Interpersonal Skills Feed

Making the Most of Your Team: The "I" in Team

We've all heard the phrase "There is no "I" in team". Actually, there is - YOU! If you lead a team, you are its most important component and success or failure rests and depends upon you. I've challenged many a leader to look in the mirror and see how their actions or inaction might be contributing to the very things they complain about.

Whether you inherited a team because of a role transition or desire to inject new life into your current team, following are some steps you can take to motivate and inspire your team to peak performance.

1. Know what they know...or don't know. How well do they understand their purpose and direction, roles and expectation? What are their priorities?

2. Know who they are ...individually. What do you know about each team member's background, goals, accomplishments or organizational contributions? Do you know what motivates them?

3. Know how they are ... collectively. What are their strengths? What causes strife within the group?

Team success starts with you, the "I" in your team. What will you do this week to take a step towards a more motivated and productive team?
Share what you will do by clicking the comment link below, then come back and tell us how things changed for you. We'd love to hear from you!

Related posts in this series:

Part 1: Hire 'em And Leave 'em: A Recipe for Failure
Part 2: Survive the Role Transition: Be Strategic
Part 3: Making A Change: Assess, Then Act
Part 4: Overwhelmed and Underprepared? Examine the Facts

Want a more productive or cohesive team?
Click HERE to schedule your complimentary consultation today!

As a Certified Behavioral and Values Analyst, my assessments combined with group training and personal coaching can help you and your group achieve peak performance by better understanding your team's dynamics.

Emotions and Productivity

You've just been unjustly insulted by a coworker in an email she copied to your boss and entire staff. The family member who always pushes your buttons just did it again. You keep thinking about the loved one you miss who is no longer in your life.

Which one of these scenarios triggers an emotional response in you? How might such a response affect your ability to carry out your responsibilities?

Emotions and experiences can be enablers or disablers.

In addition to how they affect the way we think and behave throughout the day, the physiological changes they produce in our bodies via stress hormones are real and help or hinder our performance. Scientific research suggests an average negative experience produces physiological effects that last for approximately four hours, during which time our optimal performance is compromised.

The good news is that we can minimize the effects of negative emotions by being aware of what triggers them and structuring our days to include good emotional experiences to counteract the bad. We don't need to let our emotions hijack us completely.

What activities, people or situations make you feel better? Feel worse? Make a list for each. Insert positive items into your daily routine when you need a mood lifter. Use the "bad" list to let you know when you need to schedule in an uplifter.

We have more control of our emotions than we think. Start being proactive today and watch your quality of life and your productivity improve.    

Thoughtful Thanks Giving

Have you ever noticed how some people only give others the types of gifts they enjoy without considering what the other person might prefer? Have you ever been the recipient of that BBQ grill for Christmas when all you really wanted was a gift certificate to your favorite day spa?

Just as holiday gifts need to be personalized in order to be received with enthusiasm and genuine gratitude, so must the gift of "Thanks" for a job well done. Have you ever thought of how you liked to be thanked or complimented? What was your response when you received a compliment that struck the wrong chord with you?

The next time you thank someone for a job well done, consider first what words they'd receive as praise,  rather than what you'd want to hear. Determine their behavioral style and phrase your compliment accordingly. 

For example, following are some typical styles with suggested compliments:

  • Dominant, goal-oriented "D" - Be specific by saying "You saw what needed to be done and did it."
  • Influential, social "I" - Praise them publicly and tell them, "You're amazing!"
  • Steady, supporting "S" - Quietly let them know how you appreciate their follow-through and perseverance.
  • Compliant, analytical "C" - Reinforce how their analytical ability caused you to avoid  future complications.

How might you change the way you thank the people in your personal or professional life?

This week, I'm challenging you to sincerely compliment 5 people for something they've done for you or your organization in the way they would want to be recognized. Perhaps they might just start thanking you.

Other DISC related posts:

Leadership and DISC: Who is the Best?

DISC Styles: Are you a Tortoise or a Hare?

The Dominant Director: Tony Allessandra Video



Note: If you want to dig deeper in your understanding of how to best communicate with others so you can increase your productivity, contact me for a free consultation today.  That's what I do.

The Best Worst Speech: Thoughtful Thursday

Speaking up about high stakes emotional issues takes a lot of thoughtful pre-planning. Proper timing and proper word choices are essential. Get it right and you've deepened a relationship and made forward progress. Get it wrong and you've got an even bigger mess to clean up.

Today's Thoughtful Thursday post concerns one of the worst times to communicate-when you are angry. Consider the following:  


Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.-Ambrose Bierce


1. What difficult conversation do you need to have in the near future? How can you best prepare for the conversation?

2. How long do you need to wait to "cool off" before having the conversation?

3. What recent conversation do you regret having? What could you have done differently to cause a different outcome?

The Dominant Director: Tony Allessandra video

Assessments are great tools to develop self-awareness about our behavior. I love the DISC assessment for behavior analysis because each of the styles is easily recognizeable and applied into our lives once you know the DISC "language". Its great to know how to treat people how they want to be treated. 

Today I want to share a short video I found today at Roberta Hill's  Assessments Today blog. In this video, author and speaker Dr. Tony Allessandra, co-author of People Smart,  provides a glimpse into the mind of the first style in the popular DISC assessment tool, the Dominant Director (D). You will learn about their strengths, weaknesses and even see two actors playing the part of the "D". 

As you watch the video, keep in mind that a lot of us are blends of the various styles D, I, S, or C. Additionally we have all learned to adapt to our environment at various levels.That's why, as Dr. Allessandra says in this video, no two D's (or any of the other styles for that matter) behave exactly alike.

When you are finished watching, consider the following:

  • Who do I know that behaves similarly to the "D"?
  • How would a "D" want to be treated?
  • If you are a "D", what did you learn? What behavior modification would most impact your life?

Remember, all four DISC styles have their unique strengths and weaknesses. When we get to know ourselves better and recognize the behavior styles of others, we can greatly increase our effectiveness with people.

Questions or comments about what you've just learned? Please leave a comment below or contact me directly if you would like to hear more about how an assessment might benefit you!

Other DISC-related posts: 
Leadership and DISC: Who is the best?
DISC Styles: Are you the tortoise or the hare?

Emotional Intelligence?: Rep. Joe Wilson's Outburst

Sometimes its best to just zip the lips. I'm sure Congressman Joe Wilson wishes he'd kept his mouth shut last Wednesday night instead of yelling "You lie" at President Obama during the President's speech on national TV.

This was emotional ignorance at its best. Regardless of whether Rep. Wilson's outburst was factual, his timing was definitely poor. I wonder how big of a hit Rep. Wilson's career will take because of his recent gaff.

We've probably all had emotional outbursts at times, but most likely not on such a grand stage.  I know I have said things before that I regret. We can all learn a thing or two from this example.

It is almost common knowledge in leadership circles these days that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) trumps IQ in almost every role, especially leadership roles, because leadership involves working with people. Past a certain point, IQ doesn't really matter tremendously in the modern workplace. To the contrary, EQ always matters because the higher our EQ, the more effective we are in getting things done through others. 

Emotions are not bad in and of themselves. In fact, they provide valuable insights into what triggers our behavior. A lack of emotional control, however, can prove costly in both the long and short term. Fortunately, unlike IQ, EQ can be improved over time. We can learn to check our emotions at door and think before we speak. We can also learn to think and not speak!

Do you know your EQ? If so, what are you doing to improve your personal and social competencies? If you've ever worked with a coach on EQ, would you share your experience with a comment?

If you'd like to learn more about how to improve your EQ through coaching and assessments, I'd love to talk to you. Contact me today for a complimentary consultation!

Leadership and DISC: Who IS the best?

People come in many shapes, sizes and personalities. Because we are all different, we tend to compare ourselves to others. However, the danger in making comparisons is that we often fail to notice our own giftedness, choosing instead to focus on the areas where we fall short of someone else's skill set.

There is no such thing as one best, all-purpose leadershp style. The best leaders are those who understand what their specific situation calls for to be successful and either adapt accordingly or recruit other qualified individuals to supplement their skills. I help my clients learn how to adapt better by encouraging them to "try on" other behavior styles and helping to identify areas of there work they can delegate.

According to Allesandra and O'Connor's PeopleSmart, four basic leadership styles correspond to the four core behavior styles in the DISC assessment.

  • Direction of others through dominance/directness (D)
  • Interaction with others (I)
  • Service to the goals of others (S)
  • Self-direction through compliance (C)

From these descriptions can you identify your primary style? Chances are, you are a blend of one or more of the above. Can you imagine a work or life situation where each one of these styles might work the best or not at all?

The most important thing to remember is that we are all different and uniquely gifted to carry out the "job" we are born to do. We will all lead in our own way. Get to know yourself better. Being coached through an assessment process is one way to do this. Then, seek out activities or job roles where you can spend the most time where you excel so you can be the best YOU!

What are your thoughts as to the best leadership style? In what ways have you adapted successfully to be more effective? What will you do with what you've learned?

DISC Styles: Are you a Tortoise or a Hare?

How fast do you like to go? Do you like to sprint, jog, or walk through life? Today we will take a look at two opposite personalities on the DISC behavioral model, the "D" and the "S", and provide some tips for peaceful interaction between the two. We'll be examining each as they resemble the characters in the familiar tale "The Tortoise and the Hare".

Let's first look at Mr. Hare, whom I'm likening to the Dominant Director "D". If you are a hare, you are ambitious, forceful, decisive and direct. You love to win and can't wait to get to the finish line! Your independent and competitive nature helps you to run with no fear.

On the other hand, Mr. Tortoise, the Steady Relator "S", is methodical, systematic, reliable and steady. He is modest and relaxed, sometimes hiding in his shell. Winning is not that important, as long as he finishes...and the team gets along with each other.

Can you see the contrast? As with any two different personality styles, communication challenges abound between these particular two. Here are some tips for dealing with each that I share with my coaching clients, no matter who you are:

Mr. Hare (D) likes you to:

  • Pick up the pace
  • Be clear, specific and to the point
  • Stick to business and be organized

Mr. Tortoise (S) likes you to:

  • Begin with a personal comment to break the ice
  • Slow down, take it easy
  • Present your case softly with nonthreatening tone

When we know ourselves for who we really are (how others see us) and can recognize others and appreciate them for who they are, we can greatly increase communication and understanding. Great leaders are people experts!

Experiment this week. Look for the tortoises and hares in your life (chances are you are married to your opposite!) and adapt to fit their needs. Everyone will benefit!

Readers, what do you think? How have you been able to apply these things? Click the comment link below and let us know!

Body Language and Leadership

Your body speaks.  Do you know what it is saying to others? Don't get me wrong, words matter tremendously. However, if our body language betrays us, the perfect words have little effect.

Carol Kinsey Goman in her article "Body Language: Mastering the Silent Language of Leadership" says the following:

All leaders express enthusiasm, warmth and confidence as well as arrogance, indifference and displeasure through their facial expressions, gestures, touch and use of space. If an executive wants to be perceived as credible and forthright, her or she has to think "outside the speech" and recognize the importance of nonverbal communication.

She also mentions 5 key points that I think we should all keep in mind, whether we are executives or not:

  1. Watch those facial expressions.
  2. Talk with your hands if you know what they're saying.
  3. Show your whole body (get out from behind the lecturn)
  4. Don't go overboard.
  5. Align your words and your gestures.

Be sure check out the entire article for what she says about each of the above.

Do you have any tips you would like to share about expressing great nonverbal communication?  If so, click on the comment link below. 

Coach's Challenge: Pick out one of the items on the list above and practice it this week.  What do you notice about yourself?

Listening With Intuition

It takes practice to be an outstanding listener. Setting aside internal and external distractions involves both focus and time. We also need to know what to listen for. Minds buzzing with activity find it difficult to deeply tune in to another listen with intuition. Outstanding leaders are outstanding listeners.

We listen with intuition when we combine the words, context, body language and emotions of what is being said with what our "gut" says about what we are hearing. Listening in this way helps us better understand others and gives us clues to where we could follow up with a neutral question to help them better process their thoughts.

According to Tony Stoltzfus, in his book "Leadership Coaching", the five most important categories of intuition are these:

  1. The person's own discernment or insight about the situation
  2. Turning points or key actions and events
  3. Strong emotion or reaction
  4. Red Flags: things that don't seem right or don't sit right
  5. Patterns: Cause and effect relationships or repeated outcomes in actions or thinking

Good coaches use these techniques when listening to their clients and they are some of the best listeners around.  Why not apply some of the same skills in your own life situations and see how they can benefit you and those around you? A listening ear is one of the best gifts we can give another.

What will you do with what you've learned?