Balance: Not just for yoga

We need to take control and responsibility for the kind of lives we want to lead. If you don’t design your life someone else will design it for you and you may not like their idea of balance.
— Nigel Marsh

How is your May going?  As I think about that question personally, I realize that year after year, the month of May has always been busy for me.  Whether its kids wrapping up the school year and starting summer programs, graduation festivities, planning weekend getaways, backyard BBQs or getting out into the yard that I’ve abandoned over the winter, it seems that the weekend is never long enough to get everything done that’s on the list.  This May is no different.  In my work as a coach, I often encounter leaders who are struggling with stress in their life.  This month I realized that I needed to look myself in the mirror and remind myself of some strategies that I often share with leaders.  I needed to find some balance.    

When stress manages us.

  • People lacking this competency tend to view stress as external events; they don’t realize that stress is our reaction to external events.  They are unable to concentrate, become forgetful, can’t think clearly.  They tend to worry about the future.  They have a low frustration tolerance and engage in unpredictable, sometimes explosive, abusive or self-defeating behavior

Gain your balance back.

  • Recognize that stress is a part of daily life and think of it as a chance to grow
  • Become aware – in the moment - of your own reactions to stress and choose a healthier response
  • Expect change; learn to anticipate and tolerate uncertaintyFind a relaxation technique that works for you and practice it regularly (i.e., deep breathing, meditation, relaxation tapes, listen to music, take a walk, take up yoga, take up a hobby, read a book or see a movie to get your mind off things, get a massage, exercise, do Reiki or Tai Chi, visualize a happy, stress-free time and make a genuine attempt to re-activate those feelings of relaxation and no stress)
  • Develop assertive behaviors, speak up on your own behalf, there’s no need to accept abusive or bullying behavior
  • Be healthy. Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet daily-eating a healthy diet makes you better prepared to cope with stress; Get enough sleep; Sweat the stress out through exercise (take a run or walk, stretch, do yoga, lift weights)
  • Talk with a good friend about your worries/problems and find other ways to connect with others (share your feelings
  • Budget your time wisely. Leave enough time to get to your destination (the airport, your next meeting) so you aren’t feeling stressed while getting there
  • Plan ahead, avoid procrastination, set boundaries on your time and insist that others honor them
  • Set realistic goals, prioritize, do your best and let it go at that
  • Try not to control the uncontrollable; assume control only over what’s within your control
  • Stop blaming yourself
  • Focus on the positive and the good
  • Pare down your “to-do” list
  • Practice assertiveness and boundary setting (learn to say “no”)
  • Keep your sense of humor
  • HeartMath Techniques (

A big factor is really making time for fun and relaxation. Take a hot bath, get a massage, play with a pet, work in your garden, curl up with a good book, write in your journal, watch a comedy, and spend time in nature.

 Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury – only you can take care of yourself – no one else can do this for you.

Other ideas? What’s your go to stress buster technique?  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear your suggestions!

How to make work-life balance work

In this 10-minute Ted Talk, famed photographer and author Nigel Marsh provides a humorous look at an ideal day balanced between family time, personal time and productivity -- and offers some stirring encouragement to make it happen.  I found the video empowering and incredibly inspiring, not only for me personally, but for the possibility of changing our value about success as a society.


Coaching helps individuals remove road blocks and become better, more effective leaders. In doing so, they wield more influence in their business, maximize their contribution and add more value. Ultimately this translates into increased profits, growing the business and broader career opportunities.

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When you have balance in your life, work becomes an entirely different experience. There is a passion that moves you to a whole new level of fulfillment and gratitude, and that’s when you can do your best...for yourself and for others.
— Cara Delevinge

Freedom to be yourself

Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe.
— Susan Cain

As a professional who lives in the world of self-awareness and assessments, I love talking about personality and behavioral styles.  Often, we hear people talking about introversion and extroversion.  This comes from the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or commonly known as MBTI.  Recently I became aware of Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.  As a slight introvert myself, I found the title not only intriguing, but also something I could relate to. Introverts are what’s called “highly sensitive”, meaning they take in the information given to them, via stimuli from their environment, a lot more thoroughly than their extrovert peers. 

Introversion is not shyness.

It’s about where our energy comes from.  Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. Introverts are typically perceived as more reserved or reflective.  They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, using computers, hiking and fishing. How do you respond to stimulation? 

We see talkers as leaders.

When it comes to leadership, many introverts are subjected to bias without even realizing it.  We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types even though grade-point averages and SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate.  The more a person talks, the more other group members direct their attention to him, which means that he becomes increasingly powerful as a meeting goes on.  We dramatically undervalue introverts and Cain shows how much we lose in doing so. They are routinely passed over for promotion.  Often, we favor the “man” of action vs. the “man” of contemplation.   


Introverts are good leaders. 

Introverts are uniquely good at leading initiative-takers.  Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions. 

When collaboration kills creativity.

Personally, I believe we need balance; a blend of both types. However, remarkably workplaces are designed for extraversion’s need for lots of stimulation.  Consider that many work in open spaces without walls.  We seem to think that Groupthink elevates teamwork above all else.  It insists that creativity and intellectual achievement come from a gregarious place.  Organizations should consider options for introverts to make their best contribution.

Allowing introverts to spend time alone, vs. participating in large group activities and meetings can produce better results.  Studies have shown that performance gets worse as group size increases:  groups of 9 generate fewer and poorer ideas compared to groups of 6, which do worse than groups of 4.  If you have a great introverted thinker on your team, don’t force them into an extroverted world.  Ask them what works best for them and then honor that decision.  Give them the freedom to be themselves.   

Want to bring Myers Briggs Type Indicator into your organization?
Click here to schedule a free consultation.

Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.
— Anaïs Nin

A Coaching Approach to Leadership

In the end, it’s about the teaching… Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.
— John Wooden (Legendary College Basketball Coach)

A Coaching Approach to Leadership

Colorado’s unemployment is hovering around 3% and it is lower in many of the cities around town.  This is a tough economic environment for employers hoping to find talent in the market place and it makes it vitally essential to keep the talent you have.

I am still hearing from many employers that turnover is an issue for them. They are losing out to the competition or to another company paying a tad more. With 2 out of 3 employees rating their leader as below average and 75% saying they would entertain a call from a recruiter or are looking for something better, its time to take notice!

How are your leaders doing? What are the results of your most recent engagement survey? Do you have teams that would be more engaged and productive if their leader had stronger coaching skills?

Out with the Old

The old command and control style is no longer working.  Telling people what to do cheats them out of:

  • Learning 
  • Feeling ownership
  • Feeling valued
  • Building confidence
  • Using their ideas
  • Being motivated

Coaching Confusion

When I talk to individuals about coaching I sometimes hear an unfounded belief that coaching takes too much time and doesn’t get any results.  Coaching IS about:

  • Action and Results
  • Focus on people AND task
  • Collaborative behavior
  • Supporting others to success
  • Relationships based on trust
  • Development
  • Possibility and potential
  • Empowering others
  • Generating Ideas and solutions
  • Motivating and fulfilling
  • Creating sustainable performance

Here are some basic coaching skills to try:

  • Listen beyond the words to the needs, wants and motivations of your team
  • Use powerful questions to engage thinking and generate ideas
  • Choose appropriate style according to the needs of different situations

Behavior Matters

Staff today are independent and want challenge. They want to feel heard and know that their opinions count. They want their leaders to relate with empathy, understanding and encouragement. They not only want to better themselves but also get along better with others.  A coaching approach does both. Leadership behavior is a critical component in the ROI your company receives on your talent. What precedes results is behavior. Behavior matters.

I worry that business leaders are more interested in material gain than they are in having the patience to build up a strong organization, and a strong organization starts with caring for their people.
— John Wooden

Trust is Essential

Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.
— Patrick Lencioni

Most organizations believe that their product, technology, service, or strategy is what sets them apart from the competition. NY Times bestselling author, Patrick Lencioni, believes that while those things are important, when an organization focuses on getting people working together on productive, cohesive teams, they will accomplish great things, and that teamwork may be an organization’s ultimate competitive advantage. Getting people to work together as a cohesive team is simple, but takes hard work, and it will pay off.

Think about the last time you were part of a dysfunctional team.  What did it feel like? I bet it had finger pointing, unhealthy competition, poor results, few opportunities to learn, or the blame game.  We’ve all been there, and it doesn’t feel good. 

When you give your teams the tools to work through issues that every organization faces, you set them up for success; you reduce turnover and you can directly impact your organization, your team, and yourself in a good way.

The first and foundational behavior of cohesive teams is vulnerability-based trust.  That means being vulnerable with one other.   It’s about being genuinely transparent and honest with one another, so you can admit your mistakes and weaknesses.  It’s being able to say things like “hey, I need help” or “I struggle in this area”, or “I’m sorry.”  Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental and emotional level. They are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears and behaviors. They can ask for help when they need it.  84% of people say that coworkers who admit their mistakes makes you trust them more. 

One of the ways you can build trust on your teams is to get to know one another better.  You spend 8-9 hours a day with your colleagues, but often struggle to find a genuine connection or understanding of them.

In the Five Behaviors program we suggest an activity called the personal histories exercise. This is an excellent way to get to know one another a little better and provide your team with a low-risk opportunity to practice vulnerability. You ask team members to share answers to 3 questions:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • How many siblings did you have and where do you fall in the sibling order?
  • What was an important or unique challenge of your childhood? How did that impact your professional life?

The leader should go first in answering the questions as she will set the tone for others by being vulnerable herself.  I’ve experienced the power of this simple exercise.  It’s so interesting to me how having more information about someone generates a deeper understanding of why they are who they are and how you might work better with them.

Trust is a feeling.  It’s a feeling of safety.  It’s the feeling of I know you have my back and that you will watch out for me.  As a leader it’s our responsibility to set the tone for safety and trust in our teams and our organizations.

On your next coffee break, take 10 minutes to listen to Simon Sinek talk about why good leaders make us feel safe.  It will give you something to think about the rest of the day.

Leadership is a choice. It is not a position.
— Stephen Covey

Start with self-awareness

Self awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.
— Debbie Ford

Great Leaders Start with Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is one of the most important aptitudes required to make the transition from good leadership into great. 

Interestingly, self-awareness can also impact a company’s bottom line, according to this research by the Korn Ferry Institute, “Companies with higher rates of return on stock also have employees with fewer personal blind spots.”

Despite the need for self-awareness, it seems to be in short supply among many leaders.   According to the Hay Group Research, 19 percent of women executives interviewed exhibited self-awareness as compared to 4 percent of their male counterparts.   

Do you need a new approach to increasing self-awareness?

Gaining a new perspective on your old behaviors can reap great dividends for your organization and your career trajectory.  It can also help you reduce turnover costs as your new employees will be more engaged with increased leadership strength.  Here are 5 ways you can increase your self-awareness:

  • Gather feedback from trusted sources or take a 360▫ Assessment.  I’ve used these for years within organizations and I have really seen it make a difference!  I’m happy to share my favorites with you.
  • Take a personality or behavioral assessment like Everything DiSC, Myers Briggs or Strengths Finder.  If you’ve never done this it will really open your eyes to your style and what you naturally bring to the table. 
  • Build Emotional Self-Awareness- As you come to comprehend your own emotions and behavior, you increase your understanding for what drives the actions of those around you. With this knowledge, you can improve your relationships, and above all, your happiness.  A good emotional “vocabulary” and steady self-reflection helps us become more conscious of our emotions.  Let me know if you need ideas on how to do this.  I can share some additional tips.
  • Know Yourself- Do an assessment of your values.  Become clear on what you stand for.  Use this tool to get started.
  • Get executive coaching.  A good coach will give you her observations and insights from working with you.  They are not afraid to tell you that you have “spinach in your teeth”, all in the name of helping you. 

DiSC Certification Online
March 09 – March 30, 2018
Live session each Friday from 1:00 – 2:30pm MST

DiSC Certification In-person
March 27 – March 28, 2018

Shift your organization

In The Edge last time I discussed the value of creating a culture of learning and its importance to your business. This time I’d like to share how to go about doing that in your organization.

How Do You Get Started?

Shifting the organization to create a culture of learning is easy to talk about but can be hard to implement.  Below are 8 tips you can use to begin to shift your culture towards learning.

  1. Make learning part of the organization’s strategic success. Integrate learning with talent management in support of capability development.  Perform a talent SWOT with your senior leaders and tie it to your strategic plan then cascade learning down into the business.  Repeat this process annually and monitor results for continuous improvement.
  2. Make a belief in learning a part of the organization’s culture of leadership. Use leadership development programs to encourage leaders and management to take ownership of the learning culture.
  3. Ensure your learning development programs encourage leaders to take ownership of learning culture:
    • Get their buy-in on what’s being offered
    • Have leadership emphasize learning as an important activity
    • Influence them to invest time, money and resources
    • Have leadership participate in their own learning
  4. For a learning culture to be ingrained, it should be mandatory for all individuals in the organization.  Training and development plans that are not formalized run the risk of not being taken seriously and as a result not implemented.  Reinforce with employees that the company provides learning opportunities but the learning is up to them.  It’s ok to make certain aspects mandatory to shape the culture AND empower employees to take charge of their own learning.
  5. Make knowledge sharing an organizational habit. Institutionalize knowledge sharing by incorporating incentives and opportunities into every learning and performance management process.
  6. Develop knowledge and information sharing into a formal process.  People will be more encouraged to share knowledge and information if they are required to do it.  Formalizing the process makes sure that everyone who needs the information gets it. 
  7. Create formal mentoring, shadowing, and buddy programs.
  8. Offer vibrant and accessible learning events for every level of employee.

Shifting the culture of an organization is not for the faint of heart. It can take months and even years to get it to where you want it to be. The long term pay off however, can make the difference in the profitability and competitiveness of the business.


Create a culture of learning

Do you have a culture that fosters learning and ultimately transforms the organization? Is your culture neglected and left on its own, which can breed conformity and stagnation?

Organizations not focused on learning experience high turnover, struggle to keep customers, and ultimately fall behind competitors. They may be profitable in the short term but ultimately fail.

Organizations with sustained learning practices thrive. They understand the connection between cultivating talent and growing a business.

What is culture? 

It’s like the air we breathe—it’s all around us yet very hard to see. You notice it when you go from one company to the next. 

It’s made up of all of the policies, practices, and values demonstrated. It’s how we behave and even more so, what people get away with.

Culture is hard, not soft. It’s not a ‘touchy feely’ thing—but rather an important set of behaviors and processes which impact your organization’s success.

What do your leaders do when something fails for example? How do they treat people who deliver bad news? How well are decisions delegated to owners of a problem?

The answer to these questions and others will vary from company to company and shows a difference in organizational culture. These critical questions which deal with culture, and their answers, often mean success or failure for many business initiatives.

What is a culture of learning?

A set of organizational values, conventions, processes, and practices that encourage individuals to increase knowledge, competence, and performance.

Why does this matter?

According to a study by Bersin & Associates, titled “High-Impact Learning Culture: The Best 40 Best Practices for Creating an Empowered Enterprise” Organizations that have a strong learning foundation in place tend to significantly outperform their peers in several areas:

  • They are 32 percent more likely to be first to market.
  • They have 37 percent greater employee productivity.
  • They have a 34 percent better response to customer needs.
  • They have a 26 percent greater ability to deliver quality products.
  • They are 58 percent more likely to have skills to meet future demand.
  • They are 17 percent more likely to be market share leader. 

In addition to this study there are others that also point to statistically significant relationships between learning organization behaviors and performance measures.

A learning culture is very business-relevant and not at all academic. “Learning Culture” is what enables BP, Toyota, Microsoft, IBM to identify the problems in their products and fix them quickly.

It’s what enable Cisco and Goodland and Apple to ‘out innovate’ their competitors. It’s what enables Walmart, UPS and Dell to drive down costs and maintain service quality. 

It’s what enables ING Direct, Zappos, and Starbucks to grow at rates 10-100X their competitors. And it’s what prevented Digital Equipment Company, Tandem, Apjollog Computre and Silocon graphics, Kodak and hundreds of other defunct companies from embracing change in their markets and evolving their products. 

This topic is important! It means life or death for many organizations.

How do I know if my company is a learning organization?

There are several ways you can begin to assess whether your organization stands in becoming a learning organization.

First, you can begin by asking some key questions. I’ve given you a head start in this document. Use this tool to self-assess your culture.

Once you have evaluated your answers, pass this survey on to other leaders in your business and use it as an aid to begin dialoguing with each other to see how aligned you are. Discuss how your results vary from theirs and where they are similar. Conduct focus groups with employees or customers.  See how leadership’s view vary. Strategize at a retreat, business planning session or at staff meetings.

Once you know where your opportunities are as an organization, you can begin making necessary changes to transform your organization. This is not an overnight process, but takes steady, focused, long term effort.

A New Day Dawns

Earlier this month the Golden Globes honored Oprah with the Cecil B Demille award and she gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation.  Social media sites started lighting up the internet showing the video.  If you haven’t watched I would encourage you to take 10 minutes to listen to it here. Even if you did listen to it, spending 10 minutes again can be uplifting and heartening.

I found her to be an inspiring and poignant example of leadership. She talks about conflict that is decades old that still continues on today. Yet despite the challenges that lay ahead, she provides incredible hope that change is on the horizon.

She has a strong vision for us. We are thirsting for this kind of leadership in our organizations and in the world we live in today. She elevates, is aspirational, has a can do attitude and is so incredibly optimistic.  She provides confidence that we can change! The end of her speech is here:

 …a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “me too” again. 

As 2018 takes off and we begin implementing our goals for the year, I encourage you to take your leadership to the next level.  Invest in yourself and your team this year. Read a book, take some training, spend time reflecting on the kind of leader you would like to become and most of all, be intentional in how you lead. 

Upcoming Workshop

Everything DiSC Productive Conflict
February 21st
8:30am – 10:30am
Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel
Denver, CO

If you are looking for a fun way to bring more communication and cohesiveness to your organization, I welcome you to join me at the upcoming Wiley showcase to learn about Everything DiSC Productive Conflict, the newest addition to the Everything DiSC solutions suite.

The Everything DiSC Productive Conflict showcase provides an interactive and engaging presentation, giving participants insights on how to effectively respond to the uncomfortable and inevitable challenges of workplace conflict.

Registration includes:

  • Breakfast
  • A complimentary Everything DiSC Productive Conflict assessment
  • Self-parking

As a valued member of the Aspen Edge community, I am happy to cover the registration fee for you. Spaces fill up fast, so contact me today to register. I look forward to having you as my guest the showcase!

Making the Right Move into Management

Congratulations!  You have just promoted some excellent talent into supervisory roles.  Maybe they had great sales skills.  Or perhaps she is technically brilliant.  Or maybe he has been with the company for some time and is reliable and productive.  Whatever the case, it’s highly likely that whatever fueled their ascent is likely not enough to ensure their success as a new leader.  To be a good or even great manager, they will need to shift their focus and acquire a whole new set of skills. It's a bit like trying to become a golf pro, after being a great basketball player for years. Their strong athleticism will help, but they need new equipment, skills and strategies. Managers need to accomplish company goals through people.  They facilitate the process that keeps the business operating.  Because of the function of front-line leaders and the major role they play, it is obvious that good leaders are the key to the success of any organization. Many of the leader's daily decisions affect profits, attitudes and morale. With a role and a function of this magnitude, it would seem logical that the process of becoming a supervisor would require years of training. However, if your company is like many I work with, most supervisors have had little or no training in supervisory skills.  Investing in consistent supervisory learning and development will save money in the future and improve work quality, professional development and job satisfaction throughout all levels of your organization.

Here are some best practices common skills and knowledge your new leaders and rising talent need:

  1. Essential people management skills such as managing performance, providing feedback, coaching, delegation, and developing others
  2. A common organizational approach and alignment to developing this group of rising stars
  3. Practical tools and resources to support their day to day management skills
  4. Ability to establish clear expectations and hold people accountable
  5. Confidence in their management abilities, especially in challenging situations.

6 Signs You Might Be A Talent Hoarder

Are you a talent hoarder? You might be if you’re doing any of the following:

  1. Keeping your top performers in their current role
  2. Not providing career planning or development
  3. Not having a written succession plan for each of your team members
  4. Can’t remember the last time you initiated a conversation about career growth with your direct report
  5. Tried keeping a valued employee who has given notice via sweetening the pot by extending a counter-offer, when you know in your heart it’s time for them to move on
  6. Forgoing training opportunities for your team because they’re too busy to attend

According to a study by Aberdeen, talent hoarding is a growing issue and is an impediment for a lot of employers who need to create a mobile workforce.  50% of managers admit to keeping the best employees in their current roles.  Developing a talent succession program is the best remedy for hoarding, but most companies aren’t taking the right steps.

40% of organizations say they rarely or never provide career planning and development

85% of organization say they fail to demonstrate key behaviors linked to effective talent agility.

Why should you care?

Retention Suffers

  • 45% of employees who changed companies in 2014 and 2015 said they left because they didn’t have advancement opportunities.

Performance declines

  • High performance companies are twice as likely to prioritize talent movement, where as low performance companies are 2.5 times more likely to say talent mobility doesn’t matter.

Here’s the irony of releasing yourself from hoarding talent: when you let go, you get more talent. Why? Because you’ll gain a reputation of being a talent cultivator and you’ll attract the top talent. The best and the brightest will want to work for you, and you’ll not have to worry about what to do when your star player leaves for a new opportunity because you’ll already have a plan for bringing in or promoting additional talent. This becomes a self-sustaining practice – the more you help others grow, the more you attract other talented people.

Are Your Employees Your Greatest Asset?

When I ask this question most leaders and CEOs vehemently agree yes to this question.  They are the life force to our customers, essential to producing and delivering our products or services and are the face of the organization to the public. However, my next questions: “What are you doing to develop and retain them?” and “What investment are you making to develop your leaders?” often elicits a deadening sound of silence.  Or sometimes I get an answer that mentions half-hearted training efforts with no rhyme or reason as to why they are doing them.  It usually is not consistent throughout the organization, which would encourage true behavior change.  Nor is it tied to their strategic objectives or what they hope to accomplish as an organization, so it is not valued by top leadership. According to Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace report, only 22% of U.S. employees strongly agree that their company's leaders have a clear direction for their organization. And only 13% strongly agree that their organization's leadership communicates effectively.  This has helped lead to the disheartening metric of only 33% of American workers surveyed being engaged.

Many organizations ascribe to the method of “trial by fire” leadership training or “one and done” single day training events.  It’s no wonder that many companies say that turnover is their number one challenge.  We know from the research than employees, more often than not, leave their boss before leaving their company.

Stand out from the crowd and become an employer of choice!  If you really want to make a difference to your customers, your team and ultimately to the bottom line, then think about doing something more than just talking about how important your employees are.  Advance your talent through development opportunities.  Prove that you value them!  Invest in your leaders (Coaching Skills Development) so that they have the tools they need to inspire, create innovative cultures and coach your employees to greater heights.

Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team

The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™  is an assessment-based learning experience that helps individuals and organizations reveal what it takes to build a truly cohesive and effective team in the most approachable, competent and effective way possible.  Powered by Everything DiSC®, the profiles help participants understand their own DiSC® styles. Bringing together everyone’s personalities and preferences to form a cohesive, productive team takes work, but the payoff can be huge — for individuals, the team, and the organization. The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program helps teams understand how, as a team, they score on the key components of The Five Behaviors model:

  • Trust
  • Conflict
  • Commitment
  • Accountability
  • Results Each individual on the team will also understand their own personality style and their team members’ styles, based on the DiSC® model: D: Dominance, i: Influence, S: Steadiness, and C: Conscientiousness, and how their style contributes to the team’s overall success. The program is designed exclusively for intact teams and work groups. The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team harnesses the power of Everything DiSC® and the clarity and simplicity of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team™ model.

The Five Behaviors Model is used to help team members learn to work together more efficiently and effectively and become a more cohesive team. A productive, high-functioning team:

  • Makes better, faster decisions
  • Taps into the skills and opinions of all members
  • Avoids wasting time and energy on politics, confusion, and destructive conflict
  • Avoids wasting time talking about the wrong issues and revisiting the same topics over and over again because of a lack of buy-in
  • Creates a competitive advantage
  • Is more fun to be on!

7 Tips on Creating a Culture to Drool Over

Trying to create a winning business culture?  It might not be as complicated as you think.  Much has been written on the value of a great work culture and how it can support the goals of the business and maximize profitability.  Companies that have bought into this are Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Google, and Edward Jones.  They seem to be on the ‘best of’ lists all the time.  It can be a significant differentiator from your competition and can create a competitive advantage for your company.  Who wouldn’t want to work for a company named on Fortune 100’s best companies list?  Imagine how much easier it would be to recruit and retain the best and the brightest talent.  Yet it’s amazing how many businesses fail to make the long term investment needed to achieve this success.  Many focus instead on slick marketing campaigns, reducing expenses such as rightsizing, implementing new technology and spending a wealth of resources on any of these and more.  According to Steven Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People this is focusing on what’s urgent rather than what’s important.  There is no harm in the short term, but in the long term, this is just firefighting and not getting to the crux of what will make you truly a company that will be touted by your existing employees and creating a line of applicants of the highly skilled waiting at the door.  Here are 7 steps to get you started in the right direction to create a culture for which anyone would drool.

  1. Hire the right fit for the culture you are creating. This means being clear on what that culture is and even more importantly what it is not.
  2. Move the wrong ones off of the bus. This can be hard with long tenured staff who have provided much value in the past or are still contributing.  Offering a severance package and signed release of claims allows them to leave the business with dignity and grace and giving them security for the short term.
  3. Start at the top with senior leaders and have well defined values that you hire and fire to.
  4. Hold others accountable to the values you have defined. Incorporate these into your HR and business practices.
  5. Start with your own team. Invest in them and help them become more effective as a unit.  This is a great way to ignite other areas of the business once they have seen the positive change from within your group.
  6. Assess where you are and what needs to change. Conduct “stay interviews” to find out why your best and brightest stay and what they value in the current culture.  They have their boots on the ground and will be able to give specifics about what needs changing.
  7. Develop an action plan and stay the course. Changing culture is not for the faint of heart.  It takes perseverance but the rewards are plentiful.

Variety is the Spice of Life

April Spice of Life
April Spice of Life

There are 4 Types.  Which are you?

When I’m asked to do a client intervention to help increase communication or diffuse conflict, often the first thing I do is have the participants complete a personality or behavioral inventory.  I have found that the vast majority of the time, conflicts are due to the way we are hard wired.  We speak differently, we work differently, and we hear things differently.  Each personality type has its distinct strengths and blind spots.  There are 4 major types and we are all made up of a combination of these but usually have 1 type from which we lead.

Dominance Type

Natural Strengths:  The Dominance Type has a strong need to get results.  They embrace challenges, value fast decisions and focus on the bottom line.  They take charge, communicate with urgency and always follow through to get the job done.  They have a competitive nature which translates into a high need for achievement and a propensity to win.  Blind spots:  They are not sensitive to the needs of others and often value the job over people.  They are seen as lacking patience, being controlling and making decisions too quickly.  They can come across as critical and not supportive of other people’s ideas.  You’ll find the Dominance Type having a difficult time listening, being blunt and confrontational, frequently clashing and stepping on toes.

Influence Type

Natural Strengths:  Influence Types love to connect.  They are warm, outgoing, convincing and enjoy creative outlets often in service to others.  They are seen as trusting and optimistic. They are highly social and often highly charismatic, and they love working on teams and being around people. They love jobs that involve a high degree of social interaction and don’t like being in jobs where they are alone.  Blind spots: They are seen as unfocused and overly talkative.  They can come across as being impulsive, disorganized and having lack of follow-through.  They are not good with details and are more concerned with people and popularity than with tangible results and organization.  They can over promise and be slow to action.

Steadiness Type

Natural Strengths: The Steadiness Type is very team-oriented, helpful, and cooperative.  They follow the rules and value harmony.  They are known for being steady, stable, and predictable. They are even-tempered, friendly, and sympathetic with others.  They are good listeners.  They strive for consensus and will try hard to reconcile conflicts as they arise. They are good at multi-tasking and seeing tasks through until completion.  They enjoy routine.  Blind Spots: They are often unhurried and reluctant to make decisions, which can irritate the more fast-paced Dominance and Influence types.  They are not inclined to change.  They can be especially sensitive when it comes to criticism.  They may have a difficult time saying no or establishing priorities.

Conscientiousness Type

Natural Strengths: The Conscientiousness Type are analytical, logical, and highly structured. They value accuracy and spend time being the quality control person.  When something new is proposed, they will think through every detail of how it works and the process.  They are even tempered and very thorough. They make decisions carefully with plenty of research and information to back it up.  They have very high standards for both themselves and others. Because they focus on the details and see what many other styles do not, they tend to be good problem solvers or very creative people. Blind spots:  They can easily suffer "analysis paralysis," and struggle to make fast decisions.  They are bound by procedure and find it difficult to stray from order.  They are seen as getting too bogged down in the small details, making it difficult to see the next steps or big picture.  They need clear cut boundaries in order to feel comfortable at work, in relationships, or to take action.

In order to build more effective teams, increase alignment to goals and help propel your company to achieve its business goals more rapidly, developing an awareness of various work styles is critical.  This means understanding your own style, the style of others and how you both must adapt your styles to work better together.  In doing so you can leverage the strengths of each member of the team, increase productivity, decrease conflict and boost morale.

What’s the State of Your Workforce?

Gallup’s new 2017 State of the Workforce report tells us that not much has changed since the last survey in 2014, or frankly, in the last decade and half when Gallup started measuring engagement.  Only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged.  This rate of engagement rises quite significantly for organizations who place emphasis on being best in class.  At the world’s best organizations 70% of employee are engaged!  It’s clear the old command-and-control leadership style needs to go out the door.  It needs to change to one of high development and ongoing coaching conversations.  This is especially evident when you look at the following results.   Gallup’s survey found:

  • Only 22% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization has a clear direction for the organization.
  • Only 15% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization makes them enthusiastic about the future.
  • Only 13% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization.

Here are a few things employees need from their leaders and organizations:

Purposeful work- The new workforce wants to work for a company whose mission and culture reflects their core values and they won’t settle for one that doesn’t.  Take the time to understand employee values and motivators and how those show up in their daily work.  Explain to employees how they are making a difference and adding value for your customers, community, culture, company or team.

Know what’s expected of them- Only 6 of 10 employees know what’s expected of them.  Clarify performance expectations, discuss progress towards goals and offer coaching and resources to help them succeed.  Talk openly about problems or issues and enable employees to develop solutions.  Teach leaders how to have tough conversations in a productive manner that leaves the employee feeling encouraged.  Today only 21% strongly agrees that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.  Throw out your annual performance evaluations!  Organizations are realizing that more frequent, ongoing coaching conversations may be the missing link in performance management.  Employees who have had conversations with their manager in the last six months about their goals and successes are 2.8 times more likely than other employees to be engaged

Opportunities to shine-Determine their strengths and give them opportunities to do what they do best!  Provide opportunities for employees to learn and challenge themselves in a way that is exciting to them (ex. lead a meeting or innovative project, attend specialized training, be a mentor/coach.)

Flexibility- 43% of workers surveyed are working remotely at least part of the time.  This is up 4% in the last 4 years.  Offer flexible job conditions and watch for possible burnout.

Managers must become coaches-Leaders need to shift from performance management to performance development.  Last month we talked about the business case for coaching in our blog.  Teach your leaders to establish expectations, continually coach and create accountability.  Provide them with the tools to become outstanding coaches.   

Authentic appreciation-Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely as those who do feel adequately recognized to say they'll quit in the next year.  This is a big missed opportunity for many.  Learn how each employee likes to be recognized.  Emphasize why the act was important and the impact it had.  The best recognize employees every 7 days!  This month is employee appreciation day.  How will you let your team know that they are cherished?

The Business Case for Coaching

Over the last 2 decades coaching has become very prevalent. As business continues to accelerate and evolve, coaching is a highly effective practice which supports change efforts. It’s a powerful leadership instrument. And yet, it’s not really being practiced well by many managers or leaders. Only exceptional leaders have realized it’s significant and power to develop team members and to achieve exceptional business results. Bersin research outlines this business case for coaching: Organizations that effectively prepare managers to coach are:

·        130% more likely to realize stronger business results

·        33% better at engaging employees

Organizations reporting "excellent" cultural support for coaching experience:

·        13% stronger business results

·        39% stronger employee results, including engagement, productivity and customer service

Organizations whose senior leaders “very frequently” make an effort to coach others have:

·        21% higher business results

What would these improved results mean to your business? My guess is that they would go a long way in achieving your strategic plan. Drop me a line and let’s get the conversation started about bringing coaching into your organization.

13 Leadership Skills You Didn’t Need a Decade Ago That are Now Essential

Last month, Forbes’ article: 13 Leadership Skills You Didn’t Need a Decade Ago That Are Now Essential listed these critical leadership skills:

  1. Executive Presence
  2. Resiliency
  3. Culture Management
  4. Navigation of Ambiguity
  5. Hybrid of Skills
  6. Multigenerational Management
  7. Collaboration
  8. Emotional Intelligence
  9. Social Media Presence
  10. Authenticity
  11. Mastery of Crucial Conversations
  12. Leadership of Virtual Teams and Independent Contractors
  13. Co-Creative Leadership

How do your leadership development programs line up with this list?  Does it need an overhaul to stay up to date?  Essential leadership skills evolve over time as do the needs of businesses.  If you haven’t updated your required leadership competencies in some time, please drop me a line and let’s start the conversation.  We can have you up to date in no time!

Workplace Trends for 2017 - Are You Ready?

Forbes Magazine recently had an article called 10 Workplace Trends You'll See in 2017.  Two of my favorite trends are: Millennial meet Generation Z in the workplace.  Gen Z (also known as Digital Natives) have just begun entering the workforce and Millennials are moving into management positions.  Interestingly, Harvard Business Review found that only 7% of companies have accelerated leadership programs to nurture them.  Do you have Millennials?  Are you part of the 7% or the 93%?  Drop us a line and we’ll help you create a custom leadership program to support their growth.

The war for talent heats up as the employer and employee contract continues to evolve.  As Boomers continue to make their exit, retaining the existing workforce becomes even more critical.  Maintaining high levels of employee engagement needs to be a key element of your Human Resources strategic plan.  Do you regularly survey your employees to understand their level of engagement?  Are you creating engagement plans to increase their level of engagement based on the data from the surveys?  Do you perform stay interviews?  If not, you could be putting your organization at risk of losing key contributors and ultimately your competitive advantage.  Let us help you put together a talent strategy to keep your best and brightest fully engaged.

Social and Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever met someone who is “book smart” but not “street smart,” or maybe seems to lack “people skills?”  The phrase “emotional intelligence” was not part of the public lexicon 10-15 years ago, but Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, moved the phrase from academia to the general public.  Today, in the world of business and leadership, it is well understood that high intelligence (a high IQ) does not necessarily mean that the person has high emotional intelligence (a high EQ).  There are certainly some very smart people who are not in touch with their own emotions or the emotions of others. When we talk about social and emotional intelligence, we are referring to the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and then using that information to manage ourselves and our relationships.  In essence, social and emotional intelligence is about awareness of ourselves and others while being able to manage ourselves and our relationships with others. Managers who are lacking in social and emotional intelligence are often called “bullies” and “jerks.”  They can be angry, hostile, and emotionally immature.  Leaders who lack social and emotional intelligence induce stress in the workplace and cost their companies in both productivity and talent.  Research from Stanford University, and from the Center for Creative Leadership, has found that some of the top reasons for executive derailment include poor interpersonal relationships, rigidity, and the inability to work with a team -- in other words, poor social and emotional intelligence. On the flip side, leaders with high social and emotional intelligence tend to be more successful.  In a study of 2000 managers in 12 large organizations, it was found that 81% of the competencies that distinguished outstanding leaders were related to social and emotional intelligence.  In an additional study of 15 global businesses, it was found that 90% of the difference between the average and best performing leaders was in social and emotional competencies.  One of the 26 social and emotional intelligence competencies is trust, and high trust teams outperform low trust teams by 300%. The good news for leaders, managers, organizations, and even individuals just looking to improve their skills is that the social and emotional intelligence competencies are both measurable and learnable.  It all starts with awareness, and to best understand your current social and emotional intelligence level, that means taking an assessment.  Once you know your areas of strength and weakness, you can improve your social and emotional intelligence through coaching, training, and (perhaps most importantly) practice.  Moreover, these skills are easiest to improve and produce the best ROI when the methods for improving social and emotional intelligence are integrated into organizational culture. How can social and emotional intelligence coaching and training help organizations?  Sheraton Hotels and Resorts introduced social and emotional intelligence training and coaching with the goal of building a service culture.  They were able to increase their market share by 24%.  Sanofi-Aventis trained a group of sales representatives in social and emotional intelligence.  The training resulted in an 18% increase in social and emotional intelligence over the control group.  Furthermore, the trained sales representatives outsold the control group by an average of 12% ($55,200) each per month.  At Pepsico, social and emotional intelligence programs generated a 10% increase in productivity and an 87% decrease in turnover. Social and emotional intelligence training can work for both individuals and organizations of all sizes.  These programs have a proven positive return on investment and benefit employees throughout all levels of an organization.  Are you interested in learning more about social and emotional intelligence assessments or training programs?  Aspen Edge Consulting can help make your organization happier and more profitable.

Traditional intelligence vs. Social and Emotional Intelligence.  What’s more important?

Most positions require a certain baseline IQ.  It’s the price of admission.  This is especially true when thinking of positions like physicians, engineering, and the like.  However, once you reach an average IQ, then social and emotional intelligence can become the differentiator for your career success.  You may have the IQ that’s required to get into medical school, but if you want to go from being a good physician to a great one, you have to have social and emotional intelligence.  It’s difficult to become successful without social skills.  According to Daniel Goleman, often referred to as the father of Emotional Intelligence, 80% of “adult” success comes from emotional intelligence.  Having healthy relationships at work can have a huge impact on a person’s performance and those around them.  If an employee at work doesn’t understand how they impact others, if they are causing friction, you will see the global morale of the office drop.  If they are customer, facing the impact can be even more catastrophic.  Another study by The Center for Creative Leadership says “75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.” What exactly is Emotional Intelligence?  There are many definititons but simply It’s the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage oursevles and manage our relationships.

If you are a manager, can you see the value of investing in your leaders who report to you, and gaining increased social and emotional intelligence benefits from them?  Imagine them complaining less, being more productive, and increasing revenue.   Not to mention being easier to work with!

Emotional intelligence becomes even more important as you move up in the organization because you are responsible for more people and that can have a big impact across the organization.  Increasing Emotional Intelligence among your leadership can have these positive benefits for organizations:

• Increased retention of strong performers

• Reduced turnaround time

• Increased sales

• Expanded market share

• Increased employee engagement

• Increased customer satisfaction