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Monday, November 28, 2011

Strengths: Post #4 - The Four Domains of Teams

The Four Domains of Teams (think of the word SIRE)
1. Strategic Thinking: People with strengths in this domain tend to force the group to look at the big picture and toward the future—what might be. Always reviewing the data and applying what they learn, strategic thinkers move the organization forward—stretching its members to think beyond what is, to the possibilities of the future. People who are strong in this strategic thinking domain possess strengths in such areas as: Context, Futuristic, Ideation, Input, Analytic, Intellection, Learner and Strategic.
2. Influence: People with strengths in this key domain know how to sell or promulgate the team’s ideas both inside and outside the organization. These people are natural persuaders, inspire others to adopt their ideas, and are vital to moving teams forward in communities. Again, not everyone influences the same way. But people with the following domain-area strengths tend to be key influencers: Activator, Command, Communication, Competition, Maximizer, Self Assurance, Significance, and Woo.
3. Relationship Building: Those with strengths in this domain tend to keep groups together. They’re the social glue, the mortar between the foundation building blocks. They know how to create and maintain groups such that the whole is much greater than its parts. Such relationship builders have domain strengths as follows: Adaptability, Developer, Connectedness, Empathy, Includer, Individualization, Positivity, and Relator.
4. Execution: People with strengths in this key domain know how to rally around a goal and get things done. Differing strengths might dictate the style of getting to the goal, but folks who have strengths in this domain area contribute mightily to execution. Here are those strengths: Achiever, Arranger, Belief, Consistency, Deliberative, Discipline, Focus, Responsibility, and Restorative. Take the StrengthsFinder to find yours and read the book for explanations of all of the strengths.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Strengths: Post #3 - Teams

Great Leadership Teams
--Individuals may not be well-rounded or possess strengths in all areas…a virtual impossibility. --However, based on extensive Gallup research, teams need to be well-balanced across four key domains of Leadership Strength: Execution, Influence, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking.
--According to Gallup research, there are 34 StrengthsFinder themes—which sort out into nearly equal sets of the above four key domains (Strategic Thinking, Influence, Relationship Building, and Execution).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Strengths: Post #2 - Engagement

Data on Strengths-Based Engagement
--Only a third of Americans use their strengths areas every day. Engagement with their job leads to employee happiness, productivity, and retention.
--The chances of a person being engaged who is not using his or her strengths is only 9%! Such a waste.
-- Focus on people’s weaknesses and they lose confidence.
--Focus on their strengths and they are more confident, healthier, happier and wealthier over a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strengths: Post #1 - Overview

Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (Gallup Press, 2008) reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.,

Overview: The Gallup folks have used their ability to research and analyze data to produce a book worthy of any team or organization reading it. The basic premises: People perform best when working in their strengths areas, and teams perform best when the team itself has a balanced, complementary set of strengths. The research behind this book is prodigious. Gallup conducted over 20,000 in-depth interviews, studied over one million work teams, considered over 50 years of data on the world’s most admired leaders, and studied over 10,000 followers for insights into leaders. Here’s what that data revealed. First, the most effective leaders are always investing in strengths. Employees who do not work in strengths areas are only 9% engaged in their jobs vs. 74% engagement levels for people who do work in their strengths. Further, engagement has been proven to substantially increase productivity for the company. Second, the most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximize their team. By nature we all have talents that can be developed into strengths. We also have definite weaknesses. And while no leader is perfectly well-rounded, effective teams must be. Gallup research has developed four domains of leadership strength: Execution (making things happen); Influence (selling ideas inside and out of the organization); Relationship Building (being the glue that holds teams together); and Strategic Thinking (focusing on the big picture and the future). Third, the most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs. The four needs of followers are: Trust (honesty, respect and integrity); Compassion (caring, friendship, happiness and love); Stability (security, strength, support and peace); and Hope (direction, faith and guidance). This book is a team “must-read.” The StrengthsFinder alone is high value; combine that with the research on teams and you have a bible for team development.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post #12--FINAL

Sustainability: Taking Inventory of What Is Depleting Your Resources. Harvesting resources in such a way that they never get depleted is what sustainability is all about. This is also true for our own personal energy. If we treat energy as something that can be squandered, our business process becomes unsustainable. It could be a CEO who drives people and never lets up or investors who continue to dump good money after bad in an investment, hoping for a turnaround. Whatever or whoever overinvests, the results can eventually be unsustainable. We all need to monitor the expenditure of our limited resources to ensure that we don’t continue to invest long after we should have said goodbye to “…employees, businesses, and relationships that all of us have to give up in order to move forward,” to quote the author’s subtitle for this important book.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post #11--Grief

Embrace the Grief: The Importance of Metabolizing Necessary Endings. We all grieve when something we invested in so heavily is gone. It might be the death of a person, a divorce, loss of a job, or a business failure. Anytime you’ve invested heavily and things don’t work out, grief is our way of taking back the energy we invested to reinvest in something else. Oftentimes, people dive into something new without grieving and then find themselves in rebound situations, where they recreate the very thing they left. The author suggests that we have to analyze what happened, take it apart and look at it as objectively as possible. Then, we need to metabolize it—talk about it, cry about it, and then move on.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post #10--The Conversation

Having the Conversation: Strategies for Ending Things Well. Having the “talk” is the hardest part of the deal. We’re afraid things will blow up, that people will go ballistic. That might be true but rarely so. When you decide that something’s over, end it. The author offers a lot of help. Here are just a few tidbits: Start with the bottom line—what do you want to happen after the conversation? Like, you never want to see the person again, or let’s part friends, etc. Practice the “talk.” Just writing down the narrative helps, and role playing with another really helps. Get the tone right. Be respectful and set the tone…your personal wi-fi will help the other person set theirs. Get agreement: Ask the person “What have you heard me say?” Get this question out to find out if they “got it” or not. Depending on the situation, you may need help. So, bring a friend, a mediator, or even a lawyer. Finally, don’t burn bridges no matter how angry the other person gets or how much s/he protests.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post #9--Urgency

Creating Urgency: Stay Motivated and Energized for Change. Being able to take the current situation you’re in and project it (with all its warts and gems) forward into the future becomes critical for change. Moving away from the very powerful “status quo” isn’t easy and requires seeing things as they are currently. Then, creating a movie in your head and playing it forward to its logical end will provide motivation and urgency to change. For example, if I continue not studying for tests in high school, what’s the likely result going forward one year, two years, etc? If you keep taking abuse from a husband, how will the future look? Alternatively, if I start walking every day and dieting, what will happen in 6 months or a year? When you create a vision in your mind, the mind starts to work toward that vision. So make it real and concrete…write it down, talk about it, play the movie forward. Set deadlines, create structure, and monitor and measure and results start to happen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post #8--Wise, Foolish,Evil

The Wise, the Foolish, and the Evil: Identifying Which Kinds of People Deserve Your Trust. Wise people are worth holding onto. Even when they are in trouble, they listen, accept, and adjust to criticism. They take feedback in, thank you for it, take responsibility for their performance, show remorse, look toward improving in the future, and don’t let negative patterns evolve. They’re realistic people, whose attitudes will help them improve and adjust. On the other hand, foolish people respond in just the opposite manner. “The fool adjusts the truth so he does not have to adjust to it.” Thus, instead of taking criticism, the fool deludes himself/herself into believing everyone else is an idiot, thus, s/he is not the one with the problem. In the face of criticism, the fool blames others and you (as the messenger), offers excuses, gets defensive, and is completely unaware of the pain they cause others. So, the basic strategy is to stop conversing and start giving directions. Setting clear limits and consequences with such folks is the only way. If they disparage an employee in front of others, they’ll be placed on administrative leave. Finally, there are evil people in the world—folks who are basically and unalterably flawed with deep seated malice. For them, you get lawyers and protection. No hope—there is only defense.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post #7--Hope vs. Wishing

Hoping Versus Wishing: The Difference Between What’s Worth Fixing and What Should End. Past performance is the best predictor of future performance. This saying is as old and as true as any in human resources and performance management. The key to knowing whether you have hope for an employee or you are merely wishing for improvement is to determine exactly how the person will change. Having a proven change process (like attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings), getting an admission of need vs. delusion, observing a self-driven and sustained process toward change, and getting some skilled help to keep the change on track are just a few structural elements we need to have hope in anyone actually changing. Saying they’re sorry and promising to do better isn’t enough. The reality is that, unless something changes, past performance will predict the future.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post #6--Prunning Moment

Getting to the Pruning Moment—Realistic, Hopeless, and Motivated. Getting in touch with reality may sound simple, but often it’s one of hardest things to see through our personal biases, including a delusional screen that many leaders have. They see themselves and their companies—including startups—as way above average, despite well-known stats that 80% of all startups fail. One of the big reasons companies succeed and, at the same time, fail is the notion of “hope.”` Hope drives people forward but can also tie them to a rock sinking in the ocean. So, hopelessness (however depressing it sounds), the author contends, can be your best friend if you want to start seeing more clearly. The key question to ask: What reason do I have to believe tomorrow’s going to be different from today?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post #5--Getting Stuck

When Stuck is the New Normal—The Difference Between Pain with a Purpose and Pain for No Good Reason. Your thinking affects your brain. Neuroscience tells us that we create grooves when we think or practice skills or activities. Therefore, we create internal “mental maps.” And people who are stuck in a negative rut have a very different mental map. Such folks often end up in “learned helplessness,” a condition that is characterized by pessimism dictated by three P’s: Personalized (I’m bad); Pervasive (much around me is bad); and Permanent (it’s not going to change). On the other hand, productive, optimistic people see setbacks as temporary, aberrational, and transient. The author describes five mental maps that get us stuck and keep us from moving forward. 1) Having an abnormally high pain threshold—we hang on merely because we can handle the pain; 2) Covering for others—we do more than we should to cover for others not doing their fair share; 3) Misunderstood loyalty—while loyalty is important, it can perpetuate cycles of dysfunction and pain; 4) Believing that ending it means I failed—not wanting to be a “quitter” can keep us in toxic relations long after we should have exited; 5) Codependent Mapping—this is about love and caring that turns to enabling—toxic dependency [sticking with employees too long; spouses sticking with partners way too long after neglect and selfishness have inflicted pain; parents supporting adult kids way beyond a normal interval]. You see much of this in family-run businesses that keep people on the payroll WAY beyond what should be tolerated.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post#4--Normalizing

Normalizing Necessary Endings—Welcome the Seasons of Your Life into Your Worldview. If we view endings as very difficult things, then we’ll avoid them and push them into the background, which causes all kinds of problems and inefficiencies in our life and work. We can correct this by making endings a part of our world view. First, accept the seasons of life. All things are born, grow and die. Second, life makes much more than we can handle. High functioning people have a LOT of relationships. However, brain research tells us that we can only handle relationships with about 150 people. More than that and things slip off the applecart. So, we need to prune off that which is no longer relevant or healthy. As a business, Starbucks did this well. They captured the market by having stores on every corner and then pruned them back. Smart market strategy—capture market share and then make it efficient.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post#3--Pruning

Pruning—Growth Depends on Getting Rid of the Unwanted or the Superfluous. Pruning is all about cutting dead wood, so that a plant or tree can bloom to its highest potential. So too with relationships. We have to decide on what’s going to really bloom and what won’t and be willing to kill off or “end” that which is unlikely to bear fruit. People cannot maintain relationships with everyone they meet. It would take WAY too much energy. So we need to assess who or what is causing more energy than it’s worth and prune back that relationship. And while pruning feels tactical, it’s really quite strategic.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post#2--Endings

Endings—The Good Cannot Begin Until the Bad Ends. Endings are as much a part of life as new beginnings, much like the seasons of a year. Leaves come out in the spring and then die in the fall, only to nurture the ground to grow new leaves during the next spring. However, we all tend to avoid ending relationships (in our families or at work) largely because it’s not easy, we want to avoid confrontation, we hold out false hope, we don’t want to lose someone or something we’ve invested in, or for any number of other reasons. But to go forward and live the best life you can, cutting away the dead wood—having a necessary ending—is vital.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Necessary Endings: Post#1- Overview

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up to Move Forward by Dr. Henry Cloud (Harper Collins, 2010), reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., October 2011
Overview: We’ve all hung onto a car, friend, relationship, business, or employee far longer than we knew we should have. And we’ve all known the back-and-forth process that drains our energy, even in the face of a hopeless situation we know is headed for a fall. Emotions, lack of resolve and energy, the draw of the status quo, and so much more keeps us in relationships we should shed for our own good and that of others. Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud gives us a rationale and a pathway to move forward on such endings. He warns us that the good can’t come until the bad ends: Pruning away dead wood—even if there’s still some life there—must happen if the whole tree is to survive; getting out of the new normal of being stuck; learning the difference between hope and wishing; knowing how to spot a wise person, a fool and an evil one and what to do with each; gathering energy to end and finally having the conversation; and, then grieving over the loss and moving into the future. Cloud has written a readable, understandable book with implications for each of us. It’s written more from his experience as a coach and psychologist rather than straight research; nonetheless, given his credentials and how his suggestions ring true, it’s a worthy read that I’ll recommend to clients, family and friends.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Social Animal: #15--Final Social Words

Final Social Stuff: I can’t seem to get enough of this book. The section on “The Leader” was a fascinating recitation about politics. I loved Brook’s description of a stump speech: one section about You (the voters), a section about Me (the candidate), and one section about Us (both candidate and voters going forward)—a simple, powerful formula. His statements on how partisan we are at looking at the world got my attention. In Washington, Brooks noted, the people who write about finance, budgets and war talked to the titans, whereas those who write about family, education and social justice not only didn’t have that access but were also viewed as lesser influencers. About social trust, Brooks notes that markets that are not ruled by an unconscious sort of moral rule give way to overpolicing. And when politics is allowed to polarize, parties dehumanize each other and politics devolves into a boxing match rather than a healthy, honest debate. There’s a TON more in this book. Spend time with it and learn a lot!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Social Animal: #14--Other Social Stuff

Other Social Stuff: Brooks touches on the ups and downs of relationships, including marriage. He quotes studies by famed ‘love doctor’ John Gottman who studies and predicts the health and longevity of marriages. Gottman’s research concludes that to have a strong relationship, couples need to have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Good leaders understand this ratio innately; bad leaders unfortunately do not. One interesting stat—women over 50 initiate over 65% of divorces. And, when it comes to moral/social concerns, key researchers in the field offered five concerns that account for much unconscious moral decision making: Fairness/Reciprocity—equal and unequal treatment; harm/care concern, including empathy; authority/respect relative to hierarchies; purity/disgust that drives us from that which is contaminated, from food to poor relationships; and, in-group, out-group loyalty that produces antipathy for out-groups but strong visceral loyalty to group members and disgust if people violate that loyalty.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Social Animal: #13--Metis

Metis: Part of us is rational and the other part unconscious. The French Enlightenment, with its insistence on the power of rational thought, and British Enlightenment, with its insistence on the power of the unconscious social sense, brought this duality to the fore. Think of Mr. Spock as the example of the French Enlightenment team’s hero and Homer Simpson as the British Enlightenment’s hero—operating primarily on impulses and emotions. Now, instead of thinking of them on different teams, consider how they’d be as roommates—the odd couple. What’s more, our memories are very inaccurate; however, we think they’re precise. Memory happens by reweaving bits of data from various segments of the brain. Each time we remember, we reweave things even if slightly differently and then put back that newly altered memory back into the vault. Moreover, our unconscious intuition is better at solving bigger, more complex problems, but the conscious is better at solving smaller and/or linear problems with less variables. The trick is not to rush to judgment. Rather, “wander” around or hold off judging, especially in complex situations, to allow the unconscious to talk sense into the conscious and vice versa. It’s a necessary dialog.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Social Animal: #12--Grand Narrative

The Grand Narrative: We tell ourselves stories—narratives about who we are. Unfortunately, sometimes those stories are delusional. Overconfidence is one such illusion. For example, 90% of drivers, professors, entrepreneurs and students taking the SAT think they’re all above average! In one study, managers in advertising thought that their answers to industry knowledge questions were 90% correct, but they actually were (on average) only 49% correct. Computer industry folks thought they were 95% correct but (on average) were just 20% correct. In fact, over 99% people in one study overestimated their success. The stock traders—who were the most confident—traded the most and underperformed the market. We have a built-in psychological immune system that makes us delusional—often (if unchecked) allowing us to take in only that which confirms our good qualities, denying that data that attacks our worst ones. Finally, incompetent people exaggerate their competencies more than their better performing peers. So, to say that most people suffer from overconfidence, even delusional about their competence, is an understatement.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Social Animal: #11--Limerence

Limerence: Often associated with infatuation, limerence is a deep desire for harmony—internal and external---whether such harmony is with a person, our work, or an activity. The brain sets up predictive models that when learned move us from difficulty to harmony as we conquer the difficult and make it easy. Often, the concept of “flow” is associated with this phenomenon, where we become “one” with our task and reach a kind of pleasurable state. Same is true with falling in love with another person. This harmonic status explains why effective teams of surgeons, nurses, and technicians are in sync (a kind of biologic harmony of pulse, respiration, and mindset) when working on critical problems effectively.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Social Animal: #10--INtelligence and Behavior

Intelligence and Behavior: Smart people do well in school. But if we look at successful leaders of companies and organizations or even at Nobel Prize winners, we’re stunned at how many were not the smartest folks but ones with ambition and discipline. In fact, at an IQ threshold of 120 or higher, there’s not much correlation between IQ and performance. When it comes to predicting behavior, a new breed of behavioral economists seem to have a clearer view of reality than traditional, rational economists who think people act only on their own best economic interests. Using “choice architecture,” such behavioral economists can reasonably predict how people will react in certain situations. Here are some heuristics or behavioral rules of thumb that are at work. Priming: Prior to testing, prime people with a set of words around achievement and mastery, and they’ll do better on tests. Anchoring: Show people the most expensive wine bottle or piece of furniture first, and they’ll pay more on average than if you start from the cheapest. Framing: Surgeons who talk about a 15% failure rate with their patients get fewer surgery elections than when they talk about 85% success rates. Expectations: People often live into their predictions—the placebo effect is alive and well. Inertia: A “cognitive miser,” inertia tends to keep us stuck with what we choose for a long time. Arousal: Men react to pictures of women, even in ads for banking. Finally, aversion: People are much more concerned about what they’ll lose than what they‘ll gain.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Social Animal: #9--Culture

Culture: The author gives us a workable definition of culture: “…a collection of habits, practices, beliefs, arguments and tensions that regulates and guides human life…we are embedded in the ‘scaffold of culture’” (p. 148-9). While personal characteristics are very important to one’s success, the context in which people live and work also plays a large role in their cultural success. On a personal level, ambitious people are driven—some by fear, talent, and practice. Often, just committing to a goal will make the difference between high and low achievers. Research on highly successful CEOs showed that MBAs and folks with law degrees fared no better than people with a college degree. The traits that most accurately predicted success were the ability to organize and execute. On a larger cultural scale, Westerners focus on individuals taking action in any given situation, whereas Easterners (Asians) focus on context and relationships. Fifty-four percent (54%) of Asian Americans will graduate from college whereas native-born white Americans graduate at a rate of 34% (for ages 25-29). Cultures within cultures make a difference.

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