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Colin Powell, Deepak Chopra talk biz at Sage Summit

Dave Gordon - Thursday, 30 July, 2015

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The lowest person on the employment totem pole might be more powerful than you think.

That’s one of the business lessons imparted by General Colin L. Powell (Ret.), and author of some eighty books, Dr. Deepak Chopra, at the recent Sage Summit in New Orleans, July 28-30.

The two were side by side panelists, with Stephen Kelly, CEO of Sage, moderating.

In the keynote dubbed “Navigating a changing world”, the panelists covered topics such as respecting employees, positive thinking, and knowing the global affect of your business.

Powell penned the book “It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership” that contains thirteen guiding principles – forty four short stories used in the course of his career that he says shaped his leadership patterns.

Among the guidance he offered from the book:

  • Be upbeat. Believe in what you’re doing, and if you can communicate that, you’d be surprised how that would leverage up your ability to get things done.
  • It’s not as bad as you think; it’ll be better in the morning.
  • Trust and respect the people who work for you.
  • Every organization whether it’s three people or three million, has these three things in common.
  • It’s a simple set of rules I’ve seen violated over and over.

How does the person on the lower rung hold control and influence?

Powell offered the story of discovering that the parking garage attendees in the State Department would give the better parking spots to the people who would take the time to smile and say hello in the morning.

That is, he added, a perfect example of why everyone should be treated as equals.

From Chopra’s end, he looked at the workplace in a holistic manner.

“A person’s well being is connected to their intellectual well being, community well being, physical well being, job availability, career and economic well being,” he said, noting their “inseparability.”

“If you asked people whether they love their jobs, only twenty per cent of people say yes. Which is a very sad commentary,” he said.

There is an annual $300 billion lost from disengaged or activity disengaged people in their jobs, according to Chopra.

“Not only unhappy, but they come with the intention of making everyone else unhappy. This is a huge burden from our jobs.”

If a manager ignores an employee, the employee is almost fifty per cent likely to be “disengaged.” But when a manager points out an employee’s strength or good work, that disengagement score goes to less than one per cent.

Chopra’s advice for entrepreneurs of small and medium businesses were as follows:

Inspired teams are comprised of employees who are paid attention to, who are shown appreciation and accepted.

“Be a good listener, a good observer with employees and customers, and listen to emotional cues… stretch more than you can reach.”


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