[Video] – Are Leaders Born or Made?

By Samantha Kerrigan | 04/05/2017 | Comments Off on [Video] – Are Leaders Born or Made?

In the leadership development space, this is one of our biggest questions

The vision of Integris started with the idea that to improve companies, to improve lives, we also needed to improve leaders and team dynamics. Co-founder and managing partner Brett Cooper talks about why we work with The Leadership Challenge and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team to really hone in on creating healthier organizations and great places to work. The fact is that leaders are both born and made. Only 0.0001% of people show no leadership ability whatsoever. So we all have the capability to become better leaders.

3 Ways to Overcome Obstacles to Achieving Your Team’s Vision

By Gwen Voelpel | 10/09/2018 | Comments Off on 3 Ways to Overcome Obstacles to Achieving Your Team’s Vision

People want to follow leaders who have a vision. Although team members may respect what Yogi Berra contributed to baseball, they aren’t interested in a leader who leads the way forward using Yogi’s famous quote, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Yet even the best vision for your team’s work is far from a sure thing. You may stumble along the way for various reasons: your environment may throw up roadblocks, your organization’s culture may get in the way, or you may even realize that your vision is no longer compelling.

How can you handle these challenges to your vision without going off the rails?

The outside environment throws up a roadblock

Sometimes it’s the outside world that frustrates the achievement of a team’s vision. Like any obstacle, a change thrust upon your organization from the outside can be met in three ways—by climbing over it, breaking through it, or working around it.

There is something to your mindset when you first notice an obstacle. Some of us our more positive thinkers. For leaders, it’s important to remain encouraging and positive as you noodle through change with your team. Positive leaders are known to enhance job satisfaction and even improve performance among team members.

So take a deep breath and get to work!

Clearly, you can’t predict all changes. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could? But you can anticipate changes on the horizon and then, when they inevitably occur, analyze whether the change is friend or foe of your team’s vision. If it’s a friendly change, strategize with your team about how to leverage it to accelerate the achievement of your vision. If it’s an unfriendly change—one that threatens your vision’s course—talk to you team about how to mitigate negative impacts or even get creative in how you can turn a seemingly threatening change into a positive one.

Think that can’t happen?

Talk to any number of government organizations about their initial frustration with customers expecting an Amazon-type “click the app and receive it at your front door the next day” service request system for everything from filling potholes to renewing a boat registration. The technology may be slower to adapt, but public servants all across the country are learning how to turn rapidly changing technology into better services for residents.

Our first reaction when discovering something in the path to our vision is most likely frustration, but sometimes as Ryan Holiday wrote, The Obstacle Is the Way.

The internal culture starts throwing you off your path.

Oftentimes teams struggle with gossiping and infighting that throws them off working together to achieve a vision. Those types of behaviors are a sign of an unhealthy culture. But there are ways to work with your team to improve how they work together and keep moving forward.

Being mindful of culture is particularly relevant during organizational development efforts that create unease for some people. But what can you do about it? First, keep cultural expectations clear by grounding the team in your organizational values. Look for ways to show how the vision aligns with your values and—hopefully—people’s personal values. Values are the “bottom line” for how people make decisions and staying mindful of personal values has been shown to create a higher level of organizational commitment.

Also, show team members that the organization is committed to their well-being. Recognition and support create a much higher level of employee diligence and commitment.

Culture is a powerful and often unseen force in organizations and achieving a truly healthy culture takes work. But if you can harness that power and turn it into a positive force for your vision, hang on! With the force of the team pulling together, you will achieve amazing things.

Your vision is no longer aspirational.

Say you with your team to create a 10-year vision. Five years later you may not be 100% there but you feel like you’re within 18 months of achieving your vision.

That’s too close! You will begin to see the energy of the team dissipating if you don’t revisit your vision.

If you find yourself with this enviable challenge, it’s time to revisit your vision just like the good people at King County Finance and Business Operations did.

Realizing that your vision is just around the corner instead of off on the horizon creates an excellent opportunity to have a conversation with your team. Remember to celebrate successes you’ve reached in achieving your vision before you move on and create a new vision. Capture what’s worked and move onto the next step in your journey!

Getting started: leaders create and collaborate to reach a great vision

For many leaders at all levels, creating and enlisting others in creating and moving toward a vision sounds foreign. In fact, inspiring a shared vision is the least frequently exhibited of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership in over 30 years of research behind The Leadership Challenge.

Given that, is it worth your time as a leader to create a vision with your team? Is it worth stretching outside your comfort zone to inspire them to want to come along? Yes, it is. The good news is that you don’t have to be a charismatic character to be a visionary for your team. If you wonder if introverts can be great leaders, read the book Quiet by Susan Cain.

Extroverts and introverts can create visions for their teams—whether they be an entire organization, a department, a division or even a small workgroup. And it works in all industries. Read on for a study on how nurse leaders employ The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership to help other nurses and patients.

Team members want to know you are able to see around corners for them. They want to see you anticipate and help them respond to change. They also want to lay out the path to your vision with you. They want to know that you are looking out into the future for the betterment of the organization and at the same time looking out for what matters to them personally—including what they value individually.

The best leaders find ways to set that vision and also show people how their interests can be met by helping you achieve your aspirations for the organization. And research by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, shows that leaders who frequently show others how their long-term interests can be realized by enlisting in a common vision have people who believe they are making a difference. It’s is a great source of motivation and engagement, as one large healthcare organization found.

Need to get started on a vision that’s compelling and unique? Try these few things:

  1. Download The Leadership Challenge Vision Workbook This thorough resource is full of exercises and activities to help you develop and share a vision with your team.
  2. Watch Simon Sinek’s Video “Start with why – how great leaders inspire action”:
  3. In your next meeting, share your vision for your team; and ask team members to share their ideas so the vision becomes a shared vision for the team. Follow up by asking each team member to describe the role they see themselves playing in support of the shared vision.

4 Behaviors to Avoid When You’re Trying to Build Relationships at Work

By Brett Cooper | 09/25/2018 | Comments Off on 4 Behaviors to Avoid When You’re Trying to Build Relationships at Work
A man wearing a suit and sitting at a wooden desk is building effective workplace relationships with his colleague who is just out of the picture — they are shaking hands.

Building relationships in the workplace is one of the most important aspects of working together as a team. Without effective teamwork, achieving results is next to impossible.

One of the most effective ways to keep relationships at work healthy and positive is to remain focused on mutual goals and a shared dedication to the work at hand. Allowing personal differences or misunderstandings to get in the way of achievement can ruin those critical working relationships.

Here are four ways to avoid souring collaborative relationships in the workplace.

A man wearing a suit and sitting at a wooden desk is building effective workplace relationships with his colleague who is just out of the picture — they are shaking hands.

1. Avoid Reacting Impulsively to Maintain Existing Relationships

Reacting too quickly to something that could be perceived as negative is likely to lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The impulsive desire to respond to a message or behavior that’s perceived as undesirable keeps the interaction in a negative space. The back-and-forth dialogue can become personal and misdirect the focus from the important issues at hand.

A loss of focus on work can damage a relationship with a valuable colleague whose collaboration you’re depending on.

Instead, when encountering something perceived as negative or undesirable, try waiting a day or two to respond. Stepping back and taking time to calm down can help ensure the response has an appropriate tone and focus. This can also build currency towards maintaining and strengthening important workplace relationships.

2. Avoid Interrupting Your Teammates to Add Value to Work Relationships

Again, the key is to avoid reacting impulsively and impatiently.

Allowing the other person to speak fully and freely, to finish getting their idea or opinion out onto the table in their own way, allows them to feel they have been completely heard, which is much more likely to encourage them to listen to what else is being offered on the subject.

Actually hearing each other out allows everyone to feel valued and lines up with the core principle of trust among team members.

3. Avoid Making Assumptions

It’s sometimes difficult to be sure what someone else is actually trying to communicate, and it’s easy to jump to incorrect conclusions.

Referring back to our two previous suggestions, avoid the hasty response or conclusion. Try exercising some patience instead. Here are some concrete suggestions for taking the guesswork out of your interactions and avoiding harmful misunderstanding:

Listen to Understand

Building further on the suggestion to avoid interrupting, make sure the other person knows that they are being heard and that their intended message is the priority.

It’s easy to jump on a single word or a fragment of the overall message and make it the focus of the conversation, but that’s a distraction from the work at hand and the shared desire for results. Impulsive reactions can make the person self-conscious and damage the relationship.

Let the message they want to communicate stand on its own merit.

Ask for Clarification

Be an active listener. Wait for the initial dialogue turn to play out, and then ask thoughtful follow-up questions.

Before responding, a good suggestion is to rephrase what you’ve understood with an opening like, “What I’ve heard you saying is (summarize the main points of their message). Is that correct?”

Once some confirmation has been given, it will be easier to proceed with feedback or further discussion of the issues without being distracted by the delivery. Again, the other person will feel respected and heard.

Follow Up in Writing (If Necessary)

When time is limited, or when impulsive reactions are bubbling to the surface, try stepping away and responding later in writing.

A written response allows for careful thought and review before the message is delivered — the opposite of impulsive behavior. Everyone involved is likely to have quieted down and refocused by the time your response reaches them.

This suggestion is especially useful when the subject matter is delicate or volatile, and it allows you to develop useful follow-up thoughts or questions to keep the dialogue rolling.

All of these methods keep the focus of the discussion on the issues and work that need to be done, which can prevent the encounter from becoming personal, a critical key to building relationships in the workplace.

(Click to find out more about building effective workplace relationships.)

4. Avoid Stereotyping

Team members’ knowledge about their own personalities and workstyles, and about the preferences and tendencies of their teammates, can assist in the development of valuable relationship-building skills.

However, that useful information can also be mishandled or misinterpreted, morphing into a mechanism for labelling teammates.

Labeling coworkers as one type or another (you can read more about those personality types here) can lead to a failure to listen to them fully. Such stereotypes can be barriers that lead to avoiding communication with certain coworkers viewed as difficult, or to a counterproductive level of caution in important interactions where open discussion is critical.

A thorough explanation of personality assessment tools (such as Everything DiSC®) and instruction in their application can go a long way in promoting positive relationships in the workplace. When explanation is provided without the tools to successfully utilize the information, harmful stereotypes can result.

Relationship Building Is Key to Successful Collaboration in the Workplace

Successful teamwork makes a tremendous difference in accomplishing goals.

Without positive workplace relationships and effective communication, desired results are unlikely.

Integris is here to support your team’s efforts to build effective workplace relationships and master more effective communication skills — click here to learn more about how understanding personality types can aid your team in developing productive workplace relationships.


5 Things Every Successful Leader Must Do

By Samantha Kerrigan | 01/22/2018 | Comments Off on 5 Things Every Successful Leader Must Do

More than 5 million people have looked to The Leadership Challenge

As a leader, everything you do matters—regardless of position or title, or where you might currently reside on the hierarchical ladder. You can encourage and inspire, or create tension and dysfunction, within your team. You can wear your independence and autonomy on your sleeve or admit your vulnerabilities and begin to develop more trust-based relationships with others.

So, it really isn’t a question of whether you will have an impact on those around you. The real question is….what impact will you have? And what can you do to make sure that you are focusing on those behaviors and actions that will make the biggest difference?

*For more than 5 million people around the globe, The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® have served as a clear, evidence-based path to achieving the extraordinary.

By incorporating the principles and behaviors associated with The Five Practices, leaders have improved their own leadership skills, improved the culture and achievements of their organizations, and have taken those who choose to follow places they’ve never been—to achieve the extraordinary.

Titles are granted, but behavior is what earns respect. That’s why exemplary leaders Model the Way. They establish how people should be treated and goals pursued. Leaders go first, setting the example for others to follow and aligning actions with shared values. They create standards of excellence, unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action, and keep commitments; they “do what you say you will do” (DWYSYWD).

You have to inspire commitment, not command it. Leaders passionately believe they can make a difference and enlist others in their dreams to make the extraordinary happen. They Inspire a Shared Vision, elevating their work and that of others’ to be more than just a job—to be a calling. Leaders envision the future and clearly communicate how everyone can help create an exciting future for themselves and the organization.

Always searching for opportunities to change the status quo, leaders Challenge the Process. They venture out, looking for innovative ways to improve. They create a culture where good ideas are encouraged and supported. Leaders experiment and take risks while accepting the inevitable mistakes and failures as “learning moments”. They set attainable milestones, celebrating small wins that can help keep everyone motivated to continue on the journey toward the next goal.

Great leaders Enable Others to Act by fostering collaboration, building spirited teams, and strengthening others. They know that by giving people the freedom to make choices they build self-confidence, grant others ownership, and foster accountability. Leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts and strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity.

LPI Sample Report


Accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. And exemplary leaders know that they must keep hope and determination alive…they must Encourage the Heart. Leaders make time for public celebrations and to personally recognize contributions that individuals make. They bring people together, sharing stories of good work and achievements, and create a spirit of community that is often the key to carrying a group or team through tough times.

Exemplary leaders who put into action The Five Practices make a profound difference in workplace performance. And the evidence clearly backs up that claim. 30+ years of ongoing research by authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, plus more than 500 studies conducted by academics and others, positively correlate The Five Practices with the effectiveness of leaders. And analysis of responses to the LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory® also confirms that a leader’s actions contribute more to commitment, loyalty, motivation, and productivity than any other single variable.

Are you ready to become an exemplary leader? Take a look at the LPI 360 individual feedback report.


 *Used with permission from The Leadership Challenge® ©James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, published by John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved.

6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Challenge the Process

By Samantha Kerrigan | 01/24/2018 | Comments Off on 6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Challenge the Process

Personal-best leadership experiences all begin with a challenge, a novel or difficult situation that requires a departure from the norm. Exemplary leaders don’t back away. In fact, they see these circumstances as opportunities to shake things up (or perhaps just corral the energy that already exists). They rise above the chaos and uncertainty to take the lead in changing the way things get done. Leaders turn the workplace into a learning laboratory. They question processes, systems, and strategies. And they engage and motivate people to travel on paths they’ve never been before.

There is a clear connection between challenge and change, and between challenge and being an effective leader. And to lead effectively, you must be willing to look outside your own experience for new ideas and possibilities, be willing to seize the initiative, and create an environment in which risk taking—and the inevitable mistakes that occur—are seen as opportunities for learning and growth. You must Challenge the Process.

Consider how you can put these six actions into practice, starting today!*

 Seek out challenging opportunities that test your own skills and abilities

 Challenge others around you to try out new and innovative ways to do their work

 Actively search for innovative ways to improve what you and your team do

 Ask “What can we learn?” when things don’t go as expected

 Identify measurable milestones that keep projects moving forward

 Take the initiative in anticipating and responding to change

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model that serves as the foundation of the internationally-acclaimed The Leadership Challenge® sets out the essential principles and behaviors that ongoing research continues to confirm lead to improved employee engagement, higher performing teams, and increased bottom-line results. Challenge the Process is one of The Five Practices that focuses on helping leaders spur innovation and positive change.

five practices icons.jpeg

Ready to learn more about a clear, evidence-based path to become the best leader you can be? Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.


*Used with permission from The Leadership Challenge® ©James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, published by John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved.

6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Enable Others to Act

By Samantha Kerrigan | 01/31/2018 | Comments Off on 6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Enable Others to Act

Exemplary leaders know that they can’t go it alone. From the battlefield to the boardroom, in times of chaos or complacency, there are no “lone wolves” among the annals of leadership greats. No leader lasts for long without a team of colleagues engaged in a common pursuit, a group working in partnership with individual accountability. And while commitment cannot be dictated or commanded, commitment can be inspired by a leader who demonstrates care and support, and builds trust and credibility by serving the needs of others for self-determination and self-reliance.

To achieve the extraordinary, you must Enable Others to Act, which begins when you take action to create and nurture a climate of openness and trust to sustain healthy and productive relationships.

Consider how you can put these six actions into practice, starting today!

 Actively listen to diverse points of view

 Develop cooperative relationships among the people you work with

 Treat others with dignity and respect

 Involve people in the decisions that directly impact their job performance

 Give people freedom and choice in deciding how to do their work

 Ensure that people grow in their jobs by learning new skills and developing themselves

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model that serves as the foundation of the internationally-acclaimed The Leadership Challenge® sets out the essential principles and behaviors that ongoing research continues to confirm lead to improved employee engagement, higher performing teams, and increased bottom-line results. Encourage Others to Act is one of The Five Practices that focuses on fostering collaboration and strengthening others.

five practices icons.jpeg

Ready to learn more about a clear, evidence-based path to become the best leader you can be? Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.


*Used with permission from The Leadership Challenge® ©James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, published by John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved.

6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Encourage the Heart

By Samantha Kerrigan | 02/07/2018 | Comments Off on 6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Encourage the Heart

Change can be hard. And in today’s workplace, it seems that around every corner there is another challenge to face… another obstacle to overcome. At times, it can feel like a slog up Machu Picchu for which we are not adequately trained. We become exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Frustrated and disheartened, we are tempted to give up. But, the best leaders know what it takes to propel themselves and those around them forward. They don’t take the spotlight or take credit where credit isn’t due. Instead, they expect the best and every day, in ways large and small, find meaningful ways to recognize values and victories, and celebrate the accomplishments of both individuals and the team.

Encourage the Heart

This practice speaks to the very human need in every one of us to know that we matter—what we’re doing and what we’re contributing is making a difference. And as an exemplary leader, your words and actions must consistently demonstrate that you care, that you believe in your team, and that you always, always have their back.

Consider how you can put these six actions into practice, starting today!*

  1. Praise people for a job well done
  2. Make it a point to let people know about your confidence in their abilities
  3. Make sure that people are creatively recognized for their contributions to the success of projects
  4. Publicly recognize people who exemplify a commitment to shared values
  5. Tell stories of encouragement about the good work of others
  6. Get personally involved in recognizing people and celebrating accomplishments

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model that serves as the foundation of the internationally-acclaimed The Leadership Challenge® sets out the essential principles and behaviors that ongoing research continues to confirm lead to improved employee engagement, higher performing teams, and increased bottom-line results. Encourage the Heart is one of The Five Practices that focuses on showing appreciation for individual excellence and creating a spirit of community.

five practices icons.jpeg

Ready to learn more about a clear, evidence-based path to become the best leader you can be. Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.


*Used with permission from The Leadership Challenge® ©James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, published by John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved.

6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Inspire a Shared Vision

By Team Integris | 01/15/2018 | Comments Off on 6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Inspire a Shared Vision

Great leaders do more than just envision an exciting future. They help their people see the “big picture” and the essential role each individual can play in achieving their shared goals. Others are more eager to follow leaders who are future-focused. There is stronger team cohesion, stronger group identity and, ultimately, better performance on measures of both individual and organizational outcomes.

Getting people to willingly follow you into the future requires that you passionately believe that together you can make a difference. You must Inspire a Shared Vision, which begins when you take action to meet your commitments—to yourself and your people. Consider how you can put these six actions into practice, starting today!*


  1. Talk about future trends that will influence how our work gets done
  2. Describe a compelling image of what our future could be like
  3. Appeal to others to share an exciting dream of the future
  4. Show others how their long-term interests can be realized by enlisting in a common vision
  5. Paint the “big picture” of what we aspire to accomplish
  6. Speak with genuine conviction about the higher meaning and purpose of our work

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model that serves as the foundation of the internationally-acclaimed The Leadership Challenge® sets out the essential principles and behaviors that ongoing research continues to confirm lead to improved employee engagement, higher performing teams, and increased bottom-line results. Inspire a Shared Vision is one of The Five Practices that focuses on helping leaders imagine exciting possibilities for the future and learning ways to enlist others in that shared vision.

five practices icons.jpeg

Ready to learn more about a clear, evidence-based path to become the best leader you can be. Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.


*Used with permission from The Leadership Challenge® ©James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, published by John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved.

6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Model the Way

By Team Integris | 01/12/2018 | Comments Off on 6 Commitments the Best Leaders Make to Model the Way

The first step in becoming a better leader begins by looking inward: discovering your personal beliefs and then finding the voice to express them. Clarifying your values helps guide your actions, ensuring that you set the example by “doing what you say what you will do” (DWYSYWD). You also make it easier for your constituents to stay on the right path to achieve your shared goals.

To lead effectively, your words and actions must be consistent. You must Model the Way, which begins when you take action to meet your commitments—to yourself and your constituents.

Consider how you can put these six actions into practice, starting today!*

  1. Set a personal example of what you expect of others
  2. Make certain that people adhere to the principles and standards that have been agreed upon
  3. Follow through on promises and commitments you make
  4. Ask for feedback on how your actions affect other people’s performance
  5. Build consensus around a common set of values for running your organization
  6. Be clear about your philosophy of leadership

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model that serves as the foundation of the internationally-acclaimed The Leadership Challenge® sets out the essential principles and behaviors that ongoing research continues to confirm lead to improved employee engagement, higher performing teams, and increased bottom-line results. Model the Way is the first of The Five Practices that focuses on helping leaders clarify their values and align their actions with shared values.

five practices icons.jpeg

Learn more about The Five Practices and how they can provide you with a clear, evidence-based path to become the best leader you can be. Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.


*Used with permission from The Leadership Challenge® ©James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, published by John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved.

6 Ways to Improve Team Effectiveness and Performance

By Brett Cooper | 08/21/2018 | Comments Off on 6 Ways to Improve Team Effectiveness and Performance
Teacher helping a young student with an assignment on the computer, possibly learning ways to improve team effectiveness.

If you’re a leader in your organization, you likely spend a lot of time trying to come up with or implement ways to improve team performance or team effectiveness.

Team improvement ideas abound, but we think we have some valuable suggestions based on proven tools such as The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ and Everything DiSC® that can help you and your team maximize your potential to achieve the results you need.

Teacher helping a young student with an assignment on the computer, possibly learning ways to improve team effectiveness.

Defining Your Goals: Set the Action Plan for Improving Team Effectiveness

As a leader, establishing and clearly defining what success will look like for a given project is of paramount importance. Second to that is successfully communicating the idea of success you’ve developed to your team in a way that clarifies both goals and expectations.

When the members of an effective team know what is expected of them, they are much more likely to perform to their full potential. When that understanding spreads across the team, you have set yourself on the path to success.

Setting the Stage for Effectiveness: Clarifying Goals, Roles, and Responsibilities

Your next step is to determine who’s responsible for what tasks and responsibilities. Some of those duties will be decided by the team leader, and some will need to be decided as a group.

When fleshing out tasks and roles, everyone is going to need an established foundation of trust and understanding that will allow your team to engage in healthy conflict and help you assign work to be done.

Spirited discussion, or at least the opportunity for everyone to feel they have been given the opportunity to weigh in, is necessary to ensure everyone buys into the project. In order to buy in, those who have to produce the work need to know that everyone is on the same page and is behaving in the organization’s best interests.

This foundation, which is based on The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, will foster a positive environment that is more immune to many of common workplace distractions:

  • Jealousy
  • Claims of unfairness
  • Gossip
  • Skepticism
  • Interpersonal conflicts over territory
  • Fear of personal attack

The increase in engagement you’ll get from teammates who trust each other and have honestly bought in will set the wheels in motion for greater productivity and creativity, which leads to increases in both quantity and quality of work produced — a win for everyone.

Recognize When It’s Good Enough to Start: Productivity Requires Action

Once everyone knows what the project is trying to accomplish, what success looks like, and what everyone’s roles are, strike while the iron is hot.

Going back again and again to further clarify or give ever greater detail can, in some cases, drastically reduce people’s ability to utilize their training, creativity, and other natural attributes (which are likely the reasons you hired them in the first place).

Hesitation and doubt can cripple an individual or team, and too much planning or too great a delay between decision and implementation can lead to insecurity and paralysis.

It’s time to have faith in your team and the process.

Conduct Meetings With a Clear Objective in Mind

It’s important to remember that meetings cost resources: time, money, and energy. Meetings can propel a team forward, or they can distract from the primary objective of getting the work done. Unfortunately, too many organizations fall into the second category.

Be specific about what needs to be accomplished during this valuable time. Whatever type of work your organization does, it’s likely that time in meetings is time away from getting the actual work done.

Remember to allow for a healthy exchange of ideas and necessary conflict, but keep it directly related to the goal of the meeting.

Place time limits to keep everyone focused on accomplishing the meeting objective. Side conversations and offshoots can be taken care of in email exchanges, quick one-on-one conversations, or at the coffee station.

Exchanging Feedback Fosters Accountability

Communication allows everyone to know where everyone else is at in terms of fulfilling their responsibilities, and that provides a serious layer of accountability. Valuable employees don’t want to be the person holding the team back.

Sufficient feedback from the boss and from other team members also allows for course correction if any one task or role has gotten out of sync with the others, saving valuable time and resources before things go awry.

(When it comes to giving feedback and holding each other accountable, understanding each other’s personality style is helpful — read about personality styles here.)

Guide Without Micromanaging: Don’t Get in the Way of Your Team’s Effectiveness

As the leader, it can be tough to not interject yourself too much and begin micromanaging teams and individuals as they produce the work their duties and roles require.

A little advice or course correction could go a long way, but too many starts and stops that focus on tiny details can break momentum and cause people to become hesitant and overly cautious.

In simpler terms, an excessive amount of direct involvement by the leader can gum up the gears of production and stifle the creativity and inspiration your amazing team members bring to the table. (Again, that’s why you have them on the team.) Be judicious with your direct involvement, so that it has the necessary impact needed to enhance your team’s performance, but doesn’t become counterproductive.

There are dozens of tricks, tips, and hacks out there, but focus on the big things that matter most and make an overall difference. In other words, focus on the overall mission, and let your teams work out the smaller details.

Practicing the judicious use of your involvement will require some patience and a willingness to lean on the foundation of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team that you’ve established:

  • Vulnerability-based trust
  • Your team’s buy in or investment in the direction of the project
  • Team members’ ability to hold each other accountable.

You’ve crafted and invested in this foundation of effective team behaviors. Now it’s time to let the process work for you and pay dividends.

Monitor Your Team’s Communication

One way you can utilize your role as the boss to impact productivity is to monitor the communication between teams and amongst the individuals on a team.

If you want to measure your team’s effectiveness, you should be:

  • Measuring interactions
  • Observing conflict
  • Demonstrating understanding

(Click here to learn more about measuring team effectiveness.)

Providing coaching or support in areas of communication that need improvement will result in increased employee engagement, meaning that:

  • Work gets done with fewer unnecessary interpersonal interruptions
  • Team efficiency improves
  • Quality goes up
  • Absenteeism and turnover goes down

Learn More About Ways to Improve Team Performance Through Superior Engagement

Leaders are always coming up with ideas and strategies to improve team performance.

At Integris, we’re confident these suggestions can help you get the most from your team’s potential. Your team is filled with talented individuals who can produce amazing work when allowed to engage fully and given proper guidance.

Learn more about how to improve your team’s performance in our comprehensive guide on the subject — click to get started.

7 Reasons That Sandals Customer Service Rocks

By Evans Kerrigan | 07/14/2015 | Comments Off on 7 Reasons That Sandals Customer Service Rocks

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time at Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma. The location is beautiful: a wonderful beach, great food, great accommodations and all the amenities you could want. There is one aspect of the resort that stands out even more than all of these and that is the focus of customer experience of each guest from everyone on staff.

Guests are greeted by every team member all over the property whenever they see them.  A smile, a wave and a greeting. It is the level of service we would always like to see in many organizations, but it really shows here. What are some ways that they are able to make this so consistent across a large workforce?

I was curious, so I started talking with the staff and asking what made this place so special. Here are some of the nuggets that I heard:

1. Hire well

Sandals primarily hires locals to staff and manage its properties. Wanting to instill the local Caribbean feel to each property, this makes sense. Another aspect of hiring from the local community is that they gather a workforce where courtesy is a way of life.

“Growing up if I did not say hi to a person who walked by, my mother would point out that I was not being nice.”

– Rinald, Sandals Photo Shop Team Member

It is easier to find staff who will care and be personable if they were raised that way.

“We all know each other on the island,  it is natural to say hello and wave to each other.” – — Lamon, Sandals Concierge  

There is a bit of an advantage hiring from small communities, where people have an expectation to connect with others. The rule for Sandals, like many companies, is to greet the customers. Here it is expected that you will greet all other staff the same way. This becomes just the general pattern for all interactions.  What a wonderful way of honoring all. The Head of Loyalty mentioned that they hire people who like people, they can train anything else.

2. Believe in your people and provide opportunities 

As I began talking with staff, they all talked of opportunities to move in the organization, learning new skills and growing. All talked about starting in their first job, but having the opportunity to grow.

“I have been able to work in entertainment, water sports and now photography, many opportunities to grow and learn by doing well where you work” – Nelly, Sandals Photographer

3. Train for what you want 

Sandals provides training for the job skills as well as training around customer service and leadership for the staff. Several staff mentioned the opportunity to travel to other properties in other countries as a way to learn and grow.

“I hope to travel to other locations in other countries for further training and bring the lessons back home.“ – Lamon

4. Collect feedback 

A robust feedback system is in place to capture comments from guests. The property uses a website feedback system to capture comments regarding compliments, concerns and requests.

I used the system several times during the week. It was simple to use and to post my comments. The aspect that impressed me was the quick response from the manager of each area to any comment. It was beyond collecting customer feedback to reacting to and taking action on customer feedback.

Learn more about The Five Practices and how they can provide you with a clear, evidence-based path to become the best leader you can be. Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.

5. Engaged caring management 

Several members of the staff mentioned how engaged leadership is. The property General Manager knows the staff and what they aspire to and learning what talents they may possess to be able to grow and prosper.

Several of the staff mentioned someone in management who has helped them to grow.  It was brought up that management is looking for “diamonds in the rough.” If you start as a dishwasher, admittedly shy at the time, leadership might see more in you and you might end up to the bellman and all the way to Concierge, being the face of the property to many guests.

The General Manager might be found not just greeting guests, but helping to load their luggage to go to their rooms. Managers can be seen serving guests snacks or drinks as part of the service team.

6. Reward the behaviors you hope for 

The property has several awards for staff to capture people doing the right things. The awards are around service, support for guests, being a great team player, etc. A sampling of the awards:

  • Smile and Courtesy Award
  • Most Guest Nominations – employee mentioned most often by guests in the feedback system
  • People’s Choice Awards – award won by votes from colleagues
  • Team Player of the Year award

Awards focus on both the guests and the team. If you are part of a great team that respects each other, you can accomplish great things.

7. Have fun

From seeing the staff dance at a social hour and watching them joke with one another throughout our stay, it is obvious that the staff has fun. While keeping a sharp eye on the guests, they understand that the best service is provided by people who are having fun and love their work.

“I love working here. I love my job.” – Lamon

I chose Lamon’s quote, but I heard a similar line from each of the people I talked with. People frequently start meetings or the day by sharing a joke or funny story with other staff. There is a spirit of play that much of the staff demonstrates throughout their work.

There is a saying that by your third visit to the Bahamas, you are half Bahamian. Seeing the way this staff enjoys their work and provides the highest level of service, makes me think this sounds like a pretty good idea.


Family-owned Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has transformed itself from one brand and one resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica to become one of the most well-known and award-winning hospitality companies in the world. With five brands and 24 properties in seven countries including Antigua, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Turks and Caicos, Sandals Resorts International is the undisputed leader of Caribbean vacation experiences and remains fiercely committed to the region, dedicating itself to innovative resort development that in the words of Chairman and Founder Gordon “Butch” Stewart, “exceed expectations” for guests, associates and the people who call the Caribbean home.



7 Ways to Make Great Team Decisions (Plus 1 You May Want to Avoid)

By Brett Cooper | 07/03/2018 | Comments Off on 7 Ways to Make Great Team Decisions (Plus 1 You May Want to Avoid)
Making team decisions that involve the group and lead to excellent results can be tough, but the woman pictured, pointing to some ideas and showing her colleague what she thinks, understands why decision making is so crucial to success.

Making team decisions with buy-in from every team member (even if they disagreed initially) is difficult in the best of times — and impossible in a team that lacks trust.

Making team decisions that involve the group and lead to excellent results can be tough, but the woman pictured, pointing to some ideas and showing her colleague what she thinks, understands why decision making is so crucial to success.

If you’ve reached the third level of the the pyramid of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™, your team has the beginnings of a foundation built on vulnerability-based trust and is willing to engage in conflict around ideas, which means you have the makings of a great team…

But now some decisions have to be made. After all, the team’s purpose is taking action and getting things done.

Teams that engage in conflict around ideas are collaborating with each other. This means all ideas and opinions are put on the table to be passionately, openly, and fairly discussed. Decisions are forged from putting alternatives on the anvil and hammering them out, and everyone on the team has a part in that process.

Through discussion, team members move past the initial disagreement towards a decision that everyone can support.

7 Great Ways to Reach Effective Team Decisions

Let’s not fool ourselves: Reaching a team decision that everyone agrees with is a messy undertaking — and sometimes not possible. There isn’t some magical recipe that will result in everyone reaching perfect harmony. Do you even want that?

(If that happens, you may have a problem — find out why harmony may be costing your organization.)

Here are several suggestions for reaching clear, concise team decisions.

1. Reach Unanimous Team Decisions

This is the ideal situation where, after some discussion, everyone clearly sees one course of action as superior.

The individuals on the team look around and realize that everyone is collectively on the same page. Everyone can easily get on board with the confidence that the final verdict was a pure team decision.

Caution is needed in these cases — if too much compromise is required to reach a decision, you could wind up unanimously choosing a decision that, actually, nobody is happy about.

2. Solve Using Democratic Team Votes

This is widely known as “the majority rules.” The team has boiled down all the alternatives to two or three acceptable options, and the group leader has determined that a vote is the most expedient and most effective way to reach a final decision.

The democratic vote is an accepted way to reach a decision, and the losing side is usually able to accept that they have been heard, a different option has been chosen, and that they now need to rally behind the decision the majority has made.

The team can usually implement the team’s decision cooperatively after a democratic process, which is the major strength of this option.

3. Come to a Compromise

Many people are familiar with compromise. Team members on both sides of the issue are passionate, and neither side is willing to give in entirely. The question at hand is this: Where’s the overlap? Where do the needs of both sides come together?

If a compromise can be reached, both sides feel they have been heard, and, while the solution doesn’t provide either camp with everything they wanted, it is workable for everyone.

Most importantly, all members can continue to do their jobs and achieve team goals without a loss of unity.

4. Postpone a Decision

The team may very well determine that there isn’t enough information at present to reach their best decision.

More research may be needed, or there may be many questions that need to be answered before team members feel comfortable making an important decision.

The circumstances or environment surrounding a decision may be in a period of fluctuation or change, and waiting to act could be the most logical course of action.

5. Decide to Not Decide

There are no absolutes. No matter how many actionable alternatives have been presented, there is always one more alternative — to say, “No, we’re not going to do any of those. They’re simply not good enough.” The search for a viable solution must continue.

To choose to take no action is always an alternative.

6. Disagree and Commit

Through lively, open, unreserved discussion, parties that initially disagree may shift over to the other side, or they may realize another, more advantageous option exists.

Here’s how you can disagree and still commit to the final decision:

  1. Acknowledge what you have heard
  2. Ask the other side to consider additional information or a different viewpoint
  3. Accept that the other person’s priorities may differ from yours, and that, if it’s their project, they have to make the decision
  4. Support your coworkers in implementing the decision that has been reached

As a team, it’s important for every team member, every department head, and the executives in charge, to understand why they need to participate fully in the discussion and then be willing to commit to implementation of the decision.

1 Way That Can Lead to Trouble

When the team is unable to reach a decision, it often falls to the leader to decide what to do.

7. The Person in Charge Decides

Feeling that pressure, the leader often makes the all-too-common mistake — to choose a course of action and direct the team to follow too early in the process, utilizing authority to force the outcome before everyone has been heard.

By acting too quickly, the leader has issued an unnecessary order by default. Passionate and motivated team members are now being told what they must do, being given a directive, without their valuable input being considered.

That said, there are times the leader will need to fill the tie-breaker role or make the final call based on the available information and input the team has to offer in order to get everyone through a bottleneck and closer to implementation.

When everything is on the table, the leader may feel it best to shoulder the responsibility to say, “OK, here’s what we are going to do.” After all, they are the “leader.”

Remember the goal in this stage of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ is to gain commitment to decisions, even when some team members aren’t in agreement initially.

Holding Off On the Authoritative Decision

There is still another avenue available to leaders: When no decision is in sight and a directive seems unwise, the leader could instead change the dynamic of the discussion.

8. Repackage or Reframe the Options

The leader can decide, instead of making the call himself or herself, to change the tactics for leading the decision-making process. He or she can reframe the many options that have been highlighted through group discussion and collaboration.

By not giving in to the temptation to get it over with and choose a course of action on his or her own, the person in charge can funnel the team’s input and focus toward a decision, while still leaving the final decision mostly in their hands.

For example, he or she could reduce 4 alternatives to 2, and then take the group back to discussion to make it easier for a compromise or a democratic decision to be reached.

The leader has stepped up to reduce the distractions and focus the discussion, has asserted limited authority to move the group forward, but the final decision is still a team decision.

The leader could summarize the pro’s and con’s of the leading options to draw attention away from the least popular.

Another way might be to restate or re-emphasize the desired outcome — bring the team back to the results that are needed.

In many discussions, options that aren’t good enough may linger on the table too long. Removing them can simplify the decision.

Strong Leaders Facilitate Team Decisions

Leaders need to avoid making the final call too quickly, circumventing the processes for reaching team decisions, and, instead, enable teams to reach shared-responsibility decisions they can all commit to.

Leaders help the team arrive at an outcome that each member has an investment in.

Developing effective leadership skills to guide passionate and committed teams is a challenge, but reaching the best team decisions demands it — read 5 Things Every Successful Leader Must Do to learn more.

A Great Big Thank You to the Wiley Partner Care Team

By Samantha Kerrigan | 04/06/2017 | Comments Off on A Great Big Thank You to the Wiley Partner Care Team

Here’s a big thank you to the wiley partner care team for being customer service super heroes!

For the past year or so I’ve relied heavily on help from others as I become accustomed to this job, this company, and the requirements of both. A large part of that has been the assessments that we use, including Everything DiSC and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team. These are both run from one side of Wiley, with Partner Care being their support team. And let me tell you, their customer service is off-the-charts fantastic.

Right now, Wiley is hosting MindLab 2017 in Atlanta, GA. The managing partners at Integris are both there, where they have the opportunity to learn more about the products and network with other authorized partners for the brands.

I am unable to be there. But since I’m not there, I’m going to take the opportunity to send a shout out to Wiley’s Partner Care team, thanking them for their help. They are always responsive and always looking for ways that we can work together to provide the best end result to our customers. I would not be as successful at my job if I didn’t have their team to rely on when I have questions and need assistance – no one succeeds in a vacuum.

So thank you Partner Care for being super heroes of customer service!

Super Heroes


A New Culture in Government Services

By Evans Kerrigan | 09/23/2015 | Comments Off on A New Culture in Government Services
Leader Walk at Sunset

By Evans Kerrigan, Tom Pearce, and Megan Pedersen

Become “the best-run government” in the nation, if not the world—a lofty challenge that King County Executive Dow Constantine laid out to all employees of King County, Washington State’s most populous county and home to a little over two million residents. As one of his strategic priorities, he also embedded in this ambitious goal the Lean concepts of visible leadership, respect for people, and support of continuous improvement.

With the support and advocacy of Caroline Whalen, County Administrative Officer for the Department of Executive Services, the Records and Licensing Services (RALS) division was among the first to step up to accept the challenge of becoming a model organization for what it meant to be “best run”. And in 2012, Division Director Norm Alberg and Deputy Director Megan Pedersen gathered together other members of the leadership team to begin their quest to dramatically change how they went about providing for the needs of the residents of the region.

While much of the fanfare around the initiatives in King County focused on Lean tools, Norm and Megan observed that after many discrete Kaizen events in RALS in 2010-2011, a continuous improvement mindset and orientation was still lacking in the division. Acknowledging that something else needed to be done, they sought the expertise of Integris Performance Advisors to build a broader, more holistic view of continuous improvement—a systemic approach that would help the division evolve from simply doing large-scale value stream mapping events to rooting every aspect of their operation in continuous improvement methodology.

They began by organizing the principles and concepts of Lean around four key dimensions that would be their focus: culture, continuous improvement, enterprise alignment, and results. To begin their transformation, the group zeroed in on culture and enabling behaviors and values. By being intentional about creating a culture built on respect and employee engagement, they consciously embraced the need to change how they led and managed others. Their goal was to enable the people in the organization to do their best more often. To accomplish their goal, they knew they needed to start with their leaders. And for that, they turned to The Leadership Challenge® and the evidence-based research of the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® that served as a framework for creating new expectations for how leaders in the organization should behave.

Beginning with the Leadership Practices Inventory® 360 (LPI® 360), the entire senior management team then experienced two full days of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. They shared specific goals and timelines with each other to ensure peer-to-peer accountability and fully committed to take action on what they had learned.

Learn more about how you can get started engaging leaders to achieve the extraordinary. Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.

Tying TLC to RALS’ Mission, Vision, and Values

After workshop participants considered best practices and committed to action plans for themselves as leaders, RALS senior management used the experience as a springboard to work on strategic alignment for the division. They met for several days to develop clarity around the Mission, Vision, Values, Key Objectives and Metrics across each section of RALS in order to provide a road map for organizational success over the next 24 months.

“One of the key initiatives from the Mission-Vision-Values work was to recreate the role of the supervisor who, as part of the group’s Clarity Map, was identified as “competent, confident and compassionate leaders who guide their team members in achieving measurable results with advocacy and accountability.” This shows the aspirational aspect of the work that we hoped to do—coupling Lean Thinking with The Leadership Challenge,”

 – Norm Alberg

Creating a Common Language of Leadership

The next step in the RALS transformation to become a model “best-run” organization was to take the power of The Leadership Challenge beyond senior management to those in supervisory positions.Since The Five Practices represented a new way of operating for supervisors, Norm and Megan chose to start the process by engaging these emerging leaders with the LPI Self assessment rather than the LPI 360. Once RALS supervisors had the opportunity to begin putting their learning into action—approximately 12 months later—they were then asked to complete the LPI again, this time asking others to rate them on the 30 behaviors in the LPI 360.

Leaders Improving Using Individual Development Plans

With a common language of leadership firmly established for leaders at all levels within the RALS division, Norm and Megan turned their attention to other components required to support the new leadership actions.With the help of Integris, they designed an Individual Development Plan (IDP) process that took into account “five buckets” of work that people in supervisory and managerial roles are responsible for: leadership, continuous improvement, communications, performance management, and operations. The IDPs tied together the specific business results each leader was responsible for and the leadership behaviors that would help the organization build the respectful culture for the future. From there they worked to build anticipation and excitement for how the new gift of feedback from the LPI could help people grow both as leaders and as developers of others.Supervisor-manager “Teaching Pods” prepared lessons to share with their colleagues on other tactical and important management skill areas, like handling conflict, customer service and meeting management, to support the specific business results of the units in becoming a “best run agency” within a “best run government.”

Recently, the division’s leaders completed the LPI 360s, some for the first time and others as a repeat, followed by a half-day workshop during which they worked to refine their IDP’s.  Leaders openly shared their LPI 360 insights and talked about how those lessons would be combined with other feedback from both the RALS Director’s Office and their colleagues to make their IDP as meaningful as possible. They also created a “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal in support of each of the 3-5 items laid out in their IDP.  Specific action plans to develop and clarify each of those SMART goals brought clarity to the exercise.

In addition to identifying opportunities for improvement in their IDPs, leaders were tasked with identifying a specific strength to build upon and share with others. Seeking to Encourage the Heart, Norm and Megan felt it was important for leaders’ individual development that they not only focus on improving weaknesses but also on leveraging and enhancing what they were already doing well. In this way, they have created the foundation for a learning environment tied to the tenets of both Lean/Continuous Improvement and The Leadership Challenge of embracing failures as learning opportunities and celebrating and recognizing successes. RALS leaders are also beginning to Model the Way for personal development for their staff.

Continuing On

With approved IDPs now in place, the RALS Director’s Office is executing a plan to have quarterly “check in” sessions to see how leaders are progressing. A second round of Leadership Challenge workshops, with coaching and a team debrief, are on the schedule. And RALS continues to modify and learn as they Challenge the Process to embed The Five Practices into their culture of leadership.

Tom Pearce Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge, has worked with leaders and teams around the world helping them move from where they are now to where they want to be. As a member of the Integris Performance Advisor team, Tom has worked with nonprofit, state government, telecom, utility, and business interests large and small.

Megan Pedersen is Deputy Director of the King County Records and Licensing Services (RALS) Division where she leads by example and strives for operational excellence by engaging employees. Prior to joining RALS, Megan provided legal representation to clients in both the public and private sector, with a focus on labor and employment matters.

A Veteran, A Hero, A Philanthropist

By Evans Kerrigan | 11/12/2018 | Comments Off on A Veteran, A Hero, A Philanthropist

On the day that we celebrate our Veterans, I reflect on the people who have served this country; putting aside their own needs and safety for a larger purpose. I grew up learning about service from my father, who served in the Marines during the Korean War. I didn’t learn the stories of sacrifice and challenge from him. Meeting others who served with my dad, is how I was able to understand what he faced as he served in Korea. I was honored to spend eight years in the United States Air Force and was happy to serve my country.

A Hero

I would like to share some details of a veteran that I had the distinct pleasure of knowing as I grew up. Michael Daly was a friend of my dad, a humble and respectful man, patient and keenly interested in the well-being of those around him. I knew that he was a hero and had won the highest award our nation has to offer, but I never heard Mike talk of himself in this way. Mike actually spoke very little about himself, preferring to speak of the exploits and needs of others.

When I say that Mike was a hero, I should give a little background to that designation. During WWII about 14 million served people in the US Armed Forces, of which a total of 464 were awarded the Medal of Honor for their service, about 60% of them posthumously. Michael Daly is part of a very select group of people who truly went above and beyond in service to his country and those he served with. Here is just a little bit of one hero’s story.

Mike was born to a prominent family in 1924 and raised in Fairfield Connecticut. He attended West Point as a freshmen. Mike appreciated the physical rigors of the Academy lifestyle, but bristled at the structure and regimentation. He failed a math course as a freshman and had to sign up for tutoring over the summer to come back to school. A classmate during that summer was George S. Patton IV, son of the famous American general. According to Patton, one hot day Michael simply stood up, threw his books down, and announced “To hell with this! I’m going to war.”

Training and Off to War

The challenge that Mike had with the strict structure of West Point seemed less an issue when he enlisted as a private and went through training. He seemed to enjoy the pressure of the military training as he prepared to go to combat in Europe. He relished the challenging curriculum and could see the purpose of the grinding, difficult work as he and his compatriots were molded into soldiers prepared for the rigors of war.

Private Daly was assigned to his father’s old regiment, the 18th Infantry, when he arrived in England in 1944. Daly was among the second wave of troops to land on Omaha Beach during D-Day. He pulled a wounded man through the surf and then worked his way, with his unit, up to the heights above the beach.

Within two weeks of landing on the beach, Daly had distinguished himself and earned a Silver Star for valor. He was commended by his commanders for his bravery, aggressiveness, combat skills and initiative. He volunteered to take on the most dangerous assignments, leading patrols, serving as a forward observer and as a sniper.

By December of that year, Mike was offered a promotion to Lieutenant and offered a position as a personal adjutant. He took the promotion, but asked to return to a combat unit rather than serving at headquarters. Daly was put in charge of a battle-tested platoon of hardened soldiers. Many were astonished at the young lieutenant’s boyish appearance. His sergeant, Troy Cox would say “The first time I saw him, he was a tall kid. He had wavy hair when he took off his helmet. I couldn’t believe he could be an officer and a leader.”

Protect My Troops

His record as an enlisted man who had seen combat helped him gain credibility with his seasoned platoon.

Forced to withdraw in his first action as the platoon commander, Daly withdrew from the field after his men had successfully disengaged from the fight. He remained to be the final person in contact with the enemy until his men were safe. In battle after battle, Daly took any risks that he might ask of his men.

In a battle near Riedwihr, Daly led his 24 men to within 300 yards of a German strongpoint of dug in troops, supported by a machine gun. Slowly advancing to within 30 yards of the machine gun with bullets striking all around him, he killed the gunner. This let his men capture the weapon and continue their advance.

His company clerk captured this photo as Daly came back after a patrol and captioned the photo “the best officer and bravest man I ever know.” Battle continued almost every day as the tired and drained troops continued to press forward.

Always a champion for his troops, Michael was hurt when he lost any of his soldiers. During the battle for the Colmar Pocket he lost a young private who had just joined the unit and who shared his last name. Joseph Daly was grievously wounded and died in his arms and Michael remembered this incident many years later. Mike Daly was a heroic leader of his men throughout his time fighting in Europe with the US Army.

I will simply use the Medal of Honor citation to describe Lt. Daly’s actions in that particular battle:

Early in the morning of 18 April 1945, he led his company through the shell-battered, sniper-infested wreckage of Nuremberg, Germany. When blistering machinegun fire caught his unit in an exposed position, he ordered his men to take cover, dashed forward alone, and, as bullets whined about him, shot the 3-man guncrew with his carbine. Continuing the advance at the head of his company, he located an enemy patrol armed with rocket launchers which threatened friendly armor. He again went forward alone, secured a vantage point and opened fire on the Germans. Immediately he became the target for concentrated machine pistol and rocket fire, which blasted the rubble about him. Calmly, he continued to shoot at the patrol until he had killed all 6 enemy infantrymen. Continuing boldly far in front of his company, he entered a park, where as his men advanced, a German machinegun opened up on them without warning. With his carbine, he killed the gunner; and then, from a completely exposed position, he directed machinegun fire on the remainder of the crew until all were dead. In a final duel, he wiped out a third machinegun emplacement with rifle fire at a range of 10 yards. By fearlessly engaging in 4 single-handed fire fights with a desperate, powerfully armed enemy, Lt. Daly, voluntarily taking all major risks himself and protecting his men at every opportunity, killed 15 Germans, silenced 3 enemy machineguns and wiped out an entire enemy patrol. His heroism during the lone bitter struggle with fanatical enemy forces was an inspiration to the valiant Americans who took Nuremberg.

Lt. Daly was eventually wounded so seriously that he was pulled from the field and never returned to combat. Troy Cox, who commented on Mike’s youthful appearance when he first joined Able Company, wrote a book about his experiences in WWII and commented “We had a lot of good leaders, but Michael Daly was the best.”

Returning Home

After treatment and recuperation, Michael Daly returned home a hero. Harry Truman awarded him the Medal of Honor, there were parades in his home town. “Anybody would have done what I did,” he told a friend. “Luck is important in life, but in combat it is crucial. The bravest things are often done with God the only witness.”

Dedication to Service

Michael wanted to dedicate himself to live a life worthy of the Medal of Honor after his service. Daly was modest about his military accomplishments. “I’m no hero,” Daly often said, “The heroes are those who gave their lives.”

Michael Daly was a manufacturer’s representative after his military career, but strove to also contribute in other ways. He devoted himself to St. Vincent’s hospital in Bridgeport, serving as one of the first lay trustees and serving on the board for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in helping support the finances of the hospital by leading fundraising efforts. The medical center’s Emergency and Trauma Center is named after Mike due to his fundraising and caring efforts. He dedicated his later life to the support of veterans’ and community affairs. He founded the Daly Foundation at St. Vincent’s and provided decades of volunteer service to handicapped children. He was inducted as a member of the Connecticut Hall of Fame in 2007.

Mike passed away in 2008, but his legacy lives on through the dedication to service that he displayed though the way he lived.

A Wake Up Call For Leaders

By Brett Cooper | 04/12/2017 | Comments Off on A Wake Up Call For Leaders

Did you know…

  • Only 1/3 of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace
  • Only 15% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization makes them enthusiastic about the future
  • A record 47% of the workforce says now is a good time to find a quality job, and 51% are on the hunt

This data, courtesy of Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace should be a wake-up call for leaders at all levels. But there is a brighter side…

  • The behavior of leaders is responsible for nearly 30% of employees’ levels of engagement (data courtesy of Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge)

Why is this good news?

Simple. Because it means that every person in any type of leadership position can have a positive impact on the negative trends just by behaving differently! In their over 30 years of research, Kouzes and Posner have discovered the five practices that are most important for leaders to exhibit.

  • Model the way
  • Inspire a shared vision
  • Challenge the process
  • Enable others to act
  • Encourage the heart

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders

And the good news gets even better.

The research shows that it’s not about style or charisma, or about how you do these five things. Exemplary leadership is about how often you do these five things. Data from over 3 million surveys shows that…

  • Employees report higher levels of workforce engagement when their direct manager does five things — Model, Inspire, Challenge, Enable, Encourage — very frequently or almost always.

So let’s stop the excuses and start behaving our way to a better future!


An Interview with Congress

By Evans Kerrigan | 01/28/2016 | Comments Off on An Interview with Congress

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence was created 25 years ago by the federal government to recognize excellence in business. In its history, many high profile organizations (or divisions of them) have won this rigorous award, including Ritz Carlton, Motorola, FedEx, Boeing, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin. This doesn’t consider the numerous extremely successful and well-managed organizations you’ve never heard of. Sadly, only in the last few years has government even been able to apply. It shows.

The foundation of the Criteria are eleven core values that set the stage for a series of processes organizations should have for success. Just for giggles, let’s imagine an interview with Congress and ask them how their leadership aligns with these values.

Visionary Leadership: A key sentence in the description: “the vision, values, and expectations should balance the needs of all your stakeholders.

Congress: “Does balancing on the brink of default count?”

Customer-Driven Excellence: “Many factors may influence value and satisfaction over the course of your customers’ experience . . . . These factors include your organization’s customer relationship management, which helps build trust, confidence, and loyalty.

Congress: “Your constituents are as important as mine? Please provide your definition of trust, confidence, and loyalty. Sounds like a lot of jargon.”

Organizational and Personal Learning: “Organizational learning includes both continuous improvement of existing approaches and significant change or innovation . . . .”

Congress: “Well, we figured out how to gerrymander districts to make it impossible to lose an election. Isn’t that innovative?”

Valuing Workforce Members and Partners: The criteria state “In successful internal and external partnerships, the partners develop longer-term objectives, thereby creating a basis for mutual investments and respect . . .”

Congress:  “We are mutually invested in loathing, disgust, and narcissism.

Agility: The criteria call for the “capacity for rapid change and for flexibility in operations . . . and nonprofit and government organizations are increasingly being asked to respond rapidly to new or emerging social issues.”

Congress:  “We rapidly postpone decisions and quickly point out the deficiencies in the other guy’s ideas.”

There are six more core values around Focus on the Future, Systems Perspective, Focus on Results and Creating Value, Management by Fact, Societal Responsibility, and Managing for Innovation. In the spirit of Lean concept of adding value, I think we’re done here.

Are Leaders Born or Made?

By Samantha Kerrigan | 02/12/2018 | Comments Off on Are Leaders Born or Made?


Learning leadership theories and concepts is good. So is reading biographies of famous leaders and organizations that have broken the mold, both financially and in creating admirable and productive workplace cultures. But it takes much more than that to learn to lead.

Was Martin Luther King born a charismatic orator and leader? Was John F. Kennedy? How about Susan B. Anthony or Margaret Thatcher? While they may ultimately have all been acknowledged as leaders, the talents and skills, and behaviors that brought them recognition didn’t come embedded in their DNA. Each practiced their craft, honed their talent, and adapted behaviors that engendered trust and loyalty. In many different ways, they all developed other individuals willing to follow before they could become leaders. In fact, the only thing every leader has in common with every other leader is that they were all, indeed, “born”.

Leadership is not a gift at birth.

The ability to lead is developed through learning and practice.

The Leadership Challenge® is an evidence-based path to achieve the extraordinary that dispels the myth that leadership is reserved only for the select few. Instead, it approaches leadership as a measurable, learnable, and teachable set of behaviors that can be practiced and learned by anyone, regardless of title or position.

From the shop floor to the C-Suite, leadership becomes everyone’s business.

Created by noted leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in the early 1980s, and first identified in their internationally best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge (now in its sixth edition and more than 2.5 million), The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model is the bedrock of this global campaign to liberate the leader in everyone. The authors conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed thousands of case studies, and analyzed more than two million survey questionnaires to understand those times when leaders performed at their personal best. From all of that research emerged five common practices:

five practices icons

*Model the Way

  • Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared values
  • Set the example by aligning actions with shared values

Inspire a Shared Vision

  • Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities
  • Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations

Challenge the Process

  • Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve
  • Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience

Enable Others to Act

  • Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships
  • Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence

Encourage the Heart

  • Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence
  • Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community

Considered the most trusted source for developing leaders, this powerful model of leadership and its highly credible measurement instrument, The Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI® 360) has now been used by over 5 million individuals around the globe. And ongoing research studies consistently confirm that when ordinary people utilize The Five Practices to enable those around them, employee engagement increases, customer and employee satisfaction improves, stress and absenteeism decrease, and teams perform at higher levels.

Ready to learn more about a clear, evidence-based path to become the best leader you can be? Download a sample LPI 360 Individual feedback report today.


*Used with permission from The Leadership Challenge® ©James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, published by John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved.

Are you the source of workplace dysfunction?

By Brett Cooper | 09/21/2017 | Comments Off on Are you the source of workplace dysfunction?

It’s a question we all should be asking ourselves…really asking ourselves. The truth is, most of us don’t want to be jerks in the workplace, but too many of us just don’t take the time to recognize our bad behaviors.

  • Do you spend more time focusing on your own personal objectives, versus the goals of your team or organization?
  • Do you exhibit the negative behavioral tendencies that are naturally and predictably associated with your personality style (think Everything DiSC or MBTI)?
  • Do you communicate too much via email, text and social media, thus losing “the compassion triggered by eye contact?”
  • If you are surrounded by “backstabbing and selfishness,” do you sometimes find yourself acting in that way too?

In his recent McKinsey Quarterly article, Stanford professor Robert Sutton suggests we all look in the mirror to consider what we are doing to contribute to the dysfunction in our workplace. If you want a gut check, I suggest you give it a read. Teamwork shouldn’t be so elusive afterall.

ARIZONA Government Uses Lean to Improve Outcomes

By Evans Kerrigan | 04/28/2017 | Comments Off on ARIZONA Government Uses Lean to Improve Outcomes

Arizona State SealThe State of Arizona is pursuing a Lean Transformation across state agencies to improve services and make them more efficient. Governor Doug Ducey recently had an interview with Forbes that will further shed some light on why this transformation is important for the state.

Integris has been honored to be one of four consulting partners chosen to work with the State of Arizona during this Lean Transformation. We have been able to work with many talented people as they continue to improve how government operates to support the citizens of the Copper State.

We partner with the Government Transformation Office and specific agencies to implement the Arizona Management System (AMS), a new way of working built in a sustainable manner so Lean becomes “how we work” across government. By engaging lean practices from leadership to the front line, Arizona is building a community of problem solvers at all levels. Everyone is involved in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the work in ways that are both big and small.

We are helping agencies implement the elements of the AMS in their work. Leaders and teams learn to work in new ways and make improvement part of their work every day by learning the tools and principles of Lean. Here are key elements of the Arizona Management System:

  • Agency Scorecards and Business Reviews
  • Breakthrough Projects
  • A Roadmap of how the Agency is progressing in the transformation
  • Visual Management and Huddles
  • Leader Standard Work
  • Problem Solving
  • Standard Work and Process Adherence
  • One on Ones and Gemba Walks
  • Workplace Organization

Each agency in the State is working through the transformation to learn to work in a new way to deliver better results for the people of Arizona.

Integris serves as a coach on two of the statewide Breakthrough Projects identified by Governor Ducey, bringing together multiple agencies to make significant change on major societal issues affecting the citizens of Arizona. Here are some examples.

Increasing Workforce Participation in the state involves working across organizational boundaries to eliminate andArizona State reduce barriers for people to enter the workforce. The team is digging into the data to understand the barriers and evaluating steps to lean out the process for people across the state.

Reducing recidivism among former prisoners will enable more to become contributing members of our society.
When this transition is not successful, there is more crime and pain. By working with agencies across the state as well as non-governmental groups, the team is using data to better understand how to solve an issue that affects so many in our country. Collaboration across agencies on these Breakthrough Projects are already finding traction in improving issues that seemed intractable over time and beginning to change how government can work.

Take a chance to listen to Governor Doug Ducey’s interview with Forbes to see his vision for what is possible in government and why this transformation is important for the Arizona.