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6 Brain-Based Leadership Game-Changers For 2018 [Infographics]

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

 

The business environment has changed significantly in recent years, making it even clearer that relentless change is now the norm. Emotional agility is key to stay brilliant, no matter how turbulent the times and no matter what external changes you face.

Are you ready? Is your organization?

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3 Things To Start

Make New Meaning: What we call thinking is actually a series of pictures, sounds, and feelings that go by at light speed in our brains. The process by which this happens is illustrated and summarized in the diagram below. Information from the external environment is stored as Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, and Gustatory (VAKOG) data in our brains. Our prefrontal cortex assigns meaning to the information, primarily by generating beliefs. If the feeling assigned to the information (person, place, thing, or activity) is bad, then the meaning we make of that information will be “it is bad.” Similarly, if the feeling assigned to the information feels good, then the meaning we make of the information will be ‘it is good.”

Human beings will reach only for the best available feeling on their menu. If we want to change behavior, we must add new or better feelings to the menu, not remove bad ones. It’s time for us to feel more powerful, not in having power over others, but in having power over our own experience and emotional state.

Give More Feedback: Giving proper feedback is necessary. The more we practice and encourage useful behaviors, the more automated they become. With frequent and proper feedback, you can train your team and organization to auto-course correct. Our clients love the two processes below, as they help everyone get to a shared positive understanding for growth/resolution.

  1. Feedback Frame
    • What’s working is ____________
    • What I’d like to see more of is ________
    • Equal amounts of each
    • Use up, down, across the org chart
  1. Four Conversations
    • Are you OK?
    • Is there too much on your plate?
    • Is this role not the right fit for you?
    • Do you really want to work here?

To see a more detailed Feedback Frame outlined, please visit my previous blog Fix or Fire? Who To Cultivate, Turn Around, Let Go Of At Work.

Use Neurostorytelling: All leaders need to be great storytellers. Stories are potent engagement and teaching tools. They help us navigate change by experiencing it vicariously through the characters in the story. They help us to create new beliefs and expand our identity to see ourselves as bigger, more capable, and more powerful than we had previously. 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. The stories you tell about your organization need to be positively impactful in this way too. The storytelling recipe my client’s love can be found in my previous blog Why Leaders Need To Be Great Storytellers.

2 Things To Stop

Resist What Is: Resisting your experience is like having your fingers stuck in a Chinese finger trap. The initial reaction of the victim is to resist and pull their fingers outward, but this only tightens the trap. Resistance merely stabilizes your present state. Whatever we focus on, we fuel. When we resist the emotion, we make it stronger and actually give consent.  Once we embrace resistance, we are ready to transform resistance. To help identify what’s being resisted, check out my previous blog Resistance Is Necessary For Optimal Organizations.

Pretending Humans Aren’t Biased:  All human beings are biased. It’s a natural state of the brain that evolved from the days when we needed to be able to calculate very quickly if something was like us and thus friendly, or unlike us and possibly dangerous. In fact, the brain has far more (three to four times as much!) real estate devoted to identifying threats, than to identifying opportunities and rewards. There are over 150 different types of biases and all have their roots in the structure of the brain.

Understanding and checking our biases leads to better decisions and more accurate cognition (thinking). When we understand, we make better decisions.

To truly promote diversity and inclusion, it is absolutely critical to train your team in effective communication skills. Techniques like rapport, inquiry mode, and feedback allow people to get to know each other as individuals, not as ethnic, race or gender groups. And that, my friends, is the secret to having diverse teams with lots of inclusion and to busting bias.

As mentioned in a previous blog, How To Work With Unconscious Bias In Your Organization, awareness alone doesn’t work, but structures which prevent biases and the creation of skilled communication patterns and habits does.

1 Thing To Continue

Make Engagement A Priority: The best way to boost revenue, profits, fulfillment, fun and performance in general is to create an emotionally engaged culture. Working together is like polishing rocks. Team members won’t always agree or get along, but in high-performing teams, they bounce back to the Smart State higher, harder, and faster than their competitors do.

To become resilient and shift to our Smart State, we must have safety, belonging, mattering. How do you know who needs what when? We start by using the SBM Decoder.

When we give people what they crave, their critter brain calms down and we can guide them into their Smart State. This is where true rapport, connection, alignment, enrollment, and engagement live. High performance, collaboration, and sustainability are the results! Remember, Safety + Belonging + Mattering = Trust.

Here’s to an amazing 2018, where each of your team members is connected to the heart of the organization!

 
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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
 
 
 
 
 

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Experiencing Growth? How To Swim Before Your Organization Is Sunk

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Are you in the midst of a mergers and acquisitions adventure? Growth can be threatening, but it doesn’t have to be.

My client had already acquired three competitors, tripled their headcount, and quintupled their revenue in only a 4-year period. Revenue had surged from $50 million to $250 million as they moved rapidly through 2 key inflection points. Though mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are an exciting and powerful path to rapid growth—they often bring tremendous stress, leading to Critter State behavior.

Assess: What We Found

The amount of change due to the acquisitions, had hurt employee retention due to four competing cultures. One culture was very conservative (ties every day in every role), one culture was very laid back (jeans, flip flops, t-shirts), and one culture was middle of the road, like the parent company was.

Since the cultures hadn’t been integrated into a singular cohesive one, silos had formed, slowing effective information flow and decision making. And trust was low as a result. Now that the basic integration was done, it was essential to ask “Who are we going to be together? What is our tribal identity?” It was time to create trust and tribe.

And when fears collide with a belief that the system is failing, or that one doesn’t and never will belong, trouble results. As distrust and fear increase, the negative impact on employee morale, engagement and performance accelerate. The end results are disengaged employees, frustrated management, and lower profits. And the problem comes from four key emotional experiences:

  1. A sense of injustice – the experience of unfairness tamps down the insula, the part of the brain responsible for emotional hurt and intuition. If a person is experiencing unfairness they will spend more time in critter state, which adversely affects performance, decision making, collaboration, overall peace and happiness.
  2. Lack of hope – the experience of hopelessness is even more painful than unfairness, and its below Critter State on the emotional range. In neurolinguistics, the states of hopeless, helpless, worthless, and grief/terror are considered Baseline States. It doesn’t get worse than this.
  3. Lack of confidence – depending on the person and degree of lack of confidence we’ll likely see procrastination, reluctance to take risks, playing “small”, and yes, more Critter State.
  4. Desire for change – this is encouraging as there’s some energy here. Desire for change means we can envision a possible future where things are better. This lights up the Ventral Striatum where we anticipate reward. If we can increase this experience, we can get into Smart State.

Act: What We Did

In this case, we had to release resistance, make new meaning and establish a new identity, and enroll and engage.

First, we did an SBM Index to gauge how everyone felt, and determine what they needed most. We found that people really wanted belonging (no surprise), and we did culture coaching for a year to create the cultural rituals to help people come together.

 

The new blend of leadership team then took a roadshow to all sites to make everyone feel everyone is in it together, and to make clear that no single site is better than others. The main communication: “You are safe here, we are all in this together, and everybody matters.”

We also had to acknowledge the grieving. After all, some well-loved employees had lost their jobs, and you can’t have two HR departments and two finance divisions. And some product lines and service offerings were cut as well, since they weren’t profitable or relevant to the new entity. So we designed parting rituals to minimize the grieving, and acknowledge and appreciate the parting people’s contributions.

Together we forged a new vision and set of company values (and of course dress code: business casual). And we made sure to set up cross-functional teams (that were of course diverse) for all new initiatives; cultural, sales, marketing, or operational. In a word, we created more collaboration, communication, transparency and mutual respect. Everyone owned that rebuilding trust is a shared responsibility. They were in it together.

Mission – Why are we here as an organization? Why do we exist? What are we going to make happen because we exist? The mission is a long-term proposition that is lasting— that doesn’t change.

Vision – A vision is a picture of what you want, as far out on the horizon as you can see, as an organization or as an individual. This can be three to five years, or even longer.  What’s the clear future you see for the organization? What do you want your world to be like / to have achieved in the future?

Values – Values are what you honor and believe in, which will govern how you will behave as you are fulfilling your mission and creating your vision.  Values determine standards of behavior, the code of conduct that you will not compromise.

Building sustainable trust was key. This means taking employee engagement and empowerment to a new level, and ensuring leadership is engaged and empowered too. Engagement and motivation happen when people solve their own problems, and create their own aspirations and expectations. That’s why boosting communication via the Outcome Frame tool and the Feedback Frame is so powerful. Additionally, it was essential to:

  • Use inquiry over advocacy—ask questions vs. giving orders, and use the Outcome Frame for deep insight and clarity creation.
  • Hold team strategy and problem solving meetings at every level–meet to do the work not to talk about the work
  • Have team members create their own goals and action plans.
  • When we added empowerment to engagement, we witnessed even more profound results. The leaders that they could heal and prevent significant distrust by first understanding what a person is experiencing, and then intentionally helping them shift into engagement and empowerment.

When we give people what they crave (more safety, belonging, and mattering) their Critter Brain calms down and we can guide them into their Smart State.

ROI: How the Organization Benefitted

Within the first year of working together:

  • The organization shifted from 85% retention to 90%.
  • Our client successfully navigated the “people” work that had been missed, because of zooming through 2 inflection points.
  • Our client’s growth surged from $250 million to $400 million.

The best part is when you walk through the organization you see leaderboards tracking results, feel the enthusiasm and connection among this ever-expanding tribe, and hear people saying encouraging upbeat messages as they collaborate, joke with one another, and pat each other on the back.

Are you in the midst of a mergers and acquisition adventure? We would love to hear about it!

 
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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
 
 
 
 
 

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Ensure A Great New Year With This Single Key Tool

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Endings set up beginnings.

Do you send out a recap email at year’s end?

Do you show everyone a vision of what you’ll achieve together in the coming year?

This is why it’s essential to recap the key accomplishments of the year, to celebrate them with your team, to acknowledge and appreciate everyone’s contributions, and to then pause to look ahead.

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We find it’s optimal to send an email with content such as the below at the very end of the year or within the first few days of the new year. This gives all an experience of closure on the past year, plus generates the good feelings that emotionally engage us (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin). Next we continue these good feelings by painting a picture of the year to come, what’s exciting about it, what to look forward to.

————–

December 31, [year just ending]

To:       Our Remarkable Associates [or whatever you call your employees]
Re:       [year just ending] Accomplishments and Highlights, [new year] What’s Ahead

Happy New Year [organization name] Team!

Thanks for making [year just ending] an awesome year. Each of you contributed in a significant way and together we created solid and meaningful results for our clients, our associates and our organization overall. We made a difference together. We’re so glad you’re part of our tribe!

[note the above paragraph is rich in safety, belonging, mattering]

Here’s what we accomplished together in [year just ending]:

  • [List specific accomplishments here, per department (Finance, Sales, Marketing, Product Development, Talent/HR, Technology, Operations, etc) or overall area like People, Money/Sales/Business Development, and Business Mode/Product Launches—likely your Needle Movers will contribute here…
  • Examples:
  • Improvements in operational effectiveness, streamlining/optimizing process and standard operating procedures
  • Financial results such as increase in: gross revenue, net income, revenue per existing clients, revenue per new clients, revenue per transaction, gross income
  • # of new clients, new logos, new strategic alliances, new distribution partners
  • Product launches, or product traction in market place
  • New industries or verticals you are now serving
  • Promotions, new hires, awards given, growth/appreciation/measurement/engagement results and other people news
  • New internal programs (for learning/people development, etc)
  • Marketing results such as increase in profile/credibility, social media followers/engagement, media coverage, web site updates, awards received, campaigns and results
  • Special events and results from them
  • New initiatives and results from them
  • Equipment and capital investments, resources added to make work easier
  • Site-or location-specific accomplishments]

In [new year] we’ll:

  • [See above categories to sketch out what you plan to achieve. Your Needle Movers will provide plenty of input here].

Your individual achievements enabled our collective achievements in [year ending] and will ensure we achieve our goals for [new year]. Thanks for all you are, for all you do, for your commitment to your own growth and that of all of us at [organization name]. Together we are making a profound positive difference not only in the world of work, but also in the lives of each client we connect with.

Here’s to [new year’s theme] our theme for [new year]!

[CEO sign off]

————–

Try this format, and improve it too! Let me know how it goes!
 
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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
 
 
 
 
 

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Great Leaders Have An Attitude Of Gratitude — Do You?

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

The combination of leadership and gratitude is extremely powerful. Gratitude helps you feel better and see the good things in life. When combined with a gratitude practice, you will also be able to anchor that positive feeling into your brain and body, thus being able to call on that positive emotional reserve whenever you need to.

The power of gratitude gives leaders the edge they need to quickly pivot during stressful situations, such as their team not performing or their bottom line dropping. When leaders pause for 60 seconds and use the Gratitude Practice outlined below, they give their brains and their bodies a chance to recalibrate. This allows them to focus not only on the present and how they can turn things around, but on hidden opportunities to be grateful.

While we tend to only think about gratitude during the holiday season or when a monumental event occurs, gratitude doesn’t need to be limited to those two scenarios. We can be storing up a large reserve of positive energy, generated through gratitude, all year long. Leaders can use this energy to ground themselves when life gets stressful.

There are several ways that you can incorporate gratitude into your daily routine, such as journaling and mindfulness practices. My executive coaching clients have found the Gratitude Practice to be the most beneficial.

Gratitude Practice

Close your eyes. Focus on a blessing in your life… something you are thankful for. See an image of this blessing in your mind’s eye. Offer a silent “thank you” to the person or object of your blessing.

Relax into the feeling of gratitude. Take a deep breath. Feel more gratitude.

The latest brain research shows that six doses of feeling 30 seconds of gratitude daily (a whopping three minutes!) will enable your neurons to fire together and wire together around gratitude within a mere two weeks.

This means you’ll more easily and frequently access the feeling of gratitude.

Heck, we’re grateful for that!

Doing Good Feels Good

When leaders engage in this practice on a regular basis, they are able to generate gratitude from within, which allows them to show gratitude to others. This practice also reinforces a feeling of gratitude as second nature because it reinforces myelination. All of these amazing results occur in under 60-seconds. We all have 60-seconds per day to devote to gratitude.

What are you grateful for today?
 
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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
 
 
 
 
 

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Why You Aren’t Getting The Respect You Deserve

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

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?
 
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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
 
 
 
 
 

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

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

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?

 

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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
 
 
 
 
 

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The Secret To Controlling Your Emotions — Before They Control You

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

We’ve all felt how draining fear-based emotions can be. Nothing saps our team’s life force more than panic, overreaction, and upset that is unfounded.

Emotions Have Energy

Thanks to David Hawkins, MD, PhD, we have proof that emotions have measurable energy and can either foster or negate actual cell life. Dr. Hawkins’s groundbreaking work, as explained in his book Power vs. Force, shows how a person’s log level, the measurable energy level in his or her magnetic field, increases as that person experiences more positive emotions. Hawkins’s most interesting finding was that cells actually died when the log level was below 200, where the emotions of scorn, hate, anxiety, shame, regret, despair, blame, and humiliation reside. This evidence provides us with further reason for us to regulate and manage our emotional state, not just for our overall well-being (and that of those around us) but also for our physical health.

Identify The Emotion

To consent to our emotions, we first need to know what they are. But only a select few of us can accurately identify our emotions as they occur. According to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0:

“Our research shows that only 36 percent of people can do this, which is problematic because unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices and counterproductive actions.”

Wow.

 We see it in our training sessions and executive coaching sessions all the time. This is why the Emotion Wheel is so helpful.

You can use the Emotion Wheel from the inside out to identify your primary emotions first, and then move outward. Or you can move from the outside in, if your specific emotion seems clear and you want to identify the primary emotion beneath it. Or you can simply pop around as you explore and identify how you feel.

Generally, we’ve found that people experiencing intense emotion will first identify with the main emotions in the inner “pie” slices, while those experiencing less intensity will often identify emotions on the very outer rim. Either way, when we can name how we feel, we become more present to our current situation. And we must be present before we can shift it. There are, of course, many emotions not on the wheel. Use this tool as a way to “prime the pump,” so you can then identify the emotion you are currently experiencing.

Make A Choice

Here’s a quick exercise to help you experience the energy of both resistance and consent, using the Emotion Wheel. Let’s assume you’re learning something new, and you’re a little bit confused. You now have a choice:

Confusion → resistance and/or rejection → frustration → anger → dismissal → reject learning

or:

Confusion → consent → curiosity → inquiry → open-mindedness and/or new perspective → embrace learning

Which path do you default to?

Which path would you like to default to?

Make sure to keep the Emotion Wheel handy and share it with your team!

 

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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
 
 
 
 
 

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Why Is Resistance A Necessity For Growth?

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

You may be familiar with the Chinese finger trap. It’s a toy that traps the victim’s fingers (often the index fingers) in both ends of a small cylinder woven from bamboo. The initial reaction of the victim is to pull their fingers outward, but this only tightens the trap.

Resisting our experience has the same effect. We resist things, situations and people we perceive as hurtful, painful, or threatening to our safety, belonging, or mattering. Without these three key emotional experiences, we can’t shift to our Smart State and we can’t navigate our constantly changing landscape to reach self-actualization. Also, we are wired to resist what we believe will create a worse feeling for us.

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Resistance Is The First Step Towards Change

The origin and etymology of resist (Late Middle English) is from the Latin resisterere- (expressing opposition) + sistere (to stand). Aha! So resistance really means to stand in opposition. What are you taking a stand against?

Let’s also take a look at the word reject, which is what we’re doing when we are resisting our Present State. The origin and etymology of reject (Late Middle English) is from the Latin verb rejacerere- (back) + jacere (to throw). Reject means to throw back or throw against. This stance isn’t just in opposition, it is opposing by attack. Yikes, this is even worse than resisting.

Resistance isn’t necessarily bad. It’s often simply the first step of navigating change. The goal is to move forward rather than get stuck resisting. Resistance shows that someone is engaged to a degree, which is much better than being disengaged. Don’t be surprised if resistance turns to mockery, as some people express their upset that way. As leaders, it’s essential to move your team through this stage by asking what they are resisting.

To help them identify what’s being resisted, ask them to contemplate what’s:

  • Annoying about the particular change or initiative
  • Dumb about the particular change or initiative
  • Unreasonable about the particular change or initiative

Then we address what we can, with the agreement that they’ll try the new initiative or plan. Ultimately they’ll find some aspect of it to be useful. Over time this process will become habitual and eventually a new standard is established. Voilà! Enjoy the afterglow, until the next change comes along.

Embrace Change And Gain Energy

The trouble with resistance is that it takes a tremendous amount of energy in the form of pushing back and rejecting. When we direct energy toward what we don’t want, it actually helps draw it toward us. For example, the more you try to pull your fingers out of the Chinese finger trap, the tighter it becomes.

You’ve likely heard the expression “what we resist persists.” Look at what you’ve resisted. Did they stick around in your life longer than you would’ve liked?

Resistance merely stabilizes your Present State. Whatever we focus on, we fuel. When we resist the emotion, we make it stronger.

Once we embrace resistance, we are ready to transform resistance.
 

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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
 
 
 
 
 

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Five Ways To Get Optimal Outcomes From Your Team

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

What makes a team optimal?

Alignment, communication, collaboration, energy management, leverage, trust, and what else?

Google did some comprehensive multi-year research on this topic. I’ll refer to it below and map it to my work during the past 30 years in the areas of safety, belonging and mattering.

I’ve found it all comes back to safety, belonging and mattering, no matter what structure you want to wrap around the idea of optimal teaming. Let’s look at what Google learned in its extensive research on the topic.

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Over the course of two years (ending in November 2015), Google conducted more tahn 200 interviews where it assessed more than 250 attributes of what makes an optimal team. The findings from the 180 teams studied were surprising.

While they had hoped to find a recipe for an optimal team (for instance, take one Ivy League MBA, one extrovert, one expert engineer), Google actually found that who was on the team mattered far less than how team members interacted, structured their work, experienced their contributions. The answer was in behavior and emotional resilience. The results echoed some of what Carnegie Mellon researchers found back in 2010 with their collective intelligence work.

They learned that five key dynamics resulted in optimal teams:

  1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?
  3. Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

Google found that psychological safety was by far the most important dynamic. Without this people don’t feel comfortable speaking up, asking questions, checking in. There’s too much risk of being labeled as “out of it” or “clueless.” All humans want to belong to a  group, and we’ll take tremendous risks (such as not speaking out even if we feel it’s very important) if we feel we may become an outcast, lose status in our tribe or be ostracized somehow.

Googlers now use a tool they call gTeams. It’s a 10-minute check-in on the five dynamics. A modified check-in is below, one that our clients find works very well. During the past year more than 3,000 Googlers across 300 teams have used gTeams and focused on the fie factors above. They often will kick off team meetings with each team member sharing a risk they took in the past week. The net is that they’ve seen psychological safety ratings increase by 6% and structure/clarity increase by 10%. But the best part is the increased connection in the team due to increased communication.

Rate Your Team Per Google’s Five Dynamics

Consider the five factors from Google:

  • Psychological Safety
  • Dependability
  • Structure & Clarity
  • Meaning of Work
  • Impact of Work

On a scale of 1-5 where 5 is excellent, rate your experience of each factor in your team. Now total up your score. Here’s our rating format. If your total score is:

Up to 10: High Risk. There’s a lot of work to do. Use the table below to map to safety, belonging, mattering. Get a neuroscience-based coach, and get to work healing your culture.

11-18: Risky. Your team is not performing nearly as well as it could. Let’s get everyone more connected and collaborative. Time for team training and coaching.

19-25: Solid. Congrats! You’re on a high-performing team. Time to raise the bar!

Below is a shortcut to help you figure out where to focus, how to get better, and a way to talk about this concept with your teammates in a structured way.

Let’s now map frameworks:

Easy, yes?

All other models simply help you implement programs to deliver these three core human needs.

See how this model helps your team!
 

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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
 
 
 
 
 

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Derailed By Distractions? How To Get And Stay Focused Now

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Where is your focus right now?

How present are you?

Do you have a little voice in your head listing all the things that you need to do today, tomorrow, and next week?

We’ve all experienced that nagging internal voice that keeps us from focusing on what is right in front of us. As leaders, this distraction can derail your day and your leadership effectiveness with your team.

Why To Be Here Now

To be present we have to know what we want to create in an interaction or meeting, and focus on what is actually happening right now so that we can course-correct if necessary. If we are repeatedly avoiding something or if we feel like a pattern keeps repeating, chances are there is an “intended positive outcome” to not be present. For example, if we repeatedly avoid confronting a direct report, it is probably because it feels better and safer not to.

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It feels better not only in that moment but also retroactively in all the other times that you avoided something and survived it. This is normal! Our brain is wired to keep us safe, and once it learns a specific way to do so, a survival pattern, it generalizes and continues to keep us safe in just that way. Unfortunately, this keeps us in our Critter State and not in our Smart State. Changing that pattern and learning to be present with discomfort and even conflict means that we have to understand the parts of us that want to run away. These parts are doing their job, they are keeping us safe. Instead of fighting them or making them wrong, we can accept them, learn to understand what they are telling us, and even honor them.

Surviving is a good thing, needless to say. But it’s super limited to just that. Basic surviving and not thriving. We’ve all experienced leaders that are just barely surviving. And they rarely can sustain periods of growth, deep employee engagement, and personal fulfillment. 

You Can Get There From Here

The goal is to retrain ourselves to have a choice. We could avoid things, but to lead effectively we have to have the choice and the preference to address most situations in the present.

One of the best ways to get and stay present is to focus on how you are increasing safety (and encouraging people to take risks), belonging (“We’re all in this together, we’re the same” experience), and mattering (“It matters that you, specifically, are here; I see your unique gifts”) in each interaction you have. With this focus, the discomfort won’t take you out of the game. The constant parade of bright shiny distractions will have less ability to pull your attention away. You will also avoid boredom (which pulls us away from being present) because you’ll be focusing on the fascinating person you’re interacting with. Everyone, I promise, is fascinating in some way. As I’ve said before: Safety + Belonging + Mattering = Trust.

What is the “cost” or risk of not being present to these things? When do you need to become present to them? What will the “reward” be if you become present?
 
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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
 
 
 
 
 

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