Roars to Whispers: The Calls That Shape Us

January 26, 2024

Chick-fil-A Corporate Service Center, Monday, January 22, 2024

Did you know the Chick-fil-A Corporate Service Center gathers every Monday morning for a devotion? It’s a wonderful way to start the week through worship and an encouraging message.

I was honored and humbled to share some thoughts on the callings in our lives, general and personal, how to determine your calling, and how callings shape us. I’m sharing my talk with you in hopes that you are encouraged to hear your calling and respond to it as well… Enjoy!

Introduction: A Morning of Devotion at Chick-fil-A

Thank you, Chris. I’m humbled and honored to share with you for a few minutes this morning. I appreciate Emi and the Chick-fil-A devotion team for the invitation. And as a Coca-Cola Company alumnus, I treasure our partnership. Thanks for all that you do.

Today’s devotion is entitled “Roars to Whispers: The Calls That Shape Us.” I’ll share a few anecdotes, stories, scriptures, and ways to determine your calling. My hope is that you’ll take away one thing that you’ll apply.

The Evolution of Communication: From Telephones to Texts

How many of you remember?… A telephone on the wall, the Yellow Pages, operators, or answering machines. Even the fact that I said “telephone” shows my age. Now, we know it as a “phone.”

There are over 8 billion smartphones and only 7 billion people on the planet. It’s like some people have a phone for each hand – because why text with one thumb when you can use two?

Closer to home, did you know that Atlanta has the highest call volume per capita? Now, I understand what we’re doing during our lengthy commutes.

Texting has become our primary mobile communication method. An astonishing 19 billion texts are sent daily. And hopefully, you’re not texting while driving, especially if you have two phones.

Of all the interesting statistics that jumped out at me preparing for today’s devotion, mobile phones have 18 times more bacteria than a toilet handle. Who studies this stuff? I don’t know. But it’ll make you think twice when someone asks you to take their picture.

The Personal Touch in a Digital Age

We make or receive all kinds of calls. Think about it. Conference calls, telemarketing calls, survey calls, robocalls, prank calls – I remember being at sleepovers when I was a kid– we’d randomly call people in the middle of the night: “This is Johnny’s Repair. Is your refrigerator running? Yes. Better go out and catch it.” We’d immediately hang up and giggle for hours.

Side note: A boy named Anderson, 11 years old and son of a Chick-fil-A associate, approached me after the talk. He said, “You missed something today. Do you want to know what it was?” “Sure,” I replied with a smile, appreciating his boldness. He said, “butt dial! You forgot butt dial!” He was right. We all have probably made or received the accidental butt dial during our lives. I laughed, loved his courage, thanked him, and affirmed his confidence—one of my favorite post-talk interactions.

Many of our calls are personal and involve good news (like a promotion, a wedding engagement, or the birth of a child), sad news (like someone’s passing, illness, or tragedy), or surprising (a friend or mentor from our past – out of the blue).

I call or FaceTime my mom and dad every Sunday evening just to see them and hear their voice – a tradition we’ve held for almost 35 years.

When we FaceTime with my father-in-law, we enjoy looking at his ears. He still hasn’t figured out the video call thing.

If you’re like me, I spent hours on the phone talking to my wife, Carla, when we were dating. Now, it’s a brief call: ‘I’m headed to the grocery store. Need anything?” If you know, you know. It’s funny how things change.

Spiritual Connections: The Call of the Divine

Whether it’s a phone call, text, or FaceTime, all calls require a caller and a callee.

That takes me back to the word’ telephone.’ Did you know the Greek meaning for telephone is “distant voice?” The first distant voice heard over a telephone was, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” Were Alexander Graham Bell’s words to his assistant the first voice-to-voice call? Maybe.

But through a different ‘technology,’ one of the first telephone calls, think distant voice, was from a burning bush. Talk about a holy hotline.

Exodus reads: And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”[1]

You know the rest of the story. Moses questioned God at first but then accepted his call and faithfully led the Jewish people to the promised land. It all started with that fateful burning bush call.

By the way, the above picture depicts what it might have looked like with Moses taking a selfie after crossing the Red Sea.

Discovering Your Call: A Six-Pack of Considerations

Before I go on, let’s pause here. Here’s a 6-pack of ways to prayerfully consider your calling:

Before I go on, let’s pause here. Here’s a 6-pack of ways to prayerfully consider your calling:

  1. Listen to and for God. He speaks to us through his word, prayer, other people, and circumstances.
  2. Pursue being before doing, form before function – think Moses in the desert for 40 years, getting to know God and learning his ways, becoming humble. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
  3. Think about opportunities you see around you…
  • What is good that I can celebrate and protect?
  • What is missing that I can contribute?
  • What is evil that I can oppose or resist?
  • What is broken that I can restore?
  1. Take Inventory of how God made you. Consider your values, talents, strengths, and competencies. How can you leverage your God-given gifts to act on the opportunity?
  2. Desire. Are you passionate about the opportunity?
  3. Lastly, define your sphere of influence. Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted person will influence 10,000 people during their lifetime. Your sphere probably includes work, community, school, or church.

I’m reminded of a quote from Philosopher Alastair McIntyre I learned in the Colson Fellows Program. He said, “I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question of ‘What story or stories do I find myself a part of?”

Influence and Purpose: The Chick-fil-A Way

Speaking of influence, I’m reminded of Chick-fil-A’s commitment to positively influencing all who come in contact with you. Whether through your work, community involvement, or interactions with each other and your customers, you’re not just fulfilling a role; you’re living out a purpose and calling entrusted to you.

Questions for you: Who are the 10,000 people you’ll influence? What stories do you find yourself a part of? How will you represent Chick-fil-A?

Discerning Your Path: Personal Reflections on Career and Calling

But that’s not all. 

What happens when you hear a call but can’t confirm it’s the right thing, the right timing, the right opportunity?

That’s where I found myself in 2010. I was in the midst of another Coca-Cola organizational change. By the way, I survived 11 reorganizations during my 20+ year tenure. This reorg found me without a position in Knoxville, where we’d lived for eight years, and required us to relocate to Atlanta. We were blessed with a wonderful church family where I served as an elder and was passionate about making disciples. Our family didn’t want to leave East Tennessee. My Pastor at the time, knowing of our predicament, invited me to lunch a couple of weeks before relocating. He shared his vision for the church, drew out an organization chart (see above), showed me the role he had in mind, and said with almost a roar, “this might be your burning bush moment!”

His offer humbled me. I went home and told Carla about the opportunity. We prayed, played out all of the scenarios, and prayed again. The decision process was heart-wrenching. We wanted to stay in Knoxville, but something wasn’t right. Was it the right opportunity? Maybe. Was it a stretch role that leveraged my gifts and skills? Yes. But – I never felt a burning passion in my heart and wasn’t inspired to make a radical career change.

So, I turned down the opportunity. I chose to stay in the marketplace and not enter the ministry. Honestly, I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I had taken the role.

Life is messy, but I believe God engineers all circumstances.

Since then, God’s done immeasurably more than I can imagine by helping me become a minister of reconciliation in the workplace, an ambassador for him, and even writing a book, Discipled Leader, about how to live out your faith in the workplace – A message I never would’ve written had I not decided to stay at Coke.

How about you? Have you heard a call and aren’t sure what to do? I encourage you to hang in there and be obedient. Like you, I’m still trying to figure it out.

A Call to Trust: Lessons from the Garden of Gethsemane

Fast forward to last spring. Carla and I, along with some friends who are here today, were on a Passion City Church Holy Land Tour. I’m sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s this little garden where Jesus submitted his life and will to God before he went to the Cross. It’s a weighty place, to say the least.

I’d recently taken early retirement, and after being untethered from Coke, I was floating – the structure, the accolades, and the sense of importance that came from my corporate life all vanished. I was grappling with a loss of identity, a crisis of purpose.

“Lord, where are you in all of this,” I implored.

But I found a semblance of solace in the garden where Jesus grappled with his destiny.

He whispered, “follow me.” – two words I’ll never forget hearing.

It was a directive that required no roadmap, no strategic plan, and no business acumen. It was a call to surrender, to trust, to let go of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ and to embrace the ‘who.’

Os Guinness speaks of calling as a summons by God that infuses our very existence with meaning. It’s not about starting with ‘why’ but ‘who.’ And in that moment, I realized that my identity wasn’t tied to my past achievements or future endeavors—it was anchored in Jesus. It was about being His, first and foremost.

The world tells us to find our purpose through self-exploration and experiences, but I’ve come to understand that it’s not about crafting our narrative—it’s about stepping into the one already written for us. It’s about responding to the call of Jesus, the most revolutionary invitation ever extended.

Have you heard his call, “Follow Me?” If you’ve heard it and haven’t responded, what’s holding you back? Answering his call will be the greatest decision you’ve ever made.

Responding to the Greatest Call

In closing, I leave you with this…

Acts 17:26 says, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”

This speaks to our time, our place – ordained by God.

John F. Kennedy, Jr. once asked, “If not you, who? If not now, when?” 

You are the ‘who,’ now is the ‘when.’

All God asks is that we are available and faithful. If we answer his call, he will do the work.

Conclusion: Answering the Call

Let’s pray – Lord, whether it’s a roar or a whisper, help us listen to you and for you. Shape us and move in our hearts and minds to show us where you are working and help us join you. May we seek you first and foremost, knowing that everything else will fall into place if we trust and obey you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’d love to hear from you and know your key takeaway.

Thank you.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to learn more about leadership and how I can work with you, please visit my website, prestonpoore.com, to learn more.



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Ex 3:2–4). (2016). Crossway Bibles.

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Navigating Change: Titans as Torchbearers

October 11, 2023

Football is more than just scoring touchdowns; it’s a lesson in strategy, teamwork, and resilience. In “Remember the Titans,” we dive deep into such lessons. Set against the backdrop of the 1971 racial integration, the movie unfolds in Alexandria, Virginia, portraying the challenges faced by the newly integrated T.C. Williams High School football team. Coach Herman Boone, entrusted with molding a diverse group of players into a single unit, transforms a team and impacts an entire community.

As the Titans navigate the challenges of racial tension and newfound teamwork, we witness a masterclass in change management, echoing four core steps that resonate in both football and the boardroom: Building the Case for change, Driving Commitment to the cause, Developing the action plan, and Executing the strategy while continuously Learning.

Build the Case

Every impactful journey begins with understanding where you stand. When Coach Boone steps into his role, he’s immediately met with a stark reality: a team divided. Much like in businesses, this highlighted the urgency of a change initiative. The articulation of ‘what’ and ‘why’ becomes paramount. Why do two distinct groups need to meld? What consequences loom if unity isn’t achieved? Boone’s approach parallels the essential first step in any change management strategy: building a compelling case that underscores the need for change and paints a vivid picture of a harmonious, successful future.

Drive Commitment

The heart of change lies in commitment, both from those leading it and those experiencing it.

  • Align Key Stakeholders: The relationship between Coach Boone and Coach Yoast offers a textbook example. Both, initially with different perspectives, realize that their unified front is vital for the team’s success. In organizational change, this is the essence of aligning key stakeholders. Ensuring that influential figures are on board, understanding their motivations, and addressing their concerns can set the stage for smoother transitions.
  • Connect with the Affected: Perhaps the most resonant scenes in “Remember the Titans” are when teammates, once at odds, begin to understand each other. Boone’s strategies, from pairing players of different races to the intense training camp, are about building connections. In business, connecting with those affected by change is equally vital. Communication must be transparent, emphasizing the reasons behind the change, addressing concerns, and spotlighting the benefits. Ensuring everyone feels a part of the process can significantly bolster commitment levels.

Develop the Plan

With commitment secured, the next step is charting the course. The rigorous training sessions, the playbook discussions, the strategy huddles – all depict the Titans preparing for their challenges. Similarly, change management requires a robust plan that details the steps to transition from the current to the desired state. Defining roles, setting milestones, and ensuring resources are available are integral. This phase is where vision translates into actionable steps.

Execute and Learn

Execution is where the rubber meets the road. Every game the Titans played was a testament to their training, unity, and adaptability. Similarly, its real-world implications become clear once a change plan rolls out. Monitoring its progress, celebrating the small victories, learning from setbacks, and making necessary adjustments are crucial. Feedback loops, reviews, and open communication channels can ensure the plan stays on track and evolves as needed.

“Remember the Titans” isn’t merely a film; it’s a beacon for those navigating the waters of change. Its lessons offer a roadmap for any leader and are intertwined with methodical change management steps. Change, while challenging, can lead to unprecedented victories, both on the football field and in the boardroom. Embrace it, lead it, and watch transformational success unfold.

Want to discover more about game-changing leadership? Visit my website, www.prestonpoore.com, today!



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Unlocking the Power of Belonging: The Blueprint to Transform Your Team

August 15, 2023

What’s the secret formula that turns a group of people into a cohesive team? The answer lies in one powerful word: Belonging. It’s the magic ingredient that wraps you in comfort, filling you with confidence and a sense of connection. It’s more than a warm, fuzzy feeling—it’s the rocket fuel that drives employee engagement, job satisfaction, productivity, and success.

Picture this: When I first joined The Hershey Company’s Sales Development team, I knew I was stepping into the big leagues—a dozen top performers and me, the new guy. I was warned to be humble and not “shine too brightly.” And whatever I did, I needed to keep an eye on a fellow named Chad.

Now, Chad was your classic overachiever, with just enough arrogance to make sure everyone knew it. He took an immediate dislike to me, bragging about his plans to become president of the company, and ominously warning that he’d “be watching me.” Not exactly a warm welcome.

But it was during a town hall meeting in the grand Hershey Theater that Chad’s one-upmanship took a bizarre twist. As I filed into my seat, who jumped ahead and parked himself next to me? You guessed it, Chad.

He glanced at my outfit and frowned, telling me, “You really should think more about how you dress. You’re wearing a blue dress shirt, and the rest of our team is wearing white.” I looked down the row and, sure enough, everyone was in white. I was the odd man out, feeling like I’d worn a party hat to a board meeting.

Embarrassment gnawed at me throughout the meeting, all thanks to a simple blue shirt. Chad’s smirk and warning felt like an overblown reaction, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d made a “career-limiting move.”

Later, I shared the incident with my team lead, John, who burst out laughing and reassured me, “Chad’s just trying to intimidate you. Don’t worry about it.”

The next day, I walked into a meeting to find a sea of blue shirts staring back at me. Chad was the only one in white. I couldn’t help but smile, and my teammates returned the gesture.

After the meeting, John explained, “We wanted to send a message. We’re a team, and we stick together. We also want you to know that you belong here.”

That day, a blue shirt became more than just a fashion faux pas; it was a symbol of acceptance and teamwork. I realized that strong leaders instill a sense of belonging and help others feel secure and valued. 

Here are 7 unconventional principles that will build a sense of belonging and transform your team:

  1. The Importance of Team Unity and Support. A collective approach can create a sense of belonging, emphasizing the value of unity within a team. This was epitomized by my teammates’ decision to wear blue shirts in solidarity. How can you foster unity and support in your own team? By celebrating the uniqueness of each member, and by acknowledging and supporting their individuality, you reinforce the idea that everyone has a place and a role.
  2. The Impact of Intimidation Tactics. Even seemingly insignificant actions or words can have a profound effect on others, like Chad’s comment about my blue shirt. It underscores the need to approach interactions with empathy and awareness. How will you ensure that your communication is supportive rather than intimidating?
  3. Leadership’s Role in Fostering Inclusivity. Leaders play a vital role in shaping an inclusive culture, showing empathy and encouragement, as John did for me. What steps can you take to build an inclusive culture? Recognize and address instances of exclusion, even if they seem trivial, and actively foster an environment of support.
  4. Personal Confidence and Self-Expression. Being true to oneself is essential. My blue shirt, although a departure from the norm, became a symbol of acceptance. How will you nurture personal confidence in your team? Encourage self-expression and applaud those who dare to be different.
  5. The Symbolism of Small Gestures. Small symbols can carry profound meanings, like the sea of blue shirts that welcomed me. What symbols or gestures could strengthen your team’s bond? Create shared symbols that reflect your team’s values and connection.
  6. Effective Communication and Open Dialogue. Open and honest communication fosters understanding, as seen when John reassured me. How can you promote open dialogue within your team? Encourage open communication, and make sure all team members know that their feelings and perceptions are valued.
  7. Collective Stand Against Negative Behavior. A collective, values-driven stand can counteract negativity. My team’s response to Chad’s intimidation set standards for acceptable behavior. How will you collectively set standards that promote positivity? Define and reinforce values and take a stand when those values are challenged.

These seven principles, learned from a simple blue shirt, offer a blueprint for building a workplace where belonging is at the core. They teach us that everyone has a role to play, that each voice matters, and that true belonging is not about blending in but standing out.

Are you ready to find your “blue shirt”? Embrace these lessons, weave them into your leadership, and watch as belonging transforms your team from ordinary to extraordinary. Now’s the time to make everyone feel at home in your workplace. It’s not just about the shirts; it’s about the hearts that wear them.

Want to learn more about leveling up your leadership skills? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!



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9 Principles of Diplomacy: Lessons Learned from a Dinner Conversation in Moscow

May 10, 2023

We all know that being diplomatic is essential for emerging leaders, but how do you go about it? With the example of my dinner conversation in Moscow, I’ll share nine principles I learned about diplomacy that will help you navigate conversations and conflicts with grace and understanding.

In 2019, I was invited to Moscow to facilitate a Partnering for Growth (PFG) workshop between The Coca-Cola Company and one of its bottlers, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company. The two-day workshop aimed to help assimilate the teams and their new leaders into a strategic business partnership. They explored shared values, understood each other’s operating models (e.g., financial metrics and key business drivers.), clarified roles and responsibilities, and drafted common capability plans.

After the first day, I joined the two leadership teams for dinner. We ordered our first round of beverages, and then it got quiet. I asked the team what was on their mind, and they wanted to know if I was open to answering some questions about America’s political landscape. I didn’t want to offend them, so I said, “Why not?”

They asked me who I voted for in the 2016 presidential election and why. I tactfully revealed my vote and explained my rationale. Then, I wondered if they were open to some questions. In their Russian accents, they good-naturedly said, “Why not?”

I asked the group what they thought of Ronald Reagan. They thought “he was a tired old man who loved his wife.” I was stunned. I asked about Mikhail Gorbachev. They passionately told me that he sold Russia out and compromised too much. From their perspective, Russia was left in shambles after the USSR fell. They shared that Boris Yeltsin was a drunk, and they were ashamed of him. Lastly, the group shared that they loved Vladimir Putin because of the country’s status and prosperity.

Later in the evening, I offered a toast to the group, thanking them for participating in the workshop and inspiring them to do great things together. I heard a comment from an American expat who’d been working in Russia for a while, but I chose not to take it personally. Instead, I smiled, said thank you, took a sip, and sat back down.

Some workshop participants pulled me aside the following day and apologized for the political conversation. I told them that I wasn’t offended. I wanted to show that I was open to dialogue and valued their perspectives. I explained that I think it’s vital that people talk, connect, and understand each other’s points of view. We don’t do it enough in America; we are so polarized, and nothing gets done. A lot of resentment, and anger, what I call a “Civil Cold War.”

I’ll never forget my dinner conversation. I was in a foreign land, representing not only my company but also my country, and I needed to be a diplomat. Here are the nine principles I learned about diplomacy:

  • Actively Listen. An important part of being diplomatic is actively listening to the other person or people. This means paying attention to what is being said and allowing the speaker to finish without judgment.
  • Be Curious. Diplomacy requires an open and curious mind. Ask questions and look for understanding. Ask follow-up questions to understand the other person’s perspectives better.
  • Don’t Take Offense. Diplomacy requires a thick skin, so it’s crucial not to take anything personally. Even if you disagree with the other person, remain level-headed and maintain a diplomatic attitude.
  • Be Empathetic. Empathy is an integral part of diplomacy. Show understanding and compassion in your words and actions. Take the time to understand the other person’s perspective and feelings.
  • Think Before You Speak. Diplomacy requires careful consideration of your words. Before speaking, take a moment to think about the situation and ask yourself what the best course of action or words are at the moment.
  • Be Open to New Ideas. Diplomacy is about finding common ground and understanding different perspectives. To do this, being open to new ideas and thinking critically about your opinions is important.
  • Show Respect for Culture and Customs. Be mindful of the culture and customs of the people you’re engaging with. Showing respect for these differences is a key part of being diplomatic.
  • Respond with Grace. When disagreements arise, responding with grace and understanding is essential. Try to remain calm and be mindful of the other person’s feelings.
  • Build Trust. Diplomacy involves building trust between two or more parties. Be honest and consistent in your words and actions to encourage the other party to trust you.

Being diplomatic is a skill that takes practice and patience. It’s important to be open to dialogue and understanding different perspectives. It takes courage to be diplomatic and engage in conversations that could be uncomfortable. When done correctly, it can lead to greater understanding, collaboration, and problem-solving. Take the time to reflect on your diplomatic skills and consider how they can be improved. Why not start by conversing with someone with a different opinion than you?

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How to Make Employee Engagement Stick

March 30, 2023

Have you ever noticed that sticky notes easily fall off a flip chart? One possible reason for this is that the adhesive is not applied correctly. During a design thinking session, I learned a hack that could be useful – if you rotate the sticky note 90° and place it on the surface with the adhesive strip in a vertical position, it should hold its position much longer. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see the results for yourself!

What’s a sticky note got to do with employee engagement? Although many organizations mean well by emphasizing employee engagement, the improvement plans and initiatives don’t stick long-term due to leadership or organizational changes; organizational flux may negate workplace improvements, or new leaders may deprioritize engagement.

But what if you turn the sticky note 90° and approach employee engagement differently? Based on my experience leading multiple engagement teams or initiatives, I’ve observed four employee engagement phases and two ways to make it stick.


Let’s begin with my working definition of employee engagement – the level of discretionary effort one is willing to put forth based on the relationship with their manager and the work environment.

Employee engagement directly affects business performance, and its influence on productivity, retention, customer loyalty, net income, and shareholder return is well-documented. Bottom line: The higher the level of employee engagement, the more successful the business will be; conversely, a low level of engagement will lead to unfavorable results.

Gallup’s findings this year are shocking: employee engagement has dropped to a record low of only 32%, meaning that almost 70% of employees are not engaged with their work.[i] This is an especially concerning figure when considering that 18% of employees are actively disengaged, meaning they are actively unhappy and potentially undermining their colleagues. This is an unsustainable situation for any organization. 

If an employee engagement emphasis is the Holy Grail and is proven to drive positive results, why does it seem so elusive? And why do only 25% of companies have an engagement plan?[ii]

Maybe it’s due to leadership’s revolving door or the ever-evolving corporate restructuring. A wise man once told me that a new CEO or president’s only growth throttle was to undergo a merger/acquisition or reorganize the company.

I experienced the impact of new leadership and relentless restructuring firsthand. In my former company, I faced a constant sense of being up for re-election during my 20-year career. It felt like being a member of Congress, where I had to campaign for re-election every two years. Despite the challenging circumstances, I was able to survive 11 election cycles.

Based on where I was in the election cycle, my engagement level ebbed and flowed. I experienced what it meant to be highly engaged – to trust my managers and peers, to feel valued and that I made a valuable contribution, and to flourish in a positive work environment. I’ve had leaders that believed in me and involved me in meaningful work. On the other hand, I’ve suffered dreadful managers where I became disengaged and felt demoralized. I’ve learned from both; what to do from the inspirational leaders and what not to do from the rest.

I’ve also had the opportunity to lead employee engagement teams comprised of committed volunteers; one group drove a complete turn-around, and the other catalyzed a move from good to great. Lastly, I’ve directly managed teams where morale and engagement were low and helped turn them into high-performing teams.

Whether individually or leading a team, I’ve experienced the birth of new organizations or teams, the eager drive toward positive engagement, and delivering extraordinary results, only to be stopped in our tracks by a leadership change or organization restructure.

The Four Phases of Employee Engagement

As displayed in the chart, I’ve observed four Employee Engagement phases, including rewiring, results, rumors, and re-org. 

Four phases of Employee Engagement
  • Rewiring phase. The new organization is announced, people are assigned new roles, and the rewiring and how things get done (i.e., how water flows through the pipes) typically takes six to eight months. Employee engagement lurches higher, but productivity is low. 
  • Results phase. Once the organization understands its vision, mission, and how it works to get things done, results materialize. At some point during the phase, upper management determines there is a need to focus on employee engagement. Committees are formed, charters are written, macro-level strategies are developed, and tactics are deployed. Employee engagement peaks with the proper emphasis, and productivity is high. 
  • Rumors phase. Changes in an organization are inevitable, and people begin to speculate. Surely enough, consultants are engaged, and HR representatives huddle in meetings. Employee engagement ebbs and productivity recedes. 
  • Reorg phase. The phase is filled with posturing, anxiety, and fear no matter how management roles out reorganization communication and timing. People sit on their hands and wait for the news about their job. Once their job status is determined, people exit immediately, while others stay and apply for open roles. It’s cold. It’s hard. Engagement emphasis stops. No wonder employee engagement is at its lowest point, and productivity is minimal at best. 

Then the process starts all over again. In my estimation, organizations will never reach their potential if stymied by relentless instability.

Moving Toward Sticky Employee Engagement

Recently, a senior executive asked me about my Employee Engagement experience and if engagement can be improved long-term. I shared my thoughts on the above four Employee Engagement phases and clarified that it is indeed meaningful. However, durable engagement improvement depends on two factors. 

First, the organization must sustain its “results phase” and continue progressing toward the vision and mission while empowering, energizing, and enabling employees. If the results phase is prolonged, the organization can reach its full potential, whether financial, innovation-based, or customer satisfaction.

The second part of the solution is to focus on “micro-leadership.” Recall my definition of employee engagement: The level of discretionary effort one is willing to put forth based on the relationship with their manager and work environment. The manager and direct report relationship is foundational. If the connection is strong, the organization will flourish. If weak, the organization will flounder. 

To create sticky employee engagement regardless of the organizational circumstances, we need to develop leadership skills at the micro level, between managers and direct reports, where the rubber meets the road, including:

  • Expressing empathy.  Understand others, ask questions, listen, stand in someone else’s shoes, and show others you care for them.
  • Building trust. Do what you say you will do, let others know who you are, share your values and what you stand for.
  • Instilling purpose and meaning. Help associates understand why their roles exist, how their contribution adds value, and what success looks like.
  • Coaching and developing. Conduct 360-degree assessments to identify strengths and skill gaps, create capability plans, hold frequent development discussions, and help others reach their potential.
  • Appreciating and encouraging. Ensure associates know that they are valued and make a difference. Lift them during adversity and lavish praise when they succeed. 

Lastly, I leave you with another question: What if you don’t focus on employee engagement? 

Think about it. 

Without an engagement focus, your organization will find itself in a doom loop. Morale will suffer, you’ll be surrounded by mediocrity, and your company will lose its competitive edge. Your customers will find alternate solutions. Your organization will drift into sameness and may go under. Not a pretty picture. 

Be assured that investing in employee engagement will pay dividends.

Morale is an Organization’s Best Friend

Speaking of morale, I recently read an article in The Wall Street Journal about the lessons learned thus far from the Ukraine-Russia war. The author wrote, “The importance of morale to military success isn’t a new concept. More than two centuries ago, French emperor, Napoleon said morale was three times as important as the manpower and equipment on the battlefield, in a remark sometimes translated as: ‘In war, moral power is to physical as three parts out of four.’ Ukrainian troops, convinced of their moral cause and knowing they were fighting for the survival of their families and their country, beat back Russian forces who were involved in what they were told was a special military operation’.”[iii]

If you have morale, it will be your organization’s best friend.

To make employee engagement stick, I encourage executive management teams to recognize the need to stabilize their organization and develop effective leaders. If they do, they’ll reach their potential and deliver extraordinary results.

To learn more about how Preston can help your organization or team, visit prestonpoore.com.

[i] https://www.gallup.com/workplace/468233/employee-engagement-needs-rebound-2023.aspx

[ii] https://teambuilding.com/blog/employee-engagement-statistics

[iii] “The Conflict in Ukraine Offers Old-and New-Lessons in 21st Century Warfare,” Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2023

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The One About The Visa

September 28, 2022

“Get ready to hand out the visas,” the Executive directed.

The company plane and its C-suite passengers were en route to Bogotá, Colombia, for a brief market visit and boondoggle.

To enter Colombia, each passenger needed a visa along with their passport. The Executive delegated the visa application process to an assistant and asked that the permits be available to distribute just before arriving in Bogotá.

The five-hour flight began with a festive atmosphere. Cocktails were flowing, and conversations quickly moved from professional to personal.

Upon the final approach, the Executive directed the Assistant, “get ready to hand out the visas.”

The Assistant proudly produced an envelope from his portfolio and began distributing the visas. But something was wrong.

Guess what? I’ll bet you’re already there. 

The Assistant secured Visa gift cards instead of the required travel visas.

Big mistake.

No travel visas meant no entry into Colombia. No entry into Colombia meant no market visit or boondoggle.

The Executive began yelling at the Assistant and shouted, “How could you possibly screw this up?”

“I thought this was a pleasure trip, and you wanted Visa gift cards to cover discretionary expenses,” the Assistant replied. “You said nothing about travel visas. Oh, I’m so sorry…”

That’s right, none of the executives had travel visas to enter Colombia. The plane had to turn around and go back home.

Can you imagine the embarrassment? And the frustration? So much wasted time. After some berating by the Executive, the Assistant ducked his tail and sat down in the back of the plane. The rest of the flight was quiet, oozing with disappointment.

Communication at its finest. But who’s to blame?

The Executive? Yes. She assumed that the directive was clear and understood.

The Assistant? Yes. He assumed what was meant by the directive and acted erroneously.

It made me laugh when I heard the story and thought, “what we have here is a problem to communicate.”

But then I realized, I’ve been on both sides of the coin. 

Essential Communications Skills That Leaders Need

Being in a leadership position can test your communication skills. You must be able to connect with others to work together to reach your shared goals.

You have plenty of company if you think you need some help in this area. According to HR Technologist, almost 57% of employees report being given inadequate directions, and 69% of managers say they’re uncomfortable communicating with employees in general.

With practice and effort, you can turn this situation around. Study this quick guide to essential communication skills that leaders need.

Speak Clearly:

  1. Plan. Before you speak, take time to reflect. Know your purpose, so you can develop strategies and systems that match your values. Be sure to choose appropriate times and channels for what you have to say.
  2. Simplify your message. Your employees may feel inundated with too much information. Format your emails and memos with bullets and headlines to make them easier to read. Consider using quick graphics to replace a long speech.
  3. Stay in touch. Provide frequent opportunities for updates and discussions. Schedule staff meetings and one-on-ones. Publish a staff newsletter. Make yourself visible and approachable.
  4. Tell stories. A compelling anecdote can inspire your team and unite them around a common mission. Focus on concrete examples and emotional appeal. Build a plot around one or two main points.

Listen Closely:

  1. Pay attention. How observant are you? Knowing your surroundings will help you keep up with informal conversations and nonverbal cues.
  2. Ask questions. If you want to know what your team is thinking, go straight to the source. Ask open-ended questions that give others the chance to elaborate on their responses. Avoid biased wording that could influence their answers.
  3. Welcome feedback. Encourage your team to let you know how they think you’re doing. Thank them for their honest and constructive input and use it to enhance your performance. Hold meetings to invite their input before making decisions and collaborate on action plans when possible.
  4. Let go of judgments. What’s the difference between hearing and listening? As a leader, it’s essential to use your mind as well as your ears. Let others finish what they’re saying without interrupting or thinking about your response. Try to put yourself in their position.

Other Communication Tips for Leaders:

  1. Be inclusive. Diverse organizations need leaders who can relate to various audiences and create an atmosphere where each team member is valued and respected. That means building genuine relationships and recognizing individual and group contributions.
  2. Show empathy. Authentic connections depend on caring about the needs of others and being able to understand their thoughts and feelings. Developing a culture of empathy also promotes helpful behaviors and cooperation.
  3. Follow through. Actions do speak louder than words. To earn trust, it’s essential to lead by example. Deliver on your promises and ensure that your actions are consistent with what you say.
  4. Resolve conflicts. Effective communication can promote harmony, but some disagreements are to be expected. Stay calm and search for mutually beneficial solutions.
  5. Master technology. Keep your computer skills up to date so you can communicate online and off. Video calls and other tools are likely to remain popular in a climate of remote and hybrid work.

Successful leaders use communication skills to build trust and motivate others. Expressing yourself with clarity and compassion can help you to develop strong work relationships and guide your team to success.

Don’t be like the Executive and Assistant in the opening story. Be curious. Ask questions. Gain clarity. And above all else, seek first to understand, then to be understood. If you do, you’ll be a leader others will want to follow.

Want to uplevel your leadership and communication skills? Visit, http://www.prestonpoore.com, to learn more.



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Time to Fly: Reflections on My Last Day at The Coca-Cola Company

June 30, 2022

I am writing this on a plane to somewhere, thinking about retiring from The Coca-Cola Company after 21.5 years. That’s almost 8,000 days, 192,000 hours, 40% of my life working for one employer. I resolved to stay at Coke after job-hopping across different companies (e.g., AmSouth Bank, Ralston Purina, Dale Carnegie Training, and Hershey Chocolate).

A friend told me that once folks become part of the beverage industry, they typically stay. But staying long-term with TCCC was always uncertain. I’ve often compared working at TCCC to being a member of Congress. You’re up for re-election every two years, and once elected, your campaign starts all over again. I’ve experienced 11 re-organizations averaging about one every two years. I’ve been mapped into roles, involuntarily relocated, and displaced. Some positions were an absolute joy and others not so much. Often, the work experience came down to the relationship with my manager, the work environment, and the job I was assigned. I’ve worked with and for some terrific leaders. I’ve also worked for some tyrants. Maybe like you, I modeled what I saw in the great ones and learned what not to do from the deficient ones. Leadership is better caught than taught.

My career never defined who I was or am. Honestly, my veins don’t run Coke red. My priorities were different than most. I put my faith and family above all others. 

I always wanted to perform well and deliver results. For about half of my time at TCCC, I was focused on myself, my reputation, and my ambitions. It wasn’t until mid-stream that God got ahold of me, and I began understanding that people matter more than performance. Sure, results are significant, and winning makes everything better; I don’t take results and winning for granted. But a personal and public transformation took place in the second half of my Coke tenure. I realized that focusing on people, helping them become the best version of themselves, and creating a positive work environment meant more than a maniacal focus on results. Said another way, the How trumps the What. I learned how I operated mattered, and putting others first typically led to solid results. Much of my transformation is captured in my book, Discipled Leader.

If I’m being transparent, I never ascended to a once desired role, vice president. Sometimes, I look back and sometimes wonder why. But at the end of my career, that’s neither here nor there. But I do have a key takeaway. It may seem cliché. Here it is, position doesn’t equal influence. The higher you go in an organization doesn’t necessarily equate to the level of impact you achieve. I didn’t need to be a VP or lead an organization to be influential. Many of my leaders empowered me to make sound decisions, solve challenging problems, make positive changes, and deliver results as I worked with and through my teams or cross-functional partners.

As Coke and I part ways, allow me to indulge in remembering a few of my favorite things…

Favorite People: Rick Kehr, Ron Renner, Bobby Lyemance, Michael Mathews, Fran Mulholland, Dawn Kirk, Paula Weeks, Ken Mied, Jim Marvel, John Egan, John Lynch, Emma Budzisz, John Rutledge, Jerry Graves, Bill Harris, Mike Griggs, Kurt Ritter, Red Ashby, Eric Blumenthal, Holly Cunningham (Mattingly), Vic Ragland, Rudd Cummings, Andy Alabiso, Lindsay Adleman, Lori Bates, Bob DeBorde, Tim Leveridge, Joe Gentry, Stephen Gibson, Edwin Gotay

Favorite Places: Istanbul, Moscow (pre-conflict), Toronto, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Martha’s Vineyard, Key West, Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Knoxville, Duck Key, San Francisco, Seattle

Favorite Events: Swan Lake Ballet at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater (pre-Ukraine war), NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, NCAA Football National Championship, dancing with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, countless University of Alabama, Auburn University, and Tennessee University athletic events, LA Dodgers game and seeing Tommy Lasorda in the dugout, and attending the Colorado State University Coke conversion celebration 

Favorite Celebrity Connections: Ryan Seacrest, Nick Saban, Tommy Tuberville (only one who remembered my name!), Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula, Mal Moore, Phil Fulmer, Lane Kiffin, Bruce Pearl, Pat Summitt, Derek Wittenburg, 3 Doors Down

Favorite Role: Hands down, Franchise Leadership. I loved working with our Bottling Partners and making things happen at ground level.

Least Favorite Role: I had to throw this one in… Strategic Merchandising Solutions. UGH! A peer once asked, “why would anyone on God’s green earth ever want that role?” I attribute turning gray and losing my hair to the intense stress, political posturing, and micro-management I experienced.

Favorite Initiatives: Leading two Employee Engagement Teams (improving leadership, teamwork, and work environment), Change the Landscape (Tuscaloosa low share market turnaround), Fridge Pack Pilot (Alabama was a pre-launch test market), Coke Zero (by far my favorite brand as well), Vault (fighter brand targeting Mt. Dew drinkers), glaceau acquisition (vitaminwater and smartwater), Partnering for Growth (globally scaled team effectiveness workshop), college marketing plans, Brand Partners Summit (brought internal competing brands representatives together), countless sales rallies, Bottling Partner leadership workshops (Reyes and Consolidated), and Design Thinking sessions.

Thanks to my bride and best friend, Carla, and our children, Caroline and Benton. Your sacrifices enabled an enduring and rewarding career. I am so grateful for you all.

Lastly, thanks to Mark Rajewski and the Sales & Franchise Capabilities Team for helping me finish well.

I walk away with my head held high, thankful for my tenure at The Coca-Cola Company, looking to the future, moving out in faith, not knowing where I’m going but trusting God—wanting to follow the call to help people become the best version of themselves and equipping others to become redemptive workplace influencers. Or, in Coke speak, refreshing the world and making a positive difference. I hope our paths cross again someday. 

In closing, I leave you with some lyrics from MercyMe’s Say I Won’t (https://music.apple.com/us/album/say-i-wont/1541075065?i=1541075066)… The song inspired me, and I hope it does you as well.

It all begins
I'm seeing my life for the very first time
Through a different lens

I didn't understand
Driving 35 with the rocket inside
Didn't know what I had

While I've been waiting to live
My life's been waiting on me

I'm gonna run
No, I'm gonna fly
I'm gonna know what it means to live
And not just be alive
The world's gonna hear
'Cause I'm gonna shout
And I will be dancing when circumstances drown the music out
Say I won't

Not enough
Is what I've been told
But it must be a lie
'Cause the Spirit inside says I'm so much more

So let them say what they want
Oh, I dare them to try

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
So keep on saying I won't
And I'll keep proving you wrong

Say I won't

Time to fly! All my best and take care.



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Manager peering intently into microscope used as an analogy for micromanagement

How to Manage Being Micromanaged

June 24, 2022

My team and I were invited to a strategic business partner’s corporate headquarters to think about what’s possible and innovate. I viewed the trip as an excellent opportunity to retreat, bond as a team, and shape our future.  

I approached my manager, Kevin, about the opportunity. He hesitated and then said, “Most trips like these are boondoggles. Do you think you’re going to accomplish anything?”

“Yes, I do. I’m confident that we’ll come back with fresh ideas and take our business to the next level,” I replied.

Kevin said, “I have my doubts. I’ll tell you what, put together a plan with specific objectives, and I’ll take a look. If I agree with your proposal, I’ll okay the trip.”

“Great, and thanks. I’ll come back to you shortly,” I said.

Over the next few days, I collaborated with my team and business partner to develop a specific plan and desired outcome. Then, I shared it with Kevin. A chronic micromanager, he asked us to make multiple changes to the plan. Once the topics were aligned with Kevin’s feedback, he begrudgingly agreed to let us go. 

My team jumped into action and made the necessary coverage arrangements to ensure we could break away with limited distractions. We activated our email out-of-office messages notifying internal customers that we were out for a short time, and provided backup contact information.

The next day, we loaded the van and headed to our destination. My team was beaming with excitement and anticipation. They’d been on trips like this before and understood our retreat’s potential. As we drove, we connected on both personal and professional levels. We talked optimistically about how we could advance our vision of being industry leaders and indispensable partners.

When we arrived, we were escorted into our business partner’s innovation lab, where all of the futuristic designs inspired us. Next, we moved into a creative thinking lab to begin formulating ideas and developing plans. 

Then, the first email hit… And another… And another. A series of 10 or more emails from Kevin appeared on our iPhones within 30 minutes. He was following up on projects, providing feedback, and checking in… Just to let us know, he was there.

His last email’s subject line read, “TURN OFF YOUR OUT-OF-OFFICE MESSAGE.”

In the body of the email, Kevin wrote that having our out-of-office message turned on sent the wrong message to leadership and internal customers. It was our job to be accessible regardless of what we were doing or who was covering for us.

I thought to myself, “Ugh. Really? If that isn’t micromanagement, I don’t know what is!”

I looked around the room and saw discouragement, frustration, and anger on my team’s faces. Some became distracted and anxious. Everyone began to mentally disengage from the creative thinking discussion.

During a break, I gathered my team to ask their thoughts about the emails. They told me they went to great lengths to ensure our time away would be productive and distraction-free. Kevin’s micromanagement tendencies surfaced, and the team felt disenfranchised. They wondered if it was a mistake to take the trip.

I understood their concerns. I asked the team to return to the meeting and told them I’d gently respond to Kevin’s emails. I asked them not to make a mountain out of a molehill and turn off the out-of-office messages. Lastly, I asked them to stay focused on the purpose of our meeting and ignore distractions.

The good news is that the team returned to the meeting and developed a visionary plan. Also, I ran interference by answering Kevin’s emails and asking the team to turn off the out-of-office messages. By engaging Kevin on behalf of the team, I was able to assuage his need to feel in control. We didn’t hear from him again during our trip.

Working Successfully with a Boss who Micro-Manages

Controlling bosses can slow you down and undermine your confidence. Maybe your supervisor second-guesses your decisions and expects you to be available 24/7.

Overbearing management styles are all too common and counterproductive. Most employees say they’ve been micro-managed at some point in their career, and studies show that workers perform worse when they feel like they’re being watched. 

If your boss is hovering over your shoulder, encourage them to give you more space. Try these steps to gain more freedom and still get along with your boss.

Steps to Take by Yourself

  1. Evaluate your performance. Start by investigating whether you could be contributing to the situation. Do you show up on time and follow through on your responsibilities? Close supervision could be a rational response when an employee tends to be less than reliable. 
  2. Be proactive. Once you’ve assured yourself that you’re on top of your work, you can focus on how to cope with your boss’s management style. Identify their anxiety triggers and figure out your plan of action in advance.
  3. Coordinate with colleagues. Chances are, your co-workers experience the same issues you do. Coordinate your efforts to show your boss that they can trust you to pull together to overcome challenges even while they’re traveling or focusing on strategy.
  4. Document your activities. Logging your accomplishments creates a paper trail. Having facts straight helps you prove your worth and maintain your peace of mind.
  5. Seek intervention. When appropriate, you may be able to consult others without alienating your boss. If senior management asks for feedback, let them know your supervisor’s good qualities in addition to changes that could help you do a better job. Your HR department or employee assistance program may also offer relevant advice.

Steps to Take with Your Boss

  1. Provide updates. Frequent status reports keep your boss informed without their having to ask. Assure them that things are running smoothly.
  2. Create more opportunities. Is your boss interfering with your work because they don’t have a full plate of their own? Add value by presenting them with public speaking opportunities and sales leads. Helping your boss shine is a smart way to advance your career.
  3. Clarify your role. Listen closely to your boss and observe their behavior. That way, you can understand their preferences and anticipate their needs. Maybe they like booking their travel arrangements. Perhaps they care more about employees following instructions than taking the initiative.
  4. Ask for feedback. Find out what your boss is thinking. Ask questions about what results they’re looking for and how you’re measuring up. Pinpoint strengths you can build on and changes that they would like to see.
  5. Communicate tactfully. Speak about finding solutions rather than criticizing their personality or work habits. If there are conflicts that you want to confront, be direct and gentle.
  6. Give praise for progress. Congratulations if you’re making headway. Reinforce positive interactions by letting your boss know how much you appreciate their efforts when you’re allowed to take charge of a project or take your approach. Tell them that you enjoy working with them and that they’re helping you contribute more.
  7. Create a personal connection. Respect and compassion enhance any working relationship. Remind yourself of what you like about your boss. Make time for small talk and sharing common interests. A strong foundation will make any disagreement easier to handle.

If you’re working to live out your faith in the workplace, here are some other principles I recommend:

  1. Remember Who You’re Working For. If you keep your eyes on God and embrace that you’re ultimately working for him, you’ll maintain a positive attitude regardless of the circumstance. The Bible says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23, NLT) 
  2. Submission Is Key. It’s easy to work for a great boss. The hard part is working for and submitting to a bad one… But when you do, God is pleased. The Bible says, “You who are servants, be good servants to your masters—not just to good masters, but also to bad ones. What counts is that you put up with it for God’s sake when you’re maltreated for no good reason. There’s no virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re maltreated for good behavior and continue despite it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.” (1 Peter 2:18–20, The Message)
  3. Bite Your Tongue. I disciplined myself to communicate positively and not show irritation if I became frustrated. The Bible says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT)

Despite desperate circumstances, I grew leaps and bounds during the three years I worked with Kevin. I learned to cope with his management style in the short term. Eventually, I realized that Kevin’s style and mine weren’t compatible, the intense micro-management I experienced wasn’t sustainable, and I decided to move into another role. 

I challenge you to apply the above principles; if you do, you’ll be able to manage being micromanaged.

Want to learn more about becoming the best version of yourself? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!



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Teach Yourself to be More Understanding and Empathetic

May 7, 2022

Everyone that hasn’t suffered a brain injury or mental illness is capable of empathy. Some of us are in touch with this ability, while others could use a little practice.

What is empathy?

Empathy is a concern for the welfare of others. It’s the ability to detect or predict the emotions and thoughts of others.

It’s easy to see why this would be a handy skill to master. Empathy has an impact on your relationships. This is true for both your personal and professional relationships. Empathy can make your life easier and more fulfilling at home and at work!

Try these tips to increase your empathy for those around you:

  1. Avoid making assumptions. Your view of the world is limited. Your experiences are just your own. Others have lived a different reality. If you’re from a well-off and intact family from the United States, you don’t have a clue what it’s like to deal with the weight of growing up in an orphanage in Ukraine. If you’ve never lost a job, avoid assuming that you know exactly what that experience feels like. Making assumptions only gets in the way of developing empathy. When you catch yourself making assumptions, question them. Prove your assumptions to be true or false before making any decisions.
  2. Ask questions. One way to understand others is to ask questions. Develop a genuine interest in them. Enhancing your communication skills assists your ability to connect with, and to understand, other people. Ask open-ended questions.
  3. Listen. Listening intently is related to asking questions and avoiding assumptions. Seek to understand the emotions that the other person is feeling. Asking questions and then listening to the answers is a pivotal part of creating empathy within yourself.
  4. Try to understand a group of people outside of your experience. Suppose you’re a young, Christian male. You might decide to learn about Hasidic Jews. Or if you’ve never been poor, you might learn about the homeless. Read books and talk to people. Strive to understand what it would be like to be born a part of a particular group.
  5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. One way to relate better to others is to imagine yourself in the same situation. This can be painful. It’s not enjoyable to imagine that your spouse has died or that you’re entirely out of money. Ask yourself, “What would I be thinking and feeling if I were in this situation?” Just asking yourself this question is the most significant step you can take toward being empathetic.
  6. Be present. Give your undivided attention to others. You can’t be empathetic if you’re thinking about something else while someone is speaking to you. You’re not as good at hiding your disinterest as you think! You miss most of the information, verbal and non-verbal, communicated to you if you’re not paying attention.
  7. Practice having more meaningful conversations. Talking about sports is fine, but it’s not a deep and personal topic. One way to get the ball rolling is to talk about something important to you. The more you share, the more you’re going to receive in return. Be open, and others will be more open with you.

Empathy is an important skill. It can greatly increase your ability to communicate and connect with others. Being able to understand their feelings and thoughts will boost your rapport with them. Enhance your personal and work relationships with empathy, and you’ll benefit in many ways.

If you want to learn more about becoming a leader others will gladly follow, visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!


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A Contemporary Guide to Using Humor as a Leadership Tool

April 14, 2022

During a recent staff meeting, we shared what we had for lunch. Someone had yogurt, and another had a candy bar. I volunteered that I went to Burger King and had an Impossible Whopper for lunch. My manager asked, “Do you have gas?” 

I paused then we all laughed.

I said, “I feel okay, I think. . .”

Atlanta was in the middle of a gasoline shortage, and my manager wondered if I had enough gasoline to drive to Burger King. . . Not about my digestive tract status. . . Although . . .

Everyone had a good belly laugh.

Did you know that laughter is the shortest distance between two people? It can break down walls and repair broken relationships. Having a good sense of humor can take the edge off intense conversations or smooth awkward situations. Do you remember the last time you laughed so hard you cried? When’s the last time you used a good sense of humor to connect with someone?

Research shows that humor has many benefits in the workplace, including drawing team members closer together, reducing stress, and increasing productivity.

The truth is most employees need a little cheering up. While the average four-year-old laughs about 300 times a day, they’re down to three chuckles by the time they turn 40.

On the other hand, there are limits. You know you’ve gone too far if you make someone cry or choose Michael Scott as your role model.

What qualities do you look for in a leader? You’d probably expect them to be powerful, charismatic, and decisive. However, you might overlook the value of being funny or playful. Influential leaders know how to use humor to their advantage. Join their ranks by studying these tips for remaining professional while tapping into your humorous side.

The Benefits of Leading with Humor:

  1. Enhance job performance. Laughter can be profitable because it triggers brain chemicals that help you concentrate and think creatively. A study by the University of Warwick found that introducing humor into the workday increased productivity by 12%.
  2. Boost your reputation. Other research has found that leaders who use humor are viewed as more competent and credible, and they receive higher ratings from their subordinates. Lightening up could help you stand out.
  3. Reduce stress. Heavy workloads are one of the significant reasons job stress has increased steadily in recent decades. Having opportunities to relax makes it easier to accomplish more.
  4. Strengthen relationships. Humor is often a social activity. You learn things about your coworkers that may not be listed on their resumes, and you create happy memories that deepen your bonds.
  5. Protect your health. There are also many benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing. For example, humor can help relieve pain, boost your immune system, and lessen depression and anxiety.
  6. Diffuse conflict or tense situations. Mark Twain is credited with saying, “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.” When you find yourself in a challenging circumstance, respond with humor, not hostility. Humor will break down walls and positively change the atmosphere.

Tips for Using Humor at Work:

  1. Stay safe. Many standup comedians try to be controversial or mean, but you need to watch out for your job security. Be diplomatic, empathetic, and steer clear of sensitive topics like politics, religion, and stereotypes. Don’t make others the butt of your joke.
  2. Pace yourself. Surprise your colleagues with a witty remark now and then. If you joke around from sunrise to quitting time, it will be difficult for them to take you seriously when they need to.
  3. Consider your audience. Different industries and companies have their own cultures. Please pay attention to how others react to gauge whether you’re amusing or offending them.
  4. Liven-up meetings. Zoom fatigue is a real thing. Make your presentations memorable by setting them to music or throwing in a few pop culture references.
  5. Share content. You can send your team entertaining video clips and news stories, even on busy days. It only takes a few minutes to search for penguins and cheese rolling content.
  6. Tell stories. Humor can be especially meaningful when you tie it into an appropriate narrative. Strengthen your connection by revealing something about your personal life. Find a case study that backs up your point.
  7. Play games. Make office tasks more like your favorite video game by awarding points and rewards for submitting your timesheets when they’re due. Keep a jigsaw puzzle in the break room for anyone to work on when they’re passing through for a cup of coffee.

A good belly laugh is good for the soul. And possessing a good sense of humor is a wonderful leadership tool. It will help you connect with others. As a leader, you can make your team laugh without getting into trouble with the HR department. You’ll be making your employees happier and your organization more successful. It’s just good business. Who can you make laugh today and spread a little cheer?

Want to discover more about becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!

Take care,


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Preston Poore

I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.

As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.

Let me help you reach your potential.

I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.

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