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.
Boys and Girls Clubs of America
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.
Do people perform better on teams?
Whether it’s because the work is so complex that it requires the involvement of different people with unique skills and expertise, or a division of labor creates cost-saving efficiencies, most work in the 21st century is performed by teams. Of course, there are probably some exceptions to consider—artists or artisans creating one-of-a-kind pieces—but those examples are far from the norm. Since I spend a lot of time on airplanes and in airports, I am always amazed at how many people working with coordinated effort are required to get me from city to city safely. Sure, it’s easy to become critical when flights are delayed, cabins are crowded, or a bag is lost, but overall, they do a pretty good job. Synchronizing the work of pilots, flight attendants, gate agents, mechanics, baggage handlers, and everyone else in the process—with many of them constantly on the move—is no easy task. Yet, the success of the entire operation and the very lives of passengers hinge on these extremely different people working together as a team. Clearly, teams are necessary. But do teams make individual performers better? It’s certainly the message we hear during locker room interviews after every major sports championship—when coaches heap...Read More
Dr. Phil’s Famous Question
Unless you’ve been stranded on a deserted island for the last several years or sequestered in a mountain top monastery, you’ve probably heard of Dr. Phil McGraw. Oprah’s former protege has earned his own iconic status in daytime television with 25 Emmy nominations and millions of daily viewers. With a reported net worth approaching $300 million, he is now branching into the weight-loss industry and virtual, on-demand medical care. Dr. Phil is perhaps the world’s best-known psychologist since Freud. Of course, Dr. Phil is not without his detractors. Broadcasting a person’s problems on national television under the guise of helpful therapy, as well as pursuing more salacious topics for the sake of ratings, raises ethical questions for which most mental health professionals have clear answers. Nevertheless, Dr. Phil remains popular with the masses. Admittedly, I’m not a big Dr. Phil fan and I struggle with “pop” psychology in general. However, Dr. Phil’s trademark question, often offered after guests try to justify their approach to dealing with a particular situation, has tremendous value in many areas of life. Of course, the question Dr. Phil made famous is: “And how’s that working for you?” I have even found myself responding with Dr....Read More
Too Much of a Good Thing
“You can’t be too rich or too thin.” This has been the unspoken mantra of American pop culture for as long as I can remember. Advertisers and media reinforce the idea daily through marketing, social media, and celebrity news. Despite our efforts to think otherwise, it tends to shape our idea of what a good life looks like. Curious about the origin of this popular expression, I discovered that it was attributed to Wallis Simpson. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, you probably saw it in a history textbook at some point. As you may or may not recall, Wallis Simpson was the American socialite whose intended marriage to King Edward VII caused a constitutional crisis in the UK that led Edward to abdicate the throne. For a season, she was one of the most famous—or infamous—people in the world. Naive romantics might be tempted to label this episode in history the ultimate love-conquers-all story; however, Simpson’s legacy, at least according to most commentators, is one of blind ambition, manipulated truth, and a classic example of excess leading to a bad outcome. Wallis and Edward were shunned by many in the social circles she had wanted to be in. She...Read More
I don’t know whether it was my gray beard or my not-so-slim-anymore, middle-aged physique that caused the young mother of a rambunctious two-year-old to turn to me for fatherly advice in the park. In utter desperation, she confessed: “My son thinks his name is Time-Out because I shout it in his direction so often!” With a glazed look, she went on to ask, “Do you think I’m overdoing it?” Since I always considered my wife’s parenting skills far superior to mine and she wasn’t nearby for the handoff, the best I could offer was a mumbled response about a good parenting book I had heard about and vague encouragement that this too shall pass. For good measure, I added something about how she may even enjoy a few years of peace before adolescence wreaked havoc on her home once again. I could sense her frustration with my wholly unsatisfying answer, yet she managed to force a brief smile before darting down the path in hot pursuit of her little wrecking ball who had wiggled out of her grasp. My encounter with the young woman caused me to think about timeouts—both as a parenting tool and a self-coaching technique for adults...Read More
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,...Read More
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...Read More
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?...Read More
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...Read More
McCain’s Message and Legacy
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...Read More
This Magic Moment
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...Read More