Tag Archives: Leadership & Management

5 More Facets of Being Extraordinary

extraordinary2My last article on being extraordinary received such rave reviews, I thought I would continue with a few more simple ideas.

1. Bring people together. Don’t separate them.
The world is filled with real and potential conflict. Conflict is a way of life. It won’t be avoided so long as people have different values, motivations, wants, goals, thought patterns and desires (the list goes on).

Conflict is inevitable. However, an extraordinary person seeks not just to fan the flames but to bring resolution to the issue. (As the ‘revolutionaries’ of the 70s used to say, ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’)

Complaining and protesting have their place but true progress is made with people collaborate and create solutions that meet the needs of the parties in conflict. Positions are hard to meld. Interests, on the other hand, once thoroughly uncovered can be addressed. When groups or individuals are at odds over something, strive to discover their underlying interests and needs. Focus on them, not the ‘solution’ each of them is arguing for.

2. Respect people’s partners.
The last article spoke about the importance of respecting people’s property and not taking what isn’t yours. This idea builds on that one. While people aren’t property, respecting existing relationships will deter a whole lot of ‘mess’ and drama.

A colleague of mine found herself on the verge of a triangle – 2 triangles really. She and her attraction were both married, neither happily. But before they ‘jumped in’, they both ended their relationships so they could start with a clean slate. It was still hard, but at least they didn’t muddy their existing relationships with an extra person. Realizing how unhappy they individually were, they courageous decisions, untangled their commitments and then moved forward together.

3. Don’t waste other people’s time.
One of the bullets in the last article had to do with making the world a better place. It seems that the way some people feel empowered is by usurping the energy and time of those around them. If you ask people for things you don’t need or create processes that are unnecessary, just because you can, you’re doing damage. You’re wasting valuable resources, time and energy just to build yourself up. Don’t do that.

4. Avoid fascination with other people’s problems.
Unfortunately, an entire genre of ‘reality’ shows are dedicated to telecasting people’s troubled lives. People who watch have said that seeing the issues others face make them feel better about their own lives. I know that’s possible, but here’s another alternative.

Do proactive, positive things in your own life and feel good about that rather than measuring yourself as ‘superior’ to people who can’t get it together. Shape your life the way you want. Set the bar high and get to work. Living vicariously while judging others poorly isn’t a good way to move forward.

5.  When someone else is happy or successful, celebrate and enjoy it.
The ‘cheap’ approach is to be envious and diminish their success. It’s the counterpoint to the bullet above. If they’re ‘all that’, they must have cheated or they must be bad humans.

When people accomplish great things, especially things you’d like to have, you must appreciate it, even if you don’t like the person. Doing otherwise tells the Universe you don’t like success, you don’t value having a lot of money, you don’t want to get promoted.  Don’t be a hater! Celebrate the success of others and keep doing what it takes to create that success for yourself.

I heard this great line at my conference last week, “If you’re not getting recognized as fast as you believe you should, make sure you’re doing everything you can to be WORTHY of recognition.”

5 Keys for Stepping Up to Your True Leadership Persona

stand outMy husband and I recently watched two movies, The King’s Speech and Battleship.

Both depicted characters who were thrust into leadership before they thought they were ready.

Their first reaction was denial, mixed with a hint of resentment, “Why me? Why now?”

Neither thought they were ready nor capable.

Has that ever happened to you?  How did you react?

Regardless of your history, how do you think you’d react now if you wer suddenly handed a huge, visible, critical responsibility?

Whether you’ve just been thrust into the spotlight or are longing for that level of accountability, here are some ideas that will amplify your readiness for the role.

1) Have faith you can do it.
Most people downplay their abilities. Our parents taught us not to boast or brag. We’ve seen other leaders get assassinated (literally or figuratively). Plus, let’s face it, it’s more comfortable for most not to be in the limelight and just carry on with their regular routine.

The truth is, we’re far more capable than we generally believe. It often takes some catastropic event for us to figure out what we’re really made of.

2) Have faith in others.
Don’t try to accomplish mammoth tasks alone. Look for help. Ask for help. Assume help and make requests. You may need to provide some context to your ‘team’ (whether ad hoc, virtual or designated). They need to know the import of what you’re asking them to take on. They need to know what’s at stake. They’ll likely have to step up too.

3) Invest in yourself.
You may need support beyond what your immediate team can provide. The King of England hired a coach/speech therapist to help him with his stuttering. It was a secret arrangement initially and required the King to not be ‘King’ which caused some challenges in the beginning. The King had to set his ego aside and recognize he didn’t have all the answers. He also had to reach deep inside and work on his inner game in addition to his moving mouth parts.

4) Be bold.
This is not the time for timidity. In critical times, big actions are needed. Perhaps you need to stop an impending disaster. Or perhaps, you’re needed to win the big game. Whatever it is, you must go beyond the tried and true. It’s time to innovate.

5) Act, don’t think.
You don’t want to be stupid obviously, but you also don’t want to over-think your decisions. In emergency situations, speed is often the critical factor. Trust your gut. If an idea comes to you, try it out.

Leadership occurs when you put accomplishing the task at hand ahead of your ego and fear.  You have to become a better person than you thought you were. It’s possible. Just step up.


Terminating Turf Wars in 9 Simple Steps

Conflict is inevitable.

85% of employees say they experience conflict on the job. Even though there is no line item for it on your income statement, conflict is expensive. Managers say they spend 40 – 60% of their time dealing with conflict of some sort!

Fortunately, the negative impact of conflict can be minimized with preventative training and post-incident interventions.

This article will focus on the 9-step Terminating Turf Wars™ process which must happen in order to resolve a major conflict that has erupted.

1. Set your desired outcome
The desired outcome will vary depending on the situation and the players.  It may be a specific decision that all partied agree to support.

It may be the ‘fact’ that the groups agree to any decision (e.g. a now unknown, negotiated decision) and move forward. It may be new behaviors that must be adopted by the people involved. Without such clarity as a starting point, subsequent conversations could go off in counter-productive directions.

2. Communicate the importance of reaching a resolution
This is where the executive in charge must take a stand and tell the warring parties that they must end the war and come up with a solution. Sometimes executives stay out of the fracas and ‘allow’ the parties to duke it out themselves. This is a dangerous practice however as it could likely take much longer to resolve, further wasting precious resources (energy and time) that could be put to more productive use.

3. Identify key players
In any war, there are a handful of people who are at the core of the issue. They are likely the ones who are keeping the conflict in place and are also the ones who will likely be directly involved in the resolution of the issue. Their input, therefore, is critical. Private conversations with each of them will shed light on the history, impact, import and obstacles to solving the problem.

4. Survey and interview
Other parties may have a less involved role but their input is critical none the less. They may be able to provide some much-needed objectivity that the key waring parties can’t see.  Their perspective of the far-ranging impact of the key issues and how they are hampering day-to-day operations, may bring some additional motivation to get the issue resolved. When the key stakeholders to the conflict see how their behavior is impacting others, they may soften their positions. Anonymous surveys are great ways to get issues on the table in a more objective manner.

5. Assess data
Once the interviews and surveys are complete, they need to be compiled and analyzed by a third party, preferably one who is far outside the reach of the issues. Objectivity in this assessment process is critical, lest the parties will dismiss the data as tainted.

6. Articulate the issues
Data will point out major beliefs, trends and impacts of the issues. Sharing the results of the interviews and surveys with the group provides a great starting point for conversations about the key issues, how people feel about them and why it’s critical for the issues to get solved NOW!

7. Design an intervention
Once the data is available, a skilled facilitator will be able to design the appropriate kinds of conversations that will help the people or groups talk with each other in a constructive manner. Depending on the source of the conflict, the focus of the intervention may be on understanding personality styles, establishing communication or decision-making procedures or revamping broken processes.

8. Facilitate conversations
Designing the topics of conversations is one thing. Actually facilitating them is quite another. When tempers have flared and accusations been made, it’s often difficult for the people embroiled in the conflict to talk with each other civilly.

In one difficult situation I helped resolve, the content of the first meeting was all about creating safety for people to air their concerns. Conversations in that meeting were frequently ‘paused’ to analyze the tone and tenor of the dialog and note how that tone facilitated or impeded forward progress.

At some point, if managed well, the group will come up with a solution they can live with. It may take time. It may take removing some players, shifting roles, revising strategies, creating new procedures, learning and practicing new behaviors or adopting new rules for future decision-making. It is at this point that the executive direction really kicks in. People are often loathe to make changes in their processes or communication styles. When the top boss however says, ‘this shall be’, they will be more likely to comply.

9. Monitor and fortify the truce
Truces are delicate things. They may represent the best thinking of the entire group. They may have opened new possibilities for the company. However, people are creatures of habit and could default to their old behaviors. Periodic meetings to assess progress and work through challenges will help turn the truce into a new world order.

These 9 steps are simple. Implementing them can be tricky but will expert guidance, sufficient motivation, personal commitment and collaboration, sweeping changes can be made.

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7 Keys to a Mindset that Makes Magic Happen

I attended a training session recently and the speaker said something that reminded me of my days of being a mainframe BAL computer programmer. You may have heard the phrase “garbage in – garbage out”, or GIGO for short.

It reflects the idea that no matter how elegant a program or system is, if you put bad (trashy) data into it, the results you get will still stink.

The speaker took a different take on this concept choosing to focus on a more positive approach with PIPO or “positive in – positive out”. His challenge to us was to intentionally bring more inspiration and uplifting information into our personal computer (i.e. brain) to counter all of the negative messages we get from less inspired, less empowered, less self-determining people that might be occupying our personal space.

His acronym, PIPO, reminded me of my first doll, Pippo. My adoptive mother gave him to me the day she first brought me home with her. I was about one year old then and Pippo is still around now. (Shocking to think how old that makes him!)

To this day, he occupies a prominent space on my bookshelf with photos of my biological siblings I ‘found’ almost 10 years ago. It’s quite an amazing story which could be the subject of another book (and probably will be). If you want to read the (somewhat) Cliff’s notes version of it, go to Happy Reunion Story.

In any event, I’ve identified 7 specific behaviors which I say sustain a mindset that makes magic happen. Do these things consistently and you’ll fly high and achieve your goals all the faster.

1. Read positive, uplifting books and articles on a consistent basis
Daily reading is best and the optimal times for these readings is first thing in the  morning and just before falling asleep.  My morning readings energize me and remind me that all things are possible. Right now I’m reading “The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity” by Edwene Gaines and The Forty Day

2. Go on a detox diet
Get rid of foods that don’t serve you and people who drag you down. You’ve probably heard the story about crabs in a barrel. It’s been said that if you put crabs in a barrel, some will try to climb to the top to escape but others will pull them back down into the fray where they are all stuck. You may have ‘friends’ that spit on your dreams, who never think anything good can happen, that tell you you’re foolish to believe. Get rid of them: quickly if you can, slowly if you have to. At the least, reduce the time you spend with them and ignore much of what they say to you.

3. Watch and listen to intelligent shows on radio and TV
Local network news doesn’t really qualify. It’s mostly watered down. National news is better, global even more so. Angry people yelling their opinions can be useful to get a read on the mindset of some sectors of America, but don’t believe what you hear.

The truth often gets reduced to soundbites which may not even reflect the underlying story. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sitcom or SVU episode. It’s just I don’t spend my entire life in front of the TV. You may need to get your mind off work for a while, but if you’re striving to make magic happen, you’d be better off trading your TV time for inspirational books, meaningful  discussions with those close to you, making and enacting plans to better      your OWN life.

4. Meditate
Just a few minutes each day will help reducs stress and connect you to your higher self, the seat of knowledge. I’m amazed at the doors of opportunity that open with a few minutes a day spent in reflection and prayer.

5. Be grateful for what you have
Even when times are bleak, devote some time to look for and express gratitude for the good in your life. Bank account dry? Be thankful you have clean water and rice in the cupboard. Lost that big deal? Give thanks for the brains that allowed you to get that close and learn from the experience. Passed over for a promotion? Be thankful for opportunity to express your desire and skills. Keep sharpening them and looking for the next opening.

6. Sing, dance, move, listen
Harp music has been shown to reduce stress and even help with the healing of medical ailments. Dance energizes our bodies and stirs our souls. Hiking expands the lungs sending fresh oxygen to the brain.

Even if you don’t do these things regularly or well, work something different into your routine. Remember PIPO. Infuse yourself with that which soothes you. Express what’s in your heart.

7. Help someone less fortunate
A business referral group I’m in just adopted a down-on-their-luck family and donated toys and gift cards to a variety of stores. The woman who delivered the gifts sent out an email that brought tears to my eyes even though my contribution was just one of many. To feel that positive impact our action had on people I didn’t even know was so uplifting.  Feed the homeless. Donate your time. Make your little corner of the world a better place.

Alchemy is the process of transforming something common into something special.

Institute any or all of these (or amp them up if you’re already doing them) and you will cause a shift in your environment, both physical and energetic. Make magic happen.

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Conflict Resolution Tips: How to Fix What You’re Fighting About

People try to avoid conflict but conflict is inevitable. The key is learning how to effectively DEAL with conflict that occurs in life.

Generally when conflict exists, people become polarized in their positions. The more the conflict grows, the more attached they become to ‘winning’.  They fight and fight over which way the situation will go.

Tempers flare. Feelings get hurt. Resentments build. It becomes a power struggle with little hope for peaceful resolution.

It’s ‘my way or the highway!’

The way around the stalemate is to focus on interests rather than solutions.

Here are three easy tips to get underneath the situation and increase the chances of making true progress while keeping the relationships between the parties in decent condition.

1. Ask your adversary why they prefer the solution they proposed

2. Find out what is important to them about that solution they offered

3. Ask him or her what they are afraid might happen if their proposed solution isn’t implemented

As Stephen Covey so eloquently stated in The 7 Habits of Highly

Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Stephen Covey at the FMI Show, Palestrante on ...
Image via Wikipedia

Asking these questions will demonstrate to the other person that you are interested in understanding them and their situation.

Hearing the answers might actually influence your ‘position’. Let it. That puts you a step closer to finding a solution that works for both of you.

Once you’ve unearthed the rationale behind their position, share the answers to the questions you posed. Do so in a collaborative manner: not to make them change their mind, but to help them gain some insight into your situation and thinking.

Once you’ve gotten the underlying issues on the table, set aside both sets of solutions.

Brainstorm for other, more creative options that address the underlying needs you both expressed.

When you ‘attack’ problems from addressing underlying needs and interests, the solutions you devise will be more satisfying and effective.

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