The Biggest Reason Teams Get Stuck

Unsticking your team is one of the biggest challenges of a leader. When inertia sets in, there’s almost always a breakdown in belief at some level. When teams stop believing they stop doing. If your team has lost that magic feeling, look for signs of lost believing.

6 Ways Teams Stop Believing

1. They Stop Believing in You

This can take a variety of forms, but it almost always comes down to a matter of trust. They’ve stopped believing you have their backs. Or, they’ve stopped believing you have the guts to speak the truth up, down or sideways. Or perhaps, they’ve stopped believing your guidance is sound.

This is the hardest one to fix, but you won’t be successful until you address the issue. Look for ways to open the conversation one-on-one to get to root cause. Know that your words will only go so far. They’ll be scrutinizing every behavior for signs of what to really believe.

2. They Stop Believing in the Organization

The trust in you may run deep, but if the team has started to question the ethics or the future of the organization, they may be distracted and lose steam. They’re watching you for clues. They’re unlikely to believe if you’ve stopped believing. If you suspect the team has concerns in this arena, it’s best to give them an opportunity to express and discuss their concerns. It’s likely that the story they’re telling themselves is much worse than the truth.

3. They Stop Believing in the Cause

Teams and people are motivated by WHY far more than how. Ensure your team understands the greater good and how they fit in.  It’s a good time to ensure you have a strong team vision and that each team member knows where they fit in.

4. They Stop Believing in One Another

No employee engagement strategy is going to work if your team’s stop believing in one another. Take a close look at what you’re doing to encourage teamwork.  

5. They Stop Believing in Themselves

You can a clear role and vision, and a team that gets along like peanut butter and jelly, but if the individuals on the team lack confidence in their ability to execute, they won’t succeed. It’s good to gauge confidence levels at an individual and a team level from time to time. If they think your goal is impossible, they’ll talk themselves out of trying.

6. They Stop Believing They Can Make a Difference

Perhaps they’ve worked on a  big project, only to see a change in direction make their work obsolete. Or perhaps the downstream processes are so screwed up, any work they do is inadvertently sabotaged by later incompetence. If people don’t think their work really matters, they stop doing work that really matters.

Great leaders inspire belief in the vision, the cause, themselves and one another.

Leadership Below 100 Feet: Leadership Scuba Style

Leadership lessons come in many contexts. Last year,  I shared what I learned about inspiring “courage” from my Scuba instructor on my first panicky intro to Scuba. A few more dives logged, I continue to see more connection between leadership and Scuba. Part metaphor. Part reality. I look forward to hearing your real-life metaphors and application.

6 Leadership Lessons From Scuba Diving

1. Breathe

This one seems obvious, but as we were travelling around the island, one of the most frequently uttered phrases we overheard from surfacing divers was, “I just keep forgetting to breathe.” Each time, my son and I would grin at each other and ask “how is that possible? “

It happens in leadership too. When the going gets toughest, it’s easy to “forget” to breathe.

Leaders need oxygen, and pause. Next time you’re feeling underwater, notice your breath. Gaining control of your breathing helps the rest of the scene feel more manageable.

2. You can say a lot without words

4by4handsScuba divers are taught hand signals for the basics: “shark,” “I’m out of air,” “look now,” “Are you okay?” It’s fun to jump in with a new group of divers and fit right in with our common language. Teams need a system of common, simple communication.

But it’s also so important to know your team and watch their non-verbals.. “Something’s wrong with his equipment”. “She’s swimming like crazy away from the crowd, she’s off to take a picture of a lion fish.”

Leaders can learn a lot by just paying attention to their team’s movements, expressions and focus.

 3. There’s a lot you can’t see at the surface

It all looks so calm at the surface: the sunshine and the crystal blue water. But go a little deeper and there’s many beautiful mysteries waiting to be discovered, along with rocky edges that will rip you up if you’re not paying attention.

Great leaders go deeper and don’t rely on the apparent answers

4. Slow down or you might miss something2lions4by4

I’ll admit it, my natural instinct is to race around and “see” as much as possible. But going a little slower is way more efficient (your air lasts longer) and the best discoveries are tucked deep inside the coral.

Leaders who slow down enough to really take in the situation, will spot more.

5. Stay close to your team

When scuba diving, it’s tempting to work you own agenda, but the consequences may be severe. We learned that clearly established roles and agreed upon strategy at the beginning was vital. When in doubt, stay together.

Strong leaders know that a highly-coordinated team is the best defense against tricky situations.

6. Panicking makes the problem worse

It’s easy to panic fast when you’re 100 feet underwater, and can’t see your partner. A frantic response leads to crazy solutions that will immediately aggrevate the situation.

The same thing happens in leadership. The immediate reaction is seldom the best response. Leaders stay calm amidst the urgency to make more informed decisions.

How To Ensure Your Greatest Fears Come True

After a hectic but fun Saturday morning of speaking on a Lead Change panel and schlepping my son to baseball practice and art lessons, Sebastian and I decided to try out the newish Ethiopian restaurant for lunch.

“Every man, through fear, mugs his aspiration a dozen times a day.”
~ Brendan Francis

The place wasn’t crowded and the engaging owner did the cooking, waiting, and busing himself. The food was amazing. I asked how long he had been in business (a year), and admitted that I had never realized the place was there. We were politely interrupted by a woman asking to see the dessert menu.

“Oh no, we don’t carry desserts. I fear not enough people will want them. Once we really get things going, I’ll feel confident to expand the menu.”

As he came back to our table,Sebastian 8-years old, apparently now my Chief Marketing Officer, offered:

“You know, I think my mommy might really be able to help you with your business (I’m now searching for a menu to duck behind). She knows a lot about leadership and making money. You see she…”

The fantastic chef shared his story: “I’m a really good cook. My friends all told me I should open a restaurant. I’m taking a cautious approach. I know this location is not ideal (it’s really tucked away), but I didn’t want to invest much in location, until I knew for sure it would be a success. I want to attract a crowd, but it’s hard.”

He must have seen me glance around (I’ve never been accused of having a poker face).

“Yeah, I didn’t want to invest too much in decor to start either. Same philosophy. Better to play it safe, it might not work out. Once I have more customers, I’ll make the place more attractive. I have a vision.”

I had already picked up a take-out menu, because I couldn’t imagine convincing my husband this was a great place for romantic dining so I asked, “have you ever considered letting your customers bring their own wine at dinner?” (several really successful BYOBs are within a 5 mile radius) in similar rustic locations.

“Oh no. The insurance would be too much, you know and there’s the fear that a fight could break out.”

Okay, I don’t know about you, but the last fear on my mind when I plan for an evening of romantic ethnic dining (in a Suburban area) is a brawl. His fears were driving his business plan. A coat of paint, some sorbet in the freezer it wouldn’t take much. What was he really afraid of?

When Fear Takes Control

Fear based thinking happens in big business too:

  • “Let’s be like Zappos and truly empower our customer service reps to do what’s right for the customer. BUT if they need to give a credit over ten bucks they need to bring in a supervisor.”
  • “Forbes and Fast Company have great ideas about leadership. Joe has fantastic business results, and everyone wants to work for him, but, his approach is still unconventional for our culture. Not sure he’ll play that well in the board room, better promote the guy that leads like us.”
  • “Sure access to social media at work would help our employees promote our company, BUT what if they say something stupid?”
  • “I have a great idea, but what if my boss hates it? Better to lay low and do what she thinks is best.”

Don’t let fear stop your greatness. We need your creative cooking in our neck of the woods.

7 Ways To Spring Your Team Into Spring

Spring is springing. The vortex is melting, and now you sense spring fever coming on…for you and your team. Embrace this season of new growth and possibilities. Making Spring a workplace celebration will help offset the “wish I was outside” blues.

Spring Into Spring

  1. Establish Spring Growth Goals – Challenge your team to a growth spurt before summer. Help each person identify concrete way they will grow in the next 90 days: a special project, a new skill, mentoring someone or finding a mentor. Model the way. Pick your own goal and talk about your challenges and progress.
  2. Hold A Spring Training – Pick an exciting team stretch goal for the team and rally the troops. Hold a “spring training” to get everyone “in shape” to win against this challenge.
  3. Make Work A Game – Challenge another team to a friendly competition that will help both teams stay more focused and have a little fun. Engage in a little trash talk.
  4. Plant Some Seeds – Hold a “seed planting” campaign. Have your team identify other areas of the business (or prospects/customers) where they could plant some “seeds” (e.g. ideas, new relationships, collaborative work) for future growth. Have each person share their seedling idea in a team meeting.
  5. Do Some Spring Cleaning – Have the team pick something specific they can do to improve their work environment: Clean-up their emails, throw away unnecessary files, bring in some flowers, create a motivational display. Even remote teams can engage in a Spring cleaning competition and share their pics.
  6. Give In (a little) – Plan a team picnic lunch outside. Create an after work walking group. Have everyone pick one day they will leave an hour or two early and plan something fun for themselves. Find ways to share what they’ll be doing with their Spring Fever early start. Plan an outside teambuilder, like bird watching over lunch.
  7. Volunteer – Pick a volunteer project you can do as a team. They’ll have a break, grow as a team, and do something for the greater good.

5 Ways To Give Without Getting Taken

You want to be a team player, but the more you give, the more folks take– without offering much in return. It’s not that you’re keeping score, but you’ve noticed a pattern, and you know something’s wrong.

You look around and realize that others seem to have more balanced relationships. But there you are, once again, left feeling like a sucker. If this sounds like you or someone you love, read on. Some of the best givers I know get taken. It doesn’t have to be that way.

How to Give Without Getting Taken

  1. Continue With Generosity – Although this sounds counter-intuitive since that’s what got you into this mess to start with, don’t lose that giving feeling. I’ve seen over-givers swing their defenses too far in the other direction. They put up their guard, and miss the beautiful relationships and productivity that comes from balanced giving and receiving. Don’t keep giving to takers, but stay open to the possibilities the rest of the world has to offer.
  2. Exude Confident, Humility – Don’t be cocky, but do be confident. Other leaders admire and respect peers who show up strong and open. Showing up weak makes you an easy target for takers. Radiate the same respect for yourself as you give to others.
  3. Articulate Your Feelings – Over-givers have a tendency to give until it hurts, but not talk about the pain. Resentment secretly builds and sucks out necessary energy. Letting someone take advantage of you weakens leadership– yours and theirs. Teach people how you want to be treated. Usually these conversations have to do with boundaries. It’s not a matter of if you want to help, but when and how much. I’ve seen many cases where people are shocked when an over-giver suddenly erupts with pushed down emotion, after appearing to be “happy to help.”
  4. Question Your Motives – Without getting to deep into psychology here, if you’re repeating an over-giving pattern, consider what you’re “gaining” from all the giving. Are you a people-pleaser looking for affirmation? Are you feeling insecure about your place on the team? Getting clear on the underlying issues will go a long way toward building more balanced relationships.
  5. Ask For What You Need – It’s easy to assume that others know what we need and how they can help. Tell your teammates how they can be most helpful to you. Ask for what you need, and don’t be afraid to receive the support. You may be surprised at how relieved your teammates feel when they finally have a concrete way to return the favor.
“Sometimes, teams are moving so fast and are so focused on results, they don’t take time to talk as a team about what’s happening,” says leadership expert Karin Hurt, author of the blog Let’s Grow Leaders. If no one is articulating their feelings and everything seems to be going great, says Hurt, negative patterns get embedded and can be hard to reverse.”
~ Karin Hurt, Founder of Lets Grow Leaders

Winning Against The Odds: Olympic Imperfection

The odds are against you. With all your imperfections, odds are: Someone else is more qualified, your marriage won’t last, your new business will fail, the publisher will reject you, you won’t win the election, or you’ll never make the olympic team.

“If we do what is necessary, all the odds are in our favor.”
~ Charles Buxton

Better to save your energy, and your pride.  Shoot for something more realistic.  Stay where you are.  Stick to what you know.  Where you are now, is not that bad, after all. Calculating the odds is prudent, but not always helpful.

Imperfect People, Winning Against the Odds

The Wall Street Journal article, Imperfect Bodies Chase Gold lifts up numerous, interesting examples of imperfect bodies, beating the odds. These athletes just weren’t cut out for their sport of choice. Until they were. Take hurdling star Lolo Jones, who decided it was time to bobsled.

When she first met Todd Hays, Olympic coach in 2012 he was skeptical: “I have her two chances to make the team, slim and none.” Hays says of their first encounter. To Hays, Jones was strong, but in the wrong way for bobsledding. Her muscles were long and sinewy and lacked the explosiveness to push a 375-pound sled.” Until it did.

The Wall Street Journal now reports, “countless squats and clean-and- jerks have given Jones thighs like tree trunks, a bulky rump reminiscent of a NFL running back and the shoulders of a lumber jack.” Not what I’m going for (don’t worry, Marcus), but it’s her dream…so game on.

Jones knows the odds are against her, which is all part of the fun:

“Yes, it’s my first Olympics,” Fenlator shared in a recent interview.” Yes, I’m an underdog or whatever you want to say. But I’m here on a mission. And I have expectations to do well. Thank goodness for expectations.

Will Lolo win? Perhaps. Not sure it matters. What would be far sadder is if she never chased her dreams.  No one wins a race they never start. Where will your imperfection take you?

Focus On The Fundamentals

I walked into the call center training room and the team was all working on the call center equivalent of a basketball “3 pointer”. Even the rookies. Figurative basket balls were bouncing off the rim and the walls and one another. Every now and then one would go in, and the coach would go wild, “see YOU CAN do this woot woot!!!”

They were all concentrating on our hardest call type, the one that’s getting all the executive attention. Clearly they had heard my message loud and clear. Everyone was breaking a sweat. Bless their hearts, the stress grew more intense with each missed shot. Sadly, their efforts didn’t show in their results. In fact, not only were they not shooting 3 pointers, they were missing the lay-ups.

“I wasn’t real quick, and I wasn’t real strong. Some guys will just take off and it’s like, whoa. So I beat them with my mind and my fundamentals.”
~ Larry Bird

In the next room the coach was calmly talking fundamentals. He had a few in the corner practicing their 3 pointers and coaching one another, but the rest were focused on the basics: sounding friendly and empathetic; really listening to the customer; using their tools. Sure, they talked about what to do when you must shoot from the outside, but that wasn’t the focus, until they were ready. Here’s the crazy part, not only was this team out executing the first group in all metrics, they were nailing more 3 pointers.

Why We Ignore the Fundamentals

As leaders it’s easy to assume our team is ready for more. In fact, over-all results can be deceiving. We see trends improving, and we start teaching Harlem Globe Trotter stunts. It could be just a few superstars influencing the trend.

Plus, fundamentals are boring. Your team is tired of practicing, “one more role play and I’m going to barf.”

And then there’s the pressure from folks like me. “Come-on, the other centers nailing 3 pointers why not you?” Great leaders tell overly zealous leaders to chill down, and focus on the fundamentals.

 How to Nail the Fundamentals

  1. Know what skills matter: First figure out what fundamentals are really driving your performance
  2. Don’t assume winning means they’ve got it: Congratulate the win, and dig deeper into each skill
  3. Encourage teamwork: Find ways for the team to help one another, pair them up for skills drills
  4. Understand each player’s performance: Customize a development plan for each team member
  5. Teach in confidence bursts: Build confidence through the small wins
  6. Constantly refresh: Develop a regular cadence of back-to-basics practice
  7. Don’t grow too fast: Be sure you have a critical mass nailing the fundamentals before you rapidly grow the team

What Great Customer Service Looks Like

The best Superbowl advertisement ever: It was Superbowl Sunday just before kickoff. It was the first appointment the Apple Genius Bar had available, my hard drive had crashed, and I was in a tailspin. The book I had finished that weekend, was stuck in a system that wouldn’t boot, the last third lost with no back-up. Not to mention the trapped keynote presentations and other docs I’d lost.

“Our DNA is as a consumer company – for that individual customer who’s voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s who we think about. And we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it’s not up to par, it’s our fault, plain and simply.”
~ Steve Jobs

Apparently, the editing of the video we filmed Saturday was just too much for my little MacBook Air. I waited with fearful expectation for my turn and diagnosis, anticipating the rolled eyes I deserved. After all, what ding bat does a big project without a net? I felt like a rookie.

Tony called my name and I shared my story. I was disturbed by his odds, but strangely comforted by his approach:
Oh, Karin, that’s just terrible, it could be bad. I’m not sure we can recover your files. But, you have my absolute commitment that I’ll do everything in my power to fix this. OUR goal is to have you leave here with your book, the rest of your data, and a fully functional laptop. It’s complicated, and I can’t make promises, but here are the first 3 options we’ll try if those don’t work, I’ll explain our other options and we’ll decide together,

After my 30 minute appointment morphed into full surgery, Tony brought in reinforcements. The prognosis was improving, but it would take a while.

Chatting to keep me off the ledge, Tony shared gently: You know the video work you’re trying to do on this is a lot for this computer. It will work, but it’s not ideal. I know you don’t want to think about that now; just something to consider in the future.

I had time to kill, so I told him I was off to wander around. Tony introduced me to John to answer any questions I had while I browsed. I told John the whole story. His eyes brightened.

“You’re writing a book! Oh way cool, what’s it about?” (HE LISTENED)

He shared, “I write too, mostly fiction, screen plays. Working on a sitcom. (NOW I’M LISTENING)

And I do video, this is what I use. That’s actually my dream, but I love working here because I stay up to date on all the technology. (I’M LISTENING AND LEARNING)

Are you using iMovie? (HE’S LISTENING)

How’s that been for you? (HE’S LISTENING MORE)

“Do you like to travel,” he continued. “I find most artists like to travel, I sure do. (NOW HE CALLED ME AN ARTIST. NICE)

“You know, once you publish your book, you should bring it in so we can all celebrate together about the book we saved. (WE WERE IN THIS TOGETHER)

He continued, it’s so nice seeing someone pursuing their passion. (THE FEELING WAS MUTUAL)

So there we were two “artists” spending Superbowl Sunday chatting about dreams. I left the store with my book, a working laptop, a new desk top computer, and a joyous heart inspired with possibility. I woke up at 3 am the next morning, gave the book a once over on my new machine and hit send, feeling like an “artist.”

 Great Customer Service Feels Like

  • Respect
  • Deep Caring
  • Human connection
  • Commitment to resolution
  • Being “In It” together
  • Leaving the customer feeling like their best possible self

Whether your customers are external or those you are leading, connection matters.

When To Stand Your Ground

“Pete” a leader in a new job with a substantial increase in scope and scale, asked me this seemingly simple question: “How do you know when to stand your ground?”

I knew he needed more than my first instinct of “just go with your gut”.

“I’ll stand my ground. And I won’t back down.”

Knowing when to stand your ground is a fine art. Digging in your heals at the wrong time will damage your credibility and impact. Yielding when you shouldn’t, makes for weak leadership and dangerous results.

When To Stand Your Ground

Sometimes it’s clear. If it’s unethical, immoral, illegal, or a violation of human rights, stand your ground, get support, and do what’s right. Jacquie Garton-Smith shares:

It’s reasonable to stand your ground when you have carefully, comprehensively and constructively evaluated the alternatives and it remains clearly the way to go. Good to demonstrate you’ve been open to the options even if the final decision is the same. And of course sometimes a better way becomes evident.

When to Back Down

Of course there are times when backing down is the obvious choice. Backing down makes sense when relationships trump the issue at hand, you need more data, or your team or experts know more. Sometimes ideas are worth giving a try even when you’re skeptical.

Stand Your Ground: Decision Points

But most of the time it’s more murky than that. It’s particularly challenging when your values conflict with company values. I asked some members of Lead Change Group to weigh in:

Consider Your Values – John E. Smith

It seems that two sets of values are in play here: The organization’s values and your personal beliefs about right and wrong. When both are threatened, the decision is easy; you should dig in and insist. You will do so with the full backing of your organization. I think the same can be said when your personal values are threatened, but not organizational values. In these cases, personal considerations around cost loom much larger. In other words, standing your ground may cost you and only the person who may lose can make the decision whether the risk to them is worth the fight. When organizational values are threatened, but not your personal values, I think this is more difficult. You might be called on because of your position to stand fast and fight about something which you have little or no investment. “Standing fast” implies some real passion, and you cannot fake passion at least in my experience.

Seek First to Understand – Chery Gegelman

Reflect a softer light of truth – visualize a candle – on (more complex) issues, giving people time to draw near, to listen more intently, to ponder, to understand and to come to their own conclusions. Being a beacon in a situation that requires a candle is viewed as an over reaction, often times people feel judged, they pull away and nothing changes. Being a candle in a situation that requires a beacon is an under-reaction and will not move people to action, so the risk grows. For more read here

Find the High Ground – Mike Henry Sr.

I catch myself trying to always find the highest ground to make my stand. The organization’s success may require me to do something a harder way than simply “my way.” Sometimes a key to standing my ground this time may be based on credibility I’ve earned from previous episodes. So I try to “stand my ground” when I believe I am on the highest ground and be a valuable team player in every other case.

Take the Long View – Susan Mazza

I think the key to making a good choice comes down to being able to distinguishing the difference between when you are standing for something that really matters for the future vs. digging your heels in to be right or prove a point in the moment.

Focus on Effective over Right – David Dye

Leaders who insist on being “right” sacrifice relationships and results. Standing your ground for principles and values is important – both for the organization and the individual. Standing your ground for the sake of preference or convenience often damages the relationships and fails to accomplish the needed results.

How To Recruit Leaders In Your Volunteer Organization

Shortly after joining a new church, the council president enthusiastically revealed that I was part of their “volunteer leadership succession plan.” I politely declined and spent the next month working to act less “leader-like” at church. Plus, I figured if I skipped coffee hour, I could dodge the recruiters.

Busy people freak out when asked to lead too much too soon.

Some of your volunteer organization’s best qualified leaders are convinced they’re too busy to lead. And so the same dedicated generals continue to carry the load.

They’re busy too, but feel stuck… they’ve invested too much to see it all fall apart. It’s not as fun as at used to be, but they’ve got the template. That’s risky too.

How to Recruit Volunteer Leaders

When people lead, they connect more deeply to your mission and to one another. Connection feels good. They stay. Make volunteer leadership easier and more accessible.

  1. Create Bite Size Roles – This will annoy the guy who did the whole job for the last 20 years… you’ll need to politely tell him to chill. He needs relief, and it’s a new day. Consider breaking the bigger jobs down into something a strong leader with an already booked life could imagine herself doing.
  2. Inventory Talents & Skills – You need to know what people are eager to give. Some will be too humble to tell you. I was directing a children’s musical at our church, and was thinking I’d have to bother the usual suspects to paint the set. One of the newer members came to me with his portfolio of AMAZING art, as if he were applying for a job. I had to resist the urge to kiss this man I didn’t know. He spent countless hours creating an amazing scene. Bottom line, we didn’t know, and would have never have asked.
  3. Limit Terms – It’s easy to rely on the same people to do the same thing year after year. The shoes become too big to fill, and the unintended side effect is intimidation…not to mention stagnation. Plus, knowing there’s an exit strategy is attractive. Everyone saw how the last guy got stuck.
  4. Include Young People & Give Them Power – Kid’s have enormous leadership potential. Scaffold gently, and take some risks. My teenage son gets so annoyed when adults try to micro-manage his leadership efforts. He’s got it… Give kids room and watch the magic.
  5. Empower Possibility – Volunteer organizations have a habit of asking someone to “lead” and then tell them exactly how it should be done. That will turn off your most creative volunteer leaders. Be willing to accept radically new approaches and new ideas.
  6. Communicate Opportunities – “Who should we ask to lead this?” is asked by committees all over the world. That question depends on established connections and may overlook the most qualified. Communicate opportunities and cast a broader net.
  7. Allow Failure – Criticism and gossip will turn away your best leaders FOREVER. They’ve got enough of that crap in their day job. Encourage, develop, and make it okay to experiment and fail forward.

Help Your Team Become More In 2014

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
~ John Quincy Adams

My eyes are crossing and my neck is twitchy after 27 conference calls to finalize our 2014 Performance Agreements. We’ve debated what defines a “balanced scorecard” and negotiated performance objectives down to the decimal point. As is par for the course in big companies, standardization is vital to ensure we’re fair and consistent. But nailing the perfect performance formula alone won’t inspire game-changing ideas or grow deeper leadership.
If you’re mired in similar new year, performance activities, be sure you take time to engage deeper conversations. Encourage your team to become more.

Questions to Help Your Team BECOME More

Start by disussing specific behaviors to ensure your team will nail their KPIs. I’ve watched far too many leaders miss this step. Then go deeper. B.E.C.O.M.E. more.

Discuss…
B- Boldness: Scary dreams, deeper challenges, courageous moves and daring decisions

  • What could you accomplish this year if you had unlimited resources? What’s a different means to similar ends?
  • Where (and with whom) are you playing it safe? At what cost?
  • What dreams are you saving for later?

E- Energy: Passion ignitors and life-force zappers

  • When, where, and with whom do you feel most alive?
  • Which aspects of your work exhaust you?
  • What will you do to renew your energy this year?

C- Callings: What or who is calling for more

  • What work would you pursue, even if you weren’t paid?
  • Who most inspires your professional life? How can you attract more people with those qualities?
  • Which of your gifts lie dormant in your current role?

O-Openness: Possibilities, awareness, and receiving the unknown

  • What possibilities are you ignoring?
  • How and where will you find creative inspiration?
  • How will you invite input and feedback?

M-More: Seeing bigger, broader, and giving more

  • How will 2014 be categorically different from last year?
  • What do you most want to be known?
  • Who will you serve?

E-Execution: What actions matter most (and least). Envision breakthrough success.

  • What would make this year the best in your career?
  • Who else can you invite to join your leadership pit crew?
  • What could get in the way of your success?

Invite each member of your team to choose 2 or 3 questions that would best serve them this year. Discuss the questions in your one-on-ones. Encourage the team to pick a few questions to discuss as a team. Set the stage for a breakthrough year of becoming.

Winning When The Troops Are Tired

“I’m so sorry,: I whispered before he could even say hello. It was Sunday afternoon, and it was the third time I had to call.

He graciously spoke what we both knew was technically true, “Karin, no worries, this is my job.” But it had been a long couple of weeks, and I knew he was tired.

I hated to keep pushing, but the business needs were real.

7 Ways to Counter Attack Tired

Be a leader that strengthens the mission and the team. It’s wrong to live in a state of constant urgency, if that’s the scene, something’s wrong. Leaders must lead in seasons. But when the going gets tough, it’s important to plan your triage.

  1. Strategize Failure – The business needs this AND that. But some battles will win the war. Help your team understand what matters most. Be frank about what can be lost without sacrificing your mission. Candor strengthens resolve. Empowering “less than perfect” energizes the frontlines.
  2. Visualize the Win – Help them build a team vision aligned with the strategy. Brainstorm creative tactics and alternative approaches. Encourage talents outside normal job descriptions that support the cause.
  3. Speak to Behaviors, Not Metrics – Too many metrics exhaust. Trend and study results, but coach to behaviors. Identify the 2-3 most important behaviors that will impact results.
  4. Provide a Little Leave – The normal response to overwhelmed is longer hours and fewer breaks. Review their calendars and help them find white space. Eliminate unnecessary meetings. Stepping back will leave room for creativity and more efficient approaches.
  5. Communicate Through the Ranks – Your highest performers won’t complain. They’ll take on more, and work longer hours to get it done. You may not even know they’re tired. Initiate the conversation. Establish regular check-ins. Make it okay to politely question your asks.
  6. Manage Your Own Stress – Stress rolls down hill. Get a grip.
  7. Encourage Collaboration & Sharing Best Practices – Fast paced pressure creates silos. Catalyze best practice sharing. Eliminate redundant work. Benchmark how other departments are approaching similar issues. Ask for help from unusual suspects. You’ll get support and it will enhance their development.