Look Back To Move Forward`

Want to start something new?  Make progress on a project?  Develop a different approach to something?

We often come to the beginning of the year with great intentions of starting with a clean slate and re-organizing our lives into some fresh version of perfection.

I want to encourage you to start in a different place this year:  before looking ahead, look back.

Look back over the last year and notice the progress you have made.

·        How far have you come?

·        Where did you begin 2017, and where are you ending it?

·        What new things have you learned?

·        What projects and people have you led and what was the outcome?

I find that when people add the “Review” phase to their planning process, they end up with a more accurate picture of what is possible.

Here are 4 questions to take into your Review Process:

1.      Where did I start last year, and where am I today?

                      In my relationships?  My work?  My personal growth?

2.      What contributed to my successes?

3.      What obstructed my progress on the things I wanted to accomplish?

4.      Based on what I have accomplished, what can I realistically expect to accomplish in 2018?

With these pieces of information, you can step back and reflect on how you handle, plan and prepare for change, and decide what needs to be done differently in the coming year as you approach a new set of Desired Outcomes.

What I like about this process is that we can see clearly that we are capable of change.  We can also get a grasp on our approach to change.  Is there something about the way we approach a new challenge that we could shift in order to get a better outcome in the future?  We notice how we get in our own way.  More importantly, we notice how much we have accomplished.

The next thing to do is celebrate your successes!

Yes, really!  Celebrate!

Take a moment, sit back and smile.  You moved through a lot of complex problems.  You learned a slew of new things.  You handled a number of unexpected obstacles successfully.  You arrive at this New Year with a new set of skills and talents.

Cement the things you learned by writing them down.

This is your “What I learned and accomplished in 2017” list.

Take a moment to savor your success.  You deserve to begin your New Year from a place of strength and achievement, and a sense of possibility ahead.   


I was working with a client recently who said she felt her team was like a 10pm drama on television. She had the diva who tried to take credit for everything. The sniper who constantly lobbed in bombs that tore apart all the good ideas on the team. Mr. Passive Aggressive sat in the corner barely containing his hostility but a wry smile on his face the whole time. She also had the “holier than thou” character who stayed above the conflict and talked about how wonderful her group was doing and if everyone would just get alone, their results would improve. I asked her what role she played and she just laughed and said “I guess I view myself as Wonder Woman trying to rescue this team and organization.” As you can imagine, my client is pretty exhausted from being a rescuer/superhero and wanted help to regain the power of her team.

Does this sound like a team you have been on recently? There are other characters that we could add like Pass the Buck guy; The Blamer; It’s Not Me; Squirrel-Distracted by Shiny Bright Objects (this can be me if I am not engaged); Persecutor, etc. Obviously, we are not headed for the road to success if this is our team.

Let’s go back to Wonder Woman…how can we help her lead her team.  First, she will need to make sure each person knows their purpose, vision and mission and values of the organization. I believe most people come to work wanting to do a good job. Sure, there are a few truly bad characters but most people want to do a good job. Thus, have a conversation to make sure the team reconnects with the collective purpose.

Next, I would encourage the team to draft a team charter. This should include the vision, mission, ground rules and values of the team that supports the organization’s needs. I encourage team leaders to outline their goals, strengths, barriers, weaknesses, desired outcomes and hopes. This should lead to a discussion of roles and expectations for each team member. I would also spend time outlining how decisions will be made on the team and who has the ability to make what decisions. Are there group decisions? If so, who is responsible for these and does everyone understand the process for decision making.

Okay, we are making good progress.  Now, how are we going to handle conflict? This should be discussed as a team ensuring there are ground rules on how to handle any conflict. The team then needs to hold each other accountable to their commitments. One rule I would encourage is no triangulation. This means I cannot talk to Beth about Lee.  I need to go straight to Lee to share my feedback. The challenge is that people often start to see each other as the characters that we started the blog with. I encourage each person to spend time with each team member for a few minutes and find 2-3 things you respect about the other person. I then ask the team members to share that with their teammates. It is amazing the reaction that you get from this exercise. First, there is resistance and by the end there generally is hugging and sometimes tears.

Does this mean we are all set? I wish…no, we will need to keep working on recognizing each other, living our values and adhering to our ground rules and revisiting our charter. However, if we connect with each other in our team meetings and try to recognize the efforts of our peers then there is a good chance we start to see the good in each other and stop seeing each other as heroes and villains.

Good luck on your team journey and let me know how you do at bringing your characters into a high performing team.




How many times in getting a New Year underway do we run into the proverbial wall and ask, “How did we get here and how do we get unstuck and get going?”

We might be stuck implementing change, leading a project team, writing, or with some other key initiative.  Executives, managers, teams, and individuals can minimize the frustration associated with being stuck in nonproductive time and get going by applying these Voltage principles to Get Unstuck:

·       Get Clear

·       Get Real

·       Get Good

·       Get Going

·       Get on with It.

GET CLEAR – Clarity Is the Greatest Time Saver

Have the right people meet at the right time to define the current state and to get clarity about exactly where things are stuck and how to get going to where we need to be.

Leaders lead.  They answer the imperative question, “Why do we do what we do?”

Without clarity of purpose, participants may become resistant.  Without a common language and understanding of the current situation, participants become reluctant to take chances and, perhaps, may even come to resent the leadership team that placed them in this position.  The position of knowing the clock is ticking, knowing that they will have accountabilities, but not having clarity about what the accountabilities are is most uncomfortable.

GET REAL – What Is the Plan?

Leaders lead.  They identify SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) for the plan and determine SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).  They track and measure the goals as work on the plan progresses.

GET GOOD – What Does Our Best Look Like?

Leaders lead. They repeatedly communicate vision to the organization, clarifying what the best looks like.  They are a walking example of aligning behavior with goals.

Leaders adjust their style to become citizens of the future state.  They live in a different space.  They forgo passivity and negativity in favor of rational (not emotional) accountability.

GET GOING – Get Over the Hurdle

Leaders lead the Journey.  They take steps to overcome cultural resistance to change by formally communicating the plan and the rationale for the decisions that have been made.  Team members may not agree or even like the decisions made, but they cannot fairly say they were uninformed.  Leaders make changes to their approach when necessary.  They make themselves available to keep communication flowing. 

GET ON WITH IT – Owning a Culture of Success

Leaders lead.  They share success and success stories.  This, in turn, adds positive momentum and cultural buy-in which promotes a culture of success.

Using these tools to Get Unstuck and Get Going will help minimize frustration and make 2016 a successful New Year!