10X Your Leadership Impact: Growth and Development Dialogs

By: Suzanne Qualia - Published on April 23rd, 2024

What is your first reaction when a team member asks you “How do I get promoted and how fast can that happen?” For many leaders I coach, it’s often a mixture of fear and trepidation (fight or flight). Those first thoughts that might go through your mind can include, “I don’t have an open role, how do I even have this conversation?” and “How do I have a conversation without creating frustration for both parties?”

If you have a fight or flight response when you are asked “How do I get promoted?” choose a calm and confident response instead. Engage in growth and development dialogs!

This month’s article provides the Meaning, Mindsets, Motivations, and Methods considerations that will lower your stress response and elevate your impact in these growth and development conversations. 


What would open up if the meaning of a “career conversation” shifted away from things like next role, next title and new pay and, instead, toward a growth and development dialog centered around questions like: “What does success look like when I’m maximizing skills development, motivation and bringing my whole self into this role?” and “When done well, over time,  that lays the foundation for growth into a next role, should that come about or happen?” 

How much pressure would that take off the situation and how would that change the conversation? Renaming the conversation from “career conversation” to “growth and development dialog” gives the brain permission to shift the focus and the outcomes! 

The focus of a growth and development dialog is best defined as a discovery, curiosity-focused conversation through the lens of a current or aspirational role. The discovery goal is the “sweet spot” where skills, motivation and personality create the greatest overlap, enabling high levels of engagement and true ongoing growth and development. 

  • Skills
    • Challenge – What will present new and exciting challenges for me?
    • Learning new skills – What new skills might these new challenges require me to learn?
  • Motivation
    • Purpose and meaning – What about the role fulfills purpose and meaning for me?
    • Happiness – What brings me joy?
  • Personality 
    • Right fit – How can I bring my uniqueness, strengths and core values into my role?
    • Authenticity – How can I show up as myself, and show my true colors in this role?

10X Your Leadership Impact: Growth and Development Dialogs


What mindsets might get in the way of executing growth and development dialogs? What new beliefs, attitudes and perspective might be more empowering? Let’s look at the most common factors.

OBSTACLE: No time – caught up in the short-term, here and now whirlwind.

Instead: How can I invest time and energy in the short-term to grow my team for longer-term benefits?

OBSTACLE: I don’t have an open role to promote someone into.

Instead: Maybe not right now, but that role will open up or evolve and then your team member will be ready!

OBSTACLE: We already have a performance management/goal setting process. 

Instead: Growth and development dialogs are not an EVENT, it is an on-going PROCESS with long-term benefits – holding space for this conversation only semi-annually or annually as part of the Performance Management process is not enough.

OBSTACLE: Combining INPUTS with the OUTCOMES, i.e. over simplified career conversation leads to career growth.

Instead: Separate the inputs and outcomes

  • Inputs – ongoing robust growth and development dialogs
  • Outcomes/measurement of success – natural career growth either in the current or aspirational role

OBSTACLE: Role confusion: “As a leader I’m wholly responsible and accountable for my team member’s growth and development (a big burden)!”

Instead: Separate the responsibilities and accountabilities for both parties to create success

  • Employee/team member: 
    • ACCOUNTABLE for their own growth and development by demonstrating: 
      • Participation and engagement in the process
      • A growth mindset, willingness, and patience
    • RESPONSIBLE to complete the work required to achieve the goal
      • Complete the development goal action items
  • Leader:
    • ACCOUNTABLE to provide the path and support for your team member’s growth and development by demonstrating:
      • Participation and engagement in the process
      • A growth mindset, willingness, and patience
    • RESPONSIBLE for:
      • Creating the space in your schedule for the on-going growth and development dialogs
      • Utilizing a coach approach (see last months’ blog article – Coach vs. Tell) across the three-part growth and development dialog (Methods)
      • Providing feedback where necessary to raise awareness on the gaps
      • Demonstrate a willingness to delegate projects and initiatives to your team members to provide growth opportunities


What might motivate you as a leader to upskill in this area? We’ll look at two ways to influence your thinking about this differently – a) data and logic, and b) emotional appeal. Another consideration is the overwhelming ROI proposition of this investment. 

Data and Logic: 

Although a bit dated, this study – (3) The Career Conversation Needs to Change – find out why… | LinkedIn – is the most powerful one I can reference. In all my work with leaders, I can anecdotally corroborate these numbers!

The study examined the views of 4,402 global employees between 25 and 55 to understand to what extent employers are helping them manage their careers. It found that less than one-third feel confident enough in their ability to initiate a conversation outside of annual performance reviews. The study uncovers major benefits of better career conversations, including:

  • 76% surveyed would feel more engaged in their work
  • 75% state they would be happier in the work they do
  • 68% say they would be more likely to share ideas
  • 68% are more likely to recommend their employer to a friend
  • 73% say they would be more likely to stay in the organization

Emotional appeal:

Some reflection questions you might consider relative to your role as a leader

  • What does it mean to be a leader? 
  • What is your leadership vision? 
  • What outcomes are you wanting to achieve for you, your team and your organization by assuming this leadership role?
  • What is the most valuable contribution of leadership?

ROI of engaging in Growth and Development dialogs:

  • What is your investment as a leader?
    • Your time – step out of the whirlwind for a second to invest in something bigger.
    • Fulfillment of your leadership vision and “stepping into the level of your license.”
  • What is your and your teams’ return on that investment? 
    • Note the data cited in the earlier study. What would those percentage increases in engagement, happiness, idea sharing, and retention translate to for you specifically and your organization overall? 
    • Employees will feel heard, seen and valued as a result of having meaningful growth and development dialogs. This unleashes new levels of creativity, innovation and productivity. 


  1. Coach yourself through a growth and development dialog as a test drive! No matter what current internal goal setting, performance management, growth and development dialog process is currently being utilized, the Meaning, Mindsets, Motivations and Methods described in this article can provide stronger foundational inputs to that process. The form and format aren’t as critical as the inputs.
  2. Craft the questions around each of the areas we are covering that resonate with you, how you’d ask the questions, and the team member you are working with.
  3.  Separate tactical 1:1 meetings and growth and development dialogs! Set up meetings dedicated to this ongoing process. The tactical, project updates and whirlwind will always overshadow the longer term, less-urgent-but-more-important growth and development conversations.
  4. Follow this three-part growth and development dialog format for your conversation – define success, assess the gaps, and close the gaps.

10X Your Leadership Impact: Growth and Development Dialogs

Define Success

It sounds simple enough, but this is the most frequently skipped part of the conversation and without it, there’s no foundation for further robust development planning. From a time allocation perspective, this process of visualizing new outcomes, strategizing a new future, and defining what “great” would look like might take longer for you and your team member, especially if this space is unfamiliar for one or both of you. 

The goal in this part of the conversation is for your team member to “think big” and think beyond their current situation; you want them to think about what could be possible in terms of fulfillment, purpose and outcomes in their role, irrespective of what’s currently happening today. This isn’t a place to examine anything relative to current performance, current skill gaps, etc. (that comes in the next step). This is their chance to go “wild” with their vision!

  • What does success look like in your current role? 
  • If you had a magic wand, what impact would you be having, what outcomes would you be creating when you’re at your best in your current role?
  • To achieve the strategy, vision and outcomes, what things would someone be saying or doing?
  • Bring in the Skills/Motivation/Personality questions from the “Meaning” section of this article. 

Assess the Gaps

Here’s where you first bring in and examine the current state. The overall goal of this section of the conversation is to identify and answer the questions, “What is keeping me from achieving my vision of success? What things am I doing or not doing, saying or not saying, stepping into or avoiding that are holding me back from achieving that vision?”

For those team members who lack self-awareness in these areas, here are some ideas for both formal and informal feedback:

Formal Feedback:

  • Gallup data
  • 360 assessments
  • Hogan Personality Assessment

Informal Feedback:

  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Peer feedback
  • Leader feedback
  • Self-reflection: What are my strengths/challenge areas?

Compare the definition of success for your current or aspirational role with the feedback you have or you’ve solicited. What gaps did you discover related to your ability to consistently perform the HOW and WHAT aspects of success?

Close the Gaps 

Create a Leadership Development Plan (LDP) or an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

What 2-3 development goals will help close the gap(s) between the definition of success and the feedback you’ve solicited from others or your own self-reflection? What areas will elevate your impact the most?

You are now ready to start crafting your LDP/IDP utilizing a 70%/20%/10% ratio model that creates the foundation for true behavior and habit change.

In conclusion, the payoffs for avoiding the “fight or flight” response when asked “how do I get promoted” are huge. Your upskilling in this space can enable higher levels of innovation, motivation, engagement and the ability for your team to continue to outpace their objectives achieving greater results.

Next month’s post will pick it up from this point (closing the gaps) and be dedicated to the LDP or IDP planning process. Holding the space and executing a robust growth and development dialog is the critical input to the successful creation of the LDP/IDP as the output. Both are needed for career growth as the outcome!

If a complimentary 30-minute strategy session would be helpful as a next step to upleveling your growth and development focused coaching skills, click here: https://calendly.com/qualia-inc/30min. Let’s do this!

What I’ve witnessed over and over in my 1:1 executive coaching work over the last 12 years is that leaders who use a “coach” approach vs. a “directive” or “tell” approach in the right situations, create far greater impact and outcomes.

Leaders complain their teams aren’t motivated, engaged, inspired, committed, and accountable. In our work together, I ask them to recount the conversations with their direct reports, team members, and peers and, more often than not, what’s missing is a “coach approach” to eliciting the best ideas, insights, innovation, creativity, motivated and, ultimately, engagement and accountability.

Let’s dive into the 4 M’s around elevating your “coaching” skills: Meaning, Mindsets, Motivations and Methods.


When we define “leader as coach,” we’re referring to when a leader creates the space to have an empowering conversation that enables someone to see a new perspective, gain more confidence, and take new action.

Let’s look at what coaching is NOT:

  • Directive – Being direct in a conversation is a good option when someone doesn’t have the knowledge, skills, or experience to move forward. Coaching, on the other hand, is about leading with curiosity and asking questions to help someone get unstuck and uncover their right next step.
  • A knowledge transfer – coaching is not about having all the answers. Instead, coaching is about tapping into the knowledge and wisdom of others. Many leadership gurus agree that great leaders don’t have all the answers, great leaders ask great questions!
  • Feedback – coaching is not the same as giving constructive feedback and telling the person how to do better. This is an old-school and antiquated definition of coaching. However, when executed well, feedback can turn into a coaching conversation once the initial feedback is delivered. Coach the feedback recipient to develop their own action plan based on the feedback you have shared. Coaching is used to inspire, motivate, and create commitment.


What mindsets are important for effective “leader as coach” impact?

Curiosity -The ability to suspend judgements and put aside assumptions.

Patience – Coaching takes longer to execute than directing or simply telling someone what to do. But what’s the longer-term ROI on investing that time? A saying that comes to mind here is to “teach a fisherman to fish vs. catching all the fish for them.”

Time – One of the biggest blocks I often hear leaders say is they don’t have the time to be a coach. But is that really true? Does every outcome really have to happen in this moment? Is everything really on fire, last minute, every day? If this is true, then there are other significant building blocks that you might consider putting in place to rectify that issue. These might be delegation, team growth and development, strategic planning, prioritization, and some time management skills. This might be a time where the saying “sometimes you have to go slower to go faster” can apply. That is, taking the time to coach team members can actually be a way out of reducing the whirlwind.

Belief that the person being coached (the coachee) is capable – Great coaches truly believe and trust that their coachee has the answers within them. Great coaches coach the coachee to self-discover the blocks that are keeping them “stuck.” These blocks are often in the form of assumptions, limiting beliefs, or past experiences that keep the answers hidden, unrecognized or forgotten by the coachee.


Only use a coach approach when you are interested in gaining commitment and motivating someone into action. What makes a coach approach so effective?

Quite simply, it’s how our human brain works!

First, we are way more committed to our own ideas and ways to solve a problem than when someone tells us their ideas on how to solve it. Even if our idea is 50% correct, if we are 100% committed to the idea, the results are going to be much greater than if our leader tells us the 100% correct way to approach or do something and we are 0% committed to that idea. The math on that is simple – 0% results. I call this the C% x C% = O formula. That is, the Level of Correctness of the idea multiplied by the Level of Commitment to the idea = Outcomes.

Second, understanding how to motivate someone to take action requires a very rudimentary and over simplified (but accurate) neuroscience lesson. Often times, the ideas in our neocortex (our frontal lobe) are brilliant, innovative, creative and the exact right thing to do. Why don’t we do them? Because those ideas must then pass through the filter of our emotional brain, the limbic brain, before they can become actions. And that’s where things get “stuck.” Our emotional brain harbors all our past experiences and memories which form our attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions – positive or negative. The limbic brain lays this filter over all the brilliance coming out of our neocortex. And then guess what? We avoid, stay stuck, and overfocus on risks and threats instead of rewards and outcomes.

This is the most valuable use of a “coach approach” in leadership – getting your team member “unstuck” and moving forward on their brilliant ideas. Repeated over and over, these new actions that create success and new outcomes now rewire neural pathways in the brain and become our new habits. Those new habits (thoughts, feeling and actions) overwrite the subconscious routines and the coachee never even remembers the time when they were once “stuck.”


1. Recognize the “coaching moment.”

How will you know when you’re in a situation that coaching is appropriate? Generally speaking, they will be situations where you are fairly certain your team member knows what to do based on training or past experience, but you can see they are “stuck” and not moving forward. If there is a knowledge gap, then a directive or educational type of dialog is in order. But if they can articulate the right level of knowledge about something, then the issue might be “stuck”, and this is where the moment is right for a coaching vs. directive conversation.

I was recently coaching a leader who wanted ideas and strategies for how to guide her direct report – who had been promoted into her new role six months earlier – to step into the more strategic planning and executing realms of her new role. When I asked this leader to recount the previous conversations to gain insights into what she’s tried in the past, I noticed two things. First, this leader was “telling” the direct report that she needed to be more strategic, but there wasn’t an exploration together of what that meant or how it might be applied in the new role (motivation issue #1 above). Then the leader shared that the direct report indicated she felt “nervous” about certain aspects of what they were talking about (motivation issue #2 above). I immediately asked, “What did you say next”? The leader responded, “I told her she was capable; she was hired into the role due to her perceived capabilities in this realm, etc.” While I applauded the leader’s use of “championing” her direct report, it was applied too early in this situation. The coaching moment was to explore what her direct report was “nervous” about.

2. Employ the two main coaching “power skills” – Active listening and asking open-ended questions.

Even beginner coaches can create high levels of effective outcomes by utilizing the two main power skills of active listening and asking open-ended questions.

Active listening can be described best by:

  • Listening to understand vs. listening to respond. Quiet the brain from trying to formulate your next idea, thought or question and truly listen to what is being said.
  • Talking 30% of the time and listening 70% of the time. Seasoned coaches move this ratio closer to 20/80. Remember the power is in the question, not your words.
  • Listen to what’ s not being stated – what beliefs, perceptions and attitudes are lying beneath the surface that the coachee themselves might not even recognize? Great coaches test these insights, often creating breakthrough perspectives in the process for the coachee.

Asking open ended questions can be best described by:

  • The question usually begins with “what” or “how” vs. “do you,” “should you,” or “did you.”
  • They are not leading questions; the questions themselves don’t suggest an answer.
  • Avoid asking “why.” It can unintentionally put your coachee on the defensive. Instead of asking “Why did you do it this way?” instead ask “What made you take the steps that you did to solve this problem?” The intention behind the question is the same, however asking “why” can have an unintended consequence of your coachee thinking they have to justify the steps they took vs. explaining their motivation or rationale for taking the steps they did, which has a completely different energy around it.

3. Coach the person, don’t problem-solve the situation.

Because you’ve ascertained in step #1 that it’s not a gap in technical knowledge and by using the power skills covered in #2 above, you will uncover their hurdles to success. Coach them over the emotional hurdle they are experiencing. Don’t fall into the trap of sharing too much content or theory. If knowledge gaps are identified, take a time out to share whatever content or framework is helpful, but then get back into coaching around how that content might apply in their situation.

4. Become comfortable with silence.

Silence is necessary in order for you, as the coach, to consider what you’ve just heard and formulate your next question. And silence for the coachee is critical in providing the space for them to reflect, consider and shift perspectives.

5. Follow a 4-part flow in your coaching conversation.

Coaching conversations should always be considered fluid (time not equally divided between the steps) and never exactly linear; it can go back and forth between these 4 steps, depending on insights and discoveries. This simple 4-part framework can serve as a mental guide in creating the outcomes your coachee is looking for.

a. Set the intention for the conversation – i.e. what a vision of success looks like. And always remember, intention in a coaching conversation is always the coachee’s vision, NOT your vision as the coach. If you are coming into the conversation with YOUR intention, step back and ask yourself if this is really a coaching conversation or rather a feedback or directive dialog instead.

This might sound like: What would success look like in this situation? (Create a bigger vision.) What would great look like at the end of this conversation for you related to that vision of success? (An outcome that will move them toward the bigger vision.)

b. Explore the current state – find out what’s working and what isn’t. In this section of the conversation, listen for where they’ve been related to the topic and potential areas they might be avoiding.

This might sound like: What have you tried? What has worked? What hasn’t? How have you approached this so far?

c. Strategize possibilities – use things like “reframe,” future self, recalling past successful experiences, analogies, and metaphors. Get the coachee to gain insights into limiting beliefs and perspectives that can open the doorway to new insights, potentials, and possibilities.

This might sound like: When have you achieved success with something similar in the past? What did you do to create that success? How might that apply in this situation? If a friend came to you with this problem, what advice would you give them? Why wouldn’t that apply to you in this situation? Fast forward one year and this problem is solved. What did you do first to solve it?

If you are familiar with a hobby or sport that is meaningful to your coachee, a metaphor might be a great communication tool. Try to get them to think of the outcome they are trying to create in the context of that hobby or sport. Let’s say your coachee is a baseball fan. They are struggling or overwhelmed with the scope/breadth of the problem. Some questions you might ask are: What would a home run look like in this situation? What action or next step might get you a base hit?

Maybe they aren’t relying on their stakeholders or others on the project and trying to focus on doing it all themselves: There’s a runner on third, you are up to bat. What’s the better option, a sacrifice fly or you getting on first base?

d. Create commitment – the final but critically important piece of the coaching conversation is to create commitment. Otherwise it’s just a nice discussion! What is going to happen next? This is about getting into action. The coachee is energized by the new possibilities and ideas generated in the previous section of the conversation and selects one or two action items that will lead them toward their desired outcomes. The action item, whether executed successfully or not, creates learning opportunities. The result of that learning forms the beginning of the next coaching conversation and the embedding of new habits that lead toward success.

In conclusion, the payoffs for mastering the leader as coach behaviors are huge. It is the key contributor to high levels of innovation, motivation, engagement, and the ability for your team to continue to outpace their objectives, achieving greater results.

If a complimentary 30-minute strategy session would be helpful as a next step to upleveling your leader as coach skills, click here. Let’s do this!

Many leaders I work with who are striving to elevate their impact in motivating and engaging their teams often focus on the areas of setting expectations, holding accountabilities, and providing recognition and feedback. While these important and helpful leader behaviors get you 80 yards down field toward the endzone, the ability to ultimately score lies with the leadership behavior of providing clarity.

What does it mean to provide “clarity” as a leader? Why is it important and how does a leader achieve clarity with colleagues, peers, and team members?

That’s what we’ll explore in this month’s topic.

Let’s delve into this topic of “clarity” utilizing the 4M framework: Meaning, Mindsets, Motivations, and Methods.


What does clarity mean? At its simplest, clarity is about being understandable, transparent, and free from ambiguity or confusion.

From a leadership perspective, there are two main aspects to consider: At one level, it’s about knowing the bigger purpose, vision, mission, and how the high-level business strategy achieves that mission and purpose. The second aspect to providing clarity is to help team members define how their work contributes to the bigger purpose.

What clarity IS: Creating connection – generating energy, motivation, innovation, creativity, and passion for the work that needs to get done using mission, vision, purpose, business strategy, and core values of the organization as the bigger “why.”

What clarity is NOT: Micromanaging – telling direct reports how to complete a project or task by outlining detailed steps.
To avoid crossing the line between clarity and micromanaging, focus on the bigger picture, higher level strategy, mission and purpose; don’t focus on execution-level thinking.


What keeps leaders from providing clarity? See if any of these might apply to you or your current work situation:

  • Assumptions – “Because I know, everyone knows.” Leaders make the common mistake of knowing the bigger purpose and the bigger why, but then assume everyone also knows.
  • The day-to-day whirlwind – Getting caught up in the day-to-day whirlwind keeps leaders from elevating their focus on the bigger picture, higher vision, and key business strategies. It’s no wonder that providing that clarity fades in priority.
  • Too much time in the weeds – Leaders who find themselves in the role of subject matter expert (SME) vs. leader (by choice or design) aren’t focusing on the bigger picture and connecting the dots at a higher level for themselves or others.

What mindsets support leaders in providing clarity? How can you shift into a clarity mindset?

  • Commitment – You must commit yourself to the bigger “why” and the mission, vision and strategy of the organization and, more importantly, the path to get there. The highest levels of commitment are achieved via robust problem-solving including debate, ideological dialog, and handling of conflict. This all leads to a strong shared commitment. With this commitment, you’re authentically armed to guide your colleagues and team members to finding clarity in their work.
  • Autonomy – Knowing and understanding where the lines of authority and accountability are and being able to articulate these with the team.
  • Confidence – Having confidence in understanding and clearly articulating the mission, the bigger why, and the purpose, and how it’s built on a foundation of autonomy and commitment.


Why does providing clarity as a leader matter?

Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, reveals in their Organizational Climate research and assessment tools that “organizational climate is one of the most accurate measures of leadership effectiveness.” Korn Ferry’s research has identified six leadership behaviors that matter most in creating a positive organizational climate that influences, engages, and motivate the team to do their best work.

Of these six behaviors, they cite the leadership behavior of clarity to be the most important of all the climate dimensions. The presence of clarity is the key indicator of overall climate health. They also go on to say that “providing high levels of clarity is harder than ever to create and maintain in today’s rapidly changing business context, especially in flat, matrix structures and diverse, global teams. Most leaders find that clarity requires constant attention and effort.”

If that much attention and effort need to be focused on clarity, what are some ways that leaders can provide clarity to their teams? Which leads us to method. What are some ways to bring about clarity for the team?


1. Leaders go first.

As with most things, leaders must go first. What does this mean? Some areas to consider:

  • You must first be clear on what the overall direction and vision is and how your team fits into that picture.
  • What is your level of commitment to the organizational strategy and the key initiatives to get there? If not a “10”, what keeps it from being a “10”? Commitment is a key precursor to clarity (Lencioni, “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team”). Without your honest commitment to the direction established and where the company is headed, it will be hard to achieve the levels of transparency and clarity required for your team. Engage in open and honest dialog with your leader and colleagues until commitment is reached.

2. Assess where clarity exists and where it doesn’t for your team.

Ask questions, don’t assume. Here are some questions to ask your team to assess what’s helpful or needed. Your specific situation might generate additional questions to add to the list.

a. What is the overall strategy, direction and goals of the organization? How does this support our mission?

If the team member is unclear, you might ask: What would help you understand this more?

b. How does our team contribute to achieving the overall strategy of the organization? How does your work specifically contribute to achieving our team contribution?

As with the earlier question, if unclear, you might ask: What’s unclear about how our team contributes to the overall organizational strategy? What would help you understand this more?

c. What inspires and motivates you in your work?

Look for connections to the bigger mission and purpose of the company, and if not present, coach the team member to find their own purpose and meaning in their work and the connection to the higher vision.

d. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being high, how well do you know what’s expected of you in your role/this project?

The beauty and power of this scaling question is that no matter what answer is provided, there is a built-in next question, which spurs the needed deeper dialog and exploration. For example, let’s say someone answers “x.” The two built-in follow-up questions are: “What makes it an ‘x’?” and, even more importantly, “What would make it a an ‘x+1’?” Another great question might be: “What keeps your clarity around expectations from being a 10?” What will help in aligning our expectations together?

3. Reinforce strategy and direction.

Use team meetings, project meetings and 1:1’s to remind team members of the overall company strategy, direction and goals and how the team and department work connects. Check-in on understanding of expectations on projects and initiatives. Keep a pulse on things by using the assessment questions like those mentioned earlier.


In conclusion, the payoffs for mastering the leadership behavior of providing clarity are huge. It is the key indicator and contributor to positive organizational climates and culture which, in turn, creates high levels of innovation, motivation, engagement and the ability for your team to continue to outpace their objectives achieving greater results.

If a complimentary 30-minute strategy session would be helpful as a next step to upleveling your skills in leading with clarity, click here. Let’s do this!

Are you overwhelmed, burned out, or caught in a tactical whirlwind of to-dos? Or are you calm, balanced, and focused on the bigger strategic plan?

Which picture most describes you as a leader?

Leaders who find themselves closer to the end of the “overwhelmed” spectrum often treat the symptoms instead of looking for the root causes of why they feel overwhelmed by an overflowing list of tactical work. They reach for solutions like better time management, productivity tools, work-life balance considerations, and stress management tactics. While these are all helpful tools, the biggest assist might come from one of the most underutilized tools in the leader toolbox – effective delegation skills!

You might be thinking, “I’m great at delegating, yet I still feel overwhelmed, burned out, and caught in the tactical whirlwind!” If that’s you, then one question to consider is: How effective are your delegation skills?

The four M’s of effective skills in delegation are Meaning, Motivations, Mindsets and Methods. Let’s consider each one.


What delegation is NOT:

  • Dumping – handing over tasks and responsibilities motivated only by your unwillingness to handle them yourself.
  • Emergency use only – hitting the “wall” or deadline on a project and, at the last minute, parsing out tasks and pieces of it to available team members.

What delegation IS:

  • A growth and development tool for your team members and peers. Delegation of projects and transferring ownership of them is one of the most impactful yet underutilized growth and development tools in a leader’s toolbox.
  • A doorway to more strategic and less tactical focus for you. It makes sense! If you are handling projects and deliverables that others are capable of doing, you are not making the time for strategic thinking and forward planning.
  • A pathway to leading at the level of your “license.” You are generating outputs and deliverables that defined your success in the past, but they are not helpful at your current elevated leadership level. As you rise within the levels of leadership, your definition of success needs to evolve, as well. No longer are those outputs and deliverables likely what’s expected of you now; you need to be focused on something bigger. Now you’re in charge of growing and developing your team and thinking more strategically! Really reflect on what your new vision of success means, and step into leading at that level. Delegation is your secret weapon to all of this!


What becomes possible for me as a leader when I 10X my delegation capabilities? On a scale of 1-10, how important is focusing on the strategic vs. tactical, growing and developing your team, and leading at a higher level? On a scale of 1-10, how effective are you now in focusing on those things? How motivated are you to uplevel your delegation skills in order to close the gap?


What are your attitudes and perceptions related to delegation? Take this quick self-assessment to uncover your current underlying beliefs and attitudes toward delegation.

Read each statement and choose the answer that most closely matches your current attitude and approach toward delegation.

10X Your Leadership Impact - How To Delegate Like A Boss!

How to interpret results:

  • Answers to 1,3,7,9 will measure your healthy delegation attitudes.
  • Answers to 2, 4,5,6,8,10 will uncover your excuses, attitudes, and fears toward delegation.

What are the attitudes and mindsets that support your delegation skills? How are the excuses, attitudes and fears holding you back? What is this costing you?


Do you follow a defined process when you are delegating?

There are two key considerations for building a process for delegation and for improving your delegation skills. Both work together and both are required for success:

  1. The steps to effective delegation – follow a structured process.
  2. Create an action plan for delegation.

Implementing and executing the steps to effective delegation require some thoughtfulness and planning. How many of these are you doing today? What would the impact be if you added those that are missing?

  • Consider goals and resources
  • Provide context or rationale – the big “why”
  • Establish standards and deadlines
  • Give authority
  • Get commitment
  • Provide support and anticipate problems
  • Monitor performance and follow-up

Let’s take a deeper dive into some actionable steps you can take to incorporate effective methods of delegation.

Step 1: Action Plans for Delegation

Directions: Identify all new tasks, projects, or activities that you are personally responsible for today. Then answer the remaining questions for each.

10X Your Leadership Impact - How To Delegate Like A Boss!

Step 2: Project Analysis

10X Your Leadership Impact - How To Delegate Like A Boss!

Directions: List the projects, tasks, or activities you listed in Step #1 that could be delegated.

Step 3: Employee Analysis

10X Your Leadership Impact - How To Delegate Like A Boss!

Directions: List each employee. Identify their potential for development through delegation, without regard or consideration of the project analysis in Step #2.

Step 4: Delegation Action Plan

10X Your Leadership Impact - How To Delegate Like A Boss!

Directions: Combine information from Step #2 and Step #3 to define your delegation action plan.


Let’s go back to the question posed earlier. How effective are your delegation skills?

Armed with the 4 M’s – Meaning, Motivation, Mindset, and Methods – you can effectively determine what is going well, what isn’t, and know which “M” will be most effective in closing the delegation gap.

If a complimentary 30-minute strategy session would be helpful as a next step to upleveling your delegation skills, click here: https://calendly.com/qualia-inc/30min. Let’s do this!


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We credit Einstein with defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Even if he didn’t originally say it, many others have and we know that it’s true based on our own experiences as well!

How often do we as leaders do the same things over and over in our battles with employee retention and engagement, but somehow expect different results? And are we getting those different results? Current research says we’re not.

Obviously, it’s time for a change! Let’s fix these problems in a new, unique and better way for everyone!

The case for change

In case you are dubious about this, let’s look at the facts. Gallup, a global research firm, has been measuring engagement levels for almost 20 years. Those of us who study employee engagement read the summary reports, including “tips” on what to do about it every year, yet the needle hasn’t moved significantly into the “engaged” category. Yes, HR teams and companies have done many great things in an attempt to move that needle – increased pay, better benefits, instituting “flex time” options and offering social perks. These things are necessary and a great foundation upon which to build. But obviously, still not enough given the persistent low engagement scores.

As a hiring manager and/or HR professional responsible for recruitment and retention, you know the woes of this and the level of it for your company! What would happen if you could cut your turnover rate in half?

Costs of not changing

What is the cost of the engagement gap for your organization? Sparing the details here, research backs up this simple formula: # of employees in your organization * 17 percent (level of disengagement)* 34 percent median salary (Gallup’s researched “cost of disengagement”).

The numbers will be pretty shocking. This is what disengagement is costing your company each year. These costs show up in various forms, including: safety incidents, quality problems, mistakes, errors, productivity issues, missed deadlines, customer service problems and more. Some of these are sometimes hard to measure, but we all know there is a cost. This formula captures those overt as well as “hidden” costs!

Regarding the retention issue, what is that costing organizations today? Studies by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) predicted that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 month’s salary on average. Again, the math is pretty simple – turnover rate * # of employees * 6 to 9 months of median salary of that group!

Leadership development holds the key

Engagement and retention are both resolved with more effective leadership. Again, tons of research backs this up. It all indicates clear and similar reasons for turnover – don’t like the boss, lack of empowerment, internal politics, and lack of recognition. All of this can be grouped into one main category: poor leadership.

As Mike Prokopeak, vice president and editor in chief at Chief Learning Officer magazine, points out in his research (published less than a year ago) that companies realize this. 94% of organizations surveyed indicated they planned to keep their investment in leadership development the same or increase it, citing that the scarcity of in-demand talent and the high cost of attracting talent makes focusing on and developing their next generation of leaders the top priority. You can read his full summary here.

His research says that the focus of that training will be around emotional intelligence and “people focused” training. But that’s not new either! What shift is necessary in order to finally hit the “sweet spot” on those two topics? And how do you get the most bang for your buck on those leadership development spends?

The needed shift in leadership development

The change needed in leadership development training requires a shift from focusing not only on WHAT you do as a leader, but also on HOW you do it and the effect and the impact you have on others!

My belief is that all leaders INTEND to be inspiring, motivating and engaging as a leader, but their IMPACT misses the mark. How do we fix that?

The short answer is shifting the focus from what you are DOING as a leader, to who you are BEING as a leader.

This is what “conscious leadership” is all about.

Click here schedule a 30 minute complimentary strategy session with Suzanne to learn more about what “conscious leadership” is and what it can mean for your team and organization! Check out the link here if you want to learn more about the journey to unleash your “conscious leader” within.


Suzanne Qualia is an Executive Coach and Team Facilitator who is passionate about helping leaders step into leading from a space of “consciousness” that inspires, motivates, improves engagement and shifts cultures within teams and organizations; AND improves bottom line results. To talk to Suzanne directly, please call 608-354-5392.

In the initial blog post in this series on trust entitled, “Trust: Nature or Nurture?,” the important question of how trust originates was raised. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? While it’s admittedly a combination effect (nature + nurture), the innate view of how we see the world, others in the world, and ourselves within the world has a profound initial impact on our ability to trust.

This series of blog posts related to TRUST will begin to help you understand and uncover this topic from a leadership perspective and, likewise, identify guideposts to watch out for and actions to take to build trust where it might be lacking today.

Why does the level of trust I have in others matter as a leader?

It matters, because our leadership effectiveness lies in direct proportion to the level of innate (‘nature’) trust we have in others. You might say, “YES, BUT if you trust too much, people walk all over you, take advantage of you, not produce results, and then things go off the rails.”

I’d like to propose that the more successful approach is a “YES, AND” approach. Yes, you trust others to a high degree AND you have the right balance of structure, measurements, milestones, and follow-up to know that things are on track, which will keep you from crossing the line into ‘distrust’ activities and actions. A “YES, AND” approach enables teams to flourish and be at their best, effecting the best bottom line results!

Why is crossing the line into ‘distrust’ activities and actions so dangerous?

When a leader starts out believing that the team isn’t capable, isn’t motivated, isn’t engaged, and isn’t able to achieve established goals, then these very thoughts precipitate choices that lead to behaviors that bring about the exact results you fear. Leaders who harbor these conscious or unconscious beliefs, and then lead from that space, send strong and wrong signals to their team to become dis-engagers, de-railers, and de-motivators for the team.

What are some of these leadership behaviors that arise from these known or unknown beliefs of distrust?

  1. Measuring the wrong end of the equation. Measuring outputs exclusively instead of focusing on the health of the inputs that create success.
  2. Mis-aligning focus: Focus shifts to CYA activities and behaviors vs. those that are destined to create success. Instead of focusing on the quality of inputs, decision-making, and the processes and tools to foster success, the team is instead focused on backtracking, explaining, justifying and defending behaviors – all of which are extremely time consuming and non-value added. Worse than both of those already negative effects is the extreme de-motivation of the team.
  3. DOING vs. BEING imbalance: Low trust, by definition, is a focus on outcomes, on things (DOING) vs. people (BEING) and losing the genius that comes from superpowers that the team might possess in order to get to right solutions and better outcomes. Leaders who over-focus on ‘doing’ and forget about ‘being’ are sending a strong signal to the team that people really don’t matter and that their input doesn’t count.

Who wants to work for a leader or an organization that employs these behaviors? Organizational leaders who are questioning low levels of employee engagement might take a step back and determine whether there are mixed signals being sent.

The values statement on the wall might say, “people are our most valuable asset,” but then daily actions focus on minutiae and outcomes vs. creativity, ideation, passion, and zeal that employees willingly want to bring to the table in order to solve bigger, more important problems. This double or mixed message is a sure engagement buster for your team and organization. It won’t take long. This is why these beliefs and resultant behaviors are so dangerous for your team and for your organization.

I might be exhibiting some of these behaviors as part of my leadership style – now what?

  1. Become aware – become the observer of your actions.
  2. Accept that you have exhibited these behaviors.
  3. Examine your innate beliefs about yourself and about others that could be eliciting these behaviors. Write them down in a brain dump session over a cup of coffee in a quiet space. What beliefs exhibit trust? Which beliefs exhibit distrust? What would change if you were to give up/replace those limiting beliefs with more expanding and possibility-thinking beliefs?
  4. Ask yourself this question; “What support and assistance do I need to help me in this process of belief busting?” Leadership coaching is a great choice. Your coach, by training and innate passion, believes in your innate abilities to lead and empower your team and is able to journey with you toward that goal.
  5. Ask yourself the question; “What support does my team need to transform their thinking as a result of some of these demotivating and unhelpful behaviors and elevate them into higher levels of thinking, doing, and BEING – increasing engagement, productivity and creativity for my team and organization?” Neuroscience offers a perfect solution, as it teaches people the power of their brain and how to replace old habits with new habits of thinking, doing, and BEING!

Here’s to eliminating conscious or subconscious limiting beliefs around this topic of TRUST and exhibiting new behaviors that create new outcomes for you and your team, elevating trust, and effecting greater engagement, productivity, and bottom line results!

Namaste, until we meet again.

Trust is one of those interesting concepts that often fall into the chicken/egg syndrome. Which came first, trust or distrust? Do you distrust someone until they earn your trust, or do you trust them first until their actions and impacts cause you to distrust them? Which is it? Which approach is more successful?

What is trust?

Before attempting to answer this, let’s all agree on this concept of trust and what it means. Quite simply, as Stephen R. Covey defined in his best-selling book, “The Speed of Trust,” trust simply means confidence in someone, or something. Distrust means that confidence is lacking.

Is it ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’?

Where does confidence come from before it’s earned or demonstrated? The ‘nature’ standpoint would imply that it’s innate, or, that one possesses a naturally high level of confidence in the human spirit, the human soul. There is the belief that we all intend to do the right thing and create the right impact, but we miss the mark due to becoming temporarily unconscious (i.e., not being aware of the effect of our actions on others and those around us). To the degree that one has a strong positive core belief in the basic desire of people to focus their actions in a positive manner, we would say they naturally have a high level of trust.

From a ‘nurture’ standpoint, creating or building trust would imply that positive and successful actions over time creates and builds confidence and predictability in future outcomes so that a high level of trust is established.

One could conclude that high levels of trust would be created from a combination of both. However, the reality is that you can’t build complete trust in someone unless there is a high dose/preponderance of ‘nature’ (i.e., innate trust in the human soul, positive intentions, etc.).

Why is this? Neuroscience concepts and principles explain it well. Neuroscience would say that what we think about and focus on is what we create. So if we think and focus on the potential for people to do the right thing, make the right choices, then we are energetically providing the pathway for that to happen.

Likewise, the opposite is also true. If we are constantly searching for and thinking about the missteps and mistakes of others, that nothing will go well, that life is hard, and people are stupid, then these things, too, will become our reality.

The value of trust in great leadership

How does this apply to leadership, and why does it matter? High trust, coming from a ‘nature’ viewpoint forms the core and basis of great leadership, and it completely differentiates a strong leader from a weak one.

There is a long list of negative and disempowering leadership behaviors that ensue without a strong innate/natural sense of trust in the team. The next several blog posts will be dedicated to this topic of trust, along with the positive results from high trust and negative results from a low trust standpoint. We will examine some of these behaviors and self-reflect – where are these showing up in your leadership style? What would open up for you as a leader if they didn’t?

Then the next logical question becomes, “How can I ‘rewire’ my brain for different thought patterns, choices, and outcomes for myself and for my team?” We’ll cover that important piece as well.

Namaste, until we meet again.

What is ‘culture’ as it relates to the business world, your team, and your organization?

It doesn’t have anything to do with the ethnicity, geographic location, or physical characteristics of a group. The essence of ‘culture,’ as I’m identifying it here, strictly has to do with behavior patterns of organizations that have become the norm and which now influence the thoughts, choices, actions and outcomes of the organization. It’s the elusive meaning of the word ‘culture’ that most teams and organizations talk about changing but most really don’t know how to go about doing so.

What is a ‘conscious culture?’

‘Conscious,’ as used in connection with ‘culture,’ means two things. First, ‘conscious’ means the standpoint of increased awareness. Next, the term ‘conscious’ is used to describe the following behaviors that are elevated vs. contracted or limiting beliefs or behaviors.

As examples: leadership that nurtures, grows, and develops ideas and results vs. dictates; that connects vs. separates; that leads with compassion and empathy vs. relies on positions of power and hierarchy; that leads from a space of “YES…AND” vs. “EITHER…OR;” and that leads from a space where there is balance between ego, relationships, and results vs. an over-focus on only one of those areas.

These are only a few examples of what best describes ‘conscious leadership’ – the type of leadership that can grow and enable your “conscious culture.”

Why is moving toward growing your ‘conscious culture’ important for you, your team, and your organization?

Because the work world is weary and tired of the ‘old school’ command and control, militaristic hierarchy, and the “do as I say and not as I do” leadership style. Employees are tired of the hyper focus on RESULTS at the expense of relationships, along with the health and wellbeing of employees.

How do I know this?

I’ve worked in this environment for 25+ years and experienced it myself. But if anecdotal evidence is not enough (or even your own experiences!), just look at the data/research [hyperlink to study]. Gallup has been studying employee engagement since 2001, and the needle hasn’t moved yet on the levels of only slightly engaged or completely disengaged workers.

The data is quite compelling. Each disengaged worker costs an organization about $25,000 annually, and 30% of those employees in your company are disengaged. Additionally, these results come after many, many years of discussion, leadership development and training, and focus around this topic. It’s ironic.

Why hasn’t the needle moved?

Because we are relying on the same old methods of thinking, doing, and BEING that have evolved teams, groups, and organizations to this point in the past.

What is required?

New ways of thinking, doing, and BEING! It sounds simple, but if it were that simple, why don’t we all just do it? Ahhh…that’s where the brain comes in.

We are creatures of habit and creatures of our past emotional experiences, which subconsciously dictates our thoughts, choices, behaviors, and, therefore, the outcomes. It’s what causes our impacts to be out of alignment with our intentions.

How can you overcome these old habits and subconscious patterns?

The most important thing is simply to become aware, and then by applying our process, models, and tools for change to achieve new results in new ways.

Join me on October 26 to learn more about this topic with some ideas and tools that you can start applying right away.

How to Successfully Navigate Your Business and Teams

How would you like to strengthen your “leadership rudder?”

A rudder is a control mechanism that literally helps you to ‘steer your ship.’ Would you like to create balance, align your impact with your intentions, and achieve your goals and dreams for you, your team, and your organization?

Welcome to my inaugural post, which officially launches my newsletter, The Leadership Rudder.

A rudder is needed to help guide and navigate in the direction of and toward a vessel’s ultimate destination. Missing or misaligned, one ends up in the wrong location, taking longer to reach your goals, and often traveling in circles and wasted patterns.

How does this apply to leadership?

Quite simply, in the exact same way.

When we are directionless and misaligned in our thoughts, choices, and feelings with what matters most to us as leaders, we end up creating unintended consequences and messages. This results in misaligned intent and impact. The net effect of that is that we end up achieving different results than expected, having a less-than-positive impact than we hoped, and not leading from our strong leader self.

What is this concept of “leadership rudder?” Where it is located?

Our leadership rudder is deep within us; it’s the core of who we really are, the core of our being – it spans the centers of our intuition, power, empathy, and compassion. These centers are the seat of our wisdom and strength. They are always present, always available.

How do we lose contact and connection with these centers?

It happens through the “busy-ness” of life, through the many stressors we face every day, through the barrage of decisions, challenges, and problems that arise daily. Our ability to navigate the day-to-day waters, aligning intention and impact and moving the needle forward in a positive way for our teams, and ourselves, depends on our ability to strengthen and deepen our leadership rudder.

Learn more

Join me on this journey. Let’s explore together those key stressors you face each day in your leadership journey. Let’s re-discover how to tap into those connection centers to lead in a different way to create uncommon and positive results.

  1. Enjoy a complimentary seat to attend one (or more!) of my monthly leadership breakfast roundtable discussions. The first event will be held on October 26 on the topic of “Creating a Conscious Culture Where All Can Thrive.” Get free access to this powerful information on my home page via the orange ‘Leadership Breakfast Series’ box for complete details.
  2. If you would like to receive my news and updates, including monthly reminders, exploration, and learning around this metaphor of the ‘leadership rudder,’ click here and scroll to the blue box to ‘Subscribe to Receive Updates.’ I can help you achieve your goals and dreams for you, your team, and your organization.

I look forward to connecting with you!