discover and develop your strengths

coreclaritybannerI have a new passion. No doubt about it. I love coaching people through discovery of their talents and strengths. Absolutely love it.

Successful people
understand
their talents and strengths
and build their lives upon them.

My husband and I attended a CoreClarity training last spring. That week prepared us to explain Gallup StrengthsFinder results for individuals and groups. This summer, we had numerous opportunities to coach family members, individuals, and couples.

Every time we talked through top talents with people, I watched eyes open wide in recognition, hearts soften with greater understanding, burdens of frustration and self-condemnation wash away, and hope reappear in the soul. 

It was amazing actually.

It is an encouraging experience to grow in self-awareness and self-acceptance, but it is even more powerful to grow in understanding and appreciating the important people in our lives. 

Successful marriages (or teams)
dont just accommodate differences in each other,
they capitalize on them.

If you have never done the StrengthsFinder assessment, I highly recommend it. There are specific assessments you can choose for adults, college and highschool students and even middle school students. After you receive your top five results, find someone trained in CoreClarity to review your results with you. You can do this for yourself, as a couple, for your family, or in a seminar format for your whole team.

You will learn :

  • why it is more important to develop your strengths, rather than focus on improving your weaknesses
  • how to develop your talents into strengths
  • to correct the myths that everyone thinks the same way we do or that everyone has the same talents we do plus what we see in them that we do not have
  • how your top talents affect each other and how your combination creates the unique you
  • how different talents intensify, combine, or collide with other talents
  • how talents understanding helps build and repair relationships, improves problem solving and teamwork
  • how to use your talents to enhance your career

You might also want to attend a facilitator training so you can coach others!

Do you already know your top talents? How have you applied that knowledge to your life and relationships?

Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about CoreClarity or StrengthsFinder. I’ll be glad to help in any way that I can!

how to reach Mars

IMGP9160In all of history, only 12 people have walked on the moon. A lifetime of study and preparation, many years of training and practice, teamwork, and the perfect performance of gazillions of rocket components and wires had to synchronize exactly to make those outer-space steps possible. It was inspiring and challenging to hear about the missions and visit the Kennedy Space Center with my team. Many of the principles that enabled those amazing accomplishments are also relevant to the big goals we attempt today.

Which of the following can you apply to your next challenge?

DREAM THE DREAM

No one had ever put a man on the moon before, but dreamers believed it could be done. They envisioned it, and then they figured out how to make it happen. Today, we must do the same – look ahead, see the future, consider the possibilities. Lane Arbuthnot, an engineer for the Apollo 11 flight, encouraged us to imagine ourselves five years into the future: What is your dream? What do you envision for your life/family/work/mission? How do you want the future to look? and then ask “What will we need in order to reach the goal?” IMGP9162

SACRIFICE

Astronauts gave their lives in pursuit of the mission. We may or may not have to pay the ultimate price, but a great dream will cost us something. I am asking myself these questions: What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to risk? Financial security? Reputation or ridicule? Comfort or convenience? Time? IMGP9169

FOCUS

When we visited the Launch Control Center, it was interesting to observe that all the work stations faced away from the huge windows with a view of the rocket and launch pad. Each person’s concentration and attention were vital for the success of the mission – they were not mere spectators. Are there things in your life you need to re-arrange in order to better concentrate on your dreams and goals?IMGP9197

OPEN COMMUNICATION

In the Launch Control Center, the “Public Affairs Officer” desk sat right next to the “Launch Director”. That openness provided honest communication of launch attempts – successes and failures. Today information and truth is powerful and necessary for alignment and accountability. I know that I often underestimate the need to communicate vision, expectations, feedback, and gratitude. How about you? What could you communicate more often or more clearly?public affairs desk

PEOPLE VALUE AND PRIORITY

Although the rockets and spaceships are definitely impressive, the tour guides consistently emphasized how important the people were to the mission. Over 400,000 worked together on the Apollo 11 flight! Human Resources played a crucial role on the leadership team; hiring, developing, and even firing when necessary…ensuring that all collaborated well. Every person counts when accomplishing an incredible mission! How are the relationships on your team or in your family? Do they know they are uniquely important? Is each person maximizing their strengths?

For NASA, the next goal is Mars! Many people working together will apply these principles to make that dream come true. What is your dream? What will it require?

chess not checkers

I don’t even know how to play chess, but I loved this book! chess not checkers

In typical Mark Miller style, he writes the book as a story, weaving humor, wisdom, care, and pragmatism in a quick, easy-to-read format. The main character, Blake Brown, takes a new CEO job in a struggling organization. Work is frustrating and drudgery, teamwork is non-existent, morale is weak, and customers are going elsewhere. The game has changed, old strategies aren’t working, and losing is miserable for everyone.

Blake begins to meet with a chess master mentor who teaches him four simple – yet essential – principles for playing a new game in today’s complex world:

1. BET ON LEADERSHIP – Identify and invest in emerging leaders. Mark gives excellent tips about developing yourself, your team, and the organization.

“…proactively develop your leadership.
The earlier in their career you invest in them, the better.”

“Leadership growth always
precedes organizational growth.”

2. ACT AS ONE – We know this as alignment, and it requires excellent communication. Mark describes it with a helpful illustration:

“Think of your organization as a car
driving at high speeds down a bumpy, dirt road.
The car will constantly be knocked out of alignment.
Part of your never-ending role is to keep the organization
aligned on what matters most.”

3. WIN THE HEART – Greater engagement happens when you allow people to contribute their unique gifts and work using their personal strengths.

“This is the way you need to look at your people.
When you deploy them thoughtfully,
you create greater value.”

4. EXCEL AT EXECUTION – This involves the important areas of resource allocation, measurements, and systems versus personality design.

“To help your team improve execution,
measure what matters most.”

There is much more in the book. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy today!

Any leader who implements these timeless principles will grow personally and improve the game plan for their team and their organization.

Which of these principles is most urgent for your situation? How can you apply new and improved strategy in your context?

Check out the great book trailer video HERE!

You can also find Mark Miller blogging on his website, Great Leaders Serve.

I also wrote a summary and review of some of Mark’s other books: The Secret and The Heart of Leadership. 

do it right the first time

IMG_0934I was enjoying a delicious grilled dinner out on the patio with my husband. It was peaceful, slightly cool (for Orlando!), and quiet. We were enjoying the scenery, the casual conversation, and the good food.

And then I saw it.

A bubble on the roof of the porch. What’s that? It wasn’t there before! Doesn’t look good…

The opinion of a friend, a chat with the neighbor, calls to the HOA, and a visit from the builder all confirmed – a small missing piece of flashing on the roof meant rain water eventually got under the shingles.. and through the wood… and through the paint… and caused a big ol’ mess.

Weeks later, I’ve had many men hanging from my roof, and I’ve been seeing daylight where it shouldn’t be. I heard lots of people passing the blame – the builder should have supervised, the roofers should have done it right, the inspection guys should have seen it (turns out they don’t actually ever go ON the roof anymore), the stucco guys should have said something…and the painters…. and so on.

It has been an awful lot of work to repair one small detail that wasn’t done right the first time.

A missing three-dollar, couple-feet-long piece of flashing has required 15 or more people visiting my house, tar paper and shingles pulled off and replaced, plywood cut out and nailed back in, mold inspections, new stucco, and new paint. The builder will do further inspections over our whole roof and the roofs of all the other homes constructed by the same company in our neighborhood. Thousands of dollars worth of labor and material. Whew!

At work, I am also part of “re-modeling” work on a training project that had some “small” pieces missing. It has been ten times more difficult to “fix” the job than it would have been to create it well in the first place. A solid foundation could have saved a lot of time, frustration, blame passing… and provided a better product.

These fiascos have me thinking about my own efforts and work. Do I give my best at all I do? Am I committed to quality work? Or do I try to rush through and miss important details?  Do I supervise well? Do I speak up when I see that someone else is not doing a quality job? Or do I just care about MY part?

All work – building homes to writing training materials – requires that everyone involved do quality work to create a quality job. It’s a lot easier to do it right the first time.

What do you think? What makes you committed to doing things right? Or what makes it difficult for you?

 

 

do nice girls finish last?

Lean InI am making my way through Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and chapter three made me stop and think a bit. The chapter is called “Success and Likeability”, and Sandberg starts out with a Harvard Business School case study based on the experience of an entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen. Sandberg writes:

The case described how Roizen became a successful venture capitalist by using her “outgoing personality… and vast personal and professional network [that] included many of the most powerful business leaders in the technology sector”. [The professors] assigned half of the students to read Heidi’s story and gave the other half the same story with just one difference – they changed the name “Heidi” to “Howard”.

[The Professors] then polled the students about their impressions of Heidi or Howard. The students rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent… their accomplishments were completely identical. Yet while students respected both Heidi and Howard, Howard came across as a more appealing colleague. Heidi, on the other hand, was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” The same data with a single difference – gender – created vastly different impressions.¹ (emphasis mine)

Sandberg argues that the case study further proves research that,”When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.”² Sandberg explains that from early on, girls learn that intelligence and success are not the path to popularity. In addition, socially acceptable behavior allows men to claim credit for achievements and assertively negotiate for higher salary, whereas a woman is perceived as arrogant and self-serving if she does the same. Women are expected to help without reward, and care and advocate for others.

The ultimate goal is to eventually eliminate different attitudes and treatment based on stereotypes, but until then Sandberg offers a few suggestions for women. I’ve re-written them in my own words here:

1. Pay the price – Women need to accept that there will be unfair biases and criticism. Sandberg suggests that we allow ourselves to feel and work through the emotions generated by the criticism, but then move on and do our job.

2. Play to your strengths – Some of the common “nice” characteristics ascribed to women – caring, communication, community – greatly improve teamwork. As women smile and appreciate others – while focusing on the task – productivity increases.

3. Position yourself communally – Women will have more success in negotiations when they use “we” vocabulary as context for their requests. Petitions couched in common interests and concern for the common good are more readily accepted from women than those that appear self-centered or self-promoting.

4. Purpose to become comfortable with power – It will take concentrated effort to change mindsets and perspectives based on years of habit and feedback, but as women work to become more comfortable with their power, they will also lean in with greater confidence.

Have you ever struggled with the “nice” girl dilemma? What do you think of Sheryl Sandberg’s tips for overcoming that stereotype?

For my men readers… what do you think? Are women held to a different standard than men?

______________________

¹ Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In. Chapter 3, para. 2-3. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

² Ibid. Chapter 3, para. 4.

working against the tide

Do you ever feel like you are “swimming up-stream”? Have you sensed that the door you hold open has a strong tension-spring that will slam it shut as soon as you let go? Have you ever felt like your hard work and passions are like a sand castle that is completely washed away when the tide comes in?

I have been struggling a lot with those kind of feelings the last few weeks. In a past leadership position, I gave my best effort to bring about a culture change that I believed in strongly. Some of what we encouraged was team leadership, women valued and developed equally with the men, integrity in character and finances, and a willingness to honestly evaluate results.

Together with my husband, I tried to lead by example; brought in resources and training; honored those co-workers who demonstrated the values we cherished, and celebrated the environment and growth that resulted from our efforts. It was hard work, there was resistance and personal attack, and we paid a price physically, emotionally, and relationally.

We were also incredibly blessed with encouragement and support from partners, mentors, and the thrill of changed lives. At the time, I thought the dream of healthy relationships and a healthy organization was worth the pain.

Sadly, today looking back on that time, I question more… so much of what we “built” is gone. Many things are different; environment, people, results… I wonder, did my hard work really accomplish anything? Was the up-hill climb good for only short-term, superficial change?

I have learned a lot about working as a leader. Now I need to learn about letting go. I need to live with the tension between desire for a legacy… and contentment with having given my best when it was my turn.

Do you have any tips for me? What do you do when your hard work is washed away?