Three Signs You Might Need to Reclaim Leadership Focus | RSA Learning

Posted on March 15th, 2021



The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted more than one-year causing significant disruptions in lives, careers, and relationships. Operational leaders in essential industries have been pushed to the limit maintaining services despite problems with staffing, supply chain, organization finances, and numerous competing priorities. It’s no wonder you feel tapped out.


Are you experiencing any of the items below?


Often when disorder or irritation occurs, you have been busy being busy and haven’t “caught” up or taken time to breathe. Unfortunately, this clutter can impact your focus and ability to frame the big picture needs for your operation.


These items may signs that you are living day to day and have lost some leadership focus that you will need to lead your team post-pandemic back to a more usual or even a different level of service. How can you move past the distraction and regain purpose, focus, and longer-term vision?


For those of us who live in the Midwest, we look forward to Spring, sunlight, and warmer weather to escape the cold, dark, and short days of winter. Spring is a time to start anew, get a fresh start, and clean away the cobwebs and baggage of winter. Can you use some leadership spring cleaning to let go, organize, plan, and rediscover your vision to rebuild leadership focus?


What can you let go of this Spring?


Are you moving the stacks of work or getting lost in email or unfinished documents feeling overwhelmed? Are there things you are doing each day that no longer add value? Track how you spend time each day. How well are you investing your time in tasks and activities that advance you to post-pandemic services?

Set a timer for 10 minutes. What can you let go, delete, or save purposefully for a new day? Spending just 5 or 10 minutes a day letting go or deleting can shift your mindset into a planned process that you control instead of allowing the “piles” manage you.

Letting go, deleting, or intentionally saving is the first step toward freedom and better focus.


The second step:


Contemplate a plan to get back to usual or enhanced services.


What are your new priorities?

Select your top three priorities. What are your timelines to accomplish outcomes related to these priorities? What new items do you have to consider to get these priorities on track? What might need to be done this week, this month, or this quarter? Block 5 or 10 minutes a day over the next few weeks to work on your list.

Unfortunately, the rest of your pressing work did not magically disappear. But if you can slowly ground yourself in the next post-pandemic phase, you are becoming more intentional, which is key to regaining focus.


In the third step:



How can you organize or sort the work on your desk, in your email, or in documents to make sense of your new priorities?  


In this step, you are digging a little deeper and adding more depth to your plan. What are the activities and outcomes that you need to plan for with your team?

Searching or finding items in your email and documents overload consumes time each day. What can you clean up in just 5 minutes per day? Set a goal to reduce your inbox or sort a few documents and move one when your time limit is up.

These small steps add up over time allow you to regain control of electronic document disorder. Plus, frequently, those items you saved are no longer important.


Finally, breathe!


Are you able to rediscover what you were excited about before the pandemic? What work or projects energized you? How can you fit some of these elements into your organized plan?


After you have let go, planned and organized, can you spend 10 minutes each day talking to individual team members about the new priorities? What is one thing they would like to accomplish? What excites them? What will help them get fully back on board? These ten-minute check-ins can also be an opportunity for you to move past the irritations with people you were feeling.


Making these adjustments requires effort to pivot from today and make more time investment in next week, next month, and next year taking you back to the focus and direction you were taking pre-pandemic.


Going through a spring-cleaning process, done in small bites at a time, gives you the chance to regain control again in your world, which has spun wildly out of control at times over the past year. It is essential to take back the reins and be the driver instead of reacting to the continually changing needs of COVID. In the process, you have become more intentional about your needs, the team’s needs, and the operation.


Julie Jones, RSA Consultant






Day to Day Leadership – Resetting Your Leadership Mindset Activities Feb 2021 | RSA Learning

Posted on February 15th, 2021

2021 – Recharging Your Leadership Mindset Using Combinatory Play | RSA Learning

Posted on February 1st, 2021


Albert Einstein called one of his paths to inspiration, combinatory play.  To be effective in thinking outside the box, you have to play in multiple boxes.  He called the act of combinatory play – opening up one mental channel by dabbling in others. Einstein believes combinatory play was “an essential feature in productive thought.”


Einstein played –the violin, in this case, to help him make new mental connections. He often experienced the flash of insight or inspiration when he was playing at something else. These flashes, those “Eureka” moments, generate energy and allow you to move ideas or yourself forward.


He felt stepping away from the intensity of one problem into something else, lets your mind wander, and pays off. Combinatory play rests and recharges your mental connections. It also means you give yourself the license to participate in combinatory play. Let some stressors and urgencies of today become a passenger in the car instead of letting them always be the driver.


The combined stresses of 2020 have been a source of burnout, sapping energy and motivation for many. Work has become hard. But combinatory play generates motion – If you cannot do one thing, try another. Motion beats stuck any day. Inspiration, motivation, and a positive shift in mindset are fed from motion.


What are some ways to include combinatory play?


The first place to start is your hobbies.


Have you made time for your hobbies in the past six months? Or are you so busy doing other things, your hobbies have taken a back seat? Giving yourself control in how you spend your time is liberating and helps manage your stress level. Perhaps this is reading a book, walking in the park, or volunteering at a dog shelter.


But maybe you are an artist—you make things. You could paint, write, sew, build furniture, or create in a thousand other ways. Art is defined by you as the person and not what others think. Take the risk and call your making, ART. Making as a process creates energy, inspiration, and motivation. It is also the foundation of creativity.


What are you curious about?


What are those burning but perhaps nonsensical questions you have not yet investigated? What else do you want to know? Could you spend ten minutes today answering your burning question? And then, tomorrow, could you add ten minutes more to enrich your understanding? Think about ways you can immerse yourself in your curiosity. Is it combining a field trip or experience to make your understanding more three dimensional?


Perhaps you create a top ten list of things to know more about or experience each year. Completing our top ten list becomes a fun journey, especially when you can include others.  These experiences and learning can be exciting and fuel your energy and motivation. But these facts and experiences also become embedded in your thinking and offer new insights you can remix and repurpose later.


Perform from another frame of reference.


Have you considered taking on the role of another as they consider a situation or event? To think from another’s perspective means you must let go of yours for a while. What are the questions they need to be answered, what is important to them? You are limiting the focus on yourself and your needs.  Sometimes, this break in character can jump-start your inspiration or provide the motivation you need to think differently.


One of the most famous historical examples of combinatory play involves Archimedes, an ancient Greek mathematician, and inventor. He discovered the principle of buoyancy while taking a bath. While you might not have Einstein or Archimedes outcomes, the premise of combinatory play matters. Let your inner genius step out to play!


Day to Day Leadership – Resetting Your Leadership Mindset Activities | RSA Learning

Posted on January 18th, 2021


Recharging Your Leadership Mindset in 2021| RSA Learning

Posted on January 1st, 2021


In January of 2020, who could have imagined the dramatic changes that would occur in just a few short months? How could this pandemic rage on given the advancement in science and technology made since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918? Many people assumed that COVID could be handled simply and quickly without significant disruption to daily lives. That turned out to be one of the greatest falsehoods of 2020.


Your jobs have been challenging in healthcare operations. There were many competing priorities, competing voices, and competition for your time and attention. It is easy to understand how your energy dipped.  As the leader, you have to fuel your tank to have the power to continue to lead your team. Unfortunately, COVID will still be the elephant in the room governing lives and operations, at least for a while.


There has never been a better time to seize this quote, “Out with the old and in with the new!” It is not surprising that you, like many others, might need a reset to your leader mindset to ring in 2021. In golf, it is called a mulligan, a do-over.


There are many ways to begin a reset of your leadership mindset and get back on track. Note some of the ways listed below.


  1. recharging your battery
  2. becoming more self and others aware
  3. investing time and attention in you
  4. showing gratitude to others
  5. letting go of the past
  6. moving beyond the cycle of urgency faced each day


Each month in 2021, the blog will feature another way to reset your leadership mindset. In his 2020 book, Life is in the Transitions – Mastering Change at Any Age, Bruce Feiler notes that transitions occur when lives get disrupted. Certainly, COVID counts as a disruptor.


If there is a collision of a few life disruptors, he calls these lifequakes. He collected and documented themes from hundreds of interviews and noted that significant upheavals or lifequakes could take three to five years to process and work through.  In 2020, did you experience disruptors or a lifequake? Recognizing where you are and that you might need a reset is a start.


Each person is different and will have their own best way to shift and turn the tide. You start the process by taking small action steps such as those described above. And, over time, these steps and actions can shift your mindset and perspective.


Shift Your Mindset – Idea #1


Sometimes to move forward, you need to look back.


Moving forward may mean moving back. This is especially true when recharging your battery and generating energy to move forward. What will fuel your tank?


Reflecting on earlier experiences helps you remember how you tackled challenging times before.


How can you apply that learning to what you are currently facing? What can you do that will give you energy? What was successful before? Was it learning something new, connecting with friends, or playing the piano? Sometimes, these other activities feed your soul in ways that the challenges in work can’t today.


Sometimes, it means letting go of your adult responsibilities and remembering a more carefree time – which for many people is childhood.







You could be anything you wanted to be. I wanted to be an artist in first grade, even though my skills were far behind most first graders. But my parents oohed and aahed anyway. I felt in control, and there were no boundaries of what could and could not be done.


Unfortunately, as you get older, these boundaries become guardrails, rules, order, and structure that you “must” apply in adult life.  Many people have described living and working through COVID as a series of constantly changing rules and guidelines. I heard many tell feeling a lack of control (or agency), which helps people manage their mindset.


Dig deep within yourself and find that more fearless attitude you had as a child. This may mean you go back many years (or for some of us – many, many years) and find the joy you had in simple things.


Each year, I pick out a few favorite books from my childhood that I read again. These books lift my spirits or, at least, give me a new perspective, even if only for a short while.


Some of my favorites:


Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. Pippi was my first superhero.  She finds joy in every moment and lives her life according to the standards she desires. She is courageous, but she also invites others to share her journey!


Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. There are a few movie versions as well. But as a kid, I have to admit to being a little afraid of the oompah loompahs.


Charlie dreamed of finding a golden ticket in a Wonka chocolate bar so he can earn a trip through the most magical place on earth – the Wonka Chocolate Factory. Despite not being able to buy many chocolate bars, Charlie believed he would find the ticket. Ultimately, his belief, kind heart, and imagination earned him the keys to the factory.


The many books by Laura Ingalls Wilder


Somehow, I connected many assignments in elementary to Life in the Big Woods or the Prairie. But I don’t think I saved those shoebox dioramas.


Laura was full of spunk, grit, and independence. She was comfortable in her own skin. When I needed courage, I found it in her books.


Or perhaps you want to shift a book to a movie.


Humor is an excellent way to fuel your tank. The first movie I remember watching at the movie theatre was It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.  The film, packed with stars from the era, is slapstick comedy at its best. Plus, there was an intermission and candy!


If you are still able, can you go to a candy store to set up your experience? Choose a few candies and sit down to reread a favorite childhood book or watch an old movie. I guarantee this will brighten your day.


Feiler feels transitions offer people a bridge to something new or different. He adapts a quote from Vivian Green,


“Life is not about waiting for the rain to stop; It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”


Wishing you a leadership reset in 2021 that allows you to:



Julie Jones, RSA Consultant

Day to Day Leadership Sharing Your Gifts | RSA Learning

Posted on December 15th, 2020


What Are Your Gifts? RSA Learning

Posted on December 1st, 2020


Recently, I traveled to my hometown to see my mom and take her to an appointment. My oldest sister, Lisa, is the CEO of a rural hospital near my hometown. Lisa knows I love personal interest stories about people who give back. She wanted me to check out the outdoor holiday decorations at Mercer Health. Brenda Robinson, an environmental services employee, asked Lisa if it would be okay if she designed and made outdoor decorations for the hospital.


My mom and I found Brenda’s gifts — of her talent and time that captured both the holiday spirit and the care provided within by these healthcare heroes.  These decorations have a story, and it is bigger than the art she created. She was brave enough to share her talents. And, in the process, gave a gift to many.




Pablo Picasso may have said it best —


“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”


Thank you to Brenda and others like her who share their gifts. These gifts matter more than ever in 2020.


This holiday season, may you be brave enough to share your gifts and grateful that you can make a difference for someone. May you also appreciate and honor the gifts of others as they give back.


From each of us at Ruck Shockey Associates, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.


Day to Day Leadership – Synchronous Team Development | RSA Learning

Posted on November 16th, 2020


Most things are still a team sport – Leading in a virtual world | RSA Learning

Posted on November 2nd, 2020


You hear a lot today about synchronous and asynchronous education. What does that really mean? These concepts are also shaping the workplace and not always in positive ways.


What is synchronous education?

The learners, content, and instruction are occurring at the same time. Everyone shares a common experience. They are a cohort; they coexist, they are in sync. There is a shared point of connection. Consider what happens in synchronous education – connecting with other learners, hearing other points of view, receiving added direction from the teacher, clarifying content, asking questions in real-time, making meaning, and receiving feedback.


So, what is asynchronous education?

On the other hand, asynchronous learning is independent. Learning is prerecorded or developed for learners to learn on their own time, at their own pace, and convenient. Asynchronous education continues to grow at a rapid rate.  But what can be missed in asynchronous methods? Consider where the focus is – “I” – What I need, when it is convenient for me, and what I want to learn.

Can you see how asynchronous work has made its way into business with the pandemic? Some employees have come to expect the workplace to fully adapt to their personal needs – their time, their work process, and their speed leading to limited interactions with others on their team, loss of alignment with business outcomes, and limited growth for the individual.


Most things are a team sport, and fully asynchronous work limits teamwork.

Think about Merriam Webster’s definitions for a team –

Noun – “a number of persons associated together in work or activity,” a crew a gang

Adjective – “marked by devotion to teamwork rather than individual achievement”

Verb – “join forces or efforts”; “to put together a coordinated ensemble”

In the definition, you can see the connection to others, coordinated ensemble, and team effort instead of individual achievement. Operating fully independently without connection (asynchronous) can impact your success in your role and as a team member.

Consider what you have done completely asynchronous this week because it was easier for you? What did you lose in translation with other members of your team? What was the impact on their work? What do you need to contribute back to your team?  What do you owe to those who work with you?  Contribution and accountability to the team will define how others view you and your performance.


Fully asynchronous work limits your growth and development.  

What are your growth and development needs? How will you accomplish this learning?

One popular learning model is the 70:20:10 model developed by the Center for Creative Leadership in the 1990s, which transformed adult learning for business.  Their model notes that:

So, what is the impact of asynchronous work on growth and development? Remember what happens in synchronous learning –

These items are critical elements for successful learning for 90% of the learning model – experiential learning and social learning. Going asynchronous for growth and development will limit the depth and breadth of skill development when overlooking these synchronous learning elements.

Think about your last successful challenging assignment pre-pandemic. How were you able to use the benefits of the team to improve your performance and the team’s outcomes? What elements described above were important to you? Consider ways to add these synchronous efforts to your plan.


Most things still are a team sport –synchronous work, whether in person or virtual, builds teams, and improves results.


Asynchronous is an individual sport UNLESS you commit to connection. It takes more work by the employee to engage with other team members, hear and take other points of view whether virtual or in person.


It is important to note that each employee provides a piece to the puzzle which requires coordination with other members of the team to generate successful outcomes. Even a puzzle can be A TEAM SPORT.





Ask yourself these additional questions:





Day to Day Leadership – Building Leadership through Moments | RSA Learning

Posted on October 15th, 2020


How Star Wars Made Us Better. An Interesting Example of Leadership | RSA Learning

Posted on October 1st, 2020

Ohio State Wexner Center Nutrition Services – May the Fourth Be With You Day.


May the Fourth Be with You, held May 4th each year celebrates Star Wars.  Special events and themed days in healthcare facilities are a common way to create an experience for employees, visitors, and patients who come to the cafes. An event with a custom menu, themed menu item names, décor, and café employee participation, makes it visual, tactile, and interactive. These events are a welcome break for healthcare employees who are caring for others, visitors who are worried about their loved ones, and the patients themselves if they can leave their rooms.


Once the special event idea started brewing to celebrate Star Wars, the creativity flowed. You have to let concepts brew and simmer to move beyond the easy ideas. Once the team gets past the easy, it is like watching a train gain speed. New ideas are pitched and added to by others, and the volunteers get more excited, the group’s energy increases and the ideas take on a life of their own.


Imagine entering the café with special lighting, music, and menu boards featuring items such as BBQ Porkins Pizza, Tater Vader Tots, Endor Endive Salad, or Chewbacc-lava.  Just outside the entrance are live, costumed Star Wars characters just waiting for a photo opportunity. Customers appreciate the extra touches even if they are not Star Wars fans. It is different than normal and appreciated.


So how did Star Wars make us better leaders?

Finding ways to give back to others adds fuel to your leadership gas tank. Making a difference for others cannot help but make you feel better in the process which research also supports. When you can combine giving as an event, the effect multiplies not just for you as the leader, but for others who take part.


In addition to the benefits of giving, special events also develop other leadership traits and skills including:


Get the Creative Juices Flowing

Engage employees to come up with ideas for theme days. For those with a particular passion, let them share it with others. Employees want to be engaged in work and contribute in different ways. I have seen a shy employee become a brave warrior in a Star Wars costume. As an added benefit, creativity pays it forward. It can generate new ways of doing business every day and not just on special event days.


Promote Teamwork

Someone asked me once about how we built such strong teamwork in the foodservice team. I responded that we consistently practice. Special events are a way to practice teamwork engaging all levels from the front-line employees through the director level WHILE having fun. There is pressure to perform on event days and front-line employees like to give direction to those of us who are less experienced in the day to day jobs. Other teams do not have often have the chance to work together in these unique ways.


Engage Others in the Journey

Special events are always a journey from brainstorming to execution. When you invite others to take part, they are part of the process and more committed to its success. Seeing their ideas built into the event, recognizes their contributions. These employees become strong brand ambassadors promoting the event to others on the team or to customers. It is also a way for employees to think for the benefit of customers. This is key to helping them recognize the impact they can have on other people and connect them more closely to their role.


You include customers in the journey when you create an interactive experience. Your customers are sharing the experience not just with you but with the other customers. I have seen Star Wars movie conversations pop up between people while waiting in line to have their pictures taken. Star Wars has a large fan base and it was interesting to watch this community develop through people during these events. Foodservice can play a pivotal role in establishing community in an organization. Public events like these shape the culture, demonstrate the values, welcome and include others, and provide a needed break for those who are facing tough healthcare challenges or for the caregivers delivering care.


Young visitor in character – OSU WMC Star Wars Day



Leaders work for the benefit of others.

These events are opportunities for leaders to give back and work for others including your own team, your customers, and the organization. These events make more of an impact than you think. You have engaged your team and their ideas and made a difference for someone who might be having a bad day. I also talked with a grandfather at one of the events who has thrilled to share an experience with his grandchildren who were visiting even though he was in the hospital. These outcomes are powerful and are measured by positive feelings.   These events take work to execute, but I believe we always gained more in the process by making a difference for others. Goodwill given is goodwill returned.



Ask yourself these additional questions:




Julie Jones, RSA Consultant

Day to Day Leadership – Leadership Learning and Development | RSA Learning

Posted on September 15th, 2020


Things You Can Learn and Apply from Your School-Aged Self, the First Day of School, and Your Career | RSA Learning

Posted on September 1st, 2020


Do you remember any of your first days of school? Take a moment and write a few sentences about what you remember and felt on one of those emotion-filled days. These tend to be robust memories for most people.


Even after many years, I can still remember the excitement of back to school shopping, enjoying the new beginning that each school year offered, and waiting anxiously for my schedule to see if my friends were in my classes.  But, at the same time, I was apprehensive as some of my classes and teachers got harder each year.


Unfortunately, as you enter adulthood and big people jobs, it is easy to have lost your first day of school mindset. Life has become a routine that repeats day after day. You focus more narrowly on your job role to be efficient and investing in your growth and development can go by the wayside as you juggle real life with families, careers, and deadlines.


Take a moment to consider the following questions.


What excited you as you thought about your first day?


Was it the ability to start new, experiment, or experience new things? Remember those short classes lasting just nine weeks, or joining clubs, school groups, or sports? If you fell short last year, the new year was a time to begin school with a fresh slate. It was also the time to integrate learning across a variety of subjects.  As an example, teachers used math, science, geography, and perhaps reading to convey the relationship between water and ice.  This immersion (no pun intended) allowed you to view water and ice from different lenses such as math or geography, learning something different from each, and applying the information in varied ways. The coordination of subjects formed connections in learning.


Work carries forward as adults. It is not easy to get a fresh slate or a new start each year. Unfortunately, the boundaries of current jobs, real or imagined, become harder to break. Are there ways you can inject new opportunities into your current role, experiment with new skills, or experience your role or career differently? What can you do to make this happen? What are the opportunities or possibilities?


Carol Dweck, a famous American psychologist, calls these opportunity and possibility traits a growth mindset since you look for what can be instead of what is. People who approach their careers with a growth mindset are more satisfied and feel more in control of their career destination(s). A growth mindset is grounded in learning and possibilities and allows you to make the broad connections between the different subjects in your current role or career.


What do you remember about back to school clothes and school supply shopping?


I was always excited to think about new clothes and school supplies. Catalogs provided great inspiration. I had to shop wisely since I was one of five kids, so there were limits. My favorite school supply each year was a new pencil box. To this day, I still carry cool pencil pouches. I know many adults who have remained school and office supply nerds just like me!


This back to school shopping was a way to reinvent yourself each year. What was the new you going to look like, act like, and be?  What supplies did you need to be successful?


Have you considered what habits or actions hold you back from being who you want to be? How can you reinvent yourself in your current role or plan for a future role? What changes and “shopping” do you need to get closer to your new ideal, career transition, or skillset?


What was it like reconnecting with a group of friends in the lunchroom?


Whether you carried your lunchbox or bought your lunch, it was exciting to find some friends, an open table, and talk freely through lunch. Even today, I can feel the energy of my school cafeterias. They had their own heartbeat, especially when recess or a study hall followed lunch. The freedom to hang out with friends when you had limited unstructured time was a blessing. It was time to recharge your batteries for the rest of the day.


As adults, it has become easy to work through lunch and avoid connecting with friends and coworkers because time is limited or now because of the current COVID considerations. Somehow, finding time to play or have fun has become optional as “adults” as well. Unfortunately, the sense of connection and spirit that blends people and teams through relationships and play can be lost in the grown-up world.


Are you making time to connect with friends, families, and coworkers to strengthen your spirit and feed your soul? Are you finding ways to play and enjoy life? As the saying goes, you have to grow up, but you don’t have to grow old. Young is a state of mind that must be fed.


What fears did you have to tackle?


On your first day of school, you met teachers who had different expectations and rules in their classrooms. Sometimes, you had to transition to new schools and perhaps find new friends. Comfort zones were pushed every year for twelve years, which forced you to adapt. Unfortunately, comfort zones get narrower as we age. It can be easy to seek comfort in what we already know and do. The risks feel more significant as adults – fear of failure, financial loss, the energy to take on something new as examples.


What is holding you back? What steps can you take to grow your comfort zone? What do you want to try, but the fear of failure is holding you back? Can you find that can-do attitude from your first day of school that will give you the courage?


Take a few moments today to remember some first days and reset your first day of school mindset that includes excitement, possibilities, opportunities, and fresh starts.



Recently, while cleaning out a cupboard, I came across a school ID from my sophomore year in high school, which was more than forty years ago. I remember the excitement of getting this ID, my first photo ID for school, adding my signature, and having a way to prove my identity before I got my official driver’s license. Do you have a picture from one of your first days of school or one of your school IDs? Post it near your computer to remind you of the possibilities of a new year, a fresh start, experiments, and experiences.




Note: Today is the first day of school in my hometown.  It was nice to see school buses return for in-person learning. I think the kids are even more excited this year, given how the last school year ended. I am sure this year’s first day of school photos with masks on at the bus stop will generate many different feelings for these students more than forty years from now.


Ask yourself these additional questions:






Julie Jones, RSA Consultant

Day to Day Leadership – Building Networks | RSA Learning

Posted on August 17th, 2020


5 Ways to Use Your Networks to Strengthen Your Story | RSA Learning

Posted on August 3rd, 2020


Too often, leaders go it alone and focus their energies solely on internal operations instead of making connections externally in the organization and beyond.  Organizations today are living organisms involving a series of interconnected relationships. These relationships form the foundation of your networks.


Developing strong networks of individuals can prop up, validate, and extend the reach of your influence as a leader and are key to strengthening your story.  Individuals in your networks can help solve operational issues and serve as mentors and sponsors for you and your team. But they can also tell your story more broadly in the organization and with greater influence than you might have alone.


People evaluate you and your team’s reputation based on their own perspectives. When you have strong networks, people in your networks weigh in and share their opinions of you and your team with others which can carry more weight.


Ibarra and Hunter, leadership researchers and authors, describe three networks – personal, operational, and strategic – that you need as a leader which are described in the table below.   Adapted from: Ibarra, H. and Hunter, M. How Leaders Create and Use Networks. Harvard Business Review. January 2007.



All three networks are important for you to develop because their impacts are different. Reviewing the characteristics of the three types of networks, the ability to establish trust and build positive, productive relationships with others creates the strongest networks.


Trust is the foundational element – others trust that you have their best interest in mind, they trust that you are making the right decisions, they trust your competence, they trust that you will be collaborative, they trust that you are fair and inclusive and the list could go on.  When trust exists, they support you as the leader and are willing to follow and support you.


Many years ago, we were planning both a large kitchen renovation project and a large replacement hospital simultaneously at my prior job. Not surprisingly, new hospital buildings are expensive to build so a full kitchen was not being planned in the new building.  But, rather a plan to renovate our existing kitchens to support both the new and existing buildings was being considered. The challenge we faced was how to secure more than 10 million in funding for a kitchen renovation that was not cool or sexy when compared to the design, technology, and furnishings for a new tower.


For a few years, I submitted capital budget requests without gaining significant traction. I was getting worried we wouldn’t have the capacity to handle the new tower and existing building demands. Words on a page attached to large numbers didn’t tell the whole story of what needed to be accomplished. How could we approach our funding proposal differently? We decided that perhaps others could help us tell our story.


We had a good relationship with one of the chief financial officers (CFO) in our organization. We developed and managed budgets well, and when needed, made, and delivered reductions in budgets to meet targets. We were low maintenance and high-value contributors.


During construction planning, I also had the opportunity to co-lead a related project with the physician leader of the new hospital tower. During our project, we built a strong relationship and we were able to learn from each other. These two individuals were key in helping us tell our story differently to achieve more than 10 million in funding for the project and ongoing support for our team.


The 5 ways described below can be used to improve anyone’s story.


Frame the Story:


We approached our CFO to brainstorm ways to tell our story more effectively. We sought his advice and provided a behind the scenes tour of our kitchens. We were able to show him the challenges we currently faced and what additional issues could be expected after the new tower construction. The tour helped him make sense of our operations at a high level so that he could explain them to others.


He helped create the table of contents for our story – a 3-year capital budget plan for funding. He translated our story into actionable language and buckets of “work” for the senior leadership team.


Brainstorm Story Lines


The CFO also helped us better understand the novel. What else is missing in our story? He shared other impacts and priorities for the organization and noted others who could have a place in our story.  He felt our project could support broader organization needs. We learned that enlarging our story, gaining support from others, and forming alliances created additional value for our project.


Introduction to the Story or Book


At times, we needed others to introduce our story to key decision-makers. The CFO was able to include us in upcoming meeting agendas to present our story to senior leadership groups. He acted as our advocate and sponsor.  He was a co-presenter of our story to these groups allowing us to have a greater impact by adding his credibility to our financial plan and project.


Edit your Story


Sometimes our plans are too aggressive, and progress will be better than perfect. Our networks helped us answer the questions, “What is possible?” “What is the priority?” A natural tendency is to throw in more than you need since you think it’s a one-shot opportunity for funding. Our CFO planned methods of adding layers to the project. In his experience, you can’t accomplish projects of this magnitude overnight. His insight helped us see the big picture and continue to chip away at the remaining layers over time. He helped us with both progress and patience.


Goodreads™ Story Review – Qualify your Contributions and Describe the Impact


The physician leader became one of our sideline cheerleaders publicly and privately in meetings throughout the new tower construction project. Like a Goodreads™ review, others paid attention to his words. Plus, having others support you, your team, and the work you do built our team’s confidence.


We were fortunate to have strong voices who were willing to support our team. But it started with us and our ability to build relationships, deliver on commitments and achieve targets, and consistently contribute in broad ways for the organization. The work and results we achieved daily built our network “savings” account. When we needed to withdraw some networking “funds” to help us move our project vision forward with senior leaders, we had the additional network backing necessary for our story.


Ask yourself these questions:



Action and Reflection

Commit time this week to:



Julie Jones, RSA Learning Consultant




Day to Day Leadership – Customer Touchpoints | RSA Learning

Posted on July 15th, 2020







How to create positive customer experiences that get attention despite physical distancing | RSA Learning

Posted on July 1st, 2020



What will happen to customer service, customer engagement, and the customer experience because of business closures and distancing resulting from COVID-19? One of the core needs of humans is to belong—a sense of community, connection, and purpose. Think of the common new words – contactless, physical distancing, hands-free, isolation, and quarantine as examples. Most of these words have been born out of safety but make connections less human. The restaurant industry has chosen to use the words physical distancing instead of social distancing. Physical distancing implies safety but protects the word social as a human trait. Think of the meaning of these two words – contactless and hands-free. Which sounds more human?


For service industries where hospitality, touch, and personal interaction have driven business models, new ways to connect with customers are required, at least for the near future. Human connection is still possible, but it will need to occur differently.

Based on social psychology research of customer behavior, the key elements that promote a positive customer experience include:

What are some ways you can incorporate these ideas into your “new” service models?

Some ways I have seen these done recently:


Personalize the experience

Customers will appreciate personal touches and personalization, given the transactional – “contactless” nature of many interactions today.


Create experiences – something unexpected, and an element of surprise

Experiences and unexpected services are memorable, and they become the stories of tomorrow.


Provide excellent service and positive attitude

Customers remember excellent service and positive attitudes. The Maya Angelou quote is relevant here –  “People may not remember what you say or do, but they remember how they were made to feel.”

These are but a few examples of ways that local businesses have created connections with customers. The hospitality industry sets the standard for human connection. I’m looking forward to seeing how the talented, resourceful, and creative people in the industry create community and belonging for those they serve despite distancing.


Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are there ways we could be more human with our customers?
  2. What ways can we personalize our customer experience?
  3. How can we introduce something unexpected or an element of surprise to make a customer’s day?


Action and Reflection

Commit time this week to:

  1. Ask others what their best customer service interaction has been since COVID? What made it special? What can you apply for their experience?
  2. Select one or two secret shoppers and ask them to evaluate their customer experience. What did you learn?


Julie Jones, RSA Learning Consultant

Day to Day Leadership – Essential Conversations Skill Building | RSA Learning

Posted on June 16th, 2020


“Bud Did It!” – Life of a Leader and Essential Conversations | RSA Learning

Posted on May 30th, 2020




Our daughter was about three years old when visiting family in California. At one point, Stephanie did something, and when asked about it, she proclaimed,” Bud did it.” Bud being the dog who lived outside. Throughout the entire week, “Bud” was the common culprit.


Bud is easy to blame—he is the mysterious person or dog who makes appearances in performance conversations to deflect ownership of actions. As a leader early in my career, the thought of addressing employee performance problems scared me. How could I have performance conversations with employees who had done their jobs for more than twenty years when I had been there for less than one year? I did not feel I had the experience or confidence to direct these conversations. Instead, I found myself being led by the employees in these conversations to:
• “It was someone else’s fault.”
• “Joe does the same thing, and you don’t have a problem with it.”
• “I’m not sure you (meaning me) understand how it is really done here.”


Note the employees deflected their responsibility for the action or issue. Too often, I conceded to their position since I was uncomfortable with the silence, delivering bad news, and/or handling the anger of people who were upset with me for addressing the issue. I knew I needed to change my approach.


What it takes to address “Bud” in conversations


First, I had to acknowledge my role as a leader included having essential conversations with employees to address their accountability, performance, and ownership of actions. Having essential conversations is more specific and tied to individual employees more than saying I do performance evaluations annually.


Then, like most new leaders, I had a defining moment that shoved me in the right direction. I remember finding my voice with one employee who threw everyone, including the kitchen sink, under the bus instead of owning her actions. That day, I found the courage to coach and have a corrective conversation with this employee. At that time, I also recognized I was not fair to the other employees by giving someone the license to speak poorly of their coworkers. As a leader, I had to own the direction of the conversation.


Crucial Conversations, a book written by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler presents content, a format, and practice exercises to grow your essential conversation skills. I like to switch the word essential for their word crucial. Essential describes the conversation as being absolutely necessary and part of my required role as a leader. I shifted my mindset.


As I thought more about my performance, I realized that I was good at having conversations with employees, however, I did avoid entering the challenging zone. In retrospect, employees probably had to figure out how they were performing since I did not consistently let them know. I had to find my voice, develop confidence, and grow my essential conversation skills through practice, observation, and feedback to get better. I also learned that building trust and positive relationships is key to success.


What I learned in more than 30 years of essential conversations:


The fear of having the conversation was usually worse than having the essential conversation.


Essential conversations are an extension of trust and positive relationships that I build each day. Some tips I have learned:

• Recognize that there are two sides to every story. Allow employees to be heard and share their solutions or ideas.
• Employees want to be part of the process.
• In the conversation, show respect. Treat the person as you would want to be treated in a similar circumstance or how you would want a member of your family treated.
• Separate the person from the behavior. Too often, the person and the behavior are blended, which causes bias.
• Make conversation with employees a part of an everyday routine. Learn their stories and what is important to them. Share what they do well, show appreciation for their work. Communicating only problems or things to fix is not a long-term strategy for growing performance.
• When positive relationships exist, the tone of the conversation and acceptance of the feedback improves in essential conversations.


Direct the path of the conversation and its outcomes.

• Assume positive intent by the employee and create a safe space for the conversation.
• Be curious and ask questions. Do not assume you know the answer or their motivation. Ask what questions instead of why. What happened is better than why did you that? Think through questions to ask in advance to be better prepared.
• Direct the conversation and its path consistently back to the employee and the issue at hand. Hold the reins, and do not let the employee confuse the content or meaning by blaming others or yourself.


I found this statement worked most times – “I want to make sure I understand your actions or fill in the blank. Then I would clarify their actions, performance, and impact through added questions and statements like “Tell me more about …”.


• Likewise, do not introduce Bud in conversations yourself. Be accountable and own the information you share. Do not blame other managers or people as the reason for meeting or follow up.
• Be present in the conversation. Be prepared to be wrong in your assessment of the situation.
• Follow your organization’s guidelines for employee counseling and documentation. Seek feedback from other seasoned leaders or human resources partners when faced with challenging situations.



• Ensure you have clearly described employee expectations, required changes in behaviors, and next steps so that employee understands.
• Do what you say you were going to do for the next steps—consistency and follow-through matters.
• Offer employees the opportunity and support required to correct their behavior and/or improve performance. When you are fair, consistent, and provide the necessary support, disciplinary action is a result of the employee’s behavior, performance, or actions.
After more than thirty years and what seems like thousands of essential conversations, I became more confident, a better listener, showed more courage, could redirect “Bud” moments, and became more empathetic to what the employee feels. Navigating essential conversations is always a work in progress. Feelings and emotions often make an appearance and can affect the conversation even for the most seasoned leaders. I found I learned something about the employee or myself from every essential conversation.


Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I have an essential conversation I have been putting off? What is holding me back? What could be the “shove” I need to hold a productive essential conversation?
2. Think back to a recent essential conversation. What did I do well? What could I have done differently? How can I apply this learning to a future essential conversation?
3. How well did I listen when an employee shared their concerns with me? Did I listen for the whole story and not just hear what I wanted to hear?


Action and Reflection

Commit time this week to:
1. During your daily employee rounds, what can you learn about employees, their development needs, or confidence boosters? What opportunities can you provide to better support them?
2. Practice low stakes conversations with others – at home with your family, your friends, or your peers at work. These build confidence for essential conversations.


       Julie Jones, RSA Learning Consultant


Day to Day Leadership – New Standards Self Reflection | RSA Learning

Posted on May 15th, 2020


Self-reflection is a powerful tool to shift your thinking. Use these activities as self-reflection prompts.



Leading when there is a new standard | RSA Learning

Posted on May 1st, 2020


COVID-19 has changed the landscape of our lives personally and professionally. Many of these changes will have lasting impacts. Face masks in public will be the new standard for the immediate future, and most people are anxiously awaiting giving a long overdue hug to family members and friends when it is safe to do so. Six months ago, did Ford Motor Company employees even know what a ventilator was? Yet, they are producing them on their production lines just a few months later. New ways of life and work were required to fight this pandemic.


What was commonplace – sitting in a bustling employee cafeteria, attending a conference, movie, or sporting event was no longer an option. Stories of kindness and community took on new meaning in the US culture, which is based heavily on personal connection.


People and businesses adapted and accomplished things no one thought possible. It was refreshing to see American ingenuity tackling PPE and COVID-19 testing challenges and businesses pitching in to support healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines. Outside of healthcare and first responders, how many people knew about N-95 masks and PPE before February?


During this time, companies shifted their business models to:
support the changing needs caused by the pandemic – virtual work, changing products or services produced based on NEW needs, changing workflows in essential businesses for physical distance
remain relevant with more limited sales opportunities – online and pickup ordering in restaurants, direct product shipping to customer homes
be socially responsible – following established guidelines when work could no longer be accommodated in a way to support physical distancing, or giving back to those in need


Change happened – companies and individuals were forced to respond quickly whether they were ready or not.


These thoughts bring me to an experience I had last summer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My sister and I visited a local yarn store. As we parked, we noticed a medical marijuana dispensary next to the yarn store. The dispensaries were relatively new to the Midwest at the time, and we both paused and considered the juxtaposition of a new standard.




It was interesting to watch the expressions of the yarn shoppers who stopped, paused, and considered the store next door. The juxtaposition of new expectations and, in this case, laws help you grow and adapt because some new knowledge, practice, or acceptance is needed to move forward. Moments of pause force reflection –the first stage in self-awareness and growth.


Reflection accurately described what we observed that afternoon. Because it was different, people noticed and recognized that the world had changed. Sometimes, different is the kick in the pants needed to grow and develop and become better – whether as a person, an employee, a business, a parent, a child, or a leader.


COVID-19 has been a kick in the pants, but it also provided juxtaposition to see things differently. Adaptation was not a choice – it was a given. The last eight weeks have pushed most people beyond their normal expectations.


While no one wished for COVID -19, what will stand out is how people responded. How did you grow, develop, and adapt during this time? How did you innovate and what will you do differently as a result of the required changes? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about your team? Life will not return to “commonplace” since our experience is now different. Some of the adapted processes are improvements over previous options. These will stick.


What will the future hold, and how can you and your team best deliver against the new standard? You must shift and balance the pressing needs of today and provide yourself time and space to think strategically about your operating model long term.


It will be key to build both capability and capacity in the programs and services offered to create a more agile model. Consider your technology and its connection to customers and your operation, workforce skills, and operating models as you build capability. What will be required? Contemplate your physical or virtual space, the equipment used, and the technology platform for capacity. What does your new operating model need for the planned capacity?


While the future is unknown, COVID-19 forced change, which normally could have taken years to accomplish. Leverage relationships, business partners, and ongoing learning to build innovation, capacity, and capability to take advantage of new opportunities. Who can provide key support to your team to ramp down or ramp up operations allowing you time to think beyond today’s needs? Or what support might you need to pivot to new or adjacent services?


As John Maxwell said, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” Are you ready to innovate, grow, and take advantage of new opportunities?



Ask yourself these questions and write down what you learned over the past eight weeks. Consider juxtaposition – what is different and how you can use that to your advantage.


• What changes are required in your business and service model to remain safe, relevant, and stronger in capability and capacity?
• What will change based upon your lessons learned?
• What may never return?
• How well-positioned are you and your team tackle the new standard?


Action and Reflection:
Commit time this week to:


• Take care of yourself and your team. Take time to energize, so you are thinking at your best.
• Notice changes in other industries. Consider how you can apply this to your business model.
• Sketch out an idea for a new and improved operating model at three months, six months, and one year. Start to work with your team on shifts in your business model, building capability and capacity. This sketch is your commitment to shifting to a different gear.

Julie Jones, RSA Learning Consultant

Day to Day Leadership – Gratitude Journaling | RSA Learning

Posted on April 14th, 2020


Gratitude journaling is a proven way to handle stress. Finding things going right each day might be the motivation you need to continue.

These gratitude journal notes will also strengthen your spirit in the future as a reminder of what you accomplished despite the challenges.





Healthcare Heroes | RSA Learning

Posted on April 1st, 2020


There are natural-born leaders. In crises, they step up, remain calm, exude confidence, manage the emotions of others, don’t take “time-outs,” nor blame others for the current situation.


Natural-born leaders are plentiful in healthcare. As unsung heroes, they routinely work for the benefit of others despite a cost to themselves. These natural-born leaders don’t seek fame or glory but rather excel in doing what is right and being human, extending care and concern to those they encounter. The recent COVID crisis has upended life as we know it in the United States and has stressed our healthcare system well beyond its intended capacity.


At Ruck Shockey, we want to honor and recognize our healthcare partners. We know them as amazing individuals personally and have had the opportunity to experience their selflessness firsthand over many years. We appreciate their commitment, creativity, and determination to see things through. We want to extend our gratitude to these unsung heroes who are bravely caring for others.


Reach out to one of your healthcare heroes and let them know they matter. Can you find a way to make a difference for them? Winnie the Pooh uses his friends, gratitude, positive thinking, empathy, acceptance, and his honeypot to fortify his journey. May your human kindness enrich your healthcare hero’s journey during this challenging time.


“You are braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think.    A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh



Day to Day Leadership Activities to Boost Results Orientation | RSA Learning

Posted on March 17th, 2020

5 Tactics Leaders Use to Achieve Results and Enhanced Performance | RSA Learning

Posted on March 2nd, 2020


Everyone loves a story when the underdog wins. The movies, Rudy, Rocky, Miracle, Hoosier, and Remember the Titans capture what is best in competition and performance given overwhelming odds. If you are a reader, I’d recommend The Boys in the Boat – Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. These stories captivate and challenge the common perception that those with the best talent always win. What allowed those with lesser talent and fewer resources to overcome? There are some common themes that run through these stories – strong coaches and team leaders, grit and perseverance, belief in oneself and the team, teamwork, and alignment.


As a leader, you will be evaluated for your ability to achieve results. Results orientation is a mindset, and, if you have it, you keep your eye on the prize, so to speak – you know and track the goals and outcomes you need to meet. You understand and clarify the expectations of your stakeholders – your bosses and customers and can navigate challenges as expectations shift. People and teams with the skill not only see the end goal but can breakdown the goal into manageable steps to execute and deliver and align the team and work to accomplish the goal. A results orientation mindset is also fortified with effort and resilience traits like those listed above.


Tactic #1: You know and track the goals and outcomes you need to meet


You make sure that you have identified the metrics, that they are measurable, and you track and post your progress. You become a cheerleader and help others see a pathway to stronger results. You celebrate wins, progress, individual and team accomplishments along the way. You coach others through rough spots and help others gain confidence in their skills.


Tactic #2: You understand the expectations of your stakeholders and can navigate changes in expectations


You clarify outcomes, goals, priorities, deadlines, and expectations for yourself and your team with your leader. You dig deeper than the surface to understand the intent and direction for your services. You can navigate changes in the environment – when leaders, finances, and system/process changes impact your work. You work collaboratively with your leader to adjust you and your team’s outcomes and goals.


Tactic #3: You can breakdown the goal into manageable steps to execute and deliver results


You can evaluate systems and processes that are impacting performance. With the team, you can identify steps to more sustainable practices for improved outcomes. You anticipate problems that you might face in implementation and you collaborate with the team for resolution. You recognize small steps can make a difference in performance.


Tactic #4: You align the team and work to accomplish the goals and outcomes


You direct employees and the work (products and services) for successful execution balancing priorities to achieve outcomes. You foster accountable people and processes and promote consistency in performance each day. You prioritize time each day to deal with longer term issues instead of only focusing on the burning issues of today.


Tactic #5: You and your team demonstrate effort at a high level


You and your team exhibit effort – both mental toughness and a physical drive to push forward for the benefit of your customer and the organization. You can achieve results despite obstacles. You can bounce back from failure or rejection. Effort is the extra mile that can separate performance.



Rudy, Rocky, the US hockey team, the basketball team in Hoosiers, the football team in Remember the Titans, and the 1936 US rowing team found ways to surpass everyone’s expectations. The work was hard, the challenges tough, but the rewards were plenty when they beat the odds, championed their outcome, and delivered results. They were invested in the effort and consistently went the extra mile digging deep within themselves cultivating new skills and fortifying their confidence learning more from challenge than comfort. They demonstrated that strong performance didn’t just happen. It was planned for, practiced, aligned and evaluated consistently.


Ask yourself these questions:


• Did I do my best today to achieve results?
• What did I do well?
• What do I need to do differently?


Action and Reflection:
Commit time this week to:


• Clarify expectations, goals, and outcomes and track results
• Identify a small action you can take with your team to improve outcomes. What steps do you need to take to make this change happen?
• Reward an employee who demonstrates effort at a high level. What were the outcomes achieved as a result of his/her effort?

Julie Jones, RSA Learning Consultant

Day to Day Leadership Activities to Engage Employees | RSA Learning

Posted on February 16th, 2020


Comfortable is different for everyone – How can leaders respond? | RSA Learning

Posted on February 6th, 2020


One day as I was out running errands, I was waiting at the stoplight when a runner passed by wearing khaki shorts, a belt, black socks and running shoes. I thought to myself, “How can running in khaki shorts and a belt be comfortable? “ But, in this case, I was viewing the runner, through my eyes and perception without considering his motivation. What I took away from the experience is that comfortable is different for everyone. Each person defines their priorities and processes that add value or work for them. This experience got me thinking and wondering about what motivates people. As I dug a little deeper, I discovered Richard Ryan and Edward Deci’s work on motivation and self-determination theory summarized in the American Psychologist journal in 2000.


Motivation has been described as energy, direction, persistence and resourcefulness— the ability to navigate many means to an end when someone is determined to do so. What motivates people to do more, be more, and try more? Ryan and Deci note three factors, autonomy, relatedness, and competence that appear essential in pushing people into growth and development as well as promoting personal wellbeing. People can be motivated from within themselves (intrinsic) or use external motivation (rewards) to push forward.


Choice, acknowledging their own feelings, and opportunities for self- direction were directly related to autonomy in their 1995 study. In the case of the runner, he made decisions and choices that suited him and his outcomes for the day. He was comfortable with his choices but mine would be different. That is the essence of motivation. Each person is motivated differently to achieve yet we frequently apply a one size fits all model limiting choice or autonomy as we engage or develop employees.


Relatedness has been expressed as the need to care about and be cared about by others. Relatedness also provides the context for the work, situation, or group. It’s the realization that people are connected and want to find meaning, purpose, and respect (and/or love) in those they interact with and the companies they work for. People choose to follow and engage others when there is strong relatedness. Relatedness is that level comfort others need from people and their workplace. How often do we expect employees to follow directions without having the broader context of care, concern, or context?


Finally, competence breeds confidence. And confidence breeds competence. Much like the chicken or the egg, which comes first? As a person’s skills increase, they are motivated to continue. When they don’t feel accomplished, growth stalls and motivation fades. As leaders, what do you do to help people gain competence and confidence for their role today while also considering their growth needs for the future? Leaders can push employees to grow and learn but need to recognize how far the employee’s comfort zone can be pushed.
As a leader, it is important to remember that comfortable is different for everyone. How can you provide a level of autonomy, relatedness, and competence your employees need to achieve, grow, and thrive?




Ask yourself these questions:


• Did I do my best today to provide more autonomy to others’ in the workplace? What held me back? What held them back?
• How well did I listen and show care to employees? What held me back?
• How well did I connect employees to the context, purpose, or meaning for their work? Did it stick? Why or why not? What could I do differently?
• What did I do today/this week to improve someone’s competence or confidence? What opportunities did I miss that I could have been turned into learning/confidence building?


Action and Reflection
Commit time this week to:


• Listen to employees as they talk about job frustration. Are any of these related to autonomy? Are there ways you could provide some individual choices to help them better connect? What steps would need to be in place for this to safely occur?
• Spend time with someone who wants to learn/grow/or develop. What can you do to help them achieve their goals? Investment pays off for both the giver and the receiver.


Julie Jones, RSA Learning Consultant

Day to Day Leadership – Accomplish(ment) Review | RSA Learning

Posted on January 17th, 2020



Why a Daily Accomplish List Beats a To-Do List For Leadership Outcomes. | RSA Learning

Posted on January 5th, 2020


Each new year brings a fresh start and New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions are a promise or commitment for the coming year frequently tied to self-improvement, family connection, or a faith journey as examples. These resolutions appear as a list of things that people want to achieve – exercise at least three times per week, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, send each member of my family a birthday card this year. They are quantifiable. You feel good when you can measure, evaluate, and complete the list.


Think about the headlines you read each day—top 10 ways to be more productive, 8 things to make you smarter, 3 things to avoid at all costs. You get the gist. Did you become more productive or smarter because you completed the “list”? How do you measure, evaluate, or quantify if you have accomplished anything? Have you changed your behaviors or skills to impact your outcomes?


Work isn’t measured by completing tasks on a list. Work is a living a breathing organism that exists in a broader context. What are the bigger picture goals you are measured against? How do you define those goals on a daily task list and connect the tasks to your outcomes? What do you need to accomplish each day? For most people, this means changing how you think about your daily to-do or task list.


How can you transition from daily tasks to accomplishments to shift your behavior and performance?


Your habits control how you work and live. You follow a structure or routine that has worked for you in the past. Your work process becomes an unconscious habit. You don’t have to think about it – your work becomes automatic. So, shifting from task to accomplish lists does require changes in mindset and self-reflection, especially for those of you who are incredible achievers, the master “listers.”


Merriam Webster defines accomplishment in three ways which are important considerations –

1. The act or fact of accomplishing something COMPLETION
2. Something that has been accomplished ACHIEVEMENT
3. A quality or ability equipping one for society EQUIP


COMPLETION of an item on a task list is easy to measure. You got it done; now you can move on to other things. ACHIEVEMENT reflects the quality of work and the broader connection to other things. Achievement as a word has a more positive connotation than completion. Achievement signifies focus, effort or planning. The word EQUIP behind the third definition serves as a reminder to transform or equip you, your team, process, products or services for successful outcomes. What knowledge, skills, abilities, work process, technology (as examples) must occur to make your goals a reality?


A daily accomplish list should satisfy all three components – completion, achievement, and equip(ment).


What are the high priority tasks I need to complete on my accomplish list today? High priority tasks include more than today’s urgent needs. High priority tasks consider look-ahead or future based needs. Urgent tasks must be completed, but the key to accomplishment is making time for high priority tasks as well.


What work do I need to achieve to make a difference tomorrow, in a week, or a year? What is the quality and context of the work required for success? Achievement requires focus, effort, and planning. What should be added to your accomplish list today that allows you to be proactive, critically think, or complete planning required for achievement?


Finally, how can you best equip yourself, your team, or your work process to accomplish goals? What knowledge, skills, or abilities to you need to grow in you or your team to achieve the bigger goals? What new processes, technology, or customer engagement opportunities do you need to develop to deliver outcomes? Include items on your accomplish list that move the capabilities of you and your team or enhance the products and services you provide to customers.




Ask yourself these questions as you self-reflect each day:


• Did I do my best today to accomplish?
• What did I complete? What did I achieve? How did I equip myself, the team, the work, products or services for success?
• What did I do well?
• What choices did I make today that impacted my accomplishments?


Action and Reflection:


Commit time this week to:
• Connect goals, outcomes, and targets to timing and work to accomplish.
• What items must be accomplished to equip the team to achieve outcomes? Knowledge, skills, behaviors, the abilities of myself/team or changes to work, technology, products, and services
• What work do I need to achieve to make a difference tomorrow, in a week, or a year?
• How can I translate high priority work from equip and achieve planning to daily accomplish lists for completion?



Shifting your mindset to an accomplish list from a daily task list allows you to keep the big picture front and center. You can more easily connect the dots from a list of things to do to a list of things that are important for accomplishment to occur. Thoughtfully spend time each day considering your accomplish list identifying what is vital to complete, achieve, or equip to deliver outcomes.


Julie Jones, RSA Learning Consultant


Day to Day Leadership Activities to Foster Collaboration | RSA Learning

Posted on December 17th, 2019

Consider using these activities to foster a collaborative culture.