A Consultant’s View On Getting Comfortable With The Uncomfortable!

Between two trapezes – The Transition Zone!

Don’t you feel like life is a series of trapeze swings? You either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in life, hurtling across space in between trapeze bars, hanging on for dear life to the trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. Today the moment is Covid-19. Six months into the pandemic, it’s carrying us along at a certain steady rate of swing with the feeling that ‘I’m in control of my life.’ I now think I know most of the right questions and even some of the answers.

As I move from one point to another, it’s that in-between, uncertain time of letting go and waiting to grab the next thing – a new trapeze bar, that’s the most challenging at the best of times and for some, even debilitating.

I know that this new trapeze is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart, I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present, well-known bar or old world and move to the new one, the world ahead.

We really do not like change, so part of me hopes that I won’t have to let go of my old bar completely before I grab the new one. But I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and, for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. In that transition, the uncertainty & unknown, I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in the past, I have previously made it. I am afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks between bars. I do it anyway and leap ahead. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. So, I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone, the future is not yet here.”

It’s called “transition.” I have come to believe that this transition is the only place that real change occurs. I have noticed that this transition zone is looked upon as a “no-thing,” a no-place between places. Sure, the old trapeze bar was real, and that new one coming toward me, I hope that’s real, too. But the void in between? Is that just a scary, confusing, disorienting nowhere that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible?

NO! What a wasted opportunity that would be. I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real growth, occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out of control that can accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives. But we can only experience it by being fully present in it!

We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore.


True transformation is about giving ourselves permission to “hang out” in the transition between trapezes. Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, allows ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening in the true sense of the word. In the transition, we just may learn how to fly. 

As Covid’s dizzying spin starts to slow, leaders steel themselves for the long road to recovery. An essential early step will be effectively addressing the anxieties of millions of workers worried about the future of their work and their health. Given the pain of this moment, leaders are urged to handle the journey’s challenges mindfully with resilience, authenticity, and connection.

With the ringing injunction to “normalize the new” and get back on the treadmill.  If leaders want to use this moment to do more than return worried, distracted employees to old jobs they once knew, we need to still the maelstrom in our minds; most of all, we need to break the semi-automated responses that continue to chain us to the old trapeze. If we don’t, we will find ourselves frantically doing the same things yet expecting a different result. We must become comfortable with the uncomfortable and embrace the suck.

To embrace the suck means to have discipline. Having that mental toughness to see the hard work through to the end. You continue with the hard-charging attitude of being able to keep moving forward and never give up.

We are wired for survival and staying in comfort – every fiber in our being wants to hold on to the old trapeze and not let go, but nothing will come of staying put; we have to keep moving. “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you are not going to stay where you are,” JP Morgan

According to a Green Beret, Jason Van Camp, there are 7 ways to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

1. Start.

The first step is always the most uncomfortable. All you have to do is show up. The battle is half won if you just show up.

2. Don’t quit.

You’ve decided to start. You do not see the results. It’s difficult. You want to quit. It’s OK. Just keep pushing forward. That voice in your head is going to make you think of a way out. Don’t do it. Don’t give yourself an out.

3. Push yourself past your comfort zone.

At some point, you are going to say to yourself, “I’ve never done this before” or “I don’t know what I’m doing.” We’ve all been there. Here’s a trick: Just pretend to be confident. Fake it till you make it.

4. Embrace “the suck.”

The situation is bad–deal with it. And don’t just deal with it–open your arms and welcome it as you would an old friend. You know him well. You are building your mental and physical toughness.

5. Be around like-minded people.

Create a support network. Talk about your experiences. The worse the experience it is to you, the better the story it is to everyone else.

6. Recognize your improvements.

Track your progress. Revel in it. You are now a changed person. You know it because you see it. Build your confidence by going back to what before was uncomfortable and go through the experience again.

7. Rinse. Repeat.

“repetition is the mother of learning.”

The more you perform the same activity, the more confident you become. Confidence is a tangible thing–it comes from practice and repetition.


Perhaps the most difficult part of this pandemic is the uncertainty we are all facing.  Uncertainty about how contagious and deadly Coronavirus is.  Uncertainty about the travel that we have planned.  Uncertainty about the economy. Uncertainty about our jobs. But the real world is highly uncertain, and that can be uncomfortable. So, to succeed, we must keep moving, take that next step in faith, and welcome in the discomfort of the transition zone as you reach for your new trapeze of growth.


-Priyal Ramdass

How Good Managers Influence Employee Happiness

People join organizations and leave their managers. Considering the labor market situation and the challenges that organizations are facing when trying to attract and retain top talent, employers must think more than ever about the topic of leadership quality. 

For instance, Gallup’s research shows that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. A study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career. 

Similar findings are revealed with the poll of 2,000 people in the UK conducted by Human Resources firm Investors in People49% of employees say that they are thinking to leave their job because of poor management – making that the most popular reason for a potential move.

National Study conducted by Ultimate Software revealed there is a need for greater focus for Manager-Employee Relationships. For 93% of employees, trust in their direct boss is essential to staying satisfied at work, and over half of employees surveyed say if they aren’t satisfied at work, they can’t put forth their best effort. A good manager-employee relationship can play a significant role in retention too: more than half the employees say they’d turn down a 10% pay increase to stay with a great boss.

“Support from management” is also one of the aspects that affect work-life happiness. All of this goes to show that managers are definitely the key players when we are talking about employee happiness or unhappiness at work.

What makes a Great Manager?

There have been a bunch of different studies and researches that are trying to determine the qualities of best, effective, successful, or great leaders. One size definitely doesn’t fit all! The qualities of a great leader heavily depend on the organization culture as well as the behaviors of their teams. 

In 2008 Google launched Project Oxygen to find out what makes a manager great at Google and determined eight different behaviors that were common among their highest performing managers. 10 years later they looked at their employee survey and found that the qualities of a great manager at Google had grown and evolved. The top ten Oxygen behaviors of their best managers include:

1. Is a good coach

2. Empowers the team and does not micromanage

3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being

4. Is productive and results-oriented

5. Is a good communicator — listens and shares information

6. Supports career development and discusses performance

7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team

8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team

9. Collaborates across Google

10. Is a strong decision-maker

There are a lot of touchpoints in Google findings with the research done by Sunnie Giles a few years ago when studying 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations. Participants were asked to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74. 

Manager Influence on Employee Happiness

When a manager is happy then most likely workers are happy too. According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, Happy workers have higher levels of productivity, produce higher sales, perform better in leadership positions, and receive higher performance ratings and higher pay. They also enjoy more job security and are less likely to take sick days, to quit, or to become burned out. Happy CEOs are more likely to lead teams of employees who are both happy and healthy, and who find their work climate conducive to high performance. 

Organizations need both happy workers as well as happy managers. As we saw from the Google study and Sunnie Giles’s research, there are certain behaviors and competencies that people expect from great managers. Because these factors affect happiness,  you must carefully think about whom you are recruiting. 

Whether hiring from the outside or promoting from within, organizations that scientifically select managers for the unique talents it takes to effectively manage people greatly increase the odds of engaging their employees. Companies should treat these roles as unique with distinct functional demands that require a specific talent set. They should select managers with the right talents for supporting, positioning, empowering, and engaging their staff.

5 Ways to Improve your Managers

1. Educate and develop your people! 

A lot of organizations have created programs to train and develop their talents. At Starbucks for instance, there are several different training programs available to prepare people to take the next steps in their career. One of their programs is called the Retail Management Training program that contains information on effective management practices, including topics on motivation, delegation, problem-solving, improving performance, managing the Starbucks Experience and maximizing profits.

In addition to developing potential manager and leaders, organizations need to develop existing managers. There are a lot of organizations that are developing their managers to be better through complex training programs. Some organizations such as ISS that have gone so far to start their one Universities and Academies to train and develop its leaders up to the highest levels in the organization. 


2. Promote and encourage communication! 

Communication is often the basis of any healthy relationship, including the one between an employee and his or her manager. Gallup has found that consistent communication – whether it occurs in-person, over the phone, or electronically – is connected to higher engagement. 

For example, employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings. 

Gallup also found that engagement is highest among employees who have some form (face to face, phone or digital) of daily communication with their managers. Managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone, and electronic communication are the most successful in engaging employees. And when employees attempt to contact their manager, engaged employees report their manager returns their calls or messages within 24 hours. These ongoing transactions explain why engaged workers are more likely to say their manager knows what projects or tasks they are working on.

3. Favor collaboration with other leaders! 

Even the very best ones can and shall learn from others. Therefore organizations should encourage their leaders to participate in different meetups, conferences, seminars or similar to meet other industry leaders and to collaborate with them. 

Groups like the Estonian Startup Leaders Club, for instance, are formed with the goal to build strong relationships, provide opportunities for members, encourage communication and collaboration, as well as to develop startup entrepreneurs. Members of the club are from various famous (like Taxify, Transferwise, SportID, etc) and not so well-known Estonian startups who share information and experience on a daily bases.

4. Enroll your leaders in mentoring programs! 

You can either start with your in-house mentoring program or use some public programs for that. A great example is PayPal’s Unity Mentorship program which is implemented with an aim to build a thriving work culture for female professionals. This employee-led initiative matches 100 pairs of mentors-mentees from same or different departments at any given time. 

The pairs, even of mixed gender, are initially matched through a short survey, to make sure an intimate bond can be formed between individuals through the initiative. Both mentor and mentee interact with and learn from each other to build a transparent communication that’s more valuable than exercising professional etiquettes.

5. Start a book club, or create your own (e-)library!

People learn by reading books. So why not initiate a corporate book-club or have your own library from where all your people can lend books, read and learn. A lot of leaders love to read, including Eric S. Yuan from Zoom Video Communication, one of the highest-rated CEO’s in Glassdoor, who learns by reading books.

The importance of good management to the success of an organization cannot be stressed enough! Good managers heavily influence the employees they work with and will affect the overall workplace happiness of your company. Finding manager candidates with a foundation of great leadership qualities and behavioral skills is a great way to start, but remember that management training and improvement is an ongoing process. How do you educate yourself and leaders in your organization?

Technology in the Pandemic: Recreate the Office or Repurpose It?

The pandemic has forced companies to adapt quickly to new realities, including shifting to virtual work arrangements and rethinking short- and long-term business priorities. It has also amplified the role of managers to help employees shape their work lives in effective and healthy ways.

In the office, we socialize on the fly, flit from meeting to meeting seamlessly, and establish routines and patterns that not only work for us but jell with those of others. One of the important decisions that managers confront now, as working remotely becomes standard practice, is how to use technology to recreate these dynamics. Should they attempt to replicate life as it was in brick-and-mortar offices, or does the drastic switch to virtual work necessitate that they try something different?

As the initial shock of the pandemic begins to wane, now is the time to consider how to balance strategically what work used to be and what it is now. We provide a series of ideas for managers on how to approach these considerations as remote work becomes the norm for the foreseeable future — and perhaps even permanently.

Recreate or Repurpose Office Life?

One of the authors of this article, Eliana, studied the post-bankruptcy reactions of former Lehman Brothers bankers. She found that disruptive events that profoundly alter work circumstances often prompt people to feel a sense of loss and void, akin to what people feel when they mourn the loss of a loved one.

At a minimum, the shift to virtual work has left workers bereft of a common place, of unplanned interactions with their coworkers, and of the vicarious learning opportunities that colocation promotes. As one senior manager at a large educational institution explained to us recently, “I miss bumping into people I do not directly work with, catching up with them in the hallway. … For me, now it’s just not the same. I feel I’m missing context. It’s almost as if I do not know my colleagues as much anymore.” Another employee we interviewed, who started her new job just days before switching to remote work, told us, “I’m trying to learn what I’m supposed to do as best I can. I miss shadowing my colleagues who have more experience.”

Workers all around the world are grieving a host of aspects related to how, where, and when they used to work.

The study of former Lehman Brothers employees found that in the face of void and loss, workers — even those on the same team — may mourn unexpected loss differently. The Lehman employees approached their post-bankruptcy work lives in two distinct ways. Some, Recreators, craved the safety of their former work lives. These bankers tried to revive what they had at Lehman by pursuing similar work opportunities — often with some of their former colleagues — and holding on to the close-knit relationships they had developed while at the company. Others, Repurposers, craved the control that they had over their former work lives. These bankers held on to the spirit of what they had at Lehman but did not try to replicate it. Rather, they repurposed the skills and knowledge they had acquired and pursued different careers, often as entrepreneurs.

These two approaches provide important clues to how managers might try to better understand and manage their now remote employees.

Consider Alicia and Dan. Before going virtual, their days looked approximately the same. Today, both are performing at the same level, but their work situations are very different. Alicia is a Recreator. She currently holds the same schedule as before COVID-19. The only difference for her? Instead of meeting face to face, she meets her colleagues and clients via Zoom, from her home. She even has virtual drinks with her coworkers at the end of the workday. Now consider Dan, a Repurposer. He checks in with his colleagues and clients via email and text periodically throughout the day but completes most of his actual client work at night.

Recreating and repurposing fulfill different needs for employees, especially in times of grief. For Alicia, recreating provides a sense of safety in a time of uncertainty. By keeping the same schedule and regularly meeting with colleagues virtually, she preserves the rhythms of the daily life she had before COVID-19. For Dan, repurposing is about reimagining the execution of tasks to separate the “what” from the “how.” Adjusting and time-blocking his new schedule ultimately provides him with a sense of control over his work life.

Companies and managers are seeing these mechanisms play out for their employees in different ways. For example, if face-to-face team meetings are about checking in with one another, Repurposers might maintain some meetings but transform how they happen: They might, for instance, institute asynchronous discussion boards for their teams, as opposed to arranging synchronous virtual calls.

So, how should managers make the choice of recreating or repurposing?

Understand Employees’ Needs and Constraints

Remember that people are coping with sudden, unexpected loss in individual ways. What employees need most from their managers and colleagues, and what they are finding most challenging, will vary from person to person. Have honest conversations with your own employees about what they most miss from being in the office and what their current constraints are. Do they miss the safety and regularity of routine? If so, work with them to recreate certain aspects of their work lives. For example, they might have started each morning with a cup of coffee and small talk in the break room. Offer to host a virtual morning break room with your team to simulate that routine. Do they miss the ability to control their work environment and to concentrate without other family members around? If so, work with them to repurpose. For instance, allow them flexibility in when they work (for example, before or after their children go to bed) and how (for example, reduce asynchronous meetings during the daytime).

Balance Recreating With Repurposing Through Technology

Working virtually allows employees to choose whether to repurpose or recreate their office lives. Rather than leaving this choice solely in their hands, such that each person on a team may approach his or her work differently, consider setting a company or team strategy that offers guidance. To do so, you might brainstorm with your employees about the aspects of office life they individually miss, and then help them either recreate or repurpose such aspects. A framework for such a conversation might be as simple as these two questions: Is there anything from your work life pre-COVID-19 that you no longer have but would help you meet your professional and/or personal goals? How might we incorporate that based on your current life?

It is also important to recognize the limits of recreating and repurposing. Giving employees complete autonomy over recreating or repurposing may ultimately erode their ability to form and maintain regular cadence with coworkers. The second author of this article, Beth, researched virtual workers and found that having consistent cadence with coworkers — being able to predict the time and mode of interacting — determines the quality of remote workers’ relationships. To foster such cadences, consider instituting virtual collective routines, such using collaboration tools and discussion forums to clarify when employees are available and when they are not.

Finally, recreating is unlikely to bring back the face-to-face office experience, and it may be difficult (or even impossible) when individuals are trying to balance additional duties — such as home schooling their children. Setting realistic expectations for a recreating strategy is thus critical. Because repurposing shifts the focus of work from process to outcomes, recreating can be particularly challenging to enact when work is highly collaborative and interdependent — especially when there are Recreators and Repurposers working together toward the same goal. Communicating expectations, deadlines, and processes clearly is thus especially critical.

Five ways to design a better mental-health future for a stressed-out workforce

We know that mental health occurs along a continuum, with thriving and positive mental health at one end and serious mental illnesses or addictions at the other. In between, however, there are many shades of substance use, anxiety, depression, and other conditions that vary in intensity and impact. Every leader must ask, “What are we doing to help our employees stay physically and emotionally healthy?”

Far from being a soft issue, there is an economic cost to this humanitarian clarion call. For the global economy, the loss of productivity because of poor mental health can be as high as $1 trillion per year.2 The pandemic has also created a disproportionate mental toll on women in the workplace, causing one in four senior-level women to consider leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses need to do more to help employees cope during these turbulent times. Consider the following actions, where we’re beginning to see impact based on feedback from our clients’ employees and our own colleagues at McKinsey.

Open the lines of communication

Demonstrate commitment from the top and lead by example, communicating that during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, it is important to address stress, mental illness, and substance use.

This can start with “pulse checks”—emails sent to employees that ask two or three short questions about their work, life, mentorship, and health. Or it could be as simple as, “How are you feeling?” and “What’s giving you the greatest stress this week?” Always provide a reminder on how to access mental-health resources and professional help for those in immediate crisis.

Understand and meet the need

Understand the impact of psychological distress, mental illnesses, and substance-use disorders on the workforce. This includes using employee surveys, benefits reports, disability claims, and productivity assessments.

While anecdotes can illustrate the human impact of mental illness, at McKinsey, we also look at metrics and data, all of which are anonymized and confidential. This aggregate information can pinpoint which departments have employees with higher rates of distress. Further, an analysis of disability claims and benefit reports can allow insights into whether we are meeting employees’ needs.

Know the signs of distress

Invest in training to equip leaders with the skills, language, and norms to support your colleagues.

Twenty years ago, when someone on my team told me he had to take leave to address his mental health, I was crushed: I completely missed the distress signals and wasn’t there to support him when he needed it most. It is a deep regret and learning moment I hold with me to this day. It is also why I’m so committed to the mental-health training we are rolling out for our leaders.

Consider a short training for team leaders that focuses on recognizing signs of distress, making clear that it’s driven by a genuine desire to connect employees with the right support and resources. When companies make mental health a priority, teams can, in turn, offer greater value to their customers or clients. For example, one of our recent projects at McKinsey involved helping interested members of a medical staff receive 90-minute training sessions on building team resilience and deepening relationships.

Make help available

Embrace strategies to address key stressors, improve behavioral-health literacy, promote mental wellness, and prevent substance misuse.

Make it easy to access help, ensuring that everything from self-help tools to high-quality treatment providers are visible, affordable, and available virtually as well as in person. Be clear about which options for mental health are available via telehealth services.

Embrace and encourage self-care

Create an inclusive culture where those seeking treatment and self-care are supported, recovery is celebrated, and social connectivity is a priority.

Maintain an open dialogue. Ask if your colleagues are taking regular breaks, prioritizing sleep, and checking in on one another. My teams make it a point to discuss what we’re doing over the weekend, how we’re staying healthy, and whether we’re all getting enough rest.

As the lines of our personal and work spaces blur, I remind my team to take extra care for renewal and try to lead by example. That means unplugging and finding family or individual activities that restore the spirit. Recently, in my house, that has meant bringing a journal to the dinner table each night so that my husband, daughter, and I can write a line of gratitude—no repeats! Whether it’s reflection, reading, exercise, or spending time with our family, it is up to us to practice self-care and show vulnerability by admitting our own struggles.

This isn’t going to be easy, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It will require us to learn an entire new vocabulary on mental health, and many organizations will have to undertake large structural and cultural transformations. But even when the challenges seem great, I know we can lift each other up. Every day, I draw inspiration from my colleagues. I know you do, too. It’s up to us to harness that inspiration into tangible change that can address mental health across the workforce.

This article was published by Fast Company on October 27, 2020.

What Business Can Learn from Supermarkets’ Pandemic Playbooks

Jennifer Spencer

Businesses across the board are struggling to meet the new demands put forth due to Covid. Increasing  while decreasing operational costs is not an easy feat. However, the country’s nearly 40,000 grocery stores, classified an essential service during the pandemic, have had to adapt quickly without any downtime. 

Only about 3 to 4 percent of grocery spending in the U.S. was online before the pandemic, but that’s surged to 10 to 15 percent, according to research by consulting firm Bain & Company. And in some cases, it’s much greater than that. 

“Early on during the pandemic, we saw a 300 percent increase, on average, in online grocery sales among our clients compared to the same time period last year. Some of our clients successfully handled much larger online sales spikes. A single location gourmet market in Brooklyn, New York, for example, went from $53,000 to $388,000 weekly online sales at the height of the pandemic,” says Dan Dashevsky, COO of My Cloud Grocer, an ecommerce software platform for  chains. The company offers a robust, customizable virtual storefront with a white-label platform that powers and integrates the full shopping experience.

As the current pandemic dramatically changes the landscape of  around the world, smart grocers are utilizing technology to grow their sales while safeguarding their customers. Let’s look at the technology and tactics businesses are using, not only to stay afloat during these troubled times but to thrive. 

Customer needs and their experience must come first 

The  should always be the driving force that determines how a website operates or which policies a company will enforce, but unfortunately. that is not always the case. During the pandemic, customers have complained that they’ve had to wait days or even weeks to receive grocery deliveries — not an ideal scenario when supplies are low and the need is greater. 

“Many online grocery platforms are only showing available delivery times at checkout — after customers have spent 20-40 minutes filling their carts with products — causing additional frustration for customers when they realize they can’t get their groceries within a reasonable time and on top of that, they’ve also wasted their time,” says Dashevsky. “We made sure that our clients’ platforms display the available delivery and pickup times as soon as shoppers add the first item to their cart.”

Why Forcing Employees Out Of Their Comfort Zones Achieves Greatness

Diverse teams are smarter teams. They have higher rates of innovation, error detection and creative problem solving.

In environments that possess diverse stakeholders, being able to have different perspectives in the room may even enable more alignment with varied customer needs.

Being able to think from different perspectives actually lights up areas of the brain, such as the emotional centres needed for perspective taking that would previously not be activated in similar or non-diverse groups.

In a nutshell, you use more of your brain when you encourage different perspectives by including different views in the room. However, work done at the NeuroLeadership Institute has proven that this only works when diverse teams are inclusive, and this still remains a key challenge in business today.

When we consider the amount of diversity present in the modern workplace and the addition of more diverse thinking as a result of globalisation and the use of virtual work teams, it’s clear that the ability to unlock the power of diversity is just waiting to be unleashed.

Here’s how you can unlock this powerful performance driver.

The Social Brain

Despite the rich sources of diversity present in most workplaces, companies are still often unable to leverage the different perspectives available to them in driving business goals. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have enabled us to understand why.The major breakthrough has centred around the basic needs of the social brain.  We have an instinctual need to continually define whether we are within an in-group or an out-group.

This is an evolutionary remnant of the brain that enabled us to strive to remain within a herd or group where we had access to social support structures, food and potential mates.

If we were part of the out-group it could literally have meant life or death. We are therefore hypersensitive to feelings of exclusion as it affected our survival.

The brain is further hardwired for threat and unconsciously scans our environments for threats five times a second. This means, coupled with our life or death need for group affiliation, we are hypersensitive to finding sameness and a need for in-group inclusion.

When we heard a rustle in a bush it was safer to assume that it may be a lion than a gust of wind. It is this threat detection network that has kept us alive until today.The challenge is that society has developed faster than our brains. In times of uncertainty we often jump to what is more threatening. Some of the ways that this plays out is when we leave someone out of an email and they begin to wonder why they were left out.

The problem is that it’s easy to unconsciously exclude someone if we are not actively including. The trouble occurs when we incorrectly use physical proxies to define in-group and out-group, as this is the most readily available evidence used unconsciously by the brain.

Barriers to Inclusion

A study done between a diverse group and non-diverse group demonstrates how this plays out in the work place. Both groups completed a challenging task and were asked how they felt they did as a team after the exercise.

The effectiveness of the team and how they perceived effectiveness were both measured in the study. It’s no surprise that the diverse team did better in the completion of the problem-solving task, but what is surprising is that they felt they did not do well.

In contrast, the non-diverse team did worse, but felt that they had done well. Working in a diverse team feels uncomfortable and that’s why we perform better.

Discomfort arouses our brain, which leads to better performance. It feels easier to work in a team where we feel at ease in sameness, but in that environment we are more prone to groupthink and are less effective.

Creating Inclusion

We can’t assume that when we place diverse teams together we will automatically reap the rewards of higher team performance. As discussed, we’re hardwired for sameness and if we’re not actively including, we may be unconsciously excluding.

If we want diversity to become a silver bullet, we need to actively make efforts to find common ground amongst disparate team members. This in turn will build team cohesion and create a sense of unity, including reminders of a shared purpose and shared goals. Many global businesses put an emphasis on a shared corporate culture that supersedes individual difference.

It’s the same mechanism that is used in science fiction films that bond individuals together against a common alien invasion. It can also be used to describe why we felt such a great sense of accomplishment during the 2010 World Cup as we banded together as a nation. 

We must also make sure we uplift all team members by sharing credit widely when available and recognising performance. The last thing we can do to further inclusion is to create clarity for teams.

By removing ambiguity, we allow individuals to not jump to conclusions about their membership within groups and calm their minds so they can use their mental capacity to focus on the task at hand.


5 Activities to Improve the Well-Being of Your Team

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
  • Activities should incentivize your team and promote their comfort.
  • More than 51% of companies have offered wellness activities to their teams.
  • All activities can be done remotely.

With the new home office modality, companies have to know how to play their cards properly, in order to be more productive and profitable, that is, they have to properly manage their production process, apply continuous improvement methods, modernize, and to the extent of where possible, innovate to generate added value that differentiates them from the rest. However, to be successful, it is necessary to prioritize the needs of employees, since they are the basis of any organization.

According to the report ” The Future of Work in Latin America “ , produced by the specialized Human Resources platform, Runa, executives are fighting to increase the benefits for their employees. More than 51% have offered activities that promote well-being in their employees, in areas such as: stress management (63%), physical activity (39%) and financial well-being (35%).

“Regardless of the role they play, all employees are an important part of the gear that makes your company move forward, so it is necessary to establish activities that encourage your team and allow their comfort,” says Courtney McColgan, CEO and Founder of Runa.

McColgan, shares five activities that you can offer to your team remotely, so that they maintain their levels of productivity and satisfaction:

  1. Stress management activities: Yoga classes or relaxation exercises at established times can work to relieve the load of stress, release tension and clear the mind of your work team, use platforms that allow the connection of your entire team , from This way they will be able to interact at a distance in sessions of 10 to 15 minutes.

  2. Physical activities: Inactivity from sitting for 8 continuous hours in front of the computer can reduce physical health, with overweight problems, poor posture and even headaches; Therefore, dance, stretching or muscle strength and balance classes can be of great help to maintain health.

  3. Nutrition activities: The body is the engine that drives us day by day, so a good diet is essential, therefore, providing the advice of a nutritionist who provides guidelines on how to improve your health through proper nutrition will help you to stay healthy and productive.

  4. Financial wellness activities: Workshops or courses that encourage them to maintain good financial health is essential, so their worries about expenses at home will be reduced effectively.

  5. Psychological help: The uncertainty about the future can be a great torment for your team ; outings with friends; the return to the office and the vacations, at the moment are not viable, so it can lead to anxiety and stress. Psychological help these days represents a great contribution to the health of employees.

Expertise Is Not Enough. Here’s How to Become a Successful Business Coach.

I will never advise someone about something I’ve never experienced or done myself.  

This is one of the first statements I share with a prospective client. In a world that is saturated with self-proclaimed experts, thought leaders and executive coaches, we are beginning to understand through disappointment, that it’s really hard to find someone you can trust and rely upon.

Those self-proclaimed experts may have a lot of knowledge, but they lack wisdom. Let’s face it, we live in a new world. A world that is transitioning from a knowledge- to wisdom-based economy. It’s no longer just about what you know, but what you do with what you know.

Related: 9 Qualities You Need to Look for in a Business Coach

We’ve often felt that wisdom comes with the age. This is a myth. We are now living in the age of personalization where the individual defines the business. The individual has expectations and is unwilling to assimilate to old, outdated standards that were defined by the institution. Whether you are an employee or a consumer, the individual is now in charge.

With this in mind, here are 4 critical success factors for executive coaches. And for entrepreneurs, pay especially close attention to ensure circumstances don’t force your hand:

1.  Experience is not enough

The days of having 15-20 years of experience in a particular function isn’t enough anymore. In fact, it can be detrimental. The business playbook is rapidly changing and if you haven’t evolved your thinking over the past 15-20 years, you are irrelevant. Also, it’s no longer wise to leverage your past associations with large corporations, with the hope it will give you . Those days are over too. Whatever  you were a part of in the past does not matter much in today’s more personalized world.    

The big question for you is this: what lessons did you learn from your experience, how many times did you fail, what could you have done differently, etc. Humble yourself and extract the wisdom and allow that to guide your executive  practice. Stop allowing perception to get in the way of your reality. 

2. Get your hands dirty

I’ve often said you must touch the business just as much as you lead it. Now that you know the limitations of your experience (unless you convert it into wisdom), the best executive coaches must get their hands dirty. Here are a few examples: A) Don’t just share your own perspectives and research. Be well-read about what others are saying and their research. Always offer broader perspectives than your own.  B) Share your network. My goal is to strengthen my network for my clients, not for myself. The collective wisdom of your networks shows that you can overdeliver, care and trust yourself to open new connections for the betterment of your client.

3. Do you see me? Do you know me?

The best executive coaches invest in getting to know their clients as individuals.  tells you that you can’t advise someone that you don’t know. But if you know your clients intimately, the roadmap to accomplishing their goals and helping them find the success they were looking for, becomes easier. This now allows you to elevate your engagement by guiding your clients towards finding significance (something that is more sustainable and self-directed). That should be your ultimate responsibility as an executive coach.

Seeing and knowing your clients as individuals means that you have initiated this process by making sure they know about you: your journey, your vulnerabilities, your failures, your family, etc.  When your client sees and knows you – not only does this open the door for your client to do the same, but it leads you to the most important part of the relationship, one in which you both serve as each other’s mentor and mentee. Wisdom accelerates from both sides of this equation. Opportunities multiply.

4. Know how to build a strong network

Since I mentioned the importance of sharing your network earlier, it’s important to know how to coach your clients to build their network. Last year, I designed and lead a three-day summit.  I onboarded and coached 46 executives in support of the content strategy, delivery goals and what it would take for the summit to be successful. After the summit was over, the number one piece of feedback I received from the speakers was this: “Glenn, this process taught me that my personal and professional network is ill-suited to help me achieve my goals for the next 5-10 years.” When I asked why, they responded, “I was taught to build networks of like-mindedness. I was taught to build networks of people that had the same job/position I had. I never realized the power of networking with others whose wisdom I aspire to learn from and all the while be able to reciprocate.”

Related: Some People Have a Therapist. I Have a Business Coach.

Building a strong network is hard when it requires you to get out of your comfort zone. But in today’s age of personalization, that’s what it takes. We are all student and teachers. No one knows all the answers. Your network must also be viewed as your ecosystem of wisdom.

Opportunities are everywhere, yet few have the eyes to see them. Why? It takes a lot of work to manage opportunities. More so, it takes wisdom to see what’s right in front of you.