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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 30, 2017 1:00 am

Questions offer way to assess responsibility

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

VitalSmarts, which has 350,000 newsletter subscribers, is undertaking an interesting survey to find some of the keys to workplace productivity.

An email newsletter last week included a survey asking readers to anonymously rank the productivity and reliability of teams and colleagues. One of the goals is to help understand how the most productive people contribute to the workplace and what others can do to increase productivity, the newsletter said.

VitalSmarts, based in Utah, focuses on corporate training and organizational performance.

The workplace productivity survey sought responses on how comfortable leaders are in being “mentally able to let go” of tasks another employee has committed to getting done.

The survey asks respondents to rate how much of their team's performance falls under the direction of various employees – workers they were asked to rate on a scale of up to 10. Questions addressed working harder versus working smarter and also sought feedback on the habits of top performers who get results.

I was intrigued with how the survey questions provide a valuable way of assessing where and with whom responsibility falls.

If you're in a workplace where you might give a low score for someone's performance, based on their ability to get things done, then expecting them to get great results from other team members probably isn't realistic.

Some of the best performers have often gotten a chance to lead because they've been so on point in their previous assignment.

Ethics in leadership

Many of the recipients last week of Torch Awards for Ethics, presented by the BBB Serving Northern Indiana, talked about leading with compassion and serving others.

Jim Casaburo from Casa Ristoranti Italiano said employees follow the principles that the restaurant chain – which received one of the Business of Integrity awards – has been successful with. It's a “people business” serving Italian food, not an Italian food business simply serving people. The philosophy, Casaburo said, extends not just to customers, but to employees.

Ted Blanford's business, Summit Hearing Solutions Inc., is in the fourth year of using concepts from “The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow” by Mark Miller. 

Blanford shared the acronym in accepting the Entrepreneur of Integrity award during the Thursday lunch program at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation. The concepts are Hunger for Wisdom, Expect the Best, Accept Responsibility, Respond with Courage, and Think Others First.

During a brief interview later, Blanford said his business uses the acronym to set goals. This year, Summit Hearing is focusing on “Expect the Best.”

When conflict becomes positive

Drama is costly, especially in the workplace, but unfortunately not unusual.

That's what prompted Nate Regier to write “Conflict without Causalities,” designed to help managers and others learn to not try to minimize it but use it as a source of energy that can spur innovation, trust and increased engagement.

“Conflict at the most basic level is simply a gap between what we want and what we are experiencing at any given point in time,” Regier said in a statement about his book, which was released Monday. “Negative conflict becomes drama, and it is costly to companies, teams and relationships at all levels.”

Regier, a former psychologist, is co-founding owner and chief executive officer of Next Element, a global advisory firm specializing in building cultures of compassionate accountability. 

In a news release about his new book, Regier referenced a Gallup Poll that suggested negative conflict drains the U.S. economy by $350 billion a year in lost productivity and wasted energy.

“Positive conflict, on the other hand,” he said, “allows leaders to balance compassion and accountability to achieve great results.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at