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Creating Successful Leaders

Deep within all of us beats a primal desire to contribute something of value to this world and to stand out as a positive person in the eyes of others. Great managers make this happen.

It’s always nice to find authors who base their ideas in good research. The quote above comes from the book Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People, and its author, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., does just that.

It turns out–surprise–that happy workers are better workers, but what makes this book interesting is the way it explains the brain science behind why this is true.

Although it is primarily directed at managers, its insight applies to all of us regardless of our position. One of the book’s main themes is that the human brain is wired to work hard, and we are fulfilled when we are fully engaged in our work. Even so, Hallowell points to several common pitfalls people encounter even in work they enjoy. Examples of this are feeling disconnected from peers, feeling overworked, and being afraid to take risks.

The formula for what Hallowell calls “shining”–excelling in your work and feeling fulfilled–is a concise, five step process:

1. Select-choosing the right job

2. Connect-interacting face-to-face with peers on a daily basis

3. Play-having room to experiment and get creative in your position

4. Grapple and grow-being challenged, but not overwhelmed

5. Shine-when all the above steps come together, you find real excitement in your work

Many clients come to me feeling unsure about whether they’re in the right job. Although we’re often able to work together to make positive changes within the job itself, there are cases where clients would do better to fill a different role. But you can’t know what job is best for you until you know your own strengths, and this is where Insights comes in. I’ve helped numerous people “re-calibrate” themselves by helping them fully appreciate the unique strengths they bring to their teams. Once you get that big ball rolling, the rest follows. You connect more easily with your peers. You feel comfortable in your ability to experiment, or “play.” You’re confident in your ability to take on challenges. And you find fulfillment in your job, as it is based on something you’re good at doing, and like doing. But it all starts with being in tune with yourself.


Hallowell, Edward M., MD, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2011.


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