Part I: Message for Leaders– Don’t Micro-manage employees

My view based on consulting with organizations for forty plus years—Problem of Micromanagement. Trying to get people to do an assignment or task your way is exhausting. Focusing on a sense sense of urgency takes effort and jeopardizes self-initiative, morale of workers, and quality service. Are people doing an assignment fast enough?  Are they doing it the way I want it done? Are they staying late to complete their task or just punching the clock? Is enough being done to create a more responsive and productive work place environment?

Micromanagement takes a lot of work and energy in the wrong direction. How about being a constructive boss who respects others opinions and ideas.  If you want things done right and goals reached involve others in the decision-making and make them feel important by sharing in the rewards of success–living wage, bonuses and profit sharing. By building an open and trusting relationship the owner and boss will empower employees. This people first approach will pay dividends in many subtle but powerful ways. This type of respectful approach will build loyalty and help create a team of employees that will in turn show respect to customers and support the organization imperatives of productivity and profitability.  Be careful dismissing this point too quickly — even if you would never micromanage, you could be creating the wrong incentives for people in your organization.

Part I. Leadership Research: # 1 skill for Becoming Extraordinary Leader

High-Resolution Leadership a research study conducted by DDI identifies that “the single most important skill of a good leader may not be what you think. Although it is important to be visionary and a strategic thinker, a new study suggests that it’s more rooted in their daily conversations and interactions with people”.

According to DDI research on leadership, the leader who’s most effective in having successful conversations is most likely to do the best in developing their team and creating a successful business. “By the end of each day, leaders likely have had multiple conversations with a range of their constituents,” DDI’s researchers write. “Each of these interactions will collectively determine their ultimate success as a leader.”

This conclusion comes from a report called High-Resolution Leadership, which is the result of synthesizing assessments taken by 15,000 participants being considered for leadership from the front lines to executive levels at 300 companies in 18 countries. DDI evaluated the data from personality and intelligence tests as well as from “day-in-the-life” simulations that allowed participants to demonstrate their skills.

 

Want to give Audience-Centered Presentation? Learn these 3 skills.

Exploring Empathy, Responsiveness and Relevance as keys to Audience-Centered Presentation
Daily Quote: ” Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”  Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence  
The R.A.T.E.R. is a useful tool to measure your ability to be Audience-Center in presenting or public speaking. Your ability to see and relate to, understand and respect the inner world of others, doesn’t mean agreeing with the other person’s perceived experience . For many, empathy is what I’ll call a touchy-feely word. “It’s all about feeling and relating to what others feel , isn’t it? – being compassionate. Does that really have any place in the hard-nosed world of business? One of the problems with empathy is that it is often confused with being ‘soft’ – overly sensitive, compassionate and even emotionally “mushy” or sentimental. It can be associated with tolerating bad performance or bad behavior, which is probably more to do with avoiding conflict than empathy.

Let’s be clear, empathy is simply the ability to comprehend and be respectful of the inner state/experience of others, it does not mean agreeing with the other person’s perceived experience or condoning the actions they take based on their interpretations. It is also not just limited to understanding another’s feelings. Empathy includes an ability to identify and articulate another’s perspective, expectations, wants and needs. Great communicators are empathic because they try to see the world through the eyes of their audience. By doing so they show respect and caring for their audience and when people feel respect they respond. There is an old saying, “I don’t care about what you know until I know that you care.”

As an empathic presenter you need to be  self-aware and sensitive to how their own behavior impacts others.  Empathy is outward and inward looking. Learn to be responsive and respectful as a presenter by identifying audience needs and being “quick on your feet” to provide relevant examples and tell engaging stories about your ideas. Show respect and and empathy your audience will respond in kind.

Self-Coaching Challenge: To get at this topic in short form, I’d ask you to take this self-evaluation to score yourself on a scale of 10, where 1 is awful and 10 is being masterful as a presenter in crafting and demonstrating empathy, relevance and responsiveness toward the audience members.  What follows are three questions about empathy. How do you stack-up?

1. Empathy is Item #1 I work-in to my message when presenting to others? _____

2. I am a full-fledged student of empathy, aiming for the same level of “professional mastery and excellence” that I’d aim for in a specialty like Human Resources, Brand Marketing, Finance or Business Strategy____________.

3. I stop at different times during my presentation to see how the audience is taking–in or understanding my message ________.

 

 

 

 

Self-Mastery and Skill Development Using the Plus 1 Mastery Process for Change

The Plus 1 Mastery Process for Personal Change

Here is the learning process: Tell me… show me… let me practice… coach me.

In attempting to change behavior it is important to look at an “old true and tried” principle of learning called the law of frequency. The law of frequency suggests that the more a person practices the correct and desired behavior, the higher the probability there is to use the desired behavior.  This principle is often called “drill and practice”. Most coaches and movie directors use this technique to encourage their players or actors to practice under many different situations until they get it right and the behavior feels natural.  Remember, practice makes permanent only, perfect practice makes perfect.

The key building block in using the law of frequency in training is to create what we call the PlusOne Mastery Learning Sequence:

  • The sequence starts by learning and understanding the specific skill you are trying to change one step at a time while adding each new step to the preceding learned steps until all steps are mastered.
  • The “chucking principle” is a key component of the Mastery Learning sequence. This principle suggests that a complex skill can be learned most efficiently when the skill is broken down into small parts.  Each part is mastered separately and then the parts are practiced together adding one “chunk” at a time until all of the chunks are integrated and the complex skill is mastered
  • Once learned the skill set is enhanced by putting in-place a continuous improvement process which involves a feedback loop on where you are now by examining what you are doing well and what improvements you need to stay at the mastery level.
  • Learning and using this simple and straight forward “Plus 1 Mastery” process will improve your self-awareness of effective behavioral patterns and can help identify areas for improvement so that you can overcome and transcend present limits of leadership styles into a strength based approach for continuous professional development.

 

 

 

Part 1: Audience-Centered Design for Presentations

” Unless you try to understand the person you are speaking to, you will be seen as irrelevant and unresponsive to their interest and needs”. M.W. Hardwick  

Think of designing your presentations like choosing a Christmas gift.  I love to unwind at the end of the day with a bourbon and water. However, my wife, does not like most hard liquor drinks. Yet she loves wine, so a wine-of-the-month club membership would be a great gift for her. Think of designing your presentations from the this same point of view. Stop focusing on yourself and what you like and want to give the audience and shift your thinking to focus more on what the audience needs and wants. This approach highlights two critical variables of the R.A.T.E.R. presentation development model ( relevance. responsiveness). Building in this type of design thinking makes your speech or presentation more relevant and responsive to audience members needs and problems in their daily life’s.

For your next “big” Presentation Test your Message for “stickiness”?

Framework for “Sticky Messages”

” Remember that to create a “sticky idea”  it needs to be understood, remembered, and it changes something”. Heath Brothers

There are a number of tests to check that you have created a memorable and believable message. The main test of success in delivering a key message is that you commit it to memory. This will increase the perception by audience members of your credibility. Do this your main task is to be able to communicate your message with passion and clarity without your notes. Test yourself.

Then say it to a colleague – see if they can say it back to you. You may find that they say it back to you in a way which is easier to grasp. In which case change it.

An hour later, ask members of your presentation review team to listen and give you feedback on how memorable and relevant your key message is to the overall topic being discussed.  Ask the team the next day if they remember the “sticky” message. If they can still remember it a day later, well done – you have got yourself a memorable sticky, relevant and believable message.

Check your message against these two standards–the RATER developed by Dr. Hardwick and SUCCESs model developed by Heath brothers in their book–Made to Stick

Want to Improve Team Effectiveness: Learn about Team Emotional Intelligence

Daily Quote: “Emotional Intelligence has had a real impact on individual growth and performance but the only problem is that so far emotional intelligence has not focused its research on team competency or effectiveness. The reality is that most work in organizations is done by teams. And if managers have one pressing need today, it’s to find ways to make teams work better”. Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff

“EXCELLENT” Meetings. Meetings are what bosses “do.” Meetings are de facto Leadership Opportunity #1. Act accordingly.  Dr. Tom Peters

How to make meetings more satisfying, productive and work more effectively? “Begin with the end in mind” or the vision thing. By setting a vision of what the team wants to accomplish and what a successful meeting looks like the changes of increasing engagement and having more satisfying outcomes increase dramatically .

We generally ignore priority setting or vision thinking in most meetings. For some reason there is pressure to get down to work quickly. This thinking goes like this “we can’t waste time on all this petty stuff we have important things to do”. So what happens is that most team leaders and members avoid or ignore answering these important questions: What is the most important thing to work on and accomplish while we are together this morning? Why are we doing this? What are we trying to achieve? Where are we trying to get to?’ What does success look like? How do we handle side issues that might come up? How do we get everyone involved, engaged and committed to what’s important to discuss and decide on today? What the leader and team fail to understand is how important it is to answer these questions not just to motivate thinking and members engagement but to guide how to use our valuable time together. Both “structure and processes” are key elements for increasing energy and productivity in meetings.  So my advice to those who are bored or frustrated by meetings is to –STOP, CLARIFY and GET AGREEMENT on what is important to focus on today.

Another important idea is presented by Druskat and Wolff in their Harvard Business Review’s article that the real source of a great team’s success lies in the fundamental understanding of group emotional intelligence. This understanding allows effective task processes to emerge like setting decision-making and communication norms and that cause members to commit to the shared established by the team. Their research says there are three conditions are essential to a group’s effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy.”

Planning and detail thinking are both about “how” to implement your vision, with planning being more at the 30,000 level and big picture thinking, and detail discussions are more ground level dealing with specific actions and commitments.   “This kind of ‘how’ to execute or work together is very difficult if you don’t have a  clear why these activities are a priority and important to the individuals, team and organizational imperatives.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Learning how to conduct effective meetings can’t be learned over night. To break the habits of poor meetings will take experimentation and practice. In the beginning instituting new group maintenance procedures or processes will feel unnatural or uncomfortable. So as a team leader it is important from a learning and mental stand point to stick with changes long enough to see if they can make a difference in your team’s productivity. Remember that ” A team can have everything going for it the brightest and most qualified people, access to resources–a clear mission and still fail because it lacks group emotional intelligence and understanding of group dynamics”.

So over the next month your challenge as team leader is to explore ways to improve your meetings through feedback and speaking-up. Start first by reaching out to team members on two questions:

1. How do they feel about the effectiveness of our present meetings.

2. Ask for suggestions on what needs to change in order to make them more productive?

 

Want to Make Your first Step Toward Effective Public Speaking? Try these 3 Proven Methods.

“Unique connections, even if there are 1 or 500 people in your audience, are purposeful, personal, and passionate. Your message needs to be relevant and responsive to the audience needs and interest.” -Coach Mark

We all know that a lack of effective communication skills (public speaking) will seriously harm your career and relationship prospects. Whether you are a project manager, frontline employee, or CEO, your ability to communicate in a clear and compelling manner will be important component on how successful you will be. If you can not communicate and connect with your different shareholders your great ideas and intellect will not matter.  So how do you go about making a positive impression and gain credibility with any audience.

1.  Your audience will respond warmly if you remember to not just talk or lecture at them but find creative ways to connect and engage with them.

My first rule of sticky presentations is “NO Connection = NO Interest.”

This is plainly intuitive, if you have sat through a boring presentation, you disconnect because the presenter does not take your needs into consideration  and does not make the message relevant to your problems, needs and interest.  So the question is, “how to effectively connect with your audience?

a. The easiest way to create a connection is to meet as many people 1 to 1 before you walk on stage. Then, use some of the information you have gathered in your “meet and greet” conversations to salt into your opening remarks. This technique provides a valuable time for you to get to know people and gather information that makes your present come alive to the audience.

b. Create audience member engagement and involvement. Your audience does want to be a passive vessel for you to empty your message into; they want to be an active and engaged part of  your presentation. Right at the beginning of your presentation, pose a challenging question or use a quick activity like an audience survey to find out their needs and interest in your topic; this kind of activity always works because the audience now feels that you care about them and you have provided an opportunity for them to think about and provide input into the presentation design. This method provides content so that your message can be customized to their interests and questions.

The question or activity, must align with the audience members current reality, needs and issues to get and hold their attention. If I am presenting to a group that has been told, “You HAVE to be in attendance to receive CPE credits or other reasons. I might ask “What would they rather be doing  than be at this presentation?” Or I might ask the audience to tell another member what would make this a great presentation. After their short discussion I will conduct a shout out session to get some feedback on their discussions.

Having created some engagement through involvement we can link this to the subject of the presentation like this, “Knowing you are interested in “A”  let’s begin by discussing why “A” is important…”

My second rule of presentation skills is, “No Competence=No Confidence”  

I have seen competent people lack confidence in presenting and confident people lack competence (nothing is as dangerous as a confident fool!).

When coaching people to feel confident to present well, I use the Cognitive Behavioral Technique of Mental Rehearsal that when confronted with anxiety or performance confidence issues. This CBT technique encourages  finding a trigger of something you are already confident doing such as playing the piano, or shooting a foul shot in basketball etc. and tap into this past experience and feeling of confidence so that you can access this feeling in your mind and body before presenting. For some people this lack of confidence or anxiety about presenting is a “double bind” that we must feel some confidence to attempt to present well and only when we do this will we gain the competence; and with competence comes confidence! An effective presenter is also competent in the subject matter of their presentation. Sometimes this just means you are competent to share your perspective on a limited piece of information.

So when getting ready for your presentation learn everything you can about the topic and subject to be discussed by doubling the amount of prep and practice compared to the allocated length of your speech. For example, for a  1 hour speech put in at least three hours of prep and practice time.You may only speak about 10% of what you know but your competence will show when you can make your subject matter clear, concise and compelling.

This brings me to my third rule, “No Compelling Message No Memory or transfer by Audience to Action ”

People will only remember one or two or three points from your presentation, so plan your presentation so that those 2-3 points will stick with them. Techniques for making a point stick include:

  • Repetition – remember kinder garden and repeating your ABC’s over and over.
  • Gestures or Actions – get the knowledge from the mind into the body with a powerful physical trigger.
  • Visuals or Video – we live in a multimedia world so use powerful graphic or short videos to create a visual link to your sticky points.
  •  Story Telling– powerful personal stories engage the audience and are great memory triggers for your message.

So in Summary, here are my 3 Rules for Making Sticky and Effective Presentation Skills

1.  No Connection = No interest

2. No Competence =No Confidence

4. No Memorable Message = No Transfer to Action  

Announcing the “SPARK” Framework for Self-Coaching available in 2014

 S.P.A.R.K. Framework and Underpinnings: The Fully Functioning Person

” The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change…If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.” Dr. Carl Rogers

Dr. Carl Rogers, father of Client-Centered Therapy (1961), believed that every person could achieve their goals wishes, and desires in life. When they did so self-actualization took place. This humanistic approach for Rogers was based on the belief that most people when provided the right conditions, support and structure are able to become more self-directed learners, self-aware, and self-actualized. These person’s were called fully functioning persons. This means that the person is in touch with the here and now, their subjective experiences and feelings, their strengths and weaknesses and a belief in continuous learning, growing and changing in life.

In many ways Rogers, regarded the fully functioning person as an ideal and one that people do not necessarily or ultimately achieve.

It is wrong to think of this as an end or completion of life’s journey; rather it is a process of always becoming and changing.

Rogers identified five characteristics of the fully functioning person:

1. Open to experience

    : both positive and negative emotions accepted. Negative feelings are not denied, but worked through (rather than resort to ego defence mechanisms).

2. Existential living: in touch with different experiences as they occur in life, avoiding prejudging and preconceptions. Being able to live and fully appreciate the present, not always looking back to the past or forward to the future (i.e. living for the moment).

3. Trust in feelings: feeling, instincts and gut-reactions are paid attention to and trusted. People’s own decisions are the right ones and we should trust ourselves to make the right choices.

4. Creativity and Openness: the ability to adjust and change and seek new experiences.

5. Fulfilled life: person is happy and satisfied with life, and always looking for new challenges and experiences.

For Rogers, fully functioning people are well-adjusted, well-balanced and interesting to know. Often such people are high achievers in society. Critics claim that the fully functioning person is a product and myth of Western culture. In other cultures, such as Eastern cultures, the achievement of the group is valued more highly than the achievement of any one person.

Announcing an exciting personal and leadership development modules for 2014:

The Self-Coaching Guided Mastery Process: S.P.A.R.K.  

 

 S--tructure withProcess and Plus-One Approach for personal development

Purpose for living a Meaningful and fulfilling Life  

Awareness of Inner and Emotional Self 3 through Awareness

R-elationships with Self and Others

Know and Do what you need to do to reach full potential

** Stay tuned I am going to be rolling-out the S.P.A.R.K:  Structure with Process methodology and Modules for Self-Coaching in the first quarter of 2014.

 

Self-Coaching: Power of Questioning for Connecting

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think…true knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing. Socrates

Have you ever experienced the Socratic way of learning–and self-discovery? You begin by asking your inner-self questions to challenge your present thinking and behaving. This produces more self-awareness and understanding of who you are and what you want to become in living a life of making difference. It also can support your teaching and presentation style by challenging learners to think and discover questions that can then make your communication or presentation more relevant to their life.

This method of Socratic questioning illuminates the importance of questioning in self-awareness and clear thinking.  Socrates stated that questioning was the only defensible form of teaching. It illuminates the difference between systematic and fragmented thinking. It teaches us to dig beneath the surface of our ideas and not just memorize stuff for a presentation or interpersonal communication. It teaches us the value of developing questioning minds to cultivate deep learning. The Art of Socratic questioning is intimately connected with learning because  questioning is important to the excellence of thought.

The word “Socratic” adds to the art of questioning because it signals depth and interest in assessing the truth or information about our self and others in the situations they are confronting. Many people are afraid that by asking questions they will look weak, ignorant, or unsure. They like to give the impression that they are decisive and in command of the relevant issues. They fear that asking questions might introduce uncertainty or show them as uninformed or incompetent. They like being perceived as the expert. In fact, asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence – not a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Great leaders constantly ask questions of themselves and many different people to show they are aware of different points of view and that they do not have all the answers. Some people are in such a hurry to get things done that they do not stop to ask questions because it might slow them down. They risk rushing headlong into making poor decisions and then taking the wrong actions in complex situations.

As politicians, peers, friends, family members, colleagues, or managers how do we avoid making these split second  decisions? One technique is to stop and check assumptions, weigh the alternatives and potential consequences by first asking questions. Start with very basic, broad questions then move to more specific areas to clarify your understanding. Open questions are excellent – they give the other people a chance to weigh-in and open up the discussion, so as to arrive at a better decision. Examples, of open questions are: • What obstacles keep the government from bailing out home owners? •  What are the factors that caused our recent economic melt down? • How can we reduce a further melt down of the economy? • Where does an individual or bank’s authority and responsibility end and government authority through regulation begin to override risky individual choices• Tell me more about your personal experiences in securing a business loan? Questions for a meaningful conversation need not be scripted because as we actively listen and tune-in to responses we can spontaneously formulate more in-depth or probing questions. Be patient in your responses and never interrupt the speaker. The desire to state our ideas, insights, points of view and wisdom is hard to resist. The method of asking questions to deepen our understanding and provides more clarity of the issues before identifying the root issue in making critical decisions and taking action.

Asking questions is a very effective method to build trust and shows your interest in getting other people’s viewpoint of the problem and finding the best alternative for constructive action. A word of caution-questions maybe be perceived as an interrogation and threatening rather than as a friendly way to connect unless you show interest in the responses. Try to pose each question in a calm way so that the learning climate is experienced as positive by all those involved in the discussion. Be especially cognizant of your non-verbal symbols such as, finger pointing or  jab your index finger like the “critical parent”. Try to speak and use positive and welcoming hand jesters, such as open palms.

Try to practice asking more opened questions in conversations will make a person feel understood and indicate that you care what they have to say. Instead of telling someone what you think or immediately providing advise – ask them a question and you will be perceived as caring, open, and engaging person.

Questions help us to teach as well as to learn. If you are open too new thinking and renewal the lesson’s life offers will enhance your ability to develop and grow your decision-making processes and effectiveness. If it is obvious that asking questions is such a powerful way of learning why do we stop and asking questions? For some people the reason is that they think that they have learned all there is to know on a subject–the “know-it-all style or they see it as a WAY OF SUCCEEDING STATUS TO OTHERS THUS TAKING AWAY THEIR INFLUENCE OR CONTROL OF THE SITUATION. Others like to hear themselves talk or thinking leading is dominating the conversation. Some people become bored, lazy or worn down by fighting the same battles for change year in and year out. They want to maintain their comfort level by holding onto old and tried and true “mental maps”, assumptions and solution or ideas which they believe are correct and unchanging. For example, cutting taxes leads to a strong economy. They try old solutions that might or might not fit the new circumstances.This approach leads them to be stuck in the past. And many times they end up failing by trying to maintain the status quo and their comfort level.

Self-Coaching Challenge: This week spend time with your team in reviewing the importance of questioning and practicing it when discussing an important issue. Ask yourself about how this changed the discussion? What went differently? Did asking questions improve your team’s collaborative behavior? Was the outcome of the decision-making process better or about the same before you institutes and rewarded more questioning?  Remember–Being able to ask yourself or your team tough questions and then to forge an answer everyone can live with increases self-awareness, personal growth and team effectiveness.

 

Sticky Presentations: Five Process Secrets for Connecting with Audience

” Before your message can stick, your audience has to want to hear about your idea and you need to believe in it”. 

Clear, concise and well prepared content and message is critical for a successful presentation, and yet this not enough. A speaker must also be able to deliver the message in a compelling way in order to connect with the audience. Together these factors are essential for presenters to capture the audience attention and interest. Knowledge is shared and curiosity is raised in the hope of moving the audience toward change in opinions and a commitment to action. In this process the presenter wants to be seen and experienced as an effective and authentic communicator.

So what are some effective and proven methods you can use to  accomplish this goal of being perceived as interesting and a compelling presenter:  

1. Showing-up, Being present and Believing . Open with confidence, energy and strong presence. Focus on the audience needs and by providing interactive elements.

Presentation experts call this taking command of the room. I call this moment being present. This method will help you overcome nervousness, if it is combined with a powerful quote, compelling statistic or story. Another way is to use interactive elements 
in your opening.
Break down the wall between speaker and audience. Step out from the podium and ask the audience a question and have them answer by a show of hands or have them face a partner and interact. People will put up with a nervousness and  stumbling in your presentation if you are involving them.   This approach sets the stage for an effective presentation by demonstrating empathy and raising curiosity of audience members.

2. Provide a “roadmap” for the presentation. This technique signals to the audience what topics are to be covered. Many presenters use this technique to ask audience members if there are any other ideas they would like to learn about or do some of the topics not meet their expectations. Using this approach says to audience members you are willing to be flexible and provides a great opportunity for audience involvement and engagement. Some presenters are anxious about using this technique because they think they will lose control. Trust me this techniques works and you have the ability to say no new topics and it provides more information about the audience needs which provides many benefits for you as a presenter.

3. Be quick on your feet—be aware of audience members body language and non-verbal cues during the presentation so you can assess how you are doing. Don’t ignore negative signals.
Pick up on sagging energy in the room, audience frowns, or arms folded etc.
Make sure your body movement matches your message. If you’re trying to be convincing, your hand gestures should be symmetrical. But don’t make them too rehearsed; your physical motions should be driven by emotions and words. If you keep your hands down at your sides, you tend to look scared. Aim to have you hands more level with your chest, on what Samuels calls the “passion plane.”

4.  Engage audience by designing parts that play to different learning styles —Include a visual, auditory and kinesthetic experiences by surprising them with different activities. People learn differently so if you include all three types of information you’ll connect and engage more audience members.

5. Give the audience AHA moments.  This presentation technique provides and leaves the audience with  ideas, insights and memorable moments. Maybe you’ll hand something out to the crowd (self assessment quiz)  or bring something surprising on stage. An AHA moment can be most effective at the start or end of a presentation but can be used through the presentation to capture audience attention, interest and engagement with the presenter and topic under discussion.

 Remember, make  sure you have a strong and energetic opening, message deliver and close.

We often start strong but don’t think about where we want the presentation to go. Do you want everyone to stand up in the end? Do you want them to say something simultaneously? Plan even the last couple minutes in advance. Don’t just say for example, “well that’s it for now” and start to pack-up to leave.

Improving Meaningless Meetings- Learn to Establish Norms and Improve Collaborative Skills

Part I Team Development–Unlocking The Power of Team Norms and Collaborative Communication Skills To eliminate Toxic meetings 

Team norms represent the behavior expectations that support the core concepts of trust, sharing, belonging and respect and cooperation. Collaborative skills are the specific ways in which team members are expected to behave in order to achieve accepted norms and ways to productively work together. After team norms have been developed, collaborative skills are assessed, prioritized and taught.

Collaboration Team Communication Skills and Norms 

Team norms represent the behavior expectations that support the core concepts of trust, sharing, belonging and respect and cooperation. Collaborative skills are the specific ways in which team members are expected to behave in order to achieve accepted norms and ways to productively work together. After team norms have been developed, collaborative skills are assessed, prioritized and learned the team is better equipped to discuss, share, problem solve and brainstorm opportunities for taking the next steps forward through constructive action. 

Over my 30 +  years of facilitation and team projects and discussions, I have developed a growing and non-exhaustive list of collaborative skills that are supportive of effective and productive team interaction, efficiency and effectiveness.

Here is the list of behavior and possible norms to review:

Ask questions, Actively listen for understanding-Start a conversation-Ask for help-Ask a favor – Cooperate by joining-in an activity Be engaged Pay attention-Accept feedback Accept criticism Apologize-Give a compliment-Make others feel important-Follow suggestions or directions Say Thank you Acknowledge others effort-Say Yes-Say No Accept situations Give-up control- Say you don’t know- Clarify Summarize-Restate- Reflect other people’s feelings State and own your feelings and emotions Show empathy-Know and recognize feelings- Be observant Be open to negotiate-Express sympathy and sadness for others –Own your feelings and actions-Take time-outs to cool down- Ignore distractions- Take turns speaking and listening- Take responsibility and accountability for actions-Remind others to be flex and open to other view points- Play devil’s advocate-Influence and convince others with strong factual arguments-Deal with Other’s overreactions and anger – Deal with fear and anxiety – Stand-up for your rights- Be assertive- Respond and accept teasing or sarcastic put-downs- Deal with failures and embarrassments- Learn to problem solve and complete in-completions- Don’t run away from unresolved conflicts- Set priorities for action. 

Potential Uses for using the list for Team Development:

1. To assess a team’s readiness for problem solving and opportunity finding.

2. To evaluate a team meeting session from the point of view of satisfaction with the interaction

3. To measure a team’s group stage for effectiveness.

4. For identifying skill areas for team training and development in collaborative and supportive behaviors.

5. Efficiency of team’s ability to maximize time management.

 

Self-Directed Coaching Framework: Grounding Principles and Truths

CORE PRINCIPLES AND TRUTHS:

Quote : “You cannot teach a person anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” – Galileo

1. It is not the circumstances, but our thoughts about the circumstances that create our experience.

2. We cannot control everything in the world. So decide if you control a situation and if you do and do not like what is happening chose to do something different to change the feeling or situation; if you can not control the situation or events choose to let go of the need for control and move on.

3. Nothing outside of us has the power to make us feel good or bad. It is our choices that determine how we feel and behave.

4. We are driven and motivated by what we choose to think about.

5. Emotions are triggers that lead to action.

6. We can’t permanently change our habits or results without changing our thinking

7. We don’t have to get anything in a material sense to feel better; we have the power to feel better right now.

8. Being conscious and choosing our thoughts is the most important component to feeling better.

Exploring and expanding on the Self-Directed Coaching (SDC) principles–Flushing-out  Principle #1

Change the way you think and you can change how you feel and act. So every time you think of something, you choose the feelings that are associated with it. If you have a negative thought you are guaranteed to have a negative feeling associated with that thought. So the question is, “How do you feel when you think that thought?” This approach will help you sort out that things happening in your world (a difficult situation  or a pressing problem or decision to be made) that they are supposedly causing your feelings. The truth is that the negative or positive thoughts you choose not circumstances or problems cause your attitude and feelings.

Supportive Comfrontaion and Feedback: Finding out Reasons People Do What they Do.

 
 
“The real hell of life is that everyone has his reasons for the way they behave.” Jean Renior 
 
Regular, specific and face-to-face caring feedback can create a climate of openness for people and reduce arguments and misunderstandings. As a leader-coach, it is your responsibility to hire the best person and then support them in achieving organization tasks and personal goals for reaching their potential. If your hire fails in their job you own some of the responsibility for that failure.  Therefore, one of your critical responsibilities is as a developer of people. A readiness to offer timely and honest feedback makes all the difference to your employees. Rather than being taken as a negative, such input shows concern for the development of each individual. This works for the management team, as well. While at times the focus needs to be on the gap between what is expected and what you are doing wrong, the best feedback focuses on the gap between what you are doing well and what you can be doing even better. David Bradford and Dr. Cohen in their book Power Up describe an approach to difficult conversations and feedback interventions through a process called Supportive Confrontation. I have found the book  outstanding and well worth your time  since I have often posted about the conversational tool of Caring Confrontation. Dr. Bradford and his associates outline 4 basic approaches that make-up Supportive Confrontation and I have added a 5th approach from my experiences.
 
5 Step Approach:
1: Specific and clear feedback—“State in concrete and clear ways that the other person’s behavior is having a negative effect on you.”

You provide feedback and describe to the other person the barriers and annoying behavior that are having a negative impact on you.  This approach is not easy to provide because of the fear that doing this will jeopardize the relationship or that the other cares about what we have to say. These type of assumptions make the confrontation more difficult because it isn’t made on solid evidence but on us “making stuff up” this can lead to a defensive reactions. In giving feedback of this type we may feel vulnerable which often causes an uncomfortable climate for discussing issues between us.  But I’d argue that what we fantasize to be true isn’t necessarily so–it’s our truth. Many people really do not have awareness or insight that they’re causing problems, and pointing out these feelings and observations can be a wake-up call. When confronted in a caring and support way many may choose to the information with more interest of about our perceptions and be motivated to work on changing their behavior. The technique for getting the other person’s attention without becoming defensive is to calmly, concisely and directly present the observations without judgment.  However, as Bradford and Allen write, “This approach works only if [your] reactions cause [the other person] to want to change.  But something else is needed if [the other person] is defensive, and tells [you], ‘That is your problem, not mine,’ or even worse, labels [you] as weak or over-sensitive.” So on to…

2:  Is this working for them–“Your behavior is not meeting your apparent goals or intentions.”

Just as people are often unaware of how their behavior affects us, they can be equally unaware of how their behavior affects their ability to achieve their goals or how it deviates from their stated intentions.  We observe others’ self-defeating behaviors or inconsistencies and imagine that they’re irrational or hypocritical, but the truth is they simply may not have the data that we have by virtue of our outside perspective.

If someone’s not going to be motivated to change because of their impact on you, perhaps they’ll be motivated by their impact on themselves.  The key here is linkage, a term that comes up frequently in Bradford and Cohen’s work.  They regularly emphasize the importance of leaders linking team members’ personal goals to the goals of the larger group, and here they talk about linking your goal (i.e. getting the other person to change) to their goals, whatever they may be.  But what if their goals are being met, despite (or even because of) their behavior?  How can you induce a desire to change then?

3. “Your behavior may meet your goals, and still be very costly to you and in the end can decrease your likability and connection with others .”

This is another type of blind spot–a person’s inability to see what is being lost in their efforts to achieve their goals.  Some people are so focused on reaching the finish line that they just can’t see how many problems they’re creating while running the race.  Again, sharing data that you have from an outside perspective about the costs of their behavior can provide a powerful motive for change.

This can be a variation on Approach 1, in which you don’t simply describe the negative impact of other person’s behavior on you but show how it affects them as well.  If in Approach 1 you’d say, “Your behavior is really bothering me,” in Approach 3 you’d add, “…and as a result, I’m a lot less motivated to support and help you succeed.”

4) “In what ways am I contributing to the problem of poor communication between us.?”

The first three approaches in Bradford and Cohen’s framework are presented almost as sequential alternatives: If Approach 1 won’t work, try Approach 2, and then move on to Approach 3.  But I don’t believe that Approach 4 should be regarded as the final step in this sequence, the last resort if all else fails.  Rather, it’s a tool that can be used to complement all the other approaches at any stage of the process.  And given that most of our working relationships are systems in which our reactions to the other person’s behavior affect and modify that behavior in turn, it’s likely that we are part of the problem at some level. This approach needs to come from the truth as you experience and see it. Don’t use this approach as a way to fool or try to manipulate others.  If you’re completely confident that you’re not part of the problem, don’t ask this question just to seem nicer or genuine or to manipulate the other person. The consequences of not making a genuine attempt to see your part in the difficult situation will be that the other person will see through your false persona and this will only increase their view of you as a person not to be trusted because your phony.  And yet I have come to realize that when I’m having a problem or conflict with another person, it’s pretty unusual to not have some ownership and responsibility for some of the difficulty and trouble we are experiencing.

5. Use a positive Pygmalion to encourage the art of possibility. Catch people doing things right and reinforce it ignoring the negative behavior. Positive reinforcement and high expectations can sometimes change the other person’s behavior without a direct confrontation. We have enshrined failure and weaknesses by sending negative messages and telling under-achievers that they are a loser because they got an F and the over-riding message from getting F’s is your dumb. Your goal in using this technique is to provide hope and support the other person’s desire for improvement. 

Conclusion:

My take away from this material is to not make assumptions about another person’s intentions or motives because they enviable lead you to the wrong conclusions. Make you observations and state how their behavior affects you and then ask if the other person is aware of this and how it is working for them. We will never know what they are thinking unless we confront the situation from a more empathic and understanding way. Most people will be open to share their view of the world , if we are willing to listen and not try to force them to see it our way.

 

Part 1: What does Research tell us about Mental Toughness (Hardiness) and Performance?

Some people make the mistake of thinking that MT is all about extorting or putting pressure on themselves (efforting) to perform up to their potential no matter what the circumstances. So let’s start with clarifying the key concepts and definition of MT.

Definition: Mental toughness is having the natural or developed ability that enables you to:
ƒ to access your strengths and skills on demand. It is a learned ability that provides a person with coping and thinking skills to handle stressful and demanding situations. As a performer it is seen when a performer can be more consistent and better than an opponent in remaining calm, focused, determined, confident, resilient, and in control under pressure.

Key psychological characteristics associated with mentally tough elite athletes Jones et al (2002) are:
” Self-Belief and self-efficacy:  
• Having an unshakable belief in your ability to achieve competition goals
• Unique qualities that make you better than your opponents.
Motivation:
• Having an insatiable desire and internalized motivation to succeed (you really got to want it)
• Ability to bounce back from performance setbacks with increased determination to succeed.
 Focus:
• Remain fully focused on the task at hand in the face of competition-specific distractions
• Able to switch focus on and off as required
• Not being adversely affected by others performance or your own internal distractions (worry,
negative mind chatter)
• Composure/Handling Pressure:
• Able to regain psychological control following unexpected events or distractions
• Thriving on the pressure of competition (embracing pressure, stepping into the moment)
• Accept that anxiety is inevitable in competition and know you can cope with it
Key component of mental toughness is learning how to condition your mind to think confidently and be
able to overcome frustration/self-critical negativity (reframe self-talk into what it is you want to occur)”.

Lesson Learned created a new Wickism: Don’t allow frustration or being to self-critical undermine your confidence or mental toughness.”

Yet a recent study confirms that MT which is defined as being “hardy” is something different. The study results indicate that mental toughness is a key to success – and to getting through the ups and downs of  stressful events in life. The study results clearly confirm the old dictum that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Much like optimists vs. pessimists, hardy individuals, when compared to less hardy ones, perceive the world very differently. Where the less hardy see obstacles, the hardy see a challenge to be overcome. While the less hardy find themselves totally overwhelmed and unable to function when under stress, the hardy ones use stress as an adrenaline boost. Hardy people go where angels fear to tread; less hardy people are the types that play to lose by undermining their performance and wishing  they could just crawl into the nearest corner, roll up into a fetal position, and wait until it’s safe to come out again.

“Learning from experience helps build character and resilience, so it’s not surprising that mental toughness tends to increase with age,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of Psychtests AIM, company. “It’s not only a matter of developing better coping and problem solving skills. As we get older and have been knocked around in the school of life, we develop a stronger sense of perspective and self-efficacy; a greater belief that ‘I’ll get through this’. Think of  the pain of losing someone we love, for example. Regardless of age, everyone feels hurt after it happens. But with experience, we get to a point of acceptance more quickly, and move on more readily.”

Handbook for Creating and Living a Meaningful Life: Principle # 3– Learn to be a Life-Long Learner

Author’s note: On this post I will flush out in more detail the number #3 principle from the Handbook for Creating and Living a Meaningful Life: 30+ Rules of the Road .

Quote: The world is but a canvas to our imaginations–Thoreau

Be a Life-Long Learner and student by practicing continuous self-education and learning from experiences and challenges presented to you in life.

I view life as a classroom with no walls but plenty of lessons to learn and time to try them out. If we don’t keep learning, we lose our edge. Learning comes through experiences as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,  “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”  

Once we think we know everything, we are in trouble. We can always learn things that will improve our work and personal life. The challenge is to find the right form of learning that works for us. To educate literally means “to draw out”, and therefore education, whether in the classroom, with a mentor, on the job or with a coach these processes can lead us to explore and discover more creative options and ask the right kinds of questions. Continuous learning keeps us sharp, keeps our thinking fresh, prevents burnout and actually helps our brain cells develop further. We need to discover how to keep learning what we truly need to know throughout our lives.

Learning is not just what you were taught in school. When attempting new skills we need to practice and be patient with ourselves. Changing personal habits developing new mind sets as my dad would say to us “It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.” So in the end, life to me is  “learning, reflecting, practicing and producing results by acting on new insights”.  It is always about committing to try and remembering when the student is ready the teacher will come–Are you ready?