are you willing to listen? 

This is your most powerful tool you have to get your organization to accomplish more. Do you know what it takes to be a good listener?

Listening is the act of receiving, attending to, interpreting, and responding to verbal and non-verbal messages in ways appropriate to a situation.

Real listening takes time and patience, and the payoff is definitely worth the effort. The flow of communication within an organization can improve greatly just by making people aware of how important it is to listen.

Business Practices and Process Improvements

7. Do you set and clearly articulate your goals? 

Unless you write your goals down they are often lost in the shuffle and excitement of new problems, challenges, and decisions.

The function of goals is to get you into action; it will give you a way to measure your effectiveness.Setting and then reconnecting with your goals on a regular basis is a powerful success discipline.

8. Do you cultivate good managers? 

It is widely known in the HR consulting world that the biggest reason for an employee’s departure is a poor manager. Managers are the grassroots implementers of the company culture.

Successful leaders provide training and coaching to help their managers. Many leaders have abandoned management development for fear that the investment will be lost if they leave.

My question to those leaders is, “What if you don’t invest in your management and they stay?”

9. Do you encourage productive conflict?

If harmony comes only as a result of people holding back their opinions and honest concerns, then it’s a bad thing. Many believe that it is better for people to agree and get along than disagree and conflict with one another.

I’d trade that false kind of harmony any day for a team’s willingness to argue effectively about an issue and then walk away with an action plan and no collateral damage.

There needs to be constructive conflict and a leader must be willing to start a difficult dialogue and show vulnerability to encourage others to join the discussion.

10. Are you willing to make the hard decisions? 

The willingness to go against the majority, to do what’s right and make the tough calls is an important leadership trait that takes discipline and courage. This is not a character trait, it is a learned practice that can be developed and help separate you from the pack.

To become a great leader, one must first become a great person. You cannot lead others until you have learned to lead yourself.

 “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.”~ Jim Rolm

What can you do to become a better leader? Who can you effectively listen to today? Are you truly really ready to make those hard decisions?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626

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Leaders: How to Be a Successful CEO

Facebook and Apple

The Social Network movie gave a behind-the-scenes story on Mark Zuckerberg telling how he dropped out of Harvard while developing Facebook and has become one of the most famous, powerful, and youngest CEOs in the world.

How has he done this?

Leadership Lessons of Mark Zuckerberg and Steven Jobs

Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steven Jobs has generated many “spirited conversations” around “good leadership/bad leadership” and people have tried to pull leadership lessons and success stories from it.  I have shared many with my clients and colleagues.

What can we learn from these two very successful CEO’s?

Taken from newsletter, Fast Company Magazine, Harvard Business Review, and a few of my own, here are lessons from two of the most famous and powerful CEO’s in the world.

1. Make your own evolution and development as a leader a top priority

Zuckerberg is one of the few CEOs in history to come to significant power without his personality fully formed. He was smart enough to take himself on as a project and proactively continues to grow and mold himself into the leader he aspires to be.

He began by studying and evaluating the successful people and companies around him; tapping them for insider lessons in leadership.

Jobs is all about employees engaging face to face. He had the Pixar and Apple buildings designed to promote unplanned encounters and collaborations.

If a building does not encourage that, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity

2. Be Open and allow for “true” communication

Facebook keeps their employees in the loop on where the company is going; especially in a fast-growing start up. This enhances confidence and unity.

3. Create a real office culture

Facebook’s is the Hacker Way and so it “questions assumptions, moves fast, takes risks, shares information, and learns from other smart people,” says FC.

4. Tolerate only “A” Players

Jobs passion for perfection and his desire to work with only the best is his way of preventing what he called “the bozo explosion”. This is when managers are so polite that mediocre people feel comfortable sticking around.

I’ve learned over the years that when you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.

5. Bend reality

They both pushed people to do the impossible because they didn’t realize it was possible. They helped their people to not be afraid if they got their mind around it; using the “yes you can” my magic motto.

As a leader, your best move might be to step out of the way and let someone else take charge.

Put people and products before profit.

6. Involve everyone in hiring practices

When Facebook was growing, everyone helped to bring in new talent and all had interviewing duties, even engineers. After all your current employees will be the ones working with the new hires.

Jobs shares:

“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that allowed you to make great products. But the products not the profits were the motivation.”

Zuckerberg’s  team approaches every hire with an eye on the future.

“The people we hired were capable of solving the problems we knew were coming.”

7. Practice Leadership

“Making decisions on the basis of incomplete, inconclusive, or contradictory information is a skill that managers at every level must master. The learning comes from making thousands of small choices and mistakes on the way there.” ~Marc Randolph; Co-Founder Netflix

  • Focus: Trust data and your gut.

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That is true for companies and it is true for products.” ~steve Jobs

  • Simplify: Cut clutter and make it easy to use.

Jobs insisted on being able to get whatever he wanted in three clicks. He even got rid of the on/off button

  • When behind, Leapfrog.

The mark of a good leader is not only that it comes up with new ideas first, but it also knows who to leapfrog when he finds himself behind.

  • Don’t be a slave to focus groups. 
  1. “Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them. As Henry Ford shared many years ago, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.’”

Caring deeply about what customers want is much different from consistently asking them what they want, it requires intuition and instinct about desires that have not yet formed.

  • Push for perfection. 

Hit the pause button and go back to the drawing board if it is not perfect. Then take responsibility end to end for the employee and the customer interface.

8. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Zuckerberg says:

“So many businesses get worried about looking like they might make a mistake, they become afraid to take any risk. Companies are set up so that people judge each other on failure.”

  • Stay hungry; stay foolish.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” ~Apple’s Think Different commercial

Both of these men changed themselves and will continue to change the world. How will you? What can you do to become truly successful? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626

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Leaders: What is Your Legacy?

I Love My Job

The San Francisco and Silicon Valley Business Times presented the “2012 Best Places to Work in the Bay Area” this week.

The 125 companies ranked in their publication clearly understand that their people are their priority. These exemplary companies foster work environments that attract and retain happy, engaged, and productive employees.

“Talent is the engine that drives any successful company, particularly in the Bay Area’s knowledge economy. Smart employers know the race for talent is always on and the competition is growing.”~ Mary Huss Publisher

Keeping your Edge

What Can you Do for your Company to Earn This Honor?

In this blog I would like to share some of the best practices and innovative programs these companies do to keep their edge and earn this honor. I hope they will inspire you with ideas for your company and as a leader you can learn from the winner’s success stories.

As the economy continues to improve, it is increasingly difficult to find and keep good people, which makes creating a great work environment all the more important.

Keeping employees happy in tough times involves being straight during the good and the challenging times.

Honesty and transparency are the key:

“As a result, employees don’t have to second guess if the ax is going to fall on them because they know the CEO and executive team will always tell the truth about what’s going on.”~ Landau Leonard Blach Construction

EMC shares that the “never enough communication philosophy” is important. This includes both sharing and the big L word.

Who can guess what that is? LISTENING!

It is amazing what employees will share if we simply ask the questions and keep our ears and minds open to hearing their responses. When employees love working for the company they love working for the clients too.

“Content, motivated and respected employees create an environment that leads to very satisfied guests. “ Hotel Nikko

What Is your Legacy?

Refuse limits, resist assumptions, and realize excellence are three of Stanford Universities core values. They believe changing the world is their legacy.

Intuit’s learning culture includes reverse mentoring. Young team members are paired with senior executives to share how they approach social media and they in return get an opportunity to learn about leadership and career trajectory from a pro.

Intuit offers incentives for employees to come up with “game-changing” ideas.

“The mindset we are competing against is I’m going to take one particular role and when that’s done, go to another company. We want employees to know we’re innovators and there are many different things you can do here, so you don’t have to leave. This is a culture that will take a risk on you.”~ Sherry Whiteley Sr. VP HR

EMC believes flexibility is a key to a satisfied workforce. This includes a program called “workwise” which allows employees to work from home and flexibility in how it tailors each job for the employee based on their strengths, interests, and career path.

“I have the ability to create my own success, and it is very empowering.”

Having Fun Is a Bottom-Line Priority

At Workday, this idea is not only believed, but practiced.

“Our most important assets are the employees, and people who are having fun do a better job. If you love what you’re doing you end up having a positive effect on those around you. It’s really vital.” CEO Dave Duffield

One great idea that captured my attention was their annual 24 hour “hackathon”, inspired by the TV show 24, in which the staff attempts to stay up all night and brainstorms product idea. Or a sabbatical in which any employee can trade in her or her regular job duties and instead spend three months working with Workday Labs, the company’s center for research and innovation.

SOARProjects CEO Manprett Grover loves the fact that someone can walk into her office and say:

“I’m really upset with you.”

Employees should not be afraid to say or do anything. We fight like family, we reconcile like family. It’s all about communicating and never be afraid to try something.

At Dropbox they believe the key is to not limit anyone at the company from being amazing. Still in startup mode, they are doing everything they can to make sure their employees talent stays nimble and doesn’t get squashed.

Their first line of defense against stagnating employee minds are programs that encourage people to work on new projects, allowing freedom from daily routine.

RIBs and random rewards are the keys to Primitive Logic’s success and happy employees.

“RIBSs: respect, integrity and balance.”

Happiness Brings Success

Be Engaged

Many of these top companies encourage employees to volunteer in the community and compensate them when they do.

Sure most of these companies have the happy hours, gym memberships, complementary dry cleaning, chefs preparing gourmet meals, pool tables, and nap rooms. But it is more than this.

I think it comes down to doing whatever you can to make your employees happy.

As Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos shares:

“What are things you can improve in your work or attitude to WOW more people? Have you WOWed one person today? We want to see random acts of ‘WOWness.”

Happy and engaged people are what keep all levels of employees at their companies. Executives and management have a responsibility to create an environment that enables and fosters communication.

We all want to work alongside people who share our passion. This is about creating a culture of collaboration, teamwork and excellence.

How will you make work awesome this year and maybe add your name to the list next year? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626


On Leadership, Vulnerability, and Freedom


I spent most of my life thinking about all my imperfections and being wrong. And so do a lot of leaders.

Most of us travel through life in a some kind of insulated bubble where we become deaf, dumb, and blind to our behaviors; consequently, we probably do not think that there is anything wrong with focusing on our imperfections and being wrong.

This is not only a problem with me and a few others. It is a cultural issue that has impacted our lives, communities, organizations, and families.

What if we, as individuals and companies, stepped outside that feeling and started focusing on being right?

Leaning Into Discomfort

If we could step outside this comfort zone, lean into discomfort, and step into this place of vulnerability and courage; this could be the greatest intellectual, creative, and moral leap we might ever make.

Let me start by asking you a couple questions:

  • How does it feel to be wrong?
  • Do you really know how it feels?

Now let me ask you a different question:

How does it feel when you realize you are wrong?

“Just being wrong does not feel like anything; the opportunity is the time in between.” ~Kathryn Schultz

How you react during that time in between is critical.

Go Down Memory Lane

Reflect back to elementary school and the teacher handing out your test papers.

We started learning very early to be perfectionists and over achievers. By the time you are seven years old you already know that people who succeed never make mistakes. You are doing things the wrong way if you are getting C’s and you could even be considered dumb.

You may have freaked-out that being wrong on a test could mean there is something possibly wrong with you; I did.

We insist that being right makes us feel smart and strong. My mantra became get all A’s. When it comes to our families, our job as parents is not to tell our children they are perfect. Our job is to tell them they are imperfect and are wired to struggle but are worthy of success, love, and belonging.

On Being Right or Wrong

In the last performance appraisal I received from my boss, he shared 23 things I was doing really well and included that “one opportunity for growth.” All I could think about was that one thing I was doing wrong and not the 23 that I was doing right.

Why do we, as people and companies, focus on what we are doing wrong?

In my many years of research and working with individuals and teams, I have uncovered a few reasons why I know I am not the only one who has this need for perfection and fear of being wrong.

1. Shame

I’m not good enough, thin enough, smart enough. We all know that “enough” feeling. What is your “enough”? Shame boils down to a sense of worthiness. Do you believe you are worthily of success, happiness, and acceptance?

2. Courage

My definition of courage is, “open heart open mind.” Can you open your heart and mind enough to be imperfect?
Compassion. The compassion to be kind to yourself first and then others. You can’t practice compassion with others if you are not first kind to yourself.

3. Connection

Can you let go of who you think you should be in order to be authentic, vulnerable, and truly connect with others?

In order for the above to happen we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and truly embraced vulnerability.

Brené Brown found in her research that happy successful people believed what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.

Vulnerability is necessary. The willingness to do something where there are no guarantees.

Why are we afraid to be vulnerable?

It stems from our fear of being wrong and back to this need to be perfect; for everyone all the time.

This causes us to numb vulnerability, because we live in a vulnerably world. We can’t selectively numb the hard stuff so we numb the good stuff too; joy, happiness, gratitude, acceptance, and success.

Then we are miserable and looking for purpose, meaning, and connection so we have a glass of wine and a large pizza to numb all of it. Our escape.

We trust too much on this feeling of being right.

This internal rightness we all experience so often is not a reliable guide with what’s going on in the world. We don’t know how to act when we make mistakes.

Think for a moment what it feels like to be right…

  • What about when you are explaining your opinion or beliefs?
  • What do you feel when someone disagrees with you?

We assume they are ignorant, idiots or evil and this leads to blame.

  • How can we learn to be wrong when we treat others this way?

Steps to Freedom

Our capacity to screw up, to be imperfect, is fundamental to who we are; not some kind of embarrassing defect to overcome.

Here are some strategies I have learned and am practicing daily:

1. Surrender

Walk into the situation expecting to lose and win. Learn to be right sometimes and wrong too.

2. Overcome Fear

How are you going to finish this sentence, I will try but ____. Figure out what this but is and feel the fear and do it anyway.

3. No Excuses

Don’t use human relationships as an excuse not to pursue your passions.

Are you afraid you will look ridiculous or fail? Try anyway.

4. Take a Leap of Faith

Step out of that tiny step of rightness into that courageous step of vulnerability.  Look out and be able to say, “Wow, maybe I was wrong.”

5. Practice Gratitude and Joy in Moments of Terror

Stop and just say I am grateful to feel this. Vulnerable and possible mistakes means I am stretching myself and I am alive.

6. Believe you are Enough

When you work from this place that says, “I am enough,” then you stop screaming and start listening. This allows you to be kinder and gentler to the people around you as well as yourself.

Practicing these suggestions has changed my perception. It has changed the way I live, love, work, and parent. I hope it will for you too.  I want to say to my clients, colleagues, employees, and kids to go for it just like I did.

Don’t leave yourself thinking, “If only I had…”

So, when you hear the term “vulnerable,” do you only think “weakness?” Or can you think of it as a powerful tool to help regulate your thoughts, mindsets, and actions? How can you proceed with a new idea of vulnerability so that it is an effective tool for you in your personal, professional, family, and community life? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626

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