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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Using Kolbe to Create Successful Teams!

by Joe Williams

"Conation is the executive function of brain, where you manage your actions and allocate your mental energy. Take charge!" –Kathy Kolbe

As most of you know, I'm a student and practitioner of leading teams that are making a difference at NASA. Any time I get the opportunity to add a new tool to my leadership repertoire, I take advantage of it. A few weeks ago I encountered a new perspective on how individuals and teams get things done, culminating in an insightful experience this week. Here, I'm talking about conation, the Kolbe model, and insights provided by Kathy Kolbe and Joan Koerber-Walker on building and leading teams.

A few months ago Joan posted an interview of Kathy Kolbe as part of her series on "People Making a Difference." (You can see it here.) I was intrigued by the insights offered by Kathy's views of conation (the "doing" part of the brain) and how it relates to the cognitive ( "thinking") and affective ("feeling") parts of the brain. The leadership model I've been using for the last few years is one centered around alignment, action, and result. I wondered: could conation be the well from which we determine our actions, that unites the alignment rooted in feeling and results rooted in thinking? To explore this for myself, I took the Kolbe A™ Index and from that discovered my own innate abilities. In the Kolbe language, this is one's M.O., and mine is 6-4-8-2. I read through the materials on what this meant (an "entrepreneur"), and with some help from Joan, gained some additional insights into what that meant; specifically, that my instinct is to lead with the third Kolbe Action Mode, "Quick Start" through improvisation, and back it up with the first, "Fact Finding" through explaining.

There was something fundamental here, something that I haven't gained from Myers Briggs, Strengths Finder, and DiSC. It was the sense of "yes, this is who I am" I got from the Kolbe A™ Index, as opposed to "yes, this is who I want to be" that I get from the others. There is a big difference between the two.

Moreover, the Kolbe model extends beyond that of the individual – with additional measures, it applies to teams as well. That definitely got my attention. Through Joan, we contacted Kathy Kolbe to conduct an assessment of my current team, so that they could get the same insights from the Kolbe A™ Index that I got on myself. Kathy Kolbe came to Houston, along with her son David Kolbe who is the company CEO, and conducted a learning and evaluation session of the team. Joan also attended to help moderate and share her experiences with Kolbe. Through the assessment, I gained some additional insights into the composition of the team through the identification of which Kolbe Action Modes the team initiates solutions, responds to the situation, and prevents problems. The big picture showed that this team was slightly skewed towards prevent problems and away from responding to the situation. This would require extra effort on my part as leader to help guide the team away from being resistive to new ideas as a means to prevent problems, and instead to embrace a little more responsiveness. The team also has some aspects of "conative cloning," specifically that the team was lacking in a drive to simplicity and an ability to adapt. Kathy provides suggestions on how to address these situations, ranging from actions of the leaders, how the leader might sub-divide the team into smaller units, or to bring in additional team members with the missing M.O.s onto the team.

The final point from this tremendously insightful week is an approach to building teams in the first place. A leader can use the Kolbe model to fill in missing pieces to the team, or even build a team from scratch by incorporating Kolbe assessments into the screening process. There is much more to learn here for me, and I intend on doing just that.

I encourage you to explore the Kolbe model yourself. Go to and read the material there. You can also contact Joan Koerber-Walker through the earlier link, and she can help you as well. Basically, if you are a leader seeking high performance teams, or are attempting to diagnose issues with teams not performing at peak effectiveness, give Kolbe a look. You may be amazed at the results. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Blog Ettiquete

Here is a link to "how not to comment" by Scary Mommy; the BEST!!

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Taking Out The Twitter Trash

Taking Out The Twitter Trash
Sitting down to do my meal planning for the next two weeks... always make menu plan and grocery list at the same time!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. Benjamin Franklin RT @bethflarida

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50 things you could do with time you save by being more organized...

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Feel Like Quitting?

Secrets to Help You Keep Going
When You Feel Like Quitting

Attitude, the way you respond to life and all of its circumstances, is more important than anything. It is more important than the past, than struggle or success, than education or experience. It is more important than how much money you have, how much you owe, what you would like to do, or where you would like to go.

While I have never actually experienced them in person, I've seen pictures of the cables leading to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Those I know who have completed the climb tell me the final ascent up the sheer granite surface of that majestic landmass is by far the most challenging. The cables are there to make sure climbers reach the top safely.

Once you begin the last leg of the journey and finally see the cables, you stand there, tilt your head to the sky, view the final hundred yards or so that lead to the top, and experience terror like you've never known. You realize you have no choice but to finish the trip.

At that moment, you are more thankful than you could ever imagine for the cables that will become the guardrails you need to pull yourself to the top, not only for a spectacular view, but also for the feeling of accomplishment.

The secret for how to keep going when you feel like quitting is to erect "cables" in our lives ahead of time, before we need them, so that when we face difficult days and situations the help we need to make it to the top will be there waiting to protect us from our own fears and self-defeating attitudes.

One way to erect cables for your financial circumstances is to memorize a list of all the reasons you will not give in to debt. Drill the reasons into your mind so deeply that you could repeat them in your sleep. That will give you those cables to hang on to when you feel weak and vulnerable. Here are some examples:

1. I don't choose debt because it presumes unfairly on my future.
2. It is wrong for me to spend money I do not have.
3. There is always a way out; I will not stop until I find it.
4. When I step out in faith, I unleash God's power in my life.
5. I trust even when I do not understand.
6. I do the right thing even when I don't feel like it.
7. This credit-card company doesn't really care about me the way this letter indicates; they are looking for a new sucker.

Once you have these truths planted deeply in your heart and mind, you will be able to call on them for strength in moments when you feel weak. You'll have the strength you need to crash through the quitting point and you'll be back on track in no time!
©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

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