Don’t Leave that Ego at the Door

By: Nancy Keyser, June 19, 2018

“Leave your ego at the door” is a popular expression that I’ve seen referenced and promoted in many places, particularly in business and fitness facilities. Like many, I have often used this phrase as a measure of one’s self worth, with the assumption that a big ego always has a negative connotation. Through my work over the last three years at The Devine Group and through my own research into the behavior of “Ego” my thinking on this topic has changed.

Ego is one of 33 behaviors that our Devine Inventory assessment measures. In our tools, Ego is defined as “gaining respect and demonstrating confidence”. Merriam-Webster defines Ego as “the self, especially as contrasted with another self or the world”. This gets at the point that there are really two components of ego, the first focused on sense of self, and second based on how we are perceived and/or recognized by others.

When it comes to our own sense of self, too low of an ego can be a bad thing, and vice versa. Rather than have a big ego, optimally it is healthy to have a “strong” ego, where there’s a healthy and confident sense of self. In fact, those with a strong ego can be more flexible, resilient and adaptable to change, as they understand themselves and know how to adapt to our ever-changing world.

Evaluating a person’s ego gets tricky when you factor in that second component – an individual’s need or desire for recognition – as a person’s drive to be acknowledged may initiate some bad behaviors that will negatively influence the perception of ego. The drive to deserve recognition may cover up the reality that someone has a low sense of self, or the opposite may be the case, whereas someone’s self-worth is extremely high, and he or she wants everyone to know about it.

Optimally, there’s a balance between strong self of sense, and a moderate need for recognition that keeps an individual healthy and happy. Be careful how you assess an individual’s ego – there may be more to it than you think!

The Devine Group’s competency-based assessments roll all 33 behaviors for which we assess into characteristics that relate to success on the job. See how it works for yourself and get a free demo today!

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

By: Pamela Walters, June 5, 2018

Organizations desire to harness the power of individuals and teams to create value for stakeholders, customers and their brand. The best products and services cannot be developed or delivered without exceptional leaders and employees giving their best every day. What do you bring to your organization?  How do you invest those attributes to demonstrate excellence in processes and meeting goals? How well do you know yourself? The answer will reveal passion, interests, your perception of skills and impact. It also reveals what you will sacrifice to invest in doing more of it.

Primary tools used to demonstrate value include skills, experience, knowledge and willingness to seize opportunity. What about soft skills: how we relate to one another, clarity of communication and purpose in actions or how we navigate ambiguity and change? What soft skills do you eloquently use to bring excellence to your work and others – your “secret sauce” such as listening, perspective, honor others’ viewpoints or being able to simplify the complex? Keen self-awareness and choosing to adjust behavior to accommodate situations will increase productivity, effectiveness and leverage relationships strategically.

Self-awareness as defined by expert, Dr. Tasha Eurich, is the ability to see ourselves clearly, understand who we are, how others see us and how we fit into the world. Through her research, she has found that 95% of professionals believe they have good self-awareness but only 10-15% truly are. The improvement journey involves two components, internal – understanding values, motives, patterns and reactions; and external – know how other people see you.

Thinking about these areas is not the same as knowing. One must seek honest feedback and give it to others. For example, a leader preparing for feedback reflects on a direct report by asking: what does this person contribute to our success or what behavior do I need from them to help me & the team be more successful? Providing or receiving this type of specific and productive feedback will be a game changer as it becomes a standard practice.

The questions we ask ourselves and others should expand our framework, challenge us to new levels of thinking, acting and leading. For the leader, what do you need to see and understand about self as a leader of people, as a leader of achieving results and as a leader of the future? Purpose to be curious in examining patterns, subsequent responses by others and resulting outcomes.  Understand how you fit and relate to stakeholder groups and what changes could improve influence, motivating others, decisions and communicating with clarity.  Doing so will engender bolder moves, harness the power you have to invest in your team and the organization’s success.

Flexibility is Key to Success in Sales

By: Hamish Knox, May 29, 2018

This week’s contributor, Hamish Knox, is the president of an authorized Sandler Training® center located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and a valued partner of The Devine Group for nearly 7 years. As a licensed member of the global Sandler® network, Hamish works with business owners and chief executives who are serious about creating sustainable sales cultures.

George Carlin once said, “It’s the context that makes them good or bad.” He was talking about words, but he could have been talking about salespeople.

Successful salespeople read the context of their situation (association luncheon, meeting with an upset client, presentation for high value prospect) and adapt their behavior accordingly instead of following a predefined script. Attempting to assess your current salespeoples’ adaptability through observation in the field may produce some data, but it will be colored by your opinion of each rep and the probability that they are on “best behavior” because their leader is with them.

What our clients appreciate about the Devine Inventory® assessment is they get a clearer picture of their salespeoples’ individual behavioral preferences so they can effectively coach and train them to adopt behaviors that are more beneficial. When determining a salesperson’s flexibility to adapt, we find these six competencies from one of The Devine Group’s sales assessments give us the clearest picture.

These following four competencies have a positive correlation with flexibility; the higher a salesperson’s preference for the behaviors that drive each competency, the more likely they are to be flexible.

  • Reading the Situation – before adapting behavior, a salesperson must be effective at accurately assessing their situation.
  • No Need for Approval – if a salesperson seeks to get their emotional needs met more than have a successful business interaction, they’ll be less likely to adapt their behavior if doing so may result in disapproval from the other party in their interaction (networking event, cold call, discovery meeting, etc.)
  • Emotionally Objective –remaining emotionally unattached to an outcome (e.g. a closed sale) creates more flexibility in a salesperson’s behavior
  • Self-Awareness – salespeople tend to be “I-centered” instead of “other focused” meaning they tend to talk about themselves and their products/services instead of seeking to understand their prospect’s world. A greater preference for self-awareness indicates that a salesperson can adapt their behavior to be “other focused.”

The next two competencies have a negative correlation with being flexible. That is the higher a salesperson’s preference for the behaviors that drive each competency the less likely they are to be flexible.

  • Relationship Focus – if a salesperson’s focus is to “preserve a relationship” (which may only exist in their head) instead of having a successful business interaction, they are less likely to adapt their behavior. Relationships are important to success in sales, but not at the cost of a salesperson’s time and information.
  • Accepts Rules and Direction –The preference for “accepts rules and direction” is agnostic to who is providing the rules and direction as long as the salesperson views them as being in a position of authority. This can includes the prospect and often is counterproductive to the sales process (e.g. providing a quote without properly qualifying).

Two caveats.

  1. Looking at one of the above competencies in isolation to assess a salesperson’s ability to adapt their behavior to a specific context is a bad idea. It will cause a skewed opinion of that salesperson.
  2. A salesperson who is not compliant with all six doesn’t mean they aren’t able to adapt their behavior at all. There are degrees of adaptability.

Fortunately for salespeople and sales leaders humans are trainable. With objective data, a development plan based on that data and a commitment from you and each salesperson on your team to develop their flexibility adapting their behavior to different contexts will burn less mental calories and they’ll have better business conversations.


Hamish Knox (@sandlerhamish) is a Sandler trainer in Calgary, Alberta Canada.

Are You Default or Discipline Driven?

By: Julie Johnson, May 22, 2018

Recently I attended the 7th annual HR Collaborative Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s a one-day conference driven to arm HR professionals with the most up-to-date content and insights to grow their business and engage the talent in their organizations on an entirely new level. I’m fortunate to be involved in the conference planning committee and work diligently with the team to source and select our slate of speakers. Our area of the world, like yours, is ripe with talent who can share their expertise across areas of the business HR professionals impact most – recruiting, compensation, benefits, development, coaching, legal and engagement. Our keynote speaker, Tim Kight, delivered an especially impactful message.

Tim’s keynote kicked off our day and set the tone for this year’s theme: Building a Winning Crew. The “R Factor” as Tim labels it, is the one thing we can control when we’re out in the daily world living our lives. What was great about his message is that it impacts all areas of your life and not just who you are at work. This feedback is for your home life too and can generate more meaningful interactions with your partner, children, family and friends.

In addition, this concept applies to anyone regardless of your occupation and even the type or level of talent a person possesses. Talent is limited and we all bring different skills to the table; however, our success is not limited by our talents. We can all be successful given the talents we have as long as we have something else – work ethic. Work ethic is unlimited to each of us, but you must turn it on to reap the benefits.

Tim suggests a simple formula to achieving the best outcomes for a great life and applying this concept into your company culture to ultimately build a great organization:  E + R = O (Event + Response = Outcome). The event is what is occurring right now, the response is how you react to the event and the outcome is what happens afterward. Do you spend a lot of your life on autopilot and respond without thinking? If you do, the outcome you receive may not be what you want. The R (response) is what we have control over. We can choose a discipline-driven response or a default-driven response. When we are default driven, we are on autopilot and might be impulsive or trying to stay in our comfort zone. The discipline driven response calls us to be intentional, react on purpose and with the skills the situation requires. According to Tim’s mantra, “If you want a better outcome, choose a better response”.

In an hour keynote, we didn’t have enough time to learn about this wisdom in detail, but there are some key takeaways:

Three questions to ask yourself before you respond:

  1. What Outcome do I want?
  2. What Event do I have? We must recognize that sometimes reality is hard to accept.
  3. What Response do I need? Remember, it’s not about what you feel.

Here are a few tips to manage your response:

  • Press pause to gain clarity.
  • Get your mind right.  Manage your self-talk and get in a good emotional state.
  • Step up. Do what the situation calls for now.
  • Adjust and adapt. Be flexible, don’t be stuck and stubborn.
  • Make a difference. Positively affect the people around you.
  • Build skills.  Bring the best version of you every day!

If you find yourself living life on autopilot and not achieving desired outcomes for yourself or your business, consider a different response. Take the effort to choose a response that is intentional, purposeful and brings the right skills to achieve the outcome you want. If you need to develop in these areas consider participating in a development exercise, such as taking an online behavioral assessment like the Devine Inventory.

Conducting Magical Management

By: Darby Fazekas, May 8, 2018

Have you ever listened to a symphony and marveled at how the conductor unifies the orchestra while capturing the unique abilities of each musician?  A full-size orchestra often has over one hundred performers wielding a mix of instruments from various families: string, brass, woodwinds and percussion.  The conductor spends countless rehearsal hours giving verbal instruction and feedback to the musicians but during the performance communicates only through hand gestures, signals and eye contact.  It is truly magical.

While you probably won’t communicate with your team solely through body language, there are many similarities between gifted managers and orchestra conductors.  Both may assemble their team of talented individuals themselves or they may be managing a group assembled by someone else. No matter how your team is assembled, great managers perform their magic by discovering, developing, and celebrating each individual’s unique qualities and abilities.

  • Discovering

Use both objective and subjective measurement to discover talent. Job specific assessments, skills tests, cognitive tests and job function results can all be used in conjunction with peer feedback, client satisfaction and management input. The key to effective discovery is focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses.  A great conductor knows musicians perform best when playing within their instrument’s natural range.  A great manager uncovers what an employee does naturally well and leverages it.

  • Developing

Be both proactive and reactive to develop talent. Proactive development could be a structured training program for the team or individual. If an employee does something wrong you might develop reactively by recommending a book or even a link to a short YouTube video. Development comes in various forms and should be aimed at improving strengths while minimizing weaknesses.  A conductor would not suggest that a career violinist should improve by practicing the trumpet. An effective manager will find the appropriate methods to help develop each individual.

  • Celebrating

Audiences celebrate great performances with a standing ovation, but applause is not the only way to celebrate your people. A manager could recognize a team member’s unique contributions by highlighting them during a monthly meeting, reward exceeding a target by taking a deserving employee to lunch, congratulate a salesperson for landing an account by sending out a company-wide email, or celebrating any number of exceptional outcomes by authorizing a surprise bonus. Of course simple applause is always welcome to celebrate business successes as well. After completing that prize IT project or turning in outstanding metrics for the week wouldn’t it be wonderful for coworkers to stand and applaud your great performer walking back to their office?

An orchestra conductor discovers, develops and celebrates talent to create an outcome that far exceeds the performance of any individual musician.  An effective manager can do the same to blend individual talent into a collaborative team that will improve your company’s performance exponentially.  And won’t that music be magical?