Leadership Development Programs

Take a look

Leadership Development Consulting

Let's Talk

Online Leadership Training, When You Want It

Learn Online

Author: Ashley

Express Yourself: Outside of your comfort zone

Express Yourself: Outside of your comfort zone

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life”. Hopefully, most of us have found ourselves in a career path where we truly enjoy what it is we are accomplishing. But what if I told you that loving what you do, your daily motivation, and efficiency at work, can all be connected to one aspect? Talent engagement. After reading, “To Get More, Try Giving More ” by Ashley Lesko, it was made clear the influence talent engagement has on job satisfaction and work efficiency.

The more an individual utilizes their natural strengths the more pleasure they will find in their craft. Simply because, who doesn’t love doing the things they are good at? And no, this does not mean if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing to leave and never look back. It just means to find opportunities to engage your talents- even if that includes stepping out of your comfort zone.

For example, I’ve always been good with technology, analytics, and writing. The analytic and writing skillsets I developed from a communication studies background, and technology is something I’ve just always enjoyed. Therefore writing on sporting events for the local paper wasn’t an issue for me, but it became rather repetitive. One day I was asked to commentate some High school football games over the radio; I was excited yet also reluctant. Yes, I knew the language associated and the analytical numbers aspect of the sport and the radio technology was no challenge. But the job was still outside my comfort zone, I am a naturally reserved person until I become comfortable. Therefore the thought of my voice becoming known by thousands of people in my area did not ring well with me, especially the task of developing a radio personality. Yet I went with it; expressing myself and my talents in a new style. Fast forward to present day, and I love every moment of it and can’t wait until this upcoming football season where I will commentate again.  

Therefore, my advice to you; exploit ways to engage your talents at work and you will experience a happier, more productive, you.

By: Brooks Rynders

Are you maximizing the value of your Employee Supply Chain? Three ways to increase your team’s worth by the end of the week.

Are you maximizing the value of your Employee Supply Chain? Three ways to increase your team’s worth by the end of the week.

Former business school students, pop quiz – what’s the definition of a supply chain in an organization? One source talks about supply chain as the system that facilitates the flow (of products, services) through the business. Another explains that managing the supply chain is a must- have because “an optimized supply chain results in lower costs and a faster production cycle”. It includes all of the steps to get it from the producer to the customer.

Have you ever thought of your team as having their own supply chain? If so – knowingly or not, you have worked on your company’s Employee Supply Chain.

Definition: Employee Supply Chain– the end to end operational process of an employee’s impact on an organization:

  • Acquiring – (producer) Stage of hiring decision, intake, onboarding/orientation
  • Developing – Stage of skills training, performance management, and leadership development (transit, in-process)
  • Retaining/Exiting – promotion, actualized leadership, and outplacement (retirement, attrition)

An optimized Employee Supply Chain (ESC) blends operation and HR tactics to maximize employee’s talent engagement, capacity & productivity. An optimized ESC strategically & strategically reduces uncertainty for an organization in employee expenses.

The goal is to optimize your Employee Supply Chain and maximize the value for one of your top organization expenses – your employees. It is a process for recognizing that support in a certain area, the decision to hire, the hiring process, the onboarding process… and then the development, growth, and evolution through the organization’s cycles – reviews and moves, and at some point – either promotion or attrition, to complete the chain, could make the difference in a bottom line by reducing overall expenses by 5-10% or more.

Anyone that has a hand in ANY part of Employee Supply Chain (ESC) as described above – has the ability to grow, influence and enhance the strength of their own Employee Supply Chain.

Business Dictionary notes that producers at the beginning of the supply chain (in the case of ESC, the initial decisions made by CFO’s, CEO’s, CHRO’s and hiring managers of the employee process) can only compete through the supply chain. Unless the rest of the supply chain improves, “no degree of improvement at the producer’s end” can make up the problems downstream in the supply chain.

So… that means – if you own:

  • Initial Decision to hire (capacity, organization need)
  • Hiring process (recruiting, interviewing)
  • Onboarding Process
  • Job Functionality (training, teamwork, interaction)
  • Job Process (development, growth, and evolution through reviews, transfers)
  • End of Job-Life (promotion, retirement, attrition)

… you have ownership of part of your organization’s Employee Supply Chain.

How optimized is your own team’s Employee Supply Chain? Let’s briefly take a look.

  • Ineffectiveness
    The graph above demonstrates how wasted costs is associated with being ineffective in your Employee Supply Chain.

    Having more employees than you need. You hired 5 people, yet you really only needed 3 people…. But didn’t realize that until 6 months later. Perhaps you weren’t equipped with the understanding of the capacity of the individuals – or the job. Perhaps you followed an example of a model that did not match with your business. Ineffectiveness is having wasted costs due to more employees than the organization needs in the business.

Potential outcomes… Employees in this group could be underutilized, overutilized undertrained and could have a sense of loss meaning/ understanding of their place in the company

Ask yourself…. How can you determine if you’ve hired effectively? What can you do to help to reduce ineffectiveness in the future?

  • The diagram above exhibits the role inaccuracy plays in the Employee Supply Chain. Hiring at an inaccurate moment leads to wasted time/costs.

    Inaccuracy – Accuracy deals with timing – which can be everything. You know you will need to hire a business analyst to help shoulder some of the work – so you hire in Q1… but realize later that two other employees had the ability to do the work, at least until Q3. As a result, Inaccuracy and wasted time/ costs evolved you hired earlier than needed, as you could have delayed the hires, reducing employee expenses for the year.

Potential outcomes… Employees in this group may also feel underutilized if hired too early, or overutilized if hired too late (“you need me to do too much at once, I don’t understand!”). They may feel like a “5th wheel” and a lack of connection to the company.

Ask yourself…. “What is the capacity of my team that I already have? How much do I know about the job needs that I’m hiring?”

  • Inaction – Whereas the first two elements of loss in the Employee Supply deal with the hiring itself, the final one deals with the results when those have happened
    As you can see above. When employees are not working at full capacity, there can be severe lost opportunities and costs.

    , or if the employee loses the drive to complete the job. Typically, an employee initially begins a job with 100% effort – once (s)he is trained, they perform (or generally want to) at 100%. Over time, due to many reasons (manager, lack of motivation, engagement, etc.), this effort decreases, resulting in a 70% or 80% output (productivity). Multiple this by a number of employees… and you suddenly find yourself with much less employee productivity… and paying the same price in employee expenses!

Potential outcomes… Employees in this group feel disengaged, unproductive – and may or may not know it. They tend to have multiple strengths or talents that are not being utilized and may be considered siloed into their current job instead of being able to contribute in other areas of their work.

Ask yourself “At what capacity do I think my team is? If they are not 100%, do I know why? Can we help them?”

How are you maximizing your employee supply chain? Share this… and share your story.

In additional news:

  • Last month, I asked you how to “make” it as a manager. Thank you to the many of you that contributed and congrats to Curt from Dallas TX on his $25 Amazon gift card! Be on the lookout for the summary and results in upcoming months! Thank you!


Are you too “big” to care… as a leader? 3 ways to help you reset… before someone does it for you

Are you too “big” to care… as a leader? 3 ways to help you reset… before someone does it for you

  • Have you been in your position for more than a year? More than 2? 10?
  • Do you have trouble remembering the last time you sat down with someone from your team and talked about something OTHER than the next project or task that is due?
  • Could you share 3 facts about each individual on your team – that is NOT work related?
  • Do you know what your employees want to do next in their job? For their careers?

Take a look… if you answered “yes” to more than one of these, you may have (knowingly or not) become too big to care as a leader. (Picture by Abbey Pansy)

Or… does this classify someone that you know? Someone… that you WORK for (or try to) on a daily basis? In one of the lowest points of my work career, I became “too big to care”. I focused more on what I needed to do to fix the overall problems – then on my team that could actually fix the problems.

It’s 2017. No time for lamenting where you are. Let’s move forward and get it done.

So how do we tackle our situation here? We now have managers that have potentially grown so big in their job that they have become comfortable, complacent, callous, careless, confused, or even just cranky … too big to care as a leader. Leaders have been recognized as those with the responsibility to lead others. Here is a few ways to help you (or a leader you know) get back to what’s important.

  • Have a real conversation. One that doesn’t include work. It can be difficult, and for some, it seems remote to talk about things other than work but don’t forget – they are people too. They aren’t just a number. You hired them because they added value to the company – at some level. What value can they add to you? Your team? What are their interests? Find a few ways to help them open up and the work may open up too.
  • Find out what makes them tick. Really. Pop Quiz. What is the motivation style for each of your employees? Is it the carrot? Stick? Do they do their best work alone? With periodic checkups? Take a few minutes to find out. Ask them to complete the free assessment the Talent Engagement Zone (TEZ) or buy the book Strengths Finder – and talk about the results. How can you give them more of what they already have… and one? How can you build that into the goals and critical needs of your organization and team? Ask.
  • Share about what makes you tick. REALLY. It’s important to know the things that make your employees want to work harder – but your interests, strengths, and motivations are just as important.  Where do your interests and theirs align? Where do they want to go… that’s similar (or even parallel) to where you want to go? How can you go there together?

 It’s understandable that not everything will align. You may want to run the company, and an individual may just want to do a good job (and securely KEEP the good job). What doesn’t go together? How do you break the two up and resolve those differences? Sharing stories about yourself makes you a little vulnerable, but it also opens your employees to the REAL you… which will help them better understand and better relate to you. No one’s perfect, right? It’s ok to let them see it, too.

The year is young and the snow is still cold. Focus on your 10% and show you’re not too big to care.


2016 in Review: 15 reasons you are better (at work) now than you were in 2015 

2016 in Review: 15 reasons you are better (at work) now than you were in 2015 

It’s time for the Company Holiday Party, and figuring out how much you’re actually going to get done before the end of the year. For many, this time of year is when you look back on all of the successes, the failures, the ups and downs, the hires that came in that made you laugh and the fires that you were glad to see go (well, most of them). It’s the time to wind down – or wind up (if you’re in retail or anything remotely related to holiday shopping) and New Year’s Resolutions.


But… for many others – it may also be the time that makes you question “What am I doing here (in this job, department, company)? What did I even do this year?”

 You did. A lot. Run through this “I didn’t wait for anyone to get it done” checklist and see how many items you actually addressed in 2016.

  1. Saving your ass-ets at work
  1. Getting it done
  1. The Strengths you didn’t realize you weren’t using

Did more than you realized? Perception is reality – recency bias helps you forget about the things you did at the beginning (of the year) – so you more than likely did more than you realize.

What represents 2016 to you? Share your link or story below… the ones that resonate the most in the group will be mentioned in next month’s article!

Roadblocks and Dynamite: On initiative and why saying no may be hazardous to your health 

Roadblocks and Dynamite: On initiative and why saying no may be hazardous to your health 

Last month, we talked about the impact of a direct manager and leadership team can have on an individual (I fired my company!)….  over 60% of employees leave your organization because of the manager and 90% because of the leadership team in general.  Many of you responded with your own viewpoint, and continue to share on your personal experience.

However, leaving your job doesn’t happen overnight (well almost never) – and, for the most part, it may take a while for you to decide to pull the plug….

What if there was a way to prevent you from making that decision? From having to find something new – that could be better, but may be worse?

What if there was a way to dynamite the roadblocks that are slowing you down at work?

Several years ago, a corporate director came to my building to do a walk through inspection and evaluate us on how ready we were for our peak season. We walked him through the building, pointing out all the things we had done well over the year since he had been there last, skipping over the things we hadn’t addressed (or, to be honest, didn’t want to bring his attention to).

Of course, he didn’t get to his position for accepting what he was told, and after a few times, he asked about one of our processes. We explained that the process was a one-off – we were different than other buildings, so basically we couldn’t be compared to other buildings.

He stopped us right there and asked if we did the basic process (similar to “do you breathe every day?”). We did. Then we were asked if it made any difference how we “breathed” – we still did it, and needed to figure out a way to get it done – in this case, in a faster, more efficient way.

We needed to take initiative.

Our team had been hiding behind all of the excuses of why we were different, how we shouldn’t be compared to anyone else – instead of realizing we were just “variations on a theme” and took initiative to find a way.

In the survey, over 80% of employees said they left their company because of a lack of advancement, not feeling connected to an organization, or problems with the work environment.

Is it possible that you could find a way around some of those roadblocks that could be very real – and make your own dynamite to take a different path, make a different road?

Initiative is about taking responsibility for your work, and making it your job to make it excellent (Millikin, 2016). Instead of “What am I required to do at work”, you say “How I can best help my peers, managers, company be the best they can be?”

So… let’s do it, you’ve said. How do I blow up these roadblocks that’s holding me back?. 

  • Put yourself in YOUR customer’s shoes. Who is your customer? It may not be the external customer at all – but the accountant that needs your report by Thursday, so she can meet a deadline – and you get to it when you can. Your customer isn’t happy – but could you change that?
  • What problems exist? You probably already know several in your workplace. What are the issues? What do you just put band-aids on because you feel you are engaged or your team doesn’t support you? It doesn’t matter. If  you can get it done – then do it. Don’t wait for support from someone else if you have the power to make it better (See #1 above). You’ll be surprised at what gets done when YOU start it.
  • Find a better way. If you do a number of tasks you find menial or boring – brainstorm. Understand the reasons the tasks need to be done, and if so, find ways to make them more efficient. There could be a chance that you are NOT the best person to do it – and if you took on something that was more suitable to your strengths and job requirements, then you can get back to taking care of #1 (your customer, of course!)

Note this does NOT give you the right to march into your boss’s office and say I’m too important to be doing data entry. It DOES mean you should think about the implications, the cause and effect of your actions, and think about how you can better impact the team and organization.

Take a chance. Take initiative. Blow up those roadblocks that are keeping you from being what you know you’re capable.

About the Author

Ashley P. Lesko, PhD is a navy veteran and President of Square Peg Solutions, which is focused on helping companies discover (and take advantage of) their greatest unknown assets – their people. She also teaches at Queens University in Charlotte, NC and Harvard Extension School, based in Boston, MA. Her growing body of work on new and front line manager leadership and talent engagement has been presented to the Society of Human Resource Management, Charlotte Business Journal, Elite Training Day Loss Prevention Executive Conference, and will be featured in February 2017 at the Innovision Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Dr. Lesko can be reached via e-mail at: ashley@squarepegsolutions.org and welcomes your ideas and challenges about what getting more out of your people by giving them more means to you.

I didn’t quit my job, I fired my company: Lessons to leaders on saving the best assets you didn’t know you had

I didn’t quit my job, I fired my company: Lessons to leaders on saving the best assets you didn’t know you had

A few months ago, I asked a simple question – have you ever quit a job? The responses came in fast and furious – but what was more interesting – were the reasons why people quit their jobs – and how many of them would have stayed if given the chance. In the pilot study, one of the key statistics that stuck out was….

92% of people said they quit because of management.

Think about it. It wasn’t the food, the benefits, the salary, or even their coworkers. The top reason that people quit was because of the management team. What’s even more scary than that? (Artwork by Rachel Christine Nowicki)

60% said that they quit because of their immediate manager.

Think about that for a second. Let’s say that you and 9 other people in your company have a $50,000 job. Your company is large, greater than 10,000 employees, and 10 of you quit in the year. No big deal, right? The average cost of turnover for someone in your range is about 150% – so that’s going to cost the company $750,000. If the average turnover in a company is 15% – meaning up to 1500 people would leave in a same year – well, you get the picture.

In the pilot survey, it didn’t matter what position the individuals were in (approximately half managed others, and half were individual contributors) or how long they had been with the company (20% had quit with less than 1 years’ experience with the company, > 50%  had been with the company 2-4 years, and 25% had been there more than 5 years).

I hear what you’re saying… I know this. I don’t want my (good) people to leave my company. What can I do about it?

First, congrats. No, I’m not being condescending but the fact that you actually want to do something about it – from your chair, from your position right there – puts you ahead of half of the crowd. There is a lot you can do about it…. And the first step is recognizing that your employees may not feel like they NEED you as much as they used to.

  1. Participate in Career Advancement with your employees = developing Career Engagement

Employees don’t want to be another cog on the wheel, something slightly better than a glorified robot. It doesn’t matter if it’s a manual labor construction job or a VP. More than 25% of employees said they wanted to have career engagement – an ability to engage at different levels of their career, and have both input and output about what they can do.

One senior level manager mentioned that he had been moved several times into positions that he had “no input or choice”.  He didn’t feel in control of where he was going, and thought leaving for higher ground was better than staying and waiting for what happened next


  1. Listen to your employees. That’s it. Just listen.

It’s amazing what someone will do when they know someone else is listening. When someone is paying attention to what their strengths are, where their problems are, and whether the manager really understands what they are saying.  One person said she quit because the manager had unrealistic expectations, and were not given the tools needed to succeed, despite repeated requests of the employees.  Another mentioned the regional managers couldn’t “effectively communicate company goals” and instead of listening to understand what was going on, they “blamed local managers for performance”. It can be uncomfortable to hear what your people have to say. It is even more uncomfortable to lose the person because they fired YOU, their manager.

  1. Know who you are. And know who your people are.

This may sound a bit wishy-washy, but it’s not. Nearly 40% of those polled said that the environment and/or the culture of the firm led them to handing the shoes to their companies and saying “fill these”.

You hire people for a job description. Accountant, buyer, sales rep. You may even have several – 20, 30 or more in each position. Each one of them are different. They have their own talents, their own strengths – and ones that are outside of their job description, but INSIDE the company’s strategic goals and values. Finding out what their strengths and talents are and using them to the company’s (and employee’s) advantage is called Talent Engagement and it is a very powerful tool that helps you as a manager and leader of your company get more out of your employees by giving them more.

Most of the time, people do not look forward to quitting their jobs OR firing their companies…. And are looking for ways to stay.

Understand your assets – help them stay – help everyone win.

Do you know how to celebrate your birthday?

Do you know how to celebrate your birthday?


So… this month is my birthday. And it has been…. For a few years

Each year, we celebrate the passing of one more year. One more year that we’ve lived 525,600 minutes (thank you, Rent), drank milk, ate our lunch, worked, had some fun, worked some more, thought about vacation, had some fun, and a few other things.

What about the other things? The peaks and the valleys, the highs and the lows? The breakups and the successes, the OMG and the Holy $#%^? The new friends and the near misses?

How do you celebrate your birthday?

For me, a birthday is a celebration. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what’s going on in your life. It’s a time for others to celebrate YOU. Whether Facebook or their iPhone tell your friends, family and colleagues that it’s your special day, or if they just plain old fashioned remembered – it’s a time to celebrate you.  You get taken out to dinner. You receive a gift, maybe even have a Chucky Cheese party (if you’re that kind of person) – all for you. People tell you “Happy Birthday”, and you say “Thank you”. You may even hear from friends you haven’t heard in a while, to see how you are.

For one day, it’s all about you. And making YOU feel special.

Which leads me to the question – do you know how to celebrate your people’s “birthdays”?

I’m not just talking about cake and flowers, and maybe a bottle of wine if you’re a REALLY nice boss. I’m talking about the celebration part. The “thank you for doing a great job” part. The “today, you should be special, because you did this” part.  The “I don’t even know what kind of sacrifice you made to get this done, but I recognize it, and I thank you for it”.

Get my drift?

Celebrate successes. Make them feel special. Even little baby successes – like learning how to complete that first power point without correction by the VP –  that may not seem much to you. THANK your people. It’s the basis of TWO of the 3 pillars of NOT having a miserable job – Anonymity AND Immeasurability (Lencioni, 2007), so obviously if you’re not doing it, then I won’t even charge you for the guidance and tell you that your people probably think you suck a little bit (ok, giving it to you straight, probably a lot).

And you’ve probably already seen this coming … why stop at birthdays?

For the people that work for you, day in and day out – that get it done every day – CELEBRATE successes. Finish a project that was 90% great, but 10% needs improvement? DO NOT only focus on the improvements (and yes, I’m honest, I still struggle with this!). Sing Happy Birthday to those that made it great (aka “make them feel special and appreciated”) and then the next day (when it’s NOT their “birthday”) tackle the 10% and raise the mark.

Try it. It won’t hurt. It may feel a little funny at first, but your people will like it.

Have your own way you celebrate “birthdays”? Share them with me – would love to hear them. (As long as you’ve said it to your team first!)


Is it time to debut your “Unseen Picasso”?

Is it time to debut your “Unseen Picasso”?

A few months ago, I was watching one of my favorite shows, CBS’s “Scorpion”, and one of the characters, almost in passing, suggested that the other character had an “Unseen Picasso”.

Those two words, “Unseen Picasso”, grabbed my attention, and I began to reflect on what he meant by calling that out in the other character – and how it applies in real life – and at work.

In May of 2015, an actual unseen Picasso work of art from 2009 was revealed in the UK (see link for more info) and the art world received a gift in the form of a work of art from one of the greatest artists of last century.

Do you have an Unseen Picasso?

Stop a second. What do you do really well? If you could do this skill, that strength – for the majority of your job – you would just rock it out? Are you a builder of relationships? A salesperson or competitor to the nth degree? A developer of others? I’m not looking at your job title, I’m looking at skills sets, soft skills, talents.

We all have talents. There is something that you do that only you know how to do, to think or to say. It’s due to your lifetime experiences, your training, your personality – or maybe a combination. No one has lived your life. You could have “real” or tangible talents – amazing singer, an accountant that is a whiz with numbers, or those harder to see – such as motivator, leader, or learner.

What talents or strengths do you have right now –  but you’re not using? Do you have a hidden talent, and would like to use it? Is there a way you can use it in your day to day? Could you find a way?

A few years ago, I decided to go back to school (again) to get my PhD. It wasn’t the easiest thing – I changed my life once again, full time job, family, kids. I found that I not only liked to teach – I LOVED it. It was my Unseen Picasso.

To help others learn a topic, or see a concept in a different light based on their own experiences – was an amazing experience for me. However, I was not in a training/teaching position – and didn’t have the opportunity at the time to change over. I talked to my manager about a way to teach his department, and he agreed – I would train them, over the course of several months – in a short leadership development program to help them learn more about themselves and others.

It was a great experience – for all involved. I got to embrace my Unknown Picasso – something I had a talent for, and worked on my own time if I needed – which motivated me in my regular job as well. The department got to benefit from training and talent development when they would have had none. My manager took a chance on me, and I appreciate to this day what his trust in me did for my motivation at the time.

So I bring it back to you. You may have to take a chance. For yourself, for your team… or maybe even both.

What is your Unseen Picasso?

Change your 10% – Lead from where you stand

Change your 10% – Lead from where you stand

A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a commencement address to students starting out on their careers. I am always honored to be able to talk to those that are starting something that is new, and potentially make a pivotal change in their lives.

I wanted to give a talk of inspiration… but I didn’t want to be corny. Something that made sense for the here and now, not wishy washy stuff.  I reflected on one of the key pieces I learned in the Navy: Change your 10%. Focus on what you have the ability to impact.

Uh… what? Here are some of the highlights…..

The Story of 10%

I spent several years active duty as a Naval Officer; I still continue my service in the reserves. I’m proud of my service not only to my country, but also, and sometimes more importantly, to the sailors that I worked with on the ships that I served.

I went to boot camp in Newport, RI, and was assigned to Charlie Company and its very own Gunnery Sergeant. Now, for those of you that have never been in boot camp, never met a Gunnery Sergeant, but have watched a few movies on either – well – Hollywood did not make it up.

I was yelled at, got up early, ran until I was sick (literally… and congratulated on getting to that point), did a million sit ups, pushups, ran everywhere, and learned the other military motto. The Marines had “Semper Fidelis” or “Always Faithful” – in Boot Camp, we have another motto “Semper Gumby” – always flexible. We would run everywhere, and then wait – until the Mess Hall Opened, until it was time to go upstairs to our rooms, or just until the Gunny’s decided we’d waited enough!

It was a challenging place to be for a 19-year-old who thought she knew everything. It was humbling, but it became something else. Throughout the extremely trying days, it was also invigorating. In the evenings, if we had a few minutes of down time between running (and waiting) for the next exercise, Gunnery Sergeant would sit my 60 plus member Charlie company down and talk to us about what was really ahead of us – what was NOT advertised on the recruitment forms.

For we were all going to be leaders or impact players of our organizations – in some way, every one of us would be leading a ship, a squadron, a platoon at some point, at some level. We would be faced with a variety of challenges – from the basics of developing people to prepare for their next level, the next promotion, or (hopefully) even one day having our employees take our own job (which is a great accomplishment for ANY leader). We would face dealing with difficult people (both above and below and AT our level in the organization), deal with challenging bureaucracies, and try to get things done when there were 100 things to do.

How would we do it? How would we know which one to start first? What if there were 100 different problems that we recognized when we checked in? How would I know which one to start? What’s most important? The more he talked, the more concerned we found ourselves as the gravity of our jobs, as leaders or not, loomed larger by the minute.

And then… he said something that made it all possible. Something, that – if you listened, truly listened to what he said, to how he said it – and thought about it in your own words and experiences – you realized you could make it happen.

It was this: Change your 10%. Focus on the areas of your work that you can make a change, make an impact, and let go of the ones that you can’t.

Isn’t that a little defeatist? Doesn’t that basically mean that you are just giving up on areas that needed help – that needed work and your support as well?

No – not at all. I guarantee you when you go off to your next job, your next task, if you haven’t already felt it – you’ll see a number of challenges or problems that you’ll want to fix.  Have you already been there?

So do it. Don’t be afraid. You have the ability to make that impact – to make that change. When I say Change your 10% – I want you to focus on your immediate area – where can you make the biggest impact? Impact that area make it happen.

If you focus on areas that you can’t impact (right now) – because you don’t have the responsibility level or it’s in another department, you could find frustration and become unmotivated or unengaged. Instead, where could you better spend that time and energy? Focusing on your 10%! And you know what? If you focus on your 10%, and I focus on my 10%…. then eventually we will make the impact together.

How do I change my 10%?

You’re not just a cog in the wheel of a company – you’re not just a pebble on the company’s road to riches. You have the ability to make an impact in your job right here, right now.

Just an analyst? No way. You are the main person diving into the data, making sense of a bunch of numbers and spreadsheets. No one else is going to look at it the way you do. No one else has the EXACT knowledge, experience, and understanding as you do.

Just a front line manager? Not a chance. You have the ability to impact others in their professional lives, their personal lives – and their careers. You are an important piece of the puzzle, and perhaps changing your 10% means impacting a person that finds a career that sets them on a trajectory they never imagined.

Will you get it wrong? Sure, sometimes. That’s fine. In fact, no, that’s not fine – that’s GREAT. If you’re not getting it wrong, if you’re not applying yourself, challenging yourself, pushing yourself out of the box – you’re not doing it right. Thomas Edison once said that “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Push yourself outside of your comfort zone every now and then – you may be surprised just how much is right outside your door.

Don’t like what you’re doing? That’s ok – deal with it. Changing your 10% means you know what you have the ability to impact and leaving alone the areas you can’t change. For some of you – that means that although the job you have right now isn’t what you want right now, or in the field of this just finished hard earned degree – with focus, you can find what it is that you do enjoy, you do well, and/or makes you happy.

If you can’t change your job or position right away – then consider this advice: Bloom where you’re planted. It doesn’t mean you’ll be there forever. But if you’re in position now – make the best of it – because you could be amazed at how it gets you where you want to go. Maybe someone will see you do amazing work for a job that was underestimated. Maybe they will notice how hard you work, regardless of what you do. Do great things now, reap the rewards later. Bloom where you’re planted.

Today, you are my 10%.  I have written this today to help you see beyond yourself and remind you that you have possibilities and opportunities in front of you that you don’t even know of yet. Tomorrow, change your 10%.

Ashley Lesko, PhD

President & Talent Engagement Officer


Square Peg Solutions: Helping Companies discover their greatest unknown assets

Does your leadership make others want to “promote themselves to customer”?  

Does your leadership make others want to “promote themselves to customer”?  

Warning. If you have read any of my work by now, you know that I tend not to have a filter.

And oh, by the way? You don’t need the filter. In fact, if you’re like most, you probably NEED someone to tell it to you straight. Because many are afraid to hurt your feelings. Or you don’t want to hear it. Or don’t want to believe it.

Or – by golly, it’s just good to get some feedback every once in a while to make you better.

However – feedback to leaders is for another day. Today we’re going to talk about you.  I’ve asked a few different ways in months past… but now I’ll ask you a slightly different question:

Does your leadership encourage your people to promote themselves to customer? Put another way – do you drive your employees away – to the point that they are seriously thinking of jumping off the cliff – going somewhere else – anywhere else – even out of the company – to get away from you?

Do you even know if that’s the case? If they are thinking about it? I’d think twice before saying no. Research has proven that over 50% of people quit because of their IMMEDIATE manager. That could be you.

But of course… there are things that you can do. Now. So you don’t become that statistic.

  • One on one’s – Meeting with your people. Almost every company has it in their mission somewhere to know your customer. In this case, it’s your people. How well do you know them? How often do you meet with them? Doesn’t matter if you’re a virtual boss or not – you should meet with each individual at least 1 time per month. I’d recommend 2x per month, and even weekly if possible. Knowing is half the battle.

Don’t know what to say? Email me. I’ll give you some great un-filtered tips. You could start by tapping into their ‘what’s next’ drivers – what motivates them where do they want to go?

  • Do what you say. Say what you do. It’s simple and it’s what everyone needs – dogs, kids, employees. Doesn’t mean you have to reward with dog treats. I do NOT condone that!! But it does mean – follow up. If you say you’re going to do it – then do it.

Forgetful like me? No problem. Tell your people – if you forget you said “A” and then tell them to do “B” a week later – have them call you out on it. Helps in communication and transparency. Sounds crazy, works well.

  • Ask questions. Don’t be surprised by anything. Just like evals – they shouldn’t be surprised by anything you say in evals, you shouldn’t be surprised if they decide to leave.

One final note – You will still have people leave (spouse gets another job, goes back to school) – but the reasons that will revolve around you would be significantly reduced or disappear.

Oh – and since we’re talking about it…  have you ever quit a job?

On a similar thread, we’re doing some digging to find out some of the reasons why people fire their company. If you have 5 minutes – please fill this survey, and have a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card. Your information will remain anonymous, and I will share the results with you.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QuitMyJob

Ever quit a job?

Ever quit a job because of a manager?



Square Peg Solutions works with mid-size companies, growth leaders and rising managers to create practical leaders and leadership programs to improve business continuity


Square Peg Leaders know that a good leader never stops learning. We post trending articles and insights to help our clients continue on their paths of leadership effectiveness & reliability


Leadership Development Courses and Online Programs