Author Archives: Dr. Jeff R. Hale

Hazards of Group Leadership

Caution tape with orange traffic cone

Group Leadership: Common Challenges

Leadership isn’t always about an individual who directs or influences others, or has ultimate authority. Leadership is often the role of a group of people. Do you or anyone you know serve on a board of directors, a committee, or advisory group? These groups usually lead by majority vote or consensus. They are supposed to seek needed input, process issues together, and come to conclusions that best benefit the business or organization to which they report. The system is good because the group leadership process calls for full participation and decisions are backed by everyone. Caution! Group leadership can break down in painful ways—and when it does, there’s always someone who suffers because of the break down. Poor decisions made by group leadership, affecting a person’s work status, livelihood or reputation can lead to deep wounds that are difficult to heal. This happens most often when group leadership impedes or evades leadership all together, in favor of groupthink or, conversely, the personal agendas of individuals.

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Management: No Little People

no little people

Management: Boss Behavior

Who’s the boss at work, at home, in your professional organization? Do the “bosses” treat you as if you’re a “little” person, or “below” them? In the hierarchy of management in most workplaces and organizations, there are those at the top who make more money, garner more glory, make more decisions, and give more orders. Does this sound negative? Maybe; it depends on how the leader (s) at the top handle the money, recognition, decision-making, and leading others. Do they see themselves as important and those under their management as less important, or “little” in value? Or, are they good stewards of the money, share the recognition with those who produce goods and services, make decisions that benefit employees and colleagues, and lead others with integrity?

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Success – Want it? Ask!


Want success? Ask!


Want Success? Be Teachable

In leadership coaching, it is not unusual for a leader seeking guidance to say, “I can’t believe I’m asking about this issue. You’d think I could figure this out!” This is the fallacy: a leader should automatically know exactly what to decide/do/say in all situations. But here’s the thing: leaders don’t achieve success as isolated people who think they know it all. Every leader has limited knowledge. Consequently, there are moments when all leaders do not  know immediately what is best for a particular challenge. Education and experience can prepare leaders well for leadership challenges. However, outcomes depend on how leaders use what they know along with what they are currently learning in each situation and how they relate with the people involved. This requires being teachable, inviting communication, and asking for strategic guidance.

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Black Coats Sell

Black coats sellIt’s winter in Chicago and here’s an observation: people everywhere are wearing black coats. Black coats sell. Do you own at least one black coat? If you are a coat manufacturer, you can count on ordering black fabrics and notions every year with confidence for return on investment because you know the product will sell. There’s a leadership principle here: observe what works, adjust it to your context, and do it. This principle applies to decisions concerning products and marketing as well as people and processes.

In the business world the term “best practices” refers to methods or techniques that consistently show results superior to those achieved with other means, and that are used as benchmarks ( When you observe and implement the best practice for sales or employee training, you don’t have to “re-invent the wheel” when it comes to getting results. You can be confident you’re doing something that has a proven success rate. It’s worth the adjustment (usually monetary and time investments) to accomplish those results.

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Respond with Confidence

Respond with ConfidenceEvery day you choose responses to people and circumstances. Even when you make no response at all it’s actually a message; but silence may be confusing to others and could mean many things! Maybe you dread going in to work, or facing someone today with whom you are uncomfortable. Why? Well…conflict is not pleasant. Avoiding it is common and renders you unprepared for when it is unexpectedly “in your face” and you must choose your response. Therefore, create some personal processes that provide a framework for confident response in virtually any situation: be discerning, honor others, exercise self-control.

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Dominance Personalities: How to Work with Them

Working with Dominance Personalities

Driving to work, I could feel the knot in my stomach begin to tighten. I had to work with Dwight (not his real name) that day. Just the thought of working with Dwight sent anxiety through my mind and body. Dwight had a personality oriented toward dominance; he seemed like a bully to me. He was so forceful in his opinions that I thought Dwight was just rude. Besides that, Dwight always questioned my projects and ideas.  Dwight was in a position to make things go well or badly for me – I rarely felt like I had Dwight’s support.

We had a difficult time working together. Actually, I had a difficult time working with Dwight. I’m pretty sure that from Dwight’s perspective everything was just fine. After all, Dwight always found a way to get what he wanted!

That all changed in a moment when we faced the untimely passing of a mutual friend. We talked freely about our friend, our experiences with him, and our respect and affection for him.  I discovered a compassionate side to Dwight that I’d never experienced before. Somehow, Dwight came to view me as someone he should take seriously.

In this shared experience, we found a new way to connect with each other through our differences. From that day, our working relationship changed. Dwight became more friendly toward me and more supportive of my work. Likewise, I gained a new respect for Dwight’s competence, insight, and ability to get things done.

Now, I am not suggesting that to work effectively with Dominance personalities a traumatic experience is required. I am asserting, however, that you must find a way to connect through your differences.

Why You Need to Work Well with Dominance Personalities

It’s important to work well with Dominance personalities because they are likely to be supervisors and bosses! If not supervisor or boss, they are likely to be in positions of influence within your organization. Achieving positions of authority, power, and influence come naturally to Dominance personalities. In fact, others often consider Dominance personalities as “natural” leaders or “born” leaders. What causes others to defer to dominance personalities as leaders?

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Different People, Different Priorities

different people, different priorities


Priorities: Why We Work the Way We Do

Do you ever wonder why you approach your work the way that you do? Do you ever wonder why a co-worker approaches his or her work in ways that seem counter-productive to you?

Our approach to work is guided by our natural priorities. In this post, I explore the priorities that drive us at work and how to use those priorities to build great teams. I introduce some practical ways to use the DISC concepts to identify and maximize your personal priorities and the priorities of your co-workers.

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Workgroups Are Not Teams, but . . .

Workgroups are not teamsThere are specific characteristics that make real teams different from other types of workgroups.   Workgroups are not teams, but effective workgroups and effective teams do share some common characteristics. In their book The Wisdom of Teams, Katzenbach and Smith point out five of these shared characteristics.

1. Workgroups are not teams, but  . . . both need an understandable charter.

A charter is a document that states the purpose of the workgroup or of the team. A charter could include a variety of elements including statements about how the work will be approached, how decisions are made, and how members will communicate. However, the most important aspects are a clear purpose and the expected/required performance outcomes related to that purpose. The charter should be a short working document, preferably one or two pages,  that the group or team changes and refines as needed. The charter must be understandable. This means that the charter must clear away any ambiguity surrounding the purpose and performance expectations of the group or team. A charter is understandable when all the members agree that there is no confusion about what the charter commits the group or team and its individual members to do.

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How a Real Team is Different from other Groups

Real Teams

The word “team” is used frequently for working groups that are not actually teams. I’ve heard departments referred to as a team – even an entire organization referred to as a team. Why is “team”  used for groupings that are not really teams? I think that it is because there is a desire that these working groups will approach their work in a collaborative approach that is characteristic of a team. Nevertheless, not all work requires a team; not every working group is a real team. Let’s consider two questions:  (1) What kind of work is best suited for a team? and (2) What are the characteristics of a real “team”?*

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Building Great Teams @Work

Building Great Teams @Work


Announcing Building Great Teams @Work

WellSpirit Consulting Group Inc. and our business partner Industrial Solutions – Midwest LLC are delighted to announce the launch of our Fall Workshop Series: Building Great Teams @Work. These workshops will be held throughout the Chicago Metro Area and Northwest Indiana. We update our venues frequently. Stay up to date with the complete list of locations and dates here.

Throughout the fall, we will be discussing teams:

  • Why are teams critical in today’s business environment?
  • What makes teams different from other work groups?
  • How do average teams become high performing teams?

We will spend a lot of time exploring the importance of communication in building high performing teams. When Sandy Pentland and a team of researchers set out to discover what differentiates average teams from high performing teams, the “it” factor they discovered was –  wait for it . . . communication!

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