Author Archives: David Grossman

Envisioning the Future: 9 Tips for ‘19

Envisioning the Future | Leadership Worth Following

As another year winds down, anticipation builds for the opportunities ahead in 2019. How can you fully engage your team in envisioning and goal-setting for a successful future? Here are 9 tips:

1 Communicate a Clear Vision.

Ensure it’s aligned with your organization’s mission and strategy. Clarify other people’s roles and responsibilities in attaining the vision.

2 Contribute in Small Ways.

Contribute to the conversation even before you may feel entirely comfortable or before your thoughts are fully vetted. Work in your ideas early, allow others to respond, and then incorporate their reactions into your replies.

3 Find Your Voice.

Leadership success entails more than just implementing someone else’s vision. Find your own voice, develop your plan, gain the commitment of others, and make it happen.

4 Involve Your Team.

Poll them for insights and help in generating new possibilities that can make the greatest impact next year – and beyond. Challenge each other to consider perspectives outside your organization.

5 Study Trends.

List five emerging trends likely to affect your industry in the near future. Brainstorm with your team about ways to capitalize on them, finding new opportunities to create value. What else is possible? What is restricting your options?

6 Exit Your Comfort Zone.

Tackle an initiative you know little about – something that requires you to step out of your comfort zone and be innovative. Use your resources and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

7 Draw on Real Life.

Utilize specific examples drawn from real-life circumstances to make your vision tangible to your team members. Convey connections between your vision and the organization’s overall goals.

8 Share Your Energy.

Inspire action without relying solely on your authority. Challenge others to continuously improve and add value to their team and the organization.

9 Trust – and Celebrate – Others.

Recognize and reward significant achievements of others. Communicate the achievements of your team to higher levels in visible, positive ways.

Three Ways Gratitude Helps You

Gratitude | Leadership Worth Following

Around Thanksgiving, it’s natural to reflect on gratitude and its impact in our lives, including our relationships and careers. At Leadership Worth Following, our research with the DRiV personality assessment tool – including more than 3,000 assessments conducted the past three years – uncovered some interesting observations about highly grateful people:

1 Better at Connecting.

Highly grateful people tend to connect with others more easily and are easier to get along with. Their optimism helps them look for silver linings in even the cloudiest situations. Negativity – often seen in the Debbie Downers or Surly Sams of the world – can make relationship-building a bit tricky.

2 Focused on Protecting.

People who are highly grateful stand up for others more often, including bullies in the school lunchroom, neighborhood or next cubicle. Their grateful disposition inspires them to more readily see the intrinsic value of others and to protect them.

3 More Stable & Steady.

Grateful people are generally more steady and stable. They are less likely to exhibit wild emotional swings whenever things go really well – or when they go really poorly. From seeing those silver linings, they tend to respond less negatively to stressors than people who are not driven by gratitude.

Can You Be Too Grateful?

One potential downside of gratefulness or emotional stability is never getting keyed up about anything. Big emotional swings are often associated with passion, charisma and enthusiasm – all attractive traits.

This dispassionate, even-keel approach may cause some people to assume exceptionally grateful people are disinterested and maybe even complacent during difficult times. If you’re looking to fuel more passion, find a cause that excites you or a project that challenges you – and then commit to doing something about it!

To become more grateful, seek out others for socializing and relationship-building encounters.

Need More Gratefulness?

Low-gratitude people tend to be passionate and engaged in the world around them. They are more likely to respond intensely when things are going right or going wrong, letting everyone around them know how much they care. And while their high highs are enthralling and exciting for others, their low lows can become intimidating and potentially toxic.

To become more grateful, seek out others for socializing and relationship-building encounters. Embrace an attitude of mindfulness that focuses on an optimistic view of events and circumstances. Look outside yourself by finding a cause you can support, particularly involving helping people.

7 Tips for Managing Conflict Proactively

Managing Conflict | Leadership Worth Following

Conflict is inevitable in organizations. But when managed proactively, it can lead to transformative change and growth. Consider these 7 helpful tips:

1 Analyze Your Conflict Style.

Ask people you trust for feedback about how you handle conflict. Try to address conflict directly and constructively. Seek to understand any resistance you or others may have in dealing with conflict situations.

2 Consider Needs – Not Solutions.

Although people may disagree about the right solution, their agreement on the need for one helps the focus shift to creative problem-solving and seeking consensus. Guard against the tendency to override consensus-building for the “right” answer; this may only bury conflict temporarily.

3 Seek to Understand Others First.

Truly strive to comprehend others’ points of view before explaining yours. Summarize what you hear until others agree that you understand their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.

4 Use Dialogue and Discussion Appropriately.

One logically follows the other: A dialogue is an opportunity to leverage divergent thinking – to explore, ask questions, understand, and discover – without deciding or excluding options. Then a discussion involves convergent thinking: reaching a solution through negotiations, analysis and consideration of trade-offs.

5 Depersonalize the Conflict.

View conflict as a disagreement about goals, ideas, or methods, instead of about personality or style, because these are much more difficult to resolve. Strive for a common goal on which everyone can focus and agree to work through areas of disagreement.

6 Help Others Voice Opinions Constructively.

Encourage others to share their opinions in a constructive, non-intimidating manner. Summarize what you hear and facilitate discussions until all ideas and feelings are understood.

7 Start on Common Ground.

Build on areas of agreement before addressing areas of difference. Start by clearly stating your desire to find a solution that is workable for everyone involved. Be sure to solicit creative alternatives.

Q&A: Executive Coaching

Executive Coaching | Leadership Worth Following

At LWF, our executive coaching model incorporates practical experience, psychological research and business acumen. One of our team, Cara Wade, PhD, recently shared her insights. As a vice president and executive consultant, she also serves as lead assessor for LWF’s leadership assessments.

Q: How does an executive coaching engagement typically begin?

Cara: We follow a three-phase approach. Executive coaching usually starts from a self-focused perspective: “What impact do I want to have? What are my intentions?” If you are our coachee, we begin by helping you align your impact with your intentions, working from the fundamental premise that all people have positive intentions. We teach that behaviors are the variables that are flexible; you can choose a different behavior. The most important goal is connecting your intentions and your impact. That’s the first phase: Align.

Q: What’s next?

Cara: As the coaching engagement progresses, after you achieve alignment, your intentions and goals may grow. For example, instead of just being a good coach to your team, you may expand your intentions to become a premier developer of people across the organization. That’s the second phase: Aspire.

​The third phase – Transform – is when the focus really moves outward. As the coachee, you realize you’re just a tool to transform the world around you – helping colleagues and the business do better. This phase provides the most transformation and growth in coaching, because your entire network is positively impacted.

Q: How can executives best impact different personalities on their team?

Cara: Self-awareness is one of the first skills we teach in the Align phase: becoming observant on your impact and flexible with your behavior. One-size-fits-all rarely works because everyone comes to the interaction with their own ‘baggage’ and intentions.

​People can get stuck in this step when they’re not having the impact they want.
Let’s say your intention is to be a task master, so you focus on project lists during your one-on-one meetings with subordinates. If one of your team is still under-performing, he may need more of a relationship-oriented approach and encouragement.

Q: How does “Executive Coaching” differ from “Coaching”?

Cara: The processes are very similar, regardless of level, but the needs are certainly different. For first-time managers, coaching tends to be more programmatic and not as intensive. They are learning the skills needed to do their jobs, often with many people around them willing to give them advice.

​If you’re an executive, the adage “It’s lonely at the top” often rings true. As you rise within an organization, there are fewer and fewer people around to give you direct feedback or serve as a sounding board. The complexity, intensity and pressure also increase with each promotion – you’re juggling multiple priorities and the expectations of multiple stakeholders.

​Executives realize they are unlikely to always make the perfectly correct decision; they’re often choosing between the lesser of two possible mistakes. That realization is a big mental shift. You may not have the best options, but you always have a choice. We help coachees learn to make the best of challenging situations while moving toward increasingly better options.

Q: How long does a typical executive coaching engagement last?

Cara: Each executive coaching engagement is different; the average duration is six months. Most begin by evaluating the coachee’s current impact on the team and organization. Acquiring this “knowledge of results” is accomplished by a 360-degree feedback process, which may include interviews, observations and written assessments. This feedback influences the individualized development plan the coach and executive work through during monthly or bi-monthly meetings. The coach also stays in close touch with the coachee’s HR stakeholder or direct supervisor (if appropriate) to assess progress.

For more information about executive coaching, please contact Cara Wade, Ph.D., at 214-260-8001 or

Fostering Curiosity: 6 Tips to Buffer against Burnout

Curiosity Growth Mindset | Leadership Worth Following

“Curiosity” is in the spotlight in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) (September/October 2018), with several articles exploring aspects of this theme related to managing people, psychology, and leadership development. One key component of curiosity is a “growth mindset,” which drives engagement, resilience, and is a powerful buffer against burnout.

At Leadership Worth Following, new research with our DRiV™ personality assessment tool confirms this position, based on assessments spanning dozens of organizations. We’ve found that people are more effectively buffered against burnout if they are naturally driven to learn (high Growth driver), can cope with mistakes and embarrassment (low Caution driver), and who easily let things go (high Forgiveness driver).

Here are 6 tips to consider for fostering curiosity and a growth mindset:

1 Start with Authenticity: Know Yourself.

Growth-oriented people tend to be honest with themselves. They know who they are, what they want, and what helps or hinders them in achieving their goals. This self-awareness and internal honesty make growth easier, because these people clearly understand their strengths and weaknesses, and are comfortable being themselves.

2 Assess Your Knowledge: Seek New Perspectives.

As you take an authentic look at yourself, honestly evaluate what you know – and don’t know. What are your areas of expertise? What biases do you bring to the table? Relish seeking out new perspectives and adding to your breadth and depth of wisdom. It can help you grow.

3 Dial Back Your Caution: Failure is Not Final.

Growth-oriented people are not afraid of personal embarrassment or failure from time to time. Practice seeing failures not as an attack on your authentic self or self-worth. Rather, allow failure to help identify gaps between your impact and your authentic self. In other words, failures can help you grow into a more authentic version of yourself.

4 Thou Shalt Not Compare: Compete Only with Yourself.

Resist the temptation to compare yourself against others. Doing so can either cause unnecessary stress (if comparison point is too high) or demotivation (if reference point is too low). Growth-oriented people tend to gauge their status or progress primarily against themselves.

5 Question Your Assumptions: Think Outside Box.

Second-guessing your own and others’ assumptions will force you to ask new questions, see things in a new light, and learn new things. After all, growth is difficult if you never let yourself out of “the box.”

6 Practice Forgiveness: Start with Yourself.

Go easy on others and apply that mindset to yourself as well. This is not about being lazy, but about not dwelling on mistakes. Instead, congratulate yourself on learning from your failure and creatively brainstorm how to improve going forward. This solution-focused mindset and forgiveness will make failure much more productive.

More about the DRiV

Along with a unique ranking of each person’s 32 drivers, the DRiV can help identify what people believe they should do, what they want to do, and what they will do in a given situation. By evaluating what drives and drains people in their careers, the DRiV can help predict optimal leadership styles, determine effective team composition, and implement more engaging work practices. Click here to learn more about the DRiV.

“Gaining Influential Male Leaders as Change Agents” Discussed at Dallas S.H.E. Summit

S.H.E. Summit | Leadership Worth Following

Today, although American women comprise almost half the workforce, they hold less than five percent of CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies. In the U.S., full-time, year-round female workers face a 20 percent gender pay gap, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research. This gap is wider for black and Hispanic women.

​A panel discussion at the recent S.H.E. Summit in Dallas in mid-August tackled questions about gender roles and biases in the workplace. It also offered recommendations for both men and women to better advance their own careers while also helping others.

SHE Summit 2018The session was titled “Gaining Influential Male Leaders as Change Agents”; the three panelists were: Cara Wade, PhD, vice president and executive consultant with Leadership Worth Following (LWF), a Dallas-based leadership consulting firm; Pete Carr, regional president, North America, with the Bacardi spirits company in Coral Gables, Florida; and Bill Munck, managing partner with Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP, a technology law firm in Dallas, Texas.

​Wade, who advises, coaches and trains company leaders across a variety of industries, shared her perspective on workplace trends and challenges LWF is seeing – for both women and men. Carr and Munck discussed their two firms’ diversity initiatives for women and motivation for implementation.

Other topics discussed included: career advice for women who need buy-in from male leaders to rise in their careers; recommendations for cultivating support – from both male and female leaders; unconscious biases people can have based on gender, age, color, etc.; raising self-awareness; and critical values or skills essential for rising as inclusive leaders.

This discussion attracted more than 150 attendees and was moderated by Claudia Chan Wagner, the founder and CEO of S.H.E. Globl Media Inc., the S.H.E. Summit organizer. This empowerment event focused on leadership and lifestyle, aimed at cultivating women and men leaders. A key summit goal is helping everyone become more “connected, educated, and activated” in their own careers.

From Wade’s own business and consulting experience, she believes that women actually play a larger role than men do in holding other women back from advancing to top leadership roles. In her closing comments, Wade also echoed an aspirational S.H.E. Summit slogan (“Rise to your potential. Lift other women.”) by emphasizing the importance of not just looking for your own leadership advocates, but advocating for others behind you in the organization.

To learn more about leadership development programs, LWF’s Worthy Leadership model, or other ways LWF can positively impact your organization, please contact Cara Wade at or 214-260-8001.

Still Relevant, Worthy Leadership Model Marks 10 Years

Worthy Leadership Model Marks 10 Years | Leadership Worth Following

Today if you Google “leadership crisis” you’ll find more than 400 million results. Newspaper headlines and TV broadcasts detail the aftershocks of leadership crises impacting almost every aspect of society: entertainment, business, education, government, religion, etc.

Almost 20 years ago, business headlines focused on financial scandals at Enron and WorldCom. These companies collapsed from the top down, betrayed by leaders who failed in their fiduciary, ethical, and moral responsibilities to employees, customers, suppliers, and shareholders.

Looking for Answers

The crucible of these and other corporate failures in the early 2000s inspired research into a new model of executive assessment. Many of these failed leaders possessed superb skills and expertise, coupled with strong determination and work habits. So what went wrong?

The search for answers led to development of the Worthy Leadership Model (WLM), first detailed in a 2008 academic paper in the Consulting Psychology Journal. The authors were A. Dale Thompson, Myranda Grahek, Ryan E. Phillips, and Cara Fay Wade from Leadership Worth Following (LWF), a Dallas-based leadership consulting firm.

Development of the WLM was also aided by external research from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).

3-Way Lens

This 2008 paper defines “worthy leadership” as “the ability to guide, direct, or influence people in a way that has great merit, character, and value.” The WLM is rooted in the belief that an accurate leader or executive assessment must encompass three constructs:

The Capacity to Lead:

General intelligence, technical knowledge and skills, and core personality traits. What leaders can do.

The Commitment to Lead:

Multifaceted passions and energies that propel leaders to extraordinary performance. What leaders want to do.

The Character to Lead:

What leaders will do, across a variety of leadership situations.

Character Redefined

Compared to the first two constructs (Capacity and Commitment) Character has historically received the lowest level of scholarly attention. However, this LWF research team considered Character essential to explaining the most inglorious leadership failures.

In the WLM, The Character to Lead goes well beyond the tried and true dimension of personal integrity. Importantly, it requires leaders to be willing to hold the organization accountable for what it says it is going to do, and does. And at a personal level, it requires leaders to actively manage their need for personal power, acknowledge the work and people around them, and recognize that while they may “be good,” they are not better than others!

Results to Date

The research shows that almost all leaders demonstrate qualities of “dominance” and “wanting to lead”, which in themselves are not problematic. However, those characteristics do not ensure leadership is ultimately effective or “worthy” of following. Since 2008, the study’s authors have done research that has further defined character in ways that have changed how leaders are assessed and developed. It also has important implications for executive assessment.

While Capacity and Commitment are consistently seen as the biggest contributors to past success, leaders who rate highly in Character are seen as most trustworthy and most worth following. And research would suggest they are LEAST likely to make catastrophic mistakes that could threaten the very existence of the company.

In 2010, a LWF team published subsequent research on Character in Leadership, including surveys of managers, peers, and direct reports. It also included self-ratings about employees’ perceptions of job-related outcomes. Not surprisingly, it showed what we all know – that character in leadership clearly matters.

Future Outlook

Looking ahead, the world of business will likely see continued periodic crises of leadership. While economies, industries, and technologies ebb and flow, human nature – with all its strengths and weaknesses – is stubbornly consistent.

In just 10 years, the Worthy Leadership Model has already demonstrated its timeless relevance and value. Further refinement and study, aided by hands-on experience and sophisticated personality assessment tools like the DRiV™, will only enhance its impact.

“Uncommon Coaching” Fuels Discussion

Uncommon Coaching | Leadership Worth Following

What is Uncommon Coaching and how does it vary from more traditional leadership coaching practiced today? How does coaching differ from therapy? How does the alignment approach in Uncommon Coaching relate to intentions, behaviors and motives?

These topics and others were presented by Leadership Worth Following (LWF), a Dallas-based leadership consulting firm, and Aaron Friedman, PhD, manager, global leadership development (Flex Ltd.), to the 2018 Conference of the American Psychological Association.

Their Uncommon Coaching presentation attracted approximately 60 conference attendees, representing multiple disciplines of psychology. Common assumptions about coaching, human behavior, and the growth process were also discussed. In evaluating personal growth, LWF and Friedman suggested that integrity should be considered as the alignment of intentions and impact, rather than the alignment of intentions and behavior.

Other coaching topics discussed included confidentiality, participant commitment and goals, and the ideal length of coaching engagements. While many coaches advocate for a long-term commitment, Uncommon Coaching considers such an approach unnecessary and potentially irrational in that the duration of a coaching relationship should be primarily influenced by that relationship’s usefulness to the coachee. If there’s not engagement and growth – with the coachee doing better and being better – the coaching relationship should be addressed, shifted, or discontinued.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF), a standard-bearer for coaching certifications today, defines coaching as: “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

In contrast, Uncommon Coaching is defined as the process of inviting, facilitating, teaching, and encouraging leadership to embark on a lifelong process of: 1) having the impact they intend to have: 2) aspiring to do better and be better; and 3) transforming the world around them. This transformation from self-focus to other-focus is a key differentiator.

Attendees were encouraged to understand the boundaries of coaching – for themselves, their clients, and their organizations – and also anticipate appropriate responses when their own boundaries are reached or tested.

To learn more about Uncommon Coaching, LWF’s Worthy Leadership model, or other ways LWF can positively impact your organization, please contact Myranda Grahek at or 214-260-8001.

Purpose-Driven Organization

Purpose Driven Organization | Leadership Worth Following

Personalizing on Purpose.

The power of a higher organizational purpose in motivating employees is discussed in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) (July/August 2018) in a cover article titled “Creating a Purpose-Driven Organization”, written by Robert E. Quinn and Anjan V. Thakor.

​The steps outlined in this how-to article begin with Envision an Inspired Workforce. It can start small:

“a person, a team, a unit that exceeds the norms…can inspire others.”

Leaders are encouraged to recognize those seeking excellence, consider the purpose motivating their excellence and then envision that purpose influencing the larger workplace community.

An Energizer’s Value.

The final step — Unleash the Positive Energizers – encourages leaders to tap the “energizers”, the change agents who already exist within your organization. While the authors are focused on purpose, they also highlight the positive, ripple effects energizers produce.

In academic circles this is called “network effects”. Leaders should search for people who are well-connected in the organization – but not entrenched in cliques. Their loose ties offer the powerful advantage of being able to spread their energy more quickly across a broader population.

Furthermore, energizers with “strong ties” (i.e., people who are deeply connected with a smaller amount of people) are likely to be connected with other energizers (i.e., birds of a feather flock together). The ripple effect is smaller when you energize a bunch of highly like-minded people. To maximize this ripple effect, leaders should look for individuals who have effective, influential relationships with the maximum number of people within an organization. These are your trend-setters. If you can corral their social influence toward becoming positive energizers with those around them, the collective ripple effect can quickly become a tsunami of positive energy.

Motivations Vary.

At LWF, work with our new DRiV™ personality assessment tool is showing that the need for a bigger-picture “purpose” to motivate employees is not universal, but actually an individual preference. While everyone needs goals, not everyone needs something significantly larger than themselves to inspire top performance. Employees who lack a purpose-driven mindset aren’t by definition any less productive or energetic than their peers.

Some people are motivated by the thrill of risk-taking. Others enjoy solving a challenging assignment. Some people’s higher purpose is helping others. And still others – like it or not – are motivated by making money and advancing their careers. We find all kinds in our DRiV research with a variety of organizations.

The risk with this HBR article is its assumption that employee engagement only works by connecting people’s work to something larger and more mission-oriented than themselves. This is simply false.

Instead, as a leader you should strive to learn specifically what energizes (drives) your people and provide each with the necessary fuel. While changing this “fuel intake” may not transform everyone into positive energizers, you will greatly increase your team’s overall engagement by NOT adopting a one-size-fits-all strategy.

Improving Coaching Conversations: Part 3 of 3

Improving Coaching Conversations | Leadership Worth Following

In Part 1, we outlined suggestions for more effective coaching conversations, including a recommended, 4-step approach. Part 2 was a summary of two other perspectives on coaching.

​In this final installment, we discuss how these conversations can be made even more effective by addressing the coachee’s values/drivers.

Understand Motivations.

As a coach, anything that helps you understand the unique motivations of your coachee will aid in personalizing and framing the feedback conversations. Heightened self-knowledge can also provide valuable benefits to the coachee.

​These are important reasons we at Leadership Worth Following developed the new DRiV assessment tool. It goes beyond personality assessments to gauge what people believe they should do, what they want to do, and what they actually do within a given scenario.

The DRiV questionnaire uses a multi-factor model (including Impact, Insight, Connection, and Harmony) that encompasses more than 30 drivers. Our research on thousands of DRiV administrations has uncovered common patterns, or “DRiV profiles”, that describe how individual drivers typically work together.

Underpinning each DRiV profile is a unique psychological “fingerprint” of someone’s beliefs, preferences and habits. Analyzing the DRiV profiles of multiple employees or team members can help improve understanding and management of team dynamics, both for regular interactions and also coaching conversations.

Personal Perspective.

Dr. Chris Coultas of LWF shares this example from his own work experience to help illustrate the DRiV’s benefits in coaching conversations.

“My DRiV report shows I’m very low on Connection: I like to do my own thing and I sometimes feel like relationships can get in the way of work. Instead of collaborating, I’d much rather have the freedom to execute independently.

“But because I work in a highly collaborative culture with colleagues who rate highly for valuing Connection, my own preferred level of autonomy is unrealistic and counterproductive. My DRiV profile also shows I’m extremely high on Impact, Insight, and Productivity. As a coachee, I’ve been taught that achieving the Impact and Productivity I desire will require me to engage in Connection behaviors.

“Taking the time to slow down and connect with others will never be my favorite activity, but armed with this enhanced self-awareness, I have started intentionally engaging in more Connection behaviors. This has earned me more credibility and – paradoxically – greater freedom to execute more independently.

“Additionally, I can relate to my co-workers more enjoyably by finding and leveraging our overlapping drivers. A common one at LWF is Creativity; I appreciate connecting with my colleagues during brainstorming sessions.”

How About You?

From your work experience, what advice would you offer to improve the effectiveness of coaching conversations, as either the coach or coachee? What coaching situations have you been a part of – effective or non-effective – that taught you valuable lessons?