How personality styles affect conflict on your team

Think about a few times when you’ve been angry. It could be a situation where you were just furious about a situation, locked in a debate or angry to have learned something unsettling. 

What did you do? How did you handle the conflict? 

Most of us have a sort of default way that we handle being upset. Here are four common reactions:

  • You say, “bring it on!” and head right into conflict, ready to be honest and direct
  • While you’re fine discussing anything with anyone, you’re uneasy being directly confronted or if you feel the conflict is a rejection of your ideas or values
  • You don’t like upset and do your best to be a peacemaker and mediator (and sometimes even try to change the topic or agree with things you don’t really support just to keep others placated)
  • You dislike being pulled into conflict (especially if it feels like a personal attack) and you want time to research and evaluate a position, response or options

Now, this isn’t a case where the way we react is BETTER or WORSE, or WRONG or RIGHT. 

The way we deal with conflict is related to our personality style (there are different tools for understanding yourself and others and at Padraig, we use the Everything DiSC Assessments with our clients). 

The reason that we react so differently to conflict is because our personality style influences:

  • How we approach situations 
  • What we tell ourselves about things happening around us
  • How we prioritize tasks we need to accomplish 
  • How we interact with others at work and in our personal lives.

Common causes of conflict

Conflict in any environment frequently arises when there are competing goals or pressures. It might be that there is some competition over resources or perhaps confusion over policies, rules or regulations – or friction between different positions of authority or responsibility.

Then consider that the people disagreeing over these issues may also have very different personality styles; suddenly perceptions, values and character traits are adding to the potential for conflict. 

Sometimes the conflict arises when you both share the same personality styles (consider two take-charge dominant personalities who enjoy a good fight, erm, discussion or, alternately, two people-pleasing steady personalities who avoid conflict and don’t want to upset each other). 

Being able to identify your own personality style and the personality styles of your team members and colleagues can be very helpful. If you can understand what motivates them and what is irritating for them, you can tailor your approach. Think of it as learning to speak their language. 

It’s obviously easier to figure out with the folks you work with on a daily or weekly basis and a little trickier if you’re having conflict with someone in a branch office somewhere else in the world. 

Ways to assess personality styles

There are a few ways you can try to figure out where you and others fall in terms of personality style – and ultimately conflict style. Here are some ideas:

Make observations: Watch how your team members react to various situations: 

  • What’s their usual default reaction to conflict? (NB: we highlighted four common reactions at the start of this blog)
  • Are they considered abrasive, outgoing, calm or organized? 
  • Do they like to make decisions quickly, consider others’ reactions when making decisions, wait to see what the group thinks before they vote or are they all about numbers and research? 
  • How do they communicate? 

People can learn to adjust their behavior but most of us have a default way of reacting when we’re under stress. When you see patterns, you can make an educated guess about personality style.

Listen to what others say: If you routinely hear that so-and-so always needs to comb through every financial detail and consider every possibility or that this person makes snap decisions and can’t stand long explanations, you can glean some insights that might confirm your own suspicions. If you trust someone not to gossip or create office drama, you could ask their opinion about how a colleague approaches certain things (but be careful – you want to solve conflict, not create more of it!).

Go straight to the horse’s mouth: Rather than trying to guess, you could go right to the person you’re in conflict with and broach the topic in a non-confrontational way. For example, you could say, “I feel like I am always very direct, but that might not be comfortable for you. Do you agree?” or, “I know that my need for detail can grate on your nerves. Is that a fair statement?” And then, based on their response, you can talk about ways to work through the conflict together. 

Take a workshop: Learning how to correctly identify your own personality style and that of your team members can be the first step to a better work relationship. Learning together at a workshop gives everyone on the team a common language to use and problem-solving skills geared to communicate better with diverse personality styles.   

Conflict is a matter of perspective

There is a very important thing to remember when conflict arises. Brené Brown, a researcher at the University of Houston, has written five New York Times bestsellers. The most recent was published in 2018 after she spent seven years studying the future of leadership.

One of the many interesting results of Brown’s decades of research is that she found that people need to explain the cause of the conflict. But to do that, we often make up an explanation – and our brains feel good about filling in the blanks (accurate or not) and reward us with the feel-good hormone serotonin.

She emphasizes that what we assume to have caused the conflict may not be the truth, but we get that rush of serotonin to reinforce the ideas. Now, consider that if we’re making assumptions about conflict, the invented story might actually make the conflict worse. 

It’s really hard not to get drawn into conflict. Instead of deciding to win an argument or prove your perspective, take a step back. 

One of our favorite ideas to share with clients is to “listen to understand” (rather than listening to respond). It’s human nature to listen to RESPOND, but if you listen to understand the other person’s perspective it’s much easier to determine what that person thinks is causing the conflict. 

Cause and effect

Ideally, you’re going to determine what is the source of strife and determine the conflict style of the person (or people) involved. Then you can anticipate how your style and theirs are similar and different – with a goal of finding out how to help your styles work together and how to make conflict productive.. 

For example, using the language of the DiSC profiles that we use with our clients:

  • If you’re both take-charge Dominant-D personalities, you could clash (and take no prisoners) if you disagree. You may not resolve things in one conversation and may need to take breaks so you can stay respectful and productive. 
  • If you’re both people-pleasing Steady-S personalities, neither of you likes conflict (you usually try to avoid it!). The problem is that ignoring issues doesn’t resolve things – it usually makes them fester until tempers blow. You’ll need to initiate working through the conflict.
  • If the conflict is between a Dominant and a Steady personality, the stakes are very different. In this case, you’re going to have to try to ensure the Dominant-D doesn’t railroad the quiet and patient Steady-S (and the Steady-S has to resolve to be honest and forthcoming, remembering that a Dominant-D personality likes concise information given quickly and is sensitive to being disrespected). The Steady-S may think they have avoided uncomfortable conflict by staying silent but keeping feelings bottled up wears you down over time; the Dominant-D will be surprised, dismayed and possibly disgruntled if it comes out later that silence didn’t signal agreement.
  • The other personalities handle conflict differently so the interplay among personalities is always variable. For example, an Influential-i is sensitive to disapproval from the team, loves new ideas and happily works in broad strokes; it may be harder for an Influential-i to admit there is a problem and be honest about their position. The Conscientious-C personality is very analytical and may seem to other personalities to get overly mired in detail. It’s easy to see where an “i” might find a “C” very irritating and slow when making decisions (and conversely the “C” might think the “i” is flighty and not grounded in fact). 

The beauty of realizing that different people have different conflict styles (because we’re not all the same personality style!) is that we can use that knowledge to help to see things from another perspective.

Instead of judging someone as domineering, flighty, sensitive or slow, we can instead appreciate that we all have different characteristics. The bonus? Sometimes it’s very helpful to rely on colleagues who see the world completely different than you do. 

To make the most of the diversity around you, and still manage conflict, there are six simple shifts you can make to tackle the bad kind of team conflict

Being able to communicate in a way that others who see things differently than you can understand and appreciate will help to resolve conflict and build a better working relationship. 

Coach’s Questions

What conflict styles are making your work challenging? What would you like to see change, in your relationships with these folks? Given our ideas above, how can we help?

7 ways to build an abundant mindset

I had a recent experience where the owner of a small company explained on Facebook that it was time to cull the old Facebook friend list because while that friend list had expanded to 1,000+ names, it was obvious that no one could have that many true friends. 

As part of the explanation, the business owner noted: “Facebook has given me the false impression that I know you all. And, yes, I might see it’s your birthday, that you’re doing home renovations or that you have a great garden, or that you’re traveling somewhere exciting (yet you aren’t one of my clients, so frankly I don’t care).”

In other words, “if you’re not giving me your business for X, I don’t care about your X”. 

Ouch. What struck me when I read this post is that this was written by someone who does not have an abundant mindset. This is someone who sees a limit to friendships, interactions, business, and possibilities.

Even though this was on Facebook and not LinkedIn (therefore a friend forum and not a business forum), it reflects the effect a non-abundant mindset can have on us professionally.

Would you feel like doing business with someone who cuts you from a list because you haven’t done business YET?

Would you wonder how much is ENOUGH business to make the cut?

Would you trust if the person interacted with your posts that this person genuinely wanted to connect or would you feel that it was really an attempt to hook you as a business opportunity?

As we’ve discussed in a previous blog, limiting beliefs can hold you back personally and professionally – and perhaps even in ways we don’t realize. But, don’t despair! We can re-train our brains to think differently and rewrite the script.



abundant mindset

Here are seven tips to help you build an abundant mindset:

  1. Think without borders. Don’t set parameters when you dream about possibilities and set big goals. Be audacious! If you set limits at the outset you’re not going to be reaching very far.
  2. Push fear away and be curious and excited. Yes, change can be scary – but so is never taking a risk and stagnating. Change allows us the potential to grow and experience positives we otherwise would never encounter. Practice embracing change and being open to new opportunities!
  3. Don’t rest on your laurels! Never stop learning. If you have an abundant mindset, you understand that no matter how brilliant or accomplished any of us are there is still more to learn and experience. There are always areas in which we can develop and grow because it’s impossible to learn everything. See where being insatiably curious and trying new things takes you.
  4. Get off the sidelines and hustle. You can sit back and wait for things to happen in life (and perhaps react to them), or you can actively seek possibilities in life. If you have an abundant mindset, you will be pro-active.  (You can use our ultimate goal setting worksheet to explore possibilities wisely and do a little strategic planning.)
  5. Fill that glass. Folks love to say optimists see a glass as half full while pessimists see it as half empty. When we move into abundant thinking, we’re focusing on finding reasons for gratitude and recognizing what we have. If you have an abundant mindset, you see possibilities instead of limitations and so you’re going to see you can work at filling the glass until it’s as full as you want it to be!
  6. Healthy competition only (no green-eyed monsters). If you have an abundant mindset then the success of someone else isn’t going to make you feel threatened. There’s room for lots of us to achieve good things, right? Celebrate when others are successful and learn from what they do well. Jealous competition and resentment can only limit relationships and waste your energy.
  7. Keep your focus on what you can do differently or better. Some folks get bogged down in negative self-talk when things don’t go as planned. Do not get stuck in that victim mindset! When you focus on the negative, you limit your thinking. Not only that, but steeping yourself in anxiety, fear, anger, or any of the myriad negative emotions is stressful and stress wreaks havoc on our physical health, too. Don’t be afraid to fail! With an abundant mindset, you can find the emotional courage to learn from your mistakes and pursue limitless possibilities.

If you try these seven tips to reframe your thoughts and rewrite your inner dialogue, you can stop limiting your thinking by changing from a scarcity mindset (I can’t, it’s not possible, there isn’t any way, etc.) to an abundant mindset (I can try, it might work if I explore the possibilities, I can find a way, etc.).

Building an abundant mindset is life-changing. Leave the “what if I don’t?” and “what if I can’t” behind for a big “what’s next?!” so that you embrace life and all its possibilities.

Coach’s Questions: 

When you think about dreams and goals, what is your current mindset? How have you limited your dreams or hopes? What can you do this week to start building an abundant mindset or making it stronger? What big, audacious ideas do you have for the new year?

Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Leadership?

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes jobs redundant by the millions, how can you ensure you have a place in the workplace?

Before you think, ah, but I’m in a leadership role in X industry and this won’t affect me at all: This is about much more than just manufacturing jobs. 

Earlier this year, AI expert Kai-Fu Lee told 60 Minutes that he predicts AI will eliminate employment for 40 percent of jobs in the next 15 years. 

In his book, AI Super Powers, Lee outlines how AI can replace not just repetitive tasks, but also traditionally white-collar careers in many diverse fields, including accounting, marketing, law, hospitality, and even healthcare.

The current move toward artificial intelligence is being characterized as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Are you ready for it? How do you ensure you continue to have a place in the workplace? Can you still stand out or excel in this new age of AI?

Things that AI cannot truly replicate

We have to build on the things that underscore our humanitythe things that AI cannot truly replicate. Things like:

Emotional Intelligence: What makes great leaders stand out from good leaders? Usually it’s emotional intelligence. The good news is that you can learn how to boost your leadership emotional intelligence. 

It’s primarily about self-awareness, self-management and managing relationships with those around you. Being fully conscious of how your behavior affects others is at the core of emotional intelligence.

Effective communication: There is no comparison between someone who can communicate well and communicating with AI. Hands down, effective communication skills will give human leaders a competitive edge over the best bot technology.

Being able to communicate effectively with those around you takes more than strategy. It requires understanding that communication flows two ways and being able to cater your communication style to be delivered in a way that others will receive it well. 

When you are intentional in your communication and listen to understand rather than listen to reply – you can turn difficult conversations into essential conversations.

Curiosity: Harnessing your curiosity can reap huge benefits for your team (and it’s not a characteristic of artificial intelligence!). Instead of directing outcomes and solving problems, a coach approach sees leaders ask questions and cultivate curiosity about everything. 

A growth mindset:  We as leaders can move away from a fear mindset to a growth mindset. This takes us from feeling driven to keep things smooth and even to feeling driven to grow and experiment. Learning from (and celebrating) failures encourages us to stretch and strive to do better.

Strategic thinking: This means not just thinking of the logical next move in the execution of an idea but instead, thinking through the idea to determine the angle of approach. It’s determining the most effective outcome (which isn’t always based on the most efficient approach).

Initiating good conflict: Building good conflict is the act of challenging people you trust to help them develop even better ideas (or them challenging you to do the same). Conflict in this sense isn’t about fighting, it’s about not being afraid to share different perspectives or raising concerns. 

Managing bad conflict: Most of us have experienced bad conflict either performance problems or the nasty, interpersonal conflict between coworkers. Tackling the bad kind of team conflict requires having the unique ability to address a challenge head-on or help the other person find ways to solve it.  

If you build and adapt your leadership style to the needs of individuals you’ll go far – even in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – because while machines can figure out complex problems, they can seldom figure out emotions. 

At this point, artificial intelligence still can’t compete with leaders who boost their emotional intelligence as creative, resourceful, inclusive, respectful and accountable humans.

Coach’s Questions

Where do YOU have an advantage over artificial intelligence? What can you do to boost your emotional intelligence this week? How can you protect your future career from AI? Want to do more to work on your EI? We offer a workshop to help you understand,  assess and develop your emotional intelligence as a leader (and foster emotional intelligence skills with your team).

How One to One meetings build a solid culture of engaged employees

How often do you engage with your direct-reports? I don’t mean a list of updates at a weekly meeting, or a drive-by debrief when something is falling apart. 

What I mean is: 

  • How often do you sit and talk about what is motivating them? what’s wearing them down? 
  • How often do you tell them what you’re appreciating about their work, and what you would like to see adjusted?

I get it – you’re ready to stop reading because, “I don’t have time for that.”  Give me another couple of minutes to hear me out. 

Why is it worth spending time every week with each direct report??

  • One-to-one meetings strengthen relationships between the manager and their team members, which is foundational to build a solid culture of engaged employees.
  • We all have a need to feel validated. Sharing thoughts one-to-one lets your direct reports know that their insights and concerns are appreciated and taken into consideration.
  • The above prevents all sorts of other problems and challenges, and sets you both up for big success.

There are many benefits to having short, focused meetings one-to-one with your team members:

  •  One-to-one meetings improve efficiency and productivity 

What’s critical to note is that the amount of time you spend holding ad-hoc conversations with your employees, communicating by email and tracking down crucial information will be condensed almost entirely. 

This brief one-to-one communication provides a high-level overview of current issues and progress. These unique meetings significantly boost productivity and cut wasted time. 

  • You’ll build loyalty

Employees will place a greater sense of trust in your leadership if you meet with them regularly for one-to-one meetings. Loyalty cannot be established through a drive-by relationship with your people; frequency and consistency are required.

  • It benefits both of you

Not only will you have the opportunity to discuss needs, goals and expectations, but you’re also giving your folks an advantage by providing your undivided attention. Within this time, your employees are given a chance to relay their progress and receive clear direction for upcoming priorities.

  • You can give feedback in a way that’s meaningful and personable

Providing feedback for your employees can be uncomfortable, but one-to-one meetings offer the ideal opportunity for letting your directs know how they’re doing, and what you expect from them moving forward – it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

  • You can check-in on goals/objectives and clearly align on progress and next actions to attain goals

This keeps you (and them!) on track and gets things back on track faster when things are derailing. 

And hey, for those times when the weekly meeting doesn’t avoid a crisis and you have to have “the talk” with someone about a big mess-up, it’s a lot easier to do when you’ve built a foundation of weekly honest conversations full of good talking and good listening. 

So how do you have great one-to-one meetings to achieve all those great things, and not painful and awkward meetings?

Make it Safe

Making it safe and maybe even comfortable for people to speak openly is important. As coaches, we work hard to create this atmosphere with our clients and leaders should strive to do this with their direct reports. If these meetings feel too clinical or formal, they’re less likely to achieve the outcomes we listed above. 

Make this meeting an opportunity to get to know this person better. The point is not just to “get an update on their projects,” but rather, to really get to know them because strong work relationships are foundational to success. 

Not only does that build trust, which is key, but you can, for example, find out if there’s anything worrying them. This can help you foresee issues before they become problems. 

It takes time to establish trust, so don’t call it quits after only one meeting. It takes time to change and build a solid culture and get everyone engaged.

Listen More Than You Talk

Don’t dominate the discussion; instead leave plenty of room for the other person to talk, even if that means sitting in silence. I get it: silence can be uncomfortable, and some folks find it harder than others. It takes time to master the art of sitting in silence. But, silence can be very important, allowing for quiet reflection and encouraging others to speak.

Listen to Understand

This is one of our favorite rules for communication because too many of us listen with the intent to respond. When you stop thinking about how to respond, and actually listen to what someone is saying to you (even if you’re angry about it or disagree with them), you may understand what the other person’s issue or concern is. If you reply with a question to understand their perspective more deeply, they feel heard and then real communication can take place. 

Ask Curiosity-Based Questions

People talk more when they’re encouraged to share, not just with open-ended questions but with curiosity-based questions. Show that you are genuinely interested and eager to learn more by asking inquisitive questions. 

I’ve advised clients to consciously think, “I’m curious about…” when they start to ask a question. For example, if you’re talking to a direct report about a situation and they say something intriguing, you’ll think, “I’m curious about XYZ.” Asking, “You mentioned XYZ and I’d like to know more. What can you tell me about that?” might yield more information than more direct “yes/no” or “why?” questions, which can put people on the defensive.

Build Confidence

Here I mean their confidence first, then yours. Help your staff feel confident in a one-to-one meeting by letting them talk and showing concern for any problems from their point of view.  

For example, if a direct-report shares with you their concern about the risk of delays on one aspect of a project, your mind might immediately think of the negative impact that could have on things, how that would damage other areas you’re responsible for, how it might make you look bad, etcetera, etcetera. 

Instead, try responding by looking at it from their perspective. How difficult might it have been for them to tell you? How worried might they be about all the things you just thought about? How can you inspire them to feel confident in finding solutions?

Build your own confidence, too. You might be feeling silly or even weak – having a meeting where you aren’t guiding the conversation, where you’re not answering questions and telling them what to do when there’s a problem might feel alien to you. Using a coach approach to leadership takes practice, but as you move from being the leader who tells people the answers to helping them find the answers themselves you will see how much stronger your team becomes.

A lot of that feeling is about your own beliefs: thinking you need to solve all problems, thinking you need to always have an answer, thinking you have to have it all together. (If that were true, why would you need a team?!)

Practise letting go of that self-talk and reminding yourself that you’re in this together and you can help each other. Remember that by NOT responding and by NOT imposing your own solutions to problems, you’re helping them to grow and you’re being a great LEADER (instead of a BOSS!). You can feel confident in that – and enjoy the benefits of building a solid culture of engaged employees. 

Review Your Progress

Before you leave a one-to-one meeting, take a few minutes to go over what you’ve discussed. Ask:

  • What was helpful in today’s meeting?  
  • What would you like to have happen differently next time, to make our one-to-one more valuable to you? 

Keep in mind they might not have answers right away, but you can start the next meeting with the same questions – things may have come to them in the meantime.

Coach’s Questions

What benefits from one-to-one meetings do you most want to see with your team? What can you this week do to implement or improve one-to-one meetings with your direct reports?

The holidays are coming – 9 things to think about when planning your office party

Tis the season! This is the time of year for party planning and merrymaking as the calendar year draws to a close.

But how often do we actually make office parties and gatherings fun for everyone?

Those of us who’ve been leaders for a decade or two or more (cough) remember when Christmas parties included a tipsy Santa making off-colour remarks and sometime later when inclusive party planning in December meant calling the office celebration a Holiday Party instead of a Christmas Party. Thankfully, we’ve moved even further in the last few years.

Let’s look at office celebrations a little more broadly and in a way that is more useful not just in December, but whenever you decide to throw a party or celebrate as a team.

When done well, party-planning is more than just putting together a festive occasion. It’s an opportunity to build relationships and strengthen your team. Chances are, at the root of it, you’re having a party to show appreciation.

That means throwing a party that doesn’t leave anyone on the sidelines, feeling awkward or (worse!) offended in some way. And that takes some thought. 

Here’s what you need to consider before you hit send on that invitation:

Diversity is about more than you might think

Most workplaces are comprised of a diversity of people and often we think of this in terms of religious traditions. At some point in the early 90s, North American corporations realized that not everyone celebrates Christmas (hence the Holiday Party!) and that many cultural traditions are valued and celebrated.

While this is a valid consideration, diversity is more than just multiculturalism. Yes, there are those of us who identify as Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, pagan, atheist or agnostic. We’re likely hearing about plans for big celebrations from Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice. 

We all come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and lifestyles — and differences can be more than cultural and religious markers. 

For instance, you might have a colleague who has recently lost a partner (widowed, divorced or otherwise) who feels awkward if invitations are for team members and significant others. Statistically speaking, several of us will work alongside people who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community — some of whom might not be “out” at work. 

There could be others who are sober or, perhaps, struggling with sobriety and not interested in open bars and a big emphasis on drinking.

More and more these days, workplaces employ people of diverse abilities. Your team members may be deaf or hard of hearing, on the autism spectrum or use a wheelchair or other support for mobility.  

Parents of young children have different demands on them, as do those who are caring for aging family members (or the “sandwich generation” folks who are caring for both!). 

Another consideration when we’re thinking of diversity is diet. You may have vegetarian or vegan colleagues as well as those who don’t eat pork or shellfish for religious or cultural reasons. Then there are also allergies to things like gluten, peanuts or tree nuts.

At this point, you might be thinking, “it’s just not worth it — I can’t satisfy everyone!”

Take the opportunity to unite instead of divide

When leaders understand the diverse make-up of their team members, they can plan accordingly so that everyone feels comfortable celebrating together.

It helps to focus on celebrating what you have in common rather than concentrating on the differences. (And remember — there are other simple ways to thank your team — you can think beyond a party!)

If you try to incorporate some religious or cultural celebrations into an event (for instance, decorating with a Menorah and a Kwanzaa kinara with seven candles on either side of Christmas tree), odds are you’ll leave someone feeling left out or disgruntled.

Instead, focus on your work together during the last 12 months. You’ve made it through another calendar year!

Here are some ideas to make your holiday gatherings and other celebrations inclusive:

  • Pick a neutral theme instead of tying your celebration to a particular holiday tradition. Think snowflakes, pinecones and cedar or colour themes like black & white or blue & silver. Trust me: You can be festive and celebratory of “the season” without pulling out the Santa decorations!
  • How do you think your team members would like to celebrate? Maybe everyone would like a late night and fancy dinner, but is it possible they’d rather have a family-friendly event during the day or a long lunch? Sometimes after work soirees or group activities are a hit. The best parties are going to have a broad appeal, so ask your team. If everyone is indicating they’re already busy, perhaps opt to hold a celebration in the New Year or on your company’s anniversary date.
  • Parents or caregivers on your team? You might want to offer money for a babysitter or caregiver to make it less stressful for team members to attend (not just cab fare home!).
  • Not everyone wants to drink and party. Many cultures are uncomfortable with alcohol and some team members may choose not to drink for other reasons. Choose a venue that allows everyone to feel comfortable and ensure that you word the invitation so that it’s clear this is not just a booze fest (for example, “Network & Chill” feels different than “Happy Hour”). Drinks menu? Offer non-alcoholic drinks that are fun and festive, too.
  • Instead of wording an invitation to include a “spouse” or “date,” invite your team members to bring a plus one. This way people won’t feel awkward if their guest is a good friend or family member other than a romantic partner — and no one feels obliged to explain the relationship when they RSVP!
  • Think about your menu. Your venue should ideally be able to offer vegetarian and non-vegetarian options (and many of those will also work for those who are gluten-free). Ask people to let you know about dietary needs or allergies when they RSVP so that you’re not taken by surprise.
  • Check that the venue is accessible to people who are differently-abled and perhaps easily accessible by transit — whatever things are important to your team members. You don’t want to be the leader who chooses an exclusive venue that is formal and difficult for people to get into when everyone wants something informal and relaxing.
  • Think about the soundtrack to your event. Plan for music that will provide the right ambience and allow for conversation. Too often, parties are drowned out by loud music and that doesn’t let people get to know each other. Consider something like big band, soft classical music or mellow contemporary music as a backdrop. If there’s dancing, make sure the DJ takes requests and can cater to diverse musical tastes.
  • When you, as a leader, speak at the event, focus on celebrating your team rather than the season. It’s easy to slip into the same-old, tried-and-true wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. Instead, talk about what great work everyone has accomplished in 365 days together — as a team. Talk about how proud you are to be a part of this team.  If the hours have been long, thank family, friends and loved ones who are in the room. This way your celebration will be part of building a company culture of growth and happiness (not just a party!).

Build respect among colleagues

Choices you make as a leader can help to strengthen the relationships of your team members. 

If you want to have an inclusive workplace, model this by making decisions that show you’ve thought about your team members individually and collectively.

This means remembering to consider special dates or occasions that your team members may be observing. You don’t want to offer to take your team for a huge lunch when someone on your team is fasting for Ramadan or Advent. 

If someone asks for time off for a religious occasion or family obligation, honour that. Meetings and important deadlines can be set accordingly. This is when floating holidays are a real incentive for diverse workplaces.

Encourage your team to share their heritage if they want to bring food to share or talk about their celebrations. That company calendar? Include multi-cultural events and important dates for diverse backgrounds so that people are aware of what’s important outside of what they see as important.

Be sensitive to what’s important to your team members and what demands or obligations they may have outside the office. Again, this is bigger than party planning; it’s about ways you retain your top talent.

Coach’s Questions

Has how you look at diversity changed over time? What could you do better to make your celebrations more inclusive? What would you like to change with work celebrations? How can you take all this into consideration without making it a chore?

Building a Company Culture of Growth and Happiness

Recently one of our CEO clients was telling me about the important project his leadership team had completed. It was almost miraculous in that they brought it in on time and on budget – though you can probably guess it was grueling and draining for everyone involved.

I asked the CEO what they did to celebrate, and he paused before saying, “Well, I thanked everyone for their hard work and praised them around the leadership table for their contributions…” As we sat for a moment longer, he said, “Other than that, we all got back to work – it’s a busy time for us.”

I’ll bet that sounds like a familiar company culture to many of us. Hard workers keep working hard, one success has to lead to another, etcetera.

That same CEO had, a few weeks earlier, shared with me his frustration that, “folks don’t seem to really appreciate it here. We seem to have this culture of exhaustion and frustration. People are at each other constantly.”

Celebration at work can go a long way to building a company culture that thrives, retaining the talented employees and growing success. So, with all the effort we put into our jobs, why don’t we celebrate more of what we do? Time and money are the most oft-cited answers. Sometimes it’s also a correlation with what we feel we’re already doing (“I pay people well, why do we have to celebrate, too?!”).

Create a company culture that celebrates

Survey says you’ve got to show more than the money

When we ask folks, “When you think about your entire career, and you focus on the job you loved the most, what was it you loved?” the answers we get aren’t about money. In fact, almost no one says the best job they ever had was the best because of the pay. Instead we hear that people loved a workplace where they: 

  • had autonomy
  • felt appreciated
  • were recognized for their efforts
  • felt the company values aligned with their own
  • were on a team that wanted to win together
  • felt the goals were clear

Now, consider a celebration of the people who made a company success possible. How many of those positives might we reinforce with a company culture that celebrates hard work and dedication?

I imagine some of you are thinking, sure, that would be nice but I have time and/or money constraints. 

Here’s how to start honoring successes and the toil needed to get there, without taking too much time away from work or blowing your budget:

Celebrate the small wins
You don’t need to book a hall, a caterer and a band to celebrate! Celebrating on a small scale can be very meaningful and motivating for everyone. Got a new client this week?

Seeing good numbers this month? Buy a box of doughnuts or cupcakes and gather everyone around for a quick coffee break this morning. Up till the wee hours getting a presentation together and thrilled the hard work paid off after a great meeting? Thank everyone and suggest you start the next day a little bit later than you normally would (and don’t forget the pastries!). Has the team salvaged a client relationship that was tanking? Thank them at the next team meeting (and maybe provide some cookies to go with that afternoon coffee break!).

Before you start singling out team members with flashy thanks in front of the group, just remember that you may have to cater your communication style to be effective! Depending on personality style, some people like a big public thank you and others flourish when it’s a more private expression of gratitude or a group thank you.

Celebrate often
Doing anything often helps make it habitual – and that includes recognizing effort and success. If you want to create a company culture of growth and happiness, you have to start celebrating together. Check out our 10 simple ways to thank your team during the holiday season and be prepared to do so year-round.

Does it feel like you just celebrated something and you’re not keen to celebrate again so soon? Celebrate again. If you’re not used to it, building the habit is going to require you to celebrate things more often than feels “natural” because right now the company culture’s “natural” is not celebrating at all.

Tie the celebrations to your values
Does your organization have values it lives by? Have you looked at them lately? (We’ve discussed before why it’s important that your organization’s values and vision line up.) Walk the talk by tying your celebrations to the values on that poster in the boardroom.

So if your company says: “We value diversity” then celebrate someone having the courage to share a different point of view on how to tackle a project or working hard to bridge a cultural gap with an international client.

If your organization says: “We value our customers” then celebrate a thank you letter received from a customer, etcetera.

Being able to tie celebrations to your organization’s values is especially important if you want to foster those values. When you recognize folks for things they do that align to the company values, you reinforce those values and actions.

Systematize celebration
Another way to make celebrating more of a habit (and thus a part of your company culture) is to assign a budget (even if it’s a very modest budget!) and put key employees in charge of the festivities.

Don’t force this on the accountant who thinks it’s a waste of time. Instead, take a look around the next cupcake and coffee gathering. Who is really enjoying it? Who thanks you for the treat? Those are the folks who like to celebrate and might be happy to take it on.

Be careful not to delegate and run! Instead, ask them to take on ownership, but be sure to encourage them, suggest things to them that have happened that can be celebrated and show that you’re supportive of their extra efforts.

Start celebrating NOW
Like so many good ideas, this idea of building a company culture of growth and gratitude is only as good as its execution. Letting this good idea linger isn’t going to change the company culture. Carpe diem

Coach’s Questions

When was the last time you celebrated success and hard work with your team? How can you make celebrating part of your company culture? What can you celebrate this week?

Career move: Are you ready?

You know you’re ready for a change – a new challenge, perhaps a move up the career ladder or maybe a new location or industry.

Before you start putting out feelers, stop. (Yes – stop!) A little bit of groundwork can make a career move much more successful.


Take some time to review: 

  • What things do you love?
  • What don’t you love?  
  • What excites you?
  • What wears you down?  

Be completely honest! You’re not going to show this to anyone else. You don’t have to be seen to be somebody you’re not, nor do you have to try to please anyone else. This is a time for transparency and brutal honesty with yourself.  

Next, divide a notebook page in two columns and title one, “Love It” and the other, “Leave It”. At the end of each day, for a couple of weeks, go through your day and jot down things you did and things you avoided under either the “Love It” or “Leave It” column. 

After a couple weeks, you’ll have a pretty good list of things that drive you and things that wear you down.  (You don’t have to put everything on the lists – but if it remotely charges you up, put it under “Love It” and if it remotely bothers you or wears you down, toss it under “Leave It.”) 

We’ve also created a downloadable worksheet

Depending on the rhythm of your annual work cycle, at the end of the couple of weeks you may need to look ahead and think about what’s coming up. Consider whether you:

  • Love the year-end financial stuff? Add that to the list.
  • Love that you get four weeks of vacation? Add that to the list. 
  • Dread having to write the annual staff performance reviews? Add it to the list.
  • Know that you need an annual salary of $X? Add what you need to the lists as well – bonus, overtime, company car, expense account – just remember to differentiate between a want (would be nice to have) and a need (must have).

Think about what else you love in life. Perhaps these other things don’t immediately or obviously translate to a career move but then think about WHY you love them. Does the why translate? 

For example: 

I love being on the board of XYZ Non-profit because my role lets me see the big picture.

I like volunteering at the food bank because I can see the effect we have on people 

I like coaching sports because I like seeing the outcome of things.

I like having dinner with my kids every night.

Give some thought to what your “ideal” career move looks like and write it down. Read it a day or two later and edit it based on your gut reaction. 

So, a draft might read something like:

I want a role that lets me see a big picture – so something more tactical or strategic, where I can see an outcome for people directly. I enjoy sales but not the daily financial pressure to deliver, deliver, deliver.

When you’re thinking about your ideal, forget about “forever” and focus on the next few years. What would be ideal for now? Some of us of a certain age tend to look at career moves as rare and all-defining when, in fact, it could be an interesting step to a future opportunity.

I know that many of us think only of moving UP the corporate ladder, but there are times when a lateral career move makes sense. While you’re looking for opportunities, weigh all your available options. 

Go through your address book, and list 20-30 people you would feel comfortable talking to about your desire for a career change. They do NOT have to be people in your preferred industry or people who hire others. Schedule a coffee talk or phone chat with at least 15 of those folks.  

The goal is going to be to share with them what you’re looking for and why. You want this conversation to spark them thinking about who they know who might know someone who could help you find a new career opportunity. You see, you’re expanding your network by starting with people you know. 

There’s a really good chance the next person to hire you isn’t already in your address book, but there’s a good chance they’re in the address book of someone you know. 

When you meet your contacts for coffee, bring your goal statement and be able to speak in detail about it. We’ve included room on the downloadable worksheet for this information too. 

Telling someone over coffee that you’re looking for a job doesn’t accomplish much. They hear you but don’t see a role for themselves.  

Be Clear

You’ll want to be clear on a couple of things:  

  • Tell them what are you looking for in a career move
  • Share with them what are you good at (see the lists you created) 
  • Ask them if they can help you find something – or if they could refer you to others who might have a connection to something interesting

What about your current employer? If you really love your current employer, but you’re just not loving your current role, putting the same strategy to work within your current organization can work well, too. 

Build a network internally and use the same techniques of figuring out what you like, what you’re good at and seeking out a new opportunity. 

If you’re looking outside your organization for a new career opportunity, give some thought to when you want to share this with your employer:

  • On the one hand, you may work in an organization that won’t take it well when you tell them, so you may need to delay until you have a solid offer. 
  • If you have a good employer, they may want you to stay and offer to work with you to figure out how to bring out your real strengths with new responsibilities.

If you don’t share the information right away, prepare a response in case word gets back to your boss or employer that you’re looking for work elsewhere. Outline why you’re looking and how you would like to contribute more. 

As you explore the possibilities for a career move, remember this is about finding a good fit  – the best fit. You’re courting and being courted to see what opportunities are out there and you might land something really exciting. It’s good practice to consider your next career move at least once a year. 

Keep your eyes wide open to the fact that maybe your current role or company might turn out to be your best option right now. If there is some part of your job that made you think you needed to move, then you can try to do something to improve that part (rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater as they say!). Often a damaged interpersonal relationship is the motivation to move to a new workplace, but changing your perspective could change your career.

Coach’s Questions

What are your feelings about a career move? What can you do this week to figure out your ideal career move? Are there opportunities that you know that others in your network might be interested in? 

How to disagree with your boss

I remember vividly as a young professional a time when I had a dissenting opinion about an important issue, but hesitated to offer it. 

The problem was that I didn’t feel encouraged to give an honest opinion if it conflicted (and it did!) with that of the people more senior to me at the time. The boss was defensive and took disagreement as some sort of insult or insubordination. And so, of course, he often heard what he wanted to hear, not what he needed to hear.

It’s not uncommon. We’ve had clients share with us that they don’t know why their team members won’t tell them the truthand others who struggle to be candid with their bosses or board members. 

If you’re the leader seeking good information to inform your decision-making, you can learn how good leaders handle honest feedback and criticism and strategies for making the best decisions.

When you’re on the other side of things and disagree with someone you report to, it can be challenging to figure out how you can share your opinion without watering it down (and without needing to duck and cover!). 

Disagree with your boss

Here’s how you can disagree with your boss with less worry about being blacklisted or fired:

  1. Line up those ducks of dissent beforehand.
    To be able to disagree, there has to be trust. Strong, respectful relationships allow people to contribute and communicate truth no matter where they are in the office hierarchy. This is why when we work with teams, we help them learn to build conflict (the good kind!) in the workplace.

    Instead of waiting for a time when you’re in a meeting and wonder whether you can share your thoughts freely, have that conversation with your boss when the stakes are low. Find out how your boss feels about dissenting opinions. How should your team handle and manage disagreements when the stakes are high? Having established ground rules about what healthy conflict looks like and how to encourage a culture that allows for healthy debate leads to better decisions and successful organizations.
  2. Read the situation and strategize.
    Timing, as they say, is everything. If you have established strong work relationships, sharing frankly with your boss is easier than it can be otherwise. Additionally, different personalities will take information better in different waysboth WHAT is delivered (facts and figures vs feelings) and HOW or WHEN it is shared (for example, in a group or privately).

    You might have very valuable insight for your boss, but it could be that if you share it in a public forum that boss will feel undermined and embarrassed. If this is the case, you’re better to ask to meet with your boss privately after the meeting (I have an idea to share with you offline about this situation. Do you have a minute to chat?)

    Perhaps it’s an important meeting with a variety of stakeholders present, but the tone is more one of brainstorming for solutions. In that case, contributing your radically different perspective in a respectful way (You know, it occurs to me that we could take a completely new approach and do this…) could be very well received.

    It can also be helpful to remember that other people are sharing ideas that they feel strongly about. Acknowledge the contributions you agree with (While I agree that X is an important consideration, and as you say that Y is another factor we need to keep in mind, I feel that….) and ask questions about the things you see as potential challenges or barriers (I hear what you’re saying about Z and that is valid, but I’m wondering about ABC. How would we handle ABC?).

    When you are able to stay collegial and collaborative, it helps to keep the focus on finding solutions rather than winning an argument. Asking questions is a way for you to ask for the opinions of someone more senior than you and offer your own reservations about a topic in a respectful way.
  3. Make your intention clear.
    Even if you have a good relationship with your boss and your work culture encourages healthy conflict and sharing of ideas, it helps to frame your contribution to the discussion in the right way.

    When there is tension or if things get heated, it’s human nature for people to feel defensive about their own positions. What is the goal that everyone hopes to achieve? Preface your idea as a way to meet that goal. This way, even if yours is a dissenting opinion, it doesn’t threaten the position that your boss cares about.

    “I know we all want to land this big account. I feel that we could still do this with what you’re suggesting but we need to consider X, Y, and Z before we tackle what you’re proposing.”

    It’s crucial that, especially when you don’t agree, you still show respect. A boss who feels you are respectfully sharing a counter-opinion will be much more likely to listen to understand (not just to respond!) than one who feels under attack.
  4. Ask for permission to speak freely.
    Some discussions in the workplace are much more delicate to navigate than others. It could be that there is a decision to be made around a disciplinary matter or an ethical decision.

    These are times when even if you’ve earned trust, it’s good to not only make your intent clear, but to ask for permission to share your thoughts honestly as a sign of respect.

    “I have some ideas about this, but I don’t want you to think I’m trying to undermine your position. I don’t feel right staying silent about this either because it’s crucial we make the best decision for the company. May I offer my opinion for you to consider?”

    When you negotiate the terms of sharing your truth, it’s less likely that your boss will mistakenly take your dissenting opinions as disrespectful or threatening.

In a perfect world, of course, your boss would love your ideas and take your opinions into consideration. If this is not the case, you need to respect the final decision and fully get behind it — that means doing whatever you need to do to make it successful (and not saying I told you so if down the road it turns out you were right!).

The good thing is that when you are able to disagree with your boss or the board and have your say, you’ll never regret that you didn’t say anything that could have changed the outcome. Not only that, but your boss will know that you can be counted on to say what you think courteously and respectfully.

Coach’s Questions

Have you ever disagreed with a boss or superior? What would you do differently to disagree with your boss now? Do you think your team members feel they can disagree with you? 

One key way to stay motivated

There are times a visual cue can help you stay motivated. 

Think of a thermometer graphic to show how much money has been raised for a fundraiser, the scoreboard and countdown clock during a basketball game, or filling a clear glass jar with change for a vacation fund. At a glance, you know the goal, the challenge, and progress.

It’s exciting and motivating all at once.

Many of our coaching clients confess they struggle to feel motivated and berate themselves for having a terrible character flaw but really procrastination or losing focus is part of being human. We all struggle with motivation from time to timeeven the most dedicated of leaders. 

And let’s face it: It can be a huge challenge to stay focused in an office full of distractions (let alone all the other distractions in life that can derail the best of plans). 

There is a quick, easy and inexpensive strategy that we can all use to stay on track and make progress with a goal: A simple visual cue.

How visual cues work

How simple? Paper clips work.

If you’ve ever read the New York Times bestseller Atomic Habits by James Clear, you’ll already know about the paper clip strategy and his theory that small changes can yield remarkable results (and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend both this book and his blog about building good habits!). 

Essentially, the story Clear shares is that a young Canadian stockbroker named Trent Dyrsmid was working in sales at a bank in Abbotsford, BC in the early nineties. This rookie in the rural city about 45 minutes east of Vancouver, BC, had a goal to make 120 sales calls every day.

To stay motivated, Dyrsmid put 120 paper clips into a jar on his desk and another, empty, jar beside it. Each time he made a phone call, Dyrsmid moved a paper clip to the empty jar – and he didn’t stop until all 120 had been moved. 

The paper clips were a visual reminder of his goal and tracked his progress. Seeing them all moved from one jar to the other showed that he had met his daily goal. 

This simple habit worked and in less than two years the young stockbroker was bringing $5 million to his bank and earning a good salary (and a six-figure offer from another company soon followed!).

Why does a visual cue like this work so well? 

As Clear explains, Dyrsmid’s paper clip strategy worked because it was a good habit that stuck. The visual cue reinforced the good habit. 

The difference between people at the top of their field and others often isn’t intelligence, ability or even luck – it is consistency of effort. They have good habits and keep pushing day after day instead of getting derailed by life and bogged down by procrastination.

A visual cue, says Clear, is an effective way to stay motivated because:

It’s an immediate reminder. When the young salesman got to his desk, those two jars and the 120 paper clips were waiting for him. This simple visual trigger reminded him to start making those calls – before getting distracted by reading emails, talking with coworkers or reading the news online. He didn’t forget his daily goal and the habit of moving the paper clips kept him focused day after day, week after week.

It’s satisfying. Moving the paper clips from one jar to the other and watching the pile grow was a clear indication of progress. Counting each and every call ensured he didn’t cheat and call it a day after a few successes or an hour of calls, which is why the 120 paper clips worked so much better than simply blocking off an hour in the morning and crossing “make sales calls” off on a to-do list.  

It’s motivating. The act of moving 120 paper clips over created visual evidence of meeting the goal, which in turn reinforced the good habit of making all 120 calls. This habit ensured that the young stockbroker completed the sales calls that would drive his success. 

I have to add that the other reason that a visual cue worked for Dyrsmid is because he set a performance goal that was SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. The visual cue of the paper clips helped him to stay on track.

Want to try using the paper clip strategy yourself?

First, you need to know which SMART goal a visual cue can help you achieve (you can use our ultimate goal setting worksheet to figure this out!). 

It could be that you have to make cold calls like the stockbroker in Clear’s book. Or it might be that you have to write a report and you break it down into three sections to tackle each day. Possibly you have to reply to X number of emails before noon to be at your most productive.

In your personal life, you might want to read a chapter of a leadership book, do 40 push-ups or eat three healthy meals a day. 

Whatever your goal, the key to an effective visual cue is to be able to measure your success. 

You might try moving paper clips (or marbles or stones) from one container to another. Or, you could move coins from one drawer to another or even stack them. Perhaps you put dots on the daily squares of your wall calendar. 

You’ll be on the right track as long as the visual cue:

  • Is meaningful for you and measures your progress
  • Is convenient and easy to incorporate into your daily routine
  • Is placed where you’re going to be reminded of this goal and work toward meeting it
  • Becomes part of your routine so that working toward your goal is a good habit

As American politician and Olympic medallist in track and field Jim Ruyn said: Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. 

Coach’s Questions

When did you last struggle to stay motivated and on task? What goal could a visual cue help you to achieve right now? What about your team, could you use a visual cue to motivate your team members?

Managing Anger and Frustration in a Way that’s Helpful to Your Team

Your organization is pitching a big contract to a potentially huge client. Or, your government department is presenting a new approach to the Minister or a Cabinet Committee.

One of your team members is the principal on this particular topic and carries the ball – this team member is leading the presentation and fielding questions. Weeks of team effort are riding on them to get the deal done.

And they blow it. They drop the ball. They can’t answer a crucial question, or they have a weak response for a key concern. The result? Confidence is shaken among those making the decision and they decide to go a different way.

The team is upset, the person who was making the pitch is upset, and you as the leader are upset.

The whole team gets back to the office following this enormous loss. As the leader, should you: 

  1. Put on a fake smile, suppress frustration and not discuss the situation?
  2. Vent your frustration or anger?

Which is the better approach?

You may have chosen the first option and think others would agree with you. If you chose the second option, you might be thinking the same thing. 

So, we’ll call option (1) suppression. It’s something that a lot of folks do, especially in the workplace: they hide their feelings, pretend not to be upset, and avoid conversations where frustration and anger may arise. While it’s a common approach, it isn’t the best because it leads to a cascade of negative outcomes – for you it can lead to fewer close relationships (people never get to really know you and know what you care about) which means less social support, poor memory (you’re carrying around so much extra baggage, you can’t carry it all), anxiety, elevated blood pressure and, of course, ongoing hidden resentments.  It doesn’t stop there, your “suppressed” emotions still affect others – they pick up on the subtle cues and it can actually be more draining and stress-inducing on them than emotional expression.

Given the litany of problems that come from suppressing your emotions with the team, you might be inclined to think option (2), where you vent that frustration and anger, would be a good approach. Of course, doing that in the moment, or immediately following a crisis, might feel like a release for you or it might let you “get back to normal” quicker and not carry a grudge, but it affects your reputation as “quick to anger” and “explosive.” Not only that, venting also has lasting negative effects on the team – individual team members will have their confidence shaken, many will feel fearful or dejected and their performance going forward will be weakened knowing if they “mess up” they may face your wrath.

So, which is the better approach?

Neither, actually.

You see, there’s a third option beyond suppressing or venting feelings of anger and frustration.

Emotional Intelligence research demonstrates time and again that the leader’s ability to manage (not suppress) his or her emotions will significantly determine the team’s morale and motivation. And managing emotions means reappraising your emotions before reacting. Reappraising involves reminding yourself of the big picture:

“This is only one sale, there will be others”


“We can learn from this but we can’t change what is done; 

we need to look to the next opportunity.”

It might mean recognizing the principal salesperson is feeling shaken and unconfident and needs encouragement.

The key with reappraising is to take a moment, or two or more, to pause before reacting – but to be careful not to take too long. You don’t want to let a pause for reassessment turn into suppressing the feelings.

After reappraising, the leader might do something like this: call the team together and acknowledge the big feelings: we’re all feeling disappointed or frustrated or angry. The leader might emphasize that our success on the next bid, and the one after that, depends on everyone’s determination to support each other, to figure out what it takes to win next time and to support everyone who made an effort today.

A key role for a leader is to both manage and influence the emotional state of the people they lead. This is achieved by:

  • inspiring and instilling confidence in people, 
  • encouraging them to maintain motivation
  • helping them cope with difficulties to succeed in the goal. 

Effectively managing anger and frustration

To be effective at that, a leader has to effectively manage their own feelings. 

Studies show that leaders who can review their own feelings before showing them (note: not suppressing them!) help their followers manage their own responses to the same things. In one study, followers of leaders who suppressed their anger and frustration reported more negative attitudes toward the leader.

So how can you get better at reviewing and assessing if you’re not used to it?

  1. Practice seeing problems as challenges rather than threats. Focusing on how you can overcome the challenge rather than “react” to the threat builds resilience – in both you and your team. In our example that means turning the loss from a threat to your career or a threat to your reputation or success, to instead be a challenge to do better next time, or a challenge to fix a flub.
  2. Deep breathing. It may sound simple, but it isn’t simplistic – taking a moment to pause, and breathe, actually works wonders in letting your emotions relax and your brain time to focus for a bit. That “bit” is often all it takes to allow you to begin reassessing.
  3. Focus on the big picture and the longer term. How do we learn from today to make tomorrow even more successful than it would have been?
  4. Change the story you’re telling yourself.

    Change the story you’re telling yourself.


Imagine this situation: Someone is yelling at you in anger. It happened suddenly. You probably want to yell back or even lash out with something that’s critical of them. But what if I told you their mom died yesterday, or they’ve been in an ugly divorce case for months and this morning they lost custody of their kids or their workplace went out of business with no notice – leaving them with no job, no salary and no pension. 

Chances are, knowing that information, you might forgive the yelling. You might even respond to their anger with compassion. 

But what changed? The situation stayed exactly the same. They were yelling at you – but the story you’re telling yourself, the way you have filled in the blanks about WHY this is happening has changed. You’ve moved from taking this personally (making it about you and why they are being so awful to you) to being about them – “they must be having an awful day.”  You’ve moved from seeing a threat (“they’re an awful person”) to a challenge (“how can I help?”) Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is essentially changing your default view to something like, “they must be having a tough time.”

  1.     Ask yourself new questions to focus less on response and more on what could come of this, like, “what am I intended to learn here?” or “what can the team take away that will benefit them?”

Coach’s Questions

What has been your default response when you’re angry and frustrated? How has your reaction influenced your team’s response to a situation? What can you do to manage your feelings the next time you are angry or frustrated?

For the last several weeks we’ve been asking you to give us your requests for topics you want us to write about in the blog and boy, did you ever.  Thank you to everyone who gave us suggestions and entered our contest to win 6 of our favorite leadership books.
Keep following us on to see our articles inspired by your requests!
The winner of the grand prize is Marty Robinson of Medicine Hat, AB. Congratulations Marty!