Posted by: Christine Donovan | January 5, 2010

The Number 2 New Year’s Resolution for Leaders

Continuing with the Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Leaders, I’d like to share #2:

2.  Promise yourself that no matter how many priorities and  “emergencies” may get in your way, you will not sacrifice spending individual time with your team members.

Plan casual time with employees; drop by their work areas, ask them about their families, get to know them as people, learn what they cherish and what they fear.  The better you know them, the better you can support and discover what motivates them (or demotivates them).  The best leaders know that people are INDIVIDUALS, and are as unique as their fingerprints.  And the only way you can unravel the mystery of their personalities is to spend time with them. 

The time you invest now will reap benefits in productivity and morale, and you may also find that they “have your back” when things get tough.

Come back tomorrow for New Year’s Resolution No. 3 “Put a control structure in place.”

Posted by: Christine Donovan | January 4, 2010

Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Leaders

Happy New Year!  I hope that you had a beautiful Christmas and wish you a wonderful, prosperous 2010.

I’ve been thinking about this blog of mine, especially my seeming inability to post every day (I do have clients and projects to tend to!), and I think that one problem may be that I’m just trying to write too much.  Admittedly, it’s not a big stretch for me to be long-winded, but even ruminations can take time.  So my New Year’s resolution is to blog daily, but keep it to sprints instead of marathons.

I just mailed my monthly newsletter, “Leading in Tough Times,” to my clients, and thought that it would be an excellent topic to share in the blogsphere as well.  (If you would like to receive back issues, please let me know!)

As I was deciding on the topic, I began to think about New Year’s resolutions and what an appropriate time this is to share the top 10 leadership principles I’ve gathered over two decades of managing teams and teaching leaders.  After all, this is the season for renewed commitments and new behaviors, and so I thought you would enjoy reviewing these principles at the threshold of this new year.

Most of these are probably not new to you (if you’ve been a leader for any length of time), but just like weight loss and exercise, we know we should do it, but for what ever reason, don’t.  Yet leaders, of all people, understand that living a purposeful life is about achieving excellence, raising the bar, reaching for the next rung, learning and growing, and applying self-discipline.

So on that note, I’d like to share with you my Top 10 (suggested) Leadership Resolutions for 2010.  (In keeping with my promise to keep posts short, I will do this in a series… one piece at a time).

Enjoy – and please send me your comments, suggestions and any leadership resolutions that I should add to the list!

Read More…

Posted by: Christine Donovan | September 11, 2009

Three Inhibitors of Corporate Success

I’m in the process of writing a book loosely entitled: “How to Survive and Thrive in Corporate Life.”  It’s a particularly apropos subject, especially during a time when many folks are holding onto their jobs by their fingernails.

Here is an excerpt from the book’s introduction; I’ll post additional excerpts in the following weeks:

During some 20 years of study and practice, I’ve noticed three strong themes that seem to inhibit peoples’ success in organizations:


Most of us are born with, and have exactly the natural talents and abilities we need to be whatever we want to be, but we continually manage to trip over our own feet.  The sooner we STOP doing the things that hold us back, and replace them with thinking and actions that pull us forward, the quicker we will be on our path toward achievement and a fulfilled life.


Exceptional people are extraordinarily self disciplined — a trait that becomes very obvious to those around them.

If we over-eat and under-exercise, it shows up in our bodies.  If we make constant excuses for not putting in the work, being late or unprepared, it manifests in our lack of achievement.  If we make the wrong choices (TV over books; sleeping over work; procrastination over action), it shows in every aspect of our lives. 

We’re not fooling anybody but ourselves.  Eventually the disparity of our words and actions become obvious to everyone but us.


Every day, the second we roll out of bed, we set, and live our priorities.

If we head toward the kitchen table to gorge on a big meal of steak and eggs (instead of exercise, meditation, reading), that is our priority.  If we spend the weekend in front of the TV watching the playoffs, drinking beer and eating nachos (instead of being active, touring a museum, taking our kids to a new experience, etc) then that is our priority.  If we spend hours whining and complaining to friends about the state of the economy, or our demanding boss, our annoying coworker and/or our neighbors, then we have chosen unproductive time over action.

Life is generally about our choices and our priorities, which tend to be the same thing.  So our level of success in life is directly related to the choices we make, and how we prioritize those choices.

More book excerpts will follow…

Posted by: Christine Donovan | August 10, 2009

When You Don’t Trust Your Boss

Interesting article on’s homepage today.  A sad commentary on our times… or perhaps other “times” too.  But bosses aren’t perfect either, and if you’ve ever had to leave a position because of an untrustworthy boss (I have!) then you will relate to this…

An excerpt from: When You Don’t Trust Your Boss  By Anthony Balderrama, writer

<…> “If you find that you can’t trust a co-worker, you can discuss the issue face-to-face, and if need be, go to the boss to resolve the issue.  But what if it’s the boss that’s the problem?

“As with any situation, you need to step back and identify the problem, says Holly Green, CEO and managing director of The Human Factor, a consulting firm.

” ‘First and foremost, determine why you don’t trust your boss,’ Green says. ‘Is it based on your own assumptions, beliefs and biases, which you have sought to prove true over time, or is there some truly tangible data? Are you absolutely sure you are right? If so, you have to then decide whether it is a personal issue — i.e. it is against or outside your own ethics and standards versus it is illegal, clearly against company policy, etc.’ ”

“If the boss is operating outside of your personal standards but well within the company’s policies and principles, Green cautions employees to think about their limits.

” ‘You have to make a decision on whether you can live with it,” she says. ‘Are you going to build up resentment over time that is going to leak out of you and damage your own reputation? What tradeoffs are you willing to make?’ ”

“For example, a previous boss told Green she was doing too much high quality work and as a result she was damaging the rest of the team’s images. She knew she couldn’t operate in that kind of environment, but the boss wasn’t violating any company procedures, either. So she chose to leave.”

Good stuff.  To read the entire article, go to:

See you soon!

Posted by: Christine Donovan | July 29, 2009

Be Excellent, For Goodness Sake

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” — Vince Lombardi, renowned football coach


There is a reason why I chose to focus my speaking and consulting business on the concept of EXCELLENCE.

It’s partially because I’ve met so many people who want to get by by doing the absolute minimum.  It’s partially because I see people in my seminars whose definition of excellence is all about material possessions, or perhaps getting “power” over others, etc.  It’s because we live in a culture of victim and entitlement mentality; we exist in a world focused on instant gratification, convenience, and “if it feels good do it” thinking…… all of which are antithetical to living a life of excellence.

So let’s look at what excellence is really about:

Excellence is about uncompromising integrity.   You either have it or you don’t; there is no gray area.  You tell the truth; you don’t gossip; you don’t backstab; you never take so much as a pen that doesn’t belong to you; you turn in lost items — wallets, credit cards, etc.   Take a moment to look at your life and your philosophy about integrity.  Where can you improve?

Excellence is about ALWAYS doing the extra thing.  Doing a good job isn’t good enough.  Doing a GREAT job is mandatory for excellence.  Arrive at appointments 10 minutes early; stay after meetings to help straighten up;  (In fact, always leave a room or situation in better shape than you found it); develop the habit of thinking beyond the minimum — If the report is due Friday, can you finish it by Thursday?  If you’re given a budget of $500, can you reduce the actual cost to $450?   If your coworker is stressed about a project, can you offer your assistance?  Think EXTRA, not minimum.  Especially in these tough times — employees who go the extra mile tend to be those who keep their jobs.

Excellence is about unquestionable commitment.  Speaking of being 10-minutes early, are you always, at least, on time? (Whether you realize it, agreeing to an 8:00 am meeting is a commitment!  Not 8:05 or 8:10…but 8:00!)  Do you do what you say you will do?  Do you “walk your talk,” or do you speak with forked-tongue?  Do people know, without question, that your word is true?

Excellence is about quality.  It doesn’t matter what your line of work is, if you are a doctor, sales clerk, homemaker or student… the quality of your life, your work, your relationships… reflects on who you really are.   At work, do you let little errors sneak by; do you ever say “It’s not my job”?  Do you turn in reports with typos, smudges, misalignments?; Do you leave trash on the floor for the cleaning person to pick up?  In your relationships, do you seek out people of excellence (to motivate and energize you), or do you prefer to hang around with whiners and “victims” because you’d rather join a pity party than solve problems and do something meaningful?

Excellence is in the details.  Your clothes, your hair, your nails, your language… all reflect your level of excellence (or lack thereof).  Scuffed shoes, dirty fingernails, soiled or ill-fitting clothing speak volumes.  Does your language (grammar, expressions, profanity) reveal who you really are?  Is your work sloppy? Is your home or office a mess?  Details reveal the REAL you.  So what are you telling the world?

Excellence is about leaving a legacy.  So many people have the crazy idea that we were put on this planet to collect stuff — homes, electronics, cars, even “people” (i.e. status).   But when it’s all said and done, do you want people to remember you for your Mercedes CL550 and your 55-inch HDTV Plasmavision Display TV?  Or do you want to make a contribution to the world — by the example you’ve set, the people you’ve helped, the advice you’ve given?  Excellent people are NOT about owning stuff — they are about leaving a legacy. 

This life of ours is short.  What do you want said at your eulogy?  Will it indicate a life of excellence?

Well I’ll conclude for today.  But think about your life… how excellent is it?

Posted by: Christine Donovan | July 25, 2009

Appreciation and Humor in Tough Times

Speaker and Humorist, Mike Moore

Speaker and Humorist, Mike Moore

A Canadian writer and speaker I know, Mike Moore, has just released a new book (and ebook) called, Embracing the Mystery (Humor, Attitude and the Quest for Happiness).  Mike is an expert on the value of humor in our lives, and is a popular speaker throughout Canada and the U.S.  

On his blog this week, he posted some sobering facts about our times, and I wanted to share them with you.  I’ve been blogging about similar concerns.  People are facing a lot of big challenges today, and it’s our attitude — how we react to adversity — that holds the key to success, and survival.

Taken from:

* The World Health Organization says that by the year 2020 depression will be the leading cause of disability throughout the developed world.

* We live in an age of rage: road rage, air rage and now work rage.

* Eighty percent of us have low self esteem and twenty percent need a boost.

* We only achieve between 2 and 5 percent of our potential.

* Joy has vanished from our lives.

* Uncontrolled stress is killing us.

* While children laugh over 400 time a day, adults can manage only 15.

* Fear rules our lives: fear of getting old, fear of failure, rejection, death, etc.

Remember that joy and happiness are our birthrights, so fight for them. Life is too wonderful not to be enjoyed.

Hey…we aren’t here for a long time so let’s make it a good time!!

Thanks to Mike Moore for his insights.  I hope this gives you some inspiration for taking care of your “heart” and body, appreciating what you have, and bringing more humor into your life.

Until next time…

Posted by: Christine Donovan | July 23, 2009

What’s your vision?

“Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something we shall fall for anything.”  — Peter  Marshall                 



I have a friend who seems to have a new idea, problem, or personal project every time I see her.  

Recently she exuded enthusiasm over a new weight loss diet which was going to change her life.  But by the next week she had dropped the diet (that she didn’t have time for) because she’d found a new MLM product that would make her “millions.  A few days later, she decided that MLM wasn’t for her, and she wandered into a new church (the third or fourth one this year) that had the spiritual answers she’d been looking for. 

She’s a very bright and talented person, and yet (as far as I know) she’s never succeeded at anything she’s tried  — the diets, the make-money-quick schemes, the religions, the boyfriends, the assorted classes and schools, and countless gurus.

I’ve tried my best to coach her into pursuing ONE thing and sticking with it, and she did it for awhile, but just couldn’t stay with anything for very long.  And yet, she wonders why she continues to struggle, and why all of her projects fail.

“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life.  The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” — Mark Twain

Having a clear vision and making it your life’s passion is the absolute, unequivacle first requirement for success in life.

I like this explanation from About.comYour personal vision statement guides your life.  Your personal vision statement provides the direction necessary to guide the course of your days and the choices you make about your career.  Your personal vision statement is the light shining in the darkness toward which you turn to find your way.  Your personal vision statement illuminates your way

As Steven Covey has a great approach, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Not to be morose, but Covey asks, “What do you want said in your eulogy?  How do you want your life defined?  By the money you’ve made, the home you’ve owned, the people you’ve hung out with? 

Or do you have a bigger vision… maybe to make a difference and to leave a legacy?

If my friend had a vision, she wouldn’t be so distracted by every new idea that crosses her path.  If you have a vision, your life will have a natural focus; you will measure every new person, project against it — Is this new thing taking you closer or further away from the bigger goal?

So ask yourself today: What do I want to leave behind? How do I want to impact the world? What talents and gifts do I have that other people need? Am I wasting my life doing things that don’t matter in the big picture?

Today, write down 5 things that you do very well.  Then choose one that you can use to touch and help others and make it your vision. 

That is your gift; The world is waiting for it.

Posted by: Christine Donovan | July 18, 2009

Learning from the Sand Traps of Life

I’m not a golfer (although I’ve spend countless hours at “social” golf when pressed), but I tell a golf-related story in my seminars that I thought would be helpful to you as well.

Years ago, when I was a manager at Walt Disney World, we were expected to participate in the annual division golf tournament.  Of course, we could opt out, but then we would miss a major opportunity to network and team-build.

Luckily (for me, and many others), we played “best ball,” meaning that each foursome had to submit only the score of their best golfer.  That made the playing field even – since most of us diveted more than we bogeyed.

One year, we had a “ringer” in my assigned foursome.  We hit the mother-load with a national, top-rated amateur on our team.  I believe  his name was Tom (It was 20 years ago), and I had the pleasure of sharing a golfcart with him that day.

It didn’t take a U.S. Open Champion to notice that by the 12th hole or so, Tom found himself in a few sand traps… but interestingly, was still averaging an at-par (or below par) score.

After one sand-trap birdie (his, not mine!),  I had to pose the question, “Tom… you seem to get into a lot of sand traps.  Could that be intentional?”

Read More…

Posted by: Christine Donovan | July 14, 2009

Get Over It! How victim mentality holds us back

The past few posts I’ve been a following a theme about the lack of kindness and the rise of anger in our world.  Frankly, I think it’s scary.  There is so much repressed frustration and vitriol around, yet…in my humble opinion…most of it is caused by our declining values and grandiose expectations of what life “should” be.

A lot of people are walking around with such a victim mentality that they are unable to see how much they create, and contribute to their own problems. 

More so, they invent predicaments to get others to feel sorry for them, to give them attention, and to justify their own laziness and lack of motivation.

It’s so subtle that most don’t have the vaguest idea they do it.

I had an acquaintance, whom I’ll call Betty, who was the world’s biggest victim.  She came to me for advice and encouragement once in a while, but it didn’t take long to realize that she had no intention of fixing anything in her life.  Her misery was her crown of glory; she’d used it for so many years to manipulate people, it had become a part of her, and she was not going to change what had “worked” for 30 years.

Read More…

Posted by: Christine Donovan | July 13, 2009

Behaving like a “grown-up” online…

I’ve been thinking about this new and  innovative concept called “kindness,” (re: my last post), and the fact that there seems to be much more anger, intolerance and cynicism in our world than there is empathy and patience.

To illustrate the point, I looked up what should have been a non-political, non-controversial discussion board, but within 30 seconds found that it had evolved into a shouting match.  I wasn’t surprised, but saddened — this seems to be the norm out there.

So I’m going to share it with you to illustrate my point.  Following are some random comments to an MSN article called: The “10 Worst Automotive Fads”

How people can turn a conversation about classic cars into a free-for-all, is beyond me.  Sadly, I think it gives us a clear window to the human condition of this millenium … or, as I’d mentioned in my earlier post about kindness… maybe it’s always been there but the anonymity of the Internet has allowed it to escape in its unbridled glory.

 (I’m leaving the typos and misspellings in… they say something about the character of the poster, in my humble opinion.)

“…Well now, I don’t usually get personal, but you are one of the biggest boneheads I have ever had the displeasure of reading on the Internet. I honestly thought this post was a joke at first, but as I read on I came to the conclusion you are just pretty far out there. I am everything you dislike. I own a 4X4 Suburban with a built 383 stroker … etc.

“…First of all leave the politics out, you’re not being informative, just annoying. we’re not living under a rock, we all know what’s going on…

“…So much anger going back and forth – nothing to do with cars. Maybe we’ll all be happier if we forget about politics for a while…It never fails to get me mad. So I’m swearing it off for a while.Thanks for the added inspiration…

“…morons like you show how little you know about what is really going on in the USA. You make up 99 percent of the nonsense that comes out of your mouth only to try to belittle others. There are no facts, just fiction, like your whole life. It must be horrible to live in such an awful place like the USA for you.

“…I take offense to the comments of this author.  I own both a Chevy Tahoe and a 1969 Z/28 Camaro that sports a vinyl top.  I would not trade either for 2 band new Hybrid cars. 

“…I think the writer of this article <….> is a joke and a Metro Fad himself!!

“…Ok… so… every damn car has ugly fads? Get a dam life! What bad can a digital display do? As for the rims, the dice, and the big SUV’s I could give less than a damn. BUT… fake wood finish? That actally looked good on the cars. Anyways, I rate this… writting witha  1/20. Sorry, yo do not convince me.

“…Why does everything now have to come down to a heated political debate? This started out talking about moronic automobile fads and it turned into a left vs right wing (mostly left) debate. Let’s talk about fake wood paneling OK? Get off the soap box for 2 and a half seconds.

“…I’m outa here.  I ended up in a political slap down site.  For some reason I was under the impression  this was a place to talk about cars, trucks and the like.  Many of the nasty barbs just don’t  belong at a discussion board designed for something else.  

“…To the webmaster, I really suggest you get some control over your domain. I’m a little old for this junior high school name calling stupidity.

“…How old are the people criticizing the fads ? If you over 70 and don’t understand and  your incapable of understanding people. If you under 40  and you don’t understand your just plane dumb.

“…Try puting yourself in the place of the people who thought any “Fad” was good. If you can’t do that you really should shut up. Your showing you stupidity.

“…I thought the article was about car fads!  Wow, did I accidently click to

“…And for the people that have turned this into a political debate, you are all morons.”

So consider the fact that these are probably the same people you work with, go to church or school with, or are your neighbors.  Makes you wonder what is really brewing under the surface of their seemingly nice facades —  Lord help us…

Well that’s it for today.  I need to go read something positive to remind me that there is still hope for humanity… <sigh> See you tomorrow.

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