Knowledge Source



How do you get time for training in one of the fastest moving environments around? And, how do you gain people’s attention when your company is literally processing the world in real-time?

Simple: You build stronger relationships based on a common language that speeds communication, improves collaboration, and gets better business results. And that’s what’s happening @Twitter.


Twitter chose the SDI because it gives people a powerful common language. And it’s not just because “Blue” is only four characters. Although “a person who is deeply concerned about the welfare of others and wants to help them” does take up 83 characters. “Blue” saves space and time, but it also increases clarity and shared understanding.

The colors (shorthand for personality types in the SDI) make it easy for people to quickly recognize what’s driving others. The colors, and deep meaning behind them, also help to dispel the incorrect interpersonal judgements that get in the way in fast-moving environments.

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Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Strengthening Accountability

How would you like to be accountable to 4 million boys and girls? Just ask the staff at Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Every year, they are accountable to help these children grow, develop, thrive, and fulfill their potential.

But the staff is also accountable to each other – and to themselves. That’s where Core Strengths Accountability training comes in. The training grounds personal accountability where it belongs – with each person. It helps BGCA staff identify their core drives and strengths, understand each other better, and gives them a common language to clean up some of the inherent messiness of working together.
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What Seeds Are You Sowing?

You reap what you sow—this is true in agriculture and true in your career. Just ask Carter Cast, a clinical professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Cast conducted extensive research on the factors that affect career success and failure, and found that somewhere between 30 and 67 percent of leaders involuntarily derail at some point in their careers. For the record, "career derailment" is a nice way of describing when a person gets fired, demoted, or stalls out far short of expectations. If you’ve spent much time in a large organization, you know what I’m talking about. Someone appears to be on the fast-track to the top and then, in what seems like a blink of an eye, they’re reassigned to work on "special projects." Not long after, there’s an announcement that they’ve left the organization. And while the official reason for their departure has to do with spending more time with family or pursuing other opportunities, everybody knows something bad happened. In moments like these, avoid the temptation to pound your chest and make Darwinian references about the survival of the fittest. Not only would this be a crass example of your lack of empathy,...

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Go Fly a Kite!

Solutions to Complex Problems can come from Surprising Places   Charles Ellet, Jr. had a big problem. To be exact, the problem was 800-feet (244 meters) wide. Ellet had been commissioned to build the first suspension bridge to span the Niagara River near Niagara Falls. When completed, the bridge would cross the narrowest point between Ontario and New York, above the treacherous Whirlpool Rapids. But to get started, he needed to find a way to get a line across the gorge. It was the problem faced by everyone who built suspension bridges during in the late 1840’s, but for Ellet and his team, the river below was too dangerous to cross and going up or downstream to cross was not an option.   Big Opportunity Big problems are often encountered in the pursuit of big opportunities. Ellet was making a name for himself in the bridge building business. He had already won contracts to build other suspension bridges and wide acclaim for his proposed design to bridge the mighty Mississippi River near St. Louis. Unfortunately, that bridge was simply unaffordable for the city at the time, so the ambitious project was shelved. Actually building the bridge that would allow safe...

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Why Self-Awareness Matters


  The evidence is overwhelming: successful people are self-aware. While there are contemporary figures among us who we may consider exceptions to this general rule, we can look to one of our country’s most revered presidents and greatest leaders, Abraham Lincoln, for proof. During the series of famous debates between Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas as they competed for a US Senate seat from Illinois, Douglas once accused Lincoln of being two-faced. Lincoln, referencing his homeliness, responded, “Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?” Of course, the line got a big laugh from the crowd, but also serves to reflect the power of self-awareness and, in this case, not taking oneself too seriously. If you’re not convinced by this one historical anecdote, how about some hard data? In a study conducted by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University, 72 senior executives from large private and public companies were interviewed and it was found that a “high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success.” It’s hard to argue with success. Most of us would readily agree that self-awareness is good. In fact, the more the better. But have you ever considered why self-awareness matters?...

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When Values are Violated


  PR crises happen… a lot. Just ask Pepsi, United Airlines, Uber, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Facebook, and Equifax—companies that have all faced the consequences of unintentional missteps or willful indiscretion in the past few years. When a corporate scandal breaks, the response can be pretty boilerplate: issue an apologetic press release, make the appropriate internal changes, and schedule a CNN appearance. From there, companies often wait and weather the viral firestorm. But those companies that rebound successfully—better and stronger than before [think: Domino’s]—are marked by leaders who sincerely accept responsibility for their actions and re-prioritize their organization’s values. Because that’s where the trouble started, isn’t it? Somewhere along the way, the company violated its values—what it stood for and operated by. Customers weren’t respected; regulations weren’t obeyed; information wasn’t safeguarded. And things quickly got out of control. Values Matter Similarly, we run into trouble when our personal values are violated. When someone or something clashes with what you consider to be important, it triggers a response known as “conflict.” In conflict, we get defensive … aaand, as you might know, it quickly becomes difficult to productively engage others and make good decisions. Like those companies facing controversy, how you respond...

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McCain’s Message and Legacy

John McCain

  Like many Americans, I found myself reflecting on the legacy of Senator John McCain as I watched the televised celebrations of his remarkable life. Hailed as a lion of the Senate, war hero, two-time presidential candidate, and family man, Senator McCain was a larger-than-life figure. While all of these accolades are well-deserved, John McCain was also quite human. I know this because I witnessed him doing something extremely human: traveling. My one and only encounter with the senator was in the Phoenix Airport. Like me, he was waiting to board a flight. He stood in line with no entourage or security detail, held his briefcase, and waited for the gate agents to announce that boarding could commence. During those moments when we all stood there together, the senator did nothing extraordinary. Sure, he was greeted by several of his constituents, shook more than a few hands, and made small talk, but it was all very normal under the circumstances. He followed process, did what all of us had to do, and waited patiently to board his flight. Senator McCain was also like many of us in that he had to get things done in his organization. Of course, his...

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This Magic Moment

Magic Moments

  If you ask my friend, a young university professor, why he is so committed to hands-on, activity-based classroom experiences for his undergraduate students, he will tell you a story. As the story goes, his extended family had gathered at his parents’ home to celebrate a special occasion. The adults were deeply immersed in conversation—and distracted from his one-year old niece, who was playing with blocks in the corner of the room. Someone eventually noticed her struggling to get to her feet, followed by her first waddling steps that brought her across the room to where the adults were sitting. Of course, her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were all thrilled to bear witness to this major life event. And despite the ruckus they were making, my friend focused on the little girl’s face. He recalled the light in her eyes, the joyous smile that spread from ear to ear, and how she had thrown her hands in the air to celebrate her achievement. She had done something for the first time—and it would change her life forever. My friend concluded by saying, “Those are the magic moments I want to help create for my students.” His story made me...

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Which Handyman Would You Hire?

Use the Right Tools

  If you’re like me, you probably need to hire a handyman from time to time. In my case, it’s because I have no home repair skills. With tools in my hands, I often do more harm than good, so I readily relinquish all tool-wielding responsibilities to a professional. The question then becomes, How do I hire the right person for the job? One popular source is Craigslist. As we all know, it’s a place where just about anybody can advertise the services they offer or something to sell. In my search for a competent handyman, I ran across these two ads for people in my area. Now I have to decide which one will deliver the results I want. Advertisement #1 Handyman for Hire. I have three tools—a hammer, a Phillips-head screwdriver, and needle-nose pliers—that I use on every job. In fact, these are the only tools I ever use and sometimes they work. Overall, I get mixed results; however, I’m very comfortable with my three tools, so I operate on auto-pilot most of the time. Call me at 555-1212. Advertisement #2 Handyman for Hire. I have a wide variety of tools available to me. I mindfully choose the...

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Working with a Prickly Genius

Prickly Genius

The artist, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, was a genius of unparalleled proportion and the epitome of a Renaissance man. Of course, we know him best by his famous first name, Michelangelo, and nearly 500 years after his death, thousands of people line up daily in Rome and Florence to view his awe-inspiring works. As his art uplifts us, we’re not inclined to give much thought to what it was like to actually interact with the artist; however, most accounts suggest that he was an extremely difficult person, a prickly genius. The renowned painter, sculptor, architect, and poet was a solitary and sullen man with odd personal habits. He is said to have slept in his clothes and boots, often appeared disheveled, and practiced poor personal hygiene. In fact, his personal style was so rough and his domestic habits so squalid that few pupils could stand being around him for any length of time. Michelangelo was also extremely hard on himself, others, and his work—quite literally at times. One well-known anecdote relates how when finishing Moses (San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome), he violently struck the knee of the statue with a hammer and shouted, “Why don’t you speak to me?”...

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The H-O-W of R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respectful Relationships

The great soul singer Aretha Franklin taught us about R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the most powerful and memorable of ways--through music. I don’t know about you, but there are days when I just can’t get that tune and those lyrics out of my head. If you’re a movie buff, you might also recall the classic diner scene from the 1980 hit, The Blues Brothers, where Aretha’s character makes it clear to Jake and Elwood what matters most. Now, research has caught up with the arts. Christine Porath, a professor of management at Georgetown University, and colleagues surveyed nearly 20,000 workers from a wide range of industries and found that the number one thing employees want from their leaders is respect. They also discovered that employees who get respect from their leaders report significantly higher levels of health and well-being, focus and engagement, and meaning and significance. Perhaps most importantly, in an economy where the competition for talent is heating up, employees who feel respected at work are twice as likely to stay at their current organization. Unfortunately, Professor Porath’s research found that over half (54%) of those surveyed felt disrespected by their leaders at work. Not surprisingly, those disrespected workers were less...

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What’s the ROI on a Good Conversation?

authentic connections

5 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your One-on-Ones Return on investment (ROI) is a performance measure that quantifies the efficiency of an investment and determines the best use of limited resources. It drives many, if not most, business decisions because of its utility and conceptual simplicity. For example, if you spend $10 on ingredients for lemonade and generate $100 in revenue from selling cold drinks on a hot summer day,  you will create a 900 percent return on your investment. That makes the lemonade business seem pretty appealing! Of course, some ROI calculations aren’t so easy. Deciding whether to invest in real estate or to buy a new piece of equipment for your business requires a lot more thought. Do you take out student loans to go to grad school or stick it out at your present job? In these more complex examples, there are a number of variables that must to be considered. Let’s leave those questions for another time, but here’s a ROI question that should grab your attention. Have you ever tried to calculate the ROI on a good conversation? Maybe not, but it’s worth the effort. Andy Grove, the legendary former Chairman and CEO of...

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