Blog

What Message Are You Really Delivering?

Posted by on May, Wed, 2018 in Leadership, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Words Have Power

Throughout our country, we have endless campaigns to stop bullying as we recognize the devastation that it can have on our youth. Despite these government funded campaigns, the behaviour of candidates in the upcoming election is wrought with extensive bullying.

This is a clear “do as I say, not as I do” tactic. Where’s the personal responsibility? If you are name-calling other candidates, what does that say about your character? I honestly can’t hear what you are using as an election platform through this barrage of bullying. And even of greater concern, our youth are witnessing these behaviours – and actions speak louder than words! If you are engaging in these behaviours, you are role modeling bullying as an acceptable practice.

Human nature seems to make it easy for any of us – yes, we are all capable of this inappropriate, judgmental and disrespectful behaviours – to rationalize our behaviour or simply pretend that we are getting results by the way we communicate.

I’ve seen this happen in many organizations. Plaques proudly embossed on the wall are sharing lofty Missions, Visions, and Values citing how these values are core to the organization. Yet, the day-to-day behaviour of some leaders is in direct opposition to the Mission, Vision, and Values. I remember one day walking into my Executive Director’s office and seeing a huge plaque about sexual harassment, only the following day to have an inappropriate gesture from that very same Executive Director. As a staff member, it was demoralizing.

Sometimes it is more subtle than the examples above, like a disrespectful comment or lack of emotional management skills that result in the manager yelling at direct reports. We need to ask for help to ensure that we are not engaging in nor tolerating these behaviours as the leaders in an organization.

Here are some emotional management tools that you can use today:

  1. Learn to manage your emotions. Identify the emotion and then take deep breaths. This can help you to stop reacting and make healthier choices about your communication.
  2. Start journaling using the stream of consciousness technique. As you write, keep asking yourself what’s really bothering me? Once you have the cause, there is often a sense of relief.
  3. Get an Executive Coach to assist you in understanding how you are received by others in your organization and to help you communicate more effectively.
  4. If you are aware that you have been bullying in your behaviour or communication, make a plan to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Then apologize to the individual or team that you acted inappropriately with. During your apology, be fully transparent and share your plan with them. Invite them to tell you if you are making them uncomfortable. And be aware, that if you have been bullying them, they are unlikely to feel safe enough to be open around your behaviour.
  5. Use self-reflection on a daily basis to identify when you have made someone uncomfortable or when you may have become overly emotional in your communications. Take active steps to prevent this from happening again.

At the end of the day, we are ultimately responsible for what we say and do. Choose to ensure that you are in full alignment with the Mission, Vision, and Values of your organization. Make sure that the message you want to deliver is congruent with what you do and say.

Let’s start fully respecting one another and become strong role models for our team members and the youth in our communities!

The Art of Accountability

Posted by on May, Wed, 2018 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

May 9 - Account4ability

When people are asked to define what accountability means to them, many conger up thoughts of uncomfortable conversations, defensiveness, and conflict. For some, it’s all about confronting “them” about how they are underperforming and what they “must” do to improve. When thought of in this way, accountability becomes something to avoid and put off. After all, you might have thoughts that the person that he or she will never really change their behaviour. There is an inherent discomfort in this entire way of thinking and viewing the world of accountability.

So we need a new mindset to achieve a different result. That’s why I coined the phrase and concept “Account-4-Ability©”.

At its core, Account-4-Ability© is about seeing another person’s potential and having a deep honest desire to assist them in their success. By holding the highest vision of the other person and appreciating that they are doing their best according to their awareness at the moment. This process is all about genuinely caring about the outcomes for the individual as well as the organization or project.

Here are four key concepts of Account-4-Ability©

  1. Every interaction is about Respect for all persons concerned. That means that we don’t judge or criticize the other person. We simply recognize that they can do even better than their current performance. And we choose to share information about specific challenges by describing behaviour and outcomes, never criticizing the individual’s personality or personhood.
  2. Account-4-Ability© is about Honouring the other person fully. I choose to honour you and our process together so much that as we build our relationship, we are truthful and honest with one another. Every time I think about you, I choose to see the highest vision of you – that place where you have potential to be most successful.
  3. Caring is a key component. In order for this to work, it’s paramount to focus on what you like and appreciate about the other person so that you offer feedback in an authentic way. As humans, we have mirror neurons that allow our brain to “read” how you are feeling towards us, so this cannot be faked. If necessary, find a small part of the person that you like and appreciate about them. Then focus on that throughout the conversation – otherwise you run the risk of alienating the other person – after all, we all want to be cared about.
  4. It is helping that person to realize their true ability through honest, constructive and respect filled conversations. Learning more about what makes the person most successful, offering help to remove barriers and help that person discover how they can grow into their potential. It is having conversations that go deeper than the behaviour of concern and into exploring the best working relationship for both of you.

Account-4-Ability© provides a process to champion each member of the team, while ensuring that everyone benefits from honest, respectful and caring interactions with both the project’s best interests and each team members highest potential as well. It’s a roadmap to organizational success!

Gratitude Done Right Creates True Felt Appreciation

Posted by on Apr, Wed, 2018 in Communication, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

april 25

Ever had that experience when someone truly appreciates you for the impact you have had on their lives?

Recently, I had that experience when I was chatting with a client about some work I completed with them a few months back. She shared (complete with a smile on her face) the true impact of my work. She took the time to let me know how 3 leaders in the organization had created a new process that has radically influenced the teams. This was brought about simply as a direct result of our work together. I soon shared her smile – having lasting impact is what inspires me to do the work I do with team dynamics and leaders!

Let me tell you, I experienced true “felt appreciation” that day because I knew that my influence had made a lasting impact months after the work we shared.

So let’s peel back the layers and explore this concept. In contrast, another client I have worked with regularly buys lunch for her team members, but does not share the “why” of the lunch. Her rationale for buying lunch is to appreciate the hard work they do each and every day. As a result, the team gets a good lunch, but the gesture is quite lost. If you ask members of the team, they would have said that their leader never does anything in way of appreciation. You see, sharing the reason or ‘why’ behind your behaviour allows others to really feel that you notice and value their contribution.

So here are a few things to consider:

First, ensure that you share this gratitude in a timely manner. Letting people know that their behaviour created a positive experience for you is powerful. It tends to motivate and satisfy others that they are really valued. Make the time to do so. This will help you to feel increased well-being and is likely to improve the other person’s day as well.

Second, share the “why” of what makes their behaviour so impactful for you. Connecting it to your culture’s value system and sharing the reasons it contributed to your organization will create a more meaningful conversation. It also shows that you have thought about their impact enough to be able to speak at a deeper level about it.

Third, make sure that you take the time to express this in a way that they personally can take in. For some, a note of gratitude is much more powerful. For others who are motivated by recognition, acknowledging the appreciation in a team meeting may be even more powerful. Look at the individual’s needs to understand what would be most meaningful for them.

Finally, repeat, repeat and repeat – make gratitude practice a daily part of your life. For the next 21 days, challenge yourself to reach out to someone in your life every day to express your personal appreciation of how they improved your life in some way. See how many times you can produce “felt appreciation” for another person or team.

Because we all know the when we truly feel appreciated, it gives us much more discretionary efforts than those who do not experience felt appreciation. And that choice is up to you!

Road Blocks, Whiplash and Success

Posted by on Apr, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

A road barrier reading Progress in Action signifies that work is

You are working away at a change initiative and all of a sudden, you run right into a road block. You might feel a bit of emotional whiplash as you are gob smacked by this occurrence. The risk is seeing the “road block” as a problem and getting caught up in reactionary thinking. You know, seeing only the problem and not recognizing any progress to date.

Be cautious not to go into the absolutes – meaning seeing something as a success or a failure. The truth is often somewhere in between. Seeing it as good or bad tends to polarize our perspectives and limit our thinking (and others involved in the project). Check for those shades of gray or those in between colours that are often harder to discern. Once you train your brain in this way, you can tweak a process, and encourage the growth to continue.

Next time you hit a (perceived) road block, stop, step away and look at it from another perspective. Remember, resistance to change is natural and occurs when people feel frightened by the change.  So, if it’s a people problem, and it often is, look below the resistance – what was challenging for the person? What new challenge may have arisen that is actually a sign of progress? Is this an opportunity to shift the direction slightly to make the initiative even more successful?

If it’s a machine or systems issue, notice what shifted to enable this new “challenge” to arise? What was cleared away, what different ways are people working together? What caused the individual to shift from where they were to their current status? For example, are they now able to articulate potential gains from the initiative that they were unable to before? What are the potential solutions that this current “road block” offers? How might we shift our thinking to see this differently?

Many times, we are looking for large gains when those tiny incremental steps are actually the true success makers. It’s when we are open and willing to experiment with new things that the long-term progress can happen. Each time that you notice a micro-shift acknowledge it – champion the team or person to understand how we got here and how we can continue the progress to the end goal.

After all, when you open up your mind, see the progress to date, even if it’s micro steps, it indicates that you are enroute to success. Movement towards the goal sometimes looks from the outside as something sliding backwards. And there is always opportunity in it if you can view it as so!

Honesty and Respect in the House of Commons or in the Common Team?

Posted by on Mar, Wed, 2018 in Communication, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Parliament_building

 

A few months ago, I was gifted with the opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes tour of our Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. My absolute favourite place was the Library of Parliament as it was incredibly peaceful and hallowed. A place where people go to learn, explore and discover. In contrast, the House of Commons lacked that peaceful feeling. It led me to consider what made them so different. I realized that in the House of Commons, people are often debating, arguing, and challenging one another. Not a place of respect, but of undermining and blaming.

These kinds of behaviour can happen in the workplace as well. If you are working in a blame culture, there are things you can do to influence this.

As a Team Dynamics Consultant, here’s how the House of Commons could operate differently if we lived in never-never land:

    1. Everyone shares openly with one another. All MP’s held the values of respect and honesty in the house? And all parties let go of party interests and hidden agendas? Instead, all parties could openly discuss their initiatives and how to make them work best for the country.
    2. People took the time to really listen to each other before preparing their response. By simply listening, MP’s could better hear themselves speak and then recognize shifts in a plan that might need to happen for success.
    3. They give up the goal of popularity (or seeking votes).  They asked themselves, how could we all work together to get the very best for the Canadian people (i.e., their customers)?
    4. During Question Period each person would genuinely acknowledge a positive about a given initiative before asking a question for clarification. And questions would be asked to improve the program vs. exposing flaws. Frequently asked questions would include:

“How could we help you make that project more successful?”
“How could we be even more efficient in this endeavor?”
“What support do you need from me?”

Okay, I’m not naïve enough to think this will happen in politics! Yet, my goal is really to take politics out of your team dynamic!

Are you actively using these strategies on a consistent basis in your team? If not, choose one of the above behaviours and put it in place today. You can and will have positive impact on the system you work in. Imagine the peaceful workplace you could co-create!

Are you saying Not Yet, No or Yes?

Posted by on Mar, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

Susan Aglukark, Sylvia

“Trust the fear, it will always be there. Take advantage of opportunities and don’t fear the challenge, because that’s where the lessons are learned.” ~Susan Aglukark

I recently had the privilege to hear Susan Aglukark keynote and sing at a local event. She shared her story of how she minimized her ability to sing, citing she was simply a preacher’s daughter and “singing in the choir was what we did”.

Several times, she denied her talents to people in the music industry. I’m grateful that they encouraged her until she could see her talent and the opportunity it presents. As I reflected on her story, I thought about those opportunities I’ve let slip by in my life because I didn’t have the confidence to say yes.

How many times have you stepped back from opportunity because you told yourself you weren’t ready yet? Do you hold back, waiting until you have it all together?

Thinking that you just need to learn more before you could do a new task or apply for a promotion may simply be holding you back. Many people feel that they “just need one more course” or “I need more experience” before stepping up for a new identity.

Folks, it’s that fear being present – so just name that fear and step out of your comfort zone. Take the risk – because you might just be successful! If you make mistakes, you can learn and grow from them.

What if you fear success? Saying no because you are frightened will keep your gifts from being fully expressed. Because if you allow anxiety or fear sit in the driver’s seat of your life you will even more create chaos and doubt. Your mind will be busy monkey speak or negative self-talk. Fortunately, there are great techniques in my toolbox that can help you shift your mindset to realize your full potential! I truly believe success is possible for all – and that the fear of success can easily be overcome.

Playing small does not serve the world as Marianne Williamson says. So step up, be bold and see a new vision of yourself. If it doesn’t work out, at least you have given it your best shot and will have learned new lessons and skills.

Get a coach who will celebrate your wins and encourage your growth in business and in life. Sometimes we need someone outside ourselves to reflect back our real destiny and abilities.

In contrast, at the end of the evening, I meant another business owner who decided last year to say “yes” to all opportunities last year – and is experiencing remarkable success. And if Susan had of kept saying yes, we would have not had the gift of her wonderful message and voice!

Saying No, and not yet is likely to hold back your growth and progress so step up and take that risk!

What will you say “YES!” to today?

Have You Convicted Your Co-Worker of Being Nasty?

Posted by on Feb, Wed, 2018 in Communication | 0 comments

Judge with gavel

In a court of law, for some offenses there needs to be a clear intention to be found guilty of a crime. Yet in the ‘law of peers’ at work, people are often convicted of being angry, hurtful, rude without a trial. This is especially true with communication.

How many times have you been in a vulnerable emotional space when reading an email or during a conversation and quickly leaped to the conclusion that the person did not have your best interests at heart or that they intended harm?

Perhaps you decided they meant to be insulting, so maybe were curter in your response to them? And in response to you, they are even terser. The sad part is in some workplaces, the cycle can go on and on for years without being addressed.

What if you add the dynamic of gossip to this? Well, then it simply takes on a new lifeform – one of judgement and condemnation. You see, in unhealthy team environments, gossip often keeps alive inaccurate perceptions – and actually adds fuel to them. The good old brain starts to pump dopamine through it in response and everyone who is gossiping gets a false sense of connection and it feels good. In this process, you have all stepped up as judge and jury and have convicted the other person – without the benefit of a conversation.

Next time you are involved in communication that is strained in some way, I strongly encourage you to step back and ask yourself,

  • “What’s a more generous version of what happened?”
  • “Could I be interpreting this wrong?”
  • “How am I thinking or feeling that’s impacting my experience in a negative way?”

Then go and speak directly with the individual involved. Oftentimes, they were stressed and not paying attention to how they shared their message. As a coach, I’m simply shocked at how many times I give professionals feedback about their communication style and hear, “why did no one ever tell me about this??”

We all see and hear communication through or own lens or biases. If we believe the person has our best interests at heart, we are likely to give them some slack. However, if we’ve decided that another person is miserable and nasty we run the risk of not truly connecting to the person.

Check your biases at the door – when you feel vulnerable, what do you tend to think others are doing to you? Own it and go and speak directly with the other person with the intention to clear up any misunderstandings and to improve your working relationship.

Give both yourself and them the benefit of the doubt and go and when you speak with them. Chances are they weren’t intending harm and didn’t realize how they delivered their message. You can step down as the judge and become a respected and valued team member.

Being Heart-Centered at Work Starts with You

Posted by on Feb, Wed, 2018 in Individual Purpose | 0 comments

Man Cupping His Hands Protectively Over A Heart

I thought because today is Valentine’s Day, that it would be a great opportunity to talk about the importance of being heart-centered in business. But, let’s start at home – with you!

How are you taking care of yourself? Make yourself your own Valentine’s today by setting up weekly self-care activities.

  1. Refill your own cup first – What makes you feel relaxed, calm and then recharges you?
    Think about your 5 senses and how you can “feed” yourself by doing activities for each sense. It may be listening to your favourite genre of movies, the smell of a wood burning fire, getting a massage, reading a good book or taking in a beautiful scene, or savoring your favourite beverage or meal. Whatever works for you and gives you energy. Take out your day planner and make an important appointment with yourself do these things right now!
  2. Boundaries – Taking lunch and breaks.
    Research has shown that not taking regular breaks decreases your ability to concentrate and be as productive. So make sure that you are getting up and moving around. Take time away from your desk (or work area) to eat your lunch. Sometimes a simple change of location can shift your perspective enough that you are able to see a solution that was evading you. You will come back to your work with increased efficiency.
  3. Speaking Up – Being honest with yourself and others.
    Make a commitment to yourself to speak up with care and candidness when something is a concern. About 25% of people avoid what they perceive as a difficult conversation for over a year. A year filled with that stress in the back of your mind, building tension between you and the other person. Simply have a conversation that’s honest and caring before it’s a problem. You’ll find that you are freed from thinking of this situation once you’ve talked it through.
  4. Acknowledging Wins – Celebrate you!
    We all work hard! We often are seeking recognition from an outside source – and the one person who really needs to pay attention is you! Do you list your ‘wins’ of the day or week or month? Taking the time to fully acknowledge your accomplishments and growth allow you to take the next steps. How do you give yourself a shout out? Do something special or yourself on a regular basis simply to celebrate you!
    Once you make the list things you have accomplished in your life, you can use it to re-energize yourself. Also, when you are having a difficult day, you can simply pull out the list and remind yourself how capable and talented you really are.
  5. Practice Gratitude – and your life will be happier!
    The active daily practice of being grateful – perhaps for the smallest things in life can help to pay attention to what’s going well. Ever had one of those days when you thought “what more can go wrong?” and you are stressed to the max? Taking the time to list the things that well in the day can often free up much needed brain space. We don’t focus or think as clearly when stressed as the cortisol flows through our bodies. However, with gratitude practice, your dopamine and serotonin levels go up (these are natural anti-depressants in the brain).

I encourage you to start with yourself and increase your level of compassion and self-care today. Will you be … your own Valentine this year?

We Need Vulnerability in the Workplace

Posted by on Jan, Wed, 2018 in Leadership | 0 comments

Brene brown quote

Many people feel that the workplace and vulnerability should be mutually exclusive. For many people, especially in leadership roles, copious hours are spent trying to cover up their weaknesses and challenges. The underlying fear is often, if they find out what I don’t know, I’ll be ruined. This is a fear based way to operate and has a tendency to decrease trust and respect.

The reality is that true vulnerability can reap huge benefits for the team. As humans, we are imperfect by definition and so are flawed. And the wonderful thing is that when we are real with others – warts and all – people will also open up to us.

So how might you bring your own vulnerability into your team environment?

  1. Stop Comparing yourself to others. You need to step out of judgement as the process of making snap judgements about others (and yourself) prevents the confidence to share opening and ask for help. So when you hear that little voice in your head, simply take a deep breath and reframe your thoughts to more kind and helpful.
  2. Take Risks. What could you share with your team that would invite them to support you? Perhaps it’s a current challenge that you are struggling to resolve – and you simply could ask for help. Or, you might take a bigger risk to share an area where you know that others on the team have strengths in the area. Imagine how powerful it would be to fully acknowledge your team member and celebrate their success. You will be able to see them fully.
  3. Be willing to share your mistakes. And the learning that came from them. We often say that mistakes are only mistakes when we fail to learn from them. Then we hide our “mistakes” and learning – the underlying message is that is really isn’t okay to make mistakes – that they equate failure. Share those valuable nuggets of insight that you have gleaned from your personal experience.
  4. Ask for Help. What if asking for help was a strength? Well, I’m telling you it is! When we ask for help we stop struggling – and our stress level can decrease. A side effect is that, as we invite others to support us, we enable them to shine in their brilliance.
  5. Invite others to show up authentically. Once you role model that being human, a.k.a. vulnerable, others will be given permission to follow. Once individuals share their work challenges – you allow others to step into their genius and then they get to shine in their area of expertise. Imagine the incredible improvement in team projects.

Vulnerability is the place where we fully acknowledge ourselves, let ourselves be okay as we are, and enable ourselves to be supportive. Some vulnerability is required to have your team dynamics functional. When team members hold themselves apart from others, not sharing their truth and challenges, it simply prevents trust from forming.

Take the first step, open yourself up and invite your direct reports to do the same. Once this level of trust is established, your team results will soar.

Overcome the Fear of Being Put on the Spot in Meetings

Posted by on Jan, Wed, 2018 in Communication | 0 comments

Surprised_man

Have you ever been in a meeting and not spoken up because you were concerned what reaction you might receive? Do you fear that you’ll be standing up unable to find the right words (or any words) to address the situation? Well, you are not alone.

One of the clients I’ve been working with recently avoids bringing up topics in meetings that are difficult for fear that they will be challenged in the meeting.  The fear of being put on the spot and not being able to quickly respond prevents this person from being as successful as they could be. As a result, their direct reports are able to continue in less than ideal behaviours. Not what’s best for the organization or for this manager – because it creates ongoing stress and anxiety.

So what can you do before you have complete brain freeze?

  1. Breathe. Learn to take deep breaths – in through you nose and out through your mouth. By slowing down your breathing, you will naturally relax your body more. A relaxed mind tends to think more clearly.
  2. Visualize successfully speaking up and getting a positive response. The power of visualization has been used by professional athletes for years. Notice how your body feels; use this technique to prepare for any and all “speaking up” conversations. If any stress or anxiety arises during this, use your breathing technique.
  3. Get clear on what you really want to say. Sometimes we speak before we think and that can create challenges, especially when coupled with anxiety. Taking the time to get your “sound bite” clear in your mind will assist you to be more concise and confident sounding to others.
  4. Practice the behavior. Get in the habit of taking risks and sharing your thoughts in meetings. Start with smaller things and set your goals a bit higher each time. Then ask for something (that’s important to you) to be put on the agenda and lead the discussion or if you facilitate the meeting, put a topic on the agenda that you have been avoiding.
  5. Reflect on your successes. The first part is speaking up, the second is about how well did I say what I wanted to say? Now as they say, rinse and repeat. Next time, set the bar a bit higher and keep challenging yourself to work on this goal of speaking up and fully acknowledge your wins.
  6. It is okay to not have all the answers. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers in the moment. One of the gifts of working with people is that you can get back to them with an answer once you have reflected on it.
  7. Consider hiring a coach to assist you with your communication and presentation skills. By doing this you will build skills and have accountability to ensure that you don’t let anxiety win. You will gain confidence and competence in speaking effectively.
  8. Take an Improv Training Course. Improv is a team sport (it is not stand-up comedy)! Improv helps you to become more self-trusting as you realize that you can respond in the moment. And sometimes you get a really good belly laugh in the process – and that in itself is worth the price of lessons!

By making this a focus and changing your energy, thoughts and behaviours, you will shift into a new comfort zone. Speaking confidently is an important business and leadership skill. You deserve to be able to speak up and be heard no matter what meeting you are in!