TAG Consulting

Your First 90 Days In A New Role – The Most Important People

August 30, 2016

crowd NYC train

Continuing with our series on navigating your first ninety days in a new role (to read part one, click here)…

You’ve learned about the most important questions you will face in your first ninety days. Today we’ll look at the most important people you will meet – relationships you must navigate in order to succeed early on.

It’s critical that you be able to identify, understand, and work with three groups of people – your Allies, your Opponents, and your Dissenters. Below are some charts to help you think through the issues surrounding each group.


Who might be your allies? Why might they be allies? What’s their main objective (Support you? The initiative itself? The Organization?) How can this ally best help you successfully implement your program/ initiative?



Who might be your opponents? Why might they be opponents? What do they stand to lose if your initiative succeeds? How might you neutralize their opposition or get them on your side?




Who are the dissenters in your organization –those who typically voice radical ideas or mention the unmentionable? What ideas are they bringing forth that might be valuable for your program/initiative? How might you enable their ideas to have a hearing? How can you protect them from being marginalized or silenced?


Reduce Your Anxiety and Increase Your Performance

August 29, 2016


Who is the most anxious person in your organization?

Perhaps your answer is “me”! Whether you put your finger on yourself or someone else comes to mind, anxiety in an organization is an exhausting, distracting, and sometimes frightening thing.

When we encounter a person who is anxious, our own anxiety level tends to skyrocket. Driven by our own anxiety we want to do anything possible to either eliminate the source of the anxiety or, often, to eliminate the anxious person!

And anxiety has a nasty tendency to spread like wildfire through an organization, sapping morale, cutting productivity, eroding trust in leadership.

If you think of anxiety as a form of resistance, though, and remember our mantra that “Resistance is your ally” you will have a better shot at managing and reducing chronic anxiety.

And remember this:
The most anxious person in an organization is always a symbol of the organization as a whole.

When a group is anxious they need more than anything else for their anxiety to be recognized and understood and brought into the open. What the group needs is a leader who is managing his or her own anxiety and in so doing creating a “holding environment” where the anxiety of a group can be acknowledged but contained. Over time, as the anxiety in the organization is reduced the very best resources and creativity of the team  gets freed from focusing on anxiety to tackling the challenges the organization is facing.

Such a leader is called a non-anxious presence. There’s no bigger challenge for a leader than to be this person, especially when you own anxiety is so high.

To be a non-anxious presence on a daily basis requires balancing two emphases – self-awareness and other-centeredness.

You have to be aware that you are anxious yourself and be calm and shrewd about determining the source of that anxiety. Realize that the anxiety of others is not primarily about you but that you are the one in position to help them navigate and manage it. Like resistance, anxiety can be your friend in that it reveals deeper forces at work in an organization and gives you the chance to adjust your strategies. Anxiety is both an early warning sign and a gift to a leader – pointing the way to new ways of thinking and being, new approaches to chronic problems. But you can’t lead in this until you have the courage to name and face your own anxiety.

Once you have learned to be a non-anxious presence in your own life you have the opportunity to turn to others. Anxious people are not your problem; they are given to you as a trust. Your job as a leader is to create the holding environment where their anxieties can be acknowledged, honestly named, and dealt with by truth tempered with compassion.

Such a holding environment results in business measurables such as increased productivity , energy for customers and clients, and productivity. But it also results in more fully engaged employees who are willing to give more and more of their discretionary energy because they are being honored and affirmed.

As always for a leader, your fundamental challenge is not to save your organization, but to save yourself! And that can start with the very real anxiety you may be experiencing.

One of your best resources for managing your own anxiety and that of your team is working with a leadership coach, someone who can serve as a trusted advisor to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of leadership. If you or a member of your team could benefit from such an ally, we would love to talk to you – we have a deep bench of experienced and skilled coaches who can serve as a non-anxious presence for you! Simply click here to get more information.

Leading Change? Do These Two Things First.

August 29, 2016

You’ve committed to crafting a healthy , winning culture in your team or organization and you know it’s going to require a concerted effort at change leadership. And you know things are going to need to move fast!

We are partners with you in this quest. Our desire is to see many thousands of organizations in all of the sectors – Public, Private, and Social – begin the journey of crafting great cultures which result in engaged employees and volunteers. As you begin your quest – and our goal is  that this blog will be a regular encouragement on your journey – here are two initial things to keep in mind:

1. The first task of leadership is to distinguish between what needs to be preserved and what needs to change.
As you work through changes in your organization, always be mindful of what must NOT change – your values, code, and macro-strategy. These things should not change with every shift in the wind. When external realities do dictate that you must change, you will want to make sure that those changes are in keeping with your organization’s code and deeply held values – holding fast to the permanent things while allowing your strategy to evolve.

2. When you come into an existing situation to make  changes, be very careful not to condemn the past.
Always frame your vision in a positive, upbeat way. Your job is not to erase the past but to help people envision a brighter future.  These people were part of the past – they lived it and shaped it to some degree. Dwell on everything good and worthy in the organization’s past, even if it is clear that many things must change.

Leadership, particularly change leadership, is not about being popular. There will be moments of decided unpopularity for you as you craft a new culture. But don’t borrow trouble – preserve what needs to be preserved and honor what can be honored from prior cultures.

All of this leads to the inescapable fact that the first and most important thing in change leadership is discovering what needs to change and what needs to be preserved. As seasoned experts in change leadership, TAG has developed a suite of tools which make up our Discovery process – helping you assess expertly your organization’s  strengths and opportunities and pinpoint where the change process should begin. Explore more about Discovery with TAG by clicking here.

Conflict Is An Opportunity – FREE New White Paper

August 24, 2016

RZBZ Twitter art

TAG is pleased to offer our newest white paper, based on our book Red Zone/Blue Zone: Turning Conflict Into Opportunity by Joe Jurkowski, Jim Osterhaus, and Todd Hahn, which is available here.

Leaders from organizations of all sizes and from every sector have been helped by the book, which demonstrates how conflict, from from being our enemy, can be our ally – offering an unparalleled opportunity for self-awareness, creativity, and increased team performance.

Our new FREE white paper, available for immediate download, introduces the concepts of Red Zone/Blue Zone so that you can begin to thrive through conflict today!

To download, simply click here.

How Great Leaders Set The Pace

August 23, 2016

runners-set-pace_origBlue Zone behavior moves a person to pace the one with whom they are experiencing conflict. Pacing is one of the most important skills a leader has and is essential in navigating conflict.

So what does it mean to pace someone?

Pacing involves getting into the other person’s world by:

  1. Seeing things from their perspective.
  2. Affirming that perspective, whether or not we actually agree.
  3. Demonstrating empathy through words and nonverbal cues.

Pacing is not about giving the impression of agreement. In fact, we have to be careful not to give the impression that we agree when we don’t – this is downright manipulative.

Being understood is one thing. Being agreed with is quite another.

But whether we agree or not, hearing and doing everything we can to understand are essential conflict skills.

3 Questions For Your First 90 Days in A New Role

August 23, 2016

open door blur

Congratulations! You’re starting into a new leadership position. You’ve cast aside the security blanket of your previous assignment. You’ve survived the emotional fits and starts of the hiring process. Now, brimming with confidence, you arrive for the first day of work secure in the knowledge that of all the candidates, you were the one who was identified as having the right combination of skills and attitude for the position.

But lingering in the back of your mind are the inevitable questions about whether you made the right move, whether your contribution will be valued, and whether the reality of the new position will live up to its expectations.

How you channel those hopes, dreams and doubts in the first ninety days will set the tone and tenor of your tenure with your new organization. You have a limited window of opportunity to create a sustainable advantage for “brand you”.

And we are here to help! Our next several posts will provide a friendly guide to mastering your first ninety days in a new leadership position.

There is no magic formula that will assure a smooth honeymoon. No genetic code governing inter-organizational relationships. But the following steps can help you make the most of your new opportunity.

Let’s start by considering the three most important questions to ask when you take up a new role.

How are you perceived by subordinates? Possibly the most startling realization, especially for those who are new to leadership positions (or who have been newly elevated above people who had been peers), is the new way in which they are regarded by those they lead. When leaders walk into a room, conversations often cease. They may no longer be invited to participate in activities with those who were once peers and friends. That’s not because of anything personal to you. That’s because you now wear a big ‘hat’ of authority, and people can no longer look at you without seeing your hat. And especially for those who, in their past story, had difficulty with authority figures, the perception of you in your new role can be extremely skewed. Bear this in mind, principally with those who inordinately praise you or disapprove of you.

How do you see yourself as different from your predecessor? Take some time to figure out exactly how your predecessor was ‘wired,’ how she actually carried on the functions prescribed, and how she was perceived by the organization. Then think about your own profile. How are you ‘wired?’ How will this effect the organization that you now lead? Keep in mind that people will often regard and handle you the way your predecessor was regarded and treated. Again, that’s not because of you personally, but what the status quo demands to continue functioning (for better or worse) smoothly.

What legacy do you want to leave behind when you depart? It’s never too early to begin to think about your legacy. This will take you to the ‘end game,’ what you hope to leave in place to make this organization a better organization.

Asking the right questions is a great start – but it’s not the whole ball game. Next, we’ll consider the major internal and external challenges you are likely to face.

5 Results of A Healthy Organizational Culture

August 23, 2016


We’ve heard it a lot and even understand it – “This culture stuff is fluffy. It’s soft stuff. ‘Have a nice day’ and all that is great but I have sales targets to hit, products to get to market, customers to serve. What matters is if I have good people who know how to do their jobs – that’s all”.

And it’s true that you can maintain a decent enough organization with no attempt at crafting a winning culture. But you can’t have a great one – one that energizes and fulfills you, your team, and your customers.

The writer and blogger Shawn Parr defines culture like this: “A balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined either create pleasure or pain, serious momentum, or miserable stagnation”.

We love that definition because it’s vivid and sounds like someone who has been there. It’s no fun to experience misery and boredom at work, even if the paycheck is good and the job is relatively secure. We’d much rather come to work at a place that is pleasurable and marked by momentum!

Execution is key, strategy is important, marketing is crucial, research and development provides an edge – for sure. But culture eats all of these things for breakfast.

Here are some of the results (with a hat tip to Parr) that flow to an organization with a healthy culture:

Everyone knows why they are there and are on point in terms of mission.

If you know why you are doing what you are doing, it’s easy to get keyed up to do it!

Healthy cultures breed teamwork and there are few things as satisfying as being part of a group who accomplishes a shared purpose. People come out of their silos and join one another on the playing field.

Healthy cultures are  unified – everyone knows their  role and the importance of their contribution and at their best they work together seamlessly.

Spirit is what brings life to an organization, the thing that animates it to be more than a series of soulless objectives or bullet points in a strategic plan. Think of the last time you flew Southwest airlines with its culture of “love” as opposed to your last flight on – you know – one of those ‘other’ big airlines.

That’s the value proposition of a healthy and winning culture – experiencing much more often than not the sorts of workplace qualities that bring life, good relationships, a sense of mission, and lasting accomplishment.

TAG’s Change Process For Organizations – VIDEO

August 17, 2016

We included – in one fast-paced video – an overview of TAG’s process for working with organizations and leaders to deliver high performance, engaged employees, and principle-based results. Invest just a few minutes with us to learn about our approach to Discovery, Visioning, and Coaching and Facilitated Development to see how we could work with you to help your organization move from good to great!


TAG’s Change Process for Organizations from TAG Consulting on Vimeo.