What you need to know.

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I am a business advisor and strengths coach (with 25+ years of business experience), and I’m using this blog to inspire readers to make simple, powerful changes to boost their performance and joy. Guest writers and I will primarily focus on:

1. Harvesting value from Gallup® strengths knowledge and application

2. Breaking free from imposter syndrome and “faking it” to a more authentic reality

Living authentically AND intentionally aiming your strengths daily is emancipating and powerful! This blog can help you with both.

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The Five C’s of Change: Communication, Part 1

This is the third post in our series on the Five C’s of Change, which includes four friends and one foe of change. In the previous installments, we explored Conviction and Courage

Communication Sounds Easy, But Isn’t

Communication is an action that appears so simple and obvious, yet it’s almost always what employees and leaders alike most identify as missing or insufficient in organizational assessments. Early in the pandemic, communication seemed to improve dramatically as leaders were keenly aware more interaction was needed when working virtually. Most of our clients increased the frequency of one-on-one touchpoints and both sides said that although these additional meetings took more time, people felt more connected than ever before.
It seems, however, that once people got comfortable with a new way of operating, the pendulum started swinging back the other way. As the workload increased and staffing shortages ensued, the time spent on communication slowly dwindled. Many leaders assumed people had the information they needed, so leaders shifted their focus to other things and those one-on-one touchpoints tapered off in frequency.

While in many organizations the pendulum of communication is back to where it was prior to the pandemic, it doesn’t have to stay there. By understanding the role of communication in meeting the needs of followers and taking specific actions, change champions can improve communication throughout their organization.

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The Five C’s of Change: Courage

This is the second post in our series on the Five C’s of Change, which includes four friends and one foe of change. In the first installment of this series, we explored Conviction which is essential in  a change agent. In this blog, we will explore courage and how this plays out in organizational change.

Courage and Conviction Need Each Other

Courage requires Conviction. It is akin to resiliency — we draw on our sense of purpose for it. It is nearly impossible to be a valiant leader without being girded with strong beliefs or convictions. Knowing something is the right thing to do or knowing we are called for a purpose allows us to boldly move forward despite great risk. Otherwise, when there is resistance (which always accompanies change), those without deep convictions often fail to stand their ground. Read the Full Article

Taking Action to Improve Return on Energy (ROE)

In our previous blog, we talked about the importance of return on energy and how proactively assessing ROE can help us be more intentional with our time. But we must do more than simply assess ROE — we also must take action to remove or shift things that don’t show a return.

Acting on ROE Means Having Hard Conversations

As you prioritize your own energy, you might need to have a difficult conversation with someone who doesn’t care about low ROE and still wants your engagement. This becomes a teachable moment with an opportunity to shift those conversations into something more productive. It’s a good time to talk about desired outcomes, and how best to achieve them. If you can’t shift the conversation in that direction, it may be time to eliminate it altogether. Read the Full Article

What’s Your Return on Energy (ROE)?

Many business leaders are familiar with the term ROI, or return on investment. But have you ever considered return on energy? It’s not a tangible thing you measure in the same way as business expenses or even time spent on a project, but it’s important.

Bottom-line: How well you are assessing and managing your return on personal energy and team energy results in more joy and bearing more fruit. Thinking about ROE helps us be more intentional with our endeavors. Read the Full Article

The Five C’s of Change: One Foe and Four Essential Friends

“You really care about what you do – I’m not a checkbox.” This was a compliment we recently received from a new client, and it felt SO good to hear. A big accomplishment, since I had been working very hard at being intentional with slowing down and enjoying time with clients. Last winter was quite the opposite when we faced some hardships, and I became focused on just checking things off the list and getting through the days.

That “checkbox” approach to living is the enemy of joy and the foe of being a change agent. And yet, isn’t it also a place of comfort? If I can just get through the task list, the agenda, etc., I will feel like I did a good job. But did I really? Only if that checkbox helps us with some of the four essential C’s of being an effective leader of cultural change:

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Coaching Tip: A Countdown Strand for Persevering

In the summer of 2020, my husband Patrick decided to “retire” from the VA and shift into full-time coaching with our business BONSAI. It was the early days of COVID, so you can imagine how difficult working at a hospital was. Even though they had very few cases, the stress was consuming.

As we planned for his retirement date, my friend Liz suggested a countdown chain she had used with her kids. I decided to try it – figuring it would either be awesome or not so good for adults. We found it to be a powerful tool that fueled momentum and increased resiliency and faith. Since that time, we’ve recommended it to multiple clients who have used it with success to count down to big events or milestones. Read the Full Article

Two-Way Street Thinking

Similar to the idea of a fixed versus growth mindset, our interactions can be one-way or two-way street interactions, with a focus mostly on ourselves or a focus on both sides of the interaction. What is your natural inclination? How often do we focus on these types of one-way thoughts:

    • Getting our needs met at a meeting (gathering information, crossing things off a list)?
    • Who we will meet at a networking session?
    • What we will say when speaking or presenting?
    • What other people are thinking about us?

As I was writing an article recently about how to get the most out of conferences and training, I suggested preparing not only for what you want to learn or take away from it (like connections), but also preparing for what you can do to increase your contribution to others. That led me to consider how so much of what we do defaults to a one-way street mindset versus looking at interactions as a two-way street. Read the Full Article

5 Tips to Achieve Balance in Networking

Thankful for guest writer Dr. Hallie Thompson, Plant Biologist and Science Policy Consultant.

Balance in networking

When we think about and practice networking, most of us focus on the initiation of new relationships, but there’s more to it than that. Like so many things, it’s about balance. In this case, it’s a balance of initiating new relationships and maintaining existing ones by setting priorities and being persistent.

These tips can help with building new relationships and keeping up long-term connections. Whether we’re living in a world impacted by a global pandemic or back to more regular times, the advice remains the same and can help you build authentic relationships over time. Read the Full Article

Don’t Just Endure It, Embrace It

We moved three hours north to Iowa (from Missouri). While three hours doesn’t seem like far, it’s quite a dramatic change in terms of weather! But the biggest difference isn’t the weather itself, which everyone warned us about, but rather how people react to it.

In Missouri, at least where I was, the cold snowy days were more of an interference with life – something to endure until it passed so we could get back to life as we wanted it. But here in Iowa, with a lot more snow and much colder temperatures (as in a rather shocking -18 degrees one morning), people seem to not only accept it, but also embrace it. As the locals say, “This is Iowa, you know.”

It is not uncommon to see people partake in activities like cycling or jogging when it is 20 degrees. And for many, they embrace and enjoy the cold with ice fishing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, and even crazy activities like ham put – like shot put but with a frozen ham! I’ve personally gotten more into birding and scenic photography, including eagle watching and seeking out owls in the beauty of the snow that sometimes sparkles like diamonds.

What struck me about this approach to winter is how it aligns with the way many people approach their work or life. Yes, I acknowledge and have experienced some seasons in life that we just need to endure and get through until they pass. But during some of those hard times, a shift in perspective can help us embrace the good we find in it, even if it’s just learning more about ourselves and our own strength as we emerge from a struggle. Read the Full Article

Overcoming Weakness by Focusing on What Comes Naturally

One of many things clients love about using Gallup strengths is its positive focus on the value we do bring and enhancing what is good with us. We don’t ignore the weaknesses, which often are our lowest (sometimes called inferior) talent themes, but instead use our strengths to overcome them. Developing strategies for doing so is vital to a leader’s success.
In this blog, I want to share a recent example of where I helped a leader aim her strengths at a weakness. Seeing how others have navigated a situation can bring aha moments. I hope this gives you some insights as to how you might strategically overcome your constraints through your top 10 talent themes. Read the Full Article