TAG Consulting

Who Are The Problem-Solvers On Your Team?

April 28, 2016


Some people enjoy setting goals and accomplishing them. Other people enjoy solving problems. It seems that most of us excel in one or the other discipline.

Problem solvers are of incalculable benefit to organizations, but often they are not honored because they are seen as too cautious or even as naysayers. What is really happening is that their problem-solving brain is seeing ahead, anticipating challenges, and kicking into gear.

Wise leaders know how to look for this trait and ensure that every layer of management, really every project team within an organization, is staffed with people with the  gift of problem-solving. While it is often the visionary goal setters who rise to prominence, talent scouts and people pickers ought to consider the fact that, in a real sense, leaders spend their days solving problems.

Read the memoirs of any United States president and you will see theme emerge again and again, People elected based on their vision and plans for the country’s future find that they must contend with day to day are problems to solve. After all, nothing ever reaches a president’s desk unless everyone else has failed to solve or deal with it.

How about you?
Are you a problem-solver or a goal-setter?
If you are a goal-setter, do you know who the problem-solvers are on your team?
Are those problem-solvers honored and given opportunities?
How can you recognize your first-class problem-solvers this week?

7 Questions To Ask When Your Team Is In Conflict

April 27, 2016


So,  your team is embroiled in conflict. Emotions are high. Anxiety is too. It’s clear that there are real competing values underneath the surface. Fangs may have been bared. You’re anxious too. You know you need to maintain a non-anxious presence, acknowledging your own anxiety but managing it so you can provide a holding environment for the anxiety of others.

Most of all you sense the need to DO something. Anything.

But, get this – your very best move may be to ask questions.

Yes, questions.

The great thing about questions is that they honor the people being asked, by reminding them that the work is theirs in the end, and that each one of them is responsible for their part in the conflict and for working towards a just and productive resolution.

Maybe best of all, question-asking genuinely reduces anxiety because it takes the focus off of the tensions, drama, and angst of the moment and puts it on self-reflection and the solution at hand.

Here are seven great questions to ask your team (and yourself!) when conflict is high:

1. What exactly does each team member have at stake in this conflict?
2. What specific results does each team member desire?
3. To what degree does each person hold power and influence and how are they exercising those things?
4. What are the core, underlying values each person holds?
5. Where are each person’s loyalties and obligations?
6. What potential losses are at stake for each person? (think status, security, power, comfort, influence, and the like)
7. What hidden alliances are at play in the team?

These are great questions for a team to grapple with. But before that happens you should grapple with them yourself for your team. If you go through the process of getting answers to each one, you will understand your team, yourself, and the issues at stake in the conflict with a lot more clarity.

Asking and answering these seven questions may not solve the conflict – but it will lead you and your team to greater levels of self-awareness and understanding and tee you up to clarify the values at stake – for the greater good.

Oh, and you can leave the boxing gloves at the gym!

Unleashing Your Passion For Higher Performance

April 26, 2016

In our book Your Intentional Difference: One Word Changes Everything we write about the six dimensions of your “ID” that make up the 5% of what you do that ONLY you can do the way you do it.

When you learn to identify and live in your Intentional Difference, you become more fully who you are meant to be in both your personal and professional life.

In a phrase, you are made different to make a difference and – way beyond one book – part of our passion at TAG is to help clients and their teams discover their ID and so start their journeys of unique and effective performance.

One of these critical six dimensions is Driving Passion, which we define as your “energizing, intense appetite which demands action”. It’s that thing you can’t NOT do. It is the fuel, the intense motivation, that motivates you to act and determines the quality of your personal and professional outcomes.

Do you want to know your Driving Passion? It’s our great joy to walk alongside clients and leaders of all stripes as they discover theirs. Here are three questions which offer a place to start:

1. What do I believe is the world’s greatest need?
2. What do others say is the “one thing” for me (text someone right now and ask them!)
3. If I had unlimited time and money what would I do with them?

The key is finding the intersection of human need with my driving motivator and then determining to bring whatever resources I have to bear on acting on both!

Maybe your Driving Passion is found in your work. Or maybe you need to create some margin in your life for your Driving Passion to be expressed. Whatever your strategy, your heart and soul and mind won’t rest until you find your Driving Passion and put it into productive and determined use, every single day!

Want to know more?

You can read about all six dimensions of your ID here.

And if you’d like to talk to a leadership coach about uncovering and unleashing your ID, you can find out more here.

4 Steps To Asking Powerful Questions

April 21, 2016


The leader who is living in the Blue Zone (where healthy relating and conflict can take place) is a listener. She is genuinely interested in other people and their experiences, beliefs, and opinions. This interest can’t be faked. It comes from cultivating a basically positive view of human beings and a relentless commitment to the common good, not just individual interest.

As a good listener goes through life and leadership he becomes better able to ask great questions. Powerful questions are important because they draw others into our own thinking, they allow others to express diverse opinions, and they ripen conversations.

Here are four ways you can know if your questions are powerful or run of the mill – and they lend themselves to four steps you can take to become a world-class question asker!:

Powerful questions:
1. Come from a place of genuine curiosity. You believe that every person has a story and that that story is valuable because they are valuable. You really want to know what others feel and think and this causes your questions to be interesting rather than rote.

2. Are direct, simple, and usually open-ended. Long-winded questions lose the plot and confuse conversation. Yes and no questions generally shut down dialogue or are designed to force compliance. Your questions are clear, to the point, but allow the responder plenty of time to explore and articulate their point of view. Very rarely do you say “Don’t you agree that…” or “Wouldn’t you say that…”.

3. Generate creative thinking and surface underlying information. Some questions just need surface information. “Where’s the bathroom?” is a good example! But the kinds of questions that characterize Blue Zone living probe beneath the surface, looking to understand how a person’s story has influenced their point of view and seeking to bring values and beliefs to the surface for exploration.

4. Encourage self-reflection. Yes and no questions, even multiple choice questions, place a premium on regurgitating information  or having the “right” answer. Great on standardized tests; not so great for real relationships. The most powerful questions lead the responder to understand more about themselves and what they value and champion and believe. As they answer they reveal more of themselves. As a result, trust grows, mutual commitment to common purposes increases and the possibility for real human connection advances.

How about you? Are you a powerful question-asker? Where can you grow in your ability to ask questions that help you and others to live in the Blue Zone?

The Integrity Test

April 21, 2016


There is no greater possession each of us has than our integrity. And there is no organizational trait more important to a great culture than corporate integrity.

We believe that people do not leave organizations. They leave leaders. People will give up  secure positions with great compensation if they do not find their leaders trustworthy.

And they will endure below-market compensation and less than ideal work environments to work for a manager they can trust.

You simply cannot have a great culture unless your people find that their leaders have integrity. Someone has defined integrity as who you are when no one is looking. We couldn’t say it any better than that.

Integrity has both an individual and a collective aspect.

Engaged employees tell us that their leaders – both those to whom they report directly and the most senior leaders at their organization – “walk the talk”. They are people who are clear about their values and live those values out. Thus, when they explain the expectations they have of their own people, their people are willing to commit their own integrity.

Not to walk the talk breeds cynicism, mistrust, and team members  who feel that they have been given tacit permission to cheat, lie, and steal. This has a directly negative effect on productivity and profitability.

The collective dimension is illustrated in our survey answer “Our customers know what this organization stands for.” Without exception, engaged employees answer in the affirmative.

What this means is  that an organization’s products and services must be congruent with it stated core values. If they are not, employees will be the first to know and the last to invest deeply of themselves.

Taking it from theory to practice, how can you measure if your organization is one of integrity? In a coming post, we’ll offer a hands-on inventory to determine your organization’s level of integrity…and, by association, your own!

The Two Things You MUST Know About Conflict

April 19, 2016

PictureConflict has this nasty habit of showing up again and again, whether we want it to or not.

Many of us have one of two default approaches to conflict.

Some of us hate conflict (often this is rooted in painful experiences in our early life) and we’ll do anything to avoid it. When we fear we might be approaching conflict, we get sweaty palms, shortness of breath, anxiety, and a generalized feeling of dread. We’ll say or do nearly anything to head off the conflict.

Others of us relish conflict. It’s a time to test our mettle, get out our frustrations, feel alive. We actively seek out conflict and when we find it we have one goal – to win.

Those of us who don’t go to one of those defaults fall somewhere in the middle. Avoiding conflict when we can, engaging in it when we must  but seeing it as a necessary evil.

Our many years of experience in helping individuals and organizations navigate conflict has led us to a different approach.

We see healthy conflict as a good thing  because it provides an incredible opportunity for self-awareness and because it promotes better relationships by clearly defining our values.

Here the two things we believe you absolutely must know about conflict:

1. You can’t escape conflict. The issues on which we can disagree are endless. There will be conflict in families, businesses, social organizations, places of worship. Heck, there will be conflict within ourselves!

2. Conflict isn’t really the problem. Conflict is not only not a bad thing; it’s a good thing and a necessary thing. The problem is not conflict itself – it’s how people relate to one another when they are in conflict.

Our passion in our writing – our book and this blog – and in our work with individuals, leaders, families, and organizations is to help people learn how to grow through conflict to become stronger, more values-oriented and resilient human beings. We work with organizations of all types and sizes helping them to navigate conflict and be prepared for conflict when it does arise. We believe that you and your organization can actually thrive through, not just survive conflict.

We’d love to know more about you and to have you know more about us. You can find our book here and you can contact us here.

Photo cred: ronedmondson.com

The System Is Rigged!

April 19, 2016

PictureIt’s been a strange, conflictual, and unsettling election cycle in the U.S. in 2016. And it’s not even halfway over yet!

We’ve heard the battle cry raised repeatedly by candidates of all stripes and across the board. “The system is rigged!”. There is enormous energy around fighting the system – whatever that is – and the entrenched interests who are perceived to be benefiting from the system.

If there is one thing we have learned over years of working with organizations, it is this: systems have power.

Like fish in water, we live in systems often unaware of how they shape us. But everything – everything – is connected.

Human beings live and move in systems; life is a dynamic interplay between people and events. And the systems we live in produce certain predictable results. This is true for both our personal lives and the lives of our organizations.

The world is not created of separate and unrelated forces. Everything meshes. However, as individuals we have difficulty seeing the whole pattern.

Systems thinking is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that has developed over the lat half-century to make the full pattern clearer and to help us see how to change things effectively and with the least amount of effort.

Working as a leader within the framework of systems thinking is all about finding leverage points. And we use those leverage points – wisely, humanely, and well – to disrupt the status quo, lead change, and craft a compelling, healthy and winning organizational culture.

We have to disrupt the status quo to do all of that. But the status quo is a tenacious thing!

Over time the habits that make up the status quo become deeply ingrained and hard to reshape, especially if the status quo has been fairly successful. It’s all too easy to default to what we have always done – even when what we have always done has caused the problem we are facing!

How do you know when you are facing a problem that is systemic in nature and that will require a disruptive approach?  Here are five diagnostic questions, borrowed from the work of the author Ronald Heifetz:

1. Is there a repeated cycle of failure?
2. Is there evidence of an overdependence on authority?
3. Are we experiencing an increasing number of complaints?
4. Have we tried multiple times to solve the same problem with the same people?
5.  Are there increased levels of conflict?

If you answer “yes” to two or more of these questions, the chances are very high that you are looking at a systemic issue that will require a disruptive approach to leadership.

But , cheer up – there is hope. There are two types of disruptions we can leverage to lead change and craft a winning culture.

To Be Continued…

Photo cred: telegraph.uk.com

5 Components of a Great Mission Statement

April 19, 2016

Virtually every organization has a mission statement of some sort.

In our experience, most of them don’t do the job effectively. It’s not because the members of those organizations aren’t virtuous, caring, passionate, and talented. It’s not that the organizations aren’t engaged in worthy endeavors.

The problem is that many leaders – even very good ones – aren’t clear on what exactly a mission statement is supposed to accomplish.

Your mission is a broad and enduring and essential statement of what you do and, just as importantly, what you do NOT do.

Think for a moment of the stated mission of the United States Army
‘To fight and win the nation’s wars’.

It’s tough to craft a more clear mission than that.

The Army’s mission statement says what the organization does (fight and win) and the context in which it does what it does (the wars of the United States).


Equally clear is what the Army does NOT do – anything other than fighting and winning the nation’s wars.

The Army does not engage in diplomacy, serve as peacekeepers, travel to outer space (unless, one supposes, there is a future war in outer space!), cure cancer, research sustainable agriculture, relieve poverty, or hold bake sales.

The Army’s mission statement perfectly hits all of the marks of a clear mission:

1. It defines purpose.
2. It reflects the enduring values of the organization (in this case, freedom and democracy).
3. It orients the actions of all of the members of the organization.
4. It gives all of its members a sense of meaning and fulfillment, regardless of their specific duties.
5. It lends itself to actual, tangible accomplishment.

Think about your organization’s mission statement. Does it clearly define your organization’s purpose? Does it clearly state or imply what you DON’T do? Does it reflect the five key components of an effective mission statement?

The rewards of crafting an effective mission statement are energizing and impact the bottom line. Just imagine the organization that is nailing all five of the components.

Every day we are serving organizations as they craft, accomplish, and align themselves along clear and compelling missions.

Can we help you?

Find out more here.