Why You Aren’t Getting The Respect You Deserve

*As originally seen on

Feeling unappreciated and disrespected? We’ve all been there. So how can you shift things in your organization so that you can start receiving the respect you deserve?

The answer lies in expanding your beliefs. Because when we expand our beliefs, we create new behaviors. And through these behaviors, we are able to authentically give and receive respect. Let’s unpack this.

Every moment we are bombarded with sensory information. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory information is constantly coming our way via our five senses. The way we interpret this sensory input contributes to how we structure our experience of the world. The senses that most dominate our behavior are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, so we’ll focus on those three.

What we call “thinking” is actually a series of pictures, sounds, and feelings that go by at light speed in our brains.

How You Create Experiences

As we interact with the world around us, we internally store images, sounds, feelings, smells, and tastes that craft our experience.

Think of your favorite place in your home. Chances are good you just called up a picture. We’ll call these visuals, or Vs in neuro-shorthand. Sometimes our brain distorts stored pictures (Vs) to give them different meanings. Maybe we don’t want the intensity of a full-color picture so we store it in black and white, or maybe our brain wants to prevent us from repeating a dangerous experience so we store it in overpowering color.

Additionally, when we have or recall an experience, our brains hear sounds, which can be tones or words either outside ourselves (existing in the environment) or inside ourselves (talking to ourselves, hearing an old soundtrack). Think of the last time you made a mistake and internally said, “I can’t believe I did that! Sheesh!” That’s an internal soundtrack. Think of the sound of a phone ringing. That’s an external soundtrack. We’ll call these sounds auditory input, or As in neuro-shorthand.

Our visual and auditory experiences lead to feelings, or kinesthetic responsesor Ks in neuro-shorthand. Maybe your shoulders are tight, or you feel a knot in your stomach. These physiological feelings are now translated into emotions you can name, such as fear, excitement, joy, or anger.

From these Vs, As, and their generated Ks, our prefrontal cortex makes meaning about the world, other people, situations, and ourselves. The meaning we make about these experiences formulates our beliefs.

Deletions, Distortions & Generalizations Impact Your Beliefs

Before we discuss beliefs, we must understand that the brain is a “meaning-making machine” that deletes, distorts, and generalizes information. Every second, overwhelming amounts of information come our way, and we filter that information to make sense of it by deleting a lot of what we deem not relevant or useful, so only some of it gets through. Otherwise we would experience information overload!

The brain also distorts information. For example, how often do you hear someone respond to the question “How are you?” with “Nothing is wrong with me!” The question was distorted to be the assertion “Something is wrong with you.” However, distortion also has its uses. It is what allows us to be creative. For example, a musician can listen to a song and create a new version of it as his or her unique expression.

Beliefs are generalizations about experiences, based on the meaning our prefrontal cortex has generated. For example, the brain generalizes that a chair is a chair, and objects that resemble a chair-like structure are appropriate for sitting. This is useful. That way, we don’t have to figure out whether or not we can sit on a particular object every time we walk into an office.

Another example is when we see someone point a finger at another and assume that the person doing the pointing is rude. “Everyone who points their finger like that is a rude person!” is a generalization and a belief.

Our beliefs about the world, others, situations, and ourselves drive our behavior. Beliefs about ourselves lie at a deeper level and are called identity. So in a stressful situation, when a person believes, “I can do this, and our team will get through this,” these beliefs reinforce his or her identity and his or her team’s identity as being solid and capable. As a result, the person with the “solid and capable” identity has the behavior of handling things and moving forward, while others may be panicking. Their behavior matches their identity.

When we expand our identity, we create new behaviors. This applies to leaders and to their individual team members. Through this shift, a new baseline is created in the organization and each individual member will begin to give and receive respect that is based in truth, rather than through distortions, deletions and generalizations.

How can you start this shift in your organization?

Featuring case studies and proven techniques, Power Your Tribe provides a set of powerful neuroscience-based tools to help managers identify emotions, release resistance, end isolation, focus on outcomes, and course-correct for continued success.

Learn More


The #1 Tool Successful Leaders Use To Radically Shift Their Reality

*As originally seen on

As a leader, in what area of your life do you need to shift from being disempowered to being empowered?

We form our own reality based on visual, auditory, and kinesthetic cues. These cues recall our beliefs about the world and ourselves (our identity), which results in either feeling good or feeling bad. If you’re on a sales team that feels bad, chances are you won’t be achieving your quota because your energy will be low as well as your motivation and creativity. Is there anything you can do right now to feel better and be more productive?

Stuff happens, and sometimes we need to do a quick “pattern-interrupt” to pause our default and choose a better-feeling alternative. Remember, it is not what happens that matters but rather, what it means that matters. Change the meaning, change the feeling. We need to make more helpful meaning. Reframing is a terrific tool for making new meaning quickly and easily, as well as for editing your belief system in the process.

By formal definition, reframing is a way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts, and emotions to find more useful alternatives. It is a practical and valuable tool to shift perception, including your perception of yourself or others’ perceptions of themselves.

Think of reframing as putting on a different pair of glasses. What would you see if you put on a pair of sunglasses with a heavy tint when you were in a dark room? You would see shadows and dark forms you couldn’t identify. What would happen when you took off those glasses? You may see the most beautiful room in the world. When you switch your glasses, what you see changes.

Reframing, mentally and linguistically, does the same thing. It changes the story you tell yourself about what happens.

Harvard researchers proved a while back that the stories we tell ourselves shape our world. The good news is that we can also create new stories about the decisions we’ve made about ourselves, our abilities, and the world. We have the power to change our experience. Here are two examples.

In Business

Initial story: It’s really hard getting a job fresh out of college these days. The market is crowded, and overqualified people are competing for every single job. No wonder I’m unemployed and it’s tough.

Reframe: It’s awesome that there are a lot of people job hunting right now because it gives a person the opportunity to really bring his or her “A Game” to stand out. I’m sending my résumé in creative ways to get an interview, I’m doing more research than I ever have done before to prepare for interviews, and then I’m following up after the interviews using different methods. I am learning a ton!

See how the meaning shifts from defeat and deciding that job hunting will be hard (which means it will be because the universe is an exquisite mirror) to a sense of power, can-do, creativity, and agility?

In Personal Life

Initial story: I was a girl in a household of boys. My brothers and parents wanted another boy, so I was perpetually left out and labeled as a disappointment. I’ve never been good enough.

Reframe: I grew up in the perfect family to learn to see and honor my unique value. I was given great opportunities to be independent and forge my path in life. I also learned to be self-reliant, which has made me strong and fearless.

See how the meaning she is making shifts from disempowering to empowering?



Featuring case studies and proven techniques, Power Your Tribe provides a set of powerful neuroscience-based tools to help managers identify emotions, release resistance, end isolation, focus on outcomes, and course-correct for continued success.

Learn More


The Power Primer: Lessons From Andy Grove, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates And Larry Ellison

*As originally seen on


In my experience, leaders either use power well or they don’t. Thankfully, I’ve met more that fall into the “use power well” category.

Here are four powerful leaders and the lessons they taught me.

I hope their wisdom will touch you too.

Andy Grove (Photo By Anne Knudsen/Getty Images)

Andy Grove: Be Gracious

Andy Grove always tried to feed me. He was that kind of man, making sure others were comfortable. He was the most gracious billionaire of the dozen or so I’ve met, and the one I’ve most wanted to emulate. When I first pitched him to invest in my venture capital fund he told me the presentation was “lucid.” That to me was a huge compliment. When he introduced me to his wife he said “this is the woman that is managing our money”—which was too generous as I managed a very very infinitesimal amount of his staggering net worth.

The more wealth and power he acquired, the more gracious, considerate, kind he was to me. He always met me “where I was” intellectually and asked questions that were simple, straightforward and effective. His assistant always worked with my calendar to find a mutually appropriate meeting time so I felt respected and like we were equals. That equality was a remarkable and rare experience.

Bill Gates (TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Bill Gates: Be Certain

It was 1985 and Windows was being trashed in the press. It had recently been launched and was full of bugs, was a commercial disaster, and was nearly unanimously ridiculed. Bill was unfazed. He said Windows was going to be the world standard, it was just a matter of time. We just had to keep plugging away at it, people would come to embrace it, they just didn’t “get it” quite yet.

Society often implies that we need to succeed to then be confident. But Bill taught me the exact opposite: you start with certainty, with confidence and then the proof shows up. It took until 1990 for Windows to become the desktop standard. Bill kept believing and moving through all the criticism for five years. Why? Because Windows was going to be the world standard. It was just a matter of time. He was certain of it.

Larry Ellison (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images)

Larry Ellison: Be Bold

Back in the day before Oracle was the market leader, their competitor Sybase regularly ate Oracle’s proverbial lunch. Head to head on sales calls Sybase was technically superior… and yet Larry told the world he’d eat their lunch. As his team marketed and sold with bold claims of superiority Oracle got lucky: Sybase had some problems, their stock price crashed, and things started to fall apart. Larry seized the day and put Oracle on top. When one of my startups needed Oracle licenses and we couldn’t afford them I decided to be bold with him. I offered Larry stock options in my company in exchange for Oracle software. He told me I had guts to try that. I said I learned the behavior by observing him. He laughed, signed the stock document, and had his people give me six-digits worth of software. And he never even executed the stock options.

Stephen Hawking (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation)

Stephen Hawking: Be Warm

I met Stephen at a White House lecture he was giving. This excerpt from my book Rules for Renegades says it all:

“Hi,” I say crouching before the seated man. He’s alone, slumped over the little desk attached to his wheelchair. “Your speech was terrific,” I tell him. “You make physics so . . . accessible. Thanks.” He smiles and shifts a little, preparing to type a reply into his speech synthesizer. Aware of the effort I say, “You needn’t respond.”

He looked up at me, into me, with deep dark eyes—no black holes here. His eyes embraced me in a down-duvet hug. And there it was: connection. I could feel his anguish, his giant, potent mind trapped in a tiny, twisted body. And right then my insecurity evaporates: I no longer care that I’m not a player, that I’ll probably never be all that important. Because my quest for success had been about being seen, about banishing the perpetual feeling of invisibility and inconsequence, about making sure I mattered. And right then, I did. I felt seen all the way through.

And I realized that this…this is a moment that I’ll remember, this very real, better-than-a-handshake moment: the soulshake, the touchless shake, of Professor Stephen Hawking.

Be Gracious. Be Certain. Be Bold. Be Warm.

Great leaders choose to lead, and they work hard to be the person that others choose to follow. They provide a vision for the future and a mission that their team believes in. They cultivate the desire to improve. Are you cultivating that intangible drive and passion for excellence, for being all that you can be? How can you cultivate the traits discussed above, not only for you but for your team members?

Headed Towards Burnout? Here’s What You Need To Do

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

As leaders we are expected to be highly present, have clear and consistent insights, maintain significant levels of energy, and stay grounded regardless of circumstances. Yet in today’s world of relentless change this can be challenging. When’s the last time you focused on you? It’s not selfish… it’s necessary.

There’s an infinite amount of work, especially as a leader in your organization. Sometimes, you just need to put the brakes on, because there will always be more work. Your mind is active all day long with some 60,000 separate thoughts each and every day. With all of those thoughts, it’s not surprising that your mind becomes so loud that we lose focus We know we “shouldn’t” get freaked out and anxious, we know staying present will enable us to find better solutions, we know we “should” be getting a good night’s rest to tackle the situation with a fresh mind the next day, but we can’t always get there without help. We’ve been hijacked. Our patterns are in charge. We’re human.

Headed Towards Burnout? Here's What You Need To Do


If you don’t take time to pause and decide to keep going on your current path or change a few things that will make a big difference in your life, you may burn out. It’s okay to take a look and say “Hey! This isn’t working” and implement a few changes that will steer you towards a destination that isn’t painful.

No one has time to process every single blip in their life. We can’t track down the source of every pattern and sometimes it’s not a pattern, it’s just life.

 So how do we take care of our health and stay mindful of what’s important when life throws us a curve ball?

Here are tools that my executive coaching clients use that have empowered them to avoid burnout.

Release The Resistance: Resistance vs. Allowing

• Look at 10 things in your life/the world that you don’t want/like (tacky wall paper, etc.) and look at each one and say out loud “I do not consent to you” (it’s not OK that they are there). See how that feels in your body (feel free to use emotion wheel).

• Now look at the 10 things again. They didn’t disappear even though you didn’t consent to them! Now look at each of the 10 things again. Say “I consent to you” for each (heck, they are there anyway, not much point in resisting this fact—consent isn’t approval, it’s just acknowledgment). See how that feels in your body.

• Reflect on the feelings associated with not consenting/resistance to what is vs consenting/acknowledging what is. Optimism isn’t universal consent. It’s OK if things aren’t OK with you. Notice what it’s like to let them be not OK and yet acknowledge that they are there without energetically resisting them.

Maneuvers Of Consciousness

First, think of something you are resisting. Now do the following steps.

• Negative Evaluation (three minutes): Say out loud all the things you don’t like, what’s bad about this, what you can’t stand. Really trash it. Notice what are the feelings here? (see emotion chart if helpful) break state (ask non sequitur question/count something/shake body out)

• Curiosity (three minutes): Now get really curious about this situation. How did it come to be? What is familiar about it? What good things come from it? What are the feelings here? break state

• Amazement (three minutes): Now become amazed that it came to be. Wow! This is fascinating! What’s amazing about it? What are the feelings here? break state

• Full Appreciation (three minutes): Now honor everything about this situation/state. Yes! This has been so very helpful in order to bring me to the next level. Wow. So much gratitude and appreciation. What are the feelings here? break state

• Now do a short Outcome Frame below. Map out a clear vision of your desired state for 15 minutes minimum—bask in it, ask each question in detail

Outcome Frame

• What would you like? (something you can create and maintain)

• What will having that do for you? (what will you get/benefits)

• How will you know when you have it? (criteria/proof you got it)

• When, where, with whom would you like it? (scope and timing)

• What of value might you risk or lose? (get present to risk/what might change)

• What are your next steps? (get into action)

Learn where you are giving your power away. I discussed this in a previous blog on Energetic Weight, answering the 10 questions will give you some great insight into where your power is going.

Emotion Wheel

Use the Emotion Wheel to help understand what you are feeling. The center feelings are the “core feelings.” The Emotion Wheel can help you get to the core emotion you are experiencing, increase your emotional vocabulary and make connections you may not have otherwise made.

Avoid burnout - emotion whell

Choose The Meaning

No matter what happens outside of us, we always get to choose the meaning we make about it inside.

Example: Lots of things are changing, lots of short notice client requests and deadlines

Meaning making option #1: This is so stressful! I am emotionally exhausted by this, it’s all too much!

[result of this meaning = missed deadlines, incomplete work, stress for self and those that have to deal with the missed deadlines/incomplete/low quality work, no fun for anyone and certainly no ease-grace-joy]

Meaning making option #2: Yes! Change means movement and growth and a chance to really shine and pace myself. I will show up fully to serve our awesome tribe. How great that I get to tap my awesome brain to become even more clear, find even more solutions as I focus on the outcomes I want to create.

[result of this meaning = empowerment, choice of how to respond vs compulsively react, ease-grace-joy, support of self and others, shine my light, honor my company values, choose my reality]

Which meaning would you like to make? Our words shape our reality, and meaning making and reframing are key to shape our reality.

The key to avoiding burnout is to visualize the person you want to be, set your intentions and get out of your own way.

4 Steps To Become A More Emotionally Intelligent Leader

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

The CEO tells the VP Marketing candidate he’d hire her if she lost 20 pounds. She’s “too fat to represent our company.”

The VP Operations tells her team if they were competent they would’ve achieved their quarterly goals.

The CFO sends the Controller an angry email saying his budget “sucks and is pathetic.”

The VP Product Development says “deal with it” when the favorite lead engineer and keeper of the culture quits.

What do all these leaders have in common?

They aren’t emotionally intelligent. They are sending “nasty-grams” to their teams and causing emotional disengagement and shutdown in others. They have low EQ.

And EQ = money. According to Drs. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

The link between EQ and earnings is so direct that every point increase in EQ equals $1,300 to an annual salary. If that’s not enough, EQ accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs”.

All. Wow.

So let’s figure this out in a straightforward way. First, a handy infographic:

4 Steps To Become A More Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Here’s how to start becoming more emotionally intelligent:

1. Figure out what you’re feeling. It’s essential to be in tune with your emotions—this is Self-Awareness. Now based on what you are feeling, is it the appropriate time to send that angry email? Right now it’s key to remember that communication is redundant: humans cannot *not* communicate—our facial expressions, body posture, vocal tone/pace/pitch betray us. Even in email or texts our vocal tone/pace/pitch can be detected.

Emotional intelligence - redundant communication

You know what it feels like to receive an email when someone is spewing anger or venting frustration. You also know what it feels like when someone handles a challenging situation with compassion, a spirit of collaboration, and overall respect and kindness. People can tell. Your vocal tone does indeed come through in written communication.

2. Take a breather. Holding off on sending a nasty-gram until you cool down is Self-Management. We need to shift out of Critter State into Smart State in order to practice Self-Management. Now is a great time to unpack the visual, auditory and kinesthetic cues that triggered you. And if you’re in Critter State (fight/flight/freeze or Amygdala Hijack) one of the easiest ways to shift out of it and into Smart State is to practice 7-7-7 breathing. Inhale for a count of 7, hold for count of 7, exhale for count of 7. Do 7 times. Ahhhhh. Now you have choice to respond vs. react compulsively. Excellent!

3. Consider the recipient. While you are practicing #1 or #2 above, consider what the recipient might feel upon receiving your communication. This is Social Awareness. They are a different person from you, so they’ll likely make different meaning—they’ll interpret your communication–based on their Map of the World and not yours. Here are the many components that factor into a person’s map of the world—which is why we misunderstand one another so often too: we all have different maps.

Emotional Intelligence - EQ - making meaning

This consideration is Social Awareness.

4. Focus on the outcome. What is the outcome you’d actually like to achieve? How would you like to make someone feel in order to empower them and move the ball forward? It’s time to craft a message that will get the result you want and make the person feel powerful, effective, enrolled, engaged, whatever positive emotion you want. This is Relationship Management.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - Pain and Pleasure

via UCLA

Let’s revisit the above real-world scenarios. When I was asked to come in and coach these leaders to become more Emotionally Intelligent they had team members ready to quit, some were totally checked out and no longer cared, some were downright hostile due to prolonged mistreatment. So I had my work cut out for me.

Once the leaders were in touch with their feelings and had boosted their Self-Management and Self-Awareness, we then worked on Social Awareness and Relationship Management. This transformation took 4-6 months (based on the leader) to become an automatic response.

When I asked each of them how they would’ve navigated the scenarios above were they able to turn back time, here’s how the communications were edited (yes, after the fact, but better than repeating the mistake!).

The CEO tells the VP Marketing candidate she has great skills and he’d like to explore how she can best represent the company.

The VP Operations asks her team what they need to achieve their goals next time. Did she set the bar too high? Were they all too ambitious? Do they need more/different resources? Were there cross-functional dependencies that we all missed considering?

The CFO meets with the Controller and works through expectations for the budget, filling in any gaps so what defines “success” is super clear. The Controller feels safe to ask questions and push back on things they disagree with.The VP Product Development sits down with the team and lets them express their grief without judging them. Then she asks what the team needs to heal and move forward, noting that they’ll tackle this together, as a team, all for one, and one for all.

Everyone contributes in a meaningful way. Let’s start communicating with this awareness.

Why Leaders Need To Be Great Storytellers

*As originally seen on

*As originally seen on

We’ve all seen them. Emotionally flat presentations. Emotionally devoid corporate mission, vision, and value statements that are simply wall art. They’re not memorable. And even if the team has been asked to memorize them, even recite them, but if you ask what they mean, you’ll get blank stares.

Why? There’s no emotion.

There’s no story.

What’s your favorite movie? I’ll bet you can enthusiastically tell me all about it, even if you haven’t seen it in years. Stories are like nutrition for our souls. We remember them and love them. They have deeper meaning for us. On YouTube, there’s a wonderful video clip of a group of marines belting out the lyrics to the theme song from Disney’s Frozen. Who would have thought combat soldiers could relate to a Disney princess?

Why Leaders Need To Be Great Storytellers


And then there are company stories. Many of us have heard the story about a Nordstrom’s customer returning a snow tire, and the customer service rep handling that request happily, even though Nordstrom doesn’t sell snow tires. We hear the story and we don’t need to be told that Nordstrom’s values customer service. We know already, we have the story.

Why Leaders Need To Be Great Storytellers



What Do You Love In A Story?

Notice what makes stories memorable for you. For most people, the stories we remember have some sort of emotional impact on us. They have this impact because we can relate to the hero and the storyline in some way. The stories you tell about your organization need to be positively impactful too. Neural coupling enables us to connect to the story and personalize it. We connect to the storyteller via mirror neurons, we get deeply engaged and feel/hear/see and even smell/taste what’s happening in the story too. And dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter gets released when a story is emotionally engaging. And that’s just a start!

Here’s the storytelling recipe my client’s love when they are crafting company stories.

Step 1: Focus On Your “Story Customer” And Their Context

Who is the story for? Customers? Team members? Take a moment and think about the recipient of the story, what is their context? Notice the situations they are in, and make sure they can relate to your stories, tell stories where they can see themselves as the hero(ine) of the piece.

When you tell your story, choose the communication vehicle that fits their context. For example, one client’s target customer is parents of small children and they told their stories via Mommy blogs. Telling the same story on LinkedIn would probably not have been nearly as effective.

Step 2: Make It Authentic

Fabricated stories don’t usually have the same emotional impact as the real ones. You just can’t make some of those quirky details up, as Mark Twain said “Truth is stranger than fiction”. People like stories that have enough specific details to create a picture in their mind. Have a contest and ask your team to submit the stories of times when your organization’s values were demonstrated. Develop the stories that have the most emotional impact. Remember the brain and emotional engagement!

To make it really memorable it also helps if the story is told by a trusted member of the community. For example, stories told by customers about their own experience are going to feel more genuine and impactful than ones that you publish yourself.

Step 3: Give The Story Movement

Start your story with a problem or situation and then tell how that problem is resolved. Make sure the story goes from a problem (or less than fully desirable situation) to a more desirable outcome.

The more challenge in the story, the more interesting. The more distance between the starting point and the ending point, the more dramatic and compelling.

Step 4: Make It Value-Oriented

What value, insight, or service resolved the problem? For marketing stories, they might be about how your product or service helped in a unique or challenging situation. Ask yourself: what desirable outcome happened for the protagonist?

Make sure your story demonstrates your values. Other stories might be more funny, but you want to promote the ones that demonstrate your values, who you are, how you’ll show up for others.

Step 5: Test The Efficacy

Try it out. Does the story communicate positively? Specifically test your story on a representative group of recipients to make sure it has the intended meaning and impact.

The internet makes this pretty easy to do, but make sure you have tried out your story in a non-recordable way before you “go big.” 

The Net-Net = C.U.R.V.E.

Not every story will meet all of the below criteria, But I like to check my clients’ stories against the CURVE model to make sure they are creating a positive experience.

C for Curiosity, does the recipient want to know what happened?

U for Urgency, does the story create a sense of “must get this done now!”

R for Relevance, is the story relevant to the recipient’s situation or context?

V for Value, does the story reflect my values, is the story valuable to the recipient?

E for Emotion, does the story have an emotional impact? Is it funny, scary, surprising…?

Your Turn

People love to tell stories, they are potent engagement and teaching tools. Follow the above guide and make sure the stories being told about you and your organization are sending the right message!




The Connection Between Peace & Power

You’re the CEO of your own life, and maybe even of your own business, so you often have to deal with power. As we go through life and meet people, we learn about power—specifically who has it and who doesn’t.

Got Power?

You’ll always be dealing with people who have (or think they have) power over you to some extent, yet I want you to be able to have power too—to know where it starts and where it stops, and to exercise it responsibly and compassionately over others. But how do you get it? And what, exactly, is it? Is it money? It is position? Is it prestige? Is it the ability to influence? I learned most about power by seeking out, and hanging out, with powerful people.

As an Executive Coach I see many people fall into a familiar trap: they choose power/money/self-esteem-by-association because they don’t think they can create it on their own. They think they’ll get a “contact high” from being close to power instead of by wielding it themselves. Then they’re left powerless when the job/role/title changes, the relationship sours, the association withers, or the bank balance plunges.

Concept of powerBuild It Or Borrow It

What kind of power do you want in your life and over your life? Do you want power by association–with someone or some place? Or do you want to build your own power? We can’t soar in business and life until we untangle that relationship, claim our power, and start creating with it. Make the choice now to have your own power. Then no one can take it away.

When you give your power to your company or your title, you define yourself by the work you do rather than your innate self-worth. If the job goes b’bye, so does your self-worth. I’ve been there. It’s not pretty. So the question to ask yourself becomes: Are you borrowing power or building it? Here’s how to tell: if you feel challenged, if you feel like you’re growing, learning, and stretching each day, if you are acquiring new skills, trying to be the best you possible, if you are being honest and courageous about your blind spots and working on them, you’re building power. If you were to lose your job tomorrow, you know you’d find a new, better gig. You’re not wasting time kissing up and playing office politics, you’re investing time building your skill set, finding out who you are, making your life an amazing adventure.

And that is where the real power is.

I didn’t become truly successful in business until I made the decision to stop giving away my right to feel powerful – whether it be to a person, or a title, or even my company of the moment. Power meant that supreme self-confidence that I had seen in people like Bill Gates so many years ago. Power meant that I didn’t have to grovel any longer, because I brought enormous value to the table, in many different ways, all on my own.I’ve seen too many people borrow power, instead of creating it for themselves.

Your Power Play

Maybe we don’t know how to create it, don’t think we can create it, or we let ourselves get shut down by society or the people in our workplace or family. But this is the quest – to find our own power and then keep it and grow it. I did it through my career,spirituality, friendships and volunteer work; others do it through raising their families or their role in their communities. Either way, start where it feels easiest and then expand your personal power to the other realms of your life.

It took me decades to find peace and power in my life. Whenever I got wobbly I’d get in trouble because I’d start looking for power outside of me instead of within. You’ve got to look inside alone. That’s where you find yourself. And that kind of power no one can ever take away.

One In Five Workers Will Quit Their Job This Year — Here’s How To Keep Your Rock Stars

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

CareerBuilder recently released a survey saying that 21% of workers plan to change jobs this year. Wow—that’s the highest percentage since the recession, and a whopping 17% increase from last year.

Let’s find out why…

Why People Will Quit This Year

According to the CareerBuilder/Harris Interactive survey of 3,008 full-time workers, people will quit if they:

· are dissatisfied with their job: 58%

· are dissatisfied with advancement opportunities at current company: 45%

· are dissatisfied with their work/life balance: 39%

· feel underemployed: 39%

· are highly stressed: 39%

· have a poor opinion of their boss’s performance: 37%

· feel they were overlooked for a promotion: 36%

· have been with their company two years or less: 35% (versus only 13% of workers who’ve been with their company for five-plus years.)

· didn’t receive a pay increase in 2013: 28%

… And Why People Will Stay

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Eight in 10 workers (79%) have no intention of leaving their current job this year. Key contributors are fulfilling relationships with co-workers, work-life balance and benefits. Here’s the break down, per CareerBuilder:

1. “I like the people I work with.” – 54%

2. “I have a good work/life balance.” – 50%

3. “I have good benefits.” – 49%

4. “I make a good salary.” – 43%

5. “There still is a lot of uncertainty in the job market.” – 35%

6. “I have a quick commute.” – 35%

7. “I have a good boss who watches out for me.” – 32%

8. “I feel valued and my accomplishments are recognized.” – 29%

Five Ways To Keep Your Rock Stars

Here are tips from our clients with the strongest employee retention and morale:

  1. Make a difference. We all want to be part of something bigger, to stand for something worthy, to devote our precious time to more than the pursuit of the almighty buck. Make sure your mission, vision and values make people feel proud to be part of your tribe. If they don’t, click here to download our Leadership Kit and follow our quick tutorial to turn yours around.
  2. Be firm but fair. Every year all the top HR firms do a survey of what sort of leadership people really want—a nice boss or a tough boss. And every year the results are the same: people want a firm, and fair boss—someone who is tough and nice. This helps a worker know where they stand, how to succeed, what is expected of them with clarity and transparency.
  3. Give people power. There’s a fine line between autonomy and anarchy, and it’s called expectations. If we set clear performance expectations, and clear areas of ownership, people will make good decisions—and if they don’t they’ll figure this out fairly quickly. Before people make decisions ask them to consider: is this a win-win for both parties? Is it ethical? Does it honor our values? Then do it. Let people own their areas, and they’ll bring you great ideas and loyalty.
  4. Inject passion, play, release, communication in your culture. We all need to blow off steam at work, have contests and fun lively competition, love what we do and love who we do it with. When your team speaks openly with one another and leadership, when we embrace our humanity, when we know the team has our back and we’re in this together, retention and morale are high. How human is your culture? When mistake are made do you clear them up together or have a blame fest?
  5. Do strategic plans two times per year. People need to know what is going on, where we’re headed, why, when and what it’ll mean when we get there (and why we should care). Our most successful clients have us help them craft one day strategic plans every six months. We look 12 months out each time, and spend one-third of the time brainstorming/having visions, one-third sorting through options and making plans, one-third of the time on deliverables, timelines, who owns what. Then everyone can own their area (see #3 above) and feel powerful.

Choice in the workplace is greater now than ever before. This is good news: it means employers need to continually raise the bar to engage their employees, and it means we all need to forge a code of respect, honor, and commitment to one another. The theme is collaboration: the employer has value, the employee has value, and together we’re deciding—like any relationship—to invest in one another to create something great.

Make sure your culture is on track–take our 3 minute assessment here.

Christine Comaford (@comaford) is a neuroscience-based leadership and culture coach. Her current NY Times bestselling book is entitled SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together. Join her tribe and get free webinars, neuroscience resources, and more by clicking here.


How to Stop Workplace Bullies In Their Tracks

The VP of Finance constantly interrupts and actively prevents others from speaking in meetings. He scoffs when they share ideas/make suggestions.

A Managing Director at a financial services firm publicly trashes another Director’s new strategy, tearing it apart without having the domain expertise to truly understand what she is saying.

The lead software engineer makes snide remarks about the product development process during team meetings. He publicly denounces the marketing team too.

What do these three have in common? They’re bullies.

Bullies are scary, shocking, embarrassing and far too often tolerated in the workplace. Why? Because we don’t want to have to deal with them, we don’t want the attack, the conflict, the discomfort. So we either pretend they aren’t wreaking havoc or we grit our teeth and tolerate them.

It’s time to stop.

How We Let Bullies Thrive

“Paul,” the COO of  consumer packaged goods company manages the VP Finance bully I mentioned above. During coaching Paul realized how he tolerates, and even allows, this unacceptable behavior.

Here’s how Paul is enabling the bully:

  • He lets inappropriate conduct occur in meetings – when Paul could stop the bully from constantly interrupting and preventing others from speaking. Paul must clarify what appropriate meeting etiquette specifically is, and ensure it is honored.
  • He acts as a go-between when the bully refuses to interact with people he thinks are “stupid”– when Paul could make it clear to both parties that they need to work things out together.
  • He holds his anger in and compromises his integrity – when Paul could just deal with this issue directly, modeling leadership for his team and showing them a safe, respectful, collaborative work environment is required at the company.
  • He lets others vent to him about the bully — instead of creating an opportunity to let disgruntled parties communicate their grievances directly and interface with HR

We all avoid uncomfortable human relations issues sometimes… but what is the cost? Exorbitant–as we daily give our power away, compromise our integrity, and inadvertently teach our team that bullying is acceptable.

The Three-Step Bully Rehab Plan

There are three steps to stop bullying:

1. Identify how you are enabling it (see Paul’s situation above)

2. End the enabling system

The bully is generally playing the persecutor role, which creates the need for a rescuer to protect the victim. Then the train has left the proverbial station and we’re zooming ahead on a ride to a place we don’t want to go. See the left triangle:


The Surprising Truth About What Bullies Want

Next , quickly interrupt the pattern and step out of the system by using an Outcome Frame. Ask the bully:

  1. What would you like? (outcome they desire that they can create/maintain)
  2. What will having that do for you? (how they’ll feel/benefits they’ll get)
  3. How will you know when you have it? (proof/criteria that will be present)
  4. Where, when, with whom do you want this? (timing/who else/scope)
  5. What might of value you have to risk to get this? (is it ok for them to have this outcome?)
  6. What are the next steps?

In a previous blog I talked about how we all crave safety, belonging and mattering. Often one of these is exactly what the bully wants, he/she is just trying to get it in an ineffective and inappropriate way. Take a guess at what each bully below wants:

  • Person X puts others down, makes them feel small, condescends… because inside they don’t feel they _________
  • Person Y spreads fear, rumors, negative gossip… because inside they don’t feel _____
  • Person Z talks about inequality, unfairness, how others get special treatment because inside they feel they don’t __________

The answers are mattering, safety, belonging. Once you uncover what a bully wants you can start to give it to them, to begin reducing what Seth Godin calls the tantrum cycle. We can also then help shift the bully from tension to empowerment. More on this below.

3. Set up a new system with healthy boundaries and behaviors (rich with safety, belonging, mattering and shifting from tension to empowerment.)

Note that if the bully is above you on the org chart you’ll need a mentor equal or greater in stature to the bully to do the following.

Our clients love our conflict resolution process below (bullies or not):

  1. Set the stage – explain why you’re meeting and the outcome you want (to form a collaborative turnaround plan)
  2. State observable data/behavior – this is where you describe specific behaviors that must change and examples so the bully can “step into” the past scenarios
  3. Describe impact – the damage that these behaviors are doing to others/the company/the bully themselves
  4. Check problem acknowledgement – do they agree that there is a problem? Do they agree this problem now must end?
  5. Co-create a plan – set a time period (30-60 days) where you’ll meet weekly for 15-30 minutes to track their progress on releasing the challenging behaviors identified above. Make the plan very specific in terms of what you need to see and when you’ll know you got the outcome you wanted (see Outcome Frame above). If the turnaround doesn’t occur, state clearly what the consequences will be (lose job, etc).
  6. Check understanding – is everything clear? Anything else we need to cover? Reiterate desire for a positive resolution so the consequences can become irrelevant.
  7. Build small agreements – launch the plan and commit to ending the conflict once and for all. Be sure to track it frequently and make sure all concerned see the behavior change too.

I’m thrilled to report that the Managing Director and software engineer now play well with colleagues, and the VP Finance is in the turnaround process with positive momentum.

Try the above and let me know how it goes!

Christine Comaford (@comaford) is a neuroscience-based leadership and culture coach. She has built and sold 5 companies with 700% ROI using her potent brain-based techniques. Her current New York Times Bestseller is SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.

Be A Corporate Rock Star… And Get The Most From Your Entourage

corporate-rock-starLuke, the CEO of a thriving midwestern transportation company, was barely managing 63% growth per year. He couldn’t hire people fast enough, his team was on the verge of burnout, he had twelve direct reports, and he worked all the time. His greatest concern was that he’d have a heart attack or lose his marriage. He needed coaching to cultivate his core team, let go of some responsibilities and direct reports, and set healthy boundaries.

Steve, a director at a large global consulting firm, was sick of not getting the credit and compensation he deserved. He was 51 years old and it was time to get promoted, get more responsibility and solidify his strategic position. He needed coaching to increase influence, connect better with others, raise his profile, credibility and contribution.

Ann, an entrepreneur with a growing tech startup wanted to build a culture of high performance and engagement—while also propelling and streamlining sales and marketing. She needed coaching on how to powerfully enroll and engage others—both inside and outside of her company. On top of that it was time to delegate optimally and create consistency in results and ownership.

Step Up To The Mike

I’ve used many coaches over the decades and the results have been profound. Coaching has helped me to: build seven highly profitable companies, and sell 5 of them for an average 700% return on investment; get clear on what I do and don’t want and stick to my standards; create a deeply fulfilling life and remarkable relationships. And that’s just the short list.

The Two Key Reasons Executives Get Coached Are:

1. It’s Lonely At The Top

CEOs—and many executives in general–can’t discuss all of their greatest concerns and challenges with their team, their key executives or their Board members—they need to be perceived as a pillar of strength. A coach is a safe and confidential sounding board.

2. To Grow Your Leadership

Coaching helps executives to grow by:

  • Expanding their vision
  • Seeing into their blind spots
  • Releasing challenging behaviors
  • Managing their internal state—regardless of external situations

And they help their teams to grow by:

  • Sharing leadership and delegating better
  • Managing conflict optimally and completely
  • Building vibrant, accountable, committed teams
  • Mentoring and developing the next generation of leaders
  • Getting out of running the business and into more strategic matters

Stanford’s recent study on executive coaching found the above to be the top reasons for coaching too.

Crank Up Your Ampundefined

Curious about coaching? Make sure you do these three things:

1. Assess Your Current Leadership Effectiveness

Take 7 minutes to assess your leadership effectiveness here. Then you’ll have a high level idea of what to work on with your coach. Your coach will also likely do a 360 assessment to show you how others experience your leadership.

2. Pick the Right Type of Coach

There are four types of coaches. Pick the one that best serves your needs:

Life Coach – helps you figure out what you want in life and how to get it

Accountability Coach – helps you set and track goals

Business Coach – helps you build your business (because they’ve built many)

Executive Coach – does all the above (and has operational experience)

Coaching is a super personal and powerful experience. Pick a coach who can take you where you want to go, and will make the journey fascinating and fun.

3. Select Your Scope

Maximize the value you get at each coaching session by emailing your coach 24 hours beforehand with what you want to address. Key areas I like best are:

  • Challenges you are having (leadership or personal, if affecting your performance)
  • Areas in your leadership you would like to grow
  • People, communication, influence, team dynamics or social dynamic challenges
  • Personal experiences you would like to shift or change around a specific topic
  • Business strategy support you are seeking
  • Places you feel stuck or don’t understand why you are having the results you are having

During coaching certain themes (not holding your value/lack of healthy boundaries, disappointment/frustration with others and self, low confidence, unclear communication/not being present to others, low ability to influence others, creating more credibility internally and externally, ineffectively enrolling and aligning others, micro-managing/controlling, etc.) will come clear. Your coach will help you to release your limiting themes so you can have more energy to focus on the most exciting work of coaching—growth and transformation.

Here’s an additional assessment (this one takes only 3 minutes!) to assess if coaching would help you to help others. Click here.

See The Lighters Blaze

So what happened to Luke, Steve and Ann? We applied our neuroscience techniques (see SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together) via coaching with all three. Luke maintained his growth pace; further cultivated the leadership team to help balance his workload; streamlined his executive team’s focus, influence, and clarity; and ended the burnout. His team is happy and energized, and his marriage has never been better.

Steve raised his profile and increased his ability to influence and become more strategic to the firm. He’s now an SVP and in charge of some key initiatives. His compensation package has been significantly increased.

Ann’s sales and marketing teams are now firing on all cylinders. Her staff is lit up and owning their areas and results like never before—so Ann can focus on building the business.

What To Do Next:

Take our 7 minute leadership assessment now.

Take our 3 minute growth assessment to take the pulse of your culture.

Christine Comaford (@comaford) is a 5x CEO with 700% ROI on her company exits. Today she uses the top neuroscience-based techniques to help leaders get remarkable results. Her current New York Times Bestseller is SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.