• Creative Corner: Lunch & Learns

    Creative Corner:  Lunch and Learns

    by Michelle Cummings

    A Lunch and Learn is a program is a 30-45 minute training or presentation session facilitated by an organization to employees during a lunch hour.  They can be a great way to build community, as well as foster learning and growth in your team members.  Lunch and learn programs can be an easy way to develop and motivate employees while creating a workplace of communication, collaboration and learning. The session may also cover important issues and promote an open platform of information for employees.  They can be a more casual alternative to formal training and can inspire individuals for more personal development.

    Here’s a few reasons why we love Lunch and Learns:

    It Fosters Learning and Growth

    Personal and professional development are not reserved for the ‘higher ups’ in the organization, and some companies do not have the budget to send everyone a training or conference.  Reading a book and discussing key points can go a long way for growth and development of individuals, teams and the  organization.  Lunch and learns can also create critical awareness for current or relevant issues that may arise.

    It Builds Community

    We spend a big chunk of our lives at work each week, and depending on the size of your organization, you may not know very many people from other departments.  Lunch and Learns are a great way to get to know other people that are working towards the same mission you are.  Bouncing ideas off of people you don’t usually work with can also offer new perspectives on current initiatives you may be working on.


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  • Tips for Giving Feedback That Drives Results

    As leaders in the workplace, how often to we buffer our employees from feedback? How often do we find ourselves holding back valid and useful information and giving messages that are diluted at best?

    For most leaders, the response is: too often to count.

    That’s because honest feedback is difficult — even painful — to give and to receive. It’s so much easier to shirk these uncomfortable situations by just avoiding them. Yet this takes a toll on productivity.

    This dynamic shows up in organizations of all shapes and sizes, and we’ve boiled it down to a three-prong paradigm — one we like to call the“Feedback Trifecta”.

    We discuss the Feedback Trifecta in our book, The Courageous Leader. Here’s the gist:

    In the Feedback Trifecta, the skills needed to give feedback are underdeveloped, leaders responsible for delivering the feedback lack the courage to do it, and the typical workplace environment unknowingly and sometimes knowingly promotes avoiding honest and open communication. And organizations pay for it, since avoidance merely causes problems to fester and resentment to grow. Teams and entire companies can become feedback-resistant, and will inevitably suffer.

    But it doesn’t have to be like this. As leaders, we can take control of our feedback situation and make it work for us. Listed below are a few tips for workplace leaders for giving consistent, on-point feedback:


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  • Feeling Stuck? What to do when life kicks you out.

    Sandra was content at her job. She wasn’t looking to take on a leadership role or be the CEO; she liked her comfortable and steady role in quality control. Rather than climbing the corporate ladder, she preferred to stay under the radar and was unwilling to take on more responsibility.

    Known for being exceptionally gifted in many areas of leadership, Sandra was also commended for her technical skills and attention to detail. Even though she was humble and avoided praise, she was flooded with it by her peers, her leadership and her customers.

    Because of her great performance, Sandra’s boss had asked her many times to consider taking on a more formal leadership role, but she resisted. Deep down, Sandra knew she was not content and that she was not growing, but she feared that if she took on more responsibility she would fail, and she didn’t want to let others down. It was easier if she just stayed in place.

    Eventually her boss and others stopped asking her to step up and she was left to do what she felt comfortable doing. No more, no less. Over the next couple of years, the company grew, but Sandra did not. Many around her were promoted to roles of increasing responsibility. Sandra found herself now working for others who were less competent and capable than she, and slowly she felt herself becoming resentful and restless.  

    At some point, it happens to all of us: we’re going around in circles getting nowhere. Initiatives fall flat. We fail to rise to challenges. A new position from restructuring or even promotion just doesn’t feel right. Passion is lacking, we feel purposeless and we’re waiting…waiting…for something to change.

    It’s called being stuck. (more…)

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  • The Six Interruptions of Listening

    Recently I was talking with a leader who I’ve worked with for nearly a decade. I would classify him as a friend, not just a colleague. During our conversation he provided me some feedback about how I could improve my performance. I immediately started to explain myself and some of my behaviors. (more…)

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  • Intention and Integrity

    Have you ever found yourself in a dilemma where you are caught between doing what’s right and doing what you want to do? You know those ethical dilemmas that make being a leader with integrity a very unappealing path? (more…)

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  • The Courageous Leader Program Brochure

    Are you interested in learning more about The Courageous Leader Program?

    The Courageous Leader program is a one-day, highly engaging, development program focused on helping leaders build their courage muscles. It is based on the book, The Courageous Leader. Participants who attend The Courageous Leader™ program will be challenged to think differently about the role courage plays in leadership while being provided new tools and skills to address tough situations head on.

    Download The Courageous Leader Program Brochure to learn more!

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  • Q&A with the author of The Courageous Leader

    Angela was a senior leader in various industries and then took the courageous leap to become an entrepreneur. The result: she co-founded Personify Leadership with Michelle Cummings.

    Her book, The Courageous Leader: How to Face Any Challenge and Lead Your Team to Success, builds on those many years of experience. Angela shares great client stories to show us how anyone at any level can choose to honor the courageous leader within themselves, as well as some of her own missteps and successes on the road to becoming who she is today. This is a must-read for anyone who aspires to become the type of leader others can look up to.

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  • The Creative Corner: Team DiSC Graph

    The Creative Corner:  Team DiSC Graph

    We use the Everything DiSC Workplace assessment tool in the Personify Leadership program.  We use this in our Voice and Ears modules where we teach leaders new skills in effective communication.  We love this tool and how it identifies what our behavior preferences are — and the behavior preferences of our team members as well.

    Team DiSC Graph

    Recently we visited one of our clients who has had several of their team members go through the Personify Leadership program.  We LOVED what they had done with their DiSC results when they returned to the office.  They made a wall hanging of the DiSC grid, then had team members put their pictures on the grid where they ‘dotted out’ on the assessment.  Individuals could choose to use a photo of themselves or create a cartoon Avatar that looked like them to place on the grid.

    The graph is displayed prominently in the office as a constant reminder of the learning they had in the program.  We all like to receive information differently, and that as leaders we sometimes need to change our communication style to meet the needs of others from time to time.  This graph is a wonderfully creative idea that team members can utilize for weeks and months to come.  Bravo!

    Team DiSC Graph

    Here are some things I love about this, and how you can apply this concept to your team:

    1. Anchor Tools:  

    Anchor Tools are creative ways to anchor the learning in a training back to the real world.  This organization found additional ways to extend the life of their learning beyond our two-day program.  This visual tool will anchor them back to the skills they learned in the training that will help them communicate better with one another long term. (What Anchor Tools can you use?)

    1. Public Display:

    As humans, we can only absorb so much information in a short period of time.  Memorizing the entire team’s DiSC styles would be impossible.  By displaying these results publicly, individuals can quickly check the DiSC grid to recall the style of a team member before a meeting or conversation.   (Do you have a Team Board or a visual reminder for team members to reference?)

    I hope you enjoyed this first edition of The Creative Corner!  Please let me know if you have any questions or ideas for future articles.

    ~ Michelle Cummings, CEO of Personify Leadership

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  • An Interview with Carl Larson, Creator of the Drain Model

    This month we are focusing on The Eyes of a Leader, Be a Leader Who Has a Vision for the Future.  Watch below as Michelle Cummings interviews Carl Larson about what makes teams successful and how he created the Drain Model. Dr. Carl Larson and his colleague Frank LaFasto conducted an in-depth study at The University of Denver about what makes a team successful.  For over a decade, they collected and analyzed responses from more than 6,000 team members and leaders across a variety of industries, in both public and private sectors, to find out exactly what conditions help or hinder teams in achieving their goals. The voices of these team members-often eloquent, always enlightening-are heard through the quotations that appear throughout their book, When Teams Work Best.  As a result of their findings, Larson and LaFasto created a model they call The Drain Model.  With permission, Personify Leadership uses this model in our Eyes of a Leader module:  Be a leader who has a vision for the future. (more…)

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