The Value of Values – Part 2

The Value of Values - Part 2
Posted by   | April 22nd, 2014 | No Comments

Last week we talked about the value of organizational values. What about your personal values? Do you know what they are? Everyone has them but some people have intentional values and others have accidental values.

Why values matter:
Values multiply the power of your actions and results. They focus your attention and enable prioritization in an overly complex, demandingly busy world. However, they only work when you define them and use them. So don’t miss out on this action acceleration boost.

What values are:
A value is a deeply held belief or assumption that drives behavior. Whether you are consciously aware of them or not, you have a core set of personal values.

What to do about values:
Identify, define, align, and then live them out.

Being intentional about your values requires that you identify them and define what they mean to you. Then comes a critical fork in the road, alignment. Just as chiropractors preach the importance of an aligned spine, we are passionate about the alignment of people and organizations to their values.

The choices you make and the environment you put yourself in can either inspire you or deplete you. Without alignment you miss out on the value of values. Alignment ensures you are operating at your best and highest potential.

  • Align your values with your organization.
    When we coach leaders we often do an exercise where we help them define their personal values and then compare their values with the organizational values of their company. Misalignment between a person and the organization they work for creates tension and reduces performance. Take some time to define your own values and compare them with the operational values of your organization. You will gain valuable insight about whether there is a performance enhancing match or a performance inhibiting mismatch!
  • Align your values with your time, money and relationships.
    When people define their values, they often identify values they aspire to but don’t live out. Look at how you spend your time and money to determine whether your choices are in alignment with your values. Evaluate the people you spend your time with and consider whether they support or diminish the value of your values. If you see a mismatch (like you value your family but spend all your time at work) then you have a choice to make to get yourself back into alignment.

Once you’ve identified, defined and aligned your values it’s time to act on them. The action of living according to your values enables you to set priorities to reach your goals. Remember that we are human beings not human doings. Everything you believe, think and do creates who you become. Aligned values accelerate your progress along life’s journey.

When you identify, define, align and live by your values, you will become the human being you were meant to be. It’s not always just about action, it’s about the right action at the right time for the right reason. Values are your guiderails in the action packed adventure called your life.

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    Trust Makes Culture Change Ready

    Trust Makes Culture Change Ready
    Posted by   | April 16th, 2014 | No Comments

    Editor’s Note: This was originally posted on




    What is the level of trust in your culture? What do employees think of senior management?

    Research says that only 49% of employees trust senior management. The scores for CEO’s are even more dismal; 28% of surveyed employees felt the CEO was a credible source of information.

    Trust promotes creativity, conflict management, empowerment, teamwork, and leadership during times of uncertainty and change.  A culture of trust is a valuable asset for any organization that nurtures and develops it. Amy Lyman’s work on the 100 Best Companies to work for concludes, “Companies whose employees praise the high levels of trust in their workplace are, in fact, among the highest performers, beating the average annualized returns of the S&P 500 by a factor of three.”

    As a core enabler of a high-performance organizational culture, the absence or presence of trust can be either an accelerator or barrier of organizational strategy and performance. As Stephen M.R. Covey writes in his book “Speed of Trust”, when the level of trust in an organization goes down the speed of change goes down with it and the costs of the change go up.

    Before you start that transformational change, ask yourself if your organization is ready for change. Will your organization’s culture, and more importantly, its level of trust support the change you wish to implement?

    What is Trust?

    Here are three unique qualities about trust; it’s a process, a choice and something that is uniquely human:

    • Process - trust is a learned skill. It involves an ongoing process of relationship building, communication, and action. For example, doing what you say you will do builds trust. Building trust is a process that layers on level after level of deeper trust. When actions do not match words and trust is breached, this is also a process that works in the reverse.
    • Choice – people decide whether or not to extend trust. Trust evolves incrementally over time, is based on sound judgment, and is not without limits and conditions. Those who choose to trust understand that there is the possibility of a breach of trust, and weigh risks and benefits before proceeding.
    • Uniquely Human – while you may consider your car to be reliable transportation, you don’t “trust your car.” Trust is about keeping your word, honoring your commitments and involves a decision, action, and a response. Trust is something that is unique to human beings.

    The Process of Trust Building

    Relationships are complex and so is the trust building process. Trust comes from who you are, what you say, and how you behave.

    Think of trust like a bank account. You extend trust credits proportional to the risk you are willing to take with someone. When that person honors the trust you’ve granted, then he or she gets a deposit in the trust account. When the person says or does something that busts your trust, then you deduct from their trust account.

    Components of the trust building process:

    • Code of Honor – the basics like showing respect, telling the truth, and keeping your word are foundational to the process of trust. If you are consistent in keeping the code then you build trust over time.
    • Extend Trust – go first and give trust. Not a blind trust but rather a trust with clear expectations and strong accountability built into the process.
    • Be Open – People who communicate only when they need something or when it’s in their best interest to tell you, limit trust. Those who share information appropriately increase trust. Tell people what they need to know not everything you know. Use judgment to balance between protecting confidential information and sharing needed knowledge. Information that adds to overload or isn’t pertinent diminishes trust.

    Trust accounts can become overdrawn and create situations where it’s foolish to extend trust because there is no more trust to give. Be intentional about building trust and recognize that it’s a process. That’s why they say, “trust must be earned.”

    To build organizational trust, employees need connection to their work, to what’s going on in the organization, and to the leader. Here are three ways to build that connection:

    1. Help employees understand how they fit in and how their contributions make a difference.
    2. Improve the flow and frequency of communications. Employees often feel they are out of the loop and they are not involved in decisions that impact them.
    3. Close the gap between senior leaders and employees.  Leaders need to take time to develop authentic relationships with employees by connecting to their daily reality.

    What destroys, breaks or busts trust and how do you repair broken trust?  Trust busters are behaviors that destroy trust, sabotage relationships and reduce the balance in the “trust account.”  There are two key categories of trust busters.

    Expectations that are broken or miscommunicated
    Broken expectations occur when you give your word that you will do something and you don’t do it. Broken expectations result in broken trust. Organizations break trust with employees when the employees have expectations of lifetime employment or stable work and layoffs occur. Leaders break trust when they commit to one course of action and take a seemingly different path.

    Unfairness – whether it’s real or perceived
    The human brain is always evaluating for fairness. Unfairness is a brain threat that creates an instant and automatic negative response. Perceived unfairness creates an environment in which neither trust nor collaboration can flourish.

    When undergoing change, there is a significant risk of these trust busters. Too often, communication is emphasized during change as an antidote to trust busting. Leaders believe that if they “communicate better” they would overcome all the trust busters. The problem arises when actions don’t align with the words of the communication or the leader just presents rather than having a conversation.

    Beware of trust busters and be prepared to address them or you risk raising the cost of your change and increasing the time it takes to get the change completed successfully.

    Tell us about the trust busters you have seen in your organization and what steps can be taken to repair the broken trust?

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      The Value of Values – Part 1

      The Value of Values - Part 1
      Posted by   | April 15th, 2014 | No Comments

      The purpose of organizational values is NOT to decorate the walls or to create new trinkets to hand out to employees. Clear and well-understood values create a framework that enhances personal and organizational performance.

      The value of values is multifold. First, they improve consistency in decision making. Second, they provide boundaries and set expectations about behavior and what is or is not acceptable. Finally, during times of change, values serve as lighthouses to guide people in a positive direction.

      Three Steps to Values:

      1. Define  – keep it simple and determine what differentiates your organization from others.  For example, honesty is a value that should be universal, so it’s not a differentiator. Less is more; 3 – 5 values concisely written using compelling words are best.
      2. Align  – stated values (what you say) must match operating values (what you do.) We’ve observed many organizations that are out of alignment and do not receive the benefits from the values they invested time in defining.
      3. Reinforce  – stories and examples are essential to proactively reinforce the meaning of values. Recognize and reward behaviors that support values. You get more of what you celebrate, so intentionally reinforce the demonstration of values.

      High performing organizations (and people) know what they believe and incorporate it into everything they do. Everyone, from top to bottom understands and acts according to these core values.

      If you do not have well defined, operational values we encourage you to make the time to define them. If you have values in place, do an annual assessment to determine whether they are aligned and reinforced.

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        Life Unbalanced

        Life Unbalanced
        Posted by   | April 8th, 2014 | No Comments

        Life Unbalanced

        The expression “Work–life balance” was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s to describe the balance between an individual’s work and personal life. It implies that you do equal parts work and life.

        Why are we so determined to balance our lives? What is balance? You do not have a personal life and a professional life, you have a life. Decide how you want to spend it.

        Reframe your perspective from “life balance” to “life choice.” You have a choice to make with your life and to live life at the fullest, here are some suggestions:

        • Plan to Play – there is an entire field of study in the subject of play. Dr Stuart Brown has a TED talk and a book titled Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul. He makes the case that the opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression. His research of homicidal males revealed they were deprived of play. Highly successful people have a rich play life. Add some play to your life.
        • Stop Energy Suckers – there are activities and people that drain energy. Wherever possible, eliminate them. When you cannot eliminate, insulate yourself. Energy suckers rob you of a precious resource. You have a choice, don’t let them steal your energy, your joy or your life.
        • Live on Purpose – Neuroscience research has shown that one of the most devastating conditions for humans is when there is a perceived lack of choice. This leads to feeling trapped and hopeless. The reality is that you always have choices. Sometimes you need to step outside your circumstances to shift your perspective and see the choices that exist.

        Lead an unbalanced life that works for you. Just remember that you have the power to choose. We suggest that you choose to incorporate play into your life, stop the energy suckers and live on purpose.

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          Steering Through Conflict

          Steering Through Conflict
          Posted by   | April 1st, 2014 | No Comments

          All conflict is caused by either resources or misunderstanding. Resource conflict may arise from a lack of resources or prioritization of resources. Misunderstanding conflict occurs when two or more parties fail to understand each other or have different values, assumptions, expectations or points of view.

          While you cannot avoid conflict, you can be prepared to deal with it when it happens. Here are three key steps to keep in mind in order to see your way clear of conflict:

          • Stay Objective – when conflict occurs emotions usually begin to ignite and the situation can get explosive. Remove the emotion and focus on the facts.
          • Agree on Something – find common ground. Discuss the facts and determine where there is mutual agreement or disagreement.
          • Look Beyond – to see your way clear of conflict you must see beyond what is creating the conflict. Determine if there is a common goal, outcome or future that everyone can agree on. If you stay stuck in the conflict it becomes like quicksand pulling you in deeper and deeper.

          Rather than waiting until you are embroiled in a conflict, mentally prepare yourself in advance to stay objective, agree on something and look beyond to find a resolution to the conflict.

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            Culture Clarity

            Culture Clarity
            Posted by   | March 26th, 2014 | No Comments

            culture Advantage

            Your Employees Are Asking

            • Do I make a meaningful impact at work every day?
            • Do I truly understand how I impact my organization?

            Can They Find the Answer?

            These are questions we all have. The need to make an impact and have a meaningful contribution is essential to us as individuals, teams, and organizations. As a leader, success lies in your ability to create an environment for the people that follow you to answer these questions.

            Culture is a powerful force but it remains an elusive or mysterious subject. It’s been easier to tackle the more concrete subjects of strategy, talent management, or even leadership. There are plenty of improvement frameworks for those disciplines. Unfortunately there aren’t many, if any, simple, logical, and common-sense frameworks for effectively leveraging and aligning the culture of an organization with a direct connection to performance. We collaborated on this book to create that framework.

            This book is a guide to building a performance culture as the foundation for achieving sustainable performance. It’s written for leaders with vision, passion, and the interest in engaging their organization, prioritizing as a team, and maintaining persistent focus over time. They are also deeply interested in engaging the head and the heart of their team in the process to maximize their impact and learning along the way. These pioneers create the future and aren’t afraid to build an organization that will successfully endure without them.

            If you are one of these leaders then this guide is written for you and the world needs you!

            Build the Culture Advantage and Culture University

            Get “Build the Culture Advantage” and join us at Culture University as we continue to explore the topic of organizational culture together.



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              Constructive Conflict

              Constructive Conflict
              Posted by   | March 25th, 2014 | No Comments

              Do you assume that all conflict is bad or destructive? Surrounding yourself with people who see things differently than you creates opportunity for conflict but is also a great way of achieving a new level of creativity and performance in your organization.

              Conflicts can actually make you better at your job if you have a better understanding of how to work through them and even learn and grow from them. A study documented in Creativity and Innovation Management found that confrontational conflict yields better results in terms of creative output. Researchers observed video footage of teams during idea generation. They then compared the conflict behavior styles of each team to their creative output. The researchers concluded that creative performance in teams is not achieved mainly by agreement, but needs cognitive confrontation or constructive conflict.

              What you can learn from this:

              • Don’t be afraid to challenge the ideas of people on your team (respectfully.) The outcomes of constructive conflict include higher levels of performance and ingenious thinking. Being too agreeable for the purpose of avoiding confrontation produces uninspiring outcomes.
              • Shift the focus from the negativity of the conflict to the possibilities created by it. Be an explorer and adopt a “discovery perspective” rather than “win/lose” or “perfection perspective.” See conflict as an opportunity for learning and explore ideas that could lead to a new and better approach.

              When you practice constructive conflict you will take more risks and be more innovative. You will also create winners and learners, rather than winners and losers.

              Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention. It shocks us out of sheeplike passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving… Conflict is the sine qua non of reflection and ingenuity.” ~ John Dewey

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                Are You Remotely Successful?

                Are You Remotely Successful?
                Posted by   | March 18th, 2014 | No Comments

                More and more work is being performed by virtual teams. Leaders are leading their teams from remote locations. If you are like many people, remote relationships are part of your working life.

                Are you successful in your remote relationships? We’ve observed that many of the bad habits of cubicle life get brought into remote working relationships. For example, people count on proximity rather than intentionality to “win friends and influence people.”

                This is a relationship economy. Who you know can make a difference in your next promotion or career move. Who you know can make the difference in successfully completing a project.

                Improve Your Remote Relationships:

                • Say it, Mean it, Do it. Say what you mean and do what you say.  Your word establishes your credibility and it builds others trust. Trust is broken when you do not keep your word. So make a written list of your commitments and keep them.
                • Stay Positive – people who hear you on the phone miss out on visual communication cues. Those who read your e-mail messages don’t have the benefit of your pitch, tone, inflection, or other non-verbal cues. Your positive or negative tone (through the words you choose) has a tremendous impact on relationships.  Choose wisely.
                • Be Intentional – Don’t leave your relationships to chance, stay connected with all members of your team, regardless of where they are and where they work.  Here are some specific ways you can be intentional about staying connected.
                  • Acknowledge milestones – service anniversaries, specific accomplishments, birthdays, weddings, birth of children, etc.
                  • Relate to others as people – learn about their families, hobbies and interests, and passions.
                  • Use all available technology – telephone conversations, teleconferences, videoconferences, Skype, email, instant messaging and texting – to stay in touch. Different modalities work better for different people.
                  • Read Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders. It is a really impactful book about putting people at the center and leading with love.

                Building successful relationships requires trust. Make and keep your commitments. Build successful relationships by maintaining a positive tone. People remember how you make them feel long after they remember the content of a conversation.

                Building successful relationships requires you to be intentional about connecting. Use all technologies to stay connected but remember that you are interacting with a person and not a machine.

                Increase your remote success by applying these tips today!

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                  You Can’t Make Me

                  You Can't Make Me
                  Posted by   | March 11th, 2014 | No Comments

                  Have you ever heard this from someone, either verbally or non-verbally? This is a common challenge in today’s world of work. Every day there are things that you need other people to do and force is not a good option!

                  We are sharing the principles of influence with a team today and we thought they’d be helpful for you too.

                  Influence is the ability to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen. Influence is a super power that everyone should possess.

                  Here is our adaptation of the Cohen Bradford Influence Model:

                  • Mindset – see the other person in a positive light as a friend versus a foe.
                  • Get Clear – make sure you know what your goal is. What needs to happen for the outcome to be successful?.
                  • Context – take time to understand their world.
                  • Establish Value – what do you value, what do they value? In other words, what really matters to both of you? Find common ground and build on it.
                  • Win-Win – how can you approach the situation in a way that everyone is better off?

                  One of the classic works on Influence is from Robert Cialdini, “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion.” Here’s a brief, helpful video that walks through the six principles: Reciprocity, Commitment and Continuity, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity.

                  Increase your super power of influence by building your capability and practicing the principles of persuasion.

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                    Gone in 30 Seconds

                    Gone in 30 Seconds
                    Posted by   | March 4th, 2014 | No Comments

                    Attention is fleeting. The attention span of a human is less than that of a gold fish!

                    Do you realize that every attendee on your conference call is recycling their attention every 30 seconds or less? That might explain a few things!

                    Your attention is a resource. If you aren’t managing it, it’s managing you!  When you harness and employ the full power of attention you get more of the right things done and you lead a richer life.

                    ATTENTION matters to you

                    Short attention spans are why messages need to be reinforced over and over and over and over. If your listener is in an attention refresh cycle you will completely miss his or her ability to hear what you are saying.

                    Short attention spans are made shorter by stress, distractions and decision overload.

                    What you can do:

                    • Practice Mindfulness – Mindfulness is about being non-judgmentally aware and in the present moment. Meditation is engaging in a mental exercise, such as concentrating on breathing or repeating a mantra, for spiritual or relaxation purposes. Both are excellent, but for attention purposes mindfulness creates the ability to decide where to allocate your processing resources.
                    • Enjoy Nature – Take a walk in the park or look at the clouds and the sky. Nature nourishes the soul and has been shown to help people to concentrate better. The official name is Attention Restoration Theory, which asserts that human beings have a psychological need for nature.
                    • Be Intentional. Decide where to place your attention. Recognize the limitations of your brain to consciously process information and perform tasks. Be purposeful about how you spend your attention so that it achieves the goals you set according to your priorities. Stop being a slave to environmental attention robbers.

                    The next time you are interacting with someone who is focused on doing a task for you (a travel agent investigating something for you or a waiter taking your order) don’t risk interrupting their attention. Stay focused on the task and allow the power of their sustained attention to fully operate.

                    Recognize the importance of attention and harness it by being mindful, enjoying nature and deciding where to spend it.

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