Consultant Bob Cooper: An Optimistic Future

Optimisim at WorkWe can think of no better way to start the New Year than with the words of our friend Bob Cooper. Bob is the voice of sanity in the crazy world of management. We wish all our readers a Happy New Year and look forward to spending 2013 with you!


Think about the recent news. 

We have been faced with the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School and other senseless murders throughout our country, Hurricane Sandy and our economy possibly going off the fiscal cliff.  We are constantly having to deal with these painful events and yet build for the future.

In order for you to be able to lift up others’ spirits – you must be someone who sees the glass as half full.

After the pain of a difficult event in your business subsides (for example – the loss of a big customer order, loss of market share, the depreciation of your stock value, loss of a key member of your team, etc.) – your team is looking at you for direction. I am not just referring to a clear and compelling future vision, but something much more powerful. They want to know that you truly believe that the team can and will win.  If they don’t believe that you believe, it’s hard to get them to take their attention away from yesterday’s news.  Great leaders engage others to build a powerful future together.  They keep their staff focused on the achievement of a positive outcome. They assist others to learn from mistakes, and regroup to come back stronger than before.

Think about the power of language.

Who wants to go off a fiscal cliff, or any other cliff for that matter? As a leader, you need to keep your team updated on an ongoing basis.  You need to always tell the truth. Unless you believe that your team can not win – you must inspire them to find creative solutions to avert going over any cliff.  Your job is to align your internal resources and keep them focused on finding the right solutions.

Please take a few minutes to answer the following questions:

1) What is the most difficult issue my team will face in 2013?

2) Do I believe we have what it takes to resolve this issue?  If not, why not?

3) What changes will I need to make to ensure our team is successful?

4) What changes am I personally willing to make to be the best leader I can be?

In order to answer some of the questions, you may need to rely on data.  Look at your business metrics and objectively evaluate results.  How do your results compare to your competitors? What are they doing that you need to consider?  What do your people think about you as a leader? What changes would they like you to make?  These are important questions.  Great leaders know that they must develop a sound business strategy in a culture that engages the hearts and minds of their followers.  Without followers, leadership can be a very lonely place.

As you think about 2013 I ask that you commit to the following:

Build a sense of optimism

Always show compassion and empathy for anyone going through a difficult time, but focus on the positive.  Assist your team to rebuild and believe that greatness lies ahead.

Find every opportunity to acknowledge individual and group efforts

People want to know that you recognize them.

Seek feedback on your performance

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch was famous for asking “How am I doing”? Take the feedback very seriously and commit to developing a culture that everyone can be proud of.

Recognize the connection between staff engagement and productivity

The Gallup organization conducted an extensive study that showed that those organizations that have highly engaged employees perform at a higher level than those that do not.

Finally, I ask that you take the following tip very seriously.

I have had the opportunity over my career to speak with many individuals, and as they wiped away their tears they would say the following – “I just want to know that my supervisor cares – not just about my work, but really cares about me.”  I see the glass as half full and I am optimistic about our future. My sincere desire in writing “Heart and Soul in the Boardroom” was based on what I believe is critical for our businesses and society as a whole.

We must be vigilant in helping others to see the importance of building highly respectful and civil workplaces – where every individual is valued for their ideas, and everyone is valued as a person.

As a leader, it’s up to you to model for others the type of behaviors that everyone can be proud of.  If not you, who’s going to show the way?

RL Cooper Associates’ book Heart and Soul in the Boardroom outlines suggestions for leaders to develop highly respectful and ethical work cultures and is available in the Manage My Practice Store. For additional information about their services, please visit

Bob Cooper, President
RL Cooper Associates
(845) 639-1741
Innovations in Organizational Management


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