CEE Blog

Perspectives on the World We Work In

Triggered? Rewire Your Brain in 3 Easy Steps

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at an event hosted by the San Diego Employers Association. I talked about the research I’ve been doing on a book I’m co-writing with Dr. Tony Baron about power and leadership.

CEE Founder Sheri Nasim and Danielle Aguas with SDEA Team!

Dr. Baron and I flew to U.C. Berkeley last year to visit Professor and social psychologist Dacher Keltner. Professor Keltner had just published a book called The Power Paradox. Using MRIs to study the brain, Keltner and his students found that when a person experiences power, the brain gets a little surge of dopamine – the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, love, addiction, and psychotic behavior.

The paradox, Keltner found, is that dopamine can also suppress our ability to empathize. That’s not good news for the people we’re supposed to be leading. (Read more about Professor Keltner’s findings here.)

Dr. Baron and I also reviewed what Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, refers to as the “amygdala hijack”. If you’ve ever experience road rage, you’re familiar with this phenomenon. Here’s a breakdown of why it happens.

Our brains are made up of three parts. The first and oldest is the brain stem. It’s responsible for the body’s basic operating functions like breathing and heartbeat. Next, comes the limbic system where the amygdalae are located. The amygdalae activate during times of stress. They are responsible for “fight or flight” responses that have kept us alive as since the days that cave men crossed paths with sabre-toothed tigers. Over the limbic system is the neocortex, which is responsible for logic and reason.

When the amygdalae are triggered by stress, they race into action. First, they signal the brain stem to release adrenaline and cortisol through the body. The heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, and breathing accelerates. Next, the amygdalae shut down the flow of blood to the neocortex, because using logic and reasoning could cause you to delay jumping into immediate action.

That’s the amygdala hijack. And though we’ve evolved from living in caves to condos, our brains don’t know the difference between a sabre tooth and a distracted driver. When someone cuts us off in traffic, we can lose the ability to reason. Our focus narrows, and all we can think is “I’m right and he’s wrong!”

We get triggered the same way when we are in a stressful meeting, or even when we replay memories of stressful events. Adrenaline and cortisol flood the body. What’s worse is that these stress hormones can stay in the body for up to 4 hours, which is why we may stay amped up long after the stressful situation has passed. There’s a term for that effect too – the amygdala hangover.

So, is there anything that we can do to avoid an amygdala hijack? Fortunately, yes.

1. Recognize when you are triggered.  If you get easily triggered at work, especially when you’re in meetings with the same people each week, this is an excellent opportunity to practice. You might start by going to the meeting, getting upset, staying upset for a day or two before you realize that you were triggered. The next week, you go to the meeting, get upset, and stay that way until you get home that evening before you recognize that you’ve been triggered. The next week, you’re in the meeting and you start to feel your chest tighten and your blood pressure rise just before you get upset. You still get upset, but you notice what’s happening in your body in the moment. Progress!

2. Fire up your neocortex. Once you can recognize that you are being triggered in the moment, you can move to Step 2. Thomas Jefferson once said that if you get mad, count to 10. If you get really mad, count to 100. This sounds simplistic, but it actually has the effect that you need to counter an amygdala hijack. When you count, you re-engage the neocortex that was shut off just seconds ago. Counting will give you the ability to re-access logic and will build the distance you need to see things more clearly.

3. Switch your attention. Take long, intentional breaths. Again, this sounds simplistic, but when you bring your attention repeatedly to each breath as you have it, you activate the parasympathetic system. That’s the part of your nervous system responsible for “rest and digest.” Taking deep, mindful breaths will have the net result of bringing you back into a calm state.

Recognize when you are triggered, reconnect with your neocortex, and take slow, deep breaths to find the path back to a calm state. Doing so over time, will form new neural pathways to re-take control of your brain.

Question: When was the last time you got upset? Did you blame others for your response, or did you recognize that you were triggered?

 

Interested in learning more about how to rewire your brain to excel at leadership? Summer special: Get 15% off our executive coaching services when you book between now and August 1, 2017. Learn more about our process by emailing me directly at snasim@executiveexcellence.com. [Read more about our Executive Coaching services.]

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How to Dig Out of the Valley of Despair During Culture Change

One of the most challenging yet satisfying roles we play at Center for Executive Excellence is helping teams through culture transformations. These are heavy lift, long-term projects that require us to embed ourselves with our clients to execute the transformation roadmap.

The mechanics of the process are tailored from client to client, depending on things like size, business case, and readiness for change. The emotional cycle, however, is a consistent 5-stage process.

Stage 1 is uninformed optimism.

Stage 2 is informed pessimism.

Stage 3 is the “Oh S*&t! What have we gotten ourselves into?” phase, also known as the “Valley of Despair.”

Stage 4 is informed optimism.

Stage 5 is success and fulfillment.

Change of every type – both good and bad – can be stressful. Change takes us out of autopilot and forces us to lay down new neural pathways. Change makes us slow down and re-think what we’re thinking about.

I overheard another metaphor for change last week attributed to a leader at Chuao Chocolatier that helped explain cultural resistance to change. If you think of yourself as a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, you can imagine that your shape impacts the shape of those in your immediate surroundings. In turn, their shapes impact the shapes of those surrounding them, and so on throughout the entire organization.

If you try to change, you will meet resistance from those around you, because it will force them to change their shape. But, if enough of your team succeeds in changing together, it can be the catalyst for organizational change.

If you’re stuck in Stages 1 – 3 of your change project, try identifying a team that shows the highest proclivity to make the change you want to see in the rest of the organization. They will be most likely to find ways around resistance and influence those in their immediate surroundings to climb out of the Valley of Despair.

Question: Are you in the middle of a culture transformation? What stage do you find yourself in?

Take a Culture Field Trip

When was the last time you took a field trip? A time when you stepped out of your office, drove yourself to another company, and just observed. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily drama of leading our organizations. It’s tempting to tell ourselves that our methods are the best. Yet, a 90-minute field trip inside the office of another organization can be a major accelerator for your leadership journey.

That’s just what happened when we arranged for Stone Brewing Company President, Steve Wagner, to take a team of five employees to visit WD40 President and CEO, Garry Ridge, at the company’s San Diego headquarters. The mission: to learn what role culture plays in creating the WD40 brand and performance. The outcome: the ability for Stone Brewing to springboard its own initiative to align its culture and brand integrity.

With an international employee base of nearly 450, Ridge shared insights he’s gained to help WD40 achieve annual sales just under $400 million in 2016 – that’s nearly $1 million per employee. Here are some of the Stone team’s top takeaways:

1. Create a learning environment. When Ridge was promoted from within as CEO, he knew that growth was being held back partly due to deep silos within the organization. “Those who knew the most about how things worked guarded that knowledge, which gave them power,” Ridge said. He immediately set to work to define the concept of learning moments. Over time, he built trust in the concept by showing that no one would be punished for trying something new and sharing knowledge about what worked and what did not. At today’s WD40, knowledge is shared and information moves easily.

2. Personalize accountability and responsibility. In Helping People Win at Work, a book co-authored with Ken Blanchard, Ridge shares the unique WD40 performance review system. Employees develop measurable, achievable goals that will help the company reach its annual strategic targets. They describe what ‘A’ work looks like, rate their own progress each quarter, and review these ratings with their manager. The manager’s role is to help employees achieve all As. Ridge says, “If you help your people get As, your performance management system will ignite them to blow away your customers with outstanding service. Because people who feel good about themselves want to return the favor.”

3. Get your values off the wall. WD40 doesn’t just want good performers, it wants good performers who are also good citizens. Ridge believes that values must be at the core of your business model, not just words engraved in a plaque on the wall. Not only does the company have six, clear-to-understand values, but they are ranked in order of importance. He explained, “Life is about values conflicts. When these conflicts arise, people need to know which value to focus on.” Employees are taught the values at orientation, assigned to ‘tour guides’ to help explain values in action, and hold themselves accountable for demonstrating the values, which make up 30% of their performance review.

In 1 ½ hours, the Stone team saw a company that was candid about sharing knowledge, committed to achieving results, and clear about what it stands for. They gained actionable insights to help them crystallize their values, and cultivate the very best of Stone.

Question: If you were asked to share how your culture is aligned with your performance, what would you share in 90 minutes?

The 3 A’s of Strengths-Based Leadership

Early in my career, I would put a lot of effort into creating the best strategy to solve a problem or implement a solution at work. My husband had several years more of management experience than me, so I would go to him for advice. The problem is, the advice he wanted to give was often not the advice I was looking for.

Typically, I would have the problem 95% solved, or the solution 95% developed (or so I thought). I just wanted him to listen to what I had worked on so far, then give me his perspective on how to reach 100%. Instead of meeting me at 95%, he would question my assumptions, test my logic, and most often recommend a solution that was far broader in scope and scale than what I had envisioned.

At the time, these conversations were about as much fun as have your spouse to teach you how to drive. I would end up feeling frustrated and inept, and no closer to a solution. Fortunately, not only has our marriage survived these conversations, but as I built my confidence as a leader, I have a newfound appreciation for seeking out the perspectives of others – including my husband’s – to stress test my ideas and broaden my perspective.

This process is what Gallup researchers suggest are the three A’s to Strengths-based leadership. Here is a closer look at the process:

1.    Annoying. Perhaps the most important quality needed to succeed as a leader is self-awareness. Without self-awareness, you are in danger of thinking that your perception and reality are one in the same. You are annoyed when others stress test your ideas. It is self-awareness that allows the Strengths-based leader to walk the tightrope: to project conviction while remaining humble enough to be open to new ideas and opposing opinions.

2.    Appreciating. It’s human nature to want to be around people who think like we do. But it can be deadly for leaders to be cut off from challengers. Strengths-based leaders step out of the circle of people who make them most comfortable and seek out the opinions of those who have contradictory views. By opening themselves up to challengers, they gain an appreciation for looking at problems through different lenses, and broaden their perspective.

3.    Applying. It is impossible for any one individual to be above average in all areas of business, or “well-rounded”. Strengths-based leaders build well-rounded teams made up of well-lopsided individuals. A Strengths-based team is a group of imperfect but talented contributors who are valued for their strengths and who know how and when to apply each other’s strengths to achieve individual and team excellence.

Today, I still ask my husband for his perspective from time to time. But, instead of being frustrated when he doesn’t agree with me, I look forward to seeing what holes he can find in my logic, and what questions he can bring up that I hadn’t thought of. This exercise helps me stress test my working thesis, and create stronger solutions.

Question: Have you gone from annoyed, to appreciative, to applying the perspectives of others? How has that process made you a stronger leader?

 

Are you ready to start leveraging your team’s strengths and allow them to fire on all cylinders? Check out our StrengthsFinder services or email me at snasim@executiveexcellence.com directly to set-up a free 30 minute consultation.

3 Biggest Myths About Strengths

One of the most dramatic changes in employee and leadership development programs in the last decade has been the shift from correcting weaknesses to enhancing strengths.

A Google search for “strengths coaching” yields over 27 million hits. Amazon sells over 35,000 books on the subject, including StrengthsFinder 2.0 which instantly became a Wall Street JournalBusinessweek, and USA Today bestseller, and was named Amazon’s bestselling book of 2013. Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is used by 1.6 million employees and 467 Fortune 500 companies every year.

Strengths has developed a cult-like following among HR and talent management professionals. Like all cults, this one too has developed myths that deserve to be debunked.

Myth #1 – Focusing on strengths means you can ignore your weaknesses. Sorry. Not true. Ignoring a problem is never sane management theory. Instead, get clear about what your weaknesses are, and develop ways to minimize them.

Strengths coaches are fond of saying that there is no such thing as a well-rounded person. Instead, focus on being a well-lopsided person and develop a well-rounded team. Spend your time where you can excel, then delegate to, or partner with, others who are naturally more adept in areas where you are weak.

Myth #2 – Strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. Wrong again. Strengths are not the flip side of weaknesses. You can make strengths stronger. You can make weaknesses not so weak. But you cannot transform weaknesses into strengths.

What is true, is that a person can operate either in the balcony or basement of a strength, and the basement can be unpleasant for everyone. Consider Achiever. When things are going well, an Achiever can be a tireless go-getter with a strong work ethic. Conversely, she can be overcommitted and in danger of burning out. Being in the basement isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength overapplied.

Myth #3 – You can become too specialized if you focus on your strengths. Good reasoning, but not the case if your manager takes the time to understand how to put strengths to work. First, strengths are not labels. If your manager locks all “Strategics” in a room and expects they will come out with the perfect strategic plan, it’s not likely to happen. That’s simplistic and a little reductive.

Managers who understand the power of strengths know that the best way for people to grow and develop is to identify how they most naturally think, feel and behave, then build on those talents to create strengths. People with Strategic as a strength are naturally good at anticipating alternatives and finding different paths. They may be good a mediating debates or contract negotiation. The best managers will not only have a good working knowledge of strengths, but will also take the time to get to know what situations enable their employees to succeed.

We all have weaknesses. But putting your time, energy and focus on fixing your weaknesses will only yield mediocre results. If you want to unlock your greatest potential and bring out the best in your team, let go of the myths and put strengths to work.

Question: Have you taken the StrengthsFinder assessment? What are you Top Five?



Are you ready to start leveraging your team’s strengths and allow them to fire on all cylinders?
Check out our StrengthsFinder services or email me at snasim@executiveexcellence.com directly to set-up a free 30 minute consultation.

Are You Addicted To Stress?

“On the morning of April 7, 2007, I was lying on the floor of my home office in a pool of blood. On my way down, my head had hit the corner of my desk, cutting my eye and breaking my cheekbone. I had collapsed from exhaustion and lack of sleep.” Those are the opening words of Thrive, the 2014 New York Times Bestseller written by Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

That fall was her wakeup call. It caused her to re-think her definition of success and to seriously consider the impact of stress on her life.

Stress. It’s become such a prevalent part of our workdays that we’ve come to accept it as an occupational necessity. Yet, the long-term effects of stress can be lethal. Stress is a factor in 75% to 90% of all medical visits, and a factor in the six leading causes of death.

If you consider yourself a leader who thrives under pressure – if you work best under a deadline – you may be addicted to stress. According to Heidi Hanna, author of Stressaholic, “stress is a drug.” When we’re under the gun, stress releases dopamine and feeds endorphins to our brains which temporarily boosts performance.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to create a culture of performance. Over time, your time-crunched lifestyle can not only have serious health implications for you, but can have a debilitating impact on your organization. Here are two practices that will help you navigate the path between stress and success:

Be Mindful. Our response to stress is something we inherited from our ancestors. It was a fight or flight response that triggered an ‘all systems go’ reaction in the body. When faced with a sabre-toothed tiger, that reaction was designed to improve our chances for survival by releasing a burst of cortisol to mobilize the body for action.

Although the sabre-tooth is extinct, our flight or flight mechanism is alive and well. Any time we face a threat – a deadline, a conflict with a colleague, a financial struggle – our body goes into stress mode. It releases cortisol causing our blood pressure to rise and our heart to beat faster. But, without a physical release of fighting or fleeing, the cortisol builds up in our system. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that we can train our brains to recognize these sensations in the moment, and learn to react calmly instead of letting out our inner caveman. It’s a practice known as mindfulness.

As defined by Dr. Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” The next time you’re in a stressful meeting, try the ABC method of mindfulness. Become Aware of the stress rising in your body. Breathe deeply and consider your options. Then Choose thoughtfully.

Build Margins. Today’s leaders are incredibly busy. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of you. And no one seems to appreciate the fact that you are a finite resource. Perhaps you don’t even realize this yourself. You can’t be an effective leader if your calendar is crammed with back-to-back meetings and your inbox is full of unread messages.

“To be truly effective,” says leadership expert Dr. Tony Baron, “you need to make time for margins your life.” You need to create white space, or times of reflection so that information can be turned into knowledge, and that knowledge into insight. Sometimes, you just have to stop and let the information catch up with you.

Building margins in our lives helps us get over our feeling of scarcity that leads to stress. We start by stressing that we never have enough time, that we cannot make time to truly connect with our employees, that there is only so much to go around.

Margin is not something that just happens. You have to fight for it. You can start by creating a time budget like this one from Michael Hyatt to help you focus on what matters most.

Stress is not going away, but you don’t have to be addicted to it. Make the choice today to be mindful and build margins in your life to build the resilience you need to manage it effectively.

Question: How does stress impact your ability to lead effectively?

Are you interested in acquiring simple tools for mastering stress and overcoming self-limiting barriers?

Check out our Corporate Wellness Training services or email me at snasim@executiveexcellence.com directly to set-up a free 30 minute consultation.

 

Learning & Growth: Connecting all 5 Generations. Side By Side.

As our Employee Engagement Specialist, Jenny Jacobs brings an infectious humor and midwestern sensibility to everything she does. Jenny is a lifelong learner and a natural teacher who guides our clients through a structured employee engagement method that improves bottom lines and results in changes that last. Jenny holds a B.A. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a 2017 Masters candidate for Organizational/Industrial Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. And don’t forget to check out the short video below where Jenny introduces herself and our new program.

By: Jenny Jacobs

I once heard someone say “Do not mistake movement for progress”. In other words, a person could be running in circles or jumping up and down but they are not going anywhere.

Companies often pride themselves on having a lot of “movement” (i.e. snack hour, casual Fridays, group bonding events, etc.). These are great work perks and help boost morale. To make truly effective forward movement, however, it is necessary to dig a little deeper. Just as the world outside of your organization is in constant change, your employees need constant opportunities for learning and growth to help them adapt and thrive.

Learning & Growth are fundamental elements for competitive advantage. They provide:

  • Improvement in long-term performance
  • Boosts in creativity and innovation
  • Increased employee engagement

Learning & Growth opportunities can also lead to improving individual and group efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. A Learning & Growth culture is a true investment in your employees and demonstrates a culture of continuous improvement.

Question: How are you tapping into the organizational intelligence within your company today?

Click here to learn more about our 5 Generations. Side by Side. workshop or training program.

Meet 8 Special Ops Team Members Ready for Service in Your Organization

Last week, I attended a very special graduation ceremony. It wasn’t for a family member and it wasn’t held in a football stadium. It was for 36 men and 1 woman who had completed a 120-hour, MBA-style, transitions program through The Honor Foundation.

These were already alumni of some of the most elite programs in the world – they were Navy SEALs and Marine Special Operations Forces team members – who had served our country with honor and ready to transition back to civilian service.

Thanks to The Honor Foundation, these men and women have the tools they need to confidently enter the workforce with pride and a sure-footing. They are prepared to take the leap of faith that the civilian world will honor their service, embrace their elite training, and place them in positions worthy of their talents.

It is my honor to introduce you to eight members of the Group 11 graduating class.

 

1. Diego Ugalde, “My passion is to hear the sound of your resounding success.”

What he brings to the team: With a relentless positive outlook, Diego is known for walking into a situation, assessing it, and working tirelessly to improve it for the betterment of the team.

Areas of interest: Motivational Speaking, Leadership & Development, and Coaching

Availability: Diego transitions from the Navy SEALs in September of 2018.

 

2. Larry Lacefield, “Leader of leaders, adapting to any environment.”

What he brings to the team: Selfless problem solver exuding compassion, creativity, competence and sound decision-making facilitating solutions where others see obstacles. 

Areas of interest: Business Development, Chief of Staff, Project Management Officer, or HR Leadership in Healthcare and Biotech

Education: M.S., Emphasis in Global Business Leadership, University of San Diego

Availability: Larry is transitioning from the Navy Special Warfare Command in May 2017.

 

3. Russell Hromadka, “Multi-dimensional guru and cross-generational connector.”

What he brings to the team: Perpetually sought after for crisis management, joint ventures, new initiatives, and to ‘do it right the first time’ where there is little guidance and organizational success is at stake.

Areas of interest: Chief of Staff, Business Development, Human Resources, Ops, Project Management.

Education: B.S., Applied Mathematics (Honors), US Naval Academy

Availability: Russ will transition from Marine Special Operations Command in the Spring of 2018.

 

4. Alexander “Pete” Tunley, “A human with supernova positivity that inspires all.”

What he brings to the team:  A passionate, powerful and committed leader with incredible positivity that attracts communication and input from all.

Areas of interest: Business Development, Human Resources, Coaching, Leadership & Development, Motivational Speaking.

Education: B.A., Intelligence Studies, American Military University

Availability: Pete transitioned as a Chief Petty Officer in March of 2017.

 

5. Christopher “Noah” Phillips, “Diplomatic disruptor fascinated by finance.”

What he brings to the team: Exceptionally motivated and proven leader with budgetary controller and multinational business experience.

Areas of interest: Finance, Wealth Management, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Analyst and Associate.

Education: B.S., Business Finance, Pennsylvania State University (2019)

Availability: Noah is transitioning from the Marine Corps in July 2017.

 

6. Matthew Lampert, “Lifelong servant of the community and our nation.”

What he brings to the team: Proven, decisive, and determined leader, who motivates, empowers, and develops his team to achieve their highest potential.

Areas of interest: Chief of Staff, Operations, HR Business Partner, Project Management Officer.

Education: M.A., Leadership, Development and Education, The George Washington University

Availability: Matt transitions as an Officer with the U.S. Naval Academy in June of 2018.

 

7. Eric Kasmire, “Innovative leader who excels at organizing resilient teams to achieve exceptional results.”

What he brings to the team: Skilled communicator at all levels, and passionate about leading multi-functional teams from diverse backgrounds and cultures to increase performance.

Areas of interest: Business Development, Chief of Staff, Project Management, or HR Leadership roles.

Education: B.A., Homeland Security, with Honors, American Military University

Availability: Eric transitioned in the summer of 2017 from the Marine Special Operations Command.

 

8. Justin Plank, “Ethical leader with the exceptional ability to remain calm and decisive in both high pressure and uncertain environments.”

What he brings to the team: A tireless work ethic, accustomed to working in fast-paced environments where excellence in performance is the standard.

Areas of interest: Operations leadership and Project Management.

Education: Master of Business for Veterans, University of Southern California

Availability: Justin transitioned in the summer of 2017 from the Navy SEALs.

If your organization could benefit from service-minded, adaptable, problems solvers like these, there is no more elite group of talent than the graduates of The Honor Foundation. Contact The Honor Foundation here to learn more about employing, mentoring, coaching and sponsorship opportunities for this world-class program.

Question: What can you do to serve people who have dedicated their lives in service to others?  

8 Leadership Books to Add to Your Summer Tote

Looking for some titles to add to your reading list this summer? Pull out your tote and pick up some of our top picks.

From recent bestsellers to old-school business parables, here’s a list of books that we think are well worth the read:

1. Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder

What it’s about: An engaging case study of the turnaround of Popeyes, proving that servant leadership is challenging, tough minded, and gets results.

Why pick it up: Bachelder takes you first-hand through the transformation of Popeyes to show that leaders at any level can become a dare to serve leader.

 

 

 

 

2. The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces they Want, the Tools they Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate by Jacob Morgan

What it’s about: A new type of organization is emerging, one that focuses on employee experiences as a way to drive innovation, increase customer satisfaction, find and hire the best people, make work more engaging, and improve overall performance.

Why pick it up: Backed by extensive research, futurist Jacob Morgan breaks down the three environments that make up employee experience at every organization around the world.

 

 

3. Option B: How To Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

What it’s about: Following the sudden death of her husband, Silicon Valley executive Dave Goldberg, Sandberg described widowhood at a young age as “a club that no one wants to belong to.” Co-authored with Wharton professor Adam Grant, the book is focused on recovering from adversity.

Why pick it up: Though not strictly a business book, it includes stories of people who recovered from a variety of hardships. It contains lessons for leaders who want to build their own resilience, too.

 

 

 

4. Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture by Mark Miller

What it’s about: A scarcity of leaders today means a shortfall in performance tomorrow. Bestselling author and Chick-fil-A executive Mark Miller describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization — from the front lines to the executive ranks.

Why pick it up:  Learn to build an organizational culture that will ensure your leadership pipeline is full and flowing.

 

 

 

 

5. Animal Farm by George Orwell

What it’s about: A dramatic takeover; disengaged, top-down management; besieged, under-appreciated workers — this Orwell parable on totalitarianism serves as a reverberating lesson in organizational behavior.

Why pick it up: If you haven’t picked this one up since ninth grade, it’s truly worth another read.

 

 

 


6.
Sprint: Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz

What it’s about: These Google Ventures partners give us a practical guide to answering critical business questions, whether you’re a small startup, part of the Fortune 100, a solopreneur, or a nonprofit.

Why pick it up: This book is for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.

 

 

 

 

7. Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sally Krawcheck

What it’s about: Success for professional women is no longer about trying to compete at the men’s version of the game. And it will no longer be about contorting themselves to men’s expectations of how powerful people behave.

Why pick it up: Learn how women can embrace and invest in their innate strengths — and bring them proudly and unapologetically, to work.

 

 

 

8. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

What it’s about: A manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation — into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made.

Why pick it up: To learn leadership and management philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention.

Some of the principles shared in these books you may already know but need reminding of. Others can give you the insight you need to tackle your greatest challenges of 2017.

Question: What books have helped you along your leadership journey?

Do You Use this 4-Letter Word in Your Organization?

Someone used a 4-letter word at our April 27th Re:Imagine Leadership Summit that made a few audience members squirm in their seats. The word slipped out during the panel discussion when Joe Lara, a former Naval Special Warfare Command Officer, was asked, “What is the ingredient that holds service members together during the chaos of battle?”

“Love,” was his answer. “When someone cares enough for you to give their life to protect yours, that’s love in action,” Lara said.

Our panel moderator, Dr. Tony Baron, noted that love is not a word that’s often brought up at leadership conferences. But, when he asked other members of the panel about love in action at their organizations, they quickly agreed.

Rachelle Snook, Global Talent Manager of WD-40, said that the employees at WD-40 think of themselves as members of a tribe. “Tribal love,” said Snook, “is what keeps our culture strong. One of our mantras is ‘we’ve got your back.’” Damian McKinney, Founder of McKinney Advisory Group agreed. “When you think about the commercial real estate industry,” McKinney said, “love isn’t the first word that comes to mind, but it’s what we practice to ensure that we are truly serving our clients and that we have faith that we’re in this together.”

Dean Carter, VP of Shared Services at Patagonia, told the audience that employees at Patagonia think of one another as family. With a child care center located on Patagonia’s Ventura, CA, campus, the lines between employee and family are blurred. “Some of the children whose parents worked at Patagonia 30 years ago are now employees,” Carter said. “We are much more than co-workers. We are family members who look after one another. We know each other’s children by name and we’re there for each other through all stages of each other’s lives.”

In her 2015 leadership book, Dare To Serve, former Popeye’s CEO, Cheryl Bachelder, writes that turning around the flagging company in 2007 required a decision to serve its franchise owners. The problem was, Bachelder writes, “This decision [to serve] is not typical in our industry. Franchisors and franchisees are constantly in conflict – arguing about the contract, the business strategy, the restaurant design, the promotion pricing, or the cost of food.”

Bachelder continues, “Here’s a tough question. Do you love the people you’ve decided to serve? It helps. One Popeye’s leader says it this way: ‘If you’re in the franchising business, you should love the franchisees.’ To love franchisees, you have to love entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are passionate. They take risks. They invest for the future. They are ambitious. They are definitely not corporate bureaucrats. They do not have much patience with people holding MBA degrees or offering up expensive harebrained ideas. What if the most important people in your business are entrepreneurs? You must decide to love them.”

What Joe Lara, Rachelle Snook, Damian McKinney, Dean Carter, and Cheryl Bachelder have in common is that in order to truly serve the people you work with and are in the business to serve, you must set aside your differences, and look for ways to develop a love for who they are. Doing so requires you to set aside your ego, be aware of your biases, and have the courage to make love part of your organizational culture.

Question: Is there someone that you are in conflict with at work now? What would happen if you dared to love them?

Strengths: Connecting all 5 Generations. Side by Side.

As our Employee Engagement Specialist, Jenny Jacobs brings an infectious humor and midwestern sensibility to everything she does. Jenny is a lifelong learner and a natural teacher who guides our clients through a structured employee engagement method that improves bottom lines and results in changes that last. Jenny holds a B.A. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and is a 2017 Masters candidate for Organizational/Industrial Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. And don’t forget to check out the short video below where Jenny introduces herself and our new program.

By: Jenny Jacobs

What does it mean to operate from a place of your strengths? I’m not talking about how strong you are or if you are able to leap tall buildings in a single bound… I am talking about helping your employees recognize the talents that naturally exist within them. Each of your employees serves a special purpose within your organization based on their strengths. When we tap into them as a strengths-based team, we can build a vibrant, healthy work environment.

I recently heard a fascinating radio program about Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist. In a study on collaboration among trees, Simard discovered that trees work together through a network of forest floor communication. Simard states that trees need a complex and diverse community to thrive in.

In her June 2016 TED Talk, Simard explained the symbiotic needs of trees in a forest. Trees are connected to their forest community in a kind of “underground super-highway”, Simard explains. They need other plants that can cycle nutrients more quickly or that can access nutrients in different niches. They need neighbors that are resistant to insects and diseases. So, instead of competition for resources, trees are actually communicating and cooperating with their neighbors. They make sure their neighbors — their diverse community — is vibrant because that feeds back to them and impacts their health.

Simard equates the forest community to the way our communities work. We live in communities of doctors and teachers and people who run coffee shops and bakeries. A thriving community requires a whole range of skills and resources. We need each other. If you take away the baker, we’ve got no bread. If you remove the banker, financial stability is shaken.

Just as the trees in the forest share resources to remain vibrant and healthy, so must managers identify individual strengths of team members for maximum collaboration and engagement. Don’t hire people for their strengths then ask them to work on their weaknesses. Instead, unlock their natural talents, give them the tools and support that best suits their individual style and you’ll build a team that thrives!

 

Click here to learn more about 5 Generations. Side by Side. and reserve your seat for our June 6 workshop!

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Are You Ready to Hand Over Your Leadership Keys?

Picture this. A father had three children. When his oldest child, a daughter, turned 12, he took her with him to the auto dealership. He told her, “I want you to pick out the car that you think I should buy.” Puzzled, his daughter looked at her father and asked, “Why me, Dad?” “Because, this is the car that I’ll be driving for the next four years. When you turn 16 and get your driver’s license, I’m going to hand the keys over to you.”

He repeated this offer with his other two children, and over the next 16 years drove a bright red Volkswagen Beetle, a yellow Honda Civic (for his second daughter), and a red Jeep Wrangler (for his son.)

“I have to admit,” the father said, “when my son asked for a Wrangler, I hesitated.” It was outside of my comfort zone. I had always driven cars, we’d always lived in the city, and I couldn’t see myself driving a Wrangler for the next four years. But, I had made a commitment, and couldn’t break it now.”

“What’s funny,” the father said, “is that I actually started enjoying the Wrangler. By the time my son got old enough to drive it, I found myself thinking about buying another one for myself. If my son hadn’t convinced me to change what I’d gotten used to driving all of my life, I never would have gotten out of my comfort zone.”

What this father knew intuitively serves as a model for passing on the leadership keys in the 21st century. Three themes emerge.

1. Trust. Any worthwhile transition is based on mutual trust. Future leaders need to trust the wisdom and experience of current leaders. Current leaders need to trust the potential of the next generation, their innovative approach, and the ability to handle the responsibility for the future. When there is an absence of trust, the process of a healthy and fruitful transition breaks down, and the passing on of the leadership keys stalls. Breaking down the trust barriers starts with building mutual respect and appreciation for what we each bring to the table. Here’s a short, compelling video that shows how quickly we can start to break down the barriers and build trust.

2. Teamwork. Once we establish trust for one another, we can begin to work together as a team toward the future success of our organization. The father in the example above didn’t arbitrarily decide what cars would be best for each of his children. He included them in the process and let them voice their opinions. When we include future leaders in the decision-making process, they move from obliged to empowered. That empowerment – knowing that the keys to the future are in their hands – gives them a greater sense of responsibility for making good choices to show that your trust was well placed.

3. Transition. One of the most significant lessons from car-buying father is how he adapted to the Wrangler chosen by his youngest child. Most of today’s leaders grew up in a time when decisions and influence came from the top and rippled down. But, the rapid pace of technological change is having an impact on generational influence. Research by the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) finds that influence is rippling up, rather than down. “The greatest predictor of older generations,” says James Dorsey, CGK’s Chief Strategy Officer in this TEDx talk, “is what the younger generations are doing today.” They influence how every other generation uses technology. Need more convincing? Think Facebook.

Are you holding onto the leadership keys with a white-knuckled grip? It may be time to shift your view about future generations. When you can break down the trust barriers, give them true ownership and responsibility, and be open to their influence, you’ll be inspired by some of the most hard-working, eager-to-learn, and motivated people in the world today.

Question: What is your view about handing over the leadership keys?