Saturday, 18 September 2010 19:59

Here’s what a foggifier sounds like:  you start an important coaching session with Mark about a serious issue at work.  In response to your observations, Mark says, “Well, yes, that’s part of it.  But I think we have too much pressure around here.”   And then he says “Did Susan start this?  I don’t think she likes me.”  And then “I think Jack is also part of the problem... And last week my car broke down too…And I haven’t been able to sleep well since…I think maybe I need you to explain the whole project to me again…And I wasn’t really hired for this work, was I?”  Soon Mark has presented you with more issues than New York City has bedbugs!

At this critical point, you’re thinking “Where do I begin with this?” It’s like sorting out a big ball of yarn.  In our manager/coach role we often grasp the easiest, most available loose end.  It’s often the one we think might be easiest to solve, the one for which we have a ready answer. Unfortunately it also is often the least critical to getting performance back on track.  You’ve fallen into the foggifier trap!

Foggifier” probably isn’t in your daily vocabulary, but managers who use our Coaching for Great Work approach know all about these dead ends to  effective coaching interaction:

•    Temptation of the Presenting Challenge
•    Overdeveloped Sense of Responsibility
•    Avoiding the Real Issue
•    Proliferation of Challenges
•    Generalizations and Abstractions
•    Seduced by the Story.

Sound familiar?  Here’s how we get it back on track:  ask some Get Clear Questions.  Ask, don’t tell.  When we tell someone what to do, give them advice, or point out what we think is critical, nothing much changes in the electrical activity in the brain.  So no connection, no commitment, no buy-in to change, so no action.

If we ask Get Clear Questions (step 1 in Coaching for Great Work) we get connection, focus,  a declaration of purpose.  Here’s some of my favorite Get Clear Questions:
•    What’s most important to you?
•    What’s the real challenge here for you?
•    Give me the bottom line – what’s the challenge here?
•    If you had to choose one challenge to work on now, what would it be?

Give these questions a try the next time the fog is rolling in during your coaching moments – and pause to let them sort and answer!  If you like this tip, you’ll love the full Coaching for Great Work approach!  Check out the only U.S. open workshop we have this year – October 7th in Washington, D.C.   Just press the button on the right for more info.  I’m so excited about you experiencing it, I’m happy to offer you the special “Friend of Rita” discounted rate of $149.  Just use the coupon code FOR when you pay.  Also enter to win the FOUR COMPLIMENTARY registrations as part of my Big Birthday Giveaway below.  See you in October!

Saturday, 18 September 2010 19:56

Continuing with a tradition of mine, I’m celebrating my birthday by giving gifts to my friends – and that includes you!  This year has been phenomenal for me, so here’s what I’m offering to you in celebration:

FIRST GIFT:  Four (4!) FREE SEATS in the Coaching for Great Work day-long session in Washington, D.C. on October 7.  Yes, FREE (a $399 value) to the first four readers who email their interest to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  It’s your chance to experience the program that’s reinventing how coaching can be successfully embedded in organizations.  I want YOU to see how this approach will change how you coach your employees forever.  You’ll get the full one-day program delivered by the incomparable Michael Bungay Stanier, lots of practice on how to coach in 10 minutes or less, the coaching materials and a signed copy of Michael’s book Do More Great Work.  Plus plenty of interaction with peers from other companies and a great lunch – all in the heart of Washington, D.C. at the beautiful American Institute of Architects!  I’ve added extra seats to the workshop just for this special offer, but they will go fast, so email me NOW!  If you need more info, hit the button on my web site or visit .  If you haven’t already registered, then make a grab for a free seat!

SECOND GIFT:  Nine FREE COACHING SESSIONS with me. Be one of the first readers to email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and receive a complimentary 45-minute session via the phone.  If you’ve always wondered what a coach could do for you, or if you have a pressing issue to discuss, let’s talk!  To find out more about my approach to coaching, read “An Interview with Rita” under the About Us tab on our web site.  Money Magazine recently said, "A coach may be the guardian angel you need to rev up your career," so let’s get started!

IF YOU WANT TO JOIN MY CELEBRATION, EMAIL FOR THESE GIFTS NOW!  If you know of others who are interested, feel free to forward this newsletter and offer to them.  BUT HURRY – MY READERS ARE SMART – AND QUICK!  Express your interest now; I’ll reply with the details.  Good luck!

Saturday, 18 September 2010 19:50

Tina Turner asks “What’s love got to do with it?” in her hallmark song. I’ve had coaching clients who repeatedly argue the connection between optimism and increasing their success in the same plaintive tones. Using my best Emotional Intelligence training, I explain that optimists are people who look at the brighter side of life, and maintain a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity. “Oh that”, they say, “doesn’t matter, as long as I get the work done.” Really?

Wouldn’t you rather work with an optimist? Wouldn’t you rather surround yourself with a team of optimists? When the chips are down, who would you more likely turn to?

Optimism reflects the degree of hopefulness that one incorporates in his or her life. Optimism gives people the power to tackle challenges head on, as their mindset allows them to focus more on possibilities rather than consequences. Some of us are optimistic by nature, but the good news is that we can learn to be more optimistic.

Optimism DOES matter. Our workplaces are not the most optimistic environments these days.  According to some fascinating research from DDI (Development Dimensions International), the average American spends 15 hours a month criticizing or complaining about his/her boss.  In the face of these tough economic times, nearly everyone feels unsettled, overworked, under-appreciated, and perhaps a bit insecure.

There’s plenty of adversity to go around. That reality makes optimism a critical skill to have, as it often separates “star performers” from others in our workplace. Optimism is also essential when working in groups or with cross-functional teams. Having an optimistic outlook is often contagious and it will have a positive impact on coworkers’ performance. By showing a passion and optimism for your work, group members will see your resilience toward challenges.

Here’s a few strategies to ramp up your optimism:

  1. It’s about choice. Choose to view setbacks as temporary, not permanent. Do not repeat or ruminate on negative thoughts.
  2. Avoid dwelling on negative past experiences. If you face a difficult situation, determine the cause, take corrective action and move forward. Too much obsessing about the past can paralyze you –just when acting is most needed.
  3. Focus on positive outcomes for future behavior.
  4. Get that optimistic mood in play! Think about past successes, then “Fake it ‘til you make it!”

Please contact me for more Optimism strategies or info about Emotional Intelligence. I’d love to talk to you about the Bar-On EQi and EQ360 assessments. For a deeper read on this topic, I recommend Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, by Martin P. Seligman. Ph.D.

"Happiness is easy, but learning not to be unhappy, can be difficult." ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 22:45

With the release of this first issue of News from LEAP Leadership Advantage – at last --  I’m officially shaking off the doldrums of the long, hot summer.  It’s time to get back to work, to do new things, to launch out in different directions!

I’ve had an eventful summer.  Have you?  Making new connections with both new and cherished clients, networking with a host of new colleagues, working on stimulating programs and coaching great folks to greater heights.  It’s all good, very good indeed.

The continued interest in learning and development coming from you and your organizations, despite the economy’s languor, keeps me busy and optimistic.  (More about optimism in the next issue.)  I believe that it is time to INVEST -- invest in our own futures, in our employees, in our success and in the success of our organizations.  I hope that you agree with me on the value of taking a LEAP of faith in times like these.

I did.  Over the last few months I have followed my instincts into some new areas.  With a “LEAP, and the net will appear” mentality, how could I not?  I have invested in new skills that will further engage my clients in their growth, development and success.  I’m intrigued by neuroleadership,  so I’m following the work of David Rock and others.  I’ll never lose my fascination with how people interact within the systems we call organizations, so I engaged in more training with Barry Oshry.  My research continues on generational differences.  You’ll be hearing more about all of these topics in future issues, and I’ll be learning until the day I die.  Isn’t there so very much new and engaging out there for us?

If you haven’t visited the rest of our new LEAP Leadership Advantage web site lately, take a spin over there soon.  It’s all new and worth a view.  I am thankful to the brilliant Keven Menager of Rocketbuilt Web Development for its fresh look, the new logo and this ezine design.  I highly recommend Keven in every regard!

See you all next issue!

Until then, LEAP to your own greatness!

Rita Hummel Crowe

Sunday, 29 August 2010 22:49

Fact:  The brain cannot multitask.  We’ve spent two decades singing the praises of a brain function that is a myth, can’t be done, is destructive.  We’ve prided ourselves on our ability to do it, and coached others to embrace it in order to get more done and to get ahead.

The research is in and it’s conclusive: The brain just doesn’t work that way.  It focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time, not in multiples.  The brain has a strong ability to pay attention, but not to more than one thing at a time.

Sure, we can monitor one thing and (partially) focus on another.  But something is likely to suffer from this unequal distribution of our attention.  The brain simply can’t process attention-rich inputs simultaneously.

Here’s what the neuroscientists tell us happens when we try to jump from one thing to another:  the brain gets an alert to shift attention, it searches for a rule about how to do the new request, then activates that rule.  Our brain’s focus is now on the new item –until another item shows up.  Then it disengages from the previous item, and repeats the pattern of shift-find-a -rule- activate again.

That process takes time and energy. That process has to happen, in that sequence, each time we shift from one task to another.  Result:  we lose track of where we were, backtrack, often need to start over on the task.

Multitasking, as we know it, is a constant chain of interruptions to our brain’s processing.  Studies show that a person, once interrupted, will take 50 percent longer to complete a task.  Studies also tell us how destructive our attempts to multitask our brains can be.  The headlines, the laws, and yes, Oprah’s declaration of our cars as “Cell Free Zones” all speak to the fallacy of multitasking when it comes to cell phone usage while driving.

Didn’t we suspect that it wasn’t working all that well for us?  Switching back and forth, working in a constant fog, sitting here… with…our minds over there.

Technology is our friend, but not when we use it to further distract ourselves.  Remember, each furtive re-check of our email requires another switching sequence in our brains.

Tips for You:

  • Minimize (better yet, close down) the email browser and turn off the audio that announces arriving messages.
  • Set a timer for 50 minute intervals.  Use this time to focus on one single task.
  • Establish “no interruptions unless the building is burning” times.  Be an example to your staff and co-workers.
  • Close your door (if you have one) and/or post a sign: PROJECT WORK;  Will be available at ______.

As our kids return to school, we admonish them to “stay focused”.  And so should we.

If you want to know more, I highly recommend Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina. NY Times bestseller, 2008.

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