What, ME Worry?!

Photo by Helena Cook on Unsplash

Check out John Parrott’s excellent post, The Ultimate Guide To Stress Management – an impressively comprehensive and well-sourced look at the topic at hand…like his many other posts at RelaxLikeABoss.com.

Look at all he covers:

1. What Is Stress?
2. What Are The Symptoms Of Stress?
2.1. Physical Effects Of Stress.
2.2. Emotional Effects Of Stress.
2.3. Social Effects Of Stress.
3. Why Do We Feel Stressed?
3.1. ​Leading Causes Of Stress.
​3.2. Other Causes Of Stress.
4. Benefits Of Stress.
​​​​4.1. Positive Stress.
4.2. Enhanced Memory.
4.3. Motivation.
4.4. Resilience.
4.5. Caring For Others.
5. The Dangers Of Stress.
5.1. Heart Problems.
5.2. Anxiety.
5.3. Digestion Problems.
5.4. Suppressed immunity.
5.5. Different Gene Expression.
6. How To Manage Stress.
6.1. Change Your Mindset.
6.2. Exercise.
6.3. Take Time To Relax.
6.4. Meditate.
7. Negative Ways To Manage Stress.
7.1. Ignoring The Problem.
7.2. Drinking & Smoking.
7.3. Avoiding Others.
7.4. Dwelling On The Negative.
7.5. Emotional Eating.
8. Tips For Managing Stress.
8.1. Get Some Sleep.​
8.2. Try Relaxation Techniques.
8.3. Keep A Stress Diary.
8.4. Learn How To Manage Your Time.
8.5. Say No To Unimportant Tasks.
8.6. Treat Yourself.
8.7. Listen To Soft Music Or ASMR Videos.
9. Stress Management FAQs.
9.1. How Do I Cope With Stress?​
9.2. How Can I Make Stress My Friend?​
9.3. How Can You Stop Stress?
9.4. How Does Stress Affect The Brain?​

The infographics, alone, are worth a look-see.

Given that 79% of people regularly experience physical symptoms of stress – and all the ineffective (and negative) ways we try to cope – if you learn even one thing that helps, you’ll be ahead of the pack – although, frankly, I’ll be surprised if you don’t learn a whole lot more than that. I know I did.

So go. See. Read: The Ultimate Guide To Stress Management. You’ll be glad you did.

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Team Design and Team Effectiveness

“60% of  a team’s success is determined BEFORE the team even exists!”

Is that wild, or what?!

So said Ruth Wageman, Ph.D., visiting scholar in psychology at Harvard University and at ReThink Health, in a recent presentation of hers I attended.

Defining Team Effectiveness

Think about this for a moment: “What one or two organizational conditions most increase the chances of having a great team?” In other words, “if you were to stack the deck in favor of having a great team what are the 1-2 design features you would most want?”

Wageman posits that there are three keys to a team’s effectiveness:

  1. that the output from the team meets or exceeds the needs of whomever that output was designed to serve
  2. that the team becomes an increasingly capable team over time
  3. that the team members’ learning and growth are fostered by their work with the team

So the operative question is, “How, as leaders, can we increase the probability of these things happening in the teams that we create?”

And from this, two sets of conditions become apparent: Essentials – things you MUST have;  and Enablers – things that accelerate team development.

Ruth Wageman, ICF Advance 2016Let’s take a close look

Team Essentials

  1. The team has to be a REAL team – Everyone must know (and agree on) who’s actually ON the team. People rotating on and off, or being part-time team members, won’t cut it. The team roster must be stable over time. Otherwise, it’s just a collection of people and NOT a team. So YOUR job, as leader, is to decide who is (and is not) on the team and make sure everyone else knows, as well.
  2. The team must have a COMPELLING purpose – Is it clear? Challenging? Consequential? If not, don’t expect much by way of output. Note, though, that this is about specifying the desired ‘ends’ of the teamwork; not the desired ‘means’. So YOUR job is to specify the desired/required ‘ends’ and leave it to the team to determine the ‘means’.
  3. The team must have the RIGHT people – This means NOT choosing someone based on their title or position, but on their ability to meaningfully contribute to achieving the team’s purpose. This means NOT including people on the team because they’d feel slighted for being excluded. This means NOT including people who are known to work poorly with others even though they may have some relevant technical expertise. This means NOT including people with ‘derailer’ attributes (a lack of empathy to see or care about other team members; a lack of integrity with conflict). So YOUR job is to insure that all members of the team have both task- and teamwork skills, and that the team, itself, has adequate diversity and a good mix of perspectives and capabilities needed for the work at hand.

And why does this all matter? Because if you can’t get all three of these Team Essentials in place, then you’re probably better off not even having a team in the first place.

Team Enablers

Once the Essential are good, Wageman suggests that there are three additional conditions of note.

    1. The team must have a sound STRUCTURE – The team size must be right (research shows that 9 or less is ideal – any more than that and progress gets bogged down by having too many ideas to sift through; any less that that and progress gets bogged down by having too few ideas to consider. The tasks team members are, well, tasked with, must be meaningful. (Taking time to provide others with routine updates is not a meaningful team task.) And team norms of conduct must be clearly specified and maintained.  So YOUR job, as leader, is to insure that the team you’ve created has these sound structures – because it matters:Ruth Wagemen, ICF Advance 2016
    2. The team must have TOP-DOWN  support – Think about this in terms of the following elements:
        1. Rewards: Positive consequences for good team performance must be in place
        2. Information: The data needed for the team’s work must be made available to the team and done so in a form they can actually use
        3. Education: Any training or technical consultation that’s needed must be made available to the team in a timely manner
        4. Resources: Other material resources needed for the work are sufficient and available

      So YOUR job, as leader, is to empower the team by removing organizational roadblocks, opening opportunities, and providing them with what they need so they can properly exercise their own influence up and out, in service of achieving the very goals you’ve assigned to them.

    3. The team must have Available, Expert Coaching – Someone (inside or outside the team) who can skillfully intervene to help the team, and its team members, do their absolute best work. That said, while while ‘good’ coaching can greatly help both well- and poorly-designed teams become more effective, ‘poor’ coaching will negatively affect both types of teams, as well, so choose your coaches carefully:

Ruth Wagemen, ICF Advance 2016

One more thought on this: The TYPE of coaching that’s needed will likely vary based on where the team is in it’s life cycle:

Ruth Wageman, ICF Advance 2016

60-30-10 Rule

Wageman’s quick-and-easy reminder for team success is her 60-30-10 Rule:

  • 60% of  a team’s ultimate success is determined BEFORE the team even exists, based on how YOU, their leader, creates the Essential and Enabling conditions for that success
  • 30% of a team’s ultimate success is determined during the first few minutes of the team, based on how YOU, their leader, handles the official launch of the team (and the team members reactions to that launch)
  • 10% of a team’s ultimate success is determined by the presence and quality of hand-on coaching and process consulting.

May your NEXT team be your BEST team!



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Conflict and Autopilot

One’s fight/flight instinct often limits possible outcomes before a conflict even begins…

Source: www.theargylesweater.com

Source: www.theargylesweater.com

So, yes, be caaareful, Jim. Be VERY careful! This is NOT a time for autopilot; it’s a time for you to remain fully present and engaged in what’s going on.

What Next?

Think about the last few things that triggered your fight/flight instinct.

  1. What ‘perceived injustice’ occurred that had you react the way you did?
  2. What were the underlying beliefs or assumptions that ‘navigated’ your assessments as they did?
  3. Knowing that you’ll likely get ‘tweaked’ by these same dynamics, again, at some point, how can you better prepare yourself to respond differently to them when you do?

Feel free to share what’s worked in the past, as well as what did not and why you think that is.


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Develop A Personal Learning Strategy

Chief Learning Officer magazine hosted a “Bring Your Own Learning” webinar, today. In it, Todd Tauber, Vice President of Product Marketing of Degreed, started by sharing some interesting statistics regarding BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) technology programs:

  • 95% of the workforce use at least one personal device at work (e.g. smartphone, tablet, laptop)
  • 50% of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes by 2017
  • BYOD has shown to:
    • increase productivity
    • increase employee morale
    • make employers more attractive to recruits

He used these statistics to tee-up another burgeoning BYO trend: BYOL – Bring Your Own Learning. (I think it should be called GYOL – GET Your Own Learning – but more on that, later.)

What’s at Issue

The showcase statistic from the recently-completed research conducted by Tauber’s firm is this: Up  to 65% of employees are now bypassing Human Resources, Organizational Development, and Learning and Development when getting their learning needs met.

But that’s not all.

When those surveyed were asked, “When you need to learn something to be successful at your job, which of the following are you most likely to do?” only 12% said, “Go to HR and ask for resources.” Only 6% said, “Go to HR and ask for a course.” The vast majority, go elsewhere.


People Want More Leaning Than Their Employers Provide

Furthermore, there’s a huge mismatch between the amount of learning that employees know they need, and the amount of learning their employers provide:


David Grebow, Founder, IBM Institute for Advanced Learning, explained it this way: “We get only about 25 percent or less of what we use in our jobs through formal learning. Yet… most of today’s investments in corporate education are on the formal side. The net result is that we spend the most money on the smallest part of the learning equation.”

And HR, OD, and L&D departments wonder why their credibility is so low?!

People Want Different Leaning Than Their Employers Provide

Also interesting is that when given a choice, non-executives don’t even want their HR, OD, or L&D departments to assist them.

Indeed, when asked which they would rather, almost 9 out of every 10 employees said they’d rather be given credit for their own learning than learn at HR’s direction.

Why? Because their self-directed learning was more 77.7% more effective in helping them be successful in their profession than learning directed by their employer.

GYOL – Get Your Own Learning

The implications of these startling (and not all that surprising) findings are threefold:

  1. Employees want MORE learning than they’re getting from their employer
  2. Employees want DIFFERENT learning than they’re getting from their employer
  3. Employees are taking their learning into their own hands

Face it, if you want to learn, you’re going to have to develop your own Personal Learning Strategy. You’re going to have to GYOL – Get Your Own Learning.

Whether it’s through books, or videos, or certificate programs, or through Google searches, or hiring someone like me to coach you, the cold, hard truth is this: Unless you’re at the highest levels of the organization, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be provided with the type of learning that you truly want or need – especially with respect to your leadership development.

If you’re relying on your company to provide you with the training and development you need,
you’re doing yourself a grave disservice.

So if you want to excel, you really do need to take the initiative. You really do need to develop your own Personal Learning Strategy. And you really do need to GYOL.


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Hello, My Name Is…


How comfortable are you at introducing yourself to those outside your immediate sphere of influence? Many, if not most, are not. If that’s you, Money magazine offers five excellent ways to take the complexity – and awkwardness – out of it. “The key?” asks author Caroline Ceniza-Levine of 5 No-Fail Ways to Introduce Yourself at a Networking Event, “To be brief, but also leave enough information that you pique the listener’s interest.”

Here’s how:

  1. Bond Over a Shared Experience
    “If you’re at a wedding, open with how you know the couple. If you’re at a conference, open with your affiliation to the organizer or your interest in the topic. If it’s a company mixer, mention your role, department or years at the company. From this shared experience, you can share parts of your background that build from there. But you have already built rapport by starting with what you have in common. This is great for a career changer who may not want to associate himself with the role or company he currently has.”
  2. Tell a Client Story
    “Instead of just listing your title and company, talk about who you serve: ‘I’m an accountant with We Love Taxes. I prepare taxes for retail companies, mom and pop businesses, circus performers….’ The more specific the better. You can also drill down to one specific story: ‘I am currently working with a retail store owner who came to us with a laundry bag full of receipts, invoices and other papers, and I created an electronic system that can now be accessed on her phone.’ The client story is particularly useful if you’re a business owner and want to leave your listener with a clear idea of your value but without a sales pitch.”
  3. Give a Before and After
    “That anecdote of going from a laundry bag full of papers to a streamlined system is not just a client story, but also a before/after story. The before/after can be a client’s result but it can also be what you have brought to your role or department: ‘I manage logistics for We Love Mail. The company used to spend over $1 million on shipping costs, and my group figured out how to cut that cost in half.’ A before/after structure is accessible because it’s visual, and the conversational structure prevents too much business jargon from creeping in. Creating a before/after pitch also forces you to identify and specify the value you bring.”
  4. Focus on your Expertise
    “This is the most traditional pitch in that you summarize the arc of your career—industry specialty, years’ experience, and/or role: ‘I’ve been in marketing most of my career—consumer products, luxury, and now retail—specializing in social media…’ This is a dependable way of introducing yourself, and if you keep it concise, you’ll share a rich amount of information. One drawback is that many people use this pitch, so you risk getting forgotten, especially at a crowded event like a conference where introductions stack up. To be more memorable, that same marketer could have made the pitch more specific… ‘I am the social media strategist for We Love Books. I build a community for book lovers to discover our store online.’ Or the marketer could have tried to incorporate the before/after as well: ‘I am the social media strategist for We Love Books. We had a pretty dormant Facebook page three years ago when I started so I put us on YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook and now we a third of our customers hear about us first online.'”
  5. Get Personal
    “Most pitches rightly include professional history or accomplishments because people expect this. But an introduction is really about the start of a relationship. The professional sharing could come after. You might try sharing something personal first—where you grew up, a cherished hobby, a side project you’re currently working on. If the personal nuggets engenders a genuine rapport and a chance to talk again later then it’s a good pitch to use. You might combine it with the shared experience: ‘I’m a friend of the bride. We went to school together—elementary actually. I grew up in St. Louis and didn’t come to NYC till well after college…'”

So go, experiment. Mix and match. Watch and listen how what you say engages others – does their affect remain pretty flat or do they perk up and engage back? Based on that, vary your ‘what’ and ‘how’ the next time. And the time after that, etc.

Remember, an introduction is really about the start of a relationship – not about trying to complete an entire entire relationship in 30-some-odd-seconds.

What Next?

If this post helped you learn something about yourself, then great! Be sure to share your insight with others as a way of 'locking in' your learning. While you're at it, I'd also appreciate you telling them about the other self-study resources available from LeadershipTraction including:Thanks.

- bz

P.S. If you have a question or comment about this post, just let me know. I'll do my best to get back to you, straightaway.

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How Smart Do You Really Look?

What do you do to look smart? Does it help? Does it hurt? Do you even know?! Here, from page D1 of the 1/14/2015 edition of the WSJ, is what the research says:


Behaviors People Use To TRY To Look Smart

  • Putting on a serious facial expression
  • Holding hands and arms still
  • Using big words and complex sentences
  • Moving fast than others around them

Behaviors Others Look For When Judging Who’s Smart

  • Having a self confident expression
  • Being responsive in conversations, nodding and gesturing
  • Speaking in a pleasant, expressive voice
  • Using clear language

Behaviors People Use That Actually Make Them Look Smart

  • Looking at others while speaking
  • Standing of sitting up straight
  • Using a middle initial
  • Wearing glasses

What Next?

If this post helped you learn something about yourself, then great! Be sure to share your insight with others as a way of 'locking in' your learning. While you're at it, I'd also appreciate you telling them about the other self-study resources available from LeadershipTraction including:Thanks.

- bz

P.S. If you have a question or comment about this post, just let me know. I'll do my best to get back to you, straightaway.

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