Control Yourself, Influence Others

Hi, I’m Tom Blaisse, Certified Accountability Facilitator for Dynamic Results.

In our Accountability Method workshops we help participants focus on the things they can control (or at least have some influence over) and adapt to the things they can’t control. When we feel we are not in control of a project or process, we may get upset, feel angry, irritated or frustrated. We may even give up; go home, and crack open a cold beer.

Some people operate this way all the time. We all know who the pessimists are in our organizations. Pessimists often claim they can’t control anything. They might say, “I told you we couldn’t do it” or, “I knew that it wouldn’t work.” We call them CAVE people – Citizens Against Virtually Everything. Pessimists like to focus on the problem, not on the solution. The challenge for all of us is knowing where to focus our precious energy.

In the late 80’s, Dr. Stephen R Covey, in his landmark book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said that the most effective people adopt a pro-active mindset, means they focus their time and energy on the things they can control, or at least influence, and don’t waste time on things over which they have no control.

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This concept suggests that when we focus on the circle where we have both responsibility and authority to take action, our credibility grows; and we expand our circle of influence, thereby achieving greater results.

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In our research and development of the Accountability Method, we have found this concept to be true. The problem is, in observing our clients, we find that many of them spend too much meeting time, and email time focusing on areas that they may be concerned about, but have no direct control or influence over.

Dr. Covey calls this the Circle of Concern. This circle contains all the things that we may worry about, but have no ability to control or influence – typically things that have to do with other people.

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We can’t really control other people. We may have some influence over them; or be able to motivate them with our vision of positive and/or negative consequences; but, we really don’t have direct control over what other people may think or do.

It takes a pro-active mindset to focus your energy on the things you can control and influence, and to minimize or even eliminate the time you spend discussing things within your circle of concern. Structure your dialogues on those areas you can control. When you do, you will expand your circle of influence and ultimately be more effective. Make a commitment to take action today on something within your circle of control. Make a request of someone you might have influence over. And, decide to let go of anything you can’t control.

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Remember, the two effects of our human conditioning:

1. We sometimes think we can control situations that we have no control over
2. We sometimes think we cannot control situations that maybe we can control (or at least influence)

Next week, look at all the meetings you will attend, and the conversations you may have. If you were to use this model as a filter for what you might say and do, what impact would it have on your personal effectiveness, and your effectiveness working with other people?

At your meetings, request that you all just talk about those things within your respective circles of control or influence. If you hear one of those CAVE people bring up something up that is outside those spheres, decide to talk about it later – maybe over a cold beer.

Thank you, we look forward to hearing your thoughts. Let us know how you are doing.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.

Reversing the Polarity of Communications for Better Business Results

We believe that you drive results through accountability by investing in the right people, at the right times.

Who are the 5 to 7 most important people in your work life?

Who are the people who have the most impact on you in your career?

These may not be the people who you LIKE the most, so ask yourself: Who are the 5 to 7 people that you have to rely on most?

We have been presenting research to our clients globally which proves we are busier now than humans have ever been in the history of the workplace. There is increase in emails, meetings and other demands on our time; you, like most of us, are probably feeling the effects of how busy we have become. When we feel this way, we are often looking for ways to be more efficient and do things faster in an effort to “get it all done.”

At Dynamic Results, we think you cannot get it all done and that you have to learn to prioritize differently, choosing those things that are truly most important.

We think you have to focus on relationships. We find that they can be the first things to get put on the back-burner when we are very busy. That is something we cannot afford to do, particularly with the people who are most important to us.

Everyone wants more accountability in their workplace, and not everyone invests in the right relationships to make accountability real.

Here is what we mean.

With our relationships, we try to communicate primarily through email. We know it is a very fast way to communicate, but, is it the BEST way? We think it might not be.

The better you become at getting reflection on the front end of project planning, the better results you will see during the course of the project.

When we get busy, we chose email or text as the fastest way to communicate, and if we have to, we pick up the phone. If we REALLY have to, we might video conference to speak with someone so we can get some sense of inflection and body language. As a last resort, we will carve out time to see them in person.
We recommend reversing the polarity of these communications with the people who matter most to you.

• Go and see the people who are most important to you first. Face to face.
• If you can’t do that, communicate with them by video conference so you can still see each other face to face.
• If that isn’t an option, pick up the phone and speak to them.
• And, as a last resort, contact them via email or text.

We think you cannot easily build relationships with email and text, but you can easily damage them. When you communicate via email and text, your message is received by the person reading it through the filter of how they are feeling when they receive it, NOT by how you were feeling when you sent it. You take a big risk when sending important information.

In our best-selling book, “Winning With Accountability, the Secret Language of High Performing Organizations”, we offer frameworks for building accountability in the workplace and more about getting reflection and clearly communicating with your teams.

We suggest you take a few moments and write down the names of the 5 to 7 people who are most important to you and begin to reverse the polarity of your communications with those people.

• See Them in Person
• Video Conference
• Phone
• Email/Text

Thank you, we look forward to hearing your thoughts. Let us know how you are doing.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.

Reflection: Creating Accountability With Emotional Intelligence

This video is about one aspect of our Accountability Method we call Reflection. When trying to convey an idea, reflection is a technique for getting back a comment about how your audience understood your message.

Effective communication is measured by what people heard and remember, and not by what you think you said. People always act on their understanding of a message. So, reflection gives you a window into what they are actually taking away.

Here are a few ways of getting reflection:

We feel this first one, although direct, is a little demeaning, particularly to smart and capable people.

• Ask something like, “What did I just say?”

Did you feel a little insulted by that question? I felt a little insulting by asking it.

This second question has a much greater basis in emotional intelligence. It shows vulnerability by raising the possibility that I didn’t convey my idea very clearly in the first place.

“I know what I meant to say just now, but what exactly did you hear?”

Vulnerability according to The Table Group, is a conduit to trust; and trust is the foundation of all successful relationships. We like this way of checking-in far better than the first one.

Here’s a still better emotionally intelligent way for getting reflection:

“You know we discussed a lot of things during this meeting, but what are the action items we’re taking away today? What are we going to do as a result of what was said?”

The better you become at getting reflection on the front end of project planning, the better results you will see during the course of the project.

As always, we’re here to offer you quick, concise ways to improve your business, your communications, and your results.

To see our book and how people like New York Times best-selling author Marshall Goldsmith have responded to it, please click on this link: Dynamic Results Book Page.

Thank you for your attention, and we hope to see you soon.

Thank you, we look forward to hearing your thoughts. Let us know how you are doing.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.

Managing Your Emotions

In our Amazon Top-10 Business book, Step Up–Lead in Six Moments That Matter, we have a chapter called Get Angry, Not Stupid and we also have a previous blog with the same name. The idea is that it’s okay to feel and express feelings like anger or frustration, even at work, as long as you can express those emotions in an intelligent and productive way; one that you will feel proud of later.

Most of you are familiar with the famous Amygdala Hijack. This is when a primal part of your brain senses or perceives danger, and, as a reaction, takes blood out of your pre-frontal lobe (where intelligent thought occurs) and pushes blood into your arms and legs so you can fight or take flight.

Some of the foundational work we do with leaders is coaching them to manage their emotions when they are feeling hijacked. How do we remain intelligent and objective, when facing challenging situations and/or people? It’s not always easy but it gets easier with focused practice. The feelings you experience are joined by physiological changes in your body. Afflictive emotions might make your chest tight, your breathing shallow, your hands clench into fists, your shoulders tense, or your jaw tighten. In other words, your body always gives you a heads-up that you are about to realize a feeling. When you sense that, you are getting hijacked by your amygdala. Here are two of the four techniques we offer in our book that can help you stay intelligent. (If you have the book, you will find the details starting on page 24):

Breathing. Deep, controlled breaths help restore blood back into the neo-cortex and stop the production of the chemicals that cause you to react suddenly and with great force. Sometimes it’s hard to take a deep breath when upset. In those moments, try breathing out. Do it now. Breathe all the air out through your mouth and you will notice that you cannot help but take a deep breath in.
Breathing out through your mouth may work well while sitting alone but may not work quite as well when sitting at a meeting or a dinner table surrounded with people looking at you. So, try an alternative for those situations. Slowly push the air out of your lungs through your nose. Again, you will notice that you can’t help but breathe in afterwards. Really, try it now. I promise you will have more oxygen available to you after you breathe out.

Questioning. When you ask your brain a question — any question — it forces blood back into the neo-cortex where intelligent thought occurs. So when you are triggered, ask yourself a question. Start with simple questions. What did I eat for breakfast yesterday? What is the last good movie I saw? What time did I wake up yesterday?
While any question will produce the desired result of a calmer emotional state and more rational thinking; as you progress in this practice, you can ask more sophisticated questions that are appropriate to the situation at hand. What can I say to make this person feel safe right now? What am I really trying to accomplish in this situation? What can I say or do to build this relationship?

Managing your emotions in the moment is not always easy. It requires practicing these techniques when you’re not being hijacked, so that they are readily available to you when you are.
Remember that your body will give you a heads-up. If you are aware of what is happening in your body, you can interrupt the cycle, stay at the stage in which you are simply irritated, and not let your emotions get out of hand.

Thank you, we look forward to hearing your thoughts. Let us know how you are doing.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.

Eradicate Excuses at Work in Three Easy Steps

What’s Your Excuse?

What are the three excuses you use most often?

With more than 10,000 hours of executive coaching experience, my observation is that everyone, even the highest performing people use excuses when they miss a deadline or break a promise. When we offer excuses to others, we lose credibility and trust.

The first step to Eradicate Excuses in the Workplace™ is to shift our focus from the easy work of noticing when other people are giving excuses, to the harder and more impactful work of noticing when we do it ourselves.

Here are some of my excuses:

• I was on travel
• Yesterday was too busy

These are not explanations; they are excuses; (explanations are okay).

In fact, being on travel and having a busy day doesn’t change the fact that I had the exact same amount of time as every other person on the planet, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We do a deep dive on this in our Accountability Trainings and while we can’t cover our entire method in a two-minute video, we can give you the basics.

We invite you to Eradicate Excuses in the Workplace™ by following three easy steps.

Identify the excuse. One example is my personal favorite: “I was on travel”
Replace the excuse with an explanation like “I didn’t make it a priority”
State your call to action: “Here is when I will do it,” which is why this person came to speak with you in the first place.

They want to know what you WILL do, not WHY you didn’t do it.

When I said “I was on travel”, a more accountable replacement would have been “I’m sorry I didn’t keep the commitment. I was on travel and didn’t make it a priority. You will see the report in Excel format by 3pm PT, tomorrow, January 10”.

Now, how do you start eradicating your own excuses?

Start by writing down the three excuses you use most often. Then, add some more accountable language to replace those excuses.

Feel free to call your own excuses out in the moment. If you catch yourself saying something like “I was on travel”, say, “You know what, that’s an excuse. I didn’t make it a priority yesterday and I will tomorrow. Expect to see the report in your inbox by 10:00 am, CT tomorrow”.

Use this video in a team meeting to identify the excuses you use most often as individuals and as a team.

Make operating agreements to replace that language with clear explanations, followed immediately by a firm and specific call to action.

In upcoming months, we will be talking about other aspects of Eradicating Excuses in the Workplace™ like:

• Understanding the difference between an explanation and an excuse.

Thank you, we look forward to hearing your thoughts. Let us know how you are doing.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.

Prioritization Filter – How to get real about your ‘to do’ list

Over the years, I’ve amassed more than 10,000 hours of coaching CEO’s and others in the c-suite. During that time, I’ve learned and also developed practices to make high performing leaders, perform at even higher levels.

Today, we’re sharing a process we published in our Amazon Top Ten Business book, Step Up, Lead in Six Moments that Matter, called The Prioritization Filter (pg. 78).

You have a to-do list. If you are like the rest of humanity, you don’t do everything on that list, even if you intend to. When we coach others, part of that effort is in helping people realize what is realistic. For this conversation, it is about putting your “to-do” list into three categories.

Execution: Own it. You have already, or you will immediately assign the resources required to get this done yourself. The resources we’re talking about are generally your time and the organizations money. Another way of viewing this is your, “I will do it” category.

Delegation: You will ask someone else to align their time and effort to accomplishing the task. You’re not doing the actual work yourself, and you are being thoughtful enough to recruit or assign someone else so that the work is completed. Think of this as the, “I’ll find someone else to do this” category.

Finally, we have the category most people are missing, even if they are otherwise high performing. We call this Elimination: Get honest with yourself and decide, or in some cases admit to yourself, that you won’t be doing this. For example, if tasks you’ve been meaning to complete for a long time, show evidence that you won’t do them, why not throw them out and acknowledge that? If that decision makes you nervous, you must assign resources through one of the previous categories, execution, or delegation. Otherwise, call this category, “I won’t do this“. Sometimes, this involves calling people and having a tough conversation where you renegotiate your original commitment.

Prioritization Filter Branded

(Click Image for detail)

Taken from page 78 of our Amazon Top 10, Best-Selling Book; ‘Step Up, Lead In Six Moments That Matter

If you use this tool to sort your “to-do” list, once a week, you will notice yourself doing what is most important and you will travel home feeling like what you didn’t get done, was less important that what you did get done.

Our intention is, that by watching this video, you have learned how to apply this practice. If you would like a downloadable image of the Prioritization Filter and/or a deeper explanation, you will find both in our book, on and leading up to page 78.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.

Decide Already! How to get decisions made, no matter your title.

In order to be competitive as an individual, team, or organization, you need agility and speed in this rapidly changing marketplace. This means that decisions must be made faster than your competitors, and your plans executed with excellence.

In the Amazon top-10 business book I co-authored with Dr. Colm Foster, Step Up, Lead in Six Moments That Matter, we dedicated a chapter showing how to accomplish this.

Here are two of the ways our clients are able to outpace their competitors in decision making.

First: You can bring a team to a decision with or without the formal authority to do so by “Reversing the momentum of negative interactions”.

This means that when you notice a team is stuck in discussing a problem, you say or do something to shift the energy toward finding a solution, by saying something like “I think we’ve done a great job of establishing the problem, what are we going to do about it? What’s our next step?” This type of momentum reversal is a kind of judo move that anyone can do whether CEO, new hire, or anywhere in-between.

Second: There is no such thing as a perfect plan. So please, Don’t Wait for Perfection.

As one of the keystones of our practice, we help organizations write and execute their strategies. Although every challenge is unique, we have found this constant truth: An 80 percent complete strategy brilliantly executed always beats a 100 percent finished strategy badly executed. As General George S. Patton said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

We have worked with organizations who tend to get stuck in analysis paralysis while trying to complete a project. Sometimes a strategic-planning client wants to reassess and reevaluate their carefully thought-out initiatives rather than begin implementing them. We call this the postponed perfection syndrome.

According to Harvard research, in using our Accountability Method™, our clients implement their strategies at almost 8x the rate of most organizations. They’ve learned how to make and execute their decisions, even when outcomes are uncertain. They achieve greatness because they are willing to take action during unstable times, when their competitors would rather play it safe by talking instead of doing.

Our clients have learned that if you have 4 out of 5 data points needed to make a decision – Make That Decision! Having all five data points is not a guarantee of anything, as your changing environment and/or new data may require a change. An 80% solution is usually enough to get started.

We would rather see our clients follow a procedure we call Decide, Execute, Adjust.

1. Decide how you will begin doing something,
2. Begin doing it (get out ahead of your competitors), and
3. Stay present and aware of data telling you when and how you need to change.

Make your next step identifying a decision your team is failing to make and invite them to crystalize and begin to execute what some of your team members may still be calling “an imperfect plan”.

Say something like “I think we have enough information to proceed with a decision” or “Can we begin to execute based on the information we have and adjust as we go?”

While this type of action may not be completely comfortable for everyone on your team, it will keep you ahead of your competitors.

As always, we appreciate your attention, and for additional ideas, follow me on twitter: @HenryJEvans

Like us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Thank you.

3 Rules for Choosing Your Accountability Partner & Getting Better Business Results

Today we want to talk to you about three rules for Driving Results through Accountability Partners.

We all know the concept of an accountability partner: Someone with whom we share our commitments, knowing that they will hold us accountable and responsible for executing what we told them we would do by when we said we would do it.

Here are some pitfalls of choosing the wrong accountability partner, along with some best practices for knowing whom you should pick.

Number One: Pick someone at the peer level: You should not pick your boss, and you should not pick any of your employees. Why? If you have people who work for you, or if you are working for someone, they may (or may not) have your best interests at heart. You want your partner to be someone at your peer level or someone outside of your organization.

When people are writing your performance review, (or when you are writing someone else’s), you are very unlikely to completely ignore things they told you they are trying to accomplish; things that you know they are not succeeding at.

Example: you might be writing a performance review for someone who is doing a fairly good job at work; and has said they are also trying to lose weight, cut back on Facebook time, and also, quit smoking. Because you know they failed at those, your perception is just a little bit lower than it might otherwise have been. And you, if you are like most human beings, are going on some level to let that impact your review. That would not be fair, because he or she is being rated on business performance, not on anything outside of business.

Number Two: Choose someone who has your best interests at heart. Further, we don’t want you to choose a person you are in competition with. So let’s talk about peers. If I have a peer that I am competing with, either for resources, or a promotion, that person is not a good accountability partner. My accountability partner has to have my best interests at heart.

Number Three: Choose someone who will be assertive and has the courage to tell me when I am messing up; or to challenge me when I am falling behind on a project, so I can achieve my desired business results, on time.

Having chosen an accountability partner, the burden is now on me to make it emotionally safe to challenge me when I am not keeping my commitments (and that’s what a coach must be able to do). So whether your accountability partner is a coach whom you hire externally, or someone whom you work with as a peer, or someone outside of the organization:

• We recommend that you get a partner, and soon.
• We recommend that you proactively publish your commitments and goals to that person; and
• That you make them feel emotionally safe when they do hold you accountable.

These are just a few of the ways you can drive better business results through using accountability partners.

Thank you for your continued interest, and we look forward to bringing you additional insights from our experts in future blogs.

If you want to learn more about Stepping Up, contact us.

As always, we welcome your comments. Join us on Facebook to share your experiences, or email us at [email protected]

Leadership in Balance

Hi, I’m Dr. Colm Foster, Senior Associate at Dynamic Results, and with my colleague Henry Evans, I co-authored Step Up, Lead In Six Moments That Matter. You can stay current with my ideas by following me on Twitter at @DrColmFoster.

When working with our clients to develop Core Competency Models, they sometimes ask us about Key Leadership Traits and whether leaders are born or made. Much has been written about this topic. We believe that leadership is a developable skill but that the personality does play a role.

Based on our work coaching and developing leaders, we believe optimism is a critical leadership trait. Holding a positive view of the future is a key part of leading teams and indeed of leading oneself. It’s also fundamental to bouncing back from setbacks; we sometimes refer to this as leadership resilience.

However, unbridled optimism can lead to unhealthy outcomes. In fact, in another blog, Henry and I talked about the value of pessimism and how to leverage it for better relationships and business outcomes.

When working with our clients we encourage them to temper their optimism with good reality testing. This means grounding your optimism with a solid grasp of the situation you are facing.

So, our definition of the ideal leader?

A person with high optimism – balanced with good reality testing.

This sounds something like: I fully understand and appreciate all of the obstacles we face and knowing all of that I remain confident that we can deliver against our strategy objectives.

Thank you for your continued interest. We look forward to bringing you additional Insights From Our Experts in future blogs.

If you or your team want to deep dive on Stepping Up, contact us for information on keynotes, workshops and custom programs meant to ignite leadership at every level of your organization. Email Ede Ericson Cardell at: [email protected], or call 214-742-1403 x 106.

Attack the Idea, Not the Person

With the successful launch of our new book, “Step Up, Lead In Six Moments That Matter” and with the global success of our best-selling book “Winning With Accountability, The Secret Language of High Performing Organizations” (now with over 100,000 in print), we are offering you some of our best insights and practices to create an Accountability Culture in, and generate leadership at every level of your organization.


Henry Evans, Managing Partner, and Dr. Colm Foster, Senior Associate at Dynamic Results, are co-authors of “Step Up, Lead In Six Moments That Matter”. They are talking today about a problem we call ‘terminal politeness’.

Follow Colm and Henry on Twitter: @DrColmFoster @HenryJEvans

We often experience and diagnose terminal politeness in client organizations we work with. What we mean is, sometimes people are avoiding critical dialogues that they would be much better served having. This could be because they don’t recognize the need to have them, they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, they don’t want to overload someone or they might be afraid of how the other person might react. Whatever their reasons are, avoiding these critical issues can lead to a state of mediocrity. It can sometimes lead to people thinking, feeling and acting like we are okay just as we are and we have no need to improve.

While that may be and feel okay at the time, if you have a dynamic environment and/or a competitor who is willing to have these discussions real time, it can lead you and your team having to have these critical conversations when it is too late. We believe the answer is to generate constructive conflict in your organization.

Imagine a situation where I might say something that is completely stupid. How would you respond to that idea, demonstrating constructive conflict?

For instance:

We do strategic planning and leadership team offsites for clients, they take all day, I think we ought to get into the hot dog business! Our clients have to eat, why should we make money on feeding them?

Attack the Idea:

Henry, generally, I like and agree with your ideas. But, I am struggling to understand how getting into food service is going to serve our business, what might I be missing?

What did Colm just do? He expressed confidence in our relationship and in my capability. Afterward, he directly attacked my idea without me being personally attacked and perhaps more importantly, without any need to defend myself.

Here is an example when we were facilitating a meeting with clients. They were trying to solve a major cash flow problem. One of them suggests, maybe we should liquidate all of our inventory? His colleague said, hey, that’s a stupid idea. We will have nothing to sell and you will create a customer service disaster.

That executive could have expressed that same sentiment in a slightly different way. It might have sounded like this: I know that you are looking for solutions that are going to generate quick cash flow for us. I also know you are committed to maintaining a high level of customer service, but, I am really failing to see how your last suggestion is going to do that. I think it would cause serious interruption to our service levels and what I would like to know from you is how can we maintain our service levels and still generate a quick cash flow?

In short, you can avoid terminal politeness by generating appropriate, healthy conflict. One of the ways to do this is to attack the idea, not the person. You can get a deep dive on this in our new book, “Step Up, Lead In Six Moments That Matter”.

Keep in mind, the other person is the judge of whether you have done this effectively or not. If they felt attacked, you have to show up differently with them next time.

We always look forward to bringing you real life examples in our blogs. If you and your team ever want to do a deep dive on stepping up, contact us for information on keynotes, workshops and custom programs meant to ignite leadership at every level of your organization.

For more information on how to bring the method to your team or about any of the services we offer, contact Ede Ericson Cardell, Director of Operations at [email protected] or 214-742-1403 x 106.