TAG Consulting

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?

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?

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!

4 Steps To Prepare Your Team For Conflict

September 3, 2016

PictureRed Zone/Blue Zone is designed to take you on a personal voyage of discovery about who you are in conflict, how you  engage in conflict, and how you can grow so that you thrive through, not just survive conflict.

But even with this individual focus we are always thinking about ways that teams can learn how to “do” conflict better.

Here are four questions/activities we have found helpful for teams who are determined to engage in conflict in new and healthy ways. If you are a team leader, consider setting aside some time to have your team engage with these questions:

1. Ask each individual on the team to consider: “How do I typically handle conflict?” by giving a one sentence descriptive answer, i.e. “I typically back down” or “I usually go on the attack”. Once each team member has owned their own default mode, ask a corporate question: “How do WE as a team typically navigate conflict together?”.

2. Ask the team to commit to this statement: “As a team we are willing to consider a new way of handling conflict”. Once everyone has agreed (or not agreed) talk about how the team can be helpful to each other in this regard.

3. Discuss if and how the roles and expectations of team members clearly support the unfolding mission of the organization in a concerted way.

4. Have a candid discussion around this question: “Are performance evaluations and incentive structures in our team clearly tied to expectations in concrete behavioral ways?”

Don’t expect to be able to get through these questions in a single one hour meeting. Rather, think about making them the focus of an ongoing series of meetings. Over time – a shorter amount of time than you might expect – you will find that your team is embracing and living into a new way of navigating and thriving through conflict.

The 1 Thing Great Managers Have In Common

September 3, 2016

These days, “leadership” is often viewed as superior to “management”. Leaders get the magazine covers, the C-suite offices, the accolades, and the rewards. Managers toil away keeping the trains running on time.

But the fact is that in the absence of management , leadership won’t accomplish much in the way of results. Management is more than important – it is vital.

Why is management so important? There’s one main reason: truly talented people will not be drawn to poorly managed organizations. And no organization can survive without talent.

Our research has shown that people are hungry to be managed well, even if they are already high performers. We’ve found three crucial elements to skilled management as it relates to attracting and retaining talent: just the right amount of supervision, timely and relevant feedback and coaching, and rewards commensurate with performance. We write about each at length in our book.

But in our research one work came up again and again as productive team members described their managers: “Helpful”.

That’s the one thing great managers have in common – they are genuinely, truly helpful.

There’s a lot in that word. When someone is helped they are provided the resources, advice, and counsel they need. They know they have support when and wherever they need it. But they also know that once they have been trained and directed they will not be micromanaged.

That’s the essence of being helpful as a manager – providing your best performers everything they need to do their work so that they can shine, the support necessary to overcome obstacles of all kinds, and rewards based on achievement and relevant to the person being rewarded.

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.