Posts

Where is the Squirrel?

Do you ever feel like the puppy in the photo above?  He’s so distracted that he can’t see the squirrel on the other side of the tree.  I felt like that as I drove to the recent International Coach Federation conference in the Texas hill country.  Luckily, one of the first exercises was to set our intention for the weekend.  Since I was bringing a lot of distractions with me I decided on something I could remember:

Positive  —  Open —  Present

At the first check-in most people admitted some challenges with maintaining their intention, even though we had several opportunities to practice techniques for increasing awareness and staying mindful.  Not surprisingly, this was more difficult as the day wore on.  At our final check-in the next morning, I realized that practice had made it a little easier to stay Positive and Open  …which enabled me to stay Present.

I  brought home some visual reminders of the positive things I want to focus on so I wouldn’t go right back to:

Negative  –  Closed —  Distracted

If you’re like a distracted puppy, what will help you stay focused and present?  How will you put that into practice in the next week and beyond?

Don’t Burn Your Fingers!

Last month I described the results of a session on creating a “Secret Sauce for Successful Leaders”:  vision, communication, confidence, positive role modeling, reliability, trustworthiness and transparency with generous dashes of encouragement, motivation, appreciation, fun, coaching, caring and steadiness.

In our “How to Avoid Burning Your Fingers” exercise, the group identified the following potential distractions to implementing that Secret Sauce recipe:

  • External market factors
  • Loss of business
  • Morale / Negativity
  • Resistance
  • Communication
  • Safety or other incidents
  • Talent
  • Resource management
  • Personal distractions

Could you choose the perfect dessert for each member of your team without asking them what they want?  Our last item on the menu for this session, “Why We Shouldn’t Skip Dessert,” explored the importance of celebrating successes in ways that motivate each individual.  Here are some of the techniques that were mentioned:

  • Listening
  • Trust
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Support
  • Involvement in decision-making
  • Meaningful work
  • Autonomy
  • Training & development
  • Career advancement
  • Money

I invite you to create your own secret sauce recipe, develop a plan to put the lid on potentially painful distractions, and serve each of your team members a dessert that will motivate them to succeed even in a challenging market.

Leading Through a Downturn

I recently facilitated a session for leaders in the energy industry. Those of us who have worked in and around this industry for many years know that it is cyclical but that doesn’t make it any less painful when we’re in a downturn. We also know that leadership can have a huge impact on whether companies and people survive or thrive. Warren Bennis, an organizational consultant and author of many books on leadership, said, “A leader doesn’t just get the message across. A leader is the message.”

These were some of the ingredients the group identified in our exercise to create a “Secret Sauce for Successful Leaders” recipe: vision, communication, confidence, positive role modeling, reliability, trustworthiness and transparency. They also suggested adding generous dashes of encouragement, motivation, appreciation, fun, coaching, caring and steadiness.

Next steps included “How to Avoid Burning Your Fingers” – developing a plan for dealing with potential distractions that might prevent them from using their secret sauce — and “Why We Shouldn’t Skip Dessert” — celebrating successes in ways that motivate people. I will share more on these two topics next month but I welcome your questions or comments in the meantime.

Who is in Control?

While recovering from foot surgery, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how hard it is to give up control – of my schedule, my mobility, my environment.  As I have begun meeting with clients again, this issue of control is coming up in different ways.  I’m hearing things like:

  • How do I keep people from interrupting and distracting me?
  • Why won’t my boss be honest with me about my promotion potential?
  • How do I deal with the uncertainty of constant organizational change?

Sound familiar?  If so, consider that you have also given up control, although not because of a physical limitation.  You are limiting yourself by believing that you aren’t in control – of how you respond.

Here are some suggestions for taking control of your responses to:

  • Dealing with interruptions – I can’t talk right now but let’s get together at 3:00 this afternoon
  • Getting feedback – I’m going to schedule a meeting to ask my boss what I need to do in order to be considered promotable
  • Dealing with change – I accept that change is inevitable and will focus on what I can influence

I invite you to challenge yourself to take control and change how you respond to one thing this week.  If it works for you, keep doing it.  If not, try something else until you feel like you are in control.