TAG Consulting

What You Let In Determines How Well You Fight


November 17, 2015

Healthy boundaries identify and separate our self from others and they are the foundation of the Blue Zone. Boundaries are the physical and emotional fences that mark off our world, creating zones of safety, authority, privacy, and safe space.

Boundaries satisfy at least four essential needs:

  1. They define who we are – what we believe, feel, think, and do – where my story ends and yours begins.
  2. They restrict access and unwanted intrusions.
  3. They protect priorities.
  4. They help us distinguish between Red Zone and Blue Zone issues.

If I am having difficulties with boundaries I am more than likely living in the Red Zone.

As I sink deeper into the Red Zone, my boundaries become more and more blurred and I end up engaging others in my personal drama and getting drawn into theirs.

For some people, boundaries become too rigid. Important information gets restricted and important relationships are compromised. I begin to live in a rigid and unbending way. I become a prisoner of my prejudices, refusing to allow others to have points of view which might challenge mine.

For other people, boundaries are too loose – the integrity and cohesion of me as a person is threatened by a lack of definition. I ask, knowingly or not, “Who am I, other than an extension of you?”

If my boundaries are too loose, or porous, it’s going to be pretty clear that I am in the Red Zone. I’m always being influenced by what others think, feel, or say. It seems as if I don’t have a self of my own.

But those with too rigid boundaries can be firmly in the Red Zone as well – if I am there I have just done a better job of creating high walls to keep out external influences because of my own insecurity.

Knowing what sorts of boundaries I have or don’t have is incredibly important in understanding how I can thrive through conflict. But first I have to know myself…

How about you?
Do your boundaries tend to be too rigid or too loose?
Do you tend to keep others and their ideas and influences out for no good reason or do you tend to become what you think those around you want you to be or what you think you need to be to avoid conflict and hurt feelings?

Transforming Your Church


November 17, 2015

One of the most rewarding parts of our work is the opportunity to work with churches of all types, sizes, and denominational affiliations. Our Church Team is a community of leaders who are committed to navigating the challenges and opportunities of our client churches in healthy ways by skillful consulting, relational coaching, and accessible resources.

You can find out more about our team and what it does here.

One of TAG’s most popular books has been Transforming Church: Bringing Out The Good To Get To Great. One influential church leader and seminary professor has called the book “the best overall book on church leadership I have ever read”.

Here are five key questions from the book which will give you a great starting point for evaluating your church’s health:

  1. Are members of your church experiencing authentic life change?
  2. Does your church have a clear sense of mission and a compelling vision for your future?
  3. Does your church embrace change to fulfill its mission more effectively?
  4. Are your leaders successfully mentoring and mobilizing your members for ministry?
  5. Is your church effective in transforming your local community, town, or city?

If any of these questions highlight growth opportunities for you, our team of servant leaders is ready to walk alongside you and truly help your church be transformed and transform your community.

What Are You Expecting?


November 16, 2015

Here is a diagnostic question for you as a leader: do your people, when they show up each day, have a clear sense of what they need to do to fulfill their assignment and advance the mission of the organization?

This is vastly different from a to-do list. This is a missional checklist.

When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, his tasks could differ greatly from day to day but they were all driven by a sense of intentional mission, because He knew what was expected of Him. “My desire is to do the will of Him who sent me.”

One of the most helpful leadership tools we have found is “managing expectations.”

It is a bit of a strange phrase because, after all, expectations can tend to be emotional things, and managing is nothing if not rational.

But the concept is incredibly helpful. It contains the idea that expectations are important, universal, and often unstated. And it encourages the practice of actually talking about these things.

The reality is that we have unmanaged expectations in every arena of our lives—friends, family, church, and work. It is wise and good to talk about expectations ahead of time, before the pressures and stress of life combine to result in disappointment and disillusionment.

The best premarital counselors will often have their clients make a list titled “Things I Expect” and then have the couple compare the lists with the counselor. The results are both humorous and revealing.

Most employees and volunteers are asking of their leaders, with a good heart, “What do you expect of me?”

What is in bounds, what is out of bounds, what will define a successful outcome, and how can I make my best contribution?”

The very best organizations are geared around making expectations crystal clear, and they do so in a systematic, intentional way.

How about you?
Are your expectations clear to your people?
What are you doing to make them “crystal clear…in a systematic, intentional way?”

It’s The Quest That Matters, Not The Product


November 13, 2015

The Secret Sauce for a winning organizational culture is not found in the culture itself. It is found in the quest that results in that culture.

We can’t emphasize this enough – the Secret Sauce is the quest!

In the book we tell the story of “Walter” a friend of ours who turned around a 100-year old organization in England we called “St. Michaels Academy”.

The Academy had a proud history but had fallen on hard times – declining enrollment, ineffective leadership, even a Headmaster who was arrested for embezzling funds. But Walter proved to be a great culture-crafter. He instilled hope in faculty and staff. He led them through a rigorous process of revamping the academy that involved much shared sacrifice and the clashing of competing values. Faculty and staff ended up having very high levels of input and empowerment and collaboration was the order of the day.

After ten years, the Academy was a resounding success and Walter decided to export the learnings of his team. He developed what he believed would be a transferrable model, published a how-to book telling the Academy story, and took off on a speaking tour.

It was all a miserable failure. The book didn’t sell. The tour was cancelled part way through.
How could such a great success have proved such a flop in translation?

The answer soon became clear.

What made the effort at the Academy successful was a ten-year quest for the Holy Grail, not finding the Grail itself. It’s an adventure, shared by companions who undergo risk and sacrifice in pursuit of a shared mission. Through that sort of intense, all for one and one for all collaboration the ingredients for the Secret Sauce present themselves in a rich blend.

The context of a winning culture may be built around a great product or service. But that’s not the Secret Sauce.

As we work with clients – whether in leadership development, executive coaching, change leadership, or strategic planning – we emphasize that the quest, the process, is more important than the end product.

Just for emphasis….

The quest is more important than the product!

Conflict 101


November 12, 2015

We have the privilege of writing about, consulting around, and coaching leaders through conflict every single day. We’re often asked “What do you believe about conflict in a nutshell”.

It’s a great question and it’s also a good exercise for us to continually clarify our thinking!

Consider these three points as a primer in conflict, or Conflict 101.

  1. Conflict is inescapable. Given our differences in gender, background, cultural distinctiveness, and  personality it’s no wonder we disagree a lot!
  2. The problem is not conflict itself, but how people relate to one another when they are in conflict.
  3. Conflict is a good and necessary thing because:
  • It brings up different points of view
  • It clears the air
  • It reveals that competing values are at stake
  • It leads to the resolution of complex issues

We say a lot more in our book and give tons of practical exercise, but with those three points you can grasp our basic argument. And you can see why we are so excited about the potential of people grasping what it means to thrive through conflict by living in the Blue Zone!

How To Think About Conflict


November 12, 2015

One of TAG’s signature products is the book Red Zone/Blue Zone: Turning Conflict Into Opportunity, which you can find here.

Here’s a post from the Red Zone/Blue Zone website where we offer a primer on how to think about the conflict we all face in our personal and work lives. A great reminder that conflict can be your ally, not your enemy!

We have the privilege of writing about, consulting around, and coaching leaders through conflict every single day. We’re often asked “What do you believe about conflict in a nutshell?”.

It’s a great question and it’s also a good exercise for us to continually clarify our thinking!

Consider these three points as a primer in conflict, or Conflict 101.
1. Conflict is inescapable. Given our differences in gender, background, cultural distinctiveness, and personality it’s no wonder we disagree a lot!
2. The problem is not conflict itself, but how people relate to one another when they are in conflict.
3. Conflict is a good and necessary thing because:
-It brings up different points of view
-It clears the air
-It reveals that competing values are at stake
-It leads to the resolution of complex issues

We say a lot more in our book and give tons of practical exercise, but with those three points you can grasp our basic argument. And you can see why we are so excited about the potential of people grasping what it means to thrive through conflict by living in the Blue Zone!

Preserving The Past, Shaping The Future


November 11, 2015

It’s one thing to acknowledge that organizational cultures which result in engaged employees are essential. It’s another thing to actually lead the way in crafting these cultures.   Culture-shaping always involves leading change with creativity, courage, and sensitivity. Our great aspiration is to help you do that – and none of us can do it alone. As you begin your journey as a culture-shaper, there are two initial things to keep in mind:

1. Distinguish what needs to be preserved from what needs to change. More than likely, you will be involved in leading large scale change and transformation as you craft a winning culture. As you do so, it will be important that you are very conscious and intentional around those things that must not change. Your organization’s code and values will likely not change and to do so could be fatal to the larger change effort. Your strategy will likely change – and many of your systems and processes – but as you architect these changes make sure that you protect the essential  and agreed-upon values of your organization.

2.  Be careful not to condemn the past. Always frame your vision in a positive, upbeat way. Your job is not to erase the past but rather to leverage the past to help people envision a brighter future. The people you are leading have not failed in the past. Your job is to spur them – together – to greater heights. People own the past – they lived it, experienced it, were invested in it. Always honor the past even as you build a new culture for the future. Even the most painful pasts have some bright moments, some heroic stories, some living-out of values you can take and build upon.

Marty Linsky and Ronald Heifetz offer a classic definition of leadership: “Disappointing people at a rate they can tolerate”.

That always gets a laugh, but it’s  true. The skill of culture-shaping lies in turning this early disappointment into hope and energy rallied around a vision of a bright future where your people are fully engaged and your organization is winning.

What about your organization? What needs to change and what needs to be valued and preserved? How can you sharpen the picture you are painting of a preferred future?

You Are Different, Intentionally


November 10, 2015

One of our signature beliefs at TAG is that every person is made different to make a difference. We call this your Intentional Difference.

The idea is simple. 85% of what you do, most people can do. 10% of what you do, select others have the capacity to do with the proper training and opportunity. That leaves 5%, and that five percent makes all the difference.

That five percent is made up of the unique talents, skills, and experiences you have that combine to make a contribution no one else can quite match. It is where you are of maximum value to others, to your organization, to your community -and where you find your greatest joy.

One of our greatest joys is helping others identify their Intentional Difference (ID) or, if you prefer, their 5%. Your ID emerges as you take a look at six dimensions of your life, your:

  • Critical Outcome
  • Driving Passion
  • Assimilated Experience
  • Cumulative Knowledge
  • Emergent Skill
  • Prevailing Talent

We have helped many hundreds of men, women, students and even children unlock their ID and in so doing find joy and fulfillment in making their unique contribution. We have helped countless teams understand each others’ ID and begin to function at a higher level of productivity and excellence than ever before.

The key is that we have to be intentional about our difference – we don’t begin to excel in our 5% automatically.

You can read more about Intentional Difference here and we’d love for you to contact us to find out more about how you can discover your 5% and help your team do so as well.

It truly can change everything for you and for the teams with which you serve.