You will catch more flies with honey than vinegar. A classic idiom we have all heard, but also a principle successful leaders are mindful of. In short, they know that it pays to be nice and that to be successful, they cannot operate alone. This is such a commonly understood and accepted “truth”, I am always surprised at how many fail to act on it.

I once worked with a department manager, James, who was highly qualified, intelligent, talented and driven to succeed. He was always so focused on results, however, he was completely unaware of the impact he had on his staff or other departments. He also tended to operate in a vacuum with little regard for others or their interests. James was so blind to the dissatisfaction left in his wake; he ultimately lost the support of his team. Simply put, he was socially unaware and it eventually cost him as he fell short of goals and was passed over for promotions.

Fortunately, the world is also full of people who are socially aware and I have had the pleasure of working with a number of them. My good friend and colleague Sara is one example. I admire the authenticity and integrity she has always demonstrated in professional relationships. She knows how to bring out the best in others and how to use all the human talent at hand to reach goals without stepping on anyone. Like other successful leaders, Sara has developed a knack for finding common ground and bringing together opposing parties for mutual gain. She is gracious in her success, shares the wealth with her team and has been able to achieve so much more because she genuinely connects with people on a personal level.

It just goes to show, you can build teams, even armies, of people to work for you and help you reach your goals; but whether you are the head of a large corporation, a department manager or the owner of a small business, simply surrounding yourself with talent and resources is not enough. Just like kids on a playground, we would all much rather be on the team with the nice captain, than the bully.

The driving force behind success is social awareness, the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. It comes first from being self-aware and being able to manage yourself and your own emotions, and then develops from an understanding of the people around you. When you become socially aware, you are better able to empathize with others’ emotions, as well as the intent behind their actions. You are also better able to understand your environment and recognize the factors that influence people and impact outcomes.

At the heart of social awareness is empathy. True empathy combines understanding both the emotional and the logical rationale that goes into every decision. Leaders who can develop this level of awareness, and empathize with others, are better able to adapt, persuade and motivate their team to achieve greater results.1 James was unable to accomplish this, whereas Sara excelled.

Understandably, social awareness skills are highly regarded as critical attributes of today’s successful business leaders. It is taken for granted that top managers like James have the expertise, business knowledge and technical skills to do their jobs. In a highly competitive market, the real advantage is found in leaders, like Sara who exhibit a high emotional IQ with a well developed social awareness.
sapicThe most effective people in organizations naturally use their emotional radar to sense how others are reacting, and they fine-tune their own response to push the interaction in the best direction. As the former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch states, “a leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity, and self-control. No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You simply can’t ignore it.”

Business studies conducted by corporations around the globe have demonstrated the impact of social awareness and the interpersonal skills in leaders and employees on the overall success of an organization.2 Leaders who exhibit strong emotional IQ tendencies consistently outperform their counterparts and have a strong track record of increased sales, significant cost savings and higher employee and customer satisfaction. Corporations have come to recognize the economic impact of emotional IQ and seek out these traits in potential leaders.

The unique thing about emotional and socials skills is that, unlike traditional IQ, emotional IQ can be improved.3 Emotional competencies and social awareness can be routinely assessed and, with guidance, practice and training, can be developed and fine-tuned.

Lighthouse Business Solutions has worked with hundreds of companies and professionals, identifying and removing the barriers to success through standardized, scientific assessments and progressive leadership coaching and training in emotional intelligence and social awareness. We can help your team overcome their limitations to reach a higher potential. For more information please contact Doug Lundrigan,

1. “The Complete Summary: Working With Emotional Intelligence By Daniel Goleman.” Soundview Executive Book Summaries, 2010.
2. “The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence.” Cary Cherniss, Ph.D, Rutgers University; Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, 1999.
3. “Return on Emotion: Predicting and Improving Human Performance.” Diana Durek and Wendy Gordon, February 2006.

You know him, the one with abundant talent and potential, but who always seems to fall short. You also know the person who overcomes every obstacle and outperforms all expectations.

Pic 1  From the classroom to the board room, from amateur ranks to professionals, there are those who reach amazing heights, in spite of limited experience or talent, and those who never amount to much, yet have all the talent you could hope for. What sets them apart? Intent? Drive? Ambition? Or self-control?

A funny thing about intent, drive and ambition – without discipline, they aren’t much more than empty promises. As the saying goes, the road to “failure” is paved with good intentions. If we can’t manage ourselves and control our impulses, our good intentions are continually self-sabotaged and it becomes harder to accomplish anything, let alone meet our goals or build healthy relationships.1

I once had responsibility to direct a manager who, when she was under pressure, became short tempered and abrasive and would say demeaning things in the heat of the moment. Her staff feared her and the most Pic 2talented employees were leaving to work for competitors. While she was quite talented in her own right, she was unable to manage her emotions.

The situation was intolerable and reached a boiling point when she finally snapped at me. Rather than terminate her, I confronted her. We had a discussion about her ability to manage her emotions and not let frustrations spill over into her work relationships. Over some months, my coaching provided her the tools to remain calm amid turmoil, she seemed genuinely happier and so did her staff. Termination was not necessary and we stopped losing good people. She eventually led her team so well, they received high performance awards.

Clearly, the difference between mediocrity and excellence is in how we manage ourselves. Maintaining control of our emotions is crucial, as my story illustrates, but all the little choices we make throughout our daily lives also have an impact on how well we perform. Do we read that leadership book or watch that movie?  Should we respond to that email about a project deadline, or check YouTube for the latest cute puppy video? Are we more interested in self-improvement or entertainment?  Not that some entertainment doesn’t have a place, but finding a good balance is the key.

Pic 3The highest performers are not always the most skilled or talented, but they are masters at self-control. They manage their impulses, regulate their emotions and stay focused on their goals.

So how well do you manage yourself? Do you have control of your impulses and emotions, or do they control you? How about your employees? If you watch how they manage themselves, I bet you can easily pick out the star performers who have a bright future. Wouldn’t you like to have more people like them on your team?

Unfortunately, only one in five applicants for entry level jobs have good self-discipline in their work habits, and more than half of employees lack the motivation to continue improving in their job?2 What if you or your associates were better “self-managers”? Think of the positive impact this could have in your work and your life!

I’m not suggesting you fire the lot and look for better people. This would be costly and counterproductive. What I am saying, is you’ve probably already hired skilled and talented people, but they may just need some coaching on how to become better self-managers.

Not sure how to begin? You can start by taking an accurate, scientifically validated Emotional Competence Assessment HERE.


1 Daniel Golman, Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ, 2005, Bantum Pub.

2 Gallup Poll of American Businesses.

“You have really made a big change in my life with everything you have taught me and exhibited when I was around you. You are a great teacher and I can tell that you talk the talk and walk the walk. That’s means a lot to me to see you practicing what you preach.”

Why Leadership Coaching?

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The best of the best can’t see themselves clearly. No superstar got there without a coach. “Mr. Woods, I’ve noticed that in your golf swing your right arm rotates slightly, and that’s when you slice. If you corrected that you would probably shave three strokes off your score. Would you like me to show you how? . . . by the way, let’s talk about the consequences to your career if the media or your wife find out about your affair.”

This concept of not seeing ourselves clearly also applies to organizations, “A system cannot see itself. The transformation requires a view from outside” (Edwards Deming).

The purpose of having a leadership coach is to help you see things you can’t see, to provide an outside perspective with expertise to guide you to a better, more successful and fulfilling place. A competent coach will help you crystalize where you want to go, and travel the road with you to get there from here.

In large organizations having an executive coach is becoming a status symbol, as in, “The Company values me so much they’re willing to get me my own coach. Don’t you have one?” Of course, thinking or saying something like that is a demonstration of poor leadership, but it also misses the real value of coaching.

The International Coach Federation’s 2009 Global Coaching Client Study described a median return 7 times the investment. About one in five companies indicated a measured ROI of at least 50 times investment. The Manchester Review study calculated ROI of 5.7 times the investment in coaching. The value to the organization is also seen in the engagement and retention of highly talented people who feel appreciated when their company invests in coaching for them.

How can you measure return on investment? It starts with clear objectives, aligning coaching with business results. A coach worth his/her salt will first seek to discover what is measurable and how that equates to the coaching relationship. Some examples: increased profits, reduced time to complete a repeating project, reduced waste or expenses, increase in billable hours, decrease complaints to HR, etc.

Common Conundrums that a leadership coach can help you solve:

• I’m in a high position but my self-confidence doesn’t match my authority.
• The demands of my company prevent me from having a personal life.
• I am stuck at my current results and I want to take things to the next level.
• I don’t have a positive working relationship with key team members.
• I get constant surprises; fire drills that I wish I could prevent.

Selecting a Coach
The most important part of a coaching relationship is compatibility. Do you connect on a personal level? You will need to trust that your coach has your best interest at heart, that s/he has the capacity and desire to understand you, that what you talk about will be completely confidential, that s/he has sufficient expertise to give you coaching that will result in a high ROI, and that s/he has the courage to say difficult things to you. Your coach will need to trust that you are authentic in your desire to improve, that you are willing to open up and be a bit vulnerable, and that you won’t take offense if s/he tells you something you don’t like.

I wish I could sprinkle magic coaching dust to get perfect results for each of my clients. The truth is, I’m a flawed human being that doesn’t know everything, and so are you. I don’t offer magic dust, but I do offer an objective third party view, complete with scientifically validated diagnostic tools, and a wealth of experience and education in finding solutions. Together we will take your business, your career, your life to the next level of success and fulfillment.

Doug Lundrigan, MBA
President, Lighthouse Business Solutions

“Wow, you’re quite articulate (for a black person.)”

“Hey, you’re really good at math (for a woman.)”

“I’m surprised, you don’t seem racist at all (for a white person.)”

“Oh, we’re going to the gym together, you wouldn’t want to come (because you’re overweight.)”

The subtexts can be so hurtful. Perhaps you have felt their sting based on your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or any other differentiating factor (DF.)

The panel at a NWEEO event included Julie Marshall, Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Nancy Cooper, J.D., and myself, with Jill Goldsmith, J.D. as moderator. We each brought a unique perspective and had a wonderful discussion. Here are some resulting thoughts.

What are micro-aggressions?

According to Derald Wing Sue, Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, micro-aggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults toward (people with a differentiating factor.)”  Litigation cases of this type are growing, according to two Portland judges.

Is it discrimination?

Nowadays overt discrimination is less frequent than it used to be. In my opinion many people are better educated and truly feel that people should be judged on their own merits and inherent value as human beings, not based on DFs. Still, some less enlightened individuals have discriminatory thoughts but know how to keep them in the closet to avoid legal or employer discipline, or unpopularity. Micro-aggressions come in two varieties: those of genuine innocent error, and those borne of closet prejudice that pop out like passed gas. Oops! No I didn’t!

The Micro-Aggression Tree

I love to study and teach the science behind business practices, looking for evidence of why we do what we do, and what predictable consequences may occur. How we treat other people can be likened to a tree that starts from a seed, grows roots and branches, and eventually bears fruit.

The seed starts out with its inherent DNA – the biological drivers that will shape what it becomes. Add nutrients in the soil, water, and sunlight; then the seed sprouts.

Micro-Aggression Roots & Fruits

When I bought my home I was excited that on the property was a big beautiful apple tree, heavy-laden with fruit. At harvest time I was excited to turn the apples into apple-crisp that I could freeze and enjoy at will with some ice cream. When I bit my first apple I spat it out. It was horrible! I had never before tasted an apple that bitter. Was it the seed (nature)? Was it the soil (nurture)? I had no idea. It didn’t really matter. I mourned over the uselessness of the fruit of my tree.

Roots of Micro-Aggression and Acceptance

Let’s walk through the creation of micro-aggressions:

  • Nature (DNA, instinct) plus nurture (upbringing, education) create beliefs.
  • Beliefs create thoughts.
  • Thoughts create words and actions.
  • Words and actions create micro-aggressions.
  • Micro-aggressions are based on nature and nurture.

To me, this logic is self-evident and intuitive.

Fruits of Micro-Aggression

Now let’s discover the consequences of micro-aggressions:

  • A micro-aggression is a message to someone that s/he is less valued or respected.
  • That message creates feelings in the receiver of hurt, anger, contempt, and isolation.
  • Those feelings lead to feelings back toward the micro-aggressor of distrust, disrespect, alienation and isolation.
  • The back-and-forth feelings result in working relationships of passive aggression, dis-harmony, poor communication, and misunderstanding.
  • Poor working relationships create a negative company culture low in trust, respect and engagement.
  • A negative company culture reduces productivity.
  • Low productivity means low profits.
  • The bitter fruit of micro-aggression is lost company profits that, if un-checked, can lead to the death of the company.

Bitter to Sweet

How can we change the fruit from bitter to sweet? We can’t change the seed, but we can add nutrients to the soil. We don’t want to uproot the tree, but we can prune it and bend it. We don’t want to cut the tree down but we can cut off the bitter branches and graft in sweet branches.

Your organization can turn the bitter fruit of micro-aggression into the sweet fruits of harmony, engagement, and profit. Please contact me. I will help.


Doug Lundrigan, MBA

Emotional Pain at Work

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What is it about being human that seems to compel us to both give and receive agony of the heart?  Is it beyond our reach to lead a richly fulfilling life without emotional pain?  It may be, but here are some ideas of the causes and solutions to reduce the pain.

Some Causes of Emotional Pain

1.    Unfulfilled Expectations

Early in my career I worked very hard on a project and was very pleased with the result.  When I presented the project to my supervisor she hardly acknowledged it.  I was expecting at least some recognition, if not a bonus of some kind.  My expectations were unfulfilled and I was disappointed.  For a time I became disengaged, even passive-aggressive at work.  I had created a story in my mind about what the response of my supervisor “should” be.  Maybe you have had similar experiences at work or at home.  Expectations in work or personal relationships can be harmful when unspoken hopes are projected onto the other person.  Assumptions and unrealistic expectations sabotage relationships.   We can recognize that we may be setting ourselves up for the pain of unfulfilled expectations if we find ourselves saying:

“If you really loved me, you would…”

“Why didn‟t you…”

“You should…”

2.    Being Misunderstood

Oprah gave the 2013 commencement speech at Harvard and revealed a startling observation.  “I have done over 35,000 interviews…and as soon as the camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and they all want to know: Was that okay? Did you hear me? Do you see me? Did what I say mean anything to you?”  It seems that people from every imaginable background, demographic, and level of expertise have this one thing in common: the desire to be understood and validated.  I have felt the painful frustration, as I suppose you have, of not being understood.  People not really listening to each other, not seeking to understand, is a huge source of conflict in business.  Feeling misunderstood can sometimes drive us to use hurtful words, thereby magnifying the problem.  It comes out in words like:

“This is not rocket science” (meaning: you’re stupid not to understand me) or,

“You always interrupt me!” (meaning: you’re not listening to me) or,

“Why do you contradict everything I say?” (meaning: I don’t feel validated).

3.    Unrequited Love

When I was in the first grade there was a little girl named Sarah who was so cute and sweet I just wanted to be near her.  It was the first time I felt affection for someone my age.  I wanted to play with her at recess and lunchtime, I wanted her to come over after school.  But Sarah liked Larry.  He was a funny boy with a bubbly personality.  This was my introduction to unrequited love.  Because my little heart was hurt I was much more cautious about who I would give it to in the future.  Subsequently nearly all my teen romantic relationships I was the one who did the heart breaking.  That early pain was memorable.  Whether investing our caring in a friend at work or in our romantic relationships we learn early to be cautious and not invest more into a relationship than the other person.  When we find ourselves wanting to give and say more about our caring for another, but we hold back, this is evidence that we’re protecting ourselves from possible emotional pain.

4.    Fear

We don’t feel safe.  We think someone is out to get us.  We feel vulnerable to the malicious intent of others.  These feelings can be very painful if we allow them to fester and grow.  Similar to having unfulfilled expectations, we make up a story in our mind about the terrible things that another person or circumstance may do to us.  Maybe we’ve failed or been mocked or abused in the past and that taints everything we see now.  Our fears may grow to anxiety and panic if unchecked.  The same physical reactions may manifest as with the reaction to fight or run from a predator in the wild.  We may be setting ourselves up for unnecessary pain from fear if we notice ourselves fortune-telling.  We tell ourselves all the terrible things that will happen to us in the future.

Some Solutions to Emotional Pain

 1.    Expect Differently

Hope is the positive side of forward thinking.  A hope is an expectation without the teeth.   When we see evidence in ourselves of unfulfilled expectations we can avoid the pain by softening our expectation into a hope.  For example, rather than thinking, “I wrote the work team meeting minutes last time so I expect Orville to write them this time,” we can soften it to, “I wrote the work team meeting minutes last time and I hope Orville will write them this time.  I’ll ask him if he thinks it would be fair for him to take a turn.”

2.    Give First

Knowing that everyone craves being understood and validated, what if we become the ones who give it.  What difference would it make in our lives if we became the one everyone enjoys talking with because our only intent is to understand and validate others?  A funny thing happens when we give people the gift of being understood and validated, they want to give back.  Let it start with us.

3.    Bigger Love

Rather than protecting ourselves against unrequited love, I propose making our love bigger, into the kind of love the Greeks call agape where you forget about yourself.  It’s where we care about the wellbeing of the other as our primary concern, not what we can get or have with the other person.  This is the kind of love that allows us to say, “I want the other person to be happy whether or not s/he cares about me.”  It takes a big heart to have this kind of big love.  Our hearts can grow into it by practice.  When we find ourselves protecting our hearts by not caring about others as much as we could, we can ask ourselves, “Who am I really concerned about?” and reply,  “Forget about me, what can I do to make her/him happy?”

4.    Step into the Darkness

Feeling emotionally vulnerable is uncomfortable.  I avoid it as much as I can, and I’ll bet you do too.   I was listening to a speaker describe her feelings about a traumatic event that happened to her husband, and her emotions overcame her.  As she wept and struggled to continue speaking I found myself liking her, feeling connected to her, and wanting to ease her pain.  As I’ve tried to figure out this phenomenon so common to human beings I’ve decided that it was her vulnerability in allowing me to see her humanity.  I was trying to understand how her pain felt as it related to the pain I’ve felt.  I could only imagine her pain, but I wanted to relate to her.  This built an invisible connection.  In an amazing Ted Talk by Brenè Brown I learned that, what may seem most scary to us, may be the very thing that relieves our pain.

A little less pain in the world is what I hope for.  I little less pain in me and you, at work and at home.


By Doug Lundrigan

Emotional Competence:  Influence Predicts High Performance Leadership

 Do you know someone who has much authority but little influence?

I recall early in my career a would-be leader who had authority to direct the work activities of about 120 people.  His style was authoritarian and controlling.  He gave little trust or respect to others and received little trust or respect in return.  Within six months of having his directing role, nearly half the people had jumped ship, resulting in a devastating cost to the organization.  His influence had shrunk to be much smaller than his authority.  Sound familiar?

In contrast, I also recall a leader who seemed to genuinely care about us, put her own interests aside for the good of the team, sought the opinions of others, was supportive and encouraging, and had a grand vision of the excellent results we could achieve together.  People from other departments wanted to transfer in to be on her team.  Her influence expanded to include people she had no authority over.  I hope this also sounds familiar to you.

These cases show a stark difference between authority and influence.

Roots of Influence

“Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power.“

Henry George (1839 – 1897)

In the 1990s some Italian researchers were mapping the brains of Macaque monkeys.  They noticed that the same area of the monkeys’ brains lit up when they watched the researchers eat lunch as when the monkeys themselves ate.  This was the discovery of mirror neurons, and the beginning of a deeper understanding of how we are all hard-wired to influence each other.

Macaque monkeys and Mirror Neurons

Macaque monkeys and Mirror Neurons

Much earlier organizational research had already concluded that individuals with leadership skills have social influence, and not necessarily because of the position they occupy (Bernard, 1938.)  Influence is a complex social interaction that varies by both the influencer’s methods, and the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators of those being influenced.

Yet as unique as we each are in giving and receiving influence, some methods of influence are surprisingly universal.  Abraham Lincoln captured it well in this statement:

“When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, kind unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted.  . . . If you (want to) win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.“

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

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In his book, Working With Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman revealed that in predicting the success of “those in technical professions, analytic thinking ranks third, after the ability to influence and the drive to achieve.  (Goleman, 2011).

Influence is a trait central to the Social Management competencies.   By expanding our Social Management competencies we will be able to expand our influence.

 By Doug Lundrigan, MBA

An accurate, scientifically validated Emotional Competence Assessment is available HERE.  To take it now and save 50%, please use promotional code: DL50



Emotional Competence:  Self-Awareness.

You know him.  We all do – that leader whose blind ambition and narcissism requires him to win and be right at all costs.  How about the one who pushes everyone so hard she leaves a wake of burned-out corpses?  Aren’t we all familiar with the leader who imposes his personal agenda so intensely he’s oblivious to other perspectives or opinions?  What about she who is addicted to recognition and glory, who takes credit for others’ accomplishments and blames everyone else for her failures?

When considering such leaders, do we think they act those ways intentionally?  Do we imagine that when they wake up in the morning they say to themselves, “Today I’m going to be as insensitive and abrasive as I possibly can.”?

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To me it seems more likely that this is a lack of self-awareness.

I was having a deep conversation with someone I knew in high school, and she revealed that the impression I exuded back then was being stuck-up and conceited.  I was shocked!  I told her I considered myself to be a total dweeb in high school, the lowest of the low.  The discrepancy between how I saw myself and how she saw me was huge!  Self-awareness was very small in me then.  It probably still is, but I hope a little larger now.

Being able to accurately assess our own strengths and weaknesses is an emotional competency high performance leaders possess.  The high performance leader is not only able to accept, but actively seeks candid feedback.  Self-development is her mantra.

Don’t take my word for it.  In one of the many studies related to this topic, hundreds of leaders from twelve organizations were examined, and accuracy in self-assessment was a predictor of high performance.  (Accurate self-assessment in managers: Richard Boyatzis, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1982).

In his 2011 book, Working With Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman states, “It’s not that star performers have no limits on their abilities, but that they are aware of their limits— and so they know where they need to improve, or they know to work with someone else who has a strength they lack.“

Take two leaders with the same flaw.  One is caught up in appearing perfect, doesn’t want to hear about the flaw, or rationalizes it away, living in denial.  The other is willing to hear about it, accept it, work on it, and work with others who can compensate for it.  Which leader would you prefer to follow?  Which leader would you prefer to be?

Two ways to gain a more accurate self-awareness:  ask people closest to you to be very candid (and hope the have the courage to do so) and take a scientifically validated Emotional Competence Assessment.

By experience I know, as you probably do too, that getting a reality check on how we come across to other people can be painful.  But it’s worth it to dissolve those costly blind spots and move us toward a more enlightened view of ourselves.  May self-awareness abound in us all!

By Doug Lundrigan, MBA

An accurate, scientifically validated Emotional Competence Assessment is available HERE.

You can take it now and save 50%, please use promotional code: DL50 

When you order your assessment you will receive an email within 24 hours with a Session ID and link to take the assessment at your convenience.


Radio interview of Lighthouse Director Doug Lundrigan by Jackie B. Peterson, author of Better Smarter Richer, on Solo Pro Radio.

Part 1 January 29th, 2014

Part 2 February 5, 2014

Part 3 February 12, 2014

A few years ago I ran my first half-marathon. Crossing the finish line amidst the cheers from my family, who ran the last quarter mile with me, was one of the most powerful moments in my life. Thinking back to that day, I’m reminded of how similar creating a High Performance Workplace (HPW) is to training for an athletic event. It’s no secret that to successfully compete in a marathon you need to be in peak performance condition, and the same is true in the workplace.

So how can we achieve the peak business performance needed to successfully compete in today’s market?

Tip #1: Envision success

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

If your goal is to create an HPW, then your first step is to visualize an environment where employees work in collaborative teams built on open communication, trust, and a sense of a shared mission to improve outcomes. Play a mental movie imagining a workplace that fosters a high level of team performance. The stronger the visualization, the more powerful the impact can be with greater results in improved services and products, better utilization of resources, and a more engaged workforce.

“Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.”

Alan Keith, Genetech

Recent studies indicate dramatic changes in how leadership is perceived. High Performance Workplaces recognize that effective leaders are able to visualize long-term goals and then communicate those goals in a clear direction that excites the people around them. It’s your job to empower your team by inducing passion and commitment to ensure your organization keeps pace with changing times.

Ready to achieve your vision for an HPW? Then it’s time to lace up those running shoes and test your business fitness level.

Tip #2: Work with a coach.

When I decided to run 13 miles non-stop I asked myself, “What is my current level of fitness and how will I meet my goal for this race?” As a business leader you might ask yourself, “What is our current workplace performance level and how can I meet our desired performance outcomes?”

By thinking of the workplace in terms of athletic performance, it’s easy to see how important a healthy environment is to increased productivity. Just as important is obtaining an outside view of the current situation. For me to compete in a half-marathon I needed to gain the perspective of a training coach to assess my fitness level prior to developing a training plan. The same is true in the workplace.

“A system cannont understand itself. The transformatoin requires a view from the outside.”

W. Edwards Deming, father of quality management

If your goal is to improve workplace performance, and you’re noticing declining revenues, low productivity, and high employee turnover, then you’ve got some work ahead of you. To enhance your awareness of the scope and magnitude of the challenges you face, seeking coaching help is in order. Interestingly, a 2013 Stanford Graduate School of Business Survey concluded that 100% of the CEOs surveyed stated they’re receptive to coaching; yet only 34% of CEOs currently receive leadership advice from coaches.

So where might this discrepancy come from? One possible explanation, as summarized by Stephen Miles, CEO of the Miles Group, a partner in the Stanford Survey, is that to CEOs, “coaching is somehow “remedial” as opposed to something that enhances high performance, similar to how an elite athlete uses a coach.”

Do you need a business coach? Using one of our Business Health Exams is a good place to start answering that question. Leadership assessments, employee surveys, personality profiles, and aptitude tests can help diagnose areas for improvement. You might be surprised to find out that often times the real hurdles to success aren’t the obvious perceived issues. By obtaining an outside perspective to examine your current workplace performance levels you might find that assumptions about low morale, high turnover, and declining revenues may differ from reality. For example, when training for a race you might think you only need to focus on your speed and endurance. The reality is that you need to develop a comprehensive training plan that maps out daily progress goals to help you lengthen your stride, improve your gait efficiency, optimize your nutritional intake, etc. Executive business coaches, like successful athletic coaches, are able to take into consideration the less obvious performance factors that may contribute to poor results.

Working with a coach can help you stay focused and keep moving forward. You’ll also gain the skills needed to keep track of what is happening in the team, why it is happening and what can be done next to keep the team on the desired road to success.

Tip #3: Follow knowledge with action; the road to success.

The canyon between knowledge and results is bridged by action. Develop a plan to achieve your goal and stick with it, remembering that change takes time to quantify. For example, I trained for a year before achieving a fitness level to successfully compete in a 13 mile run. Progress was gradual.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

I learned which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were necessary and, with my coach, we built a training program where I tracked my progress in key areas such as resting/peak heart rates, distances per week, and nutritional intake. KPIs used to measure High Performance in the workplace include the little steps (such as number of new prospects called on, number of marketing impressions made, units of waste, or turnaround time), and the big results (such as increased revenues and declining expenses, or a noted higher level of employee engagement and satisfaction.) The little successes lead to the big ones.

As with the action involved in training for and running a long-distance race, business challenges require discipline, hard work, and perseverance. Your executive team, your coach, and the significant people in your personal life will all be integral in encouraging you to keep on keepin’ on. As cliché as it may seem, having someone on the sidelines cheering, “You can do it! Keep up the great work! I believe in you!” can make all the difference in success or failure.

By continuing to measure and gauge your progress in these areas you’ll reach the finish line at the head of the pack. Visualize success and carefully track the indicators that move you closer toward your goal.

And remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Doug and Jackie discuss various symptoms of business disease, diagnostic tools, how to get employees to bring their hearts and souls to the workplace, how to leverage the full potential of your human capital with an enlightened leadership style. Anthropomaximology, the study of the maximum potential of human beings. Book recommendations. At public seminars, “take Doug for a test-drive.”

Radio interview of Lighthouse Director Doug Lundrigan by Jackie B. Peterson of Solo Pro Radio.

Would it surprise you to learn that many dog owners trust their canine companions more than they trust their bosses? Research shows that only 36% of employees actually trust their bosses.

Trust has long been part of the underpinnings of society and can be defined as “confidence in our relationships with others”. Trust is a key aspect of relationships and studies show that creating and maintaining high levels of trust is vital for healthy and sustained company growth.

Despite this understanding, trust is often misunderstood or mismanaged in companies, leading to lost productivity. Creating an environment of trust in the workplace is more important and more difficult to cultivate than ever before. In 1960, 58% of Americans trusted others. Today that percentage has dropped to 40%. Lack of trust in the workplace can lead to confusion, worry, fear, and other emotions that in turn can slow the wheels of progress and profit.

Fostering an environment of trust begins at the managerial level. By establishing relationships based on several key elements, leaders can foster a healthy working environment across all levels, resulting in higher morale, increased initiative, and improved productivity.

In the following model, the key elements of trust are Integrity, Competence, and Compassion. When combined these characteristics serve to answer the question “Am I trustworthy?”

It’s impossible to build trust with others without behaving in a trustworthy manner. For example, your dog might exhibit a high level of trustworthiness in his competence (ability to perform a trick), in his integrity (loyalty), and his compassion (sensitivity to your moods). But trust can also be situational. You might not trust your dog’s competence to drive a car, or trust his integrity to avoid stealing a nice juicy steak off the counter.

In the workplace, we might trust someone in one, two, three of the elements, or none at all. Maybe a co-worker is very competent at her job, and exhibits excellent compassion in her people skills. But if she habitually makes excuses for being late or missing important deadlines, then she loses your trust in her integrity.

“I submit that while high trust won’t necessarily rescue a poor strategy, low trust will almost always derail a good one.” 

-Steven M.R. Covey, The Speed of Trust

When management leads the way with their actions solidly in the Trust Model, initiatives they sponsor will result in better outcomes. So how can we cultivate a high trust working environment?

Raising the level of trust embraces three primary concepts:

  • Open and honest communication at all levels.
  • Encouraging a collaborative approach to problem solving.
  • Walking the talk. A cliché that holds true when striving to improve trust between management and employees.

One way to achieve this is by exhibiting integrity in the form of open and honest communication, regardless of whether it’s to your disadvantage. Also, by fostering a win/win focus, managers can demonstrate compassion for the personal and professional welfare of direct reports. And by seeking feedback from direct reports, leaders can gauge their competence in their managerial role.

Specific ways to build upon this foundation can include creating opportunities for social interactions (group lunches, learning sessions or celebrations of personal and group achievements), taking a strong stance against collusion, destructive criticism, and other counter-productive behaviors, and empowering employees to solve problems by providing appropriate training, resources, and rewards.

So how does your company stack up across The Three Elements of Trust? Do you doubt the abilities of those you work with, or find yourself unsure of your own skills to lead effectively? If so, what actions will you take to cultivate a workplace that fosters open communication and trust?

If you’d like to learn more about trust in the workplace, please download our free white paper, take a free assessment, visit our Events page to view our upcoming seminars, or contact us to see how we can help.

We wanted to focus on patient care not reinventing the wheel of leadership training. Lighthouse Business Solutions was our answer.

Doug has a deep knowledge of business management and leadership needs. He’s been very helpful in finding solutions for me and my business when I felt stuck.

Your feedback during and after our meeting was clear and concise and outlined practical steps to improve my success and satisfaction with my business.

“I really appreciated the way Doug encouraged and lead the group to be so interactive.  I found it to be insightful, inspirational, and FUN!”

I won’t hesitate to call on you and Lighthouse Business Solutions for assistance in the future.

“One-third trim, niner ze-ro feet, two degree up bubble,” ordered the commanding officer to his diving officer.”

“Aye sir, one-third trim, niner ze-ro feet, two degree up bubble,” acknowledged the diving officer.”

“One-third trim, niner ze-ro feet, two degree up bubble,” relayed the diving officer to the control room.”

“Aye sir, one-third trim, niner ze-ro feet, two degree up bubble,” acknowledged the control room.”

Privileged to observe the inner command workings of the USS Helena, a fast attack nuclear submarine that holds greater fire power than the entire U.S. Navy did in World War II, was a humble reporter.

“Sir, are these people a bit slow on the uptake? Are they hard of hearing?” he queried. “Why all the repetition?”

“Son, how many mistakes would you like us to make aboard a nuclear submarine?” asked the commanding officer.”

“What do you do if they don’t repeat it back correctly?” asked the reporter.

“I repeat it to them again until I hear it back correctly. We have a zero-tolerance policy for communication errors here,” explained the commanding officer.

Is there anything we do all day, every day that is more important to do well than communicate with others? Yet, with all the practice we have had throughout our lives, misunderstandings seem remarkably frequent and almost the norm in many organizations.

Obviously, a breakdown in communication on a nuclear submarine would be catastrophic. Yet, in business, miscommunication can be fatally damaging, too. Technology makes communication fast and loud. A company’s culture and its customers’ goodwill can shift quickly. Is it any wonder that some of the world’s leading businesses invest considerable resources developing better communication skills in their people?

While the challenges to achieve an accurate transfer of meaning between people are as numerous as the people on the earth, improving on a few common errors can go a long way toward stamping out miscommunication.

Intent is Everything
When communicating with others, don’t we often focus on getting our point across, making the case for our position and being heard? I know I do. When listening to someone, my mind often goes to the place of preparing my rebuttal. Contrary to some, I believe we can’t really listen when our minds are in that place. Oh, we might hear the words he or she is saying while our minds churn, anxiously waiting for our turn to talk, but the meaning of the other person’s words are often lost in the chasm between our ears and our mind.

The remedy is in our intent. An accurate transfer of meaning between two people occurs when both communicators have a pure intent to understand the other not to win an argument, advance his or her own agenda, or demonstrate superiority. In this scenario, we consider the other person’s thoughts, opinions, and perceptions to be just as valid and important as our own. We sincerely want to understand them and to add them to the pool of shared meaning. This is the foundation of active listening. People in such a conversation find it richly fulfilling, even uplifting. Stephen R. Covey said it well: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989)

False Assumptions
The human mind is an incredibly creative force. When we have less than the complete facts (almost always) our minds will automatically try to fill in the blanks based on past experience. A complete story emerges in our minds – a hybrid of fact and fiction. This is the birthplace of an assumption. The trouble is, our assumptions are often wrong. The supreme assumption that leads to myriads of error is the assumption that our perception and interpretation of events is accurate. We think we’re right. And if I’m right and someone else’s perception differs, it means the other person is wrong. Now we have conflict.

The remedy is to be constantly aware that at any given moment we probably harbor some false assumptions about people and events around us and would be wise to acknowledge that there’s probably something in our head that is not factual.

Submarine Approach
“…We tend to see ourselves primarily in the light of our intentions, which are invisible to others, while we see others mainly in light of their actions, which are visible to us; we have a situation in which misunderstanding and injustice are the order of the day.”
E. F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed

This insightful statement gives us cause to reflect on how we might reconcile what we observe others saying or doing and to what their intent is. If we’re not careful, this is where false assumptions may sneak in. Isn’t misinterpreting others’ intentions a common malady in communication?

The remedy is surprisingly simple: play submarine. When someone says something, repeat it back. Perhaps repeating it verbatim might seem a bit tedious or rude, but a simple statement rephrasing what you think you heard can do wonders in matching words to intent and increasing mutual understanding.

How to do it? Try using the following phrases to ensure you are receiving the message that is being offered:

  • “If I understand you, you’re saying . . .”
  • “Let me make sure I understand you. You said . . .”

Further discovery into intent may be accomplished with these statements:

  • “What is it that causes you think that way?”
  • “Please tell me more about why you feel that way.”

Zero tolerance for communication errors may be an important standard on a nuclear submarine, but in day-to-day living it might be somewhat impractical. Being flawed humans as we are, there will always be miscommunication leading to inefficiencies in business, interpersonal conflict and an occasional disaster. Yet, whatever we can do to improve our communications skills, such as attending a seminar, reading books and articles, or meeting with a coach, can only serve to make our lives and all those we interact with more successful and rewarding.

Doug Lundrigan, MBA, is the President and founder of Lighthouse Business Solutions in Portland, Ore. Lighthouse Business Solutions is a trusted business partner to the world’s leading organizations with respect to human capital. Its client relationships are shaped by a deep understanding of its clients’ needs, a collaborative working style and a commitment to exceed client expectations. He can be reached at

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We had a blast! We won awards! We were recognized by our peers and the C-suite for our excellence! Work was exhilarating and fun! Our competitive advantage was overwhelming! That was the best team I ever worked with. Have you ever had an experience like that when working with a team? You can!

A team is only as strong as its individual members, and is only successful when those members work well together, enjoy each other, and complement each other’s skills. The kind of high performance, engagement, synergy, and enjoyment achieved by the best teams does not come by accident, nor without cost. The only sure thing is, a great team is worth the work, worth the cost, and worth the effort to keep it together for the long haul. So, how do we do that? Keep reading, because if you can implement the concepts explained here, you will see real results.

A group becomes a team when it has collective goals, positive synergy, mutual accountability, and complementary skills (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Team member interdependence creates challenges in:

  1. communication,
  2. collaboration, and
  3. conflict management.

Like the supports to a three-legged stool, if any one of these three aspects is weak, the team fails. In order to carry its weight, to do its job, to perform well under pressure, your team needs these Three Legs. To discover how to develop your team’s strength in the Three Legs, read on.

Get With the Program
First, we need to make sure everyone is onboard. Let’s begin with Team Orientation.. It’s time to get to know each other, and yourselves. This part of the training will enlighten team members on the four stages of team development. The team will then discuss and form a consensus on their current stage in team development. The team orientation and training program proposed here will strengthen each of the Three Legs. The training elements include: pre-training assessment, training content, post-training evaluation, and intermittent reinforcement. Team members will complete a pre-training assessment, receive instruction on the four-stage team-development model described by Robbins and Judge (2007) and how to work with the diverse styles of others, and then participate in team learning simulations. Yukl (2006) suggests that an outside facilitator is most effective when conducting training simulations, based on an objective third-party perspective.

Charter: A GPS for Success
Now we need a way to keep track of all these great discoveries about the team, its members, and the ways in which they best work together. Effective teams construct a team charter to define communication methods, collaborative roles and responsibilities, and how to manage conflict. The team charter is constructed as each part of training on the Three Legs is completed.

Team leaders will receive post-training evaluation scores and conduct intermittent reinforcement training with members to hone skills and ensure real behavior change. A leader will attend team meetings to observe and coach toward improved execution of training knowledge and the terms agreed to in the team charter.


The First Leg: Communication.
No, a good team is not made up of carbon copies – a team needs different styles, different skillsets, and different ways of looking at things. Otherwise, you might as well just have a “team” of one, right? Instruction on differences and characteristics of communication styles will enable members to view each other’s differences in a non-judgmental manner. Next, members will review and compare self-assessments in a group discussion. Training will continue with simulations to practice adapting their communication to people of other styles. They will practice overcoming communication barriers. The team will also decide on, and describe to other team members, their preferred and most efficient methods of communication, whether by e-mail, voice mail, telephone, teleconference, or face-to-face meeting.

The Second Leg: Collaboration.
Okay, so the team members understand how they differ from one another. Now it’s time to learn how to embrace those differences, fill each other’s weaknesses, and create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This instruction will focus on collaboration that leads to synergy. Team members will use pre-training assessments to create a team skill inventory listing the total skills possessed by the team. Efficient division of tasks will be discussed using the team charter. Team members will record in the charter the roles, responsibilities and efficient division of labor.

The Third Leg: Conflict Management.
You didn’t think we could bring all these different people together in perfect harmony, did you? When people bring together different ideas and different opinions, conflict is inevitable. Conflict can range from a mild disagreement on some minor issue, to strong emotional objections to another’s opinion, style, or beliefs.

The goal of this part of training is to teach strategies enabling members to respond to all levels of conflict constructively. In the training workshop members will use a controversial political issue to practice some of the characteristics of high-performing teams: handling conflict directly, listening, consensus building, compromising, understanding, empathizing, respecting, and recognizing that team members can agree to disagree. Decisions on how the team will resolve conflict will become part of the team charter.

Custom Application
To explore the application of the above training program to your own team, you need a good handle on personality of the team. You will need to examine the current state of the team, how to fit the program to the unique challenges of this team, the specific results that are required, and the incentives for team performance.

Conclusion: Effectiveness of the Training
It really works! This training plan as outlined will transform your group to a high-performance team. Commitment to the team is proven to increase as dialogue and activities foster mutual understanding, cohesiveness, cooperation, and identification with the group (Yukl, 2006). This training itself will give team members an opportunity to become more cohesive, leading to further development of the Three Legs skills, and their application to the unique challenges of your team.

- Douglas A. Lundrigan, MBA

Robbins, Stephen P. and Judge, Timothy A. (2007). Organizational Behavior, Twelfth Edition, Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Yukl, Gary, (2006). Leadership in Organizations, Sixth Edition. USA, Pearson Prentice Hall.

Why should your firm invest training dollars in a program designed to increase emotional competencies for your staff?

Psychologists understand that the traditional IQ test does not measure all of the factors of an effective, successful, happily productive person. “Book learning” is not the only, nor the most important, measure of intelligence.

Many of the factors psychologists found to be important in making people successful in their business and personal lives are included in the terms emotional intelligence or emotional competence. The more aware we are of our own emotions, the more control we have over them. The more we empathize with the emotions of coworkers, the more harmonious and productive we are.

It certainly seems that emotional intelligence is an important aspect of many business roles. But, business people have one dominant question: how does it affect the bottom line? Can putting employees in touch with their emotions actually make them more productive?

Here’s the missing link. Over two hundred studies from various countries agree that emotional competence accounts for 65 – 80% of the difference between top performing and average performing employees. You may not be able to see, touch, or taste Emotional Intelligence, but the results of it are quite tangible.

When L’Oreal used emotional intelligence as a selection criterion for hiring sales representatives, they discovered that emotionally intelligent people outsold their colleagues by an average of $91,370 a year.

The United States Air Force saved three million dollars by using emotional intelligence screening to select recruiters. The General Accounting Office reported an annual savings of $3,000,000 per year on a $10,000 investment in screening.

Emotional competencies can be learned. With a good training program in emotional intelligence, a firm can maximize the potential of the employees it already has, top to bottom.

For any business that would like to see increases in productivity and efficiency; more effective sales people; more creative teams and more responsive leadership, it is vital to invest in a good emotional intelligence training program.

- Douglas A. Lundrigan, MBA

You may be throwing wealth away every day.

Don’t take offense…your business isn’t alone. Most businesses are tossing gold on the trash heap on a daily basis. Many owners and managers have been trained – both by education and tradition – to squander this good-as-gold resource. For most businesses, this is simply the way things are done – much to their detriment.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Imagine how your business would run if your employees were as engaged in your business as you are.


Your People are an Untapped Wealth

That ‘gold mine’ that you may be ignoring; the wealth you might be wasting is your people.

Every business relies upon its people. Every job, from the most menial to the most complex, is necessary, and contributes to the success of an organization. And in most companies, every job function is clearly defined, and every employee held to a routine performance of those duties.

Routine expectations is how the ‘gold’ is ignored, and the wealth lost. Because that routine expectation underlies employee management – so prevalent throughout the business world – tosses away the true potential of every employee.

That management style belongs to a bygone era.


Are You Applying 19th Century Management Principles to 21st Century People?

The so-called “modern” management principles were developed by Frederick Taylor in his principles of ‘Scientific Management.’

Taylor believed in breaking down each job into simple, repetitive tasks defined as a narrow range of activities, isolated unto that job title. The duty of each worker assigned to a given job title was to perform those tasks unerringly and unendingly – and nothing else.

Sound familiar? It should, because Taylor’s principles are still the method of management applied to the employees of most companies.

But times have changed.

Scientific Management was published at around the time the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane. The Wright Brothers’ early designs have long been relegated to museums and history books. But unfortunately for modern business, the same cannot be said for the principles of Scientific Management.

Taylor’s principles may have been suited to the bygone industrial era but they’re no more viable in today’s information era than the Wright Flyer would be at Portland International Airport.


You can mine the gold. There is a better way.

If your company is seized in the grasp of the dusty old theories of Scientific Management, the alternative is quite simple: allow your people to be PEOPLE, not automatons!

Machines now perform many of the jobs that were performed by people in Taylor’s time. You don’t have machines on your payroll; you have people. And by asking no more of people than you would of machines, you’re leaving gold unmined. You’re wasting a vast wealth of untapped potential.


The new paradigm is the High Performance paradigm.

People aren’t machines. Each employee offers a wealth of creativity, energy and talent that is ignored and squandered under the old paradigm.

The new paradigm fosters respect and trust in people. It frees employees from their narrow lock-boxes of repetitive responsibility, and engages them on an enterprise-wide level. The new paradigm moves much of the decision-making responsibility to people who are on the front line of operations. It changes the focus of each employee from “my job” to “my company.”

If you think that the new High Performance paradigm is just ‘touchy-feely’ new age nonsense – think again. Huge companies – companies that have been around for generations, like Sherwin-Williams, Tektronix and Corning – are converting to research-based High Performance principles.

For daring to be different, for courageously casting off tradition, these companies are reaping massive benefits in improved employee productivity and reduced costs.


Is your company lagging behind?

Learn how to find, mine and keep the gold that works for you. Call us at Lighthouse today to get acquainted.


- Douglas A. Lundrigan, MBA