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5 Important Communication Strategies for Leaders (The 5S)

5 Important Communication Strategies for Leaders (The 5S)

They often say that “communication is key”, but what we don’t realize is how key communication truly is for a leader. 

In fact, according to this article, effective team communication, and the steps that lead to it, help businesses retain their top talent. This employee retention increases 4.5 times, compared to businesses that lack effective communication in the workplace.

Whether you want to get better at communicating within your organization and to your employees, or maybe even with vendors or partners, there are many things that you as a leader can do to improve your communication. As always, it’s very important that you use strategies that have proven to be successful on a global scale, no matter how big or small the company or the group of people that you are leading.

In this blog post, I am going to go over 5 important communication strategies for leaders (also known as the 5S of communication) that you as a leader can implement into your own leadership practice. If this is something that is of interest to you, then keep on reading! 

The 5S of Communication for Leadership

Style: Understand The Different Communication Styles That Exist (Yours + Your Employee’s)

The first “S” of this particular communication strategy that you can implement in your life as a leader is Style. Understanding which style of communication that we fall under can help us more effectively communicate to not only employees but our peers as well. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, detail-oriented or results-oriented, there are different styles in which your personality interprets communication.  Not one style over another is better or worse, but understanding where your strengths and weaknesses lay can drastically improve the effectiveness of your communication as a leader. If you want to learn more about the style of your personality traits, click here to take a free assessment. To take it a step further, it is also recommended that you learn the communication styles of your employees and others that you lead. If you’d like to take a deep dive into your communication style and that of your employees, reach out, we are glad to help. 

State: Understand What State You’re In + The State of Others

The second “S” of this communication strategy that you need to understand is State. This refers not only to understanding what state we are in as leaders but understanding the state others are in as well. Our communication can be negatively impacted based on how well our current state is and often is described as physical, emotional, and mental. Some examples of states that can alter our communication include:

  • If we are currently extremely stressed
  • If we are not eating nutritiously or are not on a healthy diet 
  • If we are not getting enough sleep
  • If we are carrying a heavy emotional burden 

All of the scenarios above can result in negatively impacting our mental, emotional and physical state, which ultimately hurts our communication. This is why I recommended using meditation or mindfulness techniques to help better understand and manage our internal state.

Situation: Understand The Situation You’re In + The Situation of Others

Understanding the Situation is my third communication strategy for leaders. In essence, this idea revolves around preparing beforehand on who is the person (or people) in front of us and what are some questions we would like to ask about the situation.  You can learn more about how to prepare before conversations from a book I recommend called Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. Doing your research before a conversation can go a really long way in making sure that the conversations you have are effective, thorough and well thought out. This is especially important for us as leaders since oftentimes we use communication to help establish business relationships that are beneficial to the quadruple bottom-line of our business.

Scope: Understand The Scope of What Is + What Isn’t In Your Leadership Control

The fourth strategy that we are going to go over in order to help us better understand communication within leadership, is Scope.  By scope, we are referring to what is and what isn’t in our control. In other words, in some situations, we know what we can do and in other situations, we understand that some things may be outside of our scope. When we not only understand but accept what we can do or what we can control, it helps our stress, anxiety, and mental health.  This also directly ties into the second S, State. This is due to the fact we now understand that one cannot control or do everything. Therefore, stress and anxiety around this thought may no longer be as frequent or severe.

Stance: Understand Your Stance as a Leader on Certain Topics

Last but certainly not least, we have Stance. Everybody, not only leaders, has opinions on topics. The critical part of stance as a leader is going into a conversation with clarity around what your opinion or objective of the conversation is going to be. Having a stance can help a conversation in two areas. Firstly, your stance helps direct a conversation or meeting in a direction that works best for everybody. Secondly, your stance can help improve the brevity of the conversation. This can be helpful to find the objective in a busy environment. Setting up a concise plan or agenda can help you as the leader and your peers or employees get on the same page.

If you would like a more in-depth guide about these 5 communication strategies for leaders, you can watch my video on the topic here

You can also learn about strategies you can implement to create long-term professional and personal change from my book CHANGES. Grab the FREE Changes Playbook here.

As usual, schedule a time to connect if you have any questions.

Be well,

Michael

Resources:

Learn more about Arc Integrated:

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How Leadership Skills Can Influence The Values of an Organization

As you may know, leaders have an outstanding impact on organizational culture. Many leaders don’t even realize how much of an influence they have. They are responsible for efficiently guiding organizational goals and achievement, while also ensuring that their team is utilizing their skills to produce the desired productivity level. Leadership should be happening at all levels, and it’s necessary to establish that management is well equipped with leadership skills. 

Effective leadership can influence your organization’s values by demonstrating an ideal attitude in the workplace, modeling behaviors, establishing vision among the employees, reinforcing accountability, the list goes on and on.  

Here’s how leadership skills can influence the value of your organization: 

Model Behaviors

Leaders have to be able to walk the talk and lead by example. Remember, your team is looking up to you to take the lead and display and communicate your expectations, and they especially look to you when there’s change.  The values that truly exist in an organization’s culture, are the ones that are being modeled by those within the organization.  

Establishing Purpose, Vision, and Goals Among The Employees

People like to know exactly what is expected from them. They like clarity, especially when it comes to their roles and expectations. So, it’s super important to communicate with your employees on what your organization’s purpose is, its brand and image guidelines, the direction of the company and even what specific level of productivity is required of them at your organization. Your leadership style and the way you communicate this to your employees can have a huge impact on the perspective of your organization’s values among your employees. 

Setting Expectations and Helping Your Employees Grow

Most people have goals to improve their professional skills and make a difference. In order to do this, leaders must provide them with the tools, resources, and opportunities that allow them to grow and build confidence in their ability to meet the expectation that is set out at your organization. A great way to establish this level of communication between you and your employees is to encourage and support them to set personal development goals each year within your organization. This will allow your employees to challenge themselves and become a better version of themselves with your help and it will positively impact your organization as well.

Reinforce a Culture of Accountability 

Accountability is one of the most important ways for leaders to influence culture. When leaders hold people accountable, it helps people understand and learn that they are accountable for the things they do. Without accountability measures in place, a leader will not be able to influence the team. Accountability also creates more choices for all those involved.  It provides clear direction which then allows for more autonomy, typically resulting in higher performance and greater engagement. 

Making accountability a part of your culture begins with having detailed job descriptions with clearly established measures, so people are clear on what success looks like. This will help them get a clear understanding of their expectations and their deliverables and they will know that their reviews are going to be based on those agreed criteria. It is very important to be transparent when building a culture of accountability.

Make It Personal For Your Team

So after modeling desired behaviors, establishing a clear purpose, and holding people accountable, you still have to make more emphasis on culture and performance if you want to make it personal. Establishing the desired culture, as well as navigating any kind of change will become more challenging unless you connect with them emotionally and rationally.

This simply means understanding what personally motivates them, making sure to give them the opportunity to develop new skills, and working to create a work environment that not only works for the organization but also works for them. 

Remember whenever you are making a change, even if it’s a small one, you are influencing and changing organizational culture. Always remember the influence you have as a leader and that culture is always fluid. 

Resources:

Learn more about Arc Integrated:

Watch The Video Version of This Article:

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The Risks of Stalling Communication

The Risks of Stalling Communication | Arc Integrated

Communication is a core part of any human experience and a big part of emotional intelligence, yet it’s something we all struggle with. Regardless of the amount of technology available to us to help us communicate, under-communication is still a constant challenge for many at work.

Stalling communication can prevent employees from reaching their full potential, and it can be harmful to your business. Effective communication skills, strategies, and tools in a work environment can optimize performance, boost morale, and help your team stay competitive.

In order for a business to thrive in success, a solid communication system and good relationships are needed. If you feel your team does not have that, you will face many risks. In this blog post, I’m going to share a few risks of stalling communication with your team.

Risk # 1 – Your Employees Will Resign

Recent studies have shown that 80% of the U.S workforce reported stress due to poor communication and that 63% have considered quitting due to poor communication. Not only that, but that number has doubled since the previous year, and if leaders aren’t making effective changes, that number will only increase.

The Gallup’s State of the American Workplace reports that 90% of employees said good communication is key to a positive working environment. That means that employees value good communication more than ideal pay and are less likely to quit if their workplace was more effective at communication. Many even consider great communication as an employee benefit.

So if you don’t have great communication in your workplace, or if you’re not providing your team with effective communication, you are putting yourself at risk of losing your team.

Risk # 2 – It Creates Unnecessary Stress in The Workplace

High levels of stress in the workplace are a big sign that there are communication issues. The same study mentioned earlier says 70% of employees feel overwhelmed because of broken communication. Stalling communication can create the feeling that every task is urgent, causing you and your team to feel rushed, overwhelmed, overworked, and mentally drained. This is why communication is essential, it can bring a sense of stability and structure and dismiss any workplace tension.

Especially since many of us are working from home, stalling communication will only create a stressful work (and home!) environment for everyone. Your team will feel worn out, impacting their spouse or parents and it has the potential of affecting their entire day. Sometimes employees may feel guilty for carrying the stress and negativity with them as they interact with others. Remember, stress stays with you as you go on with your day, and it becomes a challenge to be productive.

“Communication is the real work of leadership.” – Nitin Nohria

Risk # 3 – It Leads to Unmet Needs and Expectations

Employees enjoy working in environments where they can build relationships with their colleagues and share their ideas and perspectives openly. Creating an environment where your teams feel comfortable and they can communicate with others is essential for them. If you’re not making that environment for your team, they won’t effectively perform their jobs.
Stalling communication can cause many unmet expectations. Teams will miss deadlines, appointments, and overall, people won’t know their roles and won’t know how to prioritize their tasks. When employees have trouble figuring out their priorities, they choose the wrong task and disappoint their superiors.
This can lower morale and their motivation to perform well, causing them to create a less productive workflow. It will also impact their ability to meet deadlines and deliver projects that can jeopardize your business’s reputation.

Risk # 4 – It Creates Tension and Relationship Breakdowns

When there is a lack of communication and people don’t know what is going on, rumors and gossip will begin. This kind of drama is like cancer to any team, organization, or business. It is human nature to try to figure out unanswered questions and fill in any blanks we see. Stalling communication can leave many gaps that your team will attempt to fill with speculation.

Rumors and gossip can easily create tension and resentment as they stem from fear and sensitivities. It will affect how your team interacts with one another; any positive relationships might start to feel strained. They might think they can’t ask for guidance or feel comfortable sharing their ideas and perspectives.

Sometimes they might feel a sense of uncertainty about seeking assistance to solve the conflict; they might fear it will affect their job security. It is very common to feel a sense of insecurity or lack of fulfillment in completing your tasks. These negative emotions can slow down productivity and morale in the workplace. Remember, lack of communication ruins everything because instead of knowing how the other person feels, we assume. The best way to keep assumptions and suspicions at bay is to improve communication.

Being a good leader means you can notice these things within your team. You can avoid these risks I’ve mentioned by breaking down any communication barriers. Try to find the root cause for stalling communication. Consider these questions as a place to start:

  • Are you not being transparent with your team?
  • Is the absence of a team member creating a distraction amongst everyone?
  • Is there gossip that is undermining company culture, creating hurt feelings, starting arguments, or portraying people in a negative light?
  • Do the people you are leading feel comfortable working together?
  • Is there any sense that people feel hesitant to come forward with their ideas, challenges, or opportunities?

As a leader, it is your responsibility to be aware that employees have different communication styles and preferences. Some feel comfortable using emails to communicate on projects, while others prefer more face-to-face interaction.

Having effective communication with your team is a skill a good leader should have. If you feel this is a skill you don’t have or need improvement on, then let me and my team help you. As a leadership coach, I can guide you to become more effective in recognizing conflict and communicating with others. Schedule a FREE call with me and let me help you be a better leader.

You can also learn about different strategies you can implement to create long-term changes in your personal and professional life from my book CHANGES. Grab the FREE Changes Playbook here.

Be well,

Michael

Resources:

Learn more about Arc Integrated:

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How to Improve Your Leadership Skills in the Workplace (When We’re All Working Remotely)

How to Improve Your Leadership Skills in the Workplace (When We're All Working Remotely) | Arc Integrated

Let’s face it, working remotely can be pretty great and it has its benefits. We can have a better work-life balance, healthier lifestyle, and we even get to save more money (no more transportation to the office, no office rental fees, etc)! 

But does something feel a little off? Perhaps you’re finding yourself to be less motivated every day. You may have a more laid-back attitude to everything to the point where it’s affecting your work ethic and you’re starting to struggle with managing tasks. You’re not alone. 

Recent conversations with our clients have revealed to me the negative aspect of working from home, especially as more people start to notice their at-home work life affecting their personal lives. In this blog post, I’ve outlined some tips to help you improve your leadership skills, for those who have been struggling with leading their teams remotely and for those who are just looking for some guidance on change management as they transition from managers to leaders.

Tips to Improve Your Leadership Skills 

Practice Discipline 

A good leader needs discipline, and in order to be an effective leader, it’s mandatory to practice discipline in both your professional and personal life. Leaders are often judged by their capacity to lead by the amount of discipline they display.

A good way to start practicing discipline at work is by meeting your deadlines and being punctual. Yes, even in a remote environment, it’s just as important to your productivity to be prepared and to show up on time for virtual meetings and gatherings. 

 “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments” – Jim Rohn

If you are naturally disorganized, start working on that. Begin to implement good habits like waking up early and getting daily exercise to get your body producing mitochondria. Exercising is the best form of discipline; you begin to have more control of your body and your life. So set up that alarm clock and get your body moving!

Practice Patience

Patience is such an essential skill to practice; leading effectively – especially during a crisis- takes an immense amount of patience. If you aren’t able to compose yourself during frustrating moments, you certainly won’t be able to lead others to be calm. It’s easy to become impatient with others but being a good leader requires you to support others in times of stress.

“Our patience will achieve more than our force” – Edmund Burke

Build your patience by starting to consciously recognize and predict when it will be tested. For example, if you know an obstacle is coming, you can be more mindful about increasing your efforts to stay calm. Try to recall moments where you felt a lot of pressure or had a very tight deadline and you were able to be successful. By recalling past moments and assessing strengths and wins, you will be able to leverage solutions and confidence for handling each situation better.

Improve Communication

Without frequent communication, working remotely can cause you to feel disconnected. Communication is more than just a video call or sending a quick message or an email. It’s a crucial skill for you to have, whether you’re working onsite or remotely. Strong communication skills are not only valued in the workplace but also valued in your personal life. 

You need to master the skills of effectively communicating with your team and establish tools, channels, and best practices for yourself and your team members to communicate with one another. Another equally important skill is the ability to identify causes of communication breakdowns and ways to address them. This is a great way to practice conscious leadership.

One other key question to ask in every communication exchange is this: Am I moving the conversation forward or am I stalling it?  Stay tuned for another post on the risks of stalling communication. 

Develop Situational Awareness

A leader is someone who can see the bigger picture and can predict problems before they occur. This is a skill highly valued when handling big projects with strict deadlines. The ability to forecast and offer suggestions to avoid potential issues is crucial for a leader.

To begin developing your own situational awareness as a leader, start by being mindful of your surroundings and people. It’s important to observe and notice the behavior in others; by doing so, you will increase your emotional intelligence and have a better understanding of people, and know how you can support them and respond to situations more effectively.

Inspire Others

Leaders are meant to motivate and inspire the people they work with and set examples for others to follow. Your characteristics and behavior will inspire more than you will ever know.

Be there for your team when they need you. Offer them support and encouragement and share small victories; it is something people will appreciate.  

It also doesn’t hurt to practice vulnerability and show them the ways you’re working to improve yourself. People are often inspired by the people they work with. Focus on an area where you feel needs improvement and begin working on yourself; emotional intelligence is always on.

Empathy

People often think empathy is a soft skill that can get in the way of making tough decisions or leading a team, but that can’t be farther from the truth. The ability to understand and share emotions with others is an extremely valuable skill to have.

Given the pandemic state, people are under extreme stress and anxiety, so approaching your team from a place of understanding can reduce tension and increase communication and productivity. It shows that you as a leader can understand and connect with your team and can build trust and gain respect.

Emotionally intelligent people know how to empathize with others as they understand that it is a trait that shows emotional strength, not weakness.

Leadership is not something that only happens in an office; leadership is about the culture and environment and the space that you create, not just for yourself but also for your team. Good leadership skills are essential to advancing in your career, but they also take time; the skills you are learning will not come to you easily, so remember to be patient. If you get stuck, I’ve listed some resources below to help you. Consider the option of a professional coach or mentor that can help guide you and offer support. 

You can also learn about strategies you can implement to create long-term professional and personal change from my book CHANGES. Grab the FREE Changes Playbook here.

As usual, schedule a time to connect if you have any questions.

Be well,

Michael

Resources:

Learn more about Arc Integrated:

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2019 Highlights – 2020 Preview – Arc Integrated

Arc Integrated - 2019 Highlights - 2020 Preview

Arc Integrated – 2019 Highlights – 2020 Preview

Greetings and Happy New Year!

I hope that the first few weeks of 2020 have been a success.  It was an exciting year in 2019 and there are some wonderful upcoming releases and events from Arc Integrated in 2020.

As I look back on the last year, here are some the highlights of 2019:

  • Traveled the country serving a wide variety of leaders, teams, organizations and events.
  • We continue to learn the client that we serve best. We have been doing our very best work while serving organizations and leaders that are driven to create and maintain cultures with purpose, accountability, sustainability, empathy and collaboration.
  • In May I launched my book – CHANGES: The Busy Professional’s Guide to Reducing Stress, Accomplishing Goals and Mastering Adaptability.
    • It hit best seller status in three categories!
  • I also launched the audio book a few months later.  If you’re not yet an Audible user, you can get a FREE audio version of the book here.
  • Earlier in 2019 I graduated from a 9 year martial arts program which continues to influence ways in which we train, facilitate and coach teams, leaders and organizations on how to be their very best. Stay tuned for some more posts about how martial arts influences the work we do and how some of the philosophies get incorporated.
  • There have been a number of podcast interviews done in 2019 which set the stage to do many more in 2020! These interviews have acted as massive resources for our clients. If you’d like to browse our list of interviews- https://www.arcintegrated.com/about-us/
  • Later in the year I went through a certification program called XCHANGE.  This has been the most powerful professional certification I have received in my career thus far. I’ll be doing an upcoming blog post about this approach and how we are incorporating it into our work with clients.
    • This training led to a number of work engagements, including an all employee company retreat, an executive leadership summit and a industry wide collaborative.
  • We continue to have an impact on the lives of the leaders and organizations we are honored to serve. Here’s what one of our client’s said in 2019 –

“Our Executive Leadership Team has worked closely with Michael for the past year and the results of this engagement have had a profound impact on our company. We utilize the many of the strategies that we have learned from him on a daily basis as what he has to offer is practical and implementable Individual and group coaching has helped us to improve our communication skills and function on a higher level as a leadership team.”

– Stand for Animals Executive Team

As well look ahead to 2020, here are some of the exciting things we have in store:

  • Continue to travel, internationally, serving a wide variety of organizations, leaders, teams and conferences!
  • The launch of the CHANGES CARDS. Available for order now (discounts for bulk!). Available on Amazon by end of Q1
  • Releasing my book in hard cover
  • Developing the Changes Journal.  There has been much feedback about the valuable exercises within the book.  Because of this, we’ll be releasing a book with just the exercises and places for reflection, so people can optimize their work.
  • Speaking a lot more! There are a number of events already lined up. We have been getting great feedback about the high levels of engagement and experiential nature of Michael’s events. To inquire about Michael’s availability in 2020, schedule a time to chat today!
    • See some previous speaking reels as well as testimonials here – https://www.arcintegrated.com/consultation/speaking-engagements/

What I’m most excited about are the surprises.  I am consistently in awe of how much can change, every year.  Certainly not all surprises are welcome, but I continue to learn the value of perception and how all experiences can be teachers.

Looking forward to a year full of growth, success, excitement and education.

Wishing you all the same.

With Gratitude,

Michael

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Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

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The Best Listener at Work

How to Become a Better Listener at Work | Arc Integrated

You may wonder why being a good listener at work is really valuable.  However, if you experiment with improving your workplace listening skills, you will see changes.   In the fast past, high demand jobs so many of us have, really good listening may be something of a novelty.  This may because of the ever-impending deadlines, the many distractions we have or the workplace stress.  If you commit to being the best listener at work, you may notice that some of these challenges shift.

So how might listening skills impact your work place experience?  Well, consider your experience now.  How well do you feel heard at work?  What do you notice about people how are really present with you when communicating vs. those that are anxious to move to the next “to do”?  I would imagine that when someone is really present with you that it is easier to talk to them, you may feel more connected or more at ease. What if you were that person for everyone else?  How might this impact your workplace experience if people knew that when they spoke to you, that they could count on you to really pay attention?

Particularly if you are a leader, really good listening skills go a long way.   Being able to connect, understand and communicate effectively with your employees is a crucial component of an effective leader.   According to a study in The Journal of Occupational Health, it was found that… “psychological stress reactions were lower in subordinates who worked under supervisors with high listening skill, while no statistically difference was observed among older subordinates.” 

So if we know that our listening skills have an impact on our overall work stress, it seems like a great advantage for us to actively improve these skills.  Below you’ll find three tips to improve your listening skills

1.) Offer more clarity

Repeating something back to someone in the way that you heard it will help to reduce miscommunication.  Repeating a statement also offers the opportunity for this person to add additional clarification if necessary.  This way of “active listening” ensures that this person is being understood correctly and shows them that you are paying attention.

2.) Focus

Sometimes we can get caught up in how we are going to respond to something.  Thinking of what to say next reduces our ability to listen to what someone is saying.  Attending to what someone is saying without focusing on how to respond will create stronger communication.  Remain focused on the present moment and really digesting what it is that someone is communicating. 

3.) Breath

Often times at the workplace we are moving a million miles a minute, which reduces our ability to take in information in any given moment.  Taking a few moments to breath as you speak with someone will help you to be more present and process what they are saying more effectively.  Before you speak or when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath.  This may sound trivial but can do wonders for not only stress but your ability to communicate and listen effectively. 

After you’ve had the opportunity to put these behaviors to the test, I would invite you to make a comment below.   I would suggest that in order to notice results you may have to practice one or all three for at least four times a week for three weeks.   After you’ve practiced, consider answering the following questions –

How did they work if they did at all? 

What did you learn?  

How long did you practice each new behavior?  

Best,

Michael

P.S. If you want to learn more about how to improve your listening skills at work, in order increase influence, engagement and build effective relationships, we can help.  Schedule a free consult today to see if are a fit to work together

 

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Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Corporate Training, Personal Development and Equine Therapy

Based on the title you may be thinking that these things are totally un-related, but you’re here, so thank you!  I lead a group therapy session a couple of times a week with about 10 attendees and the topic of animals and our connection to them recently came up.  We discussed different kinds of therapy approaches, like dog therapy, or equine therapy for example.  The same day I had a friend bring this topic up, which I figure is enough for me to write down some thoughts, since this is something I have experience with.   The interesting part is corporate training, personal development and equine therapy, are in fact, connected.

A few years ago I went through the process of getting certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).  This association is the international leader in equine training specifically for mental health and personal development purposes.  What this means is that they certify psychotherapists and horse professionals, to work together to facilitate different kinds of experiential learning. These experiences can be for the purposes of individual development, individual therapy, group therapy, couples therapy or corporate/group training.

So the question may be, what one thing has to do with the other?  For someone that has never seen this process unfold, it may not seem like a relevant fit.  The way horses and horse professionals can help to work through challenges with individuals or a group, is essentially through observation.  For example, a typical Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) or Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) session, consists of the facilitators (therapist and horse professional) giving the individual or group a task to accomplish with the horse.  This task could be to help move the horse through a gate, move the horse around an object or help a horse move in a direction without touching it. There are many activities/tasks that can be implemented but they are all ground activities, not requiring the participant to ride the horse.

During and after these activities both the therapist and horse professional make observations of how the person or people are engaging with the horse and each other.   What shows up here is powerful.  Just like in experiential education, when giving a group a task to accomplish together there are markers that form organically – personality styles, communication style, natural leaders/followers, conflict and/or resolution of conflict etc.  What is most interesting about the EAP/EAL process is that the horse acts as a mirror for behavior and engagement.

During my time training as an EAGALA practitioner I was astounded by how fast things came to the surface through this process.  For instance, when watching a family interact with an animal and attempt a task, it became immediately obvious what kinds of challenges the family had in their communication with each other.  In this example it was easy to see which member wanted to control and override the input from other members of the family.   This created conflict of course and made it more challenging for the family to accomplish the assigned task.  Part of the feedback came from the horse as it experienced the intensity from one individual.  Part of the feedback came from other members as they became frustrated with the challenge of the task, which the horse also reflected.  It was powerful to watch.

So how did their communication styles come up you ask?  This is the value of working through an EAP/EAL program. The response you get from a horse is authentic, immediate and not bound by the same kind of bias that people have.   In addition, the horse professional helps to make observation of behavior of the horse while the therapist observes how the person is engaging.

Horses are able to pick up on the subtleties of behavior and intention because they are sensitive prey animals.   So this means that if there is fear, anger, ease, curiosity or frustration – the horse will give feedback to these emotions/behaviors.   Because the horse is so sensitive it gives immediate clues and reactions to the behaviors and intentions of individuals and groups.  Some of these behaviors would be easily recognized while others are more subtle, which is why it is helpful to have a horse professional present. In the therapeutic context, understanding and processing behaviors and emotions can impact personal development and resolution of some of the challenges.

At this point you may be asking if this type of intervention has any credibility from research. The answer is yes, it absolutely does.   For example, one study found that well-being and reduction in psychological distress immediately improved after EAP and held stable after six months.   For a more detailed look at research as it compares to traditional therapy approaches, consider this article that acts an overview and comparison.

So how does this therapeutic approach have anything to do with corporate training or leadership?  This is where EAL enters the picture.  EAL differs from EAP in that EAL focuses more on education and learning rather than a therapeutic approach of resolving mental health issues or challenges.

In an EAL setting valuable skills can be obtained that would certainly impact the effectiveness of an organization.  For example, often times EAL is done with teams on an organization in order to improve communication skills, leadership or team building.  This process is still facilitated by a mental health professional and horse professional, but the intention is different.

In an EAL session with a team of professionals for instance, a simple task will be given to the team to accomplish with the horse.  This task results in emerging behaviors and communication styles that will then be valuable for the team to later process.  For instance, within a given task there may be leaders that emerge, communication that happens (or doesn’t), response style of collaboration or anger. In addition, there may be partnerships that naturally form on the team that previously did not exist or resentments that manifest that perhaps hadn’t previously.

The same question may emerge regarding efficacy of this particular kind of experiential education.  One of the more interesting pieces of research on EAL has to do with Emotional Intelligence, a current point of focus in many leadership and team building approaches.   This research is a great review of the field of EAL as well as Emotional Intelligence. The research found positive results for EAL as an intervention for improving Emotional Intelligence.

So, as we’ve seen, horses, therapy and leadership are in fact related!  For more information about EAL and EAP, I recommend visiting the EAGALA website – http://www.eagala.org/.  For more information on Emotional Intelligence as it relates to leadership, consider this article by Daniel Goleman.   If you are interested learning more about this topic or discussing a potential workshop to build team or leadership skills, please contact us!

Keep Learning,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

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Maintain Change Through Coaching

 

 

Maintain Change Through Coaching

Maintain Change Through Coaching

I was thinking recently about my own personal philosophy about how to really maintain change when searching for it, as well as how I bring this philosophy into my coaching practice.  As with most things I do, I take a holistic approach, which is the same for my coaching philosophy.   The following ideas can be taken as a guide to maintain change through coaching as well as a guide to understand how I work as a coach.

When working towards change, particularly when it comes to personal development, it is important to see all the aspects that may be helping or hurting progress.  We are complicated creatures.  Working towards the best version of ourselves is not just about thinking in a different way or practicing good habits (although these are pieces of the puzzle).

True change comes from evaluating all the aspects of our human experience.  When we look through all of our different lenses, we have the greatest likelihood for success.  We need to explore how we think, feel, act, take care of ourselves, strengths we have as well what/who we surround ourselves with.

As a helpful reminder for you, I’ve created a way to remember how you can check to see if you are evaluating the different parts of yourself and what may be helping or hurting your progress.  Consider the acronym CHANGE –

C – Cognition

H – Heart

A – Action

N – Nourishment

G – Greatness

E – Environment

Each part of this acronym has some important components to consider –


 

Cognition – The way we think.  Do you analyze, make decisions quickly, not quickly enough, make strong judgments, think poorly of yourself or too highly perhaps?  Both the way we think and what we focus on may be impacting our ability to change.

Heart – How we feel.  Our emotions play a big part in our ability to be successful.  If we can remain confident, happy, grateful, curious and positive then we may have a greater chance to work towards change.  If we are negative, depressed, sad, angry, overly reactive or closed off from our emotions we may have a harder time moving towards the change we are working on.  How we feel can also be related to our relationships and how they impact our ability to change.

Action – Habits and routines play a big role in our ability to change.  Thinking and feeling are important but it is the actions that we take that impact how our feelings and thoughts change.   Our action or inaction can play a big role in our ability to push things forward towards our desired outcome.

Nourishment – How we take care of ourselves.  It is not news that the way we eat, how much we exercise, and our general lifestyle all impact multiple facets of our lives.  This is the same for any change we are after. How we treat our body impacts our motivation, energy, creativity, strength and focus.  Considering how we are nourishing ourselves is important.

Greatness – What are your strengths, purpose, and passion? This is what makes up your greatness.  Exploring what is great about you not only leads to creating better leadership but also fulfillment, higher energy, better coping methods and a happier lifestyle.

Environment – What we surround ourselves with. I believe it was Jim Rohn who originally quoted – “We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.” This is a powerful quote and I believe it to be relevant.  When it comes to our own development, our environment goes beyond the people we are around.  Our environment could be our family, work, our city, community, or how our house looks and feels.   For example, if you know you function at a higher level when things are organized then keeping your house clean and in order may be an important factor in your own development.


All of these factors within the CHANGE acronym are important to explore during coaching.  When I work with clients this is part of the process I take them through.  My belief is that unless we focus on all of the potential areas that may be influencing our ability to make a change then we are leaving opportunity on the table.

It is also important to remember that any change one may be working towards takes time.  Remember that there is a particular pace that change takes. Be kind to yourself along the way.

Enjoy the journey,

Michael

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Purpose, Passion and Leadership

 

Purpose Passion and Leadership

Purpose Passion and Leadership

I was recently with a client and we were discussing coping methods.  Coping methods are ways to deal with challenges that we face as well as ways we can help to reduce troublesome symptoms we are dealing with. There are many traditional coping strategies – breathing techniques, exercise, meditation, walking, art, distraction methods, spending time with others etc.  Some of these techniques work well for some people while other techniques just don’t seem to fit.   In my experience, the ultimate coping method is always the one that is most in line with the individual.  This means that for a coping strategy to be most effective it has to connect with the person’s passion or purpose.  What I want to address today is how passion and purpose is connected to leadership.

So what do mental health coping methods have to do with leadership?  More than you think.  Leadership is in the midst of a shift.  This is mostly well known, however, old ways of leading still seem to be prevalent within some organizations.  What we are finding through research and effective training programs is that true leadership comes from inspiration, not from authoritarian demands or unapproachable hierarchy that pushes work downstream without consideration of how it impacts others.  True leaders are followed by those that are happy to be working for them because they feel inspired to do so.  Effective leaders build the next generation of leaders within any system and work in a way that is fueled by purpose and resonance with the mission at hand.

According to research by the Center for Creative Leadership, survey results show that 84% of respondents in organizations see leadership changing in the last 10 years.  The focus is shifting from an individual outcomes perspective to that of collaboration, teamwork and longer term objectives.

Another article by HR Magazine emphasizes that leadership is shifting towards less hierarchy and more inclusiveness and understanding of the needs of others.  To build an inclusive environment, one needs to lead through effective listening, empathy and to be leading through inspiration rather than demand.

Even in some environments where leadership may looked at as a harsher more demand oriented situation, this is not always the case.  For example, I was recently listening to one of Tim Ferriss’s podcast interviews where he interviewed General Stan McChrystal about his experience in the military.   One of the questions was  regarding what was one of General McChrystal’s pet peeves about how military life is depicted in the media.  His answer was great!  General McChrystal went on to discuss how even though he knew the stereotypical “hard” leaders in the military, that were cold, demanding and difficult to approach, this type of leader was less common.   He went on to report that the most effective leaders, and the majority, led by inspiring their teams and those they were leading.

So the question remains what do coping methods have to do with leadership?  Stick with me, we are on the way.   Since we know that the most effective leadership methods have to do with inspiring and engaging others rather than cold, hard demands, then the first question is this –

How do we build leaders that inspire?

One answer to this is found in the search for finding ones ideal coping method.   To be able to lead through inspiration means leaders have to understand what inspires them.  Being inspirational is achieved through truly knowing your own passion and purpose and then pursuing it.  Through creating congruence between what we value and how it is being expressed, we can explore our passion and purpose.  The days of “do what I say not what I do” are fading away.  Understanding what we are passionate about not only gives us an opportunity to be better leaders but also helps us to cope with stress and challenges more effectively.  If we combine our contagious passion with our ability to self-regulate, people will be truly inspired.

Finding ones passion and purpose may be complicated.  We may have some passions that are present in our professional lives and some that are more active in our non-work life.  For instance, an organizational leader may have a passion for sales in the work world but also have a passion for lifting weights in his non-work life.  This person may also know that they function at a higher level when they are actively pursuing both passions, in a sales role at work while using weight lifting as their non-work passion.  This example of weight lifting may be this person’s coping strategy in dealing with work stress, conflict or anxiety.  This person’s pursuit of this coping method not only impacts their ability to function outside of work, but makes them happier and more productive while in their work role.

Understanding what we are passionate about in and outside of work is important – and certainly impactful in both directions.   Focusing on our strengths and where we exceed, in addition to tapping into what helps us stay balanced, will create a great expression of our passion and purpose, and allow us to become true leaders.

I’ll leave you with these questions below –

What is your passion or purpose?

How did you discover it?

How do you actively pursue it?

Best,

Michael