Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Daughter, the Junior Philanthropist

Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Daughter, the Junior Philanthropist

It’s a lot of fun to watch children grow up as a parent, especially when they start to come into their own as a person. I have two kids and both are pretty amazing in their own ways. My 9-year old son loves sports and works hard at each of them and is very naturally gifted in the athletic arena.

My daughter continues to amaze me with both her thoughtfulness and unselfishness and her willingness to sacrifice for others. I wish I could tell you I taught her that, or it was an intentional outcome of great parenting. However, she has exhibited this characteristic since she was very young.

I remember her making cards for her friends that were sick when she was in Kindergarten and first grade. She made a sympathy card for one of her teachers when she was in the 4th grade that showed an enormous amount of compassion and empathy.

What’s impressed me most, though, is her willingness to raise money for a specific group of kids in Haiti. My wife has visited an orphanage in Haiti over the last few years – Hands Across The Sea. It is an integral part of her year, and my daughter has involved herself in a number of ways, even though she hasn’t been able to go (yet).

Molly decided a couple of years ago that she wanted to help one of the students pay for school. The amount she needed to raise? Two hundred seventy five dollars. That’s a decent amount for anyone to fund-raise, but for a 9-year old? I didn’t want to discourage her, but I had my doubts. Yet I also knew my daughter and, once she decides to do something, she’s almost impossible to stop.

After a year of lemonade stands, selling rainbow loom bracelets, collecting change, dog-walking and more, she did it. She saved up for a whole year and not once did I see her get down or discouraged. She accomplished her goal chunk by chunk, bit by bit.

You should have seen her face when we counted the money and she was only $10 shy of reaching her goal. She was overjoyed! And, being the good dad that I am ;), I committed the final $10 to the cause.

Just this weekend, she made cake pops for her teachers for Valentine’s Day. She had help from a couple of friends, but she did the majority of the work herself. (And they’re a lot of work!) They were pretty amazing too! (Just ask our neighbor who recently ate 9 in one sitting.)

And she’s back at it for the kids in Haiti. Last night, she went to Hobby Lobby with my wife and used $25 of her own money to buy them art supplies, toys, and fun crafts to do. She loves it. And she can’t wait until the day that she can go with my wife to meet these kids in person. And they will love her!

To say I’m proud of my daughter is an understatement. But it’s not about what she does or is doing.

It’s about Who. She. Is.

She’s making a difference one life at a time. And here’s what I’ve learned and continue to learn from my baby girl.

Do What’s On Your Heart

Whether it’s big or small, act on your intuition. Help when you can and where you can. Don’t worry about the what or when or why. As you seek to do what’s on your heart, doors will open and you might be pretty amazed at the result.

Give What You Can, When You Can

Again, it doesn’t have to be a huge sum of money. It might just be a little bit of your time or a smile that can make a difference in someone’s day. Write a note to or text a friend and let them know you’re thinking about them. Send a card with a handwritten note. Or cake pops. You could make some cake pops. 🙂

Think Outside of Yourself

This is so hard sometimes. The older I get, the harder it seems. When you have work, sports, music lessons, and more, life can get in the way. It’s easy to get lost in the busy-ness of life. But it’s important to remember and to think about how we can love and serve others. For Molly, it’s easy because that’s just who she is. For you and me, it might take a little more effort.

Persistence is Key

Chunk by chunk. Bit by bit. Stay on that goal until you achieve it. Does it matter if you don’t get it done by the time YOU want it accomplished? Don’t give up – keep after it – even if it takes much longer than expected. Think about how incredible it will be when you’ve achieved it.

Invite Others to Share in the Journey

My daughter is a very social creature. She loves being around friends and including them in her projects. What a great lesson to learn. Isn’t life more fun when we share the journey with others? Oftentimes, we start to wonder what people will think if we tell them about an idea or something we want to do. Ask other people to be involved – let them decide whether they want to or not (and don’t get discouraged if they say, “no”.)

Those are just a few of the lessons I learn from this crazy cool kid. I love watching her grow up and can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do with her in the future. Whatever it is, though, I know one thing. She will embody all the things I’ve listed above and more. Because that’s who she was created to be.

One more thing. Her birthday is coming up next month. Guess what she wants to do for her “party”? Go take some friends to feed the homeless at a local shelter. Yup. She’s THAT kid. And I love it.

What leadership lessons have you learned from your kids? What is one way you can implement the lessons above? Let me know in the comments below. 

Why Every Leader Should Use the DiSC Assessment with Their Team

Why Every Leader Should Use the DiSC Assessment with Their Team

I first used the DiSC assessment years ago when I was working at a church in Phoenix, Arizona. Our church hosted a workshop and one of the speakers led us in this personality assessment. Since then, I have used it multiple times and with multiple teams to help me discover more about who I’m working with and how to lead and/or work with others best.

Depending on which DISC test you use (there are a few variations), it will tell you how you respond to certain situations. It’s really more of a behavioral predictor (according to some) than an actual personality test, but it will tell you a lot about both.

What I like About the DiSC assessment…

There are a number of things I like about this behavior assessment over others. It has really become one of my go-to assessments when working with teams or even individuals. I even use it on the fly when dealing with colleagues or leaders (and I’ll explain how and why momentarily.) Here are a few of the benefits of DiSC that I see.

It’s Quick

The DiSC assessment takes no more than 15-20 minutes for the full profile. Again, this can vary somewhat depending on which specific assessment you take. I’ve also seen facilitators do a “quick” version of this profile technique in about 5-10 minutes (or less).

It’s Easy

I’ve worked with a number of personality tests and used them for students, leaders, and myself. There are some that are great and may go into more depth than the DiSC; however, I don’t think any are easier both to use, understand, and teach others to use.

This is really key for me. You don’t have to remember strange-sounding words like “choleric” or “phlegmatic” or remember which personality each of those represents. (For some reason, I can never keep those straight.)

You learn 4 letters, and each letter corresponds with the type of personality associated with the letter.

D stands for “dominant”. These are your Type-A people who fall into the natural leader category. They are driven and determined.

I represents the “influencers.” These are your everywhere-and-everything-is-a-party people. They are outgoing and love to be around a crowd.

S represents the “steadiness” personalities. These are the nice people that are very supportive. They are the encouragers and your loyal friends.

C describes the “conscientious” types. They are the organizers and effective members of your team. They thrive on detail and “doing it right.”

It’s Intuitive

This is where it gets FUN! 🙂 Once you get the DiSC assessment down (it doesn’t take long, remember, it’s easy!), then you can begin to use it to improve communication for your team, family, friends, etc.

It gets a little addictive to begin to see people in a different light. Here’s the thing: when you know how people behave in certain situations (or in general) you can drastically begin to improve your communication with them. You can vary your communication style depending on who you’re talking to.

You begin to anticipate  what each person needs:

  • Do they need the big picture or a lot of detail?
  • Do they need to know who’s coming or what the agenda will be?
  • Will they need to know how productive it will be or how much fun they’ll have?
  • And on and on…

The DiSC test doesn’t just help with communication, it also helps you know what each person would be best for specific roles:

  • Who can lead a team?
  • Who can hammer out the details?
  • Who can get everyone at the meeting or function?
  • Who can make sure all feel valued and cared for?

Can you imagine what you’d get done? Can you fathom what your team would get done? Feeling appreciated and understood. Feeling like you really know them and listen to them.

How Your Team Benefits from the DiSC assessment…

Develop Trust

One significant way to build trust with your team mates is for them to know and feel that you understand them and can relate with them. The DISC test helps by showing you what each person needs from you and one another in areas such as leadership, communication, work environment, and more.

Trust grows when you feel safe and know what to expect and what is expected from you. As a leader, it is important to know how to relate to each of your team members.

Increase Productivity

Imagine a work environment where you felt understood, appreciate, and valued. Your team leader gives you just the right balance of freedom and direction. You have open and honest communication with your manager and you feel comfortable sharing ideas, concerns, and asking for clarification if needed.

How productive do you think this team would be?

You can also build on the DiSC assessment by using Strengthsfinder 2.0. This profile allows you to identify the top 5 strengths of each of your team members. The identification of these strengths can then be used to align people into their giftings and further increase the productivity (and satisfaction) of your team.

Strengthen Collaboration

How well your team works together is a direct result of leadership and trust. Here are a few ways that the DISC personality assessment can increase collaboration:

  • Capitalize on each person’s strengths
  • Increase understanding between coworkers
  • Enhance communication strategies
  • Place people in the right roles (the first time!)

Collaboration and employee engagement go hand in hand. The better your team collaborates, the more engaged they will be and the more they will enjoy working on your team.

Communicate more effectively

It’s hard to communicate as it is. What if you could simplify that process and make it easier for you to communicate with others and for them to communicate with you? Each personality style communicates differently and understanding others and how they communicate will increase your communication strategy exponentially.

Have I convinced you yet? It really is a quick and easy way to improve your leadership and develop your team.

If you’re interested to learn more about the DISC or use it with your team these are the resources that I would recommend you start with:

DiSC Assessment (Individual) [Discounts start at orders of 10+ reports or more.]

DiSC Leadership Assessment

I’ve recently switched to PeopleKeys for all my DiSC assessment needs. They’ve been great to work with and their selection of assessments is amazing!

Whether you work with one team or multiple teams, I would also strongly encourage you to think about getting certified as a DISC trainer. This will not only increase your understanding of the DISC personality test but allow you to train others within your company or organization (including managers, team members, etc.)

DiSC Certification 

This certification is through 48Days and Dan Miller. I highly recommend all of his products and training. They are top notch!

What has been your experience with the DiSC assessment? What other ways and assessments do you use with your team? Let me know in the comments below? 

Disclosure:  Some of the links above are affiliate links, and if you decide to make a purchase I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you.  Please know that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something but because they are helpful and useful, .  Please only spend money on these products if you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals or your team’s goals.

5 Quick and Easy Holiday Team Building Activities

5 Quick and Easy Holiday Team Building Activities

Need some team building activities for the holidays? Here are five different ones that you can use as stand-alone activities or put them together for one amazing holiday gathering.

Each activity comes with instructions, and you can even download a 4-page PDF guide of this post at the end to take with you to your holiday party or team meeting. (The PDF includes additional ideas not listed in the post.)

1. Snowflake

Also called the Paper Tear activity, this exercise shows the importance of communication and clarifying instructions. This activity can be done with smaller teams as well as large groups.

Instructions:

Hand everyone a piece of paper. Once everyone has receive a piece, instruct them that this exercise is to be done with all eyes closed and in silence (except for the rustling of the paper.) Participants are not allowed to ask questions of you, their neighbor, or make comments about the process until it is completed.

Ask everyone to close their eyes and to follow these instructions exactly:

  1. Fold your paper in half.
  2. Fold it in half again.
  3. Tear off the top right corner.
  4. Fold your paper in half length-wise.
  5. Tear off the bottom left corner.
  6. Rotate your paper.
  7. Fold it in half again.
  8. Tear off a piece from the middle

Say, “If you followed these instructions exactly, all of your papers should look the same. Open your eyes and unfold your paper.” At this point, have them compare their papers with those around them.

Debrief questions:

What was it like to follow the instructions?

How hard or easy was it to not be able to clarify?

How does this resemble communication in your organization?

What ways could this process be improved/changed?

2. Helium Peppermint Stick

This is a variation on the helium stick team building activity. One year with a student leadership group, I wrapped red electric tape around a thin, long piece of PVC pipe to make it look like a peppermint stick. Depending on your team, you can create a story to go with this activity:

Santa’s elves have lost one of their peppermint sticks. It appears they’ve accidentally dropped some of the reindeer dust on it because it has a tendency to float up. It’s fairly fragile and very light weight. Because we don’t want to break it, we’re just going to use our index fingers to touch it. In order to reverse the effects of the reindeer dust, we have to set it on the floor as a team. Everyone must be touching the peppermint stick with both index fingers, and they must remain touching it the whole time.

This activity takes a lot of communication and cooperation to complete. It’s much harder than it seems at first.

Debrief questions:

  • What worked well during this activity?
  • What was your communication strategy in the beginning?
  • How did that change over time?
  • What observations did you make during this exercise?

3. Holiday Spectrums

Spectrums is a game that I learned personally from Mark Collard of Playmeo. The game is an icebreaker that asks participants to line up on a continuum based on two choices.

Designate two end points on the spectrum you’ve created. (You can use a couple of small cones, 2 chairs, roll out a long piece of webbing or duct tape, etc.) Tell your group members you’re going to read off what the 2 ends of the spectrum represent. For example, “dog lover” at this end (and indicate which end that would be) or “cat lover” at this end (point to the opposite end of the spectrum). You can choose to move to either end or pick somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter where you go, just pick a spot that you feel represents your answer.

Possible questions/categories for this team building activity:

a. Christmas is (The holidays are) awesome! OR Bah Humbug!

b. Griswold Christmas Lights… or Never put lights up

c. Black Friday shopping… or Stay at home and avoid the crowds!

d. I love holiday traditions… or I love to try new things every year!

e. I use wrapping paper… or I use gift bags.

Get more ideas by downloading the free PDF!

f. Create your own spectrum question(s).

After each person has selected their place, ask them their reason for selecting that particular spot on the spectrum (you don’t have to ask everyone – just get a few responses.)

What can we learn from each other during this activity?

4. Deck the Halls Scavenger Hunt

Option #1

Make a list of holiday items and assign points for each item. The larger or more hard to find items should have more points attached to them.

Give each team a list of the items and a time limit to gather items (typically 1-2 hours). If teams are late, they could face disqualification. I would suggest that you have the teams stay together for this activity. You can designate the teams stay within a certain area or allow them to venture out. (Just be aware that the larger the teams, the harder it will be to stay together if they are allowed outside of a certain area.)

See sample items in the PDF (Free download)

Option #2

This is the “bigger and better” approach to a scavenger hunt. Give each team a small item (small Christmas stocking, candy cane, ornament) and ask them that their job is to go out into the community and ask for something “bigger and better” than what they currently have. The idea is for each team to trade up to the most extravagant item that they can find in a certain amount of time.

Usually you give teams an hour or two to complete the task, meet back at a certain time (or face disqualification), and reveal what each team has been able to come up with. You can select a winner based on size of item or most expensive item. You could also give out other awards such as:

  • Most creative item obtained.
  • Biggest item.
  • Weirdest object.
  • Most likely to be found in a Michael Jackson video.
  • Most likely to be found in our boss’s house.
  • Create your own fun awards!

5. Holiday Mapping (Where in the world?)

Instructions:
Imagine the floor where you are is a map of the world. The center of the map is where we are physically. I will ask a series of questions and you move to the spot on the imaginary map that represents your answer to the question. For example, if I asked “Where were you born?” go ahead and move to that spot now. For each question, don’t worry about being able to afford

Additional question ideas:
a. Where in the world would you like to spend the holidays?

b. What other country’s holiday tradition(s) would you like to learn more about?

c. If you could take a 2-week vacation during the holidays (all expenses paid) where would you go? (You could also ask what they would do there once they’ve moved to their spot.)

d. Where in the world would you like to go for the New Year’s celebration?

e. What place would you absolutely NOT want to visit during the holidays? (This could create some laughs!)

f. <Insert your creative question here.>

After each question, call on a few individuals to name the place where they are and you might ask the reason they chose that particular place.

You’ll have great fun with these activities. Don’t forget to download the PDF (FREE) that also includes ideas for the scavenger hunt items above, as well as additional ideas not listed in this post.

What activities are you planning to use? What other holiday activities do you use for team building? Let me know in the comments below!

Five More Funny Teamwork Videos to Get Your Team Talking

Five More Funny Teamwork Videos to Get Your Team Talking

In my last post on Funny Teamwork Videos, I found a few videos that might lighten up a team meeting or be good examples of what NOT to do as team members along with a few debriefing questions after each one.

Here are a few more funny videos that I’ve found since then. The first three are from the same duo, Tripp and Tyler, out of Georgia. You might need special permission to use some of these videos in any team meetings, so do your research before using these. (These guys are seriously funny, and I wouldn’t normally use three videos from the same people, but they are great!)

1. A Conference Call in Real Life

Has your team ever hosted a webinar or conference call? See if you can relate to this video, and answer some questions afterward.

Team process questions:

1.) Who do I identify with in this video?

2.) What issues does this video address that we need to address?

3.) What are some solutions for the issues discovered?

2. Every Meeting Ever

You know that guy? In that meeting? Yes, that’s the one I’m talking about. Which of these personality styles are you in a meeting?

Team debrief questions:

1.) Who do I identify with in this video?

2.) What issues does this video address that we need to address?

3.) What are some solutions for the issues discovered?

4.) What ways can our meetings be improved?

5.) How can different personalities work together to improve meeting times?

3. Email in Real Life

Like or not, email is a part of every day work life. It doesn’t have to be painful, and it can be very productive. Look for issues that you can relate to and figure out how those issues could be addressed productively.

Team process questions:

1.) What do I identify with in this video?

2.) What issues does this video address that we need to address?

3.) What are some solutions for the issues discovered?

4.) How can we improve our email processes?

4. American Airlines Team Building Spoof

Every had one of those way-uncomfortable team building experiences where it seems like only the facilitator is having a good time? (Maybe at your expense?) Here’s a fun video to get you to think about the team building experience.

Debrief Questions:

1.) Share a funny team building story.

2.) What can you relate to in this video?

3.) How can we improve our team building experiences to make them more enjoyable and more effective?

5. Problem Solving with The Big Bang Theory

Where does your team hit roadblocks when you try to come up with solutions? Is it the same obstacle every time? Or are there multiple roadblocks? What alternative solutions can you come up with to help solve these dilemmas?

1.) What issues can we relate with on this video?

2.) What challenges do we have as a team when collaborating?

3.) How can we improve collaboration and make everyone feel a part?

 

Hope you enjoyed these videos as much as I enjoyed compiling them for you. I would love to hear how you used them with your team and what solutions you came up with to improved certain processes.

What was your favorite video and why? Which one will you use for a teachable moment with your team? Let me know in the comments below.

Leading Others to their A-Ha Moments

Leading Others to their A-Ha Moments

I had the opportunity recently to work with a young man who needed some leadership development coaching. His boss had strongly encouraged (read required, actually – ahem) him to go to three sessions and then any sessions after that were voluntary if he wanted to continue. We ended up meeting for seven or so sessions and during those sessions discovered a lot about who he was and the leader that he was growing into.

During the coaching process, he had several “a-ha” moments. You could see on his face when those would happen and he would say, “I never really thought about it like that before.”

For a coach, those are some of the best moments. You know your client is “getting it”. They are tracking with you and are thinking differently. That’s when change can start to happen. Something clicks within your client and they begin to make progress.

For some clients, it happens very quickly. For others, like this young man I worked with, it happened towards the end of our time together. The other sessions were helpful and useful; however, we had one session where it seemed like everything was firing on all cylinders and we were having one breakthrough after another.

As I reflected on some of my best coaching sessions (and this one), I thought about the why. Why did that session go so well and others haven’t? What made that session so special?

Here are a few ideas that I came up with that hopefully will help you as you coach teams and others into their “a-ha moments”

1. Capitalize on Your Strengths

If you are going to coach someone, you need to use your strengths to their advantage. Some coaches like to coach over the phone. Some like to coach in person. I like to coach in person. I’m a very visual person, so I like to both see who I’m coaching and also write things down for both of us to see. I like whiteboards.

During this session, I used the whiteboard extensively to help my client make connections (I’ll talk about more in a minute) with his past employment and his future career goals. In writing things down, he was able to make connections that he hadn’t seen before in how his whole path was essentially leading him to where he wanted to go.

Learn to use your strengths as a coach to have even more impact with your coaching clients.

2. Create Connections

I’m a visual person (one of my strengths) and love to use whiteboards to draw and write. I’m a strong believer in writing things down (whether it’s goals or brainstorming, etc.). It’s easier to see connections when you have something written in front of you.

As I was meeting with my client, I wrote some things on a white board based on a question I had asked (about his former employment). We wrote those things down and then continued to identify different characteristics of jobs that he had held up until his present one.

As we were going through this process, you could see the light bulb turn on as we connected the dots and discovered that every job he had held had prepared him not only for the job he was currently at, but also for the career path that he was heading down.

Leading clients to discovering connections for themselves will help to create more breakthrough moments in their coaching experience. 

3. Confidently Trust Your Intuition

Whether it’s what question to ask next, what homework assignment to give, or what activity to do next, coaching is a lesson in flexibility and judgment calls. Coaches need to be able to trust their intuition in order to move clients forward.

Often there’s this gut feeling that says “go this way,” “ask this question,” or “do this activity next.” There are times when it seems like the activity may not fit or the question seems a bit off; however, the times I have followed my gut have been far more effective than trying to force an activity that I had planned or trying to follow a rigid structure.

Learn to listen to that little voice when you coach others, and you will quickly become a stellar coach.

4.Cut the Crap (aka, Shut Up and Listen)

When you’re first starting off coaching, this one can be quite difficult. It was for me. At times, I still struggle with it. There’s a difference between consulting and coaching. Consultants give advice and tell people how they think certain tasks and goals should be done.

Coaches, on the other hand, lead people into solutions by asking powerful questions. The client should do most of the talking. I’ve heard that if you as a coach are talking more than half of the time, then you are talking too much. I would encourage you to talk as little as possible. (Depending on the client, this can be very challenging.)

Ask powerful questions and be quiet. Listen to what your client has to say. Don’t be afraid of silent space during the coaching process.

These four strategies are not the end-all be-all to coaching, but they have helped me lead others to their a-ha moments whether as part of a team or individual coaching.

What other strategies have you used to help lead people to “a-ha moments”? Which strategy do you tend to employ the most? Let me know in the comments below.