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There are typically 3 types of hazardous conversations. Ones that go badly, ones that go well, and ones that go avoided! Think of a conversation you’ve had that you wished had gone better, and now imagine it went exactly the way you hoped. In this article, we will reveal the secrets and techniques of people who masterfully prepare for and navigate hazardous, high stakes conversations.One of the most hazardous conversations we encounter in the workplace is giving negative feedback to employees, coworkers, contractors, and customers. In 2009 a Gallup Inc. study of over 1,000 employees based in the US revealed some impressive information about the impact of feedback. The survey asked each worker to rate their manager on whether they focused on the employee’s strengths and positive characteristics, or focused on weaknesses and negative characteristics. Respondents that did not choose either were classified as being “ignored by their manager.” Results showed that employees receiving positive feedback were up to 30x more engaged than the employees receiving no feedback. This may not come as a surprise to anyone, but more interestingly employees that received negative feedback were up to 20x more engaged than the employees that received no feedback at all! Meaning, giving little to no feedback is much worse than giving negative feedback, according to the study.

So knowing that no feedback is much worse than negative feedback, how do you tell someone they have a booger on their nose or their skirt is too short? Or harder still, how do you tell someone their work is not up to par, or that their negative attitude is diminishing productivity in the office? How do you tell a contractor that the service they’re providing is below expectations, or tell a customer that their demands are unreasonable?If thinking about those statements makes you squirm in your seat, it doesn’t have to. Confident communication can make or break your career. Obtaining the right skills empowers you to face hazardous conversations comfortably, without stress or avoidance. It sets the tone in all your relationships at home, and at work. It can lead you down a path of leadership and high positions, rather than being passed by while chasing some of your biggest dreams.

Although we can’t control other people’s reactions, there are some ways we can prepare and educate ourselves to better steer the boat through these rough waters. Here are 3 steps to follow when the time arrives for a difficult conversation.

Step 1: Set the stage.

Check your heart. No matter how hard we try to be cordial on the outside, people usually respond to how we are feeling towards them on the inside. When preparing for a hazardous conversation, check where your heart is. Do you already dislike this person and are going into the conversation with some pre-loaded ammunition based on past annoyances? Ask yourself “what is my end goal for this conversation? What do I really want from them and what do I want for our relationship?” Do I value and respect the humanity of this person, and do I want a good relationship with them? Use these answers to prepare a script of some fact-based phrases you can use to direct the conversation.

Ask for permission to start the conversation. Let them know you have a sensitive topic to speak about by saying something like “When you have a few minutes I want to talk with you,” or “Can I talk to you for a minute?” This slightly more formal invitation lets the person know that this conversation is pre-planned and a priority. One of the most awkward things about awkward conversations is when it is unexpected. Set the expectation right from the start.

Take it private. Privacy can feel uncomfortable at first, but shows respect for the person’s feelings and reputation. You can talk in your office, away from the group or if there is really no private place, borrow someone else’s office or invite them to a coffee shop during a lunch break. It’s worth the effort to show the person that you care about their feelings.

Step 2: Give Feedback

State the problem. Be candid without judgment. Tell them the facts by saying something like “I’ve noticed…” or “It has come to my attention… ” Show them that you care about them and you care about their career. Many people struggle to give feedback because they hate to feel mean. They want to avoid making others feel bad but what if it was you? Would you rather walk around with food stuck in your front teeth, or would you rather someone just tell you? Would you rather work your tail off in a project doomed to be unsuccessful, or have office coworkers gossip about you unknowingly? Most people agree that they would rather be respectfully told what the issue was. Giving constructive or necessary feedback shows that you care about them, what they are working on and about their career or reputation.

State the consequences. Make the issue less about how you are personally impacted, and more about how they and the organization could or will be impacted.

Ask the other person’s opinion. Once you’ve said what you came to say, ask them for their thoughts, find out how they are handling the information and expect them to be defensive. It is absolutely human nature to become defensive when being told to make a change. Expect it, and give them time to process without making it worse.

Step 3: Make a request

Agree on a change. First ask them what change they think needs to be made, then give your input and decide together what change could help the situation. Be clear in what result you want from this conversation. When you agree on a change, get out of there. Negative feedback should last no more than 2 minutes; people don’t want to sit there in the awkward, defensive feeling. Let them escape.

Follow Up. Often the problem may not resolve in just one conversation and you may need to bring it up again. This is the accountability portion of the feedback and what sets apart true leaders.

Build the relationship. Make a special effort to ensure the two of you are in good standing. Talk with the person often and show genuine friendship and care. Build a more trusting, worthwhile relationship.

Being a great leader and having these hard conversations take courage and effort. Each time you are stretched to navigate an experience like this you become a more refined team member and a greater, more trusted leader. You have it in you to handle these conversations with grace.

If this article struck a chord with you, Lighthouse Leadership will be hosting a FREE live webinar on their most impressive, top-selling course “Hazardous Conversations: Say The Right Thing When Stakes Are High” on May 22nd. Do not miss this incredible opportunity to refine your skills by an expert in the field at no expense to you. If you have attended Lighthouse’s Hazardous Conversations workshop, this webinar will be a powerful reinforcement of your knowledge. To gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of practical solutions for the workplace, register HERE for more details!

If you’re looking to increase your influence, win over clients and build more meaningful relationships in your business, then keep reading.

Extremely successful leaders throughout all types of businesses have this one thing in common. They’re socially in-tune with those around them, or in other words, socially aware. Business studies conducted around the globe have demonstrated the strong impact that social awareness of its leaders have on the overall success of an organization.

Leaders who exhibit strong emotional competencies consistently outperform their counterparts. So what does “strong emotional competencies” mean?

What does it mean?

“You will catch more flies with honey than vinegar” is a classic idiom we have all heard, but also a golden principle for successful leaders.

Being socially aware refers to being aware of what others are feeling through what they are saying and how they are acting. It also means being aware of what’s happening around you, understanding the effect your words and actions have on others, being tuned into organizational politics, and being aware of how our environments influence us.

Successful leaders know that in order to reach their goals they cannot operate alone and it pays to be nice. This is such a commonly understood and accepted truth, yet it’s shocking to see how many are unable to act on it.

A Tale Of Two Leaders

Skeptical about how social awareness could actually prevent you from reaching that next step? Let’s take James for example. James was a department manager in a large corporation. He was highly qualified, intelligent and driven to succeed. Sounds like the perfect cocktail right? Yet he ended up loosing complete support of his team, missing his goals and being passed over for promotions? Let’s break it down.

1. He was blind to the needs of his team.
2. He did not take the time to learn their individual interests and strengths.
3. He was oblivious of the team’s dissatisfaction with his leadership.

To James, his team dissolving and the upset with his leadership was a surprise and shock, but for the team members, it was a slow build up. This is being socially unaware.

Now, take my good friend and colleague, Sara.

Sara is authentic and has high integrity. I know it, her company knows it and her team knows it. She has an ability to bring out the best in others and utilize their strengths, reaching her goals without stepping on any toes.

So what makes her leadership abilities shine so brightly?

1. She has a knack for finding common ground and bringing opposing parties together for mutual gain.
2. She is gracious in her successes, and shares the wealth with her team.
3. She genuinely connects with people on a personal level.

Just like kids on a playground, we all want to be on the team with the nice captain rather than the bully.

3 Things You Can Practice TODAY To Increase Your Social Awareness

1. Pay Attention To Your Body Language
Make a special effort to smile, stand up straight, make eye contact and avoid crossing your arms.

2. Listen with Genuine Interest
Ask an employee how they are, and listen with the intent to understand. Do they have children or an interesting hobby? Even just ask about their weekend plans. Level with them and be a friend.

3. Send Out a Personal Feedback Survey
Warning: You’ll get RESULTS with this… and some may be difficult to hear. Taking criticism well is a sign of true confidence, compassion and self-awareness. The key is the survey needs to be anonymous and send it to at least 10 people. Here are some questions you can ask…

1. What are some of my strengths?
2. What are some of my weaknesses?
3. Rate my body language: 1 being aggressive or intimidating, 4 being open and friendly.
4. Rate my tone of voice: 1 being aggressive or intimidating, 4 being open and friendly.
5. Rate my ability to handle stress: 1 being extremely unpleasant to be around, 4 being handles stress professionally and with grace.
6. Rate my listening skills: 1 being doesn’t listen well and 4 being “I always feel heard.

These three tips will boost your social awareness, which will enhance your effectiveness as a leader.

“The Complete Summary: Working With Emotional Intelligence By Daniel Goleman.” Soundview Executive Book Summaries, 2010.

“The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence.” Cary Cherniss, Ph.D, Rutgers Universoty; Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, 1999.

“Return on Emotion: Predicting and Improving Human Performance.” Diana Durek and Wendy Gordon, February 2006.

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The Vector Model of Leadership

You are among the first! To my knowledge, the combination of concepts I’m about to share have never been put together this way before. They came to me as I was assisting a federal government agency’s leaders gain traction among employees with their newly crafted vision and mission. An internet search revealed nothing quite like it. Judge for yourself if this is not an intuitively self-evident combination of concepts.

Alpha and Omega.

The beginning and the end. Vector theory begins with facing reality, it ends with achieving a vision. High performance leaders know we can’t make progress if we don’t have an accurate idea of our present performance reality, nor can we make progress if we don’t have a clear vision of a desired future that we’re trying to make progress toward.

Present Reality Check

So we investigate, we assess, we hold focus meetings, we do organizational surveys, we gather facts to get an accurate picture of our present performance reality. Finances and market stats are often the primary measuring sticks but assessment of our talent pool and organizational culture are also critical, although difficult to measure. So we put all the information regarding how we’re doing as an organization into a box that gives us a clear (as possible) view of our present performance reality.

vector-model-1Vision of a Desired Future

From where we are now we then formulate a concept of how we want to be at some future time. This is the beginning of our Vision of a desirable future that is better than our present reality (Figure 1.) Having a worthwhile vision, specific, and clearly articulated, is a hallmark of a great leader. The great leader says, “I have a dream . . .” or, “Let me describe to you what I think we are capable of accomplishing together.” The vision is often created in a collaborative effort; an aggregation and evolution of ideas. But the vision means nothing without buy-in from the many.

Vector of Success

Planning a feasible pathway from the Present Reality to the Vision of a Desired Future is critical. We analyze conditions, project outcomes, and strain our minds to figure out what critical success factors are required to get us there. We set goals based on the critical success factors. We measure our progress by setting up measuring sticks, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The feasible pathway is our Vector of Success. A vector has two components: direction and magnitude.   Direction is the straight line from here to there. Magnitude is how much talent, skill and energy is driving us from here to there.


Perfectly From Here to There

Getting from here to there is done through other people. In a perfect world all people in the organization would understand the Vision perfectly and work toward the Vision perfectly (Figure 2.)   The sum of the efforts of each individual employee would add up perfectly to achieve the Vision.


Imperfect Vectors

In the imperfect real world, however, a new reality sets in. Other people don’t follow the Vector of Success. This occurs universally to one degree or another, due to five possible causes:

  • they don’t understand the Vision
  • they don’t know how to get there
  • they don’t agree with the Vision
  • they don’t agree with the Vector
  • they just don’t care

vector-model-3The result is we have a bit of chaos in the individual vectors of the employees (Figure 3.) Each vector that does not align with the Vector of Success reveals an inefficiency. Sometimes we have employees who, like Employee A and Employee B in Figure 3, work in equal and opposite directions of the vertical axis, and their net result is zero. What a waste!


Capollo-11ourse Corrections

Misaligned individual vectors cannot be avoided. The big secret to the Vector of Success is course correction. The Apollo 11 moon flight was reportedly off course 90% of the time (Charles Garfield, 1997), yet landed within 15 feet of its intended destination. This was accomplished by two key continuous elements: a feedback system, and course corrections. We need to become informed when we’re off course, and we need to be willing and able to make corrections to get us back on the intended course.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-6-53-22-pmIn Practice

These concepts seem self-evident to us because we all experience them. Consider learning to play a sport or a musical instrument. We practice over and over again and get better and better. If we’re lucky we have an expert coach or instructor to help us make corrections quicker. Consider employees we know who are unsuccessful. Isn’t it often that they just don’t see that they’re off course? Maybe they’re not getting the feedback they need from us.   What if we the leaders don’t see that we’re off course? Beyond the bumbling that goes on when the blind lead the blind, what does it say about our feedback system? If we have one at all, is it giving us feedback that is accurate, timely, and relevant? A feedback system provides an update on our Present Reality. When feedback has identified the need for a course correction, how do we do it? When correcting employees there are specific skills necessary to make it effective and constructive, that we won’t go into here.

Coaching You

Were I your leadership coach/consultant we would discuss, and figure out the answers together, to these and other questions:

  • How would you describe your present reality?
  • How do you know your understanding is accurate?
  • How would you describe your clear and detailed vision of a desired better future?
  • How well do your employees understand the vision and their part in getting there?
  • What feedback mechanisms do you have to identify when someone is off course?
  • What corrective mechanisms do you have in place for one who is off course?

Imagine with me, what life will be like when our employees understand, are committed to, and have the skills to achieve with us a shared noble vision of a better future for the organization. Now that is a vision worth fighting for.


Doug Lundrigan, MBA

Can you name this carnivorous mammal?

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 12.58.23 PMSometimes we feel certain about our knowledge of things . . . until something new squashes our certainty.

This creature is the first new carnivorous mammal to be discovered in over 35 years – after we thought we had found and named them all. Native to Ecuador, the olinguito is a tree-dweller that likes to eat fruit and meat, weighs about two pounds, and is extremely adorable.

This rare discovery demonstrates, once again, that we humans don’t always know as much as we think we do.

What do you feel certain about? As leaders of people, feeling too sure of ourselves can be dangerous.

Like when we feel certain that the reason employees keep leaving our organization is that they are disloyal or unreliable or fickle. The reality may be that they leave because they have a bad boss. Maybe that’s you, or maybe it’s me.

Or it’s like when we think we always explain things clearly, yet employees keep getting it wrong. We feel certain the employees are a little thick-skulled or slow-minded, when it may actually turn out that we’re not as good at explaining things as we thought we were.

Or how about those micro-managers. When we hear people talking about them, that’s not you or me, right? We would never get into a stressful situation and find ourselves telling people exactly how to do each task, and watch them carefully to make sure they do it according to our specifications, right? Until we overhear an employee describing us that way.

The remedy? To paraphrase the father of modern continuous quality improvement, Edwards Deming: a system (or leader) can not see itself. The transformation requires an outside view.

A coach or consultant can help us see ourselves more clearly.

If you’re not getting the results you think you should, and you’re willing to question the things you feel certain about, congratulations! This is the first step toward discovery and enlightenment. Call me, I can help with the rest.

Doug Lundrigan

Business studies conducted around the globe have demonstrated the impact of social awareness of leaders and employees on the overall success of an organization.  Leaders who exhibit strong emotional competencies consistently outperform their counterparts.

You will catch more flies with honey than vinegar. A classic idiom we have all heard, but also a principle successful leaders are mindful of. In short, they know that it pays to be nice and that to be successful, they cannot operate alone. This is such a commonly understood and accepted “truth”, I am always surprised at how many fail to act on it.

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I once worked with a department manager, James, who was highly qualified, intelligent, talented and driven to succeed. He was always so focused on results, however, he was completely unaware of the impact he had on his staff or other departments. He also tended to operate in a vacuum with little regard for others or their interests. James was so blind to the dissatisfaction left in his wake; he ultimately lost the support of his team. Simply put, he was socially unaware and it eventually cost him as he fell short of goals and was passed over for promotions.

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Fortunately, the world is also full of people who are socially aware and I have had the pleasure of working with a number of them. My good friend and colleague Sara is one example. I admire the authenticity and integrity she has always demonstrated in professional relationships. She knows how to bring out the best in others and how to use all the human talent at hand to reach goals without stepping on anyone. Like other successful leaders, Sara has developed a knack for finding common ground and bringing together opposing parties for mutual gain. She is gracious in her success, shares the wealth with her team and has been able to achieve so much more because she genuinely connects with people on a personal level.

It just goes to show, you can build teams, even armies, of people to work for you and help you reach your goals; but whether you are the head of a large corporation, a department manager or the owner of a small business, simply surrounding yourself with talent and resources is not enough. Just like kids on a playground, we would all much rather be on the team with the nice captain, than the bully.

The driving force behind success is social awareness, the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. It comes first from being self-aware and being able to manage yourself and your own emotions, and then develops from an understanding of the people around you. When you become socially aware, you are better able to empathize with others’ emotions, as well as the intent behind their actions. You are also better able to understand your environment and recognize the factors that influence people and impact outcomes.

At the heart of social awareness is empathy. True empathy combines understanding both the emotional and the logical rationale that goes into every decision. Leaders who can develop this level of awareness, and empathize with others, are better able to adapt, persuade and motivate their team to achieve greater results.1 James was unable to accomplish this, whereas Sara excelled.

Understandably, social awareness skills are highly regarded as critical attributes of today’s successful business leaders. It is taken for granted that top managers like James have the expertise, business knowledge and technical skills to do their jobs. In a highly competitive market, the real advantage is found in leaders, like Sara who exhibit a high emotional IQ with a well developed social awareness.


Empathy: Understanding others emotions, needs and concerns.

Organizational Awareness: Understanding the politics within an organization and how these affect the people working in them.

Service: Understanding and meeting the needs of others.
—Daniel Goleman
The most effective people in organizations naturally use their emotional radar to sense how others are reacting, and they fine-tune their own response to push the interaction in the best direction. As the former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch states, “a leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity, and self-control. No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You simply can’t ignore it.”

Business studies conducted around the globe have demonstrated the impact of social awareness of leaders and employees on the overall success of an organization.2 Leaders who exhibit strong emotional competencies consistently outperform their counterparts and have a strong track record of success, increased revenues, significant cost savings and higher employee and customer satisfaction. Corporations have come to recognize the economic impact of emotional IQ and seek out these traits in potential leaders.

The unique thing about emotional and socials skills is that, unlike traditional IQ, emotional IQ can be improved.3 Emotional competencies and social awareness can be routinely assessed and, with guidance, practice and training, can be developed and fine-tuned.

Lighthouse Leadership has worked with hundreds of companies and professionals, identifying and removing the barriers to success through standardized, scientific assessments and progressive leadership coaching and training in emotional intelligence and social awareness. We can help your team overcome their limitations to reach a higher potential. For more information please contact Doug Lundrigan,

  1. “The Complete Summary: Working With Emotional Intelligence By Daniel Goleman.” Soundview Executive Book Summaries, 2010.
  2. “The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence.” Cary Cherniss, Ph.D, Rutgers Universoty; Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, 1999.
  3. “Return on Emotion: Predicting and Improving Human Performance.” Diana Durek and Wendy Gordon, February 2006.

Rarity confers value. Take natural pearls, for example. Only about one in 10,000 natural oysters will have a pearl in it, and far fewer than that will have a pearl with desirable form and color. I recently stumbled across a high value pearl in business, a rare gem in the health care industry. Come gaze with me in wonder, at something exceptional.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 11.36.25 AM

A talk I was giving at the Oregon Health Care Association was called, “Authentic & Mindful: A Powerful Combination.” After I concluded a man approached me, his body language exuding excitement. “You’ve validated what I’ve been doing at my facility!” He is the chief administrator of a skilled nursing care facility. Allen James, tall, good-looking, and fortyish, described to me an amazing transformation in culture that has occurred at his facility.

Frankly, I was skeptical. I know that successfully changing an organization’s culture is rare, takes many years, fraught with challenges, and requires much persistence. Kind of like forming a natural pearl. So we met at his facility, Gateway Care & Retirement Center (Gateway) in NE Portland. This time his passion in describing his people and culture was even more inspiring. His excitement was infectious to me. What came through was his love for his employees and facility residents as he described experience after experience of the wonderful interactions between people. I wanted to meet some of these people.

image1I interviewed a sampling of the 84 staff, and here’s what I learned about what is going on at Gateway:
1. Unity of vision. Each staff member could state and describe the facility’s vision. There were no outliers, no misunderstandings, no tangential visions. And they believe it. They have “bought in,” they are engaged in it. When asked, some of them said they were doubtful when first introduced to the new vision. Then they watched it come to fruition first in Allen’s actions, then in other leaders. That stimulated the buy-in.
2. Celebrate the Love. Every interviewee used the words “family” or “love” or both to describe their culture. They all had real examples of things coworkers or bosses did for each other that demonstrated their love. They talk about and celebrate those experiences with each other. They share one another’s joys and burdens, they cry together, and the feeling grows. What was most startling was that loving people at work was a choice for each person. Not like “falling in love” as if love is an external force acting upon us. The good staff at Gateway make a daily decision to act in loving ways. Their love for each other is generated from within themselves as a conscious behavioral choice. “Love is good business,” as Allen puts it.
3. Relentless. At every All-Staff Meeting, every party, every gathering, even in the break room the vision is discussed, and examples shared of it being practiced. This has been consistent for over a year. It takes extreme focus and commitment to keep that up.
4. Personification of Principles. Starting with Allen James, spreading on through department heads to the whole staff, the principles of their vision are acted upon and lived out. The vision is not a set of lofty platitudes to be posted on the wall and forgotten. It’s more like a way of life to be embodied by all. They make the vision real by their actions.
5. People CAN Change. And they did change, they are changing. Each interview included at least one example of a person who changed positively in some significant way. The first one to change was Allen James. What compelled the change? From our discussions Allen would identify believing and living the LEAP* principles as the compelling force. People see themselves differently first, feel loved and supported, which gives them energy and space in which to change themselves, and then change their world.
6. Perpetual Lovely Road. “We’re not there yet” was a frequent comment. Although there has been a rare and wonderful cultural shift, it’s not over. The common sentiment seems to be that, we have not arrived, we are enjoying the journey, we continue to do what’s working. The love we feel gives us energy to keep going, striving to change the world, talking about the proving experiences that what we’re doing is real and effective.
7. Metrics of Success. It’s not theoretical. Since the time their culture shift began to be implemented Gateway’s Medicare rating improved from a four star to a five star, Quality Measures improved from a one star to four star, turnover decreased by 15% from the previous year, and revenue improved by 10%. Wouldn’t we all like those kinds of results in our business?

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Nursing homes are not glamorous. Talking with residents who may have trouble with coherent thought, the scent of sanitized bodily excretions, the mundane daily tasks of keeping the elderly in reasonable health. This is not the stuff of dreams or an inherently engaging workplace. And yet out of these circumstances Gateway has created something precious. The staff won’t leave, even for higher paying jobs, and the residents consider it the home they love. The staff at Gateway are creating a pearl of great value.

* The Gateway vision is called LEAP, from the book called The Radical Leap, by Steve Farber. LEAP is an acronym for Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof. A full explanation can be found in the book.

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Each of us have patterns that emerge as we engage in conflict. These are our conflict management styles (CMS). Each of the five styles are suited best for specific situations. You, like me, probably don’t always use the optimal CMS for a given situation, which results in disruptive conflict. Matching the right CMS to the situation stimulates constructive conflict. Masters at conflict management are able to consistently make the right match. I call that skill, Situational Conflict Management.

Which style do you usually use?

  1. Collaboration

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Collaboration is sometimes called cooperative problem solving. When collaborating, one has a high concern for self and a high concern for others. A collaborative conflict management style enables people to work together so everyone wins. It involves redefining the problem at hand, in order to find a solution that will meet each individual’s interests.

  1. Competition

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 12.00.18 PMCompetition involves a high concern for self and a low concern for others. Choosing a competitive conflict management style means a person is putting his or her own interests before anyone else’s. This produces a “Win-Lose” situation and is a disruptive style of conflict management. Individuals can sometimes be so committed to getting what they want, they end up ruining friendships and work relationships in the process.

  1. Compromise

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A compromise involves a medium concern for self and a medium concern for others. Individuals choose this style of conflict management when it is important to satisfy some of their interests, but not all of them. They are likely to “split the difference,” or agree, “Something is better than nothing.” With a compromise, everyone wins something but everyone loses something as well.


  1. Avoidance

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Individuals who choose avoidance do not get involved in conflict. They have a low concern for self and a low concern for others. This is the most frequently used style for dealing with conflict, which says, “You decide and leave me out of it.” It’s often used as a conflict management style until the problem can’t be ignored any longer.


  1. Accommodation

Accommodation is when one has a low concern for self and a high concern for others. People who choose accommodation as a conflict management style put their interests last and let others have what they want. These individuals believe that a good relationship is the most important aspect, and that a good relationship requires accommodation.

Each conflict management style has its own strengths and weaknesses. Which type of conflict management style do you use most?

For a simple personal assessment, or to learn more about Situational Conflict Management, please contact Lighthouse Leadership.

Doug Lundrigan


What’s it going to take for you and me to be more successful this year?

I loved my first business, but I was struggling. I was doing something very close to selling ice cubeScreen Shot 2015-12-23 at 8.06.55 AMs to Eskimos. I was selling ice cream to Canadians. So what’s not to love about ice cream? It doesn’t sell well when there are three feet of snow on the ground. I had to do something to survive the short selling season of summer. The winter months gave me plenty of time to get good at analyzing, planning, and optimizing my business practices. The business executive checklist (Exec Check 7) was planted like a seed in that cold place almost 30 years ago, nurtured by the warm sunlight of my coaches, by the pure water of education, and the rich soil of experience, it matured to a fruit-bearing tree in my current company, Lighthouse Leadership. I have a passion for sharing that precious fruit with my peers to help you assess how ‘on target’ you are to make the next year better than the current year. Are you ready for a better year?




The Exec Check 7 poses some hard questions. But asking and finding answers to hard questions is what we successful executives do, isn’t it?. Here they are:

☐ 1. BHAG. What is the Big Hairy Audacious Goal* for my organization next year and beyond, and can I articulate it in a clear and inspiring way?

☐ 2. Personal Competencies. What is my plan to hone my personal skills and talents so that I am a better leader next year? Who can I trust to tell me the truth about what I don’t see about myself? Do I have the courage to ask?

☐ 3. Employee Engagement. Have I measured employee engagement for my organization, and am I satisfied with it? What specific actions will I take next year to gain the discretionary efforts (willing efforts by employees above minimum job requirements) of my people? Who is leaving my organization and why?

☐ 4. Employee Competencies. What is my plan to hone the skills and talents of my people so they are more valuable employees next year? A CFO asked the CEO, “What happens if we train them and they leave?” Replied the wise CEO, “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?”

☐ 5. KPI Score. What are my organization’s Key Performance Indicators (those metrics that predict success) and what will be our weekly, monthly, and yearly stretch goals for them? These are the steps toward achieving your BHAG.

☐ 6. Razor’s Edge. What will I do next year to get or stay on the cutting edge of knowledge, systems, marketing, and technology in my industry?

☐ 7. Knowledge is Power. Do I know, understand, and give appropriate attention to all the important facts about my organization? What information do I need that I’m not getting? For example:

  • Annual and monthly revenues
  • Annual and monthly expenses
  • Top five customers
  • Top five competitors
  • Major external factors influencing my organization
  • Two most serious quality issues
  • Changing market conditions

How did you do with the checklist? If you’ve got these under wraps you’re headed for a highly successful year. These are not exhaustive, but are the most crucial. You can fill in the missing pieces, if needed, by examining your culture, strategy, structure, core processes, and efficiency.

Do you feel stuck on any of the Exec Check 7? Lighthouse is ready to help. You too, can be brilliant!

by Doug Lundrigan

* The term BHAG was coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book Built to Last.


Closeup image of two businesswoman's fists on a wood tableConflict is an inevitable result of social interaction in our everyday lives.

It occurs because we engage in situations and circumstances with people who have different goals, values and backgrounds.

In every work place conflict is present to varying degrees. We define conflict as a “strong disagreement between people, groups, etc., that often results in anger and arguments.” When management teams know how to resolve conflict effectively, they save time by turning potentially destructive situations into positive opportunities for growth and development.

Conflict can be split into two categories, disruptive conflict and constructive conflict. Disruptive conflict may result in unhealthy competition, defensive communication, personal attacks and a closed work environment, all of which hinder productivity. On the other hand, constructive conflict results in cooperation, collective focus, open work environments and supportive communication.

It is not possible for two or more people to work together and always agree. Conflict can, at times, be necessary and beneficial, and help foster team growth. Constructive conflict can help make you more focused on the work at hand. Disruptive conflict can make you resistant and defensive.

managing-conflictOne way to reduce discomfort with conflict or disagreement is to identify and use common steps to manage conflict in a positive way. Effectively dealing with conflict is one of the most difficult aspects of being in a leadership position. When faced with conflict, we often react without realizing that we have constructive, healthy choices available to us, and we unconsciously start pushing back.

Well-managed conflict can spark creativity and challenge employees to think about what they are doing and how they might improve methods and procedures.

Come back next week to learn about: The Five Management Conflict Styles!

Please “share,” or “comment” on this article.

how-does-your-company-stack-upIf you can ensure that the five primary dimensions of trust are present throughout your organization, you will be in a great position to navigate economic and market challenges in today’s business environment.

The predictability and reliability of executive management in the eyes of the employees will, in large, determine the loyalty of the workforce in tough times. Unfortunately, many surveys and research studies report that senior management is the least trusted group in an organization.

Research on this dimension consistently reports that employees have a greater level of trust in their immediate supervisor than any other management level in the firm. When a manager’s behavior toward employees is consistent over a period of time, employees can reasonably predict that manager’s behavior. The manager will be trusted at a high level. Managers who have difficulty demonstrating faith in others are typically not highly trusted.

Whereas the first two dimensions span the company hierarchy, this dimension explores horizontal interaction, involving manager-to-manager and employee-to-employee interaction. Trust is a foundational piece of teamwork and the presence or absence of trust can predict the effectiveness of a team or group of peers. This dimension can be greatly impacted by collusion, secret interactions, plots, and agreements that undermine and erode authentic, constructive workplace interactions.

The impact of this dimension has been apparent for some time. Lack of integrity, indifference to the end user and an “anything to increase profits” mentality have soured customers and investors for decades. Consumers have “advertising fatigue” and demand a more personal relationship with the companies with which they do business.

Though this may be the least-reported-on dimension, the presence or lack of trust with suppliers, vendors and third-party partners has a significant impact on company growth and health. This element of trust is crucial given the increasing role that outsourcing and other third-partthe-cycle-of-trusty relationships are taking in today’s business environment.

For more information on corporate trust issues you can find a valuable white paper and additional articles on this website.

Please feel free to comment or share this article!


Managing diversity in the workplace requires understanding and relating with coworkers who are different than you. The success of an organization is becoming increasingly dependent on the ability of employees and managers to deal with differentiations along diverse identity lines.

Diversity can be categorized in a number of ways. This includes stimulating our thinking about each other’s similarities and differences. Some dimensions of diversity are unchangeable (like gender, ethnicity and physical abilities), but other dimensions may change over time (income, marital status, work experience or religious beliefs).

High Performance organizations recognize the importance of diversity to success. These organizations value contributions of diverse employees and a multicultural approach to managing diversity. This multicultural approach includes three important points:

  1. Avoiding the idea that we are all the same
  2. Identifying to the unique contributions of diverse individuals
  3. Striving to provide environments that challenge and support people from all cultural backgrounds

celebrating-diversity-in-the-workplaceUSING A FLEXIBLE APPROACH TO MANAGING DIVERSITY

Demographic changes in society impact the workforce and require new management skills and focus. Leaders looking towards the future must be prepared to meet the challenges of managing an increasingly diverse workforce. High Performance organizations value the contribution of all its members, recognizing that each employee brings many valuable skills and experiences with them each day.

Flex-management skills acknowledge the “salad bowl” approach to the diverse workplace; that each individual worker retains his or her unique makeup while becoming part of the “salad” or workplace. Flex-management requires a new mindset—a different philosophy of management.
At the heart of flex-management lies a deep appreciation of individual differences and an understanding that equality does not mean sameness.

Stay tuned for more on Diversity next week . . . and if you are interested in getting training at your corporation on diversity, just contact me

Leadership is the most important factor in achieving and sustaining organizational success. In order to understand how a Leader might view the overall productivity of their individual area, consider this:



All leadership behaviors can be grouped into five major roles:

Technician: A doer, grounded in the present, who works on one technical project at
a time; is controlling, dislikes abstraction and believes the adage: “If you want it
done right, do it yourself.”

Manager: Pragmatic and directly controls the flow of work; managers prefer order,
planning and the “status quo.”

Architect: A systems thinker and creator of social and technical systems; envisions
the relationship between parts and has a long-term plan and perspective.

Trailblazer: A visionary and innovative catalyst for change; imagines the future
and asks: “What if?”

Coach: Develops, motivates and inspires people; provides resources and training
through excellent and impartial communication skills.

Expert Leaders should be able to master all five of these roles.

In traditional organizations, Leaders often emphasize the manager and technician roles. However, in High Performance organizations, leaders emphasize the architect, trailblazer and coach roles. The key to leadership is finding the right balance between these roles. If there is not a good balance, the organization will be lopsided.

To learn more about instilling all five of the above roles in your leaders, get in contact with me at I look forward to chatting with you! – Doug

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to survive in today’s market. According to Business Week, the life span of average multi-billion corporations is approximately 12.5 years. Only 12 percent of new businesses will survive past five years. Why is the survival of a business so difficult? The answer is typically a combination of factors — numerous competitors, lack of a business strategy, undefined goals or poor leadership

Leadership is the most important factor in achieving and sustaining organizational success. Leaders have the power to influence an organization. They provide the vision, inspiration and motivation that direct the organization as a whole.

A higher value should be placed on initiating change, solving problems and implementing processes, therefor achieving long-term results and building commitment. Remember, leaders do face challenges every day. Leadership involves working with many complex individuals, each filled with common emotions. People cannot be programmed like computers. Instead, people act on their own free will and are often unpredictable. Poor leadership always results in poor production and high turnover.

Leaders must view your organization “from the balcony,” or from the outside looking in. Leaders are the ones with a “big picture view” of what is happening on the floor or in the cubicle. Good leaders do not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the organization; they take overall observation. Good leaders cannot be ‘micro-managers,’ but have trust in their subordinates and delegate.

Would you like to provide your leadership staff with better leadership skills? Contact me today about the many seminars and trainings I have for corporations just like yours. I look forward to hearing from you!

The concept of a team is not unfamiliar to us. From athletics, to school assignments, to volunteer activities, we are trained to become members, active participants and, even, leaders of teams. Most people recognize that teams are crucial to the success and progress of businesses and organizations.


Yet, the difference between a “group of people working together” and a high performance team is similar to the difference in a LION hunting its prey on the African savanna and a domesticated CAT sitting in front of a fire.

High performance teams are more than a group of people working together to accomplish a common task. They share a common vision and purpose that inspires their performance. They feel accountable for their work, solve problems, make decisions and fully invest themselves in the organization. In order for a team to achieve high performance, they must be allowed the time to set their purpose, operating norms, characteristics and desired performance results.

High performance teams have been defined as self-managing, multi-functional groups of people who are organized around a whole process and empowered with full responsibility for their own success. To achieve this, certain elements must be present.

The CHARTER (or the “why”) is the definition of why the team is in existence and provides clarity for team members. It focuses on the customers, purpose, team goals and team vision.
The DESIGN (or the “what”) is the architecture of the systems and structure of the team. It focuses on the core work processes, roles and responsibilities, procedures and norms, and systems.
The RELATIONSHIP (or the “how”) is the area in which team members understand how to relate to each other. In this element, the focus is on trust, respect, communications, cohesion, and synergy.

Come back next week for Part 2 of this story – and do contact to talk about our trainings for your teams.

Why should your business be interested in an esoteric subject such as Emotional Intelligence? Why should your firm invest training dollars in a program designed to increase emotional competencies for your staff? Does it make a difference when employees are aware of their feelings, values and goals?

For any business that would like to see increases in productivity and efficiency, more effective sales people, more creative teams and more nimble management—the answer is an unequivocal YES!

In his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Golman reported that research shows the traditional IQ test only accounts for 20% of a person’s success in life. (1) What accounts for the remaining 80%? Psychologists have concluded that a portion of the missing factors lie in Emotional Intelligence. The more aware we are of our own emotions, the more control we have over them; and the more we empathize with the emotions of others, the more emotionally intelligent we become.

Emotionally competent people exude self-confidence, which makes them good leaders and active team
players. They maintain an optimistic outlook on life, which helps them overcome obstacles. Their ability to delay gratification and to manage stress, anger, envy and other negative emotions helps them build productive relationships and complete tasks.

Emotional Intelligence is not some New Age, touchy-feely concept. In fact, the United States Air Force saved three million dollars by using Emotional Intelligence Screening to select recruiters. Those with the most Emotional Intelligence were three times as effective as general candidates. The more emotionally competent recruiters also stayed on the job longer, cutting training costs.

Emotional Intelligence is crucial for most roles in business. But business people have one overriding question: How does it affect the bottom line? Can putting employees in touch with their emotions actually make them more productive?

Find out more by contacting me today via my web site. I look forward to hearing from you!

(1) Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

The predictability and reliability of executive management in the eyes of the employees will, in large, determine the loyalty of the workforce in tough times.

Executive > Everyone Else

The predictability and reliability of executive management in the eyes of the employees will, in large, determine the loyalty of the workforce in tough times. Unfortunately, many surveys and research studies report that senior management is the least trusted group in an organization.

To raise the level of trust in this dimension, ensure:

• Open and honest communication in all levels of the company
• A collaborative approach to the workforce
• Consistent principles and behaviors

Manager > Employee

Research on this dimension consistently reports that employees have a greater level of trust in their immediate supervisor than any other management level in the firm. When a manager’s behavior toward employees is consistent over a period of time, employees can reasonably predict that manager’s behavior. The manager will be trusted at a high level. Managers who have difficulty demonstrating faith in others are typically not highly trusted. To raise the level of trust in this dimension:

• Tell the truth and share honest information, even if it is to your disadvantage
• Demonstrate and foster a win-win focus
• Actively seek feedback

Peer > Peer

Whereas the first two dimensions span the company hierarchy, this dimension explores horizontal interaction, involving manager-to-manager and employee-to-employee interaction. Trust is a foundational piece of teamwork and the presence or absence of trust can predict the effectiveness of a team or group of peers. This dimension can be greatly impacted by collusion, secret interactions, plots, and agreements that undermine and erode authentic, constructive workplace interactions. To raise the level of trust in this dimension:

• Create opportunities for social interaction
• Take a strong line against collusion and other demoralizing and counter-productive behaviors
• Motivate employees at all levels to solve problems by providing appropriate training, resources and rewards

Attend a High Performance Leadership seminar to increase the level of trust in your organization. Find out more at

So what happens when a job requires transitioning from left-brain to right-brain job functions?  For example, a physician who is an excellent technician and very analytical, gets promoted to department head which requires emotional competencies that are under-developed? What does the individual do?  Bumble around, or take intentional steps to increase his or her competencies?  The same goes for the right-brained graphic artist who may be promoted to an Art Director, now responsible for managing others within a structured environment and budget. Can this person tap into the analytical skills necessary to be successful in this new role?

Is it possible to train the non-dominant side of the brain in order to improve our skills and emotional intelligence? The answer is YES!

The brain’s hemisphere divider is a thick layer of cells called the Corpus Callosum. Neuroplasticity theory tells us we are able to increase the function of the Corpus Callosum to integrate our right- & left-brain functions. 2

But how does one begin to engage skills from the non-dominant side of the brain? It simply starts by learning something new. The brain is like a muscle, the more it is “flexed,” the stronger it will become.

For the left-brained Physician who just became the Department Chief, by flexing the right side of the brain, she can dramatically improve success factors such as innovation and teamwork within the department. The same holds true for the right-brained Sales Person who has just been promoted to Manager. By training the left brain, he can improve success factors using analytics and metrics.


The War Between Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence
By Doug Lundrigan, MBA

time-mindful-revolutionWhat is this mindfulness stuff that everyone seems to be talking about, and how can I get some? What do you think?

Do any of these describe mindfulness:

  1. An Eastern philosophy corrupted?
  2. It’s all about meditation and spiritualism?
  3. A set of skills that can be developed?
  4. Has some scientific research behind it?
  5. A buzz-word du jour?

As I did some research on the topic of mindfulness I discovered that all of the above are true to some degree, and there are some simple and complex definitions. The one I like best is this (Kabat-Zinn, 2003):

Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from:

  • paying attention on purpose,
  • in the present moment,
  • with suspended judgment.

emotional-competenceSo it’s all about finding a heightened awareness by intentional presence without judgment. Well that sounds much like the emotional competency (E-Comp) workshops I give that include self and social awareness. As I describe the knowledge and skills of E-Comp I break it into four sub-categories as shown here. It seems to me there is a clear overlap between mindfulness and E-Comp. There is no war between mindfulness and E-Comp, but harmony. As we do make that connection we obtain a very significant advantage.

Yes, there is excellent research behind mindfulness; the focus it brings to the mind, the calming effect it can have, and the improved neural pathways that can be developed over time. The research on E-Comp and related topics is, however, dozens of times more voluminous. There are thousands of controlled scientific studies over at least 30 years on various aspects of E-Comp, or EIQ. Many of those studies focus on measuring tools. Whereas we don’t really have a validated method of measuring mindfulness, we do have many validated tools to measure self and social awareness. So if you want to know how mindful you are, and how to get more of it, step into the world of E-Comp. I can help.

For more information on E-Comp please check out other articles, my white paper, and take an online self-assessment.

Confidence in your relationships with others – a strong faith that they will meet your expectations in three areas.

Trust has long been a part of the foundation of society; yet, it is often used and abused in the business world. Even though trust is a key aspect to all relationships, it can be misunderstood or mismanaged in many companies, which leads to serious consequences over time.

Organizations cannot function without people who – although they are individuals – depend on others. This interdependence requires collaboration, which is only successful if it is based on trust. Trust is at the heart of organizations’ ability to succeed and the ability to have confidence in relationships of all types is critical. Research suggests that the core elements of trust include integrity, competence and compassion. Although not all elements are equally important in all situations and their importance varies dependent upon the scenario, it is accepted that they are all essential to healthy and productive relationships. They are best defined in the following ways:

Integrity, which means someone acts according to a set of principles or values and can be counted on to keep commitments and do what he or she says

Competence, which shows an individual is capable of successfully performing his or her roles and responsibilities

Compassion, which demonstrates an ability to care about the needs of others as well as his or her own and will work for the good of everyone

These characteristics of trust are present, in greater or lesser degrees, across five different dimensions. Regardless of the relationship, if trust is not present, miscommunication, unmet expectations and reduced effectiveness all negatively contribute to an organization’s mission.

If you’d like to book a seminar on trust for your organization, don’t hesitate to contact me via my web site at

Procrastination takes the form of ‘time wasters,’ or actions that lead to decreased productivity. Time wasters come in all shapes and sizes. They can be physical or mental, created by you, or imposed on you by other people. The causes of procrastination are endless—but once the cause is identified, it can be resolved.

When tasks are fussed over long after they have been achieved to a sufficient level, the task begins to delay other issues requiring attention. Often times, perfection is not necessary to complete the task at hand and is not cost-effective to achieve.

Mundane jobs are typically put off until the last minute.

When an individual feels hostility towards the task, or towards the person who appointed the task, there is a strong temptation to delay doing it. When faced with actions that are unpleasant, boring, complex or time-consuming, procrastination creeps in. Many times we put off completing tasks because we are unable to see the overall value. When combating procrastination, it often helps to determine whether or not the action is really important to us. Individuals are less likely to procrastinate on things that hold value. Senior management holds the responsibility of communicating the value of tasks to employees,  in an effort to fight off procrastination.

Leaders must be intentional in creating and developing a culture that encourages an entangled philosophy. Employees must be empowered to act on their knowledge and understanding of the organization. Entangled cultures generate employee retention and invest in training and development programs that will further empower and motivate their employees.

Research conducted by Thompson, K.R., Benedetto, R.L. shows that creating an entangled culture requires leaders to be purposeful in their commitment to this model.

While it is important to ensure a company has the right people in the right positions at the right time, this is not enough to produce a successful culture where optimal results in the workplace can be achieved. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that the majority of organizations fall short in being able to produce a healthy culture for their employees.

However, when a culture is conducive to creating and developing entangled employees, the overall performance of the company improves in measurable ways.

Leaders within entangled organizations realize they are continually working to improve their culture and using the transformational model to help them experience greater results. They are committed to achieving optimal performance. This results in not only a greater working environment; it results in greater output at all levels of the organization.

Works Cited:
Thompson, K.R., Benedetto, R.L., (2013, Feb), “Creating and Optimal Culture: The Emergence of the Entangled
Organization”, Employment Relations Today, Winter 2013, Vol.39 Issue 4, pp.13-19. Print.

What in the World is Entanglement?

These were the first questions that popped into my head when I first began to study the concept of workforce entanglement. My first thoughts of entanglement were negative, as I thought of being caught up in some type of net that could keep me bound or suppressed within a complex culture. However, this is not the case. Let me explain.

Engaged Employees Make a Conscious Decision to Have an Emotional Attachment to Their Work.

They could be a great match for their position, they could actually love the type of work they do and perform it well, they could possess a strong drive to perform to the very best of their ability, or, they could be engaged because they are happy in their personal circumstances, and their positive outlook on life can extend into their workplace.

However, simply being engaged does not necessarily convert to sustainable organizational results.

The entangled employee has moved beyond engagement.

This individual possesses the drive and determination for positive employee-organization dedication and commitment. Entangled employees are able to look beyond themselves and appreciate the organization from a much broader perspective. They rely on others rather than their own achievement. They seek collaborative

decisions that benefit the organization as a whole. They understand synergy is dynamic. In short, they

understand that the culture of the organization does not exist for or revolve around them; that they are

part of a much greater whole.

When an organization develops a collective entangled mentality, it is able to solve problems proactively, becomes more innovative and develops a greater understanding of team performance and individual responsibility – resulting in greater organizational success.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this concept next week!

Lighthouse Leadership is committed to providing each and every client with the highest level of service. Our core values help us achieve this standard of excellence and exceed expectations each and every day. Here’s how we work:

1. Initial Engagement

You recognize a need for a coach to help you get past some limitations.  Start with a 60 minute (no charge) conversation with the Coach to discuss your needs and challenges.

2. Development Plan

You take an online assessment to discover your strengths and limitations.  By end of this meeting you have a development plan custom fit for you.

3. Coaching

You meet regularly with your coach, at a frequency that fits your circumstances. Recommended duration to get you past your limitations:  minimum three months.

4. Success Measurement

You take the online assessment again. You evaluate your coaching experience by subjective and objective measures. We debrief and compare your behaviors and outcomes before/after coaching to measure improvement and the effectiveness of Lighthouse coaching.

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. So many of us are desperate to follow our dreams and live the lives we imagine, but when it comes down to actually starting our own small business, it’s easy to get bogged down in fear and lose momentum … or give up entirely.

That’s why I wanted to introduce you to my [colleague/business mentor/teacher] Jackie B. Peterson. Jackie is an entrepreneur, business coach, and the author of Better, Smarter, Richer: 7 Business Principles for Encore, Creative, and Solo Entrepreneurs. She has worked with thousands of [solo/creative/encore] entrepreneurs, and she knows what it takes to get your business off on the right foot.

I’ll be joining her on Friday, August 21st at 10 a.m. PST for a free webinar, and I hope you will too. It’s all about how to conquer that fear, take the leap, and start your [creative/encore/solo] business from scratch. In addition, we’ll be getting a sneak peek at her brand new webinar series Best Beginnings, which launches September 16th. Sign up for this free event here: See you on the 21st!

All leadership behaviors can be grouped into five major roles.
Technician: a doer, grounded in the present, who works on one technical project at
a time; is controlling, dislikes abstraction and believes the adage, “If you want it
done right, do it yourself.”

Manager: pragmatic and directly controls the flow of work; managers prefer order,
planning and the status quo.

Architect: a systems thinker and creator of social and technical systems; envisions
the relationship between parts, and has a long-term plan and perspective.

Trailblazer: a visionary and innovative catalyst for change; imagines the future
and asks, “What if?”

Coach: develops, motivates and inspires people; provides resources and training
through excellent and impartial communication skills.

Expert leaders should be able to perform all five roles.

In traditional organizations, leaders often emphasize the manager and technician roles. However, in High Performance organizations, leaders emphasize the architect, trailblazer and coach
roles. The key to leadership is finding the right balance between these roles. If
there is not a good balance, the organization will be lopsided.

Exerpts from: Burns, James MacGregor. Leadership. New York: Harper & Row, 1978. Print.

NO –The Most Powerful Word in Time Management.

It’s vital to effectively managing time. It may not be easy to say no, but the truth is, the most important things are typically not urgent and the urgent things are often not that important for long-term success.

Your ability to say no is a very valuable component of your time management skills. Saying no determines how much of your time will be wasted on solving someone else’s problems, as opposed to accomplishing YOUR goals. This isn’t a selfish action – it’s a constant awareness of the difference between helping people and being sidetracked by people.

Some personalities will have a difficult time saying no. Rather than considering it as being mean, think of it as a commitment to YOUR goals. It’s important to have clear goals and commit to a plan where you can be assertive in your time management and decision-making abilities. Assertiveness is a skill similar to time management – it can be learned if one commits to it.

Coworkers and others will develop greater respect for you when clear boundaries are established. If you are on a path towards accomplishing your goals, their respect for your goals will increase.

For more information and a FREE white paper called Leveraging Time with more on saying no, visit my web site!

Lighthouse Leadership


excerpt from: Covey, Stephen. First Things First. London: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Print.

Would it surprise you to learn that many dog owners trust their canine companions more than they trust their bosses? Research shows that only 36% of employees actually trust their bosses.

Trust has long been part of the underpinnings of society and can be defined as “confidence in our relationships with others.” Trust is a key aspect of relationships and studies show that creating and maintaining high levels of trust is vital for healthy and sustained company growth.

Despite this understanding, trust is often misunderstood or mismanaged in companies, leading to lost productivity. Creating an environment of trust in the workplace is more important and more difficult to cultivate than ever before. Lack of trust in the workplace can lead to confusion, worry, fear, and other emotions that in turn can slow the wheels of progress and profit.

Fostering an environment of trust begins at the managerial level.

By establishing relationships based on several key elements, leaders can foster a healthy working environment across all levels, resulting in higher morale, increased initiative, and improved productivity.

If you’d like to learn more about how to apply trust in your workplace, contact us to see how we can help.

Lighthouse Leadership


Envision Success: 3 Tips for Achieving a High Performance Workplace

A few years ago I ran my first half-marathon. Crossing the finish line amidst the cheers from my family was one of the most powerful moments in my life. Thinking back to that day, I’m reminded of how similar creating a High Performance Workplace (HPW) is to training for an athletic event. So how can YOU achieve the peak business performance needed to successfully compete in today’s market?

Tip #1: Envision Success

As Abraham Lincoln once said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” If your goal is to create an HPW, then your first step is to visualize an environment where employees work in collaborative teams built on open communication, trust, and a sense of a shared mission – to improve outcomes.

Tip #2: Work with a Coach

When I decided to run 13 miles non-stop I asked myself: “What is my current level of fitness and how will I meet my goal for this race?” As a business leader you might ask yourself, “What is our current workplace performance level and how can I meet our desired performance outcomes?”

By thinking of your workplace in terms of athletic performance, it’s easy to see how important a healthy environment is to increased productivity. Just as important is obtaining an outside view of the current situation. The same is true in the workplace.

Tip #3: Follow Knowledge with Action – The Road to Success.

The canyon between knowledge and results is bridged by action. Develop a plan to achieve your goal and stick with it, remembering that change takes time to quantify. Progress was gradual. Remember . . . it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

In Conclusion

By obtaining an outside perspective to examine your current workplace performance levels, you might find that assumptions about low morale, high turnover, and declining revenues may differ from reality. At Lighthouse Leadership, we can help you achieve your HPW goals. 

PS: Using one of our Business Health Exams is a good place to start. You might be surprised to find out that often times the real hurdles to success aren’t the obvious perceived issues.

Lighthouse Leadership


Is your company’s leadership pool, a puddle or a lake?

To have a deep lake, when is the best time to invest in talent development and trainblog1 training? When it comes to preparing your top performers to become leaders, which strategy does your company embrace:

• Promote ⇒ Develop & Train
• Develop & Train ⇒ Promote

Is it wise to wait to invest training dollars in order to weed out the bottom feeders and invest in top performers once they’ve been slotted into managerial positions? Or should companies invest in training top performers prior to giving that big promotion? The answers to these questions rest on one fundamental fact: The talents and skills that make an excellent leader are completely different than those that enabled top performance in the previous position.

Put simply: Present Success ≠ Promoted Success

Many companies fail to realize the shortcomings and consequences of not having a management development program in place for future leaders. Promoting top performers with no prior management experience can in fact be a recipe for disaster. Let’s take a look at Lisa, a consistent top sales achiever for a pharmaceutical company. Lisa had the opportunity to sit next to the national sales director at a meeting and, by impressing him with her unique and creative ideas for driving sales, was offered a regional sales manager position, despite not having any prior leadership training.

t1picUpon arrival to her new team, Lisa immediately relied on her sales skills and instincts, not possessing adequate leadership skills. She spent most of her time with the fun sales people chasing the big deals, instead of creating a team vision and goals, developing a strategy, or coaching her team members for better performance.

Lisa also had difficulty prioritizing tasks and, because she hadn’t learned how to delegate, her poor time management caused her to fall behind, along with her regional sales.

She was overwhelmed with “busy work,” and responded to problems with a “hair on fire” reaction. Within the first year of Lisa’s promotion to regional sales manager, once a top sales achiever, she was now discouraged and frustrated. She decided to leave the company, along with 70% of the original regional sales employees. That is a costly problem for a company to have.

All too often managers are typically top performing employees who have been promoted into management positions. They have incredible skills in their present position but insufficient management skills to justify a leadership position. In Lisa’s case, she did not fail the company, the company failed her in their talent development strategy.

Allow me to contrast Lisa’s experience with my own. I worked at a similar company with aspirations to become a leader within the organization. Early in my career I enrolled in the company’s management development program.
The criteria to be accepted into the leadership development program included consistent top 50% performance markers over at least two years. This motivated my performance to be continuously “Exceeds Expectations.” Under the advice of a mentor I took charge of my own development and enrolled in company-provided training courses, read leadership books, learned public speaking techniques, conflict management, communication skills, employee engagement, and related courses that inherently made me a better employee. The company had a checklist of development requirements and assessments to be passed before qualifying to be a leader. Because the company used these advanced talent development practices and invested in me early on, they not only retained, engaged, and improved a top performer but also produced a High Performance Leader. And because of these practices they had a deep pool of ready talent, in addition to myself, from which to select for promotion.
After some time I became a leader for the company. I was prepared and ready tolake_ontario_swim_powered_bypasta hit the ground running. With my new team we developed a vision, goals, strategy, and a standard of success. I led by example and possessed
many of the qualities of a true leader (no one’s perfect.)

I coached poor performers to positions of success. I had learned to “inspect what I expected” from my team and follow through accordingly.
We created a culture of accountability, which raised the bar for all of us. Not only did we achieve top 20% performance, I had earned the loyalty and affection of my team. Most importantly, I also invested in top performers by developing their talents to be ready for opportunities to be promoted.

The Message companies send by investing in early training and development programs reinforce a positive response in their employees. Employees who feel valued by their employer are much more likely to be passionate about their jobs and exhibit a strong drive to produce results. This in turn results in a high retention rate for the company. Additionally, an organization with a knowledgeable and passionate workforce will be significantly more successful than one with lackluster worker bees waiting for “quittin’ time”.

Implementing quality training is just as important as implementing early training.
According to master Dale Carnegie. “Cheap training will result in cheap work: quality employees require quality training programs”


Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 12.32.13 PMFortunately Lighthouse Leadership offers excellent training programs for management and leadership development. The classes and workshops we offer at Lighthouse are designed to improve your business, and fully leverage your most valuable asset – your people.

Applying my decades of experience and education I proudly work hand-in-hand with my strategic partners to serve businesses like yours in the development of your people, the improvement of processes and the management of performance.

Back to our original question: Is your leadership pool a puddle or a lake? It’s not going to become a lake unless you do something about it.

I am prepared, ready and poised to help your employees build their skills now to be the High Performance Leaders of the future for your company.

Contact Lighthouse Leadership today – the future is now!

Are you naturally brilliant at certain work related tasks and perhaps feel like a bumbling fool at others? Chances are if you’re like the rest of us, you most likely do and there is good a reason for it.
Left_Vs_Right_Brain It’s because the brain has two hemispheres, each with their own natural tendencies, capabilities & individual patterns of thinking. The most dominant side of your brain determines your strengths and weaknesses. Theories and experimentation indicate that the two sides, or hemispheres of the brain are responsible for various and different patterns of thinking.

Learning styles and personality

Ned Herrmann a researcher considered the “Father of brain dominance technology” developed the brain dominance theory that people develop a dominant mode of thinking preference. These range from an analytical “left brain” approach to “right brain” approaches involving pattern matching and intuitive understanding. As we develop from childhood we tend to respond with our strongest abilities as these lead to quicker short-term rewards and a positive feedback system that strengthens those abilities. Eventually this can lead to a powerful preference for one style over the other and a dislike and discomfort for other modes of thinking. 1

Early Patterns

In early school years, students who responded well to curriculum requiring logic, analytics, and fact interpretation as with math and science would primarily Leftright-brain kidsengage the left side of the brain, and are thereby considered “Left-Brained” people. Alternatively, students who exceled in art, music or writing would become the “Right-Brained” thinkers.

Some people actually engage both sides of the brain and are competent in a broad spectrum of activities, but this is not the norm. The majority of people have a distinct disposition toward one of these patterns of thinking.


Career Choices

PrintDoctors, lawyers, accountants, and engineers are required to use logic, analysis, and fact interpretation to be successful. People possessing left-brain dominance are drawn to careers like these and tend to be naturally successful. Alternatively, design professionals, sales people, and athletes are usually people who enlist the intuitive, aesthetic, creative and physical skills located in the right side of the brain



So what happens when a job requires transitioning from left-brain to right brain job functions?  For example, a physician who is an excellent technician and very analytical, gets promoted to department head which requires emotional competencies that are under-developed? What does the individual do?  Bumble around, or take intentional steps to increase his or her emotional competencies?  The same goes for the right brained graphic artist who may be promoted to an art director now responsible for managing others within a structured environment and budget. Can this person tap into the analytical skills necessary to be successful in this new role?


Is it possible to train the non-dominant side of the brain in order to improve our skills and emotional intelligence? The answer is YES. The brain’s hemisphere divider is a thick layer of cells called the corpus callosum. Neuroplasticity theory tells us we are able to increase the function of the corpus callosum to integrate our right & left-brain functions. 2

But how does one begin to engage skills from the less non-dominant side of thebrain brain? It simply starts by learning something new. The brain is like a muscle, the more it is “flexed”, the stronger it will become.

For the left-brained physician who just became the department chief, by flexing the right side of the brain she can dramatically improve success factors such as innovation and teamwork within the department. The same holds true for the right-brained sales person who has just been promoted to manager. By training the left brain he can improve success factors using analytics and metrics.


Hey You! The Left-brain Thinker!

Right brain training in emotional competencies is a foundation for improvement for analytical thinkers. It will be further enhanced by exercises include team building and group games, social activities, even something fun like painting a group mural. Adding music or movement can also stimulate the right side of the brain. It’s important for the individual to recognize the importance and take the initiative to step out of their comfort zone to develop these new skills.


What does Whole Brain Thinking have to do with Leadership?

Will this trend toward emphasis on improving whole-brain thinking result in a new age of right-brained CEO’s chanting in the workplace? Or lonely graphic artists crunching numbers for a higher paycheck? We are living in an era where new ideas and corporate innovation from CEOs, require higher levels of emotional intelligence and whole brain thinking.


Daniel H. Pink author of five books and who has sold two million copies worldwide writes in A Whole New Mind, “the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. According to Pink, “The era of ‘left-brain’ dominance, and the information age that it engendered, is giving way to a new world in which creative and holistic ‘right brain’ abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who falls behind.” Pink states, “Left brain approaches haven’t become obsolete. They’ve become insufficient. What people need today isn’t one side of the brain or the other, but a whole new mind.” 3


Whole Brain Competitive Advantage

One company that harnessed the power of whole brain thinking is IBM. “To be truly global requires that (we) be culturally adaptable.” says Rich DeSerio, manager of the IBM global leadership development program. “This extends beyond just understanding our cultural diversity to using this diversity to extend that competitive advantage. Whole brain thinking allows us to understand, appreciate, and most importantly, leverage the diversity of thought that naturally exists in our company.” 4


Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, author, researcher and daughter of Dr. Ned Herrmann summarizes so eloquently why professionals and future business leaders should be exercising the whole brain in business “Whole brain thinking can build bridges between functions, generations, and levels, and between any “disconnects” that exist in an organization. This in turn contributes to reaching greater productivity, innovative solutions, increased speed, and even cultural transformation.”

The Golden Nugget

brainhandPut simply, we can learn to become better whole-brain thinkers.Whole-brain thinkers have higher emotional intelligence.Emotional intelligence is proven to lead to high performance leadership, high trust, high engagement, effective teamwork, and HIGHER SALARIES. These outcomes lead to higher productivity and profits.Higher productivity and profits give opportunity for greater freedom and happiness for you.

Next Steps

When you see a need to improve whole-brain thinking at your organization, please email me at:



References & Citations:

  1. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Academy Publisher
  4. Herrmann International




You know him, the one with abundant talent and potential, but who always seems to fall short. You also know the person who overcomes every obstacle and outperforms all expectations.

ie-eq-lighthouseFrom the classroom to the board room, from amateur ranks to professionals, there are those who reach amazing heights, in spite of limited experience or talent, and those who never amount to much, yet have all the talent you could hope for. What sets them apart? Intent? Drive? Ambition? Or self-control?

A funny thing about intent, drive and ambition – without discipline, they aren’t much more than empty promises. As the saying goes, the road to “failure” is paved with good intentions. If we can’t manage ourselves and control our impulses, our good intentions are continually self-sabotaged and it becomes harder to accomplish anything, let alone meet our goals or build healthy relationships.1

I once had responsibility to direct a manager who, when she was under pressure, became short tempered and abrasive and would say demeaning things in the heat of the moment. Her staff feared her and the most talented employees were leaving to work for competitors. While she was quite talented in her own right, she was unable to manage her emotions.

successfull-people-unsuccessfull-lighthouseThe situation was intolerable and reached a boiling point when she finally snapped at me. Rather than terminate her, I confronted her. We had a discussion about her ability to manage her emotions and not let frustrations spill over into her work relationships. Over some months, my coaching provided her the tools to remain calm amid turmoil, she seemed genuinely happier and so did her staff. Termination was not necessary and we stopped losing good people. She eventually led her team so well, they received high performance awards.

Clearly, the difference between mediocrity and excellence is in how we manage ourselves. Maintaining control of our emotions is crucial, as my story illustrates, but all the little choices we make throughout our daily lives also have an impact on how well we perform. Do we read that leadership book or watch that movie?  Should we respond to that email about a project deadline, or check YouTube for the latest cute puppy video? Are we more interested in self-improvement or entertainment?  Not that some entertainment doesn’t have a place, but finding a good balance is the key.

emotional-competenceThe highest performers are not always the most skilled or talented, but they are masters at self-control. They manage their impulses, regulate their emotions and stay focused on their goals.

So how well do you manage yourself? Do you have control of your impulses and emotions, or do they control you? How about your employees? If you watch how they manage themselves, I bet you can easily pick out the star performers who have a bright future. Wouldn’t you like to have more people like them on your team?

Unfortunately, only one in five applicants for entry level jobs have good self-discipline in their work habits, and more than half of employees lack the motivation to continue improving in their job?2 What if you or your associates were better “self-managers”? Think of the positive impact this could have in your work and your life!

I’m not suggesting you fire the lot and look for better people. This would be costly and counterproductive. What I am saying, is you’ve probably already hired skilled and talented people, but they may just need some coaching on how to become better self-managers.

Not sure how to begin? You can start by taking an accurate, scientifically validated Emotional Competence Assessment HERE.

1 Daniel Golman, Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ, 2005, Bantum Pub.
2 Gallup Poll of American Businesses.

Why should I consider having a leadership coach?

There are no superstars who got to be that way without a coach. The best of the best can’t see themselves clearly. It may go something like this: “Mr. Woods, may I call you Tiger? I’ve noticed that in your golf swing your right arm rotates slightly, and that’s when you slice. If you corrected that you would probably cut three strokes off your score. Would you like me to show you what I mean?”

This concept of not seeing ourselves clearly also applies to organizations. As the business effectiveness guru, W. Edwards Deming put it, “A system cannot see itself. The transformation requires a view from outside.”  We leaders need an outside view to see ourselves and our organizations clearly.

What are you not seeing, that is holding you back from greater success?  Blind spots in leaders’ minds can be devastating to the culture and effectiveness of an organization.

The purpose of having a leadership coach is to help you see things you can’t see, to provide an outside perspective with expertise to guide you to a better, more successful and fulfilling place. A competent coach will help you crystalize your vision of where you want to go, and travel the road with you to get from here to there.

Jake’s Coaching Experience

I had the privilege of coaching an individual (let’s call him Jake) in a government agency who had about 60 people reporting to him. He was knowledgeable and skilled in his role but he just didn’t seem to connect with his people or have the kind of influence he wanted.  I asked him, “How many of your people would do what you asked them if you didn’t have the authority of your position?”

His answer was, “Probably none of them.”

We discussed things further, I asked him more questions, and I observed him interacting with some of his people. I asked him to explain to me how he thinks of all these people who get all this work done in his division.  “They’re a resource, like parts of an engine. Each is very important to the success of our division. I just need them to do what they do better, with higher quality, energy and enthusiasm.”

I said, “It sounds like you’re saying you value them kind of like tools to help you achieve your goals. Is that right?”  He nodded.  I asked, “How do you think they would feel about you if they thought you valued them as human beings, that they are of infinite worth and potential, and that you put their interests ahead of your own?”

Our conversation continued and he came away with an “Aha!” moment, that they way he thought of his people was diminishing their ability to trust him. After some coaching work on his thought patterns, the difference in my friend Jake is that he became happier at work, and so did his people.  The culture of his team became more cohesive, positive, and the people became more engaged.  Within six months he was promoted.

Proof of Coaching ROI

The International Coach Federation’s 2009 Global Coaching Client Study described a median return of seven times (7x) the investment. About one in five companies indicated a measured ROI of at least 50 times their investment. The Manchester Review study calculated an ROI of 5.7 times the investment in coaching. The value to organizations is seen in:

  • better decision-making
  • greater self-awareness of the leader’s strengths and limitations
  • reduced interpersonal conflict
  • higher trust of employees to the leader
  • the engagement and retention of highly talented people who feel appreciated when their company invests in coaching for them
  • reduction in destructive behaviors the leader is unaware of
  • readiness to be promoted

How will you measure your return on a coaching investment? It starts with clear objectives, aligning coaching with business results. A coach worth his/her salt will first seek to discover what is measurable and how that equates to the coaching relationship. Some examples: increased profits, increased employee retention, reduced time to complete a repeating activity, decrease complaints to HR, etc.

What will having a Coach do for me?

Here are some common difficulties that a leadership coach can help you solve:

  • I get too many surprises and urgent issues – fire drills I wish I could prevent
  • The demands of my position prevent me from having a personal life
  • I’m in a high position but my self-confidence doesn’t match my authority
  • I am stuck at my current results and I want to take things to the next level
  • I don’t have a positive working relationship with key team members
  • I feel ready to take my business or career to the next level, but I’m not sure how
Are you ready to break free of your current limitations and invest in yourself by getting a coach?

Selecting a Coach

The most important part of a coaching relationship is connection. Do you connect on a personal level? Can you trust in the competency of your coach? Can you trust that your coach has your best interest at heart, that s/he has the capacity and desire to understand you, that what you talk about will be completely confidential? Can you feel safe with your coach?  Your coach will need to trust that you are authentic in your desire to improve, that you are willing to open up and be a bit vulnerable, and that you won’t take offense if s/he tells you something you don’t like.  How will you know these things? It will take a little investigation and an initial discussion.  I (Doug Lundrigan, MBA) offer a no charge 60 – 90 minute face-to-face meeting for this purpose.

I wish I could sprinkle magic coaching dust to get perfect results for each of my clients. The truth is, I’m a flawed human being that doesn’t know everything, and so are you. I don’t offer magic dust, but I do offer an objective third party view, complete with scientifically validated diagnostic tools, and a wealth of experience and education in finding solutions. Together we will take your business, your career, your life to the next level of success and fulfillment.

Let’s talk!

Doug Lundrigan, MBA
CEO, Lighthouse Leadership

“Wow, you’re quite articulate (for a black person.)”

“Hey, you’re really good at math (for a woman.)”

“I’m surprised, you don’t seem racist at all (for a white person.)”

“Oh, we’re going to the gym together, you wouldn’t want to come (because you’re overweight.)”

The subtexts can be so hurtful. Perhaps you have felt their sting based on your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or any other differentiating factor (DF.)

The panel at a NWEEO event included Julie Marshall, Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Nancy Cooper, J.D., and myself, with Jill Goldsmith, J.D. as moderator. We each brought a unique perspective and had a wonderful discussion. Here are some resulting thoughts.

What are micro-aggressions?

According to Derald Wing Sue, Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, micro-aggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults toward (people with a differentiating factor.)”  Litigation cases of this type are growing, according to two Portland judges.

Is it discrimination?

Nowadays overt discrimination is less frequent than it used to be. In my opinion many people are better educated and truly feel that people should be judged on their own merits and inherent value as human beings, not based on DFs. Still, some less enlightened individuals have discriminatory thoughts but know how to keep them in the closet to avoid legal or employer discipline, or unpopularity. Micro-aggressions come in two varieties: those of genuine innocent error, and those borne of closet prejudice that pop out like passed gas. Oops! No I didn’t!

The Micro-Aggression Tree

I love to study and teach the science behind business practices, looking for evidence of why we do what we do, and what predictable consequences may occur. How we treat other people can be likened to a tree that starts from a seed, grows roots and branches, and eventually bears fruit.

The seed starts out with its inherent DNA – the biological drivers that will shape what it becomes. Add nutrients in the soil, water, and sunlight; then the seed sprouts.

Micro-Aggression Roots & Fruits

When I bought my home I was excited that on the property was a big beautiful apple tree, heavy-laden with fruit. At harvest time I was excited to turn the apples into apple-crisp that I could freeze and enjoy at will with some ice cream. When I bit my first apple I spat it out. It was horrible! I had never before tasted an apple that bitter. Was it the seed (nature)? Was it the soil (nurture)? I had no idea. It didn’t really matter. I mourned over the uselessness of the fruit of my tree.

Roots of Micro-Aggression and Acceptance

Let’s walk through the creation of micro-aggressions:

  • Nature (DNA, instinct) plus nurture (upbringing, education) create beliefs.
  • Beliefs create thoughts.
  • Thoughts create words and actions.
  • Words and actions create micro-aggressions.
  • Micro-aggressions are based on nature and nurture.

To me, this logic is self-evident and intuitive.

Fruits of Micro-Aggression

Now let’s discover the consequences of micro-aggressions:

  • A micro-aggression is a message to someone that s/he is less valued or respected.
  • That message creates feelings in the receiver of hurt, anger, contempt, and isolation.
  • Those feelings lead to feelings back toward the micro-aggressor of distrust, disrespect, alienation and isolation.
  • The back-and-forth feelings result in working relationships of passive aggression, dis-harmony, poor communication, and misunderstanding.
  • Poor working relationships create a negative company culture low in trust, respect and engagement.
  • A negative company culture reduces productivity.
  • Low productivity means low profits.
  • The bitter fruit of micro-aggression is lost company profits that, if un-checked, can lead to the death of the company.

Bitter to Sweet

How can we change the fruit from bitter to sweet? We can’t change the seed, but we can add nutrients to the soil. We don’t want to uproot the tree, but we can prune it and bend it. We don’t want to cut the tree down but we can cut off the bitter branches and graft in sweet branches.

Your organization can turn the bitter fruit of micro-aggression into the sweet fruits of harmony, engagement, and profit. Please contact me. I will help.


Doug Lundrigan, MBA

Emotional Pain at Work

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 11.01.12 AM

What is it about being human that seems to compel us to both give and receive agony of the heart?  Is it beyond our reach to lead a richly fulfilling life without emotional pain?  It may be, but here are some ideas of the causes and solutions to reduce the pain.

Some Causes of Emotional Pain

1.    Unfulfilled Expectations

Early in my career I worked very hard on a project and was very pleased with the result.  When I presented the project to my supervisor she hardly acknowledged it.  I was expecting at least some recognition, if not a bonus of some kind.  My expectations were unfulfilled and I was disappointed.  For a time I became disengaged, even passive-aggressive at work.  I had created a story in my mind about what the response of my supervisor “should” be.  Maybe you have had similar experiences at work or at home.  Expectations in work or personal relationships can be harmful when unspoken hopes are projected onto the other person.  Assumptions and unrealistic expectations sabotage relationships.   We can recognize that we may be setting ourselves up for the pain of unfulfilled expectations if we find ourselves saying:

“If you really loved me, you would…”

“Why didn‟t you…”

“You should…”

2.    Being Misunderstood

Oprah gave the 2013 commencement speech at Harvard and revealed a startling observation.  “I have done over 35,000 interviews…and as soon as the camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and they all want to know: Was that okay? Did you hear me? Do you see me? Did what I say mean anything to you?”  It seems that people from every imaginable background, demographic, and level of expertise have this one thing in common: the desire to be understood and validated.  I have felt the painful frustration, as I suppose you have, of not being understood.  People not really listening to each other, not seeking to understand, is a huge source of conflict in business.  Feeling misunderstood can sometimes drive us to use hurtful words, thereby magnifying the problem.  It comes out in words like:

“This is not rocket science” (meaning: you’re stupid not to understand me) or,

“You always interrupt me!” (meaning: you’re not listening to me) or,

“Why do you contradict everything I say?” (meaning: I don’t feel validated).

3.    Unrequited Love

When I was in the first grade there was a little girl named Sarah who was so cute and sweet I just wanted to be near her.  It was the first time I felt affection for someone my age.  I wanted to play with her at recess and lunchtime, I wanted her to come over after school.  But Sarah liked Larry.  He was a funny boy with a bubbly personality.  This was my introduction to unrequited love.  Because my little heart was hurt I was much more cautious about who I would give it to in the future.  Subsequently nearly all my teen romantic relationships I was the one who did the heart breaking.  That early pain was memorable.  Whether investing our caring in a friend at work or in our romantic relationships we learn early to be cautious and not invest more into a relationship than the other person.  When we find ourselves wanting to give and say more about our caring for another, but we hold back, this is evidence that we’re protecting ourselves from possible emotional pain.

4.    Fear

We don’t feel safe.  We think someone is out to get us.  We feel vulnerable to the malicious intent of others.  These feelings can be very painful if we allow them to fester and grow.  Similar to having unfulfilled expectations, we make up a story in our mind about the terrible things that another person or circumstance may do to us.  Maybe we’ve failed or been mocked or abused in the past and that taints everything we see now.  Our fears may grow to anxiety and panic if unchecked.  The same physical reactions may manifest as with the reaction to fight or run from a predator in the wild.  We may be setting ourselves up for unnecessary pain from fear if we notice ourselves fortune-telling.  We tell ourselves all the terrible things that will happen to us in the future.

Some Solutions to Emotional Pain

 1.    Expect Differently

Hope is the positive side of forward thinking.  A hope is an expectation without the teeth.   When we see evidence in ourselves of unfulfilled expectations we can avoid the pain by softening our expectation into a hope.  For example, rather than thinking, “I wrote the work team meeting minutes last time so I expect Orville to write them this time,” we can soften it to, “I wrote the work team meeting minutes last time and I hope Orville will write them this time.  I’ll ask him if he thinks it would be fair for him to take a turn.”

2.    Give First

Knowing that everyone craves being understood and validated, what if we become the ones who give it.  What difference would it make in our lives if we became the one everyone enjoys talking with because our only intent is to understand and validate others?  A funny thing happens when we give people the gift of being understood and validated, they want to give back.  Let it start with us.

3.    Bigger Love

Rather than protecting ourselves against unrequited love, I propose making our love bigger, into the kind of love the Greeks call agape where you forget about yourself.  It’s where we care about the wellbeing of the other as our primary concern, not what we can get or have with the other person.  This is the kind of love that allows us to say, “I want the other person to be happy whether or not s/he cares about me.”  It takes a big heart to have this kind of big love.  Our hearts can grow into it by practice.  When we find ourselves protecting our hearts by not caring about others as much as we could, we can ask ourselves, “Who am I really concerned about?” and reply,  “Forget about me, what can I do to make her/him happy?”

4.    Step into the Darkness

Feeling emotionally vulnerable is uncomfortable.  I avoid it as much as I can, and I’ll bet you do too.   I was listening to a speaker describe her feelings about a traumatic event that happened to her husband, and her emotions overcame her.  As she wept and struggled to continue speaking I found myself liking her, feeling connected to her, and wanting to ease her pain.  As I’ve tried to figure out this phenomenon so common to human beings I’ve decided that it was her vulnerability in allowing me to see her humanity.  I was trying to understand how her pain felt as it related to the pain I’ve felt.  I could only imagine her pain, but I wanted to relate to her.  This built an invisible connection.  In an amazing Ted Talk by Brenè Brown I learned that, what may seem most scary to us, may be the very thing that relieves our pain.

A little less pain in the world is what I hope for.  I little less pain in me and you, at work and at home.


By Doug Lundrigan

Emotional Competence:  Influence Predicts High Performance Leadership

 Do you know someone who has much authority but little influence?

I recall early in my career a would-be leader who had authority to direct the work activities of about 120 people.  His style was authoritarian and controlling.  He gave little trust or respect to others and received little trust or respect in return.  Within six months of having his directing role, nearly half the people had jumped ship, resulting in a devastating cost to the organization.  His influence had shrunk to be much smaller than his authority.  Sound familiar?

In contrast, I also recall a leader who seemed to genuinely care about us, put her own interests aside for the good of the team, sought the opinions of others, was supportive and encouraging, and had a grand vision of the excellent results we could achieve together.  People from other departments wanted to transfer in to be on her team.  Her influence expanded to include people she had no authority over.  I hope this also sounds familiar to you.

These cases show a stark difference between authority and influence.

Roots of Influence

“Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power.“

Henry George (1839 – 1897)

In the 1990s some Italian researchers were mapping the brains of Macaque monkeys.  They noticed that the same area of the monkeys’ brains lit up when they watched the researchers eat lunch as when the monkeys themselves ate.  This was the discovery of mirror neurons, and the beginning of a deeper understanding of how we are all hard-wired to influence each other.

Macaque monkeys and Mirror Neurons

Macaque monkeys and Mirror Neurons

Much earlier organizational research had already concluded that individuals with leadership skills have social influence, and not necessarily because of the position they occupy (Bernard, 1938.)  Influence is a complex social interaction that varies by both the influencer’s methods, and the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators of those being influenced.

Yet as unique as we each are in giving and receiving influence, some methods of influence are surprisingly universal.  Abraham Lincoln captured it well in this statement:

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-3-31-32-pm“When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, kind unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted.  . . . If you (want to) win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.“

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

 In his book, Working With Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman revealed that in predicting the success of “those in technical professions, analytic thinking ranks third, after the ability to influence and the drive to achieve.  (Goleman, 2011).

Influence is a trait central to the Social Management competencies.   By expanding our Social Management competencies we will be able to expand our influence.

 By Doug Lundrigan, MBA


Emotional Competence:  Self-Awareness.

You know him.  We all do – that leader whose blind ambition and narcissism requires him to win and be right at all costs.  How about the one who pushes everyone so hard she leaves a wake of burned-out corpses?  Aren’t we all familiar with the leader who imposes his personal agenda so intensely he’s oblivious to other perspectives or opinions?  What about she who is addicted to recognition and glory, who takes credit for others’ accomplishments and blames everyone else for her failures?

When considering such leaders, do we think they act those ways intentionally?  Do we imagine that when they wake up in the morning they say to themselves, “Today I’m going to be as insensitive and abrasive as I possibly can.”?

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 3.17.09 PM

To me it seems more likely that this is a lack of self-awareness.

I was having a deep conversation with someone I knew in high school, and she revealed that the impression I exuded back then was being stuck-up and conceited.  I was shocked!  I told her I considered myself to be a total dweeb in high school, the lowest of the low.  The discrepancy between how I saw myself and how she saw me was huge!  Self-awareness was very small in me then.  It probably still is, but I hope a little larger now.

Being able to accurately assess our own strengths and weaknesses is an emotional competency high performance leaders possess.  The high performance leader is not only able to accept, but actively seeks candid feedback.  Self-development is her mantra.

Don’t take my word for it.  In one of the many studies related to this topic, hundreds of leaders from twelve organizations were examined, and accuracy in self-assessment was a predictor of high performance.  (Accurate self-assessment in managers: Richard Boyatzis, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1982).

In his 2011 book, Working With Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman states, “It’s not that star performers have no limits on their abilities, but that they are aware of their limits— and so they know where they need to improve, or they know to work with someone else who has a strength they lack.“

Take two leaders with the same flaw.  One is caught up in appearing perfect, doesn’t want to hear about the flaw, or rationalizes it away, living in denial.  The other is willing to hear about it, accept it, work on it, and work with others who can compensate for it.  Which leader would you prefer to follow?  Which leader would you prefer to be?

Two ways to gain a more accurate self-awareness:  ask people closest to you to be very candid (and hope the have the courage to do so) and take a scientifically validated Emotional Competence Assessment.

By experience I know, as you probably do too, that getting a reality check on how we come across to other people can be painful.  But it’s worth it to dissolve those costly blind spots and move us toward a more enlightened view of ourselves.  May self-awareness abound in us all!

By Doug Lundrigan, MBA

An accurate, scientifically validated Emotional Competence Assessment is available HERE.

When you order your assessment you will receive an email within 24 hours with a Session ID and link to take the assessment at your convenience.


Radio interview of Lighthouse Director Doug Lundrigan by Jackie B. Peterson, author of Better Smarter Richer, on Solo Pro Radio.

Part 1 January 29th, 2014

Part 2 February 5, 2014

Part 3 February 12, 2014

A few years ago I ran my first half-marathon. Crossing the finish line amidst the cheers from my family, who ran the last quarter mile with me, was one of the most powerful moments in my life. Thinking back to that day, I’m reminded of how similar creating a High Performance Workplace (HPW) is to training for an athletic event. It’s no secret that to successfully compete in a marathon you need to be in peak performance condition, and the same is true in the workplace.

So how can we achieve the peak business performance needed to successfully compete in today’s market?

Tip #1: Envision success

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

If your goal is to create an HPW, then your first step is to visualize an environment where employees work in collaborative teams built on open communication, trust, and a sense of a shared mission to improve outcomes. Play a mental movie imagining a workplace that fosters a high level of team performance. The stronger the visualization, the more powerful the impact can be with greater results in improved services and products, better utilization of resources, and a more engaged workforce.

“Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.”

Alan Keith, Genetech

Recent studies indicate dramatic changes in how leadership is perceived. High Performance Workplaces recognize that effective leaders are able to visualize long-term goals and then communicate those goals in a clear direction that excites the people around them. It’s your job to empower your team by inducing passion and commitment to ensure your organization keeps pace with changing times.

Ready to achieve your vision for an HPW? Then it’s time to lace up those running shoes and test your business fitness level.

Tip #2: Work with a coach.

When I decided to run 13 miles non-stop I asked myself, “What is my current level of fitness and how will I meet my goal for this race?” As a business leader you might ask yourself, “What is our current workplace performance level and how can I meet our desired performance outcomes?”

By thinking of the workplace in terms of athletic performance, it’s easy to see how important a healthy environment is to increased productivity. Just as important is obtaining an outside view of the current situation. For me to compete in a half-marathon I needed to gain the perspective of a training coach to assess my fitness level prior to developing a training plan. The same is true in the workplace.

“A system cannont understand itself. The transformatoin requires a view from the outside.”

W. Edwards Deming, father of quality management

If your goal is to improve workplace performance, and you’re noticing declining revenues, low productivity, and high employee turnover, then you’ve got some work ahead of you. To enhance your awareness of the scope and magnitude of the challenges you face, seeking coaching help is in order. Interestingly, a 2013 Stanford Graduate School of Business Survey concluded that 100% of the CEOs surveyed stated they’re receptive to coaching; yet only 34% of CEOs currently receive leadership advice from coaches.

So where might this discrepancy come from? One possible explanation, as summarized by Stephen Miles, CEO of the Miles Group, a partner in the Stanford Survey, is that to CEOs, “coaching is somehow “remedial” as opposed to something that enhances high performance, similar to how an elite athlete uses a coach.”

Do you need a business coach? Using one of our Business Health Exams is a good place to start answering that question. Leadership assessments, employee surveys, personality profiles, and aptitude tests can help diagnose areas for improvement. You might be surprised to find out that often times the real hurdles to success aren’t the obvious perceived issues. By obtaining an outside perspective to examine your current workplace performance levels you might find that assumptions about low morale, high turnover, and declining revenues may differ from reality. For example, when training for a race you might think you only need to focus on your speed and endurance. The reality is that you need to develop a comprehensive training plan that maps out daily progress goals to help you lengthen your stride, improve your gait efficiency, optimize your nutritional intake, etc. Executive business coaches, like successful athletic coaches, are able to take into consideration the less obvious performance factors that may contribute to poor results.

Working with a coach can help you stay focused and keep moving forward. You’ll also gain the skills needed to keep track of what is happening in the team, why it is happening and what can be done next to keep the team on the desired road to success.

Tip #3: Follow knowledge with action; the road to success.

The canyon between knowledge and results is bridged by action. Develop a plan to achieve your goal and stick with it, remembering that change takes time to quantify. For example, I trained for a year before achieving a fitness level to successfully compete in a 13 mile run. Progress was gradual.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

I learned which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were necessary and, with my coach, we built a training program where I tracked my progress in key areas such as resting/peak heart rates, distances per week, and nutritional intake. KPIs used to measure High Performance in the workplace include the little steps (such as number of new prospects called on, number of marketing impressions made, units of waste, or turnaround time), and the big results (such as increased revenues and declining expenses, or a noted higher level of employee engagement and satisfaction.) The little successes lead to the big ones.

As with the action involved in training for and running a long-distance race, business challenges require discipline, hard work, and perseverance. Your executive team, your coach, and the significant people in your personal life will all be integral in encouraging you to keep on keepin’ on. As cliché as it may seem, having someone on the sidelines cheering, “You can do it! Keep up the great work! I believe in you!” can make all the difference in success or failure.

By continuing to measure and gauge your progress in these areas you’ll reach the finish line at the head of the pack. Visualize success and carefully track the indicators that move you closer toward your goal.

And remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Doug and Jackie discuss various symptoms of business disease, diagnostic tools, how to get employees to bring their hearts and souls to the workplace, how to leverage the full potential of your human capital with an enlightened leadership style. Anthropomaximology, the study of the maximum potential of human beings. Book recommendations. At public seminars, “take Doug for a test-drive.”

Radio interview of Lighthouse Director Doug Lundrigan by Jackie B. Peterson of Solo Pro Radio.

Would it surprise you to learn that many dog owners trust their canine companions more than they trust their bosses? Research shows that only 36% of employees actually trust their bosses.

Trust has long been part of the underpinnings of society and can be defined as “confidence in our relationships with others”. Trust is a key aspect of relationships and studies show that creating and maintaining high levels of trust is vital for healthy and sustained company growth.

Despite this understanding, trust is often misunderstood or mismanaged in companies, leading to lost productivity. Creating an environment of trust in the workplace is more important and more difficult to cultivate than ever before. In 1960, 58% of Americans trusted others. Today that percentage has dropped to 40%. Lack of trust in the workplace can lead to confusion, worry, fear, and other emotions that in turn can slow the wheels of progress and profit.

Fostering an environment of trust begins at the managerial level. By establishing relationships based on several key elements, leaders can foster a healthy working environment across all levels, resulting in higher morale, increased initiative, and improved productivity.

In the following model, the key elements of trust are Integrity, Competence, and Compassion. When combined these characteristics serve to answer the question “Am I trustworthy?”

It’s impossible to build trust with others without behaving in a trustworthy manner. For example, your dog might exhibit a high level of trustworthiness in his competence (ability to perform a trick), in his integrity (loyalty), and his compassion (sensitivity to your moods). But trust can also be situational. You might not trust your dog’s competence to drive a car, or trust his integrity to avoid stealing a nice juicy steak off the counter.

In the workplace, we might trust someone in one, two, three of the elements, or none at all. Maybe a co-worker is very competent at her job, and exhibits excellent compassion in her people skills. But if she habitually makes excuses for being late or missing important deadlines, then she loses your trust in her integrity.

“I submit that while high trust won’t necessarily rescue a poor strategy, low trust will almost always derail a good one.” 

-Steven M.R. Covey, The Speed of Trust

When management leads the way with their actions solidly in the Trust Model, initiatives they sponsor will result in better outcomes. So how can we cultivate a high trust working environment?

Raising the level of trust embraces three primary concepts:

  • Open and honest communication at all levels.
  • Encouraging a collaborative approach to problem solving.
  • Walking the talk. A cliché that holds true when striving to improve trust between management and employees.

One way to achieve this is by exhibiting integrity in the form of open and honest communication, regardless of whether it’s to your disadvantage. Also, by fostering a win/win focus, managers can demonstrate compassion for the personal and professional welfare of direct reports. And by seeking feedback from direct reports, leaders can gauge their competence in their managerial role.

Specific ways to build upon this foundation can include creating opportunities for social interactions (group lunches, learning sessions or celebrations of personal and group achievements), taking a strong stance against collusion, destructive criticism, and other counter-productive behaviors, and empowering employees to solve problems by providing appropriate training, resources, and rewards.

So how does your company stack up across The Three Elements of Trust? Do you doubt the abilities of those you work with, or find yourself unsure of your own skills to lead effectively? If so, what actions will you take to cultivate a workplace that fosters open communication and trust?

If you’d like to learn more about trust in the workplace, please download our free white paper, take an assessment, or contact us to see how we can help.

“One-third trim, niner ze-ro feet, two degree up bubble,” ordered the commanding officer to his diving officer.”

“Aye sir, one-third trim, niner ze-ro feet, two degree up bubble,” acknowledged the diving officer.”

“One-third trim, niner ze-ro feet, two degree up bubble,” relayed the diving officer to the control room.”

“Aye sir, one-third trim, niner ze-ro feet, two degree up bubble,” acknowledged the control room.”

Privileged to observe the inner command workings of the USS Helena, a fast attack nuclear submarine that holds greater fire power than the entire U.S. Navy did in World War II, was a humble reporter.

“Sir, are these people a bit slow on the uptake? Are they hard of hearing?” he queried. “Why all the repetition?”

“Son, how many mistakes would you like us to make aboard a nuclear submarine?” asked the commanding officer.”

“What do you do if they don’t repeat it back correctly?” asked the reporter.

“I repeat it to them again until I hear it back correctly. We have a zero-tolerance policy for communication errors here,” explained the commanding officer.

Is there anything we do all day, every day that is more important to do well than communicate with others? Yet, with all the practice we have had throughout our lives, misunderstandings seem remarkably frequent and almost the norm in many organizations.

Obviously, a breakdown in communication on a nuclear submarine would be catastrophic. Yet, in business, miscommunication can be fatally damaging, too. Technology makes communication fast and loud. A company’s culture and its customers’ goodwill can shift quickly. Is it any wonder that some of the world’s leading businesses invest considerable resources developing better communication skills in their people?

While the challenges to achieve an accurate transfer of meaning between people are as numerous as the people on the earth, improving on a few common errors can go a long way toward stamping out miscommunication.

Intent is Everything
When communicating with others, don’t we often focus on getting our point across, making the case for our position and being heard? I know I do. When listening to someone, my mind often goes to the place of preparing my rebuttal. Contrary to some, I believe we can’t really listen when our minds are in that place. Oh, we might hear the words he or she is saying while our minds churn, anxiously waiting for our turn to talk, but the meaning of the other person’s words are often lost in the chasm between our ears and our mind.

The remedy is in our intent. An accurate transfer of meaning between two people occurs when both communicators have a pure intent to understand the other not to win an argument, advance his or her own agenda, or demonstrate superiority. In this scenario, we consider the other person’s thoughts, opinions, and perceptions to be just as valid and important as our own. We sincerely want to understand them and to add them to the pool of shared meaning. This is the foundation of active listening. People in such a conversation find it richly fulfilling, even uplifting. Stephen R. Covey said it well: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989)

False Assumptions
The human mind is an incredibly creative force. When we have less than the complete facts (almost always) our minds will automatically try to fill in the blanks based on past experience. A complete story emerges in our minds – a hybrid of fact and fiction. This is the birthplace of an assumption. The trouble is, our assumptions are often wrong. The supreme assumption that leads to myriads of error is the assumption that our perception and interpretation of events is accurate. We think we’re right. And if I’m right and someone else’s perception differs, it means the other person is wrong. Now we have conflict.

The remedy is to be constantly aware that at any given moment we probably harbor some false assumptions about people and events around us and would be wise to acknowledge that there’s probably something in our head that is not factual.

Submarine Approach
“…We tend to see ourselves primarily in the light of our intentions, which are invisible to others, while we see others mainly in light of their actions, which are visible to us; we have a situation in which misunderstanding and injustice are the order of the day.”
E. F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed

This insightful statement gives us cause to reflect on how we might reconcile what we observe others saying or doing and to what their intent is. If we’re not careful, this is where false assumptions may sneak in. Isn’t misinterpreting others’ intentions a common malady in communication?

The remedy is surprisingly simple: play submarine. When someone says something, repeat it back. Perhaps repeating it verbatim might seem a bit tedious or rude, but a simple statement rephrasing what you think you heard can do wonders in matching words to intent and increasing mutual understanding.

How to do it? Try using the following phrases to ensure you are receiving the message that is being offered:

  • “If I understand you, you’re saying . . .”
  • “Let me make sure I understand you. You said . . .”

Further discovery into intent may be accomplished with these statements:

  • “What is it that causes you think that way?”
  • “Please tell me more about why you feel that way.”

Zero tolerance for communication errors may be an important standard on a nuclear submarine, but in day-to-day living it might be somewhat impractical. Being flawed humans as we are, there will always be miscommunication leading to inefficiencies in business, interpersonal conflict and an occasional disaster. Yet, whatever we can do to improve our communications skills, such as attending a seminar, reading books and articles, or meeting with a coach, can only serve to make our lives and all those we interact with more successful and rewarding.

Doug Lundrigan, MBA, is the President and founder of Lighthouse Leadership in Portland, Ore. Lighthouse Leadership is a trusted business partner to the world’s leading organizations with respect to human capital. Its client relationships are shaped by a deep understanding of its clients’ needs, a collaborative working style and a commitment to exceed client expectations. He can be reached at

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We had a blast! We won awards! We were recognized by our peers and the C-suite for our excellence! Work was exhilarating and fun! Our competitive advantage was overwhelming! That was the best team I ever worked with. Have you ever had an experience like that when working with a team? You can!

A team is only as strong as its individual members, and is only successful when those members work well together, enjoy each other, and complement each other’s skills. The kind of high performance, engagement, synergy, and enjoyment achieved by the best teams does not come by accident, nor without cost. The only sure thing is, a great team is worth the work, worth the cost, and worth the effort to keep it together for the long haul. So, how do we do that? Keep reading, because if you can implement the concepts explained here, you will see real results.

A group becomes a team when it has collective goals, positive synergy, mutual accountability, and complementary skills (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Team member interdependence creates challenges in:

  1. communication,
  2. collaboration, and
  3. conflict management.

Like the supports to a three-legged stool, if any one of these three aspects is weak, the team fails. In order to carry its weight, to do its job, to perform well under pressure, your team needs these Three Legs. To discover how to develop your team’s strength in the Three Legs, read on.

Get With the Program
First, we need to make sure everyone is onboard. Let’s begin with Team Orientation.. It’s time to get to know each other, and yourselves. This part of the training will enlighten team members on the four stages of team development. The team will then discuss and form a consensus on their current stage in team development. The team orientation and training program proposed here will strengthen each of the Three Legs. The training elements include: pre-training assessment, training content, post-training evaluation, and intermittent reinforcement. Team members will complete a pre-training assessment, receive instruction on the four-stage team-development model described by Robbins and Judge (2007) and how to work with the diverse styles of others, and then participate in team learning simulations. Yukl (2006) suggests that an outside facilitator is most effective when conducting training simulations, based on an objective third-party perspective.

Charter: A GPS for Success
Now we need a way to keep track of all these great discoveries about the team, its members, and the ways in which they best work together. Effective teams construct a team charter to define communication methods, collaborative roles and responsibilities, and how to manage conflict. The team charter is constructed as each part of training on the Three Legs is completed.

Team leaders will receive post-training evaluation scores and conduct intermittent reinforcement training with members to hone skills and ensure real behavior change. A leader will attend team meetings to observe and coach toward improved execution of training knowledge and the terms agreed to in the team charter.


The First Leg: Communication.
No, a good team is not made up of carbon copies – a team needs different styles, different skillsets, and different ways of looking at things. Otherwise, you might as well just have a “team” of one, right? Instruction on differences and characteristics of communication styles will enable members to view each other’s differences in a non-judgmental manner. Next, members will review and compare self-assessments in a group discussion. Training will continue with simulations to practice adapting their communication to people of other styles. They will practice overcoming communication barriers. The team will also decide on, and describe to other team members, their preferred and most efficient methods of communication, whether by e-mail, voice mail, telephone, teleconference, or face-to-face meeting.

The Second Leg: Collaboration.
Okay, so the team members understand how they differ from one another. Now it’s time to learn how to embrace those differences, fill each other’s weaknesses, and create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This instruction will focus on collaboration that leads to synergy. Team members will use pre-training assessments to create a team skill inventory listing the total skills possessed by the team. Efficient division of tasks will be discussed using the team charter. Team members will record in the charter the roles, responsibilities and efficient division of labor.

The Third Leg: Conflict Management.
You didn’t think we could bring all these different people together in perfect harmony, did you? When people bring together different ideas and different opinions, conflict is inevitable. Conflict can range from a mild disagreement on some minor issue, to strong emotional objections to another’s opinion, style, or beliefs.

The goal of this part of training is to teach strategies enabling members to respond to all levels of conflict constructively. In the training workshop members will use a controversial political issue to practice some of the characteristics of high-performing teams: handling conflict directly, listening, consensus building, compromising, understanding, empathizing, respecting, and recognizing that team members can agree to disagree. Decisions on how the team will resolve conflict will become part of the team charter.

Custom Application
To explore the application of the above training program to your own team, you need a good handle on personality of the team. You will need to examine the current state of the team, how to fit the program to the unique challenges of this team, the specific results that are required, and the incentives for team performance.

Conclusion: Effectiveness of the Training
It really works! This training plan as outlined will transform your group to a high-performance team. Commitment to the team is proven to increase as dialogue and activities foster mutual understanding, cohesiveness, cooperation, and identification with the group (Yukl, 2006). This training itself will give team members an opportunity to become more cohesive, leading to further development of the Three Legs skills, and their application to the unique challenges of your team.

– Douglas A. Lundrigan, MBA

Robbins, Stephen P. and Judge, Timothy A. (2007). Organizational Behavior, Twelfth Edition, Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Yukl, Gary, (2006). Leadership in Organizations, Sixth Edition. USA, Pearson Prentice Hall.

Why should your firm invest training dollars in a program designed to increase emotional competencies for your staff?

Psychologists understand that the traditional IQ test does not measure all of the factors of an effective, successful, happily productive person. “Book learning” is not the only, nor the most important, measure of intelligence.

Many of the factors psychologists found to be important in making people successful in their business and personal lives are included in the terms emotional intelligence or emotional competence. The more aware we are of our own emotions, the more control we have over them. The more we empathize with the emotions of coworkers, the more harmonious and productive we are.

It certainly seems that emotional intelligence is an important aspect of many business roles. But, business people have one dominant question: how does it affect the bottom line? Can putting employees in touch with their emotions actually make them more productive?

Here’s the missing link. Over two hundred studies from various countries agree that emotional competence accounts for 65 – 80% of the difference between top performing and average performing employees. You may not be able to see, touch, or taste Emotional Intelligence, but the results of it are quite tangible.

When L’Oreal used emotional intelligence as a selection criterion for hiring sales representatives, they discovered that emotionally intelligent people outsold their colleagues by an average of $91,370 a year.

The United States Air Force saved three million dollars by using emotional intelligence screening to select recruiters. The General Accounting Office reported an annual savings of $3,000,000 per year on a $10,000 investment in screening.

Emotional competencies can be learned. With a good training program in emotional intelligence, a firm can maximize the potential of the employees it already has, top to bottom.

For any business that would like to see increases in productivity and efficiency; more effective sales people; more creative teams and more responsive leadership, it is vital to invest in a good emotional intelligence training program.

– Douglas A. Lundrigan, MBA

You may be throwing wealth away every day.

Don’t take offense…your business isn’t alone. Most businesses are tossing gold on the trash heap on a daily basis. Many owners and managers have been trained – both by education and tradition – to squander this good-as-gold resource. For most businesses, this is simply the way things are done – much to their detriment.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Imagine how your business would run if your employees were as engaged in your business as you are.


Your People are an Untapped Wealth

That ‘gold mine’ that you may be ignoring; the wealth you might be wasting is your people.

Every business relies upon its people. Every job, from the most menial to the most complex, is necessary, and contributes to the success of an organization. And in most companies, every job function is clearly defined, and every employee held to a routine performance of those duties.

Routine expectations is how the ‘gold’ is ignored, and the wealth lost. Because that routine expectation underlies employee management – so prevalent throughout the business world – tosses away the true potential of every employee.

That management style belongs to a bygone era.


Are You Applying 19th Century Management Principles to 21st Century People?

The so-called “modern” management principles were developed by Frederick Taylor in his principles of ‘Scientific Management.’

Taylor believed in breaking down each job into simple, repetitive tasks defined as a narrow range of activities, isolated unto that job title. The duty of each worker assigned to a given job title was to perform those tasks unerringly and unendingly – and nothing else.

Sound familiar? It should, because Taylor’s principles are still the method of management applied to the employees of most companies.

But times have changed.

Scientific Management was published at around the time the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane. The Wright Brothers’ early designs have long been relegated to museums and history books. But unfortunately for modern business, the same cannot be said for the principles of Scientific Management.

Taylor’s principles may have been suited to the bygone industrial era but they’re no more viable in today’s information era than the Wright Flyer would be at Portland International Airport.


You can mine the gold. There is a better way.

If your company is seized in the grasp of the dusty old theories of Scientific Management, the alternative is quite simple: allow your people to be PEOPLE, not automatons!

Machines now perform many of the jobs that were performed by people in Taylor’s time. You don’t have machines on your payroll; you have people. And by asking no more of people than you would of machines, you’re leaving gold unmined. You’re wasting a vast wealth of untapped potential.


The new paradigm is the High Performance paradigm.

People aren’t machines. Each employee offers a wealth of creativity, energy and talent that is ignored and squandered under the old paradigm.

The new paradigm fosters respect and trust in people. It frees employees from their narrow lock-boxes of repetitive responsibility, and engages them on an enterprise-wide level. The new paradigm moves much of the decision-making responsibility to people who are on the front line of operations. It changes the focus of each employee from “my job” to “my company.”

If you think that the new High Performance paradigm is just ‘touchy-feely’ new age nonsense – think again. Huge companies – companies that have been around for generations, like Sherwin-Williams, Tektronix and Corning – are converting to research-based High Performance principles.

For daring to be different, for courageously casting off tradition, these companies are reaping massive benefits in improved employee productivity and reduced costs.


Is your company lagging behind?

Learn how to find, mine and keep the gold that works for you. Call us at Lighthouse today to get acquainted.


– Douglas A. Lundrigan, MBA