What’s Your Biltong?

What's Your Biltong?
Posted by   | November 18th, 2014 | No Comments

Every place and every person possesses something special and unique. Biltong is something unique to South Africa that we had the chance to experience. What’s unique and special about you?



There is something special about who you are and how you show up in the world. Whether you call this your strengths or your unique ability it’s up to you to identify and make the most of what’s great about you.

How to identify your strengths:

In GO Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham explains that there are four clear signs of a strength:

  1. Success—This is effectiveness in the activity you are doing. You can love doing something, but how successful are you?
  2. Instincts—Find those things that you instinctively look forward to, and capitalize on them. When you are in certain situations, what you are drawn to? Perhaps it’s stepping up in a leadership role, or making order out of chaos or even warmly welcoming others. See if you can identify those times in your life when you’re in this flow state, it will point to your strengths since they are involved in getting you to that state.
  3. Growth—You’re growing when you can concentrate on an activity, and time just flies by. This is the “State of Flow” that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote about. You improve the most in your areas of greatest strength. What have you learned quickly or easily?
  4. Needs—Some activities might make you tired, but they fulfill you. There is something deep inside that is satisfied when you are operating within your strengths. What makes you feel strong?

In addition to these signs, you can take Marcus’ Standout assessment or the Gallup Strengthsfinder assessment. There is also the Strengths List from the Happiness Institute.

Whatever resource you use, it’s important to know what makes you unique and special. Your strengths are your source for greater success, happiness and lifelong satisfaction.

We coach individuals, teams and organizations on how to identify and build on their strengths. We believe in leveraging your innate greatness, ask us how. Find your Biltong!

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    Let Them Eat Cake

    Let Them Eat Cake
    Posted by   | November 11th, 2014 | No Comments

    Change saturation is a common challenge in today’s workplace and the cause can be either a lack of resiliency, lack of capacity or both. We’ve observed too many times leaders piling on more and more layers of things to do and wondering why change takes soo long to stick.

    Capacity for change is a clear factor but the tip today is more about resiliency. People need time to learn, grow and recover. The time that an employee has to engage in take that professional development activity is usually at the top layer of the Layer Cake.

    A Layer Cake is our analogy to explain the multiple layers of an employee’s responsibility:

    • Layer One: What an employee must do to accomplish their job for 35 to 40 hours per week.
    • Layer Two: Set on top of Layer One comes all the projects employees are involved in, supporting or leading.
    • Layer Three: Set at the very top, and last, on the cake is personal development which is necessary for the ongoing growth and change of the employee and, ultimately, the organization.



    When it comes to organizational resiliency and change capacity, Layer Three is an area of great opportunity for an organization. Unfortunately there is often little capacity for this important work. Successful change requires capacity to learn, grow, adapt and adopt. If the layers of the cake are too filling, there’s no room left for adaptation and change.

    THE CHALLENGE: there is more to do than there are hours in the day / week (each person has 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 60 minutes in an hour for a grand total of 10,080 minutes to spend on sleeping, eating, fun, family and friends…and work!

    Tips for dealing with the Challenge:

    Look at Your Cake – assess your work and how much of your time is being devoted to each layer of the cake. Are you out of balance? Draw a picture of your cake and identify what is in each layer. You may be surprised by the expectations of each layer as you look at them. Once you’ve looked at your cake, check out the following three tips.

    • Work Smarter – how often do you “audit” your work habits? It’s easy to fall into routines that are not as efficient as they could be. For example, do you check email first thing in the morning? Change that habit and begin your day by looking at your schedule and your daily goals. Then you can schedule in time to read and respond to email. Don’t let your day get hijacked.
    • Tell Your Manager – organizations suffer from “Satellite Syndrome.” They put projects, tasks and actions up into space like satellites and leave them to orbit endlessly. How many reports are produced because they always have been done that way? Are they serving a purpose? Is there a better way? Talk to your manager about those items that have been “abandoned in space.” Explain what needs eliminated, the purpose it used to serve and how it can be replaced with something more effective or simply stopped.
    • Prioritize – once you’ve looked at your cake, determine where you need to focus your time and energy. You can’t do it all equally well. Based on your career goals and your interests decide where to focus. Too often the urgent trumps the important. When you prioritize and pay attention you can avoid this trap.
      Unfortunately there is no cure for the layer cake that is out of balance. However, we are on a mission to help leaders pay attention to their employee’s cakes and ensure there is adequate capacity for the demands being placed on them.

    You can take control of your layer cake by identifying it’s layers and then working smarter, talking with your manager and prioritizing.

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      Change Lessons from the Fall of the Wall

      Change Lessons from the Fall of the Wall
      Posted by   | November 4th, 2014 | No Comments

      On this day in 1989 the Alexanderplatz demonstration began.  Between half a million and a million people gathered in East Berlin to protest the Socialist Unity Party of Germany regime and demand reform. Five days later, the peaceful “fall” of the Wall began.

      berlin wall

      This picture was taken last Friday when we were at Berlin Change Days. It’s one of the remaining pieces of the wall.

      Change Lessons:

      • Change Requires Courage. While the decision to make a change may come easily, the courage to stick with it is exponentially more difficult. After years of separation, there was a lot to overcome between East and West Berlin. Between infrastructure updates, social changes, economic changes and educational differences,a lot of work was required to integrate the divided city. Many leaders make the announcement of an exciting new change. Far fewer leaders do what it takes to see the change through to completion.  The failure rate of change is explained by the lack of leadership support for changes which begin with great fanfare and enthusiasm but fizzle out and are abandoned by leaders. The courage to stay the course is the key factor in successful change.
      • Change Impacts People Differently. Not everyone is happy about change. In The Atlantic, an article by Lane Wallace talks about her visit to the eastern German village of Krausnick. They suffered the loss of thousands of soldiers and civilians. Despite the unspeakable horrors of the past, they had a memorial to the Russians which was preserved with loving care. When Lane asked the townspeople they said that they missed the Russians because they had security during their reign. Although the townspeople didn’t have everything they wanted during that time, they didn’t have to worry about losing their job, paying the rent or figuring out how to afford a new car. As shocking as it may be for some leaders, the wonderful change they want to implement may not be as exciting for the recipients of the change.
      • Change Takes Time. Although the wall may have fallen 25 years ago, Germany is still working through the challenges of bringing East and West together. There is no such thing as a quick fix or an instant change. In this microwaveable world, leaders must understand that the work of lasting change requires patience and time. There are accelerators to the change process, but nothing is instant.
      • Reunification Matters. For far too long, leaders have defined success in terms of bottom line business results at the expense of their people. The path of failure is littered with measures and metrics which left out the very people who are needed to accomplish the results. It’s time to bring together people, strategy and projects in order to achieve true lasting success.

      Walls aren’t the only barriers that exist. Although many companies are creating “open working environments,” silos exist and prevent the free flow of ideas, talent and creative innovation. These invisible walls are holding back the potential of teams, functions, business units, departments and organizations. How can you stage a revolution and bring down the walls of separation?

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        Leadership is Inspiring Change

        Leadership is Inspiring Change
        Posted by   | October 28th, 2014 | No Comments

        Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles.
        ~ John Kotter


        Inspiration is essential during times of change. Rather than DRIVE change, we believe that leaders should INSPIRE change!

        Tips on how to inspire:

        • Create Positive Confidence – confidence comes when you can fully trust or believe in someone. As a leader this means closing the “Know | Do Gap” which comes from not applying what you know you should do. Keep your word, be on time, finish what you start and mind your manners (say please, thank you and I’m sorry when appropriate.)
        • Encourage Your People – this means that you fill them with courage or strength of purpose. You must be clear about purpose (what are you doing and why) as well as take time to appreciate the people who make an impact. Douglas Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup Company had 20,000 employees. During the course of his ten year career at Campbell’s he hand wrote over 30,000 notes to them. He took the time to encourage, you can too.
        • Be Hopeful – leaders must be realistic about the present, observant of the obstacles, but see a future bigger than the obstacles that must be overcome. This attitude of realistic optimism is essential to change because there are times that things seem impossible. How do you represent hope and keep it alive for your team?

        Leadership requires that leaders inspire change. We believe that creating positive confidence, encouraging your people and being hopeful will inspire your people to keep going and move forward through change.

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          Your Sponge

          Your Sponge
          Posted by   | October 21st, 2014 | No Comments

          When you are faced with a change how do you respond?

          Have you ever experienced a time when you felt you couldn’t take any more change? Perhaps your sponge was full.


          The SPONGE = your capacity

          In Managing at the Speed of Change, Daryl Conner explains the concept of the sponge. “Change is typically poured onto the physically and emotionally saturated sponges of the work force while management watches helplessly as their intended objectives run down the drain.”

          Within each person is a limited capacity for assimilation of change. When a person’s finite resources of intellectual energy and physical stamina are used up it doesn’t matter how much the person wants to change, he or she is out of capacity.

          “Managers can no longer flip a switch and pour on the changes. The spray-and-pray approach (announcing major change and hoping it will take hold) is out of  date and insufficient.” (pg. 56 Conner)

          When you are feeling fully saturated, you can either squeeze out your sponge or increase it. We refer to previous Tuesday Tremendous Tips to provide insights on how to squeeze or increase the sponge!

          Squeeze the Sponge – Manage Change Saturation

          Increase the Sponge: Resilience is the capacity to recover from change. Here are two previous tips and a presentation that address resilience:

          • Aspects of resilience

          • Strategies to increase resilience

          • A presentation to support your team and discuss resilience strategies you can apply

          It’s helpful to understand that no one is super human with a limitless sponge. When you take time to understand your capacity and manage it well, you will improve your ability to recover from change.

          When you are saturated from change, it’s helpful to understand that you are not crazy and there is nothing wrong with you. Step away from the sponge and decide whether you want to wring it out (reduce change and complexity) or grow it (practice resilience.)

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            Change and Transformation

            Change and Transformation
            Posted by   | October 14th, 2014 | 1 Comment

            “This is part one in a series on the change and the process of transformation. Whether you are a leader, inspiring others through change or a person in the midst of change, this is relevant to you.”
            Key points to consider:


            • Change is a deviation from expectation. The bigger the deviation the bigger the change. (some change models call this a break from status quo)
            • There is a difference between change and transformation
              • Change is the external event, circumstance or consequence that occurs. It may be something that you choose (initiated change) or something that happens beyond your control (an external or random change.)
              • Transformation is a personal process that happens one individual at a time in response to change. It’s the internal choice of how to respond to the external change that is happening.
            • The greater your resilience the more equipped you are to deal with change and the internal impacts.

            We all will deal with hundreds of thousands of changes through the course of our lives. Some change you choose, other change just happens!

            Stay tuned for the next few weeks as we explore the process of transformation and change.

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              Heat or Light?

              Heat or Light?
              Posted by   | October 7th, 2014 | No Comments

              Some people change when they see the light;
              others when they feel the heat

              This concept gets at the heart of change management which is about using the best approach for the person to help them change.  Some people need to be persuaded with the heat of consequences while others need to see the positive future that inspires them to change. The best approach is dependent on the person or group that is being asked to change.

              Since change is the transition from a current state to a future state (from the ACMP Standard for Change Management ©) the critical question is, “how to accomplish the transition?” Not all transition is the same and not all transition needs to move at the same pace.

              Tips for using light and heat:

              • Know your audience – who needs to change and what motivates them? Tailor your messages and your change approach to meet their needs, not yours.
              • Understand the transition – is it a big one or a small one? Does it need to happen fast or can it move at a more relaxed pace? Depending upon the answers it may be appropriate to change the ratio of light and heat.
              • Define success – does the transition need to be sustained? As the story below illustrates, forced change often creates resistance. People may comply with the change externally, but internally they are “wrapping their coats around them to protect themselves.”

              The North Wind and the Sun 

              The North Wind and the Sun disputed as to which was the most powerful, and agreed that he should be declared the victor who could first strip a wayfaring man of his clothes.  The North Wind first tried his power and blew with all his might, but the keener his blasts, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him, until at last, resigning all hope of victory, the Wind called upon the Sun to see what he could do.  The Sun suddenly shone out with all his warmth.  The Traveler no sooner felt his genial rays than he took off one garment after another, and at last, fairly overcome with heat, undressed and bathed in a stream that lay in his path.
              The moral of this story…Persuasion is better than Force.

              When you need to create change consider light and heat and use them to inspire people to change as well as help them feel the consequences of not changing. It’s better to use these persuasion techniques than force.

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                Do Your Customers Matter this Much?

                Do Your Customers Matter this Much?
                Posted by   | September 30th, 2014 | 2 Comments

                Employee engagement is a hot topic these days and for good reason, because employees are epidemically under engaged. Beyond unengaged comes disengaged and finally disgruntled. Perhaps the Chicago FAA air traffic control challenge could have been avoided with higher levels of engagement from managers and leaders – time will tell us what happened there.

                Customer engagement is also a hot topic and this past weekend I had the opportunity to experience why. It feels really good when you see it happening.

                I am a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, as well as, one of those people that purchased a $200 piece of team ownership that I can’t do anything with but stare at the paper on the wall. It was a beautiful week end in Chicago and I was fortunate enough to find tickets to the Bears and Packers game held at Soldier Field in my home town of Chicago. There is a rivalry between the Bears and Packers that is legendary and tickets are hard to come by. I was looking for 7 seats together and found myself in Soldier Field seats that where so high up that I felt dizzy from the thin oxygen. Take a look:


                Our tickets were in the very last row of the upper deck. I work out regularly, but walking those stadium stairs made you plan your trips to the restroom very carefully.

                There is a point to me telling you where I was sitting. Early in the 3rd Quarter Mark Murphy, the President and CEO of the Green Bay Packers Organization, walked up to our section to spend a good portion of the quarter talking and hanging with fans. He was in a shirt and tie and walked up to us by himself. I was able to capture a picture of him in action and you will see fans smiling in amazement, snapping pictures, applauding him and taking time from the game to chat with him. This was a special moment and we felt part of something bigger than just a team, we felt part of a family.


                Taking time to engage with customers matters and is a testament to leadership. Under Murphy’s guidance, the Packers organization continues to rank as one of the NFL’s premier franchises, with highly successful operations both on and off the field. On the field, the team has compiled a 66-38-1 overall record (.633), made five straight playoff trips, including three consecutive division titles, and earned a victory in Super Bowl XLV. Off the field, the club continues to perform well in its business efforts, which allows the organization to support football operations. The fan experience at Lambeau Field, a top priority for the organization, continues to be ranked among the best in sports.

                Kudos to you Mark Murphy for coming out of the luxury box to show your customers that they matter and you care.

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                  Disgruntled or Disengaged

                  Disgruntled or Disengaged
                  Posted by   | September 30th, 2014 | No Comments

                  There is a huge focus on employee engagement because employees are epidemically under engaged. Beyond unengaged comes disengaged and finally disgruntled.

                  Being based in Chicago we got to experience the disruptive power of a disengaged / disgruntled employee since all flights in and out of Chicago are unable to use local FAA air traffic control. While your organization may not have an employee that creates as much air traffic chaos as 9/11, consider the other costs to your economic ecosystem that may be incurred when someone isn’t performing at their peak.

                  Engagement is not the same as happiness. This isn’t a measure of how much someone loves their job. This is how well an organization (leaders) understand the strengths of their employees, equips them to do what they are being asked to do and establishes a vision that connects an employee to the “Why” we exist and the value we provide.

                  A great vision is the fuel that accelerates your strategy. Seeing and believing in a vision for the future is a big part of engagement.  People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and know that they are on a meaningful journey that will allow them to make an impact with their contributions.

                  A Vision Statement:

                  • Future Focused – creates a mental picture of the optimal desired future state of what an organization wants to achieve over time.
                  • Connects with Each Employee – employees spend a lot of time at work and a well written vision helps employees understand what their work ultimately contributes towards accomplishing over the long term.
                  • Easy to Repeat – make it succinct and inspirational so employees can repeat it at any given time.

                  If engagement continues to be a struggle for your organization perhaps it is time to take a look at the vision for your organization. Is your vision statement a succinct, inspirational message that tells an employee why they are doing what they do and the value they create for your customers? If not, take time to invest in the words that create lasting engagement.

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                    It’s About Focus

                    It's About Focus
                    Posted by   | September 23rd, 2014 | No Comments

                    What is our strategy now?  How are we doing on our strategy?  Have we arrived yet? There are other questions your people could be asking about your organization’s focus, but these are three questions that you should be asking if you don’t already know.

                    Your organization has a strategy and it is being executed as you read this. The strategy sets the overall direction of your organization and establishes the context for everything done in the organization.  If you are not crystal clear on the strategy then decisions you have to make every day become a bit more challenging if success in what you do is important to you.

                    The responsibility for staying informed about the strategy is yours. Certainly it is the top leadership’s responsibility to set the strategy, explain it to everyone, provide updates against it and to continually reinforce it, but it is everyone’s responsibility to bring it to life in the organization.

                    Here are ideas for breathing life into your organization’s strategy:

                    • Understand It – If you’re new to the organization or if you have been there for a long time, get informed about the organizations strategy and why behind it. Talk to your manager, review the website, ask and listen at town halls, because this is so important to an organizations success there will be a wide variety of ways to get clear.
                    • Get Refreshed – You should be hearing frequent updates about the organizations progress against the strategy. If you’re not hearing, ask your leaders.  Find out about challenges, successes and adjustments along the way.
                    • Explain it – Whether or not your title has VP in front of it you have other people around you that you can help to better understand the strategy.  Take the important time in your 1:1 meetings with your direct reports or team members to get clear on the strategy and their role in executing against it.

                    Your organizations success depends on everyone moving in the same direction.  The strategy sets that direction so understand it, stay refreshed on it and do your part in bringing it to life by explaining it to others.

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