Are You Prepared To Lead The Way – Part 2

Excerpt from Cracking The Personality Code book

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]O[/dropcaps]ur friends and colleagues, Suzanne and Dwight Frindt shared the following ideas in our book, Cracking The Personality Code. The Frindts are the founders of 2130 Partners, a leadership development and education firm that facilitates focused vision, inspired teams, and sustained commitment for its clients.

Understanding the Role of Your Body

Studies have shown that to learn a new physical skill takes 300 repetitions for muscle-memory to be developed and 3,000 repetitions for the skill to be “embodied.” In a similar way, the Frindts believe that for intellectual learning to take root, it must be practiced repeatedly. In addition, there are key physical components that impact intellectual learning, bus man on bombespecially when someone is faced with stress.

Without awareness of these physical components, it’s almost impossible to learn to address distress differently. The Frindts are finding that the physical aspects of being in an emotionally distressed state are as important as the feelings themselves. These two elements are inextricably linked. Ignoring or overlooking the physical manifestations of emotion limits our ability to manage emotional distress.

Research into brain physiology is now giving us valuable understanding of the physiological dimension of our emotional reactions. This fundamental information is extremely useful for business leaders. For example, let’s look at a physical process sometimes referred to as “limbic hijacking.”

The limbic system is the part of the brain associated with emotion and memory. Within the limbic system are the amygdalae, two almond-shaped clusters of neurons whose primary responsibilities include scanning for danger and warning us of impending threats. A limbic hijacking occurs when the amygdalae are triggered, producing physical sensations of distress. Some common signals of the amygdalae’s work include sweaty palms, tense shoulders, dry mouth, and “butterflies in the stomach.” As the intensity of distress rises, the strength of the physical signals increases—and our rational, cognitive powers diminish.

A Biological Early Warning System

In their role as instinctual guardians, the amygdalae are part of our biological early warning system. They help ensure our physical survival by triggering four simple reactions: fight, flight, freeze, or appease. They respond instinctively, with lightning speed—much faster than the thinking portions of our brain.

For our early ancestors, who were dealing with a natural world that presented many real, life-threatening dangers, this function was essential to survival. But in today’s corporate workplace, amygdalae reactions can often hinder instead of help.

Here’s why. The amygdalae react instinctively, nearly instantaneously. Unfortunately, they can’t differentiate between a real or imagined threat. They also can’t distinguish between a physical threat and one generated by words or our own thoughts. And when the amygdalae send their warnings, they set powerful forces in motion throughout the body. Adrenaline and cortisol are released, raising heart rate and blood pressure. Blood drains from “less important” areas (such as our thinking brain) and goes to those areas needed for physical defense. We become a reactionary machine: on guard, on edge.

“Not the best state for thoughtful discourse, creative problem-solving or associative collaboration,” notes Dwight Frindt.

Post-Stress Mess

That’s just the beginning. There are also the after-effects. If we were running from a bear in the woods like our ancestors, that extreme physical effort would consume much of the excess adrenaline and cortisol released by the amygdalae’s warnings of danger. Because of that, soon after the danger had passed, our heart rate and blood pressure would drop, man and parachuteand we would return to a more relaxed, thoughtful state.

In the office, this doesn’t happen. On a typical working day the amygdalae may perceive many “threatening” situations. And even though these “dangers” take the form of spoken words or private thoughts rather than outside physical threats to our survival, they still trigger the same biological reactions. We get hyped up in self-defense mode with nowhere to run off the floods of adrenaline and cortisol.

Without a release, our heart rate and blood pressure stay high, other physical sensations continue, and we experience protracted stress. At a minimum, we’re frustrated, distracted, and unproductive; we’re certainly unable to be our most creative. In high-stress environments where perceived threats occur even more frequently, people may end up missing work altogether due to physical illness or needing a “mental health day.” Under these conditions, the risk of burnout is high.

The amygdalae and limbic system, along with the brain stem, form what is commonly called the “old brain.” In fact, the brain stem is sometimes referred to as the “reptilian brain” because it can be found in all vertebrates, including reptiles and mammals. It has to do with our most basic functions: breathing, sleeping, blood circulation, muscle contraction, reproduction and self-preservation. Coupled with the limbic system’s early warning system of danger, the reptilian brain provides a powerful image and an important clue in how behavior manifests during distress.

“Picture the angry team leader raging in a team meeting,” says Dwight Frindt. “It doesn’t take a great leap from there to imagine everyone around the table instantly transformed into iguanas, geckos, and gila monsters, each caught in their own reaction and defensive/offensive posturing. It is hard to imagine that many executives actually intend to have their companies managed by a group of reptiles. Yet this kind of behavior is regularly triggered and allowed to persist.”

Given the primitive, instinctual physical reactions associated with being upset, it’s no wonder that all those advanced conceptual-learning approaches are not very helpful in reducing the effects of emotional distress. The information we learn in those training workshops are accessed and processed in the cerebral cortex, the “new,” rational part of the brain. But as we’ve seen, when we get upset we begin functioning from an entirely different place, a different part of the brain.

So how do we bridge the gap between the thinking and feeling brain? How do we make use of both our higher reasoning and our emotional passion that fires so much of our inspiration and creativity? How do we do so in a way that minimizes reactivity and distress while increasing productivity and shared pride of ownership?

Leaders can use the answers to get more of their own thoughtful time back and enhance their ability to focus on critical business issues. Team members can use the answers to raise their individual and collective productivity in ways that enhance their lives rather than increasing their stress. In both cases, people are able to move from an experience of trying to survive to one of thriving.

The Frindts propose that leaders start by working on themselves. The truth is organizations look to their executives to set the tone. If those executives are highly reactive, in all likelihood their organizations will be, too. On the other hand, if leaders learn to identify and clear their own emotional distress first, they’ll be more productive, they’ll trigger less stress within their teams, and they’ll be much better equipped to support team members in navigating their own emotional reactions.

Dwight and Suzanne Frindt have seen it time and again. As leaders begin to experience the benefits of their increased ability to “de-stress” emotionally, it becomes an obvious investment to train others. Just as mounting stress can create its own snowball effect in a team, team members can begin to build a new kind momentum of converting distress to eustress (healthy, productive stress—as in the excitement of pursuing a challenging goal). The more individuals there are who can identify and clear their own emotional distress, the easier it becomes for other colleagues to join them in maintaining a balance of thoughtful productivity and emotional engagement. It’s a process that, when fully committed to, can transform a culture.

While lasting change takes time and continuous practice, there are a few simple, critically important steps that can begin to immediately repair the damage of emotional distress. These diagnostic and intervention steps are both conceptual and physical. They give your intellect the information and your body the tools to change both experience and behavior.

5-Step Recipe for Identifying and Clearing Distress

  1. Learn to observe and identify body sensations that signal a “limbic hijacking” is taking place. It sounds obvious, but many people have no awareness of their physical state when they’re upset. Yet this information is critical to implementing lasting change. So practice. With a bit of self-observation, most of us can say (for example), “I feel pressure in my chest,” “I feel blood rushing to my neck,” “I stiffen up,” “I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach.” It’s essential to develop the skill of recognizing your physical buildingsymptoms. It’s so important, in fact, that this physical in-formation comes before anything else in the intervention process. Practice this step until you have a clear understanding of your reactions.
  2. Exhale and slow down your breathing. After you’ve learned to identify that you’re in a “hijacked” state, you can incorporate the practice of altering your breathing. The quickest and most effective method to immediately calm the “fight or flight” response is to take long, slow, deep breaths. When stressed, it’s common to hold your breath or to take very shallow breaths as part of your defensive response. Exhaling fully and slowing down your breathing is simple. It’s also quite possibly the most important and powerful antidote to emotional distress.
  3. Identify your amygdalae-triggered reaction. Learn to observe your automatic defense. Are you doing fight (assertiveness/attack), flight (mentally checking out or even physically leaving the room), freeze (deer-in-the-headlights, unable to think of what to do next), or appease (“sucking up,” e.g., “Oh, yes, I know exactly what you mean,” or “I’m with you on that.”)? Depending on the circumstances, you’re likely to have one reaction that triggers as your default defensive position. As you realize what your reaction is, you’ll also start to see its limits and its impact on others. This awareness actually builds the capacity to choose different behavior that gets you more of what you intend.
  4. Stop trying to drive your agenda. When under emotional distress, you’re more likely to make statements that you’ll later wish you could eat (and may have to). One of the most productive steps you can take in a moment of upset is to stop talking, breathe, and observe. Allow your-self some time. Is there really a reason to rush? If you can learn to step back and observe your own distress, or simply stay calm in the face of another’s distress, there’s an opportunity for a positive outcome.
  5. Ask yourself a “brain-switching” question. The amygdalae can only respond to a perceived threat, such as “Is that a bear, and is it going to eat me?” Unfortunately, since they cannot tell the difference between a physical threat and a threat in language, they go off frequently in the office or home where there hasn’t been a bear sighting in years. You can reactivate your thinking capacities by coming up with a reminder question. Use this question consistently (almost like a mantra) to activate the cerebral cortex of the brain. For example, ask yourself something that brings you back to a big-picture perspective: “What is the purpose of this meeting?” “What are we committed to here?” The relative sophistication of such a question will refocus your thinking and energy and will allow your system to relax.

One Last Thought

Next comes practice, practice, and more practice. You (and everyone else) have had decades of practice with your specific defensive reactions to distress. These reactions can be triggered by so many kinds of comments, tones of voice, and even facial expressions that you’ll have to work hard to refine your “brain switching.” In the beginning, it may not be possible to catch yourself before you’re already in the throes of a defensive, stressful conversation. However, with practice it’s possible to read the symptoms of defensiveness in your body and to mitigate the oncoming emotional reactions. If you commit yourself, it will become a lifelong discipline, and it will be well worth it.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Suzanne Frindt is a co-founder and principal of 2130 Partners, an executive leadership development and education firm that launched in 1990. She is also a recognized speaker on the topics of Vision-Focused Leadership™ and Productive Interactions™, speaking to organizations around the world. She is also a Group Chair for Vistage International, Inc. an organization of CEOs and key executives dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and enhancing the lives of more than 12,000 members. Each month she facilitates groups in Orange County, California, and Seattle, Washington, while also regularly contributing entrepreneurial creativity and management experience to several companies through service on their advisory boards.

Dwight Frindt is also a co-founder and principal of 2130 Partners. Since 1994, Dwight has been a Group Chair for Vistage International facilitating groups of CEOs and senior executives. He has received many performance awards for his work at Vistage and in 2009 Dwight became a Best Practice Chair and began mentoring the Chairs in the South Orange County area. Since then he has added two additional Best Practice Chair regions; the Puget Sound and the Greater Pacific Northwest. In 2011 Dwight received the Best Practice Chair of the Year Award – Western Division. Combining his work with 2130 Partners and Vistage, Dwight has facilitated more than 1,000 days of workshops and meetings, and has logged well over 13,000 hours of executive leadership coaching.

In addition to working in the for-profit world, Dwight and Suzanne are very committed to working with non-profits and have been investors and activists with The Hunger Project for many years. To reach them please visit www.2130partners.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order our books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Are You Prepared To Lead The Way – Part 1

Excerpt from Cracking The Personality Code book

How to Become a Vision-Focused Leader

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]T[/dropcaps]he answer is leadership. It is time to become a vision-focused leader around whom issues can be raised and resolved productively. That’s the view of Suzanne and Dwight Frindt, the founders of 2130 Partners, a leadership development and education firm that facilitates focused vision, inspired teams, and sustained commitment for its clients.bizmen with telescopes world

Ask yourself these questions:

• Are your conversations with your team generating the results you want?
• Does your team successfully raise and resolve issues relevant to business success?
• Can you identify and deal with emotional upsets, in both yourself and others?

Exactly what is this leadership that is vision-focused? “We love Warren Bennis’ definition: ‘Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it,’” says Suzanne Frindt. “Our approach is the same whether we are working with individuals or with en-tire leadership teams. We believe the greatest opportunities are created by the development of people and action in a coordinated direction. We assert that the only sustainable strategies engage the heart and soul and are simultaneously grounded in sound business practices.”

Suzanne Frindt co-founded 2130 Partners with her husband Dwight in 1990. She is a recognized speaker on the topics of Vision-Focused Leadership™ and Productive Interactions™(www.2130partners.com), speaking to various organizations around the world. Suzanne is also a group chair for Vistage International, Inc., an organization dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and enhancing the lives of more than 14,000 CEO and executive members in sixteen countries.

Dwight Frindt established 2130 Partners on an idea that has become the cornerstone of the firm. The guiding methodology of Vision-Focused Leadership was born from his years of hands-on executive experience and from his thirty-year affiliation with The Hunger Project, an organization committed to the sustainable end of world hunger. Dwight has integrated his knowledge of managing operations, acquisitions, and turn-arounds with insights he has learned through the work of The Hunger Project in rural villages around the world. Dwight also serves as a group chair for Vistage International and monthly facilitates CEO and executive groups in Orange County, California.

In their leadership programs, through their firm 2130 Partners, the Frindts train participants to utilize a new paradigm and methodology to shift the way they listen and dialogue. This critical approach enhances fundamental skills and abilities to have successful interactions—the corner-stone of effective leadership.

Power of Shared Vision

In a 1996 article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “Building Your Company’s Vision,” Jim Collins and Jerry Porras said that companies that enjoy enduring success have a bizpeople seeing sunrisecore purpose and core values that remain fixed while their strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. The rare ability to balance continuity and change—requiring a consciously practiced discipline—is closely linked to the ability to develop a vision.

Vision provides guidance about what to preserve and what to change. Suzanne Frindt calls vision a “Yonder Star.”

“Without a vision, what is the point?” says Suzanne Frindt. “A Yonder Star unleashes the energy to galvanize yourself and your employees so you can achieve phenomenal things.”

When group members share a vision, it creates an opportunity for totally different conversations between a manager and members of their team. Focus on the shared vision creates alignment and provides a powerful context for creating mission, strategic initiatives, objectives, goals, roles, and finally all the way down through action plans.

Being a manager means making choices. At any moment in time you have a decision to make. Suzanne urges that when it comes time to make a decision being present in the moment, not on automatic pilot, is essential to the quality and relevance of the decision. You can then make the choice based on your Yonder Star, your shared vision of something to which you aspire, versus more of the same or your fear of some worst-case scenario.

“Worries are about envisioning a worst-case scenario, what you fear most,” says Suzanne Frindt. “Whatever we envision is affecting us right now. What we envision impacts us in this moment. There are consequences for managing based on fears that you may not want. Your Yonder Star is the shared vision you aspire to. The star is what you envision, and what you envision shapes both the present moment and the quality of your choices about your actions.”

Something else she recommends avoiding is being past-focused. This is when you make decisions based solely on what you have done in the past. Instead of having an inspiring vision for your team, all you are working for with a past based focus is attempting to minimize perceived risk and making incremental improvements.

“Many companies are past-focused when they do strategic planning,” says Suzanne Frindt. “What did the company do last year and then let’s add 10 percent or 20 percent. We are all tempted to try hard to make yesterday look like today. Or if we didn’t like yesterday, then we try to make it different or better.”

She adds that only by having a vision, a Yonder Star, can teams create breakthroughs to unprecedented results. Equally important is that it is a shared vision, one that is based on shared values and shared operating principles. This is how you create an environment for real collaboration.

The Frindts also advise their clients to learn to shift from being monologuers to dialoguers. As Margaret Miller once said, “Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.” A monologuer manager is driven by proving they are right rather than engaging in a conversation for creative problem solving. This monologuing manager often gets surrender and appeasement from their team members rather than enthusiastic engagement.

Dialogue is the opposite. The three Cs of dialoguing are connect, con-verse and create. It has been said that the purpose of dialogue is not to share information but to create information. The focus is on the issue and your shared purpose rather than each other. As a manager, your ability to model and encourage listening that is curious and open dramatically increases your effectiveness. The dimensions that become possible are creativity, connection, alignment, focus, and collaboration.

“You create your vision, honestly assess where you are, and then get to work on the gap,” says Suzanne Frindt. “On the road there will be road-blocks and potholes. As a manager you work with your team to get around the roadblocks and fill in potholes.”

Overcoming Emotional Barriers

“The ability to identify and clear upsets, in myself and others, is the single most significant key to productivity gains in our economy today,” says Dwight Frindt. “We have asked our executive-leadership clients a simple question: ‘What time could you go home if everyone in the company simply came to work, did their jobs, and went home?’ The answer used to men with ladders and wallsurprise us until it kept being repeated. On average, our clients say, ‘Between 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.’”

That begs a second question. If so many executives claim they could go home before lunch if everyone just showed up and did their work, what’s taking so much of our leaders’ time? The Frindts’ clients tell them flat out: distress, commonly known as upsets. The most time-consuming part of their job is managing the distressed interactions within their teams so that those teams can actually get to the business at hand.

“Okay, let’s assume there’s gross exaggeration at play here, fueled by frustration and wry humor,” continues Dwight Frindt. “But even if executives will never be able to consistently leave by noon, it is entirely reason-able for them to expect to save at least two hours of their time, every day. Alternatively they could increase their productivity 15–30%”

That’s nearly 500 extra hours a year leaders can devote to creative thinking, visioning, and strategizing rather than on repairing relationships and soothing bruised egos. At the opportunity cost of most executives’ time, that amounts to very substantial savings. Of course, the same can be said for everyone in the organization. An inordinate amount of productive time and payroll dollars and worse yet, opportunities, are lost daily, monthly and annually to the distraction caused by unresolved emotional distress.

Replacing that time, energy, and resource loss is of paramount importance. Doing so can create a culture that is both highly productive and emotionally resilient and rewarding. It requires a fundamental, transformative shift in two steps: 1) fewer emotionally driven issues in the workplace; and 2) leaders and their team members becoming self-sufficient in handling emotional distress issues when they occur.

“Let’s clarify what we mean by emotional distress,” says Dwight Frindt. “We’re using the term to summarize a wide range of reactions that temporarily disable people with regard to thoughtful and productive behavior. These reactions can vary from mild frustration to full-blown anger, and include embarrassment, sadness, impatience, agitation, worry, and fear. In each case the person is left in a condition where, whether realized or not, they are acting as if their very survival is threatened.”

The Causes of Emotional Distress

The Frindts’ studies and their clients’ experiences make it clear that the most common root causes of workplace emotional distress are 1) the perception that a promise has been broken (usually by leadership); 2) when positive intentions “fail”; and 3) when commitments seem thwarted. In addition to these three internal triggers, there are many times when busman and sharkpersonal distress is brought to the workplace from the rest of the person’s life. These other sources can be especially difficult to address, due to varying perspectives on what constitutes personal-professional boundaries.

The impact on the productivity and organizational effectiveness of people attempting to work while “stressed out” (or surrounded by others who are) is enormous. Yet it’s been the Frindts’ observation that most leaders overlook this as the place to start any efforts in business improvement. Most are far more comfortable with cost cutting, process development, process improvement, reorganizing, or some other business change that does not directly address the human dimension.

To help disarm this apparent reluctance to actively engage when emotional distress is present, the Frindts began several years ago to bring their clients a variety of expert presentations, books, and other training opportunities for building communication and issue-resolution skills. Even though there are many excellent resources available in this field, they were disappointed in the results. Their clients’ progress after exposure to all this material fell significantly short of what had been anticipated. The clients’ ability and skill in powerfully addressing emotional, distressing situations didn’t dramatically change.

So what went wrong? Why didn’t all that training and exposure to skill-building help when emotional distress was triggered? The problem is not in the content of the material. It’s in the limitation of its focus. Most of this highly regarded material addresses and is received by the intellectual part of the mind. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but too often the audience comes away with a conceptual understanding while gaining little or no real skill at changing behavior. Providing access to new information and a broader intellectual understanding is a good start, but it’s only a start. The Frindts found that unless this information is somehow deeply absorbed and embodied beyond the intellect, it vanishes when people are challenged and faced with intense emotion—their own or that of others.

In part two of this article, we will provide further ideas as well as the “5-Step Recipe” for identifying and dealing with emotional distress that can prevent vision-focused leadership.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Suzanne Frindt is a co-founder and principal of 2130 Partners, an executive leadership development and education firm that launched in 1990. She is also a recognized speaker on the topics of Vision-Focused Leadership™ and Productive Interactions™, speaking to organizations around the world. She is also a Group Chair for Vistage International, Inc. an organization of CEOs and key executives dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and enhancing the lives of more than 12,000 members. Each month she facilitates groups in Orange County, California, and Seattle, Washington, while also regularly contributing entrepreneurial creativity and management experience to several companies through service on their advisory boards.

Dwight Frindt is also a co-founder and principal of 2130 Partners. Since 1994, Dwight has been a Group Chair for Vistage International facilitating groups of CEOs and senior executives. He has received many performance awards for his work at Vistage and in 2009 Dwight became a Best Practice Chair and began mentoring the Chairs in the South Orange County area. Since then he has added two additional Best Practice Chair regions; the Puget Sound and the Greater Pacific Northwest. In 2011 Dwight received the Best Practice Chair of the Year Award – Western Division. Combining his work with 2130 Partners and Vistage, Dwight has facilitated more than 1,000 days of workshops and meetings, and has logged well over 13,000 hours of executive leadership coaching.

In addition to working in the for-profit world, Dwight and Suzanne are very committed to working with non-profits and have been investors and activists with The Hunger Project for many years. To reach them please visit www.2130partners.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order our books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Are You Prepared to Lead the Way – or Has Fear Got Your Focus?

By Dana & Ellen Borowka

Recently, we have had a number of conversations with CEOs and key executives regarding what they are planning for their businesses for the new year. We have found two categories of individuals. Those that have a vision through listening to others in the market place, reaching out for support, gathering industry data, looking for trends and opportunities. The other group is totally focused on overhead reduction, darting around and focusing on the bad news in the world, taxes, health man buried in paperbills, and any information that they can grab onto to help justify why they are so scared.

Here is the Question for the Day

Which category do you fit into? Your answer will determine how your company is doing today and will be doing in the future. Those that think they know everything are closing themselves off from amazing opportunities.

Certainly all companies need to be constantly looking at overhead and keeping up with the news. However, when the focus is fear driven then our thoughts begin to justify our fears. That wastes time as it creates the continual loop of fear, depression, anxiety, etc.

The group that is forward thinking has a completely different outlook on life. That’s not to say that they don’t have concerns but rather they are using this time to plan ahead, remain clear headed and open to ideas. That is the key – to be still enough in order to listen. Then act on what we are seeing as immediate and future potential for new products and services, improvement in retention of current business as well as ideas for gaining additional market share.

Your focus will tell you immediately where you stand! First, we will explore leadership and how to deal with the fear. Then we’ll share what a group of business owners did that has separated them from many other companies.

How to Become a Vision-Focused Leader

The answer is leadership. It is time to become a vision-focused leader around whom issues can be raised and resolved productively. That’s the view of Suzanne and Dwight Frindt, the founders of 2130 Partners, a leadership development and education firm that facilitates focused vision, inspired teams, and sustained commitment for its clients and co-authors of Accelerate: High Leverage Leadership for Today’s World

Ask yourself these questions:

• Are your conversations with your team generating the results you want?
• Does your team successfully raise and resolve issues relevant to business success?
• Can you identify and deal with emotional upsets, in both yourself and others?

Exactly what is this leadership that is vision-focused? “We love Warren Bennis’ definition: ‘Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it,’” says Suzanne Frindt. “Our approach is the same whether we are working with individuals or with entire leadership teams. We believe the greatest opportunities are created by the development of people and action in a coordinated direction. We assert that the only sustainable strategies engage the heart and soul and are simultaneously grounded in sound business practices.”

Power of Shared Vision

In a 1996 article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “Building Your Company’s Vision,” Jim Collins and Jerry Porras said that companies that enjoy enduring success have a core purpose and core values that remain fixed while their strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. The rare ability to balance continuity and change—requiring a MC900297401[1]consciously practiced discipline—is closely linked to the ability to develop a vision.

“Without a vision, what is the point?” says Suzanne Frindt. “A Yonder Star unleashes the energy to galvanize yourself and your employees so you can achieve phenomenal things.”

When group members share a vision, it creates an opportunity for totally different conversations between a manager and members of their team. Focus on the shared vision creates alignment and provides a powerful context for creating mission, strategic initiatives, objectives, goals, roles, and finally all the way down through action plans.

Being a manager means making choices. At any moment in time you have a decision to make. Suzanne urges that when it comes time to make a decision being present in the moment, not on automatic pilot, is essential to the quality and relevance of the decision. You can then make the choice based on your Yonder Star, your shared vision of something to which you aspire, versus more of the same or your fear of some worst-case scenario.

“Worries are about envisioning a worst-case scenario, what you fear most,” says Suzanne Frindt. “Whatever we envision is affecting us right now. What we envision impacts us in this moment. There are consequences for managing based on fears that you may not want. Your Yonder Star is the shared vision you aspire to. The star is what you envision, and what you envision shapes both the present moment and the quality of your choices about your actions.”

Something else she recommends avoiding is being past-focused. This is when you make decisions based solely on what you have done in the past. Instead of having an inspiring vision for your team, all you are working for with a past based focus is attempting to minimize perceived risk and making incremental improvements.

“Many companies are past-focused when they do strategic planning,” says Suzanne Frindt. “What did the company do last year and then let’s add 10 percent or 20 percent. We are all tempted to try hard to make yesterday look like today. Or if we didn’t like yesterday, then we try to make it different or better.”

She adds that only by having a vision, a Yonder Star, can teams create breakthroughs to unprecedented results. Equally important is that it is a shared vision, one that is based on shared values and shared operating principles. This is how you create an environment for real collaboration.

Overcoming Emotional Barriers

“The ability to identify and clear upsets, in myself and others, is the single most significant key to productivity gains in our economy today,” says Dwight Frindt. “We have asked our executive-leadership clients a simple question: ‘What time could you go home if everyone in the company simply came to work, did their jobs, and went home?’ The answer used tomen with ladders and wall surprise us until it kept being repeated. On average, our clients say, ‘Between 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.’”

That begs a second question. If so many executives claim they could go home before lunch if everyone just showed up and did their work, what’s taking so much of our leaders’ time? The Frindts’ clients tell them flat out: distress, commonly known as upsets. The most time-consuming part of their job is managing the distressed interactions within their teams so that those teams can actually get to the business at hand.

“Even if executives will never be able to consistently leave by noon, it is entirely reasonable for them to expect to save at least two hours of their time, every day. Alternatively they could increase their productivity 15–30%” says Dwight Frindt.

That’s nearly 500 extra hours a year leaders can devote to creative thinking, visioning, and strategizing rather than on repairing relationships and soothing bruised egos. At the opportunity cost of most executives’ time, that amounts to very substantial savings. Of course, the same can be said for everyone in the organization. An inordinate amount of productive time and payroll dollars and worse yet, opportunities, are lost daily, monthly and annually to the distraction caused by unresolved emotional distress.

Replacing that time, energy, and resource loss is of paramount importance. Doing so can create a culture that is both highly productive and emotionally resilient and rewarding. It requires a fundamental, transformative shift in two steps: 1) fewer emotionally driven issues in the workplace; and 2) leaders and their team members becoming self-sufficient in handling emotional distress issues when they occur.

“Let’s clarify what we mean by emotional distress,” says Dwight Frindt. “We’re using the term to summarize a wide range of reactions that temporarily disable people with regard to thoughtful and productive behavior. These reactions can vary from mild frustration to full-blown anger, and include embarrassment, sadness, impatience, agitation, worry, and fear. In each case the person is left in a condition where, whether realized or not, they are acting as if their very survival is threatened.”

The Causes of Emotional Distress

The Frindts’ studies and their clients’ experiences make it clear that the most common root causes of workplace emotional distress are 1) the perception that a promise has been broken (usually by leadership); 2) when positive intentions “fail”; and 3) when commitments seem thwarted. In addition to these three internal triggers, there are many times when personal distress is brought to the workplace from the rest of the person’s life. These other sources can be especially difficult to address, due to varying perspectives on what constitutes personal-professional boundaries.

The impact on the productivity and organizational effectiveness of people attempting to work while “stressed out” (or surrounded by others who are) is enormous. Yet it’s been the Frindts’ observation that most leaders overlook this as the place to start any efforts in business improvement. Most are far more comfortable with cost cutting, process development, process improvement, reorganizing, or some other business change that does not directly address the human dimension.

Long Term Vision & Working the Plan

Back in 2006/2007, a group of business owners saw the writing on the wall regarding the long term economic change. While some people thumbed their noses at the possibility and buried their heads in the sand… purely out of fear. The forward looking group sought feedback from others who had been through similar business cycles and discovered the following ideas:

  1. Create your vision: The goal is to have a long range vision for your company.man on ladder peeling sky
  2. Think outside your box: What else can you provide? What other opportunities can you look at? What are some other possibilities that will help others to fulfill their vision?
  3. What is needed: Listen to the market place and offer valuable services.
  4. Know your numbers: Where are you and where are you going?
  5. Work the plan: Develop measurable marketing, sales, financial, internal operations plans then execute and don’t wait. This avoids waste and preserves valuable resources. Through proper planning the dollars can be used to gain market share while other organizations could be financially drained and in a constant state of fear! The forward business group took a three year outlook and developed various action plans and worked the plan.
  6. Be on the lookout for top “A” and “B” players for hiring top people who have vision.
  7. Team vision: Have clear goals and objectives for all staff members.
  8. For new hires at all levels do the most thorough interviewing based on 30-60-90-180-12 month goals.
  9. Do in-depth work style and personality assessment testing to get a clear picture of who you are about to bring aboard to best manage the individuals so they can be successful.
  10. Maintain a collaborative team environment where everyone can provide input to create internal efficiencies, all are listening to customer and market needs, and respond in a timely way so your company is always engaged as the business environment has needs.

This is the time to be moving forward by offering fresh ideas, solutions, and support that will add value to all those you come in contact with and in return your business will thrive!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Suzanne Frindt is a co-founder and principal of 2130 Partners, an executive leadership development and education firm that launched in 1990. She is also a recognized speaker on the topics of Vision-Focused Leadership™ and Productive Interactions™, speaking to organizations around the world. She is also a Group Chair for Vistage International, Inc. an organization of CEOs and key executives dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and enhancing the lives of more than 12,000 members. Each month she facilitates groups in Orange County, California, and Seattle, Washington, while also regularly contributing entrepreneurial creativity and management experience to several companies through service on their advisory boards.

Dwight Frindt is also a co-founder and principal of 2130 Partners. Since 1994, Dwight has been a Group Chair for Vistage International facilitating groups of CEOs and senior executives. He has received many performance awards for his work at Vistage and in 2009 Dwight became a Best Practice Chair and began mentoring the Chairs in the South Orange County area. Since then he has added two additional Best Practice Chair regions; the Puget Sound and the Greater Pacific Northwest. In 2011 Dwight received the Best Practice Chair of the Year Award – Western Division. Combining his work with 2130 Partners and Vistage, Dwight has facilitated more than 1,000 days of workshops and meetings, and has logged well over 13,000 hours of executive leadership coaching.

In addition to working in the for-profit world, Dwight and Suzanne are very committed to working with non-profits and have been investors and activists with The Hunger Project for many years. To reach them please visit www.2130partners.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order our books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Business Etiquette Around The World

By Alan Weiss – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

The following are some suggestions and advice from American Language Services.

Picture from documentary McLuhan's Wake

Picture from documentary McLuhan’s Wake

Asia in General

The three predominant business cultures of Asia are Chinese, Japanese, and Indian, and they are so different that each has to be treated separately. However, there are a few common elements to almost all of Asian business:

• Asians value experience and respect age and hierarchy.

• Asians tend to be less individualistic than Americans and less anxious to stand out.

• Asian business practices are more formal. Dress conservatively, be on time, and use people’s formal titles.

• Giving offense or causing embarrassment for a negotiating partner is extremely damaging to any future business relationship.

• Saving face, and allowing your counterpart to save face, is extremely important, so it’s equally important to find euphemistic ways of saying “no,” such as, “We will consider your idea” or “I must study your proposal further.”

China

• The status of the westerners convening or attending a meeting is always noted by Chinese hosts, and they will resent having to deal with someone they consider of low rank in your organization.

• When setting up a meeting, be aware that it will be in Chinese and it is up to you to bring an interpreter. Many Chinese understand at least some English, but it will not be used in a meeting.

• Business cards are vital, and should be printed in English on one side and Chinese on the other. Be aware that the written and spoken form of Chinese is very different in Taiwan and Hong Kong than in the rest of China, and prepare accordingly. Treat an offered card with respect and examine each one before putting it away carefully.

• Hierarchy rules every business meeting and transaction. At the start of a meeting, the highest-ranking person enters the room first. Each delegation’s leader introduces his team, and then business cards are exchanged.

• If your company is the biggest, the oldest, or the best, don’t be shy about saying so; prestige and prosperity are openly respected in China. Presentation materials should never look “low rent.” Printed materials should be on quality paper. Bring more than enough copies for everyone.

• Be patient and be careful not to show anger or animosity.

Japan

• Japanese business is generally face-to-face, and people prefer to do business with someone they’ve met.

• Although most Japanese in business speak English, and meetings may sometimes be conducted in English, it would be wise to bring your own interpreter, not just to clarify points but also to keep the Japanese side aware that you’re capable of understanding their internal talk.

• Meetings tend to be communal, with each nationality’s “team” introduced at the start of a meeting. Do not address individuals, as a rule, but the whole room. The seating arrangement at meetings is up to the host and done strictly by rank. The bosses are seated first, and at the end of a meeting they are the first to get up. The most senior person on the Japanese side will often say very little, allowing his staff to handle the meeting while he observes it silently.

• Business cards should be in English on one side, Japanese on the other. Get the finest printing you can, and never give anyone a card that isn’t perfect. As everyone knows, the exchange of business cards is an important Japanese ritual. The card is equated with the person offering it; it should be accepted with both hands and carefully examined.

• Taking copious notes in a meeting is a sign of respect. Don’t use a red pen or pencil to write someone’s name, not even your own — it’s a sign of death.

• Gift giving is common and a western businessperson should have a hierarchy of gifts, from the most senior to the most junior Japanese counterpart.

India

• Like the rest of Asia, the boss is king, and corporate relationships are strictly governed by rank. Decisions are made at the top, so always seek to meet with the highest-world tree universeranking counterpart that you can.

• Words like sir, madam, Mr., and Mrs. are still used with everyone in India. Politeness is prized.

• Things take time in India, and schedules are frequently adjusted accordingly. Americans generally prefer to focus on one thing at a time; business practices in India are attuned to tending to many things at the same time. Schedules are padded because interruptions are common and expected.

• Always be polite in negotiation, even if you also have to be firm. Even staged tantrums are considered very bad form.

• Indians like small talk. It is considered rude to plunge right into business discussions, though that rule is increasingly going by the wayside in especially westernized industries like media.

• Business cards are not the fetish they are in China or Japan, but carry plenty of them. English only is fine.

Europe

• Although Europe is gradually becoming less formal, conservative business dress and elaborate politeness is still the rule. Always be careful to address people formally, as Mr., Mrs., or Ms., and be sure to use their academic rank and job title as well, especially in northern Europe.

• A handshake is quick and ceremonial, not a “grip and greet.” Expect to shake hands at the end of a meeting as well. Always extend a greeting to a meeting participant before asking a question of them.

• As a rule: Punctuality is a business must in Europe, but much of southern Europe has a slightly more relaxed attitude. Showing up early for a meeting would seem rude in Spain; but in the UK, Scandinavia and Germany, not showing up early would be rude.

• Small talk, personal questions, and banter are parts of a meeting in Mediterranean and southern countries. In the north, it’s more common for the highest ranking person at the meeting to start right into business.

• Bring business cards — English only is fine — but more and more Continental businesses are using e-cards and other unconventional media in place of paper cards, a statement of Euro style as well as ecology.

Russia

• Though most Russians in business speak English, bring an interpreter anyway. Gestures like having meeting documents translated in advance into Russian, and having one side of your business card printed in Russian are important and appreciated marks of respect. Cards aren’t handled with the near-awe they receive in China and Japan but they should still be treated with care.

• Shake hands firmly, maintaining eye contact. Shake hands at the beginning and end of every meeting. Initially Russians tend to be reserved. Don’t expect friendly smiles at first.

• Shows of emotion and anger, threats and walkouts are not uncommon business strategies, and negotiations can be more uninhibited, in fact heated, than elsewhere.

• It is considered bad form to use heavy sales pressure in Russian business meetings, which often take the academic-seeming form of opposing panels of experts who expect detailed, factual presentations.

• Business negotiation in Russia takes time and patience. Don’t expect quick results. No agreement is final until a contract is signed.

Latin America

• Connections and connectedness are extremely important in Latin American business. You will be judged by the person who introduces you, and that impression is hard to change later, so choose carefully. You may also be judged by how senior a person you are meeting.

World in Hand by Petrix5

World in Hand by Petrix5

• Punctuality is important but be patient if your host runs into unexpected scheduling delays. It is essential to confirm and reconfirm upcoming meetings, days in advance.

• Initial meetings will be formal and frequently slow paced by comparison to North America or Asia. Agendas may end up being stretched over several sessions. Travel flexibility can be important in completing a deal.

• Have written materials translated into English and Spanish (or, obviously, English and Portuguese in Brazil). This goes for business cards too. It is not unusual for business cards to list educational and professional accomplishments. Present your card with the Spanish side up.

• Hire your own interpreter, even if the local host company provides one, for much the same reason that you would bring your own lawyer to a signing.

• Personal acquaintanceship is essential in Latin American business; personal trust is essential to success. Expect to make repeated, unhurried meetings both formal and informal. Pushing for a quick deal is still considered rude.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2016

Alan Weiss is the Vice President of Sales for American Language Services (ALS-Global). For over a quarter of a century ALS-Global has provided translation, interpretation, transcription and media services (dubbing, voiceovers & subtitling) services. Alan has over 25 years of experience in international sales and client relations. He is well versed in working with international clientele and has a deep understanding of international business etiquette and how it differs from culture to culture in different parts of the world. Alan is a graduate from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan and has earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Business with a minor in Business Communications. Alan can be reached at 310-829-0741, ext. 304 and alan@alsglobal.net.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com and our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.  To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

 

Opportunities Could Be Standing Right In Front of You

By Dana Borowka, MA

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]I[/dropcaps]f this topic keeps you up at night, we have some ideas for you to consider and implement so your sailboatorganization will not only make it through the current state of business but will thrive well into the future! You’ll know by reading this article if your ship is heading towards the rocks, towards the open sea or on a clear course to your destination.

Think for a moment about the various components of a boat that are needed in order to keep it afloat and heading in the intended direction. Observe how they compare to your organization.

Components of a Vessel

Hull – Need to have a structure that can endure and thrive in the elements.
Fuel – The energy needed to move the vessel forward and towards its destination.
Crew – The crew will either make sure the ship reaches its destination in a timely manner or cause it to go off course or cause an incident that could result in loss of resources.

The Changing Environment

Water is the most unstable surface on our planet. No matter how much planning a business does a rogue wave can come along and cause havoc. This might be changes in the market, unhappy clients, distribution channels, technology, financial, etc. Preparation can only go so far yet if your organization has one key ingredient you’ll be able to survive and thrive beyond your wildest dreams.

Key Ingredient to Thrive

The answer always comes back to having the right crew on board. It all begins with the selection process, mentoring and staff development. If this is done correctly or you have the right people with potential for growth, you’ll not only make it through to 2013… you’ll also be ready to ride the wave of 2014 and beyond! Let’s take a look at how this works.

By having the right crew on board, you’ll have:

  1. Contributors – That will help the ship reach its course through innovation, ingenuity, timely fulfillment of tasks, follow through, etc.
  2. Happy customers – They’ll keep coming back due to the outstanding service and quality of the product.
  3. Happy employees – They’ll go the extra mile for the organization and its customers. This also leads to positive word of mouth that can attract top talent.
  4. Open Minded Culture – Problem solving is the key to anticipate needs, deal with weather changes, being open to adapting to the environment.
  5. Profitability – You’ll meet your organization’s goal and objective where everyone is rewarded for doing a great job and your organization will be able to continue to provide services and products with the opportunity to visit other destinations in the future.

ocean waveAn organization can build a sturdy ship but without the right people behind the scenes it won’t leave port. All this starts with the captain of the ship and with its officers. If they select the correct crew up front, they know the job will get done correctly, in a timely manner and the work can be trusted. Can you trust that your crew will do their job not only correctly and in timely manner? Do they also contribute ideas for further improvement so you can get the maximum value from each individual?

If the answer is “I’m not sure” then your answer may be reflective of the future survival of your vessel. Every organization must have all hands on deck with crew members that are excited and grateful to be aboard and have the ability to perform the best they can.

A Whale of a Tale for Teamwork

A manager once had an outstanding team but always told everyone what to do. This person didn’t listen, didn’t ask questions, demanded a higher level of volume without asking if the organization could handle it and created a closed environment. Over time things started to slip through the cracks, customers were not getting the attention they needed, sales slipped, people started to leave and the organization began to develop a bad reputation where recruitment became a problem. Upper management stepped in and started to ask the team members for their feedback. It turned out that the manager was not a good fit for that position and was transitioned into another department. When the new manager was selected, it was based not only on experience but also the ability to work with others. They learned that it is vital to understand a person’s work style and how they interact with others in order to have a high performing team. If just one person isn’t “playing well in the sandbox” the effects can ruin a brand and effect sales and future growth of an organization.

A Checklist for Success

  1. When selecting the crew – have a clear understanding of the ideal crew member and have a system and process to assure you have selected the correct crew members. This can be done through interviewing and asking questions for specific examples and compare those answers to what an ideal crew member would do. Gather as much data as possible from reference and background checks as well as provide an in-depth work style and personality assessment with Lighthouse Consulting Services. The information should be used to validate the interview responses, background and reference checks.
  2. Ask each current crew member for feedback on where they see the team and themselves could be more efficient in the market place within the next 30-60-90 days. This means that everyone on your ship needs to have their eyes and ears open to seeing where it might be possible to improve and enhance processes, structure, services, customer service, etc.
  3. Captains and officers need to listen to everyone and create a truly open environment. Come up with three things that you can do that will make that happen.
  4. Define what the ideal crew member would possess in skills, work style and personality and make it measurable.
  5. Assist the current crew to fulfill that role. Make sure you have an in-depth work style and personality assessment of your crew members so you’ll have the insight to help man on lighthouse with boatseveryone thrive and to get the best performance from every member of the team. You’ll want to know how someone problem-solves, deals with stress, makes decisions, processes information, creates and follows up on leads, etc. This will help to ensure that you have the right person in the correct position so they can perform to the best of their ability. Contact us at reception@lighthouseconsulting.com to get started.

If you have the right team in place, your organization will be able to deal with the many challenges that will come along during the voyage. The key is to hire right the first time and to assist those on board to be the best that they can be. This will lead to happy customers, happy employees, innovation for the future, efficiency for delivery of the product or service and of course, a profitable bottom line.

You can gather additional ideas for working with your current and future crew members by reading Cracking The Personality Code. To order this book, go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

What Do You And Your Team Expect From Each Other?

By Ellen Borowka, MA

What do you expect in your life? Do you find that you feel disappointed or angry, and you are not sure why? Well, you probably had an expectation that wasn’t fulfilled. Expectations play a big part in our lives. Our expectations determine whether we feel good or bad – happy or sad – content or angry – over what happens in daily life. They impact how we feel about our relationships, work, friends, and people we meet on the street, special days like holidays or birthdays and the world around us. Expectations set up the judge and jury on how we feel about our lives and ourselves. We give a great deal of power to our expectations! That is not to say that if we don’t bizpeople on blue worldget what we expect that we shouldn’t feel sad or mad. Yet, if we know more about our expectations and where they come from, then we can find ways to deal with them in a healthy manner. Then we can take our power back and have more choice in how we view and interact with our world.

The Source of Our Expectations

So, how do expectations work? Well, first we gather and accept our expectations from a variety of sources, starting from a very young age. We learn much of our expectations from our families, which can include what to expect of others and ourselves, how feelings should be expressed, and how problems should be handled. If we learned from our family that people could not be trusted, then that plays into our expectations of the world around us. Other expectations come from our religious beliefs (or those we have been brought up with); what we see in the media – television, movies, magazines, etc.; and what our society and culture holds as valuable and important. These factors all impact different aspects of our lives, like how we expect to raise our children or relate in our relationships. Or what we expect to do in our careers or believe of our limitations and responsibilities. An example of this is how media gives us definite and perhaps narrow views of gender, which influences what we expect from men and women.

The Struggle to Fulfill

The next step is how our expectations are met or not met, and we have many unhealthy ways to try to meet them. Many struggle to fulfill them by pushing or controlling situations to fit into the mold already created. We may use manipulation, persuasion, passive aggression or intimidation (with anger or tears) to fill our expectations. Or we might not do anything and allow ourselves to be disappointed so as to reinforce what we already believe about others or ourselves. When our expectations are not taken care of, then we feel those around us have failed us and that leads to anger and bitterness. We may feel used, abused and betrayed by others, which feeds into rage and distrust. Underneath the anger and betrayal is the feeling of not being loved and accepted by others and that really hurts. These feelings are made even stronger by memories of similar experiences from our past. Times when we had disappointments with our parents, siblings, friends, teachers and others. When we may have felt unloved or rejected by those around us. This can even drive us to set up expectations of others, to gain what we feel we didn’t receive as a child.

Types of Expectations

There are many different types of expectations that are based on looking to others for approval, respect, attention, and love; validation of our good self, qualities and success; to have bizman on mazecontrol or power in situations; to be taken care of by others and so on. If we didn’t receive this when growing up then that would impact our expectations of whether or not we might achieve these now. We may even unconsciously select or attract people to fill these types of expectations, who may not be able to do so. So, we sabotage ourselves and create failure from the very beginning. We may choose people that have similar issues to those from our past, like someone who has a similar temperament to our father or mother. So, we are recreating the past with all the old expectations in an effort to resolve old issues. These situations will keep coming up until we are ready to heal them. For example, many people seem to have, time after time – job after job, similar problems with their supervisors or co-workers. They need to trace the issues back to the original source, and work them out there before dealing with the present issues.

Managing Expectations

Now, how do we handle our expectations? First, it helps to be aware of what you expect, and disappointment is your first clue that an expectation was unfulfilled. Ask yourself what did you expect? What were you looking for in this situation or this person? You might need to dig around some to get to the primary issue. For example, if I hoped for a birthday card from a friend and it didn’t come, then I would think of what I expected from my friend. What did I want and need from that person? The bottomline is I wanted to know that I was appreciated and accepted by my friend. Now, this is really important if I didn’t feel appreciated or accepted by someone in my past then I would have to deal with that first.

Evaluating Expectations

Next, it is important to evaluate whether or not your expectation was reasonable and realistic. Many times we have expectations that are not reasonable or realistic, but that doesn’t mean that we are “bad” or demanding. It just means that we hope for things that, perhaps, we didn’t get at some time in our life. Occasionally, I find myself expecting my husband to know something I want or need without him being informed of my desires. What I am doing is wanting him to read my mind, which might be connected to my past where I didn’t always feel emotionally attended to. Acting on unreasonable or unrealistic expectations can cause intense disappointment and conflict with others. When evaluating your expectations, be honest with yourself – is your expectation reasonable and realistic? For example, expecting yourself to never get angry or sad is pretty unrealistic. Lastly, be clear what you expect with others. You must be able to express your expectations and not assume that others would or should know what you want. It’s difficult to get your expectations filled if you can’t communicate them to others.

Influencing Factors

An exercise to help you explore your expectations is looking at various factors that impact them. For team members, you might want to consider what you are looking for, and what do you need/want from them. How do you expect to handle conflict and communication with them? Who has control and power in this relationship? Who makes decisions and what is expected around that? How are feelings and thoughts shared? How much trust do you have in your team member? How much do you rely on each other? How do you define forgiveness and how does that affect your work relationship? What experiences, beliefs and values are impacting your expectations with them? How do you approach problems and situations with your team member – as a team or independently and what does that do to your expectations?

Self-Expectations

We have many, many expectations that we place upon ourselves, which should also be explored. What do you expect of yourself? Do you expect yourself to be a certain way? Do you expect yourself to be perfect, good and controlled? Do you judge and criticize yourself when you can’t be that way? Do you feel you should be taking care of others – perhaps filling bizwoman under magnifyglasstheir needs and desires before your own? Do you need to be in control and what do you expect of others? How do you handle conflict and why? Is it ok for you to be wrong or not know something? Do you believe that feelings must be handled in a certain way, like never losing one’s temper? Where did all these expectations come from and why? When we can understand our expectations and where they come from, then we can begin to select those we wish to keep and begin to resolve those that hold us back. We begin to gain more control and feel more satisfied with our lives. Expectations can bring hope, excitement and profitability to our team and into the entire organization. We just need to be sure that we are directing, not following, them in our lives.

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC (www.lighthouseconsulting.com) and author of Cracking the Personality Code, hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on hiring, please click here to see an article on this subject.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and her organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Ellen has over 15 years of data analysis and business consulting experience and is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

How to Create a Closing the Loop Culture

By Dana Borowka, MA

In business jargon, “closing the loop” means to follow up on and/or close out an area of discussion. The phrase is closely related to “circle back around” and “loop in.” To better achieve your objectives, experts say it’s vital that you learn to close the loop on actions so that the important actions can get done.

1 Dec 2013The metaphor is from the closed loop control process that assures a system performs within its control limits. By closed loop, this means a process where the output of the system feeds back to directly adjust performance of the system. For example, a thermostat and a furnace work together in a closed loop to control room temperature.

Another example is the recycling world, where the closed loop system gets consumers, recyclers and manufacturers to work together to reclaim valuable materials from our waste stream and use them to make new products. For a graphic illustration on the “closed loop” idea, look on the bottom of a plastic soda bottle. The familiar chasing arrows recycling symbol is a graphic depiction explaining the concept.

“In business ‘closing the loop’ is akin to following up, checking in or closing the deal,” says Jarie Bolander, a writer for TheDailyMBA.com. “The term comes from control systems where they close the control loop in order for the system to remain stable. The opposite of a stable system is one that is unstable. In control system parlance, this is referred to as an open loop system since it has no feedback and thus will likely spin out of control — kind of like projects without any follow-up.”

Bolander is an engineer by training, entrepreneur by nature, and leader by endurance. He is the author of two books: One to help technical managers become frustration free (Frustration Free Technical Management); and one to help all of us endure our struggles and hardships (A Little Nudge to Keep You Going). He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MBA in Technology Management. “A lot of us struggle to get stuff done because we have to rely on others,” says Bolander. “Unfortunately, this reliance is just part of doing business.”

According to Bolander, most of us in business have had situations where we thought someone would do something and it turns out they either forgot, ignored you or did the wrong thing. All of these issues are a result of not closing the loop. In order to save you from suffering and heartache, here are some steps from Bolander that will ensure that you close the loop every time.

Step 1: Have Clear Objectives

One of the biggest challenges with getting stuff done is understanding your true objectives. Nothing will frustrate you more than launching someone off on a task that is really time sensitive but is not communicated that way. Having clear objectives means that you think about what needs to get done and craft a plan that makes sense. The trick to this is to prepare carefully and nail down what objectives are important and who you need to do them.2 Dec 2013

Step 2: Communicate Clearly

Clear communication means that your message or task is registering with the audience. This does not mean you talk slow or use 4th grade English. Rather, you need to have points in your meeting or conversation where you query for clarity and that your message is getting across. Remember, that what you say may not be communicating the message you intended. That’s why you need to constantly listen to what people say and confirm that your message or task is getting across.

Step 3: Create Natural Follow Up Points

One thing that most people struggle with is how to follow up with someone on a task or assignment. This can be a challenge for some people because it’s unclear when to follow up. If you create natural follow up points, then all sides will feel a lot more comfortable in taking your call or email. These natural follow up points are created by the person that desires the action to be completed the most. A couple of examples of natural follow up points are:

♦ Taking the action to follow up in a week if you don’t hear from someone.

♦ Set a mutual deadline that everyone agrees to.

♦ Providing information or feedback before a certain date.

♦ A personal action to follow up with data/recommendations, etc.

♦ Providing a status update when something material happens (e.g. another deal closed, hit a milestone, etc.)

There are several other natural follow up points that will become obvious to you once you start looking for them.

Step 4: Document Discussions/Actions/Agendas

Probably the single best thing you can do to close the loop is to send out meeting agendas, notes, actions and conclusions. This may seem like a lot of work but it’s a great focal point for discussion. When you send out meeting notes, you are opening up a natural follow-up point that can be leveraged to close the loop on several actions. Without this focal point, all those dangling actions will have no home. Your meeting notes and follow-up on them will provide those actions a natural home.

Step 5: Follow Up When Promised

If you want people to promptly follow up on your actions, then you need to set the example. The tone and tenor of your follow-up coupled with your punctuality will show that you care about closing the loop and this will naturally rub off on others. Nothing tells someone that it’s important to close the loop like doing everything you can do to make it easy for them.

Step 6: Repeat Until Closed

Just because you ask someone to do something, does not mean they actually heard you or acknowledged that it will get done. This means that you have to repeat the above steps until you reach the resolution you want. This might take several meetings or phone calls. In fact, it might take longer than you anticipated. The thing to remember is that you must be diligent if you want something done. That requires you to constantly communicate your desired results and close the loop to make sure it gets done.

Often Closing the Loop Means Delegating

“The best delegating tip I have is to delegate to people’s strengths and away from their weaknesses,” says workplace expert Vicky Oliver, author of five books including Bad Bosses, Crazy Co-Workers and Other Office Idiots. “Otherwise, you are trying to force fit people into roles and tasks they don’t appreciate. Perhaps someone on staff is a great writer but a poor administrative person. Don’t force him or her to complete a lot of paperwork.”

3 Dec 2013Instead, says Oliver, look for someone else on staff to whom you can delegate that role. Another person on the team may be a good “people person”, but is disorganized. Find someone else in your employ to whom you can delegate the organizational duties.

“From a hiring standpoint, it really makes sense for managers not to hire those who are exactly like them, as there will be glaring weaknesses in the team that can’t be fixed,” says Oliver. “This can be counter-intuitive because we tend to bond with those who share our interests and sometimes duplicate our strengths.”

Rather than look for clones, use an in-depth work style and personality assessment to improve hiring success. While an assessment can be a valuable resource before you hire, perhaps the true value of any assessment comes in using the insights it provides along the entire spectrum of employment. Assessments lend objectivity to decisions that may otherwise be largely subjective.

A proper assessment should reach beyond simple profiles and decipher an employee’s underlying needs. This is key for employee development, team building, conflict resolution and succession planning.

Create a Closing the Loop Culture

Below are five ways to use an in-depth work style and personality assessment in the workplace to help bring out the best in your employees at all levels in an organization, which can go a long way to creating a “closing the loop” culture.

1. Get the real picture.  Of course, every candidate wants to put their best foot forward during an interview.  However through an in-depth work style and personality assessment, you uncover a great deal about their ability to work well with other personalities, their problem solving abilities, their thought processes and their ability to tolerate stress. Assessments give you objective information that can help you make an informed decision on whether this person is a good fit for the job and for the team. If you decided to hire the person, the questions you ask during the hiring process will reduce your learning curve as a manager on how best to manage this person from day one. Ask yourself, is this someone who would be good at closing the loop.

2. Help them be all that they can be. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Find out the real truth with an objective 4 Dec 2013measure. Once you pinpoint the good and the bad, then you place them in the right position and coach them on where to improve. As part of the coaching, stress the importance of closing the loop to your company culture.

3. Take me to your leaders.  Work style assessments give the manager and employees a common language about how they like to interact.  The assessments can help you train future managers on how to get the best out of the team.

4. Know how to manage difficult people.  The number one reason that a loop doesn’t get closed is that a person decided they wouldn’t do it or didn’t know how. Face it, there will always be difficult people, screw-ups and flare ups on the job. Use an objective assessment to understand potential sources of workplace conflict. The best way to deal with a problem is to prevent it in the first place.

5. Get everybody to play nice. Sales and marketing, operations and financial people have to interact to make the company run smoothly. Too many employees get frustrated with other co-workers and just wonder why everyone doesn’t act like them. Through the use of in-depth work style and personality assessments, managers can coach employees how to interact better with peers.

“But you don’t want to overcompensate for people’s strengths and weaknesses so much that you inadvertently create a ‘star system,’” says Oliver.  “You really don’t want a lot of prima donnas on the team who won’t touch the grunt work! In the corporate philosophy, it helps to explain the idea of teamwork–everyone helps each other out– and the rewards for it, as well.”

Lastly, if you have hiring responsibility, I believe it helps to look at the team strengths and weaknesses. Maybe today’s glaring weakness can be corrected with one good hire.

In my view, culture trumps strategy every time. So create a culture of closing the loop at your company. Hire with that in mind, coach with that in mind, and communicate with that in mind. Click here for our bonus checklist, Quick Tips for Creating a Closing the Loop Culture.

To read Jarie Bolander’s full article, 6 Steps to Closing The Loop, please visit: http://www.thedailymba.com/2010/02/27/6-steps-to-closing-the-loop/.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article.  © 2016    This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”.  They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors.  They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops.  Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics.    He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI.  He is the co-author of the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code.  To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s,  workshops, and executive & employee coaching.  Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

Planning For The Upcoming Recession!

By Larry Cassidy, Ted Margison, Paul David Walker

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]S[/dropcaps]pring time is upon us and it is time for house cleaning and planning. Many of you are familiar with the economists, Alan and Brian Beaulieu and how their economic forecasting helped in preparing for the last recession as well as for the financial impact that it had on most companies and individuals. They have presented another opportunity for us to be aware of in the coming future. They are projecting that sometime between the later part of 2013, we will be heading into another much milder recession that will continue through 2014.

We thought that we’d share some ideas from our Lighthouse Consulting team, so that you and your organization can begin to prepare and take advantage of the opportunities that could be just around the corner. We’re going to focus in on management, leadership and operations:

Management – Larry Cassidy

I would start with the following caution: whenever times get even a little better, it is an invitation for overhead creep. Put another way, a little bit of success invites a lot of overhead.man looking at maps Given that truth, and the fact that many businesses have experienced at least somewhat better times, it is likely time to grab the pruning shears.

  1. First, I suggest this process: go through every expense on your P&L, and ask the following questions: “Does this expense truly touch our customer and/or make his/her experience better? If not, is it at least critical to our future success?” Prune any expense which does not meet one or both tests.
  2. Second, take a stethoscope to your balance sheet. Get rid of bad inventory (it is rarely a “too much” thing, usually a “wrong stuff” thing). Your first loss is your best loss. Move it! Then get on and stay on your receivables. Both need to come down and cash needs to go up.
  3. Third, be sure you have top people in key positions. You will ask more out of the team in tougher times, so be sure you have quality and you trust the players. Then have the team cross-train all hands. Every employee should be able to do at least one back-up job adequately. This creates flexibility and can reduce headcount.
  4. Finally, make sure your critical systems are operating smoothly. The last thing you will want to do is have to plug “holes” with bodies.

Leadership – Paul David Walker

Take Market Share Now

hands holding up bizpeopleDuring a recession relationship is more important than ever, because it is relationships that will hold you, your customers and vendors together.

Together, during a recession, you can increase market share easier than increasing profits. If you, your customers, and vendors survive and / or thrive during weak demand, you will rise together as demand increases, which it always does. Here is how you do this.

Recession Value Proposition

Adjust your value proposition to fit the new economic circumstances, and train all people who interact with customers to implant this in the minds of customers. For those of you who are in the B to B space, at some point in time your customer will be in a meeting with corporate leaders asking, “What vendors can you eliminate? How can we reduce our costs and be more appealing to our customers?” At that time you want the voice in the back of your customer’s head to be saying that your company is a keeper for the reasons you have implanted. Likewise, if you sell to the consumer, you want the consumer thinking that your products will help them live better in this economy. The consumer advertising, packaging and PR should be positioning your brand as the answer. Your new value proposition should to targeted and ever present.

One of my B to B customers mission is to provide “Engineered Solutions” that improve the efficiency of their client’s factories. They explain, “We will work with flexibility and expertise.” They are making sure all their customers have this on the top of their minds. Another client, who sells to consumers, vision statement is: “Better Products … Better Life.” They are sure their advertising drives home how their products provide twice the value at lower prices. They are working on getting this message into the scripts of their customer service teams around the world. The most successful businesses during a recession implant their new value proposition at every contact with customers. This makes the relationship strong, and creates hesitation before a customer changes brands. That relationship will benefit all as the tide rises.

Extend Your Team

Make it clear to your vendors and customers, that we are all in the same boat floating on a low tide of demand, and that we must work together for mutual success. Continuously reach out to customers to understand their changing needs and wants and make temporary deals with the customers and vendors that will carry all through changing economic dynamics. If your customer needs a price break, ask your vendors to reduce their prices. If they need to reduce their inventories, get your vendors to help you create just-in-time inventory programs. Find out what your customers and vendors need to help their business prosper, and have the flexibility to change your products or services to fit. Do not get stuck in business as usual. Business as usual will be a death sentence. Build a community of strong relationships with your customers and vendors.

Talk about your mutual missions and synchronize them so all can succeed during economic change. Make it clear to all that you and your company are committed to mutual success. Let them see and feel your commitment to mutual success.

Attack Weak Competitors

As your competitors fail to adapt to the changes in the wants and needs of the market place, their customers will be moving. Be sure they move to you. Conduct research to determine your competitor’s weaknesses and focus on acquiring their customers, who will be frustrated with those weaknesses. If your value proposition is right, and being communicated in the market place at every point of contact, they will come to you. The most venerable competitors have the following weaknesses:

  1. Overextended credit
  2. Old technology
  3. Cash flow problems
  4. Poor customer service
  5. Inability to adjust prices
  6. Lack of flexibility

Once you understand the nature of the weaknesses of your competitors, select the three weakest and develop a strategy to acquire their customers.

Position yourself as the life raft for the customers tied to a sinking ship. People in corporations tend to change at a slower rate than people in the market. Be ahead of the wave of change and find competitors who are not. Business has always been driven by relationship and trust. During high demand it may not be as important because of the lack of supply for surging demand.

During economic and social change when demand is falling, relationship and trust are even more important.

If you have ridden the wave of demand, maximized your profits and weakened your relationships, it is past time to change, but never too late. Do not hesitate, find and communicate the correct value proposition for your business, extend your team to include customers and vendors, and rescue customers from the sinking ships of your competitors.

Operations – Ted Margison

Interestingly, the key things a company should do in preparing for a downturn are often the same things they should do in preparing for an upturn.

  1. Streamline and standardize processes; you will need to be able to do more with less. Automate as much as possible in order to respond more quickly to changing bizpeople buildingdemands.
  2. Design processes for flexibility and adaptability. As customers change to accommodate changes in their marketplace the transaction size will often vary dramatically from what you have been used to. As well, new types of demand can arise as companies look for different ways to provide value to their customers, which might result in new types of demands for your business. You should be doing the same by looking for new types of opportunities.
  3. Understand the decision-making processes that drive demand for your product or services. Better visibility on what drives customer demand means better predictability for you. Do this with each of your key customers in particular. Then work with them to make sure you can respond to their changing needs in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC www.lighthouseconsulting.com and author of Cracking the Personality Code, hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on raising the hiring bar, please click here to see an article on this subject: Cracking The Personality Code: Hire Right The First Time.

In our blog, we are sharing more specific ideas in these various areas. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact any of our consultants. Also, if you have additional topics that you’d like us to address either in our Keeping On Track publications or Open Line monthly web conferences, please let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.