Control vs. Influence

So many times, when coaching leaders who are frustrated by some things going on in their company OR a team member who is not doing what they should be doing I take them through the following coaching model: “Control what you can control and Influence the rest as best you can.” Can you control yourself? The answer is always a quick – yes.  So, let’s explore the main things we can control about ourselves:

You can Control:

  1. Your Attitude
  2. Your Actions
  3. Your Time – how you use it
  4. Your Reactions.  People judge us more by our reactions than our actions. We judge ourselves by our intentions… there’s a difference.

Can you control others?  NO…you cannot control others.

However, as a leader you can influence others either positive or negative or not at all.  You can influence how others act, think and behave.

As a leader, you can influence the same things you can control about yourself.

  1. Attitude: Whatever level of optimism a leader has the rest of team will tend to operate at that level: high, medium, low.
  2. Actions: By providing good direction a leader can put their team members in more of the right actions and activities.
  3. Time:  Through effective process, division of labor and accountability a leader can best utilize their team members time.
  4. Reactions: A leader can respond professionally, with poise, self-control and ask questions to fully understand the situation before responding.

A role model leader inspires, energizes, facilitates and develops by influencing their team in a positive manner. I hope you find this tip helpful and results in less frustration for you and enables you to lead at a higher level.

Manager or Coach?

There’s a time to manage and a time to coach. Nobody wants to be managed but most want to be coached. Many managers don’t spend the time, energy or effort to coach, many times because either they are not being coached or they don’t know what to do, how to do it, when to do it or why they should do it.  Here’s a few points on the difference between managers and coaches.


  • Get things done
  • Assign tasks
  • Follow established process and protocols
  • Implement & enforce company policies and guidelines


  • Understand individual motivations and inspire
  • Consider individual strengths & areas of opportunity mostly focused on behaviors
  • Adopt tailored approaches to maximize success
  • Share experiences and teach

Suggest the following to be a more effective coach:

  1. Take time to coach – monthly 1-on-1 focused on development.
  2. Focus on behaviors vs. activities.
  3. Ask vs. Tell approach
  4. Establish a connection
  5. Build capabilities and capacity

Best to you in becoming a more effective leader by being a better coach!

When to Use Logic and When to Use Emotion

Have you ever made what you thought was an extremely logical argument for or against something only to be met with blank stares from your audience? Afterwards you commented to someone “I can’t believe they didn’t get it”. Well, they probably did get it – they just didn’t act on it. Why? Because logic is a great tool to get someone to understand something but a lousy motivator to get someone to change their mind or behavior. What’s logical to you may not be logical to someone else. People are much more likely to change the way they look at things or the way they act for emotional reasons, not logical reasons. We won’t often admit that emotion is what drives our behavior but that’s the way it usually works. So when should you use logic and when should you use emotion?

1. Start with logic – briefly describe what you are proposing. Use facts and figures to establish credibility but don’t go into too much detail, and stay well away from how (process).

2. Once you’ve outlined what, switch to emotion to describe why your audience should adopt your way of thinking or your proposal. This is much more difficult because to find effective emotional drivers you’ve got to know your audience (what’s important to them?). Typical emotional drivers include:
a. Fear of loss
b. Prospect of gain
c. Safety/security
d. Comfort
e. Hidden agendas (difficult to pin down but powerful emotional motivators)

We all like to think of ourselves as logical thinkers, and most of the time that’s a strong trait. However, beating someone over the head with logic to get them to change their mind is almost always destined to fail. So, use your ability to think logically to figure out what emotional drivers will be most effective.

5 Essential Ingredients to Maintaining Your Integrity and Trust

What is your Integrity and Trust worth? It’s priceless!  And it’s something that people can’t buy – you earn it every single day. It’s also something that you don’t usually talk about…it’s something that you live and demonstrate, you either have it or you don’t and you’re constantly working on it. Here are five things to consider regarding your integrity and trust.

  1. Tell the truth
  2. Do what you say you are going to do when you said you would do it
  3. Establish a track record of doing what you say…
  4. Take accountability for actions, especially your mistakes
  5. Be authentic

What degree of integrity and trust are you willing to live with?

At CornerStone we say there is only one degree of integrity and that’s 100%, nothing less. For example, if you call in sick just so you don’t burn a vacation day or leave information off a report that would reveal a problem is that good enough? It’s a 24/7 proposition and it’s worth it!! In the normal course of a year you’ll meet or talk with hundreds of people in thousands of interactions both direct and online. Every one of them should be treated with at least the five things we shared…that way when you look yourself in the mirror, you’ll like what you see and so will others.

How Best to Connect with your Team – The CornerStone Seven

There are so many ways to communicate with others in today’s world: in-person, phone, email, voicemail, text, instant message, social media and more… but are we connecting?  It’s important to take the time and effort to really connect with your team members — that’s what keeps them engaged, committed and productive in the workplace. Here are seven things that you should know about every member of your team, we call them “The CornerStone Seven”.  These are NOT meant to be an interview questions or an interrogation but rather part of conversations over a period of time.

  1. Strengths
  2. Areas of Opportunities
  3. Interests – work and outside
  4. Values
  5. Passions
  6. Motivators
  7. Professional Aspirations

Some additional considerations: adjust to their preferred communication style, be encouraging, caring, show appreciation, listen, ask good questions, and be helpful and approachable.

How to Lead an Implementation Team

Fact: Companies whose leaders have developed the ability to lead implementation teams exhibit a higher level of achievement by 30% or more.  Do the people you count on to lead the implementation of your company’s most important strategic plans have specific experience?  Do they have a track record of success leading such teams?  Here are a few things you can do to increase their effectiveness in this area:

Quickly create a vision and connect people to it by making sure everyone knows what to do, how to do it, and why what they are being asked to do is important to the company, the team and their own careers

  1. Set goals and establish accountability for each individual on the team (set expectations, establish measurement criteria, get team members’ agreement)
  2. Establish critical success factors and manage to them unfailingly
  3. Exhibit key leadership behaviors – collaboration, enlisting cooperation, desire to lead, innovation, strategic acumen, communication, Influence

How to Ensure Effective Behavior Change

Most of us have been involved in an effort to change someone’s behavior at one time or another.   However, research indicates that an estimated 70% of all efforts to change behavior in the workplace fail.

3 Steps to Effective Behavior Change:  Until a person realizes their behavior is hindering them, they are unlikely to change. Here are three steps to successful behavior change:

  1. Recognition – Does the person recognize they have a behavior they need to change? If not, ask them two questions:
    • “How important do you think [insert inappropriate behavior] is to (your career, the success of the team, etc.)?”
    • “On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate yourself in that area?”
  2. Commitment – Someone can recognize the need to change, but until they make a commitment to change, nothing is likely to happen.  Getting commitment boils down to WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?
    • Ask “If you were to get closer to a “10” how do you see that benefiting you?”
  3. Action plan – Ask these two questions:
    • “What are you going to do to change (or manage) your behavior?”
    • “Would you be willing to work with me on a plan to help you improve in this area?”

How to Get Someone’s Complete Attention

The human mind can comprehend about 600 words per minute; the average person speaks only about 100 words per minute.  That’s why our minds tend to wander – our minds are working 6 times faster than the person we are trying to listen to.

Try this 30-second test: Start talking about anything and let your mind wander – you’ll lose your train of thought almost immediately.  So, to capture and hold someone’s complete attention, get them to talk.

Clearly the best way to get someone to talk is to ask questions.  Here are two things you can do to put this idea into action:

  1.  Plan your questions carefully in advance. Write them down. Questions are too important to be left to chance.
  2. Never say it if you can ask it instead! Think of how you can phrase your key points as questions.  For example, instead of saying, “I think we should do X to handle this situation”, ask “How do you think we should handle this situation?”

First 90 Days Leader Plan

At CornerStone we help leaders transition into new leadership roles; from high potential individual contributor to manager, from manager to leader and from leader to executive role.  One of the first things we recommend is develop a first 90 days transition plan. Here are some points to consider in such a plan.

 ·         Current State – Business Objectives, Challenges and Opportunities

·         Desired State (Results)

·         Vision and Strategy to close the Gap between Current and Desired State

·         Team Communication – set aside time for individual one-on-one’s and team meetings on regular basis

·         The Main Thing – What is it, how do we consistently deliver, why do we exist and communicate it (clarity)

·         Talent assessments (performance and potential)

·         Barriers to performance (find out what they are and plans to eliminate with a focus on process and tools)

·         Early Wins – where are they, what’s the plan, what’s expected result

·         Key Differentiators (what are they, do we need more)

·         Customer Focus in everything (how do we help our customers succeed)

·         Re-recruit high performers – spend time observing and sharing what they do and how they do it

·         Leadership – Communicate leader expectations and Connect with all

We recommend reading the book “The First 90 Days” – Critical success strategies for new leaders at all levels by Michael Watkins. At first the transition seems overwhelming but leaders gain confidence in making progress on these fundamental building blocks for leader and team effectiveness.  Once a framework is established with vision and strategy then focus on execution with people, process and tools for long term results.

Clarity for Team Effectiveness

The greatest barriers for team effectiveness are conflict, confusion and uncertainty.  The objective is clarity. Therefore as leaders it is important from time to time to communicate and get input from the team on these potential barriers.  Here are some questions that our CornerStone coaches like leaders to ask for input and discussion at team meetings:

What is The Main Thing?

How do we consistently deliver The Main Thing and do you know your role and responsibility?

Why does our team exist?

What are the strengths of our team?

What are the greatest areas of team growth and development? (Team goals)

What is causing conflict or confusion?

Is there anything we can eliminate or change to improve productivity and efficiency?

What are the barriers to performance?

The leaders role is to eliminate conflict and confusion and remove barriers to performance and gain clarity. Make a commitment to leverage team strengths and turn team growth opportunities into team goals for the coming year. Use team meetings to ask these questions, get input and overcome the barriers with the help of your team as group problem solving sessions. This will increase ownership from your team to make the necessary changes and eliminate barriers…you’ll be glad you did.