Powerful Questions

Four Guidelines for Showing Appreciation

showing appreciationWho doesn’t want to be appreciated?  Raise your hands!

We all like being appreciated and (with the exception of my grumpy neighbor) we all do appreciate others.  Unfortunately, we fall far short of excellence when it comes to showing our appreciation.

Recent Department of Labor statistics show that only about 17% of U.S. employees feel appreciated.  Let’s face it:  we know we should show appreciation but just don’t do it.  Whether you are leading a sales team or running a company, you need to show appreciation in a way that matters.

Appreciation programs are not the answer.  “Programs” are a dollars and cents solution to the problem and miss the point.  Appreciation is from the heart and not the wallet.

Appreciation is love written in small letters.  How will you share the love?

Be timely.  Ever heard “a day late and a dollar short?”  If you are late with your appreciation, it seems more like an afterthought than a real expression.

Be real. Look them in the eye and say it from the heart.

Be consistent.  If you are going to build a new habit, you have to be consistent and persistent in creating the change.  Anything less is a one-off that quickly gets forgotten.

Use their language.  One of the most insightful books written about how people want to hear “the love” is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  It outlines five ways to express and experience love that Chapman calls “love languages”: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.  The book has been adapted to several contexts, and there is one edition about the five languages of appreciation.

As I work with leaders, they often experience an AHA moment around appreciation and strong team building.  What will you do differently to show your appreciation to those around you?


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Weekend Love, May Sixteenth

iStock_000001055722Here are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently. This handful of links takes you to tools or insightful content. Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file if it fits the mood.

Feeling a little down?  Frank Sonnenberg offers 17 Action Steps to Take During Hard Times.

Mike Bundrant makes a strong case for not being a Polly Sunshine.  You can be positive and see alternatives.  Read The Truth Behind Positive Thinking for more insights.

Feeling Trapped in your job?  Hate that commute?  Jessica Sweet offers some Career Help for Trapped Professionals.  She has a great follow-up article in which she asks, Is Starting A New Career A Risk or An Adventure?

Top performers in every field know the importance of keeping themselves in the game.  Jon Espina makes a good case for you to Be Prepared For Your Big Break.


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Five Pitfalls to Avoid When Coaching for Change

Superhero Business Woman with computer

I used to think that that my resistance to change was a personal problem.  As soon as someone said to me, “You have to . . .” my first inclination was to do exactly the opposite.  I now feel great sympathy for my leader who patiently let me rant and provided all of the details I needed to reach “my decision.”

Change management has not gotten any easier for contemporary sales leaders.  The top people in direct sales are stuck between a company trying to move things forward and a downline with an attitude worse than mine.  I recently offered 30 Questions for Coaching Leaders through Major Change about the curious places I would come from as a coach.  If you are a direct sales leader, the question you are most concerned about is a different one:  How do I help my team move forward?

A leader-as-coach role is one of the best for supporting a team through change.  However, it’s not without its pitfalls.  As a leader, you have a stake in the outcome of coaching your downline.  You are walking a very thin line between protecting the company’s interests, your interests, and your team member’s interests.  Here are some pitfalls you can work to avoid.

Ask more than you tell.  Answers to your questions will tell you lots more than nods to your statements.

Listen more than you talk.  Let them talk.  You’ll find out what is really bothering your team member.  If they are feeling oppositional, then your talk (no matter what you say) will only make them feel more righteous in their anger.  Think back to the last time you were spitting mad.  How would you feel if someone said, “Will you stop and be reasonable?”

Don’t oversell.  Stop and think; would you be having this conversation if your downline loved the change?  The more you try to explain how good things are going to be, the more you sound like you are selling junk cars.

Every change has an upside and a downside. Your job as a leader is to help others find them both. You are in the best position when you can listen, ask questions, and let your team member decide how the changes will affect their business.

Focus on the basics.  Direct selling is always about three things:  selling, recruiting, and teaching others to do the same.  Keep your team focused on their business activities.  The rest is just stuff.

If you are a direct selling leader who has been in this situation, what advice would you give about possible pitfalls?


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30 Questions for Coaching Leaders through Major Change

coaching through change

How, as a coach, do you prepare a leader to lead change?  Leaders are change agents and one of the most important roles for a coach is to mentally prepare the leader for their role.

This question came to the forefront for me this past week.  I had many opportunities this past week to think about this question in two very different contexts.  One was a church preparing to radically alter their approach on everything from mission and vision to service opportunities.  The other was a direct sales company who were in the process of revising their compensation and incentive plans.

Here are some of the questions that went through my mind this past week.  As you prepare to coach leaders to lead change, be curious about the possibilities that you’ll hear.

  1. How does the change strengthen your core values?
  2. How does the change enhance your mission and vision?
  3. What’s going to stay the same?
  4. How will you keep everyone focused on the most important things?
  5. How is your “why” affected?
  6. How do the changes affect the individual “whys” of people on the team?
  7. How do you want to be seen?
  8. What role are you most comfortable playing?
  9. Five years from now, how do you want to remember this time?
  10. Five years from now, how do you want to be remembered?
  11. What is your team expecting from you?
  12. How can you make your team comfortable with the changes?
  13. Who will embrace them?
  14. Who will hold back?
  15. Who will want to make stronger implementation plans?
  16. Who will know the pulse of the team?
  17. Who do you want to know the changes before you announce them?
  18. Who do you want to talk with right after the announcement?
  19. What resources do you need to prepare for the transition?
  20. How will you know your transition is successful?
  21. When will you know the transition is successful?
  22. How will you keep your team focused on important matters?
  23. How will you minimize the tyranny of the trivial?
  24. Who has to vent?
  25. How will you stay strong?
  26. How will you resist tweaking?
  27. How will you evaluate things as they progress?
  28. Twenty years from now, how important will this seem?
  29. Who in your life only cares about how you are doing during this change?
  30. What have you done in the past to prepare for this moment?

While I never got a chance to ask most of these questions, they were a great preparation tool for me. My preparation allowed me to stay centered as emotions got high and intellects went down.

How will you prepare to coach a client through major changes?

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Weekend Love, April Twenty-fifth

iStock_000034498990Here are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  This handful of links takes you to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

If you were working too hard on April 22 to celebrate Earth Day, then I hope you feel guilty enough to watch a video or two from Ted Talks to help you celebrate this weekend.

Essential Oils are one of the hot new products in direct sales.  Mark Sisson shares some research about the truth of the claims in his well-researched article on Essential Oils: Separating Fact from Fiction.

Gallup Management recently reported that Only 35% of U.S. Managers Are Engaged in Their Jobs.  The good news that if the manager is engaged, so is the team.  You can reach some easy conclusions about your work as well.

You need to sit down with a cup of coffee and read this article from Frank Sonnenberg like a fresh cup of fine roast.  He writes about Now or Never but it doesn’t mean quite what you think it does.

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iStock_000000515657We are always off the mark when it comes to describing our strengths and weaknesses.  Our built-in-bias makes us overemphasize our good points and minimize our bad ones.  For example, 90% of us think we will go to heaven when we die.  Yet at the same time, we think that only about a third of our neighbors will make that journey.  Our halo also keeps us from seeing ourselves as others see us.

That halo also prevents us from being as effective as we could.  In our mind, we see ourselves creating the positive results and blaming others for the negative ones.

True self-understanding can’t happen in a vacuum.  Without outside touch points, nothing keeps our bias in check.  Our blind spots stay blind.

Whom do you have to keep you honest?  To keep you accountable?  Here are three quick guidelines to get started with one.

First, don’t pick the person because they make you feel good.  Pick your partner because they will help you see yourself as others see you.

Second, pick the person who will ask questions and let you talk.  When you ask, “What do you think?” you want them to say back, “you first.”

Third, pick someone who is available.  You want to talk with this person every week or two.  You want to discuss

  • what’s gone right
  • what’s gone wrong
  • your role in it all
  • what you want to do about it moving forward.

Stepping away from your halo is not difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  We have to learn honesty about ourselves.

What will you do this week to find some clues?

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The Mysterious Question

Coaches ask questionsDescribing the difference between truly asking a question and really making a statement is a difficult task.

Grammatically, it is a punctuation mark.

Vocally, our voice rises at the end of a question and lowers at the end of a statement.

The words don’t even have to be different.  “What now?” has the same words as “Now what!” but isn’t close on meaning.

Mentally, the differences are bigger than Texas.

  • A question comes from curiosity. A statement says, “I know.”
  • A question is an invitation to dance. A statement is a command performance.
  • You never know what the answer will be when you truly ask a question. There are no unknowns with a statement.
  • Questions provoke thinking. Statements may not even produce a reply. You’ll never hear an A-HA moment if you only tell.
  • The more open the question, the more thought is generated. Think about “What do you want this month?” versus “How will you hit your sales quota?”

Coaches ask questions.  They want to hear your truth.  Mentors ask questions with a twist.  They want you to learn the subtle answer they know.  Trainers ask questions to help you pass the test.

Think about leading your team.  Now think about difference among these:

  • What do you expect in your business this month?
  • What’s your goal this month?
  • How many recruits will you have this month?
  • How much of our team goal will you produce?

Leaders ask coaching, mentoring, and training questions.  The hardest part for a leader is not the question, but the framework the leader brings to the question.  If you can’t find the differences, then maybe you want to ask yourself some questions.

  • What type of a leader am I now?
  • Am I the leader I want to be for this person?
  • How do I change my role?

We often fall into our answers through experience.

  • What if you decided to be deliberate rather than letting your past control your question?
  • What do you need to know you don’t know now?
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Weekend Love, April Eighteenth

In your headHere are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  This handful of links takes you  to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

I saw an old bumper sticker the other day that said, “I just do what the voices in my head tell me.”  Peter Bregman thinks we need to manage those conversations more when he writes about Managing the Critical Voices Inside Your Head.

Stephen Covey referred to the last of the seven habits as “sharpening the saw.” Dan Rockwell has some great ideas along the same vein that he writes about in 12 Refueling Strategies That Work Today.

Pope Francis addressed the leaders of the Catholic Church before the holidays last year about the diseases of leadership.  Gary Hamel translates this into English business-speak.  We all need a check-up against The 15 Diseases of Leadership, According to Pope Francis.

From the archives:  What is it about 4:00 am?  Poet Rives shares his thoughts.  His 10 minute TED talk will give you some thoughts for your next visit to that time.

Click here if the video isn’t showing in your browser: http://www.ted.com/talks/rives_on_4_a_m#t-13119



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Waking Up Your Good Life

Wake Up Your Good LifeAt the point in my life when I was leaving direct sales and starting my career as a coach and trainer, my partner and I made the decision that we needed to step up our name recognition and hit the trail to do local training workshops.  During one period, we were doing two a day (in different locations) and in one stretch did 18 workshops in 14 days.  I don’t recommend this as a way to get recognized in your business but I learned a valuable lesson.  Somewhere in the middle of that phase, I had very little joy in my life.

I was so caught up in the JOB and the urgency of getting to the next place that I lost track of the little day-to-day things that I do to keep life satisfying.  I had dropped all of those pieces out.  I was settling for what I was getting that day.  I swear that if I had to keep the road trip up for much longer I would have quit.  I could only keep going because I could count down the days until it was over.  That’s when I developed my list of 100 Things I Love To Do. You can click on the link or download a blank copy here.

This is not a bucket list!  A bucket list is a wish list of things you want to do once before you kick the bucket.  This is a list of things you want to do again and again.  They don’t have to cost money.  They do demand your time.  For example:

  • Taking time to do the Sudoku with your first coffee of the day.
  • Reading a pulp magazine with lunch.
  • Luncheon date with your significant other.
  • Looking at real estate listings.
  • Clearing your mind, sitting with your eyes shut and counting to twenty without letting your thoughts drift.
  • Turning on a ballgame to play in the background as white noise.
  • Meandering around your block.
  • Updating my 100 Things I Love To Do

The items on your list don’t have to cost money.  They don’t even have to take a lot of time.  Your list is an opportunity to take control of a few minutes of your life and do something that is just for you.  You are taking the time to realize you have a choice in every single moment.

When I’ve challenged my coaching clients to create their list, the results are often interesting.  No two lists are ever alike.  And one person’s pleasure can easily be another’s “yuck.”   Most can get 15-20 items without any difficulty.  Very few ever get the assignment done in less than two weeks.

Are you up for the challenge?  When is the last time you made a list like this?

FREE OFFER:  If you complete your list and send it to me, I will give you two free 30 minute coaching sessions to Wake Up Your Good Life.  Simply download the form, complete it, and email it back (my contact information is on the form).  I’ll be in touch.

What will you do today to Wake Up Your Good Life?

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Weekend Love, April Eleventh

Link love 4-11Here are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  This handful of links takes you  to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

This is a story about how life sucks but the story is still going.  It’s uplifting, honest.

Dan Rockwell writes about what to do If You Can’t Be With The One You Love.  He suggests a great course of action.  I’m doing this.  I think every leader should.

Maybe I’m more tuned to articles on time management since I’m doing a series on it right now through Team Connections.  Anyway, here are nine tips on work-life balance from Linked2Leadership.

I found a blog post about sales on a coaching site.  awesomesauce!  Tony Alessandra writes about Matching Your DiSC Selling Style to the Client’s DiSC Buying Style.

From the archives:  Barry Schwartz digs into a common meme for Western society: more freedom of choice is better. For psychologist Schwartz, choice has paralyzed us and made us less happy.

Click this link if the video isn’t showing: https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice?

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