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Monthly Archives: April 2012

The 1 Competence Managers Need to Create a Kick-Butt Department (Part One)

From the world stage to your work place or your home, everyone is a manager.  Your kick-butt department could be your family. Or the Little League baseball team you coach. Or the Neighborhood Association you’re a part of.  Everywhere where people are gathered, courageous conversations are sorely needed to carbonate our life and to achieve the extraordinary results we want.  Cynicism about the seemingly hopeless state of politics and other change-resistant environments aside, it’s a helpful exercise to inquire into the questions “What elements must be present for a courageous conversation to occur?” “What might a courageous conversation look like? Sound like?” And “Are there courageous conversations I would be willing to have? With whom?”

Here again are the four Characteristics of Courageous Conversations

  1. Courageous Conversations challenge participants’ perception of reality
  2. Courageous Conversations tackle the tough stuff
  3. Courageous Conversations invite, even provoke learning
  4. Courageous Conversations enrich, not hurt relationships

In this and the next post I’ll explore what helps a manager presence each of these characteristics in conversations.

#1. Courageous Conversations challenge reality:  This means that the manager

  1. assumes that participants, including him or herself, could arrive at a new understanding of something they have strong opinions and feelings about whether those are expressed or withheld
  2. believes he or she,  through inquiry, can be successful in bringing  out the spirit of willingness in all participants, i.e. the manager can create an environment of safety as well as challenge
  3. feels strongly that participants in the conversation are neither “broken” nor need to be “fixed”
  4. is guided by “The conversation will be a contribution to all and to the goals of the team”
  5. is willing to act as if a – d above are true. Is not thrown off by data that doesn’t fit the assumptions in  a -d 

What questions or thoughts come up for you? People are sometimes afraid to have conversations that challenge reality. We’re more willing to challenge others’ reality than our own. But we also often try to convince another person of our point of view instead of being curious about what and how they think.  Why do you suppose that’s true?  Have you had a courageous conversation you’re proud of? What’s different because of it for you and others?

#2. Courageous Conversations tackle the tough stuff: This means that the manager

  1. is willing to be uncomfortable and have the conversation anyway. Does not let feelings trump the commitment to tackling the tough stuff with clarity, focus, and ease
  2. refuses to take any item that’s limiting the success of the individual or the team off the table without being coercive or aggressive
  3. is committed to becoming a good self-observer  to develop the  skill and mind-sets that allow him or her to stay calm even in the face of perceived pressure
  4. stays open, receptive and curious. Notices his or her assumptions and does not assume they are the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
  5. can make the distinction between facts and interpretation of the facts (This skill pays handsome dividends) 

Have you had the experience of staying open, receptive and curious even in the face of pressure directed at you? What helped you?  Share your thoughts, ideas and questions below. 

Next week we’ll cover the final two characteristics

  1. Courageous Conversations invite, even provoke learning
  2. Courageous Conversations enrich, not hurt relationships
Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.ingridmartinelifecoaching.com.

The Price of Perfectionism – Making Satisfaction Elusive and Robs Us of Joy

Perfection Makes Satisfaction Elusive When the project is never perfect, the perfectionist cannot be satisfied.  The problem?  Perfection is impossible to achieve.  The result?  We never feel great about our accomplishments. When perfection is our impossible standard, no matter how many hours or how much effort we invest, the final product is guaranteed to leave the perfectionist feeling like a failure at worst, lacking joy and enthusiasm at best.  A dreary set of choices, don’t you think? The next time you come to the conclusion of a matter, rather than using the perfection measuring stick, try asking these questions:
  •  Did I demonstrate excellence?
  • Did I fulfill my most important intention?
  • Can I be proud, despite the imperfections?
With a change in perspective, we can lower our frustration and increase our satisfaction in the good and hard work we do each day.  Perfectionism Robs Us of Joy  When we insist upon perfection, we miss out on the laughter that comes from the ability to see the humor in our humanness.  Opportunities to simply chuckle at amusement by about the little goofs we make in life get replaced by grimaces, scowls, and overreaction. Rather than recognizing we did a good job, we beat ourselves up over the small mistake that will soon be forgotten by everyone other than us.  While everyone else is savoring the sumptuous desert, we’re still yapping about the failed appetizer. “Lightening up” may not come easily for the perfectionist.  But if you’d like to have a little more joy in your work and your relationships, try shifting your attention away from everything being perfect and focus it on what really matters most.  It’s your choice, after all. I’d like to say more on the topic, but I’m willing to let this go to print with its imperfections!  The bottom line is this:  Picture your life without the costs you’ve identified with here.  What would it look like?  Feel like?  Be like?  If you want to create that life, you may want to consider unlearning perfectionism.  If it’s not you but a perfectionist you manage, get some support.  You don’t have to do it alone.  Everything goes better with support.  If that’s foreign to you because you’re a lone ranger, practice!  Practice makes progress you know! Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach empowers you to move your life from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:  http://www.ingridmartinelifecoaching.com.    

The Price of Perfectionism – It Hurts Relationships, Hinders Support, and Impairs Building Trust!

Perfectionism hurts our relationships When making things perfect is our top priority, we tend to expect others to live up to our rigid expectations for performance.  When they don’t, we’re likely to forget the other person’s intentions, efforts, or good work.  Instead, we focus on the “less than perfect” aspects of what has been done. Not only can perfectionism take our focus away from the intentions of others, but it can also shift our focus from our own intentions.  Instead of acknowledging our co-workers’ dedication and good performance, we focus on the one detail that was missed.  This leaves those we work and live with feeling unappreciated, frustrated, and disempowered, us included. How many of your conversations begin with a criticism or complaint, rather than an acknowledgement or an expression of appreciation?  Our upset about what went wrong in a situation can consume us and become the focus of our communication with others. The next time you’re about to give some critical feedback, pause first.  Get clear about your intentions for the conversations.  Do you want the other person to know you appreciated their efforts?  Is any sort of “thank you” appropriate?  Before launching into your litany of complaints, look to the relationship.  If you value it, make sure the other person knows so before you digress too deeply into the details of their mistakes. Perfectionism gets in the way of letting in support If we’re perfect, we don’t need support from anyone or anything, right?  To admit that support in our lives would be useful is the equivalent of acknowledging that we cannot do all things at all times all alone. While we may know this intellectually, a perfectionistic drive can prevent us from allowing in much needed support.  We want to keep our needs to ourselves, preserving the image of our “perfectness”.  As a result, we don’t ask for help even when it’s obvious that it would be useful. Try looking away from that elusive image of perfection to how you can readily make a contribution.  Will you be able to do a better job if others help you?  Would even a little support produce a better outcome for everyone, even if you don’t get gold stars for looking perfect? Notwithstanding your thoughts to the contrary, I invite you to let in the support of others and notice how your life starts getting easier. Perfectionism impairs the building of trust When perfection is the highest priority, we go to great lengths to appear perfect at all times.  Looking good in every way becomes essential. When we strive to avoid letting others see our mistakes, we appear as though we never make them.  We rarely volunteer our errors.  When we make mistakes, we try to hide them or disguise them, so the fact that we are a mere mortal will not be disclosed. Because the perfectionist confuses perfection with self-worth, criticism or feedback is often taken personally.  When confronted with our shortcomings, we’re likely to be defensive, make an excuse, or blame others. The result of the perfectionist refusal to ever be vulnerable contributes to a team where no one feels safe to admit a mistake.  After all, who wants to admit to the “perfect one” that they’ve made a mistake?  Who wants to criticize the ideas of a person who’s always right and never wrong? What happens to motivation in an environment where it’s not ok to make a mistake? What happens to achievement? To learning? One of the most powerful ways to build trust on a team is to admit our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  Interestingly enough, others not only perceive this admission as a strength, but also as an invitation to be in a closer relationship. “Maybe we’re not so different after all,” team members muse. Insisting on looking perfect at all times closes down communication and limits the extraordinary results teams of a perfectionist manager are able to achieve. Question: What has perfection cost you that you’re aware of at work, home, and play? If you have allowed perfection to loosen its grip on you, what was the trigger that started the loosening? What benefits have accrued to you as a result of that courageous choice?  Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, author of The Un-Game and mind-ZENgineering coach empowers you to move your life from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For more visit: http://www.IngridMartine.com.    

Join Author Ingrid Martine for an Un-Game Event at Barnes & Noble – Waco

Barnes and Noble Event

Thursday, April 26th at 6:30 PM 4909 Waco Drive – Waco, TX  76710 The Un-Game Join us as we welcome Ingrid Martine to the Waco Store.  Author of The Un-Game, Ms. Martine provides a fresh approach to the challenges facing leaders seeking to increase their performance.  Come by for an engaging presentation and discussion! Details and directions here: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/3241213 Or download the Barnes & Noble flyer and share!  Click here!