Archive for May, 2007

Courageous Leadership…

May 31, 2007

Courageous and authentic leadership. These are two key words that are coming up for me as I reflect on what I want to share with you with respect to last week’s Prism Award presentations.

In my previous post, I promised that I’d follow-up and post some of the lessons learned from the winning companies. Here’s my first go at this…there’s lots to tell but I’ll start with just a couple points and perhaps share more another time.

1) Core Values at the heart of success and engagement: at least three of the Prism winning organizations talked about how their work began with an exploration of their personal and/or organization’s core values. Core values -are generally words or themes (sometimes phrases) that capture an individual’s or company’s “DNA”. It’s what you stand for; what you deeply belief in –and ultimately should be aligned with your behaviours, attitudes, actions. It’s the essence of one’s character’. We all have our own unique set of core values fundamental to who we are. We’re at our best and tend to experience more fulfillment when we express these values in our day-to-day actions and ‘being’. And so when an individual leads and performs from their core values – they are more authentic.

Tribute Communities, Impact Communications, National Ovarian Cancer Foundation — the first three presentations — all relayed a host of goals, objectives, challenges, etc. Each, however, started with articulating their core values. Then they brought them forward into action. It was the first time I’ve heard so many of the Prism winners (I’ve been to at least 4 years of these events) speak to this theme. So this year, it was clear that the winners were showcasing ‘authentic leadership’ in full force!

2) Investing in the process — in unknown territory….takes courage. Some of the winning clients conceded in their presentations that at first they were a bit reticent about the investment of some of the coaching initiatives (e.g. the time away from ‘actual work’, the cost, etc.). Also, the coaching work initially was something that was a bit unknown to them…..outside of their comfort zone…i.e. what’s this thing called coaching? Whaddya mean we’re going to discover our values then put them to work?! I have so much work to do – can afford this time and get involved in something like this??

Well – fast forward — the winners were all unequivocal in their testaments that it was the “best time spent”. The results in terms of increased efficiency, better teamwork, more engaged stakeholders paid off in spades. Elizabeth Ross, head of NOCA (the not-for-profit winner) said “I wondered what my donors would think of me spending all this time on (discovering core values, etc.).” Well, she said she now knows it was the best thing she could do for the organization.  They work smarter….and are more compassionate (one of their core values) and they and their constituents are the better for it. 

In one case (Sysco), the client had to really sell the coaching program internally. It was a very ambitious program and very much ‘outside of the box’ in terms of typical corporate training in that organization. He took a huge chance. And he took a huge stand because he believed in the program. That took courage.  And the results stood  him well. He’s now received the go-ahead to do another year…with even more funding.

All these leaders (from Tribute, Impact Communications, NOCA, Sysco) took a chance on this ‘fairly new thing called coaching’. The work was outside of their usual ‘work’. The conversations were different. They were all courageous. And the work allowed for more authentic, reflective, powerful leadership. And it lead to better performance, improved teamwork and more inspired leadership.

….that’s powerful. They are the leaders….still a minority among Canadian employers, they are the leaders showcasing how to bring the best out of their people…..

… and there’s much more…but we’ll leave that for another day.

Till next time,


Core Values in Action at the ICF Prism Award Ceremony

May 27, 2007

Big Cheese Coaching and Tribute Communities were in great company on Friday at the International Coach Federation (ICF) Prism Award Ceremony. As one of this year’s award recipients, we had an opportunity to present and share the highlights of our story. The room was filled with coaches, clients and others interested in learning about how coaching in the workplace could make a difference in leadership, engagement, performance – and other areas.  Congratulations as well to the other three winning organizations and the coaches – as I said, we were in great company (see full list here).

Tribute’s program was about building on success through engagement of its people. Tribute builds great communities and has been doing so for 25 years. Part of our work involved shifting the lense inwards to explore the internal community at Tribute (the diverse, talent that makes things happen every day). Starting with an exploration of the company’s core values and articulating a central purpose, we involved the whole company. The initiative unfolded over a year (group and individual coaching; company-wide meetings; communications strategy; a core values in action plan and more…). The outcomes were many: New ways of being/working together; new initiatives to energize and acknowledge the talent; leadership development — and much more.


This picture was of a few of us getting ready for the Globe and Mail photo shoot (see resulting article). There’s a more formal picture below of the Tribute gang at the event.

I was so proud to be part of this winning team – and particularly my client, Tribute Communities that truly earned this award.  Who’d guess that a home-building company would be leading the way as an ambassador for coaching at the workplace? Two years ago (when we met), they hadn’t even really heard about coaching (coaching is still fairly new afterall). But in its 25 years in business, Tribute has proven to be a leader in so many ways. So in hindsight, it’s not surprising that they’d lead in this arena too.

From my perspective, they are a dream client: respectful, open and innovative,  collaborative — and lots of fun!

But enough gushing for one day! There were a lot of gems of learning from all of the winners. I’ll share some of the themes that emerged in a subsquent post. But for now – if you’d like to hear more about how to create a TGIM worklife experience in your organization, well….I hope you’ll give me a call:)

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P.S. Here’s the Tribute gang at the event – with yours truly in the middle holding the Prism award and saying “Big Cheese”!

Deep Listening — More than just hearing

May 24, 2007

Listening skills are critical in building great relationships…in work and in life. Tim Corkpresident of Nexcareer, wrote this lovely piece about listening in his book, “Tapping the Iceberg”. His book is about unleasing your possibilities through what he calls a “Straight A’s philosophy in life….Attitude, Aptitude & Action”.  Tim has given me permission to share this piece. Listen carefully as you read this:


One of the first things we learn in kindergarten, listen to others so you can understand their point of view. This is the foundation of empathy, which in turn is the key to great communications and understanding. Using empathy and understanding is very powerful. You should always hear someone’s point of view before deciding to respond. When you hear the person’s story, you get a better feeling for who they are and their perception of the particular situation. There may be a very good reason why they are acting or behaving a certain way. Don’t judge until you hear what they’re saying.

Hearing vs. listening:

My son, Geoffrey, often says, “I hear you, but I’m not listening.” This favorite expression of his sums up the way a lot of people handle communication. Others say they have selective hearing. There is an art to listening; it evolves around interest, curiosity and focus.

You can’t learm much when your lips are moving.

You have two ears and one mouth. When meeting someone, ask good questions and spend most of your time listening. Use the ears and mouth proportionately. Listen twice as much as you talk.

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter Drucker.

Do you remember show-and-tell in kindergarten? When it was your turn, you were thrilled to be the center of attention, to have everyone’s eyes and ears trained on you. That human need and delight does not stop when you head into the next grade. All through trheir lives people appreciate it when you sit and listen to them. Listening is a very important ingredient in showing you care. The good listeners are the go-to people in friendships, relationships, families and business. These people earn reputaitons as being wise and thoughtful because of their ability to listen.

Tim – thank you for this! I couldn’t have said it better myself. In particular, I love one of your last lines: “The good listeners are the go-to people in friendships, relationships, families and business.”

By the way, empathy (which real listening is so deeply connected to) is one of the 15 Emotional Intelligence competencies in the BarOn EQi. Empathy skills (and listening) are increasingly more important in biz and life these days. Success, after all, is so very connected to building effective relationships.

So listen up everyone and power up those empathy skills!

 To a TGIM worklife!


Are you a Workaholic?

May 16, 2007

Do you see yourself as a Workaholic? If so, you’ll be among at least one in three Canadians who reportedly say they do as well.

(Photo courtesy of Juleez on

A new Statscan Study suggests one third of Canadians identify themselves as workaholics. It’s making headlines in the papers today — and yesterday, I was interviewed on the topic by CBC Radio One…separately by 9 stations across Canada and one again this morning.

Read more…. (more…)

Emotional Intelligence at Work: Don’t leave home without it

May 10, 2007

Competition is fiercer. Workloads heavier. Timelines tighter. Change constant. And your VP just left to pick up the kids because his nanny quit unexpectantly. Work-life in the new millenium — sooooo, how are you holding up? How about your people? Getting the best from them? From yourself? Retention okay? Or is your talent wearing thin? 

It might be time to pay closer attention to your EQ (emotional intelligence) — and/or that of your team (or company). When the going gets tough — as is inevitable in biz these days — survival of the fittest is not longer about who’s got the highest IQ…or the best ‘technical’ skills. Emotional intelligence is where it’s at and what’s distinguishing top performers from those who just get by…or worse, fall out of the game all together.

 Want to hear more? Click here to read the article I wrote for the current issue of Canadian HR Reporter.

 Want to hear more about how an “EQ at work” program can make a difference to you and your team? Call or write me to start a conversation.

To thriving — not just surviving — in work and life!


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In the News (Globe and Mail): Coaches don’t always demand more push-ups

May 5, 2007

Big Cheese Coaching and my client, Tribute Communities, are in the news today! As a result of winning the International Coach Federation Prism Award, the Globe and Mail did a feature in the Careers section. Virginia Galt interviewed myself and two leaders from Tribute Communities management team, David Speigel and Cindy Kunz. The article appears in this weekend’s “Career Coach” section. 

YOU CAN READ IT HERE WHILE IT’S ONLINE – or better yet, if you’re out today, buy a copy. 


The headline sets up the story beautifully with reference to David Speigel’s comments about his only previous experience with coaching being that of the athletic kind and his curiousity (and subsequent engagement) with the workplace brand of coaching….(Btw, …there’s a a little irony here  because I just happen to also have a degree in fitness and used to be a fitness trainer :)…so who knows, I may just add in those crunches and push-ups at some point. Kidding.

I love this metaphor because, in essence, this work is in some ways like core training — I do core training (coaching and development work) for leaders (of varying levels), teams and companies who want to make more of a difference in their work lives. As I’ve said in previous posts – we start with the inside first and bring our strengths, awareness, growth to our outer game (the goals/results we want in work and life). We’ll be sharing more about the Tribute Communities success story at the International Coach Federation Prism Awards event on May 25th.

For now, I want to acknowledge the whole Management team at Tribute Communities (and many, many more from the broader team) that were involved with the program — and contributed tremendously towards making this program a great success.

Tribute goes to: Al Libfeld (President/co-founder of Tribute who championed this coaching program from the get-go); Cindy Kunz, Wally Kunz, David Speigel, Dino Scagnetto, Mark Cohen, Mary Liolios, Jeff Brandwein, Ray Jankelow, Sandra Noest….all champions in their own right. And to the many others at Tribute who stepped up so fully into this program and made a difference. 

Stay tuned for subsequent Posts when I’ll share some pics from a team photo we took on Thursday while waiting for the Globe photographer.

NEWS: Big Cheese Coaching Wins Prism Award with Tribute Communities

May 3, 2007

BIG news for Big Cheese Coaching this week! The International Coach Federation (GTA chapter) has announced its winners for the 2007 Prism Awards and guess who’s in the winners circle? I am very excited to share the news that my client, Tribute Communities, has been chosen as one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious award. The Prism award honours excellence in business (or organizational) performance and leadership through coaching initiatives. As their coach, I get a spot in the winners circle too (it’s a lovely place to be:).

ICF will host an event ceremony on May 25th. The winners will be presented with their awards and share their stories of how coaching impacted their business and work-lives. We share this honour with three other award recipients.  Read the ICF release here.

Awards aside, this is a wonderful story about employee engagement; passion; leadership excellence; professional and personal development — and much more! I don’t want scoop too much just yet — we’re getting ready to share our story in the days/weeks ahead leading up to the event — but I do want to say that this client relationship has made my work-life so meaningful this past year and a half. I’m so honoured and blessed to have the opportunity to partner with such a terrific group of people.

Congratulations and thank you Tribute. I’ll be paying more Tribute to you and your (our) award in the days ahead.

ADDENDUM (May 7th): See “In the News” to read the news coverage.  And please visit home page of this blog to read more about TGIM worklife!

Stay tuned for more!