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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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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Harnessing the Power of the Framing Effect

Harnessing the Power of the Framing Effect

The Difference Between Overdone Strengths and Weaknesses If given the choice between two potentially life-saving medications, would you choose the one that saved 200 lives or the alternative that led to two out of three patients dying? Most people would choose the one that had already saved 200 people, but in reality, it’s the same drug! The information is simply presented differently: 600 patients were given the medication; 200 survived and 400 died. That’s the framing effect, a form of cognitive bias described extensively in the research literature. The framing effect doesn’t only apply to hypothetical choices made in university laboratories. It affects how you think and act, with advertisers constantly working to harness its power. In one of the original studies on the framing effect, researchers demonstrated that most people go with the more positive presentation of the facts. The glass half full is preferable to the glass half empty for most people. The framing effect influences the way people respond to coaching and feedback as well. If you are prone to point out a colleague’s weaknesses and they respond defensively or even aggressively, then even valid feedback may have little impact. You may need to reframe for better...

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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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