personal development

Using Leadership Assessments with a Virtual Team

This article is the first in a four-part series for those who develop leaders to have more confidence and credibility.

Over the past 9 months at Livingston Consulting Group, we have been working on something pretty cool that I think many of you might find interesting, and possibly applicable to the leadership work that you do.

Here is Our Story

It all started with some conversations I was having with both my coaching clients and a few of the university students I teach in leadership development and executive coaching. At the end of my classes, I would get at least 3 emails from students saying something like, “I am getting a great education and will have a firm foundation for the direction I want my life to go. However, I feel like I am lacking the tools and resources to be successful.”

After having many phone conversations with these students about coaching, which often involved questions of process and procedure, coaching skill, sales and marketing, and practical development tools, I quickly saw needs and desires for leaders of all types:

  • those who coach others
  • those who shepherd others
  • those who counsel others
  • those who train others
  • those who consult with others
  • those who facilitate groups of others

The main message I heard as I talked with students and clients alike is that they desire to increase their credibility with those they serve. However, budgets are tightening, travel is becoming more restricted, virtual meetings are becoming a reality, and yet the leaders I talk with still lack quality tools to develop their followers.

Fast-forward to October of 2016: I am meeting with my virtual team (Brandi lives in Tampa, Angela lives in NYC, Michelle lives in Grand Rapids, Gretchen lives in Madrid, and Madison lives in Indianapolis,) and we are discussing Clayton Christensen’s book Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice. In the book, Christensen outlines his "theory of jobs" that details how organizations should decipher what job it is that they actually do for their customers.

As we are discussing this book, someone on the team asked, "So, what job are our customers really asking us to do?"

This was an easier question to answer in regards to the training and executive coaching that I do. But when it came to providing tools and resources to those who develop others we felt like…we were missing the boat.

So we worked on it.

And we decided that our mission and the job we perform is: to provide confidence and credibility to those who develop others.

The Next Step

I will not bore you will the details of launching this new endeavor, but the real highlight is that we will be offering certification in 4 new leadership assessments starting in April of 2017! Over the next few weeks, I will be giving you a peak into what these tools can do for you as a leader, as someone who develops leaders, or someone who is interested in becoming a leader.

Emerging Leader Profile 360

This week I will be highlighting an assessment called Emerging Leader Profile 360 Feedback (ELP 360.)

This assessment is an electronic 360-degree assessment for those in an organization who are showing leadership promise and want a development plan that takes them toward this vision. This tool allows their superiors, peers, and subordinates to give the emerging leader competency-based quantitative and qualitative feedback.

Click here to download a free sample of the Emerging Leader 360 Report!

 

Brandi’s Experience

Brandi has been on my team for about 18 months now. She is responsible for all of our internal operations. While she has been in leadership roles in the past, the experience she had was not as positive as one would hope. So we decided to provide her with the ELP 360 as she is quickly emerging as a real leader on our team.

I asked Brandi a few questions that I thought you might enjoy her response to:

What was your overall impression of the Emerging Leader Profile 360?

I was pleasantly surprised by the comprehensive evaluation of my leadership that the Emerging Leader Profile 360 provided. Not only was the feedback I received from my manager, peers, and direct reports insightful and helpful, but I also found the self-evaluation to be incredibly valuable as it forced me to slow down and really think about how I interact with my work responsibilities, my colleagues, our clients, etc.

How did you initially feel when I approached you about taking the Emerging Leader Profile 360?

When I was approached about taking the Emerging Leader Profile 360 I was both excited and a bit nervous. Self-evaluation of my leadership is one thing, but to open myself up to the evaluation of others on my team was a bit intimidating. Feedback is often the catalyst for growth, so I was grateful to have the opportunity to learn about my leadership from the perspective of those who work closely with me on a day to day basis.

What is the most significant thing you learned about yourself from this feedback?

The most significant thing I learned about myself from this feedback has to do with my confidence as a leader. Both my self-evaluation and the feedback I received showed that I tend to “panic” when confronted or challenged by others. In the workplace, there will inevitably be times of unavoidable confrontation. As a leader, it is important that I develop the confidence necessary to express my thoughts in a healthy way, even in challenging times, rather than shutting down or avoiding the conflict entirely.

How do you see this feedback accelerating your leadership abilities?

The insight from the 360 feedback has given me clarity around a few key areas where I can focus on maximizing my strengths as well as developing areas where improvement is needed. The feedback I received has given me a fresh and energized perspective and I look forward to the ways I will grow and develop my leadership as a result of this experience.

Brandi, thank you for your transparency in sharing what you learned about yourself and this process.

How about you, leader?

Do you need to have confidence and credibility with those you develop? If so stay tuned, we have more stories coming over the next few weeks, and in April you will be able to register to get certified in these exciting leader development tools!

The 5 Books I Plan to Re-read in 2017

Happy New Year!  I hope that you are having a wonderful holiday season. In last week's blog post I shared some of my top reads for 2016.

Every year I re-read a few of my favorite books that have really engaged me over the years. I hope you discover something you might find interesting and/or useful in developing yourself as a leader this year.

  1. Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein Schein’s motivation for writing this short (123 pages) yet powerful book is both personal and professional. The first paragraph of the book sets the entire tone. The bottom line is that those who possess a “telling” and “aggressive” tone destroy relationships. We all know the value of positive relationships in organizations and in this little gem Schein gives some very practical tips on how to be both humble and a leader. I think it was my most recommended book of 2016 to my clients.
  2. Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell This is an account of the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Saint Luke. The vivid imagery and the subtle, yet powerful situations really give testimony that what is in the Bible could indeed be true. The writing gives a perspective that is original and creative. One of my all time favorites.
  3. Running By The Book by Corinne Bauer These pages contain the training plan that I used to run my first half-marathon. I followed the plan very closely and was able to exceed the goal I set for myself. In races that I ran subsequently, I was not as diligent in following the plan and my performance has born this out. I have a goal in 2017 to run a Personal Best for 13.1 miles, and I am going to dust off these pages to make it happen.
  4. Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Thompson   This is a classic that every coach needs to read both for themselves and for the clients they interact with. Cloud and Thompson come at the topic of boundaries from a distinct and overtly Christian worldview, which lends a very interesting perspective on “when to say yes and how to say no" so that you as a leader can take control of your life. Professionally, my business is growing and I am going to have to start saying NO to some things I have enjoyed in the past. Personally, I have made a lot of sacrifices so the business can grow and I am going to start saying YES to more things in life.
  5. Executive Presence by Sylvia Ann Hewlett While Hewlett wrote this book primarily with females in mind, there are great lessons in it for all of us. I have a real interest in this topic for both males and females and would love to write on this subject as it pertains to those in leadership and young people who desire leadership responsibilities. I am hoping a re-read of this important work gets me thinking and writing in this area.

Well, that is it for me. How about you? Any of these titles grab you as a re-read or even a first time through? Hey, if you are re-reading something I would love to hear it and why you are choosing to spend your time with the work again.

Here is to a successful 2017!

5 Tricks That Are Real Treats for Leader Development

Last week I had the opportunity to give a webinar to a group of highly talented coaches who are members of the Georgia International Coach Federation. The topic of our discussion was The Secret of Developing Emotional Intelligence. As webinars go, it was a fascinating hour of exploration on what leaders can do TODAY to become more emotionally intelligent. As we went through the topic there was one slide that really caught the attention of the coaches. There were more questions and comments about this one idea than any other we discussed.

Developing the Whole Leader

If you have followed these ramblings for any length of time, you know I am a big believer in the development of the entire person: body, mind, soul, and strength. The entire leader needs to show up every day. If we miss developing any part of our humanity then we become out of balance. If you ever have driven a car with a flat tire you know what it feels like when 3 of the tires are full of air and running fine, but one of them is lifeless and flat. You can’t go as far and you can’t go as fast. The same is true with leader development. If we don’t balance our development, we will struggle in the long-run with effectiveness in our leadership lives.

Developing your body entails paying attention to what you put in it, how you use it, and how you rest it.  Developing your mind involves intellectual stimulation, creativity, and includes things like serious play.

Developing your mind involves intellectual stimulation, creativity, and includes things like serious play.

Developing your strength to me means your attitude. How are you showing up? Do you provide energy and enthusiasm to those you lead or do you “suck the life” out of the room? Strength entails attitude, passion, commitment, perseverance.

Developing your soul. This is what I want to engage you in today. The soul is the essence of who you are. This is often a scary place for some folks because it feels religious and spiritual on one hand, or conceptual and theoretical on the other. I want to acknowledge this fear and say that yes, there is an element of spirituality and theory in this idea of the soul. But it is not one we should run from or ignore, as it is one that for sure can affect our balance as a leader.

The soul is often thought of in terms of the human psyche. The etymology of the word psyche refers to the animating spirit of the individual. Those who are experts in the spiritual disciplines tell us this is the part of our humanity that is eternal and lives forever. If you believe this premise, then paying attention to what makes it up and developing it has real value to all of us, especially those called into leadership.

5 Realms of the Human Psyche

The graphic used in this post represents how I am looking at the human psyche these days. While this graphic is not a complete picture of the soul, I do think it begins to capture major components when it comes to leader development. (i.e. an example of what is not pictured would be a memory. I believe one aspect of the human soul is the capacity to recall history, even though our recollection at times can be dim.) The graphic is best read from the inside out, so that if some type of stimulus happens in our outside world, the first filter that stimulus goes through is your values and beliefs and then the reaction moves out toward a behavior you elicit.

Values/Beliefs

At the very core of the leader are our values and beliefs. Some scholars will take these constructs and call this the leader's worldview. While every leader has a worldview, most of these structures that support the core of who we are, we don’t think much about. Your worldview is how you rationalize and explain everything that exists and that matters to you. A simple tool to understand your values is a values card sort.

Leadership Question: Do your values/beliefs/worldview align with your leadership principles and actions?

Affective Emotion

These emotions are your basic feelings and perceptions that shape your world. The feelings that are elicited by events, the recognition of those feelings, and the experience you have with the emotion are all part of the affective realm. Things like fear, disgust, happiness, surprise are all responses leaders elicit, recognize, and experience. I think the MSCEIT is an excellent development tool for understanding this level of emotion.

Leadership Question: Are you aware of the impact of your affective responses that you are not proud of?

Personality

The next realm is that of our preferences or personality. When you get a stimulus from outside, do you prefer to react via the outer realm of people and things or the inner world of ideas and impressions? There is no right or wrong in this domain, only what the individual finds most comfortable for them. Some of the more popular models for describing personality are DISC, MBTI, and a newer tool, the Pearman Personality Integrator.

Leadership Question: Do you know your personality type along with its strengths and inherent weaknesses?

Trait Emotional Intelligence

This level describes a leader's awareness of their emotional ability. While there are several models for describing trait emotional intelligence, my personal favorite is the Bar-On EQi 2.0. The model considers the emotional ability around 5 distinct domains such as self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal relationships, decision making, and stress management.

Leadership Question: Do you know how balanced emotionally you are as a leader?

Skills & Talents & Behaviors

Finally, we reach the outermost layer. It is actually the layer that is seen by the most casual of observers. Unless others know us well, rarely do they know our worldview or our emotional triggers. What they see are the skills and talents we display. Tools such as Strengthfinders, Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Inventory, or 360-degree feedback are valuable at helping leaders understand their behaviors and the impacts they can have on others.

As a leader, when you are thinking about developing this innermost part of who you are, I want to encourage you to develop the whole you. For example, you may be an excellent politician with great negotiating skills, but without a value structure to support your skill, we all know too well what we get when this happens. Before we are too hard on the politicians, you may be a minister who is very good at public speaking, but if you do not value people you may end up hurting those you say you care most about.

Leader, don’t leave any one of these domains to chance in your development. I encourage you to consider all of them as you think through what development needs you are planning for the next year. What I see too much of in my executive coaching practice is leaders wanting to focus on skill, rather than doing the deeper but more valuable work.

Best hopes as you traverse your own personal development.

Guaranteed This Will Make You a Better Leader...or Your Money Back

Many of you know I am passionate about the health of the leader. The premise I use is pretty basic… You have to be present to lead. Leaders have to show up. If they don’t, followers will drift from your vision. As a leader, your health matters. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? And what message does this send to those who follow you?

As a person who is a cancer survivor, (cancer free for the past 3 years), I can attest to the fact that two of the greatest gifts in life are health and time. Maybe that is why I am willing to pay more for my healthcare.

You read that last sentence right. I choose to pay more for my health care than I have to.

My Story

When my wife and I moved to the Orlando area around 4 years ago, I made the choice to join a concierge medical practice.

For those of you not familiar with the concept, concierge medicine is a fancy term for medical membership. The patient pays a monthly fee to join a physician practice, similar to a subscription like Netflix!

My wife and I pay $3000 per year to be a member of my doctor's practice. This is over and above the $1,200 per month we pay for traditional, high deductible health insurance for the two of us. A lot of money, you might say. But, in my opinion, it is totally worth it! Sure, it is much more than my monthly Netflix membership, but I get so much more than a movie from it!

I can hear you asking, "Scott, why would you choose to pay so much money to be a part of a physician practice?"

Fair question.

My Answer

I want quality care, and I don’t think you get that in a 5-minute office visit that you often have to sit and wait over an hour to occur. As a leader, our time is precious. I understand the typical physician has no idea what is behind the door when they walk in, and some people are really sick. But come on, every time I go to the office? This type of experience is not the exception, it is the rule.

According to Dr. Caleb Gardner, a physician and resident at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts, and Dr. John Levinson, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, primary care appointments are now as short as five minutes, and the physician must spend much of that time typing rather than attending to the patient and performing a physical examination.

In order for a physician to make a living, they must see a certain number of patients each day, in a certain amount of time. My understanding is that it is a numbers game. The more patience you can see in the fewest amount of time, the more money you make. Not really a tough business model to understand. It seems similar to McDonalds to me: the more hamburgers sold, the more profit.

More volume equals more profit, except seeing my doctor should not be like visiting a fast food restaurant. As a leader of people, neither should yours. Your health is too important. The algorithms your doctor needs to go through to accurately make a diagnosis are too difficult to do in 1/12th of an hour.

My reasoning is fairly simple…I want both quality and quantity of care for my health.

I never bought the quality versus quantity time argument when I was raising my kids. There is no substitute for quantity of time. Time and health are not replaceable in this life. I can make more money, but once my health goes downhill making more money is really hard. So I pay $4.15 ($8.30 for both myself and my wife) a day so that I can get both quality and quantity care from my physician. Interestingly, Kim and I spent over $8 at Starbucks the other day. Go figure.

How It Works

In exchange for the yearly membership fee, my doctor promises to keep his practice to a small number of patients, almost one-third the size of a standard family practice physician. This membership allows my doctor to spend more time doing what he loves to do, practice medicine.

My appointment time is one hour in length. I have never spent less than 40 minutes going over my history, labs, sonograms, or whatever other data that has been collected. For me, these discussions are highly motivational. I leave my appointment energized about what I am doing to stay healthy, not depressed about my problems. I see my concierge medicine physician as my “health coach." His job is to give me advice on how I can stay in this game of life with both quality and quantity. His perspective is that I can live a long, full, active, and healthy life, not that I am a disease waiting to happen. I love the optimistic outlook!

I also have my doctors email address and cell phone number. How about you?

This is a great comfort to me, as like many of you, I travel a lot. It is really nice to know that if I get sick on the road all I have to do is email or call. To date I have not had to use his cell phone (for this I am thankful), but when I email I get a response usually within an hour or two.

These thoughts are perhaps best summed up in the article I referenced above by Dr. Gardner and Dr. Levinson, who say that medicine is losing its humanity in favor of market efficiency. When it comes to my personal health, I am not willing to make that trade-off. How about you?

Call to Action

Leaders, this leaning toward market efficiency doesn’t have to define you. Hey, if you like your doctor and you like how you are treated, then in the wise words of one of my professors in grad school, Dr. Sharon Drury, “Keep On Keepin’ On." No change required. As long as you are meeting your personal health goals (you do have them, don’t you?), then all is well.

However, if you're sick of the weight of the “efficient” health system, then for the price of a Starbucks coffee per day, you have an out.

Is concierge medicine right for everyone? Maybe not. The answer to that question is above my pay grade. If you don’t prioritize your health, why spend your hard earned money in this way?

I had a mentor tell me one time, “Show me your checkbook record and I will show you what you prioritize in life." For me, it really isn’t that hard of a decision, and it is a check worth writing.

You lead, you choose, but you can’t lead if you can’t show up.

To Any Leader Who Has Ever Had a Struggle

I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Drew Wilkerson, on some interesting leadership ideas. I was excited because since Drew was my last call of the day and it was Tuesday, which meant Taco Tuesday at the Livingston home. My wife, Kim, and I were getting out all the ingredients so we could assemble our own tacos: tortillas, ground beef, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, etc. I noticed my wife, Kim, struggling to take the lid off of the salsa jar, so I gently gestured for her to give me the jar and proudly assumed the position to heroically twist the lid off the jar. It wouldn't budge. I put forth a little more effort, twisting harder this time. Nothing. I resorted to running it under hot water for a while, then took a towel to dry it before I tried again. Sure enough, the lid finally gave way and the jar was open for salsa to be enjoyed that evening.

Then it hit me. Drew and I had been talking about leadership LIDS as a part of our time together. During our conversation, the idea of the lid intrigued me. Yes, the lid is there as a cover or protection for what's inside, but could it also be a cover or barrier keeping you from what needs to be shared or utilized? Many times it's our own emotions and mentality that is holding us back.

In this blog, we are going to focus on four of these potential barriers: Loneliness, Indecisiveness, Defensiveness, and Selfishness.

Let's define the LIDS and consider how we remove them. As you read, think about your own leadership and which LIDS you need to take off of yourself. Which of these LIDS is holding you back from sharing what you have to offer?

Loneliness This could be something you are experiencing in the work place or in your personal life. It can creep up when you've physically spent too much time on your own or you feel as if no one can relate to what you are going through or processing. Feeling alone is difficult, and doing alone is even more challenging. As humans, we are meant for relationships. Although alone time can be rejuvenating, we aren't meant to remain there in order to progress or thrive.

Remove this lid: Invite people into your world. Whether it's including them on a project you are working on or asking someone to get coffee. If the loneliness doesn't subside and you are having trouble processing or expressing your thoughts, consider talking to a mentor, counselor, or coach that can help you.

Indecisiveness You may say that being indecisive comes from the inability to make a decision either because there's seems to be no wrong or right way to go. While that's true, I also see a lot of fear behind decision making. What if the decision I make is the wrong one? Yet making a decision is going to keep you moving while indecisiveness keeps you stagnant. How can you lead people if you aren't really going anywhere yourself?

Remove this Lid: Make a decision. As the familiar Nike brand claims, "Just Do It." Don't let the fear of failure keep you from moving forward. Making a mistake or taking a wrong turn doesn't mean you failed, instead, it's an opportunity to learn and grow.

Defensiveness In the great American sport of football, the defensive line has a responsibility to keep the other team's offense and quarterback from advancing the field with the ball. They push. They fight. This creates struggle and tension, not to mention it is exhausting as they keep it up until the other team scores or it is their turn to play offense. I bring up this example because we tend to think of defense as protecting, yet the defensive line isn't protecting anything. They are pushing back and preventing advancement. We can be defensive in our own lives thinking we are protecting something. This could be our job, our reputation, or more often than not, our pride. In this case, protection is a fallacy and our defensiveness creates a barrier and tension that prevents the advancement of our goals or our team.

Remove this lid: It takes some intentional awareness of your emotions to see when you may be acting defensively. Your heart might start beating faster, your body temperature rises, and you may feel your lips tighten or unconsciously cross your arms. Try to identify what happens when you start to feel defensive, why you are feeling it, and what you might think you're "protecting." How is your defensiveness hold your own team back?

Selfishness Putting your needs and desires before others is the easiest way to explain selfishness. It's even easier, unfortunately, to get caught up in selfishness if we don't stop to think about what we are doing or behaving. Consider what your priorities are right now. Are you focusing on your own advancements and needs? What about those of your team and followers? Don't get me wrong, self-care is important, as long as it's not at the expense of another person.

Remove this lid: Think about your goals, priorities, and needs. What would it look like if you included your team in those goals, changing "I" statements to "we." Even call on your team and followers to find our what their goals and priorities are, then think about how you can help them achieve their goals. Practice humility by stepping back, letting them take lead on a project, and praising them for a job well done publicly. Trust me, their success will be your success.

There may be other things you struggle with as a leader besides these four. I would love to hear from you and to have you describe your struggle. I promise two things: not to name you in any posting without permission, and to provide some perspective on overcoming your struggle in a subsequent post. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but as a community, I know we can all be better when we lean on each other.

Homework: Think about our LIDS analogy above and identify one of them that you need to remove. What action steps or conversations do you need to have in order to remove them? What benefits will come to you and your followers when you remove the lid?

What Is Your One Thing to Change?

My family loves to play games, and we have found a new one that everyone can play called Ticket to Ride. Ticket to Ride is a fast pasted game where you try to connect cities by building railroad routes. What I love about the game is its underlying premise. When it is your turn, you can do one thing and one thing only. You can:

  • Draw train cards
  • Draw route cards
  • Lay down trains
  • Discard route cards

The winner is the one who has a firm strategy to connect their cities with train routes, then implements this strategy by doing the best “next one thing." The ultimate goal is to gain the most number of points by completing route cards and trying to get a bonus for being the player with the longest train.

It is Nine Arch Bridge near Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

Sometimes it is in your best interest to draw train cards and sometimes you find yourself wondering if you should “waste” a turn by discarding a route card, which will count against your point total if you do not complete the route.

I receive no commercial endorsement from the publishers of the game, but if you are looking to build some family time this is an excellent game to do it, as long as the kids can tell colors and read cities they can probably play. (I will leave it up to your family culture as to what level of competition the game should take with young kids).

Application to Leadership

I love the idea of thinking about leadership as a game. Games change all the time. Different players have different strategies that constantly have an impact on your strategy and implementation.

With games in mind, I really like the Ticket to Ride approach of focusing on the "one thing" you will do that will make the most impact and be the most strategic that moment. What would be that one thing, one move, or one change? Let me give you an example of what I mean by telling you Bobbie's story.

Bobbie was a participant in a recent Emotional Intelligence 360 training program I facilitated.

In this program, Bobbie received feedback from

  • Her manager
  • 4 of her peers
  • 3 of her direct reports
  • 4 vendor partners she works with on a regular basis
  • 4 family members

Bobbie's feedback was centered around the Bar-On EQi 2.0, which is a trait assessment of emotional intelligence with 5 structured domains, each with three sub-competencies. (Domain: Sub-Competency)

  1. Self-Perception: Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, Emotional Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Expression: Emotional Expression, Assertiveness, Independence
  3. Interpersonal: Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy, Social Responsibility
  4. Decision Making: Impulse Control, Reality Testing, Problem-Solving
  5. Stress Management: Optimism, Stress Tolerance, Flexibility

Here are the major takeaways from Bobbie's assessment:

  • Her strength was her interpersonal relationships and the level of empathy she shows.
  • She rated her level of self-regard much lower than her manager or her peers did.
  • The rating she gave herself showed that her self-regard was much higher than her assertiveness.
  • Everyone, including herself and her family, rated optimism as her lowest competency.
  • Her level of stress tolerance was significantly below where most leaders are, which is putting her at risk for derailing as a leader.

What To Do

Like most people who get any kind of 360 feedback, a feeling of being overwhelmed quickly came over Bobbie. In our one on one debrief of her assessment, she lamented what most do when trying to digest 360 feedback, “I don’t even know where to begin!"

This is a very common feeling when a leader is faced with feedback. Many times this feedback can be paralyzing, and not knowing what to change the leader will just “freeze” on the development and default to doing what they always do.

I said to Bobbie, who was pouring over the pages in her report trying to make sense of it all, “Let's put the report aside for a moment. Take a deep breath….and another one…and another one...let's just breathe for a minute and relax our minds."

As we did this, a sense of calm came over the room. Bobbie relaxed. (I even relaxed!)

I then asked her, “From all the feedback you received, what is the one thing your heart is telling you that needs to change?"

Why the Question

This becomes the fundamental question for leaders who get feedback and want to develop. What is your next step? What skill do you need to enhance or develop or initiate? How do you need to balance Emotional Intelligence competencies like self-regard and assertiveness?

Finding the one thing out of the myriad of options can bring a settling calm and a real peace about being able to achieve the objective.

In their book on change, It Starts With One, Black and Gregersen make the case that the individual must SEE the change before the change can ever happen.

Way too many people who get feedback never process what the feedback is saying or take the time to SEE it. They move right into action and never really embrace the change.

Do you know what your “one thing” is to move on in your leader development plan?

Note to my family: Look out! I have my Ticked to Ride strategy in place and plan on winning this weekend.

Homework

What is the “one thing” you are working on in your development? Have you taken the time to process and SEE the change you need to make? Are you actively working on intentionally developing yourself as a leader? Change is intentional and it takes one step at a time to win the game.

*If you want to know more about doing an EQi 360 feedback in your organization, or you want to do one for yourself, click here for more information and contact us today! 

Who Else Wants to Develop as a Leader?

As I sit and write this article, the day is August 11, 2016. My beautiful wife Kim and I celebrate 32 years of marriage today. I cannot tell you all the joy that this relationship has brought me over the years. Which is why, when we were having coffee this morning, gazing into each other's eyes (well, maybe it was more like a stare waiting for the coffee to kick in…no, no I am sure it was gazing) Kim asked me a most curious question:

“When we got married, do you think we were best friends?”

2016-08-11 13-01-page-001

Those of you with any skill in the art of marital conversation will quickly realize the trap I was in. To say yes would potentially mean we were better friends then than now. To answer no would potentially mean we had not quite reached that “best friend” level but married anyway.

So, like any skilled married person, I said, “Tell me more about what you are thinking." She said, “Well..." and I breathed a sigh of relief that we were going to unpack this discussion together. Kim continued, “I mean, we are such good friends now. I know we were friends, and probably best friends, but there is no way we were as good of friends then as we are now.” Then she provided the wisdom,

“We have grown so much!"

Ah, yes. We have grown so much.

The Growth

The growth that Kim and I have experienced in our marriage is two-fold from my perspective.

First, we have grown as individuals. Each of us have different interests and callings. These differences in skills and abilities need to be honed, nurtured, and grown. Second, our relationship as a married couple has grown. Over the years we have made emotional and social deposits in our relationship accounts, building up equity and assets we can rely on that help to strengthen the trust we have in each other. This networking back and forth in the relationship relies heavily on the use of interpersonal skills and competencies such as mutual respect and empathy.

In a healthy and vibrant marriage you have to grow as an individual and the relationship has to grow as well. Both are important.  You certainly cannot focus on individual growth only. If you are only growing as individuals, the relationship will suffer. You will focus on yourself and your needs and the relationship will suffer. By the same token, you can not solely focus on the relationship, stifling individual growth and personal achievement.

Bridge to Leadership

Ok, so I know most of you read this for some perspective on leadership and not marriage relationships. Here is the point, in development, leadership is a lot like marriage. You have to focus on yourself as a leader as well as on your leadership.

Leader Development Is Distinguishable from Leadership Development

Leader development focuses on the skills, talents, knowledge, and abilities of the individual person. This can be in the form of formal courses where the leader does analysis and self-reflection. Courses on personality, such as the Pearman Personality Integrator, Myers-Briggs, or DiSC are examples. Training in emotional intelligence using an assessment like the EQi-2.0 is another example of leader development. There is knowledge of self that is then put to use inside the organization. Learning in the area of core values, or important skills like marketing or sales, are also part of the leader development domain.

Leadership development has more of an emphasis on building social capital, networking, and the interpersonal skills such as reciprocity and trustworthiness. Leadership from a social capital sense builds upon the work of Robert Putnam who gave three reasons why social capital is important:

  • Social capital allows citizens to resolve collective problems. People are better off when they cooperate.
  • When people trust each other they are more likely to interact more often and better with each other. As a result, everyday business and social transactions become less costly.
  • Understanding in the end that our fates are linked.

Leader development is key. It is clear. It is usually what most of us think about when we think of leadership development.

My premise is that we need to work on both, and what gets left out of the mix is our work in actual leadership development.

Think about your organization. Maybe you are in an HR, Training, or Functional leadership position. Whatever your organizational role, ask yourself three questions:

  1. What kind of environment am I fostering that allows leaders to solve collective problems? How are we rewarding and recognizing cooperation over individual achievement?
  2. How are we setting up our work environments and meetings so that they happen more frequently and better? It isn’t the frequency of your meetings that is the problem, it is the quality. Social Capital Theory would say that the more people are together and the better they are together this is what drives costs down.
  3. Do your leaders understand that their fates are linked? Are their reward and recognition systems linked? Do sales and marketing share goals? Have you done disaster scenarios around the possibility that your vision is not realized?

Too many times in the leadership development space, we focus solely on the leader and not really on leadership.

Success in marriage requires both focusing on developing the individual and the relationship. I would argue that success in the organization requires developing the leader and leadership.

Hey Kim, sign me up for another 32 years. Happy Anniversary!

Homework:

Do the 3 question assessment of your organization above. Have the discussion with leaders on your team. What do you need to do in your organization to both improve your leader and your leadership abilities?

Here is to wishing you many happy anniversaries leading your organization!

What I am Learning About Choice

Who needs another diet book, right? There are so many on the market, what could possibly be said that hasn’t already been said? That is what I said to myself when my good friend, Jan Tilley, told me she had just written her third book on making good choices with what we eat. Jan’s new book on what it takes for people to “be well” is called “Eat Well to Be Well."

You really want to buy a copy of this book! And I don’t get any royalties for this statement, so I hope you will be curious enough to go out and get a copy. It is $20 that very well could change your life…for good! My thoughts this week come from reading Jan’s book, and I hope you have the same experience when you read it.

food-healthy-vegetables-potatoes

My Revelation

When Jan was telling me she was taking on this project I thought to myself, “I wonder how many diet books have been written?”So I went out on Amazon and found out! There are 171,292 entries for “diet books” and 7,009 that were newly released in the last 90 days!

Talk about a competitive market!

I took Jan's book with me on a trip a few weeks ago and started reading. It really is a great read!

Jan writes not about diets, but about healthy choices. Choices that will sustain you so that “…you have a fighting chance to live a healthy, strong, vibrant life well into old age."

Choice.  An interesting word.

A word that says the decision and the repercussions are mine. I am the one accountable. I am the one responsible. The choice is mine to be healthy.

So that

  • If I am working like a dog, and don’t exercise - I chose that!
  • If I get angry at someone at work over something that doesn’t matter - I chose that!
  • If I skip breakfast and don’t do my best in the morning meeting -  I chose that!
  • If I had a bad day and take it out on people who matter most to me when I get home - I chose that!

I think it is so easy to believe the lies like:

  • My boss is putting so much pressure on me I don’t have time to exercise.
  • I deserve to be angry, my rights were violated.
  • Breakfast, who has time for that…I am not hungry anyway.
  • If you had a day like I had, you would take it home with you too.

Yet we recall... choice.

It is so easy to blame others for my situation:

  • The boss
  • McDonalds
  • Drug Companies
  • My spouse
  • My kids
  • My mother

But really, how long are we in western society going to continue our blame mentality? When will we take ownership for our own choices? Maybe it is time to admit that we are not healthy because we do not want to be.

A Quick Story

A few weeks ago I had a trip that took me to the West Coast, the Mid-West, the deep South, and back to the East Coast. I had several interactions with friends and clients on the journey where the conversation turned to health. Here are bullet summaries of what was said:

  • Friend One: “I am 90 days from my doctor putting me on insulin."
  • Friend Two: “My doctor needs to up my dose of Lipitor.”
  • Friend Three: "I am tired all the time, I just don’t have any energy.“
  • Friend Four: “I just don’t feel good about how I look.”
  • Friend Five: “My knees hurt so badly I can’t exercise anymore."
  • Friend Six: “ I lost 15 pounds on XX diet, but I have put on 25 since I stopped.”

As I was reflecting on those conversations, I had a couple revelations:

  • The reason that so many people write diet books is that the market is really big! A lot of people buy them, a lot of people are trying to figure out this health thing, so authors keep writing them!
  • I really care about all these people. Why can’t they make the changes they need to make to be healthy?

Change Is An Emotional Choice

In his book “The Heart of Change,” John Kotter says that the core matter of change is about speaking to people's feelings. That any successful change is brought about by helping each other see the problem or solution that influences the emotion and not just the thought. Kotter goes on to say that the single most important notion for change is quite simple, “People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings.“

Something not going your way? Are you not getting the outcome you desire? Have you not exercised in weeks? Are you working your entire vacation?

What needs to change?

According to Koetter, you do not need any more information or data. What you need is for the feeling you are experiencing to be turned from negative to positive. To see the possibility rather than to succumb to the inevitable.

Call To Action

Many of you who read this blog I have met at some point over the course of my life personally. I know some of you personally and many of you by acquaintance. I want you to know that I care about you. I care about your health and I care about your well-being. If you have a change that you need to make, I hope you will consider the emotional aspect of what you need to do. You will never make the change if you are focused on blaming your circumstance or gathering more data.

5 Steps to making Your Incremental Change

  • Write it down
  • Start today
  • Start small
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Focus on the positive feelings of making the change
  • Keep Going. Don’t stop until your change becomes your lifestyle

Many, many thanks to my friend Jan, who’s book really stimulated these thoughts. I hope you found them to be of value in your leadership life.

I really do think you should own a copy of Jan's book. If you haven’t purchased it yet, I am going to ask Jan to guest blog next week so that you can meet her and really think about interacting with what she has to say about healthy choices.

4 Factors to a Longer and More Successful Leadership Life

"One of my clients had a profound impact on my life this week. What I heard him say is:

"Scott I realized that I have to take care of me. I am at my best when I am taking care of myself. I decided that I am going to do yoga when I get up in the morning, and I am going to exercise at noon. I am going to be conscious of my diet and make good choices about what goes into my body."

When I probed for the reason, he continued,

"There has been a lot of negativity in my life recently, and I am just not going to allow it to get me down any longer. I am going to choose the leader I want to be and not be some weak victim of circumstance."

Absolutely Profound.

Choosing positive self-care over a negative circumstantial life perspective. Thanks to the courage of this story, this month I am dedicating the blog to the idea of wellness. We will discuss ways that you as a leader can take a positive self-care position, rather than be a victim of any negative circumstance.

Businessman holding two papers with happy and angry face each on them

According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is "an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence."

Four things to notice about wellness:

  • It is an active process. It is something you devote energy to making happen. It is intentional on your part as a leader.
  • It starts with self-awareness. Are you aware of the moment when health choices present themselves?
  • Wellness is a choice. You decide to be well in the moment, or say screw it and become a victim of your circumstance.
  • There is an end game. A successful existence. This is your life. You only get one. Why not make it the very best that it can be?

The National Wellness Institute describes six different dimensions for us to consider as we examine our own wellbeing:

  • Emotional
  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual

This week I want to focus on your Emotional Wellbeing as a leader.

The Story

One of my favorite authors is Martin Seligman. As a past president of the American Psychological Association, he has the credibility from a research standpoint that is really meaningful for me. In addition, Martin is a gifted storyteller who can weave a story together and then bring home a point that has real impact and causes me to pause and examine my own life.

One of my favorite stories that Martin tells is in his book Authentic Happiness. He details the stories of two of 180 nuns who are the subjects of an impactful and noteworthy study on longevity and happiness. If you want all the details, you really need to get the book, it is a great read. Here is the bottom line:

  • 90% of the most cheerful 25% of the nuns was alive at age 85 vs. only 34% of the least cheerful 25%.
  • 54% of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age 94, as opposed to only 11% of the least cheerful.

Studies of longevity are admittedly dicey and very complex from a pure science standpoint. Causality is extremely difficult to make a case for. However, one of the reasons this study is so impactful is that nuns lead very similar life. They eat similar food, they don’t smoke or drink alcohol, they have similar routines. Sure there are some other differences that could account for the results:

  • Different levels of intellect
  • Different depths of spirituality
  • Different outlooks on the future

However, none of these in the research made any difference. The thing that Seligman points out that made a difference in the longevity of the nuns was the amount of positive feelings expressed.

If longevity is at least one measure of a successful existence, then the positive outlook you have on life matters!

Happiness and Emotional Intelligence

In the Emotional Intelligence training that I do as a part of my consulting, one of the attributes we measure is that of Happiness or Wellbeing. In the model we use there are four factors that comprise Wellbeing:

  • Self-Regard: Believing in yourself and living according to your values.
  • Self-Actualization: A willingness to learn and grow in accordance with your values.
  • Interpersonal Relationships: Engaging in mutually satisfying relationships.
  • Optimism: The ability to respond, recover, and claim a happy state from disappointments and setbacks in life

There are two important considerations as you evaluate your own level of well-being.

The first is that you display as much of these four attributes as you can. Believe in yourself and live according to your values. Learn and grow in areas that really matter to you. Have friends and ensure that there is reciprocity. Realize that things are not always going to go your way. It isn’t if you are going to have a setback in life it is when. What counts is how you respond.

The second is that you have balance between these attributes. For example, you want to make sure that your self-regard is balanced with your interpersonal relationships. If you have a high level of self-regard and low levels of interpersonal relationships, you could come across as prideful and in it for yourself. If you have low levels of self-regard and high interpersonal relationships, then you could come across as needy and not fun to be around.

As you think about the successful life you want to live as a leader, are you choosing to maximize and balance these 4 attributes of emotional health?

Homework:

Rate yourself on a scale from one (low) to 10 (high) on each of the 4 attributes of well-being. Are you maximizing each attribute? Are all four of the attributes in balance with each other? As you reflect on these, what changes would you need to make to live a long and successful life?

3 Leadership MythBusters That Will Shock You

Last month, celebrity scientists Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman wrapped up thirteen years of debunking theories with the grand finale of MythBusters. I'll admit that I wasn't exactly a loyal fan of the show, but I did enjoy a few episodes here and there. It's fascinating to see these scientists take a myth that most people have heard, then test that myth, typically proving it's simply not true. I'm not a scientist, however, I am familiar with many myths in leadership and feel they've run their course in holding leaders back from reaching their full potential.

Facts versus myths

Here are three major misconceptions that leaders commonly believe to be weaknesses, when in fact they are traits and strategies that can be used as your secret weapon to effective leadership:

Myth #1: To retreat is to give up.

The Buster: Retreat is actually a way for a leader to regain clarity of vision and engage their work again more powerfully.  The idea of a retreat comes from an old French word meaning “a step backward.” The word took on a military connotation in the 14th century as the act of withdrawing from action. The reason for withdrawal was to regroup so that you may re-engage the enemy again more powerfully than before. Retreat is a powerful tool for positioning yourself for strength, especially when the state of being overwhelmed or stressed is restricting you from doing your best.

Myth #2: To be vulnerable is to be weak.

The Buster: Stop thinking that you are weak when you open up and share! You’re actually the opposite – you’re incredibly brave to let someone else in. Chances are, when you do, you’ll find someone as desperate as you are to connect on a meaningful level. The Industrial Age leadership principles and the “shut up and just get the job done” mindset are things of the past. Today’s leaders must be more open and transparent with their teams. When you are open, transparent, and clear with your thoughts and your thought processes, I believe you will find a team of people – professional and personal – who are ready to jump in and help you, walk beside you, and strive with you to accomplish great things.

Myth #3: Asking questions jeopardizes your intelligence.

The Buster: People often think that asking questions may put your reputation of high intelligence, or your perception of it, on the line. What's intimidating about asking questions is the uncertainty of the response you'll receive. But what can you do with unanswered questions? Nothing. Imagine what happens when your questions are answered: you receive clarity in a situation, you solve a problem, you understand your relationships better, etc. Ask questions, good questions, and get the answers you need in order to move you forward with your team, projects, and leadership.

Homework:

Retreat. Take an hour and a half out of your work day to evaluate the progress of your projects and do some self-reflection. Be Vulnerable. Be honest with someone about how you are feeling and what you are doing. Do this with someone who already knows you well, who you can trust to help you. Ask Questions. What in your organization or team needs clarification? What questions do you need to ask your leader/mentor, your team, or even yourself? Make a list of questions and take time to ask them this week.

5 Ways to Positively Impact Your Organization’s Culture

There is a lot of conversation in the “blogosphere” these days about the types of cultures leaders can create in organizations. Here are a few examples:

  • Learning Culture
  • Performance Culture
  • Service Culture
  • Command & Control Culture
  • Customer Centric Culture
  • Employee’s First Culture
  • Shareholder’s First Culture

Frankly, there are probably thousands of cultures and subcultures that organizations can identify with. Leaders can be left in a state of ambiguity about what is really acceptable in a culture unless organization-wide consensus can be found.

Confusion can lead to inconsistency in strategy implementation or even complete chaos, which can result in paralysis. This fragmentation in organizational culture can leave the strongest subcultures defined by those with the loudest voices, which may not actually be representative of the culture at all.

Perhaps a story can clarify:

Years ago I worked at an organization that had a cultural norm of “respect for people." This norm was carried out in a lot of very positive ways throughout the organization, such as caring and compassion with a death in an employee's family, paternity and maternity leaves, even pay based on performance was weaved into this respectful culture.

In one department, there swooped in a leader who had an agenda. A change in performance standards would take place but only a select few favorites would be told of these new rules in the culture. Low performance ratings were given to people who had traditionally been top performers. The organization became chaotic and fragmented as no one knew what the cultural norms were in order to perform at high levels. All anyone knew was to "please the leader or you are out."

Fast forward 6 months and the entire department had been decimated. The leader had to be replaced. What was once a high performing organization had been completely and utterly destroyed by the actions of one person. One really loud voice was able to take down an entire team, exiting many top performers from the company in the process.

The culture you define as an organizational leader impacts the development of your team members. If they don't feel safe, they definitely won't feel valued as a team member. And if they don't feel valued, then they won't be motivated. When you have unmotivated team members you run the risk of losing them or leaving untapped potential on the table.

So, how do you create a culture that allows your newest team members to feel safe as well as your current colleagues to be motivated? Perhaps it's not something that you DO, but instead what you can BE.

Focus on developing your emotional intelligence. This effort on your part will impact the culture you want to create. As you create this positive culture, the desired behaviors will become part of who you are and not just something that you do occasionally. Think deeply about the kind of culture you are shaping as you lead your team.

Here are 5 things you can become that will positively impact the culture of your organization to give you great results:

Be Self Aware Know and be confident in yourself and your abilities. Understand how you handle your emotions, and how they impress your company. Everyone is watching you to see how you will react. In fact, they may be able to predict your behaviors. Become just as aware of yourself and how you can choose your emotional responses.

Be Assertive Communicate your what, how, and why in a simple, clear, and even repetitive way so that your team understands.

Be Empathetic When I teach seminars on Emotional Intelligence, I often ask the group for a common definition for empathy. The response I get back more than any other is “walking a mile in the other person’s shoes.” I love this definition, but to take it one step further (pun intended), “walking a mile in the other person’s shoes, even when the shoe doesn’t fit." Being empathetic is about being compassionate, caring, listening, and being flexible as needed. I believe strongly that we should not neglect the impact empathy has on shaping the culture of your company. Showing regular empathy will instantly invoke safety and value for your teammates.

Be in Control Not wavering, or changing things based on emotional reactions. When something comes up that invokes an emotional response, remind yourself of the companies mission, and your principles, to be sure that the decisions being made align with your mission. This way your team can feel confident that you won't make changes at the drop of a hat. As they trust you, they can focus on the work they need to do.

Be Optimistic People who are positive are magnetic. We want to be around them and we can be inspired by them. In order to be optimistic, you have to change the way you talk to yourself. What I mean by that is being able to see the best in yourself, see setbacks as learning opportunities, and see obstacles as unique, temporary events that you'll get through. Learn more about this by downloading my eBook, Optimistic Thinking.

Homework

Think about the 5 "Be's" above. Choose one you would want to work on.

To help organize your thoughts, grab a piece of paper, then write and complete the following sentence:

I want to be more ______________, so that my team can feel ______________ and we'll create a culture that is ___________________.

Here are three ways I will be more ____________ this week: 1. 2. 3.

Share what you wrote with a mentor or coach and have them help you with this development. If you can't think of who to share this with, write it in our comments below or contact me directly. I'd love to hear what you have to say and find out how we can help you!

How You Can Win in the Role You're In

[callout]This week I am happy to share this blog space with Gretchen Holcomb. Gretchen is spending a few months fine-tuning some things in our organization before going off to Spain for a year to teach English as a second language. I am excited for her to share with you about her last two months working with our team and learning our organization's culture.[/callout] I love to travel and have been blessed with opportunities to spend time in multiple countries around the world.

In just the last few years, I've enjoyed curry cuisines in India and exploring historical cathedrals throughout Germany and Switzerland. One of the reasons that I travel so often is because I enjoy learning about other cultures. I've experienced different cultures in each country, all unique due to their location, language, history, agriculture, and so much more.

Being so passionate about travel, imagine my excitement when Scott shared with our team that he wanted to discuss the topic of culture on the blog this month! Yet after reading last week's blog, I began to think about how there are many more layers to culture than merely those we generally categorize by country or state. We each belong to overarching cultures, yet we also fit into subcultures that make up who we are and what we believe. These subcultures may be determined by your religion, gender, generation, upbringing, etc., all of which have influenced your behaviors and values.

As our team engaged in conversation about the cultures of organizations, I reflected on my first team meeting with Livingston Consulting Group and the organizational tension "culture shock" that I experienced.

You see, it was a very productive meeting where each team member shared what they were working on, brainstormed collectively what to do moving forward, and each identified our action steps for a project. As the meeting was wrapping up, my mind had already shifted gears towards what I needed to work on and how I would do that. Yet instead of just ending the meeting with assigned tasks to each member, Scott asked each of us to share one thing we learned from the meeting. I was not prepared and felt uncomfortable by what he asked us to do. I simply wasn't adapted to the organization's culture that was deeply invested in the development of the individuals on the team. Talk about a team that practices what they preach!

To overcome this cultural difference that I felt, I did a self-assessment of my emotions that Scott talked me through. Here are some questions I answered for this assessment:

What do I know about myself and my values?

Personally, I am very task oriented and focused. I value punctuality and deadlines for projects as a way to be organized and efficient. I feel that I am at my best and most productive when I complete several tasks and quality projects in a certain time frame.

What do I already know about the culture of my organization?

Each time our team meets, we spend some time sharing our thoughts, ideas, and opinions that may not necessarily be related to our projects and daily tasks. Although LCG appreciates work completion and meeting deadlines, our organization cares about the well-being and development of its employees and clients. There is an overarching vision of working on yourself and your emotional intelligence to be the best you can be.

What can I appreciate about the new culture I find myself in? How will it help me grow?

LCG recognizes work will always be there and will always get done, but the effectiveness and passion behind it is largely dependent upon our attitude and approach toward it. Spending time to reflect on what I'm learning and invest in my development will help me not only improve in my current role, but also position me to take on more leadership responsibilities in the future.

How can I use my strengths and skills to help me adapt to this new culture?

Since I am task oriented, I've challenged myself to write in a journal as a weekly assignment. This allows me to personally spend some focused time of reflection on my development. Sometimes I use Scott's questions as a writing prompt, or write a reflection based on our projects just like this blog post. This practice has helped me feel more comfortable when we share in our meetings, and has even stretched my thought process while I work.

So, what about you? Have you ever assessed yourself and your organization's culture to see how they align or where there is tension? How would you answer the questions above and take action yourself?

HOMEWORK

Find some time this week to answer the questions above in your journal. Ask someone else in your organization how they would answer these questions and start a conversation about culture at your workplace. You might be surprised by others perspective and what you can learn about your team.

What Great Leaders Do When Bad Things Happen

It seemed like a complete disaster. It was a project that our team created, organized, and executed, yet the outcome we received was far from what we desired. Sound familiar? It should, as we’ve all experienced the feeling of failure at one point in our lives. Whether in the workplace, in a sporting event, or other moments in our daily life, this failure can cause many different emotions such as frustration, disappointment, and most of all, fear.

In his new book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World, Adam Grant (Wharton’s four-time teacher of the year) gives some practical advice when we face fear. Instead of letting fear drift into anxiety or dread, reframe it into excitement. For example, in a study of people who fear public speaking (listed as one of the biggest fears people experience), the participants were divided into two groups. One group was given these three words: “I am calm." The other group was given three different words: “I am excited."

Which group performed their speeches better?

This one-word difference caused listeners of the talks to rate the “I am excited” group as 17% more persuasive and 15% more confident than the “I am calm” group.

Turning your fear into excitement can energize you to act. If you remain to calm for too long, there is a potential for negative self-talk and anxiety to set in. My hypothesis here is that the old advice of “remain calm” when you are in fear is really, "lower your anxiety and get moving." To remain calm for too long can cause paralysis in times of tension and complexity.

When you face times of tension, stress, and fear, how do you react?

We developed the CHECK list that we wrote about last week to give you a tool that will help you move forward when you are experiencing situations that bring fear.

Consider the Situation

It can be difficult to look at your situation objectively, considering the result of the project didn’t meet your expectations. Ask yourself the following questions to help you reflect and move forward:

  • What went well?
  • What could be improved?
  • What needs to change or be omitted?

Hear from Others

Take it to your team and colleagues. Ask them the questions that you asked yourself above. Create a space that allows them to speak into the situation and feel positive through a process of brainstorming the solutions. Including them will motivate them in moving forward. If your team is stuck, consider bringing a coach into the situation to offer a fresh perspective and facilitate conversations or the planning process.

Eliminate Negativity

It requires a full 360 shift perspective to begin to see failing as a learning opportunity instead of as failure. Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz talk about this feeling of failure in their book, Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win. In their research, the authors found that people who are happy and successful spend less time planning and more time acting. Now, there is planning involved prior to action, but what these people do is act on their plan without emotional fear based baggage. These folks get out into their universe to try different things and learn from their mistakes. From their perspective, failing is learning, not failure.

Conduct a Plan

Once you've looked at the situation objectively and heard from others, you can go back to the drawing board and work out a plan for moving forward. As mentioned earlier, try not to dwell in the planning stage. Instead, implement action. Consider adding some check-ups throughout your plan to track the progress along the way. Include someone in these check-ups for accountability.

Keep Your Head Up

Believe in yourself and in your team. Let others see your positive attitude and resilient behavior focused on moving forward. They will follow your lead and look to you for support or motivation. Approach your project from a different angle than before to give it a fresh feel for you and your team.

Homework

Reflect on a project or situation that didn't go the way you planned. Write down what went well and what could have been done differently. Share these thoughts with a colleague or mentor and brainstorm a plan for improvement next time.

Win or Lose, Emotional Intelligence Matters

After the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the quarterbacks from each team were bombarded by the media with questions. For Peyton Manning, it was all about whether he would cap his career on a high note. For Cam Newton, the questions reflected his fresh defeat. Whether you're a rookie like Newton, or a seasoned veteran like Manning, it is important to think through how we will respond emotionally whether we win or lose. Let's look a little closer at both players and think through what we can learn from them.

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Let's Start with Manning

After his win, we heard Manning repeat again and again what he planned to do, which did not involve releasing any clues of retirement. He gave a lot of credit to Coach Tony Dungy who encouraged him not to make any emotional decisions. Note that this advice came before a Super Bowl victory, because either outcome of the game would affect Manning's emotional decisions in the moment.

In the midst of the rush, you risk saying or doing something that you wouldn't when your emotional state is leveled and you are thinking clearly. In Manning's case, he could be feeling pretty good about his victory and desire to do it again. It's important for him to level emotion and take on a posture of humility in the weeks to come.

Now, Newton

I can't help but sympathize with Newton in some ways. It's early in his career and he had a great run this season. Stats and predictions for a victory pointed his way, yet just as he said in his brief interview after the game, “They just played better than us.” From his body language (hood up, eyes down) and his short answers, it was obvious that Newton was emotionally defeated.

No, he probably shouldn't have walked out of his interview, however, I think his emotional response could have been worse. Perhaps for Newton, at this point in his life and early in his career, the best thing he could do to avoid an emotional reaction was to just walk away. This was his immediate reaction. How he lets this loss affect him and his leadership moving forward will be crucial.

What this Means To You as a Leader

Sometimes things are going to go your way and you will win. The question becomes, how are you going to display your victory?

One of they key characteristics that attracts followers to a leader is humility. Winning with grace is a very attractive leadership attribute.

Humility can be disregarded at times because it is misrepresented as lacking toughness and grit. However, in an article in the Military Review, authors Joseph Doty and Dan Gerdes say this is not the case. They describe a humble leader as lacking arrogance, not aggressiveness. Humility can even carry a spiritual tone, since the leaders activities are seen as free of ego and self-aggrandizement. Peyton Manning may have the title of 2x Super Bowl Champion and leader of all-time passing yards, however, his posture of humility over the years is what attracted his fans and followers.

And then there are times when things are not going to go your way and you are going to lose. The question then becomes, how are you going to show grace in defeat?

Nobody likes a sore loser. Just look at what happened to Donald Trump in New Hampshire when he displayed poor character as he spoke about his loss in Iowa last week. His poll numbers started to drop, so much so that the Wall Street Journal says he must change his message to avoid another primary disaster.

The question is not if you are going to have a setback in life. The real question is when are you going to have a setback in life, and how do you respond when you do?

In the emotional intelligence realm, the trait that is needed by leaders is called resiliency. Leaders need to have an ability to recover, to get back to their original form when things do not go their way.

It will be interesting to see how Cam Newton recovers from losing the Super Bowl and how he'll channel this experience to shape his leadership for the next season.

What can you do?

  1. Picture yourself in the moment after you succeeded and then again as if you failed. How would you hope you'd react in either circumstance? How do you plan to respond? Do you know yourself well enough to know when you are in control or when you just need to walk away? Think about these things.
  2. Ask trusted mentors or coaches for insight. They will consider the situation in a way you may not have based on their past experiences. They will also be honest about how you may react, because they know you well. Make sure you really listen to them and consider what they share.
  3. Write out your plan and immediate response whether you win or lose. Think through your stance and posture as well. Stick to this script. This way, you don't risk saying or doing anything you didn't mean.

Homework

Identify the next big moment in your career or in your life. Think about the questions above and write out a plan of action whether you win or lose. We'd love to hear from you, so don't forget to comment below.

What’s New In Assessing Personality

Have you ever been to a leadership training that used an assessment of personality and left you feeling really energized, but later felt confined to how the assessment labeled you? This happened to me when I became certified in both the DISC profile and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Close-up of hand feeling checklist

I remember feeling really good about understanding myself in more depth. There was keen insight into why I preferred my life ordered in certain ways. Here's what I mean:

One of these assessments told me that...

  • I tend to focus my attention on the outer world of people and things.
  • I look for patterns and the big picture and focus on future possibilities.
  • I make decisions primarily on logic and on objective analysis.
  • I have an organized approach to life and like to have things completed.

While the above is true, I also know that...

  • I enjoy my inner world of ideas and impressions.
  • I pay attention to my senses and what is going on around me.
  • I am value oriented and feel I make decisions based on my values.
  • I love spontaneity and like to keep my options open.

The Problem: Feeling Boxed In

When I took the Myers Briggs (MBTI) assessment, I remember feeling boxed in by my type. Of course, the 4 letters of ENTJ (Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging) felt like me, but they didn’t fully capture my personality. I felt limited and stereotyped by the provided description. And I wasn't alone. I've met many others who have told me that they feel the same way about their personality type.

“Sometimes I am an extrovert, but I still like my 'me' time.”

“I feel like I am one way at home and a different way at work.”

“My organization values one type over another. They say they don’t, but look at who gets promoted.”

The Solution: Stepping Outside of the Box

Just when I thought all was lost and I'd be boxed in as an ENTJ for the rest of my life, I met Roger Pearman.

Roger is regarded as one of the world's preeminent experts in the field of personality type. Along with Multi-Health Systems, Roger has just published a new personality tool called Pearman Personality Integrator.

The Pearman Personality Integrator is a groundbreaking tool that brings a new model of understanding and development to the field of personality type. This tool is developed using the work of Dr. Carl G Jung (think MBTI), and going a step further by examining an individual’s personality at multiple levels.

Rather than getting 1 of 16 boxes (MBTI), or one of 4 boxes (DISC) or 4 colors (Insights), the Pearman Personality Integrator has the capacity to generate over 1,000,000 unique profiles!

In addition to giving the individual a better assessment of their personality, the Pearman Personality Integrator goes one step further, including a Flexibility Index. For a person to use their full range of psychological resources, flexibility is needed. The demands of everyday life at work, at home, socially, and professionally require using our natural psychological strengths as well as being able to flex to those parts of our personality that are not always a strength for us. As a part of the Pearman Personality Integrator, you receive an overall Flexindex Score. This scale is comprised of 5 dimensions that describe flexibility:

  • Proactivity
  • Composure
  • Connectivity
  • Variety-Seeking
  • Rejuvenation

When I left the certification for this tool, I felt like someone had finally developed a tool that captures the full range of human personality. I had a much keener insight into my preferences as a leader and possible situations where I might need to be more flexible for better outcomes.

Reflection

How about you? What assessments have you taken and what were the results? Have you ever felt both frustrated and excited about a personality profile? Would you be interested in learning more about this cutting edge technology in leader development and personality theory?

Homework:

Leave a comment below with the results of a personality assessment you have taken in the past. Do you feel these results accurately describe you? In what ways do you feel boxed in by the results?

Click here to contact us if you would be interested in learning more or taking the Pearman Personality Indicator in the future!

This IS More Important Than Any 2016 Goal You May Have

Over the past few weeks, I have thrown myself into the goal setting literature. My goal in this quest was to find something pithy and interesting to spur you on as you set your 2016 goals. I wanted to share with you something that you might not read anywhere else, such as:

  • How to envision your goals and make them SMART.
  • How to set up accountability for successful goal achievement.
  • How to celebrate goal achievement, or correct your course if you are falling short on a goal.

Businessman writing Idea 2016 concept. Can use for your business concept background.

Alas, while you can find lots of support in the leadership literature for all of the above, each time I began to write something I felt it had already been written. I was a bit discouraged about what I was going to share with you on this subject.

However, this morning I was reading an article in the WallStreet Journal by Ben Summers who teaches at West Point. Ben was illustrating his point using the example of how the United States treats enemy combatants who are captured. He compared this strategy to how, throughout history, our enemies have treated us.

In the article, he states, “Character is often measured in how we react when our values are most tested." (Summers, Ben. December 29, 2015. WallStreet Journal electronic version.)

It hit me. Perhaps it is not what we write as a goal, but how we implement it as a leader that matters. This is so true of every leader, regardless of organizational role. It is true for:

  • The CEO and the mail clerk in an organization
  • The pastor and the janitor in a church
  • The Vice President of Sales and the Manager of Operations
  • The university president and the adjunct professor
  • The store manager and the night security

We will all set some sort of goal in 2016. Even if we don’t write them down (which the literature says you should do), we will be thinking of what we want to accomplish this year.

Character Matters

Could it be that more important than the commitments we make is the character we show in implementing our goals? It is not only the what we are doing, but how we are accomplishing our goals that matters.

This morning I was doing some meditation. When I meditate, I will often use the Bible as a source of inspiration. I was reading from Psalm 15, the first 5 verses. In this reflection, the writer of these verses gives an interesting list of character traits for leaders to measure themselves against. Traits such as:

  • Integrity: Do what is right and speak the truth.
  • Loyalty: Treat others with respect and fairness.
  • Self-awareness: Hold fast to what is right; Be willing to admit wrong and make changes.

How Will You Implement

What an interesting list of character traits for us to compare ourselves to in 2016!

By now, many of you have already set some goals and some stretch goals. Good for you! The question is, will you implement them with integrity?

Will you implement them without talking poorly of someone else to make yourself look good? Will you implement them with self-awareness, even if you have to say you were wrong? Will you implement your goals while not sacrificing what you know is the right thing to do? Can you muster the courage to speak the truth even when it goes against popular consensus?

Perhaps as we review goals with our supervisors and accountability partners in 2016, we can talk not only about “the what" we hope to accomplish, but also “the how” we will go about it.

My hope for you as a leader is that you will set some really outstanding goals for 2016 and that you will implement them with character, principle, and integrity!

A Challenge

Here is a challenge for you! What if when you die, you face God. And God is not as interested in “what" you did on earth but “how" you did it? Would you do anything differently in your strategy for implementing your 2016 goals?

Homework: Spend some time reviewing your 2016 goals and considering "how" you will accomplish them. Write them down if you have not already done so.  Share your ideas with a friend or colleague and ask them to hold you accountable to implementing your goals with character, principle, and integrity this year.

If you take the homework challenge this week, or even sometime this month as you are starting your year, I would love to hear from you. Drop a comment below or send me an email and let me know!

How Understanding Risk Can Help Your Team Perform

I received an email last week from a client who is thinking about the impact that risk can have on team performance and dynamics. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Performance and Risk

I know you usually think of risk and reward going together, but as I was reading the email from my client a bell went off in my head. Reward is an outcome of risk, not a partner in the dynamic interplay of teams.

Risk and performance, however, go hand in hand.

Risk brings with it, as change does, a certain emotional tone and tenor. We each have a tolerance for risk. As that tolerance becomes challenged, our emotion, anxiety, and fear can all increase. The more safe we feel the less risky something is to us. Nothing new here, but hear me out on this relationship between risk and performance.

Let's say that someone on the team is driven by risk. We would call them carefree. Someone else on the team is risk averse, and we call them wary. Now the team has to make a decision on a product or how to put a presentation together. The carefree person wants to go for it. The wary person wants to hold back. Depending on team dynamics, the team may find themselves out of balance or even stuck. As a result, emotions rise, people stop understanding each other, and often begin looking for blame.

The stuck feeling the team is experiencing has nothing to do with talent or skill. The team is not performing in the moment because they all have a different tolerance for risk.

There are 8 different types of risk profiles that people present with. Understanding these risk types will help leaders to better navigate team dynamics and maximize the risk profiles of each member of  your team.

8 Risk Types

  • Excitable At the root of this risk type is impulsivity and an attraction to risk, combined with distress and regret if things go wrong. This type tends to be passionate and to vary in their moods between excited enthusiasm and pessimistic negativity. Such people are both frightened and excited by their impulsiveness and are likely to respond emotionally to events and to react strongly to disappointment or the unexpected. Depending on the mood of the moment, they may enjoy the spontaneity of making unplanned decisions.
  • Intense Those who fall into this dimension tend to be anxious and worrisome. People in this risk type tend to expect the worst, and tend to be highly-strung and alert to any risk or threat to their wellbeing. They are emotionally invested in their decisions and commitments and take it personally when things don’t work out. They tend to be very passionate about things, but their mood can vary dramatically from day to day.
  • Wary Characterised by a combination of self-discipline and concern about risk, these are cautious, organised people who highly prioritize security. They are likely to be alert to the risk aspect of any investment opportunity before evaluating any potential benefits. These people have a strong desire to know exactly what to expect, and, as a result, may find it difficult to make decisions.
  • Prudent Those in the prudent risk type have a high level of self-control. This type is organised, systematic, and conforming. Conservative and conventional in their approach, such people prefer continuity to variety and are most comfortable operating within established and familiar procedures.  Generally very cautious and suspicious of any new ventures, they may find reassurance in sticking with what they know.
  • Deliberate Those in this category have high levels of calm self-confidence combined with caution. This type tends to be unusually calm, even in situations where most people would be prone to worry or panic. At times, they may seem almost too accepting of risk and uncertainty. However, they are often well balanced by a desire to do things in a planned and systematic way. Because they are highly organised, compliant, and like to be fully informed about what is going on, they are unlikely to walk into anything unprepared.
  • Composed This type is cool headed, calm, and unemotional, but at the extreme may seem almost oblivious to risk. Their outlook will always be optimistic. These people take everything in stride and appear to manage stress very well. They are not particularly impulsive but are also not overly organized or systematic.
  • Adventurous At the root of this risk type is a combination of impulsiveness and fearlessness. Extreme examples of this type are people who have a disregard for custom, tradition, or convention. They are seemingly oblivious to risk. Their decision-making is likely to be influenced by both their lack of anxiety and their impulsiveness.
  • Carefree Those in this category dislike repetitive routine and do not like being told what to do. Such people may seem excitement seeking and, in extreme cases, reckless. Lack of attention to detail and preparation may cause their intentions and objectives to seem vague.  Their impatience, impulsivity, and distractibility might leave them exposed to hasty decisions.

These risk types all come from an exciting new assessment that is published by Multi-Health Systems called Compass Risk Type. The tool is designed to assess the individual risk type of each person on a team and then give the team a picture as a whole. As we design workshops around this Compass Risk Type Indicator it is always interesting for a team to look at a current issue they face, and each others Risk Type, to work through possible solutions.

There is potential for risk in almost everything that we do, and there are many different factors that influence a person’s readiness to take a risk at any particular moment. As leaders, we must be aware of the way those on our team interpret and respond to risk, beginning with ourselves.

Homework

Examine your risk type from the above list. Then think about an important relationship in your life; maybe a spouse, child, or business associate. Are you stuck anywhere in the relationship? Is the source of the stall because you each have a different approach to risk?

A Vaccination for Leadership Failure

Who wants to fail as a leader? No one. None of us wakes up in the morning and says, “Let me see how I can totally screw up the thing I am working on today."

And yet…Here is my story.

4 Things to Look for in Wise Counsel (2)

A number of years ago, I had been a fairly successful sales professional and tapped for a management development program. The company I worked for was growing like crazy. Most people spent less than 2 years in this program before they were tapped for their first management level job. I thought I had arrived! Look at me! Watch me climb! Nothing will stop my career! These were all thoughts I had at the time. I was on top of the world and it felt great.

My wife and I moved from my sales territory in Decatur, Illinois to the corporate headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Our family consisted of my wife and I along with our 2-year-old son Zach, and a precious baby girl due in about 6 weeks. The plan was to be in Indianapolis for less than 2 years before our next move into my first management level job. So, I did what every person with a dream, a wife, and 2 young kids does….

I went out and bought a 2 seat sports car.

I rationalized it by telling myself, "Hey, we already own a minivan. No problem."

Fast forward 5 years later. That's right, my 2-year window for promotion had gone to 5! The company hit a tight spot. No one got promoted for 3 years beyond my 2-year window. And on top of the career slow down, my wife and I had another baby boy! We were now a family of 5, with a minivan and a second car that is a Mazda Rx 7.

Great car, yet totally not practical when my wife took the minivan to go shopping one Saturday and left me with the 3 kids and a couple of friends kids. Scott and 5 kids on a Saturday morning, normally not a problem, until Zach comes out holding his hand over his eye and blood dripping down having just been whacked on the head with a toy by one of the other kids.

Question: How do I get 5 kids and me in the Rx7 and to the hospital to get Zach stitched up?

The Lesson

There is an ancient Proverb that says “Before his downfall a man's heart is proud."

I will admit it. I was full of pride. Proud of my career. Proud of my family. Proud of how I had achieved.

What is the problem with pride? It blocks your vision of reality. As leaders, we puff ourselves up for everyone to see.

What are some things that feed our pride as leaders?

1. People come to you for decision making. 2. People look to you for safety (job security). 3. People look to you as an expert in your field. 4. People feel comfortable knowing you are there. 5. You make people feel they are important. 6. You give people a feeling of optimism. 7. You give people a sense of hope. 8. You are near the top of the food chain. 9. People seek your advice and counsel. 10. Your opinions are sought and considered.

The great writer CS Lewis says that the problem with your pride is that it is in competition with everyone else's pride. Pride at its very root is competitive. “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man,” according to Lewis.

More money. Bigger house. Better looking. Smarter. Prettier wife. More loving husband. Successful kids. Faithful servant. Harder worker. Coolest job.

The problem with pride is not the metric, but what we do with it. It is in our nature to compare. It is how we know where we are. The problem with pride is an inability to be content and a desire for control. It is a scarcity mentality that says for me to be up in life you must be down.

This is a lie.

Great leaders find ways for everyone to be up.

What I have learned over the years is that when I begin feeling like this, full of pride, I better watch my next step.

The Vaccination

When things go wrong, we begin to think about treatment. Treatment is about fixing the problem. Vaccination, however, is about prevention.

Treatment in the medical world is meant to help you recover from something that has happened to you. A vaccination is meant to prevent the disease in the first place.

The second part of the Proverb I mentioned above states, “but humility comes before honor."

Being humble. Putting others ahead of your pride. Being modest in your opinion of yourself. Thinking of others as better than yourself is one way to overcome pride.

The question I have been asking myself is, are there any strategies for preventing pride in the first place?

How can you vaccinate yourself against pride that often accompanies Leadership?

Here is a shot in the arm that can help you prevent Leadership Pride. This might sting a little, but here comes the needle...

Seek Wise Counsel.

That didn’t hurt too bad, did it?

Looking back on my story, I really should have sought wise counsel about buying that car. Not only was it impractical, but the assumptions I used to frame my reality regarding my career and my family were askew. They just were not based in reality. Just because the business was in an up cycle didn’t mean it was going to stay that way forever. Some wise counsel at that time could have been just the vaccination the doctor would have prescribed to prevent me from making such a poor decision.

There is another Proverb that says “Without counsel plans are frustrated, but with many counselors plans succeed."

As you are thinking about getting wise counsel in your life, what should you look for? Here are a few things I have found as I have researched the topic:

4 Things to Look for in Wise Counsel:

1. Experience. Why not ask someone who has been down the road what the path looks like? 2. Impulse Control. Look for someone who is not going to be swayed by your emotional rationale. You do not want someone who will agree with you all the time. You want another perspective on what reality looks like. A person who is patient enough to hear you out. 3. Courage. Having an ability to disagree with you is paramount to you being able to learn and grow. 4. Empathy. Someone who can see your perspective even if they do not agree. Empathy differs from sympathy in that the empathic person will ask the hard question when it is in your best interest. The sympathetic person will just agree with you in whatever state you are in.

So often in leader development we screw up and look for a treatment remedy for what has happened. Why not look to prevent these potential failures in leadership by vaccinating yourself against tragedy? Seeking wise counsel may be one good shot in the arm for you as a leader.

Your Homework

Look for a leadership decision you have coming up. Seek out some wise counsel. Lay the topic out for those you are seeking input from, without bias or telling them your preferences. Consider what they say to you before you act.

How Top Executives Are Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and are on your way to a wonderful Christmas season. I know for our family this is one of the best times of the year. One of my family's favorite activities is to sit around and play games together. Some of our favorites right now are Qwirkle, Bang!, Settlers of Catan, and our age-old favorite card game, Euchre. There is an interesting line of research that is showing how important the art of play is in learning. We all know this is true for kids growing up. I can remember as a kid going outside and playing for hours. We learned how to get along with others. We learned rules and boundaries. We learned how to win with humility and lose gracefully (well, at least we knew what the standard was for each of these even if we didn’t implement them correctly). Playing is an important part of learning for adults as well.

The-Settlers-of-Catan-000017060944_Full

So, why don’t we play a game? I will give you a couple of questions, and you see if you can guess the right answer. These questions come from a recent article by Robert Paglinarini titled “The Top 5 Coaching Myths” based upon research on Fortune 100 executives. Let's see how you do.

  • Executives who participated in formal coaching program experienced what percent improvement in interpersonal relationships?

A. 48% B. 61% C. 67% D. 77%

  • Executives who participated in a formal coaching program experienced what percent improvement in teamwork?

A. 48% B. 61% C. 67% D. 77%

  • Executives who participated in a formal coaching program experienced what percent improvement in job satisfaction?

A. 48% B. 61% C. 67% D. 77%

  • Executives who participated in a formal coaching program experienced, what percent improvement in quality of their work?

A. 48% B. 61% C. 67% D. 77%

Answer Key

How do you think you did? Let's find out...

Interpersonal Relationships The 100 executives surveyed found that executive coaching helped them improve their interpersonal relationships by 77%. The truth is that when it comes to interpersonal relationships the change or improvement that is needed is often quite small. Usually, it is something that will make the relationship mutually satisfying for both parties. Things like putting down your phone and making eye contact, taking time to connect socially before digging right into business, and treating others with respect.

Teamwork The 100 executives surveyed found that executive coaching helped them improve their teamwork by 67%. Teamwork can be a little trickier because there are multiple individual relationships as well as group dynamics that come into play. Some new research on how leaders handle risk is shedding light on improving team performance. Many teams struggle because the risk profile of the individuals differs significantly. Fortunately, we now have tools to diagnose and assist in helping teams perform at higher levels based upon risk profiles. If you are interested in learning more about this let me know, I would be happy to share.

Job Satisfaction The 100 executives surveyed found that executive coaching helped them improve their job satisfaction by 61%. This one is two-fold in my mind. First, just having someone to intently listen to you like an executive coach does can do wonders for your over feeling of satisfaction. It can be like therapy at work. The other factor is that most people who hire an executive coach are doing so these days to make themselves better. When performance improves people feel better, ergo increased job satisfaction.

Quality The 100 executives surveyed found that executive coaching helped them improve the quality of their work by 48%. This is probably due to an executive coaches ability to clarify issues and help the executive focus on what is really important.

How About You

As you start to think about your performance in 2016, could a coach be the right next step? Are you looking to improve the quality of your work or maybe your job satisfaction? The return on investment (ROI) data for coaching is all over the board. Most studies cite numbers two to six times the investment range. My personal opinion is that most of the ROI data on coaching is suspect primarily because of the methodology used to calculate the data. What kind of return would you like to have on an important team's performance? How important is the project they are working on, for example? If the executives in this study say that coaching helped them that much, maybe you should try it for yourself. Conduct your own study and see what you think.

Homework: As you consider your goals for 2016 what would it be like for you to make an investment in a coach to help you reach your goal? Think about it, it might be just the bit of playfulness you need to learn and grow as a leader.

Healthy Holidays

[guestpost]Today we welcome guest blogger, Gretchen Holcomb. Gretchen is the newest addition to our team and has some excellent ideas to share with you about how we can enjoy the holiday season without neglecting our health.[/guestpost] There are three things about me that my loved ones all know about me: I always have a plan, I set goals for myself regularly, and I love helping others.

About a year and a half ago, I combined these aspects of my life to lose some weight, adopt new healthy habits, and lead some family and friends in this same initiative. When I started my health journey it became clear to me that if I wanted to lose weight I had to break some old bad habits and develop some new good ones. These are a few habits that have been essential for me to implement in order to achieve successful results.

  • Eat 6 small meals each day, balanced with lean protein and good carbohydrates.
  • Drink at least 100 oz. of water every day, or half your body weight in ounces.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes 3 - 5 days a week. This can be as simple as walking.

Homemade pastry and roasted poultry on festive table

With the holidays coming up, it can be difficult to avoid the temptation of traditional dishes and delicate desserts. Here are some extra tips that have helped me along the way:

  • Focus on friends and family, not the food. Make it a goal or a game to learn 5 new things about 3 people at the party.
  • Stay out of the room where the food is, so you aren't tempted to graze. Just think "out of sight, out of mind!"
  • Eat before you go to the holiday party. Make sure the meal includes a balance of protein and good carbs.
  • Keep water close. Take a water bottle with you where ever you go.
  • Offer to bring a healthy snack to the party, like a veggie tray. This way you are sure to have at least one healthy choice at the event.

Although weight loss can be an added bonus to getting healthy, I find that when I practice healthy habits I sleep better, my heartburn is reduced, and I'm even able to focus and think more clearly throughout the day.

The first step toward health is educating yourself on the benefits of creating healthy habits. If you are interested in learning more about how simple, healthy habits can make a significant impact in your overall health, click here to support a new book, “Eat Well to Be Well,” from our friend and Registered Dietician, Jan Tilley.

HOMEWORK

Identify one of the tips provided and commit to practicing that habit over the holiday season. Comment below and let us know which one you choose so we can encourage you along the way!