Seven Surprising Reasons You Go Toxic (Even When You Know Better!)

A recent study of more than 30,000 people revealed that harping on negative life events can be the prime predictor of some of today’s most common health problems.  In fact, this pattern unknowingly can create a toxic relationship with situations and people that can actually cause as much harm to your health as having the coronavirus!  Toxicity, as you may know causes mental health issues and even life-threatening physical challenges. 

Surely, there must be a way to not become toxic, even when everything around you is falling apart.

A study by the Cornell School of Industrial and Labour Relations (2010) found self-awareness to be the strongest predictor of overall success of leaders, and a key to getting out of toxicity.   “Self-awareness is the beginning of all wisdom,” Aristotle taught long before anyone ever made statistically significant findings about it.  This means that if you can understand how you got into toxicity, you have taken the first step toward changing it.   Check out these reasons why you might get stuck in toxic feelings and find your typical patterns. Toxicity can happen when:

  1. Other people around you are toxic.  If toxicity becomes a part of the normal social behavior of others, you are more likely to engage in it.  You may often find yourself unknowingly mirroring others’ negative behavior when this happens. 
  2. You are under pressure, making mistakes, or caught in uncertainty.  The ability to wisely respond to situations and people using your strengths is the hallmark of mature self-leadership.  If you don’t understand your strengths and how to wisely use them, you can get caught in toxicity pretty easily  because your strengths are flipped into weakness when you become triggered or have unmet needs.
  3. You are trying to manipulate, control, or shape other’s behavior or situations.  While this is not a particularly effective strategy, you might get stuck trying to use contempt, criticism, or blame as a backward way to make other people behave.  Most people avoid the unpleasantness of being singled out in negative ways, and you might use this to get others to conform to your expectations.
  4. You are not at your best.  Scientists describe something called the “fundamental attribution error,” which means you blame others for the very things that you, yourself, are guilty of when you are not behaving appropriately.  You become toxic and criticize others, show contempt, or stonewall, as a way of deflecting your self-judgment on to others.
  5. Your identity or sense of value feels threatened.  Society’s tendency to make your value equal to your performance, popularity, and external indicators of success can be one reason you go toxic.  For example, defensiveness toward others or criticism of yourself is a natural response when your value or self-identity seems compromised.
  6. You experience weakness, mistakes, and failures.  The belief that weakness, mistakes, and failures are bad often triggers shame, and that can quickly flip into toxicity toward yourself or others
  7. You were let down because you thought someone “should” do or be something.  If you are like most people, when the situation or interaction with someone doesn’t align with your view of the world, you might judge and blame others.

If you identified with any of these patterns, and you’re not proud of it, you can change starting today.  New insights can mean new choices!  Here is one quick trick you can use.

Think of a time when you were caught up in negativity and toxicity – and you got out of it.  What did you do then?  How did you escape?  More than likely your story will you tell something about a success pattern that is available to you the next time toxicity threatens to choke the life out of you.

If you take the time right now to make a proactive decision about how you’ll choose to respond to the next toxic opportunity, you’ve taken the first step to re-programming your brain.  This means that when toxicity comes to call, it will be met by a “No Solicitors Allowed” sign.  Not only will this redirect energy to be used productively, but it also offers a new trend for others to follow.  You can model a higher way for others who go toxic even when they know better.  Who knows?  Maybe your choice will be the first step toward a whole new culture trend for you and others around you.

This article has been written by DeAnna Murphy – the founder and CEO of People Acuity and principal author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living and Choose to See You – in collaboration with co-thought leaders, Lisa Gregory and Steve Jeffs. It includes information about Interdependent Leadership, which redefines the task-relationship dynamic and helps leaders balance people and performance effectively.  DeAnna is a Top 100 Global Coaching Leader who has provided keynotes and leadership development experiences in 32 countries.  For a free coaching conversation around your leadership, or to learn more about Interdependent Leadership, sign up for 30 minutes with DeAnna here.

5 Keys to Make Virtual Meetings Engaging for Team Members

With COVID-19 driving social distancing and causing teleworking and virtual work to take the stage, many leaders new to the arena of virtual meetings are at a loss as to how to make them effective, productive, engaging and “real”. Even leaders who have used virtual meetings in the past are experiencing unprecedented levels of frequency.

For at least the short-term future, this increased pace will remain. As a team of 100% virtual leaders doing business and training globally through technology tools, we thought it might be valuable to share our collective learning gathered over thousands of hours of virtual meetings.

Here are our top 5 keys for leaders on how to engage your teams and colleagues virtually through online meetings. Virtual meetings CAN be productive, effective and even fun. Here is how.

First, Key #1Define the Purpose.

Be clear on why you are holding the meeting. Make sure you should call the meeting to begin with. Ask yourself: What is the benefit that can only be gained by meeting together and talking live? If you can’t find a compelling reason, don’t hold the meeting. If you do hold it, be clear with everyone as to the purpose. Is it to gather input, solve a problem, brainstorm? State the intent so people know how to engage in the meeting and what you want from them.

Key #2 – Make agreements.

If you decide to hold the meeting, start it off right with some best practice ground rules. Use good virtual meeting etiquette and share some ground rules around how you will be together as a group. Our People Acuity meetings all start with reviewing these three ground rules:

  • No Judgment Zone (this is a place of curiosity and learning together, not judgment of self and others)
  • Bring Your Puzzle Piece (meaning everyone contribute)
  • Confident Vulnerability (you don’t have to pretend to be perfect or have all the answers).

As a result, people feel safe contributing and are more engaged. Meetings fly by rather than drag on.

Key #3 – Invite multi-tasking.

Yes, you read that right. People are going to multi-task during the meeting so invite them to do it IN the meeting. This is about giving permission to multi-task in ways that serve the purpose of the meeting. Invite them to use the chat box liberally to respond to each other and to the topics being discussed. Invite them to add their questions, thoughts, encouragements and ideas. This allows people to connect with each other, and for ideas and thoughts to develop as the meeting progresses. It is engaging for participants and works best if followed by Key #4.

Key #4 – Pay attention to the chat box.

Designate someone to pay particular attention to the chat box and bring to your attention anything that might need to be addressed in the meeting – questions, suggestions, etc. Pause and scan the chat box yourself, and read comments out loud for those who may have missed them. People like to hear their own words even if they didn’t want to say them out loud, which allows you to ask for elaboration on comments as needed. Just make sure you aren’t challenging people when you ask for clarification or more information. Remember Key #2: Agreements! You’ve got to be curious, not combative otherwise you’ll shut down people’s motivation to comment, and you will kill engagement.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t scan the chat box when someone is commenting live. Look at the screen and LISTEN to that person. If you’re leading the meeting, briefly summarize what you heard after someone speaks, as this will convey your value of each person and encourage more interaction.

Key #5 – Use the technology.

Use the technology to make interacting in the meeting smooth and easy. An online meeting is different to an in-person meeting, and it can be difficult to organically notice when someone else wants to contribute. Online, you can set some technology signals to alert the meeting leader that someone would like to contribute. Here are some ways we do it:  

  • If everyone has their video up, have people simply unmute when they want to speak. Or, invite them to wave and wait to be called on.
  • If videos are off and someone wants to make a comment, have them turn their video on to send a signal that they are prepared to share.
  • Some platforms have a “raise hand” icon, which can also be effective if you are watching for it.

Whatever you choose, share the plan at the beginning of the meeting when you set ground rules so that everyone knows how to signal when they want to contribute verbally.

Virtual meetings are only effective when people are engaged and there are agreements about how to be together. As the leader, let go of 100% control and 100% responsibility. Let the group contribute to the meeting and co-lead it with you. With intentional practice around these keys, you and they will make virtual meetings engaging, productive and fun. We promise.

This article has been written by Lisa C Gregory – Chief Product Officer of People Acuity, The Interdependent Leadership Company, and co-author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living.  It has been written in collaboration with People Acuity co-thought leaders, DeAnna Murphy and Steve Jeffs.  Lisa leads virtual meetings and training sessions weekly – reaching people on five continents. She holds nearly 100 certifications and is an expert in instructional design, facilitation, and engineering client solutions. Learn more about Interdependent Leadership, People Acuity and its cutting edge virtual or live programs at www.peopleacuity.com.

The One Thing Great Leaders Always Do in Times of Crisis

Two months ago as the coronavirus raged across China, Belinda Wong, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks China was faced with a painful decision to close the doors to 4,300 Starbucks stores.  This is exactly the decision that many U.S.-based companies are presently facing, as you well know.  “There was no playbook for this,” she said. “It was nothing we’d dealt with … and we had limited facts. There was a lot of uncertainty and the situation was evolving every minute. We had to quickly decide how we were going to lead.” 

Notice the words she used here as you consider your own decisions as a leader.  They are an important clue to the most important lesson we can learn from great leaders and how they lead in times of crisis. 

Just so you have a reference point for understanding how amazing Belinda Wong truly is as a leader, you might want to know that she was recently named to Fortune’s international list of the Most Powerful Women in Business.  She is also the leader of the fastest growing market for Starbucks, opening new stores at the unprecedented rate of one every fifteen hours. In fact, under her leadership, Starbucks China is on track to open 6,000 new stores in 230 different cities within the next 18-20 months.  No wonder she has been recognized among the top 50 people most shaping the future of USA/China relations, and among the most influential women in China by Forbes!

While these things are all commendable, and represent enviable fruits of her leadership, they are not the things that make her a great leader, however. Of all the things that Belinda Wong does well, there is one thing that sets her apart, one thing that most leaders simply miss because they are so caught up in the thick of thin things.  This one thing makes her more than just a regional hero.  It inspires deep loyalty, even love, from the 58,000 people that she has day-to-day responsibility for.

Belinda rigorously holds the balance between people and performance – and she never forgets which of those two things comes first in the equation, even when the business is on the line.  The order matters to her.  After all, it’s people who grow the business, and her Interdependent Leadership approach/results attest to the power of putting people first in order to consistently get high performance.  She gets this truth better than most leaders ever will!

Belinda describes her leadership in simple terms: “I’m here to take care of my people — the 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 Starbucks partners — and to do what I can to help. … And it’s not just them, it’s their families.”  She is clear about what leadership truly means – and she is not afraid to put her money where her mouth is.

Because of this, it was a no-brainer for her to close the doors of all Starbucks stores so as to keep employees and customers safe.  It was equally obvious that they needed to continue to pay employees even while the business was shut down.  And, as if these things were not enough to convey caring, she also extended insurance benefits to employees’ families, including their parents. She did this even though these choices would affect the business’ bottom line to the tune of an estimated $275 million.  Not easy decisions! If you’re having a heart attack as a leader just thinking about making such staggering choices, you might be interested to know that it is exactly decisions like these that have made Starbucks’ employees among the most engaged in the industry.  This means that Starbucks China will likely outperform its competitors by 202% when this all shakes out.  It also means that what appears to be a short-term loss may set Starbucks China up to be the clear market leader for years to come.

If you’d like to see your business outperform its competitors and recover quickly from this crisis, you need the same kind of clarity that Belinda Wong demonstrated.  It starts by asking yourself the tough question, the one that most leaders are too busy chasing performance to ask.  Simply stated, it is this: “What is truly important here?”

If you don’t answer “people,” maybe you’ve forgotten why you’re in business.

This article has been written by DeAnna Murphy – the founder and CEO of People Acuity and principal author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living and Choose to See You – in collaboration with co-thought leaders, Lisa Gregory and Steve Jeffs. It includes information about Interdependent Leadership, which redefines the task-relationship dynamic and helps leaders balance people and performance effectively.  DeAnna is a Top 100 Global Coaching Leader who has provided keynotes and leadership development experiences in 32 countries.  For a free coaching conversation around your leadership, or to learn more about Interdependent Leadership, sign up for 30 minutes with DeAnna here.

Military Secrets About Igniting Millennial Engagement

Millennials are the least engaged generation in the workplace today – and if you’re like most people, your experience tells you that this is not new news.  After all, ninety-one percent of Millennials don’t expect to be in their same job in three years, and 67% of them are looking for work right now.  You might even find this to be anxiety-producing when you consider that 75% of your workforce will soon be made up of Millennials, and that every employee turnover costs you 90-200% of his/her salary. Ouch!

Ironically, Millennial disengagement holds true virtually everywhere except for the military.  There, you’ll find that the Millennial engagement rate is a whopping 90%!  This feels significant given that Millennials constitute 75% of the military today – and that our national security is in the hands of the generation most prone to quit their jobs. 

It is good news that military Millennials are not leaving.  They’re not just staying and getting by either.  They love what they do, and they feel ignited and driven by their work.  Maybe it’s possible the military’s secrets go beyond warfare.

According to Doug Wortham this is true.  He was a Command Sergeant Major and the Minnesota National Guard command senior enlisted leader.  He would know.  He suggests there are three military secrets to Millennial engagement:

  1. Clear Purpose Alignment.  First and foremost, a crucial part of initiation into the military is to help soldiers identify and align with a clear, compelling why – something bigger than self, something that matters enough to die for.  Military Millennials know their why!  They believe in it.
  2. Valuing the Individual.  Every single soldier understands his or her unique contribution and the difference that he/she individually brings to the whole.  They know they matter – and exactly how they matter.
  3. Solid relationships.  Up and down the ranks and peer-to-peer, there has been an increased emphasis on building solid relationships of trust.  The emphasis on relationship is equally important to mastering and executing the tasks associated with their role.

Interestingly, Doug identified one final secret that is the key to all the others.  He described it as Interdependent Leadership – which he suggested is the complete opposite of the command-and-control style that was once popular in the military.  In case you’re wondering what Interdependent Leadership is, and how it might help you, you may want to check out this brief video explanation where you can learn more.  Don’t be surprised when you discover that this innovation in leadership, Interdependent Leadership, is described as the ability to effectively balance the task/relationship dynamic.  Easier said than done, by the way.

The military has it right.  Interdependent Leadership is the only way you can truly win the hearts and minds of your people.  There are no shortcuts and no way around that fact.  What if your Millennials were as enthusiastically ignited as military Millennials?  What might be different in your organization?

This article has been written by DeAnna Murphy – the founder and CEO of People Acuity and principal author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living and Choose to See You – in collaboration with People Acuity co-thought leaders, Lisa Gregory and Steve Jeffs. It includes information from their soon-to-be released book on Interdependent Leadership.  DeAnna is a Top 100 Global Coaching Leader who has provided keynotes and leadership development experiences in 32 countries.  Learn more about Interdependent Leadership and download the new Interdependent Leadership eBook – at www.peopleacuity.com.

Innovation Will Implode Unless One Thing Happens

When you think of innovation what comes to mind? Artificial Intelligence? Machine Learning? Flying Cars? Space Flights to Mars? 5G?

What about leadership?  Where does that fall on your list?  

I’m guessing that if you are like most people, leadership probably doesn’t land on your list at all. After all, most people think of technology or business when discussing innovation, and yet, there is plenty of evidence that leadership desperately needs innovation.  If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got!

If you look at what we’re getting today, you can see plenty of evidence that there is a huge need for innovation in leadership.  Case in point, consider three indications that innovation in leadership is not just nice, but critical in today’s new economy. 

First, 68% of all individuals feel under-valued by leaders at work.  This is significant given that the number one reason people leave is they don’t feel valued (Kahn, 2010). Additionally, the Quit Rate is now 23% and growing (Gallup) – therefore, you could easily conclude that too many leaders are guilty of under-valuing their people.

Second, 72% of employees don’t think leaders care about their growth (Monster).  This is important since Millennials, who are soon to be 75% of the work force, won’t stay if they don’t believe leaders want to grow them.  Since 67% of them are looking to quit their jobs (Forbes), you might think leadership is not quite where it needs to be in growing people.

Finally, 85% of all employees across the globe experience high work disengagement and, according to Gallup, employee engagement is a direct reflection of supervisor engagement.  Frighteningly, only 35% of managers are engaged in their jobs at work! When this is true, employees are 59% less likely to be engaged (Gallup).  They “catch” their boss’s negative energy like it’s the coronavirus.

As you look at these evidences, you might conclude that business innovation is impossible if we don’t innovate leadership first. If organizations are going to survive today, they must have strong leaders to break them out of toxicity and take them into this newly emerging Human Economy where the rules of engagement have changed. 

This is the biggest reason why it was so significant that Dr. Steve Jeffs had the chance to bring his doctoral work around Interdependent Leadership, and his insight from ten years on the People Acuity psychometrics team to the 2020 World Innovation Congress in Mumbai. Steve was awarded the global Innovation Leadership Award and spoke about innovating leadership and its relationship to business innovation.  He taught that innovation follows synergy.  It feeds on it.  Innovation needs the energy that comes as leaders break through the toxic barriers that hold people back from multiplying their brilliance.

For a new idea to be implemented, change is inevitable and cannot thrive in the environment of toxicity. Innovation requires change and a shift out of negativity. This means that people must do things different.  They must think different and be different. Trying to innovate within a toxic organization provides limited, if any results at all.  This is one of the biggest reasons why leadership must innovate before the task of business innovation can be successful.

As Dr. Jeffs taught a standing-room-only crowd, if we want more innovation inside organizations then we need to Shift Up! leadership to be more interdependent.  Steve Jeffs and his team at People Acuity bring leadership innovation to guide leaders to think differently, interact differently and thereby shift human interactions to the next generation of experience and results.  Interdependent Leadership, the cutting-edge innovation in leadership, creates fertile soil for optimal innovation and results.

To learn more about Dr. Steve Jeffs’ presentation topic, of Innovating Leadership, download the eBook he co-authored on the subject, “Interdependent Leadership: A New Approach for a New Economy.” https://peopleacuity.com/download-il-ebook/ 

This article has been written by Lisa Gregory – Chief Product Officer of People Acuity and co-author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living – in collaboration with People Acuity co-thought leaders, DeAnna Murphy and Steve Jeffs. Lisa holds nearly 100 certifications and is an expert in instructional design, facilitation, and engineering client solutions. She has coached and trained organizations on five continents and makes learning relevant and applicable. Learn more about Interdependent Leadership and download the new Interdependent Leadership eBook – at www.peopleacuity.com.

Photo credit: https://www.marketingweek.com/the-death-of-innovation/

Is Vulnerability the New Confidence?

To be more authentically confident, what you really need is to be more authentically vulnerable. You might think that sounds crazy, but it really works!  Here’s how.

If you are like most people, you want to be more confident.  There are many ways to be more confident, but there’s one you’ve likely not considered: choose authentic vulnerability and multiply it with whatever confidence you have.  When you create synergy between these amazing opposing forces you find a new power source, one that awakens energy, deeper connections, and increased ability to call on your unknown potential.  In other words, Confident Vulnerability™, one of the lead indicators of Interdependent Leadership (the most effective leadership approach of our day).

Mareo McCracken, the renown revenue leader at Movemedical is an Interdependent Leader, and he describes operating with both confidence and vulnerability together like this:

“Trying to be more confident doesn’t work, especially in the moment. Confidence is not something you turn off and on. Being the most confident person in the room is not about never showing weakness. Confidence is something you feel because you are at peace with the person you have become. Confidence is knowing your actions are aligned with your beliefs and you control your reaction to every situation. True confidence is evident when your faults are open for everyone to see… yet you still take action.”   

This is not just true confidence.  It is true Confident Vulnerability.

There is a big difference between appearing confident and having authentic confidence, between feeling vulnerable and having authentic vulnerability.  The mountain-top power-poser, the one who appears to be so invulnerable, is often just a poser.  But authentic confidence paired with authentic vulnerability is courageous, risk-taking, and involves Unconditional Curiosity™ without judgment. It isn’t afraid of uncertainty and knows the probability of failure yet tries anyway.  Confident Vulnerability recognizes that you make mistakes and are flawed but also holds that you are amazing, capable, and worthy just the same.  It is anchored in knowing that your value is not tied to any external condition, scorecard, or validation.  It just is – and this knowledge is one reason you can be comfortable and confident as you also stand in authentic vulnerability.

Confident Vulnerability allows you to say to yourself: “I know what I am.  I know what I’m not.  Both are okay.”   It moors you in the quiet confidence felt through your strengths, while simultaneously holding weakness, mistakes, and failures as part of your beautiful humanness.  It reframes weakness as a different way to serve others (every bit as valuably as you can through your strengths), as long as you’re not afraid of your weakness, you open yourself, and let others inform your perspectives and support you where you are less strong.  Confident Vulnerability lifts others to feel their value as they serve you, and lets you stop judging yourself by the presence of weakness.  It also sends out a powerful sonar-like signal, one that reflects acceptance of whatever messy humanness you might encounter, one that deepens others’ trust in you and in themselves. 

It’s entirely possible that you might find a beautiful combination found in the tension of these opposites, one that leads directly to releasing the untapped potential within you and those around you.  It bypasses all negatively-conditioned neural networks because the compelling draw of this Confident Vulnerability is that it gives rise to the very best possible that is available to you.  It is a view that offers hope that the very vulnerability you are afraid of revealing also exposes your deepest capability and most brilliant untapped possibilities.  What if this were true?  What if you let yourself operate from this belief?  How would things be different?

You might find the simple miracle that Mitch Albom described in Tuesdays with Morrie:

“Have I told you about the tension of opposites? he says.

The tension of opposites?

Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.  A tension of opposites is like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.

Sounds like a wrestling match, I say.

A wrestling match?  He laughs. Yes, you could describe life that way.

So which side wins, I ask?

Which side wins? He smiles at me, the crinkled eyes, the crooked teeth. Love wins. Love always wins.”

Morrie is right.  Love is the best ways to describe how Confident Vulnerability feels when you finally find it.

This article has been written by DeAnna Murphy – the founder and CEO of People Acuity and principal author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living and Choose to See You – in collaboration with People Acuity co-thought leaders, Lisa Gregory and Steve Jeffs. It includes excerpts from their soon-to-be released book on Interdependent Leadership.  DeAnna is a Top 100 Global Coaching Leader who has provided keynotes and leadership development experiences in 32 countries.  Learn more about Interdependent Leadership and download the new Interdependent Leadership eBook – at www.peopleacuity.com.

Three Sure Signs You’re Surrounded by Blame-Gamers

Blame is the number one toxic behavior inside of organizations – at least according to a 2018 research study completed by People Acuity’s psychometrics team. Over 1,800 employees and leaders across the globe participated, and surprisingly 50% of them scored their organization with the highest possible blame score.  Conversely, only 17% scored their organization as low-blame.  When blame is high there are some telling patterns that you may (or may not) be aware of, including three sure-fire signs that will leave you running for the nearest exit sign, hoping for a better job, if they are present.

The first thing that won’t surprise you is that you can kiss your Work Joy goodbye if you’re in a high-blame environment.  In fact, if blame-gamers surround you, you can expect less than a 4% chance of experiencing high Work Joy. This means you won’t feel ignited by your work and will likely dread it most days.  It also translates to high stress, low employee engagement, and a strong likelihood that you feel disempowered and unfulfilled.

As if that is not enough, the pain of low Work Joy is compounded by the absence of any real authentic relationships at work.  When blame is high the chances that you will have strong feelings of belonging and a feeling of connection to your team are less than 3%. You’ll feel alone.  Your work experience will be characterized by emptiness, frustration, and often sadness – and your team performance will be severely compromised.  Given that 75% of all organizational work happens in teams, and the fact that you were born to belong and connect, this one factor might hurt most of all.

The final sure-fire sign that you live and work in a blame-gaming environment is the nearly-complete absence of proactivity.  Just imagine what happens when every single day is filled with fire-fighting reactivity.  You get caught up dealing with one crisis, only to have another creep in even before you’ve solved the first one.  You realize that if you are in a blame-gaming system that the chances you would have high proactivity are only 5%?  Stephen Covey would be quick to tell you that if you’re not proactive you have no hope of being effective, given that the choice to Be Proactive is the foundational habit of all effective people.

While these signs are as sure as the sunrise, you can’t blame the blame-gamers.  That only puts you right smack in the middle of the Blamers Anonymous Club, and it reduces your power to change the very things you want to change.  Check out our brief video today about blame (found here) – and consider what you can do to take yourself out of the very behaviors that rob you of Work Joy, authentic Team Connection, and the Proactivity you need to become the creator of your life – rather than just surviving it.

Your mother may have told you to not be a quitter, but this is one time when quitting is just the right thing to do. 

Written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, who lead the People Acuity Thought Leader team and are the authors of the book Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living.  They are also the creators of a validated measurement tool evaluating Work Joy, Team Connection, Confident Vulnerability™ and Proactivity. Between them they have worked in nearly 60% of the Fortune 500 and Global1000 firms and collectively hold over one hundred certifications and international and national recognitions.  To book one of them as a speaker at your next event, contact info@peopleacuity.com.

 

 

Revolutionizing Engagement: The Case for Measuring Work Joy

If you’ve grown weary of all the employee engagement rhetoric and the pressure to measure and move the needle there, join the ranks!  This topic has been hot for a long time, yet with very little to show for it – except frustrated employees who hate annual surveys, and who stopped being honest a long time ago about it.  Maybe it’s time for a change!

Most employees don’t give a rip about employee engagement, even though it is so critical to the success of their teams and organizations.  You know what they do care about, though?  Their own Work Joy.  After all, who doesn’t want to experience joyful fulfillment, meaning, purpose, and belonging at work?  Now, that is something worth measuring and working toward!  Especially given that Work Joy is statistically significantly correlated (at the 0.01 level) with measures like Engagement, Connection, Trust, and Productivity.

If you’ve been looking for a new way to measure growth toward outcomes that really matter, and which employees can get excited about, you might be interested in joining the People Acuity thought leader team as they unveil their brand-new assessment tool in a webinar on February 1.  It measures Work Joy, Team Connection, Confident Vulnerability, and Proactivity, and designed for the front-line employee to get behind – not for his/her boss!  It has been created to ignite employees to be excited about shifting up their own outcomes and relationships, and to take responsibility for them in ways that are good for them (and for their boss and team!).

If you attend you will:

  • Discover how shifting your measurement focus can dramatically impact behavior and outcomes
  • Identify an under-utilized lever to igniting energy and performance in yourself and others
  • Learn a 4-step process to growing Work Joy, Team Connection, Proactivity, and Confident Vulnerability in yourself and others
  • Receive a discount code to experience People Acuity’s newest assessment (to be given at the webinar).

Join us for these and other exciting outcomes on February 1, at 7 a.m. CST, or 11 a.m. CST – register here: http://peopleacuity.wpengine.com/events/.

NOTE: this was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team.  It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology.  People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.

When Performance Falls Flat: The Surprise Missing Ingredient

Increased performance! Improved performance! Better performance! Faster, better, bigger, best.  If you’re like most people, that’s what you want for the performance of everything from your car’s engine to your employees at work. For good reason, particularly inside your organization. Especially given that increased performance directly affects corporate bottom lines, innovation, and opportunities. This awareness has led organizations for decades to focus on measuring and improving performance, even though this attention on measurement has not necessarily led to the desired outcomes. There is a good reason for this, which you may never have considered before: You may unknowingly be quantifying only half of the inputs to the performance equation, and missing critical key indicators.

Your partial success reflects that you have some things right, but there may be so much more that you’ve never considered before, even though your company may have amazing competency frameworks for every job, which are quantifiable.  You may have even defined KPI’s and implemented entire Performance Management Systems to measure performance, to clarify task and work expectations and ensure people have the resources they need to be top performers.  Still, performance may fall short of predictions and potential, and you might lay awake at night wondering, “What’s missing?”

Let’s ask two crucial questions to get outside the box, and see if it can prompt some new answers, places to look you may not have considered before.  First, “Where does performance break down most often in your organization?”  As you think about your answer, let it lead you to this question: “How much of it is the result of people’s interactions, communication or the inability to work fluidly together to solve complex challenges?”  As you look at these two things, what do you notice?  If you are like most people, you would say that a large percentage of performance breakdown is due to relational factors.  As you draw that conclusion, you realize that you have also just revealed the missing half of the performance equation!  It is all about the impact individuals have on each other and the organization, and the way their choices influence energy and performance.

This is a sometimes a difficult place to look because relational-oriented factors are hard to quantify.  Sometimes, they are not valued.  Yet, ignoring them is like driving through a construction site, and picking up a nail in not one tire, but two.  Imagine having one tire deflate, quickly followed by the second one, and ending up with two flat tires at the same time. Of course, when that happens you can’t get up to and maintain high speed. This is like having task and relational factors both breaking down at the same time, which almost always begins to happen if the relational elements are not attended to.  However, when task and relational oriented key predictive indicators are both given “air” in a balanced way, organizations, teams and individuals increase in momentum and velocity. Performance exponentially increases.

What relational KPIs increase the likelihood of high performance?  Our seven years of research with over 4,000 people across the globe suggests that a successful solution includes individuals having these three components:

  1. Clearly defined task and relational purposes
  2. Leveraging Strengths Strategy® to energize self and others, and to mitigate the experience of weakness
  3. Adding to synergy through serving “us/others” (as opposed to merely driving for one’s own individual gain)

What if you could replace the traditional scarcity-oriented, low-trust approach to performance management with excellence and energy management through Interdependence?  What if you could give feedforward, rather than feedback, and replace deficit-oriented performance management with excellence management?  You may not realize that smart organizations are already moving in that direction!

In this emerging Human Economy, can you really afford to minimize the magnitude of the relational impact on the performance equation?  If you don’t want your performance to fall flat, you may want to join the companies who know how to engage the hearts of their people, help them connect to one another and manage the relational side of the performance equation with wisdom and clarity.[1]  After all, those who get it are surging forward, and killing the competition. Those who don’t, will fall farther and farther behind.  Which way will it go for your organization?


You can request more information about how to create a performance strategy using a formula that includes both task and relational measures by emailing info@peopleacuity.com and having a conversation with one of our Strategists.  Watch for future blogs to learn more about each of the three relational KPIs.

NOTE: this blog was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team. It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology. People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.


[1] See: https://hbr.org/2014/11/from-the-knowledge-economy-to-the-human-economy.

 

5 Signs You Manage a World-Class Interdependent Team

Interdependence may be the truest hallmark of interpersonally competent people, and the most distinguishing characteristic of high-performing teams.  In fact, you can guarantee that any business consistently performing at the top of their game is made up of world-class interdependent teams.[1]

This begs a question:  Is your team among the power-house teams that are setting the world on fire? 

Just in case you really wanted to know the answer, here are five sure-fire signs that would tell you if they are.  Check and see if these things describe your team:

  1. Team members serve the “we” over the “me”. There is a fulfilling spirit of service to one another, and to others beyond the team, that makes way for individual ego to be set aside.  There is also an awareness that every interaction and task contributes to something bigger than self, that there are no less-important puzzle pieces in the team equation.  Every piece matters!
  2. There is a spirit of unconditional curiosity. This applies to both relationship experiences, as well as the differences that emerge in approaching tasks, projects, and assignments.  It is most reflected in the nonjudgment occurring between individuals, particularly during moments of expected frustration, when openness to possibilities, perspectives, and oppositeness creates fertile ground for better outcomes.
  3. There is excitement around a shared purpose that gives meaning to the team’s work. Team members are very adept at translating the work of the team to a specific difference being made in the lives of others or the world.  This difference-making becomes a burn that fuels passion, takes the team confidently into the unknown, and provides both an anchor and a compass to steer by.
  4. Team members are coach-like with one another. Because there is no need to prove your value, or that you are worthy of belonging in an interdependent team, advise-giving and expert-mind give way to give-and-take exploration where coach-likeness draws out the best from the team.  There is room to be stuck.  There is room to not know, and to lean in to others whose views may seem strange or unusual.  You can be coach-like with yourself, which helps you to also be coach-like with others.
  5. Each person leads themselves, so they can partner effectively with others. In an interdependent team, there is no waiting for others to take care of you or meet your needs (dependence), nor siloism or steam-rolling inadvertently over those around you (independence).  Neither is there alliance-forming, gossiping, or the assumption of reciprocity (codependence).  There is, however, awareness of impact, with each person equally sharing the responsibility for their own performance and energy, and contributing to the conditions so others’ performance and energy can also be high.

When you examine these sure-fire signs of high interdependence, how does your team stack up?  And more importantly, what might be different for you if these things were part of the teams you are on?

To learn more about Interdependence, you might be interested in the free online Foundations of People Acuity program, which includes a great overview of Interdependence.  See: http://peopleacuity.wpengine.com/product/foundations-of-people-acuity/.

NOTE: this article was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team. It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology. People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.


[1] Barrick, M. R., Bradley, B. H., Colbert, A. E. (2007). The moderating role of top management team interdependence: Implications for real teams and working groups. Academy of Management Journal, 50(3), 544-557.