Archive for March, 2010

You Had It All the Time

March 10, 2010

March 10, 2010

People-Whispering Tip:

Many years ago I wrote a brochure about the business I was then about to start and still continually reinvent. Before taking additional coaching training and becoming a Master Certified Coach and before garnering deep experience through all these years of training and coaching sessions at all levels of all kinds of organizations in a wide variety of industries, I pretty much hit the nail on the head. My beginner’s mind self wrote something about “tailoring my services to your personal needs to serve as a catalyst in moving beyond limiting mindsets and behaviors that may be frustrating you now.”

I then went on to say that “through increased awareness and education, your organization can reap the financial rewards of enhanced creativity, accelerated decision-making, increased productivity and authentic communication.” My brochure went even further by saying “your organization is involved with leading-edge management practices, but is facing a challenge in “putting it altogether” and making it work. Leaders want to encourage customer focus, creativity, and innovation, but confusion exists about where to begin and how to proceed. Traditional structures, systems, and ways of thinking are barriers to implementing successful new strategies.”

Looking back on what I wrote some 15 or 16 years ago, I was wiser than I knew. I am writing this now not to convince you of that fact, but to remind you that you too, know what works and doesn’t work even if you haven’t been highly trained or have years of experience in a particular discipline. Intuition and common sense go a long way towards making a practical tangible difference in the world. I am not saying that experience isn’t valuable if it is guided by insight. I am saying that sometimes in our culture, we ignore the obvious and keep trying to justify behaviors and practices that no longer work in a particular environment. Sometimes we spend so much time proving what we already know intuitively that it becomes an excuse for making a change.

I am not immune to this tendency and love to read the case studies and results of “experiments” about human behavior. Specifically, in leadership development, organizational development, or talent management and development as well as in coaching of any kind, we are seeking to assist people in bringing out the best in themselves and others. There is an art and a science to such managerial “magic.” Certainly it is valuable to study what works as long as we are open to seeing things in new ways.

One of my favorite authors in this field is Daniel Pink, author of  “A Whole New Mind” and his most recent book “Drive.” In “A Whole New Mind”, Pink’s central premise is that the future of a world rocked by technological change, globalization, and outsourcing requires a shift from a “left-brain” dominance to a more holistic even artistic skill set. As Dan Pink points out, the “left-brain” analytical capabilities that powered the Information Age are necessary, but are no longer sufficient. Instead, the capabilities we once disdained or thought frivolous – in short the “right-brain” qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning – increasingly will determine who flourishes and who flounders in this century. Actually, this has always been true and yet calling it new sometimes gets peoples’ attention.

His recent book takes his paradigm-challenging pattern in a differing although tangentially related direction. While “A Whole New Mind” challenges what it takes to get ahead in the world today, “Drive” is a provocative look at what really motivates people to perform at their best or to do anything for that matter. He challenges the notion that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money or other carrot and stick approaches. Instead, he cites scientific and anecdotal evidence which points to the true power of intrinsic motivation stemming from the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.  I encourage you to watch his YouTube video on Ted.com.http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.html

My intention here is not to sell you on Dan Pink and his ideas or books if that is what you are thinking. You might also be wondering, “what does this have to do with your first company brochure?” Well, both my brochure and Dan Pink are pointing to some fundamental keys to understanding human nature which are the tendency to hold onto self-limiting (and by extension organizationally- limiting) beliefs, premises, assumptions, mindsets, paradigms or whatever you want to call them because not doing so requires changing our minds and hearts and ultimately changing our behavior. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary as well as our own personal experience, many of us persist in thinking, feeling, and acting in direct opposition to what truth knows really works.

In this case, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does and how that affects every aspect of life. This fact has broader implications for us in every area of life in that we often know better intuitively (as I did all of these years ago) but we continue to act in the tried and true ways that once worked but no longer work in the current environment. This month, as Spring encourages us to clear out the cobwebs and reexamine our lives in business and elsewhere, what limiting beliefs, premises, assumptions, mindsets, paradigms and their associated practices do you need to let go of and replace with transformational thinking, feeling, and doing?

For assistance with that effort, call us at 404-327-6330 or email me at laura@lauraadavis.com. I would love to be of assistance to help you and your team and organization to retool your thinking to be ready for the new world of work.

DiSC Assessment Application:

Much has been written about the distinction between management and leadership over the years. I won’t be so bold as to presume I could summarize the difference in one small paragraph here. Nevertheless, I can point to the importance of a leader serving as one who inspires and incites others to positive, effective action. As I was thinking about how best to express this point and tie it to one of the product-based solutions I offer, I came across this quote by Napoleon Hill, author of the timeless classic “Think and Grow Rich.” Hill observes, “There is a mistaken idea floating around that a man should be paid for that which he knows. In reality, a man (or woman!) is paid for that which he does with what he knows, or that which he can get others to do with it.”

This month, I am reminded of the power of the DiSC Classic 2 Plus report (look under Products and Assessments at www.lauraadavis.com to purchase and to view a sample report) with its helpful information on how to manage and sell to others so you connect with who they are naturally as well as what they need most from you. As a manager, this assessment can assist you in knowing what strategies would be most effective when developing, “motivating,” complimenting, coaching, delegating, proving feedback, communicating with and assisting with the development of more effective decision-making approaches for any given individual.

From a sales management perspective, this tool can also help you to understand a person’s natural approach to selling at each stage of the selling process including planning, opening a call, interviewing, presenting, responding to concerns, gaining commitment, and servicing a customer or client team. By understanding a team members’ strengths and potential blind spots at each step of the sales cycle, you can be better prepared to support them in becoming more effective by building upon their strengths and mitigating their areas for growth and closing their developmental gaps.

For assistance in how to do this effectively, call us at (404) 327-6330 or email me at laura@lauraadavis.com.

Transformational Coaching Tip:

In the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in on some client meetings in order to provide feedback as a prelude to setting up a coaching process together. It has struck me how frequently status meetings can become performance presentations where we try to look good in front of the big bosses rather than truly collaborate. There are systems reasons for this, time pressure reasons for this and most pervasive is the competitive trance we tend to operate under in big business today. There is a tendency to want to present things with a positive spin to avoid criticism or even public humiliation in some cases. After all, who wants to have their competence and reputation and even identity threatened in front of others who look up to and rely on them? What if instead of trying to dodge a bullet and putting on a false front, ALL participants in meetings behaved with total personal responsibility? What if all associates embodied a solution-focused attitude in group work that got things accomplished with ownership and authentic group power?

The following are some guidelines to ensure productive, effective meetings for any team at any level in any organization:

  • Avoid any criticism, blame or defensiveness.
  • Cooperate in finding solutions.
  • Build on rather than criticize other people’s ideas – what I like about that is…technique.
  • Allow others’ ideas to trigger new thought in you.
  • Use humor to diffuse tensions and to inject creativity to any process.
  • Sit quietly for a few minutes before the meeting to reflect on its purpose and the outcomes you want to achieve.
  • Daily use the power of thought and visualization to see the larger purpose being unfolded, the purpose for the group’s being together.

 For assistance in how to implement any of these ideas, feel free to call us at (404) 327-6330 or email me at Laura@lauraadavis.com.

 It would be my pleasure to serve you!

How to Influence without Authority but with Love

March 10, 2010

People Whispering Tip:

As is appropriate for the month of February, this month’s theme centers on the importance of leading with love and positive influence.  It is so important for all of us to realize that leadership isn’t about one’s position alone.  It’s about one’s influence and ability to establish, build, and maintain a positive emotional bank account with others with sincerity.

By influence, I mean the ability to get work done with and through people over whom you have no direct control or positional authority.  Recently, I have conducted/facilitated training sessions with groups of “high potentials” for a well-respected organization in Atlanta where I am based.  These participants have been identified as the “best and the brightest” and are supposedly on the fast track to success.  While many were bright and intelligent, I was amused at how “they don’t know what they don’t know.”  I recall being in that position myself early in my career and like many of us, wish I knew then what I know now.

Specifically, I wish I knew that business is more about relationships and human connections than it is about the latest management theories or financial analyses.  I wish I knew then how important it is to manage to the individual to help them bring out their own unique gifts and strengths while at the same time, broadening their repertoire so they don’t overuse those same strengths in a situation where different skills are needed.  As I wrote in my award-winning article, “Leading With Love,” (link to website published Jan. 2009) people want to feel a leader’s heart and know that you care about what you do and about them.

Out of all of the ingredients for successful relationships, genuine caring is the hardest of all to coach.  It is something that comes from deep inside the heart and soul and transcends logic and intellect.  I encourage you to read the article in its entirety and in trusting that you will, I won’t repeat the main points here.  I will sum up the essence of it though by quoting the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu’s saying “Fail to honor people, and they fail to honor you.”

And this brings me back to reflecting on my recent experiences with the groups of “high-potentials” I mentioned earlier.  To provide some context, the organization in question is a large, highly respected, multinational company with an engineering focus where intellect and an objective mindset is often rewarded more than a broad-based people-oriented perspective. 

In their defense, this was a group of young, energetic, bright, and self-motivated individuals.  Already some were cynical having fought resistance from leaders well-vested in the status quo.  They can’t be completely faulted for not understanding the value of business protocol and respecting those with more experience as in many cases, they haven’t been taught these skills, attitudes, and beliefs.  And they do bring a fresh eye and enthusiasm to the old tired ways of doing things.  That said, one has to know how to influence in a way that builds bridges and makes people right rather than wrong.

In the training, we do a simulation and negotiation practice which mirrors similar dynamics to every day work in most large corporations.  Specifically, tensions are created by a lack of clarity about the vision, mission, and goals and artificial competition is set up by “geography” and putting people in “teams” which often end up competing internally much like a headquarters and field dynamic would occur in a company.  I was struck by the lack of realization that win-lose thinking didn’t serve the objectives at hand.  It was striking to me how much this competitive spirit is scripted into our society without even considering there might be a better way.  Blaming others and hoarding information to maintain “power over” rather than “power with” also showed up under stress.

While solving these issues could be the subject of an entire book, I believe the crux of the problem is a lack of understanding that technical expertise is not enough.  While we may build our reputations early in our careers on competence, we remain successful based upon our ability to work with and through people at all levels.  Our emotional and spiritual IQ ultimately trumps brilliance and/or technical competence.

Obviously, relationships will never take the place of technical competence.  Rather, relationships and technical expertise are a “both and” and support and complement one another.  In future issues of this Ezine, I will continue to flesh out what you can do to influence without authority whether that is through making an individual contribution, building one-on-one relationships, and/or working effectively as a part of a team.  I hope you’ll stay tuned!

If you’d like more information on our training and coaching services particularly in the area of “influencing without authority,” please call us at (404) 327-6330 or email me at Laura@lauraadavis.com.

DiSC Assessment Application:

Effective influencing behavior comes from a centered, calm place without stress and push energy.

The Coping & Stress Profile (link to in store) is an assessment in my suite of offerings that provides people with the valuable feedback on coping with stress in both their personal and work lives.  I mentioned how we all tend to overuse our strengths under stress and how this showed up in the simulations I recently facilitated with my “high potential” groups.  This profile identifies how “stress” in one area of life affects other areas and examines how coping resources in one area can be used to decrease stress in another area.

The profile covers 4 coping resources which are:

Problem-solving (or Solution-Finding!):  dealing with challenges and making changes to resolve them.

Communication:  sharing thoughts and feelings with others.

Closeness:  connecting with others.

Flexibility:  Responding to change with willingness and openness.

The Coping & Stress Profile (link to in store) helps people in organizations:

  • Discover “stress” issues in each life area and capitalize on coping strengths to manage stress.
  • Learn to minimize or eliminate common daily stressors.
  • Identify areas for coping through skills improvement.
  • Develop flexibility in responding to change.
  • Communicate more effectively to improve problem-solving.
  • Build mutually supportive relationships.

For more information on how to use Coping & Stress in your organization, please call us at (404) 327-6330 or email me at Laura@lauraadavis.com.  We are here to serve you!

Transformational Coaching Tips:

I’ve written many times of the need to “people-read” the style of the other person in order to cross the bridge into their world, speak in their language, and gain their trust in order to partner with them.  Below are some additional tips to cultivate strong one-on-one relationships in today’s workplace.  Strong one to one interpersonal relationships are one of the keys to effective influence without authority. 

  • Have lunch with one or more coworkers at least once a week.
  • Smile at people as you pass them in the hall or wherever you encounter one another at work.
  • Open up to people by sharing and disclosing some personal information with which you are comfortable.
  • Ask for input from knowledgeable coworkers about a project on which you are working.
  • Follow up on information that has been previously shared with you, particularly personal information if relevant.
  • See beyond the task to the human being who is performing it and remember to manage to the individual using your knowledge of DiSC style.
  • Read Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders – http://www.twitter.com/sanderssays.