How will you stay focused this week?©

Okay, folks. There’s only 7 weeks left of 2015. You still have time to make things happen for you and your team, but you are going to need to stay focused on the most important action steps that will help you arrive at the desired outcome you set for yourself this year.

Maybe you have reached that 2015 outcome already. Woohoo! Congratulations. It’s smooth sailing from here. Enjoy the holiday season and rest up for an amazing 2016. A relaxed brain discovers all kinds of amazing solutions.

If there are still a few things you want to accomplish, or that you are required to, you might find helpful a video from Brendon Burchard (about 12 minutes long). It points out some key ways to remain focused.

  1. Make fewer decisions. You want to be sure to remove any decision making from your plate that you can. Are there small decisions that are you making everyday that you can take off your plate and off your mind?   He points out that “mindlessly browsing consumes an incredible amount of brainpower; every new link and every new piece of information to pay attention to eats up your mental energy and reserves.” Save your brainpower for the highest-level thinking that really matters.
  1. Define mission. This one goes back to always start with the end in mind. What is your desired outcome today? This week? This year? 3 years from now?
  1. Say NO to everything immediately, as a first response, from now on. Rather than saying, “sure”, perhaps you could answer with, “That sounds great, but I need to check the other commitments I’ve made and get back to you tomorrow with an answer.”

The amount of binging and dinging that goes on in our world is endless, it seems. I don’t think Steve Jobs created some of the coolest technology every invented so it could control us. In fact, I’m quite sure it was so that we could use it to reach our best outcomes. What distractions can you remove tomorrow that will allow you to focus on the things you know that matter most to you, your team, and your organization?

TEAM EXERCISE:

At your next team meeting you could do a few rounds where each person discusses these three items:

  1. What decisions are they making everyday that they don’t need to be?
  2. What is their desired outcome for the coming year?
  3. What do they keep saying yes to that they need to be saying no to, instead?

Another good reference on this topic is an article from Harvard Business Review entitled, Train Your Brain to Focus.

 

Will your team trust you this week?

Effective communication that leads to peak performance starts with trust. Trust is tough unless both parties feel safe.   When we don’t feel safe our internal “brain cocktail” consists of fear, power, uncertainty, being right, and group think. Whereas, when we are in the “CEO of our brain”, using our pre-frontal cortex, we are transparent, relationship focused, seek understanding, want to share success and feel comfortable telling the truth.

If you want to build and maintain a high performing team that is capable of solving challenging problems and effectively managing change, this information may be helpful to you.

One of the best books I’ve found regarding leadership and communication, based on the most recent brain science, was written by Judith Glaser, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results.

Glaser explains that “when we connect with others, our mind toggles through a series of five hardwired questions at a pace so rapid our conscious mind doesn’t know it’s doing it.” Depending on how our brain answers these questions determines how we will react and interact with the other person:

Question I:  Protect  How do I protect myself, and do I need to?

Question II: Connect  Who loves me, who hates me, and can I trust this person?

Question III: Belong  Where do I belong and fit in?

Question IV: Be strong  What do I need to learn to be successful?

Question V: Partner  How do I create value with others?

If you want to motivate and engage other people to their peak performance, they need to be able to answer these questions in a way that would make them feel safe and trust that you have their best interest in mind.

If you are currently struggling with a particular team member or peer, it’s possible they are answering one or more of these questions in a negative or unclear way. Maybe past experiences with you have made them feel like they need to protect themselves. It could be that they aren’t exactly sure of their role or how they fit in. Maybe they are wondering how they are bringing value to you and the team. It is possible that they simply don’t think that you like them.

conversational-intelligenceA short cut to building trust is to focus on appreciation. Seeking honest ways to intentionally recognize and appreciate specific talents or actions of others can establish safety quickly. Judith Glaser explains:

“When we receive public praise and support, we unlock yet another set of neurochemical patterns that cascade positive chemistry throughout the brain. Highly motivated employees describe the feeling of performing well as an almost drug-like state (because of the dopamine and endorphins released by these interactions, it is actually quite similar). When this state of positive arousal comes with appropriate, honest, and well-deserved (sincere) praise, employees feel they are trusted and supported by their boss. They will take more risks, speak up more, push back when they have things to say, and be more confident in their dealings with their peers.”

How people are effected by ways we communicate:

7 percent to words
38 percent to tone of voice
55 percent to nonverbal behaviors

If you have an unpleasant “resting face” you are going to have to work twice as hard to connect with others to make them feel safe with you. That unpleasant face that rarely smiles, doesn’t make much eye contact, and looks like you just don’t care that much when people are talking to you is working against you if your desired outcome is to inspire others to be their best.

TEAM EXERCISE:

At your next team meeting, discuss the following questions to help build trust and transparency:

  1. Which of the 5 questions does each team member struggle the most to answer with key people at work?
  2. How would they rank theirs and others “resting faces”? When they are talking to team members do they feel like they are being heard and understood by the way they are being responded to?
  3. How appreciated does each team member feel by other team members, you, and the organization?

How effectively will you solve problems this week?

“Problem solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do,” says Glen Llopis of Forbes. The best problem solvers realize that it’s a skill they need to build and refine constantly.

Cortex LeadershipIn my new ebook, 4 Keys to More Effective Leadership Behaviors, you’ll find this self-assessment to determine which areas of problem solving are strengths and which one’s you can build your skills in.

Read each of these statements and mark what you feel like your competency level is in each of these areas. Give yourself a ranking from 1 – 10. 1 would be saying that you rarely exhibit this behavior or belief, 10 would be that you always, without exception, do.

_____ When faced with a problem do you consistently widen your options

_____ Frequently test your assumptions

_____ Effectively have implemented the solution that was decided on

_____ Utilize a long-term, rather than a short-term emotional approach             to problem solving

_____ Consider your blind spots when it comes to task or people when solving a problem

_____ Consider your super powers versus your weaknesses when it comes to solving problems

_____ Prepare to be wrong or fail when implementing the solution you’ve decided on

_____ Consider unintended consequences of the solutions you will implement

To execute the behavior of effective problem solving, or any of the other behaviors I mention in the ebook, leaders must first possess these core competencies in order to execute the top 4 leadership behaviors successfully:

  • Building and maintaining trust
  • Effectively designing their time for themselves and their organization’s highest level outcomes
  • Obtaining knowledge, understanding and different viewpoints of their industry, organization, and departments they serve
  • Developing a clear vision based on identifiable, organizational and personal values

The download is free for the next 3 weeks of the ebook and it will provide you with skills and practices to assist you in being even more effective at solving the continuous stream of challenges you face everyday in your organization.

I want to send out a huge thank you to Teresa Chambers who was a wonderful support and chef for our first ever Woman’s Possibilities Retreat this week at a beautiful setting at Massenutten Resort in Virginia. The 3-day journey was a great opportunity to see breakthroughs occur and clarity be defined by some tremendously talented and already successful woman. Along with setting, and locking in each leader’s desired outcome for the coming year, I guided them through a zipline experience and exercises of the mind and body that were designed to create the confidence and fortitude to overcome any obstacle they may face moving forward.

If you would like to have a corporate retreat for your team, let me know. We can work together to design a special one just for your organization.

I am looking forward to presenting at upcoming team building events this month for groups from Roanoke College and Carilion Clinic.

Which 4 behaviors will account for 89 percent of your leadership success this week?

Out of these top 20 leadership behaviors, which 4 do you think really matter according to McKinsey & Company, a global firm that invests more than $400 million dollars annually in knowledge development for leaders?

 

Here’s the top 20 leadership behaviors to choose from:

  1. Be supportive
  2. Champion desired change
  3. Clarify objectives, rewards, and consequences
  4. Communicate prolifically and enthusiastically
  5. Develop others
  6. Develop and share a collective mission
  7. Differentiate among followers
  8. Facilitate group collaboration
  9. Foster mutual respect
  10. Give praise
  11. Keep group organized and on task
  12. Make quality decisions
  13. Motivate and bring out best in others
  14. Offer a critical perspective
  15. Operate with strong results orientation
  16. Recover positively from failures
  17. Remain composed and confident in uncertainty
  18. Role model organizational values
  19. Seek different perspectives
  20. Solve problems effectively

There were 4 out of the 20 that McKinsey found to explain 89 percent of the variance between strong and weak organizations in terms of leadership effectiveness. They were number 1, 15, 19, and 20. Yep. Your focus on those 4 behaviors could mean the difference between your success and failure in reaching your desired outcome.

  • Be a supportive leader (my resource guide will tell you more about each of these behaviors and how to build your skillset in them)
  • Operate with a strong results orientation
  • Seek different perspectives
  • Solve problems effectively

So how do you measure your effectiveness in those behaviors and develop them?

I’m releasing a brand new ebook on our new Cortex Leadership Consulting website this week entitled: 4 Keys to More Effective Leadership Behaviors that will help you quickly measure your effectiveness in each area.  You’ll then learn, why you might be challenged in that area, which practices and skills sets are most effective in helping you modify your behaviors, and a simple and easy method for getting you started with the change you want to see.

The e-book is currently designed for participants of our Cortex Leadership Program classes and individual executive coaching clients. It is, however, helpful for any professional looking to be more effective in their leadership role.

From many years of training and consulting leaders along with the data from our www.gomonti.com system and hundreds of executive coaching sessions, each chapter will help you and your team quickly identify which exact behaviors you need to modify to improve the results you are currently getting.

Simply follow these two steps:

  1. Pick one of the 4 behaviors you would like to further develop that would have the biggest impact on your desired outcomes for this year. Feel free to respond to this email with which one you choose and I will send you a Chapter from the ebook that corresponds with that behavior. 
  1. Ask your team which behavior they believe should be a stronger part of your team culture. If it’s different than the one you picked, send that behavior choice to me as well and I will send you a resource guide for that one, too.

If you or your organization is not currently a client of Cortex Leadership Consulting, I would ask that you consider how I might be able to assist you in reaching your goals through one-on-one coaching sessions or group leadership training or a team building retreat this Fall.

If these articles are valuable to you and your team, let me know how you are using them. Your feedback helps me serve my clients more effectively.

 

Will you make common sense, common practice this week?

Nothing I teach or coach clients on requires a degree in rocket science or them to have a genius IQ. Rarely do I have participants in my leadership classes not understand a concept or learning module I present. They get it. You get it. If “getting it” were the full criteria for excellence in leadership or success we’d all have bodies like Arnold (or Christie), bank accounts like Buffett, and brains like Jobs.

Nope, we need to do more than “get it”. We need to DO it. We need to BECOME it.

Conscious Business - Fred KofmanI have been enchanted by a book I have been studying as a part of a new pilot program our goMonti company is launching for an international coaching firm. The content is great, yes, but the thing that has me wanting to burn it into memory is the practical application of the concepts in a way few authors are able to execute.

Fred Kofman, the author of Conscious Business: How to Build Values Through Values, founded a firm known as Axialent and became the Executive Coach to who is now the President of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner. So impressed and, well, probably, enchanted, with Fred and his concepts, he hired him to become the VP of LinkedIn where he now infuses those concepts throughout the company culture. As a side note, Jeff is one of Glassdoor’s top rated CEO’s with a 92% approval rating from those that work for him.

The audible version of the book pulls you in, gently and ever so kindly into reinforcement of ideals, practices and principles that are common sense, but are not common practice in most workplaces. There are 3 basic ways we interact at work. They are also common sense.

  1. Communicate to understand each other
  2. Negotiate our differences to make decisions
  3. Coordinate actions through mutual commitments

YET…we tend to:

  1. Withhold information in order to get what we want.
  2. Avoid conflict and blame others for failures that occur.
  3. Find excuses and justifications for not doing what we have committed to when we committed to doing it. We make promises we don’t keep.

These practices are labeled as: Manipulative communication, Narcissistic negotiation, and Negligent coordination. His solution is to become conscious of our thoughts and actions. He wants those two things to be in alignment with one another. “Fred argues, an enterprise flourishes or fails based on its technical and its emotional intelligence, integrity, and capacity to nurture “success beyond success.”

EXERCISE YOU CAN USE WITH YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK:

What common sense concept will you and your team make common practice this week?

What type of environment do you need to create to support that practice?

What will you and your team commit to taking action on that will have the biggest impact on the practice you want to make a permanent part of your culture?

A culture, simply put, is “the way we do things around here”. In order for the common practice to become common in your workplace culture, each team member must agree to execute it and there must be consequences when they fail to do it.

Sounds a little harsh, right? Not really. If you want accountability to be part of your culture then you need to have consequences developed and implemented when team members miss deadlines or fail to report delays. Otherwise, it’s a wish, not a practice.

“Freedom does not mean doing what you want without consequences; it means having the capacity to choose, in the face of a situation, the response that is most consistent with your values.”
KOFMAN, Fred (2007-05-01). Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Values (p. 43). Sounds True. Kindle Edition.

Will you be a transparent leader this week?

There’s a whole lot of talk about transparency in the workplace and how necessary it is for building a strong organization. What I find, though, is that “transparency” is a word that most leaders have trouble defining for themselves and their companies. I did some research that might help.

The word “transparent” via Merriam-Webster means: easy to notice or understand; honest and open: not secretive. Due to the digital age, the levels of transparency a leader is expected to demonstrate have increased. No longer can a leader hide from past mistakes or work in complete secrecy from the people whom they want to inspire, motivate and keep engaged. A leader being transparent, or honest and open, builds trust in today’s workforce. Trust is the liquid nitrogen that bonds the team together.

Let’s start with you… since you are the only thing you can really control.

What is your method of building trust with your team members? Do the team members that you serve trust you to be open and honest as you move through the decision making processes that will effect them?

Here’s a checklist from consultant Pete Barron Stark, to determine if you are being a transparent leader. Just rank each question from 1 to 10. 1 being you rarely do that to 10 being the action is almost an unconscious one at this point because you do it all the time.

__ Are you candid, honest and do you genuinely express your thoughts and opinions?

__ Does the message you are delivering remain the same, regardless of the audience?

__ Do you tell the truth?

__ When you can’t divulge information, do you let people know why you can’t disclose the information at that time?

__ Do you consistently keep commitments?

__ Do you handle your own defeats well, owning them and not blaming others?

__ Do you ask good questions, listen to the answers and remain open to new ideas?

__ Do you value the feedback of others? Do you look for information or confirmation? Do you make a decision and then gather everyone together to “act” like you are listening when you really just want confirmation of the decision you already made and their input will do little to effect the decision you are making?

__ Do you frequently ask others working with you, “How am I doing?” or, “What could I do to better support you?” OR “What are your expectations of me as your leader?”

BECOMING a more transparent leader.

Start by knowing what Glen Llopis talked about in his Forbes article: “For leaders in the workplace, this means it’s time to be transparent by communicating less over email and through third-party communication – and become more personally engaged with their employees via face-to-face and/or video interaction and with greater frequency.”

What skills do you need to develop to communicate more effectively with your team and be more engaged?

THIS WEEK, with your team, discuss what expectations they have for you as their leader and what 1 thing you could do differently to help them reach their potential.

 

Will you forget the 6-pack abs and study the science of success this week?

The longer I train and coach leaders the more real science I can point to that verifies how to accelerate your success.

(There’s a special event on April 26th where I use these findings to accelerate professionals forward progress.  You can find out more about it at the end of this article.)

Here’s some action items to consider this week as you decide which things to focus on for you and your team:

Your brain. Forget the 6-pack abs.  Focus on a better brain and your whole body will get healthier.

  1. Exercise your body in a variety of ways.  Change up your routine.  If you run, go hiking.  If you walk, try do some short sprints along the way.  If you do Yoga, try a different routine.
  2. Feed your brain the right food.  Your brain loves Omega-3 fatty acid like what is found in salmon or fish oil pills.  Try blueberries and almonds along with spinach, coconut oil, and broccoli.
  3. Learn a new language, or how to play a new instrument, or memorize poetry.

Your emotional intelligence. Healthy relationships are the cornerstone to long lasting success.

  1. Be open-minded and aware of how your actions effect others.  As I write this article in Barnes and Noble a woman has chosen to take a phone call behind me and talk loudly for the last 20 minutes.  I’ve glanced back a couple of times, as have others, to indicate that she is the loudest one in the entire store.  This does not seem to have phased her.  Interesting.
  2. Emotional honesty.  Saying you are “fine” when you are not doesn’t move the ball forward for you or anyone else.  Owning your emotions by using “I” statements and letting others know when they’ve done something to upset you or something you liked or enjoyed will go a long way to developing more meaningful relationships and will quickly raise your EQ.
  3. Always be improving.  Which of the four areas of EQ would you like to work on this week?  Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness, or Relationship Management.

Your ROI.  Focus on your return on investment of time, energy and money.

  1. Which relationships have the highest return for you?  Do you invest in those that have high emotional and long term rewarding payoffs?
  2. Which activities net you the highest return of your time investment?  Are you intentional and pre-plan what you will spend your time on this week and what the returns will be when you focus on those things?
  3. How will you invest your capital?  How much of it is for this week, month or year and how much of it will reap benefits for years to come?

I’m excited to announce a one-time only, special event I have partnered with Big Lick Entertainment to produce.  It’s called Let’s Talk Roanoke:  The Science to Success.  It’s designed for entrepreneurs, professionals, and business owners, who want to quickly improve their Emotional Intelligence to take a big leap forward in their success.

It’s Sunday, April 26th from 2p-4p at the CoLab in the Grandin Area of Roanoke, VA.  CLICK HERE if you want to find out more details, or just respond to this email and I’ll get you everything you need.  It is DEFINITELY worth the trip from Richmond or Northern Virginia or Radford that day to attend.  I’ve never done an open workshop like this one before and the take-a-ways are going to be HUGE for you, I personally guarantee it!

If you’ve been through any of my classes and have wanted to have your spouse or friends learn DISC, this is the event, at the right price, to invite them to.  It should be super fun!

I was invited to be the keynote speaker for the kickoff of Radford University’s Communication Week last Tuesday.  What a blast!  About 200 participants packed into a lecture hall and were fully engaged in learning to make the shift from focusing on problems to creating what they really wanted in their careers and life.  It was truly a gift to be a part of that event.  A big thank you to Lisa Baker who did a great job of coordinating everything and being such a wonderful host!

 

Will you fuel your fire this week? (Part III of III)

So we’ve learned how to manage our attention (Part II) and how to make better decisions (Part I).

The last set of choices found in the book The 5 Choices, the Path to Extra Ordinary Productivity, are how to manage your energy.

The Jaymes Family at beachIn my leadership classes clients learn how to design their time around their time metabolism which is mapping which parts of the day your mind is sharpest and your body is most willing vs what is required of you.  For instance, if you have tons of energy but nothing is required of you physically at that time it might be good to schedule exercise during that part of the day.  If your mind is sharpest in the morning, start your day doing the toughest tasks that challenge your mind.  Discover each of your team member’s time metabolism mapping and you can create meetings and group tasks around each person’s peak performance hours.

The last of the 5 choices is:  Fuel Your Fire; Don’t Burn Out!

I could probably write the book on both parts of that statement.  Many of you probably could, as well.  I know very few successful people who have not learned from a serious bout of burn out and most have some experience with learning what their limits are – although we all push them to the very edge, right?

Here’s some things to consider if you want to keep your fuel burning optimally:

SCHEDULE stress management activities.  All of them!  Schedule your workouts or when you will walk or take a break during the day.  Schedule 5 minutes to meditate – which means just to clear your head and concentrate on your breathing each day.  Mark your calendar, right now, for those days and times that are set aside for rest and relaxation.

TAKE YOUR VACATION.  They are stress busters.  In a study of  2,300 workers who receive paid vacation, only 51% use their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off.  That’s bad enough until you consider that 61% of us work while we are on vacation!  NOT GOOD!  Not good for our bodies, our brains, our families and especially not for our health.  The picture you see is one my friend Rose James sent me a few years ago when they took a great family vacation.  I just loved that shot and what it conveyed about truly recharging.

Start being the one that sets the example that people think better when they have given their brain time to rest.  Families function better when they’ve had time to connect with one another and have meaningful conversations and time to laugh and have fun.

TAKE THIS ASSESSMENT ABOUT YOUR ENERGY from The 5 Choices and have your team members as well this week.  Rank your answers on a 1 to 10 scale.  1 being “Not like me at all” and 10 being “A lot like me”.

  1. I get up and move regularly throughout the workday.
  2. I have a consistent exercise program that boosts my energy.
  3. I eat in ways that provide sustained energy throughout the day.
  4. I have a pattern of eating nutritious food at every meal.
  5. I get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
  6. I am satisfied with the quality of sleep I get each night.
  7. I have effective coping strategies to deal with stress.
  8. My lifestyle supports my ability to manage stress.
  9. I take time to connect regularly with the important people in my life.
  10. I regularly connect with the purposes and values that make my life meaningful.

The results of this assessment will help you know if you are on track or not to fueling your fire.  You are strong, capable, smart and worthy.  You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t.

If you want extraordinary results and to reach your highest level desired outcomes, you need to create a plan to manage your stress on a daily basis.  Burn out is ugly, I wouldn’t recommend it.

I had a blast being the keynote speaker at the HHHunt annual awards luncheon last week.  What a fun group of folks!  Jennifer Moran made the planning of my custom designed presentation easy and resulted in relevant content for the group, I think.  She did a great job leading the organization of the event for her team.  Each division dressed up in different costumes or wore special apparel, like tshirts, to represent themselves.  Batman, a Mutant Ninja Turtle, and some groups dressed from the movie Men in Black.  There was so much laughter in the room their energy and enthusiasm was contagious!  What a great idea it was for their leaders to help foster a new culture for their company and get their team members to feel connected.  Bravo, HHHunt!  You guys sure did fuel my fire!

HHHunt Awards Luncheon

 

 

HHHunt Award Luncheon

 

How will you manage your attention this week? (Part II of III)

At the end of many days, you may feel like you sorted gravel instead of focusing on your big rocks.  In last week’s article we learned about the 5 choices you have and how they can move you and your team to extraordinary productivity. Choice one was acting on the important and not reacting to the urgent with Choice two about reaching for the extraordinary.

Now it’s time to consider the next two choices you can make:

The 5 ChoicesChoice 3:  Schedule the big rocks.  Don’t sort gravel.  This video will give you an overview of the whole Franklin/Covey program.  It’s about 11 minutes.  In this choice, you take which choices you made in one and two, then schedule your weeks and days in such a way that you can focus your precious attention and energy on those things first.

Important and not urgent items MUST be scheduled or the urgent will always win if they are competing.  You don’t want to get more done, you want to get the RIGHT THINGS done.

Planning properly, around your most important outcomes, increases your success rate by 200-300% according to a leading researcher.

Choice 4:  Rule Your Technology.  Don’t let it rule you.  Have you become addicted to technology?  How many hours a day is your phone or computer turned off?  According to a Mobile Mindset Study, 58% of US smartphone users check their phones at least every hour and for most it is the first thing they check when they wake up and the last thing when they go to bed.

Your technology should be an aid to help you spend less time on tasks, not more.  The average executive sends and receives an average of 121 emails A DAY.  Every one of those emails is a DECISION.

My suggestion.  Create no technology zones and get others to agree.  Our attention to the important will determine how many deeply satisfying accomplishments we are able to experience in this lifetime.

Team Development Opportunity this week:

During your next meeting with your team members discuss the most important items on your team’s list.  Do a “round” to talk about ways you could use technology to your advantage and more effectively as a team.  Are there free or inexpensive apps that will help you create more time to innovate or connect with clients in a more meaningful way?  What are going to be your “no tech zones” in the coming week?  Are there rules that the team can agree to in regard to technology like not using email as a vehicle for conversation when it is designed for documentation?

Are you having weekly or monthly development sessions with your team with these articles?  Are they helping to remind you to have those sessions and is the information helpful in focusing the conversation around the outcomes you want to achieve?  I want these weekly articles to be as helpful as possible.  Let me know how I can improve them for you and your team.

Keep at it!  Not every day or week feels like a win.  I know.  You can create what you envision if you first base your direction on current reality.  Be rigorously honest with yourself as you look at the facts and data in front of you.  Be committed to the extraordinary.  What you believe and can see you can achieve.

Will you learn from the bright spots this week?

The dramatic changes you may be experiencing in your industry, marketplace, and in your organization are felt by most of the leaders I train and coach.  For instance, it used to be that your boyfriend or husband could change your oil or give your car a tune up.  (Yes, some wives and girlfriends could do those things too!)  If you have a car built recently, though, the average mechanic needs to know how to read a computer diagnostic more than he/she does an oil stick.  Every industry is experiencing change.  The question is, are you following the bright spots in your organization through the change initiatives or are you focused on what is not working?

Switch- Chip and Dan HeathIn Chip and Dan Heath’s popular book for today’s leaders about managing change called Switch, they researched the advantages of following the bright spots – those people and processes that are successfully executing change and how to use those observations to improve and accelerate change in your organization.

Let’s say you want your team members to do any of the following:

Hold fewer unproductive meetings

Stop functioning in the dreaded drama triangle

Start listening to others more

Here’s some questions to ask about finding the exception and the what they call the miracle:

  1. When does the problem you’re fighting not happen?
  2. Who is functioning most effectively in regard to that challenge or avoiding it all together?
  3. What will be the first sign that things have changed?

Here’s the recipe the authors recommend for finding the bright spots:

  1. Gather data on the issue.
  2. Study the data to find the bright spots (the unusually positive performers)
  3. Make sure you understand the “normal way” things are done.
  4. Next, study the bright spots to see what they’re doing differently.
  5. Make sure non of those practices are “exceptional” in some way.
  6.  Find a way to reproduce the practices of the bright spots among other people.

EXERCISE with your team this week

Identify a specific change that your department or organization is implementing.

Ask each team member to submit

  1. What is going right in regard to the change?
  2. What do they see as their biggest challenge in implementing the change you want to see?
  3. What is their reward if the change occurs?
  4. Is there a trigger point for the unwanted behavior occurring?

For instance, do meetings start with, “How is everyone doing?”  Which, of course, leads to all the issues each member is facing at the time.  Hint:  starting with a round of “What’s going right today?” can create a shift in mindset for your group and the meeting.

Collect the information and use it as data to discuss at your upcoming team development session.  At that team session, begin with a  “round” (this is simply a quick check-in from each team member with a time limit of about 30 seconds) asking “What is going right?”

After the opening round discuss the data you collected in regard to each question.

Consider this.  If a team member sees no benefit to them (question 3 in your questionnaire) the chances of them faithfully and permanently executing the change you want to see is minimal.  From the book The Power of Habit we learn that a habit (which is what you want every change to become) is comprised of 3 components.  Cue  (the trigger point which could be the end of mealtime for a smoker, or the alarm clock for those of us addicted to coffee), Routine (make the coffee), Reward (caffeine kicks in).

Keep in mind that different people are motivated by different things.  What motivates you may not motivate your team members.   You may be motivated by a bigger paycheck whereas one of your team members may be moved to change by more time off to ski the Alps or just be anywhere BUT work.

If the methods you are currently using are not working to move the needle of change, continuing to do the same thing over and over again will only result in frustration and acid reflux.   When something isn’t working, take the time to PAUSE,  BREATHE,  and SEEK information not confirmation.

You can and will succeed through the change you want to see.  You are smart enough, determined enough, and care enough.  You are enough.  Go forth and conquer this week, my friend!

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