Leadership

Word UP! Two Evans Coaches reflect on a word

It is Evans’ belief that High Performing Teams require High Performing Leaders and therefore leadership development is a strong component of creating high performing teams. Leadership coaching serves as a valuable tool for enhancing a leader’s capacity to build, empower, and sustain a high performing team. Laura English and Sean Miller are two of Evans Incorporated’s certified leadership coaches. They specialize in coaching leaders at all levels from emerging, newly promoted, and experienced on a wide variety of topics across industries and organizations.

In this series, Laura and Sean are challenging each other to share their thoughts, insights and coaching experiences on topics related to High Performing Leaders using a word association exercise. They believe that new learning connections are generated when the brain is challenged (i.e., responding to a “surprise” word) and they know that there is “power is in the conversation” (i.e., each will give a response to the other’s story). We hope their stories and insights will inspire you to take charge of your leadership growth!

Sean Miller
Laura, your word is Meaning.
Laura English

The word meaning brings up a more visceral response from me. In coaching sessions I am often finding my clients either ‘making meaning’ of something that is blocking them or they are looking for the big M meaning – what is it all about?, what am I doing?, why am I doing it? how can I make a difference? …the gamut of those bigger more existential topics.

Whether it is a big M or a little m, that space of discovery and eventually co-creation of a solution is where a lot of magic comes in from my lens as a coach. That is why I think I got a gut feeling from the word meaning. Of course, I am often brought to one of my favorite books Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl and the premise that as long as we have something to strive for and attach to, the more we will be able to survive, thrive and build resilience.

I am also brought to the concept of FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi around accessing those moments and circumstances that provide us the sense of being in our ‘sweet spot’ and getting into that space of losing track of time and feeling the sense of appropriate challenge to motivate us to continue.

When clients bring the “I don’t know what I want to do next” topic, it is a great time to reacquaint themselves with their ‘sweet spot’, their Why (great Ted Talk), their motivation, and what makes them feel more alive. That exploration breeds a lot of good stories and ideas to begin the journey of finding the ‘what’s next’ for them either in their current leadership role or in one they wish to attain.

Sean Miller
Laura you are passionately speaking to the fact that people need to feel a sense of purpose. That feeling of “what they do actually matters.” Leaders need to continuously check in with their employees to ensure they still “know their why” and “know their how”- connecting to their work to the positive impact it has on the team/organization.
Laura English
Sean, my word for you is Ownership.
Sean Miller

As mentioned in previous posts, team members are set up for long term success when they are empowered to take individual responsibility for overcoming challenges. Just as high performing teams have high performing leaders, resilient teams are comprised of resilient individuals. Providing your team with the “space” to take action to overcome the challenges will lead to them taking responsibility rather than avoiding it. When a challenge arises, the personal power your team has will prevent them from operating out of fear or pointing fingers. They will “rise up” and continue to take personal responsibility because it’s the only way they know. I’ll offer this question to you leaders: Next time your team is at a standstill, ask them: What part of the situation do you own? And How will you respond to this situation from a position of personal responsibility and not from blame or “passing the buck?”

Laura English
Your response makes me think of the need for leaders to create a culture of accountability. With that cultural norm, an important factor is that leaders need to create the environment for it to be safe to take risks, make mistakes, and learn and grow from them. If leaders do not show signs that it is ok to take risks and ownership, there will be mistrust, ‘passing the buck’ and hidden issues that can risk the ability to be a high performing team.

 

Are you working with building meaning and purpose with your team? Do you desire to create a cultural norm of ownership/accountability? Do you need a look at how your leadership style is impacting your team?

You are welcome to take advantage of a 30-minute coaching session with one of our Evans coaches! Please enter your information below and we will contact you to get you scheduled for your complimentary Coaching Session.

Word UP! Two Evans Coaches reflect on a word

It is Evans’ belief that High Performing Teams require High Performing Leaders and therefore leadership development is a strong component of creating high performing teams. Leadership coaching serves as a valuable tool for enhancing a leader’s capacity to build, empower, and sustain a high performing team. Laura English and Sean Miller are two of Evans Incorporated’s certified leadership coaches. They specialize in coaching leaders at all levels from emerging, newly promoted, and experienced on a wide variety of topics across industries and organizations.

In this series, Laura and Sean are challenging each other to share their thoughts, insights and coaching experiences on topics related to High Performing Leaders using a word association exercise. They believe that new learning connections are generated when the brain is challenged (i.e., responding to a “surprise” word) and they know that there is “power is in the conversation” (i.e., each will give a response to the other’s story). We hope their stories and insights will inspire you to take charge of your leadership growth!

Laura English
Sean, my word for you is Independence.
Sean Miller

This word excites me as it is one of my core values and a big reason why I became a coach. Having autonomy (i.e., the freedom to make decisions as you see fit), creates the feeling of being “in control.” This leads to an empowered mindset where the brain feels “open for business” with no restriction and no worry. You are easily able to create, innovate, plan, and problem solve because there is no fear of failure or someone telling you to “do it their way”.

Coaching is all about helping clients establish a feeling of independence in their lives. In every coaching conversation the client is in control and thus the brain is open to new insights related to the challenges they face and open to generating solutions. I encourage everyone to reflect on the times when they felt most proud or most accomplished, and to think deeply about what THEY DID to achieve success. I guarantee when you look back you will notice that you acted…and succeeded…because you were empowered!

Laura English

Having personally been coached over the years, I always loved that by the time the session was over, I felt so resourceful and had so many other ideas and options than my initial limited thinking when I showed up. By putting the locus of control on the leader through open and creative questions, the part of the leader’s mind that accesses creative problem-solving and solutions. Even further, the sense of empowerment and independence has a ripple effect on other parts of their work and lives.

Sean Miller
Laura, the word I have chosen for you is Collaboration.
Laura English

So interesting that I picked Independence as your word and you picked Collaboration for me. Each are important facets of being a leader and leaders have to balance the need to encourage autonomy with the need for collaborative solutions to be able to operate in fast-paced and diverse working environments.

I recently read about leadership and collaboration in this Forbes article Six Crucial Behaviors of Collaborative Leaders. The one behavior that peaked my interest is the concept of creating “psychological safety” linked back to primitive times when people would either hoard or share depending upon the threats around them. It is the role of a leader to create an environment where team members feel “secure, valued, and trusted” to be able to effectively work in a collaborative, learning and knowledge sharing environment. As leaders grow and learn more about themselves they may find that they have habits or traits that can be limiting their ability to create a truly collaborative culture even though they know it is the right thing to do. By working with a leadership coach, the leader can explore their blind spots and pitfalls (e.g., command and control behaviors, diversity blind spots, siloed prioritization etc.) in a safe way to then begin to identify proactive strategies to release limiting habits. As leaders grow and expand their capacity to create ‘psychologically safe’ teams, the ability to innovate and develop creative solutions are more and more possible.

Sean Miller

You have highlighted the responsibility leaders have for creating an environment that promotes a “growth-mindset.” Leaders need to be self-aware of their “social triggers” that may quickly shift employees from a growth to a “fixed mindset.” When people experience a social trigger, the ability to create and innovate disappears, leaving them focused solely on “surviving” the uncomfortable situation they are experiencing.

 

Are you grappling with the concept of independence in your team environment? Are you finding that collaboration is not as effective as you know it can be? Are you noticing habits that are limiting your ability to be a truly high performing leader?

You are welcome to take advantage of a 30-minute coaching session with one of our Evans coaches! Please enter your information below and we will contact you to get you scheduled for your complimentary Coaching Session.

Word UP! Two Evans Coaches reflect on a word

It is Evans’ belief that High Performing Teams require High Performing Leaders and therefore leadership development is a strong component of creating high performing teams. Leadership coaching serves as a valuable tool for enhancing a leader’s capacity to build, empower, and sustain a high performing team. Laura English and Sean Miller are two of Evans Incorporated’s certified leadership coaches. They specialize in coaching leaders at all levels from emerging, newly promoted, and experienced on a wide variety of topics across industries and organizations.

In this series, Laura and Sean are challenging each other to share their thoughts, insights and coaching experiences on topics related to High Performing Leaders using a word association exercise. They believe that new learning connections are generated when the brain is challenged (i.e., responding to a “surprise” word) and they know that there is “power is in the conversation” (i.e., each will give a response to the other’s story). We hope their stories and insights will inspire you to take charge of your leadership growth!

Laura English
Sean, your word is Roles.
Sean Miller

Leaders often think the best way to help their team members connect to their roles is to simply tell them what their role (title) is and what is expected of them at a high-level. While this approach may temporarily fill in an information-gap, it won’t solve the issues of role clarity/confusion. Telling someone to do something or be something is a quick fix, whereas coaching someone to generate their own thoughts, insights, and understandings creates a personal connectivity that is sure to last.

When it comes to working with leaders on the topic of role definition, the coaching conversation will flow much like the one I described above. The leader will look inward and think about their own role, how they connect to it, and what gaps exist. Once the leader feels clear and comfortable with their own role and what it entails, they will be ready to engage with their team to support the creation of a team-wide shared role understanding. The leader will operate with a coach-mindset and will start the conversation with a simple yet powerful question like: “How would you describe your role to someone outside the team?” This provides the team with the space to think deeply about their roles and positions the leader as a support rather than an authority.

Laura English

I like how leading someone through their own role descriptions provides clarity and insight not only for themselves but for their ability to lead a team. It also seems to help with building empathy and connection with team members. Of course, I strongly believe that a coaching mindset for a leader builds stronger connections for team members both for their individual understanding of their role and for common understanding between the leader and the team member.

Sean Miller
Laura, how does Empowerment show up with your clients?
Laura English

Empowerment in a team setting is how successful work gets done and how team members feel valued. At its core, coaching breeds empowerment for the leader and those benefits can be extended to teams especially when leaders see the positive outcomes.

In this Huffington Post article, the author describes four elements of empowerment: meaningfulness, impact, independence and power. I believe in working with my clients the core intention is to achieve those concepts through articulating what they want (meaningfulness), what will be different when they have what they want (impact), defining the path that best suits their strengths and talents (independence) and acknowledging and celebrating the achievements along the way (power).

By working with a coach to transform a desired state into a reality, leaders can extend that same thinking process for their team which helps them to feel empowered and inspired to support the team to achieve success.

Sean Miller

Empowerment at its core, is a feeling that someone trusts and believes in you to “get the job done in a way you think is best.” As a coach, you provide that feeling to your clients, and through that experience they gain the insight of how it can benefit their teams.

 

Are you thinking that your team values and personal values are misaligned? Do you have values for your team at all? Are you looking for support in how to develop a vision and/or inspire your team to align with it? Are you battling between your tactical needs versus setting the course for the future?

You are welcome to take advantage of a 30-minute coaching session with one of our Evans coaches! Please enter your information below and we will contact you to get you scheduled for your complimentary Coaching Session.

Word UP! Two Evans Coaches reflect on a word

It is Evans’ belief that High Performing Teams require High Performing Leaders and therefore leadership development is a strong component of creating high performing teams. Leadership coaching serves as a valuable tool for enhancing a leader’s capacity to build, empower, and sustain a high performing team. Laura English and Sean Miller are two of Evans Incorporated’s certified leadership coaches. They specialize in coaching leaders at all levels from emerging, newly promoted, and experienced on a wide variety of topics across industries and organizations.

In this series, Laura and Sean are challenging each other to share their thoughts, insights and coaching experiences on topics related to High Performing Leaders using a word association exercise. They believe that new learning connections are generated when the brain is challenged (i.e., responding to a “surprise” word) and they know that there is “power is in the conversation” (i.e., each will give a response to the other’s story). We hope their stories and insights will inspire you to take charge of your leadership growth!

Laura English
Sean, when I say the word Values what comes to mind?
Sean Miller

When coaching leaders on the topic of values, I’ve noticed that their thinking initially veers towards “how do I instill values in my team?” As the coaching conversation “picks up steam” and new insights are generated, the leaders experience a shift from “how do I do it?” to “what do I believe in?”

This illustrates the importance of looking inward and developing a deeper sense of self before working with their teams to develop a value set. Self-awareness leads to having confidence around what you want and don’t want for your team. Through coaching, the leader will realize that although establishing team values is a shared experience between leaders and teams, the activity begins with the leader providing a baseline set of value possibilities and the process for discussion.

Once the leader has a clear sense of their own values, they are ready to think through what they want their value creation activity to look like, and how they will include their team in the process to maximize buy-in and generate results. Greater alignment between leader and team will occur because the leader made an early decision to do the “heavy lifting (thinking)” in the coaching conversation before engaging with their team.

Laura English

As I read your statement the words “Walk the Talk” came to mind. By helping leaders align the organization’s values with their own values sets a solid basis for them to successfully operate as a cohesive team/organization. The team will more clearly and easily see value-driven actions of the leader and see how they align with the values of the team; hence, they will be motivated follow suit to match the leader’s actions/values.

Sean Miller
Laura, my word for you is Vision.
Laura English

When I think of vision and coaching leaders I get excited. I feel like a huge value of coaching is to help individuals to see themselves in the future succeeding and thriving beyond what they can currently imagine.

As a coach, I regularly challenge clients to be more aspirational than they normally are comfortable regarding their future either for themselves or for their team and organization. By working in this ‘stretchy yet supportive’ way leaders can see beyond the mission (what they do) to the vision (what they want to be).

Often the leader’s next challenge is to keep the vision’s fire burning. They need to support the team members to align their individual roles with the vision and to define the actions that will help to realize the vision. This visionary perspective can be challenging for leaders because they are required to toggle between the ‘mission-critical’ challenges of the day and the ‘visionary direction’ of the future.

Those two perspectives pull on different strengths – the former are more ‘boots on the ground’ strengths and the latter are more ‘blue sky’ strengths. Depending on the leader’s personal strengths and interests, being a visionary leader may be a challenge. A coach serves as a thinking partner to build strategies and plans to support the visionary mindset they need to inspire the team to align with the vision.

Sean Miller

You’ve noticed that leadership vision is not a “one and done” conversation. Developing, implementing, and sustaining a leadership vision requires a series of nuanced discussions which challenge the leader to think beyond their vision for day 1. “Stretchy yet supportive”……makes me think of all the best coaches I’ve had in athletics and in the workplace. I think I’ll start using that phrase!

 

Are you thinking that your team values and personal values are misaligned? Do you have values for your team at all? Are you looking for support in how to develop a vision and/or inspire your team to align with it? Are you battling between your tactical needs versus setting the course for the future?

You are welcome to take advantage of a 30-minute coaching session with one of our Evans coaches! Please enter your information below and we will contact you to get you scheduled for your complimentary Coaching Session.

Evans Incorporated Receives Double-Industry Elite Recognitions

The Award-Winning Human-Centered Solutions Consulting Firm Selected for 2017 SECAF’s Advocate of the Year Award and named a Winner of the 2017 NVCC Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Award

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA– June 20, 2017Evans Incorporated (Evans), the leading provider of Human-Centered organizational, process, technology, and operational consulting solutions announces today that it has received dual industry recognitions from elite programs at the local and industry level. Evans’ CEO, Sue Evans, was selected for the Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum’s (SECAF) 2017 Advocate of the Year Award and the company as a whole was named a winner of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s (NVCC) Outstanding Corporate Citizens of the Year Award-Small Business for 2016. Both recognitions underscore Evans’ continued thought leadership and commitment to its mission to support and give back to the local community. Continue reading

Evans to attend the Helicopter Association International (HAI) Heli-Expo 2017

Evans Incorporated is excited to attend HAI’s Heli-Expo on March 6th through 9th in Dallas, Texas.  This is the largest rotocraft conference in the United States and we are eager to see what the rotocraft industry is doing with Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

As an emerging market, UAS use is blossoming in areas where companies can simplify routine inspections that typically are done by humans.  Using drones, these companies are able to take pictures and video of structures such as radio towers, power lines, oil and gas rigs, solar arrays, and other objects that can often be hard to reach.  There are numerous applications where using UAS decreases the risk to humans by eliminating the need for inspectors to scale these structures and put themselves in harm’s way.  Additionally, inspectors can often reduce the amount of time it takes to do an inspection because they can fly a drone quickly to the area needed to be examined.  Drones are being used not only for outdoor inspections, but also can navigate interior structures where space is tight.

At the Heli-Expo, Evans will be talking to Helicopter companies that have employed (or have wanted to employ) the use of drones for tasks that historically have been done by manned helicopters.  There are many overlaps between the helicopter and drone industries – after all, many drones (e.g. quad copters) are also rotocraft.

During this conference, we will be looking for companies that want help envisioning how drones can be used in their business model – and companies that need help figuring out if getting into the ‘drone’ business is something that has the right cost-benefit proposition for their organization.  Evans Incorporated is an award-winning company that provides human-centered solutions.  We also have a staff of aviation and drone experts that currently support the FAA’s implementation of UAS regulations.  So, not only can we provide support on organizational design and how to manage change in your organization as you adopt a drone program, but we can also design your drone program, train your pilots, assist with FAA’s required applications, and get you flying.

The Human Element as the ‘Secret Sauce’ for Effective, Lasting, Continuous Change

Success Begets Success!

By: Jim Wright, Evans Incorporated

There’s no shortage of examples that prove the old adage continues to be true- the one constant in life (and work) is change. So, with this in mind – why are we usually apprehensive for what we know is an inevitable event?

The reason? Most often fear. Of failure, of change itself, and of things just simply being different than before. Of the unknown.

However, what if you could go confidently forward, unfettered and unobstructed because you knew you had taken all of the major variables and factors in the change decision or activity into account? Seems logical, doesn’t it?

It might surprise you to know, but that reaction isn’t nearly as common as it should be. At Evans, we have proven time and time again in our work over the last 20+ years with some of the largest and best-known brands, that amidst the near constant – and necessary – changes organizations must undergo to achieve growth and lasting success, the crucial (and often disregarded) ingredient in the mix is the human element. The people themselves who are, and will be, physically affected by the change, as well as key drivers within it, entrusted with the ability to make it ultimately sustainable – as we often say, “Success begets Success.”

The seemingly ‘old-fashioned’ human ‘secret sauce’ in the mix has never been more important, even in our age of exciting expansion and technical possibility. The biggest reasons why shouldn’t surprise you at all. In order to execute, implement, and facilitate lasting organizational change, several key efforts, all with people at their core, are necessary. These include:

  • Empowering cohesion behind a common goal: the change and its impacts.
  • Identifying and addressing key change risks: such as lack of skills, knowledge, resources, and insufficient support structures, which could have the power to derail the change efforts and effect team members’ abilities to adapt, which we uncover through Evans’ Change Readiness Assessment (CRA) to confront these risks head-on at the outset and throughout the process.
  • Acknowledging each individual’s role, significance, and vitality to the change process: taking team members’ specific hopes, biases, and fears into account and reminding them of the central role they play in making the change effort a success, regardless of their position or level at the organization.
  • Establishing an open feedback structure to convey the benefits -not the challenges- of the change: adopting an ‘open door’ policy to air concerns and insecurities, allowing team members to understand that they are part of the process, not roadblocks to the change itself.

The key takeaway of all of this really is that as much as the human element can complicate change proceedings, it is vital to ensuring these efforts have ‘sticking power’, and bringing measurable, lasting results for organizations. The confidence and cohesion driven by a common purpose, along with an open communication structure to enable each individual to understand their role -and importance – in the process, are critical ingredients in the change recipe. Within this, we at Evans have also seen the value of our roles as a change leader and advocate, as well as a supporter of our clients, to ensure decision makers at our client organizations are succeeding and reaching their goals with confidence, even in times of ambiguity.

What’s more – we’re so confident in the human element as a driver of organizational change that when clients trust us as their end-to-end provider of transformation solutions, they can also trust in the proven 100% guarantee on the unique Human-Centered methodological approach Evans uses to adapt diverse environments to ongoing change and drive Real Operational Impact®.

So we’d like to ask you a question: What else would you do if you knew you could not fail?  We will be holding an intensive, 3-hour Change Readiness Workshop on Thursday, November 10, 2016, from 8:30am-12pm at Evans Incorporated. Led by the leader of Evans’ Change Management Practice, Jim Wright, and Richard Hudson, Director of Client Delivery, in the session you will:

  • Take a deeper dive into how to conduct a Change Readiness Assessment at your organization;
  • Explore a case study where participants will apply the concepts they learn to a real-world scenario; and
  • Emerge equipped with practical and immediately applicable Change Readiness Assessment techniques and mitigation strategies for common risks, including stakeholder engagement and communications plans.

Following this workshop, you will know how to implement a portfolio of strategic initiatives and investments that you want to launch in the next year and are ready to ensure success where you know YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO FAIL!

What are you waiting for? Click here to Register Now! We look forward to seeing you on November 10th!

What would Sully do? Team decision making in safety-critical situations

Recovering from hazardous situations often requires a little ingenuity and some creative thinking, coupled with experience, motivation and teamwork. We all have off days when we forget the car keys, push the credit card into the “Retrieve Ticket Here” slot, or spill the milk on the kitchen floor. Human performance is variable – nobody is 100% perfect, and nobody is 100% consistent. Yet the flip-side of our failures and foibles is that we also have days when everything goes remarkably well. When we perform at our finest, miracles can happen.

Consider Flight 1549. Under the leadership of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, the flight crew glided an Airbus A320 into the Hudson River after both engines lost almost all power following a bird strike. The cabin crew members successfully coordinated the evacuation of 150 frightened passengers, including a lap-held child, and everyone on board survived. Investigating the accident, the NTSB gave credit to the entire crew for excellent crew resource management – a term which refers to the way a team diagnoses a situation, shares information, makes decisions, and plans its response.

Crew resource management is critical in many command and control contexts. Evans has recently been working with a federal client to address crew resource management in transportation system control rooms. Although operators within the control rooms are supported by automation, human decisions and actions are necessary to ensure that the entire system operates safely. The automation system used in these control rooms was built to include significant redundancy, and to self-recover from common glitches. However, sometimes the self-recovery process leads to a system slow-down. When there is a slow-down, the expert operators have more work to do in order to maintain safety, and they also have to work closely with a team of technicians and engineers to diagnose and correct the issue.

Because teamwork is critical to success in situations like this, Evans has been working closely with their client to deliver experiential workshops that highlight the principles of crew resource management. Facilitated by human factors specialists and training experts, the workshops are attended by a wide range of personnel from different technical backgrounds, all of whom have a vital role to play in managing a slow-down. The sessions have been designed to simulate system slow-downs in a classroom environment, so that personnel can rehearse the way that they coordinate with each other. This enables the team to “step through” a slow-down, discussing how to diagnose the issue, manage the situation, and regain system capacity while maintaining safety. The sessions are highly interactive, and even include simulating the actual phone calls made to the engineers on the system helpdesk. They also include a degree of uncertainty and ambiguity, which is characteristic of slow-down events.

The workshops have received very positive feedback from participants from across all disciplines. Just a week after facilitating a workshop at one location, Evans received notification that the skills developed were used in a real slow-down situation, and helped to prevent the situation from becoming critical. Evans’ approach to working with teams responsible for operating safety-critical systems is to address all of the factors influencing team performance, not just technical skills. One person performing well is a definition of a good day. But when a group of people function well as a team to diagnose a situation, share information, make decisions, and plan a response, it really can “save the day”.

Leadership for the Many, Not the Few

By Beth Zimmerman

Leadership. In the organizational context, this phrase typically refers to a select group of people with titles such as CEO, vice president, director, and manager.

At Evans, we embrace a broader concept of leadership, one that asserts that leadership is for the many, not the few. Continue reading