People Matter – On Defensiveness

By | Business Ethics, Culture, Interpersonal Communications, Leadership, Talent Development, Talent Retention | No Comments

D-Fence Blog ImageA lot of emphasis is placed on defensive activities in the sporting world from a positive standpoint. Commentators proclaim excitedly, “He played a great defensive game; the defense won that game for the team; what a great defensive play.” However, defensive stances don’t play that well in the workplace. In fact, defensive attitudes impede learning, contradict collaboration, create destructive conflict, stifle professional and personal growth, and in general negatively impact working relationships. We most often think the other person is getting defensive needlessly, but I would challenge you to evaluate your role in the scenarios. Do you find yourself asking, “wow, what got into her…all I did was ask a question.” If this is the case, take a look at your approach. What about your encounter did you contribute to creating a defensive stance in the other person? Rather than always seeking to blame others for situations, your first question should be to yourself – “what role did I play in creating a defensive posture?” “Was my tone accusatory?” “Did I make inaccurate assumptions about the other person?” Did I use antagonistic word choices?”
Now for the other side of the coin. Take a hard look at yourself. Do you have a tendency to get defensive when others are only attempting to offer observations or suggestions? If so, how do you change your stance? There are several things you can do. Maintain an open posture, i.e., be approachable. Closed body language portrays defensiveness before any words are even spoken. If you feel the heat rise in your neck and are poised to defend yourself from a perceived attack, practice stress management techniques that work for you…things such as deep breaths, self-talk, counting, etc. Ask questions to clarify what is meant; this gives you time to calm down, think, and provides an opportunity for more open communication.

The Rewards of Serving Others

By | Leadership | No Comments

I don’t know about you, but sometimes an entire week goes by, and I wonder what I really accomplished. The to-do list is always there with tasks waiting to be checked off so I can say, “Look at everything I did this week!” But how much of that is meaningful? Yesterday I spent time on the phone with a candidate just talking…or rather listening to her tell me about her experience and her career objectives. I don’t presently have a concrete job opportunity for her, but she was a referral from another candidate and called me based on her friend’s suggestion. It strikes me every time I speak with someone how interconnected we all are…many times just a phone call away from encountering someone who can change your life. Make no mistake—I didn’t change hers, she changed mine. It wasn’t what she said on the phone that impacted me; it was the exchange that occurred afterward. I e-mailed her thanking her for her time and told her that even if we don’t get a chance to work together that I would be interested in hearing about the progress of her search. Her response to me was all-telling. She thanked me for my note and said, “I don’t feel so invisible anymore.” That comment hit me and made me wonder how many people in today’s environment have had similar feelings. I also realized how much courage it takes to admit to a practical stranger such a vulnerable position. I wonder what all is behind that simple stark statement. This experience reinforced to me the importance of taking time to serve others merely by listening and offering support in a difficult time. For all of the tasks that I checked off my list this week, this was not on the “to-do’s” but yet turned out to be the greatest reward of my week.

Does Self-Awareness Improve Leadership?

By | Interpersonal Communications, Leadership | No Comments

Dog in MirrorHow self-aware are you?

If that catches you flat-footed, you may have some work to do. Self-awareness is key to developing stronger communication skills, fostering higher quality relationships, and increasing your effectiveness as a leader.

Self-awareness results from being honest about who you are, your likes and dislikes, what you do well, what you don’t do well. The process is introspective and requires complete transparency – understanding how you think about things, how you engage with others (verbally and non-verbally), and how others react to you.

Knowing yourself is critical – relationships are not unilateral. YouMUST know how your contribution affects the relationship. And if you want to be an effective leader, the responsibility is yours.

Where to start?  Try answering these questions:

  • During a conversation with a subordinate, how much time do you spend espousing your perspective vs. understanding the employee’s thoughts by engaging him/her with questions?
  • Do you actively listen to what the other person is saying?
  • Do you interrupt the other person because you can’t wait to get your point across?
  • Do you exhibit interest in an employee’s family?
  • Are you constantly looking at your phone or laptop while supposedly in conversation with someone?
  • What tone of voice do you use when communicating?
  • Are your comments condescending?
  • Are you open and receptive to feedback from others?
  • What kind of body language do you observe in the people with whom you interact:
    • Do they maintain eye contact or look off into space as you are talking?
    • Do you get blank stares while you are speaking?
    • Do they fidget?
    • Do others avoid engaging with you?

Developing your level of self-awareness is an ongoing process. Gaining a better understanding of your contribution to subordinate, manager, and peer relationships will show you where to make adjustments to increase your impact as a leader.

NobleVision can help.

Does Professionalism Impact Business Performance?

By | Business Ethics, Leadership, Talent Development | No Comments

I have had several recent experiences that, when combined, have caused me to believe that we are witnessing a decline in professionalism. These experiences center around people getting back with you or I should say…not getting back with you. The most vivid instance was a series of non-interactions that began with a phone call where I reached a colleague only to have him inform me that he didn’t have time to talk. He was swamped, overwhelmed, in over his head. And I want to know, then why did he pick up the phone? Even more curious was the fact that he indicated I should be happy he picked up since he knew it was me…thanks to caller ID. That was a bit condescending I thought. He asked me to e-mail him to schedule a time that we could talk, which of course I did…three weeks in a row. Yes, this behavior repeated several times, and every time I complied only to experience frustrating silence from the other party. Very unprofessional in my opinion.

The ramification of this person’s silence/lack of follow-up were repeated phone calls to others having to explain that I STILL had not heard anything from my contact. Now this person’s lack of professionalism had carried over and by association had attached itself to me. I will accept my shortfalls and be accountable to them, but please don’t ask me to cover for and have to keep making excuses for someone else.

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Lane Ends in 500 Feet!!

By | Leadership, Talent Development | No Comments

Lane EndsWhat do you do when you see this sign?

Sometimes we encounter an alert like this in a routine spot in the normal road patterns of our daily travels. Other times it appears as an unexpected and unwelcome surprise as part of an annoying construction project, accompanied by flashing lights and barricades, clearly pointing out that we need to make an adjustment.

Regardless of where it appears, it is a warning causing us to move in a different direction if we don’t want to find ourselves in a ditch. Maybe we need a sign like that when we are about to cross the 50 mark…and I am not referring to the speedometer in your car.

When we hit that birthday marking the entrance to our fifth decade, many of us are forced to alter course, generally with no warning, even though we can argue that we should have seen it coming and better prepared ourselves. In many cases it is within the context of our career, when we find ourselves in the crosshairs of a layoff, a RIF, an early buyout…all code for “yikes, I’m out of a job, now what do I do?” Or it could be with our family situation as children leave for college, graduate and move out and on to adulthood. Whatever the case, we can view these situations as either unwelcome roadblocks to fulfillment…or as opportunities to chart a new path.

Guess what? It won’t be as obvious as a sign telling you what to expect, but changes are coming – professionally, personally, likely both. How will you perceive the ones will that affect you?

One way to ensure a more positive outlook is to be better prepared. Don’t get caught in the wrong lane running out of road. Here are a few suggestions on how you can better position yourself for the unexpected changes that surface in your life.


  • Spend sufficient time in preparing an updated professional resume which adequately reflects your uniqueness
  • Research certifications that are respected in your industry and obtain at least one of them
  • Brush up on your interviewing skills
  • Continue networking with people outside of your company and in parallel industries
  • Establish/update your LinkedIn profile


  • Cultivate friendships
  • Explore areas of interest and develop a hobby if you don’t already have one
  • Plan social outings
  • Develop common interests with your spouse or significant other
  • Read and keep up to date with current events