Building Better Leaders…

I recently conducted a workshop for the leaders at Casco Contractors, Inc. in Orange County, California. President, Cheryl Osborn is truly “Committed to Building it Better” both for her customers and her leadership team. I consider her a pioneer in the construction business, providing cutting-edge development opportunities for her team of seven Directors, so they become better leaders and build better teams. During this workshop, we utilized three assessments focused on personality preferences, interpersonal relations, and managing conflict to improve team dynamics, communication, effectiveness, and efficiency. These leaders learned about their own personal preferences, strengths and blind spots, as well as each other’s. We focused on using this information to work better together both collectively as a leadership team and within their sub-teams. This group of leaders clearly saw how to leverage their differences to improve group problem-solving and how to ask questions in a different way to prevent unnecessary conflict and miscommunication. This session resulted in real actions they can put into practice both at work and in their personal lives. (Click here to learn more about the assessments I use with my clients.)

I was truly impressed by the rich and insightful dialogue with this great group of leaders over the two days I spent with them. One of the biggest take-aways from this conversation was to not make assumptions about the behavior of others. We often climb the Ladder of Inference* and add our own meaning to what other people say and do without asking about their true intent. Unfortunately a lot of avoidable conflict arises out of false assumptions. We judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their behavior because that is what we see and what impacts us. The only way to really know someone else’s intentions is to have a conversation and ask the question. Building trusting relationships where open dialogue takes place is the key to effective leadership and building high-performing teams.

Part II of this engagement will involve the leadership team participating in 360-degree feedback assessments in which they receive feedback from their direct reports, their boss, their customers, and each other as peers. This feedback will show them how their personal preferences, strengths and blind spots they already identified come across to others. This will help them identify specific areas where they want to improve their leadership abilities, and I will work with each leader individually to create an action plan to achieve their goals.

What I truly admire about Cheryl is that she is being a role model by demonstrating what she expects from her team. She participated in the 360 assessment a few months ago, taking the feedback to heart to improve herself as a leader, before providing the same developmental opportunity to her leadership team. I look forward to working with this outstanding group of leaders in the upcoming months, and I am honored to be a part of their journey on their path of continued excellence.

 “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy

“The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth…All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions set us up for suffering.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

 *The Ladder of Inference was developed by Chris Argyris

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