TAG Consulting

What Are Your Leadership Habits?

September 20, 2016


Try as we might not to be, we are creatures of habit.

When it comes to leadership, this habit of being habitual tends to show up as a set of “default modes”. We tend to respond in set patterns. Many of these have worked for us in the past, which only makes them all the more dangerous. It’s all too easy for yesterday’s solution to become today’s problem.

When it comes to our default modes, awareness is at least 50% of the solution. If we can understand our habits of thinking, responding, acting, and interpreting for what they are it will open up options for us to get past the default to creativity.

Our leadership habits tend to be shaped by three factors.

  1. Personal history. Whom are we loyal to, where did we come from, what forces shaped us, how did our mentors behave and think, what has worked for us in the past? All of these are powerful historical shapers of current thinking and acting. We need to consider them carefully, draw on the aspects of our personal history that are timeless, and adjust or drop the others as needed to respond to new realities.
  2. Personal wiring. Some things just set us off that would leave another unmoved. Conversely, we can accept with equanimity things that drive others nuts. Maybe you always take responsibility for others. Or maybe you disengage emotionally in trying times. Perhaps you thrive in chaos. On the other hand, you may relish order and predictability. We will naturally tend to default to situations and solutions with which we are comfortable. But if we can recognize these patterns in ourselves we can choose ways of relating and responding which might stretch us while offering us more options.
  3. Personal toolbox. What techniques have we learned, tools have we acquired, resources have we developed, learnings have we engaged in? The fewer the tools the fewer our options. The more we can add to our toolbox the more sophisticated our interpretations and decisions can be.

Carefully consider each of the factors in your leadership habits. Where are you aware? Where do you need to grow in awareness? Where do you need to try a new approach? What new tool do you need to add to your repertoire?

A leadership coach can help you understand your habits and adjust or build on them for greater effectiveness as a leader. To find our more about TAG leadership and executive coaching, click here.

How Boundaries Make Your Life Better

September 19, 2016


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?

Five Ways To Make A Great First Impression

September 19, 2016


When you are starting a new project, role, or position you want to make a great first impression. Here are five ways you can do just that.

Start with a clean sheet.  Just as you research the organization, do an in-depth personal inventory of your own skills, behaviors and attitudes. Think about previous positions and experiences: what worked for you and what didn’t, and why. You’ve got an ideal opportunity to build the new and improved professional you. Write down those personal characteristics that you’d like to improve. Then, develop a strategy to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. For instance, if you were never prepared for meetings, write down ways to improve your performance. If you were always late on assignments, develop a routine that will keep you on time. Develop a reputation for honesty and integrity. It is a reputation you must earn over time. And live up to that reputation at all times, at work and everywhere else.

Orient yourself. As part of your orientation, your organization should have done a number of things to bring you up to speed and get you plugged in as fast as possible. But you can’t bank on the organization taking the initiative. Sadly, few companies recognize the value of making orientation a priority. Don’t worry. Remember the old phrase, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Design and implement your own orientation program. Set up meetings with the key people you will interact with. Remember names. Find out what departments you will need to work with. Look for resources you need or that you can draw upon.

Send the right message. Dress conservatively. Don’t let your clothes attract more attention than your ideas. Hold in check any behavior that could be deemed offensive to others, including drinking alcoholic beverages over the lunch hour or at professional or social events where customers or co-workers are present, or using profanity.

Stay grounded.  Organizations exist to serve customers. Find out all you can about your new organization’s customer base. What attracts them to your organization? Why do they stay? Why do they leave? Base all your decisions on what the customer wants. Be the voice of the customer. Although you’ll have to be diplomatic, you work for the customer, not for the organization.

Get cultured.  How do your skills mesh with the corporate culture? Look for clues about how the organization operates so that you can operate effectively within it. For example:

  • How does your boss like information: an impromptu face-to-face meeting? Memo? E-mail?
  • Is it an open-door environment or are formal meetings preferred? How are they conducted? Who needs to be involved?
  • Who do you need to keep in the loop and when?

There is little you can do to fight the corporate culture. But the more you know and understand about the unwritten rules, the more effective you will be. One rule of thumb: regardless of the corporate culture – always be early to appointments and meetings. It shows respect and tees you up to have an influence in the meeting.

Can Your Team Count On You?

September 19, 2016

PictureTrust is the basis of all relationships and honesty is the basis of trust.

You can’t trust someone unless you believe that person will keep a promise, be candid with you, and never betray you.

Trust gets built over time but can be destroyed in a moment. That’s why dependability is such a vital component for leadership and such an integral part of a winning culture.

A person or organization is dependable if it can be relied upon to act in certain ways. 

If I do what I promise over and over I am considered to be dependable. True for people; true for organizations.

People like working for and doing business with dependable organizations because life is not dependable. When I can find a dependable place to use my talents, provide for my needs, or acquire the products or services I need, I am going to become intensely loyal.

Is your organization dependable?

Here are three characteristics of dependable organizations:

1. They make and keep promises.
The United States Constitution is a promise that makes our government and society possible. Church, clubs, businesses all have policy manuals, bylaws, employee manuals which define how people will live and work together in a way that fosters trust. An organization with a winning culture is not afraid to make promises, but it is terrified of not being able to keep them.

2. They are consistent.
When I behave in a consistent way, people know what to expect of me. They may not always agree with me, but they will know what they are likely to get. When my consistency proves to be excellent, reliable, trustworthy, high-quality then I am building a relationship as much as I am building a business.

3. They are predictable.
If I am consistent, I have a proven past. If I am predictable then I promise a trustworthy future. When we have confidence that we can predict  positive  behavior from a person or organization we can have trust in them. We know our faith in them won’t be disappointed  and we know that we have a great shot of finding a great employer, business partner, or vendor.

Engaged employees say “Yes!” when we ask them “Can management in your organization be counted on to come through when needed?”

How about your organization?
Are you dependable?
Do your employees believe you can be counted on to come through when needed?
On a scale of 1-10 how dependable are you as an organization, as a leader?
If you are anything but a “10” what could tick the numbers up for you, beginning today?

4 Ways You Can Make Conflict Your Ally

September 12, 2016


Very few healthy people enjoy conflict. But wise leaders realize that pushback can actually be their ally because it surfaces tension within the organization and open up options for alternative approaches.

Here are four ways you can make conflict your friend rather than your enemy.

1.      Maintain clear focus – one eye on the moment, the other on the big picture. Persevere and hang in there!

2.      Embrace resistance. Move towards, not away from the sources of resistance. This is a learned behavior, so be patient with yourself. Remember that the voice of resistance is almost always representative of others and once you know what the problem is you can move ahead.

3.       Respect those who resist by monitoring your emotions, avoiding overreacting, and always telling the truth.

4.      Join with the resistance. Begin together, looking for common values and themes and patterns, looking together for ways the situation needs to change.

How about you – how are you doing currently with conflict in your organization – and in your life?

4 Questions To Improve Your Team’s Performance – Now!

September 12, 2016


It’s a misconception that leaders are people with all of the answers.

In fact, the best leaders are the ones who know how to ask the best questions, and then to lead their team to discover the answers together.

When you are ready to see your team take their next steps in terms of performance, move with courage into question-asking mode and unleash your folks to find the answers.

Here are four questions guaranteed to improve team performance. Significantly, the first two start with YOU as the leader:

  1. What percentage of my time do I spend intentionally using my prevailing talents and traits?
  2. What can I do differently to spend more time working in these areas of my greatest strength?
  3. What additional talents, traits, and skills do we need to bring on our team?
  4. What incentives and rewards would better leverage our traits and motivate our team members?

One of our areas of core competence at TAG is team coaching and development.

TAG coaches often coach whole teams. The first step is to understand the unique team talent mix and how it can best be deployed to fulfill the mission of the organization. Then systemic issues affecting the team are noted – “The system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting” — and targeted as the team is coached.

If you’d like to know more about how to take your team to the next level – with elegantly crafted answers and winning solutions, we’d love to talk to you. Find us here!

How To Raise Your Energy Level – Today!

September 12, 2016


If you are tired, depleted, exhausted, burned out or just generally bummed there could be a variety of reasons.
Here’s one that gets overlooked often:

You are not spending enough of  your time using your top talents.

When you are functioning using your talents to their fullest you are engaged, energized, alert, passionate, and productive.

We’ve developed a great exercise to help you understand your talent and how great it is to spend time using that talent.  Shockingly enough, we call it the Energy Exercise.

(OK, OK,  no points for creativity, but at least it’s clear!)

First, think about the last time you went home energized at the end of the day. Ask yourself two questions:
1. What did I do that day?
2. What particular and individual talents did I tap into  that day?

Now, ask the opposite question. When was the last time you finished a day tired, drained, maybe even a little depressed? Ask yourself three questions:
1. What did I do that day?
2. What particular and individual talents did I tap into that day?
3. What particular and individual talents did I NOT tap into that day?

Look at your answers and make some strategic decisions about where you spend your time and energy.
Make the right calls and watch your energy skyrocket!