Thursday, December 31, 2009

Play Safely, Kids

So long 2009! Here's to a GREAT 2010!

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image source: http://www.sxc.hu

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dissent and Other Keys to Success

Even in the worst of times, Bad Management causes dissension. In "Developing Managers for Team-Driven Success" (Baseline Magazine, November 2009) William Moskal identified several examples of bad management behavior:
  • Micromanagement: "Decisions are imposed, not delegated."
  • Communication gaps: "Goals, strategies, expectations and timelines are not shared. Feedback is withheld."
  • Inconsistency: "Abrupt reversals, deadline changes and frequent new priorities." (Although in fairness to everyone, that's really become fairly typical in many (most?) organizations, hasn't it?!)
  • Intimidation: "A disproportionate focus on discipline, not coaching, including public criticism and rudeness."
  • Self-promotion: "Opportunities are not shared, and credit is hoarded."
  • Lack of mentoring: "Managers are not groomed for advancement. Cross-training is not encouraged and access to upper management is restricted."

"The reassuring news," says Moskal, "is that managers who unwittingly build barriers can also remove them." (Yes, when it comes to professional development, sometimes you actually can teach old dogs new tricks!) His solution: "Senior executives should take a wide-angle look to identify opportunities to empower and motivate front-line managers, while avoiding corrective approaches that stigmatize and single out individuals."

Okay. Anyway, he also had an excellent approach to helping managers improve their engagement, strategic analysis skills, and conflict management capabilities:

Have each executive establish - and rotate - an "official dissent" role among his/her direct reports.

Per Moskal, "Sanctioned opposition can be a powerful tool for collaborative decision-making, analytic skill-building and improved outcomes." I agree. It 'permissions' the quiet ones to speak up. It encourages those who always play 'devil's advocate' to stretch beyond just that.

(Hmm, dissenting with the official dissenter is tantamount to agreeing with the original idea, is it not?! And agreeing with the dissenter is, well, agreeing! Watch out you devil's advocates out there, this official dissent thing could rock your world! )

Having an official dissent role in your organization might unlock some truly superb ideas. And in these worst of times, superb ideas are exactly what's needed, are they not?!

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Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

RockStarLeader Guest Post #1: Why Dogs Don't Enjoy Music


Creative marketeer, Tom Schulte, recently started http://rockstarleader.wordpress.com/ - "the intersection of music and influence" - and asked if I'd do some guest blogging for the site.

My first post was published today. It's called, Why Dogs Don't Enjoy Music. Bascially, it's a riff on how leaders might not be as strong at communicating with their staff as they may think ... and what can be done about it.
"Subtlety is often considered a more “refined” form of communication. The problem with subtle communications, though, is that they ask the listener — they require the listener — to be much more discerning when listening. And depending on circumstances, that could be asking a LOT from someone.

"Too much, perhaps.

"Indeed, expecting someone to give you their full and Undivided Attention could be far more than they’re ready for — or capable of — in this busy, distracted, juggling priorities, go-go, world of ours."
To read the entire piece, link on over to Why Dogs Don't Enjoy Music.

And while there, see what else is going on at http://rockstarleader.wordpress.com/.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Don't Squat with Yer Spurs On!

Selected words of wisdom from "A Cowboy's Guide to Life," volumes I and II, by Texas Bix Bender:
  1. Never take to sawin' on the branch that's supportn' you, unless you're bein' hung from it.

  2. A lot of good luck is undeserved, but then so is a lot of bad luck.

  3. Go after life as if it's something that's got to be roped in a hurry before it gets away.

  4. Don't let so much reality into your life that there's no room left for dreamin'.

  5. Ain't never seen a wild critter feelin' sorry for itself.

  6. Honesty is not something you should flirt with -- ou should be married to it.

  7. Avoid flasharity, foofaraw, and fumadiddle in dress, speech, and conduct. leave the peacocking for the peacocks.

  8. You can't weigh the facts if yo'uve got the scales loaded down with your opinions.

  9. When you forgive and forget, forget that you forgave while you're at it.

  10. The best way to knock a chip off a shoulder is with a friendly pat on the back.

  11. Work lessat worrying and more at working.

  12. Advice is like a pot of chili: You should try a little of it yourself before you give anybody else a taste.

  13. If you ain't pullin' your weight, you're pushin' your luck.

  14. Nothin' keeps you honest more than witnesses.

  15. The purest metal comes out of the greatest heat.

  16. You're not being diplomatic just because you put "please' in front of "shut the hell up."

  17. Smetimes it takes a lot more thinkin' to deal with changes than to make 'em.

  18. You'll feel better when it quits hurtin'.

  19. The bigger the mouth, the better it looks shut.

  20. You can't tell how far a frog can jump by its croak.

  21. Always walk tall and keep your head up -- unless you're walkin' in a cow pasture.

  22. The best way to break a bad habit is to drop it.

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Thanks to A.W.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

ManagementSushi Guest Post #1: Management Sushi, Johnny Appleseed Style

Management SushiLong-time marketeer, brand expert, and SME business strategist, Bernie Ritchie, over at http://www.managementsushi.com/, asked if I'd write an article for her blog. So I did!

The post, titled, Management Excellence, Johnny Appleseed Style, talks about a boss' responsibility to plant and cultivate motivational Growth Seeds.

"Growth Seeds are those special insights we share with others when we have their undivided attention. They are what inspire continued learning and growth. They are what enable greater creativity, motivation, and decisiveness. They are what help make good things happen for people that might not happen otherwise.
"So how does a manager effectively plant and nurture motivational Growth Seeds, if so inclined? The acronym "S-E-E-D-S" suggests a number of ways of doing exactly that."
To read more about motivational growth S-E-E-D-S, link on over to Management Excellence, Johnny Appleseed Style.
And while there, see what else Bernie's got going on at http://www.managementsushi.com/.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Risk Tolerance and Reality

Financial Advisers talk about Risk Tolerance -- the amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your investments trend in the wrong direction. But Risk Tolerance applies to more than just Wall Street dynamics.

Consider where you stand with respect to:
  • Career/Job Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your employer choose to restructure or eliminate your current position.
  • Leadership Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with as the boss of those facing current, impending, or recently-experienced Job Risk.
  • Interpersonal Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should an important relationship of yours hit a rough patch.
  • Self-Confidence Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should these or other things at work or in life not go as planned.
  • Self-Esteem Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your self-confidence dissipate and work/life continue to trend in the wrong direction.

The underlying question here differentiates between PLANNING for potential realities...and dealing with ACTUALITIES.

So what do we do when we find ourselves needing to cope with more risk than we would typically tolerate?

When financial advisers talk about money-matters, many (most?) suggest that we not 'change horses in the middle of the stream' but rather establish, and then stick with, an allocation strategy or plan that's properly aligned with our overall Risk Tolerance level. That, they say, will serve us BEST in the long-run.

Yet isn't it true that airplanes never actually fly in a straight line from here to there but, instead, must make a series of continuous, albeit minor, adjustments along the way to properly correct for the realities of what's going on in the skies around them?

Planning for Reality is important. But effectively handling Reality is more so. Is it not? (This reminds me of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs -- self-actualization may be the ultimate goal, but if you aren't getting your basic needs met, it's sort of irrelevant.)

So how ARE you handling the REALITY of your work and personal lives these days --not just your financial reality,but your entire reality?

  • If you're struggling some, what might you do to bolster yourself and your situation?
  • If you're not, how might you help someone who is?

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Unlock Your Full Potential

Per Rober Kega, PhD, Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, from an interview with BottomLinePersonal (Volume 30; Number 14):
  1. List the things you do -- and the things you don't do -- that inhibit your progress toward your stated goal.
  2. For each inhibiting behavior that you listed in step #1, ask yourself, "What fear or fears are raised in my mind when I imagine myself doing exactly the opposite?"
  3. Rewrite the fears you listed in step #2 in a way that expresses your commitment to your hidden conflicting goals.
  4. Go back to the fears you described in step #2, and list the assumptions that are built into them.
  5. Imagine what would happen if you pursued your stated goal and things did not go perfectly.
  6. Discuss your desire to alter your behavior with those who will be affected by your changes.
  7. Adjust your behavior in small ways that challenge the importance of your conflicting goal without forsaking it entirely

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Proof that Coaching Works

It's one thing to have beliefs about the positive impact of coaching. It's something quite different when your beliefs can be substantiated as fact through independent, peer-reviewed, methodologically-valid research with meaningful, and statistically-significant, findings.

Consider, for example, the following research studies and findings:

Grant, Frith, & Burton (2009) – Randomized Controlled Trial* (RCT) evaluating executives provided with 360-degree feedback and just four coaching sessions for over a ten week period proved that:
  • Coaching enhanced goal attainment
  • Coaching enhanced resilience
  • Coaching enhanced workplace well-being
  • Coaching reduced depression
  • Coaching reduced stress
  • Coaching helped participants deal with organizational change

Spence, Cavanagh, & Grant (2008) – RCT evaluating adults taking part in mindfulness-based health coaching over eight weeks proved that:

  • Coaching enabled greater goal attainment than using an educative/directive format

Spence & Grant (2007) – RCT of adults participating in a Solution Focused/Cognitive Behavioral (SF/CB) life coaching program (not unlike the type of coaching that GottaGettaCoach! provides) proved that:

  • Professional coaching was significantly more effective than peer coaching in increasing goal commitment
  • Professional coaching was significantly more effective than peer coaching in goal attainment
  • Professional coaching was significantly more effective than peer coaching in environmental mastery

Green, Oades & Grant (2006) – RCT of adults taking part in SF/CB life coaching program proved that:

  • Coaching increased goal attainment
  • Coaching increased well-being
  • Coaching increased hope
  • and that a 30-week follow-up found that those gains were maintained

Gyllensten & Palmer (2005) – Quasi-Experimental Field Study** of participants from a UK finance organization concluded that:

  • Coaching decreased anxiety more in the coaching group than the control group
  • Coaching decreased stress more in the coaching group than in the control group
More research findings at: www.ggci.com/ROI/research.htm.

Of course individual results can, and do, vary. But this is bona fide academic research cited here, not just opinion or conjecture.

Coaching does work – it's been proven!

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Source: Grant, A.M. (2009) Workplace, Executive and Life Coaching: An Annotated Bibliography from the Behavioural Science and Business Literature (May 2009), Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney, Australia.


* Randomized Controlled Trial: RCTs are quantitative, comparative, controlled experiments in which investigators study two or more interventions in a series of individuals who receive them in random order. The RCT is one of the simplest and most powerful tools in clinical research. (www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39532.)

** Quasi-Experiment Field Study is a scientific research method primarily used in the social sciences. "Quasi" means likeness or resembling, so therefore quasi-experiments share characteristics of true experiments which seek interventions or treatments. The key difference in this empirical approach is the lack of random assignment. Another unique element often involved in this experimentation method is use of time series analysis: interrupted and non-interrupted. Experiments designed in this manner are referred to as having quasi-experimental design.
(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasi-experimental_design.)

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

(Big C) Collaboration

(little c) collaboration is about Obligation, talking to others because you MUST.

(Big C) Collaboration is about Idea Synergy, 1+1>2.

Play BIG.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Commitment versus Compliance

Over at LinkedIn, a fellow named Jesse posed an interesting question: "How do you get commitment from followers?"

My response:

I think an important distinction needs to be added to this thread -- "Commitment" versus "Compliance".

You already know that in a crisis management situation (your blog indicates you're a crisis management "tiger") success has very *little* to do with a follower "agreeing to do something" (commitment) -- but EVERYTHING to do him/her actually "fulfilling official requirements" (compliance).

I, therefore, submit that if a leader successfully resolves enough crises (through others' complying with their specific, meaningful, and appropriate, "official", requests), followers will almost *automatically* become increasingly loyal and committed to that leader. (Which really just means that these followers will more-readily comply with what the leader requests from them, next time.)

Non-crisis situations, if such things still exist (!!), work in much the same way -- success flows *less* from people being "committed" to achieving certain ends than from them intentionally "complying" with what, needs to be achieved. Again, if a leader successfully enables enough of those needed outcomes to occur, followers will routinely start exhibiting more loyalty and commitment to that leader (by complying that much more readily to their requests, moving forward).

Just for laughs, let's put it even more provocatively -- I assert that compliance (and all the good, value-added, stuff that employees can, and do, bring to an assignment) does not result *from* commitment; rather, commitment is a byproduct *of* compliance … after that compliance results in the successful completion of intended outcomes, of course.

Following this view, leaders do not need to seek the "commitment" of others -- they just need to get crystal clear on the business imperative of their assignments, what probably needs to be accomplished, and who probably needs to accomplish it, in order to increase the probability of actually achieving those ends … because if they
*can* increase the probability of achieving those ends, followers will naturally, readily, and increasingly -- and self-servingly, I might add -- commit to those leaders in the future, without additional inducement.

Helpful?!What are your thoughts on this?

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Put the Big Rocks First

[An oldie, but goodie from Daniel Scocco - in his own words - originally posted at: www.dailyblogtips.com/put-the-big-rocks-first.]
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Stephen Covey is one of my favorite authors. In the book “First Things First” he describes a story that one of his associates experienced on a seminar. In the middle of the lecture the presenter pulled out a wide-mouth jar and placed it on the table, aside to some fist-sized rocks.

After filling the jar to the top with rocks he asked, “Is the jar full?”

People could see that no more rocks would fit, so they replied, “Yes!”

“Not so fast,” he cautioned. He then got some gravel from under the table and added it to the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks. Again, he asked, “Is the jar full?”

This time the students replied “Probably not.”

The presenter then reached a bucket of sand below the table, and dumped it on the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once again he asked “Is the jar full?”

“No!”, the students shouted.

Finally, he grabbed a pitcher of water and filled the jar completely, asking to the public what they could learn from that illustration.

One of the participants answered, “If you work at it, you can always fit more into your life.”

“No,” said the presenter. “The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first. . . would you ever have gotten any of them in?”

Daniel completes the post by asking: What are [your] big rocks? More importantly, are you making sure that they are going first into the jar?

Thanks, Daniel! I was looking on the web for the retelling of this story. Yours is the best one I found.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Heart of Effective Personal Management

Inspired by meeting with a team of managers yesterday, I reopened my old, worn, highlighted, dog-eared, Post-It Note-filled copy of Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to the section about the Time Management Matrix:

Some definitions:

  • Urgent activities requires immediate attention. "Urgent matters are usually visible. They press on us; they insist on action." We REACT to urgent. They seek our attention. Addressing a crisis is urgent, even if it isn't always always important.
  • Important activities, on the other hand, have more to do with opportunities. "If something is important, it contributes to your mission, your values, your high priority goals. Important matters that are not urgent require our initiative to get going."

Identifying and addressing the Root Cause of a crisis is important, as example, but urgency often "trumps" important. Too, if we don't know, or aren't quite sure about, what IS important, we'll almost certainly automatically default to working on only what's urgent, whether it's important or not.

The Four Categories or Quadrants of Activities:

  1. Activities that are both urgent and important (Quadrant I)
  2. Activities that are not as urgent as other things, but nevertheless important (Quadrant II)
  3. Activities that may be urgent, but are not particularly important (Quadrant III)
  4. Activities that are neither urgent, nor important (Quadrant IV)

What happens when you over-focus on the Urgent/Important (Quadrant I) -- intentionally or not?

"As long as you focus on Quadrant I," says Covey, "it keeps getting bigger and bigger until it dominates you. It's like the pounding surf. A huge problem comes in and knocks you down and you're wiped out. You struggle back up only to face another one that knocks you down and slams you to the ground.

"Some people are literally beaten up by problems all day every day. The only relief they have is in escaping to the Not Important/Not Urgent activities of Quadrant IV. So when you look at their total matrix, 90 percent of their time is in Quadrant I and most of the remaining 10% is in Quadrant IV, with only negligible attention paid to Quadrants II and III. That's how people who manage their lives by crisis live."

What happens when you over-focus on the Urgent/Not Important (Quadrant III) -- intentionally or not?

This quadrant is particularly important to understand as, per Covey, there are many people who spend a great deal of time in Quadrant III, thinking they're actually in Quadrant I.

But the reality of the situation is that the urgency they feel for these matters is often based on the certainly pressing, but possibly unimportant, requests and wishes of others.

What happens when you over-focus on the Not Urgent/Not Important (Quadrants III and IV) -- intentionally or not?

Simply said, "People who spend time almost exclusively in Quadrants III and IV basically lead irresponsible lives."

Quadrant II -- The Heart of Effective Personal Management
Quadrant II deals with things that are not urgent, but ARE important. "All the things we know we need to do, but somehow seldom get around to doing, because they aren't urgent," live in Quadrant II.

The most effective people have figured out how to spend most of their time in Quadrant II. In this regard, "Effective people are not problem-minded; they opportunity minded."

That's because Quadrant II activities can have a tremendously positive impact -- on how things go ... on what happens next ... on how you and others think ... on what you and others think about ... on what becomes doable ... on what is improved ... on what can be accomplished.

So given that,

  • What can you start doing (or start doing more of) to get more into Quadrant II-type stuff?
  • What can you stop doing (or start doing less of ) to get more into Quadrant II-type stuff?

Hey, I know that these questions may not be all that easy for you to answer. But consider:

If you find yourself saying that you're too busy to even try and answer them, trust me -- while they may not be the most urgent questions for you to answer, they just might be two of the more important ones that have come your way in quite some time!

That's what's at the heart of effective personal management.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Simple Checklists Work!

checklistBased on a Special Article published by the New England Journal of Medicine and reported on by Harvard Science:

"A group of hospitals in eight cities around the globe has successfully demonstrated that the use of a simple surgical checklist during major operations can lower the incidence of deaths and complications by more than one-third."

If using simple checklists can help reduce surgical deaths and complications by more than a third, is there any credible justification to NOT use checklists in the work that you and your staff do?!

Sometimes effective leadership is simply about insuring that proven solutions are consistently implemented.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

C.L.E.A.N. up after an Outage

Anyone who works in business knows that systems outages happen. But if you're responsible for correcting such outages, here's a handy little acronym to help C.L.E.A.N. up afterwards:

  • C as in “Cop to it” - Admit you made a mistake (even if it was only a mistake in judgment). Take full responsibility for the impact of your actions (or those of your staff or vendor personnel).
  • L as in “Listen for the deeper issue” - Sure, an outage is annoying, but is it just that? Maybe your customer was particularly annoyed because s/he wasn't notified as to the potential of an outage? How do you communicate with your stakeholders when there isn't an outage (yet) might be a good place to look.
  • E as in "Echo your Apology or Regret" - Don't fall into the trap of thinking that apologizing just once makes everything okay. Remember, you probably really messed up someones Monday morning, or Friday afternoon. When Henry Kissinger said, "Next week there can't be any crisis. My schedule is already full," he wasn't just speaking for himself.
  • A as in “Accept Accountability” - Taking responsibility is only part of it; accepting accountability is the rest. So welcome to the doghouse. You did the crime, now do the time! But, if you work hard, keep your nose clean, and do some of your best work in the weeks that follow, your canine-like residency will likely be short-lived and soon forgotten.
  • N as in “Never let it happen again!” - Puleeze, don’t make the same mistake twice. Find out what happened (think: Root Cause Analysis) and put whatever processes you need in place to insure that this hole is sufficiently patched, once and for all.

From my experience in managing the mission critical telecommunications systems at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (what I did before becoming a coach) every minute of down-time needs about an hour of post-outage clean-up.

If you're doing it in less , you're likely missing some essential C.L.E.A.N. steps along the way.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Three Leadership Styles

Three Leadership Styles

Let me suggest that while there are three main leadership styles: Control, Optimization, and Possibility, only the latter, Possibility, enables the true upside of effective leadership.

Leadership by Control Leadership by Control is the classic top-down model. The idea -- as represented by a boss' Circle of Impact with arrows pointing inward -- is that only a small part of what a boss is responsible for can really be controlled. But, results in that smaller area tends to be excellent. Rarely game-changing in nature, though.


Leadership by OptimizationLeadership by Optimization is the process of working to the edges -- to insure that as much is "done right" as possible -- but no farther. Eliminating waste, streamlining processes, etc. most certainly have their value, but Leadership by Optimization is more of a managerial style than a leadership approach.

Leadership by Possibility Leadership by Possibility is about expanding one's Circle of Impact beyond its current limits. It's about empowering your staff, engaging your peers, and challenging stakeholders to think bigger, act more decisively, and achieve more. While sometimes messy, it's the leadership style with the greatest upside.

So, as a percentage of time, how much of the time would you say you spend in Control mode? Optimization mode? Possibility mode? What would help you spend even more time as a leader of Possibility?

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dogs, Music, and Improving Communications

singing dog "Anyone with normal hearing can distinguish between the musical tones of a scale: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. We take this ability for granted, but among most mammals the feat is unparallelled."

So reports Sandy Fritz in the October 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind, to the dismay of barking Labradors, woofing bassets, and yelping Yorkies, everywhere.

Yet a recently-concluded study by researchers at UCLA, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Weizmann Institute of Science, concluded that "humans can easily detect frequencies as fine as one twelfth of an octave -- a half step in musical terminology. Dogs can only discriminate resolutions of one third of an octave."

What's the inference from a leadership development standpoint? Well, the flippant answer might be that the people who say they don't understand you ... are dogs! But a more respectful analysis might conclude that your message is, at times, a bit too subtle (or convoluted?) for them to make sense of.

Granted, this conclusion has less to do with hearing than understanding, but if you stay with me a longer, I think it will be worth your while.

Subtlety is often considered a more "refined" form of communication. The problem with subtle communications, though, is that they ask the listener -- they require the listener -- to be much more discerning when listening. And depending on circumstances, that could be asking a LOT from someone. Too much, perhaps.

Indeed, expecting someone to give you their full and Undivided Attention could be far more than they're ready for, or capable of, in this busy, distracted, juggling priorities, go-go, world of ours.

So what if we purposefully avoided such splitting of dog hairs when we're sharing our content with others? What if we focused, instead, on talking more clearly and crisply (and in larger octave steps, perhaps?) so that everyone -- even those with lesser abilities to listen so carefully -- could completely understand what we're talking about anyway?

What would that sound like, I wonder?

Hopefully, this isn't too subtle a point to be making. Hopefully, it will encourage (and help) you to communicate more effectively than you might otherwise.

And, hopefully, that will be music to your listeners' ears.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Conflict Dynamic Profile for Individuals

GottaGettaCoach! has just started working with a new assessment called the CDP-I, or Conflict Dynamics Profile® for Individuals.

The CDP-I is now available through GottaGettaCoach!, Inc.

"The Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) was developed by the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College to prevent harmful conflict in the workplace. It provides managers and employees with a greater awareness of how they respond when faced with conflict so that they can improve on those behaviors causing the most problems.

"The CDP's focus on conflict behaviors, rather than styles, emphasizes an action-oriented approach which lessens the problems associated with harmful or unproductive forms of conflict and results in more effective conflict management skills.

"As a psychometrically sound instrument, the CDP shows solid evidence of reliability and validity and has been normed against a variety of organizations. Easily completed in 20-25 minutes, the CDP comes with a thorough Development Guide offering practical tips and strategies for strengthening conflict management skills."

More specifically, the CDP-I assessment:

  1. Identifies your Constructive Responses, that is, how well you demonstrate the following desirable behaviors during a conflict
  2. Identifies your Destructive Responses, that is, how well you control the following undesirable behaviors during a conflict
  3. Identifies your Hot Buttons, that is, what tends to frustrate or irritate you about how others behave.

So why is this even important? Because once you are more fully aware of your automatic "reactions" to a conflict, the better you will be able to more effectively self-manage your "responses" to that conflict and properly de-escalate it.

If you're interested in the CDP-I, please drop me a line and we'll assess your conflict behavior together.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brainstorming Basics

An article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. In Productive Brainstorms Take the Right Mix of Elements, Kelly K. Spors interviewed Matt Bowen, president and CEO of Aloft Group, Inc. about brainstorming basics.
The key to effective brainstorming: Not squelching other people's ideas.
"There's a whole procedure involved," says Bowen. "Step One is to identify, very clearly in one sentence only, what the [specific goal] is going to be. Send it out a day or two in advance so employees start subconsciously thinking about it.

"The second stage is gather people together. Brainstorming sessions should never last more than an hour. They shouldn't be too large, usually no more than five or seven people, especially when you're first learning how to do it."

Bowen's House Rules include: Saying "Our goal is to produce X number of ideas"; no critiquing; no editing; and, most importantly, building on other people's ideas.

Diversity helps, so bringing in people from other departments is encouraged. Bowen calls them "agitators - somebody you know who is going to come in with a different [spin on things]."

Before you start, though, it's important to establish criteria to subsequently rate and the ideas that are generated. Examples of such litmuses:
  • Our ultimate solution has to be complete-able within three weeks
  • Our ultimate solution has to cost no more than the budget allocated for it
  • Our ultimate solution has to also address these tangential issues
  • Our ultimate solution has to involve the following stakeholders
While brainstorming can be a creative and fun process, don't take it too casually. Per Bowan, "A surefire way to kill an innovative process is to go through the processes and then never implement one of the ideas. You need to show that you're trying to implement something."

Agreed.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Successful Change ... or Not!

Change is easy. Successful? Less so. Why? Here are two models that discuss this very thing:

(1) Successful Transformation Model. (Source: Daniel Ferdinand, Principle, Momentum HR Services.)Successful Transformation Model(2) Understanding What Derails Change in the Workplace. (Source: unknown, but a big fave here at GGCI.)Understanding What Derails Change in the WorkplacePay particular attention the the far-right column on each chart - if you recognize the sentiment, move left to identify what's likely missing from (and undermining) your change initiative.

Correct as necessary.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Upping the Ante on Sideline Leadership

It's easy to stand on the sidelines and lob grenades onto the field where others are playing. Even if you have the best of intentions, Sideline Leadership is definitely less than getting in there and mixing things up yourself.
  • What problems or issues can you step up and help solve?
  • What are you doing to actively make things better?
  • How are you helping others to do the same?
Don't just talk about what's wrong - do something to actually fix it.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Laughing Reduces Stress

According to a bit in the June/July 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind magazine, "Anticipating a good laugh whisks away stress."

Research scientists at a California University conducted the following experiment: They asked one group of men to watch a funny video and another to page through a bunch of periodicals. Lo and behold, the group that saw the comedy had "much lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol" as compared to the magazine group.
Of particular note was this: The movie watchers' stress levels went down before the film even began!
In other words, the mere anticipation of laughing provided some of the exact same stress-reducing benefits as actually laughing.

Now that's funny, don't you think?! (To reduce stress, I recommend that you laugh whether you think so or not!)

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Locus of Control: Self-Management across the Continuum

Based on Julian Rotter's work in the late 1950's, Locus of Control is about peoples' perceptions about why they do the things they do and, by extension, why things are the way they are - at work, and in life:

  • The more we believe that our behavior is guided by fate, luck, or other external circumstances, the more of an external Locus of Control it can be said we have.
  • Conversely, the more we believe that our behavior is guided by our personal decisions and efforts, the more of an internal Locus of Control we can say we have.

(Did you notice how I used "it" when defining external, and "we" when defining internal?! Sometimes, the basis of one's Locus of Control can be that subtle.)

Now typically, coaches don't spend a lot of time on the "Why?" question - let alone findings that come from observing therapy patients, as did Rotter's. But Locus of Control is an important concept to understand if we want to truly maximize our potential.

What's important to realize, and as the chart indicates below, is that one's Locus of Control is not fixed or unmovable; actually, it's more of a point on a line - a point that routinely shifts, quite radically at times, depending on issue and circumstance.

Locus of Control continuumSo rarely does someone always embrace an external Locus or Control. Rarely does someone always embrace an internal Locus of Control, either.

And therein lies the power of the notion, because: If your Locus of Control can shift without you realizing it, it can also be made to shift because you realize it.

  • Feeling that everyone (and everything) is working against you? Shifting to more of an internal Locus of Control will help you be a bit more assertive and/or realize it's time to take a more decisive action to move things meaningfully forward.
  • Blaming yourself when things go wrong - even when they're not your fault? Shifting to more of an external Locus of Control will help you accept that certain circumstances (and failings) really are out of your control and it's really okay to give yourself a break every now-and-again.
  • Struggling in a personal relationship that's not working no matter what you do? Shifting to more of an external Locus of Control will help you request that the other person step-it-up a notch or two, as well, and not just leave it all for you to do.
  • Sensing you're not in a good mood much of the time? Shifting to more of an internal Locus of Control will help you accept responsibility for the state of your mood and do something enjoyable to chipper yourself up a bit.

Locus of Control is no panacea - it's more just a way to explain the "why?" behind the "what?". But it's also a great way to help become more conscious and purposeful of what you do, say, and believe - all keys to effective self-management ... and success.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Air Cover: Getting Support from the Big Boss

Scenario: You need to do something that you just know a coworker, Mary, is not going to like. She'll dislike it so much, she'll likely go over your head to to complain about it.

So how can you increase the probability that you'll get the 'air cover' and support you need from the Big Boss?

By bringing your boss up-to-speed before you roll out your plan so s/he can comfortably say, "Yes, I know of, and approved, the approach taken."
Can't get your boss to approve your plan exactly as is? Then just tweak it a bit so that you can.

Then, play it out: Tell Mary. Let her complain to your boss's boss. (You can't stop her, anyway.) Watch as your boss's boss asks your boss, "What's this all about?" Then, see how:
  • If your boss can speak intelligently about your plan, you'll likely be supported by the Big Boss; and
  • If your boss cannot speak intelligently about your plan, you'll likely get overruled.
It's not just about how good your idea is; it's about how well your boss supports it when it's ultimately challenged.

End of story. Try it yourself and see.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Business Justification Checklist

When establishing the business justification for a request, here are some helpful questions to consider:
  • What opportunities does your initiative enable? Note, while it may be most comfortable to lead with this answer, many bosses focus much more on problem-solving than opportunity-seizing. As such, if yours is like that, figure out how to re-frame the opportunity you want to address as a problem in need of being solved.
  • What pressing business problems does your initiative solve or at least meaningfully address? Don't forget to articulate the implications of the problem not being meaningfully addressed and how the mere passing-of-time (read: inaction) will impact the situation's ongoing risk and exposure.
  • What's the precedent-setting nature of your request? You'll no doubt find that your answer to this question can have some significant implications as to what happens next. As such, it's best you know beforehand so you can speak intelligently on the topic when it inevitably comes up - and modify your request accordingly, if necessary.
  • What's the ROI (Return on Investment)? In other words, if things go as planned, how long will it take to recoup the initial investment based on anticipated savings or additional revenues resulting from the investment. If you don't already know, you may also want to benchmark your request against the ROI projections of previously-approved projects and programs.
  • What synergy can be expected? How will approving your request also move other initiatives forward? What other expenditures will no longer be needed if this one is approved? Broaden your view - you know your boss will likely go there, so get there first!
  • How might existing dollars be used to fund it? While this isn't always possible, there often are lesser-priority initiatives that have already received funding approval that could be de-listed and its monies reallocated. Example: A more expensive seminar - in town - costs the same as a less expensive one requiring travel and lodging; purchasing more expensive equipment than planned might be manageable if there's a resulting reduction in year-over-year maintenance costs.
  • In what order do you want to order your points? In that you'll likely have several points you'll want to use as the basis of your business justification, give consideration to the proper sequence of your making them. Whenever I'm providing more than 3 points, I try to lead with my strongest two points, and save my third-strongest for last - a grand finale as it were. Each point should be strong enough to stand on its own merit, though - if it can't, you likely have more homework to do.

Hope this helps you get your next initiative approved.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Making Requests UP the Chain

When making a request up the chain, make it easier for your boss to say 'yes'. Here's how:
  1. Pick just one issue at a time - This is not time for a 'kitchen sink' strategy...unless you're planning a major initiative with multiple parts, in which case the major initiative is your issue, not its components
  2. Succinctly provide relevant background information - Keyword: "Succinctly". Provide only as much as is needed to justify that the issue warrants attention. Have additional backup/documentation available, but don't assume it will be automatically relevant to the decision to move forward. That said, be sure to articulate the business justification for your request. If all you've got is a BIWI (Because I Want It) then don't bother even starting the conversation.
  3. Make a specific request - State clearly and crisply what you're looking for: authorization to do something, permission to not do something, additional funding, additional non-monetary resources? Whatever it is, don't just lay out the issue and make the boss figure out what you want.
  4. Be open to a counter-offer - Sometimes you can't get exactly what you propose, but if you're open to the give-and-take of a meaningful discussion on the topic, you might very well get several of the key components of it. And that may really be all you need.

Repeat with other issues as you see fit.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How Are You Holding Your Staff Accountable?

  • Do you assign tasks to your direct reports that never get done?
  • Do you find that if you don't follow-up on open items you never hear about them again?
  • Do you have to repeatedly remind people to do what they said they would?
  • Do you believe that the quality of the work coming back to you is sub-standard?
  • Do you not delegate as much as you might because it's just easier to do it yourself?

Worry not - or at least don't worry a lot about it. The bad news is that you're likely not holding your staff sufficiently accountable for the 'extra' work you give them. The good news, though, is that it's not all that difficult to change that. You simply need to get a little clearer with them about your assignments and their implications:

  • The Who - "Here's why I'm choosing you do work on this assignment..." - Maybe it's because it's in the person's area of responsibility, maybe it's because you see this as an important developmental stretch for the person, maybe it's because of some particular competency the individual possesses. Regardless, be clear to whoever is the "Who" that s/he is the "Who."
  • The What - "Here's what I specifically want you to accomplish..." - Try being more specific about what you want than you usually are. So if you want pie charts instead of bar graphs for some reason, say so on the front end, before the work is completed. If you want a year-over-year analysis when it's more typical to just give YTD figures, specifically say so. If you want a detailed plan, explain what you mean by "detailed." Since you're the one giving the assignment, you get to be the one who asks for what you really want, not just for something in the neighborhood. And that includes what types of interim updates you want from the person, along the way, as well.
  • The Why - "Here's the reason why I want you to do this..." - Don't underestimate the value of explaining your Why to people. It really helps. Two caveats, though: (1) if you're in a real crisis situation (not just feeling under pressure) you may not have time to explain the Why, so quickly state that fact and offer to provide the additional background information about your request once the crisis subsides, if the person is still interested; (2) if it's clear that your delegatee truly understands the Why already, it may not be necessary to provide line-and-verse about it. It's best to be sure, though, which you can do by simply asking them to explain to you the Why. Don't forget to explain the Why behind your those interim updates you want, either.
  • The When -"I'd like to get the finished product back from you by..." - Back in my days in the telecommunications world I worked with a purchasing agent (I'll call her Phyllis) who taught me a very important lesson about the When. I needed some telecom gear in a hurry, so I filled out the necessary paperwork and in the box that asked "When Needed" I put the letters ASAP, meaning As Soon As Possible. When the gear didn't come, I went to visit Phyllis personally to find out what was (not) going on. "Didn't you see my ASAP?" I asked her. "Yes, I did," she replied, "But Barry, you have to understand, I'm a very busy person. And there are only so many hours in a day. It was just not possible for me to get to your request yet." And she was dead-serious. "So what am I supposed to do if I really need something right away, Phyllis?" I asked while teetering on the edge of insanity. "Oh, that's easy, just put today's date in the When Needed box on the form," she said with a smile that curiously made it seem like she was really trying to be helpful. "Really?!" "Yes, really!" So a few days later I tried Phyllis' suggestion ... and you know what? It worked perfectly! The moral of this story: Make sure you're asking for the right When in the right way. And that includes the When you want those interim updates, too.

There's the Where and the How, too, but I'll leave them to you to figure out.

I'll also leave to you an obvious implication of all of this: You'll likely need to think through the Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How a bit more before you start to delegate. If you do, though, I guarantee it will be time well spent.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

From (totally) Perfect to (merely) Excellent

I work a lot with executives who relish their perfectionism - and why not, it's what, in large part, got them promoted to be executives.

To help them 're-frame' how they think about their work, I have them do a little exercise. First, I have them draw a line from left to right, with arrows on each end; a continuum, if you will:

a continuum

On it, I then have them put a big A on the far left and label it (inescapably) Awful; and a big P on the far right and label it (totally) Perfect. Like this, perhaps:

from (inescapably) Awful to (totally) Perfect

I then ask where on the line they'd put an E,which stands for (merely) Excellent - still excellent, but just barely so.

E

(merely) Excellent?!

If you do this exercise yourself, be sure to notice that wherever you put your E - it's likely somewhat left of P, but still considerably to the right of A. That is, meaningfully less than (totally) Perfect, but still nowhere near (inescapably) Awful.

My challenge to them - and to you - is to spend the next two weeks operating in the E space - wherever it's located - to see what that's like.

If you do, you'll likely find, as they do, that not one person (excepting yourself) will notice any decrease in your performance whatsoever. And, by allowing yourself to be just (merely) Excellent you'll free up literally hours of time in your workweek - and at home - that you can then use to complete several other things in a (merely) Excellent way AND still have time to clean up your overflowing email inbox already, for crying out loud!

It's a fun little experiment, one that I invite you to try.

And what if someone becomes dissatisfied with your (merely) Excellent performance? Don't worry. For now, just apologize and indulge yourself in making things (totally) Perfect.

It'll still be the exception, rather than the rule.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

An SEO - that is, Leadership - Audit and Upgrade

How does SEO (search engine optimization) connect with you becoming a better leader?

Whether you know anything about getting better website rankings on Google, or not, let's take a closer look courtesy of Website Magazine, and author Dante A. Monteverde, as to commonalities between improving organic search engine placements and leadership excellence:

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to complete an SEO audit of your website." The idea here is that there are all sorts of things behind the scenes on a website (like meta tags, alt tags, keyword phrases, and h1, h2, and h3 tags, as example) that can affect search engine rankings. so too with your leadership style.

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to complete an audit of your leadership infrastructure." That is, look behind the scenes at what helps you lead how you lead. How effectively do you keep track of (and hold others accountable for) the things you delegate?

How effectively do you keep track of (and honor) the commitments you make? How sufficiently do you prepare for difficult conversations? What tone and mood do you bring to work each day? Objectively audit such leadership infrastructure elements and upgrade, as necessary.

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to update your content." In website parlance, this refers to adding new materials to your website so that it's interesting enough for people come back to it to see what's new and what else they can learn from it. GottaGettaBlog! is an example of one way to do that.

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to further your leadership discussions." What new aspects of leadership are you learning and sharing with your staff, colleagues, upper management, and vendor contacts, about leadership? What subtleties of human performance and motivation are you studying?

What questions do you have about effectively leading people that you can incorporate into your conversations with others? Objectively audit your leadership conversations and upgrade, as necessary.

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to obtain new incoming links." One of the ways that Google and the other search engines determine where a site should be placed on its rankings is by how many other sites have hyperlinks to that site. The basic idea is that as more and more sites refer to another site in its own content, the value of that other site is continually enhanced. (No wonder they call it link love!!)

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to help others say good things about you." It's long been know that the more that people say good things about you - especially if they're people from other departments - the better raises and bonuses you'll likely get. (See More Needed Than Good Work, a blog posting I did on this topic almost four years ago!)

People who do this effectively are called network entrepreneurs as they recognize the value derived from building their personal and professional contacts and connections with an entrepreneurial zeal.

The thing to remember is that people can't say good things about you - even if they want to - if they don't know what good things you've been up to. Objectively audit how good of a network entrepreneur you are and upgrade, as necessary.

The article goes on to identify other key SEO Resolutions, as well, but I think you get the point:

It's probably a good time to audit - and upgrade - your Leadership Style, as necessary, yes?!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Control, Challenge, Commitment

In their book, The Hardy Executive: Health Under Stress, authors Salvatore R. Maddi and Suzanne C. Kobasa offer a unique view on the "positive benefits of stress" for executives. The good news is that a particular personality style - hardiness - is actually quite resistant to stress.

"People with hardiness work hard because they enjoy it, rather than because they are compulsively driven. They make decisions and implement them because they view life as something constructed, rather than given. And they are enthusiastic about the future because the changes it will bring seem potentially worthwhile. Despite the anxieties and risks they encounter, these people find their lifestyles generally exciting and satisfying, in part because it is strenuous."

The better news is that hardiness can be defined as the simple combination of just three tendencies - namely, toward control rather than powerlessness, toward challenge rather than threat, and toward commitment rather than alienation.

And the even better news is that hardiness can be "instilled in adults" rather readily. Here's how:

To increase your sense of control - Believe (or just act as if you believe to start) that you really can influence what's going on around you. Dig into how you might turn a given situation to your advantage; don't just accept things the way they are as oftentimes very small changes can make huge differences. (In contrast, people who feel powerless act like passive victims, show little initiative, fail to utilize the resources they already have at their disposal as effectively as they might, and tend to get stuck in their own myopia.)

To increase your sense of challenge - Realize that it's natural for things to change and that change is often a "useful stimulus" for, as I like to say, helping good things happen sooner. Rather than seeing your work (or life) as strenuous instead of exciting, practice seeing it as exciting because it's strenuous. (In contrast, people who feel threatened tend to think that it's natural for things to stay stable - which it's not - and fear change because they think it will overly disrupt their comfort and security - which it often does not.)

To increase your sense of commitment - Get interested in whatever you're doing - as in really interested. Dig in wholeheartedly, cheerfully, zestfully! (In contrast, alienated people tend to hold back, label their work as boring, and often appear exhausted and disheveled.)

So whenever you start to feel the negative effects of stress and strain, consider how you might assert more control over the situation, how you might see it as more of a personal or professional challenge to step up to, and how you might commit more fully to it and, as a result, your own well-being.

In other words, focus on becoming more of a Hardy Executive.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Enabling Successful Change

Six elements are needed to successfully enable change*
  1. A clear and compelling case for change
  2. Demonstrated leadership commitment
  3. A clear WIIFM (what's in it for me?) for all
  4. A concrete implementation plan
  5. Necessary skills, knowledge, and tools
  6. Proper reinforcements
If any one (or more) of the six elements are missing or underdeveloped, the change initiative will likely be derailed in some manner or fashion.

So how can you learn which element(s) are missing or underdeveloped? Just listen to what people are saying:
  • If they're saying, "it's not urgent," that likely means that a clear, compelling case for change - element 1 - is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it's not real," that likely means that demonstrated leadership commitment - element 2 - is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it's not worth it," that likely means that a clear WIIFM (what's in it for me?) for all - element 3 - is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it's going nowhere," that likely means that a concrete implementation plan - element 4 - is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it's just not possible," that likely means that necessary skills, knowledge are tools - element 5 -is missing or underdeveloped.
  • If they're saying, "it won't last," that likely means that proper reinforcements - element 6 - is missing or underdeveloped.
Diagnose carefully. These are each different types of problems and, as such, require different types of responses. One size definitely does not fit all. To that end, it might be helpful to consider how your response would vary depending on which element was in question so you don't get trapped into thinking too myopically.

Consider the very real possibility that more than one element is in question, as well, as that is so often the case.

-----
*source unknown

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

FAQ Sheets - Frequently Asked Questions

New Year, new plans. New organizational changes? Likely so. But while org changes may make intuitive sense to those directly involved with the redesigning process, those usually most affected by the changes - lower level managers and front-line operatives - are left to figure things out on their own. (And please, let's not kid ourselves; those one-shot, let-me-explain-what-you-need-to-know meetings only scratch the surface of what really needs to be said ... and heard.)

But time is tight. And those meetings - especially when they devolve into extended Q&A sessions comprised of dozens of off-topic, if not completely irrelevant, queries from people who don't seem to know enough to sit down and give someone else a turn - can be downright back-braking from a morale standpoint.

Have you ever tried releasing an FAQ Sheet in support of the changes?
  1. What is an FAQ Sheet?
    An FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Sheet is a compilation of the not-so-obvious, but certainly reasonable, questions people are likely to have about the changes ... and their answers.
  2. What's helpful about an FAQ Sheet?
    It gives real answers to real questions, all right there for everyone to see.
  3. How does one create an FAQ Sheet?
    You, or those closest to the change initiative, do.
  4. What if the questions I/we come up with are difficult to answer?
    As you brainstorm on questions for the FAQ Sheet, expect some to be quite difficult and challenging to answer. (If they aren't, then you're likely not thinking deeply enough.) Please don't ignore these 'tough' ones - they're actually the most important in the bunch. They're the ones that matter most with respect to acceptance of the changes. And they're the ones best-suited for an FAQ Sheet in that you can answer them thoughtfully instead of just trying to wing it right there on the spot during your big meeting.
  5. How else is an FAQ Sheet helpful?
    An FAQ Sheet can also help frame how you want people to think - and talk - about the changes...especially when you're not there to tell them yourselves. By providing everyone with the same explanation as to the key reasons for the changes, and the same explanation as to the overriding rationale that makes these particular changes the best of all possible solutions, the FAQ Sheet is a valuable level-setting, and misinformation-fighting, tool.
  6. What if no one reads the FAQ Sheet?
    Simply point people back to if their real-time questions are answered by it. (Note: Numbering FAQ Sheet questions makes it much easier to point them back to a particular questions.)
  7. How do I tell if our FAQ Sheet was done well?
    You'll be able to tell simply by listening to the 'sounds' that people make when reading it - hmmm's and oh's and people saying things like 'that actually makes sense,' and 'yes, that's what I want to know' - are all excellent indications that you've done a good job with it.
  8. Does the FAQ Sheet have any lasting value?
    Absolutely. By having a written record of the rationale for change, it becomes an excellent source document to make sure everyone stays focused and true to purpose. If written properly, it can also serve as an arbiter to differences of opinion and which 'fork in the road' to take, as the changes unfold.
So the next time you have an important change to tell people about, get in front of the issue by creating an FAQ Sheet for it. Worst case, it'll give you some great answers for your big meeting. More likely, though, the questions won't need to be asked so you can use your time together much more productively.

Any questions?!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

I'm Trying to Evolve

(excerpts from Evolve, by Ani Difranco)

"I walk in stride with people
..... taller than me
..... and partly it's the boots but
..... mostly it's my chi

"And I'm becoming transfixed
..... with nature and my part in it
..... which I believe just signifies
..... I'm finally waking up

"I am trying to evolve
..... I'm just trying to evolve

"I am trying to evolve
..... I'm just trying to evolve

"So I walk like I'm on a mission
..... cuz that's the way I groove
..... I got more and more to do
..... I got less and less to prove

"It took me too long to realize
..... that I don't take good pictures
..... cuz I have the kind of beauty
..... that moves

"I am trying to evolve
..... I'm just trying to evolve

"I am trying to evolve
..... I'm just trying to evolve"

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Finishing Unfinished Business

Yesterday's post focused on one aspect of unfinished business from 2007 - having the conversations you know you need to have. Here are some other items to finish up, as well:
  • What's something you've been meaning to do for someone that you haven't as of yet?
  • What's something you've been meaning to do for yourself that you haven't as of yet?
  • Who's someone you've been meaning to reconnect with that you haven't as of yet?
  • Who's someone you've been meaning to introduce yourself to that you haven't as of yet?
  • What idea have you been meaning to share with someone that you haven't as of yet?
  • What's something you've been meaning to read that you haven't as of yet?
  • What's something you've been meaning to write about that you haven't as of yet?

You're invited to do so now.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What conversations do you know you need to have?

New year. Fresh start. Ready-go.

But wait.

No doubt there's some unfinished business from 2007. No doubt, there are some conversations that you meant to have, but never quite got around to it. And no doubt, they're conversations that you really need to have if this new year is to be the "fresh start" you're hoping for. So,

  • Who do you need to talk with?
  • What is it that you want to say to him/her?
  • What is it that you want him/her to say back to you?
  • What's the real conversation you know you need to have?

While it may not be easy, inviting someone into a conversation like this can help set a much more collaborative tone, moving forward. But depending on circumstances, the conversation may need more than just one 'sitting' to complete. Grudges dissipate slowly, after all.

To speed the process - and the likelihood of success - be sure to remember to these pointers:

  • Be respectful
  • Be honest
  • Be interested
  • Listen carefully
  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Seek to understand

If you do, you might be happily surprised to find that there are some misconceptions that can be easily cleared up. You might also find that certain things that were taken out of context and given a life of their own can be reeled back in. You might even find that you've been unwittingly contributing to making things worse, but can take some immediate actions to set things right.

But only if you have the conversations you know you need to have.

So who do you need to have an open and honest conversation with?

I know you know. You know you know! So go. Do.

Yes?!

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