Guided Insights

Emerging from a COVID Cocoon Without a Playbook

One of my daughters graduated from college this past weekend, and I wanted to celebrate the happy occasion in a big way. (Well, maybe not so big that people would feel uncomfortable being around so many others!) For many of us, this would be the first social gathering we’d be attending since the “before days,” and I …

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You say you want to be more inclusive? Prove it.

Well-meaning people (yes, I am referring to myself here, too!) talk a lot about the need to be more “inclusive” when it comes to important conversations, but how many of us are really living up to our virtuous proclamations? If we were completely honest, I bet most of us would admit we could be doing much …

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Creating a Level Playing Field Across Your Hybrid-Remote Team

A remote worker for many years, Julie resigned herself to constantly feeling slighted. Maybe it was because she always seemed to be missing vital information her office colleagues shared during impromptu meetings, or that her name never came up to lead the next big juicy project, or that she was excluded from social activities. Or …

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To Build Trust Within Virtual Teams, Psychological Safety Is Everything

The #1 question I’m asked by leaders and members of virtual teams alike: How can we create a trusting environment when we hardly ever (or never!) meet in person? Teams that span multiple time zones have an even harder go of it, as they have few opportunities for real conversations of any kind. Remote teams …

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Virtual Strategic Planning: The Silver Lining

When news of Covid hit about eight months ago (or was it eight years ago?) many of us thought we’d be back to “normal” within a few months. Workers would be returning to offices, groups could meet again in person, and conferences and events scheduled for 2021 could go on as planned. But of course, we were …

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Energize Your Next Virtual Meeting!

The very word “energizer” can scare some people away. (Typical responses: “Energizers? Nah, our teams hate those things.” Or “We don’t have that kind of time to waste in our meetings.” Or: “Too risky. If it backfires, I’ll be blamed.” Or, “We have a bunch of introverts. Energizers are just too painful for them.”) Now …

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To Manage Difficult Behavior in Virtual Meetings, Be Diplomatic Yet Assertive

The person who comes unprepared to every meeting and asks you to catch them up while others wait “We’re just about to dive into a conversation related to the prework I sent out last week. For anyone who didn’t have a chance to read it, I have copies here (or have pasted the URL here, …

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Healthy Conversations Can Bring Virtual Teams Back To Life

“Look, we need to let people know ASAP when and how we can expect to return to the office. Your team is already 10 days late giving us your recommendations. You’d better figure out why you haven’t been able to move forward. Have your proposed options on my desk by Monday. Drop everything else until …

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What Have You Learned About Your Culture During the Covid Crisis?

What have you learned about your organization’s culture over the last few months that may not have been obvious before? What policies or behaviors have shined a light on the values and beliefs of your leadership team? How do employees feel about working for your organization today, compared to the time before Covid? These are …

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Virtual Meetings: Why Bother Showing Up If You’re Not Really Present?

You’re trying to pay attention to your third video meeting in a row, where your colleague is making an impassioned case for getting the team much-needed resources. Despite the fact that you’re desperate for this request to be approved, you’re struggling to focus. In part, it’s because you didn’t bother to review the documents she sent so …

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When You’re Suddenly Forced to Go Virtual – An Essential Checklist

* This is a special edition of Communique to help those who must suddenly shift their face-to-face meetings, events and training sessions to a virtual space. These tips should help ease the transition.* By Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights, and Jesse Bibbee, Gazelle Interactive After months of planning, everything is finally in place for next week’s two-day meeting …

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Why Can’t Everyone Just Agree? 8 Tips for Building Consensus

The meeting room stunk of burnt coffee, half-eaten sandwiches and too many bodies compressed into a small, windowless room for too many hours. People participating via video felt that for once, being physically removed from the action was actually a blessing. After two days of dithering, this group seemed no closer to making a decision …

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Waffles vs. Spaghetti – Connecting Through Stories

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have as leaders to shape understanding and connect with others in a profound way. The ability to craft and tell a good story can be learned, practiced and honed over time. It is also a skill that’s vastly underused, in part because it requires intention and …

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The Virtues of Failing Fast, in a Forward Direction

A friend’s daughter just announced her family’s sudden decision to pack up and move several states away, with no jobs, no residence, three school-age kids, one dog and two cats. My friend is agonizing over whether to try to talk her daughter out of it (“How will you live?  Where will you live? What about health insurance? …

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Want to Accelerate Your Remote Team’s Project? Create a Communications Ecosystem!

With a crazy deadline looming, the team could simply not afford another costly misstep. Scattered across seven timezones, team members knew that to nail the big deliverables, nothing could slip through the cracks, handoffs had to be seamless, and everyone had to be in perfect synch, 24×7. Given the time zone differences, team members couldn’t …

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Now That’s Radical! Build a More Collaborative, Productive Team With More (Yes, More!) Meetings

You’re sitting around the table, listening to one person after another drone on and on about topics that you find irrelevant and frankly boring, while the work you really should be doing has to wait until this interminable meeting is over. Adding to your frustration is the fact that earlier in the day, your boss blew you …

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Easing the Pain of an Abrupt Transition, from Afar

“Congratulations! You have a unique set of skills that makes you a perfect fit for another project. So we’re ‘rewarding’ you by moving you over to another manager. This is a fabulous career move, with plenty of opportunities for growth. Of course I’m sad to see you go, but I know you’ll do great.” Such …

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How Feedback Can Stunt Growth, Stifle Learning and Encourage Mediocrity

Feedback of any kind rarely helps people perform better, no matter how much you dress it up and call it something pretty. In fact, telling people what they need to do differently, however well-intended, actually can block learning and prevent growth. As a result of reading the article The Feedback Fallacy in the March-April 2019 Harvard Business Review, I …

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Daring Leaders Build Trust by Peeling Away the Armor, Choosing Courage Over Comfort

How can I build trust, quickly, across my team? That’s the #1 question I get from my clients and students. Before I read Brené Brown’s  brilliant new book, Dare to Lead, I would have hedged, insisting that there are too many variables to give just one answer. But now I realize there is one answer that seems to …

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Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours, With a Little Bit of Magic

There’s something about the start of a new year that makes it a perfect time to get your team together to lay down plans and set priorities for the next 12 months. But try getting them to hunker down in a meeting room for a couple of days when their “day jobs” are so demanding. …

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Moving from Ideas to Action in a Virtual World

You’re excited about the stunningly creative ideas your team has spawned ever since you’ve begun to include a brainstorming segment into every (virtual) team meeting. In fact, your team has generated about six months’ worth of great ideas just waiting to be implemented. And they’ll keep on waiting, and waiting and waiting — until you …

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How Mindful Leaders Keep Calm Under Pressure, Inspire Better Team Performance

Judging from your team’s expression of outrage when you made your latest impossible request, you realize you’ve just crossed a red line. While you feel badly, especially since you’ve given team members a barrage of pretty ridiculous demands lately, you really had no choice. Your manager has made it clear (again!) that failure is not …

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Adapting to a New Culture Takes Curiosity, Humility and Patience

You’re eagerly awaiting the start of your overseas assignment. You’ve learned enough of the language to be passably proficient. You’ve studied films, books and articles to understand cultural norms and nuances, and you’ve even interviewed a few native-born colleagues to find out where the cultural landmines might be hidden. Things go smoothly, at first. Your …

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How to Create Opportunities for More Aha! Moments, for Yourself and Your Team

When young Isaac Newton settled into a Lincolnshire garden to rest almost 400 years ago, he could not have predicted that the mere dropping of an apple from a nearby tree would give him the bolt of brilliant insight he needed to devise the formula for gravity. And nor could young Einstein have imagined that …

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To Design Really Engaging Virtual Learning Programs, Throw Away the Old Rules

With fresh allegations making headlines each day, Fred, the HR VP of a growing high-tech company, knew that all employees needed a refresher about the kind of behaviors and actions that constitute sexual assault – ASAP. (The videos they had purchased a few years before were badly dated. Plus, based on some of the behavior …

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12 Tips for Building Trusting Relationships Across Your Virtual Team

“My team members just don’t seem to trust each other. You can hear the animosity and frustration in their voices when they decide to talk. I detect passive-aggressiveness in almost every comment. All day long, I’m getting emails and private IMs about how this one is constantly missing deadlines, or how that one never seems …

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How Mindfulness Keeps You Present, and Why It Matters

Imagine this: It’s after 5 PM, and your train is leaving in less than a half-hour. You’re in the middle of saving your final edits to the presentation for the executive team meeting first thing tomorrow, when you hear the unwelcome ping of an incoming IM from your boss: “Sorry for the last-minute change, but …

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How to Make Introverts and Extroverts Happy, and How to Drive Them Crazy

“We suspect that our team can be a lot more effective if we can do a better job of acknowledging, appreciating and accommodating the introverts among us. We also want to acknowledge what our extroverts need to operate at their peak potential.” That’s the challenge my client recently asked me to help solve for her …

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Coping With Travel Restrictions: When Meeting Face to Face Matters, and What To Do When You Can’t

When the stakes are high and pressure is on, I recommend in-person meetings. That’s because we forge connections more easily with people we can see. But the reality is, meeting in person isn’t always possible. Business travel often gets dropped, due to pandemics, weather, budget, politics, injury, family, or other pressing priorities. Joining me in …

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Make Better Decisions with Less Pain, Virtually

People across the organization are counting on your team to meet an absurd deadline that you reluctantly agreed to. It’s become apparent over the last day or two that you made a promise that you simply cannot keep. You’ve called an all-hands meeting with your virtual  team to make a critical decision: Do you let …

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