Archive for the ‘Working Together’ Category

If You Attended Today’s CICA Webinar….

October 29, 2007

Thank you to everyone who attended the Webinar I presented today at the CICA exploring TGIM worklife with Emotional Intelligence! It was a great turn-out (more than 400 attendees!) and based on the questions I received at the end – a very enthusiastic group indeed.

I thought I’d post the links to some of the articles I mentioned that might be of interest (rather than having you search for them). So here are a few:

1) Emotional Intelligence at Work — an article I wrote for HR Reporter that provides an at-a-glance summary of some of the concepts I explored today about EQ.

2) The Lizard who wouldn’t eat…. About using your Signature Strengths to feel gratified at work.

3) Tips to Make the “Bigness of Monday” Just a Little Bit Lighterwhen you could use a little boost. And the Globe and Mail article “Thank God it’s Monday“.

4) Finding Flow: Intense Work but Without the Struggle

5) Is HR Prepared to Keep the Keepers — another article I wrote for HR Reporter on employee engagemeng for high performers and high potentials.

6) Employee Engagement – Respect

AND….there was one participant who asked about self employment as a career option…so for those that might be interested, my reflections starting my 10th year in biz

AND…there’s much more so I invite you all to have a look at the blog…and visit again! Also – I did mention that I’d be introducing a tele-class program in January for leaders who want to develop more resilience at work (to navigate and deal with the ever-increasing load and work-life hurdles we talked about).

More about that later but if interested, please let me know by email or a call and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as I confirm the details (with no obligation of course).

Of course, if interested in exploring how you can learn more about developing a TGIM worklife for yourself and/or others you work with….please do get in touch! I’d love to hear from you.

To a TGIM worklife!


Speaking of Emotional Intelligence…

October 1, 2007

…which is what I was doing a little over a week ago at a conference for an organization called Extendicare. I spoke to a group of about a hundred dietary managers and program managers about navigating one’s work-life (and personal life) with emotional intelligence. This was connected to the concept of TGIM (thank goodness it’s Monday….or any other day of the week)…i.e. about being engaged with your work and dealing with the hurdles, the challenges, the ambiguity….no small feat!

I had a chance to meet with many of the participants before the presentation. As I walked around the room introducing myself, I asked people “how’s your work-life?” 

Nine out of 10 responses said the very same thing – literally in one word: “BUSY!!” It was as if they had rehearsed it! This particular group has been experiencing tremendous change over the past few years: new demands; more pressure; not enough time……yada, yada.

 Sound familiar? No matter what profession it seems this is true for anyone working these days….managing heavier workloads; faster paces; ambiguity…..and doing double duty with responsibilities in your home and personal life.

Work is getting harder. And it’s not likely to let up.

Ask Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of ‘Blink’ and ‘The Tipping Point’….or pick up a copy of today’s Globe and Mail. In an interview with a reporter from Report on Business, Gladwell says if you feel work is getting harder, you are not imagining it. The mental demands of the workplace are steadily growing — and we’re all going to have to smarten up if we want to succeed. As well, he said: “I’m quite prepared for the possibility that the next revolution is not going to come from a machine…’s going to come from creating a more thoughtful work force and giving people the opportunity to be thoughtful.”

Hmmmm. Sounds very ‘EQ-ish’. I fully agree that takes a whole bunch of smarts to cope with the demands and complexity of work (and life) today. Technical work smarts are important (and will always be) but they won’t be enough.  There’s a plethora of skills associated with social, interpersonal and emotional demands of today’s worklives. Fluency in these areas will be key indicators of one’ potential to cope and/or thrive as work (and life) gets harder.

Think this is just about soft skills? Think again….

Problem solving. Interpersonal skills. Self management. Resilience. Optimism. Empathy. Flexibility, social responsibility….and much more.

These are just a few areas within EQ that will need to be shored up in individuals and workplaces to cope, compete and survive work as work-life gets tougher, harder, faster…..

And the good news is these skills can be developed. EQ can be measured….and it is coachable. Smart companies will consider that in their leadership development, training and overall ‘people development’ programs. Yes, I know that is a self serving message given my line of work is very tied to EQ coaching (I coach leaders –of varying levels – and organizations on success and engagement issues)….but I truly believe it to be true.

I know in my own personal experiencing navigating my work-life (and personal life) that so much of my own growth and resilience has come from developing the EQ side of things.

Want to hear more, read more? For starters, see my article on EQ at Work in the “In the News” page of this blog; and get in touch with me if you are curious about how to measure and develop your own EQ and/or that of those you work with.

For now, let me leave you with a question or two: 

What is your workplace doing to support the development of more emotionally intelligence workforce? What are you doing individually to develop your own EQ? What difference would it make if those  you worked for and/or with had more EQ skills? What would it be like to navigate your work-life with more ease, joy and peace?

Comments always welcome….in the meantime, to a TGIM work-life…with EQ!


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This just in: Free the humans!

August 20, 2007

If you read my post yesterday, I ended with a call for ideas on how to ease towards and back into September and work mode….with more joy and less angst. Well, this just in: Two colleagues in the coaching world that I respect very much are starting a movement called “Free the Humans” — and kicking it off on Labour Day with a “Free the Humans” be-in picnic!

 According to Darlene Russell and Charmaine Sherlock — the co-founders of this event and social movement — “the intent is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the famous Summer of Love and to mark our reluctant return to work”.

Darlene says on their blog: “We thought this would be the perfect occasion to introduce Free the Humans, the new social movement committed to freeing the human spirit and liberating the imagination at work.”

Very coooooool. So if you are anywhere near the Hamilton area on Labour Day – mark your calendars and check it all out at their blog:

And if you’re not from the area…..stay tuned in because as Darlene said, this is about much more than a one day event: it’s a social movement and they inviting others to help co-create a new way of being at work.

Gotta like the sound of that!

Also worth noting, Darlene and Charmaine are also offering a fantabulous program for organizations wanting to perk up their people with their unique coffee breaks. If you’ve ever witnessed Darlene in action with her creativity, well, you’ll know you’re in for something special!  It’s all on their blog – so check it out!

To freeing the humans and a TGIM work life!


Hey – Bugger off My Lunch! Err…in the News Again

June 4, 2007

What do you do when  a co-worker steals (ahem….I mean: ‘perhaps accidentally takes your lunch’:) from the fridge at work? Rant’n’rave? Send a nasty email? Something else?

Well, see today’s Globe and Mail, Life Section. Profiled today in the “Weekly Look at Work Culture” by Craig Silverman. Craig called me for some comments on how to handle this and other work-related sticky situations. A few of my tips were included in the piece. Check it out: buy a copy or see the online version.

Oh and you’ll enjoy a peek at the blog source that the Globe referenced: see “passiveaggressivenotes

A few more tips that didn’t make it into the edit (the final article):  

  1. Pause before you send that nasty email. An email sent from emotion can stir more trouble than you want. Write if you must – but hold it till you calm down. Re-read and re-write if necessary (or get someone else to advise/help/etc.)
  2. Ask yourself: Is this the best way to handle the situation. What else can I do? What’s the most professional way of communicating?
  3. Am I the best one to send the message? Is there someone else who can have a better impact (e.g. HR; office manager, etc?)
  4. How do I want to show up in this situation? Take the higher road and model respect and professional conduct – or dive right into the food fight?!?

Well ‘nuf said for now….I have to go check my fridge to see if my lunch is still there:)

May your lunch be safe and all yours on this fine TGIMworklife Monday!

P.S. see “In the News” – for other media articles that I’ve been in.


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:)

 BACK To TGIMworklife Homepage

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

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!

Voice of a reflective leader: how to truly ‘be there’ with your people

April 23, 2007

I have to share a post from Joe Thornley’s blog. As CEO of a PR and design firm (Thornley Fallis) with offices in Ottawa and Toronto, Joe writes: “I am regularly confronted with a fundamental challenge. How do I manage to stay connected enough with my employees that I can understand them and their state of mind and also convey a sense of the organization’s overall vision, direction and purpose?”

Great question Joe — and a sign of a resonant leader who cares. Notice his question was not “how do I make sure we are getting the most productivity out of our people”? Sure that’s part of the ultimate equation, but Joe sees the bigger picture…

He shares his experience in shifting his approach wrt to his weekly Toronto visits. Whereas he used to jam-pack his time in Toronto (he’s based in Ottawa) with back-to-back formal meetings that ‘pushed the agenda’ with lots of decision-making focus, he’s learned that those visits used to stress out his people. Now he takes a more informal, open approach and devotes more time to learning about his people and simply ‘tuning in’. He conveys the value of being there for the brown bag lunch get-togethers, some water cooler chat and informal drop-in meetings to help him understand what’s really important to his people – in their work and in their lives. Invaluable and so much more powerful than simply only focusing on task and strategy conversations.

Please read it for yourself. Joe’s post demonstrates the thinking of a reflective leader who understands the value of building relationships internally and seeing employees as way more than their functional roles. He gets that his people have lives in and out of the office. 

Joe says that being present is about so much more than just being physically in the office. He quotes an article from Suzie and Jack Welch in a recent Business Week Column: …the road to the top is paved with being there.”

So to leaders and aspiring leaders,  ask yourself this Monday morning: What does ‘being there’ look like to you in your work life? And how will you be there for your people this week? 

Thanks Joe – great inspiration for the start of the work-week!