Viewing entries tagged

Tips and Examples for Effective Personalized Leadership Training


Tips and Examples for Effective Personalized Leadership Training

Managing complexity, change, and strategic thinking are the most common leadership development competencies. No doubt you have spent multiple training hours on implementing frameworks and off-the-shelf solutions to help your teams be more effective. 

How did you define success? Were you able to measure a change in behavior and the impact on your bottom line?

I propose that while many existing courses about "Time Management", "Deal with Change", and "Embrace Ambiguity" have their rightful place in the Organizational Development curriculum, they're missing one crucial element: customization. 

No, I'm not talking about branding it to your company by slapping your logo on the slides. I mean actually customizing actionable implementation tips to the individual leader. 


By using Personality Type knowledge. 

"Oh my gosh, we have so many personalities among our leaders, I wouldn't know where to begin or how to get all of them under one hat. No way we can please everyone!"

Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing takes the guesswork out of it for you. 

"That's fine and dandy, but we need our leaders to commit to company goals; all root for the same goal; be team-players, you know?"

Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing will improve inner- and inter-team communication and collaboration. 

"Sounds great, but we've already committed to a program and can't really switch horses right now."

Lucky you - the solution I'm proposing works well as a stand-alone and can also be used to enhance existing programs. 

Enough teasing, drumroll please: welcome to Matrix Insights.

This brand new online platform provides in-depth personal profiles, comparison between Types, and Development Areas for each Type.

For example, "Breakthrough Leadership Skills" often come down to

  1. Dealing with Ambiguity and Paradox
  2. Managing Change and Complexity
  3. Strategic Agility

Every high-potential needs these skills to be successful. Traditionally, companies provide time management resources and operational management trainings for support. These are great and have their rightful place in leadership development, but I for one know that the same training class has different effects on its participants, and personality type is one of the deciding factors. 

To accelerate learnings from traditional trainings and make them stick better, faster, Matrix Insights provides Type-specific action items to practice building these skills. 

As such, Matrix Insights access can be added on top of existing programs to enhance content retention and engagement at the time of need, and it also makes an effective basis for one-on-one or group coaching. 

Here's an example using ESTJ and ENFJ leaders side by side.

ESTJ leaders have natural talents for organization, efficiency, and practicality. To develop the three skills mentioned above, here's a personalized approach:

Dealing with Ambiguity & Paradox
ESTJs like to rely on tried and true strategies when dealing with situations. They like to perfect what already works well and that does not always open the door for considerations to new choices. When faced with ambiguous situations, evaluate the tried and true options for responding and identify a couple of new ways to approach the problem at hand. Find others who can provide a significantly different view of the situation and who can suggest new tactics for addressing the presenting ambiguity.

Reduce ambiguity by declaring the A1.
Clarifying priorities by sorting associated tasks, identifying areas of needed information, and designating tasks by As, Bs, and Cs, where A is most important to C low importance. Even in the face of ambiguity or paradoxical uncertainty, knowing the A1--even if it is just for the day--is a clear step forward. Make a plan to revise the priorities over the course of several weeks when dealing with a complex problem as conditions will change and the current A1 may drop off the plate. Humans are galvanized around a priority and it is doubly so for ESTJs, so declare some.

Managing Change and Complexity for ESTJs
Who can provide you with alternative interpretations of information in change?  
Typically ESTJs are eager to take efficient action and to take care of the “to do list” as quickly as possible.  To do so, ESTJs need to confidently take action based on the information they have, which as a general rule, they have vetted and decided is worth their attention.  Herein lies the potential problem--speed and bias.  ESTJs can improve their management of change if they do not assume that everyone has the same perspective and if they actively solicit views from others on the change under consideration.  In fact, make a list of all of those individuals who typically see things differently from you and seek out their perspectives.  What and how will they interpret some of the messages that you are contemplating providing during change can be useful to consider.  They may even provide you with tips for making the messages clearer and more useful.

What rules of thumb make dealing with complexity easier?
ESTJs are naturals at finding “rules of thumb” to make sense of and act on situations.  Usually, their approach to complexity is to break it into smaller units of information and respond in a more tactical manner; however, this may not serve them well in terms of understanding the layers of dynamics in a situation nor will it clarify how to manage those dynamics that haven’t been fully recognized.  Usually, ESTJs have had enough experience with an array of situations that they have a useful set of heuristics or pragmatic tips for addressing similar situations in the future.  There is value in creating a  “tactics log” to identify the most typical ways to manage change and to enrich this list, ask others for their short rules for various complex situations.  

Strategic Agility
Action plan inclusive of speculative outcomes?
Make a list of five hypothetical adjustments on a product or service regarding how this product or service might look in ten years given social, technological, and economic changes. Speculate based on a few hunches and create a elevator sales pitch on each of the five hypotheticals. Discuss your explorations with a colleague and examine how this kind of process can aid strategic thinking.

Found a way to explore trends?
More often than not ESTJs require more data points than intuitive types before reporting that a trend exists. Practice projecting a trend based on three data points rather than having a large set of data to create a prediction. One of the challenges of ESTJs is to learn to create a possible trend based on a few data points so with this tip, practice the stretch.

Leaders with ENFJ preferences, by contrast, have innate abilities for empathy, mentoring, and maintaining harmony. Obviously, they would approach the three skills from a completely different angle:

Dealing with Ambiguity and Paradox
Looking for the perfect outcome?
Even though it is clear that there are no perfect solutions ENFJs often look for them. In a psychological “feedback loop” built into their type dynamic, ENFJs “see” possible solutions which are “evaluated” and found unacceptable. This prompts more interest in finding better solutions. It is important to become aware of this and to break the pattern. Create a list of the mission critical criteria to use in evaluating the available data and outlined options. This will enable ENFJs to identify what is sufficient and effective.

Energy levels unusually high?
ENFJs find that they become more energized by solving complex problems and ambiguity usually makes things much more complex. A very important strategy for keeping all this in perspective is to make note of the energy level and evaluate how this is serving you at the time. There is a good chance that taking time out and meditating--even for a few minutes--will introduce a relaxation response which has the benefit of encouraging focus and directing attention that leads to finding a successful response to the situation at hand. 

Managing Change and Complexity
Use empathy to help drive change?
ENFJs have a knack for understanding what others are experiencing.  This ability can benefit their change management tactics by tapping into the needs of others and stepping into other perspectives on the change that is to be implemented.  While such empathetic “sight” might not change the decisions in change, it can inform how best to communicate, what to anticipate, and how to respond to others finding the change difficult. 

Using cues to go with the flow in complex situations?
Complex situations are in a state of flux--the greater the complexity, the more energy is in the system where the complexity resides.  ENFJs can quickly ascertain the complexity of situations and in their passion to help contribute to improving things, they may bypass some key clues.  A useful question to ask yourself is: What factors am I emphasizing and what might I see in the situation if I changed emphasis?  What methods of monitoring shifts in the situation have I put in place? How are you observing or monitoring the primary movers, influencers, and doers in the situation?

Strategic Agility
Why the urge to decide clips your agile considerations.
Being strategically agile means being able to flex with new information or new insights. ENFJs are wired to decide and move forward, whether or not the situation requires it. When in this mode, ENFJs spend energy on deciding and acting on what is believed to be the best strategic plan at the moment. This inoculates ENFJs from paying attention to new emerging ideas. Create a strategy log or journal in which you can keep your ideas and sketch out possibilities.

Cutting loose from the values anchor.
Like other NFs, ENFJs seek to take action and make recommendations on options that align with values and ideals. This creates a drag on new energy and on agile considerations that may emerge. One of the ways to manage this is to be unambiguous about the top five values on which you based your decisions. The clearer you are about those values, the easier it is to contract choices and measure the impact on the current choice and to ask what other choices can be pursued that value those not able to attend.


Coaching with your Personality Type in Mind


Coaching with your Personality Type in Mind

Coaching support in its essence accompanies you through a change process. You're no longer satisfied with where you are, so you take action to reach a new place; physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. 

Depending on your Type preferences, you'll approach change in different ways. You'll have certain needs that have to be met for the change to be successful. You'll be paying attention to certain information and need support with specific areas.

These innate preferences might make it hard to understand that not everyone thinks and feels about change the same way you do. 

If you don't know your Type yet and would like to find out, contact me or find another Master Practitioner in your neighborhood. If you do know your Type, here's a brief excerpt from Introduction to Type® and Coaching, by Sandra Krebs Hirsh and Jane Kise. Use this awareness to prepare for your next change process more effectively, and to provide others with what they need to be on board. 

Introversion-Sensing (IS)


During change, ISs' emphasis is on preserving what is already effective and important traditions. To adapt and thrive during change, 

  • Explore how to relate the change to past experiences or familiar knowledge
  • Ask about the practical reasons for the change (e.g. cost or time savings, new regulations, etc.)
  • Try to understand the ways in which the changes will be an improvement over the status quo

Extraversion - Sensing (ES)


During change, ESs' emphasis is on taking action and ensuring efficiency. To adapt and thrive during change,

  • Seek to relate the changes to your specific role
  • Concentrate on the practical results change will bring - ask about what will be faster, more cost-effective, easier, and so on
  • Find evidence that the changes will help you work more effectively

Introversion-Intuiting (IN)


During change, INs' emphasis is on envisioning, or researching how things could be different. To adapt and thrive during change, 

  • Ask for information on books, technologies, theories, or frameworks that are driving the change
  • Seek involvement with the conceptual aspects of the change
  • Consider alternative ideas and concepts as well as "what if" scenarios

Extraversion-Intuiting (EN)


During change, ENs' emphasis is on embracing novelty or new ideas. To adapt and thrive during change,

  • Connect the changes to themes, theories, or overall corporate goals
  • Engage your imaginatino to envision what good might result from the changes
  • Take an active role in enacting changes, especially if the impact goes beyond your own responsibilities

I'll be presenting on Type and Coaching at the DFW APT Chapter meeting on March 18th, starting at 6.30 pm at the King of Glory Lutheran Church, 6411 Lyndon B Johnson Freeway, DallasTX. If you're in town, I'd love to see you! RSVP here



Dream Symbol Birthday

birthday doodleDreaming of birthdays are generally thought to be a good omen for the future, particularly a long and healthy life. They can also signify a change, the beginning of a new chapter in your life.

Birthday presents signify professional success, and the candle on your cake stands for moving from the old into the new.

So! I just got my first birthday hug by John Stamos. And if you'd like to know how common your birthday is, click here. :-)



Departures and Farewells


Departures and Farewells

found on
found on

Some people come into our lives, and quickly go. Others stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever, the same.

Can you count how many times you have said good-bye in your life? I certainly can't. With all the practice we as expats have, moving from town to town and country to country, establishing ever new social bonds - does saying good-bye ever get easier?

Every morning you say good-bye to your spouse as you leave to do your jobs, to your kids as they go to school, your business partners as you walk out of meetings or hang up the phone, your friends as you close the chat window, your waiters as you leave the restaurant. Those good-byes are relatively easy and we don't usually spend much time thinking about them. What makes them easy? The assumption that you'll see each other again after work, school, college; at the next meeting; at the next happy hour; well, you may not have that close a bond anyway, so even when you do go back, somebody else can take their place, or you'll happily continue where you left off ignoring the break.

Slightly harder are the good-byes for extended business trips, grown kids going to college in the next state, friends or family going an expat assignment abroad. The level of personal interaction you're used to is severely interrupted, and that can cause anxiety in both partners. Thankfully, modern telecommunication has made it relatively easy to remain in touch with loved ones however near and far away. Phones, mobiles, email, internet forums, networking sites, video chats, etc - all designed to bring people closer together. As Carrie said in that SATC episode where Big moved to California: "if you're lucky, they're just a plane ride away."

What about saying good-bye to the terminally ill, old, or deceased? When you don't know whether this will be the last time you see someone (which, let's be frank, could be anyone at anytime if you consider the statistics of traffic accidents), how many times do you say good-bye, just to be sure you get to say everything you need and want to say? Do you live each day as if it were your last, in an attempt to outsmart the inevitable deathbed question of regret?

I would imagine that's quite stressful, never allowing yourself a break for fear of missing something. As for saying good-bye after someone has passed, that has to be one of the hardest things. Be it an unexpected occasion or you didn't get there in time, the feeling of having unfinished business may linger for a long time.

Which is why the grieving period is so important. It is true that life goes on for the living and that moving on is the healthy thing to do, but proper attention must be paid to the loss. This loss may be the relationship you had with a person who passed, and rituals like funerals or wakes can be very helpful. However, a loss can also come in the shape of a job loss, or the end of a friendship or marriage, or the transition to another stage in life.

I would invite everyone going through a time of change in this respect to take a moment and reflect on who or what will no longer form a part of your life, and what that means for your definition of self. Closing the circles, or book chapters if that analogy makes more sense for you, is imperative to enable you to move on without extra baggage. Extracting lessons from who and what you're leaving behind is essential for accepting the change and not spend unnecessary time looking over your shoulder.

In his PT blog article, "Why do we hate good-byes?" Robert Fuller explores the interdependence of people, and how our sense of self is linked to our relationships. In other words, when leaving a place where they've known you all your life, new friends will rarely know you like your old friends did. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if left unawares it may play havoc with your sense of self. Especially when you go back to visit your old home, and your old friends don't get you anymore. But that's another story.

Saying good-bye and closing circles takes as long as it takes; everybody's different. Some books get opened again and again, new chapters are written, and some will be continued in the form of one-way conversations. Everything is relative, and you are not alone.

Image by Katie Darby, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



Step 9 - Confronting fear, embracing change

Picture credit: Leonard John Matthews Knowing our personality type helps us understand how we like to approach new situations.

In today's marketplace the change we're most often confronted with is organizational change.

Whether we're hired, fired, merged, or acquired - change is constant.

To make sense of it for ourselves, we need to honor our preferences to help us move through the various stages of the change process. Asking questions and engaging in a dialogue might help:

How do you like to receive and process information? Take time out to review memos and discuss what's happening with your colleagues. Request more detailed or broad strokes as necessary. How do the changes connect to short and long-term goals and visions?

If you're wondering how the decision was reached, ask about which alternatives were being considered that didn't make the cut. It's ok to enquire about the underlying "why" and which values and goals informed the decision. Most companies link their performance reviews to your behaving according to company culture, it's only fair the strategic decisions be measured along the same lines.

How is this change process going to proceed? What are the milestones and how will you know you're on track? Who will be measuring progress and according to which standards? Transparent communication is key, and communication is a two-way street. If you're not hearing any, start the conversation.

We've mentioned Kotter's 8 Steps in relation to personality type and expat assignments before, and I also want to mention Virginia Satir's Change Model. I went through a simulation with Steven M. Smith during an AYE Conference and it really brought home the different stages. You can read an excellent in-depth analysis of it on his blog.

At the end of the day, we fear most that which we don't understand. Try to understand what's going on, and you'll be in a much better position to make sound decisions.


1 Comment

The comfortable job vs. the fulfilling job

copied from Pinterest Let's say you have a nice job. The commute is not so bad, the offices are in a safe area, your colleagues are real nice troopers, and the pay's good too. Well, obviously it's not as much as you would like to make, but it's enough to pay the bills. It allowed you to get used to a lifestyle you're comfortable with.

Still, every Monday morning you find yourself wishing it was Friday afternoon, you may even take sick leave when you're not really that sick, or play solitaire and chat with your friends while your boss is waiting for that report. You're not feeling fulfilled, and every chance you get you mentally detach as far away from work as possible, distracting yourself with other things.

Been there.

If you're ready to take action, start by asking yourself some serious questions:

  • What do I want to do with my life? What's my contribution?
  • Where do I want to be in five, ten years?
  • Which of my talents could I turn into an occupation?
  • If I knew I'd succeed, what would I be doing?

Personality Type, or more precisely, Essential Motivator™ knowledge can help.

Did you know that every type has an innate skill set? Why not put them to work?

For example, are you the one everybody calls when they need help organizing an event? Do you enjoy keeping track of everything, planning, and coordinating logistics, making sure the right thing gets to the right person at the right time?

Or maybe your favorite work is more extemporaneous. You're a natural fire-putter-outer, jumping to action, seeing what needs to get done, delegating as necessary, and navigating challenging situations with exquisite tactical skill.

I'm sure you also know natural diplomats. That's someone who's able is called, and often volunteers, to mediate between two parties. They are focusing on the good in both approaches, keeping the peace, and looking for ways to help nurture relationships while helping people grow and reach their full potential.

And who could forget the person with the long view. You might be the right guy to talk to for patterns, themes, and future possibilities. You have an ability to see things clearly, objectively, and from a strategic vantage point.

You can learn any skill set you want if you put your mind to it, and you can get really good at them, too. What we find in Type is that using our innate skills simply takes a lot less effort. So, sometimes working in a job that uses our Type strengths can be more fun and enjoyable.

When you're ready to explore your strengths, contact me!

copied from Pinterest

1 Comment

Thoughts on Job Security


Thoughts on Job Security

My father is going on early retirement this week, after 37 years in the same industry. He changed specialties once in the early 1990s, but remained in the same field. My mother has been working in the same job for 42 years, changing employers only after the first one folded after about 35 years of service there. Both my parents are still in their 50s (yup, they started young. Oh yeah, and I'm 12.) and have lived in the same town their whole lives. Among most my peers, this kind of job security and local consistency is practically unheard of these days. It's neither the norm nor desired. Can you imagine the discussions we had every time I've changed job? And moved countries? Blame it on the generation gap, but we've had little empathy for one another at first. I'm happy my parents are happy, but I'm super happy that my first job isn't going to be my last.

Companies are looking for people who will bring their varied backgrounds to the job. Diversity breeds innovation. Change is constant. It remains to be seen what taking away employees' flexibility will do for your business. Yahoo will find out after June 1st, when no employee will be allowed to work from home anymore. Seems counter-intuitive for a technologies company to insist on face-to-face collaboration, but then again, establishing lasting relationships through email or Skype has its challenges, too.

Many US American States are "at will" employment states. That means there are no employment contracts - neither party commits to taking care of the other beyond the immediate role. If stock prices fall, I know you'll fire me. When the project is done or I've learned enough, you know I'll move on. The internet never sleeps, and my CV is always up-to-date and available on LinkedIn.

So where's the answer? As always, probably somewhere in the middle.

Nobody should have to stay in the same position for 40 years if they don't like it. Compromising your happiness will eventually affect your physical and mental health, so paycheck shmaycheck - get a coach and get you some happy. If you're afraid of change, consider your attitude to taking risks. Do you perhaps try to avoid uncertainty in other life areas as well? Do you like to plan things and know what's going to happen? What can you do in your job search or career change that will make you feel safe and supported?

If you got laid off before you were ready to go, this might be a good time to re-evaluate your path. Were you truly fulfilled or perhaps dragging yourself to work on Monday mornings? What is it that you really want to be doing? Have you ever thought about what your unique gifts and passions might be? Can you maybe even start your own business?

People move to where the opportunities are. In Europe, thousands of young adults from Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal now call Germany their home. In the States, mobility has always been a greater factor. Moving between States is easy thanks to the same currency and no border controls. Perhaps if you widen the net of your search, you'll find your dream job just a few miles away.

Image by Tit Bonac, Flickr, Creative Commons License



How often do ENFJs change jobs?

I've recently posted a quick poll on the LinkedIn ENFJ forum about how often ENFJs change jobs in the past, and here's the response:

ENFJ change jobs poll

Here's what one person commented:

I have worked my way from engineering technologist to sales tax recovery to ISO 9000 quality control development/consultant and now finally to Facilitator/Trainer especially focused on developing team and personal dynamics using the MBTI. I must admit that was a long way around to get to the spot that fits me most out of all the previous jobs. Thank you for asking the question. It is good to contemplate this.

This reminded me of my own journey over the last almost 20 years. Started out as a Foreign Language Secretary, because that's "something with languages", and seemed like the best move at the time. I liked people, chatting, and English so much, what could be better? Did I know at 19 what it was that I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing? Hell no. Finding myself was, is, an exercise of trial and error.

Executive Assistant combined many things, but I could never really be myself. One boss actually recommended I not be so nice with everyone. Interesting perspective, and totally true as it turns out.

So I studied HR and found a job in recruitment. What I learned there didn't feel right either. Having to look at candidates through a potential commission lens was not my cup of tea. I did all of six months before I was let go.

Today, I'm happy as a cross-cultural trainer and type facilitator. I love reading, learning, training, coaching, researching, and whaddayaknow, doing all of it in English.

The red thread of communication, languages, and people-service was always there. Still, is this what I'll be doing another 20 years from now?

Who knows! People change. We grow. Experiences make us richer. The world will be a different place in 2033, and perhaps everyone will have a babel-fish in their ear, like Douglas Adams suggests in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Everyone might be able to better understand one another. Perhaps everyone will receive mandatory type and positive psychology classes in Kindergarten, growing up with effective stress, change, and conflict management tools. Then there'll be no more need for my line of work, because everybody's already happy and prosperous.

Now there's a thought. :-)