The ‘Feminine’ Side to Leadership

By Larry Wilson, Author of Play to Win

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]A[/dropcaps]t one time I shared the stage with author Ashley Montague, a cultural anthropologist. His best-known book is The Natural Superiority of Women. Basically, Montague believes that women are superior to men in the area of emotional intelligence. He explains that, once women realized they were not physically superior to men, getting things done out of raw physical power was not a viable option. Women had to figure out different ways of existing, so they learned to be more adaptable, versatile, resourceful and empathic. These characteristics are so common among women that they’re often referred to as “feminine traits.”

woman telescopeAn example is “women’s intuition.” Men have intuition, but don’t tend to credit their intuition in making decisions. Yet women are happy to acknowledge they made a decision solely based on how they “felt” about it.

Another example is a woman’s right to change her mind. You could say that women often see more options than men. In our culture, it’s more acceptable for women to wear their emotions on their sleeve and talk about their feelings than it is for men – because, of course, real men don’t cry. Instead, they get more ulcers, but that’s a small price to pay for being a real man.

We also know that on average, women live seven years longer then men. There’s no physiological reason to explain why, but there is evidence women live longer because they are allowed to be more emotionally expressive.

Montague may be saying that as women were developing these skills primarily to survive, they were unknowingly developing skills in the art of influencing others that all leaders need, especially so in our changing times.

Now, if some of you “non-females” are saying, “Look, I’ve been doing just fine with my manly traits and don’t need to work on my feminine side,” then you might be missing out on a huge opportunity. I’m not talking about working on your feminine side. The fact is these aren’t really feminine characteristics; these are skills that, as a species, we all have to learn in order to survive. We just have to wake up and remember to use them.

So let’s drop the male/female labels and only talk about critical skills leaders must learn:

• Adaptability. Stubbornly sticking to what worked in the past is the opposite. This is driving into the future looking only in the rearview mirror. Another flawed leader response when things start going south is, “We’ve got to get back to the basics.” The flaw here is that you can never go back to anything. What you can do is prepare for the accelerating change that’s coming right at you by adapting to change rather than running from it.
• Versatility. Yes have a plan, but don’t let the plan have you. The dictionary defines versatile as “able to move easily from one subject, task, or skill to another.” Leaders know that, in theory, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Yet in practice, a straight line seldom exists. Often leaders have to take a detour, go with the flow, ride the horse in the direction the horse wants to go, or tap dance their way to the goal line and move easily while doing it.people climbing mountain flag
• Resourcefulness. True leaders know their best resource is in the hearts and minds of the people they’re leading. There’s nothing worse than a leader pretending to have all the answers. It creates a distrust that leads to a heart and mind shut-down – the greatest waste possible.
• Empathy. Leaders must gain trust before anyone will follow them. The fastest way to get there is to put yourself in their shoes, to understand and love them, and then invite them into your shoes to get to know and love you.

Whether you’re a male leader or a female leader, these are key traits of a true leader.

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

Larry Wilson was an internationally recognized pioneer in change management, leadership development and strategic thinking, and is the co-author of The One-Minute Sales Person and Play to Win. He founded two companies, Wilson Learning Corp. and Pecos River Learning. Larry worked with companies to help them “create the organization that, if it existed, would put them out of business.” Larry passed on in 2009 and will be greatly missed, yet cherished through his books and articles for years to come. One of the things that Larry used to say was “Love your customers so much that they want to refer business to you since who can resist love?”

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 Email Etiquette

By Helena Ferrari

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]D[/dropcaps]ue to the fast paced and ever changing global business environment, over 75% of people today rely heavily on electronic communication to conduct business. More than ever, customers have high expectations for speed and accuracy of requests and rely on effective email communications. This uncovers a new opportunity for businesses to standardize communication protocols on “email perception and etiquette” as a way to build and cultivate long-term customer loyalty and people connecting by computersincrease customer satisfaction.

Response Ready

The importance of follow-up on email whether to customer request or an internal employee is very important. Lack of follow-up can be frustrating to the sender as it may give the impression that they are not important or you are disorganized. In the following example, a company-wide email protocol would have been helpful.

A customer sent an email to a sales support representative to check the status of an order, waited two days, got no response, followed up with another email and still received no response. This company ended up losing this major customer who out of frustration took their business to a competitor.

In this example the company unfortunately learned a hard financial lesson and immediately put in place email protocols. Here are some examples:

• Prompt email communications within 24 hours of receipt.
• Follow-up reminders on a corporate calendar so everyone has access.
• Creation of two email accounts e.g.: a personal and sales support group so emails are shared with the entire support team.
• Automatic email responses that provide alternate contacts when you are not available to respond.

Email Etiquette

The importance of email etiquette training has proven to be valuable within organizations because when sending or replying to an email the recipient gets a perception of you and your company. A good training approach when corresponding with anyone via email is to imagine you are speaking with them on the telephone. The following list is a guide for training:email with wings

  1. Always start your email with “Hello”, “Hi”, or “Dear”, and their name, use whatever is appropriate based on your relationship with the recipient.
  2. A little chit-chat like asking them how they are? This helps build rapport before you get right to the point. You may think it is trivial or a waste of time for online correspondence however; this is a form of courtesy that you would use on the telephone and assists in making the recipient feel valued. When an email is straight to the point and direct without any greeting this could be perceived as cold and rude.
  3. The subject field should pertain to the information contained in email. Never send a blank subject line as it may be perceived as a spam, not important or accidentally get deleted.
  4. Remember email is not a Post-It note and should not be abbreviated. It should be created in the form of a proper business letter.
  5. Close your email with Kind Regards, Truly or Sincerely then followed by your name.
  6. Always provide a contact telephone number so the recipient has a record without having to look up the information.

Words Create Perception

There are some disadvantages of corresponding via email especially when it comes to expressing feelings or compassion. The reasons may be a high volume of work, a quick response is better than none, or it is hard to express feelings through writing. This can result in emails being short and to the point which may come across as cold or blunt. It really computer with emailhelps to imagine you are having an actual conversation.

Companies are now taking advantage of training on email tone and the quality of responses especially when it comes to customer service. Email can easily communicate the wrong impression. Therefore, a guide for training could focus on how the email response best serves the customer.

This type of training would have been helpful in the next scenario where the sender had the opportunity to apologize and acknowledge the inconvenience in order to make the customer feel valued and appreciated.

A customer sent the following email about an invoice for a previous order, “You have sent me three invoices for my previous order and I made the payment on the first invoice. Would you please look into the matter and adjust your records so I don’t receive another invoice?” The problem was finally solved but the email received was far from satisfactory from the customer’s perspective. The company wrote: “We have your payment.”

Answers Are Key

It is important to be sure that responses to requests actually answer the question. The following example may have happened if the website had an auto-response generated for any general inquiries, or if the email was not read properly.

A business traveler sent an email through a travel website requesting information for an upcoming business trip: “I’d like to book a hotel near the New York Convention Center, how can I find out which hotels are close and can I reserve the hotel on-line?” The response email explained how to make reservations online and referred them back to the website.

Check and Double Check

An unprofessional impression can be easily overcome by doing a check for grammar and spelling. This can be set up automatically in your email program but in addition it is suggested to proofread before sending as spell check does not always catch the following examples, “four” instead of “for,” or “your” instead of “you’re”.email art

Email Disclaimers

The majority of businesses do not store voice messages. Yet, most emails are kept, which further demonstrates the importance of the following information. A caution for business today is that written communication, including email, can be used to form binding legal contracts especially if the individuals have direct or indirect authority to do so. A suggestion for employees you do not wish to form binding contracts by email is to use an inclusion statement that can be added like “any form of contract needs to be confirmed by the individual’s manager”. Although a company is ultimately responsible for the actions of its employees, including the content of any emails sent, a disclaimer can decrease liability. Disclaimers convey a trustworthy image, and also deters any possible adversaries from litigation. It will also convey awareness and professionalism to your customers.

Please note that there are no disclaimers that protect against actual libelous or defamatory content. The most a disclaimer can accomplish is to reduce the responsibility of the company, since it can prove that the company has acted responsibly and has done everything in its power to stop employees from such acts.

Email today has become a serious business communication tool. Therefore, communication protocols and training are recommended as a top priority for retaining your existing customers and acquiring new customers.

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

Helena Ferrari, Director of Human Resources of SDC Technologies, Inc. has worked with many businesses globally throughout her career as a Human Resources professional.

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.

Boundaries: Finding a Balance of Power

By Dana Borowka, MA, Ellen Borowka, MA and Nancy Croix

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]B[/dropcaps]oundaries have an important place in our relationships, our family, the work place, and all aspects of daily life. When there is confusion over boundaries, we tend to run into many issues that need to be dealt with.scale

What are boundaries?

The dictionary defines boundaries as, “Something that marks or fixes a limit (as of territory)”. In essence, boundaries help us to determine where ‘I’ end and ‘you’ begin. Where are my limits? What are my needs? What are the rules or guidelines for our relationship? Some may resist the idea of guidelines… claiming that they are too rigid or stifling. Leading us to another question, why should we have boundaries?

Lack of boundaries tends to create much uncertainty and misunderstandings that can lead to chaos, anger and pain. Without boundaries, people can feel taken advantage of or invalidated or not heard by the other person. A lack of respect can grow in the relationship, and then feelings of hurt, resentment and anger can develop and fester beneath the surface. Yet, what are we really searching for? Bottom line: a relationship that is NOT based on respect and empathy is a hollow relationship. One that is without substance, depth or true love. I think we search for a place; a relationship to trust that we know will be safe, supportive and lasting. Boundaries ensure that.

What do we need for boundaries?

• Communication – Boundaries that are well communicated can set the tone for a healthy environment where everyone clearly knows where they stand. This enhances honesty, trust, and an atmosphere where issues can be worked through. Guidelines need to be negotiated and clearly communicated so everyone involved knows what is expected of them. What are the requests and concerns? What’s ok and what’s not? It’s also important to define for yourself what is acceptable or not acceptable from others. Is there a relationship or situation that you are tolerating, yet underneath you feel pain, anger, disrespect? Then you may have not defined for yourself where the limits are. What is the cutoff point? If you don’t communicate your boundaries, then you are staying in a situation that is not healthy.

We always have our options open when we communicate what we want or need. A friend told about me about a simple example. She had some friends over for a BBQ. She and another friend had set up the table inside the house. However, others wanted to eat outside. Even though my friend wanted to eat inside, she started to go along with the group until her friend mentioned that she was going to eat inside, as it was too cold outside for her. Her friend then mentioned that everyone else could eat where they would like to. That made my friend realize that just because she puts out what she wants, doesn’t mean that she’s stepping on something that someone else wants. We don’t have to give in or go along – we all have options as long as we communicate.

• Consistency – Being consistent with your boundaries is important too. If you insist on someone being respectful to you in one instance, but not in another, then you lose their respect in the end. Just as discipline for a child needs to be consistent, so too do boundaries. If there is confusion or ambiguity, then the discipline doesn’t stick. The same is true for boundaries. Another essential part of consistency is if we expect others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs as well. As they say, it’s a two way street. A few months ago, we went to an Elton John/Billy Joel concert, which was great fun. Elton sang one of his old favorites, Someone Save My Life Tonight. I realized that someone has to Ask to be saved. Otherwise, we are not being respectful of the other person’s pacing, wants or needs.

• Facing reality – Part of establishing boundaries is facing the reality of your relationships. Boundaries often strengthen and enhance relationships. However, there are relationships that are not healthy and the true colors will be exposed one way or another. There comes a point where we need to be able to face the sacrifice or the potential downside of putting down limits. While in college, I was struggling to deal with family conflict. I went to a college counselor for some advice. I laid everything out that was going on in my family and wanted to be able to just let the conflict and pain roll off my back like water off a duck. He said something very helpful (though I didn’t realize it at the time), “It’s not easy to kick against the pricks and not say “Ouch!” In other words, I wanted to stay in an unhealthy situation and not feel the pain and anger. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to respect our boundaries and understand when to make changes or let go.

• Conflict – Why is it so difficult to talk about boundaries? What are we really afraid of? In a word: Conflict. It is helpful to develop some level of comfort with conflict and disagreement. Some have a need to have others see things their way. Some find it very difficult to disagree with another for fear of hurt feelings or facing their anger. Yet, we all need to be able to find some way to handle conflict. To be able to say, Ok, we don’t agree on this, but this is my boundary… my limit. Let’s find a way to work with this.

• Respect – We need to respect differences and limits. Without respect, is there a relationship? … what foundation is there without respect? A friend once told me that to expect something of someone else in a relationship that they can’t fulfill is not fair to them. I can see that could be true for many expectations, but without respect, there is no relationship and one must move on or accept that as part of an unhealthy relationship.

Putting the puzzle together

We looked at communication, consistency, reality, conflict and respect in connection to boundaries. These are all aspects needed for a relationship, and boundaries keep them from puzzlegetting out of hand. We can also look at them as pieces to a puzzle. When you first start putting a puzzle together, the pieces are upside down, turned over and hidden. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start. Everybody has different tactics. Some like to start with the frame and then work in small portions. Others start from the center or wherever they feel comfortable. There are many ways to go about solving issues. The key is recognizing the issue, setting guidelines that are realistic and achievable, and working together to bring resolution. Boundaries help us get back on track quicker, so we can appreciate each other, learn from the experience and enjoy life together.

What boundaries would you like to set up… starting today? Now it’s your turn to create a change in your life, if you are ready for it. Or to accept that you have situations that you are comfortable with using your current boundaries. Either way you have created your own destiny. We wish you the best in discovering your boundaries, and hope that you have the courage to change those that you wish to change.

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.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO, Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst and Nancy Croix, Senior Operations Administrator of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their 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. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors 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.

Better Communication Can Make for Better Business

Los Angeles Business Journal – Entrepreneur’s Notebook, Contributed By EC2, The Annenberg Incubator Project

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]H[/dropcaps]ave you ever had a miscommunication with your employees or co-workers that resulted in costly errors? This situation is not uncommon to most business people, but there are definite communication techniques that can save companies money and increase their bottom-line returns.

One example of ineffective communication involves a production manager for a furniture manufacturing firm, we’ll call him Joe, who oversees about 50 employees who work in teams men strugglingof five to 10 in manufacturing cells. His primary responsibilities are meeting production quotas and interacting with the customer-service and shipping departments.

The general manager became aware that these departments were encountering difficulties meeting quota and shipping schedules because of production problems in Joe’s department. The manager requested that we work with Joe to identify why these problems were taking place.

We found that Joe’s communication style was harsh and vague. His staff focused on his poor communication rather than the task at hand. They would take his instructions “as is” and work on the assignment with limited information instead of asking questions to clarify the process. The results were lower production, increased safety violations and poor workmanship.

Joe had a hard time acknowledging the communication problems that management was pointing out to him. In order to clarify the problem, we had Joe take the 16PF personality assessment inventory, which identifies not only areas for an individual to improve upon, but strengths and personality traits. We have found this assessment to be a valuable tool in assisting employees [to] gain insight about themselves. When Joe reviewed the profile results, he discovered the same problems that the management team had identified, and became more open to exploring ways to resolve them.

One of the first points we worked on with Joe was how to listen effectively to others. A primary cause for poor communication is poor listening skills, in which the listener fails to take in all the available information and instead relies on his or her own assumptions. Joe found that by using active listening, in which one paraphrases what he or she thinks the other person is saying, he was able to avoid this kind of miscommunication with his teams.

We encouraged Joe to avoid interrupting others and to ask more questions to ensure better understanding. Effective listening ensures that both the listener and the speaker end up on the same page.

Another cause for ineffective communication is poor speaking skills, so that the speaker provides vague and incomplete information to the listener. We suggested that Joe use “I” statements when speaking to his teams. By using “I” statements, Joe was able to take responsibility for his comments while clarifying his thoughts.

An example of an “I” statement is, “I feel under a great deal of pressure when you give the client a due date without checking with me first, because there may be some difficulties meeting that deadline.”

“I” statements are composed of three elements: The “I” helps the speaker maintain the responsibility for his or her feelings or observations; the “when” gives a specific example for the other person; and the “because” provides the reason why the speaker is bothered by the situation. “I” statements help the speaker to avoid being vague and accusatory with others.

Other people can interpret poor communication as a lack of respect and empathy. Joe discovered that he was unintentionally showing disrespect to his staff through his harsh communication. He needed to have more respect for his staff’s feelings and their points of view, even when he didn’t agree with them.

hands holding peopleThe key to having successful communication is to have empathy—to try to understand why someone is doing what he or she is doing and feeling, what he or she is feeling. Effective communication takes a great deal of patience. We suggested that Joe meet with his staff to discuss any problems and find some solutions. After they had a full discussion, he started a brainstorming session to facilitate better teamwork, not only in his own department, but also [about] how to work with other departments more effectively.

One idea was to have the customer-service department take a tour of the plant to better understand the manufacturing process. This created a sense of common purpose, a shared goal that all the people in his department desired and could agree upon, which encouraged teamwork rather than alienation. Joe then sat down with the customer-service staff to look at the problems that were occurring between his department and theirs.

The general manager and employees were very pleased by the positive results from Joe’s communication training. Customers are receiving their orders on time, accidents have decreased, workmanship has improved, production returns have decreased, and incentive bonuses were awarded to the plant.

Proficient communication is not by any means the easiest thing to do. It takes practice, patience and respect, yet the benefits can be immense.

Entrepreneur’s Notebook is a regular column contributed by EC2, The Annenberg Incubator Project, a center for multimedia and electronic communications at the University of Southern California.

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.

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, https://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.