Browse Category: Motivation

Leadership Success Quote

Here’s a quote worth considering if you are in or aspire to a leadership role:

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”

George Sheehan

There are such strong links between leadership and success.  Try re-reading that and replacing the word ‘Success’ with ‘Leadership’ and see what I mean…

“Leadership means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”

This year I wish you all the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you were meant to be.

If You are Bullied at Work

In the past couple of articles we’ve looked at how to deal with bullying in a team you lead or the workplace where you are in charge.

What about if you are the one being bullied? If your boss, or even a colleague is bullying you, how should you handle that situation?

Just as you need to have no tolerance for bullying within a team you lead, if you are the one being bullied, at some point you will need to stand up for yourself in the face of bullying.

Remember, any bullying or harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Everyone, including you, has a right to feel safe at work and to be treated with respect.

However it is important to resist the urge to try to ‘get back’ at the bully or lower yourself to their tactics in your response.

Exactly how you respond in a situation will depend on the specific context. If you find yourself being publicly bullied or harassed your response may need to be different to a situation where you face secret threats or manipulation.

Either way it is a good idea to prepare yourself before you respond so you can be strong enough to be calm and assertive in your response, no matter how loud and abusive the bully might be. If you become angry and aggressive or ‘fight’ back it will not help in the long term and the bully may even be able to convince others that the problem is all your fault.

So hold your ground. Stay calm. Interrupt a verbal tirade by saying that you both want what’s best. Simply showing that you can be brave in the face of a stream of abuse can help deflect a bully. Often, the bully singles out targets who avoid any conflict since they know that they’ll be more likely to get their way.

A powerful way to interrupt a bully is to say their name. Look into their eyes, speak in a strong clear and firm voice, and repeat their name until they stop talking.

Then take control by asking short questions. Ask short direct clarifying questions and keep asking them until the bully begins to calm down. Don’t get into a discussion, just ask further clarifying questions to show you are trying to really understand what has upset them.

Asking questions can be effective in a variety of different situations, including attacks in front of coworkers, private confrontations or in meetings so it is worthwhile learning this technique.

Concentrate on maintaining a calm appearance – no matter how you are really feeling inside. The louder and more out-of-control the bully is, the calmer you need to appear to be in contrast to them.

Paraphrasing the bully’s responses, deferring the discussion until later when things are more measured or others will be present, even gentle humor – particularly if you can laugh at yourself – can all help to defuse a situation.

However you respond, bullying is serious and needs to be addressed. If you can’t handle it on your own, you need to bring in someone to support you in dealing with it. This can obviously be difficult if the bully is the person you report to. When that is the case you may need to look to other parts of your organization (possibly someone in Human resources or your boss’s boss?) or an external Coach or Mentor to help you to tackle the situation.

At some point you may even decide the bullying is not worth your energy in trying to deal with it and you would rather move on. Should that situation arise, take care to never burn your bridges. If you can’t take any more and can’t get help, you can make your exit but be sure to keep your dignity intact.

If you do decide you must leave your position because of bullying, try to make the decision to leave outside of the emotional realm. When you hand in your notice, do so later, with a cool head, not brimming with rants or fuming about the unfair treatment you got from someone. Remember, you may need those people to vouch for you at some time in the future.

When you do it this way, you get to enjoy a better sense of control. You will reach greater heights of success if you manage to hold your head up high and always maintain your dignity.

Finally if you do find yourself needing to deal with bullying or harassment, make sure you care for yourself, manage your stress levels, maintain a balanced perspective and keep your sense of humor. Take the time to feel good about yourself and stay grateful for what you’ve been blessed with. Remind yourself that as long as you’re doing what’s right, you’ll be fine.

Dealing with a bully can be stressful. For powerful stress management techniques check out the Stress Free Course now at: – completely free: My gift for you.

How to Respond to Workplace Bullying

In my previous article we looked at what does and does not constitute bullying or harassment in the workplace. Today I want to look at how you should respond as team leader if it occurs in your workplace.

So how should you tackle bullying if you detect it or suspect it is happening in a team that you are responsible for?

Any bullying or harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and needs to be addressed immediately. Everyone has a right to feel safe at work and to be treated with respect.

You should never ignore bullying or hope it will just go away. If anyone reports, or if you witness or suspect, an incident that could be bullying, you must respond rapidly. Otherwise, your silence is perceived by the perpetrator and others as collusion in what is happening.

If you are in a leadership role, and you observe any indications that bullying or harassment might be occurring, you have a responsibility to stand up and show that you will not tolerate such actions from anyone in your team or elsewhere.

Listen to all team members and encourage them to work together cooperatively on solutions to the real problems they are experiencing. Use individual coaching to help individuals modify their behavior and motivate them to be productive team members. See details about how to do this here:

Just as some people bring out your best, and other people bring out your worst, you can bring out the best in other people even at their worst. It’s a matter of understanding where they are coming from and what is likely to work with them.

As with most team-related issues, the best way to address a bullying problem will depend on the specific situation, but a sound first step is usually to begin a conversation around the behaviors you have observed, compared to what you expect.

Facilitate an open conversation with your team members about team values like trust, respect and how they relate to working together in a team. This can be a powerful and helpful start to addressing the situation.

By securing team agreement about how your team members will treat each other going forward, you will both minimize the likelihood of the situation being repeated and ensure that in future no one can say they didn’t know bullying or harassing actions might be unacceptable.

Take particular care not to allow the bullying victim to be targeted personally during your discussions. Focus on acceptable and unacceptable actions and behaviors, not on individuals, personalities, or character traits. Stay calm but make it quite clear, as firmly and often as seems to be required, that bullying or harassment are not acceptable in any circumstances and will not be tolerated.

If your organization has a formal code of practice or ethics, a corporate values statement or a relevant workplace policy you might discuss how it applies. If such codes or policies do not yet exist, now might be a good time to begin to develop one, at least within your team.

If you don’t feel able to do this, bring in an external facilitator to help you.

Handling such a situation well can even build a stronger team – the sort of team with a positive commitment to positive shared values, that works together to achieve your vision and goals, and that is the hallmark of a good leader.

For details about how to coach individuals to better behavior see here:

And watch out for my next article where we’ll look at what you can do if you are the one being bullied.

Dealing with Bullying at Work

One of the most toxic additions to any workplace is the bully. If you work with (or for) a bully, or one of the people on the team you lead may be a bully it is important to handle the situation carefully yet assertively.

In this series of articles I want to share some tips for how to deal with workplace bullying successfully.

First let’s look at what is bullying or harassment?

A bully abuses any power they have over less powerful people. You will often feel oppressed, humiliated, weak, and belittled after talking to a bully. In addition, you will typically feel worse about yourself. At the same time you may feel obliged to laugh at the comments that are being made about you or to you, even thought they are hurtful or not true.

A bully may be someone who consistently dishes out venomous personal remarks, who takes delight in ruining your day with seemingly harmless yet cutting statements, who takes credit for your work, constantly threatens you with dismissal or demotion, or who is simply rude, aggressive, and pushy. The bully often leaves people feeling threatened and demeaned.

Bullying and harassment might be:

  • physical (being hit, bumped, tripped, pinched),
  • verbal (humiliation, name-calling, teasing, putdowns),
  • psychological (intimidation, sabotage, coercion, manipulation, threats, gestures, being watched or stalked),
  • social (embarrassment, smear campaigns, being ignored or having rumors spread about you)
  • or sexual (physical, verbal or nonverbal sexual conduct).

Bullying and harassment often happens out of sight of other authorities, leaders or managers and is typically repeated over an extended time.

However not everyone who displays these sorts of behaviors is a workplace bully. An isolated incident doesn’t equate to bullying.

Just because someone tells you they don’t like something you did or didn’t do, or you don’t like the way they communicate with you doesn’t make them a bully.

Even if someone yells at you in frustration it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bully. It may just mean they lack the emotional maturity to express themselves more professionally or they tend to overreact to a stressful situation. Goodhearted people can make mistakes. While issues like these still need to be addressed, they aren’t as corrosive to your workplace culture as bullying or harassment can be.

A bully, on the other hand, intends to intimidate, dominate and disempower and they do it consistently and repeatedly.

The negative effects of bullying and harassment are well known and definitely serious.

Bullying frequently leads to significant effects on work performance, illness, absenteeism and low team morale. In extreme cases post traumatic stress disorder and even suicide have occured.

Bullying can’t be ignored or overlooked. If you are a manager, team leader or business owner, you have at least a moral (and in many places a legal) obligation to ensure your workplace is free from bullying or harassment.

In a few days time we’ll look at how you should tackle bullying when it is happening in your team or workplace…

Meanwhile have a look at some of these Stress and Productivity Resources:

More on team leadership in business and sport

Yesterday we looked at some of the lessons from successful sporting teams that we can apply to business and work teams, including:

  • Different Types of Competition
  • The Power of Discipline, and
  • The Importance of Teamwork and Trust.
  • Today I will share three more valuable insights you can apply from high performance sporting teams to fostering high performance business and work teams.

    A Common Goal:

    Share your vision with your team members and encourage them to commit to realising it. Look for any challenges that your team members are facing when they try to achieve their best. Ask your team members what you can do to help and empower them to do whatever it is they do best to help you achieve your vision and milestones.

    It is also important to ensure that everyone on your team really wants to be there. It’s very difficult to create a cohesive team if you have a reluctant member undermining the vision everyone else is trying to achieve. When someone has the skills and the commitment, both to the vision you are trying to realise and to the team that is trying to achieve it, you will create a powerful force that guarantees success.

    Individual Needs:

    No quality sporting coach puts every member of a team through exactly the same training regime. So be conscious of the individual needs of all members of your team.

    Find out why individual team members are actually working for you. This will help you identify specific ways to help them develop their skills or make best use of their existing skills and work preferences. You may even find that they would fit better into a different role all part of your organisation.

    Get to know everyone on your team well enough to understand exactly what their personal picture of success looks like to them and what qualities, skills and experiences they bring to the team. This will help you to help them to be more motivated in their contributions to the team and to achieving your company’s vision.


    Finally, make it a habit to ask all your team members for their ideas and opinions. No one, including you, has a monopoly on good ideas. And in fact your team members who are working at the coalface can often understand the situation from a unique perspective, generating useful insights and opportunities for improvement.

    When you ask team members for their ideas you are acknowledging their personal value to the team and offering a special type of recognition that workers appreciate immensely.

    By being open to team members’ suggestions you will not only achieve an improved outcome, you will be building a more motivated and successful team.

    Kerrie Mullins-Gunst specializes in helping leaders and managers develop all the skills they need to mentor manage and lead. Check out this simple yet powerful tool to improve employee performance and boost workplace motivation:

    Team leadership in business and sport

    All the excitement of the World Cup means there’s a lot of talk at the moment about sports teams, both winners and losers. Even if you don’t follow the World Cup, you probably follow some sort of sport, and sporting teams offer some useful insights for workplace teams. So let’s have a look at a couple of useful team and leadership lessons that can be drawn from the world of peak performance and successful sports.

    Types of Competition:

    One of the key aspects of all sports is competition. Yet there are a range of types of competition that apply in different sports, and different individuals prefer different sports that reflect these various types of competition.

    In sports competition may either be against yourself, another individual or another team. In business we are often competing against other businesses for a client or customer or at other times we are competing against ourselves to improve our own (individual, work group or corporate) performance. So it is important to remember that some individuals on your workplace team may be more motivated by a different style of competition.


    In both business and on the sports field discipline plays a key part in success. A long-term commitment to developing all the skills that are required to succeed is the foundation of both sporting and business success. Individuals and teams who have the commitment to see through a task will enjoy more success than others.

    Sticking to your plan might sometimes seem dull and boring, but it will set you apart from all your competitors in both business and sport.


    As in many sports, in the workplace successful teams only develop when team members know how to work with others and are willing to trust one another.

    As a team leader in the workplace it is important that you accept the sorts of responsibilities that the head coach would have in a winning team. You need to check to be sure that all members of your team fit into the team, respect one another, work together well and support each other.

    Any signs of poor teamwork must be addressed immediately.

    Tomorrow I’ll share with you three more team leadership lessons we can apply in the workplace from the world of sport…

    Kerrie Mullins-Gunst specializes in helping leaders and managers develop all the skills they need to mentor manage and lead. Check out this simple yet powerful tool to improve employee performance and boost workplace motivation:

    Leaders under stress

    Last week I was fortunate enough to have a few days break after a conference on Australia’s beautiful Gold Coast. We caught up with family and friends we hadn’t seen for some time and I’m returning to work today feeling very relaxed.

    Then I looked at my diary and I realised that another month is almost gone. I have so many things to do before the end of the month and my stress levels start to rise just a little, before I even have to handle anything unexpected, difficult or challenging…

    It got me thinking. Stress is such a part of any leadership or management role it’s easy to forget what a stress free life can be like. But the question is, is that a bad thing?

    There’s no doubt that a bit of stress helps us to function at a higher, or more intense level and therefore get more done than usual. I certainly got more done the day before I left for my conference and short break than I would have, if I had not been under the pressure of a deadline.

    Planes just don’t wait for us to finish one more thing, do they?

    And there probably wouldn’t be any need for the management or leadership role in organisations, if there weren’t the sort of problems and challenges that can lead to stress.

    But there’s also no doubt that higher and higher stress levels can be unhealthy, unsustainable and unproductive – and that’s what too many leaders and managers struggle with, every day at work.

    Being told day in and day out to do more and more with less and less is undoubtedly stressful.

    If that’s your reality, I know it won’t help to tell you to “relax and take a holiday”. Much as you might want to and know you really should, I know it’s not always possible – especially when you are most stressed.

    Yet you and I both know that you owe it to the people on your team to know how to manage your stress levels so you are productive rather than stressed out of control. If you allow your stress to get out of control you’ll begin to miss deadlines, forget critical things and struggle to cope with anything unexpected. In fact your productivity will drop.

    So what can you do? Well, there is plenty you can do to effectively manage your stress levels and help your team members to do the same. Here are three quick tips to help:

    * First, make sure you are quite clear on whether and why tasks really need to be done. As we are asked to do new things, it is important to constantly take the time to check whether the old tasks we are used to doing really still need to be done. Sometimes we cling to old tasks (maybe we are confident doing them or just enjoy doing them) even though they are no longer really required. If a task no longer needs to be done, or it can be done annually instead of monthly for example, that can free up significant amounts of time and reduce stress on everyone.

    * Second, even if you can’t take a whole week’s break, you can take a brief break to do something you enjoy. Walk around the block to clear your head. Take 20 minutes to listen to some music you enjoy. Enrol in a weekly exercise or stretch class. Take up painting or gardening. Borrow a neighbor’s dog and take it for a walk. In other words, doing something different for a short time can work magic in reducing your stress levels.

    * Third, make sure you really understand what stress is, how the different types of stress impact on performance and how to manage it yourself and for your people. Keep yourself motivated and don’t make doing tasks more stressful by procrastinating. These resources will help you to manage your stress and be more productive: Less Stress and Better Productivity

    Leaders who understand and work well with stress make better leaders. That link for some really helpful resources is:
    Check them out now.

    Leaders with Attitude and 13 Things

    One of the secrets to becoming a leader who motivates others to follow you, is your attitude. As a leader, your attitude is catching. And no matter what else happens to us, we are always responsible for our own attitude.

    Cultivate the right attitude and motivating others to follow your lead becomes easier and easier.

    While there are a number of dimensions to what makes the ‘right’ attitude for a leader, one of them is undoubtedly to appreciate what people do for you and what you already have.

    I have made a simple video about things I’m thankful for to help prompt you to think about your attitude and how your attitude can help you to motivate the people on your team.

    The right attitude is one of the most motivating and powerful things you can cultivate.

    Add a comment below to share the things you are thankful for.

    The Ultimate Team and Leadership Challenge

    What does this video tell you about teams and leadership and rising to the challenge?

    As I watch it I see so many lessons about what we do – and don’t do – in the workplace when we are leading a team to achieve great results like this…

    Could you motivate your team to do anything this complex – in one take? What would it take?

    Watch this amazing video and share your thoughts and comments below. I’ll hunt out some prizes for the best contributions next week.

    – – – – –

    PS. I have now sent a small gift to everyone who commented, to say thanks for your thoughts. (27 April)

    The Workplace Motivation Message is Simple

    Recently I attended a function where I observed two mothers trying to control their exuberant young children with totally different results.

    The first mother was clearly exasperated by the unruly behavior of her young children. For the entire hour she told them: “Don’t be so naughty.” “Don’t run away.” “Don’t kick the door!” “Don’t hit your sister.” “Don’t make so much noise.” And all of her instructions resulted in more and more of each behavior she chastised them about.

    She was struggling, and the children were clearly not used to being at an event where they needed to sit quietly and pay attention. They didn’t know what to do or how to do it, so they entertained themselves. And they did it very well, even if it embarrassed their mother.

    There were times when the second mother needed to address her young children’s behavior too. But she did it differently and with a very different result.

    She drew her children’s attention to the program and pointed to what was happening on stage. She quietly explained where to look, why things were happening and encouraged them to participate when it was appropriate. She showed them how to not just listen, but to watch and listen carefully, so they would hear particular things.

    In other words, she focused on telling her children what they should do, rather than what not to do. And it was clear that as her children steadily began to learn what was going on and how to be a part of it, they even began to enjoy it.

    Now I’m not suggesting that her children were perfect – there were times they were distracted too – but by the end of the function it was clear they learned a lot about how to participate in such an event. They had been shown what was expected of them and what to do, rather than just being told what not to do.

    So, what does this story have to do with workplace motivation, you ask?

    Well first let me share another quick story with you… A few days ago a friend commented that her husband had come home from work happier than she had seen him in ages. It turns out that something exceptional had happened. For the first time in many years his boss had commented on his work, and the feedback was what a great job he always does. (And yes, you read that right – for the first time in many years…)

    Do you see a pattern related to motivation in the workplace here? Managing people (employees or young children) can be challenging, time consuming and, at times, stressful. When you don’t offer any feedback, even the best people feel demotivated and taken for granted. If the feedback you offer is always negative or corrective, without any guidance about how to do what is required, it will do little to motivate people or improve results.

    It’s easy to expect good work from people and take it for granted when you get it. But when good work is not acknowledged in the workplace, motivation shrivels up and even your best workers begin to produce the minimum acceptable results rather than their best work.

    The workplace motivation message is simple: Focus on showing people what you expect of them in a positive way and notice when they do what you want.

    For more ways to improve employee performance and boost workplace motivation check out this powerful tool: from Kerrie Mullins-Gunst.

    Kerrie specializes in helping leaders and managers develop all the skills they need to mentor manage and lead.

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