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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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Effective Feedback Begins with Building Relationships

Effective Feedback Begins with Building Relationships

How to Give the Right Feedback By Understanding a Person’s Motives Exasperated, the sales manager related how nearly every member of her team seemed to resist—in some cases even resent—the feedback she offered when traveling with them in the field. “I’m always honest with them...tell ‘em what I see that’s wrong. I want them to get better results, so I’ve got to call it like I see it, right? At least, that’s what I would want, ” she explains. No doubt, a big part of this manager’s job was to give timely feedback that helps each member of the team improve their selling skills and sales results. But something wasn’t working. Some members of the team stared back blankly as the manager listed all of the things they failed to mention during their most recent client pitches. Others would become defensive, even combative, as they responded tit-for-tat to each point the manager made. The team’s overall performance was still sub-par and morale was low. To add insult to injury, the team’s top performer had recently given his two-week notice. He wanted to pursue “new opportunities.”  The sales manager needed to turn things around quickly or she would be looking for...

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Correcting Errors of Attribution

3 Ways to Address Bias in Workplace Interations

3 Ways to Address Bias in Workplace Interactions Starbucks conducted the largest single corporate training event in history on May 29, 2018. It’s the day that 8,000 company-owned stores closed for three hours so that 175,000 employees could receive mandatory training to discover unconscious bias, a form of diversity education that focuses on sources of everyday racial discrimination. This costly move was the result of a Philadelphia store manager who called police to arrest two African-American men who were waiting for a friend inside her store. Shortly thereafter, charges were dropped and Starbucks issued an apology to the men, as well as to their customers. The reaction is mixed as to whether Starbucks’ response is laudable, too little too late, or simply a massive legal maneuver to shield themselves from future litigation. I don’t want to engage in that debate here. Instead, I want to explore another form of bias that is just as common, destructive, and may not involve racial prejudice. It’s the kind of bias to which few are immune and it gets in the way of productive interactions with people. It’s your bias in favor of you. In social psychology, this well-studied phenomenon is called the fundamental...

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Trust is the Answer

Trust Is the Answer

4 Actions Managers Can Take to Build Trust A few of us still remember the 1970’s soft-rock classic, Love is the Answer. It was a pleasant melody by mustachioed crooners England Dan and John Ford Coley that has undoubtedly made many an elevator ride slightly more pleasant. While it’s hard to argue with the sentiment of the song, there is now strong evidence to suggest that trust is the answer if you’re concerned about your team’s performance. Drawing on decades of research, neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak describes in a recent HBR article and in a new book how high-trust organizations are less stressful places to work.  People working in these organizations have double the energy and are 50 percent more productive. They also take fewer sick days, are more engaged, and face substantially less risk of burnout. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a high-trust organization if you get all of those benefits—especially if you also get to enjoy the sense of wellbeing that comes from feeling valued by and connected to coworkers? How do you create trust on teams? Professor Zak and his colleagues spent 10 years running experiments to more fully understand how the brain chemical oxytocin...

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Are You Filtering Out Important Information?


How to Overcome Motivated Reasoning to Make Better Decisions There are few events that become indelibly etched into our memories. For some, it’s a first kiss, the day you got your driver’s license, or the moment your favorite team won the World Series. Unfortunately, these lasting memories often revolve around tragedies of epic proportion. Most of us can describe with great detail where we were and what we were doing when we first heard about the 9/11 attacks or saw the images of the Twin Towers crashing down. For those of us who are a little older, we might also be able to describe how we felt the day John Lennon was shot or our reaction to JFK’s assassination. For me, I vividly remember sitting  in my car on a dark, snowy night in Kaiserslautern, West Germany, listening to an Armed Forces Radio announcer excitedly describe the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. A mere 73 seconds into the flight, the announcer’s voice became somber as he reported what appeared to be a terrible explosion. I remember pulling to the side of the road, turning off the car, and thinking, “How could this happen?” After all, it was 1986 and...

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Turning Personality Theory into Relational Skills for College Students

Turning Personality Theory into Relational Skills for College Students

An Interview with Peter Gleason, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Walla Walla University Someone once asked Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw what, in his opinion, was the most beautiful thing in the world. “Youth,” he immediately replied, “is the most beautiful thing in this world—and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!” I always smiled at that clever response, and for much of my life, I tended to agree with it. However, I’m now wondering whether it has to be this way?   Is it possible to provide students with insights about themselves and others, and then equip them with relational skills that can help them avoid many of the mistakes young people often make? In this digital age where it seems more difficult to make real connections with people, how do  we teach people to be more authentic? Is it possible to set people up for relational success early in life and then have that translate into professional success? My friend, Dr. Peter Gleason, an associate professor of psychology at Walla Walla University in Washington, believes he has the answers to these questions. His optimism is based on his innovative work in the classroom...

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Value Your Employees or Face the Music

Value Your Employees

4 Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Show that You Care As we unpacked everyone’s SDI 2.0 results in a recent Core Strengths class, I could see the lights go on in one young woman’s eyes. She soon exclaimed to no one in particular, “Now, I understand why I feel so devalued after interacting with my manager!” This burst of insight led her to reveal that her manager was extremely directive, gave almost no feedback, and seemed to ignore or dismiss ideas from members of his team. According to her, his modus operandi was to bark orders, demand status updates on projects, and then retreat to his office where he sat behind a closed door. While most people wouldn’t be excited about this kind of behavior, it was particularly disheartening for her because she enjoyed team brainstorming sessions and was energized by collaborative problem solving.  Her manager’s my way or the highway approach was insulting and caused her to feel more disengaged with each encounter.  At one point, she summarized her current sentiment with, “I just want him to acknowledge my suggestions—even if he makes a different decision...and if he doesn’t start doing it soon, I’m out of there!” I could...

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How to Make Good Choices When Your Brain Makes It Difficult

How To Make Good Choices

A Simple Model that Overcomes the Amygdala Hijack I have four daughters, who are now all married and have families of their own. But there was a season when we had four teen girls living in our home. And as anyone who has raised or is raising teens knows, this can be a tough time for all involved. In some cases, a very tough time. One big milestone for us was when the girls started going out with their friends at night. Even more momentous—and in some cases, downright frightening—was when they started to date. Fortunately, my wife stepped up to the challenge and started a ritual that she carried on consistently until each of the girls left for college. In many ways, her routine probably had a bigger impact on me than on them. Powerful advice Before they would walk out the front door, my wife would meet them, look square into their eyes—sometimes putting her hands on each of their cheeks and pressing her face close to theirs—and say three of the most powerful words of advice that a person could ever hear. “Make good choices,” she said. And because she said it so consistently, the girls were...

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How to Create a Culture of Commitment

How to Create a Culture of Commitment

Three Practical Actions that Get People to Go All In If I asked you to name one person, living or dead, who personified commitment, who would it be? The responses I typically hear aren’t surprising: Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks all come up regularly and rightly so. They are great examples of people who were committed to a cause and reflected that commitment in their behavior. The name I offer tends to stop people in their tracks: Guinness. Yep, that Guinness, the guy who started the famous beer company in 1759. Arthur Guinness, to be precise. For those less familiar with the Guinness Brewing Company of today, here are a few facts: More than 10 million glasses of Guinness are consumed each day (2 billion pints per year). Guinness is sold in 150 countries and brewed in 49 countries. The brand is synonymous with Ireland. You might call it Ireland’s national drink. Company executives started the Guinness Book of World Records. And while today’s company is a household name worldwide, its origins are humble—it all started with a man of great commitment. There’s much more to Arthur Guinness than meets the eye. He was not an...

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Learning From Lincoln

Learning from Lincoln

How He Built Relationships to Succeed The rankings are in—Abraham Lincoln was once again voted America’s best president, according to C-SPAN’s 2017 Presidential Historians Survey. But this survey isn’t just any old popularity contest; a panel of nearly 100 presidential scholars and biographers ranked U.S. presidents in 10 categories of leadership, which the group collectively identified as defining success in our nation’s highest office. The ranking begs the question: among many great leaders—Washington, FDR, Kennedy—what makes Lincoln stand out? Personally, I think it’s his ability to build strong and productive relationships with others—even with some of his toughest critics—and get things done. This skill had a substantial impact on his success in office and the esteemed position he now holds in history. In fact, I believe Lincoln’s ability to authentically connect with people was the real secret to his success. In her New York Times bestseller, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin effectively makes this case. In the 700-plus pages of her thoroughly researched treatise, she persuasively argues that it was Lincoln’s capacity to recognize the motives of one-time rivals, see situations from their perspective, and harness this insight to engage...

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Micro-Affirmations Make a Macro-Difference

3 Keys to Giving Feedback That Makes an Impact For some, the word “affirmation” might bring back memories of the Saturday Night Live sketch, Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley. The bit always opened with Stuart gazing into a mirror and reciting “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” This was followed by a series of platitudes that poked fun at '90s pop psychology, such as “Labels disable” and “You need a check-up from the neck-up.” Surprisingly though, Stuart was onto something—not so much the silly catchphrases, but the everyday affirmations, according to research out of MIT. Recently, Mary Rowe, a professor at MIT Sloan’s Institute for Work and Employment Research, shared her research demonstrating how micro-affirmations can transform an organizational culture of negativity and inequity, to a positive, open, and inclusive workplace where people are more engaged and productive. These findings have since sparked the Random Acts of Kindness movement in schools and communities across America, culminating in RAK Week and an RAK Day on February 17th each year—an inspiring application of Rowe’s work. So what’s a micro-affirmation? A micro-affirmation is a small, and often simple, acknowledgement of a person’s contribution or value. These can...

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