Thank you for inspiring me to document musings and learnings from the field of leadership, team performance and conscious change. I trust you'll find the exercises, resources and insights useful whether you are a leader, team player, coach/consultant or change agent.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Delight in Diversity

We have a bias to explore what we have in common with others. We tend to seek out those we can relate to. People who have similar life experiences, styles, interests and ways of thinking attract our attention. This is helpful and unifying but we miss something essential in the process.

High performing teams value diversity. They actually revel in difference. A strong team is a variety pack where all can share, contribute and express in their own unique way in service to a common purpose.

As we honor and appreciate our differences it is surprising what we can learn and how much fun we can have. Start by moving toward what repels you (with curiosity and respect) and notice what happens.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cultivating Gratitude

If you want to cultivate appreciation as a leadership practice reflect on this 10-minute Ted Talk called Gratitude by time-lapse photographer Louie Schwartzberg.

Thanks Kath for the resource!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I was reminded of the value of human connection in a workshop with www.crrglobal.com. That we yearn for and deeply appreciate a sense of relatedness (especially at work) is profound.

So, we may miss the point in all our efforts to learn and apply communication, conversation and feedback skills. While important, what seems to matter most is the intention or attitude that we bring to our interactions with others.

If we say all the right things in the perfect order but miss the stance (or metaskill) of respect, inquiry, genuine curiosity, understanding or awareness, we miss giving (and receiving) the gift of our humanity and what springs from it.

To experience the tone or energy of connection for yourself, check out this 3 minute ad called Reunion.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Creative Self Check List

We spend a lot of time learning how to recognize and manage our reactive self (which is important and valuable), but what if we used as much energy getting to know and express our creative self?

If there is a part of us that knows everything and has access to what we need in every moment, how do we know it when we see it? Here is a check list to get you started from healer Candace Lienhart:

  • Sense of humor
  • Calm, centered, mindful, present (not emotionally charged)
  • Open to a variety of solutions (vs being attached to one answer)
  • Willing to look at what is going on (vs. focusing on what is wrong)
  • Has information and reference materials
  • Can call a friend for help
  • Does no harm or damage
  • Never “outclassed”
  • Authentic- Not afraid to expose self
  • Nothing to lose
  • Knows the answer sits next to problem (if it is yours)
  • Want to better his/her own best (vs. compete against others)
  • No punishment or weapons
  • Has information from the past but doesn’t live there
  • Tells the truth
  • Alive in each moment (Doesn’t know in advance- can’t plan)
  • Has no place to fall
  • Full protection- Safe place because connected to highest truth
  • Neutral (vs. fear, anxiety, lack of self-worth, guilt, anger)
  • Strives for the highest and best of all
  • Knows there is room for everyone to be fabulous
  • Suspends judgment and quick assessments

The best way to begin is to invite your highest self to the party by asking.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Change Roles

Any change that is happens on a team seems to elicit a bell curve response. 20% will champion the cause and leap into the change effort with full engagement. 20% will challenge, resist or actively disengage. 60% will hang out with caution on an invisible fence waiting to see what happens or move back and forth between champions and challengers.

While all choices are valid and have wisdom (the champions are often energetic path finders, the challengers strong tradition holders and cautionary great road builders), it's interesting that leaders tend to focus most of their energy, attention and effort on the dissatisfied and wonder why change efforts fail or take so long.

If you want to inspire productive change (and keep your star players in the process) experiment with another strategy. Enable the champions to rock and roll. Identify ways to get the fence sitters moving from indifference to engagement. Set clear expectations and firewalls for the actively disengaged.

Address the key questions on everyone's mind - What is it? Why is it important? Can I do it? Do I want to? Include team members in the process and be clear what decisions they can and cannot influence. Then keep your attention on those willing to explore or move with the change.

Those who cannot adjust will become disturbers, leave or be fired. Once the majority is enrolled most of the rest will follow (by inspiration not fear)!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Interruption Technique

What is the most time (and energy) consuming part of an interruption?

It is getting back to what we were doing when the interruption occurred. It can take up to 20 minutes per interruption to get back on track. Even if we find ways to minimize interruptions (and the frustration they can engender) questions still need to be answered.

Next time you get interrupted acknowledge the request. In person or on the phone you may calmly greet the person and say, "I'll be with you in a minute." If the interruption is via email or text pause before you read it.

Then, write down the next thing you are going to do on a post-it-note. NOT a bookmark of where you are, but document your next step, action or task.

Now give your attention to the question or person. When you are done, look at your post-it-note and your brain will bring you back into the work groove more quickly.

If this works, 4 well-managed interruptions a day could give you more than 1 hour a day back!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Balancing Act

Great leaders understand that one reality in business is paradox. They leverage the inherent creative tension between quality and cost, Wall Street and employee well-being, service and innovation. They find ways to generate revenue by building strong relationships. They know that between the past and future is the present (where the best solutions arise). They lead from heart but honor head and gut. They don't strive for work/life balance but alignment with what is (regardless of where they are). They resist the pull of fight or flight and unfold. It's is the ultimate balancing act!

Check out the videos of artist Michael Grab at work on www.gravityglue.com and ponder what needs more alignment in your leadership and where the sticking points are. If rocks can do it so can we.

Thanks Bill for the resource.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Trust Consciousness

Trust is foundational to leadership and team performance. If you have "it" you can have more fun and get the job done. If you don't, you start over each time in every interaction. The first consideration in building trust is to understand your own trust consciousness. To what degree do you trust?

Is trust earned, given or never possible? Who do you trust and why? Who don't you trust and why not? What are your underlying beliefs, experiences, mindsets and assumptions about trust?

Next, consider if you are trustworthy by exploring two kinds of trust - Competence and Character.
  1. Competence is about capability and results. Do you have the ability to do your job, deliver desired outcomes, address real issues, clarify expectations and take responsibility for mistakes?
  2. Character is about integrity and intent. Do you do walk the talk, follow-through, talk straight, exhibit no hidden agendas, care, right wrongs and share credit for accomplishments?
Experiment with smart trust (vs. blind trust) where you listen to understand, keep commitments and extend trust and notice what difference it makes.

For more check out www.speedoftrust.com.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What's Your Job?

Most people respond to the question, “What is your job?” with a title or position description. According to Fred Kofman author of Conscious Business, “Your job isn’t what you do but the goal you pursue.” It's the difference between:
  • Teaching or helping students learn
  • Leading a team or bringing humanity back to the workplace
  • Programming computers or enabling clients to get work done faster and better
  • Driving a taxi or assisting people to get where they want to go
  • Playing quarterback or helping a football team win
  • Managing projects or improving patient care
  • Delivering flowers or bringing a smile to others
  • Running a company or making the world a better place
If your response gets to the essence of your real work it enlivens! Click here for more from Mr. Kofman.

Thanks Lyndee for resource.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tune In

Some people argue with the idea that 80% of communication is non-verbal. I wonder if it's because we define body language as what we can observe like rolling eyes, crossed arms, a smile or the disconnect between what someone says and does. What if it includes what we think too?

Our thought bubbles broadcast information. Like a key that beams an invisible code to unlock a car door, how we think is a signal that influences relationships and outcomes.

For example, if I think you are stupid and give you a compliment you will most likely receive a message of incompetence and wonder why you don't feel empowered in my presence. If I believe I am better than you my arrogance will probably diminish your willingness to collaborate and innovate. If however, I assume positive intent and respect you'll more likely tell me what's really going on (vs. what you think I want to hear). If I know you are creative and resourceful, you'll express your best and resolve problems more quickly.

Energy follows thought, so it behooves us to be more aware of what our minds are transmitting and the degree to which our thoughts are aligned with desired results.

Start by tuning into your own beliefs, assumptions, expectations, interpretations and stories and notice how they influence the results you are getting. Then consider the degree to which your thinking is aligned with what you really want.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What's your Center?

The Rise of the Guardians is an animated delight filled with inspiration. St. Nick, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, Jack Frost and the Tooth Fairy make a strong team because each has a role to play and contribution to make in service of the common good.

Part of leadership is knowing who you are and how you best add value. For example, at his core St. Nick is full of wonder. This wonder is central to his work.

Check out this 2 minute scene which invites you to ponder who you are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7ms4O6Ytc8

What were you born with? What is special inside of you? What do you put into the world? What is your center?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Forward

It's spring! If you want to refresh your leadership, explore the following blogs by David Kerpen author of Likeable Business.

25 Quotes to Inspire You to Be a Better Leader

11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tips for Moving Up

If you are wondering why you haven't been promoted or are proactively seeking a bigger leadership role, The Leadership Pipeline provides some common transition traps to anticipate and mitigate. Here are a few to get you started:

Manager of Managers
  • Don't exhibit uncertainty or delay decisions. Learn to make choices that are directionally correct.
  • Expand alliances outside comfort zone. Rely less on previous team members and friends. 
  • Seek differing opinions and views. Value diversity.
  • Hold direct reports accountable for leading and developing others. Inspire and feedback.
  • Embrace new ideas. Explore new ways to achieve results.
Functional Leader
  • Align function with enterprise. Move beyond tactical focus.
  • Don't rely too much on expertise.  Develop broader knowledge and experience to drive innovation. 
  • Build positive climate within the team. Focus on employee engagement.
  • Trust others to do the work. Coach and mentor.
  • Don't allow a few trusted colleagues to influence views and decisions. Expand your network and promote your "wins".
  • Develop strong cross-functional working relationships. Invest time here.
Business Leader
  • Balance and align regional/business leadership with enterprise. Focus on longer-term strategy.
  • Understand all aspects of the business. Focus on how growth and profit will be achieved.
  • Trust others. Make your thinking transparent and encourage others to do the same.
  • Invest in people. Accurately assess and manage talent.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Touchy Feely?

Why must we continue using the words "touchy feely" to dismiss the very thing that can sustain desired results on a team?  These words are still used to describe leadership and team development efforts despite the findings that high emotional intelligence correlates to bigger salaries, innovation and sustainable business results. Strong working relationships actually reduce stress and improve productivity so why do we minimize the importance of human connection at work?

Is because we:
  • Ignore or fear our own emotions?
  • Enjoy zingers (humor at the expense of others)?
  • Have experienced ineffective or poorly run team building events?
  • Find it is easier to focus on tasks than people?
  • Need a lot of personal space?
  • Believe there is no place for emotions at work?
  • Experience discomfort or embarrassment around people?
  • Fear the reactions of others?
  • Believe vulnerability is a weakness?

Make the time to explore your own thinking about human connection in the workplace and notice what beliefs, assumptions, stories or mindsets help or hinder your achievement. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Leadership Effectiveness = Business Success

Leadership effectiveness is directly correlated to business success. Want to accelerate your impact? According to research by The Leadership Circle focus on the top three correlations to leadership effectiveness: 
  1. Purposeful & Visionary- Live and work with a deep sense of meaning and stay focused on envisioned results even in the face of obstacles. 
  2. Fostering Team Play- Create a positive climate that supports people doing their best.
  3. Mentoring and Developing- Support the learning and career goals of your direct reports.
And, minimize the top three negative correlations by being less passive, distant or critical. Strive to:
  • Advocate your ideas, be more decisive and address conflict gracefully
  • Connect and truly care about your peers, colleagues and team members  
  • Shift focus from "what is wrong?" to "what is going on?"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

5 Ways to Well Being

Let's go for being well this year. According to research from the Center for Well Being at The New Economics Foundation "a small improvement in well being can help decrease mental health problems and enable people to flourish." The five ways to well being are:

  1. Connect Greet people in the eye. Make time for family, friends and colleagues. 
  2. Be Active Do something to get your heart rate up 30 minutes a day.
  3. Take Notice Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Be aware of the world around you. 
  4. Keep Learning Try something new. Take a class. Add a new skill to your toolbox.
  5. Give Do something nice for someone else. Thank someone. Smile. 

For more go to www.nationalaccountsofwellbeing.org  

Thanks to Michelle for the resource.