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.

Leadership as a Future Business Imperative

February 1, 2010

“The Leadership Gap as a Future Imperative” 

People Whispering Tip:        

As we start a new decade and continue to climb out of the worst recession since the Great Depression, it is crucial to revisit the importance of leadership skills.  New research from the highly respected Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found that organizational leadership skills are inadequate to meet both current and future demand.  CCL surveyed a representative sample of 2,200 leaders from 15 organizations, in three countries between 2006 and 2008 with the intention of answering the following three questions:

  1. What leadership skills and perspectives are critical for success now and in the future?
  2. How strong are current leaders in these critical skills and perspectives?
  3. How aligned is today’s leadership strength with what will be the most important skills and perspectives in the future?

Without delving into the research project’s findings in depth, the bottom line is, the study revealed a significant leadership gap in the competencies that are most critical for success now and in the future.  This study and others like it, point to a global shift in the awareness that many of today’s leaders are not well prepared to effectively lead today’s most talented employees.  One could point to flaws in the study as it is based upon the subjective opinions of people deemed to be “leaders.”   It was also a forced-choice survey using competencies from CCL’s Benchmark instrument within a relatively short, five year time horizon.

All of that said, the results still point to some alarming needs in crucial areas highlighted by the recent recession.  For example, “resourcefulness,” “doing whatever it takes,” and “being a quick learner” are more critical now than ever before.  My work supports these results as I have worked with some very talented people in the last year who are excellent at leading change initiatives and strategic planning but have a need to let go of what used to work for them and their organization in order to adapt to a rapidly changing market environment. 

Sometimes this means learning new skills.  For instance, in the training and development field, traditional face to face trainers and instructional designers may also need to learn to design and facilitate online courses using new methodologies and tools.  This is a new skill I have invested in learning more about this past year.  Sometimes adapting means letting go of old methods and flawed premises.  Sometimes it means learning to transfer skills from one context to another with a fresh and yet experienced eye.  One thing is for sure though.  Being successful as a leader always requires self-reflection and a willingness to grow and evolve or die.

As you enter this new decade, ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to improve your skill set and to keep your personal and professional development ahead of the curve of the present and future needs of your business.  I am continually amazed at the numbers of “leaders” who are still ignorant of key business needs such as social media trends, emotional intelligence skills, and/or global, cross-cultural issues to name a few.

On a positive note, one of the most exciting trends in my opinion is the fact that the increasing complexity of today’s business environment is forcing us all to rely on our intuition more consistently.  No one can possibly analyze all of the variables necessary to predict the future without a combination of analysis and inner knowing.  Both skills are needed for the future.  For a great outline of the need for more whole brain thinking, I recommend reading anything by Daniel Pink particularly his book, A Whole New Mind.

If you’ve been reading this Ezine or have worked with me in any capacity as a coach, speaker, or trainer, you know that one of my guiding principles for inspired success is to take personal responsibility for your future and to seek support to implement your goals and intentions. As we kick off a prosperous 2010, ask yourself:

  • What am I doing to improve my leadership skills?
  • What am I doing to assist others in growing their leadership capabilities?
  • Am I taking inspired action or just going through the motions by doing what is expected of me?
  • How can I shift my attitude and perspective to stay fresh and on the leading edge without throwing the proverbial “baby out with the bathwater”?

I love this quote by Peter Senge about the nature of true leadership.  He says, “Leadership is about creating a domain in which human beings continually deepen their understanding of reality and become more capable of participating in the unfolding world.  Ultimately, leadership is about creating new realities.”

In 2010, take the leadership challenge to recreate and reinvent your reality personally and professionally.  You’ll be glad you did.
 
DiSC Assessment Application:
       
One of the misconceptions people often harbor about leadership is that it necessarily implies positional authority.  While tacit authority certainly helps, it is even more important to be able to “influence without authority.” 

As I prepare for a training course with my Forum colleagues for a division of Siemens, I am reminded of the power of DiSC to help others do just that.  Our participants are a selective crop of the “best and the brightest” relatively newly hired “high potentials.”  As is often cited in the management literature, these Millennials have high expectations of management which indeed they should.

What they don’t know yet however, is the importance of speaking to their managers in the manager’s language rather than just asking the same questions over and over again (and more loudly).  One of the basic tenants of human behavior is that even our greatest strengths when overused can become liabilities.  It is akin to the old cliché of doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.  Instead, a change of strategy – in this case, employing the art of people-whispering – is required.

Once you understand your own behavioral style and personality characteristics, you know what your gifts and strengths are as well as what you might tend to overuse.  We teach people to leverage these strengths, but also to attune to the language the other is speaking in order to communicate with them in a way that makes sense and “lands” with the listener not just the speaker.

This ability to connect and communicate with people with differing styles is at the heart of leadership and always will be. Understanding DiSC and all of its applications in today’s new world of work is endlessly exciting as real magic occurs when people relate at this level.   Another key to leading regardless of your title, is to cultivate your self-worth and become a new you in the new year with enhanced self-esteem.  Check out my book called A Guide to Getting It: Self-Esteem for more support in this area.  It is a compilation of great contributions from some highly regarded Master Certified Coaches in both the life and business coaching arenas. 

Make no mistake, these skills are not just warm and fuzzy people skills.  Understanding how to use DiSC- based relationship skills encompass a wide range of personal, social, communication, and self-management behaviors.   You can have all the technical expertise in the world, but if you can’t sell your ideas, get along well with others, or create solutions for organizational problems, you are going nowhere fast.

Transformational Coaching Tip:

Last month I promised to continue to offer more ways to stay in touch with your aliveness and to stay out of a rut.  Since I do my best to practice Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements, one of which is “be impeccable with your word,” I am offering more such pearls this month.  Yet because it is a New Year and a New Decade, I feel compelled to include something akin to New Year’s Resolutions.

For any Jane Roberts fans, you’ll recognize this list which focuses primarily on the feelings and attitudes to cultivate first before inspired action is recommended.  Email me if you’d like further information as to the source of this wisdom.  Here goes:

  1. “I will approve of myself, my characteristics, my abilities, my likes and dislikes, my inclinations and disinclinations, realizing that these form my unique individuality.  They are given to me for a reason.”
  2. “I will approve of and rejoice in my accomplishments and I will be as vigorous in listing these-as rigorous in remembering them – as I have been in remembering and enumerating my failures or lacks of accomplishment.”
  3. “I will remember the creative framework of existence in which I have my being.  Therefore the possibilities, potentials, seeming miracles, and joyful spontaneity of Framework 2 (the invisible creative intelligence) will be in my mind, so that the doors to creative living are open.”
  4. “I will realize that the future is a probability.  In terms of ordinary experience, nothing exists there yet.  It is virgin territory, planted by my feelings and thoughts in the present.  Therefore, I will plant my accomplishments and successes, and I will do this by remembering that nothing can exist in the future that I do not want to be there.”

Happy New Year!

Are You Learning/Growing Enough for our Times? Take the Lifelong Learning and Collaborating Challenge!

December 8, 2009

People Whispering Tip :

I’ve had a lot of epiphanies lately so it was a bit of a challenge to choose among them for a topic for this month’s tip. Having too many simultaneous ideas and options is often one of my challenges in life. I like to create rather than follow through. I can follow up without too much difficulty, but there is an important distinction between following up and following through. Fortunately, I have people in my life who have taught me to do this more effectively and who are naturally good at follow through rather than creating such that we complement one another.

The importance of such distinctions struck me recently while having a coaching conversation with one of my clients who is experiencing a feeling of chronic impatience for not being where he wants to be in his career. At this point in time, he doesn’t really know where he wants to be which is even more unsettling. If he can sit with the ambiguity and allow a higher solution to emerge, then real progress will be achieved. That can be the challenge with attempting to truly collaborate as well. Sometimes you have to sit with the discomfort for real change to occur. Kudos to my client though for seeking out a sounding board, a source for resources, a person who will ask the questions and share the observations that no one else dares to offer for fear of reprisal, lack of skill, or even for lack of a vocabulary to put words to an intuitive knowing.

Ever notice how much easier it is to spot someone else’s issues and foibles than to identify your own? Maybe you are aware of yours, but are at a loss to know what to do to work with your strengths in a positive way while mitigating your weaknesses. The epiphany I want to write about has to do with this phenomenon. I want to offer a tip about the value of collaboration to solve this and other related challenges such that we learn faster and make the changes we need to make in a timely way. Radical and fast transformation is imperative in our current times.

As most people move through their lives, they develop habits and patterns of behavior that serve them well in a particular time period and/or environment. Yet many people fail to realize that they may need to change their minds continually about what they think is true or real both personally and professionally. It can feel threatening to expose yourself to new ways of thinking and being if you have not been doing so consistently throughout your life. If you do learn something new that challenges your current paradigm, it doesn’t make you a bad person or “wrong” for how you used to see things. Chances are you were doing the best you could with the awareness, energy, and information you had at the time. Parts of what you “knew” before are likely still correct within an expanded view. That said, I think it is a leader’s responsibility to keep learning and growing and exploring new territory whether the terrain be the business world, the world of health and medicine, technology, global politics, entertainment, whatever.

The ways to do this are endless today. Read books (yes, old-fashioned printed books) as well as learn from social and other forms of media. At the same time, know that everything you read must be considered from the point of view of the author or broadcaster or tweeter. Be discerning and look at the point of view from many perspectives. Travel internationally and meet people from different races, cultures, religions, and backgrounds. Exposure to diversity breeds an open and wise mind not just an intelligent one. I am continually astounded by the number of people who have blindly bought into the world view of their parents or the prevailing media world view without ever questioning the fact that new knowledge and experience may have been gained since they went to school or first started in their chosen field. Innovation never ceases and it’s a good thing. If it hadn’t, we might still be afraid to sail off the edge of the world of our flat earth.

At the same time, let’s be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Ancient cultures and traditional wisdom have much to teach us in all arenas especially if we integrate the old with the new and employ the right tool for the right job. We must also get to the root of the issue and deal with the cause rather than just dealing with the symptoms. This can be uncomfortable, but it is the only way positive, sustainable change can take place. It’s easier to take a pill and relieve the pain and do that if you must while also addressing the real cause.

What has this got to do with business and training and coaching you might ask? And how does it relate to the multiple epiphanies I mentioned earlier? It relates in the sense that interaction is not in and of itself collaboration. We can know about different perspectives without really learning anything. In my work, I am interested in more than just having meetings and creating initiatives to improve performance. I am interested in transformation and authentic leadership which can only come from being continually willing to allow your mind and heart to be open and stretched into new vistas. It’s humbling and scary and exciting all at the same time.

Collaboration goes beyond interaction by asking that two or more people create something anew. It goes beyond conversation and sharing ideas although it must begin there. It may require a higher level of skill in terms of deep listening and conflict resolution. But most of all, it requires a willingness to learn and grow and to allow your mind to be changed enough that your wisdom can meld with someone else’s in a kind of alchemical leadership process. Are you up for the adventure?

DiSC Assessment Application:

An understanding of Everything DiSC Sales (see www.lauraadavis.com under Products and Assessments) has never been more important than it is today in our times of social media and information overload. Most people have been so overexposed to sales messages through electronic media that they have become allergic to selling. For instance, if I participate in one more webinar without content other than a thinly veiled sales pitch, I may scream. I take no issue with someone offering a product or service, just be clear about it while you also offer value-added information. In other words, if we really want to share products, services, and tools that we believe in, we will have to do so in the new “sharing” vs. “push” model.

This is where having an understanding of someone’s DiSC style can be invaluable. If I practice people-whispering and share my product or service’s benefits to you in your language and in a way you can hear it, I am supporting you in making an informed choice. I am serving you rather than selling to you. I have to have something to offer with substance, and the style in which I communicate it has got to be about serving you. Speaking someone else’s’ language engenders trust. If you leave out the manipulation and self-interest and show you genuinely care about me, it’s likely I will buy your story and your product.

As a gift to my clients as I begin my 15th year in business (yikes!), I am offering a complimentary 30 minute consultation to talk about how using DiSC with your sales teams might help you grow your revenues and improve your bottom line. Just call us at 404-327-6330 or email me at Laura@lauraadavis.com to schedule a time to chat.

Transformational Coaching Tip:

I always chuckle a bit when people complain to me about being at a stage in life where they have fallen into a rut. My life is ever new and “rutless” and could actually use a tad more structure and stability these days. So the challenge is always how to have enough of a routine while still keeping it fresh and new such that you are growing and changing and open to the possibilities without becoming overwhelmed and disorganized. Here are some tips to do just that:

1. See life (as well as collaboration!) as an adventure to be savored. Granted sometimes life is boring or painful but expecting the best does indeed attract the best to you even if you don’t see it at the time.

 2. Work on your confidence. Learn about self-talk and the power of affirmations. Remember the children’s story “The Little Engine That Could?” I used to love that story and its profound message. Take baby steps and manage the self-doubt and worry – lesser folks have done more with less.

 3. Let go of what others think. By this I mean be true to what brings you joy and honor what you are really passionate about. I don’t mean ignore what others think (remember to listen to challenge your point of view) but I do mean do what’s right for you. You don’t have to live in the suburbs and have 2.5 kids if you don’t want to but if you truly do, then go for it! Likewise, being different just to be different is a rebellious way to be just as tied to others’ opinions of you. Chart your own course with input from those you respect.

 4. Listen to your own inner guidance. Now I love my family dearly, but I must say this was not something that was encouraged or acknowledged as I grew up. That said, today there are so many powerful and wonderful tools and resources for developing your intuition. That doesn’t mean you should throw your critical thinking and analytical reasoning out the window either but be open to the miracles. I’ve had all kinds of multisensory experiences myself frequently enough to know they are real. I’ve also worked with high-level leaders who have confessed that their most brilliant moves were intuitively inspired. The scientific or mathematical analysis was then used to verify what they already knew in their hearts.

 5. Become a seeker or practical mystic. You can be practical and ambitious and have both feet firmly on the ground AND at the same time, explore the greater purpose and meaning of life. The financial crisis of the past 2 years has forced many people to reassess their values and priorities. Go one better and reexamine the nature of reality. Science is now revealing what spirit has known all along. Be a part of the grand and glorious ride.

 6. Keep reading this Ezine! Next month I will reveal 5 more ways to stay in touch with your aliveness and stay out of a rut.

HINT: Another key way is to appreciate everything in your life even if it isn’t exactly the way you want it yet (hint #2: that target keeps moving so enjoy the journey!)

With that, a very happy holidays to you and yours and thank you for being a part of my life! I appreciate you!

Are You in the Right Petri Dish/Environment to Thrive?

October 24, 2009

People Whispering Tip:        

 We’ve had great fun with our recent webinar series “Recession-Proofing Your Career” which you can read about at www.recession-proofyourcareer.com.  As an executive career and leadership coach, it often amazes me how few people spend the time to educate themselves about how to make good career choices based on their unique talents and skills.  So many people just seem to stumble into their careers by default (and not just careers but marriages and children, etc.) based upon what their parents, peers, or society via teachers and the media said they should do at the time.

I tend to favor Auguste Rodin’s, the great sculptor of the Thinker, perspective when he said “The world will never be happy until all men (and women) have the souls of artists – I mean when they take pleasure in their jobs.”  In today’s world, I would extend that beyond the concept of just a job to how one makes their livelihood or way in the world.  In the New Thought tradition based upon the great thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the term creative self-expression is used in lieu of career or job.  It is a broader term encompassing how we make our way in the world.  The Buddhist concept of dharma is similar with its emphasis on purpose and meaning beyond just making a living.  I am interested in helping people to make a better living and a better life.

This is more relevant than ever today when the “average” person has 5 to 7 totally different careers in one lifetime in stark contrast to my father’s day.  My father was an organic chemist and business executive who worked for the same company for 39 years before he retired.  Even if we wanted that level of consistency, if not “security,” that opportunity is just not realistic anymore.  We are called to continually reinvent ourselves such that we are on purpose and are passionate about our lives while we still make a decent living. 

Where on earth to begin?  The first place to begin is to learn more about yourself and your unique strengths, gift, skills, interests, and capabilities as the special person you are.  There are many relevant assessments and ways to uncover these talents which I use with my clients who are searching for direction.  Two factors that are essential to understand and uncover are:  1) Role or Job Fit, and 2) Culture Fit or Match.   

Once you understand more about your value to an organization or field, you can begin to define the job role fit for you.  Tools such as DiSC and MBTI are invaluable to help you understand why you may gravitate towards certain aspects of a field over others.  It is never as prescriptive as “you are this style or type and therefore you should do this” as some practitioners who are not fully trained might lead you to believe.  There are too many elements to us multidimensional human beings for that.  That said, your DiSC style will give you some very strong clues as to what role you would be best suited for all other things being equal. 

For example, someone with a primary preference for D behavior thrives in leadership roles that allow them to be in charge and direct change in an organization.  They also like to focus on tasks and achieve results and to communicate clearly and directly about how to get things done.  Someone with a high I preference thrives in a role where they can motivate and influence others through their persuasiveness and their optimistic, enthusiastic approach to opportunities and problems.  They also love to lead or participate in groups and build alliances to get results.  A high S individual thrives in a role that allows them to work in a steady, predictable, and orderly manner.  They also enjoy working in conventional and proven ways and make decisions through group consensus rather than strictly on their own.  Last, a high C individual enjoys a role that allows them to perform work at high standards of quality where they can apply their own structures, methods, and models within the job’s framework of expectations.  They also enjoy knowing how things work and don’t like surprises to a process or procedure.

In addition to the best role for each style, it is helpful to find a corporate or organizational culture that matches your style.  Even if the overall corporate culture doesn’t match your style, having a work group or team culture match can make all of the difference between surviving and thriving.  Prior to starting my own business, I worked in a few large Fortune 500 companies so I can truly speak from personal experience.  While I was with Equifax for example, I was on both the credit and the insurance side of the house.  As a high I and secondary D, I was the happiest when both my role as a Product Marketing Manager and the work group culture I found myself in while in the Credit Marketing Group matched my behavioral style needs.  For the first time in some time, I was surrounded by other high I’s who thrived on interaction, collaboration, persuasion, energy, and excitement.  I had come home to my people!  In contrast, while on the insurance side of the company, I did market research which I could do, but found relatively boring due to the quantitative nature of the work which didn’t require much interaction with people.

In short, the environment in which you place yourself in addition to the job role you assume, has a tremendous impact on your job satisfaction as well as your performance.  Just like a petri dish in a lab, there are ideal conditions for each type of bacteria to grow and thrive.  Understanding where you will thrive is a big piece of your evolution to your best self.  To learn more, there is still time to order our 3 part webinar series CD package at the early bird rate.  Look for details to be posted soon at our site which is www.recession-proofyourcareer.com.

In the meantime, if you are interested in career coaching for yourself or for your organization, I have some room in my practice for additional clients.  Please contact us at (404) 327-6330 or email us at Laura@lauraadavis.com.

 DiSC Assessment Application: 
       

To learn more about your ideal cultural fit, the classical patterns in the DiSC Classic 2.0 report can offer you a world of insight.  The classical pattern looks at how an individual’s four dimensions of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness come together in combination.  Since we all have aspects of all of the dimensions within us, it is helpful to know in what combination and level of intensity each of them combines to give us a richer, deeper understanding of individual behavior.

There are 15 classical patterns which arise showing an individuals’ emotions, goals, how they tend to judge or evaluate others, how they like to influence others, and their value to the organization.  It also provides information regarding the behaviors they tend to overuse particularly under pressure due to their common fears.  Last, the classical pattern gives some helpful information regarding how one can increase their effectiveness to the organization.  This pattern is often so accurate people will ask me if I am a fortune-teller or seer.  Often they have received feedback regarding these issues and factors in performance feedback over the years.

In keeping with this month’s theme of planting yourself in a fertile petri dish or soil, it is wise to choose a work culture that fits your emotional needs based upon your classical pattern.  Doing so will increase your chances of being more effective, performing at a higher level, being more satisfied, and feeling more energized on a daily basis.

In short, not all D’s, I’s, S’s, and C’s are alike.  For example, if you are an outgoing, friendly, expressive and action-oriented High I, Moderate D individual, you would feel completely out of place in a culture that values deliberateness, formality, and low-key communications.  On the other hand, if you possessed a Creative classical pattern with an equally High D and C, you might thrive in a more reserved, task-oriented, analytical, focused work environment.  A DC style under pressure might get more detached and controlling in order to fix what is wrong while an iD would likely get more emotional and expressive when stressed.

I encourage you to retake the DiSC Classic 2.0 profile yourself to see where your classical pattern falls.  I will be giving a webinar on culture fit and your ideal career soon so stay tuned for further details.  In the meantime, coaching or a one-time consultation regarding how this applies to you can be arranged by calling us at 404-327-6330 or emailing Laura@lauraadavis.com
 

 Transformational Coaching Tip: 
    

Since I am on a “cultural kick” this month, I want to remind everyone about the importance of looking at other cultures and belief systems to broaden your perspective on how you view things.  The truth is not always obvious since we generally see it through the lens of our own perceptions.  In my experience, the more we learn about other times and cultures as well as different beliefs within our own culture, the more we are humbled by the knowledge that our perceptions are based on very narrow, limited views of the universe. 

It may shock you to learn that your way is not the only nor necessarily right way even if you don’t think you have the tendency to believe that.  That is why travel and exposure to other belief systems is so invaluable.  The more we understand that our reality and the meanings we assign to events are influenced by the time and space we grew up in as well as the mass consciousness we are surrounded by, the more we can be open to change and growth as needed.

For my clients who are also in Georgia reading this, you know that only a few years ago, we suffered a major drought and had to operate on severe water restrictions.  Recently, we had record rains and flash flooding causing severe road damage, power outages, and property damage particularly in the Northwest suburbs of Atlanta.  In other words, a farmer experiencing a drought welcomes the rain and sees it as a positive event.  On the other hand, if you are on the roof of a low building as the flood waters rise around you, you’d probably dread the rain and see it as bad.  The meaning we assign to an event is truly relative and is largely a matter of context, perspective, and perception.

As you go through the next month, consider how the following key points impact you and your world.  Are your perceptions serving you or not?

Key Points:

  • Perceptions are generally based on a very limited amount of information.
  • Your perceptions often exaggerate or minimize the truth.
  • A wider array of perceptions sometimes makes the truth appear less absolute and more relative.
  • Your reality is based upon your perceptions of the truth which can be changed.

Recession-ProofYourCareer – www.recession-proofyourcareer.com

August 27, 2009

People Whispering Tip:

I’m getting tired of reading articles that start with the catch-all phrases “in today’s tough economy,” or “in these challenging times,” etc. I brace myself for another round of bad news or ways in which I will be cautioned to be fearful and to hunker down to prepare for the worst.

Mind you, I am not suggesting that we all “pour pink paint” over challenging situations and pretend they don’t exist. That would be as silly as talking about wellness and prevention to someone who has just been hit by a speeding car head on and is bleeding and suffering from traumatic injuries. Obviously, wellness and prevention are still relevant but secondary to dealing with the immediate issue at hand. To continue the analogy though, too many people, once they stop the bleeding so to speak, go right back to their old ways and don’t stay in shape and current with what they need to do to thrive in today’s “new” world of work. I put “new” in quotes as these trends have been developing since the 1980’s and it seems that many are just now waking up to their realities. It’s often a question of timing, common sense, and being empowered with the information it takes to be in tune with the changes in today’s world.

The focus of this article is what you can do from a career management perspective in order to recession-proof your career. It’s also a question of getting back to principles which are universal immutable truths. It is easy to argue that this domino effect of sub-prime mortgages, tumbling stock prices, job losses, and tightening credit were the result of greed and irrationality. These events highlight poor decision-making, poor risk analysis, and the interconnectedness of our global economy.

Very simplistically, when the US housing market began its freefall in 2007, the mounting delinquencies and foreclosures pressured banks to sell or revalue the mortgage pools on their balance sheets. In doing so, they eroded their capital, limiting their ability to lend. As a result, banks had to withdraw credit lines and borrowers had to sell assets to pay back loans taking large losses as asset prices declined. Banks had to further tighten credit causing foreclosures and delinquencies to rise depressing consumer demand which in turn squeezed business earnings resulting in businesses having to cut expenses and jobs.

 While I have an MBA and study economics and investing enough to be reasonably well-informed, what I am an expert in is the job market from a career management as well as a talent management perspective. From personal experience working with thousands of clients over the years, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of educating yourself about the “new” employment contract and working with a more fluid, boundary-less mindset. In the spirit of education and awareness, I’d like to invite my readers to a complimentary virtual event/webinar my associate/colleague and I are conducting Tuesday Sept. 1st at 9 PM Eastern. Register now at http://www.recession-proofyourcareer.com regardless of whether you can attend live or not.

If you’ve been laid-off or outsourced more than once due to mergers or acquisitions or the economy, this call is for you. If you’ve found yourself in a dead-end job that doesn’t utilize your skills and talents or are in an organizational culture that doesn’t match your style, this call is for you. If you are uncertain as to how best to market yourself and find work that is right for you, this is for you. If none of that applies to you, feel free to pass this information along to a friend or colleague of yours who might benefit. “The 7 Costliest Myths About Today’s Job Market” we will address are:

 1. Nobody is hiring! There truly are opportunities abounding in this market if you know where to look, how to look, and how to “market” yourself. We will address this in the webinar and in an in-depth series to follow.

 2. It’s all about my skills and experience. Competency is expected and your background and skills do matter. But it is even more important to be able to demonstrate what you can do in the future for a potential employer or client for that matter. The principles are the same regardless.

3. All I have to do is be myself in the job search process. First impressions matter whether you are networking, interviewing, or just casually exploring your options in information-gathering meetings. We’ll address the importance of adapting to the person with whom you are interacting in order to put your best foot forward.

 4. I can’t change industries at this point. Many people can and do change industries multiple times throughout their career. It’s a question of knowing your transferrable skills and being able to assess and understand an industry quickly by understanding its strategic drivers, its competition, its future prospects and so on. We’ll touch on how and share stories of those who have successfully transitioned into new industries for inspiration.

 5. The internet is the first and only place to find a job. Today the internet is an important tool in a job search as well as in bidding for contract or consulting opportunities or for attracting opportunities for small business. That said, the hidden job market is still the best way to land an opportunity that will be a good match. Learn the hidden job market’s secrets.

6. Only “lucky” people have careers they are passionate about. This is just not true. It is true that everything has its grunt work and less fun aspects. But even in “rough” times, those who succeed let their energy and passion and belief in what they do shine through. This is what positively influences the people they impact even more than what they do.

7. Once I have a job, I can coast! Sadly, this erroneous belief is why so many people are shell-shocked and take longer than necessary to land another viable opportunity. Being well-connected and networked is just as important once you’ve landed a job as it is while you are looking for a job.

DiSC Assessment Application:

When I first started working in the corporate world, my father gave me a little pamphlet entitled “How to Get Along With Your Boss.” Corny as it may have been, understanding that your success in a new job is largely dependent upon developing a good relationship with your new “boss” is yet another timeless, common-sense principle for inspired success.

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of teaming with best-selling author and Harvard business professor Michael Watkins through the Forum Corporation with a training program based upon his best-selling book “The First 90 Days. ” Dr. Watkins’ premise is simple in that it he postulates that a new leader must develop critical success strategies within a 90 day period in order to establish trust and credibility. The book is rich and well-researched and beyond the scope of this Ezine.

However, one of my favorite tools in the book is learning to negotiate for success by planning for 5 conversations. These conversations are not subjects to be dealt with in separate conversations but are intertwined threads of an ongoing dialogue. The most relevant to DiSC and the family of Inscape assessments is the style conversation. Everything DiSC Workplace (see my store at www.lauraadavis.com) allows you to understand your style better in terms of how you learn, communicate, influence others and make decisions.

 I’ve written about the importance of understanding oneself and your impact on others many times so I won’t repeat it here. I’ve also written extensively about the importance of adapting to the other person’s style in order to support them and to connect so that you can partner together going forward. What’s new about Everything DiSC Workplace is its Classical Patterns section in addition to the new circumplex model. The Classical Patterns section in this assessment will enable you to know precisely how to interact with others in order to adapt to their needs. It also gives you prescriptive ways to specifically adapt to the person’s nuances of style. In this way it is much more behavioral and useful in practical application.

When style differences arise, it is best to deal with them directly. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your boss or coworker perceive and interpret a style difference as disrespect or even incompetence on your part. In coaching executive women leaders in particular, I encourage them to raise the style issue before it becomes a potential source of irritation with you and your “boss.” Being proactive about how to accommodate both of your styles is the key to short and long-term success in this initial relationship as well as in many others.

For help in “managing up” in a new boss or team situation, call us at (404) 327-6330 or email Laura@lauraadavis.com to find out how to use the Everything DiSC Workplace Profile and Facilitation System to recession-proof your success within your organization.

Transformational Coaching Tip:

Your best bet for thriving and not just surviving in the new world of work is to be agile! Successful leaders develop on the job and learn managerial lessons from day-in and day-out experiences. Some companies invest in their people at the outset, but far too many wait until a crisis is at hand before developing their leaders.

As a coach, trainer/facilitator, and assessment expert, I am often called in when a manager or executive is about to derail. Generally, when someone is about to derail, it’s for one of two reasons. The first is an obvious personality issue or power struggle that an understanding of DiSC and how to use it could have prevented. The second related cause is depending too much upon the competencies that moved them into management in the first place and not learning new skills that are needed to continually perform effectively as a manager. I am continually amazed at the number of corporate managers who are not using any social media tools and aren’t networked inside never mind outside their company for example.

There is a relatively new concept in the management literature called “learning agility” which is increasingly being recognized as essential for long-term success. Learning agility is the ability to learn something in Situation A and apply it in Situation B. It is about forming patterns collected in one context and then using those patterns in a completely new or different context to make sense of something you’ve never seen or done before.

I hear so many Baby Boomers complain about being perceived as too old in the workplace. It’s not about age, it’s about being dated because they are no longer agile. In short, be sure you are continually learning and growing in your field. Stay current with the latest technological trends and learn new skills on an ongoing basis. Invest in yourself for fun and for profit. Don’t RIP or retire in place. Successful managers and executives respond to adversity and diversity by learning new skills and additional ways of thinking on an ongoing basis.

Recession-Proofing Your Career Through Portability of Relationships

July 9, 2009

People Whispering Tip        

It’s easy to resist the need to stay connected with contacts when you are busy with what is in front of you, whether that’s your corporate job, delivering on a current project with a client, being a parent, or just making sure you exercise and keep up with your friends.  There is no question that the rate and magnitude of change keeps speeding up.  I used to teach two day workshops on this in the late 90’s and even had the opportunity to go to Japan and Korea to share tips and techniques on how to manage change with the Marriott Corporation.  It was a wonderful program which offered some practical tips on navigating through change using skills in four key areas – communication, openness, support, and experimentation.

Many of those concepts and skills still apply today.  That said, many training and coaching programs and interventions still assume a contained world of hierarchical organizations where once you “land” a job or contract, you can breathe easy for awhile.  If this past year has taught us anything, it’s taught us to wake up and assume nothing.  In coaching and consulting circles, we have been talking about thinking about yourself as a portfolio of transferrable skills for a long time.  In other words, you have skill sets and you seek to match your skills with the needs of an organization as you progress throughout your career.  You take your skills with you to another organization as your skills may not be needed at your original company.  Like it or not, the days of working for one company throughout your career are long gone.

However, factors other than skills are important to pack along with you in your portable career suitcase too.  What people seem to be missing in my opinion is the value and crucial importance of energizing and sustaining ongoing trusting relationships with people they’ve done business with in any context.  Of course, skills and experience, otherwise known as competence matter.  But so does that elusive chemistry factor.  Chemistry, compatibility, and “complementarity” are not just for romantic partners but apply in business as well.  Face it, work gets done through people who possess complementary skills, perspectives, and behavioral styles but who can still get along. 

It’s important to realize that you get a job not just because of your resume and track record but also because of your personality or behavioral style.  People want to be with people they know, like, and trust.  If a particular job opening or posting generates 800 candidates with 800 resumes, the resume that is hand-walked to the hiring manager’s desk by someone they know, like, and trust is going to get attention. 

What does this mean for you?  First, people need to know who you are and what you do in order to refer you or move your resume or proposal to the top of the stack.  And you need to be someone they want to work with because you know how to adapt your style to the needs of the situation and connect to the other person in their language.  I am not saying you should be anything other than your brilliant self.  I am saying you will need to develop your adaptability quotient by learning how to people-whisper in 4 easy steps.

It is also necessary to reframe how you think about corporate politics, networking, selling, and relationship-building.  If any of these words have any negative connotations for you as they do for many, learn to reframe your perception of what they truly mean.  All you are doing is connecting with people.  They get to know you and you get to know them.  Work gets done in the context of relationships through conversations.

In order to do this effortlessly, the 4 step process is as follows:

  1. Know yourself – know your style and needs and your impact upon others.  Know your natural strengths so you can build upon them.  Know your natural areas for growth so you can develop strategies to work around them or supplement them through others who excel in those areas.
  2. Know how to people-read – in my DiSC certifications and one-on-one coaching sessions, I teach people how to read others and to understand how to “do unto others as they would like to be done unto.”  In short, people have different needs and treating everyone the same way doesn’t usually work well.
  3. Speak to the other person in their language – we all come into this world with preferences in terms of how we like to fully and freely express certain dimensions of behavior.  Sometimes it is necessary to turn the dial up or down on certain behaviors in order to put the other person at ease and to meet their needs.
  4. Partner together going forward – once people understand where the other person is coming from and realize that people are unique and special, there is less of a tendency to believe the other is acting in a certain way to be difficult.  Knowledge of oneself and others leads to compassion and greater effectiveness when accomplishing tasks. 

Regardless of economic conditions, knowing how to connect and develop rapport will serve you well.  People will seek you out when the opportunity arises such that you will be in demand when the need is there.

To learn how to apply these concepts and translate them into practical realities for you or your organization, call us at (404) 327-6330 or email us at Laura@lauraadavis.com. Also feel free to check us out on Linkedin and Facebook at Laura A. Davis, to visit our website and store at www.lauraadavis.com, and/or to follow me on Twitter at Coachlad.

DiSC Assessment Application 

Experience the power of self knowledge and understanding first-hand in our upcoming Virtual Webinar series.  In the comfort of your own office without a need to travel or commute, sign up to attend one of our Webinar series today.

Using DiSC is a powerful yet easy to use learning model so that people can learn to understand and appreciate their personal priorities and the priorities of others.  This understanding allows them to better connect with their colleagues, improving the quality of workplace relationships – one relationship at a time.

The virtual showcase gives you the opportunity to experience Everything DiSC Workplace and see if it is right for your organization.  From the comfort of your own office you’ll get insider information on an easy-to-use program that helps you create productive and effective working relationships NOW.  This is relevant for recession-proofing your career and for achieving organizational goals.

WHY ATTEND?

As an attendee you’ll receive:

  • Your own personalized Everything DiSC Workplace Profile.  This 20-page report gives you insight into your workplace priorities and what you bring to the table.
  • Expert information from a member of Inscape Publishing’s senior executive team.
  • Virtual experience with Everything DiSC Workplace from a learner’s perspective by viewing all new workplace-specific video, and reviewing possible classroom activities.

EVERYTHING DiSC WORKPLACE VIRTUAL SHOWCASE DATES AND TIMES:
July 15, Noon to 1:30 PM Eastern
July 21, Noon to 1:30 PM Eastern
July 23, Noon to 1:30 PM Eastern

HOW TO REGISTER:

To register, call us as soon as possible as slots are going fast.  Call 404-327-6330 and leave a Voicemail as we will get back to you as soon as possible.  Likewise, you can email us at Laura@lauraadavis.com and be sure to specify which Webinar time you can commit to and we will register you and send you access codes for the report and provide further details you will need to participate fully.  The fee to attend the Everything DiSC Workplace Virtual Showcase is an incredibly low price of just $30 per participant.  Since it is a Webinar, all you will need is a phone line and a computer with high speed internet access.
   
Transformational Coaching Tip 

When dealing with the overwhelming feelings that massive change can bring and perhaps feeling a tad cranky about it, nothing is a better antidote than a good belly laugh.  It’s no surprise to me then that the current number one UTube video is a cute baby boy just laughing – but over 15 million viewers?  When I had a down moment earlier this week, it lifted my spirits.  Sometimes it comes down to simple things to refresh and rejuvenate.  If you are in the throes of change or need a little refreshing in the summer heat, here are some quick tips guaranteed to make you smile and lighten your heart. 

  1. Have a good belly-laugh!  Researchers say that a good laugh increases blood flow, reduces blood pressure, and releases endorphins which are natural pain-killers that increase well-being.  Not only is it fun, it is good for you!
  2. Honor your past and what brought you here today.  Many of us Baby Boomers have taken a trip down memory lane recently with the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett.  I am going to my high school reunion over the 4th of July.  Looking at yearbook photos is sure to guarantee a laugh and a change in perspective.
  3. Hang out with a 4 to 6 year old.  Children this age see the world as if it were magic, and we can learn a lot from them.  It is said that young children laugh over 100 times a day while adults may only laugh a couple of times daily if that.  Vow to lighten up – this too shall pass.
  4. Treat yourself to a childhood goody.  While the 4th of July holiday is now past, you can keep the spirit alive by playing with sparklers, having watermelon or ice cream, or better yet, corn on the cob with butter.  In my family, we had these fun corn on the cob replicas that you poked into the side of the cob so your fingers wouldn’t get too greasy (they probably have an official name I’ve forgotten).  Remember the Norman Rockwell-like moments of your childhood.  Almost everyone has some memories like that to smile about.
  5. Watch a silly but uplifting movie.  For me, “Legally Blonde” does it every time and it just happened to be on TV last night when I couldn’t do another “to do” for the life of me.  The thought of Elle Woods in pink at Harvard is just so silly and yet so profound at the same time.  Some corporate cultures could lighten up and take note.

Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July holiday.  I am honoring the talented heart and soul of the man who was Michael Jackson today, and am happy to see that people are celebrating his life and contributions.

It’s Still About Relationships

May 7, 2009

“It’s Still About Relationships”  April 2009

People-Whispering Tip:

Recently there has been a social networking groundswell.  Everywhere you turn, people are requesting you to link in on LinkedIn, to answer some Facebook request, or to begin Twittering.  I tend to be a relatively early adopter, at least in theory, so I find myself doing my best to keep up.  The internet has provided so many opportunities for us all to connect and communicate that it is truly exciting and revolutionary.

That said, it can all be just a tad overwhelming.  Just when I started mastering the nuances of my email list, I now have several other sources to check every day.  According to a recent Nielsen study, social networks are now more popular than emailing on the Internet.  The study reported that “member communities” are now at 67% participation while email is at 65%.  This same study went on to say that of internet users throughout the world, two-thirds visited a social networking site last year.  Of those, LinkedIn had a 137% increase in users while Facebook had a 168% increase in users in 2008.  To make matters more confusing, the lines seem to be blurring between the personal and the professional, the public and the private domain.

This isn’t all bad.  I’ve always been a proponent of being authentic so that transparency is an easy, effortless, and healthy practice.  The best leaders live their values in all areas of their lives.  Those who say they are very different at home than they are at work are generally not aware of the way they may have needed to mask their true or natural self in order to meet the needs of the environment.  The line between “objective” behaviors and tasks and the perception another has of our intentions based upon those behaviors is the value of the kind of work I do.   A corporate culture is no different in that certain behaviors are more rewarded or at least are not punished.  The issue is how much energy does it take to mask our natural behaviors and gifts and what is the cost to us?

Again, it comes back to what I call people-whispering which is the fine art and science of understanding yourself and the natural strengths you bring to the table, as well as your preferred work environment and managerial approach based upon who you really are.  Whether these interactions take place face-to-face or on Facebook, the principle is the same.  I need to understand me and you, and learn how to bridge the gap into your world in order to connect with you.

In my work as an Executive Coach, Speaker, and Trainer, I continually see the need to pick the right people for the right role, as well as the need to manage the relationship in such a way that people feel validated, heard, understood, and supported.  Let’s not lose sight of the essence of communication because of its ease of access or its newest bells and whistles.  Last August, I wrote an article for the American Society of Training and Development’s online newsletter called ASTD Links.   I was a bit concerned being a tail-end Baby Boomer that it would need to be about the latest in e-learning or blogging both of which are wonderful delivery mechanisms.  But that is what they are folks, delivery methods.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the medium is actually not the message.  The message is still always about meeting people where they are and honoring their spirit as well as their personality.  Even in today’s social networking, fast-paced, internet savvy, twittering world of overwhelming choices and information, good business is about good communication which is about good solid relationships based upon the principles for inspired success.  Some of these principles include serving rather than selling our clients and customers, forging mutually beneficial relationships, and building trust.  Forms change but the heart of what works does not.  Indeed, it is still about relationships.
 
DiSC Assessment Application :
       
So many companies have a need for front-line leadership training.  I am a firm believer that supervisors and new managers need training in order to know how to bring out the best in their people.  Most people have not had strong role models and are therefore at a loss as to how to become effective managers. 

Everything DiSC Management teaches managers how to understand their own style better as well as how to read employee styles and adapt to meet their needs more effectively.  The Everything DiSC Management Profile is a 26 page management-specific, personalized report that helps managers understand how to work more effectively in the areas of delegating and directing, inspiring, developing others, and working with their own manager.

The Everything DiSC Management Facilitation Kit and Video provides you the opportunity to develop specialized, in-depth, customizable training programs for your needs.  The video highlights each styles’ priorities and preferences and provides great interactive exercises for getting buy-in, motivating each style, and for the right/way wrong way to connect with each style in a variety of settings.  This demystifies the art of people-whispering in a management context and gives your managers some concrete suggestions for what to do to increase their managerial effectiveness.

For further information regarding how this tool can help you and your team or organization, feel free to call us at  (404) 327-6330, email us at Laura@lauraadavis.com and visit our site at www.lauraadavis.com.

Transformational Coaching Tip: 
    
Relationships are about mutual respect, trust, and reciprocity.  Understanding how to use DiSC effectively can be a powerful tool to assist people in developing and maintaining healthy relationships personally and professionally.  I want to be sure that everyone also understands that it is not enough to just understand and apply these tools from the level of intellect alone.

Deep coaching incorporates the wisdom gained from understanding your life and your choices as a cohesive whole.  Once you understand your behavioral needs, your values and beliefs, and can identify your thinking and feeling patterns underlying your behavior; you are at choice instead of at effect.

An example might prove helpful to clarify what I mean.  Everyone has heard of “control freaks” or has dealt with people they thought were controlling.  Releasing the need for control and the fear behind that is helpful for all of us.  There is a big difference between releasing the need for control and abdicating responsibility however.

Ask yourself if you tend to use fear-based or wisdom-based control?  Fear-based control shows up as trying to have some kind of power over others and might out-picture as adversarial posturing, threats, passive-aggressive behaviors and so on.  Yet, wisdom-based control comes from a deeper place of respect whereby guidance is offered while at the same time keeping everyone safe and thriving without squashing anyone’s spirit or taking away anyone’s free will.  This kind of “control” might be necessary in the case of managers and employees, mentors and students, society and its citizens, as well as parents and children.

Make the shift to wisdom-based “control” and watch your relationships in all areas of your life transform and flourish.

Clues to Uncovering Your Creative Genius Regardless of a Recession

May 4, 2009

Clues to Your Creative Genius: What Are Your Unique Gifts and Talents?

People-Whispering Tip:

Each and every one of us was born with incredible gifts and talents that are unique and special to us as individuals. For the moment, I’d like you to forget about what you do for a living. I am temporarily uninterested in having you think about your background and experience in terms of skills, training, and experience. Let’s disregard even your current life choices.

For now, let’s just look at what you love to do. You may or may not be able to say what that is. For most people, it is infinitely easier to state what they don’t like to do and to explain what is wrong with their daily life than it is to express what brings them joy. It’s okay. This kind of collective amnesia is rampant in today’s environment of “just being lucky to have a job.” 

Maybe you’ve just lost yours through no fault of your own. Maybe some moments you even see this time in the world as an opportunity to go forth and do what you really love to do. But maybe you’re scared and don’t know where to begin. Maybe you are holding your breath waiting for things to “return to normal.” I recommend exhaling and rethinking your approach to your career.

Don’t worry, while everything is always changing in the world of form, “who you really are” at your core is something that remains the same throughout your life. I believe we each have a vital design or blueprint that needs to express itself through the medium of your whole life. This life purpose of yours is not lost. The clues to your own unique pattern of talents and gifts are just scattered in fragments from your past or may even be hidden in plain sight, right under your nose.

“The Wizard of Oz” is not just a charming children’s story with some beautiful songs in it. It is a classic because it speaks to the truth of our being, namely that whatever we need is with us and within us all the time. We just get distracted on our journeys by what we perceive as people and circumstances that have power over us in the forms of wicked witches, poppy fields, flying monkeys, and interesting winding roads that lead us outside of ourselves until we go back home again. We must go back to reexamine what has always made our hearts sing.

Best-selling author of  “The Tipping Point”, and “Blink” Malcolm Gladwell, has written another fascinating book about geniuses called ‘”Outliers.” The book studies why the people who we consider to be geniuses got to be the way they are escaping the call to mediocrity that so many fall prey to in society today. I love the concept of the book but not the title. Realizing our potential needn’t be so uncommon as the potential for genius is within us all and yet few of us realize it for a variety of reasons. Genius is a focused attention to a subject and usually a subject that we love.

The people that we call geniuses are just men and women who somehow escaped having to put that curious, wondering child within themselves to sleep. Instead, they devoted their time and energy to equipping themselves with the tools, skills, structure, and support to keep playing at what they loved on an adult level. For example, Gladwell’s recent book tells how Bill Gates used to sneak out of his house late at night as a teenager to go “work” i.e. play with computers without his parents discovering where he was.

What did you love to do as a teenager and as a child? Let your mind wander back to your childhood and think of the times you were allowed to play or daydream or do whatever you wanted to do. I’ve adapted the following quiz from a wonderful book by career development author and speaker Barbara Sher. The book is a jewel and is called “Wishcraft.”

Here is the exercise:

Grab your journal or a fresh sheet of paper and do your best to answer the following questions:
1. What especially attracted and fascinated you when you were a child?
2. What sense – sight, hearing, or touch did you live most through?
3. What did you love to do, or daydream about, no matter how “silly” or unimportant (read that impractical) it may seem to you now?
4. What were the secret fantasies and games that you never told anybody about?
5. Is there a part of you that still loves those things?
6. What talents or abilities might those early interests and dreams point to now?

DiSC Assessment Application:

Much has been written about the Myers-Briggs Assessment in regard to career development and creative self-expression. While not as much has been written about the DiSC assessment and how to use the self-knowledge that can be gleened from taking it in this context, it is just as relevant if not more so in my opinion.

The theory behind the DiSC assessment begins with the acknowledgement that we all come into this world with a predisposed set of personality and behavioral energies and characteristics that want to be fully and freely expressed. I often think of the Christmas special “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with the one elf who is unhappy in his role as an elf as he’d rather be a dentist. He was an elf with high “C” or “Conscientiousness” characteristics trying to be a high “i” or an Influencing elf without much success or happiness!

It is important not to stereotype by style and to recognize that all styles can perform many types of work with the proper training for skill and will. That said, within any given field, we do gravitate and tend to do better at something we are naturally drawn to as a result of our DiSC propensities.

For example, a high “D” individual thrives on challenge and achieving results. They are often not content to have a steady, routine job whereas a high “S” personality would appreciate a job with predictable step by step processes in place. A high “C” personality generally is content to perform research and analysis by themselves in a quiet, controlled environment while a high “i” personality would go stark-raving mad without the opportunity to talk with people on a daily basis.

When used correctly, the DiSC-based tool to help people be placed in the right job or role for them so that they have an opportunity to shine and create results for the organization, is called the “Role Behavior Analysis” which can be purchased from the store at www.lauraadavis.com.  For information on how to use this tool properly to get the most out of your team and to do more with less, call us at (404) 327-6330 or email Laura at Laura@lauraadavis.com. Also, see Laura’s article on her website entitled “Beyond Mars and Venus at Work or at Home: The Original DiSC as a Transformational Tool.” 

Transformational Coaching Tip:

I’ve been doing more career transition work than leadership development work in the last few months as a result of the current business environment. While they are different fields, they are really two sides of the same coin. I assist people in developing the self-knowledge and the skills to not only survive but to thrive in the new world of work. The same principles apply whether you are leading others within an organization or whether you are leading yourself to find your best role in a new situation.

One of the barriers I see getting in the way for many individuals is what I call an unhealthy, almost pathological sense of needing to “make it on my own.” Many Americans were raised to be rugged individualists. Self-reliance is a wonderful ideal but in today’s global, interconnected web of ever-changing technologies, players, and economic situations, it is not enough.

All successful people know when to ask for help. You don’t have to be the expert in everything. You will make yourself very tired trying to figure it all out by yourself.

Magic happens when you build on the knowledge, skills, and contacts of other people. By becoming a good receiver, you give others the gift of adding to your life. Consider this as a mindset-shifting transformational tip: Ask for help in the areas in which you need assistance and be willing to offer your expertise in your areas of strength in exchange. Cocreation and collaboration can turn your dreams into realities. All the best to you and email me your inevitable success stories!

Maintaining Forward Momentum in a Recession

March 13, 2009

“Maintaining Forward Momentum” 

        People Whispering Tip        

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It is true that I am an optimist by nature.  That said, I am a practical grounded one rather than just a starry-eyed dreamer.  Dreaming is important, vital even in my experience.  Having an idealist vision for your life and for the world is what keeps us moving forward.  I believe we are entering a time in history that we will look back on as being truly transformational.  If anyone needs evidence that the old ways of greed, hoarding information and knowledge, and/or consumerism solely for instant gratification is damaging, you’ve been living under a rock the past six months.

 

Just as Christopher Columbus sailed the oceans with erroneous assumptions and yet uncovered a new land, we are in the process of discovery as well.  Just as his despairing sailors saw signs of land in the form of twigs and branches in the water before they reached the shores of the new world, we are in the process of creating new forms of empowering leadership and collaboration.  Globally as well as personally, this growth can be messy.

 

In my own work, I have seen much of the training and developmental efforts of well-meaning companies get put on hold as they struggle to survive.  This is sometimes prudent and the wisest thing to do.  When someone is hungry, you give them food and take care of their immediate need.  You don’t give them inspirational lectures and training courses until their basic needs are met.  At the same time, while we are doing what we need to do to meet our needs and cover our expenses, an education in the art of transition can prove beneficial. 

 

At present, I have the privilege of working with Macy’s employees who are being outplaced in the Atlanta market.  We are teaching people how to assess their talents and share the wonderful accomplishments they have made to the corporation and to their customers over the years.  We are sharing how to research opportunities and consider options that they may not have considered before.  Assisting people with the art of thinking about their work lives in a new way is a passion of mine.  Once people have hope that they can navigate their own transition because they have more influence than they realize, they can focus in and match their talents to the current needs.  There are opportunities out there even though uncovering them may require being creative and thinking in completely different ways than previously.

 

So much of success in life is a strong and yet balanced belief in yourself.  Ask yourself what are your unique talents and skills and how can you leverage them in a variety of situations and contexts?  There are great resources to help you in doing this including my book, A Guide to Getting It: Self Esteem, Po Bronson’s book What Should I Do With My Life?, the classic by Richard Bolles What Color is My Parachute 2009?, any book by Barbara Sher and many more.

 

Most importantly now though is to recognize that you may be going through a sense of loss.  If you have lost your job or your business is slow or you are in any way uncertain about your future (and who isn’t?), you can soothe yourself by realizing that it is very normal to experience a roller coaster of emotions in these times.  Avoid judging yourself if you feel a loss of identity.  Rest assured, you are not your job or what you do although our culture is certainly oriented that way.  Even if you have not been directly affected by the current economic situation, even seeing those who have or seeing local stores and restaurants going out of business can be a sense of loss.  Sometimes, people experience “survivor guilt” when their friends and colleagues lose their jobs while they remain with the organization.

 

In this month’s Transformational Coaching Tip, I will share strategies to manage your emotions so you can move forward in whatever form of transition you may be experiencing.   I am a strong advocate of the power of thought and attitude in creating your experience personally and professionally.  When you understand how this really works however, you understand that it is not a matter of covering up what you are feeling by putting a bandaid on the wound.  The wound does need to heal by acknowledging that it is there.  In the same way, acknowledging a loss even if you are happy about your next prospects is a healthy thing to do as long as you don’t wallow in it.  Here is what to do to acknowledge the loss and release it:

  1. Create a dialogue and ask for support from qualified people.  Ask for advice and support from people who have career transition expertise and not just from friends and family who are well-meaning but don’t have the answers.  In all of the career transition work I am doing right now, I see many people who share what their friends, family members, or colleagues say about job search techniques, the market, etc.  You wouldn’t ask them about brain surgery would you?  There is an art and science to finding the right opportunities for you and landing them.  Ask people who have expertise in that arena.
  2. Be patient with yourself and others going through this process.  You can expect to go through a roller coaster of emotions so know that that is normal and natural.  Now is the time to practice extreme self-care and to create opportunities for structure and support in your daily routines.  Also, surround yourself with positive people and environments.  You want to be with people who can provide empathy and not sympathy.  Be with people who are moving forward and not with those who are “awfulizing.”
  3. Focus on your strengths.  From a practical job-hunting or creating a business stand-point, what you want to share with prospective employers and/or customers is what you have accomplished in the past and what you can do for them in the future.  It is not enough to share what you’ve done, or like to do.  Be prepared to share how you can create results for them.  This also allows you to feel more confident that you do have a lot to offer and are valuable and important.
  4. Look for links and clues.  In career coaching, we ask people to look for transferrable skills.  Where else can you leverage your talents and apply your skills?  Likewise, where and why have you thrived in the past and how can you recreate those factors in your new work environment.

 

DiSC Assessment Application
     

Since this issue has been focused on collaboration and teamwork as key components of leadership, it seems most appropriate to highlight the Team Dimensions profile this month.  The Team Effectiveness section under Training and Development at www.lauraadavis.com goes into further detail about this assessment as well.  Despite all of the gloom and doom about the economy, some companies are still thriving.  They are the companies that provide excellent customer service and take a long-term relationship approach to their business.  It always amazes me when I hear people saying something to the effect that “this is just business.”  Who do they think runs a business, buys from a business, makes the business what it is?  That’s right – people.  So business is inherently personal, no exceptions.  

 

One of the best ways to ensure that people feel well served and treated as individuals is to understand their style and by employing the art of people-whispering.  The assessment tool I’d like to highlight this month is the DiSC Customer Service Action Planner.  This tool allows a customer service professional or anyone on the front line of any business operation to read their customer’s style so that they can adapt to them accordingly.  This prevents misunderstandings and greatly contributes to the customer’s sense of being treated as a unique and special individual.  When competition is fierce, this personalized service can make the difference so that your customers keep coming back to you.

 

For more information about how to use the DiSC Customer Service Action Planner and/or for support in your career transition, please call us at (404) 327-6330 or email Laura@lauraadavis.com.

 

   
Transformational Coaching Tip 

    

At present, I am doing more career transition coaching than I usually do.  While a job or business loss is seldom pleasant and can be frightening, it truly can be an opportunity to reassess and regroup. 

Here are this month’s top suggestions for staying positive and solution-focused while going through a transition.

  1. Cut back on the amount of time you spend watching the mainstream news and never watch before you go to sleep.  Put yourself on a mental diet and watch the Jim Lehrer hour on public television.  Read anything by Dr. Joseph Murphy and/or other inspirational literature.  Read Ode magazine for the intelligent optimist.  Mainstream media can be sensationalist and unbalanced so monitor your intake like you would any potentially unhealthy substance.
  2. Take some time each day to play or otherwise enjoy life.  People often tell me they don’t have time.  I understand as everyone is busy.  Still, having a sense of play and wonder about your daily activities is key.  Get over the Puritan work ethic and enjoy your life.  Personally, I take walks in nature and have a little chocolate every day.
  3. Do some form of meditation or deep breathing every day.  The scientific evidence regarding the value of meditation is overwhelming.  There are so many positive benefits that it is well worth your time and attention.
  4. Write a gratitude list and keep reviewing it.  So much of going through change and transition successfully is around perspective.  Write out what you are grateful for each day even if it is as silly as being able to get out of bed that morning.  Watch your life get better and better with this simple practice.
  5. Take some time for self-assessment and then act purposefully.  So many people put their resume together quickly and send it out to anyone or post it online without giving any careful consideration to who they are, what they want, and what they bring to the table.  Think this through before you act so you can land something that is a match to you and your gifts where you will thrive and not just survive.
  6. Write out a detailed action plan or create a mind map regarding your job search or business plan.  There is great power in putting things on paper so you can sequence tasks and manage your time and energy more effectively.  Just getting all of the thoughts and feelings that are swirling around in your head out on paper can be useful too.
  7. Keep a journal to express your upset in rather than take it out on those around you.  Many people resist keeping a journal for a variety of reasons.  Regardless, getting your thoughts out on paper can be a great form of release.  You can look at them, laugh at them and avoid conflicts with those you care about because you’ve cleaned up your own emotions prior to interacting with them.
  8. Do some volunteer work to feel useful and to connect with others who need support.  Making a difference in someone else’s life is the key to inspired success in my opinion.  It will help you to feel worthwhile and will provide you with perspective when needed.