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Are You Ready for Peer Coaching?

This series on Peer Coaching is designed to help you elevate your own performance and your team’s performance. First though, it starts with you. Are you ready to dive in? Are you ready to be vulnerable and trust?

Assess your individual readiness to participate. The person who meets the criteria below is in the best position to coach, be coached and see remarkable results.

  1. Sees the need for coaching. Is open to the possibilities that it brings.
  2. Able to see how valuable peer accountability is
  3. Recognizes it is OK to make mistakes and ask “dumb questions”
  4. Flexible and open to learning and open to being supported to think more deeply and perform differently
  5. Committed to learning and willing to try new things even if they are uncomfortable.
  6. Feels OK about making mistakes in the name of learning
  7. Recognizes and accepts vulnerability in themselves and others

If you want help setting up a peer coaching program on your team, visit Learn2.com and speak with a practitioner today.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

How To Make Peer Coaching Work

In the last blog, we talked about the what and the why of peer coaching. Here we focus on the HOW. How do you find success with peer coaching? Here is our top 10 list.

  1. Choose a location that is quiet, private, convenient, and free from distractions. Switch off mobile phones during the session. Phone, skype or even email meetings are possible. If on the phone or computer, still choose a quiet location so you can eliminate distractions.
  2. Switch off thinking about other things. Focus on the present. Your partner will know if you are distracted.
  3. Enter with an open mind. Try not to be judgmental or make assumptions
  4. Be clear about your expectations - Before you get started, be clear about parameters. There are times you want input and times you just need someone to listen; spell this out in the beginning. To ensure your arrangement is mutually beneficial, allot an equal amount of time to spend brainstorming and discussing each partner’s opportunities. Decide how often you will connect and whether it will be in person, over the phone or by email. Plan how many projects and commitments you’re willing to discuss at a time. And be clear that whether or not you take your partner’s advice, each person is 100% responsible for their choices.
  5. Map out and agree on how the accountability will work. Plan what you and your partner will do when you don’t make your goals or take agreed-upon action steps.
  6. Meet regularly. Aim for once every two weeks. This keeps everything fresh in your mind and allows you to take course-correcting actions more quickly.
  7. Limit meetings to 30 minutes if possible. Put a time limit on the meetings to keep you both focused. This is not just a gab session; it has deliverables and purpose.
  8. In the session, look for, describe, and assess what you see– not the person’s competence. You may share observations – offer no judgment, give no advice. Use the action / effect formula to share observations. For example…”I noticed that you jumped into the conversation while John was still speaking. Have you noticed that when you do that, he shut down immediately?
  9. Be willing to have the tough conversations and create a shared accountability for future success. Show you care and celebrate the ability to get the tough conversations on the table for increased effectiveness of the team. At the same time, give the benefit of the doubt. Probe with questions before you make a judgment call about someone’s behaviour. Understand your teammates motives and intentions before deciding that their actions signal a lack of trust.
  10. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. This is not easy for anyone…go with this without expecting it to be easy.

Peer coaching is merely a conversation. It is a shared resource where both parties contribute, and both take something from it. The results can make the difference between a good team and a great team. Go for it. For more information, check out Learn2.com and speak with a practitioner today.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

How to Use Peer Coaching to Up the Game On Your Team

Your development budgets are being cut, your teams are lean and stretched, and you want your organization to stand out from the competition. And while a better product or service is a good start, the real differentiator comes from your people.  That’s where your competitive advantage comes from.

So how do you ensure your team delivers the performance to stand out? The essential trait of both high performance teams and strong individual performance is peer-to-peer accountability. Similarly, the highest factor in measuring a team’s dysfunction is lack of peer-to-peer accountability (Patrick Lencioni, “The Advantage“, 2012).

Inside a peer-coaching program, team members help each other be successful. Peer coaches help team members to look at situations from a different perspective, to stay on track, and to find better solutions.

“You’re the sum of the people you surround yourself with.”peer coaching

When organizations go through change of any kind, leaders like to incent, push, and model the desired behavior from the top. What gets stronger results though, is developing strong peer-to-peer interactions and peer accountability. Leaders + their teams get encouraged to change their behavior by those closest to them.

Peer coaching helps build accountability, support and recognition across the team, so peers hold each other accountable for behaviors and results. Leaders willingly coach each other on performance when things fall outside the team commitment or values.

Peer accountability delivers support, outcomes and stretch goals outside of the typical organizational hierarchy and therefore has the added benefits of developing stronger relationships, teamwork, communication and responsibility. Peer coaches are not only vested in their own success - they are also vested in the success of their team.

So HOW does it work?

  1. Everybody IS a coach + everybody GETS a coach. Start with peer coaching at the same level. It can even cross departments. The premise is simple. We are all accountable to each other. And we all get a coach. Which makes peer coaching  “just how we do things”. It’s becomes a learning experience and stops meaning someone is in trouble or not performing. Peer coaching becomes a strategy to help us all deliver the highest level of performance. It’s that simple.build your future
  1. Equip coaches with the tools they need to be successful. Peer coaching may come easy to some. Great coaches ask great, simple questions. The questions typically start with what or how, and are open ended. Peer coaches encourage others to go deeper, expand initial thoughts or consider different perspectives. They avoid judgement and  criticism. They explore. They support. They encourage.
  1. Accountability Pairings last for 8 to 12 weeks. Then sometimes we suggest everyone switch partners. Team members get used to different approaches and different strengths. So changing pairings helps everyone continue growing. And keeps conversations and relationships fresh.
  1. Encourage people to focus on behaviors before results. Often, new coaches focus on holding individuals accountable for results and ignore their behaviors. Instead focus on behaviors. Because behaviors precede results, start by building new “behavior ground rules” to hold ourselves and each other accountable. When we establish our peer responsibility to coach up behaviors inconsistent with our new behavioral ground rules, we make it the culture for everyone. Start with one key area for behavior change and start there. Both peer coaches pick one behavior and ask for ideas to execute new behaviors.
  1. Resist the temptation to fix – resist the temptation of telling others what to do, what they “should” do or giving advice – it is about drawing out insights through questions.

Peer to peer accountability is one of the best behaviors to instill in a team. While peer accountability starts out feeling messy and uncomfortable. It’s because most of us have not had much experience with peer accountability as organizations rely on organization structure for accountability. It’s worth instilling. Teams who can call each other out on lack of follow-through or missed deadlines and broken rules become the teams who excel. Those teams become efficient and productive. And they have fun, and their relationships are stronger because of the honesty and openness.

Next issue focuses on how to structure your Peer Coaching Sessions. If you want help setting up your Peer Coaching System, visit Learn2.com to speak with a practitioner today.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

10 Ways to Lead a Culture of Innovation In Your Organization

There is one certainty you face as a leader…you will be required to lead transformational change. And if you can lead so that innovation happens on your team, than there is a higher likelihood of success through the change.

As leaders we are sometimes unclear about what innovation looks like and what we need to do to foster it. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Innovative leaders intentionally and skillfully do things that cause innovation to happen. Here’s our top 10 list to get you started.

  1. Articulate and share the BIG PICTURE – the purpose, the why, and why it all matters. If we share our big picture clearly and help people understand how they connect to that big picture and truly impact it, we are more likely to get them focused on ideas or opportunities to make that reality happen.
  2. Broaden your perspective and focus your actions. When we focus on one small element (one department, one product, one perspective) we are missing other key things that may impact our way forward. Get the blinders off. Look around. Then focus your actions specifically on what will impact your way forward. Remove the distractions that get in the way.
  3. Be curious – Be looking for the 2nd best answer or solution. Be open to different ways of doing things. When we have a genuine curios mindset, we just may learn something we hadn’t considered before.
  4. Ask great questions. As leaders we are sometimes tempted to share our wisdom and solve things for people – too often, and too quickly. When we do, we don’t allow others to grow, to develop, to come up with a brilliant idea…so pretty soon, they just don’t try any more. So rather than solve the issue, ask questions like “What would you do?”, “What’s the real challenge here?”, or “How can I help?” to get the team engaged in problem solving.
  5. Ask for feedback and surface people’s resistance. With change, comes resistance. So expect it. Roll with it. Manage it together. Actively seek feedback that may even contradict your intended plan or perspective. Get people thinking about the change in a way that involves them in the outcome.
  6. Collaborate with others. We don’t solve problems by ourselves. We have employees, partners, customers, stakeholders, and they all have a valuable perspective. What perspectives are we missing when we try to do it alone?
  7. Time for Reflection and Self-Assessment – We get busy. That’s not likely to change. And innovation isn’t an event you can schedule. We get ideas in strange places and when our mind is free enough to go in uncharted territory. So build down time in. Go for a walk, play music…whatever inspires your creative side. Don’t fill every second of your schedule.
  8. WTF CultureWilling To Fail. As a leader let’s accept failure as an important step on the way to a better solution. Give people permission to fail and have great conversations when we do fail. Learn from it, make it better, grow together. Go there.
  9. Develop Your Innovation System – When we have a system and know how to move an idea forward, how to get support, how to implement the idea, it makes it much more doable. So create a system that takes the guesswork out of it. Plan your steps, so the idea gets to take center stage in your mind, not the uncertainty around what to do with it.
  10. Join us at the next Women In Leadership and Business Conference. Start collaborating with other leaders that want to have a greater impact. Share in learning with great speakers, thought leaders, keynotes and interactive workshops. This year we have two great sessions on Innovation. Won’t you join us?

We all have ideas, we sometimes just have a hard time implementing them. For information about helping to build innovation on your team, or help you engage your team to deliver great results, contact Learn2.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

I’ve Graduated, Now What?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Follow Alex Robichaud as he navigates entering the workforce as a new graduate.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_carousel slides_on_desk=”3″ speed=”500″ autoplay=”off” arrow_style=”circle-bg” arrow_color=”#ff6900″][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu1BthM1Guk”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht2HOOdSc9c”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TwqMEC7URw”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJVWkaewQLM”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llJB2clG0hw”][/ultimate_carousel][vc_cta h2=”Can you relate to Alex? ” h4=”We’ve all been there, learning as we go.” txt_align=”center” style=”3d” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Learn More” btn_style=”3d” btn_color=”orange” btn_align=”center” add_icon=”top” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-bullhorn” i_color=”orange” i_size=”sm” i_on_border=”true” btn_link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Flearn2.com%2Flanding-page-3%2F||target:%20_blank”]Navigating something new doesn’t have to be big and intimidating, whether it is starting a new job with a confusing onboarding process to starting a new long-term strategic plan, we have a solution for you. Call us today at 416-410-6434, send an email to Mary@Learn2.com or click below to join our learning community to get free access to resources with high impact and even higher results.[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

“Yes, and…” Circles Engage Everyone

A “Yes, and…” circle engages everyone on your team in an any-idea-goes conversation that avoids criticizing or critiquing ideas. Everyone says “Yes, and…” to layer and build upon every idea to make a better and better thought.

Different types of “Yes, and…” circles include:

1. Idea generation. Teams identify 30 to 40 ideas in 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Ideas into action. Teams layer on an idea, to make the most effective action plan.
3. Exploring different perspectives. Everyone shares their perspective, layering on others’ perspectives. Soon everyone understands the challenges deeply enough to find the right solution.

Faster meetings are just one benefit. With each contribution, more people on the team feel ownership for the idea. The idea blossoms into an action that will quickly and most-easily produce the result. The best part is that everyone creates the idea and action plan so everyone is deeply committed to their idea’s successful implementation.

Teams using best practices include taking the ball outside for more stimulating thoughts. If there isn’t an easy outdoor space or it’s raining – ask everyone to stand up around the table, since this helps everyone stay engaged. Toss the office ‘stress ball’ to each participant to randomly share their ideas or so they can build on others’ ideas.

If the conversation starts to slow or even stall – ask a question. The human brain loves to answer questions. Think about how focused you become when you want to remember a movie title and you can’t. Often we can’t do anything until we think of the title. Those moments show us how important answering questions is to our brain.

If questions are so important to the brain – then let’s ask high quality questions. Use “What” and “How” questions to get meeting participants to engage in finding ideas, innovations and ways to implement. Pair what/how with could and you lots of amazing question combinations. How could we raise more funds? What could we do to get our message into schools? What would it take to raise another $20,000?

Avoid “can” and “do” questions since they often lead to pointless debate of participants’ opinions. Can we do something to raise more revenue this month? Do you think we could…? The response declines into a debate about whether or not we can. Instead focus on the result and ask, “What can we do that could raise revenue this month?” The difference of a few words can change the result of the conversation.

Avoid “why” questions. Only 17% of people can answer a why question. Most people just freeze or feel judged. Why did you do that? Why hasn’t the event raised more money? Sure the person asking wants to understand yet any “why” question can be asked with “what” or “how” and we don’t feel like we did something wrong.

‘Yes, and…” circles create staff and volunteer engagement by embracing ideas, thoughts, problems and resolutions for a group discussion – having all parties feel ‘listened to’, and at the same time building that single comment into a potential game changing phenomenon.

If you liked this one, check out the next one we have in the queue for you!

Become a Master Communicator Using Emotional Intelligence

Are your teams burned out or are you? Are you feeling like you are always fighting fires or dealing with team or client conflict? Constant conflict drains our energy and sabotages our efforts. In any relationship there is a big difference between being assertive to establish respect and trust and successful collaboration and being aggressive, defensive or hostile because of perceived threats or differences.

Even if you are one of the lucky ones that has a cohesive team, learning to tap into Emotional intelligence can make a dramatic difference to our success and positively impact every area of our lives for better success, more income and better relationships including:

  • Your performance at work. Emotional Intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EI testing before hiring.
  • Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
  • Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
  • Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

But before I get ahead of myself, you might wonder:

what is Emotional Intelligence (EI) exactly?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.

Unlike IQ which focuses on hard skills and technical abilities, EI focuses on the soft skills which can be improved with conscious effort and practice.

So how can you improve Emotional Intelligence for more success in your work and life?

Below are 5 tips to give you a start. Remember it is easy to practice in neutral situations but stress can hijack our best intention so give yourself time to make real lasting progress.

  1. Practice observing your emotions. Label your emotions and work to understand your triggers for “hot” emotions so you can teach yourself to better manage your emotions for better relationships.
  2. Practice recognizing subtle cues on others. Remember that body language, gestures and other forms on non-verbal communication account for more than 55% of communication between people and the actual words account for a mere 7% . This will help you to better understand others emotions and intentions.
  3. Work to reduce your stress so you can respond positively in tense situations instead of reacting negatively. When faced with adversity, optimistic people ask “what is good about this? Where is the lesson that is going to serve me well when I go after the next big opportunity?
  4. Improve your listening skills. If you are planning what you’re going to say next, daydreaming, or thinking about something else, you are almost certain to miss nonverbal cues and other subtleties in the conversation. Try to practice empathizing with others when you speak to them and work to understand where they are coming from in any conversation so you can aim for a win-win in discussions and negotiations.
  5. List the qualities you admire most in a mentor in your life. Notice how many are soft skills associated with EI. Now, work to improve these qualities in yourself. For example if you admire someone’s honesty, make a effort to be more honest both with yourself and others. Or if you admire someone’s sense of humor, practice being funnier and lighter with others!

Improving your Emotional Intelligence Skill is a powerful way to become a better leader, manager and build better relationships in all areas of your life. When you improve your EI, you improve your resilience, optimism and relationships in all areas of your life so it is worth the investment of time! Test it out for yourself!

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Dan Goleman

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Are You Ready for Peer Coaching?

This series on Peer Coaching is designed to help you elevate your own performance and your team’s performance. First though, it starts with you. Are you ready to dive in? Are you ready to be vulnerable and trust?

Assess your individual readiness to participate. The person who meets the criteria below is in the best position to coach, be coached and see remarkable results.

  1. Sees the need for coaching. Is open to the possibilities that it brings.
  2. Able to see how valuable peer accountability is
  3. Recognizes it is OK to make mistakes and ask “dumb questions”
  4. Flexible and open to learning and open to being supported to think more deeply and perform differently
  5. Committed to learning and willing to try new things even if they are uncomfortable.
  6. Feels OK about making mistakes in the name of learning
  7. Recognizes and accepts vulnerability in themselves and others

If you want help setting up a peer coaching program on your team, visit Learn2.com and speak with a practitioner today.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

How To Make Peer Coaching Work

In the last blog, we talked about the what and the why of peer coaching. Here we focus on the HOW. How do you find success with peer coaching? Here is our top 10 list.

  1. Choose a location that is quiet, private, convenient, and free from distractions. Switch off mobile phones during the session. Phone, skype or even email meetings are possible. If on the phone or computer, still choose a quiet location so you can eliminate distractions.
  2. Switch off thinking about other things. Focus on the present. Your partner will know if you are distracted.
  3. Enter with an open mind. Try not to be judgmental or make assumptions
  4. Be clear about your expectations - Before you get started, be clear about parameters. There are times you want input and times you just need someone to listen; spell this out in the beginning. To ensure your arrangement is mutually beneficial, allot an equal amount of time to spend brainstorming and discussing each partner’s opportunities. Decide how often you will connect and whether it will be in person, over the phone or by email. Plan how many projects and commitments you’re willing to discuss at a time. And be clear that whether or not you take your partner’s advice, each person is 100% responsible for their choices.
  5. Map out and agree on how the accountability will work. Plan what you and your partner will do when you don’t make your goals or take agreed-upon action steps.
  6. Meet regularly. Aim for once every two weeks. This keeps everything fresh in your mind and allows you to take course-correcting actions more quickly.
  7. Limit meetings to 30 minutes if possible. Put a time limit on the meetings to keep you both focused. This is not just a gab session; it has deliverables and purpose.
  8. In the session, look for, describe, and assess what you see– not the person’s competence. You may share observations – offer no judgment, give no advice. Use the action / effect formula to share observations. For example…”I noticed that you jumped into the conversation while John was still speaking. Have you noticed that when you do that, he shut down immediately?
  9. Be willing to have the tough conversations and create a shared accountability for future success. Show you care and celebrate the ability to get the tough conversations on the table for increased effectiveness of the team. At the same time, give the benefit of the doubt. Probe with questions before you make a judgment call about someone’s behaviour. Understand your teammates motives and intentions before deciding that their actions signal a lack of trust.
  10. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. This is not easy for anyone…go with this without expecting it to be easy.

Peer coaching is merely a conversation. It is a shared resource where both parties contribute, and both take something from it. The results can make the difference between a good team and a great team. Go for it. For more information, check out Learn2.com and speak with a practitioner today.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

How to Use Peer Coaching to Up the Game On Your Team

Your development budgets are being cut, your teams are lean and stretched, and you want your organization to stand out from the competition. And while a better product or service is a good start, the real differentiator comes from your people.  That’s where your competitive advantage comes from.

So how do you ensure your team delivers the performance to stand out? The essential trait of both high performance teams and strong individual performance is peer-to-peer accountability. Similarly, the highest factor in measuring a team’s dysfunction is lack of peer-to-peer accountability (Patrick Lencioni, “The Advantage“, 2012).

Inside a peer-coaching program, team members help each other be successful. Peer coaches help team members to look at situations from a different perspective, to stay on track, and to find better solutions.

“You’re the sum of the people you surround yourself with.”peer coaching

When organizations go through change of any kind, leaders like to incent, push, and model the desired behavior from the top. What gets stronger results though, is developing strong peer-to-peer interactions and peer accountability. Leaders + their teams get encouraged to change their behavior by those closest to them.

Peer coaching helps build accountability, support and recognition across the team, so peers hold each other accountable for behaviors and results. Leaders willingly coach each other on performance when things fall outside the team commitment or values.

Peer accountability delivers support, outcomes and stretch goals outside of the typical organizational hierarchy and therefore has the added benefits of developing stronger relationships, teamwork, communication and responsibility. Peer coaches are not only vested in their own success - they are also vested in the success of their team.

So HOW does it work?

  1. Everybody IS a coach + everybody GETS a coach. Start with peer coaching at the same level. It can even cross departments. The premise is simple. We are all accountable to each other. And we all get a coach. Which makes peer coaching  “just how we do things”. It’s becomes a learning experience and stops meaning someone is in trouble or not performing. Peer coaching becomes a strategy to help us all deliver the highest level of performance. It’s that simple.build your future
  1. Equip coaches with the tools they need to be successful. Peer coaching may come easy to some. Great coaches ask great, simple questions. The questions typically start with what or how, and are open ended. Peer coaches encourage others to go deeper, expand initial thoughts or consider different perspectives. They avoid judgement and  criticism. They explore. They support. They encourage.
  1. Accountability Pairings last for 8 to 12 weeks. Then sometimes we suggest everyone switch partners. Team members get used to different approaches and different strengths. So changing pairings helps everyone continue growing. And keeps conversations and relationships fresh.
  1. Encourage people to focus on behaviors before results. Often, new coaches focus on holding individuals accountable for results and ignore their behaviors. Instead focus on behaviors. Because behaviors precede results, start by building new “behavior ground rules” to hold ourselves and each other accountable. When we establish our peer responsibility to coach up behaviors inconsistent with our new behavioral ground rules, we make it the culture for everyone. Start with one key area for behavior change and start there. Both peer coaches pick one behavior and ask for ideas to execute new behaviors.
  1. Resist the temptation to fix – resist the temptation of telling others what to do, what they “should” do or giving advice – it is about drawing out insights through questions.

Peer to peer accountability is one of the best behaviors to instill in a team. While peer accountability starts out feeling messy and uncomfortable. It’s because most of us have not had much experience with peer accountability as organizations rely on organization structure for accountability. It’s worth instilling. Teams who can call each other out on lack of follow-through or missed deadlines and broken rules become the teams who excel. Those teams become efficient and productive. And they have fun, and their relationships are stronger because of the honesty and openness.

Next issue focuses on how to structure your Peer Coaching Sessions. If you want help setting up your Peer Coaching System, visit Learn2.com to speak with a practitioner today.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

10 Ways to Lead a Culture of Innovation In Your Organization

There is one certainty you face as a leader…you will be required to lead transformational change. And if you can lead so that innovation happens on your team, than there is a higher likelihood of success through the change.

As leaders we are sometimes unclear about what innovation looks like and what we need to do to foster it. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Innovative leaders intentionally and skillfully do things that cause innovation to happen. Here’s our top 10 list to get you started.

  1. Articulate and share the BIG PICTURE – the purpose, the why, and why it all matters. If we share our big picture clearly and help people understand how they connect to that big picture and truly impact it, we are more likely to get them focused on ideas or opportunities to make that reality happen.
  2. Broaden your perspective and focus your actions. When we focus on one small element (one department, one product, one perspective) we are missing other key things that may impact our way forward. Get the blinders off. Look around. Then focus your actions specifically on what will impact your way forward. Remove the distractions that get in the way.
  3. Be curious – Be looking for the 2nd best answer or solution. Be open to different ways of doing things. When we have a genuine curios mindset, we just may learn something we hadn’t considered before.
  4. Ask great questions. As leaders we are sometimes tempted to share our wisdom and solve things for people – too often, and too quickly. When we do, we don’t allow others to grow, to develop, to come up with a brilliant idea…so pretty soon, they just don’t try any more. So rather than solve the issue, ask questions like “What would you do?”, “What’s the real challenge here?”, or “How can I help?” to get the team engaged in problem solving.
  5. Ask for feedback and surface people’s resistance. With change, comes resistance. So expect it. Roll with it. Manage it together. Actively seek feedback that may even contradict your intended plan or perspective. Get people thinking about the change in a way that involves them in the outcome.
  6. Collaborate with others. We don’t solve problems by ourselves. We have employees, partners, customers, stakeholders, and they all have a valuable perspective. What perspectives are we missing when we try to do it alone?
  7. Time for Reflection and Self-Assessment – We get busy. That’s not likely to change. And innovation isn’t an event you can schedule. We get ideas in strange places and when our mind is free enough to go in uncharted territory. So build down time in. Go for a walk, play music…whatever inspires your creative side. Don’t fill every second of your schedule.
  8. WTF CultureWilling To Fail. As a leader let’s accept failure as an important step on the way to a better solution. Give people permission to fail and have great conversations when we do fail. Learn from it, make it better, grow together. Go there.
  9. Develop Your Innovation System – When we have a system and know how to move an idea forward, how to get support, how to implement the idea, it makes it much more doable. So create a system that takes the guesswork out of it. Plan your steps, so the idea gets to take center stage in your mind, not the uncertainty around what to do with it.
  10. Join us at the next Women In Leadership and Business Conference. Start collaborating with other leaders that want to have a greater impact. Share in learning with great speakers, thought leaders, keynotes and interactive workshops. This year we have two great sessions on Innovation. Won’t you join us?

We all have ideas, we sometimes just have a hard time implementing them. For information about helping to build innovation on your team, or help you engage your team to deliver great results, contact Learn2.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

I’ve Graduated, Now What?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Follow Alex Robichaud as he navigates entering the workforce as a new graduate.[/vc_column_text][ultimate_carousel slides_on_desk=”3″ speed=”500″ autoplay=”off” arrow_style=”circle-bg” arrow_color=”#ff6900″][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu1BthM1Guk”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht2HOOdSc9c”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TwqMEC7URw”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJVWkaewQLM”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llJB2clG0hw”][/ultimate_carousel][vc_cta h2=”Can you relate to Alex? ” h4=”We’ve all been there, learning as we go.” txt_align=”center” style=”3d” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Learn More” btn_style=”3d” btn_color=”orange” btn_align=”center” add_icon=”top” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-bullhorn” i_color=”orange” i_size=”sm” i_on_border=”true” btn_link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Flearn2.com%2Flanding-page-3%2F||target:%20_blank”]Navigating something new doesn’t have to be big and intimidating, whether it is starting a new job with a confusing onboarding process to starting a new long-term strategic plan, we have a solution for you. Call us today at 416-410-6434, send an email to Mary@Learn2.com or click below to join our learning community to get free access to resources with high impact and even higher results.[/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row]

“Yes, and…” Circles Engage Everyone

A “Yes, and…” circle engages everyone on your team in an any-idea-goes conversation that avoids criticizing or critiquing ideas. Everyone says “Yes, and…” to layer and build upon every idea to make a better and better thought.

Different types of “Yes, and…” circles include:

1. Idea generation. Teams identify 30 to 40 ideas in 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Ideas into action. Teams layer on an idea, to make the most effective action plan.
3. Exploring different perspectives. Everyone shares their perspective, layering on others’ perspectives. Soon everyone understands the challenges deeply enough to find the right solution.

Faster meetings are just one benefit. With each contribution, more people on the team feel ownership for the idea. The idea blossoms into an action that will quickly and most-easily produce the result. The best part is that everyone creates the idea and action plan so everyone is deeply committed to their idea’s successful implementation.

Teams using best practices include taking the ball outside for more stimulating thoughts. If there isn’t an easy outdoor space or it’s raining – ask everyone to stand up around the table, since this helps everyone stay engaged. Toss the office ‘stress ball’ to each participant to randomly share their ideas or so they can build on others’ ideas.

If the conversation starts to slow or even stall – ask a question. The human brain loves to answer questions. Think about how focused you become when you want to remember a movie title and you can’t. Often we can’t do anything until we think of the title. Those moments show us how important answering questions is to our brain.

If questions are so important to the brain – then let’s ask high quality questions. Use “What” and “How” questions to get meeting participants to engage in finding ideas, innovations and ways to implement. Pair what/how with could and you lots of amazing question combinations. How could we raise more funds? What could we do to get our message into schools? What would it take to raise another $20,000?

Avoid “can” and “do” questions since they often lead to pointless debate of participants’ opinions. Can we do something to raise more revenue this month? Do you think we could…? The response declines into a debate about whether or not we can. Instead focus on the result and ask, “What can we do that could raise revenue this month?” The difference of a few words can change the result of the conversation.

Avoid “why” questions. Only 17% of people can answer a why question. Most people just freeze or feel judged. Why did you do that? Why hasn’t the event raised more money? Sure the person asking wants to understand yet any “why” question can be asked with “what” or “how” and we don’t feel like we did something wrong.

‘Yes, and…” circles create staff and volunteer engagement by embracing ideas, thoughts, problems and resolutions for a group discussion – having all parties feel ‘listened to’, and at the same time building that single comment into a potential game changing phenomenon.

If you liked this one, check out the next one we have in the queue for you!

Become a Master Communicator Using Emotional Intelligence

Are your teams burned out or are you? Are you feeling like you are always fighting fires or dealing with team or client conflict? Constant conflict drains our energy and sabotages our efforts. In any relationship there is a big difference between being assertive to establish respect and trust and successful collaboration and being aggressive, defensive or hostile because of perceived threats or differences.

Even if you are one of the lucky ones that has a cohesive team, learning to tap into Emotional intelligence can make a dramatic difference to our success and positively impact every area of our lives for better success, more income and better relationships including:

  • Your performance at work. Emotional Intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EI testing before hiring.
  • Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
  • Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
  • Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

But before I get ahead of myself, you might wonder:

what is Emotional Intelligence (EI) exactly?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.

Unlike IQ which focuses on hard skills and technical abilities, EI focuses on the soft skills which can be improved with conscious effort and practice.

So how can you improve Emotional Intelligence for more success in your work and life?

Below are 5 tips to give you a start. Remember it is easy to practice in neutral situations but stress can hijack our best intention so give yourself time to make real lasting progress.

  1. Practice observing your emotions. Label your emotions and work to understand your triggers for “hot” emotions so you can teach yourself to better manage your emotions for better relationships.
  2. Practice recognizing subtle cues on others. Remember that body language, gestures and other forms on non-verbal communication account for more than 55% of communication between people and the actual words account for a mere 7% . This will help you to better understand others emotions and intentions.
  3. Work to reduce your stress so you can respond positively in tense situations instead of reacting negatively. When faced with adversity, optimistic people ask “what is good about this? Where is the lesson that is going to serve me well when I go after the next big opportunity?
  4. Improve your listening skills. If you are planning what you’re going to say next, daydreaming, or thinking about something else, you are almost certain to miss nonverbal cues and other subtleties in the conversation. Try to practice empathizing with others when you speak to them and work to understand where they are coming from in any conversation so you can aim for a win-win in discussions and negotiations.
  5. List the qualities you admire most in a mentor in your life. Notice how many are soft skills associated with EI. Now, work to improve these qualities in yourself. For example if you admire someone’s honesty, make a effort to be more honest both with yourself and others. Or if you admire someone’s sense of humor, practice being funnier and lighter with others!

Improving your Emotional Intelligence Skill is a powerful way to become a better leader, manager and build better relationships in all areas of your life. When you improve your EI, you improve your resilience, optimism and relationships in all areas of your life so it is worth the investment of time! Test it out for yourself!

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” Dan Goleman

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