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5 Ways Vulnerability Can Be Your Undeniable Asset

[nectar_dropcap color=”#2d8d9b”]I [/nectar_dropcap] did something very out of character for me one day last week. In fact, it was something I don’t think I’ve ever done in a 30+ year career in the workforce – I admitted to my manager that I simply just didn’t have it that day. My mental gas tank had gone dry.

A confluence of internal and external pressures created a perfect storm of mental chaos. Sleep deprived, overextended, and trying to keep up with my self-inflicted unmanageable schedule led to elevated-stress levels that pushed me over the edge. My will to conquer the world was put on hold – even if just for one day.

It was something I’ve never done in a 30+ year career—I admitted to my manager that I didn’t have it that day.

It felt really uncomfortable admitting to being mentally compromised, especially to my manager. For years I’ve been taught (programmed?) to always put my best face forward when in the presence of leadership. I felt vulnerable and exposed. The truth is, on this given day, I simply needed a break.

Strangely, admitting to my predicament was also invigorating. I could feel the tightness in each one of my body’s 700+ muscles began to relax. The internal pressures I put on myself instantly began to subside. In just a matter of moments, a glimmer of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel began to appear.

Doing something completely out of character was both uncomfortable and energizing at the same time. The simple act of admitting my vulnerability not only expanded my comfort zone, it helped start the recovery process. It made me realize that it’s perfectly ok to not be on my game 100% of the time. By that afternoon, my stress level had reduced considerably and I was back to my usual, highly-productive ways.

Vulnerability: sign of weakness or strength?

I recently read an article by Deanna deBara on entitled “Why It’s Time To Take Off Your Workplace Armor.” The article couldn’t have presented itself at a more opportune time.

In deBara’s own words, she explains,

“We’ve been raised in a culture where you’re expected to be tough as nails. Where the only acceptable answer to “How’s everything going?” is “Couldn’t be better!” Where you’re supposed to have all the answers, all the time — and if you don’t, you’d better make it look like you do.

But the truth is, sometimes, things could be better. And there’s not a single person on this planet — including the most successful executives in the world — that have all the answers, all the time.

Vulnerability has traditionally been viewed as a weakness in the workplace, and the thought of being exposed — flaws, imperfections, challenges, and all— is, for most people, completely terrifying.

But the conversation about vulnerability in our culture is starting to change. And as it turns out, being vulnerable at work isn’t a liability — it’s an asset.”

After experiencing all the feelings and emotions that come with expressing vulnerability in the workplace, Deanna’s summation of the subject is spot on.


5 Ways Vulnerability Can Be Your Undeniable Asset


1. It allows you to be you.

You may be really good at what you do, and you may overachieve on a regular basis. But even high performers have off days. Maybe you have issues you’re dealing with or maybe you just had a bad night’s sleep. Not everyone can perform optimally all the time.

For baseball fans, this point is illustrated perfectly on the pitcher’s mound. On any given day, a pitcher may go out and pitch a shutout. Then, five days later, the same pitcher takes the mound and gets roughed up for eight runs and doesn’t make it out of the third inning. It was the same pitcher with the same skills under relatively similar conditions. What happened? The pitcher simply had an off day.

It’s no different in the workplace. Certain days you may work like you’re on a mission, accomplishing more than two or three coworkers combined. On other days, even the most basic tasks can seem like a struggle. On those days where you just aren’t yourself, admit it, take ownership of it and just do your best to power through. Tomorrow is another day.


2. It allows you to make mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. Being able to admit when you do and learn from your mistakes is the true skill. Taking ownership of your mistakes will generate a lot of respect from those around you who will respect that you were willing to admit that you erred.

The more chances we take, the higher the possibility of failing. However, taking those chances helps us expand our comfort zone. This is how we grow as individuals. Accepting the risk and going for it anyway can be both invigorating and rewarding.


3. It gives you permission to seek help

Admitting you don’t know something gives you free reign to ask others for help. Many times, two brains working together can be better than one. This is especially true when you’re working on a project of which you are not well skilled. Having external contributors can help make the work easier and more effective.

Those who ask for help admit they don’t know everything. The fact is, they know enough to understand what they don’t know. No one is a master at all skills. A workplace is filled with complementary talents.

By asking for help, it sends a message that you are willing to be collaborative with those around you.

By asking for help, it sends a message that you are willing to be collaborative with those around you. They’ll be more likely to help you when you need it as long as you are willing to reciprocate.  Just knowing that you can rely on those around you when times get tough can reduce workplace stress.

4. It makes you appear human

When you’re willing to be vulnerable, it shows you are human. People respect others who are willing to show their human side. When you aspire to perfection, there’s nowhere to go but down. How can you ever be happy unless you live in an endless state of perfection? By allowing yourself to show that you have flaws, it not only makes you appear more human, but it makes you more approachable; more “normal” in the eyes of those around you.

Vulnerability can be extremely powerful for those in a position of leadership. So often, we hold our leaders to unattainable standards. Showing vulnerability sends the message that, regardless of title, the leader is no different at heart than others with lesser titles or lower ranks.

5. It allows you to grow as a person

Admitting you aren’t on your game or don’t have it on a particular day can actually be quite liberating. It takes the pressure of perfectionism away and lets you relax in your day-to-day activities. Realizing where you have weaknesses and acknowledging them gives you a starting place for self-improvement. Reducing stress is important since it can help you avoid a state of burnout.

The old-school belief that the workplace is no place to show vulnerability is becoming a thing of the past.

We have two options as human beings: progression or regression. In this world, nothing ever stays the same. You can use your experiences to learn and improve or you can hold on to antiquated notions and let the world pass you by. The old-school belief that the workplace is no place to show vulnerability is becoming a thing of the past.



The best part of admitting vulnerability is it allows you to lessen the stressors that can build up around you; stressors that can take a toll on your body and mind. By simply saying “I don’t know” or “I don’t have it today,” you show your human side and allow others to come to the rescue. Others can help pick up the slack when you simply don’t have it in you on a particular day. Of course, you have to be willing to the same for them when they find themselves in the same situation.

Article written by Dave Clark, Staff Writer and Editor at TTI Success Insights.

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3 Tips for Leaders: How to Improve Your Feedback

When was the last time you gave constructive feedback to one of your employees? Have you ever felt like you’re reaching out to them with your words of encouragement? Did they change their work and behavior after listening to you?

Ah, that feedback. It’s one of your main responsibilities as a leader. You have to provide it, so your employees will understand their strengths and weaknesses, and they will get better at what they do. It’s a pressuring responsibility, though.

  • When you need to give credit for a job well done, you don’t want your feedback to lead to extreme self-confidence and arrogance.
  • When criticism is on the menu, you must take care with the way you express it. Instead of making an employee feel bad, you need to inspire them to get better.

Where’s the balance? How can you improve the feedback you give? Try something like this:


1.Clarify your purpose.


You invite an employee to your office. They may come with a smile on their face, but you know they are tense. They don’t know what to expect, so they are getting more and more stressed as you carry on with your long introduction.

Why are you giving feedback?


Instead of introducing them to the feedback with something like…

“So, about the last project we did… You were in charge of public relations, and your responsibilities involved marketing and social media management.”

…Okay, okay, cut to the chase. They know what their responsibilities were, and they know what they did. Start with something like this:

“I called you in to talk about the job you did on this project. The point is for both of us to understand the strengths and weaknesses, and do something even better in future…”

Be clear on the goal of feedback, and always state it right from the start. It’s always about bringing changes and improvements in the worker’s behavior.


2. Hear them out


What’s the worst thing you could expect from an employee who gets feedback? Defensive attitude. People value their own work. If you criticize it, they will try to defend it. The person will either try to explain their point of view, or they will act like they are listening to you, but you’ll keep seeing the anger in their face.

If your employee has something to say, hear them out. Maybe the situation was different from the way you perceive it. Maybe this person sitting in front of you wasn’t fully responsible for the mistakes. Maybe they had good intentions, so you’ll both have to discover what went wrong.

If they are not talking, but you can notice the defensive attitude on their face, ask: “Do you agree we can do things differently? Do you think my suggestions are okay? What do you suggest as a solution?”

Remember: feedback is not a one-way presentation of opinions. It has to come in the form of a conversation.


3. Timing is everything!


“I don’t like the job you did with this project. You made the same mistakes last time.”

Wait, what? Why didn’t you tell them last time? Remember: the sooner you give your feedback, the better for everyone. First of all, your employees don’t like waiting for hours or days just to find out what you think about the work they did. Untimely feedback is a great problem that leads to ineffective leadership.

Give feedback as frequently as possible. You don’t have to invite employees into your office each time, but you can give brief, clear statements that will serve as affirmation, criticism, or guidelines. When you value their performance on an ongoing basis, they will do a better job.


Clear, timely feedback that leaves space for two-way conversation – that’s the recipe for success. Here are the most important takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Provide very specific feedback and always explain why the employee needs to make changes in their behavior. Clarify the goal!
  • Get their opinion. If they don’t agree with your feedback, hear them out.
  • Your feedback should closely tie to the behavior in question. It’s more powerful when you provide it as soon as possible.

Now, take a deep breath. Are you ready to give some feedback today?


Written By Julie Peterson

4 Tips Managers Should Adopt to Relate to Millennials

There are few greater challenges for modern companies than managing the current dynamic of generations within the workplace.

In the past, many companies did not have to worry about major generational conflict at work: seniority and experience reigned supreme, while newer employees entered the pipeline, worked their way up, and were then rewarded with higher positions, pay, benefits and perks.

The Younger Generation will Comprise 75% of the U.S. Workforce in 15 Years


My, what a difference a few decades make!

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials have become the largest generation in today’s U.S. workforce and are projected to comprise about 75 percent in just 15 years.

Not only are millennials a massive cohort, they also have very different ideas about how and why they work when compared to earlier generations.

Despite their rapid movement toward retirement — within the next decade, a majority of Baby Boomers will be of retirement age — boomers still hold a large percentage of leadership positions, especially in more “traditional” industries (i.e. manufacturing, utility and power, government, etc.).

So, how can more senior managers and leaders relate to and draw the most out of their younger employees? Here are 4 tips for relating to this young generation:


1. Don’t be a boss, be a coach.


Like many of my peers, I was introduced to league- and team-based sports early in my life and participated in them religiously. Thinking back, I can still remember every coach I had and their impact on my performance and attitude.The good ones pulled performance out of me, were encouraging but firm, tough but fair, and provided guidance about how to do the “job” well. Because of their influence, I learned to love the sports they coached.The bad ones, however, played favorites, dismissed questions or concerns, didn’t listen, and were arrogant or hateful, and my perception of the sport was diminished.

The No. 1 reason a millennial will leave their job is due to a bad manager. If companies want to reduce their turnover costs and retain millennial talent, managers need to be coaches — not bosses.


2. Set your values and live by them.


Millennials have a strong inclination toward aligning justice and fairness across the various aspects of their lives. They want their work to be meaningful and make a difference — and to not just collect a paycheck every two weeks.

There is little forgiveness for companies that act unethically or hypocritically. Not only are they likely to lose their millennial talent, but their brand might also be blasted across social media and be publicly shamed.

If companies don’t have their values in order, or they haven’t communicated them to their employees, there’s no time like the present. If such corporate values are already in place, for the love of God live by them! Hypocrisy is an extremely toxic corporate value for millennials.


3. Create opportunities for development


The average tenure for millennials in any one job is two years. Yep, you read that right — that millennial employee you just spent a lot of resources to hire at the beginning of last year might not be with your company for the holiday party this year. Why are they leaving?

One of the primary reasons millennials decide to pack up and leave is because they don’t believe they are receiving any personal benefit or growth. Millennials have grown up in an era of instant access to information, leading them to become more efficient in problem solving, decision-making and critical thinking.

Work with this generation to make a development plan for their job that includes continuing education, progressive job training and coaching. This type of development provides them more responsibility and will allow them to move up the proverbial corporate leadership ladder.


4. Communicate, communicate, communicate!


From my experience, if there is one key concept for working well with millennials, it’s communication. My generation is used to instant communication in almost every facet of our lives, from parents, teachers, coaches and peers, so it makes sense that we would expect the same from our managers.

However, this is a big shift for a lot of managers. Whereas older generations would only receive feedback during annual performance reviews, millennials want to receive feedback much more regularly. It’s not just the frequency of communication, but also the content. Millennials want to know if their performance may be suffering, as well as when they are succeeding.

Moreover, they want to be included in brainstorming about how the job could be improved, provide new ideas for productivity or efficiency, and learn how their role fits within the organization. Think about your communication. If you believe you’re communicating too little, you most likely are not meeting the mark!


Maximize Your Resources!


If you follow these four tips, you will be well on your way to maximizing your millennial workforce.

Take this to heart: Millennial workers, if managed properly, can be your most productive, innovative and motivated employees yet! Once they feel invested in, the sky is the limit.


Written By Tyler Howell

You Just Might be Listening Wrong

We’d all like to think of ourselves as good listeners, but are we really? With a little honest introspection, we may uncover that we are actually quite the opposite. Is it possible that many of us are actually listening wrong?

Effective listening can be especially challenging to those who, according to the DISC behavioral profile, fall into the high D/I category. A sense of urgency and getting straight to the point sometime inhibit these fast-paced people from effectively listening.  Being present in the moment should be our goal, regardless of what behavioral style we possess.

Understanding and being aware of these common listening pitfalls will help us to become better listeners. See five of the most common listening pitfalls and how to overcome them.

Listening to Solve

Human beings, for the most part, like to help other humans. While everyone may not necessarily be altruistic 24/7, if asked for help, most people will jump at the chance to help someone. It makes us feel good to help others.

The only problem with that in today’s fast-paced world is that we may be too quick to look for a solution to a person’s problem. Often we may wish to express that magic fix with exuberance and rapidity. In our minds, we have a solution to their problem and we want to express this solution – right now!

Unfortunately, the person may still have some important information to provide to us that we simply don’t hear because we have already formulated a solution in our minds before they have finished speaking.

Instead of trying to solve the issue at hand, you can clarify assumptions the other person holds and helps the other person to see the issue in a new light.  Interject some your ideas that could be useful without hijacking the discussion.

Listening to Do

Like listening to solve above, listening to do deals with haste and inability to gather all the information needed to formulate a proper answer. We get so captivated by the first part of a person’s story that we begin to respond by taking some sort of action.

This listening fault is less about trying to come up with a solution, and more about fixing the problem right here and now. In being so quick to act, we may lack key information solely because we fail to hear.

When listening to do, we may show our urgency by jumping online trying to find an answer, texting a friend “in the know” or posting a query on Facebook for recommendations while the person we are talking with is still trying to communicate with us.

In order to avoid doing, clear away all distractions including your laptop, phone, or notepad and be fully present by focusing on the person who is speaking.

Listening to Respond

Similar to listening to do, we are so anxious to have the floor and respond that all we can process in our minds is our response, rendering the remaining incoming words relatively useless. Listening in this realm becomes a battle of who can talk fastest, or sometimes loudest, to get their information across and is quite ineffective.

The classic example of listening to respond is the perpetual interrupter. They just can’t wait for you to finish and start talking before you do. Not only is interrupting someone rude, but it inhibits effective communication.

To avoid the loss associated with responding instead of listening, stay silent. If anything, ask clarifying questions to the conversation and practice pausing before your respond to reflect on the entire conversation at hand.

Listening to Defy

Has someone ever said something to you that rubbed you the wrong way? And immediately you feel yourself tensing up and wanting to immediately rebut the thing that irritated you?  In the blink of an eye you may become defensive and reactive.

If the content matter egregiously angers you, you may find yourself in the middle of an emotional hijack-reacting in the mode of flight or fight, with a heavy lean on fight. Listening to defy really isn’t listening at all; it’s all about escalation.

Want to see this form of listening in action? Bring up politics or religion in the workplace and see what happens. Or better yet, refrain from doing so and be much better off because of it.

Suppress listening to defy by empathizing with the person with whom you are conversating. Amazing listeners create safe environment in which difficult issues are discussed, all while controlling their emotions.

Listening Without Your Eyes

If words are important, non-verbal cues are powerful. Seeing the way a person projects a message is vital. This includes reading their facial expressions and their overall body language. Being astutely aware of these non-verbal mannerisms can many times yield more valuable information than the words themself.

When listening without your eyes, eye contact is kept to a minimum. The person being talked to is likely to be looking at the computer screen or notepad rather than looking at the person with whom they are talking, creating the perception of an empty conversation. A person who listens without their eyes is perceived as being absent from the conversation.

To listen with your eyes as much as your ears, take time to actively observe non-verbals, like facial expressions, gestures, posture, and other body language.

Effective listening is a skill and, like any other skill, it needs to be practiced and developed. Knowing what to look for, especially these five common listening pitfalls, and how to overcome it will help you develop better listening skills and be more present in your conversations.

Pay special attention to your listening skills today and see if your communication habits fall into any of these listening pitfalls. Awareness is the first step in improvement and realizing you are listening wrong, and doing something about it, can help you to become a better listener.

Written By Candice Frazer

Having Enough in the Tank to be a Top Performer

Have you ever started a new job raring to go, just knowing you are going to set the standard for top performers? The question is, how do you sustain top performance? What are some of the keys to keep enough proverbial “gas in the tank” to perform at your best every day? Knowing yourself including what drives you, learning everything you can about your new job and new company, asking questions and requesting feedback are five keys to succeeding in any new position, especially when starting a position with a new company.

Standin’ on the corner

Having enough gas in the tank is both a metaphor and necessary reality. I am truly passionate about music as well as the weekend getaway. As a relatively new Arizonan, exploring all Arizona has to offer excites me. Being a lifelong fan of The Eagles, and driven by the song lyrics from the song “Take It Easy”, I felt the urge for a pilgrimage to Winslow, Arizona, so I could “stand on the corner.” It seemed like such a fine sight to see!

What was intended to be an innocent afternoon exploring Arizona turned quite perilous. Instead of being prepared, I jumped in car, energized to see Winslow, and set off. What I didn’t think about was whether or not I had enough gas in the tank to get back to my homebase just outside Phoenix. For anyone who has traveled to Winslow, you know that it’s a very small town surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. Conspicuously absent are gas stations. About 50 miles into my trek back home (read: too far to turn back) I glanced down at my gas gauge to realize it was right smack in the middle of the E! Not near or even on top of the E, but right in the middle. This is usually indicative of a virtually dry gas tank.

Panic inevitably set in. I had been driving for at least thirty minutes and saw no signs of life other than a sun-blocking forest of trees. Though it smelled wonderfully of pine because the windows were now down in a futile attempt to save gas, I was thinking about my fate. My mind raced with thoughts of an impending lengthy hike in search of a gas station. As the sun threatened to set in the west, I put the car in neutral traveling down hill and tried to gain enough momentum to get back up the next hill, using as little fuel as possible. Gas – and time – was running out.

After turning a corner in what seemed to be in the middle of Mirkwood Forest (a tip of the hat to JRR Tolkien fans) a turn of the century-looking gas station popped up. No convenience store, car wash or digital credit card readers at this place seemingly stuck in 1940. It was just a small stop in the middle of a deserted forest that happened to have gas. And I was happier to see it than the proverbial girl in the flatbed Ford.

Five keys to being a top performer

We may lose and we may win but why rely on luck when it comes to your career success? A better plan is to be prepared and ensure that you wildly succeed! Here are five things you can do to make sure that happens.

  1. Know yourself – In previous blogs, I lamented the fact that I had spent half a career in positions that weren’t cut out for me. If I knew then what I know now, I could have cut that learning curve significantly and chosen a career that was more in line with the things that drive me to wake up every morning. Tools such as DISC, which identify how we do what we do, and Driving Forces which explain the why we do what we do, are invaluable in helping people identify their perfect career options.
  2. Know your new company – How much do you know about the new company where you are about to start working? Are they an industry leader or an up-and-coming start up? Perhaps they’ve been around awhile and are undergoing a turnaround or realignment, of sorts. A great resource to check out to help you learn about starting off on the right foot is Michael D. Watkins’ book, The First 90 Days. Talk to people already working for that company and get some inside information. Reach out to your soon-to-be boss and establish a relationship before day one to ensure a successful start.
  3. Understand your new position – Having a thorough understanding of your new position will help you identify where you are likely to excel and what things you may need to shore up before your first day. Another great reason to establish an early relationship with your boss, he or she can help answer some of these questions. An important question to ask is who may be a potential mentor for you to work with as you transition into this new company?
  4. Ask questions – If you avoid only one mistake, avoid assuming you know everything you need to know about your new situation. You don’t know a lot; and that’s okay! Asking questions will not only clear up the gray area, it will show your new company and new co-workers that you are invested in your new position. Ask away! The only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked.
  5. Request feedback – There are many different roads to travel to get to the same destination. And the destination you are seeking is success. You may feel like you are doing well, maybe even excelling. But the only way you will know for sure is by requesting feedback. Different people have different perspectives. You stand to gain so much valuable insight by asking for feedback. Perception is reality and you want to ensure that you are perceived positively by your co-workers, your new boss and your new company. And this can be accomplished simply by requesting – and utilizing – valuable feedback provided by co-workers.

Getting feedback from as many sources as possible is encouraged as it will give you a variety of ideas and opinions. If you are lucky enough to align yourself with a mentor who can help you learn the ropes and navigate the organization, all the better. This person can be an incredibly valuable resource that helps you succeed quickly. Once you know yourself and your company, align yourself with a mentor and ask questions and accept feedback, you are well on your way to success in your new position. Just be sure to fill the tank before you head out on day one of your new job.


Written By Dave Clark

How to Win in Your First 90 Days in a New Job

The competition was steep and the talent immense. Yet, through it all, it was you they chose to fill the highly sought after position. Congratulations!

Now, what’s next; what are you supposed to do now? Before you let panic set in, take a breath, relax and celebrate your win. And now think about how you can make a positive impression from day one all the way through the end of your initiation period, which typically lasts 90 days.

With a plan of action that involves achieving early wins, acclimating quickly and learning the behaviors or yourself and your new coworkers, you can be well on your way to making a favorable first impression.

Here are our recommendations to establishing your credibility in the first 90-days on the job.

Develop a plan for success

You get one chance to make a first impression so why not make that impression a great one? As the newest member of an organization, it is imperative to be as prepared as possible.

Start out by doing your research on the company. Who are they; what do they do? What do you know about the company culture? Are they an industry leader or an up and comer? What are some of the company’s potential strengths and weaknesses compared with their competition?

Doing your homework and coming as prepared as possible to your first day on the job will not only show you are a driven self-starter, but that you care and are completely invested in becoming a valuable member of the team.

Achieving early wins

Achieving early wins helps to set the pathway to successful employment. Find ways to do things early into your new position that can show people that you are not afraid to take risks and that want to be a contributing member of the organization as soon as possible.

Make key contacts in your new company by finding out who the overachievers are and align yourself with them. By aligning yourself with high achievers, you will learn great habits while being motivated to excel through friendly competition as you try to keep up with their pace.

Making a good first impression can be done in a number of small, but important ways. For example, learn people’s names. People love to hear their own names so the sooner you can learn the names of your coworkers, and use their names regularly, the quicker you will be accepted into the organization as “one of the gang.”

The lost art of listening

Another simple way to earn trust quickly is to engage people in conversation and actually listen to what they have to say. Have informal one-on-one meetings with coworkers to learn about who they are, what they do and how they contribute to the company. These interviews will also speed up your knowledge of the company, give you a real feel for the culture and probably expose any issues within the company. Certainly not meant to be a gossip session, use these interviews to build trust with coworkers of all levels. It shows you care about the company and the people that work there.

Using DISC to your advantage

Anytime you are beginning a new relationship of any kind, whether it’s work related or personal, taking an informative assessment such as DISC can reveal some very valuable insights. DISC is a science that deals with a person’s behaviors and can be a great indicator of how a person may act in a given situation.

Though it’s not foolproof, it’s a great predictor and especially tends to reveal how people will react under pressure. Learning first about yourself, DISC can show you not only your strengths but can point out situations where work friction could arise so you can be aware of it and proactively work to avoid it.

Once you understand yourself and the science behind DISC, you can apply these same principles when working with your coworkers and any customers you may come in contact with. Understanding the various DISC behaviors is fairly easy, and being able to spot the various behavioral patterns in people can be a huge advantage in communicating with people.

You will quickly be able to identify the “D” who is fast-paced, always on the go and likes to only hear the cliff notes version of the story. Conversely, the “I” in the workplace will be the gregarious person that loves to chat and always has a story to share. The “S” is personable, but is defined by an even-keeled approach that is not too fast and not too slow. They like routine and are not necessarily interested in immediate change. The folks with the “C” profiles in the office will help keep the “D” workers in place by thinking things through, taking the time to do the calculations to make sure the “D’s” newly hatched idea will actually work.

Once you understand DISC and the behavior patterns associated with it, you will have a huge advantage in the workplace to know exactly how to interact with all your workers, regardless if you have matching DISC profiles or not. You will find that by applying these principles you be much more successful, achieve wins early and often and make a solid impression that will last.


Written By Dave Clark

How to Drive Your Career Forward

Driving down the road of life, we often wish we had a crystal ball, especially when it comes to career advice. Wouldn’t it be great to possess the ability to be one step ahead of life’s curves and react to them before they become obstacles? And wouldn’t it be great to know what we wanted to be when we grew up, long before we actually did grow up?

Though many of us may not have possessed that elusive crystal ball when we started our career journey, the technology exists today to help drive your career forward. Understanding the “how” and the “why” we tend to do the things we do will give us incredible insight into careers that will be both productive and satisfying.

Driving in the dark

My career journey paints a clear picture of why having these tools would have been so beneficial. Coming out of college I planned to become a writer. When a job opening became available at the local newspaper, I jumped at the chance to get my foot in the door. Even though the job wasn’t a writing job, I figured getting in the door was half the battle and I’d find my perfect journalism position in due time.

The available position was in sales, not in journalism, but both my employer and I felt that I would excel at the job, because I was a self-starter, motivated, energetic, conversational and driven. These are all qualities that tend to be found in successful sales people.

The truth is, I was very successful at the job and rose through the organization earning promotions and pay raises. But I was not fulfilled. What should have been a career became a job. My excitement turned to apathy and later downgraded from malaise to dread before it was all over.

Let’s analyze where I went wrong.

Yes, I had the appropriate behaviors for the job. And many years into my career my company had all employees take a DISC profile that confirmed the fact that, theoretically, I should excel in this position. But what we didn’t look at was my values. If we had analyzed what my motivations were in life, career and otherwise, we would have seen that I was truly placed in a position that wasn’t right for me.

Values can also be called motivators and they explain the “why” a person does what they do. My main motivators are Intentional, Harmonious, Resourceful and Receptive. This “cluster” of motivators is the fuel that powers why I get up every morning and do what I do.

Intentional speaks to how I deal with others. With Intentional as my number one driver, it indicates that I am fully dedicated to helping a person or people for a specific purpose. The opposite of this is Altruistic, which describes people who are driven to assist others just for the satisfaction of being helpful. That isn’t me, and sales typically requires a person to be unilaterally helpful across the board. My second highest motivator, Harmonious, suggests that I enjoy balance in my surroundings and want to enjoy the experience of anything in which I’m involved. A driving force that deals with surroundings, the opposite driving force to Harmonious is Objective, which describes people who are driven by the functionality and objectivity of their surroundings.

Sales is all about following patterns and specific methods to work through the sales cycle, something that personally loses my interest. I love to try new things, take different paths and explore roads untraveled. Now it’s clear why I didn’t look forward to going into work!

My next strongest driving forces are Resourceful and Receptive. Resourceful deals with utility and showcases people driven by practical results, maximizing both efficiency and returns for their investment of time, talent, energy and resources. Sure, this can pertain to sales, but I feel that, as a writer, I get a lot more return on investment. I get the pleasure of people enjoying the articles I write. When I sold things, there wasn’t a whole lot of satisfaction when I made a sale, so even though the company I worked for got a great return on investment, I did not share that return on investment personally.

My fourth driving force speaks to methodologies and Receptive scores very high for me. It describes people who are driven by new ideas, methods and opportunities that fall outside a defined system for living. Receptive people fly by the seat of their pants and are willing to take risks. They are the anti-structured type. Sales is very structured, predictable and doesn’t speak to any of my primary driving forces.

If I had this information when I was beginning my career, I would have either pushed harder to start my career within the editorial department at that newspaper or I would have gone elsewhere to follow a path more suited to my motivators and values. If I only knew then what I know now!

Driving with eyes open

Although my proverbial ship may have sailed years ago, I have a younger friend who was looking for career advice. Nick was finishing up his engineering degree, preparing for the workforce in what likely would be a fairly lucrative first job. But he had some reservations.

Sure, he had the skills to be an engineer; and probably a very good one. And his DISC profile confirmed that he’d certainly be a strong candidate for work in this field. However, what Nick didn’t have was a burning desire to make a career out of this field. And he was aware of this fact before he even graduated.

In a strange twist of fate, I first met Nick at a homebrew club meeting. As the President of the local club, I had ample experience brewing award winning beer, both as an amateur and even professionally for a period of time. Nick asked me if I’d help him learn how to excel as a brewer, and he promised to be a dedicated apprentice. My Intentional driving force kicked in (remember, Intentional identifies people driven to assist others for a specific purpose) and I accepted the challenge.

Nick was a dedicated apprentice and helped me brew every batch of beer I brewed over the next two years. Once I taught him everything I could possibly teach him, he had a life revelation that he didn’t want to be an engineer at all; he’d rather become a professional brewer.

As his driving forces indicate, this was a good career move for Nick. His lead driving force is Harmonious as he is driven by the experience. And brewing beer is certainly a journey from the malt to the hops to fermentation to packaging. He is very high Intellectual, and brewing a beautiful balance of arts and sciences, rolled into one complex, exciting package. Nick is also Collaborative (there’s usually two to three brewers in a brewhouse) and Intentional, so he accepts the daily task of working with others to produce a new beer and enjoys the entire process.

So why was it a strange twist of fate that Nick and I met at a homebrew club meeting? I ended up relocating and eventually ended up in Arizona. When I settled in, I went to work at a brewery and once I got established, I ended up getting Nick his first professional brewing job. The mentor got to see the apprentice all the way through the cycle. And now when we review Nick’s driving forces, it’s obvious he is in the perfect career for him. And now today with all he’s learned, I go to him to learn things about brewing beer instead of the other way around.

What have we learned about driving, or especially 12 Driving Forces?

While these may be fun stories to recant what can we learn from them? I believe that exposing someone to these tools as early as possible can help guide them to choose a career in which they will excel and enjoy. The sooner a person can understand exactly how (DISC) and why (12 Driving Forces) they do what they do, the more focused they can be on what careers make sense for them.

They will avoid wasting time and finding out the hard way that they chose the wrong field of employment. By getting in the right field early, they can get established at a young age, make their mark and excel as an expert or eventually a master in their field. And most importantly, they can enjoy the journey all along the way.

No matter if you are just starting your professional career or are a seasoned working veteran, here are a few action items that can ensure you are investing your time wisely in a career that works for you.

  1. Take and understand the DISC profile. DISC will give you great insight about your behavioral characteristics that will predict how you may perform in various job situations. Some of the behavioral characteristics identified include: level of competitiveness, versatility, sense of urgency, level of persistence, organizational skills and how you relate to customers, to name a few.
  2. Take and understand the 12 Driving Forces science. Understanding the “why” behind what drives you may be the single most important insight to help you travel down the path best suited for you. With 12 Driving Forces, you will identify drivers that are predominant in your life (primary), drivers that occur situationally and also those things that you are indifferent, or maybe even opposed to, in a given situation.
  3. Taking these two sciences together in one report, the Talent Insights report will not only give you information in both categories, it will sum up how the two sciences work in tandem to paint a thorough picture of who you are and why you are that way. They are both important tools that each play a crucial role. But independently they only tell part of the story. Using them together tells the whole story, and that’s what we truly need to arm ourselves with the information to succeed.
  4. Don’t spend another minute in a job that is not right for you. There are plenty of careers and many ways to reinvent yourself. I’ve personally reinvented myself a few times over my working career, and not only is it doable, it’s invigorating to break through the uncomfort zone and make it happen! The hardest thing to do is start, so take the first step today toward happiness in your work life.

Would you like to learn more about DISC and driving forces? Click here now and begin your journey to a great new career: For Emerging Leaders Longing to Reach Their Potential


Written By Dave Clark

How to Build a High Performing Team for the Future

A future high performing team will be more diverse than ever and so will be the makeup of those teams. According to Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers. Diversity comes from many different perspectives, including gender, generation, race, workforce type and the way a team functions.

So what will teams look like in ten years? Here are five trends we predict based on what’s happening in the workplace within the past few years.


Trend 1: Global workforce is still in

According to American Sociological Review, companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity in their organizations bring in nearly 15 times more sales revenue than those with lowest levels. With the trend of globalization, international talents mobility continues. By 2065, no racial or ethnic group will be a majority and therefore there will be no US corporations that have employees consisting of a single race.

We can expect that there will be more culturally diverse teams in the workplace in the future.

Question for employers: How can you offer intercultural communication training and support for your team members?


Trend 2: Multi-team is rising

Employee retention is going away. Today, more individuals are hiring companies to fulfill their dreams and teach them specific skills rather than a company hiring employees and trying to retain them permanently. As a result, it’s not uncommon for employees to function in a “micro career mode,” which develops their skills while performing in their current positions in order to prepare for their next career move.

What we need to watch for in the future workplace is more project-based and less department-based teams.

Question for employers: How can you provide your employees opportunities to work on different projects that leverage their talents and passions?

Trend 3: Generation Z in workplace

2017 will mark the first full year that Generation Z will be settling into the workplace, with a new mindset on business and new expectations on their optimal work environment. Just as Millennials brought a new dynamic to the workplace when they entered the workforce, Gen Z is now adding another layer of complexity to cross-generational communication. While Gen Z will bring new insights and perspectives into the workplace, be aware they will also bring some challenges and new modes of thinking into the workplace.

Question for employers: How might you develop a balanced team consisting of members of Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers?


Trend 3: Blended workforce type

Multiple studies from Intuit to The Freelancer’s Union predict that at least 40% of the workforce will be freelancers in the next few years. The rising number of freelancers indicates that more companies are outsourcing services to maximize their resources. At the same time, more individuals are pursuing micro-careers. This combination will lead to teams with a blended workforce.

You will notice more part-time employees, freelancers, contractors and agencies will be working side-by-side with full-time employees.

Question for employers: How might you provide the flexibility and a work-life balance for your talent?


Trend 4: Team over individual performance

The function of our jobs is no longer singularly task based. More than ever, we are relying on each other to move the organizational goals forward. According to ATD (Association for Talent Development), one of the biggest challenges for managers is how to motivate a team to a more clearly defined goal. Based on Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends, 88% of this year’s respondents across the globe rated building the organization of the future as a very important issue as networks and ecosystems replace organizational hierarchies.

This shift reinforces the trend that teams will become more collaborative and team performance will be weighted higher than individual performance.

Question for employers: How can you build a perfect team that can deliver high performance while working well together?

With these five trends, employers might need to upgrade their talent management strategy. Ensuring alignment of the whole team is more and more critical than recruiting and retaining a few rock stars. What’s your talent strategy regarding creating a high potential team?


Written By Kefei Wang