Your Core Values: How They Show Up at Work

Our core values, whether we realize it or not, drive how we feel, what we think, and more importantly what we do. If companies operate by a standard set of values, stated or not, how do your core values align with your employer’s? Where do they complement, co-exist, or rub each other the wrong way?

Most people haven’t intentionally thought of identifying and unpacking their core values. However, when they do take the time, my clients have light bulb moments: “Ah-ha, that explains it.” The opportunity to express core values is a significant contributor toward your feelings of fulfillment and ultimate success at work, and on the flipside, the suppression of your core values can produce feelings of dread when you think about another day of work.  

We all have triggers that let us know something’s not right. Perhaps mine are like yours. When I can jump out of bed early on weekend mornings but need 3 or 4 hits of the snooze bar during the work week, that’s my signal I need a core value check and possible adjustment.

Wearing my hat as a life coach, clients ask me for help in changing careers. Our first step is to separate work from the company. For instance, one of my clients wanted to get out of sales, because it was too frustrating. After we unpacked his current situation, he concluded that he loved sales, building relationships, and the thrill of the hunt. What he also realized was how his employer tied his hands, dictated his process, and his current boss knew only how to supervise account managers but had no skill in leading business development.   

Once my client clearly understood that three of his top five core values were leadership, creativity, and independence, he agreed that sales/business development was the right career for him. He just needed to find a company whose values aligned with his, so he could perform at his best. Instead of switching careers, he switched companies by learning how to interview for the right company culture and boss for a win-win.

If you don’t know what your top core values are and how to unpack them in a meaningful way for future decision-making, reach out for a coaching conversation.

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 individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Everyone Should Work for a Bad Boss … at Least Once

heather-ford-6fiz86Ql3UA-unsplashYou’ve likely heard the statement that employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses. Despite how troubling this can be for those playing the character in a story ruled by a “bad boss”, I also subscribe to the theory that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You can become the hero of your own work story.

Bad Boss Benefits

Since working for a bad boss isn’t life threatening, I believe working for one in the early stages of your career helps bring gratitude for the good bosses you’re sure to have later, and more importantly, the experience builds your muscle of resilience. Bad bosses provide an opportunity to strategize and build stamina as well as develop skills in communication and conflict resolution. They also help you get clarity on personal boundaries.

You may say, “This all sounds good in theory, but you have no idea how bad a boss can be. I work for the worst of the worst.” After I share my brief story, you be the judge. Regardless of which one of us claims the prize, you’re obviously a survivor of a bad boss. My hope is that your bad boss experience allowed you to take away some valuable insights into who you are and how to lead better.

My Bad Boss Story*

I was in a position for nearly a year, when my boss moved into another management position, leaving the opening to be backfilled by Mr. Smith*. I’d casually known Mr. Smith for several years as a colleague at the same site. He had quite the reputation as a bully, and his views of women were a bit disturbing. I felt fortunate not to report through his group, especially after hearing some of his beliefs during lunch table conversation: “Women have to work three times as hard to get the credit that a man does.” He didn’t say it as if it was an injustice, but rather that women were intellectually inferior and had to put forth more effort to produce the same results.

Fast forward into the story six months. One employee from Mr. Smith’s previous department told me people had waged bets on who was going to survive: Mr. Smith or me. And the odds were not in my favor.

Now back to the beginning of my story. Several days after the announcement, I walked into my office to find a FACT Sheet tucked neatly into the corner of my desk blotter. In case you think I might have made this up, I’ve included the original note with my bad boss’s name blacked out for privacy. The FACT Sheet was a black comedy note, more ominously black than funny. What would you think if you found this note on your desk?

FACT Sheet

….Mr. Smith’s people are more apt to gain or loose body weight in an undesirable fashion

…Work priorities change on a minute by minute basis

…Work priorities are inversely proportional to the order you accomplish goals and complete tasks

…Long term health risks include hair loss, anorexia, obesity, insomnia, paranoia, mental and physical burnout

…Mr. Smith is ALWAYS RIGHT

…If Mr. Smith is wrong, see above

…Most people have a better chance of seeing God than an easy day in the Mr. Smith’s group

Although I knew it wouldn’t be a best seller, I soon started a journal because of the deteriorating relationship with Mr. Smith. I tried forcing clarity of priorities, definition of work quality, deliverables, timing, and expectations. Nothing seemed to work. It was like trying to reason with the unreasonable.

I swore to myself I wouldn’t give up; I was cutting my teeth as a manager. I knew if I could survive Mr. Smith, I could survive any boss. At this point, I didn’t know about the big bet against my survival. If I had known, it probably would have incentivized me even more.

2020-08-30_155112I never thought to go to Human Resources. The HR staff knew of Mr. Smith’s reputation, and I didn’t want to be considered the trouble-maker. I needed to figure this out on my own. Mr. Smith’s bullying style was not so much verbal abuse as it was written beratement, accusations, and name calling through the email system. On some level, I appreciated that Mr. Smith hid behind the email system, because it made for perfect journal documentation.

Deep down inside, bullies are cowards and deeply disconnected from people. One “undisclosable” email was the straw that broke the proverbially camel’s back, and I found a voice that I didn’t know I had. My response to Mr. Smith’s email was that I wasn’t going to tolerate any more of his abusive emails, and I demanded an in-person meeting. He sheepishly agreed to meet, and I firmly told him my boundaries going forward. All disagreements were to be in-person, behind closed doors. I demanded clarity in writing from him and boundaries on my decision-making. I told him in no uncertain terms how I expected to be treated. I also asked him to write down what he expected of me—everything. He could always add more to his list later.

You could say that I gave the bully a bit of his own medicine. I would say I gave it to him firmly and respectfully. I said I was here to serve him and help make this team look good, and these were my boundaries in how I expected him to treat me. I would do anything he asked to the best of my ability as long as it was not illegal, immoral, or detrimental to the company. Guess what happened next? I never had another issue with Mr. Smith again. I was a bit worried when the next performance cycle came around. What would be on my appraisal? Answer: HIGHLY EXCEEDS.

Bad Boss Lessons

Today, reflecting back on my bad boss story, it’s more comedy than it is black. More seriously, the daily hardship in working for a bad boss was a blessing in disguise. I got to strategize, try different approaches, learn how resilient I was, and ultimately, I got clarity on what I was and wasn’t willing to tolerate in a work relationship. I consider that a win.

Now that you’ve heard my bad boss story, what’s yours? It’s not that I want to take home the trophy, but I hope in the retelling of yours that you can see the good things that came out of your experience. Perhaps you needed to report to a bad boss, because you were becoming stagnant and needed a kick in the butt to go look for another job. Maybe you were getting complacent in the quality of your work. Or just maybe you needed to get clear on your boundaries and find your voice.

Nothing excuses the behaviors of the bad boss, but bad bosses will be here until end times, and it’s only a matter of time before you work for one. Better to have the mindset that you can learn something from the unpleasant process by stepping through it.

*Some details and his name were changed to protect the identity of my bad boss.

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 individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

What Lies Do You Believe About Work?


Your Work Engagement

I bet there’s been a time or two in your work history, where you’ve shaken your head and thought or maybe even said, “What’s the purpose of spending time on creating annual goals? They’re not relevant one quarter into the new year.” How many times have you wished you were working for [fill in the market leader in your industry]? Maybe a few times over the course of your career you said to a trusted colleague, “This is a grind; I need to find a better work-life balance.” Statistics show that less than 20% of employees are fully engaged at work. What side do you live on? And what are you doing as a leader to move the needle for you and your team toward the side of full engagement?

Nines Lies About Work

I’m a big fan of Marcus Buckingham, who is a leading researcher of team performance. His book Nines Lies About Work, co-authored with Ashley Goodall, explains most all you knew to be true but didn’t have the data to prove it. What does Marcus mean by lies at work? These are the truths that companies buy into and operate by to manage people.

Why do they buy into the lies? Buckingham would have you believe it satisfies the organization’s need for control. There’s truth in that statement, but I also believe from my own personal history working in Corporate America that many employees, who laddered into the C-suite, got there by successfully navigating through the lies. They now suffer from faulty thinking, believing in the validity of the lies that worked for them but don’t for most. What they don’t fully appreciate is that operating under these lies pull the organization down by attaching a ball and chain to the employees’ ankles.

Based on decades of working in Fortune 1000 companies, I have my own personal favorite work lies but I’d like to share my top three favorite of Buckingham’s nine: (1) people care which company they work for, (2) the best companies cascade goals, and (3) work-life balance matters most.


Lie: People Care Which Company They Work For

It’s true people are attracted to certain companies based on name, reputation, and supposed culture. I was certainly attracted to the big Exxon name as a chemical engineering graduating from college. Who wouldn’t want to work for one of the biggest chemical companies—Exxon Chemical—like I did? However, whether an employee stays will be less about the company and more about the opportunities to do their best and the team’s cohesion.

Teams are a home for people, and its only when we work on teams that our best is put to highest use and unlocks our highest potential. “Local team experiences have far more bearing on whether we stay in the tribe or leave it…” (p. 28). Teams matter more than the company. “Teams make work real; they ground us in the day-to-day…and, teams, paradoxically, make homes for individuals” (p.30). People care about what team they belong to and what they’re working on.


Lie: The Best Companies Cascade Goals

Years ago, the typical annual performance review and goal-setting process had your supervisor ask you to write up how you did on your goals in the current year and create new ones for the upcoming year. These would roll-up the organizational ladder. Today, its more fashionable for leadership to first create theirs from the company goals and then cascade them down through each level of the organization. You see your boss’s goals and then create yours. Was that approach any more effective?

Did you feel like you were checking a box? Did you say your yourself, “I’ll let the dust settle and work on what’s truly important regardless of what’s written and approved.” Your assumption is that by the end of the year it won’t matter, because you’ll be able to rewrite your goals to reflect what you actually did.

We spend so much time on this process, and for what practical reason? There’s no data that supports that goals set from above stimulate greater productivity. In fact, “…evidence suggests that cascaded goals do the opposite: they limit performance. They slow your boat down” (p. 55). What’s a company to do, if it’s not cascading goals? “The best companies cascade meaning” (p. 62). People should not be told the what to do but the why, so they can be released to use their best gifts to perform on behalf of the company.


Lie: Work-life Balance Matters Most

People crave work with meaning and purpose—bottom line—and yet research shows that “…only 16-17 percent of workers say they have a chance to play to their strengths every day” (p. 197). When this happens, our pay becomes the price that we accept for the inherent badness of work. Think of it as a bribe to grin and bear it.

Work doesn’t have to be categorized as work is bad, the rest of life is good, and we have to find a balance. Let’s get real: “neither you nor your life are in balance, nor will you ever be” (p. 188). Life is ever changing, not static.

What’s an employee to do? The common mantra is to do what you love. Actually, for most of us, it should be find love in what you do. Surveys from U.S. working populations show that “…72 percent of workers say, ‘I have the freedom to modify my role to fit my strengths better’” (p. 197). Over the course of my career in Corporate America, I convinced my employer no less than three times to create a specific position for me that allowed me to drive on my strengths and drive value to the company, all the while finding love in what I do.

If any of these intrigues you, make sure to pick up this book and learn of the other six lies.


Buckingham, M., and Goodall, A. (2019). Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

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 individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Best Leadership Messages from Global Leadership Summit 2020


Since 2014, the year I was first introduced to the Global Leadership Summit (GLS), I’ve been a faithful attender because of the research and stories shared by the best world leaders. With 2020 shaping up to be one of the most “memorable” years in modern history, I was keen to hear from the faculty on leadership topics relevant to our current times.

Many messages touched on how leaders can deal with fear, deepen human connection, and create psychological safety while leading forward. I share a few of the best leadership messages from some of the most renowned experts on why leadership is so important, how to lead better, and what people want from their leaders.

You need to push through fear, because your greatest success is on the other side.

Speaker Messages

Craig Groeschel

For years, Craig’s been saying, “Everyone wins when a leader gets better.” At its core, leadership is influence, never title or position. Everyone has influence, and leaders can learn from anyone as long as they have humility. Craig’s encouragement is for leaders to lead through the dip.

All organizations move through 5 life cycle stages:

  • Birth: painful, don’t know if you have the energy or right resources
  • Growth: difficult for different reasons, need right people, cash flow struggles, fun
  • Maturity/Prime/The Flow: this is really working, have right people and systems
  • Decline/Rut/Treadmill: low morale, high frustration
  • Death: the end

When organizations enter the decline stage, leaders typically revert to what they did in the prime/growth phases, doing it even harder with the false belief the organization will return to its former self.

You can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can’t do both. Don’t fight the old way but find the new way.

Every major crisis creates unexpected problems as well as unpredicted opportunities. Be agile and look for them. Do you have courage to succeed by adapting, pivoting, and leading through the dip to create the next growth curve?

  • Change how you think about change. People don’t mind change; they hate the way we try to change them. Great leaders never caste blame.
  • Have the courage to unmake promises such as “we will never” or “we will always”. If not careful, your boldest declarations could become your greatest limitations.
  • Obsess over the Why. People change over either desperation or inspiration. When you convey the why, you disarm the critics, educate the bystanders, and empower the advocates. If they know the purpose, people can tolerate the pain of change.

Lead with confidence through uncertainty. Feel the fear and lead anyway.

The pathway to the greatest outcome is through your fear. What is no longer working and needs to be changed? What’s one promise you need to unmake? What’s one risk you need to take even if you feel afraid?

Danielle Strickland

  • Hope is a strategy that is grown in the soil of gratitude and flourishes when we live out what we believe. We look to our leaders to create hope.
  • Eighty percent of your thought process is either in the past or the future. Hope is present tense. Leaders should focus on doing in the present what they hope for in the future.

Beth Comstock

  • Organizational longevity is influenced by how well leaders manage change—forcing people to confront things they normally wouldn’t.
  • Sometimes as a leader you need to admit that you’re afraid. Tell people what you know and don’t know. You don’t have to know everything.
  • If you’re to lead well, you need to ask for feedback. A powerful question to ask your team: “Tell me one thing I don’t want to hear?”

John Maxwell

  • The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. You’re already outside of your comfort zone, so now is the time to do those things you’re uncomfortable doing.
  • What we focus on is what expands. You don’t get rid of your fear. Feed your faith and hope, so that it expands over your fear, doubt, and feelings of uncertainty.

Everything you want and don’t have is outside of your comfort zone.

Marcus Buckingham

The answers to 10 statements will tell you how much resilience lives in your workplace. How would you describe your personal experiences?

  1. I have all the freedoms I need to decide how to get my work done
  2. No matter what else is going on around me, I can stay focused on getting my work done
  3. In the last week, I have felt excited to work every day
  4. I always believe that things are going to work out for the best
  5. My team leader tells me what I need to know before I need to know it
  6. I trust my team leader
  7. I am encouraged to take risks
  8. Senior leaders are one step ahead of events
  9. Senior leaders always do what they say they are going to do
  10. I completely trust my company’s senior leaders

Statements 1-4 focus on self, 5-7 with team leaders, and 8-10 with senior leaders.

  • Senior leaders can cultivate resilience though vivid foresight and follow through.
  • Team leaders can adopt anticipatory communication: check-in with people one-on-one at least once a week and build psychology safety.
  • Individual leaders can build resilience by understanding their agency: what parts of your world you can control and when. You should use your strengths in work, because that will fill you up.

Nona Jones

Injustice is never neutral. One side always benefits from the other even when that side didn’t design it. In leadership, safe is insufficient.

You cannot make lasting impact while still feeling safe. Impact and comfort are diametrically opposed.

Why do we retreat to the safe zone?

  • Fear: One end of the spectrum is the fear of losing your life [to something bigger] and on the other losing your livelihood. Fear is real. Our challenge as leaders is to explore what fear can teach us. Fear is a thermometer; fear is an invitation to prepare; fear cannot be an excuse for inactivity. When you prepare for the worst while working toward the best, fear changes from a paralyzer and becomes a mobilizer.
  • Inadequacy: It causes you to believe the lie that someone else is better equipped than you. Determine what you can change and change it. No one is called to change the entire world by himself.

It’s achievable when we take what’s possible and make it probable.

When things get difficult, we often retreat into isolation. You must build your pack to build your power. We were created to be in community. When things get challenging, rely on your pack. Your challenge: identify three people that you can invite into your pack as encouragers when things get difficult.

Juliet Funt

Exhaustion and denial? Soldier on. Ideas to help you refuel your tank.

  • Forgive and accept yourself more than you’re currently doing today.
  • Reconnect with your mission. Do the Ladder Up exercise! In a purposeful way, keep asking, “What is the best possible outcome of that?” for each answer until you reach a pinnacle outcome which might include (1) live longer, healthier, lives, (2) achieve close, connected, and loving families, and (3) achieve clear, clean, and close-by water.

When you ladder up to the best possible outcome, you’ll be infused with energy.

Vanessa Van Edwards

Studies show that people evaluate others upon first meeting them on warmth (trust) and competence (respect). Leaders rank off the charts in both these traits. Where are you on the continuum of warmth and competence? You can increase your warmth and trust by acting on the following behaviors.

  • Become purposeful in your cues. Our words are powerful primers to shape others’ behavior, thoughts, and actions. In the workplace, calendars are the biggest primers. Typical calendar invites for call, meeting, conference, agenda, or one-on-one are boring. Instead, use collaborative session, strategy session, mastery meeting, creative time, accountability hour, or goal session.
  • Think about how you want someone to feel before, during, and after interacting with you. When starting a conversation or answering the first question, avoid starting with “terrible traffic”, “bad weather”, “I’m so stressed”, “my schedule is crazy”, or “I’m so busy”.
  • Think positive and focus on “I’m so happy to see you”, “great weather”, “I’ve been looking forward to this”, “It’s great to be here”, and “It’s always a pleasure to speak with you”. Positive words change brain patterns and convey warmth such as Hi friend, Let’s connect, Cheers, I’m open, Together, Excited, Collaborate, Happy to be here, Best, and Both
  • Competent words include Productive, Let’s brainstorm, Effective, Get ready, We’ll power through it, Efficient, Lead knowledge, and Streamlined. Do an email audit to see how you prime. What changes will you make going forward?
  • Hands are trust indicators. Hands convey trust and intention, so get your hands up and make them visible and expressive. Hands also impact competence, not just warmth. Least popular TED talks had 272 gestures and most popular used 465 gestures in 18 minutes. Demo your talk with hand gestures. Speak with your hands and your words. The mind gives a lot of weight to hand gestures vs. words.
  • Influence: Avoid the question inflection at the end of your statement. Say, don’t ask with your voice inflection, because it diminishes your competence. Low tone: use the lowest natural end of your voice tone by speaking on the out-breath.

To learn more about how to signal others visit

Joseph Grenny

  • Progress is assured when leaders chose truth over power. Leaders become heroes to support those who challenge and disagree. Create feedback rituals; build space into the schedule for candor.
  • The health of a team is measured by the time elapsed between when a team sees a problem and when they talk about it.
  • Most pain is avoidable, and pain is fostered by a culture of silence. Silence is the playground of evil. Our day ends when we are silent about what matters.

Paula Faris

  • When leading yourself through life’s reset, look for peace to proceed, expect and anticipate fear, and give yourself permission to branch out.
  • Do you have a peace about it? Or are your values clashing with your choices? Are you finding significance in something that shifts (job, bank account)? If you have peace in your spirit, proceed.
  • Expect and anticipate fear: fear is normal. You will be scared during shifts, resets, and change. Know how to deal with your fear. What is the worst thing that could happen if you pressed into fear?
  • Ask yourself these questions: What are you scared of? What is the worst thing that could happen if you went for it? What is the best thing that could happen if you went for it? What are the times when you let fear paralyze you? When did you not allow your fear to paralyze you?
  • Value is not tied to relationship, job, bank account, etc. but in finding fulfillment in what you are good at and love. What are you good at? What do you love? What do trusted people notice you’re good at and love?

Fear is the great paralyzer to slay your dreams.

Chris McChesney

What if new priorities or change did not raise uncertainty? What if it made sense? People can handle change; it’s the uncertainty that people don’t like. Can you engage your team for an achievable and meaningful outcome? Can your team feel they can win? If so, change is not an issue. You’re a leader if you can create the 3 things team members look for:

  • Clear finish line
  • Influence on how to get to finish line (making progress)
  • Confirmation that the goal matters to the leader on daily basis (engage people to a cause that means something and is winnable)

Amy Edmondson

People’s orienting system is to achieve psychological safety (predictable, rational, and fair). We live in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, commonly referred to as VUCA.

  • Volatile: rapid changes, ups and downs, big swings
  • Uncertain: difficult to predict future events/values
  • Complex: multiple interconnect elements
  • Ambiguous: unclear meaning of signals/events

Psychological safety explains more about variability in team performance than any other factor.

What if you took it seriously as leader to help people adapt and navigate the VUCA world?

  • Anyone’s voice should be mission critical. Most people people feel that they can’t speak up.
  • Impression management at work is almost second nature. It causes us not to speak up or push for what we know is right. No one wants to look ignorant, incompetent, intrusive, or negative but would prefer to look smart and easy going, which means he or she doesn’t ask questions, admit weakness or mistakes, offer ideas, or critique the status quo.
  • Are you playing not to lose or are you playing to win? Organizations that play to win put the mission in charge and not impression management. They create psychologically safe cultures for people to take risks and speak up with ideas, questions, and concerns. Mistakes are welcomed and valued.
  • Studies show the higher your status in the company the more psychological safety you have but you can have pockets of poor psychological safety at any level. The hierarchical safety gap in your company is minimized when everyone has a voice at the table.
  • High performance standards and psychological safety can co-exist. As leaders we need to help the team move into the learning zone.
    • Comfort zone (low standards, high safety)
    • Apathy zone (Low standards, low safety)
    • Anxiety zone (high standards, low safety)
    • Learning zone (high standards, high safety)
  • What are the key signs that a workplace is psychologically safe? People on your team are willing to speak up when: (1) something goes wrong, (2) they disagree with what’s being said (especially the boss), (3) they have half of an idea, and (4) they need help
  • Leaders recognize that not all failure is bad. Failure comes in three types:
    • Preventable (mistakes): where we know how to do it right
    • Complex (accidents): a set of factors combine in novel ways to produce undesired outcomes in familiar contexts
    • Intelligent (discoveries): undesired results that nobody could have known without trying it
  • Leaders help the organization fail well: reducing preventable failures, anticipating and mitigating complex failures, and promoting intelligence
  • Create a psychological safe environment by framing the work, inviting/insisting engagement proactively, and responding productively
    • Insist on; give time to create disagreement (debate)
    • Model humility and candor
    • Ask good questions to broaden the discussion: (1) what do others think, (2) what are we missing, (3) what other options could we consider, (4) how would our competitor approach this, and (5) who has a different perspective. Good questions also deepen the discussion: (1) what leads you to think so, (2) what’s the concern that you have about that, (3) can you give us an example, and (4) can you explain that further?
    • When you get feedback you should be appreciative, positive, and forward looking. Respond productively by listening and showing empathy.

Good questions make silence awkward.

Michael Todd

What can the right or wrong pace do for your leadership? Overworked, anxiety, and depression can be the results of a too fast, unsustainable leadership pace. If we get the right pace, everything changes. Will you find your stride—the walk with long decisive steps in a specific direction which can take you further than faster?

  • Pace of grace: when you find the right stride, everything starts working. Are you working fast in one area and nothing in another? When everything gets the measure of health that it needs, you’ve found the pace of grace.
  • Create a vision, make it visual, verbalize it, and don’t violate it

Poor pace produces missed moments, meaning, and miracles.

Henry Cloud

Your mission and organization can easily become fragmented curing a crisis. Anchor yourself and ensure your organization is paying attention to these critical four:

  • Are we making sure that fragmentation is not leading to disconnection? Show up enough and in the right way?
  • Do everything possible to let others have a sense of power and control. What can they control in driving the mission forward?
  • Managing shame and pain. You need to make room and space for people can talk about where they are failing and hurting.
  • Allow people a sense of accomplishment by allowing them to use their strengths and feel good about what they do.

Momma Maggie Gibran

The stronger the winds, the stronger the tree.

Albert Tate

Are you counterfeit or the Real McCoy? Ask yourself this question about your leadership. Am you a counterfeit or faking? Or are you trying to be the best version of some other person?

  • Leadership is not something you need to grasp from the outside but should be what you need to grow from inside you.
  • In crisis, it’s not about finding leadership but tapping into what is already within you in the moment.
  • What are the leadership essentials for us to have authentically growing within us?
    • We should be flipping tables as leaders (Jesus and the money changers). Look for injustice and turn systems over. It’s hard to flip a table of injustice, if you’re sitting comfortably at the table. Are you sitting at tables you should be flipping? Who is not at your table? Why? Are you making it hard for those to sit at your table?
    • We should be foot washing leaders (Jesus washing disciples’ feet, even Judas). Who would be surprised by your compassion if you poured it on them? Wash the feet of friends and foe, allies, and enemies.
    • We need to be a limping leader (you loose but God wins) by walking in vulnerability. Failure isn’t falling but an invitation for God’s grace to show up in your life. Limps are just the mark where you lost, and God won.

Lead a legacy for tomorrow.

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 individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

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 or by visiting her website at

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 or by visiting her website at


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 or by visiting her website at


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.


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

6 Tips in Leading a Remote Team Via Virtual Meetings


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 or by visiting her website at

The One Big Question Every Sales Person Needs to Answer

linkedin-sales-navigator-YDVdprpgHv4-unsplashDespite what you might have read, sales success isn’t a skill only a lucky few are born with, a science, or an art form. Anyone has the potential to sell, and to sell well. The truth be told, selling is less about skill, processes, and following a set of rules and more the natural outcome of the condition of your heart and ability to connect with people. If you want to improve the outcome of your selling efforts, you should first take inventory of who you are and your motivations. Selling starts with you, and all that follows flows from who you are.

Who are you?

A few questions to get you started:

  • What are you core values, strengths, and weaknesses?
  • What attitudes, motivations, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and worldview do you hold?
  • What are your skills and competencies?
  • How do you show up to others?

You must get in touch with your authentic self. Why? Because you will either choose to drive on who you are or do some hard work to change. You can’t fool people. Humans have natural Geiger counters when it comes to assessing and judging people. They may or may not be able to explain why they feel the way they do about certain people, but they instinctively know whether they like or dislike a sales person or even perhaps even worse have no preference.

What’s the big question that every sales person should ask themselves? “How do I make people feel?” Sales is fundamentally one person saying yes to another.

  • Do they trust you?
  • Do they believe you are competent?
  • Do they believe you have their best interest at heart?
  • Do they believe you are searching for the win-win and not the salesperson take all?
  • Do they believe you are authentic in your interactions with them?

The answers to these questions can’t be faked, because they all stem from a salesperson’s heart. Successful selling starts with showing up authentically, so you can genuinely connect with the customer. If you need help exploring, working on, or connecting your authentic self with selling, reach out for a conversation.

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 or visiting her website at