Christine Comaford is a businesswoman, author, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, and creator & host of Crack The Behavior Code Podcast.
Over the past 5 years we’ve been tracking how our clients, executives in senior leadership, sales, marketing, finance, operations, improve performance in three key areas by working from home .5 to 2 days per week.The results are surprising.1-Make Better Decisions—Faster40 = the number of hours per week that companies expect people to be strong decision-makers3-5 = the actual number of peak decision-making hours that people reportYou make better decisions when you have a chance to reflect on all aspects of what needs to be considered—and not when you have the proverbial gun to your head. As we know from meta programs (see the Show Notes for more on this topic, they are essentially the lens through which a person experiences the world), if you’re on the reflective end of the Active (take fast action)-Reflective (consider, ponder, analyze THEN decide) continuum, this is even more crucial. When you are insulated from interruptions and can control your environment you make better decisions, because your brain experiences less stress.Speaking of stress, let’s consider the massive amount of uncertainty that exists in today’s workplace. Thanks to Harvard Medical School research we now know that 75% of people in uncertain scenarios will make decisions based on fearful assumptions—they are expecting something bad to happen. The result is decisions that are risk-mitigation and pain avoiding, with little or no strategic vision in mind. Vision isn’t possible because fear shuts down the prefrontal cortex, so we have no access to our innovative, problem solving, planning parts of our brain.Client result:●    300% increase in hours of peak decision-making time each week- based on training their brain in managing their emotional state.2-Design Better Strategies and Solutions--Faster10% share of people who do their best thinking at work39% share of people who do their best thinking at homeIn the relentless pursuit to be strategic, extract and demonstrate value, and provide optimal solutions all the time, the workplace is a continuous pressure cooker. This means the brain is often in fear and disaster prevention instead of in analysis and designing the outcomes we want. What happens on our best day? How did Einstein form strategies and solutions? When asked how he created his theory of relativity he said first he felt it, then he saw it, then he could articulate it. He let his mind wander, have visions, form connections, then he formulated the visions into something he could tangibly communicate.Einstein also said “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of coming attractions.” We need to engage the emotional brain by seeing, hearing, feeling ourselves standing in the future when the strategy is being executed. How is it going? How are people feeling? Are they embracing it? What’s working? What’s not? Now take this learning and ask yourself what you need to adjust right now, before you lock in and launch the strategy.As leaders the more we balance the logical (prefrontal cortex) planning part of the brain with the emotional (mammalian) area of the brain the more effective our strategies will be.Client result:●    200-400% increase in the quality of strategies - by giving their brains space to feel into the future before a strategy is deployed.●    73-97% increase in ability to influence outcomes/others – due to more time to thoughtfully craft communications.3-Increase Focus and Have More New IdeasEver had the feeling that something isn’t quite right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? That’s the intuitive part of our brain, the insula, at work. This is why we often have great ideas when on vacation, or when shooting hoops or hiking in nature. Our brain is wandering, forming connections, resolving incongruencies, testing out theories. Working from home enables more vision time. Many of our most successful clients allocate one half to one full day per week (Fridays are best) for Vision Time. This is where they let their brains wander, and countless new products, strategies, alliances have resulted.Our clients that allow Vision Time or even Vision Retreats (solo time in nature for a weekend) consistently crank out market-leading products, ideas competitors haven’t had, and innovative approaches to leverage assets and efficiencies. Give your brain a break and see the great insights that come from it.Client results:●    300-500% increase in innovation across the company when they first followed this process themselves, then taught their teams.●    20-47% weekly increase in time on high value activities – due to reduced distractions and drama of the workplaceSo working at home makes us faster and better!Harvard Medical School Research: Programs blog Your Team Smarter Overnight - 5 Brain-based tools: See for privacy and opt-out information.
Are You Killing Your Career By Avoiding Conflict?Bob is the CEO of a thriving construction company. The only trouble is he works 75-hour weeks, because he “picks up the pieces” when his key leaders drop the ball. Yet he hasn’t made it clear they need to own their work. Sharon is the SVP Sales at a mid-sized software company. Her salespeople are highly compensated, yet continue to miss their numbers. And their compensation hasn’t been reduced. What do both leaders have in common? They’re avoiding conflict.  How Your Brain Handles Conflict Many of us have been socialized or learned as adults that conflict is “bad” and in order to succeed, we should appear optimistic and positive at all times. Yet while this avoidance of conflict leads to superficial harmony, it denies what is really going on, and undermines genuine trust. When conflict occurs, many leaders (like Bob and Sharon) have a tendency to participate in it versus lead through it. It’s comfortable to do this, because our brains are wired to want to belong. Fear of ostracism leads to fear of conflict… but when we avoid conflict, it has a tendency to escalate . The state of conflict or friction in the workplace (or life) is something I call the Critter State. [explain Critter State] We dive into Critter State when we feel threatened. Any time there’s conflict, the animalistic instincts in our limbic and survival systems kick into gear. This undermines communication and teamwork — and fuels aggression. All of this leads to even more issues.  Here’s what to do:1. Unpack How Your Culture Creates Conflict, And Address It. Chances are good you’ll find:  Recurring low/incomplete communication, leading to mis-matched expectations and misunderstandings in general, so make sure communication is actionable, accurate (have the communication “receiver” echo back what they heard) and complete (ensure dependencies and contingencies are being considered) Infrequent or incomplete feedback, leading to people not knowing if they are on or off track No consequences for dropped accountability, so the pattern repeats. Follow the above links for brain-based tools to help in each scenario. 2. Know Your Conflict Avoidance Strategy. Avoiding conflict comes in three flavors:  Passivity—doing nothing and hoping the problem will go away, or waiting for the actions of others to fail,  Overly compliant and trying not to rock the harmony boat of the relationship versus trusting that the relationship will be stronger when ideas and opinions are discussed honestly,  Overly controlling without including time for discussion and connection.  While each of these strategies has a time and a place where they are effective, they will damage results, morale, and sustainability if they aren’t stopped. Through coaching Bob and Sharon came to understand their conflict avoidance pattern. Next, I needed to give them some tools to move through conflict more comfortably… 3. Ask Open-Ended Questions to Design A Shared Outcome.This will enable you and the other person(s) to move from the Critter State and into the prefrontal cortex (woo hoo! Now you’re in your Smart State). To design the better-feeling reality that you all want you’ll use an Outcome Frame. An Outcome Frame helps you create a strong vision of the state you want to be in. Here are the basic questions:  What would you like? What will having that do for you? How will you know when you have it? When, where, and with whom would you like it? What of value might you risk or lose? What are your next steps? Use this tool to discover how your team can move forward in conflict. Have them answer these questions in order to assess where they really want to be. The Outcome Frame is a terrific conflict prevention tool as well.   4. To Stir Up Healthy Conflict, Use A Pinata.  Consider yourself the “Pinata Maker.” Offer potential solutions as if you were hanging up a Pinata and expecting everyone to take a hit at it. No whacks to the idea, no candy comes out. This mindset may help your team to not get too attached to an idea or solution before others have had their say. And at the same time, it’ll allow you a way to offer ideas for discussion before they are fully formed in your own mind. Work with your coach to make this collaborative solution-forming style feel safe and productive. Recognize that when you are willing to have direct, non-judgmental conversations about topics like low accountability, blaming behavior and boundaries, you are able to create powerful learning opportunities for your team and for yourself. Scan your relationships and identify with whom you are holding resentments, festering worries about some of their behaviors, or withholding some other information out of worry they may not like what you have to say or because you have written them off. Net-Net Learn why your culture has conflict avoidance, and put the tools mentioned above in place to reduce it.Understand your conflict avoidance strategy. With this awareness you can “catch” it, become conscious of it, and choose to use our conflict navigation tools.  Use an Outcome Frame to set a plan for the future, and understand where your team wants to be. Use a Pinata when you need to mix it up! How will you overcome workplace conflict by using these tools? Let’s discuss!  SHOW NOTESTools to unpack cultural conflict: communication, feedback, accountabilityFeedback Frame infographicOutcome Frame infographic See for privacy and opt-out information.
In this week's podcast episode, Christine shares a mindfulness practice to help you get more energy! Show notes: See for privacy and opt-out information.
The Art Of Showing Up: How To Own Your Leadership Role And The Authority It BringsSue, CMO at a Midwest insurance company, receives a litany of excuses from her VP Marketing when deadlines are missed. And he continues to miss them.Dan, VP Sales at a Silicon Valley software company, runs ragged tracking the performance of his sales people and cajoling them into using the CRM. He often donates time from his own assistant to do the sales people’s CRM data entry.Karen, VP Talent at an East coast professional services firm, has frequent challenges with one of the firm’s top consultants. He changes agreements constantly, says he doesn’t remember promises made, and even bullies her and her team.What do all these leaders have in common?They’re not owning their role and the power and authority it brings. They’re not standing in their energetic weight. They're being "inappropriately small" and letting their direct reports become "inappropriately big" by default. Nature abhors a vacuum. If you don't stand in your energetic weight either someone else will, or if you're the leader, anarchy will result.The Art Of Showing Up: Standing In Your Role And Its WeightEnergetic weight is the energy, the power, the authority that comes with a given role. Now the role has it, sure, but does the individual with that role choose to use it? Standing in one’s energetic weight is about standing up for what you believe is right, it’s about doing the right thing, it’s about treating others with respect and also drawing the line when others are not honoring who you are and what your role represents.Too many leaders, in an attempt to “be nice,” to fit in, to be popular miss the opportunity to stand in their energetic weight. Then they wonder why they are mired in low value activities, when their team doesn't perform, when it’s hard to just get things done through other people.Think of energetic weight like a mantle you wear, or even a crown. When you accept the responsibility of a given role, you “take on” or wear an energetic mantle of sorts. You agree to hold yourself to a higher standard than your prior role perhaps, because this new role may convey more authority, carry more responsibility (financial, larger team, etc.). This does require you to ensure your team honors your "weight".A while back one of our junior team members made a mistake. It was a big one, and she didn't have the capacity to clean it up. So her leader had to dive in to fix things at a level she shouldn't have had to work at. This reduced the leader's energetic weight. Next, since the leader's weight had been reduced and she was now doing more Low Value Activities than she should've had to, this impacted her leader. Which is me. So now my energetic weight was reduced because I wasn't getting the support I need. Make sure your direct reports and their direct reports understand energetic weight!What’s Your Weight?Here’s a quick quiz to provide some insight into your energetic weight. Answer Yes or No to each:1. I spend 70% or more of my time on High Value Activities.2. I hold others accountable to their commitments even if they go into victim or persecutor behavior  and try to make me “the bad guy.”3. My team knows what is expected of them and they come forth when they drop the ball—rarely do I have to mention it.4. My peers know what to expect in our interactions, what’s OK and what’s not, and where the line is that they shouldn’t cross.5. My supervisor/boss/leader wouldn’t dream of delegating work to me that could be given to someone more junior.6. My team wouldn’t dream of bouncing delegated work back to me, their leader.7. I am known as fair, direct, collaborative and a straight shooter. This is why people trust me—I don’t play games, I give others credit when due, and continuously elevate and cultivate others.8. I see my role as a privilege and not an entitlement. I am here to serve my company’s mission, fulfill its vision, and honor its values, and make a positive contribution to its clients, partners, and team.9. I complete the work I am able to complete that is appropriate for my role and the amount of time I dedicate to work. I don’t self-sacrifice and work excessive hours--that would reduce my work quality and also mean I either am not delegating enough or am taking on more work than is healthy or appropriate.10. I am OK with conflict and stress. If I disagree with something I say so, in a respectful way, with the reasons why. If others try to shoot down my ideas I get curious and find out what I may have missed. If under stress I stay calm and move through it. We’re all works in progress and that’s OK. We’ll get through this together.If you have:0-3 Yes Answers: It’s time to get a coach or work solo on building your energetic weight. Start to uncover the stories you’re telling yourself about being seen, having power, claiming your rightful place. It may be time to rewrite them.4-6 Yes Answers: You’re on your way. Hone your skills, expand your heart, ground your energy into the earth and be the glorious human being you are. Now comes the best part: You get to help others understand this too.7+ Yes Answers: Optimization is your adventure now. Let’s see how mentally clear, how inwardly still, how authentic and transparent you can be. It will be of great benefit to those you have the great good fortune to work with.So what happened to the three leaders I mentioned earlier?Once I coached them in their energetic weight and they began to stand in it, the results were fantastic.Sue no longer receives a litany of excuses from her VP Marketing when deadlines are missed. Because he doesn’t miss them. He understands now that this isn’t OK.Dan no longer runs ragged tracking the performance of his sales people and cajoling them into using the CRM. They now understand that if they don’t enter the CRM data timely, they can find a job elsewhere. And his assistant now has time to implement cool sales contests to increase revenue.Karen let the consultant prima donna go. Her team is much happier now.How is your energetic weight? Where would you like to grow?Show Notes:Energetic Weight and Say What You Mean infographicERA Assessment: Podcast Episode - Emotions Have Energy tutorial See for privacy and opt-out information.
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San Francisco, California, United States of America
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8 hours, 59 minutes
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