Articles in Category: All Posts

Above the Fray or Head in the Sand?

Written by Michelle Braden, CEO Posted in Blog, All Posts

Above the Fray or Head in the Sand?

A few years ago, I was working with a leader who was a department head as well as a member of the organization’s executive team. This leader had a healthy department with positive attitudes, good communication and strong relationships; however, several of the other departments within this organization were not so fortunate. There were many challenges going on in other departments from high turnover, continued gossip, poor communication and lack of trust, just to name a few.

When the conversation would turn to the challenges other departments within the organization were having, this leader would often say, “I am taking the high road and choose to stay out of the drama”. At first blush this seemed very noble; however, the challenge was that the “drama”, so to speak, was real and the other teams were quickly becoming dysfunctional.

 

Dr.Seuss Strategy

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in Blog, All Posts

For strategy, Dr. Seuss said it best…. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose...”

When I first started working in strategic planning, this became my favorite quote. Meetings were a sea of vague but lofty strategic terms. Discussions focused on visionaries who could see and define a future the rest of us could not. I cringed at critical assessments such as “she can’t think strategically” or “he doesn’t have vision”. I was frustrated by the conflict between this elite view of strategy and my values that each individual has insights to contribute to future planning. I see this collaboration as the very essence of a leadership planning model.

My work is energized by a much simpler and more basic view of what is important for effective strategy…an engaged team that understands and contributes to a common future vision. In one of my favorite books, Being Strategic, Erica Anderson has a quote “Being strategic means consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future”. This simple definition in a complex world of business, knits operations and strategy into cohesive future direction. If you can create actionable strategy that your whole team understands, you create communication to power your organization.

So how do you actually build effective strategy? Like any team effort, diverse thinking builds a better product. Committing the time and effort for the process is critical and well worth the investment. Invest your time for strategy in the following ways

  1. Solicit input from a broad group of constituents – include time for surveys, brainstorming, and research to fuel creative thinking.
  2. Revisit and refine your Mission – The mission statement can provide a bright light for your planning, so take the time to work with it.
  3. Actively listen to your clients – Remember why you exist and who you are serving. Don’t rely on dated input and information. Bring in new opinions.
  4. Define 3-5 high level goals, themes, or objectives for dynamic progress – Be sure to take the time to synthesize to this manageable number. This focus is critical for action.
  5. Define process checkpoints to discuss and measure progress. A great strategic plan that is left on the shelf is meaningless. Inclusive strategy needs to be reviewed regularly to stay on course.

The business world of today is powered by diverse teams. Success is driven by passion, commitment, and a plan. Strategy is the plan to energize and empower the people in your organization “in any direction you choose”. Hats off to Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel for saying it best. Use your strategy to “steer you in any direction you choose”.

How to Communicate so That People Will Listen and Act

Posted in Webinars, All Posts

We would probably agree that there is not a lack of communication in our culture today. So much information that at times we just tune-out, skim over, ignore or delete out of exhaustion and frustration. As daunting as the 24/7 influx of information can be the real struggle has become how to make communication effective and affective. How do we convey important information so that people will grasp the message and more importantly – act on it.

In this webinar we will:

  • Differentiate between effective and ineffective communication
  • Define A-ffective communication
  • Identify appropriate mediums for different types messages
  • Create a template that will enable effective and affective communication

We will learn how to recognize when difficult conversations need to happen- why we avoid them and how/when we have them successfully.

Coping While in Limbo

Written by Stasia Rice Posted in Blog, All Posts

How to Manage Yourself During Life Transitions

Life is filled with change.  Most of us will experience quite a few significant life altering changes in our lives and careers.   Perhaps it’s a promotion, a new career path, a move to another city or the birth of a child.  Transition is part of life.

These CAN be very exciting and welcome changes, however I’ve noticed that they all come with that “waiting period”.  I dread this “limbo” because more often than not, I’m not fully in control of the situation but I can’t move forward till circumstances or decisions outside of my control are to be made.   I feel the most anxiety and frustration in my life during these unavoidable limbo periods.

  • Waiting for that position to open up so I can apply.
  • Waiting for our employer to determine where we will be stationed next.
  • Waiting for the opportunities of my next career to begin to come to fruition.

I have to imagine I’m not the only one that finds it difficult to be patient.  However, I’ve learned that the more I fuss, or worry, or try to push the decisions and circumstances, the worse I feel.  And strangely enough it seems like that limbo period is longer and more painful that if I had just let things unfold.

But let’s face it… I’m probably a little too ‘type A’ to just sit back and wait, so I’ll share with you some of the ACTIONS I have taken that do actually help to manage the stress of limbo and maybe make it just that much more tolerable.

Prepare – Do what you can to be ready for that change.  Study and get that next degree or certification.  Build your network and be open to the opportunities as they present themselves.  Use this time wisely, because just waiting for the apples to appear won’t help when you haven’t planted the seeds.

Contingency Plan – In circumstances where there are factors or decision out of my control – I have found that if I plan for the 2-3 circumstances that COULD happen I felt more content to just wait and see which scenario comes to fruition.   Knowing your bases are covered not only gives you ease that you can handle what ever comes your way, but it helps to keep your mind occupied while you wait!

Focus Inward – As I have moved from one career or one stage of life to the next, and found myself in the  ‘development stage’ of that next step, one critical and rewarding ACTION I could take was to be more self-aware.  Ask yourself:  What did I learn from this previous career or stage in life?  What did I love?  What did I hate?  What would I do more of? What will I change in the next stage?  Take stock and set yourself up for a more informed and mindful next step.

Self-Care – Take time during this transition to take care of yourself.  When we are stressed, we feel the effects physically in our bodies and minds. Keep up with, or start, a regular self-care routine that included a healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of water.  It’s often the first thing that we forget but is so critical to ability to cope with that stress!

Spend Time with your Passions – Do more of the things that make you happy.  What are the things that make you light up? Deliberately spend more time doing these things when in limbo.  Your spirit will be fed and you will have less time to worry.  Explore those things you never had time to or wish you had.  You might even find a way to incorporate them more regularly into your next big stage in life.

Limbo can feel terrible because it’s a time of inaction and waiting for the next big thing… these ACTIONS, while not changing the situation, make good use of that time by lessening stress and focusing on what you CAN do!

Communication-- Your Achilles' Heel? Six Ways to Avoid it

Posted in White Papers, All Posts

 

Read any survey, talk to any leader, any employee – Communication ranks at the top of the list for “things leaders need to do better”. We all know it, and yet, most of us still struggle with communicating. And now that we live in the world of instant communication and information overload, it has only gotten harder. We have more tools, more resources, more access and we are less effective. This reminds me of the famous quote of George Bernard Shaw: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” There are some things that we can do to get better.

 

 

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