Wishing you the 7 C’s

To enjoy ”being” good in all your “doing” well over the next year, the team at BIG hopes your holiday stocking bulges at the seams with these 7 C gifts!

Character…You walk the talk for being good and doing well. Your ethics and integrity are above reproach because you’re authentic, honest, transparent and have a moral center. You radiate positive energy and determination. You’re self-disciplined. You treat those with and those without power the same. You invite the elephant in the room to dance. Continue reading


Five Ways to Manage Workplace Conflict

It’s the weekly department staff meeting, and your boss  just recognized a colleague for her innovative  idea to improve customer service. Her public praise brought a round of applause from your colleagues.

You can’t applaud because you feel like you’ve just been hit by lightning — that idea was yours! Continue reading


Can we believe you now?

Abby was upset her boss put her through a 360 evaluation process. She was even more unhappy after receiving the feedback. In fact, she was shocked, angry and disbelieving because there was absolutely no way she was unethical, thoughtless or lacking in credibility and integrity. How could people think that of her?!

In following the trail of bread crumbs to the root cause of her issues, Abby was amazed to discover it was her propensity for changing meeting schedules that had opened the door to the lack of trust, low satisfaction and poor performance that dogged her department.

“Don’t they know I’m busy and that other things come up? What’s cancelling or moving a meeting or two got to do with integrity?” she mused.

Abby was blissfully unaware she consistently cancelled and/or rescheduled meetings, for reasons both valid and trivial. Because she was out of touch with her behaviors, she missed the impact those behaviors had on how her team viewed her and how they interpreted her behaviors. From her team’s perspective:

  • Abby didn’t honor her commitments so her word meant nothing
  • Because her word meant nothing, she had no integrity and couldn’t be trusted
  • And, because Abby held a high level position, acting that way must be the recipe for success

This slippery slope of illogical assumptions had eroded Abby’s reputation with her employees.  Abby’s prowess as a performer who always delivered the hard results had been trumped by her inability to be a leader who set an example for moral integrity by honoring her commitments. Commitments as small as setting meeting times.

3 ways for leaders to regain credibility

Abby was fortunate her organization viewed her as salvageable, valued her enough to provide coaching, and supported her long climb to being a leader who could balance both task completion and building relationships. To get things back on tract with her team, Abby agreed to:

1) Get organized. Many of those rescheduled meetings were the result of poor planning and her failure to write down meeting times.

2) Think and act like a leader of a team. Abby’s style was “me-focused.” If the opportunity arose to meet with someone she thought could help her, she grabbed it, thinking it was no big deal for her team to meet with her on another day. Working to move beyond her own self-interest and to consider the impacts of her actions on others was a big first step. “Successful managers all excel in the making, honoring, and remaking of commitments,” according to Donald N. Sull, HBR professor and author.

3) Connect and communicate more. Abby slowly embraced the fact that having integrity and being trusted were intangible assets crucial to her leadership success. Something as simple as showing up on-time for a meeting she had called was a building block for credibility, one of the foundations of trust. “Without integrity, nothing works,” writes Michael Jensen in The Three Foundations of a Great Personal Life, Great Leadership and a Great Company: Integrity, Authenticity, and Committed to Something Bigger than Oneself.

What other recommendations do you have for Abby?



5 ways for leaders to reframe, connect and grow

Leaders are immersed in metrics, perpetually measuring and quantifying business performance in pursuit of the next improvement, double-digit growth or to beat the market.

Too bad there isn’t a similar quest for connections.

Connecting is good for individuals and for business. The research is a little dated, yet back in the late nineties Sears discovered that a 5%increase in employee satisfaction produced a 1.3% positive bump in customer satisfaction which, in turn, yielded a 0.5% increase in revenue growth. How? Leaders transcending “it’s all about me and/or the bottom line” by building connections and relationships.

People do the work, so connecting with them should be high on a leader’s priority list, right alongside strategizing, budgeting and planning the next acquisition. In Touchpoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments, Doug Conant and Mette Norgaard write, “Each of the many interactions you have during your day is an opportunity to establish high performance expectations, to infuse with greater clarity and more energy, and to influence the course of events.”

5 ways for leaders to connect

Try one (or more) of these five ways to build and foster meaningful associations (not just clicking a “like” icon!) with your work team, employees, colleagues, others within your company, and with the wider world:

1)    Own up to your mistakes. Stories abound in the press about leaders, politicians, etc. who cover up their lies and seem surprised when their credibility is lost.  It takes real personal leadership to make yourself vulnerable and disclose your blunders. To be vulnerable is to be strong.

2)    Be generous with your time. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you’re too busy to meet people for coffee, chat for a few minutes after a meeting or take in the occasional networking event. People want affiliation, so be the one who gives it to them.

3)    Shift your perspectiveTony Schwartz, President of the Energy Project, calls this viewing the world through “a reverse lens.” Sure  we want to get the sales report to the boss as soon as we can, yet when a colleague drops in unexpectedly, reframe the situation as an opportunity to engage and/or influence rather than as an interruption.

4)    Practice reciprocity. If you want people to play in your sandbox, you have to play in theirs from time to time.

5)    Share, don’t hoard Communicate what’s happening (tell what you can).  Start a discussion. Connect like-minded people and even contrarians. Recommend articles, websites, books, etc. Being viewed as a subject matter expert and/or the “go-to” person for ideas boosts both personal and professional connections.

Who will you connect with today?




7 Leadership Gifts

To fulfill the promise of using your head to manage and your heart to lead, may your holiday stocking bulge at the seams with these seven gifts!

Connection. Connect with your purpose and passions, then work them into your daily living in doses large or small. Take and make the time to connect with others.

Communicate. Engage in two-way dialogue, share freely what you know and actively listen with your head and heart to what others have to say.

Capability. Dare yourself to stretch the limits of your potential and to inspire those around you to do the same.

Celebrate. Smile, laugh, have fun – it feels good and is good for you and those around you!

Courage. Take a stand for what’s good and what’s right, even if doing so is unpopular.

Character. Choose to be a person of integrity, never afraid to be found out. Show care and compassion for all.

Commitment. Dedicate yourself to finding connection, communicating, reaching for your potential, celebrating, and being courageous, sincere, caring and authentic!




A climate for creativity

Art by Sarah Loft

Stories can teach us powerful lessons about life, love and leadership, and this one, The Little Boy (author unknown),  does just that…

Once a little boy went to school. One day his teacher said; ‘Today we are going to make a picture’.

‘Good!’ Thought the little boy. He liked to make pictures and he could make pictures of all kinds, lions and tigers, chickens and cows, trains and boats. He took out his box of crayons and began to draw.

But the teacher said, ‘Wait! It’s not time to begin!’ And she waited until everyone looked ready. ‘Now.’ said the teacher. ‘We are going to make flowers’.

‘Good’ thought the little boy. He liked to make flowers and began to make beautiful ones with his pink and orange and blue crayons.

But the teacher said ‘Wait, I will show you how’. And it was red with a green stem. ‘There’ said the teacher, ‘now you may begin’.

The little boy looked at the teacher’s. Then he looked at his own flower. He liked his own flower better than the teacher’s but he did not say this. He just turned his paper over and made a flower like the teacher’s. It was red with a green stem.

On another day, when the little boy had opened the door from the outside all by himself. The teacher said ‘Today we are going to make something with clay’.

‘Good!’ thought the little boy. He liked to make snakes and snowmen, elephants and mice, cars and trucks and he began to pull and pinch his ball of clay.

But the teacher said, ‘Wait! It is not time to begin!’ and she waited until everyone looked ready. ‘Now’ said the teacher ‘we are going to make a dish’.

The little boy liked to make dishes. He began to make some that were all shapes and sizes.

But the teacher said,’ Wait!’ ‘I will show you how’ and she showed everyone how to make one deep dish. ‘There’ said the teacher ‘now you may begin’.

The little boy looked at the teacher’s dish and then he looked at his own. He liked his dishes better than the teacher’s but he did not say this. He just rolled his clay into a big ball again and made a dish just like the teacher’s. It was a deep dish and pretty soon the little boy learned to wait and to watch and to make things just like the teacher and pretty soon he didn’t make things of his own any more.

Then it happened, that the little boy and his family moved to another house in another city and the little boy had to go to another school and the very first day he was there the teacher said, ‘Today we are going to make a picture’. ‘Good!’ thought the little boy and he waited for the teacher to tell him what to do but the teacher didn’t say anything she just walked around the room. When she came to the little boy she said, ‘Don’t you want to make a picture?’

‘Yes’ said the little boy.

‘What are you going to make? ‘Said the teacher.

‘I don’t know until you make it’ said the little boy.

‘Why, any way you like’ said the teacher.

‘Any color?’ asked the boy.

‘Any color,’ said the teacher. ‘If everyone makes the same picture and used the same colors how would I know who made what and which was which?’

‘I don’t know,’ said the little boy, and he began to make a red flower with a green stem.


Art by Sarah Loft




Opening doors with creativity and chocolate

Cartoon, Beacon Learning

In a cost saving move, two divisions of a national firm in two adjoining states were merged; one division large, the other much smaller.  Aggie was selected to lead the marketing department for the new, larger division. Her appointment surprised many people given that she worked in the smaller division and had been with the organization far less time than Nancy, the head of marketing in the larger division. How Aggie handled the transition was a creative and positive leadership lesson.

The twelve marketing department members in the former large division made no secret that they were prepared to dislike Aggie and would give her the brush-off when she came to meet them. They said it didn’t matter that they had never met her. They said what mattered was that Nancy’s seniority hadn’t been honored which was how things used to be.

It was meeting day. Aggie arrived with thirteen boxes, all beautifully wrapped and adorned with large bows. She asked her twelve new direct reports to join her in the conference room. 

“Hi all, I’m Aggie, and delighted to meet all of you. I’m seriously hoping that you like chocolate candy as much as I do! Let’s spend the afternoon enjoying chocolates and getting to know one another. I’ll go first.”

Ellen bit into a chocolate, then smiled. She spent the next fifteen minutes describing her background; her hopes and joys, what made her smile and what made her frown; her favorite foods, colors and places to visit; and the antics of her two small children. There was no mention of marketing and mergers.

One by one, each of the twelve followed suit - savoring chocolates from the shared box and sharing about their life. Several hours later, each knew their colleagues better; and all thoughts of disliking Aggie were gone.

Each one took home a box of chocolates, filled with hope that their new leader was definitely the right choice to lead them into the future of this newly merged organization.

Have you encountered a similar circumstance? What did you do to win folks over so you could get down to business on friendlier terms?