Newsletter

Jul 082014
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Six Easy Steps to Developing a High-Performing Team

There is nothing better than a talented team pulling together in one direction, accomplishing great things for your organization. If you don’t have a well-functioning team, you simply have a group of people who work in isolation with no input from other team members, little collaboration, and a loss of opportunities to learn from each other and from their experiences.

While teams may be strange and uncomfortable for many, they are the best way to interact with each other, develop a consensus, and work towards a common goal. In a well-functioning team, each member is aware of what the other team members are working on so that the final deliverable is very cohesive.

It takes time to build a well-functioning team, certainly longer than managing one person at a time. Once you’ve brought a well-functioning team together, it is easier to build sustained capability to perform and maximize strengths while covering individual weaknesses. In addition, you will have more time to work on other priorities because your team members will be helping each other.

Glenn Llopis, a contributor to Forbes Magazine, wrote an article in October 2012 on ways to build teams to last. He stated that team building is an art and science, and the leader who can build a high-performing team is worth his or her weight in gold.

He mentions six ways successful teams are built to last:

  1. Be Aware of How You Work. Be your own boss, be flexible, and know who you are as a leader.
  2. Get to Know the Rest of the Team. Think of your team as puzzle pieces that can be placed together in various ways.
  3. Clearly Define Goals and Responsibilities. A team should operate as a mosaic whose unique strengths and differences convert into a powerful united force.
  4. Be Proactive with Feedback. Take the time to remind someone of how and what they can be doing better. Learn from them. Don’t complicate the process of constructive feedback. Feedback is two-way communication.
  5. Acknowledge and Reward. When people are acknowledged, their work brings them greater satisfaction and becomes more purposeful.
  6. Always Celebrate Success. Celebration is a short-lived activity. Don’t ignore it. Take the time to live in the moment, and remember what allowed you to cross the finish line.

Not everyone has the skills to develop great teams. It takes a special kind of leader with a keen understanding of people, knowing their strengths, and doing what it takes to get them excited to work with each other.

As a leader, it is important to allow roles within the team to evolve naturally, delegate and empower others, create a climate of innovation and experimentation, build a sense of joy and fun for the team, and set the standard by modeling it.

As Peter Drucker, an Austrian-born American writer and management consultant, said:

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I’; they think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”

Contact me if my Executive Team Development Program can help your group become a high-powered, well-functioning team.

Jun 102014
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Do You Have the Courage to Stand Alone?

Developing our managerial courage is an important leadership quality. Leading isn’t always easy; it takes courage to lead people through challenging times. It can encompass making an objective decision and doing what is right under the circumstances. It is a quality we can’t always define, though it generally consists of our values, self-awareness, humility, confidence, objectivity, and the willingness to take risks.

Saying what needs to be said at the right time, to the right people, in the right manner takes courage. If the stakes are high, it can be uncomfortable. When we take tough positions and speak out we can stand alone. Standing alone requires self-confidence and a strong sense of self. Leaders often stand alone, which is riskier than following and requires a lot of internal security.

Leadership courage means we must face the truth and express it. Sometimes it means we have the courage to rely on others or to make decisions in risky or uncertain situations. Certainly it means being outside of our comfort zone and pushing our limits. As leaders we have to express courage every day, at every level of our organization. As a leader we are often expected to act with courage.

It doesn’t mean we are always right; we are wrong many times, but we learn to accept personal responsibility. When we speak up we often take the heat; others keep it to themselves. When we take the heat we build our heat shield. If we know we’re right, standing courageously is well worth the heat. If it turns out we are wrong, we should admit it and move on.

Taking a strong stand takes confidence. We can build that confidence by getting a good scope of the problem, talking to other people, and asking for advice. When we pick an option we should develop the rationale and stand tall until proven wrong. It is also important to consider the opposing view and prepare responses, always expecting pushback.

Keeping your cool is also important. If you have negative emotional reactions, others may think you have problems taking tough positions. Learn to identify negative reactions and control them. You can pause, breathe, or ask a question to buy time.
Leadership courage means searching for a better outcome, not destroying others. Even if you are totally right, empathizing with others is important, especially if emotions run high.

We should understand that we will be wrong many times. Most successful managers were promoted to leadership positions because they had the guts to stand alone, not because they were always right. Studies have shown that managers are right 65 percent of the time. Put those errors on your menu because a balanced diet has to have spinach. Don’t let the possibility of being wrong hold you back.

Push your envelope, take chances, and suggest bold new ideas. If you fail, treat it as a learning experience. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Balance your messages and don’t put everything in the negative. You may have to work with the same people again, so do something to show goodwill. Compliment them and help them achieve something so they too have some successes. Balancing the scales will pay dividends in the future.

Standing alone does not always mean going it alone.  It means trusting yourself and taking the risk to let yourself be seen, standing firm in your beliefs even when your internal voice challenges you.

May 062014
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Can You Adjust Your Skills to Meet the Challenges of the Future?

Today’s world and work environment is rapidly changing. Skills acquired from past experiences may now be out of date or less useful. They are unlikely to be adequate for the future challenges or opportunities we will face. Fortunately, developing our personal and interpersonal skills is a leadership competency. We can be more successful if we continue to grow and change throughout our career.

Effective leaders learn to constantly adjust; otherwise they can become ineffective and obsolete. One insurance against this is to continually acquire new skills. Preparing for an uncertain future and potential opportunities is a way to get and stay ahead of our competition.

Too many times we want a quick fix. We don’t want to put in the time and effort necessary to develop ourselves for future growth. One of the first things we can do to change this is to “know thyself” as the Greek philosopher Socrates once suggested. We have to know our “blind spots.” A blind spot is one of the worst things we can have. If we don’t know our blind spots, we can go into areas unprepared or ill-prepared. This can result in disaster.

If we can identify our blind spots, we can get to know ourselves. If we know our default settings and motivational core, we can greatly facilitate our growth by being aware of what is most centrally driving our ego agenda. We have to be aware of our personality patterns because in most cases the mechanisms of our personality are invisible to us. If we are able to bring a nonjudgmental awareness to the reactivity of our personality, we can discover a vast part of ourselves and learn how to improve our personal and interpersonal skills.

To learn your personality type and potential blind spots, I recommend the Enneagram assessment. It is a quick way to identify talents, strengths and blind spots. All of my coaching clients and workshop participants to take the assessment before we start working together. You can take The Free RHEIT Sampler, or for $10 take the RHEIT Independently validated full test. Here is the link.

Another development tool is to do a simple skills audit. Poll 10 people who know you well enough to give you detailed feedback on what you do well and not well, what they would like to see you keep doing, start doing and stop doing. Use the results to help you develop skills you need without wasting time on the areas you don’t need.

Also, think about what’s important in your current job as well as the next two or three jobs you want to strive for. Find successful people in these jobs and ask them what skills they need to use to be successful.

Finally, find others who understand that you take your personal and professional development seriously. State your needs and ask for their help. You will be surprised how many will be willing to assist. They will give the benefit of the doubt and support to those who aren’t arrogant, admit their shortcomings, and try to do something about them.

You can also engage the services of a certified, professional coach. Having a coach is a great way to help identify your blind spots and develop your full potential.

Personal development should be a lifelong process. It’s a way for us to assess our skills and qualities, consider our aims in life, and set goals in order to realize and maximize our potential.

To quote American Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden, “If I am through learning, I am through.”

 

Apr 082014
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Do You Use Humor as a Way of Being Serious?

Humor is a leadership competency, but many people in leadership positions are unskilled at it. They may be too serious, have problems telling a joke, don’t know how to use humor appropriately, or maybe just appear humorless. Those who are skilled at using humor tend to have a good sense of humor, can laugh at themselves and with others, and use humor appropriately to ease tensions.

Leaders who learn not to take themselves too seriously and who use humor and humility are typically well balanced and self-confident. It keeps their ego in check and their feet on the ground.

Humor is an essential element of life and work. If we use it properly, it can defuse tension in a crisis. But there is a time and place for everything, and humor at the expense of others is inappropriate and harmful in the work environment.

There are many types of humor available to us. There is good humor and negative humor, constructive humor and destructive humor. We all know people who are humorous and we have, no doubt, heard humorous stories that are used to make a point.

We can learn to find humor in everyday situations; it’s not simply about telling jokes. Humorous events in our everyday lives are a good source of stories. Think about a ridiculous situation you have experienced, funny kids, pets or hobbies. Then there is always the news or simply looking for humor around you.

It’s important to keep humor in good taste. People are turned off by political, sexist, ethnic, and religious humor. It’s also important to avoid race, gender, and culture when trying to be humorous. Don’t make fun of others or make them feel or look bad.

Self-deprecating humor—poking fun at yourself—is usually safe and can lead to increased respect. Funny or embarrassing things that happened to you, your flaws, or mistakes you’ve made can add humor to a situation. It also makes you more human and endearing.

Never use humor as a shield or a defense technique, and choose the right time for using humor. Sometimes it’s best to follow the lead of others, not being the first to use humor but being second or third until you find your funny bone. Until you get good or natural at it, you can improve your results by using a little exaggeration, being brief, and omitting unnecessary words.

Humor can be motivating. Not all leaders are the nicest people you would want to work for, but if they help you accomplish what you want, and have fun doing it, then it has been a far better place than if humor was absent.

To get better at humor, study the pros. Read How to Be Funny by Jon Macks and Laughing Matters by Joel Goodman. You can also go to comedy performances and observe how the professionals do it.

Humor is common in many forms of communication. It creates an open atmosphere by awakening positive emotions that enhance listening, understanding, and acceptance of messages.

To quote Bill Cosby, “You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”

Until next month, laugh a little.

 

Mar 112014
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Is Being “Lonely at the Top” a Way of Leadership?

Being personable is a leadership characteristic and strength. It means being able to put others at ease and relate to a variety of people. Being skilled at being approachable means relating well to all kinds of people – up, down, sideways, inside and outside of the organization. It means building constructive and effective relationships. Importantly, it can also mean using diplomacy and tack, which can be beneficial in defusing high-tension situations.

Many managers and leaders see remoteness as a good thing, thinking that “keeping a distance is good,” or “I don’t want to be warm and fuzzy.” In many cases, leaders are aware they aren’t “a people person,” are not overly concerned because they thought “work was work,” or take the position that they are “not here to win a popularity contest.” The idea that keeping a healthy distance is good leadership is “old school.”

Adopting a segregated style is not healthy. People won’t know what to make of it, which can lead to more stress, disengage co-workers, and make them reluctant to approach you with information that may be critical for you to lead. A key to getting along with people is to hold back our personal reactions and focus on others first. It’s about working from the outside in.

Managing the first three minutes of a relationship is important. The tone is set and first impressions are formed. It is important we work on being open and approachable—listening, sharing, understanding and comforting.

Being a good listener is also key. It means listening without interrupting, asking clarifying questions, and not instantly judging. It’s also about having effective non-verbal communications skills, appearing and sounding relaxed, smiling, being calm, and maintaining good eye contact. When speaking, it’s important to keep an open body posture, speak in a paced and pleasant tone, and avoid being forceful or going into too much detail. It’s also important to avoid glancing at our watch, fiddling with paperwork, or giving the impression of “I’m busy.”

Arrogant people devalue others and their contributions, making them feel diminished, rejected, and upset. To avoid this, read your audience. Learn what people look like when they are uncomfortable with you. Do they cringe? Do they back up? Do they stand outside your door hoping not to be invited in? Make a point of reading others, especially during the first three minutes you engage with them.

Leadership means servicing other people’s needs. Being personable may not be the most important aspect of leadership, but it can contribute significantly to your downfall. The good news is that people can change. First we have to acknowledge that change is wanted and necessary. Then we must take the necessary actions to become more approachable. The essence of approachability starts with attitude. Being professional and approachable are mutually exclusive.

In many cases being unapproachable can be a blind spot, something coaching can help identify and resolve. If you feel coaching or leadership development can benefit you or your team, please contact me. Even highly talented individuals can be rendered ineffective if they don’t develop their leadership characteristics.

Feb 112014
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With Finite Resources and Infinite Needs, Do You Navigate Your Time Wisely?

As individuals move up the leadership ladder, they often find that time becomes a scarce commodity. There is always more to do with little time to do it. We can’t do everything ourselves so we have to set priorities in order to manage our time effectively.

One way to manage our time more effectively is to set personal goals. Setting goals is essential for setting priorities. If we set goals, we can determine what is critical to our mission, what is important, and what is nice to get done if we have the time. If we write out a work plan, we can then determine the sequence of events necessary to get the tasks completed.

Determine what your time is worth. By attaching a monetary value to your time, you can then ask yourself, “Is this worth the use of my time?” Review your calendar for the past 90 days and identify your three biggest time wasters. If reviewing your calendar is not effective, then keep track of your activities over the next 90 days and identify your time wasters that way. Once you have done that, set plans to reduce the three biggest time wasters by 50 percent. This could be done by being more effective in your use of emails and voice mails. For example, when making a call, jot down the points you want to cover before you dial the number. Learn to shut down conversations that aren’t necessary. Just say, “I have another task I have to get done, can we continue this conversation another time?” Set deadlines for yourself, and use your best time of day for the toughest tasks. If you do your best work in the morning, don’t waste that time on less important items.

Delegate time-consuming work to others whenever possible. Effectively delegating things you don’t have to do yourself empowers your team and helps them grow. It’s also a good way to develop leadership. If you effectively delegate to others, it creates a win-win situation.

If you know other professionals who manage their time well, observe what they do and compare that to what you do. You can adopt their time management practices if they are practices that work for you.

Many times, we don’t have time to dwell on our choices, rather we have to make them on the spot, without all the data we would like to have (See previous article on ambiguity). We cannot be right all of the time. We should not try to be a perfectionist or we will miss many opportunities.

Many times, we just have a hard time saying no. Saying no is particularly difficult if you are a Type Two (Helper) Enneagram Personality. People will always ask you to help them, to do something they can’t do, putting more on your plate than you have time to do. Managing your time effectively means having the ability to say no. If someone requesting your help has already asked you to do other things, ask them which of those things they would like to cancel or postpone in order to allow you to accomplish their most recent request. In this way, you get to say yes and no by letting them choose.

Finally, remember that others you interact with may also be under time constraints. Be efficient with their time as well. Get to the point and get it done. Give them the opportunity for new discussions, but if they don’t have anything else to add, say “Thanks” and be on your way.

Managing our time is a great leadership competency. To quote Robert Orben, “Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.”

 

Jan 142014
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How Do You Handle Situations When the Solutions Are Ambiguous?

As a manager or leader, we don’t always have all the information we need to make critical decisions. In many cases, we face ambiguity. Ambiguity is about doubtfulness, uncertainty, or vagueness. Many times leadership is about not knowing yet making the best of the moment without assurances about what the outcome might be.

Many problems managers and leaders face are ambiguous –neither the problem nor the solution is clear. If we had all the time in the world, and 100 percent of the information, we could make decisions that are more accurate, more often. However, the real reward goes to those who make good decisions most of the time, with few or no precedents regarding how similar problems were solved.

There are several ways we can handle ambiguity. One way is to take small, incremental steps. How we deal with uncertainty depends on how we tolerate errors and mistakes, and how we face any criticism that might follow. We might be able to make a series of smaller decisions, get feedback, make corrections, and move forward a little further. Sometimes the second or third try works best.

Another way to deal with ambiguity is to broaden our horizons. Few people are motivated by uncertainty and chaos. However, many leaders are challenged by solving problems others have not solved, in essence going where no one has gone before. They enjoy learning new things and exploring new horizons.

Another process to deal with ambiguity is to get better organized. Set priorities, focus on the critical issues, and let go of the trivia. Learn how to become more effective and efficient in our work processes, and discipline ourselves by developing a set of best practices.

Don’t be afraid to fail. We often fail the first time we try something new. Anything worth doing can take repeated effort. We can learn from our mistakes by creating immediate feedback loops. As leaders, we will make many mistakes and have many failures because of the many ambiguities we face. We can’t always be sure of success. If we face problems no one else has faced, it’s likely no one else knows what to do either. If we make a mistake, we can always ask ourselves what we have learned from it.

Stress will always come into the equation. The more ambiguity, the more stress we will have to manage. When this happens, we can become ungrounded, get frustrated, and many times become upset. It can be a very emotional time. If that happens, let the problem go for a while. Do something else and come back to it after you have a chance to calm down.

Change is about letting go of one thing and reaching for the next. This can be scary, but we have to let go in order to reach out. Many times, it will feel like we are trying to hold onto air until we get to a new place. If we are afraid to fail, we will stay in the same place. We will be safe, but nothing will have changed. We have to let go to change; we have to visualize that next outcome. We have to want it, go after it, or invite it in, experiment with it.

Not everything comes neatly wrapped. We should feel comfortable making mistakes, fixing them, and moving forward. It won’t always be perfect.

As Edward de Bono, a British physician, author, inventor and consultant once wrote:

“In the future, instead of striving to be right at a high cost, it will be more appropriate to be flexible and plural at a lower cost. If you cannot accurately predict the future, then you must flexibly be prepared to deal with various possible futures.”

 

Dec 102013
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Are You Liviing the Black Belt Mentality in Leadership?

In today’s world, many individuals on a leadership track want instant gratification, instant rewards, instant feedback, instant stardom, instant career paths, and instant anointment as leaders. Yes, they want it now. Like the J. G. Wentworth commercial, “It’s my money, and I want it now.”

How long does it take to earn acknowledgement as a leader? I suspect some people reach that level of recognition faster than others do, yet all of us have to earn it. From time to time, I coach young managers and potential leaders who say, “I can be the CEO of this company.” Sure, confidence is important, but developing the skills and talents to be an effective leader takes time. Many individuals do not want to make the effort to develop their leadership skills, develop their emotional maturity or credibility, or go through a process of growth and development to earn their Black Belt in leadership.

What does it take to earn a Black Belt in leadership? The same process as to earn a Black Belt in karate. It takes time, training, practice, emotional maturity and the right frame of mind. It’s living the Black Belt Mentality.

The Black Belt Mentality is based on the following story. A young man asked his Master, “Master, when will I be a Black Belt?” And the Master replied, “You will never be a Black Belt. For anyone who would ask such a question doesn’t have the patience, will, and discipline to do what is required to become a Black Belt.”

Therefore, living the Black Belt Mentality requires that we walk with an open mind each day. It requires the desire to become a problem solver, to learn something new, and to pursue that practice with all our heart.

In Western culture, we have the belt system associated with martial arts, beginning with the White Belt and ending with the 10th Degree Black Belt Grand Master. To become a 10th Degree Black Belt Grand Master, one must practice more than 40 years.

Originally, in martial arts there was no belt system. You started with a white belt, and after years and years of training, the belt turned black because it was soiled and dirty from all the hard work. The true Black Belt wants to turn his belt back to white. The way to accomplish this is to keep training, working, and striving, until the fibers tear and fray to reveal the white cloth once again.

So how long does it take to become a leader? The answer is you can be one now, and continue to train, work, and strive to improve your skills. It is important to sustain that drive and embrace the Black Belt Mentality, and that is all about patience, will, and discipline. If you follow that formula, and practice it every day, you will develop your leadership skills and earn your leadership Black Belt, eventually being recognized as a 10th Degree Black Belt Grand Master in leadership

Providing your valued employees the tools to become Black Belt Leaders is essential to helping them grow, stay centered, balanced, calm during a crisis, and creative and effective in everything they do.

Someone once said, “Leadership is not about what you know; it’s about what you are willing to learn.”

 

Nov 122013
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Do You Say What You Really Think or Always Try to Keep Things in Harmony?

This issue focuses on Enneagram personality Type 9, The Peacemaker. Peacemakers are the most basic or undistorted personality type. They have a problem with priorities and find it difficult to change directions or shift attention to what is most important.

Peacemakers are balanced, accepting, and harmonious. They find it difficult to face priorities or conflict. They tend to find union with others, mediating conflicts, avoiding tension, and keeping things in harmony. The value that Nines are attracted to is harmony. They relish calm, prize peace, and appreciate regularity.

Nines are in the Body Center Triad, meaning they filter the world through an intelligence of kinesthetic and physical sensations along with gut instinct. Body-based types lead with the body movement, sense awareness, gut-level feelings, personal security, and social belonging. Their focus is on taking control of themselves and their environment, and taking action in practical ways.

Nines are called the Peacemakers because no type is more devoted to the quest for internal and external peace for themselves and others. Nines can have the strength of Eights, the sense of fun and adventure of Sevens, the dutifulness of Sixes, the intellectualism of Fives, the creativity of Fours, the attractiveness of Threes, the generosity of Twos, and the idealism of Ones. However, they don’t have a sense of their own identity.

Famous Peacemakers include Kevin Costner, Sophia Loren, Morgan Freeman, Coretta Scott King, Sylvester Stallone, Shaquille O’Neal, Joe Montana, Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama, and Jimmy Smits.

How do we identify a Type 9? Nines appear easygoing, nonjudgmental, and diplomatic. They also show their support of others through affirming comments, head nodding, and saying “Uh-huh.” However, this does not always mean they agree, just that they hear what others are saying.

Some proverbs that identify a Nine include:

Unity is strength. Moderation in all things. Don’t rock the boat. Not to decide is to decide. Diplomacy is the peaceful substitute for shooting. Cooperation is spelled with two letters: we. The greatest strength is shown in standing still.

Average Peacemakers are accommodating, unassuming, passive, submissive, and philosophical. Competition is not appealing to them, nor is one right way, or pressure to choose. They need to know exactly what is expected of them and what their role is. Nines value relationships more than anything and will work towards collaboration.

Unhealthy Peacemakers can be neglectful, self-conscious, inadequate, disoriented, and self-abandoning. They can be too sensitive to criticism and critical of themselves for lacking initiative and discipline. Insecurities about their desire to please make it difficult to say no to people.

Healthy Peacemakers are self-sufficient, receptive, supportive, peacemaking, stable, and nurturing. They have the ability to be agreeable and to comfort others with endurance and strength. They can mediate between people and lessen conflicts. They can be very effective in negotiations or human resource capacities.

The Peacemaker’s communication style is monotonous, rambling, appeasing, and soothing. They have trouble getting to the point, being linear and controlled, or quite scattered.

When coaching a Peacemaker it’s important to remember that they have to have a strong connection with a coach before they fully engage in the experience. This is particularly important when they are about to hear constructive feedback and feel stressed. They prefer specific details and multiple interpretations of the key issues, which mirrors the way they process information.

If you know a Type 9, understand that they like to listen and be of service, but not be taken advantage of. If they meander while speaking, listen until they finish. They like good discussions, but not confrontational ones. While you should give them time to finish things and make decisions, it’s okay to nudge them gently and nonjudgmentally.

Suggestions and exercises for Peacemakers are about relationships and anger.

  • Take the first step to change a situation that isn’t right instead of hoping that things will change by themselves.
  • Bring up your problems when talking with others rather than only listening to theirs.Tell people when you want to be alone.
  • Learn to become aware of and then appropriately express your anger.
  • Avoid acting as if everything is fine when it isn’t.
  • Learn to feel the buildup of anger in your body.

Remember, none of the personality types is better or worse than any other. All types have unique assets and liabilities, strengths and weaknesses. While it is common to find a little of ourselves in each of the nine types, one of them typically stands out as being closest to ourselves. This is our basic personality type.

The Enneagram is a valuable tool coaches can use as a catalyst for change. In an organization or business, this can help in employee development, hiring decisions, or forming highly functional teams.

To identify your dominant personality type, visit www.enneagraminstitute.com and take the free assessment or the ten dollar enhanced assessment. Then contact me so we can discover how you can enhance your effectiveness. Coaching can be a valuable resource for developing yourself, your business, and your employees.

Oct 082013
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Are You Annoyed by Whiners but Protective of the Noble Weak?

This issue focuses on Enneagram personality Type 8, The Challenger. Challengers enjoy taking on challenges themselves as well as giving others opportunities that challenge them to exceed in some way. Eights have enormous willpower and vitality, and they feel most alive when exercising these capacities in the world.

Challengers are leaders. They are the bosses and the confrontational power-seekers. They are assertive, direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective. Eights are primarily motivated by the desire to establish self-reliance.

Eights are in the Body Center Triad, meaning they filter the world through an intelligence of kinesthetic and physical sensations along with gut instinct. Body-based types lead with the body movement, sense awareness, gut-level feelings, personal security, and social belonging. Their focus is on taking control of themselves and their environment, and taking action in practical ways.

Eights are quick to anger and even quicker to respond. They experience anger as energy that can overtake them unless it can be released immediately. Once the anger is expressed, they tend to move on.

Expect an Eight to challenge you, to test your integrity, strength, or conviction. Don’t try to dominate them and force decisions; this is their domain, and they will laugh your efforts away. Don’t back down and be weak, either. They are annoyed by anyone they feel is a whiner or wimp, but will protect the noble weak.

Famous Challengers include Johnny Cochran, Robert Shapiro, Martin Luther King, Jr., General Norman Schwarzkopf, Frank Sinatra, Donald trump, Barbara Walters, Russell Crowe, and Sean Connery.

How do we identify a Type 8? They exemplify the desire to be independent and to take care of themselves. They are assertive and passionate about life, meeting it head on with self-confidence and strength. They are resourceful and stand up for themselves. They are people of vision and action, taking the initiative and making things happen, protecting the people in their lives while empowering others to stand on their own.

Some proverbs that identify an Eight include:

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen. Discretion is the better part of valor. Actions speak louder than words. No one tells me what to do.

Average Challengers are enterprising and industrious, dominating, confrontational, combative, and intimidating. They are people of vision and action. Honor is important to them because their word is their bond. Many times, they are full of bluster and bravado.

Unhealthy Challengers can be ruthless and cruel, extremely controlling, confrontational, and territorial. They sometimes throw their weight around in various ways, by swaggering, being willful, and bluffing.

Healthy Challengers are self-restrained, self-confident, and strong leaders. They are influential, having quick minds with visions for practical possibilities. They are often charismatic and able to attract the support of others to join in their vision. They are good at getting others to stretch their abilities and surpass their own expectations.

The Challenger’s communication style is confronting, commanding, unmasking, controlling, threatening, and direct.

When coaching a Challenger it’s important to remember that they are straightforward and do not like to be asked indirect questions, perceiving these as time wasting or manipulative. It is best to ask succinct, candid questions. Eights usually want to focus on the biggest picture possible, with details used as supportive information. They don’t like to waste time and are prone to taking immediate action.

If you know a Type 8, stand up for yourself. Be confident, strong, and direct. Acknowledge their contributions but don’t flatter them. If they speak to you in an assertive way, don’t automatically think it’s a personal attack. Understand that if they curse, scream, and stomp around, it’s just the way they are.

Suggestions and exercises for Challengers are about relationships.

  • Beware that when you are “direct” you may unintentionally intimidate others.
  • Resist dismissing or invalidating other’s experience or views.
  • Express your appreciation aloud and often.
  • Avoid driving others as hard as you drive yourself.
  • Learn to negotiate
  • Remember that sparring can be stimulating to an Eight but not to most other types.

Remember, none of the personality types is better or worse than any other. All types have unique assets and liabilities, strengths and weaknesses. While it is common to find a little of ourselves in each of the nine types, one of them typically stands out as being closest to ourselves. This is our basic personality type.

The Enneagram is a valuable tool coaches can use as a catalyst for change. In an organization or business, this can help in employee development, hiring decisions, or forming highly functional teams.

To identify your dominant personality type, visit www.enneagraminstitute.com and take the free assessment or the ten dollar enhanced assessment. Then contact me so we can discover how you can enhance your effectiveness. Coaching can be a valuable resource for developing yourself, your business, and your employees.

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