Leadership Essentials, A Multi-Part Series; Today’s Talk On Purpose With Shad Ali.

Leadership Essentials the first of a multi-part series – Todays Talk On Purpose with Shad Ali 190508

To begin with, I think it’s important to share with you our definition of Leadership at On Purpose.

To us, Leadership is a complex process by which a person influences others to accomplish a mission, a task, or an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent allowing it to better (more effectively and efficiently) achieve its intended purpose.

Now, in our experience, a person carries out this process by applying his/her key attributes (beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge, and skills).

To us, Leadership creates in people a desire to accomplish high goals and objectives.

I am often asked what is most essential to leadership. To which I say:

  • Trustworthiness – Trust & Confidence
  • Effective Communication by leadership in three critical areas:
    1. Helping people understand the organization’s overall business strategy;
    2. Helping people understand how they contribute to achieving key business objectives:
    3. Sharing information with people on both how the organization is doing and how they are doing relative to strategic business objectives.
  • I mean apart from this leaders need to concern themselves predominantly with People, Strategy and Risk issues right.

Stay tuned for a few more episodes in this multipart series on Leadership Essentials.

For today, I encourage you to be disciplined and consistent in your application of these Leadership Essentials – today’s Talk On Purpose With Shad Ali.

Today’s Talk On Purpose With Shad Ali (190502) – Strategies For Managing Workplace Conflict

Strategies for Managing Workplace Conflict – Today’s Talk On Purpose With Shad Ali – 190502

First, let me say I am amazed but not entirely surprised by the extent to which Workplace Conflict has become prevalent. And this view is validated by research data and real-world experience even as recent as two days ago.

Studies indicate: 25 percent of employees surveyed in 1998 reported being treated rudely at work at least once a week and That figure rose to 55 percent in 2011 and rose again to 62 percent in 2016,

Another study from the UK this time found that four in 10 employees reported having experienced some form of interpersonal conflict at work in the last year. Oh and 85% say they deal with conflict to some extent at work; 29% of them say it occurs always or frequently.

Now, should we be concerned about this? Well consider the impacts:

  • It costs organizations on average $12,000. in Employee turnover costs per toxic employee;
  • Employees spend on average one day per month dealing with Conflict
  • Managers can spend as much as 1/3 of their time dealing with conflict issues.

And I encourage you to visit onpurpose.ca and calculate the costs of employee disengagement in your workplace, we have a quick and simple calculator there that can help.

While there are several causes of workplace conflict, among them being: poor communication; Incomplete, incorrect or ambiguous information (Assumptions); inappropriate management styles; Cultural, social or personal uniqueness and sensitivities; Inappropriate use of authority; Opposing positions, competitive tensions, power struggles, ego, pride, jealousy, performance discrepancies, compensation issues, or someone just having a bad day.

As for the effects, well they are several to including work disruption; decreased productivity; project failure; absenteeism; turnover; voluntary and involuntary termination; and of course, Emotional stress can be both a cause and an effect of workplace conflict. You know, our Stages of growth X-Ray process is pretty good at detecting these types of issues and helping leaders cut them off at the pass, so that’s something worth looking in to.

So, what can managers and leaders do to address and maybe stem or arrest workplace conflict?

  • Well start by defining acceptable behaviour,
  • Have open dialogue about conflict and address it head on
  • View conflict as an opportunity
  • Foster interactive communication. Communication that is clear and respectful can help build trust between and among employees and managers
  1. Build and foster Trust environments. The absence of trust among employees and managers can compromise communication all around and the presence of Trust can accelerate performance, productivity and results.
  • Encourage Empathy. When people are sensitive to colleague’s feelings and show empathy and awareness wow, this is central to establishing a trusting relationship among
  • Set clear expectations and communicate up and down the line.
  • Commit to Conflict resolution Although conflicts arise in every organization, the methods to handle them vary. Managers and leaders must deal with workplace conflict issues head-on and resolve disputes fairly and quickly or they will escalate and gain amplitude.

While not a complete list of strategies the aforenoted is a good start anyway. So take action on these strategies for addressing workplace conflict – Today’s Talk On Purpose With Shad Ali.

Today’s Talk On Purpose With Shad Ali – 190424. Today’s Topic: Strategies That Enhance Employee Engagement.

Click to View Todays Talk On Purpose With Shad Ali – 190424. Today’s topic: Strategies That Enhance Employee Engagement.

Strategies That Enhance Employee Engagement – Todays Talk On Purpose with Shad Ali 190423

Recent studies suggest a mere 7% of employees fully understand their company’s business strategies and what’s expected of them to help achieve company goals. This is of grave concern for you if you are a CEO, President, Executive Director or Business Owner.

Another study involving over 100,000 employees found employees want from their leaders: Hope, Compassion, Stability and Trust. It also found 29% of employees are engaged, while 54% are not engaged and 17% are actively disengaged. Contrast that with the finding that 30% of executives say motivating their employees is their toughest challenge.

So how exactly does one create better engagement and build a strong culture?

First, a couple of root causes:

  • Hiring right in the first place – every time you add a person you affect company culture. so be sure to use tools such as our On Purpose Job Benchmarking process which has proved to be highly effective in this.
  • Our Stages of Growth process illustrates that when organizations don’t delegate both authority and responsibility appropriately, particularly if in Stage 3 Maturity, they increase the chances of failure within 3 years by up to 80%. And by contrast, those that regularly allow staff to author, contribute and monitor the business vision have 60% less employee turnover than those that plan and strategize from the top down.

Second, Is it worth it to invest in employee engagement?

Well according to the Best Workplaces for Giving Back study it sure does. Employee Engagement insights from this study indicate:

  • Brand ambassadorship is 79% higher
  • Discretionary effort from staff is 83% higher
  • Employee Impact is 57% higher
  • Voluntary turnover is 43% lower
  • Revenue growth is 19% faster
  • And they have 33% more innovation
  • So clearly there is tremendous and tangible benefit from investing in employee engagement.

One of the keys is how leaders handle what our Stages of Growth process refers to as Transition Zones: The Flood Zone or Wind Tunnel that organizations experience when in transition between stages of maturity.

  • For instance adding staff too quickly when in a Flood Zone, all be it because the workload is increasing, can see employees become frustrated, performance erode, profits dwindle, clients leave and Systems become ignored due to the faster pace of delivery. So leaders need to take care in how they handle this. Leaders need to alert staff early enough about the impending changes in activity levels and they must work with managers to address how they will properly address these changes and impending volatility.

So here are a few strategies to help enhance your employee engagement:

(These are influenced by Gallup, who has a longitudinal study of Employee Engagement) 

  1. Begin at the source – For me that means start at the most localized level of your organization. This is where real work is done, at the workgroup level. And remember leaders set the tone and pace at the top. Leaders and managers must do everything to ensure employees feel empowered to make significant differences in their immediate environment.
  2. Ensure you have the right managers – The best managers are the ones who recognize their own success, as well as the success of the organization, relies on the achievements of its employees. Great managers empower their employees, recognize and value their contributions, and actively seek their ideas and opinions.
  3. Hold managers accountable for employee engagement – Managers are primarily responsible for the engagement of their employees and organizations need to ensure managers are taking an active role in building engagement plans with their employees. And here is one of the places where the Manager’s Emotional Quotient will be important.
  4. Realistic Goals stated in everyday terms: Leaders and managers must make engagement goals meaningful to employees’ day-to-day experiences. Employee engagement needs to be a part of weekly meetings and action planning conversations.
  5. Survey right – if you are going to survey and I think you should. Then when you survey don’t just survey for the sake of surveying. Generally, when a company asks its employees for their opinions and feedback, employees have an expectation, and a reasonable one at that, of follow up and follow through.so ensure survey data is specific, relevant and actionable but also that the data is proven to influence key performance metrics.

Commit to action on these Strategies that Enhance Employee Engagement – today’s Talk On Purpose With Shad Ali.



Today’s Talk On Purpose with Shad Ali – 190416: We can handle any size what if we have a large enough why

In today’s Talk On Purpose with Shad Ali 190416: our video Blog Post Shad tackles the subject: As human beings, we can handle any size what if we have a large enough why. Some of you may have heard Simon Sinek and his book start with why, some perhaps heard it from St Francis of Assisi, or maybe even fewer yet might have seen it referenced to Patanjali.


Check out today’s Video Blog Post.

6 Keys To Building High Performance Teams


At On Purpose Leadership Inc. we work with a large number of teams to understand what drives success, what inhibits performance and what fosters cohesiveness. Through this work, we have learned that a high performing team is more than a group of people who have learned to cooperate with one another. True teams share a common, compelling goal and capitalize on the uniqueness that each team member brings to the table. High performing teams create a culture that values people and clearly defines the character and behavior the team strives to achieve.

Ask any manager what they look for most when hiring a candidate, and they will likely tell you it is the ability to be an effective team player. High performing teams hold themselves accountable at both the individual and team level. Team members count on each other to complete assigned tasks with a standard of quality within an agreed upon time frame.

Individual team members are the key to overall team success. In order to become a high performing team, each team member must participate fully by committing to the following guiding principles:


  1. Define clarity of purpose and set expectations

When all members of the team have one common goal, it is much easier to assign tasks and establish timeframes and deadlines. Clear and direct expectations sharpen the focus and lessen the chance for division among the team.

  1. Commit to cooperation and thoughtful consideration of other members

Strong and successful teams are not only cooperative, but considerate. It is perfectly fine for a team member to make an alternate suggestion provided it is presented in a way that is constructive and positive. The focus should always be on the project, not the person, so any and all new ideas should be encouraged for the betterment of the project. If those ideas are not implemented, team members know not to take it personally.

  1. Embrace the collective

Highly effective teams understand that every member brings specific technical and interpersonal skills to a task or project. What may be the best role for a person on one project, may not be the most optimum role in another. Accept feedback from all members of the team but understand the specialized talents certain members of the team possess and get the most out of those talents.

  1. Build camaraderie

The best way to tighten the bonds of the team is to lift its members. If there is a common respect among all team members, these differences can be used as advantages. Acknowledge acts of kindness, jobs well done and great ideas.

  1. Navigate the team’s values with integrity

Strong values ensure a positive, productive and ethical working environment. Values are the emotional rules that guide behavior, attitudes and actions. Although values are generally slow to change and strongly held, they actually define the character and culture the organization strives to possess.

Each team member should clearly understand their level of empowerment, decision-making authority and team norms.  For example, your personal standard might be to respond to an email within 24 hours. But, if the team’s collective behavior places a high-premium on work-life balance, you may want to send that email on Monday morning rather than disrupting team members by sending it on a Friday night.

Example of The On Purpose Team Insights Report:

  1. Celebrate success and commemorate the journey

When a great project has been successfully completed, it is important for all members to celebrate. A casual get together can strengthen the bonds of the team members and gives them even more motivation to successfully complete their next task!



High performing teams hold themselves accountable at both the individual and team level. Team members count on each other and bring a strong sense of purpose and an internal compass that gives the team what is needed for success.

To further understand the dynamics of high performing teams, we have built our Building and Sustaining High Performing Teams Program and our unique T.E.A.M.S Assessment. For more information on these tools, please click here.


On Purpose Leadership Note: The above is adapted from an Article by, and we give our thanks to, Kathy Wentworth Drahosz. On Purpose Leadership is an Approved Provider partner of TTI Success Insights.

5 Reasons Why Understanding Acumen Is Important

Understanding Acumen Capacities

First off, what exactly are we talking about when we refer to “Acumen Capacities”?

Acumen capacities is a way of looking at our internal operating system through a combination of two concepts logic and bias. Logic speaks to our objective, analytical, non-emotional thinking while bias explains the emotional conditioning (or memory) that impacts our decision-making processes.

An example of this interplay between logic and bias can be seen in our immediate thoughts when seeing a dog for the first time. One person will immediately assume the dog is friendly based on an objective understanding of canine instincts and a positive bias that emanates from past experiences. Another person might assume caution due to a different opinion about canine instincts along with one or more past experiences with dogs that were not friendly; maybe even violent. This interplay between logic and bias is imprinted in each of us subconsciously, both from genetics (nature) and experiences (nurture). It is rarely visible to us without deep self-reflection and/or using self-assessing instruments.

At On Purpose, our TriMetrix HD assessment tool uses acumen capacities to help discover the reasons behind superior performance. You can get more information on the TriMetrix Assessment here.

Our TriMetrix HD assessment is based on the use of Axiology which is the study of values. Stated concisely, axiology is the study of how we make judgments about good and bad. While axiology may be the technical name, the concept is often referred to as a person’s “acumen.”

Revealing Acumen’s Potential

  1. Understanding and measuring acumen capacities has many benefits

Neuroscientists now believe that most, if not all, decisions begin in the subconscious part of our brain. Our conscious mind can override or change these initial inclinations, but it rarely does. Consider that the average mid-level manager makes up to 1,000 organizational decisions every day, it stands to reason that we don’t have time to carefully analyze and change more than a handful of judgments.

One example of the relationship between logic and bias may be the story of two salespeople.  One salesperson approaches each customer with trust and a natural optimism and, therefore, does everything possible to accommodate the customer’s requests. Another salesperson may approach the same customer with a natural scepticism that results in a more cautious approach, assuming the customer may seek to take unfair advantage in the pursuit of their objectives.

The customer in this scenario could also represent either the optimistic or sceptical mentality, further complicating the interactions that will take place. In the best of circumstances, both the salesperson and the customer will rely on logic to gain a beneficial outcome. The measurement of this relationship between logic and bias offers many opportunities to shape and improve decisions and relationships in the sales process, but also far beyond.

  1. Measuring acumen capacities reveals many nuanced opportunities for continuous growth and professional development.

Often, the difference between strong performance and top performance is a matter of identifying subtle hindrances to increased success. Earl Nightingale authored a famous, spoken-word record in 1957 entitled, “The Strangest Secret,” the first of its kind to achieve gold record status. He proposed that this secret to success was that “we become what we think about all day long.” Since then, many human performance psychologists have reaffirmed his conviction about the creative power of our thoughts, conditioning us either for success or failure.

Measuring acumen capacities adds 21st-century wisdom to Nightingale’s axiom and assists us in understanding our perceptions of the world around us and ourselves as unique human beings.

  1. Acumen capacities provide a clearer understanding of how people solve problems.  

A main proponent of leadership is solving problems. The more challenging the problem, the more important it is for us to understand the relationship between logic and bias. Acumen capacities bring fresh insights into solving people problems, practical problems or theoretical problems. Using acumen capacities, there has been success in helping individuals recognize how their bias of overvaluing or undervaluing a person, situation, or belief has helped or hindered achieving lasting solutions.

  1. Measuring acumen capacities provides a clearer picture of how people view and navigate their unique circumstances.

Just as acumen capacities have helped us understand our world view, they have also provided a framework for developing a more substantive, helpful understanding of how we view ourselves. From how we see our own uniqueness and individuality, to our mental constructs of our roles and future potential, acumen capacities have provided wonderful insights into self- awareness and growth opportunities.

  1. Acumen capacities are a powerful way to become more successful in helping clients make decisions around hiring, promotions and succession planning.  

In the hiring process, there are often identified nuanced traits in candidates that would not have been visible in any other manner. There has also been success in significantly improving and customizing interview questions to draw out the future potential and possible challenges with candidates and employees based on their acumen capacities.


Understanding and measuring acumen capacities is one of the most rewarding and impactful practices when it comes to individual performance. Since acumen capacities are directly related to performance levels, our aim at On Purpose Leadership Inc. is to help individuals grow both personally and professionally by gaining clarity with regard to their acumen capacities and its impacts and effects on their decisions, actions and performance.


On Purpose Leadership Note: The above is adapted from an Article by, and we give our thanks to, Ron Price. On Purpose Leadership is an Approved Provider partner of TTI Success Insights.

DISC Assessment Key to Unveil Leader’s Achilles Heel

Behavioural assessments help uncover interesting insights about a person’s behaviour. Our suite of assessment tools includes one such assessment DISC which when combined with our Motivators or Driving Forces Assessment provides tremendously valuable insights. The information gained from an assessment such as DISC can be used to improve performance or help a person find a job that may be a better fit for their natural abilities.

Understanding the Model

You can get more info on the DISC Assessment here. However, let’s explore the graph here to give you a better understanding of the highs and the lows (see DISC graphic). There is a midline (also known as the energy line) at 50 and any factor above is considered “high” and any factor below is considered “low.” High is not good and low is not bad – this is just a continuum. If you fall in the “extreme” range (0-10 or 90-100), these factors are much easier to observe but more difficult to adapt. If you fall in the “tends to be” range (40-50) these factors are harder to observe but much easier to adapt up and down depending on the situation.

D assesses how you approach PROBLEMS and CHALLENGES: If you are above the midline, you are more FORCEFUL (jump in and address issues immediately). If you are below the midline, you are more ACCOMMODATING (think it through, ask questions, make sure everyone agrees).

I assesses how you influence PEOPLE to your point of view: If you are above the midline, you are more OPTIMISTIC (excited, persuasive, and convincing). If you are below the midline, you are more LOGICAL (factual, sceptical, more of a realist).

S assesses how you respond to change and PACE: If you are above the midline, you are more STEADY (thoughtful, methodical, don’t enjoy quick change). If you are below the midline, you are more DRIVING (multitasker, very flexible, open to change).

C assesses how you respond to rules and PROCEDURES set by others: If you are above the midline, you are more COMPLIANT (follow rules, detail-oriented, perfectionist). If you are below the midline, you are more INDEPENDENT (an out-of-the-box thinker who may ignore “unnecessary” rules).

Your Strengths can become a Vulnerability

So often, what endears a leader to others can become their very undoing. Someone with urgency and precision can be a master at completing tasks but may find themselves lacking when it comes to the human element. Someone else who is supportive and caring may have a hard time having difficult conversations when these conversations need to be had. While others who are great with details and processes may tend to be methodical micromanagers. For every yin, there is a yang and uncovering those vulnerabilities can help shore up a leader’s ability to rally his or her team to become engaged and highly productive.

Example #1 – High Directive with Low People Skills (High D/C and low I/S)

Phil is a young professional with high potential who works in the operations department of a mid-sized company. Phil’s boss thinks he is fantastic because he gets everything done quickly and with great precision, which makes the boss look good. Although Phil is already in a management role, his boss would like to see him promoted to a higher leadership position.

All is not perfect though. One of Phil’s direct reports recently left the company and there are complaints from others about his management style. The claim is he has unrealistic expectations, is overly critical, condescending and does not care about them personally. I have been asked by Phil’s boss to assess and possibly provide coaching to him on his “people skills”.

As I began to work with Phil, it was evident his “get it done now (D) and get it done right (C)” style has its benefits, but also some vulnerabilities. When working with someone who has a very intense dominance and compliance personality, it’s all about completing the task quickly and to perfection. A person with this type of behavioural combination can set expectations so high, they may never be met. Before long, the staff become disengaged because they feel they are fighting an uphill battle they can never win.

Phil and I worked on his demands of his staff and his ability to use a more consultative and collaborative style with them. We explored ways in which he could become a little more invested in them and include them in the setting of standards and ways to achieve goals and desired outcomes. He is slowly becoming more connected with his staff.

Phil has begun to delegate more and to take a personal interest in those for whom he has responsibility. And that little shift in thinking from his “Direct Reports” to “Those for whom he has responsibility”, made the world of difference in Phil’s outlook, expectations and communication and management style and practices.

Building connections with his staff went a long way towards Phil’s success although it was challenging at first – he said he felt disingenuous, because he just wasn’t the kind of person interested in small talk, however, once he took the time to find common interests (i.e. kids playing sports) it no longer felt like he was forcing small talk and instead has begun looking forward to the conversations.

Example #2 – Supportive and caring, but averse to confrontation (High I/S and low D/C)

Jenny is a new manager in a fast-paced work environment. She was promoted because of her customer service skills and how willing she is to always help others when needed. Everyone loves working for her, especially since the former manager was known to be a bit forceful and direct.

While Jenny is well-liked and respected, her team was not meeting the metrics needed to be successful and were starting to get customer complaints. Her boss suspected that Jenny was not holding her staff accountable and not having the needed performance conversations. Complicating matters was the fact that staff for whom she now has responsibility were her peers just a couple of months ago and going from peer to leader has been somewhat of a challenge for Jenny.

During a recent team dynamics session, the team was asked to share what they appreciate most about Jenny. It’s evident how much her friendship and support is of value to them.

The next phase of the team dynamics session had the group engage in an exercise which required each person to share with Jenny exactly what they need from her to be successful in their role. Majority of the group commented that issues were not being confronted directly and tough decisions required were not being made fast enough. These were creating delays and negatively impacting working with their clients. There was also a common undertone that Jenny was not addressing some team issues which is creating some teamwork issues.

Jenny through hard work and candid conversations has come to recognize and acknowledge that her positive and connective (I), as well as her caring and supportive (S) style that has gained her admiration of her staff and colleagues, are the very same attributes that are keeping her from helping her team produce the results for which they are accountable. Jenny has come to understand that people want and need feedback and performance conversations (even the negative ones) to grow in their roles and performance. She realizes having these conversations increases her credibility with the very people that adore her and helps her become more ineffective as a leader.


Both the examples above feature people who were doing well before using DISC and coaching, however, high performing leaders are always looking to improve. Although it’s often easier to observe how a leader’s strengths contribute to results, it’s more difficult for them to accept and take action to change those behaviours that limit their success.

Increasing your awareness of these vulnerabilities may be the most important part of the process as these vulnerabilities can be the Achilles Heel to the leader. Understanding behaviour styles help a leader choose behaviours that contribute more to their effectiveness and success, especially when they are willing and able to adapt their behaviours to fit the needs of those for whom they have responsibility.

Nowshad (Shad) Ali, CPBA, CPVA, TriMetrixHD, CEQA, CFRE

President, On Purpose Leadership

Highly rated coach, facilitator, trainer and speaker.

Expert in organization growth, individual and team excellence and hiring and retaining top talent.