A Podcast about Teams.

I’m switching things up a bit this week, and providing you with a link to Dr. Jason Koh’s podcast where he interviewed me about the type of work I do with teams.

Here is the link to the Podcast interview.

Have a terrific week everyone.

How are you projecting your image?

Something I have always enjoyed doing is to observe the actions of how people interact with one another. Particularly in professional and team scenarios. My fascination stems from seeing things that when people are interacting with others, that I’m sure they are not aware of how they are being perceived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the way they are acting, simply noticing and considering how they could be doing something differently. More to their advantage.

In the coaching work I do, I have the opportunity and honor of professionally evaluating and critiquing how both leaders, as well as team members interact with one another. The next step in this observation process is to convey back to the leader and their team what I am seeing. The majority of the time, the leader is the one asking me to conduct this work, and their team is generally unaware that I am watching how they engage with one another.

Of course, it’s much better when people are not aware of when someone is observing them, as they will more naturally act how they ordinarily would. Observing sports teams is much easier to evaluate than work teams, as you get to see the team members interacting in a concentrated scenario when they are playing or practicing their sport. However, it is possible to observe work teams, it just takes longer to do, as you need to see them in a variety of settings within their environment to accomplish this.

I remember the first time I was asked to evaluate a work team and the leader of it. The leader initiated this process, as he admitted he was not fully aware of why he was having challenges with interacting with his team, and his management peers. He also wanted to better understand what was going on. This was a brave and bold move on his behalf, as it can be intimidating to have someone knowingly observe how you are engaging with others. However, the benefits of having me conduct this work for this leader and his team far outweighed any feelings of his awkwardness. 

The results of what I observed were quite revealing, especially with one example which was the body language I was observing this leader display. One of the main body language expressions he was routinely doing, was to immediately cross his arms when he began an interaction with another person. This particular body language expression signals that you are closed off and not fully open to hearing what the other person is saying. It also conveys a form of being defensive. Neither of these body language expressions were what this leader intended to convey. In fact, just the opposite. However, he was unaware that he was doing this, as he didn’t have a mirror or video capturing him doing this during every one of his interactions with others.

Upon being made aware of this one simple action, then having awareness of this happening, and course correcting on this behavior, made an incredible difference in the engagements this leader then had with his team and leadership peers. This one simple example is something that many people do, yet are not aware of this occurring. So, you too can take notice of whether this is something you are also routinely doing.

The first sports teams I had the privilege of observing was initiated by the head coach. He had been coaching for decades, yet admittedly had no idea how his coaching style and his coaching behaviors were impacting his team. He wasn’t sure if how he was being perceived was positive, negative or perhaps neutral. However, he wanted to know which category he fit into, and more importantly, if it was in the “negative” category, that he could course correct on this.

After observing the coach for several games, it became obvious there we some things he was doing as a coach that he was unaware of. One of these observations was that he wasn’t listening to his players when they were attempting to engage with him on the sidelines. He was unaware that he was being dismissive of their attempts to talk to him. When I shared this observation with him, he was completely surprised by this. In fact, he was upset that this was happening, as he prided himself and perceived himself to be very open to communicating with others.  

By adjusting the coach’s awareness of how he was interacting with his players in a way that was contrary to how he thought he was interacting, was a “game changer” for his team going forward. Why? Because the team members and the coach were now able to actually communicate openly with one another. The results of this coach’s team performance also demonstrated the positive impact from this one small change in behavior too.

So, what can you do to see the type of image you are projecting? Here are some suggestions to “test drive”.

  • You will first need to commit to being open to having someone provide you with constructive feedback, and not consider it to be criticism and feel like you are being attacked.
  • Find someone you implicitly trust to evaluate you, and who has experience successfully leading others.
  • The image we project may or may not be something we are intentionally coordinating with our actions, and if possible, if you can observe yourself on video, this is ideal. However, you still will want someone who can neutrally provide you with feedback about what they are also seeing in person and via the video, as you still might not see what they are seeing.
  • Although you might think you don’t have a great deal of control over the image you are projecting, you actually do. In fact, the image you are projecting is multi-faceted, and involves how you speak (e.g., the tone of your voice, how fast or slow you speak, how you enunciate your words), how you stand or sit in front of others (e.g., standing up tall, versus slumping your shoulders) and what you choose to wear (e.g., generally in professional situations, always select clothing which presents the best impression of who you are, and yet doesn’t distract from your actions or how you will be communicating). This applies to both women and men.
  • Think about what type of image you want to project. When you intentionally consider this, it will be easier to accomplish it.
  • After thinking about the image you want to project, look the part of how you want to project yourself in your organization, versus not giving this factor any or enough consideration.
  • Ask someone who’s image you admire, for suggestions on how they have developed their image. I guarantee you they evolved to the image they are projecting, and you will benefit from knowing how they accomplished this.

Projecting the image you want to requires a conscientious effort to do so, and can take years to perfect. Your image can also be fluid, and evolve over time. What you want to master or become comfortable with, is that your awareness of your image matches the reality of how others perceive it.

TAGS: #Perception #Image #HowDoYouProjectYourImage #HowAreYouPerceived #Business #Management #Teams #Leadership #Leaders #SportsTeams #Coaching #TeamCoaching

Who’s your champion?

It’s obvious why everyone needs to have a person who would be considered their “champion” or biggest supporter in their life. Perhaps a different one professionally and personally. The champion I am referring to, is the type of person who truly believes in you. Regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. Someone you can always rely upon, particularly when you may not be at the top of your “game”.

When I think about who my “champion” is, they embody all of the qualities you would ideally want this person to have, starting with believing in the core essence of who you are. This person also has an unwavering integrity and a solution minded outlook. They also are what I’ll refer to as a “clear-thinker”. What some others might call rational, especially during highly charged emotional situations. Perhaps what some might also refer to as drama.

Speaking of drama, this is not something I ever seek out to have going on in my life. Although it does appear some people seek this out, or have a magnet which draws them in to more routinely being in this state. It’s possible people with lots of drama in their life like having it occur, but from my perspective it is an unnecessary distraction from what would be more important to be focused on. For instance, addressing challenges, rather than circling around them in a drama induced frenzy, absent of any solution.

People who have drama in their lives may not realize how much energy they are having consumed when they are in their “dramatic” situation, and that if this energy was redirected, how different their circumstances might be. My interpretation of people who either attract or live a life filled with drama have learned to embrace this way of living. It appears to be a cycle they can’t break, and perhaps don’t want to. However, if they better understood the option of not having drama occurring constantly in their life, they could in fact impact their life very positively. Even reduce or eliminate the drama in their lives.

It’s possible that people who have too much drama going on, do not have a champion in their life. Or, maybe they did at one point, and the champion gave up supporting them because the person they were attempting to help did not ever accept their advice. If this was the case, I’m sure the champion went well beyond what would be reasonable to hang-in and attempt to help the person they were championing. However, they also determined eventually that the person was not going to accept their support, and ultimately, they reluctantly walked away from the lack of making any progress.

Having a champion in one’s life is a gift, and not everyone is given this gift. A champion of another person does not always intentionally become one. Sometimes this person is surprised by the fact they took on this role. This may seem odd or counterintuitive to think about, but it does happen.

An example of this occurring, is when someone becomes the champion of another person due to their empathy for the person and the circumstances they are in. Potentially circumstances they could help to influence and help the person they are championing to improve. Not always with money, but often with attention, guidance and ultimately love, or a deep appreciation for making the circumstances better for the person they are the champion for.

If you are seeking to find a champion to have in your life either personally or professionally, perhaps both, here are some suggestions for seeking them out. However, you might not have to look that hard for them, as they are likely in your life right now, and you have not been focused on seeing them.

  • Most parents play a role in being our initial champion in our lives, but not always. If you have not embraced or felt that they have contributed to playing this role, it’s possible either you did not accept them attempting to do this for you, or they didn’t have the capacity to do this for a myriad of reasons.
  • Coaches, teachers and others who you have interacted with in your life who are in their roles to support having your best interest in mind, are naturally skilled at being one of your champions. Did you seek them out in the past to do this? If not, consider why you might not have.
  • Someone you think of as your mentor or advisor can also play the role of your champion. I personally have a number of people who are in each of these roles that I rely upon for helping to champion me when I need their support. My earliest memory of a mentor champion was my summer camp counselor who always encouraged me to do my best at everything I was attempting to do. Especially new things I was learning to do.
  • Consider aspects of your life either personally or professionally that you might need additional support. Is there someone you know who has experience in those areas that can help you? If so, are you comfortable enough with reaching out to them for their support?
  • Asking someone to be your champion typically happens more organically than being architected into your life. Your champion will more likely “adopt” you, and you may or may not be fully aware of when this happens.
  • Perhaps you are someone’s champion? Does the person know you are playing this role? It’s possible they do not, or at least not yet.
  • Being another person’s champion is an incredibly noble role to play. One that requires you to be unselfish, giving of your time, energy and experience, and always there for the person, particularly in some of the most difficult circumstances you will be helping them to navigate through.

My sincere hope is that you have a champion, are one, or will be one in someone else’s life one day. Thank you to all of the champions out there who are making a difference in other people’s lives. You are all unsung heroes, and may you continue to be one. Enjoy the experience of helping and supporting others, particularly during times they need you the most to be there for them.

Tags: #Mentoring #Champion #Leadership #Management #Business #Life #Helpingothers #Makingadifference #Coaches #Teachers #Cheerleader #Coach #SportsCoach #Parent #Parents #Boss #Teacher

Inspiring others. Do you?

When the majority of people are considering early on in their life what type of career to pursue, they are not likely thinking about going into a profession which inspires people. In other words, most people factor in what they like to do, are good at, and whether this option can provide them with a salary they can afford to live on. These are highly practical aspects for consideration, but are they enough?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of being practical and realistic. However, I also know that there is another way of looking at what some might not consider as a typical approach when they are either selecting which career they want to pursue, or perhaps to pivot to. It involves factoring in both motivation and skills that you may or may not have. I’m talking about your ability to positively influence and impact others.

Not everyone has the skillset to inspire others, but you know when you are in the presence of someone who does. You can feel a certain type of energy which they exude, and it’s genuine. A type of genuineness that you want to experience more of, but may not be able to explain why. It’s what the French culture expression “je ne said quoi” so perfectly captures. Meaning that person has “a quality that cannot be described or named easily.”

Are you someone who has been told that you inspire others? Perhaps by what you do, or say? If you have heard this more than a few times, take this as a strong hint that you have the ability to inspire others. Is this a skill which can be acquired? Possibly, but I believe and via my experience would argue this is an innate characteristic you either have, or don’t. Consider other talents you have. Does everyone else have them? Probably not.

If inspiring others is one of your aspirations, think about whether what you do either professionally or personally can tick of the box of accomplishing this. It might be a stretch for some people to realistically be able to say they can or actually do this. However, if someone is motivated to do so, I’m going to fully support this desire.

Given the world we live in currently, I don’t think anyone would say we have an overabundance of people who inspire us on a daily basis. If you do, please let me know, as more people need to know about who and where they are.

Let’s go back to the original question I posed about what if your job was to inspire others. What if you were struggling with doing this? Would you ask for assistance, or perhaps if possible, would you turn over this part of your responsibility over to someone else?  For the sake of conversation, assume this is a possibility. Also assume you were able to identify someone who could help you to do this. Would you be able to do so, and to factor in the importance of doing this for the greater benefit of others? Granted, this isn’t going to be easy to do, but it will be in the best interest of others for them to be able to have access to someone who can inspire them. Think of it this way. If someone needed oxygen, and you were not able to provide this to them, wouldn’t it be best to find someone who could?

Having the ability to inspire others is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. If you have the characteristics to do this, it’s a talent which should be shared with others. So, what are some of the characteristics of those who inspire others? One of them is having a high emotional level of intelligence, or what is referred to as EQ. This is a talent you are born with, and allows you to have amazing clarity on how to instinctively interact extremely well with others. You have the ability to read them and quickly deduce the ideal way to engage with them.

Some of the other characteristics that people who have the ability to inspire others are that they are humble, genuine, friendly, and possess an ease of interacting with the majority of people they encounter. They also are able to have a positive impact on getting others to potentially do the “right thing”, or to also want to help others, and not be as self-absorbed in their thinking and actions. Having a higher level of energy is also a characteristic many people who inspire others possess.

If you have some, all or more characteristics which would be associated with someone who has the ability to inspire others, here are some ways for you to consider putting your inspirational talents into action.

  • Do you have a particular talent that others may not have, but yet could be beneficial in sharing it with others? Perhaps teaching others about this talent you possess? If you do, look for opportunities to share your talent.
  • Have you overcome either a common or less common situation which others can relate to, and they have not figured out a way to get through yet (e.g., losing a job, divorce, surviving an illness)?
  • Is your type of inspiration the type that can be shared with a small or large amount of people? Not everyone’s type of inspiration is suited to a large audience. Although it might be.
  • Factor in your inspiration “delivery method”. Is your type of inspiration that lends itself to capturing it on video (e.g., singing, talking, performing an act)? Or, perhaps your inspiration lends itself to the written format.  Choose a delivery format which will work best for you, and that you are the most comfortable with.
  • Not everyone who is inspirational is an extrovert. If you are not an extrovert, look for ways to become more comfortable with engaging with others to share your inspiration.
  • If you have been told by someone you inspire them, and you don’t fully understand how you do, ask them to clarify this for you. You will want to gain insight into how, when and why you inspire others. Knowing this will help you to continue to inspire more people.

Having the ability to inspire others is a gift. If you have this ability, please share your gift with others. We need more people in our world to inspire us.

TAGS: #Inspiration #Inspiringothers #Leadership #Business #Teams #Emotionalintelligence #Strategy #Mindset #Talent  #Talentdevelopment #Motivation #Inspiration #Management

Feeling trapped by a title or industry?

Perhaps it’s the ongoing Pandemic, but I feel like I have hit a wall with being trapped inside for too long. The more challenging part of this realization, is that I don’t see my personal situation changing any day soon. Yes, I know it will, and that plenty of others feel this way too, but patience is not one of my specialties. Results are, which makes feeling like I am trapped even tougher.

Ok, thanks for letting me vent. I feel better now, and can get on with talking about another form of feeling, or being trapped professionally and what you can do about this. For me, having a solution, even just one, makes me feel empowered and able to conquer any obstacle in my way. In terms of a person who is feeling defined by the work they do, or the industry they are in was something I was having a conversation about this morning.

The conversation was in fact energizing. It also made me consider some alternatives to how I could offer advice to others who might be feeling trapped. Either personally or professionally by the role they play in an organization.

Although you might not consider people at the top of an organization would feel trapped or isolated in their roles, I can tell you for a fact and through experience this isn’t the case. Many top executives or leaders have experienced a sense of being defined by their roles, the organization they work for, or the industry they are in. Many of them are proud of having achieved the roles they are in, but many of these same people are not experiencing the satisfaction you might imagine they would be.

I was reading an article the other day and came across an interesting title. The title was Chief Wellness Officer. The role was loosely defined, and underscored the fact this was not a human resource role. I found that to be interesting, but given the mental health crisis occurring in our society currently, and the fact it is being exacerbated by the Pandemic, I thought this newly defined role was refreshing to learn about. Also, quite timely.

Although the definition of the Chief Wellness Officer role wasn’t clearly defined, it struck me as a moment in time when reality and the needs of employees were catching up to be in synch. Now, the challenge will be to see this role better defined and implemented.

Let’s circle back to the situation you might be in where you are feeling unfairly defined by your title. If you are in a supportive role, there is a greater chance you are feeling trapped in playing a follower role, versus a leadership one. However, not everyone is meant to take on the role of a leader, but if you think you are, and you not in this role yet, I guarantee you know what I am referring to. Now, let’s imagine for a moment no one had a title. What would this type of work environment look like, and how would it exist without structure and by well-defined rules to play by? It might be completely chaotic, or it might flow well. Most would say it would be chaotic, but I would bet they have not experienced the type of work environment which would make them think differently.

If you are wondering how to do what I’ll refer to as reassemble the direction of your title or the industry you are in, one of the things you will need to do is to embody one word. That word is “pivot”. It’s become one of my favorite words. One in fact I have embraced and lived by as a guiding support the last four years as a business entrepreneur. I’ll credit a wise woman name Anita Brearton for introducing me to both this word, and the concept of it. Thank you, Anita, for sharing this with me at exactly the time I needed to hear it.

Although by definition the word pivot is clearly defined, the exact direction you go in from your pivot will depend. It will depend on how you want to leverage your skills, your knowledge and your network to help you to head you in a more preferable direction. I like the word pivot because it factors in leveraging all of your acquired experience and then taking it into the direction of your preference. Whether that be into a new role with a completely different type of title, or potentially a different industry.

Since I generally provide suggestions in each of my articles, I’ll continue with this tradition. Here are some ways you can pivot in your current title or industry.

  • Clearly define and write down why you want to change from the role or industry you are in.
  • Do you feel held back, incomplete, underutilized or invisible in the role you are playing? Consider the factors contributing to this. Are the majority of the reasons based on circumstances beyond your current control (e.g., You want to own a surf shop and you live in Oklahoma)?
  • It’s easier to cast blame on others for why you are potentially stuck or trapped in your role or industry. Honestly think about whether this may or may not be true.
  • Are you leveraging your network to help you to pivot? Have you expressed to anyone that this is something you want to do?
  • You know the old adage of “Those without a plan, are setting themselves up to fail”. Make sure you have some version of a plan to set yourself up for success.

I could add numerous other suggestions, but at some point, if you are going to seek and change a situation you are in, you have to be the one in charge of doing so. Yes, you can ask and should seek support, but ultimately only you can be the one to put your foot on the accelerator to move forward. Just make sure you have enough fuel or that your battery life is charged up enough to take you to where you ultimately want to go. I’ll see you there!

TAGS: #Leadership #Management #CareerAdvice #Motivation #ChangeManagement #PeopleDevelopment #Business #AnitaBrearton #Success #Howtopivot #Pivotingyourcareer #Pivotingyourexperience #Mindset #Professionalnetwork #Pandemic #Feelingtrapped #Feelingtrappedinyourrole