TAG Consulting

To Win, Help People Count Their Losses

December 19, 2016

Every change initiative – even the best, most helpful ones – will result in some loss for individuals or groups.

As a leader, you are asking people to participate in changes which will cost them something. Inevitably, they will perceive the change as a threat to something that represents a core value of theirs, and they will see you as embodying that threat.

That sounds grim, doesn’t it? And it can be tough. Distributing loss is one of the functions of leadership.

But if you can stay in the game, stay connected both to people and to your values, you can help them move through the losses of change and onward to a new reality which will be more fruitful and energizing for them and more healthy for your organization.

First, we assume that you won’t downplay the losses with “happy talk” or denial. Loss is loss and change brings loss. Much better is an honest, yet hopeful acknowledgement that you understand that loss will be experienced and in some cases will be all too real but that at the end that which will be gained will outweigh the losses, for the common good.

Even before you do your public work, as a leader you will need to do personal reflection work around loss. Here is a way to start:

  1. Assume that every person affected by the change will experience loss in some way. It might be loss of routine or loss of power or loss of position or loss of influence – but even those who will benefit – who will clearly benefit – will lose something. Don’t forget the importance of self-awareness here – YOU will lose something too. Note it well!
  2. Identify the losses your key people will experience and note them well. The best way to get at this is to determine the things that each individual or group affected value the most and consider where loss or perceived loss may strike relative to those things.
  3. Give voice to these losses, with compassion and honesty. Helpful categories for speaking of loss include: security, identity, money and resources, influence, and independence. Try to speak for people, not to them.
  4. Reframe the losses into a vision of a brighter future, rooted in your shared core values and realistic about the impact. This step is the one that gives hope and energizes your team. But you can’t start here. You have to assume, identify, and give voice before you can reframe.

Change is where leaders “earn their money” because change involves the hard work of helping others navigate the losses associated with change. Lead well and thoroughly at this point and your team has a much better chance of emerging from the change with strength and resiliency. You can successfully lead change and keep your team engaged, unified, and confident!

3 Best Practices For Handling Transitions

December 13, 2016

Transitions are almost always wrenching for an organization or a team within an organization, even when the result of the transition will be beneficial to all concerned. Leaders can make transitions worse by insensitivity or tone-deafness to the effect the music of the transition has on the ears of the team.

Organizational transitions of all kinds are navigated well when you use these three practices:

  1. Gain credibility – leaders are even-handed and fair, and so make deposits of trust, which can be borrowed against when tough changes have to be instituted.
  2. Practice transparency – unless trade secrets which would compromise competitive advantage are at stake, default to sharing details about the conditions that shape transition decisions, the rationale for unpopular decisions, and the long-term effects on those in the organization.
  3. Demonstrate honor – in the case of terminations and layoffs, unless an employee was dismissed for ethical or legal reasons make every effort to honor those leaving, thank them for their contributions and point out their positive characteristics. This is the right thing to do for the one leaving and it engenders trust and loyalty among those staying!

Dealing With Conflict As A Team

December 12, 2016

Your team has a conflict to navigate. You’ve decided that conflict should be your ally, not your enemy, so you have committed to boldly engaging the process, getting competing values on the table, and working to find a solution that honors people and moves the mission forward.

So, where do you begin? As tempting as it is to jump right in, take some time to gather your team and work through these questions first.

  1. When all is said and done, how will we know that this process has been effective? Have each individual list two or three desired outcomes. As a group, reach consensus on a total of two or three desired outcomes.
  2. Based on those consensus desired outcomes, what do we believe to be the most critical issues or concerns to address? Reach consensus on the top two to three.
  3. Of these identified issues, which of these do we think will be the most difficult to tackle? Why?

Even before you begin to discuss the issues particular to the conflict, you have already done much of the foundational work for thriving through conflict!

5 Keys To Giving Great Feedback

December 12, 2016

Feedback is a critical part of the gift of accountability.

When you give that gift you are honoring and respecting someone, not micromanaging them. Accountability says “I believe that you have the capacity to do this thing and I believe that this thing is important”.

While accountability is more than feedback, feedback is an essential part of accountability’s gift. Here are five ways to insure that your feedback is both relevant and helpful.

1. Provide feedback immediately, whether the feedback is good or bad.
2. Provide feedback specifically, with immediate options for enhancement, improvement, and correction.
3. Provide feedback systematically, with planned times for give and take.
4. Provide feedback with the good of the person receiving the feedback in mind.
5. Provide feedback that is focused on the goal of your team.


You can use the five keys to feedback as a measuring stick for your current practices and/or as a way to improve your current systems of accountability.

To learn more about accountability and feedback, check out one of our best-selling books, The Leadership Triangle: The Three Options That Will Make You a Stronger Leader.

What’s Your Personal Mission?

December 5, 2016


Whether they pay much attention to it or not, virtually every organization of any size has a mission statement. Well crafted and well used, mission statements serve as a powerful statement of what that organization does and does NOT do, orienting everyone to a common objective.

Much less common and equally powerful, are individual mission statements, tailor made for leaders as human beings.

James Dyson is a British billionaire, industrial designer, and founder of the Dyson company. He is also an inventor best known for one invention. That, as you may know from TV ads, is his famous Dyson Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner, which is unique in the history of vacuum cleaners! You see, it pivots on a ball and operates without a bag. Kind of a big deal.

Millions of commercial cleaning workers and busy parents rise up and call James Dyson blessed!

He has invented many other things but today may best be known for his Dyson Foundation. The foundation encourages young people to become engineers and scientists but what is unique about it is that it celebrates and at times even rewards the mistakes those young people make.

You see, James Dyson learned early on that the combination of failure and determination can lead to great things. He wasn’t a good athlete as a young man but he excelled at long distance running simply because he was more determined than the other kids.

This carried over into his career as an inventor. Through the ups and downs of the creative process, through version after failed version of each successive invention, he refused to become discouraged until he had THE product.

The product that makes you say “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Here’s what Dyson told the Wall Street Journal:

“I don’t like science fiction. I don’t think it’s very clever, to be honest. It’s very easy to imagine what the world might be like. The difficult thing is making the world a better place and making things work better”.

There you have it – James Dyson’s personal mission statement:

“Making the world a better place and making things work better”.

It’s short, succinct, powerful – a guiding star to James Dyson’s life and career and the influence and impact he has had.

Here’s the key question – do YOU have a personal mission statement this clear and concise?

There’s nothing stopping you! Or there shouldn’t be.

Two resources for you to keep in mind.

Our book Your Intentional Difference: One Word Changes Everything will help you see how your uniqueness – the 5% of what you do that only you can do the way you do it – can form the crux of your life mission. Read more here.

And, for a personal touch, our leadership coaches are masters at helping individual leaders identify, hone, and live into their personal missions. Begin the process of meeting one here.


How Your Life Story Shapes Your Leadership

December 4, 2016



Key to understanding how to navigate conflict and stay in the Blue Zone is understanding how our personal stories shape us in profound ways. We live our lives according to certain scripts, many of them crafted in our childhoods. If we know and own those stories, we can live in the Blue Zone. If they remain unexamined, life in the Red Zone is nearly inevitable. This is an excerpt from our book in which one of the main characters must grapple with the story of his life.

“‘Bob, here’s the deal. All of us are telling a story with our lives. It may be a good story, a bad story, or a mediocre story. But every life is a story. And every story has a script. Most of us were given our scripts at a fairly young age, and we spend our lives either living them out or writing our own unique script.’

‘So we are living out this story, and then the story starts to contain expectations- in your case, expectations that you would take over your dad’s company and enjoy smashing success. But the problem is that those expectations collided with your script’.

Bob held up his hand. ‘Script? Story? Look, David, I appreciate your trying to help but personally I don’t speak the language of Hollywood. I live in a world of balance sheets. P&Ls, and  hard-nosed decisions with very little margin for error.  You’re going to have to help me relate here’.

Undeterred, David pressed on. ‘Your personal script says that you don’t measure up. That you might not have what it takes.  That you might do ‘fine’ but you will never be as successful as Michael. And that script – which you hate , but which you are living into – collided with the expectation that you are  supposed to take the company from strength to strength. I can only imagine the pain and anxiety this has created within you, Bob.’

‘There is a part of you that believes the script that says you don’t have what it takes. It says that is people knew you, they would know you are a fraud who is only in the position he’s in because he is his father’s son. This message about incompetence is a message that far too many people get in our culture, and we internalize it at a young age. I believe you have done that.’

Bob felt dizzy. Everything in him wanted to swat away what David was saying, but he remained silent.

‘Bob, I want you to consider the possibility that Michael represents that core message for you: that you are not a adequate, that you don’t have what it takes, that you are a fraud. You have excellent prowess as an interpreter of balance sheets and profit and loss statements but all of that pales in comparison to what you really believe deep down: that you are a fraud…’

‘Right now, you are transferring your fears and anxieties to Michael because that’s safer than facing them in yourself. your new strategy must be acknowledging these things in yourself and holding them up to the light where they can be seen for what they are'”.

What about you?
What does the script of your life say about you as a person – better, what is it TRYING to say?
Do you see ways in which the script of your life affects your actions in the present, especially in relational or professional conflict?

To read more of  Bob’s story, get the book here!

Who’s NOT In The Room?

December 4, 2016


We’re preoccupied with leading change, which means that we are preoccupied with our teams.

We’re paying attention to their roles, their desires, their hopes, their strengths, their anxieties. We’re doing everything we can to help each of them understand the change that’s coming and their role in that change, showing them where they will win and where they might experience loss.

We’re doing everything we can to help them thrive, with the end result being that they will be more engaged than ever and that the organization as a whole will go from strength to strength.

That’s a lot to handle!

But it’s not everything we need to handle.

Consider one of the most overlooked keys to change leadership:
The people IN the room have people OUTSIDE the room about whom they care and to whom they are accountable and we have to pay attention to them too.

These ‘outside the room’ people may be direct reports, customers, clients, vendors, even family members. But they will be affected in some way by the change happening to the person in the room.

One very simple yet extraordinarily powerful discipline of change leadership is for you as the leader to consider the constituencies of each person in the room and help them think through how to involve those people in the questions, struggles, deliberations, and solutions of the change process.

In doing this, you are serving your team members, pacing them as they deal with the rate of change, and demonstrating that you honor them and have their best interests at heart.

Put that together and you are increasing your odds for successful change leadership and an engaged, energized team.