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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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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Developing Empathy in the Real World

3 Quick Questions to Make You More Empathetic "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?" —Henry David Thoreau On occasion, my wife has suggested that I, at times, lack empathy. While I often appreciate her constructive feedback, I had to draw the line with her diagnosis that I may have been born without the “empathy gene.” The offense I immediately felt must have been related to my vague recollection of research reporting that only a very small percentage of the population was truly devoid of empathy and that many of those rare few carried the label, psychopath. Although she quickly conceded that I likely didn’t fall into that category, her comment caused me to think about the importance of empathy in relationships—at home and at work—and what it takes to develop it. Unfortunately, when I started digging into the topic, I discovered that there is evidence to suggest that empathy is suffering a broad decline. A University of Michigan study reported that empathy had fallen rapidly among college students in a 30-year period between 1980 and 2010. The causes were unclear, but the lead author suggested in a New York...

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Why Have an Open Door if You Have a Closed Mind?

open door policy

3 Reasons to Embrace Differing Perspectives Many, if not most, organizations establish an open door policy to give employees the freedom to speak freely with managers and executives throughout the organization, without the need to follow the chain-of-command. It’s not uncommon to hear a division head or senior vice president proclaim to a group of new hires during their orientation, “Remember, my door is always open to you—don’t hesitate to share your ideas and concerns with me at any time.” While these invitations often come with good intentions that elicit a warm response from wide-eyed recruits, there are usually a few more seasoned folks in the room who cringe at the thought of walking into an executive’s office to state their disagreement with a policy decision or new strategy, or express concern over a process that isn’t working as well as it should. In some cases, this response is conditioned by previous experiences—those times when openly expressing doubt about a boss’ brilliant idea turned out to be the equivalent of charging headfirst into a brick wall. This is especially true when career-limiting effects linger much longer than the pain of the initial collision. In a workshop I regularly lead, I...

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Manage Me, Not My Generation


5 Ideas to Bring Out the Best in Each Person With as many as five generations now inhabiting the workplace, there is a lot of attention focused on the unique characteristics of each group. Scholars, management gurus, and seemingly every front-line supervisor in the company cafeteria has advice on navigating these generational differences. While clearly many of these differences are real (i.e., my son is more comfortable with technology than my parents), I’m not sure that the intense focus on managing the generations differently is really the best path forward. Recent research confirms my suspicions. In fact, the researchers found evidence to dispute several commonly held views about managing the generations. For example, the perception that younger generations long to pour themselves into projects that give them a sense of purpose in life was labeled a myth. Instead, they simply want assignments that challenge and excite them. Likewise, this research found that younger employees aren’t hyper-focused on work-life balance as much as they want opportunities to grow and advance in their careers, and to be given some autonomy in terms of how they complete tasks. Another myth busted is the idea that managers must master generational-specific management skills to be...

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Too Expensive to Ignore

costs of conflict

3 Costs of Conflict that Add Up Quickly My jaw dropped when I heard her response. Her colleagues asked in near-unison, “Are you sure?” The woman’s response was measured and firm. “Of course, I’m sure. I’m a CPA; I can do the math.” Silence blanketed the room as the magnitude set in. A series of interpersonal conflicts in the firm had apparently led to $11 million in costs and the departure of several highly valued employees. The news seemed to stun even those who were fully aware of the events that began several months ago. Events that played out in the form of complaints to Human Resources, bungled investigations, resignations, an expensive legal settlement, and the loss of seven key accounts representing millions in annual revenue for the firm. As the facilitator of the meeting, I saw that something powerful was happening and waited for the team members to engage. Finally, after a few more moments of silence, an executive who had previously stood and was now leaning against the conference room wall, said somberly, “Conflict is too expensive to ignore. I hope it’s not too late to do something.” This is a cautionary tale I’ve encountered dozens of times...

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3 Keys to Becoming a More Inspiring Leader

  Only slightly more than half (55 percent) of employees report that their leaders inspire them, according to Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study. Maybe this statistic does not surprise you or feel like a mandate for immediate action, but if you’re a leader or aspire to be one someday, it should be a loud wake-up call. Here’s why: According to the research, a leader’s ability to inspire employees is the strongest driver of employee engagement. That is, how invested and productive your people are largely depends on your ability to connect with and motivate them. Since this study suggests that only 40 percent of employees are highly engaged, we can all politely agree, with no fingers pointed,  that maybe there’s some room for improvement Surprisingly, though, I don’t encounter many leaders who are actively working on becoming more inspiring. This might be because of the way inspirational leaders have been portrayed in movies and how we quickly dismiss that type of behavior as being beyond our reach. After all, few can imagine themselves standing on the stage in front of a huge American flag delivering a fiery speech as George C. Scott did in the 1970 movie, Patton. Further, who...

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