Improve Results with Powerful Conversations

As a leader, the quality of your results depend upon your ability to engage, enroll and inspire others to take action and ownership of shared goals. Join us at The Language of Leadership and learn how to engage in powerful conversations that help you create the results you desire.

An organization is a network of conversations and it’s through these conversations that you create positive relationships and define and accomplish essential tasks for success. And the quality of your conversations and relationships has a major impact on individual and collective performance and productivity. The more skilled you become in your conversations, the more you’ll be able to generate and meet commitments that create success. In addition to paying attention to the quality of our relationships with others, it’s also important to stay aware of the way you listen to yourself and others ― your listening permeates each of these conversations and determines the quality and outcome of your interactions. Our listening (or the conversations we have with ourselves) is the filter through which we hear what others say and interpret the events and situations in our lives. Become more aware of how your listening is impacting your results and start paying attention to what the “voice in your head” is telling you about the person you’re in conversation with or the difficult situations in your life. There are three key types of conversations we have with others:

  • Conversations for Relationship: These conversations explore common interests, create mutual commitments, and resolve shared concerns. In organizations, these are the conversations that define organizational values, operating principles and team agreements.
  • Conversations for Possibilities: These are speculative conversations that explore what’s possible around a particular topic. They are focused on generating a broad future scenario with multiple ideas, options and opportunities. In organizations, these are the conversations that create and describe the organizational vision, mission and strategies.
  • Conversations for Action: These conversations establish the criteria for success, identify what needs to happen, delineate roles and responsibilities, create timelines, and define standards/expectations for completion. In organizations, these are the conversations that define goals, action plans, commitments and measures of success.

When handled effectively and nested within the context of relationship and possibilities, conversations for action help organizations make, manage and meet commitments. Unfortunately, many leaders often move directly into conversations for action without laying the foundation of relationship and possibility, leaving others feeling disregarded, uninterested and disengaged in the key tasks and programs necessary for success. It’s important to take the time to build relationship, establish shared objectives and explore possible solutions before assigning tasks and timelines for action. This investment helps build employee engagement and shared commitment to key team and company goals.

Join us at The Language of Leadership Program that begins on February 12, 2013 and learn how to leverage your conversations to create the results you desire. Plus you’ll practice a powerful four-step methodology for engaging in fruitful conversations for action that build trust, improve morale and boost performance.

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Embodied Leadership: The Key to Maximum Results

As leaders, we often search for new tips and techniques that will finally unlock our true leadership potential. But focusing on new leadership tools is not the answer. The key is to leverage the ones you already have, starting with your body. Join us for The Language of Leadership and learn how to use your body to unlock your leadership potential.

Leadership transformation happens from the inside out, and it’s most effective when it moves beyond just perspectives and actions, to include an embodied shift — the purposeful awareness and adjustment of the body itself.  If your current leadership development plan doesn’t include understanding how to create that shift in your body, you may be overlooking the key to maximizing the change you seek.

In today’s culture where we put such high value on intellectual and mental competence, it’s easy to dismiss the idea that the body can be a primary tool for effective leadership.  After all, what kind of a difference could the body really make in increasing leadership results?  Yet, we’ve all heard that body language is the highest percentage of actual communication and it trumps the actual words we say.  And we all know that if someone is saying one thing, but their body language is telling us something different, it’s the body language that we most listen to.

Each of us has a unique leadership way of being that embodies our beliefs, language, thoughts and emotions. Our language, thoughts, emotions and moods all live in our body. And our body impacts, and is impacted by, our thoughts and emotions. Try this brief experiment:  think of sucking on a lemon.  Notice what happens in your body?  You start to salivate!  This is an example of how your thoughts impact your body.  When you take a moment to observe yourself, you can also notice how your emotions —both positive and negative —impact the body. For example, have you ever caught yourself blushing as you remember an embarrassing moment? Or noticed a warm sensation as you reflect on one of your most proud or successful events?

Leadership must be embodied for it to be effective in the moment, which is where true leadership always occurs.  A leader who learns how to be receptive through the body has a much greater advantage than a leader who practices receptivity only as a mindset.  Leaders who understand the power of including their physicality in their leadership way of being tend to have greater intuition, access to more options, more effective communication and increased skills in “reading” and responding to their environment and situations.

So how can we begin to maximize the tool “right under our noses?”  It begins with paying attention to your body and creating small shifts that are aligned with your stated desires.  Start to observe what happens to your posture and your breathing during challenging situations. If you notice that you’re constricting your body and limiting your breathing, shift your posture to be  upright and relaxed and focus on taking slow, deep breaths.

Join us for The Language of Leadership training and coaching program that begins on February 7th and learn how to identify your optimal leadership way of being and how to use your body to unlock your leadership potential.

Click here to download a PDF version of this article.

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Not Getting the Results You Want? Take a Second Look at What’s Possible.

Have you ever been faced with a challenge and taken action that worked in the past then didn’t get the results you hoped for? Have you ever tried everything you could think of to solve an issue and then had a friend walk in with a wealth of new ideas and you wonder why you didn’t think of these things yourself? Maybe it’s time to expand your possibilities.

It happens all the time. We find ourselves in the midst of a challenge and we rely on strategies and actions that have worked for us in the past. And often these strategies produce the results we want. If they don’t, we implement new strategies until we get the right outcome or we run out of ideas.  This approach, called First Order Learning, is a viable method of problem solving because as we know, our results are created by the actions we take. While First Order Learning is effective at creating positive change, it also has its limitations.

With First Order Learning, we observe our actions and the impact they have on our results. What we don’t notice is how we view and interpret our situation before we develop our strategies or take action. And because we don’t notice this, we don’t question our assumptions and perspectives about our circumstances.

In today’s dynamic environment, we are often faced with ongoing change or are up against situations that are outside of our experience and expertise. When faced with these conditions, First Order Learning is no longer enough. We need to supplement the way we learn with the practice of self-awareness and Second Order Learning. With Second Order Learning, we begin to observe how we limit possibilities by the assumptions, beliefs and interpretations we bring to our situation. The intent is to become better observers of ourselves and the way we observe our world.

Awaken to the Unfolding of New Possibilities

Learning to observe ourselves and the way we see the world opens us to new possibilities and new ways of solving problems. With Second Order Learning we become more receptive to new ideas and explore these options with renewed curiosity. We develop new capacities that help us shift our way of being – our beliefs, our moods and our reactions — to create the outcomes we desire.

It takes courage to awaken to how we limit our results by the way we look at, and interpret, things. We have to be willing to look at the silent dialog we have with ourselves about our circumstances. And we have to become aware and attentive to the impact of how we interpret and react to new information.

Second Order Learning is an ongoing commitment to personal growth through objective self-observation. This ongoing practice helps us develop new perspectives, responses and outcomes as we integrate our insights into our daily life and decisions. The questions below can help you improve your self-awareness and identify the underlying motivations that drive your behavior and limit your results. With this information as your foundation, you can then focus your attention on taking action and assimilating your new insights into your life — creating the positive change you desire.

EXERCISE: Think of a current challenge you are facing – one where you are not getting the results you want.  Stop, take a second look, observe yourself and ask the following questions:

  • What are my desired outcomes (both stated and unstated)?
  • What stories am I telling myself about this situation?
  • What assumptions, beliefs or attitudes are impacting this situation or the way I see it?
  • If I changed my assumptions and beliefs what new possibilities might open to me?
  • How can I better align my thoughts, language and actions with my intentions?

Join us for The Language of Leadership and discover new ways of observing yourself and your challenges. During this powerful program, you’ll learn how to shift your way of being to open up new possibilities for yourself and your team.

Click here to download a PDF version of this article on the power of Second Order Learning.

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How are Your Moods Impacting Your Results?

Quick check: What would you say is your overall mood at work?  How is that impacting your results and your leadership? And how about those you lead? Would they say the same about you?

The mood of a leader is a pervasive influence in an organization — for better or for worse. Too often the impact of mood is overlooked, avoided or ignored by leaders themselves as they are swallowed up by the ever-increasing demands of today’s organizational environment. But let’s face it, we’re all emotional beings. And even though we don’t want to admit it, we bring our emotions into the workplace, impacting the effectiveness of our leadership and the quality of our results.

Regardless of where we are — at home or on the job — our emotions and moods color the way we observe and engage with the world. And they predispose us to behave in certain ways. Our emotions are often in response or reaction to a specific event, situation or interaction. They are changeable and usually last for just a short period of time, about an hour or less. But moods run deeper than emotion.

We are never free from moods — we are always in a mood. Moods are emotional states that persist, that “take up residence” deep within our way of being and impact our thoughts, communications, and physiology. And even though they are pervasive, moods are often difficult to detect because they are in the background of our awareness. In fact, they can be so subtle that we can find ourselves in midst of a mood without really knowing how or why we got there.

Shifting Your Mood to Improve Leadership Results

Mood is a given for us as human beings and leaders. And our moods are infectious. They drift and grow, impacting those around us — positively or negatively depending on the mood. According to Alan Seiler, author of Coaching to the Human Soul, as human beings we all have several basic moods. These moods are paired and define the contrasting ways we assess and engage with the facts, possibilities and uncertainties of our lives. Here are a few examples:

  • Facts:                   Resentment vs. Acceptance
  • Possibility:       Resignation vs. Optimism
  • Uncertainty:    Anxiety vs. Curiosity

As you can imagine from this short list our moods can determine how we perceive and take action on the circumstances of our lives — either positively or negatively impacting our relationships and results. For example, how would the mood of resignation in the midst of challenge influence an organization in contrast to a mood of optimism? So the question isn’t “Are my moods impacting my effectiveness as a leader?” The real question is “How can I shift a negative mood in a way that makes a positive impact on my leadership and my results?”

But it’s not always easy to shift out of a negative mood. The most effective way to do so is through the adoption of a counter mood that is more in alignment with who we want to become and what we want to create. The steps to shifting a negative mood include the:

  • Acknowledgement of your current mood and the willingness to accept responsibility for shifting it.
  • Deep commitment to think and respond differently to our circumstances. Being ready to let go of the beliefs, language and behaviors that hold you back from making the positive changes you desire.
  • Practice of new ways of thinking, talking, and responding that are in support of the counter mood you want to develop.
  • Compassion and support as you integrate the new language, postures and behaviors and develop a new way of being.

EXERCISE: Here are a few questions that will help you begin to shift your mood to be more in alignment with the leader you want to become:

  1. What predominant moods do you live in at your work? Write down the words that best describe the moods in this area of your life.
  2. Are these the moods you want to live in at work? What moods would you prefer to live in at work?
  3. What shifts in your thinking and communicating will support you in living more in the moods you desire?
  4. What changes are you willing to make in order to live from a more helpful mood?
  5. How will you support yourself throughout this process?

Join us for The Language of Leadership training and coaching program and learn how to shift your negative moods to improve your leadership results. As an attendee of this powerful, six-month program, you’ll receive an individualized coaching program that will identify outcomes, exercises and practices that will help you develop the capacities and competence to live into the new way of being you desire.

Click here to download a PDF version of this article for printing.

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The Power of Conversations: Who are You Really Listening To?

Have you ever left a conversation thinking you’d reached agreement on goals and next steps only to find out later that the other person had very different ideas about what you agreed to? Have you tried to communicate an important message to your team and even though you were crystal clear, they just don’t “get it?”

Conversations are the foundation of personal and organizational success. It’s through conversations that we build relationships, define goals, and take action on the essential tasks for success. We all know that listening is a key skill for effective conversations — yet who are we really listening to when we’re in a discussion with someone? The voice inside our heads, that’s who! In fact, we’re often so distracted by the conversation we’re having in our head, we aren’t really present with the critical conversations we’re having with others — negatively impacting relationships, productivity, and results.

Our internal conversations create the frame of reference for all of our interactions and responses. They are the filter through which we listen to what others say and interpret the events that take place. The following elements that are present in every conversation we have with the “voice in our head,” directly impacting the clarity of our communications and the effectiveness of our results.

  • We are always listening. We are always involved in an internal conversation – silently speaking, and listening to, our interpretations, biases and perceptions. We may not actually “hear” our internal dialog – but we are always unconsciously listening to it. In fact, it’s often difficult to hear what others are saying because the voice in our head is overshadowing the actual conversation we’re having.
  • We are already listening. Our listening runs ahead of whatever conversation we’re engaged in. Before something actually happens, we’re already biased about how things will turn out and how we will respond to that. How many times have you heard the voice in your head say, “Well, I know where this is going.” and then adjust yourself to align with your expectations?
  • We are automatically listening. We bring our pre-determined and habitual interpretations to each event, circumstance and conversation. Each of us has a persistent, streaming tape of language, reactions and feelings from the past that colors our experience in the present moment.

Cultivating open listening and leveraging the power of conversations toward specific leadership results are proven strategies for lasting change. And the first step is learning to observe ourselves in the midst of our conversations and to shift our focus to become more present with the other person. Join us for The Language of Leadership training program and learn to become aware of when the voice in your head is drowning out the voice of others and discover how to direct your conversations toward the possibilities you envision and the results you desire – personally and professionally.

This article is based on the work of Fernando Flores and Alan Seiler.

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Walking Your Talk

by Susan Muck

Influencing and attending to the quality of organizational culture is a balance of clearly defined and stated vision and the commitment to live up to that vision in attitude and actions everyday.  This is a huge undertaking. 

Culture happens no matter what. It’s the collective impact of every employee and the ways things are done. While many organizations have a stated vision for their culture with defined values, at the same time they have an unstated norm of “how it really is around here.” And often these two things don’t align with (or maybe even resemble) each other.

So, how do you create the culture you want in your organization? The answer is simple: Start with yourself. When we find it difficult to create the change we want in our organizations, it’s easy to target others and stop there. We point our fingers at those who are disengaged or visibly opposed to what we are trying to create. But the real change comes when you turn back to yourself and identify ways in which you’ve stepped away from “walking your talk.” Ask yourself:

Are you, as a leader, willing to make the shifts you need to make personally in order to affect the collective change you want in your team and organization?

If you sincerely and openly inquire, perhaps you’ll find an opportunity or two to address. And in the process you’ll become part of the change you seek and have a powerful and positive influence on others in the process.

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Welcome to INSIGHTS Blog

Hello, INSIGHTS is the blog for Insight Coaching Alliance. We’re just starting to get the hang of blogging but in the near future, you’ll be able to come to this site and find timely information on the Business of Transformation — personal, organizational and spiritual. So keep checking to see what’s new at our INSIGHTS blog!

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