A simple question that can help your intimate relationship grow and become stronger

Posted on January 2, 2018

Three simple (yet challenging to practice) behaviors can help in making intimate relationships stronger: Taking accountability for one’s own behavior, speaking from the heart and realizing what “true love” really means.  In this blog post, novelist Richard Paul Evans reveals how asking his partner a simple question each day using behaviors mentioned above not only saved his marriage — but has also lead to a fuller, more meaningful relationship.

Making emotionally intelligent friendships

Posted on December 19, 2017

From Socrates who taught us to “know thyself” and “the unexamined life is not worth living” and to Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People… across the millennia we have heard themes of the importance of gaining and maintaining relationships.   This brief article reviews recent studies on how developing emotional intimacy is a key in having a healthy understanding of ourselves which leads to attracting and maintaining emotionally rewarding relationships. Emotions you say, isn’t that “touchy feely?”…emotional intimacy is what is often called “emotional/social intelligence” and, the gaining of such, can lead to more successful outcomes in both work and family life.

Allow Yourself to Rest

Posted on December 12, 2017

Allow Yourself to RestParticularly as the holidays descend upon us and the seasons change, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the importance of self care.  In our work life, it is challenging to unplug from the “E-Leash” which makes true rest and relaxation harder to attain as the electronic devices can distract us and cause a felt sense of vigilance. This article gives some simple mindful activities to do in order to move you into deeper rest-when you remember to take the time to do so.  The author has developed simple practices one can take on to focus on the present moment, tune into your breath and begin the relaxation process.

This Is How To Create Happy Memories That Will Last A Lifetime: 3 Secrets From Research

Posted on November 12, 2017

It’s fascinating what causes people to remember certain experiences, activities, and times in their lives.  Yet, most of the time we wonder what we did last week that was meaningful or, how fast time is going by and … what is there to show for it?  This article describes the research behind what makes certain events memorable and how to create more of them to savor and enjoy the life we have.  Here are some hints:  tell a employee that you appreciate their work, celebrate getting past a disagreement and remaining friends, mark a memory with a ritual that involves a sensory delight…live your life and look to make more moments of connection and gratitude.

How to Build Resilience in Mid-Life

Posted on August 23, 2017

Building Resilence in Mid-lifeResilience, defined by most as the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity, is widely considered now an important behavior to nurture well-being and healing from life’s challenges. This article outlines specific ways one can practice and develop resilience to manage the stresses living a life may bring.

Turning Negative Thinkers into Positive Ones

Posted on August 3, 2017

We all know negative thinking when we hear it, the challenge is managing our own negative thoughts even in the face of hearing the “half empty glass” dialogue of others.  This article by NYT health editor Jane Brody describes the compelling research of current social scientists whose data suggests that developing positive emotions in oneself promotes healthy bodies, minds and more life satisfaction.

This is How to Be More Productive: 4 Secrets from the Stoics

Posted on June 12, 2017

The Stoics were those Roman and Greek philosophers who flourished in and around the 3rd Century. The Stoic philosophers promtoed ways to manage one’s minds to have a better understanding of the natural world, to be open to a broader view of life beyond pleasure and pain and, to treat others in a fair and just way.

Sounds like a great formula for team work?  Yes, and we can also learn a lot from the Stoics about choosing the right actions and priorities which can aid our productive habits.  Read on about tips regarding how we think about our time and effort can lead to being  more productive, ultimately leading to contributing your talents most effectively.

Be the Authentic Leader Your People Need

Posted on May 11, 2017

Many leaders are unaware of how their lack of authenticity chips away at people, breeding dissatisfaction, distrust and disloyalty. Organizational effectiveness and productivity suffer when workers view leaders as inauthentic.

One out of three people distrusts his or her employer, according to the 2017 Edelman “Trust Barometer.” Four out of five don’t see authenticity in their leaders’ performance. When only 20 percent of leaders come across as genuine, they handicap their organizations with insufficient influence, poor worker engagement and, ultimately, disappointing corporate results.

The Real Deal

Authenticity is an emotionally vital state of well-being for employees—one that heavily relies on a leader’s consistent true-ness, explains consultant Karissa Thacker in The Art of Authenticity (Wiley, 2016). Being authentic encompasses several other key leadership mandates:

1. Be self-aware.
2. Earn respect.
3. Connect.
4. Convey credibility.
5. Earn trust.

Be Self-Aware

Great leaders know themselves well, notes Brenda Ellington Booth, a clinical professor of management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.

When you recognize your limitations and weaknesses, you can openly admit to them, learn to compensate and find workable solutions. Focusing on self-improvement, with an emphasis on asking others to assist you, is as authentic as it gets.

Leaders who fully understand and express their vision are clearer about promoting it—and more successful in getting others to believe in it.

Earn Respect

Being respected begins with showing respect to others, both upline and downline in your organization. Model respect for everyone to imitate, and it will be contagious.

The phrase “leading by example” is more than a suggestion. Leaders who model the behavior they want their organizations to exhibit make the most effective strides in establishing a healthy culture. Employees respect leaders who walk the talk.

Humility, expressed as a willingness to listen to and learn from others, is one of the most effective ways to earn respect, asserts leadership coach Brent Gleeson in his Inc.com article, “7 Simple Ways to Lead by Example.” Authentic leaders recognize they don’t have all the answers, and probably never will. Soliciting others’ ideas showers them with affirmation.

Connect

Sincere leaders say what they mean and mean what they say. A genuine, relational approach to people shows them they’re valued, Booth notes. When they see a leader who’s interested in them, they’ll reciprocate, which fuels engagement and productivity.

Relationships ascend to the next level when you seek feedback from your staff, especially regarding how they’re being managed. Your willingness to listen demonstrates an authentic sense of vulnerability that reveals courage, candor and caring.

Convey Credibility

People don’t believe leaders who exhibit questionable behavior. Being true, inwardly and outwardly, avoids this potential pitfall.

Trueness to oneself is the most basic form of genuineness, which aligns with authenticity. Be the real you. Faking things is deceptive and eventually evident to all. People aren’t fooled for long. They’ll question and distrust inconsistencies. Being true to yourself requires healthy self-awareness and self-worth. Who you are is the person people will see, and it’s the noble character in you they want to see.

Consistency in trueness builds credibility. People know who they’ll face day in and day out, through good and tough times. Great leaders have trained themselves to proactively discern the high road and take it, with honorable motives.

Honesty shouldn’t be the best policy; it should be the only policy. Leaders caught in a lie inflict damage to themselves and those around them.

Exercise judgment when truth must be guarded. Confidentiality is required for credibility. Sensitive, personal or private information must be handled carefully and discreetly. Don’t jump to conclusions or make decisions based on assumptions or rumors. Once inappropriate things are said or misinformation falls into the wrong hands, it cannot be retracted.

Earn Trust

Establishing a system of personal checks and balances conveys the importance of accountability. Submitting to the authority of peers or top leaders helps assure people that the decisions governing them can be trusted as prudent and beneficial for everyone (catering to their inward need for safety and assurance).

When you accept blame for errors and give credit for victories, you’re demonstrating accountability and setting the stage for greater trust. Your actions place value on the most appropriate people: those doing the work. Without your people, you accomplish nothing, so be sure to express appreciation. You’ll be rewarded with their trust.

The greatest leaders give their people the most freedom possible to make decisions, pushing authority down to the most foundational level. This is a powerful sign of trust in staff, and it is returned with something just as powerful: trust in the leader. Employees free from overcontrol and micromanaging acquire a sense of empowerment that raises productivity and innovation.

Finally, authentic leaders are flexible. They adapt to shifting situations and go off script if needed, always keeping in mind their people’s well-being. Sticking to routines or insisting on preferences shows inflexibility, which is usually self-serving. Your willingness to change plans in response to a challenge or crisis, with authentic good judgment, is a sign of your trustworthiness.

You owe it to yourself and your people to continually refine your character and insights, as well as think and respond in credible, authentic ways. Work toward making effective decisions and powerful impressions that draw your people into an engaging and productive unity you never thought possible. Let an experienced leadership coach assist with the areas that challenge you the most.

Can We Really Fix Dysfunctional Teams?

Posted on May 11, 2017

 

Organizations waste vast amounts of time, effort and money each year by failing to recognize or correct dysfunctional teams.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers study of 200 global companies across various sectors―involving more than 10,000 projects―found less than 3% successfully completed their plans. Similar research reveals 60%–70% project failure rates. In the United States alone, IT project failures cause estimated losses of up to $150 billion per year.

Dysfunctional teams cannot be blamed for all business failures, but they play a major role in unsuccessful projects and missed goals. In his acclaimed bestseller, organizational consultant Patrick Lencioni identifies The Five Dysfunctions of a Team:

1. Absence of trust
2. Fear of conflict
3. Lack of commitment
4. No accountability
5. Lack of attention to results

1. Absence of Trust

Lack of trust is the core dysfunction, the one that leads to all other problems.

Several group behaviors demonstrate distrust. Team members may have low confidence in others. They may fear that any sign of personal weakness could be used against them. Consequently, people are unwilling to be vulnerable, transparent or open when exchanging ideas or expressing their feelings.

A lack of trust creates defensiveness in team members, notes leadership consultant Roger M. Schwarz in Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams (Jossey-Bass, 2013). Defensive team members feel the need to protect themselves.

Leaders who want to rebuild trust can try the following strategies:

• Vulnerability: Create an environment in which team members can safely feel vulnerable. Draw out people’s personal experiences by sharing your own stories, thereby setting the proper tone and lowering barriers.

• Honest Feedback: Team members must learn how to provide feedback. Acknowledging and affirming others with constructive feedback set the stage for positive reinforcement and encouragement.

• Authenticity: Practice humility to tear down walls. If you and your team can admit that you don’t know everything, the experience will be freeing.

• Integrity: Model integrity in group dynamics. Everything you do is magnified and often copied. When you “walk the talk,” others will follow your example.

2. Fear of Conflict

Lack of trust within a team easily leads to fear of conflict, confrontation, criticism and/or reprisal. When teammates and leaders are seen as potential threats, people adopt avoidance tactics. This sets up an artificial harmony that has no productive value. There is no true consensus, just a risk-preventing sentiment of “yes” feedback. True critique is avoided. Genuine solutions are not explored, and the team functions poorly.

This dynamic allows a domineering team member to take over, with a unilateral-control mentality. Dominant personalities believe they’re always correct, and anyone who disagrees is wrong and disloyal. Independent ideas are stifled. Negative feedback creates discomfort. People’s spirits and self-esteem eventually plummet, crippling group performance.

Conflict-resolution training can help you encourage productive debate without hurting feelings or wounding character.

3. Lack of commitment

When teams lack trust and fear conflict, they’re likely to avoid commitment. We focus on self-preservation and maintaining amicable relationships. As we attempt to avoid confrontation, we stop listening to others’ concerns. Discussions become superficially polite.

Most people can sense when someone isn’t listening to their ideas or questions. This single dynamic―often subtle―will shut down team engagement and commitment, and tension continues to grow.

Teammates who are cut off or ignored feel left out. They’re less committed to team effort, so they’re unlikely to “get with the program.” It becomes difficult for a team to move forward amid stalled decisions or incomplete assignments. Enthusiasm for projects takes a nosedive, and confrontations become commonplace. Some members even stop caring about whether the team succeeds.

Lack of commitment also becomes a problem when you fail to convey clear goals or direction. People are left to wonder what they’re supposed to do, and the team’s success is no longer their top priority. They mentally check out and just start going through the motions.

You can reestablish commitment by prompting team members to ask questions. When you invite dialogue, teammates learn more about each other. They’ll see others’ intentions, attitudes, motives and mindsets more clearly, eliminating the need to guess or assume.

4. No Accountability

If you fail to reverse a lack of commitment, dysfunctions will intensify. Team members will lose their sense of accountability. If there’s little buy-in, there’s no desire to meet obligations, follow directions or help others. This is most common in environments where progress isn’t adequately assessed and definitive project schedules don’t exist.

Work toward establishing clear directions, standards and expectations. All team members need to work with the same information set at all times. Realistic, understandable schedules help drive activities and allow work flow to meet interconnected goals.

Activity tracking methods should clearly report which tasks are on time and which are late. Corrective action plans should make the necessary adjustments and redirect activities accordingly.

5. Inattention to Results

Without team accountability, the focus of group success is lost in the shuffle. Self-preservation and self-interest trump results in a climate of distrust and fear. Your inability to track results leaves you with no way to judge ongoing success or failure, progress or pitfalls. No one is praised for good results, and no one is corrected for the lack thereof.

Effective project management methods must track progress toward intermediate and final goals. Affirm team members (and their interdependence) through their accomplishments and struggles. This draws them together and lets them know they’re valuable to the organization, team and, ultimately, themselves.

3 Simple Steps to Reduce Stress in the New Year

Posted on January 17, 2017

By knowing what our strengths are, we can consciously think of using them when confronted with everyday stress.  This simple article offer a free strengths test that was developed by Drs. Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson- serious, respected social scientists who researched all major cultures to find out what strengths were key to being successful in that culture. Take the test and focus on ways to use these strengths everyday in the New Year to manage the challenges you may face.