Make Your Team Smarter Overnight: 5 Brain-Based Tools In Pictures [Infographics]

puzzle-piece-head-295x300What if you could become smarter overnight?

What if you could tap into more parts of your brain to increase innovation, creativity, emotional engagement, vision?

What if you could guide your team  to this state too? You can.

Here are my 5 favorite brain-based tools to make your team smarter overnight. Feel free to share these with your team and friends. You’ll find these and more tools in my book SmartTribes.

1. Use the 2 Types of Communication That Drive Results.

There are 5 types of communication, but only 2 that drive results. Wouldn’t it be cool to kick off the new year with more effective communication? More requests and promises are the key.

Microsoft Word - CC_PPT_diagrams_v4a.doc

2.       Shift From Tension to Empowerment.

True empowerment means choice to respond, not react. Where do you go when you get triggered? Victim, rescuer or persecutor? Use these charts to shift from where you don’t want to be to where you do!



3.       Navigate Revenue Inflection Points Intentionally.

Navigating to, and through, increasing levels of revenue is formulaic. Honest. Follow this chart and you’ll get what you want. If your company has multi-billion dollar revenue you’ll want to treat each individual division as a separate entity in navigating this chart.


4.       Use Outcome Frames.

Outcome frames are the fastest way to find out what you truly want, to resolve conflict, to get aligned. Ask these questions in this order:

  • What would you like? (Positive outcome you can create and maintain, reasonable size)
  • What will having that do for you? (Benefits and how you’ll feel)
  • How will you know when you have it? (Proof/criteria so you’ll know you got it)
  • Where/when/with whom do you want it? (It’s key to know venue/timing/target)
  • What of value might you risk losing by getting it (There has been a “benefit” of not having what you want—what is the pay off?)
  • What are your next steps? (Time to get into action)

To be guided through an extended outcome frame via video click here.

5.       Focus 70%+ Of Your Time On HVAs.

There will always be a parade of bright shiny objects trying to distract you. Keep those beasts at bay by tracking your high value activities (HVAs) and low value activities (LVAs). Resolve to get to 70%+ of HVAs in the next 60 days.


Our clients find these tools help their teams perform at much higher levels by helping them to get in and stay in their Smart State, where innovation, collaboration, clarity and emotional engagement reign.

I’ll be offering 10 Strategy Sessions to readers to kick off 2014. Request yours

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.

Guarantee Growth: Activate The Reward Center Of Your Team’s Brains [Infographic]

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

Let’s talk about pleasure. And let’s bring it to the workplace, forging a connection between good feelings and your company.

But first, let’s make your intellect happy… then we’ll get to your emotions.

It has taken me 30 years to figure out the formula to guarantee growth and ensure companies keep increasing revenue and profit. Consistent growth is surprisingly formulaic–once we understand the brain and how it handles change. Then we add a simple three-step formula to optimize pleasure, and execution abounds.

Step #1: Motivation = Inspire Insights

Most of us focus on extrinsic motivation, motivation outside of a person, the good old carrot/stick. But this won’t get you the growth you want. You need intrinsic motivation—motivation that the individual generates inside of herself —and the best way to do this is to cause insights. Insights give the brain the experience of reward, and forges powerful and positive pathways connecting pleasure and good feelings to your company–connecting pleasure and good feelings with performance.

One of my favorite coaching tools is called the Outcome Frame. It helps us find out what we really want and how we’ll know when we got it. It generates clarity and insights. The long form involves thirteen questions, here are the first 3 to get you started:

1.What would you like? (Positive outcome you can create and maintain, reasonable size)

2. What will having that do for you? (Benefits and how you’ll feel)

3. How will you know when you have it? (Proof/criteria so you’ll know you got it)

Click here and I’ll walk you through a full Outcome Frame in a 6 minute video.

Helping our people focus on the outcome they want to create, not the problems in the way, activates their reward (pleasure) network. More on this in a sec.

Step #2: Momentum = Foster Focus

To get and keep momentum we need to foster focus and keep the brain looking at what will move the needle, and generate the greatest results now. There will always be a constant stream of bright shiny objects to distract us.

Let’s look at where your focus is.

Think of an average month—where does your time go? To low value activities (LVAs) that you could ditch, delegate, defer? Or to high value activities (HVAs) that energize you, enable you to achieve the outcomes you want?

When clients first start coaching with me I often see a time allocation like this:

Low Value Activities High Value Activities
Micromanaging Strategic Planning
Doing Other People’s Work Product Development
Mediating Conflict Within Team Cultivating Leadership in Team
Filing Forging External Alliances
Expense Reports Serving Clients
Driving Revenue & Profit
Total Percentage Low: 45% Total Percentage High: 55%

List your LVAs and HVAs over an average month. The total of both columns together equals 100%. What are you focusing on? If you’re not at 70%+ on HVAs, get your executive coach to immediately help you change this.

Pleasure and Pain In Your Brain

Let’s look at what happens when we are having insights—or not–and when we are focused–or not. Your brain has two key networks: Pain and Pleasure. Naomi Eisenberger and Matt Lieberman of UCLA have done some terrific research here.

The Pain (social rejection) network is lit up at work when we feel we’re being treated unfairly, experiencing negative social comparison and/or social exclusion. The Pleasure (social reward) network is lit up at work when we experience having a good reputation, being treated fairly, cooperating with others. This makes us feel good, which is key to your company’s performance and your team’s overall happiness (yours too!).

We want your team members to forge connections between reward, or feeling good, with your company. The first two M’s (motivation and momentum) gave you tools to do this. Here’s one more.

Step 3: Make Them Matter = Create Celebration

To forge deep feelings of mattering we’ll light up the reward network so we actually start to experience reward by simply anticipating it.

When we give our employees something to aspire to we help them activate their reward network and increase focus and have insights. Every year a number of HR consulting firms survey what truly motivates people: money, travel, appreciation, etc. And every year appreciation wins—usually at 73% of the respondents too. People want to be appreciated, and it needs to be in public.

It’s super easy to create these programs—here are the keys:

High Fives/Shout Outs/Weekly Wins: This is a way for employees to appreciate each other. Train your team to appreciate others that:

  • help out when not expected/required
  • are excellent models of the company’s values
  • work extra hard to pull off a miracle.

A Shout Out/High Five can be given on your intranet (a Sharepoint site, etc) or even aGoogle spreadsheet or via good old email. The key is to celebrate them weekly. I also like to acknowledge the person being celebrated + the person that gave the shout out. Rewarding both parties lights up 2 reward networks instead of one and makes others want to be generous and appreciate their co-workers so they get celebrated too.

Rock Star is like Employee of the Month except it is nominated by co-workers. This helps us avoid the cynicism and perceived unfairness when management makes the selection.

So to guarantee growth, keep your team focused on reward:

  • Inspire Insights -> Outcome Frame Tool
  • Foster Focus -> Low/High Value Activities Tool
  • Create Celebrations -> Rock Star, High Fives

Is your culture ready to guarantee growth? Take our 3 minute growth assessment to find out.