I was recently facilitating a strategic offsite for a symphony orchestra in Virginia. It was a fascinating experience as I am a big classical music fan. One of the musicians put forward a musical phrase as a marketing concept that “cut to the chase” for those who want to experience the music, but may not want to spend all night doing so.

That concept was Alla Breve.

Alla Breve is Italian music speak for “cut the playing time” or play faster. I think there is some wisdom here to share as we are often faced with the reality of “doing less”, ie cutting the time or “doing more” ie playing faster.

This likely impacts our professional and personal lives.

1)      Are we habitually “out of time” running from one meeting to another?

2)      Is there an on-going sense of frustration that that the task doesn’t fit the time?

3)      How can we shorten the time needed to do what we need to do?

4)      Do we know our “time signatures” and how to change them?

5)      Are we playing solo even though we are part of a larger group?

6)      When orchestrating plans are we being realistic?

7)      When was the last time we intentionally gave back time to somebody else?

8)      When was the last time we actually had time “given back”?

How to apply Alla Breve to the questions above goes a long way to determining if the sounds we fill the air with are sweet, melodic and harmonious or off pitch and in the wrong key.

Alla Breve starts by being mindful of our default time signatures both at home and at work. At Voltage Leadership, we utilize several assessment tools that help people understand their default personalities, motivational factors and cognitive capabilities. This helps illuminate if somebody is playing staccato (disjointed, disconnected) instead of legato (smooth, flowing.) Knowing when to “go hard” ie Allegro vs “when to play more slowly” ie Adagio can make all the difference in the tonal quality of our lives!

A few ideas:

·     Try cutting a one hour meeting to 45 minutes.

·     If the agenda is too long, then do 2-3 items and agree to emailing each other for the rest.

·     Question if you really need to meet weekly for your next project.

·     Review your priorities and meetings for the next week on Friday. Do you still need to attend all the meetings? Who could go in your place? Now, how will you invest your new found time?

So, the next time we are asked to sit through Handel’s Messiah, when we really only need Chopin’s two-minute Waltz, think “Alla Breve” and use the time redeemed to make beautiful music elsewhere!

For further discussion on this concept of Alla Breve in our work lives, listen to this episode of our VoltCast radio show, Illuminating Leadership.


Culture can be loosely defined as the "connecting rod" that makes things happen. In other words, it's "the way we do things around here." It has a direct impact on a company's ability to deliver on its mission over the longer term. As economic conditions change, many organizations recognize that their legacy style culture may place them at a competitive disadvantage.

What is a coaching culture? A coaching culture allows people to:   

·       Take responsibility for their own actions

·       Take risks and contribute their own creative ideas

·       Treat mistakes and set-backs as valuable learning experiences

·       Speak up, challenge and express conflicting views

·       Offer constructive and motivating feedback

·       Feel appreciated and that their contribution matters

·       Raise motivation and performance to achieve better results

·       Form cohesive and high achieving teams


A coaching culture is the majority of people in the organization using coaching techniques and principles, including strong listening and questioning skills, to bring out the best in individuals and teams. It becomes the common way of engaging in conversations, rather than telling people what to do and how to do it.
If we accept that coaching cultures are desirable, what should we do implement one?  

First determine what type of coaching would be beneficial to your organization and who should be trained? It might be coaching for skill development, coaching for performance, coaching to remove drama form the workforce, or coaching to translate strategic intent to the frontline. It often revolves around the art of asking great questions, keeping things safe to remain in dialog and just plain old when to leave people alone to figure it out. At Voltage, we have identified three of the fastest and most impactful ways to install a coaching culture. They are:

1) Leaders as Coaches: Voltage trains leaders to have coaching conversations with            direct reports and peers. Coaching leads to greater engagement, personal                    responsibility and accountability resulting in improved team performance.

2) Train the Trainer: The most efficient way to really learn something is to teach it.

3) Mentoring: Voltage provides on-going mentoring to help leaders address the unique challenges they face in creating a coaching culture. We provide feedback on their coaching, facilitation, and training skills.

For a deeper dive into establishing a Coaching Culture at your organization, listen to this episode (How do we create a coaching culture inside our organization?) of our VoltCast radio show, Illuminating Leadership.


Who has inspired you? Who have you inspired?

The other day I was walking through a grocery store and a local business owner named “Jay” came walking up, shook my hand, and proceeded to tell me how I “got him up on his feet and moving again.” This sounded great except for one small detail. I cannot ever recall having a dialog with Jay about getting him up and moving again.

As we were both going through the checkout line, I asked him how and when did I get him up and moving again?  He said, “I watched you jog by our house.” That was it. That got me thinking back to when I found some motivation to start moving my feet, i.e. “get up and moving again.”

Like a lot of busy people, I had to re-commit to finding time to get physical and focusing on meaningful self care. Back then a routine trip to the doctor was somewhat of a wakeup call. I’d gained some weight and was stressing too much at times leading to a spiked blood pressure. What? For years, I had never really had any of these types of concerns to worry about. Nevertheless, there they were.

Just before this doctor visit, we had a company function at a sports arena. We invited clients and guests from all over. It was fun. We had some great networking and mixing. I noticed one of our clients in attendance. He was tall, athletic and had obviously lost some weight. I told him, “Wow, you look great! How did you do that?” He replied that he also had faced some less than favorable news at the doctor’s office and it motivated him to get after it with diet and exercise. This was a combination of working with a personal trainer and monitoring his nutritional intake.

All I knew was that he looked great. That night I said to myself, “I’ll have what he’s having”. Although I am certain he didn’t wake up that morning thinking, “I am going to go motivate Lee”, he clearly made an impression on me.  In other words, his motivation had an impact on me.

At Voltage, we talk about taking baby steps to make change happen. The time had arrived for me to practice our own medicine. The wheels were turning, goals for weight loss and moving the feet were set. Cut out 100% of junk food and drink. Because of the weight gain, it wasn’t wise to just start jogging again. I started walking modest distances of 1-2 miles. After a couple weeks, I added a weighted vest. After a couple of more weeks, I increased the weight in the vest, increased my distance and threw in some hills. After about 8-10 weeks, 25+ pounds fell off. I could now start moving my feet toward the next goal.

I called a close friend of mine and asked him to run with me in a 5 miler along the shore of Lake Michigan. He agreed and the challenge for us was set. We had to train up for this. Over the summer months the baby steps increased. First jogging 3, then 4, then 5 miles within a targeted time. “D-day” came in the Fall. We joined 18,000 other runners, hit the finish line and achieved the goal. I watched as my friend’s swagger returned. It was awesome to see.

I am not a marathon runner and never want to be. My range in the “old days” was a 10k or 6.2 miles. Since the running event, it’s been a minimum of 5 miles, sometimes 10k every weekend. Guess what, I’m not giving it back. It’s in the striving, not the arriving and the people around us take notice without us saying a word.

What is the impact from your motivation? Who has inspired you? Who can you inspire this week? Get motivated and pass it on.