Spring! The Organic Side of Team Building

Spring! The Organic Side of Team Building

Have you seen spring yet?  Here in central Pennsylvania we are seeing a very slow appearance of spring, with cold temperatures and April snow. May is bringing a glimmer of hope that spring is coming! This time of year brings to my mind that teams trying to bring new ideas to fruition have a lot in common with the little seedlings that we started in our greenhouse months ago.  We start with something that looks hard, lifeless, and seemingly too small to do anything.  To bring life to this seed, we: provide a warm (welcoming) environment. provide water…not a lot; a little at a time, consistently and gently. nurture them. We don’t immediately send them to the outdoors. notice when their little pot is constraining…so we add nutrients, maybe even transplant them to a bigger pot. give them sunshine while carefully making sure they don’t get dried out or wilted. Too much of a good thing is detrimental to this young...
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Encouraging Millennial Leaders without Annoying Everyone Else

Encouraging Millennial Leaders without Annoying Everyone Else

A decade-ish ago, the Millennials started entering the workforce.  I am on the fringes of Millennials, which some call xennials.  I remember being one of the first “explorers” of the workforce before the tidal wave of Millennials started rolling in the door and, by sheer numbers, changing the workplace.  Now the Millennials are starting to change leadership discussions because they are entering leadership positions.  That’s what I’d like to talk about today, Millennials and leadership. Often, Millennials are characterized by their abundance of optimism and drive to change the world.  This is something the workplace knows we need, but there’s still this reserved frustration under the breath of established workplaces.  So, this begs the question… How do you encourage your Millennial leader to continue changing the world, without annoying teammates in the process? Here’s a few stories that Paul and I have heard about in the last week (yes, just a week) that made us think that we needed to talk about this. Scenario...
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Fear of Change? A change management solution…Enabling Joy!

Fear of Change? A change management solution…Enabling Joy!

Change is happening all around us, and some welcome it and others spurn it.  Organizational change is inevitable and many of the teams we work with are struggling through some sort of change.  This can be reorganization, market changes, customer behavior changes, culture shakeups, etc. Recently, I was sharing some ideas with a wonderful group of professionals.  In my presentation and guided discussion, we went through the idea of joy in change, and its three elements of connect, create, or contribute. To make it relatable to real life, we test drove the ‘joy in change’ idea on a current struggle experienced by Jenny.  In brief, the situation is that her department was poised to grow, and some other departments were a bit apprehensive about this. Backdrop on this Joy in Change stuff Remember that joy is a deep happiness and is not to be confused with pleasure. Pleasure has its place, but there are key differences that have an analogous connection to the difference between...
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A Well-Rounded Teammate: Diversity Your Team Needs

A Well-Rounded Teammate: Diversity Your Team Needs

Were you taught to work on your weaknesses, hearing that the best teammates are well-rounded? We are told to expose children to lots of experiences, building a wide array of strengths because we want to both open our children to the broadest array of opportunities and help them become self-sufficient adults.  As employers, we look for improvement areas and weaknesses to strengthen, and find positions to help develop those skills. What if spending time trying to make yourself well-rounded was actually useless? It is easy to be lured in to be all things for all people, which is really what this “being well-rounded” advice is telling us.  One thing I am continually being brought back to reality on is that there is just not enough time to do it all.  Even if I want to learn all the things and experience everything, the truth is that there are always trade-offs.  I have to give up something to get something else.  Or I can...
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Myers-Briggs Type Indicator vs. StrengthsFinder: Complements or adversaries?

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator vs. StrengthsFinder: Complements or adversaries?

Do you get excited to look into your personality, your preferences, and communication style?  I have found most do, as I regularly see quizzes on Facebook claiming to tell you what Disney Princess you are, what Muppet character, or what color your aura is… Whether we’ve taken one on Facebook, at work with a team, or read books about it, you probably have some insight into your “style.”   So, is this just a journey of self-exploration or is it really useful in our teams? Paul & I have used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to help many teams improve their communication, both internal within a team and how the team communicates with stakeholders.  We’ve been Myers-Briggs Type Indicator qualified administrators for more than 10 years and have found great value in helping people see how they get data and make decisions. Recently, we are digging deeper into the StrengthsFinder.  It is a cool idea that we see as highly valuable to teams.  The basic...
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Leading Change: Making New Connections in Our Brains

Leading Change: Making New Connections in Our Brains

Leading change. This world changes so fast it is hard to keep up most of the time. With all this change around us, do we change?  How does successful change happen? A Story about Brain Habits We put up with a crazy faucet in my house for years.  In order to get it to stop running it had to be pulled down, and then pushed up to the left. Sort of like shifting into reverse.  It didn't take long before this little motion became habit, even for close relatives.  Then one day our faucet finally blew its o-rings a day before 30 guests were arriving, so I fixed the faucet.  No need to shift into reverse anymore.  What did we find?  Now we naturally do the reverse shift motion which turns the faucet on, even 5 months after I fixed the faucet. I tell you this story because of a different story, a video actually, that makes us think about making changes in life...
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Valentines Day – Be my…Teammate?

Valentines Day – Be my…Teammate?

(Hey - heads up...I got a great feedback from a friend on this post.  To respect his need for privacy, I've added it below myself.  But, this is a fine example of how good friends air differences and still respect each other.) Today is Valentine’s Day, both a celebrated and loathed holiday. Ideally, it is a day to celebrate and recognize the close relationships you have in your life...which is fantastic. Some people think this day is basically a way for the greeting card, flower, chocolate and jewelry businesses to have a mid-winter boost in sales. I would like to offer a third option to see what we can learn from this cupid crazy custom to help us be better team leaders. How I've seen Valentines Day through the Years Here’s what I learned, and, admittedly, I learned it kicking and screaming. Ok – I’m a baby boomer. Yes, it's Paul here.  Back in the 60’s and 70’s, my mom would take us to the Woolworth's...
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Where is Super Bowl talent on your team?

Where is Super Bowl talent on your team?

Are you ready for the Super Bowl? I can tell you that living in the Pittsburgh area means Super Bowl Sunday celebrations. This is true even on the years that the Black&Gold faithful begrudgingly accept that Steelers are not playing (like this one).  It is a reason to come together in the grips of winter for a bit of companionship, chuckle at some ads, and hope to not get stuck in snow. As we scurry for game day munchies, all the Super Bowl commentary (and, there's enough to make our head spin!) gives us an opportunity for self-reflection about finding talent for our teams and developing that talent. How do we find the 'Tom Brady' on our team? I happened to read an article in the Wall Street Journal (though this was with the hype of the Bowl Championship Series, it applies at the NFL level too). The article showed how all the statistics and awards don't translate to success at the next...
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Avoiding a team ‘shutdown’

Avoiding a team ‘shutdown’

Is your team on the brink of a “shutdown?” As a patriotic American, I am personally saddened and embarrassed by the recent government shutdown. I wonder what our friends (and enemies) in other countries think when they see the world’s most powerful country brought to a standstill by a group of highly educated and popularly elected officials come to a divisive stalemate in concerns over where to put our funding. These are not war or peace decisions, these are not slavery or free decisions…these are actually fairly small decisions that end up being more theatrical than substantive. But the question that begs to be asked is... Do we find sadly similar situations on our own teams?  Do we as team leaders feel like we are ironing out a schoolyard argument that's escalated to name-calling brawl? How often is clinging to our own choices making it even hard to be a team leader or facilitate a dialogue? We have all heard of consensus, and...
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Thinking Like Deming- Not easy, but very worthwhile

Book Review: "My heartfelt wish is that you are inspired to carry the message and the meaning in these pages into your life and your leadership to help your business enterprise and other organizations in your field of influence to develop and become sustainable entities that thrive and evolve, making our communities—our society—strong, vibrant, and joyful. When we have mapped the four movements as one whole, then we can open our eyes and the eyes of others wider so that together we see the many different aspects of our lives as part of a larger context …" This is from Mr. Edward Martin Baker’s "Coda"  in what is perhaps the best single reference and explanation of Deming’s thoughts, ideas, and work that I have had the pleasure to read, The Symphony of Profound Knowledge, W. Edwards Deming's Score for Leading, Performing and Living in Concert . Yes, it’s a weighty, deeply referenced work yet still an enjoyable work, if even only for the continual...
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