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Liggy Webb's picture

Working Towards Mindfitness: The Curious Mind

We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we're curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

- Walt Disney

curious mind

One of the greatest blessings for a curious person is that they will never get bored! In fact, the benefits of curiosity don’t just stop there; curiosity has been linked with psychological, emotional, social and even health benefits.

Curiosity and exploration can help us to embark on some of our greatest adventures. They are the first steps our mind takes toward some of our greatest discoveries. Learning something new, overcoming challenges and exploring our potential are all possible because we are curious and we have the desire to explore.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” I must admit I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment. 

What is Curiosity?

Curiosity is the engine of intellectual achievement. Those who are more interested in a topic will learn faster and prime the brain better for learning. Curiosity is also associated with high performance in both academic and work settings, and there is an increasing amount of evidence that suggests that the more you learn, the more you want to learn. In many ways, curiosity is the catalyst of innovation and curious people have an ongoing, intrinsic interest in both their inner experience and the world around them.

Curious minds are active minds, and active minds become smart minds. Curiosity is associated with intelligence, creativity and problem-solving ability. Curious people cultivate interesting and creative environments for themselves as they seek out new experiences and are open to exploring new ideas and possibilities. Everyone possesses curiosity to some degree, although people will differ according to the depth and strength of their curiosity and their willingness to act on it.

So How Do Leaders Empower Curiosity?

It is important to understand that successful organisations are rooted in curiosity, and establishing a culture that actively supports and rewards questioning minds is the foundation for success. Inquisitive thinking, of course, can lead to the status quo being challenged and this in turn can be disruptive. If there is a disconnect between the leader’s and team members’ view on the value of curiosity, then it could potentially stifle a baseline level of ideas exploration. On that basis it is essential that leaders understand the benefits of curiosity and fully open their own minds in the process.

This reminds me of a time I worked in a team with someone who was one of the most curious people I have ever met. He liked to leave no stone unturned! Our manager at the time was very much an autocratic leader and clearly did not enjoy being challenged. During team meetings my colleague would always drill down on any instructions she shared, thirsty to fully understand whatever he was being asked to do and the motivation behind any directive.

In one team meeting, during his usual line of scrutiny, she eventually snapped back at him “Why do you have to keep asking so many questions?” to which he immediately replied, “Why wouldn’t I?” Even our frustrated manager smiled and raised an eyebrow at his response.

Embracing questions and encouraging inquiring minds in a team is critical to progress and also exploring a wider perspective in each given situation. We are living in an age where thinking differently and turning ideas into innovation is key. This is an idea economy where business success and indeed survival is often defined by the ability to turn ideas into value faster than the competition. Creating time and space for curiosity will encourage creative thinking and support growth mindsets within teams. 

There is also more of an emphasis on encouraging employees to learn, unlearn and relearn so that they stay current in their thinking and let go of redundant approaches. Continuous learning is of paramount importance when it comes to building a smart, relevant and fit for purpose workforce.

Curious minds will also be more inclusive and better equipped to respect and appreciate diversity because curious minds will want to learn about other people. Encouraging your teams to learn from each other and share rich and diverse experiences will encourage stronger, more supportive relationships as well as promoting inclusivity. 

It is also really helpful through times of uncertainty and rapid change to encourage curiosity, as this can help people within your team to manage the fear of the unknown. Curiosity  will help them to look upwards and outwards and be interested in what they will learn from the experience. Curiosity can indeed be very valuable for everyone in these unprecedented and challenging times.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.
- Albert Einstein
From: Old Man's Advice to Youth: 'Never Lose a Holy Curiosity’ LIFE Magazine (May 1955) 

For more Mindfit resources, check out Cornerstone Original Learning Series, Empowering Minds with Liggy Webb here. Read about Liggy Webb's "Mindfit" model here, or take a closer look at the first element in the model, a Resilient Mind. Finally, keep an eye out for the next element of Liggy Webb's Mindfit model: A Flexible Mind! 

Webinar Recap: Admiral Thad Allen Dives Deeper on Adaptive Leadership

Effective leadership doesn’t always mean sailing through calm waters—often, it means navigating a storm. This is something Admiral (ret.) Thad Allen knows well, given his long career that culminated in serving as the 23rd Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. 

In the latest installment of the Adaptive Leadership Webinar series, a collaboration between Cornerstone and the Partnership for Public Service, Allen explained that to him, “adaptive leadership” requires integrity, honesty and bringing diverse voices together in pursuit of solutions. And constant change, he said, is an accelerant for adaptive leadership—meaning it’s perhaps more relevant in 2020 than ever before.

Hosted by Jim Gill, Senior Vice President-Public Sector at Cornerstone and Jeff O’Malley, Director for Executive and Team Coaching at the Partnership for Public Service, the webinar highlighted the qualities of adaptive leaders and the importance of empowering individuals to become adaptive leaders.

Leaders Need Self-Awareness and a Sense of Empathy

In framing the webinar conversation, Gill shared a basic definition of adaptive leadership: “Adaptive leaders may not always be right, but they’re always respected. They learn and they grow and they practice what they preach. But they also take the time to reflect on those decisions to think through how to improve/make the necessary adjustments.”

To be an effective leader in today’s environment, Allen noted it’s just as important to listen and absorb the right information as it is to deliver expertise and crisis leadership that effectively rallies teams around solutions. This requires leaders to be self-aware enough to continuously educate themselves and pull in experts when they don’t know the answers and perhaps need help finding the answer to a specific situation or crisis.

Allen added that adaptive leadership also requires keeping tabs on how people around you are feeling and understanding that life events can impact individual efforts to achieve communal goals.

“It’s important to understand that sometimes, it’s okay not to be okay,” Allen said. “If you’re a leader, you should be transparent with your subordinates and confirm that it also applies to them.” 

Leaders Can Learn to Embrace Adaptability

Leaders aren’t always born adaptive. Adaptability, like many other skills, can be cultivated. According to Allen, it boils down to two factors: life-long learning—continuously refreshing your skills and adapting to surrounding changes; and emotional intelligence (EQ) and empathy—the ability to understand and relate to the people around you.

Organizations increasingly provide individuals with many of the learning resources and platforms to gain these capabilities, as well as other hard and power skills including empathy. But leaders and future leaders need to take an active role in educating themselves to fully benefit from available knowledge sources. As a seasoned military leader with a personal commitment to lifelong learning and EQ development, Allen advocates for leading by example and practicing what you preach. He believes leaders need to keep themselves as accountable for learning from experiences as anyone else in their charge—if not more.

A focus on diversity also plays a crucial role in developing adaptive leaders. After all, a healthy variety of surrounding perspectives helps leaders make better-informed decisions. Allen says it’s “an absolute imperative to have a diverse staff with diverse backgrounds around you”—people that are willing to challenge your thinking as a leader and offer guidance to someone more senior. 

Current Expertise is the Starting Point–Not the Final Word

As Allen sees it, every leader is a work-in-progress—even the world’s finest. He believes adaptive leadership is cultivated through experience as well as understanding when to listen. Part of the lifelong learning process for leaders is to learn from mistakes, interactions and other people.

Flexibility is also key, he also pointed out, and goes hand-in-hand with being open minded to other opinions and suggestions: “Existing plans and assumptions are the starting point. They are not the end or outcome of what you want to achieve,” said Allen. “You have to start out with any existing policy, or plan or model as an approximation of reality that will allow you to make informed decisions.”

Allen’s bottom line: Keeping pace with constant change inherent in today’s society requires the constant development of adaptive leaders that listen, observe and understand as much as they lead.

To watch the full discussion with Admiral Thad Allen, hosted by Cornerstone and the Partnership for Public Service, visit: 

Cartoon Coffee Break: Working Parents Have Been Hit Harder By The Pandemic

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon.

Many company leaders and their employees have been working from home for over seven months now. Several are finding it difficult to stay focused or remain as productive as they were in the pre-pandemic office. Employees are increasingly feeling burnt out—and this is especially true for working parents

This demographic has been juggling work with teaching and caring for their children—and will most likely have to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. According to a recent survey from Catalyst and CNBC on the impact of COVID-19 on educational plans and the working parents of school-aged children, about 66% of parents said their children will be in 100% remote or virtual learning this fall. 

The Career Concerns of Working Parents

Many parents are worried about the effects these conditions could have on their careers: 41% of parents reported having less job security due to the pandemic, and 42% are afraid to take advantage of the benefits their workplace offers working parents, for fear of losing their employment if they did so. As a result, parents are giving into their children’s requests for more screen time while they take work meetings and tend to job-related tasks. 

Some parents might see this strategy as potentially harmful to their children’s development, but research has proven otherwise. In fact, there’s little evidence that screen time can harm kids. As long as parents are making sure that technology isn’t replacing necessary activities—like exercise and sleep—increased screen time should have little-to-no negative impact.

How Employers Can Better Support Working Parents

While this is good news, working parents are still having a difficult year, and there are steps that employers should take to alleviate some of their challenges. For example, companies need to increase transparency around their available benefits for working parents and actively encourage them to use them as needed. 

And to assuage working parents’ concerns around job security, employers should take opportunities to make it clear that there will be no consequences if employees do choose to use these benefits. Empathetic communication can help get rid of these worries as well. Ask HR teams and managers to check-in with working parents frequently, making sure that they feel supported and aren’t overwhelmed. 

To learn more about the importance of empathy in the workplace and gather some tips on how to implement it, check out this recent article from Cornerstone’s CLO, Jeff Miller.  

Shawn Flynn's picture

How HR Leaders Can Connect Processes and Facilitate Continuous Learning

2020 has continued to pose challenges for organizations. Lockdowns have caused decreased revenues, work from home orders have caused blind spots, and companies have been striving to stay connected. However, as things return to normal, businesses need to be ready to hit the ground running. In this, your employees need to be ready for whatever challenge presents itself.  

To achieve this, your employees need the skills and knowledge to stay ahead of the new business landscape. How can you achieve this? How can you keep up to date with training needs and progress? Today, we’d like to explore the importance of upskilling in business resilience, how continuous learning makes business resilience possible, and how the Cornerstone integration in ServiceNow facilitates this. 

Upskilling is Key 

As discussed in a recent report from APQC, one of the most important facets of recovery and long-term resilience is upskilling and reskilling employees.  

Flexibility, Innovation, and Change Management Skills Needed Now More Than Ever 

In this, organizations are expecting more flexibility and are looking to encourage innovation, change, and communication at their workforce. The study notes:  

“Though the pandemic stresses the necessity of these skillsets, they’ve actually been a growing focus over the last couple of years. The impacts of digital and organizational transformations and the pace of changes in business environments have driven the need for key skills in agility, change management, and technology fluency across functions.” 

Recovery Is a Growth Mindset 

But as mentioned, this is nothing new. Companies have been looking to encourage these skills for years. After all, how much does recovery differ from growth? Think of it like this: Recovering from year-over-year revenue loss to neutral is not much different than accelerating revenue growth.  

That said, companies need to encourage a growth mindset in their staff and strive to train them as efficiently and effectively as possible. Organizational leadership needs to stay ahead of training needs, mitigate skillset atrophy, and prepare employees for a new landscape. 

Continuous Learning Can't Exist in Silos

For many HR leaders, the question isn’t “what?”, but “how?” You’ve been in this business long enough to understand the value of training and development—but you’ve also been in this business long enough to know the challenges that go into employee development.  

Employees have different learning styles, different levels of development, and different expectations. On the other hand, it’s your job to keep track of this, providing an intuitive learning experience and staying ahead of training needs. Harder yet, you have to balance learning with change. Too often, you’ll end up planning and refining a strategy—only for the market to shift.  

Continuous learning can help address the challenges, but too often, HR professionals are trying to manage this process in a silo. Emails about required training get ignored, disconnected platforms leave you with training blind spots, and siloed technology is too often held together with strings and duct tape.

The Power of Consolidation: Connected Workflows Facilitate Continuous Learning 

Empowering your staff to become more flexible, innovative, and ready for change requires connection. To do this, you need rapid access to accurate information, allowing you to track what matters and stay ahead of business needs.  

With platform consolidation, you can set up workflows to work with a variety of applications and business processes. However, platform consolidation can’t create more work than it facilitates.

To achieve this, companies need a solution that can: 

  • Simplify Integrations: Empower business users by connecting applications and give them the freedom to develop workflows without complex, costly integration tools. 
  • Drive Speed and Increase Productivity: Take advantage of a scalable publish–discover–reuse framework to build productive time back into the business so your people can focus on what matters most. 
  • Reduce the Workflow Workload: Continue to improve your training workflows with analytics, allowing you to build better employee development programs. 

Introducing Cornerstone + ServiceNow

Organizations with a growth mindset need to facilitate a culture of continuous learning and development. But for many HR managers and business leaders, even the best programs fall by the wayside if you can’t keep up with the who, what, when, and why of your talent initiatives.  

It’s why, as mentioned above, we recently announced a new integration with ServiceNow, a leading digital workflow technology provider, to immediately offer platform interoperability to our joint customers and promote cultures of continuous learning. 

Organizations that rely on Cornerstone to train and new skill their employees can now directly integrate their Cornerstone Learning solution with their ServiceNow® HR Service Delivery solution. Whether you need an integration built to unify employee experiences or an always up-to-date employee training and certification platform, Cornerstone and ServiceNow help make it happen. 

  • Assign learning tasks and to-do items from Cornerstone into ServiceNow   
  • Enable employees to see and complete ServiceNow tasks, along with other tasks assigned to them, all in one place  
  • Seamless navigation and completion of learning courses between Cornerstone and ServiceNow

With these connected workflows, organizations can remove barriers of switching back and forth between platforms to enable learning in the flow of work. 

Learn more about the ServiceNow Partnership 

To learn more about how you can optimize your learning workflows visit the ServiceNow HR Service Delivery integration with Cornerstone OnDemand listing, in the ServiceNow Store.  

Connie Costigan's picture

Announcing the 2020 Cornerstone RAVE Award Winners

On behalf of the Cornerstone team, I’m excited to share details about this year’s Cornerstone RAVE Award winners.  RAVE stands for Remarkable Achievements and Visionary Elites, a designation to recognize and honor organizations that have developed and implemented innovative approaches to using our solutions.

Since our first-ever virtual, global conference, Cornerstone Convergence, brought together our expanded community of both Cornerstone and Saba customers, our awards program too honors the achievements of our global combined customer base of more than 6,300 organizations.

We were humbled by the number of customers that submitted their organization’s stories for recognition. Selecting the winners across so many nominations was no small task. Please join us in congratulating these organizations across North America and EMEA, whose recruiting, learning, performance and career programs stood out – and embodied our shared mission of engaging and developing extraordinary people to deliver extraordinary results.

Learning Strategy Innovation

Winners: BNP Paribas; Sunbelt Rentals; Teleperformance; VMWare

About the award: This category recognizes organizations that have implemented new learning strategies, techniques and methods to drive tangible talent and business outcomes.

BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas used Cornerstone Learning to support a knowledge-sharing culture that empowers employees to drive their own development. As a result, employees are more aware of the diverse development opportunities available to them and can obtain the right learning intervention when and where they need it.

Sunbelt Rentals

Sunbelt used Cornerstone Learning to develop an innovative approach to track and report on a multi-month, adaptive learning program during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new process and approach provides managers with real-time data when and where they need it, to drive organizational performance.


Teleperformance deployed a broad set of learning to engage their global workforce and create a change-ready culture. They used Saba Cloud to enhance executive communication during remote work, implement online mentoring, personalize learning to support upskilling, and shift the mix of learning content delivery and adoption from compliance to locally developed regional content.


Using Saba Cloud, VMWare created a new skills and competency framework allowing them to deliver more personalized and targeting training experiences for their people faster. The new skills framework also ensured even closer alignment to the strategic needs of the business.

“We are pleased to be recognized for our learning strategy innovation at this year’s RAVE Awards,” said Sanjeev Kumar, Senior Business Process Architect, VMWare. “Through this partnership, we have been able to develop a skills competency framework used to influence learning paths and simplify course selection and offerings with an 80% reduction in time.” 

Transformational HR & Talent Strategy

Winners: Broadway Bank; Sobi

About the award: This category recognizes organizations that have applied new technology and approaches spanning multiple HR processes to drive tangible talent impact and business outcomes.

Broadway Bank  

With Cornerstone Learning, Performance & Recruiting suites, Broadway Bank created a continuous performance and development culture to engage employees with coaching, feedback, development and recognition, in support of employee career growth and, ultimately, client satisfaction. Broadway Bank’s retention initiatives also use Cornerstone to support its progressive internal mobility and leadership development programs.


Sobi has undergone a significant undertaking in migrating from multiple local HR systems and decentralized processes to one global HCM solution using Cornerstone HR. With Cornerstone its new process empowers employees, managers and local HR to own their data and create a “digital employment life cycle.” This change has allowed Sobi to utilize its data to add value, not only to the HR processes, but also to contribute with clarity, agility and efficiency to other important business functions and processes. Cornerstone has enabled Sobi to take a big step forward in its digital transformation journey.

Impact on User Adoption

Winners: Nestlé; TravelCenters of America; Veritas Technologies

About the award: This award recognizes organizations who have successfully driven adoption of new product capabilities, expanded usage of solutions across departments, geographies or business units, and expanded employee utilization through innovative programs.


Having deployed Cornerstone eight years ago, Nestlé faced the challenge of continuously increasing user adoption in such a mature product. By focusing on improving access to the right learning content and enabling learners to experience a journey of development through playlists, Nestlé was able to significantly increase average time spent on learning and hit a milestone number of visits per month on the learning platform.

“We’re thrilled to be recognized at this year’s Cornerstone RAVE Awards for our success in driving user adoption.” said Jo-Anne Rossouw, Head of Digital Learning, Nestlé. “Cornerstone, together with our IT Learning Product Team, have helped us achieve our two key adoption focuses for 2020 of improving access to the right learning content, and enabling learners to experience a journey of development through Playlists”.

TravelCenters of America

TravelCenters of America launched Cornerstone Learning as the foundation to establishing a learning culture in the organization. Branding the solution “MyTA” the team quickly pivoted with the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic to weave a consistent message through communications, videos and job aids to reinforce how using MyTA would provide new opportunities to develop and grow in employees’ current roles, and help them prepare for the next step in their career. One major result of this strategy: 72% of employees logged into MyTA within the first 30 days, completing 8,000 courses!

Veritas Technologies

With Saba Cloud, Veritas Technologies launched a highly powerful, revenue-generating consolidated single learning system used by three different type of learner groups: employees, customers and partners. As a result Veritas’ learning team can easily publish, track and maintain learning activities, empowering 18,000 users with diverse training requirements to quickly find and take the training they need. The organization has seen system utilization grow by 60%, enrollments go up by 45%, and reduced cases from learners by more than 200 per month.

Advancement in Reinventing Work

Winner: Public Storage   

About the award: This year recognizes change makers who have implemented new ways to attract and retain the best talent and capitalized on the collective knowledge, skills, and performance of their people.  

Public Storage

Public Storage rolled out a highly adopted digital badge recognition program within Cornerstone Learning in support of its goal to foster a culture of recognition at all levels of the organization. As a result of this initiative, employees are empowered to reinforce high performance through meaningful, personal feedback aligned to organizational values and priorities.

Reinventing Recruiting 

Winners: Henkel; myjobscotland

About this award: This category recognizes organizations that have progressively evolved their talent acquisition processes to improve their candidate experience, recruiting metrics and attract and hire the best people to prepare their organizations for the future. 


Thanks to the focus, agile mindset, ownership, empowerment and the exceptional collaboration of its global project team, Henkel managed to implement a unified global talent acquisition system within 12 months and without interruption so recruiters could continue to work seamlessly. Thoughtful planning drove a blueprint for success, which led to increases in applicants and improved conversion rates, and a streamlined experience for candidates.


myjobscotland used the TalentLink solution and implemented asynchronous video interviewing to help its member councils across Scotland discover and attract the best candidates into key roles. This virtual recruiting approach has been particularly important to continuously fill open positions during the pandemic and allows applicants to share the best version of themselves in the process. In doing so myjobscotland has been able to significantly decrease time-to-offer and time-to–hire, with rave reviews from candidates and hiring managers on the experience.

"In line with our continual improvement strategy of our offering Councils (and other third parties) more functions whilst keeping the costs down, the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated our need to implement a video recruitment strategy in TalentLink, and within myjobscotland.” says Douglas Shirlaw, Chief Digital Officer at COSLA. “We are very proud to have been able to design, engage and deliver this in less than a week for each of the 10 councils. The outcome reflects the professionalism, enthusiasm, commitment and togetherness of the myjobscotland team, as well as Council HR teams doing everything they could to make this a success in their regions under some particularly challenging circumstances."

Visionary in Performance Management

Winners: GB Group Plc; Horace Mann; HM Electronics

About this award: This award recognizes organizations that have engaged their employees through meaningful performance processes to improve organizational effectiveness and business outcomes.   

GB Group Plc 

GB Group Plc created a culture that supports ongoing performance conversations using Cornerstone Performance and built-in Check-Ins. By offering a simple, interactive way for its people and managers to stay aligned, engaged and focused on achieving their potential, GB Group Plc met all three of its key objectives in implementing Cornerstone: improve the quality and frequency of performance conversations, raise the bar of performance, and ensure clear alignment between what each employee does and the business mission.

Horace Mann

Horace Mann successfully implemented a quarterly performance management process with a focus on coaching, feedback and employee development versus performance ratings. This new ongoing performance management process has evolved Horace Mann to a culture in which performance conversations are a way of life, with employees leading the conversation and proactively driving their own development and performance.

“Our need to be able to quickly adapt and change course makes the concept of an annual performance review an outdated one that no longer meets the needs of our business,” said Susan Dudley, Talent Management System Analyst, Horace Mann. “With Cornerstone as well as the support of executive leadership, our change management plan and the desire for a change from the current process, we have successfully adapted our performance management strategy to meet the needs of today.”

HM Electronics

In 2019, HM Electronics adopted Saba Cloud to support the performance and development needs of its rapidly growing workforce. Using both performance and learning within Saba, HM Electronics has created a tight connection between both coaching, development and training, with deep insight on program metrics. Building on its success using peer-to-peer “impressions” within the system, HM Electronics continues to foster a strong company-wide feedback culture.

Congratulations to the 2020 RAVE Award Winners!

Congratulations to all this year’s winners and sincere thanks to the thousands of customers around the world who continue to partner with Cornerstone to drive your talent strategies forward! 

To learn more about how Cornerstone customers are delivering innovative talent strategies using Cornerstone solutions, check out the many customer success stories shared at Cornerstone Convergence in September. While the conference has come and gone, all sessions are available on demand until October 31, 2020. Access the on-demand sessions here.

Steve Dobberowsky's picture

Adaptable Leadership in the Public Sector

This article was originally published on

What does it mean to practice adaptable leadership in the public sector, and why is it important?

People who are assessing public administration and related work often suggest that adaptable leadership is even more necessary here than it is in the private sector. Public sector leadership faces specific types of challenges and mandates and brings various types of opportunities to enhance how leadership works.

As we talk about the utility of adaptable leadership in public sector jobs, we’ll see how today's leadership roles work on a number of consistent values that help the best professionals provide results to the communities they serve.

Awareness and Change

Leaders who are self-aware understand the context in which they think and make decisions and are better able to become ongoing learners. As such, they are more adaptable.

Some people describe this type of adaptable leadership as requiring a continual bold disruption and iterating innovation on a regular basis. Adaptable leadership responds to challenges in real time and works in the context of fluctuating realities.

Leaders need to think about change in the form of macro and micro levels. This is one of several areas where the general principles of self-awareness support better leadership. As individuals actively practice this kind of scaled thinking, they come up with insights that can be beneficial to a constituency. That’s not to say that every idea coming out of this is going to be great. There’s a temptation and tendency in traditional models to think that good leadership depends upon someone’s intelligence. Beyond technical proficiency, though, is how well an adaptable leader can learn that makes a big difference.

Leaders who can achieve an adaptable leadership model are better able to lead global, established organizations as if they were startups with a startup mindset. A big business that can continue to operate with a startup mindset challenges paradigms that have held enterprise back for a long time. Again, that’s not to say that any startup mindset will automatically be superior. It’s more of a journey toward innovative thinking as a discipline. It’s not just change for change’s sake. It’s much more about growing and developing in a way that allows the leader to more frequently step back and engage in helpful forms of self-analysis.

Obstacles to Adaptive Leadership

Another way to characterize adaptable leadership is to look at the challenges that apply. Adaptable leaders are often involved in breaking down hierarchies and insufficiently agile silos. Agility as a key goal in software development is also necessary in public sector administration and beyond. Breaking down silos is also prized in software development. Data needs to flow to where it’s helpful, which is true in leadership too. There’s a real correspondence that is helpful to think about when you contemplate what makes adaptable leaders.

A Way Forward

When you start having a conversation about adaptable leadership, you often start hearing other values added into the mix. Wisdom and the ability to reflect well will add to the adaptable leader’s knowledge base. Values related to humility and empathy will allow that person to draw from the power of the community, rather than acting as an island, or, if you will, in a silo of their own.

Deloitte shows that only 14 percent of CxOs have a “high degree of confidence” in developing this type of leadership, or more accurately, in a similar type of innovative attitude that would help them to “make the changes that the digital revolution requires.” However, it doesn't have to be this way. The keys to adaptable leadership are here for public sector and private sector leaders to use.

In the end, self-awareness is the key. There's the ability to reflect, be resilient, and to change. What all of this has in common relies on that core awareness. By developing a big-picture analysis that includes the individual’s own leadership styles, intentions, habits, and perhaps implicit bias or reactive thinking. Put it all together and you have a road map for developing an adaptive approach.

Ira S. Wolfe's picture

Why the Key to DEI Initiatives is Data

Since June, there’s been a renewed urgency in corporate America to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. And recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Solange Charas. She is the founder and CEO of HC Moneyball, a data scientist and HR compensation consultant on a mission to ensure equity doesn’t become just another buzzword in business. 

Including the word  "moneyball" in her company’s title is no accident. After Michael Lewis's best-selling book, moneyball became a metaphor for using KPIs in business—from budgeting and data analytics to productivity. But today, DE&I aren’t actually in the KPIs of most organizations. That’s even true for HR: According to a recent study, only 7% of businesses in the U.S. set representation hiring targets for gender and race, and these are only part of the DE&I story. Paraphrasing the father of modern management Peter Drucker, “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” 

Luckily, more companies are coming around to the need for DE&I measurement: Fifty-six companies and organizations recently joined the groundbreaking Gender and Diversity KPI Alliance (GDKA) to support the adoption and use of a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure gender and diversity in their companies and organizations. It’s a small step that indicates CEOs realize genuine diversity and inclusion will require more than meeting EEO guidelines and checking off boxes. 

Quantifying equity can be uncomfortable, exposing unspoken truths previously accepted in company cultures. But measuring behaviors, good or bad, is necessary, and brings us closer to real change.

Matching DEI Commitments to Real KPIs

According to Dr. Charas, to truly create the fairness that equity implies, companies first need to locate and measure their current inequities. These KPIs can be used to locate and address pay inequities, for example. In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act attempted to close gender pay gaps, But in 2019, ten years after its enactment, women in America were still paid only 81 cents for every dollar made by men. For women of color, it’s only 75 cents. 

But pay inequity is just the tip of the iceberg. By studying the impact of common metrics—both financial (productivity, ROI) and operating (attrition, retention, diversity, training effectiveness), Charas has quantified the efficiency impact of these metrics on bottom-line performance. 

Her analysis revealed inefficiencies and inequalities in areas beyond pay. If we’re going to finally “fix” equity and lead fairly, then we need to start quantifying and evaluating the efficiency of equity in our organizations in other areas—like the following.

Recruitment and Attrition Equity 

It’s well documented that interviews are not only inherently biased but inaccurate at predicting job success. And yet, they are often the only assessment tool used to hire new employees. How can you be sure all your candidates were screened and selected fairly if you’re not measuring it? Ensuring that 13% of the candidates are Black and 18% are Hispanic or Latino won’t create  equity. Instead, here are some questions to consider when formulating your recruitment metrics: 

  • Are your job offers presented equitably to all minority groups and what is the acceptance rate for these demographics?
  • Does the distribution of candidates reflect the diversity of your community or region?
  • Do candidates selected for interviews reflect the diversity of your community or region?
  • Do the candidates that are extended a job offer reflect the diversity of your community or region?
  • Are the candidates that accept job offers reflective of your community or region?
  • Is this diversity reflected in all roles or is it skewed when comparing front-line to management?

Many organizations measure hiring equity because they are required to do so, but what about workers who leave? Do people of color, ethnicity, and gender quit at the same rates as white workers? You also need to start monitoring employees who leave as diligently as you track those who enter.

Training and Mobility Equity

Companies have to be able to prove that all employees, no matter their ethnic or gender categories, are given equal opportunities. Develop training methods that consider the following questions: 

  • Can you verify that each group participates and completes the training at the same rate? If no, why or why not? 
  • Are all genders, ethnicities, and races represented in leadership training and not just front-line training? 
  • What is your training dollar investment per each category? Is it distributed equally by gender and color? 

And equally important is looking at what happens after after training:

  • Are all ethnic and gender categories given the same opportunities for mobility and advancement? 
  • Are managers favoring younger or older workers? 

Say your company finds that 10% of its Black employees were promoted over the last 5 years—the same rate as your white population. That’s great, but don’t stop here. Dig a little deeper: You might find white males got promoted within 12 to 24 months of training but Black males take 60 months or more. And missing from the data was the fact that women of color quit or were terminated before being offered any new opportunity. Don’t stop after discovering a single equity disparity; keep digging until you have unearthed the whole truth.

Velocity Equity

This one is my favorite. Think: step stool vs escalator. While men in feminized workplaces experience a ‘glass escalator’ and are quickly promoted into supervisory positions, women in male-dominated positions tend to get a smaller boost—a glass step stool.

Ask yourself: Do each EEO, gender and ethnic category experience privilege, advancement and even attrition at the same pace? Equity isn’t just about whether or not you’re offering promotional opportunities or lateral opportunities or training opportunities. It’s whether or not you’re offering all races, genders and ethnic groups a step stool or an escalator.

DEI is Everyone’s Job

Equity can’t be explained away by rhetoric—it’s about the numbers. Whether or not you believe equity is framed and defined by ownership or diversity, it is quantifiable. By now, many of you might be thinking: quantifying equity takes a lot of time, money and resources. And that’s not my job or department. But let me make this perfectly clear: Fairness and justice is everyone’s job. It also doesn’t take a data scientist and AI to get started. It can be simple. Let me share the advice of Victor Assad, CEO of Victor Assad Strategic HR Consulting:

“Just start. The data is just sitting there. Most companies just need to look at it. You don’t need advanced technology or the skills of Bill Gates. All you need to do is start—collect the data and use a simple spreadsheet. The rest will follow.” 

Ignorance is not bliss: Quantifying equity must be top of mind in the C-Suite and HR.

Looking to support your company’s DE&I program with better tools, courses or technologies? Click here to explore Cornerstone Cares, an online library of free learning resources with courses on everything from managing remote teams to mitigating unconscious bias at work. 

Top Five Takeaways From Convergence 2020

This year’s Cornerstone Convergence was like no other—but then again, this entire year has been like no other. Though virtual, the conference had no shortage of announcements, energy and predictions for the future as attendees gathered remotely to reflect on the changing world of work. The consensus? Work is undergoing perhaps its biggest transformation yet, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Employers have the opportunity to help employees thrive under today’s difficult conditions and emerge more productive, engaged and happy on the other end. How? Read on for our top five takeaways from Convergence 2020 and learn more ways to set your workforce up for success, resilience and growth and check out this recap video for more! 

1. Change Is Constant

It’s tempting to believe that there will come a day when the pandemic is over, and disruption will cease. But even if COVID-19 disappears tomorrow, change will always happen one way or another. Whether it’s technology that redefines a certain element of work, or a law that shakes up hiring practices, there’s no way to know what’s coming next. But that doesn’t mean companies can’t prepare, Cornerstone CEO Phil Saunders said during his Convergence keynote.

The best way to get ready for change is to accept its inevitability, and embrace it as an opportunity for healthy transformation and growth, recommended Jeff Miller, Cornerstone’s CLO and VP of Organizational Effectiveness, 

2. Learning Is Key For Thriving Through Disruption 

Learning is fundamental to developing the kind of nimbleness that work today requires. From soft skills that make workers more flexible, to hard skills that are required for some roles and everyday tasks, gaining knowledge means personal growth and better professional contributions, analyst Josh Bersin explained. Skills are the currency of the future, and while it’s up to employees to seek learning and development, it’s also up to employers to provide the right learning platform and content.

To be effective, learning content has to be easy-to-digest, relevant and delivered when it’s most needed, typically in the flow of work. And, the platform that content is delivered through must be smart, user-friendly and dynamic, constantly evolving to meet changing needs. “Imagine a tomorrow where skills are obsolete in months not years. Where careers are a portfolio, not a life-time job. Where reskilling, upskilling and unlearning is everyone's job. Welcome to the New Normal,” Ira Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions said, reflecting on the Convergence conference. 

3. Transformation Requires the Right Toolset

One of the key themes at this year’s Convergence was that anyone can be extraordinary and unbound, meaning uninhibited by yesterday’s constraints or today’s obstacles. But this level of transformation requires technology to enable it, Heidi Spirgi, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, said. Tools like blockchain, skills ontologies, AI and machine learning will play a role in making work better by optimizing key “people” processes, like performance management, hiring and employee development.

“A robot isn’t going to take your job. But unless you master tomorrow’s most important workplace characteristic—adaptability—you may give your job away to one,” Wolfe said. 

4. Personalized Journeys Will Drive Employee Engagement

Gone are the days of career “ladders.” There’s no pre-defined template for development as employees gain more autonomy than ever in shaping their careers, developing their skills and growing as individuals. To support efforts like succession planning and prevent challenges like organizational skills gaps, employers must recognize the importance of personalized employee journeys and facilitate them, providing ample ways for employees to identify their goals and attain new skills. 

When given the freedom and resources to learn and challenge themselves, employees will step up to the plate, eventually rising to fill greater roles as they gain new skills—even without a metaphorical “ladder” to climb. 

5. Technology Is Important, but Humanity Matters Most

While technology will continue to play an increasingly important role at work, humanity still matters above all else, said Vincent Belliveau, Cornerstone’s EMEA Chief Executive. People should be at the center of every organizational decision, whether it’s the introduction of a different remote work policy, the adoption of cutting edge tools or the rollout of a new initiative. 

From iterating DE&I practices to reflect the growing calls for social change, to providing adequate support to working parents  as they navigate their new normal, there are so many difficult challenges to solve in the months ahead. As employers and employees continue to grapple with these difficult questions, our shared humanity is the only way forward.

Missed Cornerstone Convergence? Visit: All sessions are available on demand until October 31, 2020. And keep the conversation going! Follow Cornerstone Convergence 2020 on social media channels, visit: Twitter @CSODConvergence, Instagram @CornerstoneOnDemand and Facebook @Cornerstoneconvergence. You can engage with the conversation using #CSODConf20.

Adrienne Shulman's picture

Cornerstone Celebrates Ada Lovelace Day 2020

On October 13, Cornerstone celebrated Ada Lovelace Day – an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Ada Lovelace Day aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models to encourage girls to explore STEM careers and support women in STEM. 

Cornerstone first celebrated Ada Lovelace Day in 2019. It was a huge success, creating such a strong sense of pride and accomplishment that we decided to make it a much bigger celebration this year! 

Here’s how Cornerstone employees (aka Cornerstars) celebrated #ALD20.

CTO Mark Goldin kicked off the celebrations

Cornerstone’s Chief Technology Officer Mark Goldin kicked off the Ada Lovelace Day celebrations with a Facebook Live session welcoming and encouraging Cornerstars around the globe to participate, celebrate, and focus on inclusivity. 

Mark said it well: “Inclusivity is everybody’s issue.” At Cornerstone, we strive every day to create an inclusive environment because we want everyone’s full participation and we need to hear everyone’s ideas so we can keep developing innovative solutions for our customers.  

Mark ended his talk with this Ada Lovelace quote capturing the learning mindset so deeply embedded into Cornerstone’s culture: “Understand well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand.”

The Extraordinary Power of Diversity — a Live Q&A

Organizations that embrace Diversity & Inclusion in all aspects of their business see increased levels of innovation, productivity, employee engagement, employee retention and overall better business outcomes. But it doesn't mean that it's easy to achieve! 

It’s why in this session, hosted by our D&I in Tech committee members, we explored the extraordinary power of diversity, and discussed how to advance D&I amongst Cornerstone teams. 

Participants explored the importance of equity, using this quote from D&I expert Verna Myers as a starting point for an interactive discussion:

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

This example resonated with participants: If diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance – then equity is ensuring everyone invited to the party can get there.  It’s about looking at any initiative and distributing resources in a way that creates better outcomes for everyone involved.  

The conversation went on to explore how to address microagressions, the verbal or behavioral indignities that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally, communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes towards marginalized groups.

Important side note: On a recent HR Happy Hour podcast interview, Sarah Morgan, CEO of Buzz-A-Rooney described microaggressions as multiple paper cuts. On its own, a papercut doesn’t hurt so bad but piled up one after...they’re painful. Sarah noted that people with one or more marginalized identities experience 5-10 microagressions per day. The harm is real even if it’s unintentional.

The Extraordinary Power of Diversity talk closed with a call to get involved in DEI initiatives:

  • Educate yourself. Do the work to challenge your biases. Learn, learn, learn (no short cuts!).

  • Rethink and reframe the stories you tell yourself.  Stop using the talent pipeline as an excuse for not creating diverse teams.   It’s not just about “hiring the best”, which just results in what Kara Swisher famously calls the mirror-tocracy; it’s about hiring and creating diverse teams of people with different experiences and stories from yours.

  • Be inclusive. Develop your emotional quotient (EQ). Practice empathy and build relationships.

  • Get involved. Connect with Employee Resource Groups in your organization. Explore opportunities to provide support in your community. Mentor others.

Diversity, inclusion and equity builds more productive and innovative teams. Looking at DEI from a technology perspective, the diversity of our teams should mirror the diversity of the society we build technology for.

Celebrating Cornerstars in STEM

Throughout the day Cornerstone employees from across the globe were profiled in our internal and external social channels and celebrated for their unique perspectives on embracing DEI. Here are a few words of wisdom from these amazing Cornerstars...

Fireside Chat with Barbara Furlow, Global DEI Leader at Facebook

Ada Lovelace Day celebrations included an inspiring fireside chat with Barbara Furlow-Smiles, a global DEI leader at Facebook. 

Cornerstar and chat moderator Payal Shah kicked off the conversation by asking Barbara to share something she is most proud of. For Barbara, it’s the behavior change in people – when a comment, talk, or presentation changes the paradigm. That shift in thinking is what it’s all about!

Barbara said she “took her pain and made it a purpose.” She didn’t always feel like she belonged. But there are two perspectives: you can fall victim to those feelings, or you can take them and turn them around. 

That analogy resounded throughout the day’s sessions and celebrations: Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is “like a dance.” Think about it as a dance party: Who's invited to the dance? Who’s dancing? Who’s busting a move on the dance floor? And who are the people who weren’t asked to dance or weren’t invited? 

DE&I is about connection. It’s about getting comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Step outside your comfort zone and understand who others are and walk in their shoes. The ABCDE approach – Always check in, Be bold about who you are, Constantly call people in, Detect the cracks, and Embrace flexibility – puts the accountability on yourself to check in and reach out to others. 

To end the session, Barbara shared her “brag sheet” and gave attendees an opportunity to get uncomfortable with themselves. She shared the 4 Gs to own your greatness (Greatness, Growth, Go for it, Grateful):

  • What are you great at? 

  • What are your strengths? 

  • What is a growth area?

  • What is something new you’ll try today? 

  • What is something you’re grateful for? 

Barbara asked attendees to consider these questions for self-reflection and growth, and we challenge you to do the same.

STEM Trivia, a Talent Show and Coding with Kids!

Ada Lovelace Day at Cornerstone ended with some interactive learning and networking opportunities!

A group of Cornerstars played STEM Trivia: 5 rounds, 5 categories including Science, Tech, Engineering, Math, Women in STEM. 

Questions ranged from: What does a ribosome do? (It synthesizes proteins) to who was the first female game programmer? (Her name is Carol Shaw!) It was a fun way to bring Cornerstars together and test our STEM knowledge. 

Cornerstars also participated in a DEI Talent Showcase – sharing their unique talents with performances covering stand-up comedy, slam poetry and so much more!

And with coding becoming one of the most in-demand skills across all industries, we invited Cornerstone employees and their children to join a fun learning session introducing the basics of coding. 

Honoring the life and legacy of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace, notably the first computer programmer, paved the way for women in STEM. At Cornerstone, we’re committed to continuing to pave that path, amplify the female voices in STEM and create a diverse and inclusive environment for every Cornerstar. 

Learn more about steps your organization can take to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce by visiting Cornerstone Cares, a free website filled with online learning content about topics that are exceptionally timely, critical and evolving day by day – including how to recognize and mitigate unconscious bias in the workplace.

Interested in a career at Cornerstone? Visit our Careers page to see our latest openings on the engineering team and elsewhere, and to learn more about our culture, our people and what it’s like to be a Cornerstar.


Heidi Spirgi's picture

4 Actions Leaders Can Take to Improve Gender Equality

On September 24, DIAL Global – a community for Diverse Inclusive Aspirational Leaders – hosted the DIAL Global Summit, a virtual event covering topics related to diversity, inclusivity, and belonging. 

I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion on Advancing Gender Equality: Demanding More with Kari Daniels, CEO, Tesco Ireland, and Bina Mehta, Partner at KPMG, and moderator Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient.  

Below is a brief overview of the topics we discussed on how we all can take proactive and impactful steps to advance gender equality in the workplace.

Steps you can take today to improve gender equality in organizations 

Gender equality is a fundamental human right yet, despite progress, women are underrepresented in leadership, receive unequal pay for equal work, and are targets of physical and sexual abuse. The panel discussion was an unequivocal call to action for all leaders to demand more from our organizations – and from ourselves – to make gender equality a reality.

Fostering a culture of belonging is important. As Shelley Zalis mentioned during the panel, belonging is a feeling; diversity and inclusion are tactics. So, how do we create a sense of belonging where everybody feels welcome and included? 

It starts with making diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) a strategic priority. When executives make it a strategic priority within their individual teams, it cascades.

Be deliberate

Deliberate actions create a more inclusive environment. At Cornerstone, we look at our meetings to ensure they have diverse attendance when key decisions are being made. If we don’t have enough senior female leaders, we make room at the table for other women to join the discussion. Setting an expectation that meetings are inclusive of both genders – at all levels – makes an unconscious impact.

Be flexible

In the COVID-19 era, it’s important to recognize that we’re all in the same storm, but we’re not in the same boat. While our business in 100% remote, COVID-19 has presented challenges in all aspects of our lives. This is especially true for working parents, and women in particular. We can’t let this moment in history undo years of fighting for equality for women in the workplace. Grant permission for your employees to be transparent with their family requirements and allow them to adjust their work schedule to accommodate their new roles as teachers or caregivers. But to do this effectively, leaders have to walk the talk. Talk about your family, model the behavior that you are encouraging your employees to display, and help them balance the demands between work and family.

Be transparent

Be transparent and trust your employees - it enables them to thrive. Working from home and living at work is a juggling act, and you have to trust that your employees can handle their responsibilities or encourage them to ask for help if they are struggling.

Be a role model

Cornerstone has an official mentorship program that matches junior employees with senior executives. Create a safe place for women to grow, learn, and ask questions. This is an area of focus for Cornerstone in 2021 and it is my personal commitment to not take my foot of the gas for DE&I. 

2020 has been a catalyst for change

A global pandemic, social unrest, economic uncertainty and more has left individuals and businesses grappling for a sense of what we used to know as normal. While the DIAL Summit focused specifically on gender equality, there is an opportunity for leaders at all levels to build and support diverse and inclusive work experiences for all people, regardless of age, race, or gender. 

To that end, Cornerstone is committed to prioritizing DE&I in our organization. We’ll be sharing more about our action plan and the future of DE&I at Cornerstone in upcoming posts from a broad range of voices within our organization. 

But it doesn’t stop with us. We’re committed to helping other organizations too. It’s why we created Cornerstone Cares, a free website filled with online learning content about topics that are exceptionally timely, critical and evolving day by day. Cornerstone Cares provides information, resources, and best practices to help you learn, adapt, and support others in recognizing and mitigating unconscious bias, how to prioritize self-care and manage stress, and much more.

Visit Cornerstone Cares today to access timely, essential training resources to help you and your people learn, grow and evolve. 

Heidi Spirgi's picture

Cornerstone Cares Recognized for 2020 Tech Cares Award by TrustRadius

The events of 2020 have impacted our lives – at work and at home – in one way or another. For some of us, it meant a transition to remote work for the first time. For others, it meant adapting to new safety measures within their workplaces. And for all of us, we have felt the impact of the pandemic on our mental health. Yes, change is constant – but at this pace, it can absolutely be overwhelming.

It’s for these reasons that Cornerstone banded together to develop Cornerstone Cares, a free resource filled with online learning content. The learning content ranges from training healthcare workers to respond to COVID-19, how to be productive while working from home, and stress management. And more recently, we added training to support candidates in the interview process and unconscious bias courses to help mitigate bias in the workplace. Today, we’re humbled to share that Cornerstone has been recognized as a 2020 Tech Cares company by TrustRadius alongside other leading organizations who have made responding to societal challenges a core part of their mission.

At Cornerstone, improving the employee experience is at the heart of our people development solutions. It’s through this lens that we help our clients transform their talent practices and realize the potential of their people to change the world. We are also deeply committed to following a purpose-driven model that defines how we work together across Cornerstone’s workforce to support our global community and achieve our mission of helping people become extraordinary. As such, the free critical training is available not only to Cornerstone clients, but also to local and global communities. Cornerstone clients have the option to load the new COVID-19 and pandemic planning courses directly into their LMS portal or  anyone can sign up and access the training through Cornerstone Cares.

It’s been more than 6 months since many of us were first introduced to the concept of social distancing or became accustomed to the regular use of video conferencing. But that’s why I’m so proud to work with an empathy-driven team that is committed to making these adjustments a little bit easier. As the business community continues to adapt to today’s changing demands, it’s gratifying to hear feedback from clients and partners.

One of our partners shared, “I must commend Cornerstone for extending the Cornerstone Cares service/content for FREE during these rapidly changing times. I have shared and recommended the Cornerstone Cares site with several colleagues, and this is a shining example of Cornerstones commitment to support the community.” 

If you want to access free online trainings on topics that range from remote working to unconscious bias, you can visit 

Cartoon Coffee Break: Prioritizing Employees’ Health & Well-being

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers started adding new benefits to protect their employees’ health and well-being during the difficult time. Not only did employers enhance their overall healthcare benefits, but many also announced plans to make changes to paid time off or vacation programs.

But today, even as the newness and novelty of employees' remote work lifestyles is starting to wear off, employers’ commitment to workforce wellness is not. In fact, improved corporate wellness programs have been a silver lining to this pandemic: Employers are now creating more holistic programs that focus on employees’ emotional, physical, social, and environmental well-being. 

Encouraging exercise, for example, has become a key element of employee wellness programs because of the positive effects it can have on a person’s physical and mental health. To help employees get moving, some companies are offering free yoga sessions and workout app subscriptions. The social media company Pinterest has even started hosting weekly virtual dance classes targeted toward working parents and their children to help these especially busy employees get moving. 

In the post-COVID workplace, corporate wellness programs will continue to play an important role in improving employees’ well-being and productivity. It’s a good idea for companies to start preparing for this future reality now by making sure that they have the budgets and plans to maintain some of the remote work-inspired initiatives that employees enjoyed during the initial months of the pandemic. 

For more advice on how to protect employees’ health and well-being during and after this crisis, check out this recap from Whitney Johnson about her conversation with Hubert Joly, the former CEO of Best Buy, and his purpose-driven, people-first approach to business.

Adam Grant at Convergence: Do You Empower Your Organizational “Givers”?

At our fully virtual Convergence conference, organizational psychologist and host of the WorkLife podcast Adam Grant began his closing keynote session with a statement: Takers are people who ask, “What can you do for me?”  while givers are people who ask, “What can I do for you?”

What does this mean in an organizational setting? For companies, hiring “givers” and empowering them at work could mean the difference between a productive, happy work culture and a toxic one.  

In a world overcome with a global pandemic, social unrest, blurred work-life balance, and more, leaders must work to build a culture of givers and productive generosity. Adam offered these strategies for making it happen:

  1. Keep the Wrong People Off the Bus: When it comes to hiring, screen out the biggest takers, those who put on a façade of generosity. Don’t ask about their own behavior—instead ask about other people’s behavior. When we answer questions about others, we often end up projecting our own behavior. Takers anticipate selfish behavior from others—and that’s how they justify their actions.
  2. Start on the Right FootOnce you’ve screened out the selfish takers, consider onboarding practices that help people contribute in meaningful ways. Flip exit interviews upside down and conduct entry interviews. Ask employees about their first month in the job and learn how to customize their role to their strengths.
  3. Strengthen Remote CulturePeople miss structure and the sense of community that comes with working in an office setting. One of the challenges of remote work environments is disengagement. Set structured time to interact and solve problems together. If you want to let your givers shine, encourage them to come up with independent ideas and then bring the group together to evaluate and refine ideas. 
  4. Create Psychological SafetyWhen people feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to innovate and less likely to make mistakes. “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions” is a dangerous philosophy. If people can only speak up when they have a solution, you’ll never hear about problems. Create a space where people can safely raise issues: turn a question box into a problem box and encourage participation from givers and takers. 
  5. Harness the Strength of Weak TiesAssist others in giving and receiving help from and to other individuals they consider to be "weak ties" because the best person to ask isn’t always the one you’re closest to. In most cases, people are willing to be givers but often don’t know what other people need. The cultures of help-giving are also the cultures of help-seeking.
  6. Prevent Giver ReboundThis is particularly important in the current world as the boundaries of work and home are blurred. You don’t have to give in every relationship. Effective givers are at high-risk for burnout and exhaustion. As a giver, be thoughtful about who you help, how you help and when you help. 

Want to watch Adam’s keynote in full? It’s available on demand, along with all the other Convergence sessions until October 31st!

To watch anything you missed during the conference, visit: All sessions are available on demand until October 31, 2020. And keep the conversation going! Follow Cornerstone Convergence 2020 on social media channels, visit: Twitter @CSODConvergence, Instagram @CornerstoneOnDemand and Facebook @Cornerstoneconvergence. You can engage with the conversation using #CSODConf20.

Ike Bennion's picture

Cornerstone Skills Graph Wins Top HR Product of the Year

Last month, Phil Saunders asked our Cornerstone Convergence attendees if 2020 was what they anticipated. For most of us, we can agree that a year ago, no one could have predicted what 2020 would bring. 

The only thing for certain is that the future is here – and it arrived with a sense of urgency. 

As the world rapidly evolves, high-performing businesses and the people who work for them will need to adapt and shift quickly to meet current demands. For businesses, this means they need agile workforces and deep knowledge of the unique skills their people have, the ability to redistribute skills as needed, and the flexibility to pivot and build new skills for tomorrow. For employees, it means having a solid understanding of the skills they currently have, the tools to learn new skills they will need for the future and be guided by a clear path forward.

The Cornerstone Skills Graph is an award-winning innovation

It’s why we’re so pleased to announce that the Cornerstone Skills Graph has been named one of the 2020 Top HR Products of the Year by Human Resource Executive. The Top HR Products winners and solutions will be showcased at the HR Technology Conference virtual event October 26 to 27.

How the Cornerstone Skills Graph supports strategic skilling for the new world of work

In the Cornerstone People Research Lab’s latest report on workforce trends, nearly half (40%) of employees lack confidence in their organization’s ability to develop their skills for the future. 

With the Cornerstone Skills Graph organizations and their people can implement “strategic skilling” — the practice of matching skills to people, learning content and job roles — to predict, prepare for and quickly respond to dynamic business changes. Its skills engine and extensive skills ontology is built directly into Cornerstone’s people development solutions enabling clients to make better people decisions. The skills engine has over 3-billion terms for job skills across multiple languages consolidated into a library of 53K verified skills. This data allows companies to dynamically develop and deploy the right skills to projects, roles and key investments quickly and efficiently, which is increasingly important in times of change and uncertainty.

The Cornerstone Skills Graph also enables self-directed development in the flow of work through career journeys. The AI-driven features automate and scale skills identification, people development and career management for employees and the business – so everyone can realize their potential.

How the Cornerstone Skills Graph enables a dynamic and agile workforce 

The coronavirus pandemic was the catalyst for the new world of work, coupled with social isolation, economic uncertainty, the fatiguing speed of change, and an abrupt shift to remote work. These disruptions have created a renewed focus on skills and agility to ensure an organization’s workforce can respond and thrive.

This shift has caused people to think and act differently in order to drive outcomes. And now more than ever, it’s important to understand the fundamental value your employees offer, so you, as a leader, can quickly manage workforce disruptions and optimize results.

Learn more about the Cornerstone Skills Graph. 

Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients of the Top HR Products of the Year recognition!

Suzanne Lucas's picture

Managers, Cure Your Forgetfulness With a Simple Accountability Trick

Just yesterday, I received an email nudging me gently to do something I could have sworn I had already done. I hadn’t. So, what made me think I had done it? It turns out that we can mistake an intention for an action. I meant to respond to that email, and therefore, my brain checked it off as a completed task. Thanks, brain, for leading me astray.

If you’ve ever done this, you may be relieved to find out that it’s totally normal—and common, according to a new study from Dolores Albarracin and her University of Illinois colleagues. Their research revealed that when we intend to do something, it can trigger our brains to think we actually did it. They found that the effect is even more substantial when intending to do something is very similar to doing it. 

In my case, I intended to respond to that email, and I took almost all the same steps. I opened it, read it and thought of my answer. Then, most likely, I got distracted and never came back to write the response and hit send. But because it was close to finished, my brain checked it off my to-do list.

So, how do we solve this problem that threatens to challenge our productivity, especially when we’re working from home and are surrounded by constant distractions. According to Albarracin’s research, there’s a simple answer: write things down.

Write it Down to Ensure Accountability

It turns out that written checklists can help us accomplish what we need to do. If you’re never sure whether or not you’ve completed a task or not, writing that task on a list and then literally crossing it off when you finish it can help keep you grounded—and accountable. And I’m not talking about an app, or a reminder on your phone. The study found that the act of writing down whether you did something, or just intended to do it, helps us remember things correctly.

While it certainly seems impractical to write down, “I intend to answer the following 23 emails today,” you can train yourself to mark emails as unread when you haven’t responded. Then, with a quick glance, you can tell if you actually did something or just thought you did it.

I managed to get my schedule under control by religiously writing every due date on my calendar—every meeting and every activity I needed to control. My children don’t have the same school schedule every day, so I noted their schedules on my calendar. This enables me to make appointments or plans for them without having to wrack my brain. I open up my calendar and can clearly see that Offspring #1 doesn’t have any afternoon classes that day, so I’m free to make her a dentist appointment. (I should note that my children don’t appreciate this.)

You can do the same with team member’s calendars—not to micromanage, but to simply help yourself stay on top of things. You can see what your direct reports or peers are focusing on at the moment, which can help you plan your schedule when you coordinate with them. And it can help you anticipate when they’re feeling overworked.

Inspire Organization

By encouraging your employees to keep checklists and calendars as well, you can cut down on unfinished work and boost productivity. Plus, this added layer of organization can help both you and your workers be prepared at check-in meetings so that you can focus on goal setting, development and growth instead of trying to remember what’s already been accomplished. 

Now, I’m going to check this article off my to do list. I don’t have an excuse, as I’m following my own suggestions.

For more from Suzanne Lucas, check out her column here

Cyril Le Mat's picture

What Is the Cornerstone Skills Graph?

We just announced the Cornerstone Skills Graph and you might be thinking – that sounds cool, but what is it? We caught up with Cyril Le Mat, director of data science at Cornerstone to answer all those questions and give you more insight into what the Cornerstone Skills Graph can do for you. 

Cyril, can you describe the Cornerstone Skills Graph to us?

The Cornerstone Skills Graph is an engine powered by AI and machine learning that automatically detects skills from different sources (profiles, job titles, training, job offers) and identifies them in different use cases: career recommendation and development, score in relation to a position and data visualization. Essentially, matching skills to people, learning content and job roles. 

How does the Cornerstone Skills Graph benefit companies, teams and employees?

The Skills Graph's competency taxonomy is universal, standardized, correlated, open and multilingual. The benefits include:

  • Providing organizations with a comprehensive capability repository based on over 50,000 unique skills (not counting synonyms), automatically detecting them in employees
  • Developing internal mobility through recommendations for positions and roles
  • Enabling employees, through recommendations, to develop their existing skills or acquire new ones, and ultimately, to develop their employability
  • Increasing employee engagement in training through competency-based recommendations
  • Empowering management and career paths 

In particular, how does the Cornerstone Skills Graph help develop "strategic" skills? 

It’s about not guessing the skills organizations have in place, or to say which ones are the most strategic but to allow organizations to understand the skills their employees have, to expand these skills through suggestions and to put them to good use. For example, if the challenge is to develop AI skills, the Cornerstone Skills Graph will be able to detect existing skills in the organization that are linked to this term, as well as offer training content to people wishing to bolster or develop these skills. Also, Cornerstone can help detect candidates with relevant skills within Cornerstone Recruiting.

As we go through constant and unpredictable change, is it still possible to anticipate and map the skills that will be needed in the medium term?

The Skills Graph focuses on the current situation of a company and how to bring concrete value to it (skill development, job roles, mobility, etc). The skills taxonomy is open and dynamic, it integrates new skills that arrive in the market and therefore highlights work trends. This means the Skills Graph is ever-evolving, identifying emerging skills, and provides a more dynamic solution than repositories used by companies today, which can quickly become obsolete after they’re created. A good thing to remember here are the three Vs of big data: volume, variety and velocity (i.e. speed of changes and evolution). With over 70 million users on the Cornerstone platform and millions of hours of training content consumed every year, we know that the recommendations from the Skills Graph will continually get more effective and targeted.

Is this a new platform? How does it fit into the Cornerstone OnDemand ecosystem? In particular, what are the links with Clustree, whose technology you’ve based this on?

This is not a new platform, the Skills Graph will power all of Cornerstone’s products. The aim is to streamline every HR process with new technological capabilities. This Skills Graph was built on Clustree technology which incorporates more than 5 years of research and development. The acquisition of Clustree has allowed us at Cornerstone to get ahead of the market with a mature technology, a rich skills taxonomy and a team of AI and skills experts.

How does the Cornerstone Skills Graph link to Cornerstone's entire training offering, both the Learning platform and Content catalogue?

Our training offering, including our Content Anytime content, is enhanced by the Skills Graph. The intelligence and insight enable better recommendations on content based on an employee’s profile and aspirations. The Skills Graph automatically labels training content in relation to relevant skills, saving organizations a lot of time spent connecting the dots and matching skills to training to employees. 

How much of a role will AI play in new developments? 

AI plays a central role in these developments because the Skills Graph is an AI engine. These solutions are innovative and require extensive support to really realize its full potential. HR teams have long been interested in these technologies because of the enormous value they can bring. Unfortunately, the term AI can be misused, and many players have products enhanced by big data and data analytics, but actually lack the predictive features that would make it truly powered by AI.

Technology is moving fast, and our engine is part of a new generation of AI-based tools that will prove indispensable to tomorrow’s HR team. The Skills Graph natively integrates AI technology (deep learning algorithm, etc.) into Cornerstone products and answers real needs having been developed by HR experts and data scientists.

Learn more about the Cornerstone Skills Graph here. 

Jeff Miller's picture

It’s Time to Rethink Your L&D Programming

This piece was originally published in Forbes HR Resources Council

The recent uptick in Covid-19 cases is an unwelcome reminder that the pandemic is far from over in many places, but in the United States specifically. Return-to-the-office dates have been pushed back for many, and it seems that the remote work lifestyle is here to stay. As people settle into a more permanent at-home scenario, it's clear just how esoteric learning and teaching methods really are—for everyone.

In schools, when in-person learning methods were upended and replaced with virtual techniques, teachers and students underwent a difficult transition. At work, remote learning and development efforts have been equally as difficult. The shockwave of the shift in L&D programs can be felt across a company. Employees crave learning and personal development: According to Deloitte's 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, workers today rank learning opportunities as one of the top reasons for taking a job. L&D is crucial in retaining employees and preventing disengagement, and yet these budgets are historically some of the first to be downsized during an economic downturn.

Learning as a function of work has never been more important as companies and their employees need to be prepared for a difficult, post-pandemic business environment. What's more, the persistent need to reskill or upskill workforces hasn't gone away — instead, it has become more urgent. Workplaces are changing rapidly, and companies must learn how to match their workers' skills to new roles and activities. And in the midst of uncertainty and new work realities, we need to lean into new approaches to learning that keep employees engaged.

Opportunity Is Key

Earlier in my career, when I was a sixth-grade teacher, I always made homework optional. The idea was that if my students expected to learn something, they'd have to put in the work. I could teach them anything, but I couldn't make them learn anything. I think this same approach should be used at work. Employers cannot force their workers to learn, but it is their responsibility to provide them with the opportunity to do so.

Thankfully, providing opportunities doesn't have to be a laborious or expensive process — a key consideration as budgets are in flux. And now that teams aren't in person, learning should be presented a little differently. Managers can host regular meetings with their direct reports, either over the phone or via videoconference, and can use this time to learn more about their team members' personal and career goals. Using this knowledge, managers make concrete recommendations on how they can pursue these interests on their own (here's the optional homework part). For example, offer to connect them with another employee who has similar goals or past experience in a field that they are looking to pursue. Or direct them toward credible resources or reading materials that are available through your company's LMS, like relevant TED Talks or webinars.

Placing the responsibility to learn on the individuals forces them to decide two things: what they are interested in and how they learn best. Some employees might find they prefer formal learning methods that mimic school classrooms while others might retain more information through experiential teaching methods. A one-size-fits-all approach to learning doesn't exist. Instead, the focus should be on making sure opportunities to learn are always present.

Embrace Unstructured Learning From Afar

Effective learning doesn't only occur in the "teacher delivering information to student" format. And in the current crisis, it's no longer a viable option.

While structured learning methods require instruction and follow specially designed learning programs and curriculums, unstructured learning methods are more free-form. They assume that self-directed knowledge-sharing is constantly happening via person-to-person interactions and conversations.

Back when we worked from physical offices, it was easier to engage in this kind of informal learning. By simply conversing with co-workers in the office, employees could share knowledge. Or, through regular networking events or coffee dates, people could learn through discussions and shared experiences.

But now that teams are disparately located, all of this has changed. In-person conversations have been moved over to video conference calls, Slack or smartphones. This makes it more challenging to encourage unstructured learning, but not impossible: Look for the ways employees seek out human connection and capitalize on them. For example, before a team meeting, ask your employees to listen to a podcast that discusses an ongoing issue in your company's industry, or take a course to understand unconscious bias in the workplace. Then use part of the meeting to discuss everyone's thoughts.

Managers Should Take A Cue From Social Media Influencers

In response to Covid-19's negative and fast-acting effects on today's business landscape, many companies are becoming flatter. They're looking to remove unnecessary red tape and speed up decision-making by making their leadership structures less rigid. When job titles mean less, teams become more nimble and empowered, and therefore can react to change more quickly.

What's more, flattening leadership teams is an effective and less expensive way to boost L&D initiatives. By asking more employees to operate with influence, companies can create more effective learning opportunities. In fact, one study found that the five most influential people in a workforce are able to reach double the amount of people a five-person leadership team can.

Begin by locating internal influencers. These employees demonstrate leadership capabilities or certain skill sets — technical, soft or otherwise — that are lacking from much of a workforce. Companies need to locate these individuals and invest in them: Ask them to mentor up-and-coming employees or set up virtual shadowing sessions where they discuss their job responsibilities and team goals with new hires.

Right now, deciding to invest some time and money into employees' learning is the more difficult decision — but it's overall the better one. By investing in workers' personal development, companies are setting themselves up for a more loyal and engaged workforce that's willing to work through the difficult conditions in the current moment.

Community and Inclusion: What Makes Cornerstone a Top Workplace in the Bay Area

When Cornerstone employees from the Bay Area office had to shift to remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they knew it would be a difficult transition. But it hasn’t stopped this team from maintaining a strong community, leading with purpose or creating an inclusive work environment. In fact, due to this office’s stellar work environment, Cornerstone’s Bay Area office was recently named one of the Top Workplaces in the Bay Area for 2020 by the Bay Area Newsgroup.

Prior to the pandemic, Cornerstone’s Bay Area location offered a wealth of in-office benefits, like free food, espresso machines and ping pong tables. While these perks did help attract and retain talented employees, the Bay Area team knew this alone was not enough to cultivate a culture—and the pandemic has made it clearer than ever that a culture can’t rely on in-office treats. Long before the pandemic shutdowns, Cornerstone focused on creating and maintaining a workplace environment that was inclusive—one in which every employee feels recognized and has a voice. 

Roopa Panuganti, who is one of the leaders of Cornerstone’s global culture club and a client success manager at the company, has played a pivotal role in ensuring that the Bay Area office meets the needs of its employees and creates an inclusive culture with ample support from HR leadership. From celebrating a greater variety of cultural events and listening to employees’ pain points long before COVID, to providing learning resources and fitness stipends to employees during the pandemic, Cornerstone’s Bay Area office has created an inclusive, community-driven and now award-winning work environment.

A Workplace Focused on Inclusivity, Communication and Learning 

To promote inclusivity in the office prior to COVID-19, Roopa and her fellow Bay Area teammates started adding a greater variety of cultural celebrations to their holiday calendars, including Diwali, Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, and MLK Day. These events help in making sure their workplace is more inclusive of different religions, holidays and cultures—especially if done well. 

“For example, at last year’s Diwali celebration, we made sure to serve vegetarian options after learning that many of our employees follow this kind of diet,” said Roopa.  

The success of the Bay Area office can also be attributed to how well they listen to their employees. For example, when the office was located in San Francisco, many employees had long commutes to work every morning. The office surveyed its employees to gauge their interest in moving the office to Dublin, a city in the East Bay, and discovered that a majority were in favor of the move. In response, the office moved to Dublin—cutting down employees’ commute times and improving work-life balance overall. 

The Bay Area office—as well as all of Cornerstone’s global offices—also provides their employees with a wealth of learning and development resources. According to Roopa, these programs are helpful in preparing teams with the skills they will need for the future of work and in fostering connection among teams: 

“By providing our employees with learning opportunities, we are encouraging employees to help and work with one another. By promoting learning, we create a workplace culture that encourages the sharing of knowledge. So, if an employee is struggling with something or has questions, we make sure that managers and other team members are ready and available to help them.”

Staying Focused on Employees During the COVID-19 Crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bay Area office continued to focus on promoting inclusivity, communication and learning. They offered new employee resource groups (ERGs) where newly-remote workers or working parents could virtually congregate to discuss their struggles in working from home or juggling their job and childcare responsibilities. The office also sends out weekly communications from its leadership to report on office opening statuses, provide additional resources and more. 

And, for new employees joining the team during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornerstone set up onboarding support systems across all offices. This was especially helpful earlier this year, when Cornerstone acquired the talent software company, Saba, and hundreds of new employees joined teams spanning corporate functions. 

“The onboarding process after the acquisition was seamless,” said Roopa. “If a new employee had questions or was struggling to learn some of their jobs tasks or tools remotely, there was a buddy system in place to make sure they had someone to go to for help.” 

Cornerstone even provided every office with an online workout subscription and stipends for setting up home offices. The Bay Area team went the extra mile of proactively encouraging members of their team to use it as a way to stay comfortable and healthy during this particularly difficult experience. 

As the reality of day-to-day work continues to change, Cornerstone’s Bay Area office plans to continue iterating upon their inclusive workplace culture and finding new ways to make their employees feel supported, cared for and empowered. 

If you want to learn more about how to realize your potential at Cornerstone and view open positions, visit the Cornerstone Careers website.

Suzanne Lucas's picture

Dear ReWorker: How Can I Support Employees Dealing With Remote Learning?

Dear ReWorker,

I have employees in three different school districts, and each district has different rules for attendance. Because of COVID-19, some of my employees have kids doing 100% remote learning, some are doing hybrid learning and the last school district lets employees choose. We have 200 employees, so we're subject to the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. Do I have to let everyone take paid time off? Should I have to let parents work from home? We've re-opened and we're much more productive in-person, so I’m not sure how to best support parents without jeopardizing our business.


Navigating the New Normal


Dear Navigating,

Who knew that school schedules would play such a key role in running businesses? It turns out we rely on them for childcare as well as education.

You’re right that the Family First Coronavirus Response Act does provide employees the opportunity to take paid time off when childcare isn’t available. There is a limit of 12 weeks of this leave. It went into effect in April, and many employees took advantage of FFCRA time in the spring. But, if they haven’t yet, now may be the time they opt to use it.

It’s no surprise that parents make up a significant portion of your workforce—nationwide, 40% of households have children under 18. And while it’s scary to consider a situation in which all of your employees with children take this leave, it’s crucial that you understand this: they are facing unprecedented challenges during the pandemic and struggling to balance parenting with work productivity. The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but harder on them. These employees have been there for you and your business. Now, you have to be there for them. If you continue to require them to work in-person, you give them no choice but to formally take the FFCRA time off. 

In other words, take a deep breath, and let’s find a solution.

First, the rules:

1. The parents in the school district with 100% remote learning are covered by FFCRA.

2. The parents in the hybrid learning school district can use leave but only on the days that their children are not in school

3. The parents who have a choice in learning style aren’t eligible for FFCRA leave.

Second, the solutions:

Allow Flexible Telecommuting Options

Allow the employees that need to work remotely to telecommute while other employees come into the office if your business depends on in-person work. Depending on the age and independence of the children, some parents may prefer this option because it’ll resolve their childcare issue. In other words, they won’t need to take a full leave. A parent of say, a nine year old, will need to be home to supervise the child and set up their computer for learning, but can still work productively while school is in session. 

Some parents may also be interested in working alternating hours to split childcare duties with their partners. Try to come up with ways to make this work and lean towards saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no.’

Ask Employees for Solutions

Chances are that your employees want to continue to be productive. Ask them what you can do to make work work for them. You may get some creative ideas.

Last but not least, make sure to follow all safety protocols put forth by the CDC and your state health department. The last thing you need is an outbreak in your reopened office. Play your part in keeping your employees healthy, both physically and emotionally. And remember to work with your employees, especially the parents, to find solutions that work for everyone.


Your ReWorker

Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady

For more advice from our ReWorker, check out her column here.

Liggy Webb's picture

Working Towards Mindfitness: The Resilient Mind

When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience

- Jaeda DeWalt

designed text resilient mind

I discovered one of my favourite descriptions of resilience whilst doing some research. It’s an inspiring account of resilience written by a critical care nurse called Sonja M. Schwartzbach:

"And then resilience enters the room, the most elegant of emotional beings; glowing; refined; a reminder that even a flicker of light glows amid the darkness. And we can save our tiny ship of troubles from life’s stormy seas once again." 

Resilience, in many ways, is an elegant, rich and inspiring topic. It is also an essential skill to cultivate, and our ability to be resilient to stress, setbacks, adversity and relentless change depends so much on our inner resources and strength. 

So, what is resilience?

The word resilience derives from the Latin verb resilire, meaning to jump back or to recoil. In physics, resilience is the ability of an elastic material to absorb energy and release that energy as it springs back to its original shape. The recovery that occurs in this phenomenon is akin to a human being’s ability to bounce back after one of life’s various and inevitable challenges. Resilience is essentially the process of adapting and recovering well from adversity, trauma, tragedy or threats. Some people describe resilience as the ability to bend instead of breaking when experiencing pressure or the ability to persevere and adapt when faced with challenges. The same abilities also help us to be more open and willing to take on new opportunities

It is also essential to understand that resilience is not about ‘toughing it out’ to the detriment of our own overall wellbeing. We need to acknowledge that as human beings we will of course have our own unique fragilities and vulnerabilities. Focusing on self-care and building a toolkit of positive and healthy coping mechanisms is one of the best ways to cultivate resilience.

Something else that I have learned about resilience is that the curve balls and challenges that life will inevitably throw at us, perversely, are often the most valuable lessons when it comes to learning about and building our ability to be resilient. As Theodore Roosevelt once remarked, “For those who have had to fight for it, life has truly a flavor the protected shall never know.”

So how do leaders empower resilience?

I love a good parable, and this one is so powerful:

This is the story of a man who finds a butterfly cocoon and, as he has never witnessed the metamorphosis before, he is fascinated to see what happens. This, however, was in the days before the internet and all he has is a large magnifying glass.

As he examines the process, all he can see is the butterfly struggling to push through a tiny hole in the cocoon and it appears to be in discomfort. Seeing this he decides to help it out and gets hold of a pair of scissors and very carefully cuts into the side of the hole to make it bigger. The butterfly then emerges really easily with very little effort and then to the man’s dismay he watches as the butterfly withers away unable to take flight. 

You see, with all the good will in the world, what the man did not realize was that the butterfly's struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. 

Just like the sapling which grows strong from being buffeted by the wind, in life we all need to struggle sometimes to make us stronger.

So, as a leader, you may well be tempted to solve every problem in your team’s path to save time or energy or avoid frustration. However, I would urge you to not get in the way of your team’s journey as they build up a sense of personal responsibility and self-efficacy. Allowing them to learn their own lessons and self-actualize is the key to empowerment.

When you allow people to take responsibility for their own actions, they learn to demonstrate accountability. By being accountable they will ultimately feel more empowered, confident and in control when dealing with setbacks and adversity. It is also liberating to allow your team to acknowledge and understand that they can ultimately create options and choose their responses to every situation.

So instead of jumping in and trying to solve all of your team’s challenges for them, work out how they are feeling about the challenges and focus on building up their confidence. Focus on supporting them to build their own unique resilience toolkit. 

This is how great leaders can best support their teams to be truly empowered and resilient.

On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin

-Gregory S. Williams

For more Mindfit resources, check out Cornerstone Original Learning Series, Empowering Minds with Liggy Webb here. Read about Liggy Webb's "Mindfit" model here, or take a closer look at the next element in the model, a Curious Mind