The Power of Thinking…

Thinking

One of the biggest challenges I often come across is making changes stick.  After training and during a coaching programme, people are usually engaged and full of enthusiasm. They set and achieve their desired goals, but what happens in the long term when the changes just don’t stick?  

Recently, I was involved in quite a heated discussion between a sales manager, business owner (Managing Director) and one of the senior sales team about this very subject. While the general feeling was that the sales team had “all they needed”, there was still some resistance to change. Of course, everybody had their own opinion and assumptions about why this was. 

To find answers to this question, I was keen to get some insights from a leading transformational coach.  One of my favourite coaches is a lady called Geraldine Locke, who combines her role as Operations Director at Consalia with providing management development coaching solutions for small businesses and individuals.  I asked Geraldine if she could give any advice about making changes stick. 

Geraldine was very open and keen to share her insights and experience; first of all she recommended I read a book by Nancy Kline – A Time to Think.  Geraldine explained that the key to ultimately making changes that stick is to create a thinking environment that will challenge our assumptions we make about ourselves. We must also listen, think and question – without assumption.  She also recommended reading an article published in the Harvard Review by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey called The real reason people won’t change. 

Geraldine kindly lent me a copy of A Time to Think and a few things resonated with me. First of all, growing up I realised that often I was not encouraged to really “think”, to solve a problem. I remember at school learning my times tables “parrot fashion”. Nothing wrong with that – except that now I don’t remember all of them, especially the 8s and 9s. But I do remember how to work out percentages (that still requires a bit of thought) and as I grew into a young adult in my first job being told “You are not being paid to think”. 

As I read the book, I realised there have been times that limiting assumptions have held me back. However, some of my best accomplishments had been through careful thought and consideration; perhaps Nancy Kline was on to something.  

I also realised that we all have a creative side to our personalities and this can be harnessed through thought and reflection, but the challenge is to create a thinking environment and be open to the process.  As Nancy Kline says in her book: “A thinking environment is a way of being in the world”. She also says that: “by mastering the theory and skill of a thinking environment, people do enrich their work, their life and their relationships, produce better ideas in less time with better business outcomes”. 

So, back to the heated discussion between the sales director, Managing Director and head of sales.  I took time to reflect upon their business issues, personalities, how they are going to achieve their desired goals, focused around sales sustainability and growth, and how they are going to make these changes stick.  My suggestion is that we implement a “thinking environment”, so they can feel good about themselves, feel valued, unleash their considerable talent, work together as a team and live their best selves. 

I’ll let you know how we get on.

Connect via email blondell@perfect-fossicking.com or give me a call 07525 018074

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How knowing your strengths can be a powerful tool

Strength ProfileOver the years, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Catherine Dudmesh, a Director of The Leader’s Forum. They specialise in providing leadership solutions that challenge, inspire and engage us to be the very best. Their approach focuses on positive centered philosophy that drives excellence in leadership throughout an organisation.

One of the tools they champion is a strengths tool that provides measurement of an individual’s strengths and the extent to which these are productively applied at work.

I was very interested to know about the benefits of this strength test, so I took some time out to complete my own strength assessment and the results were revealing, if not surprising.

The online test took about 40 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time. The questions were quite thought provoking and a bit of a challenge. I was asked to complete these as honestly as I could.

The results are broken down into 24 strengths within four clusters: Emotional; Relational; Thinking and Execution. Strengths are defined as those areas that energise or strengthen me. The report identified my top seven strengths.

Here is what I found:

Emotional: I was pleased to see that enthusiasm and optimism were my two highest strengths, with courage being my weakest.

Relational: my strengths were developing others, collaboration and persuasiveness, such a relief for me as a sales coach.

Thinking: creativity and common sense were my highest. However, Catherine explained although none these formed part of my core strengths. Over time you learn to become competent at certain tasks for example, finance and administration, things I do, but as these are not my strongest areas they are likely to take longer and I may put them off – they de-energise me.

Execution: I scored high with self-improvement, my lowest score being results focused. Not a good endorsement for a sales professional. However, I am not a champion of results at any cost, something I’ve realised since becoming self-employed.

So what does all this mean and how can we all benefit from playing to our strengths?

I think that knowing your strengths can really support, energise and enable you to become more positive centered. If you are often in a situation where your core strengths are being used, the benefits will include being more motivated, work better in a team environment, build confidence and reduce your stress at work, which ultimately will have a positive effect on your health and well being.

Most importantly, knowing your core strength enables you to focus on the areas that you are good at, rather than dwelling on areas of perceived weakness.

This test enabled me to realise that although I am full of enthusiasm, some people may find that to be a bit forceful or come across as over confident or even arrogant, which is not my intention. Using my emotional intelligence, I can learn to moderate or “turn down the volume” on these strengths in certain situations or with certain people. Tasks that are not my strongest (administration and finance) are better out sourced to people who revel and excel in detail and analytics. If I am facing a challenge or an opportunity, I am most likely to succeed if I draw on my strengths as this is where I am firing on all cylinders.

Overall, my seven core strengths are; Collaboration, Developing Others, Enthusiasm, Leading, Optimism, Persuasiveness and Self-Improvement, I am looking forward to playing to my core strengths.

If you want to find out more about your strengths, below are some books and links which you may find useful;

Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others (Strengthening the World Series) – Alex Linley

Gallop has a comprehensive strengths test on their website http://goo.gl/LJ3RLn

The strengths report I completed was Strengthscope http://www.strengthscope.com

This is an interesting article published by the Harvard Business Review, How to play to your Strengths – a worthwhile read http://goo.gl/JsWdaA

Feel free to get in touch, I always provide a free initial consultation. Connect via email blondell@perfect-fossicking.com