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The Post-COVID Mindset Shift: Redefining Work, Family, and Loyalty

Embracing the Post-Covid Mindset: Rethinking Work and Family

As an executive coach who’s guided leaders through thick and thin for over 20 years, I’ve witnessed a fascinating phenomenon: a large-scale mindset shift triggered by the global pandemic. COVID-19 didn’t just disrupt our health; it fundamentally changed the way we approach work, family, and even our relationship with employers.

Work vs. Family: Finding Harmony, Not Balance

For decades, the narrative was all about achieving “work-life balance.” COVID exposed the fallacy of this concept. Balance implies a constant teeter-totter act, sacrificing one for the other. The new reality? Harmony.

Employees, especially those with families, realized the importance of integrating work and personal life seamlessly. Remote work options, once a perk, became a necessity. This newfound flexibility allowed parents to be more present for their children, attend school events, and manage household responsibilities during the workday.

Remote vs. In-Office: Redefining Productivity

The success of remote work shattered the myth that in-office presence equates to productivity. Millions thrived in remote environments, proving their value and output without a physical office. Companies are now re-evaluating traditional work models, embracing a hybrid approach that caters to individual preferences and team needs.

This shift isn’t just about convenience; it’s about empowering employees. The trust fostered by remote work fosters a sense of ownership and accountability, leading to a more engaged workforce.

Loyalty to Employers: A Two-Way Street

The days of unquestioning loyalty to a company for life are fading. Employees, especially younger generations, prioritize flexibility, purpose, and growth opportunities in their careers. The stability of a paycheck is no longer enough.

This doesn’t signal the end of loyalty; it simply demands reciprocity. Employees are loyal to companies that invest in their development, offer work-life harmony, and foster a culture of trust and transparency.

So, how can you, as a leader, navigate this new mindset landscape?

  • Embrace Flexibility: Recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach no longer works. Offer employees flexible work arrangements, remote options, and compressed workweeks.
  • Focus on Outcomes, Not Hours: Shift the focus from the number of hours worked to the quality of output. Empower your team to manage their time effectively and deliver results.
  • Invest in Your People: Provide opportunities for professional development, create clear career paths, and offer competitive compensation and benefits packages.
  • Build Trust and Transparency: Communicate openly and honestly with your team. Encourage feedback and create a safe space for open dialogue.
  • Lead with Empathy: Recognize that your employees are juggling work and personal lives. Be understanding and supportive, fostering a culture of well-being.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a global experiment in work. The results are clear: We can be productive, engaged, and successful without clinging to outdated models. By embracing flexibility, prioritizing well-being, and fostering a culture of trust, you can build a thriving team in this new era of work.

Ready to lead your team through this transformative time? Contact Doug Thorpe today to discuss how executive coaching can help you navigate the post-COVID business landscape and unlock the full potential of your team.

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Boundarylessness – What Is It?

Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, had a term he liked to share with his executive team. The word was “Boundarylessness”. What he meant was each leader should explore the boundaries they have set for themselves; the artificial limits placed in the heart of man. These limiting thoughts need to be eliminated. He wanted no boundaries to hold back the leader’s effort. He implored people to operate with this mindset of “boundarylessness”.


Boundarylessness is a literal concept. The word means what it says: eliminate boundaries within an organization or a team to create universal ownership of the organization’s overall mission. The concept is to create an open, sharing climate that seeks to harness the combined strength of the business. (See August 20, 2008, posting “Accessing Collective Intelligence.”)

Boundarylessness has proved notably effective in bringing individuals together, cutting across business functions and organizational hierarchies to spark innovation and initiative.

Boundarylessness, speed, and stretch are three “soft” philosophical concepts that Welch used to create mental paradigm shifts at the individual level, leading to behavioral changes that delivered hard business results to GE’s bottom line.

Welch encountered TREMENDOUS resistance to his attempt to streamline G.E. so it could compete in a 21st-century global economy. Over and over Welch was told: we have no more to give, there is no better way, we have done all we can do. Time after time Welch insisted there was a better way: go back, try again. Try differently, not just harder. Drop the “it can’t be done” mindset, know that there is a better way somewhere.

Boundaryless behavior has led to an obsession for finding a better way——a better idea——be its source a colleague, another GE business, or another company across the street or on the other side of the globe that will share its ideas and practices…. Zero-sum-thinking did not foresee the immense reservoir of creativity and energy that flows from an engaged work force. – Jack Welch

What Are Some Boundaries?

Anyone who takes on a management and leadership role must know the boundaries they carry. Too often as I open a coaching assignment, I find the person I am helping has a deep collection of very limiting thoughts. You know, the ideas planted in your head by a parent, a sibling, a teacher, or your first boss. Thoughts include statements like:

  • You can’t do that
  • You’re too small
  • You’re too slow
  • You don’t know enough about that
  • You have no experience
  • You have no education
  • Someone else can do that better
  • You failed before
  • We’ve always done it this way.

As some of these very damaging and negative thoughts take root in your consciousness, the natural reaction is to follow the path. Go down the rabbit hole and land at the absolute bottom.

Paint a Different Picture

The remedy is to take the path Welch chose. As a leader we must paint a different picture, challenging the limiting thought with a better belief system. You could think of it as reprogramming. If a thought pattern has emerged in your life, one that sets a boundary on what you can do, you must terminate it.

At GE they proved you can re-imagine the way forward. By intentionally killing off each negative idea, one by one, people can be convinced to begin thinking a new way.

So What?

What are the limiting thoughts, those pesky boundaries, that need to be stamped out in your life? Whether at work or at home, what are the ideas that reverberate in your mind, day after day, causing you to question your effectiveness? Or question the idea you just had? Too many great ideas get killed on the edge of greatness by a limiting belief about what could or should be.

If you are prone to hear some video replay cycling in your head, turn off the program. Unsubscribe to its bad belief. Turn off the recorder. Unfriend the bad idea and open up to new and better possibilities.

Surround yourself with people who have more positive outlooks. It’s way too easy to find problems in the world. Real leaders create solutions. They explore all the possibilities before ever being stopped by a boundary that has no good merit.

[reminder]Can you live with a new mindset of boundarylessness?[/reminder]


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How to Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

It’s an old saying you’ve likely heard before. For anyone who owns a business, this phrase is counsel that may be hard to do. For all the owners out there, all three counts in this simple mantra may be nearly impossible.


First, to Lead

On one hand that seems obvious. You own the business, who else would be leading it? Well, it might not be you. Leadership is much different from management. You might be managing the dickens out of your business, but still not really leading it.

You might even be crazy busy, but not providing key leadership when it is needed. Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, are driven. They have vision. They are inspired to do something great. Yet having those wonderful ideas and inspirations won’t make you a leader. Yes, you will have the power of the position, but you will not be leading.

The drive that makes an entrepreneur want to do something can become your worst enemy. If you suffer from SOS (shiny object syndrome), you will never plot a course for success. The next big thing might be a distraction rather than benefit.

The cure is taking time to learn about leadership. Seek counsel. Unless you are one of the rare few who were exposed to leadership thought and theory along the way, you will need to grow before you become a true leader. Yes, there are an even more rare few who seem to have been with natural leadership talents. Congratulations if this is you. Sadly, for the vast majority, leadership is a refined and leaned skill that must be nurtured.

To Follow

Being a follower is not a bad thing. One of the best leadership principles I was ever taught centered on the idea that in order to be a good leader, you must first be a good follower.

Following is not just blind faith. Rather it is commitment to pay attention t the one who might be leading. Observe the good with the bad. Learn from the experience following others. If you are blessed with a good, perhaps even great leader, watch what they do. Study how they inspire and draw others in.

If, on the other hand, your leader is not so good, be diligent in the discipline of following anyway. The worst case scenario is that you might learn what never to do again.

Get Out of the Way

If either of the first two choices are not available, then door number three is needed; get out of the way. Never become a stumbling block for those around you who might be leading the charge forward with a faithful following. If you are not chosen to lead, and you don’t want to follow, then never be the bad egg who sits and pouts, making trouble for everyone else.

I’ve watched whole careers waste away as someone chooses to be disgruntled over the state of affairs. Others are getting promoted and the ideas that are happening are not acceptable either. Folks with this mindset are very frustrated human beings. You likely have know a few.

The simple answer may have been to merely get out of the way.

[reminder]Where are you today? Are able to lead, follow or get out of the way?[/reminder]

It’s your choice. GO for it!

PS – This post was written weeks ago and scheduled for today. Ironically, where I live, just outside of Houston, Texas, the whole area has been hammered by historic and “catastrophic” rains from Hurricane Harvey that have caused thousands to lose their homes to flooding. Leadership is at a premium. Local leaders, politicians, first-responders, Coast Guard personnel, and dozens of other agencies I can’t even list here have mobilized to respond. Lead , follow, or get out of the way has been the battle cry. I am proud of the ways all parties have circled their efforts to coordinate and collaborate.

Yes, as this event drags out, certainly nerves will fray and exhaustion will set in. Then we will see who the true leaders may be. We will also see who the pretenders are. True leadership will win the day. I have trust in many. They have proven their stripes with similar circumstances and will do so again. Pray for this region as we deal with record-breaking water accumulation, run-off, and flash flooding.



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Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

We’ve all heard various ideas about managing our lives. When you break it all down, things can get lumped into these three categories. And we’ve all heard the saying: “Live for today.” But what about yesterday and tomorrow? Life isn’t a series of isolated moments. It’s a beautiful tapestry woven from the threads of our past, present, and future.

Learning from Yesterday

Dwelling on past mistakes can be a drag. Yet, completely ignoring them sets us up for repeating them. The key is to find a balance. Use yesterday as a teacher. Analyze what went well and what didn’t. Did you miss a deadline? Maybe you need to improve your time management. Did you have a fight with a friend? Reflect on how to communicate better next time.

Yesterday is long gone. There are only three things we can do about yesterday.

  • First, learn the lessons whether good or bad. Take an HONEST assessment of what happened and try to understand why. But do not let this become a new vocation.
  • Next, let it go. There is nothing you can do about yesterday’s outcome.
  • Build a marker for the ways you saw God active in the events of yesterday. These markers can be physical or mental, but keep track of what God seems to have done.

Embracing Today

Today is the only day we truly have control over. It’s where we put the lessons of yesterday into practice and take steps towards shaping our tomorrow. Seize the opportunities that present themselves. Spend time with loved ones. Pursue your passions. Don’t let the present moment slip away while you’re lost in thought about the past or future.

Today is the only real time you can do something about. Live today as if it were your last. I don’t mean live frivolously. I mean make a difference today. Do the things that enrich your family, friends, and neighbors. Today is not about YOU. Today is a gift from God. Accept this precious gift and live to the full!

Planning for Tomorrow

While we can’t control tomorrow, we can certainly influence it. Having goals and aspirations gives our present purpose. Set intentions for tomorrow, whether it’s completing a project, starting a new habit, or simply being kind to someone.

Tomorrow will come. Let it come on its own. There is nothing you can do to change the actual events of the day tomorrow. Oh, you might plan and strive, but ultimately, things will turn out all on their own tomorrow.

The Magic of the Balance

The key to living a fulfilling life lies in finding a harmonious balance between these three parts of time. Here’s how:

  • Practice Gratitude: Reflect on the positive aspects of your past and present.
  • Embrace Mindfulness: Be present in the moment. Savor your experiences, both big and small.
  • Set Intentions: Plan for tomorrow without getting consumed by anxieties.

By integrating these practices, we can move through life with a sense of purpose, appreciation, and excitement for what lies ahead. Remember, yesterday made you who you are, today is shaping your tomorrow, and tomorrow holds the potential for incredible things. So, breathe deep, take hold of the present moment, and enjoy the beautiful journey of life, one day at a time.

Need a Coach to guide your journey?

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What Is Professional Presence and How Can I Achieve It?

What Exactly Is Presence?

Presence is letting the most powerful version of yourself shine through. I like to cite the renowned leadership expert Sylvia Ann Hewlett, who defines “presence” as a combination of gravitas, communication, and appearance. Together, these elements form an impression of trustworthiness, competence, and authenticity.

Gravitas is signaling that you have the confidence and credibility to get your point across and create buy-in. In a study of almost 300 senior executives, Hewlett found that 67 percent believe that gravitas is what matters most in leadership. Communication is closely connected to gravitas.

Your bearing and speaking skills are what establish your confidence and credibility and thus communicate gravitas. As much as we may not want to admit it, appearance is the third piece of this puzzle. This is not as much about how we look as it is about how we present ourselves.

Why Is Presence Important?

Because humans are biologically wired to scan the environment for threats, we form impressions based on very little information. According to social psychologist and bestselling author Amy Cuddy, people quickly answer two questions when they meet you: Can I trust this person? Can I respect this person? To influence others, you need them to trust you and see you as competent.

professional presence

How Do I Develop Presence?


Cultivate confidence: Part of developing presence is conveying confidence. What if you don’t feel confident? I’m a big believer in Cuddy’s work on “power posing.” Her central idea is simple: By assuming a posture associated with power, you can “fake it until you become it,” and make yourself feel more powerful. Though Cuddy’s work has been somewhat controversial, people around the world swear by power posing before a big meeting or interview.


Up your game: To communicate effectively, it’s important to regulate your reactions, recognize emotions in others, and manage your responses. Let other people speak first. Ask questions and make them feel understood. Remember to smile, make eye contact, and lean forward. By staying in the moment and maintaining focus on the conversation, you can ask the right questions and lay the foundation for trust and openness to your influence. Also, to convey confidence, use what a 2014 Harvard Business Review article calls “muscular” language. Instead of saying “I just think,” try “I strongly suggest”; instead of “Maybe that’s possible,” say “Here’s my plan.”


Dressing—and feeling—the part: There should be a strong connection between who you are, who you want to be, and how you look. If you want to be successful in the financial sector, for instance, you need to look like someone who understands and can be trusted with money. Identify the people who are successful where you work, and study how they put themselves together. Focusing on your appearance can also go a long way toward boosting your internal confidence.

Research by Adam Galinsky, the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business and chair of the Management Division, finds that the physical experience of putting on clothes that you associate with power can put you in a different state of mind — what he calls enclothed cognition — allowing you to feel more confident, which in turn will, hopefully, improve your performance. The interior life of a person and their external presence are deeply connected. When people pay more conscious attention to this connection and embody presence, they can expose their unique talent to the world in ways that will enhance their happiness and success.

Contributed by Karen Gray, an ICF-certified executive coach and leadership consultant. Using her experience as a coach and senior executive, she helps clients develop their leadership effectiveness and find more fulfilling career paths. Her passion is supporting the growth of individuals, leaders, and teams. She partners with clients to increase their emotional intelligence, navigate organizational and career transitions, and develop new leadership strategies.

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Cultivating Harmony: Growing vs. Building Company Culture

Company culture. It’s a buzzword thrown around in boardrooms and plastered across job postings. But what exactly is it, and how do you achieve it? There seems to be a common misconception: culture is something you build, a foundation laid from scratch. But a thriving company culture is more akin to a garden – something nurtured and encouraged to grow organically.

This post dives into the difference between building and growing a company culture, exploring the benefits of the latter and offering tips for cultivating a positive and thriving work environment.

Building vs. Growing: A Tale of Two Cultures

Imagine a company with a sleek mission statement and a list of core values displayed prominently on the lobby wall. They offer ping pong tables and free lunches, perks meant to foster a fun and collaborative atmosphere. This is an example of a “built” culture. It’s designed from the top down, with leaders dictating the desired behaviors and interactions.

While these elements can be a good starting point, a built culture often feels inauthentic. Perks become gimmicks, and core values remain unlived principles. Employees may go through the motions, but a genuine sense of belonging and purpose is missing.

Growing a company culture, on the other hand, is a collaborative effort. It’s about creating an environment where the seeds of shared values, open communication, and trust can take root and flourish. Here, leadership plays a crucial role in providing the right conditions for growth, not dictating the outcome.

The Advantages of Growing a Culture

So why choose to grow a culture over building one? Here are some compelling reasons:

  • Sustainability: A built culture can feel forced and fragile. When the focus is on maintaining a facade, cracks can easily appear as situations change. A grown culture, however, is deeply ingrained in the DNA of the company, making it more resilient and adaptable.
  • Authenticity: When employees are empowered to contribute to the culture, it reflects their genuine values and preferences. This authenticity leads to a higher level of engagement and overall satisfaction.
  • Innovation: A thriving culture fosters open communication and collaboration. This environment encourages employees to share ideas and experiment, leading to a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.
  • Employee Ownership: When employees feel a sense of ownership over the culture, they become invested in its success. This translates into higher levels of accountability, productivity, and talent retention.

Growing Your Garden: Practical Tips for Cultivating Culture

Now that we understand the benefits of a grown culture, how do we actually cultivate it? Here are some practical tips:

  • Define Your Core Values – Together: Core values are the guiding principles that shape employee behavior and decision-making. Involve your team in defining these values through workshops, surveys, or open discussions.
  • Lead by Example: Leaders set the tone for the culture. Live and breathe the company values in your daily interactions and decision-making.
  • Empower Your People: Give your employees a voice. Encourage open communication, feedback, and participation in shaping the work environment.
  • Celebrate Successes: Recognize and reward employees who exemplify your core values. This reinforces positive behaviors and motivates others to follow suit.
  • Transparency is Key: Keep your team informed about company decisions, goals, and challenges. Transparency fosters trust and a sense of shared purpose.
  • Focus on Learning and Growth: Invest in your employees’ personal and professional development. When people feel valued and have opportunities to learn, they’re more engaged and contribute more to the overall culture.
  • Recognize and Address Issues Quickly: A positive culture doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations. When problems arise, address them openly and honestly to prevent them from festering and undermining trust.

Conclusion: A Continuous Journey

Growing a company culture is an ongoing process. It requires continuous nurturing, adaptation, and celebration. There will be setbacks and challenges, but by fostering an environment of trust, transparency, and shared values, you can cultivate a thriving work environment that attracts top talent, drives innovation, and fuels success.

Remember, your company culture is not a destination, but a journey. Embrace the growth mindset, empower your people, and watch your garden bloom.

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