Five Necessary Areas of Improvement for Your Team

Any organization is a mirror image of its leaders and leadership team. If the leaders operate among themselves with strong and genuine trust, unity, communication and ownership, these characteristics will naturally cascade through the veins of the organization and internalize in its culture and DNA.

However, if the leaders run their organizations and functions as individual silos, rather than a unified team, their people will follow suit.

And, if they have trust issues among themselves or if they are the source of negative, passive aggressive, victimizing or blaming behaviors the same issues will inculcate throughout their teams and the overall organization.

Even if leaders say all the politically correct things in public, their people will watch their behaviors, pick up on subtle remarks and body language, and everyone will line up accordingly.

I often tell the leaders I work with, “Your employees can’t hear what you are saying because they are too busy watching how you are behaving.”

When describing their teams, leaders often make sure to tell me, “We really like each other and enjoy spending time together.” However, when I dig deeper I often find the same dysfunctional dynamics in teams were members like each other that exist in teams that dislike each other. They lack trust, transparency, alignment and courage to have the tough conversations and hold each other to account. In other words, the source of team dysfunctionality is not solely a function of personal likes and dislikes.

There is no doubt that every team is unique and different. The team’s internal culture and dynamic greatly depends on its leaders. It is also influenced by external factors like the type of industry and market conditions.

However, from having coached and worked with hundreds of teams and many thousands of executives, managers and employees, I have seen that there are some fundamental similarities between teams across the board, independent of circumstances.

People often ask me to rate their team’s effectiveness or lack thereof in comparison with the wider universe of teams in their own company, industry and wider Corporate America.

By the nature of the beast, there seem to always be certain areas all teams need to pay attention to if they want to be effective. While some teams have bigger areas of gap in comparison with other teams, there seem to be some common areas that all teams need to improve. I put these areas in five categories:


  1. Boldness & Courage – Most teams are not bold, authentic and courageous enough. Instead, they are too cautious and politically correct in their interactions, communications and behaviors.


  1. Cohesion & Alignment – Most teams talk a lot about teamwork, cohesion and alignment. However, in reality, leaders, managers and employees think and operate too often in silos, they tend to promote their own priorities and agendas, especially in scarce times and, in reality, people don’t stand in the good of the whole first, even if it is the right thing to do.


  1. Ownership & Accountability – Ownership and Accountability are another two of the noble corporate jargons to which people often only pay lip service. Instead of ownership and accountability, people at all levels tend to buy into circumstances a lot, and there is too much excusing, blaming and finger pointing across the board.


  1. Creativity & Innovation – In so many teams, people seem to be frustrated about the lack of creativity and innovation. Often, the leaders and managers with the most seniority and experience are the ones most stuck in the past and unwilling to embrace new ideas and ways of doing things. As a result, in most teams, people don’t do a good job challenging the status quo, thinking outside the box and bringing innovation and future-based thinking to the table.


  1. Passion & Energy – High energy and passion are missing in most teams. It is not uncommon for team members to struggle to feel inspired and energized. It’s not that people are depressed. However, most people who have been around for a while tend to adopt a more skeptical and resigned outlook. They may think of themselves as “realistic” or “pragmatic”, however, when push comes to shove, most will opt for self-preservation rather than rocking the boat to get things done, even if that is more exciting.

Obviously, not all teams are the same. A few teams stand out because they are strong across the board. Some teams are dysfunctional across all areas. However, most teams are a mix bag of these gaps.

You should self reflect on your own team and determine: How could my team improve?

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How do you relate to your personal goals?

I recently had the opportunity to deal with two situations in which two professionals that I am coaching dealt with a similar reality in a completely different way. Both clients are very determined and successful people. The topic they were dealing with was achieving their personal goals.

I’ll use fictional names and call one David and the other Bruce. Both set ambitious personal financial goals and both failed to achieve them.

David reacted emotionally to his missed goal. He was upset; he felt the sky had fallen. He identified with his goals so he took not achieving them personally.

Bruce on the other hand, related to his result as a smaller tragedy. While the goals were important to him, he didn’t take it personally and therefore he was able to move on without loosing much sleep over his missed goal.

Bruce felt he had failed. But, David felt he was a failure….two very different reactions to a similar situation.

Why did one person feel that he was a failure while the other felt that he merely failed?

It’s how they relate to their personal goals.

David had his identity and self-worth wrapped up in his goal. When he didn’t achieve his goal he felt personally invalidated. For him not meeting his desired objective meant that something was defective with him. It implied that he would most likely continue to fail in the future, because clearly ‘he wasn’t up to the task.’ You can imagine how devastating that feeling is.

Bruce, on the other hand, held his results separate from his self-worth. For him his results merely reflected how effective he was in turning his vision into reality. So, if he didn’t reach his personal goal this time, it merely meant that it was still attainable, but he needed to improve his performance. What a much more positive and hopeful outlook.

People who relate to their personal goals more like David tend to be more impatient in dealing with their goals. They are likely to feel that things are “moving too slow” and “taking too long.” As a result, they tend to have more tension, stress and anxiety in their life.

Contrast that with people who are more like Bruce; they tend to be more calm and happy. They do a better job enjoying the journey, not just the destination.

How do I know all this? Because I use to be more like David, but today am more like Bruce. I have personally experienced the transformation from one mindset to another.

In fact, a long time ago someone asked me “how are you doing?” and I responded with “Everything will be OK.” The unsaid was: “…when I achieve all my key goals.” My wife, who was with me at the time jumped in and exclaimed: “Things are OK now!” She reminded me that my self-esteem does not depend on the achievement of my goals. And yours doesn’t either.

My question to you is: How do you relate to your personal goals?

Photo by: Manoj Vasanth

Why Your Online Reputation Matters More Than Ever

In the past, if you fired or laid off an employee, any dirty laundry would have been contained to solely the parties involved—and maybe family and friends. Today, that laundry can be aired to everyone.

Welcome to the Social Era.

The importance of protecting our businesses’ reputation online in order to be able to attract high quality customers is nothing new. But a new study by CareerArc, a global HR technology provider of social recruiting and outplacement services, sheds light on another significant reason—online identities are crucial for hiring and retaining top talent.

According to the report, the past five years marked the longest streak in job growth on record in the United States. With the increased opportunities, comes an increased quit rate because workers want to keep their options open. As a result, employers’ reputations are more important now than ever before.

After reading the report, which surveyed about 1,600 professionals, I want to share five key takeaways that will help you protect your brand in this new era.


  1. Don’t burn bridges. The survey found that one in three respondents who have been terminated or laid off had left one negative review of that former employer on a review site, social media, or with a personal or professional contact. Interestingly, even though Baby Boomers were almost 2.5 times more likely than Millennials to have been reported as laid off or terminated, Millennials were more likely to share negative opinions about their former employers.
  2. Manage the relationship with the people you are letting go, as well as those you are hiring. Past employees can impact your future ones. What past employees say about you online is really important to your prospective ones. Upon hearing of a job opportunity, 52 percent of job seekers search an organization’s online properties — first, like websites and social media channels — to learn more about the employer’s brand identity and company culture. Seventy-five percent of them consider the employer’s brand before even applying for a job. (Note: Facebook and LinkedIn topped the list of social media platforms job seekers would likely visit to learn more about an employer’s brand identity and company culture).
  3. Have an effective social media platform. What you say about yourself and what others say about you online leaves an impression. Ninety-one percent of professionals viewed poorly managed or unattractive websites and social media channels as damaging to an employer’s brand. Similarly, a majority reported bad online reviews on products and services along with negative remarks on employer review sites as more damaging to the company’s brand than negative opinions from people they know.
  4. Build a strong culture that motivates your people and treats them well. How you treat your employees is really important. Working professionals, across generations and employment statuses, reported that employee treatment—which includes company culture, work flexibility, health and wellness programs, etc.—was the most important factor in considering employer brand, followed by honesty and transparency. These qualities ranked above career opportunities, corporate social responsibility programs, and strong brand recognition and popularity.
  5. Manage your communication with job seekers effectively. How you treat your job seekers is important, too. Seventy-two percent of workers reported that not being notified of the status or decision made on their application leaves a negative impression of that employer. The survey found that over a third of employers admitted to never notifying applicants, even though 76 percent of employers knew it likely left a bad impression among candidates.

Despite the advent of the Social Era and the accompanying increased significance of employer brands, only 57 percent of the employers surveyed actually have an employer brand strategy. However, 93 percent, report that they plan to increase, continue, or begin investment in social media to promote employer brand within the next year. The ones that follow through will be on their way to hiring and keeping the most talented employees in the workforce.

Click here to download CareerArc’s 2015 Employer Branding Study.

Photo by: Marcie Casas


Glen Campbell – a true hero

I recently watched the CNN documentary “I’ll Be Me” about Glen Campbell, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t say enough to recommend it.

The following is an excerpt from the program’s write-up:

“Two years ago, music icon Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and told to hang up his guitar and prepare for the inevitable. Instead, Glen and his wife, Kim, went public with the diagnosis and announced that he and his family would set out on a Good Bye Tour. Even the optimists predicted the tour would only last a couple of months. Not only did Glen exceed everyone’s expectations, but what began as a six-week tour, quickly grew into a triumphant year of him playing sold out venues across America. The film documents this extraordinary journey as he and his family attempt to navigate the wildly unpredictable nature of Glen’s progressing disease by using love, laughter, and music as their medicine of choice.”

I listened to Glen’s music on occasion and always thought he was very talented. However, this documentary gave me a whole new perspective about Glen and the truly brave and generous man, husband, father and human being that he is

Glen and his family touched me to my core. I was both inspired and moved to tears by their courage to share their journey with Alzheimer’s in such an open and authentic way. I appreciate their humility to expose their most personal vulnerabilities to millions of people, and their generosity to let the world into their family’s life and history during such a difficult time. And, they did it with such heartfelt humor and class.

Sometimes we lose perspective about what is most important in our lives. We feel that the burning problem of the day is our biggest obstacle to our happiness. I am definitely guilty of this at times. This documentary is a must see. It will give you a healthy perspective about what is truly important, while inspiring and empowering you, and reminding you to count your blessings. All of these are essential to leading and living courageously.

Here is the link for the official “I’ll Be Me” movie trailer:

Let’s all have a great week!

Photo by:Jean-Baptiste Bellet