What’s Your Listening Score?

mimi-thian-lp1AKIUV3yo-unsplashListening is a powerful communication skill that affects your leadership influence and relationships. When you listen well, people notice. Why? Because most people don’t practice good listening. Instead, they typically focus on being heard.

Ribbers and Waringa (2015) define seven levels of listening which are:

  1. Continually interrupts people, impatient when listening, wants to hear him- or herself talk, doesn’t get to the point easily
  2. Restrains him- or herself enough to listen but with visible signs of impatience, prefers to talk about own experiences
  3. Listens to others, polite and observes standard conversational etiquette, reactive conversational partner, doesn’t actively draw out others to talk
  4. Lets others talk, asks for clarifications, prefers to keep conversations about business
  5. Always takes the time to willingly listen, comes across as interested in the other person, gives appropriate feedback
  6. Gets people talking, exchanges information, listens well to others while giving natural responses, asks questions to get to the heart of the subject
  7. Expresses sensitivity to the needs of others, makes time for people, asks questions to clarify, gives feedback, shows involvement

We can’t always listen at a level seven, and frankly, not all conversations require a seven. However, we should be holistically aware of where we tend to operate and decide whether we need to focus on improving our listening skill. These listening definitions can also help us identify which conversations require which level of listening in order to improve the outcome for both speaker and listener. With a defined scale as reference, it’s easier to target and measure improvement.

Reference

Ribbers, A., & Waringa, A. (2015). E-Coaching: Theory and Practice for a New Online Approach to Coaching. New York, NY: Routledge.


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 visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Leadership Ideas Worth Sharing

 When a leader get better, everyone wins!

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Global Leadership Summit was packed with a wealth of leadership principles, strategies, tactics, and messages delivered from an all-star leadership faculty. If you missed the speakers, I’ve captured some key highlights. Read through these concepts and decide which ones resonate with you. Which ones might you want to put into action?


Craig Groeschel (Co-founder and Senior Pastor, Life Church)

  • Leaders have influence. Everyone has influence, so everyone is a leader. Leaders can learn from anyone.
  • False assumption: better always costs more. The truth: investing more eventually gives a diminishing return. Leaders look for ways to bend the curve by increasing value with lower costs.
  • Practice GETMO: Good Enough To Move On. Perfection is often the enemy of progress.
  • Think inside the box. Constraints drive creativity by eliminating options.
  • You have everything you need to do everything you are called to do.
  • If you had everything you wanted, you might miss what you really need.
  • Burn the ships: eliminate options to turn back.
  • If you commit to the what and are consumed with the why, you’ll figure out the how.

Bozoma Saint John (CMO, Endeavor)

  • Creating company culture is 100% everyone’s responsibility.
  • Show up in your most brilliant, authentic self.

Ben Sherwood (Former Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks)

  • The speed of change can be daunting for leadership, and leader cannot be afraid to lose.
  • Leaders in crisis need to know:
    • The study of asymmetrical conflict shows that the stronger side wins when conventional tactics are used in conventional conflict; whereas, unconventional tactics win 63% of the time in unconventional conflict.
    • The theory of 10/80/10: in a crisis, 10% if the people will emerge as leaders, 80% will freeze and wait for someone to tell them what to do, and 10% will engage in negative behavior.
  • Leadership secret: unlock team performance by “connecting”

Liz Bohannon (Co-founder & Co-CEO, Sseko Designs)

  • Beginner’s Luck is the supposed phenomenon of novices experiencing success; wheres, Beginner’s Pluck is spirited and determined courage.
  • Good leaders turn the stages of learning into a continuous cycle:
    • unconscious incompetence: you don’t know what you don’t know
    • conscious incompetence: ouch, you know what you don’t know
    • conscious competence: I can do it, but it takes effort
    • unconscious competence: I’m so good I can do this in my sleep. Good
  • Leaders don’t choose comfort.
  • You’re never going to find your passion; you’re going to build it.
  • Dream small, not big. Small dreams have a surprising power. Dreaming small will allow you to take the next step.
  • Leaders are not the heroes for others but help others be the heroes of their own life.

Jason Dorsey (#1 Rated Gen Z & Millennial Researcher & Speaker)

The Center of Generational Kinetics is the #1 generational research and consulting center studying the WHY behind the behaviors.

  • Parenting styles and natural relationships with technology are the only two parameters that shape generations.
    • Parenting influences everything. Entitlement is a learned behavior, reinforced in schools, and now culturally acceptable.
    • Technology is only new if you have the reference of remembering what it was like before.
  • Generations are not defined by chronological years but predictable behavioral changes. Cuspers are in between behavioral changes.
  • Millennials are the largest generation currently in the workforce and the only generation to split into two segments (Mega-llennials and Me-llennials). Many are experiencing significant delays in real-world traction (adulting): marriage, jobs/careers, and parenthood. By age 30, the two Millennial population segment can no longer relate to each other.
  • Millennials are tech dependent, not tech savvy.
  • Gen-X are squeezed between taking care of parents and kids, naturally skeptical, and are typically the glue of the organization.
  • Boomers know geography, define and measure work output in hours/week, believe there are no shortcuts to success, and are focused on policies and procedures.
  • Gen Z’s parents are Gen X or older Millennials. Their philosophy to parenting is you will not end up like those entitled Millennials. Gen Z are practical with money, shop in thrift stores, and in some cases are leap frogging Millennials.
  • Leadership tips to manage the Gen Z: (1) provide specific examples of the performance you expect—how it looks, (2) drive on the outcome—they do not think linearly—show the end first, and (3) provide quick-hit feedback.
  • Every generation brings something to the table and all generations lead.

Danielle Strickland (Pastor, Author, Justice Advocate)

  • Leaders not just survive but are part of transformational change.
  • Transformational change starts with your beliefs. Beliefs shape values which leads to action and then results. A leader’s beliefs are the roots from which everything grows. Is it true what you believe? Or is it faulty?
  • Stages of transformational change: (1) comfortable, (2) unsettled and disruptive, (3) chaos (scary and exciting), (4) less scared/more exciting, and (5) new normal.
  • Embrace the process of change. Disruption is not a threat but an invitation to a new normal. And leaders should not be afraid to ask for help.

Devon Franklin (CEO, Franklin Entertainment)

  • BE YOU: own and cultivate your own recipe for success versus stealing someone else’s.
  • The key to leadership is the struggle with our difference, because our difference is our destiny. Difference can be painful, because sometimes it’s hard to stand out. Your difference looks good on you. Own who you are.
  • Keep differences sharp and not sanded down. Your difference is your key to enter into your destiny.
  • Stop being quiet, use your voice. Resist the exchange for what makes you different with what is common in order to fit in.
  • Don’t be afraid of discomfort. Discomfort means you are on the right path. Don’t retreat, keep going.
  • How to own your difference: (1) admit you are different, (2) do not confuse someone else’s distinctiveness for your own, (3) hang with those who encourage your difference, and (4) be salt and light. Shake your creativity on others and take your light where it is dark and where no one else will go.
  • Your difference makes a difference.

Patrick Lencioni (CEO, The Table Group, and Best-selling Author)

  • Leadership is a privilege. You need to know your “why” to be the leader. If you don’t know your why, your “how” won’t matter. What is the motivation behind why you want to lead?
  • There are two types of leader motivations: servant leader and reward-based.
  • Reward-centered leaders have common behaviors of abdicating responsibility and delegating what only they should do, and this hurts people. Characteristics of the reward-centered leader: (1) avoids and pushes uncomfortable conversations onto others, (2) doesn’t coach direct reports, (3) is unaware of what the team is working on, (4) doesn’t align the team, (5) runs poor meetings which lead to poor decisions, (6) avoids team building because not comfortable with emotions, and (7) under communicates.
  • Servant leadership is the only kind of leadership. If you are the reward-centered leader, do the right thing by either leaning into leadership or resigning.

Chris Voss (Former FBI Hostage Negotiator, CEO of The Black Swan Group)

  • If the words “I want …” or “I need …” are coming out of your mouth, you are negotiating.
  • Negotiation is a learned skill.
  • Negotiation is about connecting and collaborating. Tactical empathy—everyone wants to be heard and understood. Empathy—understand where people are coming from and communicating that to them.
  • Listening is a martial art. Mirroring is tactical listening and responding to the other person. Effective pauses give people the chance to respond.
  • Calibrate to a “no” versus a forced “yes”. When a person can say “no” they feel emotionally safe and protected and are able to continue in the negotiation.
  • The words “that’s right …” continues the conversation; whereas, “you’re right …” stops the conversation. The fastest way to end a conversation is to say, “You’re right.”
  • If you are “likeable”, you are 6 times more likely to make a deal.
  • You want to understand why someone is asking for something. “What makes you want that?” is a better question than “Why do you want that?”
  • When a negotiation is slipping away, you want to say, “It doesn’t feel like I’ve earned your trust.” This keeps the negotiation going.
  • Ask HOW questions, because it gets people thinking.
  • Genuine curiosity is the counter for when fear creeps into the negotiation.

Aja Brown (Mayor of Compton, California)

  • Vision is the vehicle to creating momentum
  • Collaboration is the momentum multiplier to move on mission

Jia Jiang (Best-selling Author, Entrepreneur)

Concepts in how to use or interpret rejection:

  • Rejection is a numbers game. Ask enough times and eventually someone will say yes.
  • Rejection is the opinion of the rejecter only.
  • Rejection is an opportunity for growth. When you embrace rejection, you gain confidence.

Todd Henry (Founder of Accidental Creative and Leadership Consultant)

  • Creative professionals are prolific, brilliant, and healthy. If you are missing one component you poor results:
    • Prolific + Brilliant – Healthy = Fried
    • Healthy + Brilliant – Prolific = Unreliable
    • Prolific + Healthy – Brilliant = Fired
  • Leading your teams on two dimensions: (1) stability (clarity + protection) and (2) challenge (permission + faith). Based on these two dimensions, teams can be categorized into one of four groups:
    • Angry: high challenge/low stability
    • Lost: low challenge/low stability
    • Stuck: low challenge/high stability
    • Thrive: high challenge/high stability
  • Leaders will be rewarded with the best work of their team, if they can move members into the thriving category.
  • Trust is the currency of a creative team. Leaders forfeit trust by declaring things that are undeclarable and being a superhero.
  • Leaders move from leading by control to leading to influence. Focus on bounded autonomy—principles under which to do work.

Krish Kandiah (Founder, Home for Good)

  • Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.

Jo Sexton (Author, Leadership Coach)

  • U.S. organizations are facing a burnout crisis.
  • Fifty percent of CEOs feel lonely, and 60% say loneliness affects their leadership.
  • Questions every leader should be asking themselves: (1) who were you before people told you who you were, (2) what would your body say if it could talk to you, and (3) who are your people?

Bear Grylls (Adventurer, Writer, and TV Host)

  • The first failure gives you freedom.
  • Our fears make us real and relatable.
  • True wealth is found in our relationships.

Craig Groeschel (Co-founder and Senior Pastor, Life Church)

  • Kindness changes people. The fastest way to change people’s minds is to connect with their hearts.
  • Knowledge alone rarely leads to action. Knowledge leads to conclusions, and emotions leads to action. Three important questions: what do I want them to know, feel, and do?
  • Share stories purposefully. Stories stick, but facts fade. We have two processors: emotional and logical. Emotional is the default processor. When you use a story, you connect the heart of emotions to the strength of the logical—igniting a power action. “Let me tell you a story…” is an opener that gets people’s attention.
  • Choose words deliberately, because the words you choose determine the emotions people will feel. When crafting vision and values, use powerful words.
  • Share vulnerability deliberately but don’t overshare. We may impress people with our strengths, but we connect through our weaknesses. Show people what’s in your heart. People would rather follow a leader who is real versus right.

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 by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

The Power of Cognitive Diversity to Solve Problems

cognitive diversity

Inclusion & Diversity is a hot topic in today’s business environment that holds the underlying belief that diversity will result in better decisions and outcome. The inherent thinking is that diversity, as embraced in the components of age, gender, and ethnicity, will provide different perspectives, points of view, and approaches that will enhance a company’s ability to solve problems and grow. The concept sounds logical, but surprisingly, research doesn’t support that differences in age, gender, and ethnicity, by itself, contribute to higher team performance. Reynolds and Lewis (2017) found that demographic diversity had no correlation with team performance.

The research found that the highest performing teams had diversity in perspectives and methods of processing information when working with new, uncertain, and complex problems (Reynolds & Lewis, 2017). Referred to as Cognitive Diversity, what the best performing teams had in common were the: (1) ability to leverage existing and generate new knowledge and (2) preference to use their own expertise and put into effect the know-how and ideas of others.

There’s a high positive correlation of cognitive diversity with performance, which is independent of education, culture, and other social conditioning (Reynolds & Lewis, 2017). A person’s cognitive approach is an internal trait that’s hard to identify in the hiring process, so companies typically focus on other attributes. Unfortunately, people have a tendency to bring others aboard who think and express themselves the same way as they do. It’s also not uncommon for those who think and reason differently than the prevailing culture to suppress their different ways of looking at things in order to fit in and be part of the team.

Successful companies encourage cognitive diversity by making it safe for their employees to express their natural cognitive tendencies and authentic selves. With authenticity and leadership as two of my top five core values, I truly believe that servant leaders lead with authenticity and help others lead with theirs as well.

Reference

Reynolds, A., Lewis, D. (2017). Team Solves Problems Faster When They’re More Cognitively Diverse. Harvard Business Review


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

 

Why Innovative Businesses Offer Coaching for All Professionals

Coaching Has Power

Competition drives businesses to innovative—but innovation isn’t just for the products and services they market. Innovation also includes how companies get the product to market. With “people operations” being a large cost to the bottom line, businesses are looking for ways to reduce pay or get more productivity from their employees. With change comes opportunities as well as challenges. With a changing mix of generational work preferences and soft skills, business leadership should be asking how the increase in remote working, competition for talent, and managerial coaching will affect their profitability in the future.

Remote Working

In more recent history, the open-floor plan with cubicles and few closed-door offices exploded throughout corporate America, touted by consultants as the next best thing to sliced bread as far as office design went. C-Suite took their bait on the selling points of innovation and productivity. How that concept passed any reasonableness test still baffles me today, but it’s easily explained as a cost reduction exercise in rent per employee under the disguise of collaboration. Open floors drove people to mediate their circumstances by either working from their home office or donning headphones to block noise and distracting hallway conversations. I would argue that employee collaboration took a step back, as technology allowed employees to work more remotely and independently.

Some employees who enjoy the freedom of working from a home office express feel less connected from their co-workers. Without face-to-face engagement, relationship bonds can weaken, and in many cases, remote employees never forge a relationship with new employees. Remote staff have limited opportunities for casual conversations in the break room while grabbing a cup of coffee or in the conference room before a meeting. Connection is built in small interactions over time and keeps the team accountable to each other.

Generational Work Preferences

Technology has enabled people to isolate themselves while working remotely. Even when a boss requires an employee to work in a cubicle, email and SharePoint allow one to communicate without a verbal conversation. Need to learn something new? YouTube probably has an instructional video.

Effective communication requires one to use all parts: words, tone of voice, and body language. Did you know that words comprised only 7% of the message? How much is lost in translation when one primarily uses email and other forms of word-based technology to convey messages.

A teacher recently shared that with every incoming 4th grade class, the students resist more and more when asked to work in groups. They beg to do the assignment by themselves. What happened to the days when the teacher announced a group project, and the kids responded by raising their hands and pleading who they could work with. Are soft skills under attack and underdeveloped based on the technology advances?

Managerial Coaching

Technology has also shifted the responsibilities of supervisors by pushing more administrative duties onto their plates. Managers had to make room for these tasks, and in some cases, even added work assignments to the mix for the sake of increased productivity. What would you think was prioritized out of their day? If you answered, “time coaching their team and helping their direct reports be successful,” you’d be correct. Managers would like to spend 25% of their time coaching, yet many have no time left over other than to make sure the work gets done.

A Professional Coach Is One Solution

How will businesses respond to the changing work climate? They can certainly restructure work and put coaching at the forefront of a manager’s responsibilities. Given the prolonged impact of technology, some managers have never developed the skill of coaching or perhaps need a refresher. A professional coach can help a manager learn to be a better coach for his or her team.

A second option is to make business and leadership coaching available as an investment for all professional employees. In the past, coaching has been reserved for top executives, but the benefits of coaching can be leveraged at any level so long as someone wants to be coached. Many employees like the confidentiality afforded in a coaching relationship and feel less vulnerable asking for help from a coach as opposed to their direct manager.

Coaching Can Be Justified

Companies offer tuition reimbursement, training, and other educational options as a benefit to attract talent. Many also budget for personnel development. How much does your company spend per person on employee education and training? Coaching can be a value-add to this portfolio. Personalized coaching is a win-win and can be a company differentiator in attracting top talent, because it sends the message that we value you and want to invest in you if you are willing to invest in yourself.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. 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

 

 

Why You Should Take the Myers-Briggs Preference Test

Myers-BriggsYou may have heard people share their Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) 4-letter code and wondered (1) what would it measure about me and (2) how could I use the information. MBTI measures how a person prefers to (1) take in or gather information, (2) make decisions and come to conclusions, (3) direct and receive energy, and (4) organize and approach the world. Although people routinely choose behaviors opposite of their natural preferences, knowledge of preferences can explain the source of personal satisfaction and discord among colleagues and family. The power of preferences allows people to make more informed choices.

What Does MBTI Measure?

MBTI measures aspects of your core personality and how you are naturally wired, independent of your circumstances and environment. With four pairs of opposite dimensions, there are a total of 16 personality combinations. The four opposing personality traits are:

Extroversion (E) – Introversion (I)

[where you get your energy]

Sensing (S) – Intuition (N)

[how you take in information]

Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)

[how you make decisions]

Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)

[how you approach your world]

These four dimensions are used to create your 4-letter preference code. MBTI is a reliable and valid instrument where 2/3 of all people have the same letter designation when they retake it more than once. [Note: I have taken the MBTI in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s and self-validated as an ENTJ each time.]

How Would I Use My Results?

People use their MTBI results to improve individual performance as well as to work more collaboratively in teams. MBTI can be helpful in a variety of life situations:

  • Work Style
  • Decision-Making
  • Reaction to Stress
  • Communication Style
  • Leadership Style
  • Approach to Change
  • Team Style
  • Conflict Style
  • Career Preferences

With greater self-awareness and understanding of your personal preferences you can:

  • Improve communication and teamwork as you gain awareness of the personality differences you see in others
  • Work more effectively with those who may approach problems and decisions very differently than you
  • Navigate your work and personal relationships with more insight and effectiveness
  • Understand your preference for learning and work cultures and the activities and work you most enjoy
  • More successfully manage every day conflicts and stresses that work and life can bring
  • Achieve greater satisfaction by choosing a job or career that aligns with your preferences

How Can I Learn My Results?

A Certified Myers-Briggs® Administrator can send you a link to take an online survey after determining what report would be of most interest. After you take a 20- to 30-minute survey, the administrator will receive your results, schedule a coaching session to unpack your report, and help you determine how you might want to apply the knowledge.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs® 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 by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com or by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com

Global Leadership Summit 2018: Rasmus Ankersen’s Leadership Points on Complacency

Success - Comfort Zone signpost isolated on white background

Where is Nokia now? At one point it owned nearly 50% of the global smartphone market share. What happened? Did they get complacent? At Global Leadership Summit, Rasmus Ankersen shared several leadership points that may challenge your beliefs in what contributes to success and the role complacency has in business outcomes.

  1. Companies keep themselves relevant and fresh by keeping complacency out. When an organization becomes successful, its fight isn’t necessarily with its competitors but with itself to remain relevant. Sandi asks,Are you fighting complacency? If not, should you be?”
  2. Outcome Bias: The assumption that good results are always the outcome of good decisions and performance, and “everyone” gets what they deserve. Sandi asks, “Are you overconfident in what contributes to your results?”
  3. Success has a huge amount of randomness. Luck is turned into genius when leaders mistakenly confuse good market conditions for good leadership. Sandi asks, “Are you confusing your abilities with luck?”
  4. Never blindly trust success. Treat success with the same skepticism as failure. Sandi asks, “Are you questioning how you became successful? If not, should you?”
  5. A performance center should not be designed for comfort but for hard work. When organizations become successful, sometimes comfort becomes more important than improvement. Sandi asks, “How comfortable is your office environment?”
  6. When organizations become forces in their industry, they should rethink their purpose. By expanding their world, they will make themselves smaller. Sandi asks, “How can you redefine your market or competition in a way that makes you seem smaller?”

Fighting self-complacency when you’re a large competitor in your industry is difficult. Think about AT&T who hesitated to make the transition into cellular telecommunication. If they hadn’t bought Cingular Wireless when they did, they might have ended up like Nokia. My leadership challenge is to “lean into the discomfort,” and never assume you’re as good as you think you are. A heavy spoonful of humility will keep your mind sharp.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. 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 sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

What I’ve Learned from Coaching

Sandra Dillon: May 27, 2018


humanity.jpgPeople sometimes ask me what I’ve learned from my coaching practice. Although the list is long, what has most surprised me most through my professional journey is how each of my clients has drawn me closer in seeing the spirit of humanity—the fullness of what it means to be human.

I was called into this profession after decades of achieving my own personal success in Corporate America, and now I’ve entered an era where I’m purposeful helping others be successful in their relationships, work, and purpose. I’ve had the thrill of directly impacting the bottom line and now have the opportunity to affect not only my client’s lives but those of their colleagues, families, and generations to come.

Coaching helps me suspend judgment, see different worldviews, and understand the breadth of human struggles. Coaching helps me see the full definition of what it means to be human. I’m honored to see the struggle, not the facade the client may present to the world.

My clients help each other without ever having met. I sit in the middle of humanity and see lives unfold, strategies implemented, and the feedback from the world build my own database. Without revealing names or circumstances, I have perspectives that challenge faulty thinking and can share successful client strategies that may help the next client.

People tell me my coaching has been a priceless gift. They’ve been able to be authentic, known, encouraged, challenged, inspired, and see their lives change for the better. What my clients may not realize is that I too have received a priceless gift in return. My clients learn from me, and I also learn from them.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, business, and life coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. 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 sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

How Can Coaching Help You?

Sandra Dillon: May 25, 2018


GreatnessFrequently I’m asked what I coach on. The simple answer is quite a lot, although that’s probably not a useful answer. Most coaches focus on a niche market and clientele, and as a former business executive, who specialized in business development, marketing, and sales, I fully agree with this strategy. However, I’ve taken the road less traveled by offering a diverse range of coaching services based on my unique skill set and passion to see people grow across all dimensions of their lives. I’ve coached people in:

  1. Leadership
    • Improve ability to influence colleagues’ performance at all levels and across generational cohorts
    • Develop managerial coaching skills for coaching direct reports and teams
    • Identify and overcome personal barriers to performance
    • Cultivate stronger relationships
    • Improve communication and conflict resolution skills
    • Manage through a crisis
    • Build teams with the right skills sets and behaviors to succeed
  2. Career/Job
    • Select a job or profession aligned with preferences and strengths
    • Create a powerful resume and LinkedIn profile
    • Prepare for a job interview
    • Lead effective meetings and projects that delivers results
  3. Life
    • Create a personal, value-driven vision and mission
    • Identify core values and strengths and use for purpose and success
    • Establish and drive on meaningful goals
    • Balance work and family
    • Handle difficult situations
    • Navigate through different seasons of life (young adulthood, empty-nester)
  4. Business
    • Create a compelling vision and mission
    • Develop strategy and winning execution plans
    • Build and lead teams that deliver results
    • Identify and expand brand awareness
    • Prioritize and manage time to focus on the right things
    • Enhance productivity with limited resources
    • Develop sales and negotiation skills
  5. Financial
    • Create short-, mid-, and long-term financial goals
    • Learn budgeting and financial skills
    • Understand money mindset and how it influences decisions
    • Build a personal budget, develop execution strategies, and be accountable
    • Plan for retirement
  6. Marriage/Premarital
    • Learn effective tools to communicate and solve conflicts
    • Understand how different spousal personalities mesh and work together
    • Define and meet marriage needs
    • Blend families successfully

When clients engage me as a coach, they learn and practice new skills, competencies, and behaviors that translate into other life areas as well. Many of my clients see a holistic life improvement, even though they may have initially focused their efforts in one specific area. For example, relationship strategies in how to lead people at work are transferable to family life.

My clients have said I’ve changed their life for the better. What can I help you with? I welcome a conversation, so you can share an area you want to change. We can talk about an approach and how to get from here to there. Although I live in Houston, my clients live across the country. Skype is a wonderful tool for coaching. Don’t let distance between us stop you from getting the coaching you want.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and life coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com or engage her as your coach by reaching out for a conversation at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

Self-Leadership: Have You Prepared Yourself to Lead?

Sandra Dillon: February 9, 2018


“Leadership” has become the new buzzword with people aspiring to be recognized as a leader either informally or by having leadership positions and titles? People are judged more than ever on their leadership skills. I overhead someone say he didn’t get a management position, because he didn’t have enough leadership skills. He then followed this comment with, “How am I supposed to get leadership skills, if they don’t give me the position?” What some fail to realize is that leadership skills are easily developed and honed without having a title or assigned power. Leadership is about influence, and the first step is preparing yourself to lead well before trying to lead others.

How does one prepare for leadership? The first and probably most important step is self-examination. Most people think they are good at sizing up other people and fail to realize they don’t have the same ability to accurately size up themselves. We use a different leadership-underconstruction2lens to judge ourselves than we do others. People are programmed to see themselves in a more positive light than they are—perhaps this is a design of self-preservation.

When you look in the mirror, what do you think people see? We must get honest with ourselves, so we can work on our deficiencies, play to our strengths, and be the best version of ourselves. If you struggle in trying to see yourself in the way others do and want to take steps toward improving your self-leadership, below are options to help you get that accurate feedback.  [Note: Receiving feedback is hard, even when it’s for our own benefit.]

  1. Ask trusted colleagues, friends, and even family what habits and traits you have that are causing more harm than good. How do these attitudes and behaviors affect your relationships? If you can’t think of any people that you can trust with these questions, what might this say about your leadership?
  2. Review your interactions at work, home, and within your community. After each encounter, critique yourself on what you did well and how you could do better? Identify areas of specific improvement even if incremental. What words could you have shared or action taken that may have resulted in a more favorable outcome for all involved.
  3. What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you have a difficult timing thinking of these, consider taking the Clifton Strength Finders survey.
  4. In your area(s) of weakness, have you made a commitment to improve? Likely a weakness will never become a strength, but can you shore up your weakness so it doesn’t cause undue hardship. If you can’t improve it, can you cover it in a different way such as partnering with someone who has your weakness as a strength?

Leaders know the grave responsibility that comes with leadership and caring for the well-being of those they lead. Leaders are gifted in different ways, and although no leader is perfect, he or she knows his limitations and ensures others get the best of what he or she is capable.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Leadership: How to Influence People and Outcomes

Sandra Dillon: January 25, 2018


leadership is influenceThere’s a reason why Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People has been in print for over 80 years. Its longevity owes itself to the timeless understanding of what drives human behavior. With leadership synonymous with influence, leaders should embrace Carnegie’s (1964) principles in how to (1) handle people, (2) make people like you, and (3) win people to your way of thinking.

In my experience, 20% of business success can be attributed to knowledge with the balance to a person’s skill in implementing Carnegie’s techniques—meaning 80% of business success comes from how you lead yourself and engage with others. Many of these learnings come from Carnegie asking himself three questions after every encounter:

  1. What mistakes did I make?
  2. What did I do that was right, and in what way could I have improved?
  3. What lessons can I learn and apply in the future?

If you’re able to master Carnegie’s key principles, you’ll likely find yourself in the top 5% of those who can influence people and their circumstances. Below is my winning summary of Carnegie’s best.

Techniques in How to Handle People

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Instead try to understand people and why they do what they do. Humans naturally have prejudices and are motivated by pride and occasionally vanity in their words and actions. Criticism only puts a person on the defensive, incurs resentment, and causes him* to justify himself.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation. A strong human need is the desire to feel important which is why people crave appreciation, especially from their superiors and those whom they respect. Be careful with flattery—otherwise known as counterfeit appreciation—which comes across as insincere.
  3. Focus on what the other person wants and show him how to get it. Unselfishly serving others brings enormous advantages to the relationship.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people as opposed to trying to get people interested in you. Help others in ways that require your time, energy, unselfishness, and thoughtfulness.
  2. Smile, smile, and smile. Your smile is a messenger of what’s inside you, and it has the power to brighten someone’s life by conveying “I like you” or “I’m glad to see you.”
  3. Remember a person’s name. A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound to him. Use it generously, and spell it correctly.
  4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. Ask people a lot of questions and validate the stories and words they share in conversation.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Talk about the things the other person treasures most.
  6. Make the other person feel important. When people believe you sincerely think of them as important and appreciate them, they will respond positively to you. Reflect on something you can genuinely admire and then recognize them for it.

Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. Avoid an argument. You can’t win an argument, because if you lose it, you lost it, and if you win it, you lost it. Why? Because someone who has lost an argument feels inferior, has his pride hurt, and will ultimately resent the triumph. The only successful way to change someone’s mind is to help him come to that conclusion himself. It’s better to manage a disagreement by trying to see the other person’s viewpoint, look for areas of agreement, and encourage him to think over your ideas.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions and never tell them, “You’re wrong. You cannot change opinions when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings.  When you hurt someone, they’re not receptive in listening to anything you have to say.
  3. If you’re wrong, admit it clearly and quickly. Stating those words clears the air of defensiveness and helps solve problems.
  4. Begin any controversial conversation in a friendly way. As the old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
  5. Get the other person saying, “yes, yes” immediately. Begin a conversation by emphasizing the things in which you agree. Several initial “yes” responses keep the listener moving in an affirmative direction.
  6. Let the other person do most of the talking. Think the 80/20 rule—the other person talks 80% of the time and you only 20%. Let them talk themselves into what you want them to do. [Note: This one is difficult for the extrovert.]
  7. Let others feel that the idea is theirs. Suggest, suggest, and suggest. Then let the other person think about it so much that he thinks it’s his idea.
  8. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view even if the other person is wrong and doesn’t think so. By validating the other person’s viewpoint, he will likely have a open mind to hear your ideas. [Note: Validating is not agreeing.]
  9. Be sympathetic to the other person’s desires. Validating someone even if you don’t agree will go a long way in keeping emotions in check and leaving them with a positive feeling towards you.
  10. Assume the other person operates with noble motives. People will react favorably toward you when they believe you consider them honest, upright and fair.
  11. Dramatize your ideas. Stating the simple truth may not be good enough. You may have to make the truth vivid, interesting, and dramatic in order to get the other person’s attention.
  12. Throw down a challenge. People have a competitive spirit. If you want to get things done, stimulate some competition and tap into to people’s desire to excel and prove their worth.

Practice Makes Perfect

A leader’s job often includes setting people up for success by helping them change their attitudes and behaviors. Carnegie’s (1964) suggestions to accomplish this are simply stated:

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  5. Let the other person save face
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement
  7. Compliment the very trait in a person that you want him to live up to
  8. Use encouragement and make any fault seems easy to correct
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

With over 30 recommended behaviors, a person may feel overwhelmed on where to start. I would suggest rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how well you perform on each behavior. Select three behaviors that you are committed to improve upon and brainstorm specific approaches or words that will produce a more favorable outcome. Changing behaviors can be difficult at first, but repetitiveness turns new behaviors into old habits.

In my opinion one of the most impactful behavioral changes you can make is to remove one word from your vocabulary. What word? The word “but.” “But” negates everything that was said before it and closes down the conversation. If you replace “but” with the word “and,” you’ll see a dramatic difference in where the conversation goes. Don’t be discouraged when you realize how difficult it can be to remove that conjunction from your sentence structure. New habits are right around the corner.

Reference

Carnegie, D. (1964). How to Win Friends & Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success. New York, NY: Gallery Books.

*He and him also refers to she and her. He is used as opposed to he or she to make it easier for the reader.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.