Self-Awareness Workshops

5 Ways to Promote Diversity in Your Organization

Diversity doesn’t have to be a painful process.  The whole point of diversity is that it should add value and resources to your organization rather than create unnecessary friction and obstacles.  Think of the following ideas as you promote diversity in your organization.

  1. Start from the top down.  Leadership needs to be involved and fully supportive  in diversity initiatives.
  2. Have a plan.  Identify a couple of areas that you’d like to start on such as increasing diversity in leadership or improving communication.  Develop a basic plan of specific actions you will take to start the process.
  3. Have a conversation with employees. Start the dialogue on what your company is going to do about diversity and share information freely with employees at every level.
  4. Diversity is positive.  Diversity initiatives aren’t about taking away rights or resources from people, they’re about welcoming everyone to the table.
  5. Stay committed.  You need deliberate, ongoing action to keep your initiatives going.  One-time interventions or pep rallies only raise expectations and then dash them.  Stay committed to creating whatever your vision is.

Try these five steps and you’ll be on your way to creating a successful, diverse work environment.

Take care,


Leaders’ Obsessive Focus on What Employees Do Wrong

Many leaders seem fixated on pointing out what their employees are doing wrong.  It’s as if they see themselves as omniscient sages whose sole purpose is to constantly remind people about the things they aren’t doing quite right.

Here’s a common situation that occurs in many workplaces and that illustrates how much leaders focus on the negative.  A bright, energetic employee comes to her supervisor with great ideas gleaned from her work experience and ongoing conversations with her employees.  She wants to explore and develop ways to use these ideas to improve how her department functions.  The supervisor listens to her for a minute or so, points out the things that are wrong about her ideas, gives her a lecture about what he sees going wrong, tells her what she should do and sends her off to fulfill his directives.  During the interaction her eyes gloss over and she moves from being excited and engaged to feeling chastised and unimportant.  The irony of the situation is that she had possible solutions to the very problems her supervisor talked about during his unsolicited critique.  Another wasted opportunity to improve their workplace.

It’s not that the supervisor was being evil in this case, it’s just that he’d been programmed to only see what’s wrong and impose his perspective rather than looking for what’s going well or entertaining other possibilities.  So what can leaders do the next time they feel the irresistable urge to critique or offer a “helpful” suggestion?  How about saying or doing something positive?  Let’s look at the difference between the two approaches.

When You Focus on What’s Wrong

Employee: I have this great idea for improving productivity.
Leader: That’s great, let me tell you what we’re going to do (rattles off list of everything that’s going wrong).

When You Focus on the Positive

Employee: I have this great idea for improving productivity.
Leader: I’d love to hear it (the leader listens and then encourages the employee to go do it on her own).

The difference between these two approaches is that one of them focuses on supporting people and encouraging them to grow and succeed.  As leaders, we often spend so much time correcting people that we forget that there is a lot they are doing, or could do, that is very positive.  The trick is to shift from always focusing on the negative to highlighting the positive.  Think about your own experience: Would you rather your boss allowed you to explore your great idea or spent a lot of time telling you why it’s wrong or why you should do it their way?

Leaders have the choice as to how they interact with their employees.  They can create workplaces that constrain and dominate people or environments where new ideas are encouraged and celebrated.  What will you do to focus on the positive things your employees do?

Take care,


How to Change Your Life

People often ask me how to change their lives. The answer is simple but doing it is the hard part. We are in a culture that demands quick results and changing our lives requires deliberate action over time. Next time you are wondering how to change your life here is the answer that many people have used to transform their situation.

1. Think of what you want to change.
2. Devise a strategy to change it.
3. Pick one goal.
3. Pick one task you can do to start achieving your goal.
4. Check in with yourself in a week to see if you achieved the goal.
5. If the goal needs revising, do so. If you’ve completed it, move to the next goal.
6. Reward yourself each time you complete a goal. No overindulging please.

Try these steps and see if they help you change your life. Everyone who has ever changes their lives started with desire but they all needed a plan to do it. Put one foot in front of the other and strive to complete your goals. If you feel like giving up that is normal but please continue walking forward.

No life change is easy. They all take deliberate effort but people achieve their goals all the time. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do so as well.

Take care,


10 Beliefs that Prevent Team Building

A lot of leaders and organizations want to practice effective team building but there’s a big chasm between wanting to do something and actually doing it.  I often hear people in workplaces saying things out loud that illustrate why they aren’t building teams but they’re not aware they’re doing it.  People have beliefs hardwired inside them that they don’t even realize get in the way of bringing employees together and encouraging them to collaborate.  Here are ten of the most prevalent beliefs.

  1. They’ll never get along. If you believe people won’t get along they’ll prove you right almost every time.
  2. We’re rugged individualists.  Individuals functioning in this way aren’t as adept at working in teams as people who believe in collaboration.
  3. If you want it done right do it yourself.  If you’re doing everything it leaves your team stranded and feeling like they can’t do anything right.
  4. Teams must have a strong leader.  It’s often the strong leader that gets in the way of everyone having a voice and participating actively.
  5. Collaboration was fine in kindergarten but this is the real world.  If you believe this then I know how you practice team building.
  6. Everybody has a specific job.  This keeps people firmly in their boxes and discourages creativity.
  7. Team building is secondary to productivity.  Many leaders overlook the idea that if you build a strong foundation of high-functionong teams you become more productive.
  8. Team building is too touchy-feely.  Leaders who believe this create workplaces that only allow three feelings: forced happiness, fear and anger.
  9. I don’t have to participate.  Nothing says you lack commitment to team building than not participating in it with your employees.
  10. I don’t have time for team building.  This is like saying you don’t have time to build a roof over your building because you’ve got to get to work and then it rains and soaks everything.

Enlightened leaders understand that team building is a vital building block to creating workplaces where people interact positively and help each other get things done.  The way you actually build teams is to take action in small increments and do it over time.  You might offer ongoing team building training or provide opportunities for people to work together to solve problems.  Some organizations form mastermind groups that tackle thorny issues.  The idea is to gradually build a workplace where working collaboratively is encouraged.  What will you do to create a culture of team building in your organization?

Take care,


What’s Your Leadership Style?

We all know that we’re supposed to be great leaders who motivate everyone and get impressive results. Yet when we hit the real world all kinds of obstacles get in our way. There are three basic styles of leadership: Passive, authoritative and balanced and each one leads to different results.

The passive leader listens well and doesn’t act impulsively. On the less productive side she may be detached and uninvolved. The passive leader doesn’t always speak up and may avoid conflict.

The authoritative leader can lead groups and is generally clear on what they expect. The less effective part is that she may micromanage and not delegate effectively. The authoritative leader likes to talk and always gives you their opinion.

The balanced leader is a combination of the positive traits of the passive and authoritative styles. This person talks when necessary and listens well. They take action when necessary and hold back when necessary. They get better results from employees because they tend to be more in the middle of issues and take a more balanced approach to supervision and direction. If you’ve ever worked for a balanced leader, you know that it can be quite a positive experience.

Ask yourself the following questions in thinking about your leadership style.

1. What side of the spectrum do I lead from?

2. What results do I get?

3. What is one thing I could do to modify my style to get better results?

4. What is one thing I could do to support my employees more?

Think about these questions and your own leadership style. Sometimes making a small shift in your approach can lead to excellent results.

Take care,