Granting the Freedom to Create

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Most organizations would like to innovate or disrupt. However, it is the culture that needs to be re-aligned, not the employees.

If you unleash competent individuals on a new task, you must offer more than a timeline to foster creativity. Few people will take a risk (and waste your time and theirs) if they aren’t first offered the freedom to explore that proverbial limb.

Instead, they will likely transfer what has worked successfully for other tasks to your project. If real change is desired — offer a reprieve from the fear of risk and/or possible failure. Be upfront. Communicate that the risks have been acknowledged.

Lend them the freedom to create.

If you truly want to see something new, take of the handcuffs and offer permission to explore.

When you say “Give it your best shot.” — mean it.

Read more about it:

Please note: I’m sharing more frequently — 30 Thoughts for 30 Days!

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

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A Few Thoughts on Talent Spotting

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In terms of accomplishments — we can all be a bit “star struck”.

We gravitate toward proven winners. This is for good reason. (Success isn’t optional.) But, while proven competence is one way to discern talent, we fail to consider that opportunity also plays a crucial role. If an individual isn’t afforded the opportunity to shine, their potential will be left undiscovered.

Enter this HBR post, discussing the importance of potential when hiring team members.

However, while we may under-estimate new hires — we also routinely overlook individuals already in place. People right under our noses that have what it takes. Curious and flexible. Ambitious and resourceful.

I like to call them “explorers”.

You must first focus intently and identify them. Consider behaviors that might signal potential. Is an individual always ready for new experiences? Adept at handling unforeseen circumstances? Particularly open to feedback? Able to write a “script” when one does not previously exist? After reflection, offer them opportunity — sponsor stretch assignments for example, so “explorers” on your team can be discovered.

Let’s start out 2018, with a campaign to find and challenge them.

Dare to look beyond your established high potential program.

They could be right there, at the ready.

Please note: I’m sharing more frequently — 30 Thoughts for 30 Days!

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Considering Happiness at Work

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When a construct becomes culturally significant — words naturally arise to describe it. The lexicon of that culture expands to accommodate its importance.

In this country, the word “engagement” has finally gained a certain notoriety — helping us move beyond the 9 to 5 definition of our jobs. With that recognition, we are beginning to acknowledge that work isn’t “just work” for many of us.

But, ask yourself this: why is engagement so vital?

Within other cultures, words have already developed to answer that question.

In Japan, the storied concept of Ikigai, represents our “reason for being”. (Think of a Venn diagram with intersecting circles representing what you love to do, your strengths, what the world needs and what you can be paid for.) In Scandinavian cultures, the word was “Arbejdsglæde” captures this. (Translated into English this means “happiness at work” or “work joy”.)

These are more than compound words — slinging together “work” and “happiness”. Ultimately, they capture the multi-faceted construct that to feel worthy, we all need to contribute in a way that we deem meaningful.

This conversation elevates the entire realm of work.

I’d say we need 100 words to capture that.

Engagement is just a start.

Read more about it:

Please note: I’m sharing more frequently — 30 Thoughts for 30 Days!

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Seeing Ourselves in Context

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One of the most challenging thing to do is to see ourselves (and our actions) in context. This is particularly difficult when we work within an established organization. We can become distracted from our mission by so many long-standing biases, including “the way it’s always done”.

When organizations reach an impasse, functions often express that they cannot work together. To be certain, there is myopia operating. Groups are too close to their own work to see how they affect others. Or they simply don’t have the time or inclination to examine what might really be happening.

The art of blame is mastered — however they haven’t considered the larger picture. We cannot fully understand things until we back off and see things from another perspective.

We often think of clients or customers, but rarely think of how we affect our peers. Most of us do not fully understand the demands placed on those in roles that touch our own.

If we took the time to do this — we might see our own actions in context.

Silos hurt all of us.

It’s a start in the right direction.

Great things can follow.

Read more about it:

Please note: I’m sharing more frequently — 30 Thoughts for 30 Days!

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Personal Branding in a Noisy World

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We all possess some form of a personal brand, whether or not it is actively constructed. If you desire to be noticed for the right reasons — that brand must be clear and concise. If it is muddled, you might be lost in the shuffle.

That brand can also be stretched beyond recognition. You may not even recognize it.

(It’s a noisy world out there.)

When people consider you (or your work) it conjures up a certain “gestalt”. While you may think your brand is clearly written in your resume or LinkedIn profile, much is invisible. It is what you do, share and say everyday.

However, it is vital to be noticed and understood. It is devastating to be misunderstood. (I’ve personally experienced this.) What you stand for as a friend. As a colleague. The type of work you envision. The roles you are aiming for. What you wish to accomplish. As, Tom Peters declared in his now classic article — we each must accept the indisputable existence of the personal brand.

It follows that building this brand requires thought — and action — and more thought.

That must begin with you.

You are person 0.

If you could conjure the ideal personal brand that represents you in the future — what would others say? How might that compare to what others would say in this moment?

You have an opportunity to impact that brand. To choose its components and even utilize it as a compass for your career. To delineate the value you bring and to decide the channels that broadcast value.

However, you must first build self-awareness.

You must ask the question again (and keep on asking).

Who are you?

Please note: I’m sharing more frequently — 30 Thoughts for 30 Days!

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Read more about branding here:


Ambition is misunderstood

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Ambition is often misunderstood.

In fact, it has suffered an image problem in recent years.

In the world of work, the notion of personal ambition seems to be either stifled or glorified. There is no in-between. No shades of gray — where we can meld our duties with the need to manifest our ambitions with our work.

In fact, personal ambition is offered a very narrow lane. Only accepted for the likes of tech founders or CEOs. For the rest of us, the connotation is murky.

Ambition should be embraced in many more situations. It is the root of so many great things. It is not always synonymous with greed or selfishness.

We’ve all suffered through periods of time that we could label as a “crisis of contribution”. In many cases, what we envision to accomplish through applying our strengths — doesn’t align with our work.

I’m convinced it is ambition grumbling to do more.

Waiting for its chance in the sun.

The chance to do great things.

Ambition should be reckoned with.

It isn’t always blind.

Please note: I’m sharing more frequently — 30 Thoughts for 30 Days!

Want to read more about ambition? See a great list here.
I enjoyed this one:

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Find Your Audience

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Social media is a great tool.

It is quick and nimble.

However, it can never take the place of carefully considering your audience. If we share a message and it gains no traction — we not only have to examine our content, but who it might be reaching. The conversation could be right. It’s the listeners that are all wrong.

Personal branding can also prove useful.

There is ground to be gained by refining our image, resume or developing our personal “pitch”. However, if no one is responding — we have to wonder who is really noticing that crafted presentation. We have to examine where our efforts are landing. To whom are we speaking? Under whose umbrella do we fall? Who needs to hear us?

If we have no audience, no takers — we haven’t shifted a single mindset.

We are just talking into thin air.

With all the hard work that goes into developing our message, a product, a white paper — the effort deserves an audience.

Take another look around. (Whether you aim to affect a school, your workplace or a project’s direction.) When someone truly responds to your message, who are they? Their challenges? Goals? What are you affecting?

Your audience wants to be discovered.

Be sure to find them.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.