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Best consulting cover letter and resume tips – with examples

Staring at a blank piece of paper can be scary, especially when you know your future depends on what you write and how you write it. After struggling to write about yourself, you have to condense it to highlight one question — How do I represent myself in the best possible light?  Never fear! We at High Bridge are here to help!

There are so many articles on how to write a consulting cover letter and a resume, many with contradictory advice. So how do you decide what to follow when there are so many different voices out there? At High Bridge, the faculty come from ex-MBB backgrounds, and we know what these companies expect and the experience of going through thousands of management consultant or consultant CVs for all the High Bridge applicants.


At our bootcamp, we teach students how to improve their entry-level cover letters and resumes to place them at top companies.

Our blog is a definitive guide on how to improve your application and give yourself the best chance of getting your dream job.

The first section gives you tips on cover letters and the second section focuses on your resume.

To submit an application to one of the leading consulting firms, use the following links:


PART 1: How to write a consulting cover letter

A cover letter tells your story. Which story do you want to tell the recruiter? Here are a few tips to get through the crucial next stage of the job application process.

1) Write Concisely

Your cover letter for a consulting or management consulting job needs to be between 3-5 paragraphs and a page long at the maximum. Recruiters have to skim through thousands of cover letters, so keep it simple.

Take time to read the job description and figure out the main skills your role is looking for. Remember skills and anecdotes you choose to include should best demonstrate your ability to excel at work. Stick to your best selling points!

2) Follow a structure that works

Paragraph 1:

Mention the position you are applying for, the position you currently have, a brief explanation of why you are applying to the consulting firm and position, and finally, a thesis statement to describe what main points you will cover in the rest of your cover letter.

Paragraph 2-3:

Highlight your main skills that fit this job and demonstrate them through examples. 

Think of any “spikes” you have in your resume and focus on highlighting those. A spike is an experience or an accomplishment that sets you apart from everyone else. For example, did you start a successful venture in college or while working? Were you the youngest presenter at a conference? Did you win any case competitions?

In every example, make sure you describe your role, how your actions led to a quantifiable success, and how it connects to the position you are applying for.

Consulting cover letter examples:

“My work as a research assistant overlaps with consulting work wherein there is a question that needs an answer, and one utilizes a systematic method to find the answer. I have been successful in this role as I have worked closely with 4 professors and have co-authored and published three academic papers at international conferences. I have had the privilege of presenting these papers to a room full of professors, where I was the youngest presenter.”

In this example, the writer first explains how her role as a research assistant at university is connected to consulting. Then she shows how her work is a “spike” by listing her accomplishments.


“As president of the Debate Society, my leadership capabilities, and teamwork-oriented mindset helped me build an almost non-existent club to have 20+ members within one semester that topped the charts in the debate league. These results happened because I investigated students’ reasons for not participating and collaborated with other executives to adapt our club structure and formulate an impactful marketing strategy.”

In this example, the writer connects her qualities which match the job description and how they helped her in a situation and led to an accomplishment. Then she explains her process to really show her approach to solving a problem, which is similar to what a consultant needs to do.

Paragraph 4:

Specify why you want to work in this company. Use news stories, conversations with employees, and interesting insights from the company website for this. Remember to be specific. If you can copy-paste your current cover letter, and use it for another firm, then it is not specific enough. 

Finally, be grateful! Thank the recruiter for the opportunity and the chance to apply for this role.

3)    Resume ≠ Cover letter

Don’t repeat your resume twice! Your cover letter provides you a unique opportunity to craft a story of yourself and create a warm connection with the recruiter before the interview.

You may want to take this time to explain topics such as a switch in industry or a low GPA. Emphasize transferable skills if you applied for a role you do not have direct experience in. 

This is the chance to expand on an achievement that you’re proud of!

4)    Personalize it.

Adapt each cover letter to match the company’s values and the particular position you are applying for. It is okay to recycle a few important sentences about yourself. However, make sure to use the same words they mention in the job description and showcase the values the firm puts on their website.

Tip: Use WordClouds and paste the job description to see which words are the biggest: those are the ones they value most.

5)    Yes, you should name drop

If you know people that work in the company, mention them in your cover letter. It shows that you have done your research and know the firm well.

When addressing your cover letter, try staying away from a generic phrase such as “to whomever it may concern”. Instead, do your research to find the name of a recruiter in the office you are applying to. 

Many times, the recruiter’s name is given on the company website, and if not a Google and/or LinkedIn search can help you find that information.  

If you want more tips, why not sign up for our upcoming workshop.  

It is completely free!


PART 2: How to write a consulting resume

A resume condenses all your relevant experiences in the last few years and demonstrates the impact you have made in every position and activity.   

Here are a few tips to improve your resume:

1) Keep it short and simple

A one-page strategic consultant resume format isn’t easy, especially if you have many experiences. Thus, these two steps should help you out:

  • Decide the top roles and firms you want to apply for. Then, only include relevant experiences to the position you are applying for.  It is more than acceptable to have a few versions of your resumes for different industries and positions.
  • Create bullet points that showcase how you created impact and went above and beyond what was expected. Do not fill your resume with a generic job description that anyone else in the same position as you could have.

2) Use strong action verbs and quantify when possible

Action verbs are keywords that resume screeners are looking for, as they showcase your leadership and drive. Use strong action verbs to begin your sentence to have the most impact.

For example, instead of saying “reduced costs by 35%” say “slashed costs by 35%”. In addition to this, using numbers and percentages is the best way to back up your arguments and really show the impact that you’ve had.

3)  Create a smart structure

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about the structure. Every experienced consulting resume should be split out into five different sections: Personal Information, Education, Work Experience, Extra-Curricular Achievements and Additional Skills


Needless to say, this is a crucial step. Typos and spelling mistakes in your resume not only display your lack of attention to detail, but it might also make you seem lazy and uninterested.

You have a lot of time to edit and proofread your resume, and if there are mistakes, the recruiter will wonder about the quality of work you will put in when there are deadlines.

Thus, make sure your design is consistent, your dates are correct, and there are no spelling errors. 

Now that you’re ready, we wish you the best of luck applying!


Management consulting: How to get/give the maximum benefit

Management consultant? A company buying such services? Either way, to achieve the best results, check out the 8 components of success here.

The latest estimate is that globally, companies paid roughly 285 billion U.S. dollars for management consulting services in 2019. Did they all get their money’s worth? An article in the Harvard Business Review suggests that many did not.

The article’s author, Arthur N. Turner has experience in this field as a consultant, as a supervisor to consultants, and as a result of interactions with other consultants. In addition, Turner has done research on what effective consulting actually means.

Turner proposes that the key to a successful management consulting relationship is clarity of purpose. His article gives a framework for achieving this.


How to achieve clarity of purpose

Similar to the idea of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, Turner informs that the successful management consulting partnership is a hierarchy of eight purposes or mini goals. Purpose/Goal #1 forms the base of the pyramid, the starting point, with purpose/goal #8 being the top of the pyramid, the ultimate goal.

To paraphrase Turner’s words, these purposes/goals are:

  1. Making a permanent improvement to the effectiveness of the organization.
  2. Facilitating client learning—in other words, empowering the client with tools for future problem resolution.
  3. Constructing a consensus and commitment around corrective action.
  4. Assisting the client in implementing the recommended solutions.
  5. Recommending as needed based on the diagnosis.
  6. Making a diagnosis—may necessitate redefinition of the problem.
  7. Finding solutions to the client’s problems.
  8. Giving information to the client.

Turner suggests that not all of these purposes are regularly addressed. He states that, in general, purposes 1-4 are considered “legitimate functions.” As a result, most consultants will achieve these goals. Purpose 5 is somewhat controversial, so it is at this point that the chain begins to break down. The last three purposes/goals (6-8) are mostly overlooked for two reasons: many consultants do not address them directly, and clients do not know enough about the management consulting process to ask for them.


Yet, it is these final three purposes which are essential for the management consulting relationship to have maximum benefit.


Turner suggests that the “sophistication and skill” of the parties involved is the main reason these last three vital goals are not usually achieved. In other words, the consultants themselves may not have the expertise, and the clients may not have the knowledge.

In a bid to empower both consultants and clients, Turner’s article then discusses each of these purposes/goals in detail. Each discussion further defines the goal and gives suggestions/tips for how it can be achieved, as well as important cautions for what not to do.


Why is this knowledge important?

An article in the UK Financial Times online reports that more than 60 years on, the conclusion of their 1961 report about effective consultancy still holds: “the best test of a consultant’s worth is their performance.” This conclusion is especially relevant in view of the upheaval taking place in this industry at the moment.

This CEO World website item indicates that management consulting companies which have not innovated and/or evolved are beginning to feel pressure. There appear to be two main, global scale reasons driving this change to the status quo: “the gig economy and the rising popularity of crowdsourcing as a feasible alternative to small and finite groups of professionals.” (source)


The final conclusion?

If you are a management consultant, it would be wise to assess your methodologies, bringing them in line with today’s market needs and expectations.

If you are a company intending to purchase management consultancy, educate yourself as to what you are entitled to and how this can be best achieved.

In both cases, you may wish to read more here.

This is what Gen Y & Z employees want from their workplaces

3 key expectations of Generations Y and Z. Workplaces with these key elements have younger employees who are more satisfied for longer.

John Francis Welch Jr., American business executive, chemical engineer, writer and chairman/CEO of General Electric is quoted as having said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

This article will give you some insights about how to “grow” and develop your Gen Y & Z employees, keeping in mind that generalizations can only be taken so far, since people are individuals after all.

On the same page

Just to make sure you are thinking about the employees we are talking about, here’s a brief definition of both generations. We have given fixed dates for clarity, but some definitions soften the dates to give a slight overlap.

Generation Y (Gen Y, Millennials): People born between 1981—1996. At the time of this writing, the oldest of them are approaching 40.

Generation Z (Gen Z, Centennials): Those born between 1996—2010. Currently, the oldest of this generation are approaching 25.


Here’s a window on three top things these generations are looking for at their workplaces.


Relationship with technology

If Gen Y are digital natives, Gen Z could be seen as human-tech hybrids. In other words, while Gen Y are completely comfortable with technology (having successfully migrated from analogue to digital at a young age), Gen Z have it in their DNA. As a result, both generations are expecting workplaces which embrace all the features a tech-internet world has to offer. One huge example is remote working.

A recent study by Upwork and Inavero showed that Gen Y and Z see remote teams as normal. Of over 1000 managers surveyed, 69 percent of the younger ones have team members who work remotely. This is such a strong trend that according to this study, 73 percent of every team will include remote workers by 2028.

In the workplace

Workplaces which do not currently have a remote work option should actively start developing one now.


Human relationships

Generations Y and Z are “so comfortable with technology, for instance, that they sometimes have a hard time recognizing when a face-to-face conversation is more appropriate than an email exchange or text message” says assistant management professor Stephanie Creary of the Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania, USA) in a recent article.

On the one hand then, these younger generations are looking for workplaces which interact via devices with screens.

Having said that…

An Australian study checked in with 67 university students to assess any differences between remote (online, screen) and face to face (F2F) meetings in an educational setting. The study divided the students into two groups. One group had their classes online (written work, discussions, assessment); the other in a totally F2F way via the traditional classroom setting.

The results were as follows:

  • There was no significant difference in the academic achievements of the two groups.
  • Students strongly preferred that class discussions be face to face. This was due to a greater feeling of engagement and more immediate feedback.
  • Although online written tasks meant more flexibility as far as when the work could be done, the students preferred the classroom setting as it gave them the opportunity to discuss the content with their classmates.

The preference for face to face communication is reflected in workplace data, too, but only for Gen Z. This generation prefers face to face meetings while Gen Y opts for digital interactions (email, text).

In the workplace

Overall, workplaces should provide some physical, human contact even if this is not the first preference of some employees. Having periodic, physical meetings in addition to online conferencing is one place this could happen. Another natural event is face to face performance reviews.


Personal fulfillment

Work-life balance is important (47% for Gen Y and 39% for Gen Z) according to Forbes Magazine. Since 84 percent of Gen Y employees report feeling burned out at work, employers need to make this a priority. It is recommended to check in with your younger employees frequently, getting feedback about how they are really feeling. If needed, offer flex-time or remote working, so they can re-energize.

More than the status quo is what millennial and centennial employees expect. According to Matthew Mottola, Future of Work and On-Demand Talent Program Manager at Microsoft, millennials “expect to architect our careers according to our lifestyle and our passions.”

Passion is a word Gen Z employees use, too. Bruntwood UK describes them as people who “want a job that makes a positive impact on the world around them, with many happy to volunteer for roles if it gives them a better chance of securing a job role they are passionate about.”

In the workplace

The first step towards workplaces offering their younger employees opportunities to fulfill their “missions, visions, and values” is getting to know who they are as individuals. With this knowledge, it will be easier to suggest roles and tasks which meet their needs.

Another keyword in younger employees is “human.” Despite their love of tech, both Gen Y and Gen Z do not want to lose the aspect of humanity in their lifestyles.

Humanity is more than face to face communication. It is about social causes and global impact. Workplaces which support their local communities and/or have world-wide humanitarian projects will make themselves more attractive places in which to work and encourage Generations Y and Z to stay with them longer.

Here are the things you need to know to be a great mentor at your workplace

Anyone can be a great workplace mentor by knowing a few important points and having a solid plan. All the info you need is in this article. 

A great mentor can have an enormous influence on a person’s life. Great mentors enable their mentees to gain greater career satisfaction and achievement. In addition, great mentoring develops and supports a “shared vision of the future.”

Statistics show that in formal business mentoring programs, 84% of mentees are being helped in significant ways such as avoiding costly mistakes and growing into their roles more quickly.

You, too, can be a great mentor. It’s not difficult. You just need to know a few important points and have a solid plan.

Section I—The first mentoring meeting: Clarification

This meeting should result in a clear description of what your mentor-mentee relationship is going to look like. It is recommended to prepare for this meeting in advance by reviewing the following steps and creating your plan.

During the meeting, you will review these points with your mentee, adjusting the plan, when possible, as per your mentee’s ideas and feedback.


Step 1: Define the goals

Make a list. Include information about any known (and most likely to happen) obstacles to achieving those goals, along with possible solutions. Keep in mind that your goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound. It is a good idea to write them down in a shared document which can be updated as time goes on. By their very nature, SMART goals are realistic and success-oriented which is great for both mentor and mentee motivation.


Step 2: Describe the mentorship

Will it be F2F meetings? An e-mentorship? Perhaps a combination of both?

The data shows that e-mentoring is an effective mentoring form as long as “the goals and expectations are clarified at the beginning”—which has been done in the step above. Thus, e-mentoring can be a good option when there is limited time for F2F meetings. Text messages and chats are acceptable for daily communication. It would be unusual for a mentor to meet with their mentee every day. However, a weekly meeting is a very recommended “must.”

Weekly meetings should be one hour long. An hour a week is the recommended minimum which should be spent on a mentee. On a particular week, you may not use all the time planned for, and that is fine. To make sure these meetings happen on a regular basis, set a schedule. Of course, there will be times when meetings must be rescheduled, but having a definite schedule really helps. Add this schedule to your shared document.

Nature Magazine surveyed 6,300 graduate students about mentorship at their educational institution. One of the big reasons that respondents were dissatisfied with their mentorships was a lack of time spent with them by their mentor.

So, making sure these meetings happen should be one of your top priorities.


Step 3: Ask your mentee

Does your mentee have any requests or concerns not touched upon during the two steps above?

Listen openly to each one. Write them down on your shared document. If needed, brainstorm possible solutions or next steps. Add agreed solutions/steps to your shared document. In this first meeting, it is important to create an atmosphere of confidentiality. Your mentee should know that they can tell you anything, and you will keep it confidential, unless your mentee agrees that it can be shared.

This element builds and maintains trust—a key component of a great mentorship.


Section II—Weekly meetings: Structure and content

Whether in person or via a device, your weekly, one-hour meetings should hit the following points, updating your shared document as needed.


Step 1: Goal checking

Review the progress of each goal, noting any new obstacles or challenges. Spend about 10-15 minutes on this part.


Step 2: Give constructive feedback

Great mentors give truthful praise and clear-cut points for improvement. They include specific examples of both the positive and negative, so their mentees understand exactly what is working and what needs changing. Spend about 10-15 minutes on this part.


Step 3: The mentee’s turn

Half of the meeting (that’s right, 30 minutes) should be given for “mentee talk.” Seems like a lot? You should know that a top need of mentees is a mentor who listens, is a sounding board, and is genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Mentee talk is anything on your mentee’s mind. It could be related to the work they are doing for your company or organization, including “personal roadblocks, blindspots, or other concerns.” However, it could be an out-of-work event/situation that they are happy about or struggling with. As your mentee talks, check for clarity every so often to make sure you accurately understand what they are telling you.

Getting to know your mentee as a person is an important key to mentorship success. In the Nature survey (mentioned above), some mentors did not even know their mentee’s name. “He called me by the wrong name in the middle of my PhD,” she says. “That was a low point.” The more you know about your mentee, the better you will be able to adjust your mentoring for maximum achievement.


A last thought…

Ciara, an American musician, is quoted as saying: “As we get older, it’s important for us to help hand back some of what we’ve gained as we’ve grown older. It should be one of your responsibilities.”

And that is what great mentorship is all about. It is a sharing of what you have learned for the benefit of another, done in a genuine, humble way which reveals your mentee’s potential. It is a deep, positive connection with someone else for their good, your good, and the greater good.

As long as you keep it real and committed, you will be a great mentor.

7 ways to leverage the diversity of your team

If diversity is not managed effectively, it will become a disadvantage instead of a benefit. This article gives you seven practical management tips.    

Leveraging diversity can increase your company’s resilience. In other words, your organization will be better able to anticipate/deal with potential threats and cope more effectively with unexpected events. Then, using the knowledge gained from both types of situations, your company can facilitate dynamic, organizational change as needed.

There’s a catch though…your company diversity has to work for you, not against you. For diversity to be a positive tool, it must be valued and well-managed. Here are seven ways to leverage the diversity of your team.


1. Make diversity a priority.

When diversity is a company value and not just a buzzword, employees are more able to embrace it fully, no matter what their personal feelings are. Managers and leaders of diverse teams need to model acceptance of diversity in any form, ie. culture, gender, disability, age, etc. The knock on effect is that no employee feels marginalized, thus promoting the value of all.


2. Acknowledge that bias and prejudice exists.

The most effective strategy for reducing stereotyping and prejudice is admitting that it exists. This leverages your team’s diversity in two important ways. It legitimizes both the negativity which a team member may be receiving as a result of his or her diversity AND the resistance a non-diverse team member may be experiencing when told to “get on board.”

Admitting the problem says: “OK, we’ve got a situation. It is real. We are not interested in fault. We are interested in solutions. It might take a while. We’re committed.”


3. Actively develop connections between team members.

Interactions among diverse individuals present many opportunities for learning. These interactions rarely happen spontaneously because for many people, working in homogeneous groups is a habit. Leverage your team’s diversity by actively connecting team members who might not choose to connect on their own. Working together with diverse others towards mutual goals appears to be the most productive strategy.


4. Make the unknown familiar.

People are more likely to be inclusive when they feel comfortable. A lack of knowledge about another’s culture, religion, ethnicity, etc. may make a person not only uncomfortable but afraid. People who are afraid are not their best selves. Increasing your team’s knowledge about each member will help them see the familiar similarities rather than the scary differences between them.


One idea for increasing your team’s inclusiveness is Diversity Days.

Each time, a different team member presents information about themselves in a creative way. Here are some examples:

  • The employee could bring in several different foods/dishes which reflect their culture.
  • They could talk about their mother tongue, giving some interesting comparisons and contrasts with English.
  • Another idea is to speak about an important holiday in their culture or religion, with lots of visuals and perhaps authentic items.
  • A team member with a disability—perhaps in a wheelchair, for example—could let their teammates have a short, actual experience of navigating the office space from their point of view (that is, in the wheelchair).


5. Teach good listening skills.

Diversity means that different people may communicate things in different ways. This could be due to language differences, cultural habits, or just variations among people.

Increasing communication and minimizing miscommunication will leverage your team’s diversity. The best way to do this is through good listening. As team leader or manager, you can educate your team members with a series of mini-workshops. This material is for teachers, but really, it suits anyone who wants/needs to be a good listener.


6. Celebrate diversity.

No, not a party (although that might be a great idea, too). The point here is to use your team’s diversity to advantage when assigning work. Matching team members with tasks at which they can succeed and advance will celebrate their diversity, reinforcing its benefits for the employee, the team, and the company as a whole.


7. Create an honest feedback loop.

It’s all good…if it is working. The only way you are going to know that for real is if your team trusts you enough to give you honest feedback. So, you are going to need to ask some questions. Questions to ask of diverse others include how well they feel the company is communicating respect and how valued they feel as a diverse employee.

Non-diverse others should give feedback, too. Their questions should ask about how comfortable they feel working with diverse others, what types of inclusiveness challenges they still need to work on, and how they feel the company should be helping with this.


Much of human bias is unintentional.

This does not excuse it; it merely explains the challenge: teaching people awareness—awareness of the words which they use, the preconceived attitudes they have, the judgments and opinions which they are constantly forming.

The seven points above will go a long way in increasing this awareness in your team members, empowering each and every employee, and enabling you to leverage your team’s diversity.

5 things you should look for when hiring an intern

Next level your internship interviews, gaining you better interns currently and increasing the chances of them as future employees.

Obviously, quality internships are of great value to the interns themselves.They get excellent opportunities to “link classroom knowledge with workplace realities”, gaining experience which makes them more valuable when they begin job hunting.

Yet, the host company or organization must spend a good amount of resources on an intern. For example, besides a physical work location, someone must mentor this individual, taking time away from their regular workload.

So, why would a company or organization dedicate resources to an internship?

One huge reason is future employability. Converting an intern into an employee can lower an organization’s recruitment and training costs.

Is this really relevant?

Why, yes! It is estimated that over 50 percent of interns become employees (46.6-58.6%). In order to give your company the best chance of converting your interns to employees, here are 5 things you should look for when hiring an intern.

Before we dive in…

Succeeding at each of these tips means you need to take some time to think about each point before interviewing your interns. Obvious, right, but you might be surprised how many busy managers and entrepreneurs don’t make the time. As a result, they don’t always end up with the best intern match, and they can forget about any future employee potential.

The 5 Things

Existing skillset

What does your potential intern bring to the table, and how well do those skills match your organization?

An intern may be incredibly talented…but in areas which are not relevant for the internship you are offering or even your company as a whole. While you are prepared to spend time on your intern, you should not have to train them from scratch.


Team member

Most likely, your intern is going to be part of a team.

Are they going to fit in/get along with the other team members? Best to take an honest look at the team, noting their plusses and minuses.

Are members supportive or quick to criticize?

What is the team culture, humor, communication style?

Keep in mind that a poor intern-team fit is going to cost your organization time and morale.


Personal goals

Of your intern, that is.

Where do they see themselves after the internship?

What are some of their personal goals and aspirations?

The suggestion is to dig deep here. For example, if their dream job is in a surf-friendly location and your company is high up in snow country, chances are they will not be interested in continuing as your employee. Perhaps your prospective intern has always wanted to create a startup, and their idea is to work for a few years and then go it alone.

Would their “perhaps” few years as your future employee be worth your “for sure” investment in them now as an intern?

Of course, we never know how long an employee will stay at an organization, but knowing up front that it’s only for a short time could be a game changer.


Non-academic stuff

Grades are only one window into who someone is. What else makes up this person? Time to ask questions about who they are outside of school.

Do they volunteer? If so, where and for how long.

Are they responsible for some or all of the care of a person or pet? This can give you some insight into their commitment and self-motivation—good qualities for interns.

Have they been employed anywhere till now? If so, where and for how long. Perhaps their employers can give references.

What about hobbies? Even if they don’t have time for hobbies right now, what did they do in the past?



How gritty is the prospective intern? If you have not ever seen it (or not for a while), spend a worthwhile six minutes watching this TED talk.

Food for thought, right?

It would be a good idea to check the grittiness of this person. You can have them do it online (no need to give any personal information) or download the PDF. Alternatively, you could just slip in some of these questions during the interview, observing their reactions and body language as they answer.


To wrap it up…

Evaluating prospective interns using the above 5 tips can enable a better intern-organization fit. Also, it can increase the probability that you will want to hire them as an employee—and they will accept. If you do get to the employment stage, chances are that their stay with your company will be more productive for longer since you have, essentially, “test-driven” them during their internship.

How to inspire and motivate your team as a transformational leader

What is a transformational leader? How can you become one? “Do them today” actionable steps and tips are just a quick read away.

You are the key to inspiring and motivating your team.

It is called “transformational leadership”. According to the research, transformational leadership includes four components:

  • attention to the individual,
  • inspiration motivation,
  • intellectual stimulation,
  • charisma.

Of all the components, the data shows that “attention to the individual” is the most important.

This is key, whether your team is physically in the office or working from remote locations. Google has roughly 100,000 Googlers, working in more than 150 cities, spread out over 50 or so countries. Google surveyed 5000+ of their workers to measure indicators such as well-being, performance, and connectedness. Their survey results, as well as other research, confirm that employees are inspired and motivated by leaders and managers who really know and care about them.


What does such a relationship look like?

First of all, it is authentic, genuine. You, as manager or team leader, must be truly interested in connecting with your team members. Secondly, it is reciprocal. In other words, in order to get, you are going to have to give. You will need to share your personal information with your team members.

Many team leaders and managers worry that this will make them look “weak” in the eyes of their employees. While it could happen, the overwhelming evidence is that it won’t. Here’s why: for most employees, a weak leader is someone who is afraid. Weak leaders do not ask for feedback, opinions, or ideas. They behave as if they always know the answers. You get the picture, right? So, leaders who genuinely share are very motivating and inspiring—especially when they show that they also have strengths, weaknesses and challenges.

Here is an actionable plan of how to create authentic, caring relationships and then some ideas of how to use those connections to motivate and inspire your team.

Which personal information is needed

Anything that gives an in-depth picture is a good idea. What do your team members’ lives look like outside of the workplace? Ask about personal things such as family, hobbies, challenges/problems, likes/dislikes.

Also, find out work-related things such as when they would prefer to have team meetings (time of day, day of week), how they are feeling at the company, and what their long-term goals are.


Dig deep without overdoing it.

When to get personal information

One opportunity is at the start of a team meeting. In your agenda, build in 15 minutes or so for this purpose. Team members can share what they did over the weekend. However, this might get repetitive…and if there is more than one team meeting per week?

Another option, then, is for team members to answer an interesting question such as “If you were a food, what would you be and why?” There are many lists of conversation starters or ice breakers on the internet. Here is one list to get you started.

It is recommended to also include some one-on-one time. Is there a cafe or casual eatery nearby the office? Invite your employee for a coffee/tea/juice. Spend about half an hour chatting about yourselves.

You may wish to make a few notes about each team member, so you will have some “memory-joggers” at hand as needed for authentic, follow-up engagement. Simple Sticky Notes is a free phone app that would be perfect for this purpose.

Authentic, follow-up engagement

Without going overboard, continue the conversation. At work stations, in the kitchen getting a drink, at the photocopier, say things such as:

  • “So, Dave, how’s that cooking course going? What techniques did you learn last week?”
  • “Hi Sarah. Is your dad feeling better? Do you need some flex time to deal with anything for him?
  • “James, I got interested when you said you had started playing basketball again after so many years. Last weekend, I had a game with some of my buddies. It was fun, but boy, was I sore the next day.”

Use the information in a compassionate, caring way. For example, try to schedule team meetings on days and at times that best suit your team.

If you know that team members have important, recurring events right after work (attending classes, picking up children up from childcare, catching infrequent trains or buses, etc.), don’t schedule team meetings for late in the day when they might run overtime. If it is unavoidable, give advance notice, so that team members can make any necessary arrangements.

If you can’t accommodate everyone, then a rotating meeting schedule is a great idea. In this way, everyone is inconvenienced equally and not too often.

Anyone can be a transformational leader, inspiring and motivating their team(s).

Transformational leaders cause positive change in people by forming genuine, authentic, two-way relationships with their team members, including an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and being attentive to their needs. The knock-on effect is teams that are inspired and motivated, leading to valuable changes in systems and organizations.

How employee happiness can increase company success

The happiness of your employees has a direct influence on your company’s profits. These 10 facts will give you lots of material for improvement.

Time and time again, successful businesses prove that happy employees are a main factor in happy customers.

Besides being ‘nice’ for employees, their happiness is very nice for the company since it  translates to an improved bottom line.

So, how can managers and entrepreneurs increase employee happiness?


These 10 facts will give you lots to work with.


1. Happy employees are measurably more productive.

By how much? The data shows that it can be as much as 13 percent. The happiness-productivity relationship has been quite a popular theory. This UK study gives the first ‘hard evidence’ to show that it is correct. Besides work-related factors, the study also found a ‘local weather-happiness connection’: bad local weather decreased employee happiness.

Is it time to consider a sunlight alternative in the office?


2. Employee happiness can increase sales.

Studies consistently show that employee happiness has a direct result on sales. The group studied (workers at British Telecom’s contact centers) worked more quickly and—more significantly—converted more of their sales calls. Due to the fact that happy employees are more engaged and productive, sales can rise as much as 37 percent. In addition, employee happiness decreases turnover. Basically, ‘two for the price of one’ to increase the company bottom line.


3. Managers have an up to 70% effect on employee engagement.

Polls in both the U.S. and the U.K. show that managers have game-changing power with regard to employee happiness. Significantly, this is a well-established fact. For example, the U.S. poll (Gallup, 2015) has found consistent results over 15 years (from 2000 when Gallup first started to measure workplace engagement).


4. Hedonistic workplace experiences = short-lived employee happiness.

Hedonism: a feeling of pleasure and happiness from the external world

Hedonistic examples at work include appreciation for a job well done, company vouchers for spa treatments/dinners/fitness clubs, and casual (or dress down) Fridays. While these things are a necessary part of employee happiness, they get old soon and need to be part of a bigger picture.


5. Eudaimonic well-being = long-term employee happiness.

Eudaimonia: an inner feeling that your life develops your personal strengths and contributes to the greater good.

Research appears to show that the day-to-day eudaimonic experiences of employees are better predictors of their workplace performances. The latest research describes eudaimonic workplace well-being as a synthesis of two main factors:


Interpersonal situationIntrapersonal needs
Quality relationships with others in the workplace (co-workers, management, customers, etc.) based on positive social acceptance and social integration.



The work itself satisfies the employee’s needs for value and meaningfulness at work. It also gives the employee opportunities for autonomy/independence as well as personal growth and development.


6. Managers can directly increase their employees’ eudaimonic workplace experiences.

Here is a short list of examples:

  • Focus on employee productivity and freedom instead of micromanaging.
  • Consult with employees about modifications to work/projects.
  • Encourage employee autonomy/independence—what can they contribute?
  • Give meaningful rationales for tasks.
  • Support employees—work on office/company morale; keep an eye out for destructive workplace personalities.
  • Provide opportunities for personal growth and development—challenging tasks; workshops and other education; promotions; etc.
  • Cultivate an office/company culture that believes company success is due to the developing abilities, professional attitudes, and valuable hard work of its employees.


7. The work-life balance affects employee happiness.

According to the data, workplace stress can literally make employees sick. One study estimated that in the U.S., 8 percent of the money spent on health care was related to the effects of stress. Worse, this same study estimated that stress is responsible for 120,000 deaths each year. Companies which support an optimal work-life balance for their employees can improve their profitability.


8. Workplace happiness is a personal perception.

Two co-workers can work for the same manager, on the same project, in the same roles. One will feel happy; the other will not. Personal happiness is an idea we each have based on factors such as the generation we are a part of, our cultural values, role models who have influenced us, and our current wants and needs (which change over time). Effective managers spend time getting to know their employees’ perceptions of happiness.


9. The new CEO = Chief Eudaimonia Officer.

A software company CEO, Matthew Gonnering has redefined his role. He now practices ethical decision-making at work by incorporating eudaimonia into his thinking. Gonnering believes that “businesses should encourage well-being across several dimensions.” One example of his encouragement is to include people with developmental challenges as part of his team.

Gonnering feels that this 5 percent of his staff has caused the empathy, compassion, and gratitude of his other employees to develop. He believes that improvement in these skills have translated to a “better ability to create marketing technology.”


10. Futurists suggest that employee well-being and happiness is a must rather than a ‘nice to have.’

Increasing AI means that employees are going to have to be more multi-skilled, creative, and complex than before. This could lead to increased employee stress and/or burnout. Add in globalization which offers employees a wider choice of job opportunities. In other words, it’s more of a ‘buyer’s’ (employees) market. The big picture indicates that companies need to prioritize employee well-being and happiness.



It is true that attention to employee happiness may force a big change in your company’s culture and practices.

Yet, the overwhelming evidence shows that companies which do not take employee happiness seriously may find themselves out of business in the not so long run.