Diversity & Inclusion: Which Comes First?

christina-wocintechchat-com-eS72kLFS6s0-unsplashOne of the hot topics in today’s business world is Diversity and Inclusion or more commonly known under its acronym D&I. Most would likely agree that the purpose of D&I is to (1) afford equal opportunities and a working environment for all people to succeed and (2) leverage the positive effects of diversity to achieve a competitive business advantage. However, the big question we should be discussing and deciding is whether diversity (numbers) comes before inclusion (behaviors) or whether inclusion drives diversity. Diversity and inclusion: which comes first?

When businesses focus on diversity first, they can and some of them do, end up with silos built around ethnic and gender lines and never achieve the win-win for both employees and employers. I believe diversity does not necessarily create inclusion, but inclusion always supports diversity, so why not focus first on inclusion. When companies focus their efforts on creating cultures that value and reward inclusive behaviors, diversity will be a natural outcome.

What can businesses do that will help promote inclusive behaviors with the staff they already have on board?

  1. Seek input from more employees across more functional and hierarchical lines
  2. Listen to colleagues who are speaking until they feel understood
  3. Ask lots of questions
  4. Identify misunderstandings and resolve conflict
  5. Seek to understand each person’s value and contribution
  6. Examine your assumptions about people

How well is your company practicing inclusive behaviors with the employees it has now? The truth is that many companies haven’t achieved any inclusive milestones even with a concerted effort to hire and retain a diverse workforce. The question of whether diversity or inclusion should come first is similar to the age-old question of whether the chicken or egg came first. Where will you decide to focus your efforts?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Post-COVID: How Much Risk Will You Design into Your Life?

edwin-hooper-Q8m8cLkryeo-unsplashThe first wave of COVID-19 is crashing toward shore. If, and how many more, waves will follow during the coming years is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: the freedoms we once enjoyed may be changed forever. What will be the new normal? What will a virus-phobic world society look and feel like? I imagine we’ll make it up as we go based on our comfort levels.

Before we go further down the path, we need to answer an important question, because it will influence every decision that shapes the new normal. The question: how much risk are we willing to live with for the quality of life and freedoms we desire? If we don’t decide this up front, I’d bet we will make decisions, pass laws, and enact guidelines that drive us toward 100% safety and zero risk policies. And who doesn’t want total safety; it’s a feel-good place to be. But what’s the cost in quality of life, suppression of personal freedoms, sacrifice of privacy, and financial livelihoods?

If we decide how much risk we’re willing to live with, it will make it much easier to make important decisions in work and leisure. Some of the questions that businesses are wrestling with include:

  • How many people will be allowed on an elevator at one time?
  • Who, when, and how should employees be screened before entering the office? And what about visitors?
  • Will the much-dreaded cubicle concept finally be taken out by COVID as opposed to the research which showed how it cost businesses much more than it saved?
  • How much sanitation is enough to protect employers from employee lawsuits claiming the company was negligent in providing a safe work environment?
  • Where, when, and for how long will face masks be mandatory? Will we be required to wear them so much, they become fashion apparel much like a men’s necktie or women’s jewelry?
  • How many people will be allowed to congregate in the break room or have lunch together?
  • How will these policies be enforced?
  • What’s the repercussions for violators to policies?

Some of these may seem like tongue-in-cheek questions, but are they really? If COVID-19 is not one-and-done, but a virus we live with and have to mitigate as part of our world fabric, we need to get serious in asking ourselves the tough question. How much are we willing to give up in our lives and for what level of protection?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

 

Do You Have a 100% Responsibility Mindset?

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Responsibility is a term we use frequently throughout our home, work, and leisure lives. Generally speaking, responsible means to have or accept the duty to deal with something or someone. I would assume no one would disagree that we shouldn’t be responsible, and some would probably agree they could act more responsible. Yet, how do you know how responsible you really are?

I like to measure responsibility on a continuum, because as with any attribute or behavior, we don’t have enough focus and energy to be hitting on all cylinders all of the time. Most people struggle with the responsibility they have, yet haven’t thought about what it means to have a responsibility mindset—taking full responsibility for their life and results. Depending on what the world has thrown into their lives that day, people move back and forth on a responsibility mindset continuum.

luis-villasmil-mlVbMbxfWI4-unsplashHowever, it’s important to understand what a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 might look like if you were to achieve a 100% responsibility mindset. You wouldn’t blame, criticize, or even complain. Why? Because when you do, you’re ultimately saying there’s something you know is better that you’re not willing to go after.

Some people incessantly complain about their job but don’t make an effort to even update their resume and look for another one. Spouses complain about their other half but won’t even suggest marriage counseling. Still others complain about their mother-in-law, and yet never take a constructive step to work on the relationship.

When you have a 100% responsibility mindset, you don’t blame, criticize, or complain, because you know you’ve done everything within your control to influence or go get it, and there’s nothing more left for you to do. You then release it as your burden.

You’re probably thinking now of the last thing you criticized or person you blamed. Let the concept sink in. Awareness is the first step in moving towards a 100% responsibility mindset. If you’re unhappy with a relationship or situation, ask yourself, “How am I creating it, promoting it, or allowing it to continue.” Answering this question will give you greater insight into how you might adopt a 100% responsibility mindset, improve your circumstances, and eventually move toward emotional freedom.

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About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Resilience: Adopt a Squirrel Mindset

toimetaja-tolkeburoo-qyt0cPByJjs-unsplashIf your personal resilience could be characterized by an animal, what animal would you be? Would you’d be the stereotypical male lion, who waits for his pride to bring him what he needs and would likely starve to death, if not for the hunting skills of the lionesses. Or perhaps you’re more like a gecko, who detaches its tail when grabbed by a predator, runs, and then grows it back within weeks. I’d like to think that my personal resilience is more like the common backyard animal—the squirrel.

Think of a world of humans having the personal resilience of squirrel. Their mindsets should be admired, because squirrels routinely demonstrate the following behaviors:

  1. Plan for Adversity: How many times have you watched a squirrel from your window digging hole after hole after hole in your yard? He’s digging and burying nuts for winter. Adversity will come when the snow covers the ground, and the food supply disappears. He can’t necessarily count on the goodwill of humans to fill those bird feeders in the winter. And speaking of bird feeders…
  2. Never Give Up: If you’ve had the time, you’ve likely watched a squirrel tirelessly try to get bird seed out of a feeder that was booby-trapped with all types of supposed squirrel-proof gadgets. Having watched dozens of videos of human inventors proved wrong, I don’t think there’s a truly squirrel proof bird feeder yet.
  3. Don’t Complain: Paired with the never-give-up attitude, you don’t hear squirrels complaining when the game gets rough and goes on and on. They adopt a 100% responsibility mindset: 100% responsible for getting that seed. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t seek the help of their friends. In fact, once a winning formula is discovered, squirrels share the good news.
  4. Tap into Creativity: Have you seen some of the contorted positions squirrels eat from as they hang onto the bird feeders? If not, google photos. It makes extreme yoga look like the Special Olympics.
  5. Refrain from Discouragement: Discouragement doesn’t appear to be in a squirrel’s vocabulary. After applying the “never give up” resilience approach, they’re usually able to crack the code and come away with a full belly. When people say no to the squirrel and up their design, the squirrel responds, “Not now.”

anthony-intraversato-pT_wQgZAIU8-unsplashPeople can learn from the behaviors of squirrels. They have an incredible amount of resilience which probably explains why we see more than we care to in our own yards. What mindset area could you work on improving that would help you become more resilient?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

 

COVID-19: What have you learned? What will you change? How can I help?

damir-spanic-cMe5lwooOig-unsplashCOVID-19 has been a kick in the butt for many businesses. Some are not sure if they will make it. Others have tightened down the hatches and believe they can ride out the storm. Others are actively pursuing new opportunities to thrive on the other side. Remember the old saying: “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

Whether it’s survive or thrive, every company should ask where they rank on the continuum of flexible versus agile. What’s the difference? Flexibility means adapting to circumstances beyond your control. On the other hand, companies who are agile proactively change to take advantage of opportunities on the other side.  Where is your company on the continuum of flexible versus agile?

If you’re not sure, I have a few questions that can start the conversation:

  1. Describe what the new normal looks like on the other side of COVID for your industry and market?
  2. Based on your answer to the first question, what changes do you need to make now to set you up for success for the new normal?

As an example, some businesses believe virtual meetings will be a greater part of the new normal. How well do your people communicate in the virtual realm? Communicating virtually has specific nuances you need to be aware of and manage to ensure that it’s as powerful in person as it is across a computer connection. Communication is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% words. How you set up your environment for a visual call can also makes a huge difference in how you’re perceived. Do your people know what changes they need to make to shine?

Leadership coaching and consulting can help prepare your team to be the best version of themselves for the new normal. Let’s have a conversation on what post-COVID might look like for your business, so we can set you and your team up for success.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

 

How Leadership “Addiction” Impacts Team Performance Through a Crisis

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When most people hear of addiction in the workplace, they think of drugs, alcohol, and maybe the overuse of technology where employees can’t seem to separate from their iPhones. Outside of work, people have addictions to shopping, love, food, and gambling. Regardless of the addiction, they have one thing in common—all provide a hit of one or more of the feel-good chemicals of serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine.

Our decisions in how to seek out these pleasure chemicals have a profound effect on what our leadership looks and feels like, not only to us, but to the teams we lead. Each chemical is triggered and released into our bloodstream in a different way. Some are self-serving and others selfless, and the balance we seek as leaders will shape company culture and how we lead out of a crisis. As a leader, what pleasure chemicals are you addicted to?

Sinek (2017) discusses how endorphins are the survival chemicals that help mask pain and keep us going even when we think we can’t go any farther. In this high-stress, performance-driven business world, endorphins have a powerful influence in mitigating cortisol. The dopamine high is the reward we receive after accomplishing an important task—it motivates us to keep trying to achieve a defined goal. Dopamine and endorphins are chemical highs that don’t require interaction with others.

On the opposite end of the pleasure-seeking continuum are the selfless chemicals that make us feel valued and keep teams feeling they’re in the Circle of Safety (Sinek, 2017). Serotonin is also known as the leadership chemical—making us feel strong and confident knowing someone likes or respects us based on our decisions and behaviors. Oxytocin, more commonly thought of as the “love” chemical, increases our empathy, makes us social, and expands our generosity, which in turn creates bonds of trust and friendship.

Where leaders choose to get their chemical fix influences company culture, their effectiveness, and how their teams ultimately feel about them. During a business crisis, it’s highly unlikely that a leader can single-handedly lead a company through it. It takes a dedicated team, who feels part of the Circle of Safety, to work tirelessly for their leader as they successfully pull through the crisis. Those leaders, who inspire that level of commitment, are likely those with a significant level of serotonin and oxytocin running through their veins.

Which chemicals are you addicted to? What re-balancing do you need to make? How will you lead differently?

Reference

Sinek, S. (2017). Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. Penguin Group: New York, NY


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

6 Sales Steps to Move Forward During a Business Crisis

cytonn-photography-n95VMLxqM2I-unsplashThe sales team is the frontline to revenue generation. When a crisis comes, and COVID-19 has certainly been a global business tsunami, the big question is: “How will the salesforce respond as customers cancel orders or stop purchasing.” Most will initially respond by hanging their heads low, throwing their hands up in the air, or mumbling there’s little they can do—a form of paralysis. Their leaders drive on self-preservation decisions and focus their energy on cost cutting in the form of furloughs or layoffs. These organizational responses divert the focus away from the customer, and customers are the only way a business will survive and thrive through the crisis.

Sales Team Mindset

What can companies do to lead through the crisis? Stop blaming, criticizing, and making excuses about COVID-19 and what it’s doing to its business. Why? Because it shows a lack of having a 100% responsibility mindset. Those with a 100% responsibility mindset don’t blame, criticize and make excuses. They focus positive energy on what they can do to move forward.

What can you do? Create a vision of what your company will look like on the other side of the crisis. Feed the vision with positive energy and affirmation. Every crisis creates opportunity for something new, so focus on being part of the “bigger and better.”

Sales Team Next Steps

Below are 6 steps a sales team can deploy to make the new vision a reality:

  1. Make a list of attributes (knowledge, solutions, and skills) that your business and sales team can bring to your customers. Sometimes you need to be your own champion and remind yourself of how good you are and the value you offer.
  2. Get in front of your customers (in person, video, phone calls, and follow-up texts). Let them know you are thinking about them on a human level during these times of crisis. Show some empathetic listening. Let them know they’re not forgotten just because they’re not ordering.
  3. Ask questions! Open-ended questions! Ask them what they are wrestling with. What’s unknown? What new problems are they focused on solving? What information do they need to know and now?
  4. Share how you can help them solve their problems. Get out your list (in your mind) from step 1 and start sharing, discussing, and asking more questions to see where the conversation goes.
  5. Put another appointment on your calendar to reach out again and repeat steps 1-4. And don’t let too much time go by.
  6. Bonus Step: Don’t hesitate to reach out to new customers. Some of those attributes from your list may be desperately needed with customers who don’t know you or who haven’t seen you in awhile.

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About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and business consultant with an extensive background in leadership and sales. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can engage Sandra as your coach by reaching out to coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com

3 Things Leaders Should Do More of During a Crisis

antenna-cw-cj_nFa14-unsplashCommunicate, communicate, and communicate. Best practice communication tactics leave people feeling better as opposed to worse. COVID-19 has the general population fear levels at all-time highs: fear of getting the virus, losing a job, plummeting 401Ks, and not being allowed to visit loved ones who are dying or sick. Leaders, who focus on empathetic listening, truth-telling, and more frequent communication during times of crisis, will win over the hearts and minds of the people they lead.

Empathetic Listening

Crisis creates fear which clouds our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. Fear makes people feel like they’re alone. The best leaders step up their empathetic listening towards those who are fearful. They don’t rationalize or try to convince them that it’s not that bad or that they’ll land on their feet after the crisis passes. They focus on just listening and validating what the person is feeling and experiencing in the moment.

Truth Telling

What’s worse than dealing with the fears of the known created by a crisis? It’s fear of the unknown. Even if the news isn’t favorable, people would rather deal with the truth of bad news versus not having the information. Leaders respect and honor people by being truthful even if the news isn’t pleasant to deliver or receive.

Communication Frequency

The best leaders make it a priority to overly communicate to their teams. When people are feeling overwhelmed and unsure, communication helps to ease their anxiety, even if the message is “no new news.” That extra time that leaders take to check-in with their teams, even if to share nothing new, boosts feelings of care and connection.

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About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Thank You for Practicing Social Gratitude

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COVID-19 has given some of us a gift—a gift we’ve been asking for—and now that we have it, we don’t know what to do with it. What gift is that? The gift of time. Although this gift comes with some limitations—keep your seat-belt fastened and refrain from walking freely about the cabin—nevertheless, it’s a gift. We’ve gained hours back in our day, because we no longer commute to work, the gym, or after-hour activities. We don’t have to taxi our kids around to school and their extra-circular activities. Some of us, unfortunately, have no productive work, because we’ve been furloughed, laid off, and executive orders have closed most small businesses.

How are you going to enjoy or use your time, or better asked, how are you going to enjoy using it? Will you call and connect with old friends? Play board games with your family? Take an online course to improve a skill? Or try out some new recipes in the kitchen?

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While you’re practicing physical distancing, don’t waste this valuable time. What’s on your “enjoy” list? Hopefully there are a few things that focus on serving others. One of my favorites is handwriting [or printing in the case of the younger generations] a letter to friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, charities, and ministry partners to express your gratitude for them and what they do. Share what you value most in them, their contributions, and their friendship.

Physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing. In fact, I suggest we practice social gratitude. Although you can call and tell them over the phone how you feel, there’s nothing more heart-warming than to receive a handwritten letter you can re-read again and again. Written words have sustaining affirmation.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

6 Tips in Leading a Remote Team Via Virtual Meetings

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COVID-19 has forced individuals and teams into a new structure of working—remote. Some have already mastered the art of virtual operations, while many others haven’t yet. Even those experts in scheduling, navigating, and sharing documents on Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx, are now part of teams where members are less experienced at maneuvering in this virtual world.

Virtual meetings have become a practical tool to continue the work by those healthy enough to do so while keeping them safe. Frequent video meetings can be used to help everyone feel included, aligned, and moving toward their goals. Leading a successful virtual team meeting during these unprecedented times is an important skill and somewhat different than leading an in-person meeting in normal times.

Leaders who are leading a remote team via video call meetings should consider the following:

  1. Invest time learning the virtual meeting technology so you waste less team time learning the mechanics on the job. You will also become a resource for other team members. Practice with other family members at home to gain proficiency.
  2. Schedule time to connect with other team members before the start of the agenda. Have everyone share one funny or positive event. Let everyone know they are welcome to join at any time during the first 15 minutes which will be more social and a time to check-in.
  3. Now more than ever it’s necessary to create an agenda and issue it prior to the meeting so the group is clear on what will be discussed and how they can effectively prepare.
  4. Plan virtual meetings that are shorter and more interactive and save information sharing for email and text.
  5. Encourage use of the video component of the meeting so everyone can see faces and make it feel more like a face-to-face meeting. Studies show that how we communicate is 7% words, 38% tone of voice, and 55% body language. Video allows us to more clearly understand the message.
  6. Review and eliminate non-value add meetings. Many meetings have ceased to bring the value they once did. They served their purpose and now might be the right time to retire them. Turning a routine meeting into a virtual meeting can sometimes give you the perspective on its true value.

Some studies forecast that after COVID-19 runs its course, more people will be working remotely than ever before. Develop your skills now, and you will be in a better position to lead your remote team members well.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com