Conflict, Conformity and Business

Conflict can be fascinating. It can be like fire…destructive on one hand and a source of life on the other. It’s easy to only look at the destructive side but, as Margaret Heffernan points out in her TED talk, conflict is a source of learning and enhanced performance.

*Please join us Friday, November 2nd at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Conflict, Conformity and Business”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

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Leadership-Perfection is Highly Overrated. How About Just Being You?

Teamability, roles, Dr. Janice PresserThis is guest post is by Dr. Janice Presser, CEO of The Gabriel Institute. She is the architect of the technology that measures Teamability™ and is a recognized thought leader in qualitative assessment and human infrastructure management concepts.  Please join our guests, Dr. Janice Presser and Paul Sevcik on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, this Friday, October 26th at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT as we focus on how Role-fit and team synergy will trump individual ‘perfection’ every time.

Leadership isn’t easy, but there are a lot of people who can tell you how it’s done! You can find about 69,000 of them on Read a few and soon you will be ready for the fitting of your halo and wings.

Last year, I answered a question about Leadership on I have a special place in my heart for this website. The questions that people ask and answer there can range from tough to touching. The question I picked was, ‘What are the top 10 interpersonal skills found in great leaders?’ It was irresistible because I’ve met a lot of people who seem to believe that a team is only as good as its leader, and that is just not so!

Here’s my ‘Top 10’:

  1. They are team players.
  2. They are coherent (neither rigid not diffuse) in all their interactions with others.
  3. Depending on what they are leading, they are either highly inspirational, in which case people are drawn to follow them and their vision, or they are excellent at shepherding people toward the goal. Occasionally you find people who are good at both.
  4. They take initiative, especially in innovation companies – they seize the moment and go for the opportunity.
  5. They clearly get that other people have a point of view that may not be an exact mirror of theirs. (They might not like it, but they definitely get it.)
  6. They aren’t consumed by greed. Their ambition and desire to win extends to their team, organization, stakeholders, and especially their customers.
  7. They aren’t know-it-alls, even though they are generally smart.
  8. They know how to be able depend on other people – their trust is highly desired and valued.
  9. They respect all living things. (That includes ‘silicon-based life forms’ – the technology that runs the company.)
  10. They openly express their faith in their team, that together they can achieve the vision.

After I posted it, I had to ask myself if I was only feeding into the perfection myth, but they checked out OK, especially #7 & #8.

Acknowledging imperfections

Leaders need to acknowledge their imperfections and that is actually the perfect team’s scenario. Everything you do not do well calls for someone on your team who does do it well and loves having the opportunity. This gives the team, as an entity in and of itself, a much greater chance of being perfect than a ‘perfect’ leader ever could, or should.

Leadership is not a formula, or a style, or a canon. Neither can it be adequately described as a series of traits or bits and pieces of experience. Leadership is intertwined with situational context, and thus leadership is a team sport. In the end, all that matters is that, collectively, your team is pulling together to achieve its mission.

Roles as filling needs of the team

There is a way to describe what any team needs, in terms of the people who are attracted to fill those needs. Each has a Role. Not a ‘role’ – like a job title or a set of responsibilities – but Role in the language of Teamability™: the manner or mode in which a given person seeks to make a meaningful contributions to meet team needs.

Not perfect and yet better

When you understand that you cannot do all of these things well, you may feel angry, or cheated, or sad in your imperfection. Or, you may suddenly realize that your moments of greatest joy and fulfillment have come when you were entirely immersed in contributions that were aligned with Your Role – and that in those moments, you were grateful for the others on your team who were also experiencing joy in performing their own ‘life’s mission.’ When people and teams function this way, they generate tremendous positive synergy and performance, producing real business value for an organization.

How do you define perfection? How has being perfect – or imperfect – impacted your life at work and beyond?

What are the absolutely basic requirements for your job? Do you like doing all of them? If you don’t, how do you deal with that?

When you have to work with someone, what happens? Do you mesh? Do you feel you give and get? What do you do when it doesn’t work?

What happens when you want to lead but no one is following? Or when people want to follow you but you really don’t feel comfortable ‘leading’ them?

What do you do when other people on your team frustrate you?

How do you best serve your organization or team? How does that bring you joy?

About the author: Dr. Janice Presser is the CEO of The Gabriel Institute and the architect of the technology that measures Teamability™ and is a recognized thought leader in qualitative assessment and human infrastructure management concepts. Her new book, slated for release in November of 2012, will explore the theoretical and physical foundations of ‘teaming,’ and their profound impact on the structure, development, and leadership of teams.


Fostering Business Growth-Is It A Brand New World?

The Great Recession changed the landscape at all levels. There is diversity of thoughts and conversations about all of this. Some say that there mus be governmental interventions while others say let the market sort everything out. Certain industry sectors are taking on a more grassroots approach by using collaboration, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to get individual businesses on a more stable footing.

*Please join us Friday, October 19th at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Fostering Business Growth-Is It A Brand New World?”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

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How this Social Era Affects Strategy Execution

Social networks have always existed, even when put under pressure by technological advances and societal events. The connection has always been that people have conversations with other people. As companies grew, some of the personalized socialization was removed. A significant change was noticed in 1999 about how people markets and businesses are socialized.

Maybe aspects of this always existed but  The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End Of Business As Usual, written by Christopher Locke, Richard Levine, Doc Searles and David Weinberger, identified that how organizations communicated internally and externally changed with the Internet.  Right on the front of their book, it states “markets are conversations, talk is cheap, silence is fatal.” But even ancient markets were places where conversations happened and ideas were exchanged.

*Please join us Friday, October 12th at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Creating Workable Solutions To Encourage Genuine Productivity”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

So, what is different about the current “social era” and how businesses engage strategically with the market? Continue reading


Creating Workable Strategies To Encourage Genuine Productivity

Productivity strategies, Self-awarenessAre you in an organization that is “doing more with less?” Individual productivity becomes more important in that environment. But rather than just saying, “do more”, it is important to understand what contributes to productivity in the first place. Productivity is closely aligned with habit formation, goal achievement and will  power. When we understand these, we can find ways to encourage genuine productivity.

*Please join us Friday, October 5th at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “Creating Workable Solutions To Encourage Genuine Productivity”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

Some days it feels like an exercise in futility

Ever had one of the those days where you look back and you feel as if you got nothing done. What did I do for 10 hours today? Dr. Gloria Mark, associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, studies how work gets done. In her research on information workers, she has discovered that people work in uninterrupted time for minutes in each day. Yes, minutes a day, not hours. While there are external interruptions like phone calls or people physically talking to us, a significant portion of what interferes with productivity is self-interruption. She also discovered that self-interruption becomes a habit.


Quite a lot of our behavior is a habit. We tend to follow the same routine everyday so it would make sense that we’re accustomed to checking our email, favorite social media sites or even suddenly remembering we forgot to do a task. We’ve built up neural pathways for these behaviors and they become automatic. (Even as I was writing this post, I found myself wanting to check my email or read another intriguing psychological study.) Essentially, we’re creating the interruption that lowers our productivity which causes us stress.

Goal achievement

But productivity is more than our attention span or our habits. The way we set goals and achieve them has an impact on our productivity. One of the more surprising findings to come out of research on goal achievement is that fantasizing how awesome it will be when you finish a task actually diminishes the likelihood that you will finish said task.

Will power

So, you might start thinking you can muscle through tasks so you hit your productivity goals. However, maintaining productivity depends on our ability to persist and control our tendencies to follow our habits rather than our conscious decisions. In other words, will power. Recent studies on will power has discovered that it is more akin to a muscle than a cognitive event.As we engage in email, online destinations, external interruptions, stress and other emotions, interpersonal interactions, hunger, fatigue and a host of other things, we constantly exercise our will power. Trying to get refocused on a task after interruptions is compromised and it takes will power to get ourselves back on track. This will power gets depleted over time and distraction and procrastination can set in.

 But there are deadlines to meet and quotas to fill

It might be as simple as changing how we work. That’s not to say it would be easy but it could be simple. With so much advice out there, the simple solution is to find your way to work. One of my colleagues, Elaine Rogers, makes a good point in her post about time management by saying that it is more important to be effective rather than efficient. And then there is Leo Batauta’s recommendation that we “Toss Productivity Out“. We know interruptions are going to happen. Traditional tips for staying productive are either being ignored or do not work for most people. We’re not paying enough attention to habit, goal achievement and will power to support effective productivity.

It might be as simple as mindfulness. When doing a task, be present with that task. When you are not able to be present, discover why your attention has wandered. It might be time to stop working. When we increase our awareness of how we, individually, operate, it is much easier to find the strategy that works for us.

What do we not understand about productivity?

What would happen if we allowed ourselves unproductive time?

How would you use mindfulness to support productivity?

What practical strategies have you observed working to encourage productivity?

How could workplaces be designed to maximize productivity?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth and small business coach/trainer, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding in your own backyard or into another country, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.