The Capacity for Influence is Essential

Leadership and management are challenging in today’s business environment. Enter the capacity for influencing. It is an essential part of your toolkit and one that continuously needs to be honed.

Influencing is the ability to affect and or impact the decisions, opinions or thinking of others. This is achieved when you have the demonstrated commitment and trust in others to carry out the proposed activities.

In working with businesses that have varied in size from 40 – 250 people two influencing approaches worked best.

Emotional Influencing. The cornerstone of this approach is developing and maintaining relationships with those that you work for and with.  Ensure your approach connects with the values or goals of team members. Being in service is inherent to the emotional approach.

Cooperative Influencing. Garnering the support of team members relies in part to logic. Cooperation is the other factor thrown into the mix. Cooperative approaches involve all hands-on deck including yours.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Consultant – Change & Transition –


Culture & Transparency

Transparency in culture is a challenge that requires alignment from the executive all the way to casual staff. A blueprint for cultural alignment that is worth sharing follows.

  • Take the time to develop a code of conduct and ethics. Ensure you have input from all levels of the organization when developing the code.
  • Orientation for all employees from the CEO / President to the part time casual staff is mandatory.
  • Ensure employees understand and appreciate that decisions they make and activities they engage in reflect the principles in the code of conduct.
  • Encourage employees to refer to the code when faced with a decision or challenge.
  • Provide a safe and confidential method for employees to voice concerns or areas that may need to be reviewed.
  • Engage a random selection of employees from different divisions or departments to review the code of conduct every 2 – 3 years. Incorporate recommended changes to the code and have all employees re-oriented to the differences.

Transparency is present at every level as is the level of engagement. Employees typically buy in and those who do not leave to pursue other opportunities.

Business Consultant Change & Transition, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Attention Control – A Necessity Today

There are a myriad of areas competing for our attention during the day. Having Smart Phones with us constantly makes it easy for us to be sidetracked onto social media sites for longer than we intended. Speaking from experience I have checked into a social media site and found myself mindlessly scrolling through my feed for the better part of an hour. Becoming aware of that I noticed I felt groggy. My brain was in neutral.

Noticing that I was wasting my time with the mindless diversion allowed me to get back to what was essential in my day.

Now when I find myself scrolling my feed I start to question if this is where my attention needs to be.  Doing that allows me to get back to what is imperative in my day.

Taking these steps and repeating them has brought me to the place of where control of my attention is second nature. The seduction of mindless activity and wasting time on them has lessened significantly.

What rabbit holes of distraction are pervasive in your day? Trying the steps outlined above may give you back your focus and time for what is important to you.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition Specialist


Complacency it Stifles Creativity

This morning – which did you wake up with – a feeling of being ready to go and tackle the list of items to accomplish? Or – taking your time easing into the day where nothing is pressing it is just another weekday with the usual things going on? Like many the latter bites me every so often and I notice that I have given a few hours over to being stuck in a complacency rut.

Being complacent may be a mask for fear. It is surprising the many masks that fears dons especially when you are in the midst of launching a new service or engaging with new clients. Fear stops us from being creative, from taking the steps that need to be taken, and from being courageous enough to launch what you are working on.

Fear has many masks in business. Another form it takes is in putting off doing what needs to be done.  Procrastination is a form of resistance and resistance in turn is a form of fear.

Are you willing to put yourself and your livelihood on the line to face fear directly and take the action you have been avoiding? If not – why not? If yes – the courage for doing so will likely provide you with countless new opportunities and unprecedented rewards.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition Specialist

Power Leaking Behaviors

The following behaviors demonstrate power leaks.

  1. Not asking for help – Asking for help indicates strength, confidence and courage. You create an opportunity to develop another by letting him/her do something for you and attempt to problem solve with you.


  1. Not Speaking Up – People begin to overlook you for career opportunities or project work. Speaking up indicates your engagement in what you are doing.


  1. You don’t ask questions. – When you ask questions, you invite others in and send the message that you value what others think.


When you demonstrate confidence in yourself, and you promote yourself by demonstrating a vested interest in what you are doing.

Marie-Helene Sakowski, Business Change and Transition Specialist,

Is your Business in Need of Revitalization

Are you as an employer, business owner or manager meeting or exceeding your goals?  Are you hitting the high points during the term or year?  Do you have influence over the business, the culture, and the outcomes? If not keep reading.

Most employers and managers would state that they have a strong influence overall within the business they are in.  They would further go on to state they have their ear to the ground and know what is going on.

  • Do you emulate the type of behaviour and culture you want to see around you? Are you a strong proponent for having employee’s views and feedback be a part of your daily operational routines?
  • Are you open to constructive criticism that leads to change?
  • Do you look for ways to improve workplace dynamics and performance?

If you are more of a closed book than a new chapter in the making, what would have you embrace a different style of leadership and a change management dynamic?  A business will change over time.  The question becomes are you ready for revitalizing yours?

Marie-Helene Sakowski –  at

Body Language Impacts Listening Skills

I am constantly reminded of the importance of body language in listening and communications.  Pay attention to what your body is doing to improve your overall communication skills.

  • Leaning Back

Leaning back signals that you are disinterested and day dreamy

  • Slouching

Having your body slouch has the appearance of lethargy or lack of energy.

  • Crossing Your Arms (Or Legs)

Crossing your arms has you appear closed off or unwilling to cooperate. Crossing your legs can be interpreted similarly so be aware if your legs are visible not to sit with crossed legs.

  • Feet Point Away

Your feet point to where you want to go. When someone is listening intently to another person, his or her feet will point towards them.

  • Turning Away

Your body will point to where it is focused. To make a strong impression, move your body slightly to angle toward whoever is speaking during a meeting.

The shifts you make in body language may or may not be noticed consciously. However, making the shifts will have others think you are a great listener. That realization even at an unconscious level is worth the effort of paying attention to your body language.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition Specialist,

Is the Employee Toxic or Not a Fit

Workplaces are where we spend a great deal of our time and energy. Employees that join a company full of talent with the likelihood of being a valued asset may not always live into their full potential.

Every hiring manager has been through a cycle of having made a hire that has not done as well as expected. If that potential star employee is not a fit for the company or organization the chances of that person being labelled as toxic is high.

As the manager it is important to have a transparent and direct conversation with the individual to determine if there is an alignment with values of the company in general. It is also important to ascertain if the individual’s behavior is the result of personal or workplace stressors.

Should the behavior have to do with stress factors – engaging with the employee assistance provider would be in order. Providing training sessions to employees on learning how to identify and manage workplace stressors would also be appropriate.

In the event the employee turns out to be not a fit it may be time to work with the individual to find a more suitable role outside of the company. Doing so demonstrates a caring and compassion.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition Specialist,

Change Management – 30 % Success Rate

The literature on change management success typically states a 30 % success rate. Two main factors play the biggest role in the failure are transparency and the creation of a safe haven for the communication of the good, the bad, and the ugly from employees to those managing and implementing the change.

The tried and true strategies for implementing change – having a change team in place, engaging employees at all levels of the organization, forming a communications strategy, and creating a compelling vision for change are typically in place.

The questions that need to be asked are:

  • Is the communications strategy transparent? For example, are potential lay-off’s and work flow changes addressed?
  • Has the change management process factored in that as people we react from an emotional base first? Is the method of communication designed to appeal solely to the intellect?
  • Has the design and implementation of the initiative provided an opportunity for a safe and repercussion free environment for the employees to share the good, the bad, and the ugly from an emotional perspective?

Transparent communications, and a safe place for employees to express what they are feeling may prove to be a game changer in the change management industry.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition Specialist,