Two Powerful Tools From One Powerful Leader (Part 1)

Building a virtual department

On June 14, 2017, Linda had the privilege of presenting to the American Association of Port Authorities on Promoting and Celebrating Internal Communications – or what we describe as creating cultures of leadership and engagement.

For the presentation, Linda was on a panel with Kathy Broadwater, a Principal at EcoLogix Group, Inc., in Parkton, Maryland. Kathy had spent 16 years as the Deputy Executive Director at the Maryland Port Administration and shared two tools she found powerfully effective in her work there.

These are great tools for working in a wide range of organizational settings and we’re delighted to share them with you here. Kathy has graciously given us the go-ahead to discuss these with you and we’ve interpreted them through our lenses to support you in using them effectively.

This week we’re describing how to create a virtual department, and next week we’re going to talk about building a charter or shared compact for your virtual department, or any team working to create alignment on their goals and focus.

There’s a lot of information out there on virtual teams but this is the first time we’d heard of someone creating a virtual department.

This is a brilliant strategy when resources are tight, when an effort needs representation from across the organization, or when you’re trying to get a group focused on an important effort that has yet to become an actual department in the organization.

To create a virtual department:

  1. Identify the key leaders who are stakeholders in the idea of creating a virtual department.
    • Help them understand the benefits and the costs of allocating manager and staff time to this effort, the expectation for time commitment, an approximate date when the work will be done, and how the success of the “department” will be assessed.

      Building a virtual department

    • When you bring together managers and staff from across the organization you must have the buy-in from their bosses that they will be committing a specific amount of time each month to this new “department.”
  1. Invite staff with an inherent interest in the work of the virtual department.
    • As with an actual department, you’ll always be more effective if you find people who are interested in joining instead of being forced to join.
  1. If possible, involve people who already have established working relationships to shorten the time it takes to build a sense of “we.”
  1. Define the broad objectives for the work and create a set of general guidelines.
    • It’s key that all involved – from leaders/stakeholders to participants who will join the “department” – understand the broad objectives for the work and have a set of general guidelines.
    • This is where a charter or shared compact, which we’ll be discussing next week, can be very powerful.
  1. To engage the team in this new department, it’s critical that all voices and perspectives are treated with respect and feel valued.
  1. Ensure that recommendations for solutions, initiatives, or investments are developed in a way that all members of the department can see their fingerprints on the work and can feel ownership of the process.
  1. One of the things that Kathy always did that was brilliant was to provide public recognition and celebration for the work of the “department.”
    • This kind of public recognition is a wonderful form of payment for this work and it conveys that joining a virtual department is an honor that’s respected and rewarded.

This week, take some time to consider if creating a virtual department is a solution for an organization that you’re a part of. Let us know if you create a virtual department and how it unfolds.

Do you want advice on creating and maintaining a virtual department in your organization? Contact us today. We’d love to help you explore the benefits of a virtual department.

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Creating Healthy Boundaries

Creating healthy boundaries

In last week’s post, we talked about what it means to step in as a leader while not “doing it all.” This week we’d like to follow that up with some tips on how you can start to set healthy boundaries.

We all know that we should have healthy boundaries, but for many of us we think we’re being mean or lazy when we set limits that take care of our own needs.

Having healthy boundaries isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of yourself, knowing and understanding your limits, and communicating them to the people in your world.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy, interest, or focus to do the things that really matter in your life!

The following 5 steps will help you create healthy boundaries so that you can live your life, your way—doing the things that matter to you and caring for the people you love.

  1. Identify your limits.You can’t set effective boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand.
    So, identify your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits. By “limits” we mean the point in your life where you go from feeling good and effective to starting to feel depleted and spent. Think of it as the line that separates feeling good about what you are doing and feeling overwhelmed.
    Think about these limits or this line when you PAUSE throughout the day.

 

  1. PAUSE often.Whether you’re at the beginning of your day and planning how you’ll spend your moments, or you find yourself in a heated conversation about responsibilities. PAUSE. Take a few breaths and center yourself.

    In this moment, ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to do or say in alignment with my goals?”
    Now, respond rather than reacting in old, habitual ways. As a leader that means influencing others and being open to being influenced by others. You’re a leader. You matter and they matter.

 

  1. Communicate regularly.Of course, it’s not enough to create boundaries; you actually have to follow through and maintain them. It’s important to be diligent in communicating with others about your boundaries, so they’ll be less likely to cross them.

    Don’t wait for the moment to arise!
    Let people know up front what your boundaries are so that they can respect them. And, you don’t have to say the words “My boundaries are . . . ” Something as simple as “I will need to leave the meeting by 3:30 pm today, what do we need to focus on to get that done?” will work well and not sound quite as harsh.
    Just as your habits are hard to change, so are theirs—you may need to continue reminding people about your limits.
    In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular you need and work together to address it. Working together is very powerful and helps them feel like a part of the process.
    Remember, when we suggest working together, it’s about how to meet your need for healthy boundaries, not whether or not you have them.

 

  1. Give yourself permission.You have a right to personal boundaries.

    You might fear the other person’s response if you set and enforce your boundaries, or you might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member.
    Yet, if you try to do it all, you’ll wind up unable to be truly present in what you’re doing. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you say “no.” It helps you be your best when you do say “yes.”

 

  1. Seek support.It’s often hard to see how you can do things differently when you’re so busy doing, doing, doing.

    Getting the support of a trusted other can be really helpful. Consider starting a group of like-minded friends or colleagues; ask a friend, minister, or mentor to help you move forward; or seek out the support of a professional coach or ally.Boundaries aren’t just a sign of self-respect, they’re also a sign of respect for others.

You’ll find that the better your boundaries are, the more effective you’ll be at doing the things you’re doing. You’ll be happier and more present with others.

You can do this – we believe in you!

– Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If setting and enforcing personal boundaries seems like an insurmountable task, contact us today. We would be happy to help you set your healthy boundaries.

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Do I Have To Do It All?

Do I Have To Do It All?

Last week we talked about our definition of leadership and some ways that different people brought that definition to life in a wide range of settings.

It was great to hear from so many of you that these examples helped you see some ways to bring stronger leadership into your world.  At the same time, a number of you said that you found the idea of being a leader a burden.

Barb summed up her concerns this way:

“I love this definition of leadership and I can see its value everywhere – work, our neighborhood and home – but if I start to lead then don’t I just take on the responsibility for everything? I don’t want to be the person who does all the work.”

Thank you, Barb! We believe that’s a concern many would-be leaders face.

If you take a moment to reconsider the post from last week, you’ll see that when Debra brought her frustrations to her team and gave them time to think things through, they developed a proposal on how to resolve the problem with getting traction on the project.  She needed to provide some additional influence on their proposal but they took it from there (even scheduling a time to come back with a status report).

Mark similarly found that he had many more hands helping him succeed when he genuinely brought his influence to bear and invited the influence of others.

What we find is that leaders, whether those with the role and title or those who lead as a matter of course, are often very busy.  And in the face of busy-ness, it’s tempting to “just do it” when things are challenging or derailing.

It’s at the busy times that their leadership is most important – influencing and being influenced by – not just taking over and dictating next steps.

You’ll always have the greatest success, and the most support and help, when the people involved believe that their input matters and their contributions help create success.

Getting people involved generally requires a few simple steps, done over and over and over again.

  1. First you let people know that their input and perspectives matter.
    In all three examples last week, this was the start of change.   
  1. Then you teach them what you need from them.
    It would not have been helpful if Debra had gone in blasting about her frustration with the lack of traction on her key project and then left the room. She taught the team what she needed from them and she did so by sharing her expectations with them.
  1. Listen deeply, take their input seriously, and use what you can.
  2. Once you’ve used their input, let them know how they’ve influenced you.
  3. If you couldn’t use some of their input, share with them why, and what went into your thinking (this is very important).

In this process you create a loop, we call the Engagement Spiral, which invites people to step into their leadership to influence you and be influenced by you going forward.

This week take some time to explore how you lead and how you invite others to create shared success with you.

Let us know how this affects your leadership.

– Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you’re having trouble with taking on too much in your leadership roles, contact us today for help with learning how leadership does not mean you have to do all the work. 

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Your Leadership is Needed

Two professionals conversing, influencing one another

As some of you know, at Carpenter Smith Consulting we define leadership in this way:

Leadership is the willingness

to influence your world

and

be influenced by your world,

regardless of role or title.

We’ve brought this definition to leaders of large organizations, leaders in school, leaders in communities, and leaders in life… and based on their positive feedback, we’re more dedicated to this definition than ever.

This definition represents a powerful shift in your behavior and supports you in creating success in your work and world.

  • You no longer stand on the sidelines, arms crossed, waiting for someone else to do something.
  • You think about how you can influence situations with your perspective and wisdom.
  • You don’t believe you, alone, know the right way, but you listen and are curious about others’ wisdom and perspective… you let them influence you.

It’s quite a different way of understanding leadership than most of us were taught, so we find that people can struggle with envisioning what this can actually look like in their lives. And, we know that if you can’t see it, you probably can’t do it.

So today we’re going to share three simple examples of how people bring this to life in their work, their communities, and their world.

Influence and be Influenced by

1. Debra is a powerful CEO who was feeling very frustrated that a key project had not gotten any traction.

She started to take control of the situation and tell people what to do—when she remembered that leadership is influencing and being influenced by. So, she went to her executive team and told them her frustration, shared her expectation for getting traction on this effort, and asked what they would suggest in order to get things back on track.

At first her team looked at her silently, and she found herself preparing to fill in the silence with her thoughts about how to move forward… but she paused, remembering the goal was to lead and not take over.

It took about five seconds of silence (which can feel like an eternity!) when a member of the team started to share some ideas – some very good ideas. Then another member refined those ideas a bit and added some additional information.

Before too long, the team was working together to figure out how to get movement on this very important project. In addition, they started to volunteer for the different actions needed to get it off the ground.

Within about 15 minutes, they proposed an approach to Debra. She provided a little feedback on the proposal and they were off with a deadline to report back in five days.

Influence and be Influenced by

2. Mark has been coaching soccer at his daughter’s high school for about three years.

There’s much about the role that he loves, but he’s finding more and more work landing on his plate and he’s becoming resentful.

When he heard this definition of leadership, he assured us it would NOT work in this situation. “The school administration won’t budge, parents only think of themselves, and the kids have no interest in being a part of the solution.”

As you might imagine, we challenged him on this and encouraged him to influence and be influenced by, and then influence and be influenced by… over and over again, and see what happened.

He started with the school administration, letting them know that he would remain in this important role if he had support for some of the administrative work that was taking all of the fun out of coaching.

Much like the example above, he was initially met with silence. In his head, he made up a story that they weren’t going to help him, they were judging him as a bad dad, and on and on from there… but he waited those eternal five seconds… and the administrator said, “I think we can get Patty to help you, she has some flex and her daughter is a soccer player.” Influence and influenced by.

He let the administrators know how much he appreciated the support and then asked for some of their wisdom on how to handle some challenging parents.

They spent about 20 minutes influencing one another as they explored ways to set limits on some of the parents’ demands and ways to invite their participation going forward. Influence and influenced by.

At the next soccer meeting, he brought up some challenges the soccer team was having and asked if several parents would step in and manage the parent side of things. More silence. Then some discussion. Then some ownership. Influence and influenced by.

Then he had a similar conversation with the students. Similar silence. Then the conversation started and several students stepped up to help the team get snacks for the games. Influence and influenced by.

And, truth be told, he had to have similar conversations multiple times, but over time a small group of committed administrators, parents, and kids stepped up to help him lead.

Influence and be Influenced by

3. Sam is a friend of ours. He’s struggled with weight issues his whole life and it was starting to take a toll on his health.

He assured us that his family wouldn’t tolerate changing their diet. They felt connected and happy when they shared their pasta, pizza, and desserts.

He hated to ask for their support as he felt ashamed, and even stupid, that it had reached this point, but he agreed to give it a try.

One night over a dinner of pizza and beer, he broached the issue. He let them know that he was having health concerns and that if he didn’t change his diet they were likely going to get worse.

He said he didn’t want it to have a negative impact on the family and he wanted their help with thinking about how to do it so it had the least impact. Awkward silence ensued until his adult daughter said, “Are you going to be okay? Do we have to be afraid?”

He had influenced her and she was influencing him. She needed to know more before moving to action. He told her what he knew and that he believed he’d be okay if he made these changes.

The next thing he knew, the whole family started to talk about how they all needed to change their diet. They all realized that they could each stand to improve their health and would work together to support each other in the change. They agreed to pizza and beer once a month vs. twice a week, as it had been.

Influence and be Influenced by

We encourage you to spend some time thinking about where your leadership is needed and how you can take the first step to influence and stay open to being influenced by others.

Let us know how it goes.

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

 

Allowing yourself to be influenced is an important part of influencing others.

Contact us today if you need support in learning how to influence and be influenced by.

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Your Leadership is Needed

Two professionals conversing, influencing one another

As some of you know, at Carpenter Smith Consulting we define leadership in this way:

Leadership is the willingness
to influence your world
and
be influenced by your world,
regardless of role or title.

 
We’ve brought this definition to leaders of large organizations, leaders in school, leaders in communities, and leaders in life… and based on their positive feedback, we’re more dedicated to this definition than ever.
 
This definition represents a powerful shift in your behavior and supports you in creating success in your work and world.

  • You no longer stand on the sidelines, arms crossed, waiting for someone else to do something.
  • You think about how you can influence situations with your perspective and wisdom. 
  • You don’t believe you, alone, know the right way, but you listen and are curious about others’ wisdom and perspective… you let them influence you.   

It’s quite a different way of understanding leadership than most of us were taught, so we find that people can struggle with envisioning what this can actually look like in their lives. And, we know that if you can’t see it, you probably can’t do it.
 
So today we’re going to share three simple examples of how people bring this to life in their work, their communities, and their world.

Influence and be Influenced by
 

1. Debra is a powerful CEO who was feeling very frustrated that a key project had not gotten any traction.  

She started to take control of the situation and tell people what to do—when she remembered that leadership is influencing and being influenced by. So, she went to her executive team and told them her frustration, shared her expectation for getting traction on this effort, and asked what they would suggest in order to get things back on track.
 
At first her team looked at her silently, and she found herself preparing to fill in the silence with her thoughts about how to move forward… but she paused, remembering the goal was to lead and not take over.
 
It took about five seconds of silence (which can feel like an eternity!) when a member of the team started to share some ideas – some very good ideas. Then another member refined those ideas a bit and added some additional information.
 
Before too long, the team was working together to figure out how to get movement on this very important project. In addition, they started to volunteer for the different actions needed to get it off the ground.

Within about 15 minutes, they proposed an approach to Debra. She provided a little feedback on the proposal and they were off with a deadline to report back in five days.

Influence and be Influenced by
 

2. Mark has been coaching soccer at his daughter’s high school for about three years.  

There’s much about the role that he loves, but he’s finding more and more work landing on his plate and he’s becoming resentful.
 
When he heard this definition of leadership, he assured us it would NOT work in this situation. “The school administration won’t budge, parents only think of themselves, and the kids have no interest in being a part of the solution.”
 
As you might imagine, we challenged him on this and encouraged him to influence and be influenced by, and then influence and be influenced by… over and over again, and see what happened. 
 
He started with the school administration, letting them know that he would remain in this important role if he had support for some of the administrative work that was taking all of the fun out of coaching.
 
Much like the example above, he was initially met with silence. In his head, he made up a story that they weren’t going to help him, they were judging him as a bad dad, and on and on from there… but he waited those eternal five seconds… and the administrator said, “I think we can get Patty to help you, she has some flex and her daughter is a soccer player.” Influence and influenced by.
 
He let the administrators know how much he appreciated the support and then asked for some of their wisdom on how to handle some challenging parents.
 
They spent about 20 minutes influencing one another as they explored ways to set limits on some of the parents’ demands and ways to invite their participation going forward. Influence and influenced by.
 
At the next soccer meeting, he brought up some challenges the soccer team was having and asked if several parents would step in and manage the parent side of things. More silence. Then some discussion. Then some ownership. Influence and influenced by.
 
Then he had a similar conversation with the students. Similar silence. Then the conversation started and several students stepped up to help the team get snacks for the games. Influence and influenced by.
 
And, truth be told, he had to have similar conversations multiple times, but over time a small group of committed administrators, parents, and kids stepped up to help him lead.

Influence and be Influenced by
 

3. Sam is a friend of ours. He’s struggled with weight issues his whole life and it was starting to take a toll on his health.  

He assured us that his family wouldn’t tolerate changing their diet. They felt connected and happy when they shared their pasta, pizza, and desserts.

He hated to ask for their support as he felt ashamed, and even stupid, that it had reached this point, but he agreed to give it a try.
 
One night over a dinner of pizza and beer, he broached the issue. He let them know that he was having health concerns and that if he didn’t change his diet they were likely going to get worse.
 
He said he didn’t want it to have a negative impact on the family and he wanted their help with thinking about how to do it so it had the least impact. Awkward silence ensued until his adult daughter said, “Are you going to be okay? Do we have to be afraid?”
 
He had influenced her and she was influencing him. She needed to know more before moving to action. He told her what he knew and that he believed he’d be okay if he made these changes.
 
The next thing he knew, the whole family started to talk about how they all needed to change their diet. They all realized that they could each stand to improve their health and would work together to support each other in the change. They agreed to pizza and beer once a month vs. twice a week, as it had been.

Influence and be Influenced by

 
We encourage you to spend some time thinking about where your leadership is needed and how you can take the first step to influence and stay open to being influenced by others. 
 
Let us know how it goes.

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

 

Allowing yourself to be influenced is an important part of influencing others.
Contact us today if you need support in learning how to influence and be influenced by.
 

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Reset and Reflect

Follow effective action with quiet reflection.   From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. ~ Peter Drucker

Follow effective action with quiet reflection.  
From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.

~ Peter Drucker

 

One of the key behaviors of successful people—in life and in work—is the ability to self reflect. 

Often when we ask the question, “As you reflect on this experience, what have you learned?” we find that people don’t really know what we mean when we ask them to reflect on their experiences. 

Their response makes a lot of sense as many of us have never been taught the how and what of self reflection and many report feeling “stupid” when they don’t know quite what to do. Since feeling stupid isn’t good for anyone, here’s some advice on how to effectively pause and reflect. 

Reflecting is a moment of pause in the chaos of life to consider your thoughts, actions, relationships, and impact. When you reflect, you’re taking a moment to learn from yourself.

As you think about practicing reflection, start by considering when you will be most likely to reflect: 

  • sitting quietly and writing, or just thinking
  • walking (and perhaps occasionally dictating thoughts on your smart phone)
  • sitting in bed in the morning or evening
  • cooking dinner and jotting some notes
  • talking with a colleague
  • meeting with your coach  

As you can see, there’s no right time or way to reflect, you simply need to create the circumstances that remind you to do so. 

You may know us well enough to know that we’re partial to using the first step in our Leader in You framework, which we have called the Fundamental Pause, to support you in decreasing your reactivity and increasing your ability to reflect on what you’re doing and choose how to respond.  

The Pause, as we often shorthand it, can be a small sip of water, a shuffling of papers, or a full out break from the action of your life to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing or what I’m about to do or say in alignment with my goals?”

We’ve done a lot of leadership training and coaching, and truly, this simple nugget can change your life.

If you’d like to do a deeper reflection beyond the Pause, here are five questions for you that can help you reflect on your life.

As you look back over ( fill in the blank ), ask yourself:
Think about filling in the blank with: your efforts on a recent project from the past few days, weeks, or even months. It could also be an interaction you had with a colleague, boss, or family member.

  1. What would make me more satisfied and proud of how I handled myself?
  2. Are there any disappointments I have about my behavior or approach?
  3. Is there anything I’m avoiding that I know is problematic?
  4. How am I contributing to success? How am I contributing to difficulties?
  5. What will help me do it differently next time?

This week, put some time on your calendar to reflect on and learn from your recent experiences, interactions, or projects, so that you can step into your success.

Let us know how it goes,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you need someone to bounce ideas off of to help you reflect,
we're here for you. Contact us today.

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Take a Break and Refuel

take a break and refuel

As surprising as it is, we’re once again heading in to summer. In the Pacific NW, it’s actually been warm and dry. Summer!!!

And, while many of us associate summer with summer vacation, not many people really take a break to refuel.

We’re here to remind you… if you’re going to create a life you love, where you’re successful, connected, and satisfied, then you need to refuel.

So, what do we mean by refuel?

 
The simple online definition is “to supply again with fuel.” Sounds simple, but to refuel you need to know what fuels you in the first place.  

Many of our clients describe lives that feel like they’re on a treadmill that’s going far too fast. When that’s your life, it’s hard to think about what really fuels you—especially when you’re just barely making it to the weekend. 

Whether you’re going on vacation or just hoping to take some time to refuel on the weekends, you need to know what fuels you.

We’ve got some questions that may help you figure out what fuels YOU:

Physically: What does my body need to feel rested, strong, and energetic? 

  • Do I need additional sleep each night for a while?  
  • Can I find time to work out a few times each week?  
  • Could I get outdoors to stroll in a park over lunch?  

Emotionally: What would bring me a sense of calm, optimism, and/or passion? 

  • Do I need to walk 10-15 minutes each morning before I hit the ground running? 
  • Should I visit with someone I know who can see possibility in even the most challenging aspects of life?  
  • Do I need to meet with a coach to reconnect with my passion?

Intellectually: What can I do to remind myself that I’m smart, interesting, and capable?  

  • Do I need to read a book I’ve had sitting next to my bed?  
  • Should I take a class on something I’m interested in (jazz, world history, woodworking, gardening, a new language, etc.)?  
  • Is there a lecture at a library or church that is of interest to me?

Spiritually: What brings me a sense of being connected to something larger than myself?  

  • Do I need to get outside more to experience the awe of nature?  
  • Should I find a spiritual community to join?  
  • Can I volunteer in ways that contribute to my community?

Spend some time thinking about what fuels you and then see if you can add those things to your life on a small but regular basis.  

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

Sometimes you need an outside perspective to help see what you need.
Contact us today if you need support in refueling yourself.

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Incite or Insight

insight or incite? - road sign pointing both ways

These are challenging times for our country and our planet. Daily we’re reminded of the differences that exist in the world, and to feel safer we seek out our allies. Seeking comfort from people who are aligned with you is a very human thing to do; yet it can further polarize our families, workplaces, and worlds. 

Unfortunately, polarization breaks down connections and communities. It’s not bad for us to have differences; it’s bad to start to believe those differences automatically create enemies. 

As we consider this world and support you in leading in it, we got caught by the difference in two words that sound the same but mean very different things. The words are: insight and incite.  

When we looked up their definitions, this is what we found:

Insight: seeing or helping to see an underlying truth.

Incite: to stir, encourage, or urge on action, often violent.

As you can see, they are quite different.

Our goal is to support every one of you in offering your insight—your perspective on an underlying truth—while being thoughtful and inclusive of others, instead of inciting others toward anger and possibly violence. 

Remember, violence can be physical, but it can also be psychological and include things like making people feel smaller, insulted, and demeaned in some way.

As a leader in your life and world, you have the ability to both share insight or incite. Pause and ask yourself: “Is what I am about to say or do in alignment with my goals?” It matters that you choose thoughtfully. 

Recently, we came upon an ad that left each of us with tears in our eyes. In a world where so much of what we see is meant to incite, this ad offered insight. Please be clear, we’re not promoting the product, but the insight this brilliant ad offers all of us.

Please take 5 minutes to watch this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7mTZt7jCJI

Please share with us in the comments below any insights you had about yourself, your community, or your world after watching this video.

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

If you’d like some support in becoming a more insightful leader,
contact us today about our coaching services.

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If You Want to Know Your Future…

If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future, look into your present actions. ~ Buddhist Saying

If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions.
If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.

~ Buddhist Saying

 
We love this quote! It’s a powerful reminder that if you want to create a future that’s different from your present, you have to start by changing what you’re doing presently—in your day-to-day life. 
 
Many of our executive coaching clients seek us out because their present situations are no longer tenable. They want a better life going forward but don’t know how to get there.
 
To create a rich and rewarding future, you need to identify the steps to start taking today that will move you to a new future.
 
Sounds easy, right? The challenge is that we humans are smart and our brains are highly efficient so we often wind up in a weird paradox. 
 
We know what we want. We can see it and long for it, but when we move toward it and bump into the challenges of doing things in new ways, we fall back into behaving and doing things the way we've always done them.

We do this because it’s known and efficient and our brains like that—so, of course, we wind up in the same place—not having changed at all.
 
We’ve seen time and time again that powerful changes come from taking new, small steps consistently over time. To create lasting change, you don’t have to make big, dramatic changes. In fact, a big and dramatic change often causes so much stress that our brains quickly take us back to what is “known and safe.”

Small steps are doable, get us traction,
decrease resistance, and move us steadily forward.

 
This week, take a few moments to think about your present conditions so that you can better understand your past. Then look at your present actions and ask yourself if they will take you into your desired future and result in the best possible you.
 
Forward ho!
 
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

Do you need support in moving forward toward your desired future?
We can help! That's what our coaching services are all about.
Contact us today and we'll help you get started.

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Don’t Let Inequality Sabotage Your Success

Don't let inequality sabotage your success - Person wearing two different shoes, one blue, one yellow.

We were in a meeting a few weeks ago with a CEO who was describing a major rift in her executive leadership team. 

In that conversation, she explained how there was a breakdown in the working relationship between two subgroups of her team, and went on to say that one of the members could sometimes have a sharp edge, which “was probably the issue.” She asked us if we would work with the members of her team to help them fix their working relationships.

As we explored what led up to the rift, it got clear that without realizing it the CEO herself had caused the rift in her team and not her sharp-edged employee.  

When we brought her this data, she was bewildered and confused. Without realizing it (and certainly without any malice), she was the cause of the rift. We discovered that a recent decision she had made was interpreted by one part of her team to mean that they weren’t as valuable to her as the other members of the team.

She asked us, “What could I have possibly done to convey this?” 

She had given some members of her team the opportunity to attend an upcoming industry conference and never mentioned it to the others. She looked at us blankly and said, “That’s it?” 

Yes, that was it. You see, people care deeply about fairness. So, it mattered a great deal that some members of her team got something more—without justification or explanation—than the other members of the team.

In the June 3rd, 2017 New York Times, there was a great essay by Nicholas Kristof describing just this issue.

In “What Monkeys Can Teach Us About Fairness,” he describes research that showed that monkeys who were offered cucumbers for their behavior were perfectly happy with those cucumbers until they saw other monkeys get grapes—which they apparently love more—at which point the cucumbers were no longer desirable, and in fact, would get thrown back at the researcher in disgust. As Kristof writes, “Inequality drives all primates nuts.”

So as a leader in society, your organization, your community, and your family, you must make it a priority to pay attention to and address inequality.  

One of the researchers that Kristof interviewed, Keith Payne, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is quoted as saying, “When the level of inequality becomes too large to ignore, everyone starts acting strange. Inequality affects our actions and our feelings… [it] divides us… eroding our trust in one another. It generates stress and makes us all unhappy.”  

With a little work, we were able to get our CEO client’s team realigned and things are proceeding well again. She got a new lesson in leadership: a realization that that she must pay attention to inequalities in order to be a strong, successful, and effective leader moving forward. 

This week, spend some time noticing your reaction to inequalities in your life. Let us know what you see.

Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting

Is your team acting in ways you don't understand?
We may not study monkeys, but we've got the expertise to help you figure it out.
Contact us today and we'll start working it out together.

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  • About the Authors

    Carpenter Smith Consulting

    Linda Carpenter and Stephanie Smith started Carpenter Smith Consulting in Portland to support individuals and teams who dream about having the power, impact and influence to create success and meaning in ... Read full profile
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