Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Wishing You PEACE, FAITH and HOPE

December 1, 2022

In this holiday season, I wish you PEACE in your day-to-day, and FAITH and HOPE for a brighter tomorrow.

Over fifteen years ago, a ten-year-old girl told me that she always listened when I spoke because what I said was “always nice and always smart”. I can’t claim my words are always nice or always smart, but her comment made me want to do better. 

From my mindfulness and meditation practices, I’m learning the value of THINK-ing:

T – Truth – Are the words true?   

H – Helpful – Will the words be helpful or productive?

I – Inspiring – Will the words bring inspiring and uplifting energy?

N – Necessary – Are the words necessary?

K – Kind – Are the words kind?

It has helped me to similarly frame and optimize my thoughts, words and actions.  

P – Planful – Are the thoughts, words and actions in alignment with my goal, intention, or purpose?

E – Energizing – Will the thoughts, words and actions provide energy, positivity or support for others?

A – Aspiring – Will the thoughts, words and actions help others aspire to be more, do more, or deliver more?

C – Collaborative – Will the thoughts, words and actions lead to more collaboration or connection?

E – Empowering – Will the thoughts, words and actions empower more people and groups toward a common or meaningful cause?

I hope that this blog helps you THINK, SPEAK and ACT with PEACE-ful alignment with your purpose and intentions.



November 1, 2022

Happy November – the month of gratitude, a time for family and community, an opportunity to connect and reflect. I’d like to offer some thoughts on feedback and hope that you will receive them as a gift which I hope supports you personally at work and at home.  

  1. Direct – Provide direct (rather than oblique/indirect) feedback and align your intentions to meet that impact.
  2. Transparent – Be transparent about how your feedback will benefit the team or organization. Hide no agendas.
  3. Authentic – Courageously speak with sincerity, vulnerability, and honesty, armed with data and details. 
  4. Respectful – Respect the receiver of the feedback by considering the intellectual, social, political and emotional impact they may face upon receiving the feedback.  
  5. Clear – Be clear about the feedback, providing specific examples and guidance where appropriate. Oftentimes this means being more detailed in your explanation than what initially feels necessary. 
  6. Curious – Be curious before and while delivering feedback. If you seek to understand the larger context for a particular behavior, attitude or action, you will have a better chance of creating long term change for the better. 
  7. Kind – Consider the possibilities that you are missing pieces of the full picture or that you have no idea what someone may be going through. Deliver feedback with empathy and grace from a place of humility.
  8. Productive – Provide feedback with the intention of supporting the receiver and the team in being productive. 
  9. Timely – Provide the right feedback at the right time in which all parties benefit optimally.. Find a time in which you can have 100% of the receivers’ attention so your message is fully received. Ideally they are relaxed, open, and undistracted.
  10. Positive and Celebratory – Frame feedback around how current successes and progress are benefiting the program/team/project and how additional words/actions/strategy would produce improved results for all. 

I hope that you give and receive much valuable feedback in this month of appreciation. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Cultivate a Life of No Regrets

October 1, 2022
Cultivate a Life of No Regrets

I had a big birthday recently, which invariably invited reflection and introspection. A common theme through my varied career is the desire to stretch myself and raise the bar, even if it means hardship, challenges, and uncertainty in the short term. This approach has served me well, considering the global health, economic, social, political, and sustainability challenges affecting us all. 

Out of all this mindset and experience, I’ve developed a framework shown below for how you can make choices for a life of no regrets.

  1. Values First. Choose opportunities that match your values.
  2. Make a Difference. Select a company whose mission and vision makes a difference.
  3. Embrace the Uncomfortable. Try doing something which makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way.
  4. It’s About People. Work with people you admire and trust. Make consistent effort to be worthy of their respect and trust.
  5. Add Some Spice. Never settle for complacency. Embrace every opportunity to grow, learn and improve, adding spice to your regular routines.
  6. Keep Learning and Growing. Challenge yourself to learn and grow. It helps to work with people who can support you in doing so.
  7. Allow Past Lessons to Guide You. Contemplate the choices you’ve made in the past and use those learnings to inform your choices today and in the future.
  8. Lead with Passion and Purpose. Be clear on your goals while leveraging your passion and your purpose. Make strategic choices toward that goal and consistently execute on them.
  9. Err on the Side of Boldness. With that said, consider the timing of the choices you’re making – the boldest choice is not always the best choice, depending on what else you’re currently juggling.
  10. Have Faith that Things will Work Out. Fear can hold us back from even trying. Choose courage in the face of fear and set yourself free. 

I invite you to cultivate and embrace a life of no regrets. There are no promises that every choice will go as planned (especially in the beginning), but when all is said and done, you won’t have to wonder ‘What if?’. Instead, you might just discover what you’re truly made of.

Mind Your Ps with Some Qs

September 1, 2022

6 Quotients for Problem-Solving

It can be overwhelming to lead and innovate in this time of great change. People, process, and technology problems run the gamut, posing obstacles which can vex the best of us.

I have personally advised start-ups, coached executives, and led change management for a couple of decades. Along the way, I’ve collected a few problem-solving tips and tricks over the years. I’m here to share them with you now.

Everyone runs into Problems (Ps). So when you run into Problems (Ps), mind your Quotients (Qs). I’ve found that we each have at least six types of quotients, which are described below:

  1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) – a measurement of how well you comprehend data, facts, and knowledge, traditionally taught to you in school.

Utilizing your IQ can look like solving complex math problems and applying formulas, debugging code with established algorithms, or applying classic business strategies for growing into adjacent markets.

  1. Emotional Quotient (EQ) – a measurement of how well you can build and maintain relationships, be respectful and sensitive to the needs of others, and manage the perception others have of you for yourself and for them.

Someone with a high EQ might build or leverage individual relationships to better facilitate collaboration toward achieving a common goal.

  1. Social Quotient (SQ) – a measurement of how well you can create and build a network of long-lasting relationships and an ecosystem of contacts.

Someone who has a high SQ might regularly build alliances and networks to support common objectives. In contrast to EQ, SQ is more about networks and ecosystems of relationships rather than individual connections.

  1. Adversity Quotient (AQ) – a measurement of how well you can remain positive, constructive, and productive despite challenging circumstances.

Someone with a high AQ who experiences serious mental, physical or other challenges might be able to persevere and adjust their approach to continue making progress.

  1. Creativity Quotient (CQ) – a measurement of your ability to think differently or orthogonally to traditional approaches, sometimes counter to recommendations.

Someone with a high CQ might suggest an approach which may wind up becoming an innovation adopted by customers or a feature integrated into a new product offering.

  1. Leadership Quotient (LQ) – a measurement for your awareness of self, the current obstacles, , how well you can inspire and mobilize others to collaborate and address a problem.

Let’s work on your leadership quotient here. Which quotients above will help you with the problems listed below and why?

  • Co-worker conflict
  • M&A Integration
  • Debugging code
  • Prioritizing features
  • Customer service issue
  • Missing sales projections
  • Lobbying for resources

I’ll leave you with some questions to contemplate:

  • What other problems do you regularly see in your day-to-day work?
  • Which quotients are you most comfortable in?
  • Which quotients would like you to develop more?
  • Which quotients do your team members lead with?
  • How can you help team members diversify their  quotient usage?
  • How could developing and rounding out your quotients help you personally improve your problem-solving and innovation skills? 

It’s my hope that you’re seeing your Ps in a new light, and that you begin leveraging your Qs to address problems effectively and with more confidence.

Empower and Engage while Improving Performance

August 1, 2022

Performance Reviews make the most courageous, most resilient of us shudder. 

It’s cringe-worthy whether you’re giving or receiving the performance review.

Complaints and gripes run the gamut and stakes are high as promotions and job security are on the line. Below are some suggested strategies for conducting reviews and managing staff which makes them feel empowered and engaged.  

For details on how FountainBlue supports our clients with performance reviews while engaging and empowering employees, e-mail us at or schedule a meeting by visiting

The Choice Is Yours  

July 1, 2022
The Choice is Yours.

It’s often difficult to choose to be optimistic and productive, especially now when so much is changing and the future is uncertain,but making a proactive choice can help you remain centered and productive while staying happy and resilient.

  1. Rather than fantasizing on what’s next and what you need, focus on moments of  happiness and gratitude.
  2. Rather than comparing yourself to others or to an idealistic version of yourself, celebrate the journey you’ve been on, and the many facets of yourself which have developed along the way.
  3. Rather than begrudging a colleague for a success you’ve coveted, find inspiration in their example, celebrate what’s possible, and channel your inspiration into productive thoughts and actions.
  4. Rather than catastrophizing world news and events, focus on the local impact you can make and stay informed on how we can optimize making a difference. 
  5. Rather than belaboring all the things that went wrong, celebrate all the learning opportunities and knowledge which make you a bigger version of yourself. 
  6. Rather than coveting more new and novel shiny objects, appreciate all the things already within your grasp – material, physical, emotional and spiritual.
  7. Rather than bemoaning a lost opportunity, be curious about the unique opportunities offered by the options in front of you.
  8. Rather than spiraling on the overwhelming challenges out of your control, focus on the projects, tasks and people you *can* influence for the better. 
  9. Rather than settling for a project, role or task to simply fill time, get curious about how you can integrate your real dreams and passions into life by doing what you deeply desire. 
  10. Rather than enumerating all the things you want to change about yourself, find compassion and acceptance for all that you are as you would a friend or family member, and celebrate the opportunity to continue evolving.

The old adage is true – it’s not what life dishes out to you, it’s how you frame it and how you respond to it. Choose to see the gifts in every experience and respond with optimism, positivity and fortitude.

Trust Me!

June 1, 2022

Trust is the great equalizer – with trust, even the smallest teams can move mountains, without trust, whole armies will falter taking a molehill.

When there’s a breach of trust, specific expectations have been violated or mis-aligned. There might be a misunderstanding around accountability and responsibility, or a difference of opinion on values and principles. There might be different expectations on the work to be done, or how work should be done, or the quality expectations for the work to be done.

Trust is also often breached when communication is not authentic or transparent or clear or consistent. 

Executives, individuals, teams, partners and customers respond differently when there’s a breach. I use a process leveraging the thoughts below to identify causes for the breach in trust, and to facilitate conversations on how we can each do better at building a culture of trust.

In a Perfect World:

Executives Lead from the Top Down

– Culture of Accountability

– Clear Values and Behaviors

– Explicit Agreements with Partners, Customers, Executives

– Candid and Authentic Feedback for All

– Proactive Communication to Ensure Alignment and Success

Individuals Lead from the Bottom-Up

– Trustworthy Behaviors

– Alignment of Behavior with Culture and Values

– Explicit Agreements with Peers, Managers and Leaders

– Candid and Authentic Feedback for All

Teams Lead Together  

– Trustworthy Behaviors

– Alignment of Behavior with Culture and Values

– Explicit Agreements

– Candid and Authentic Feedback

Partners Lead in Collaboration

– Trustworthy Behaviors

– Alignment of Behavior with Agreements

– Candid and Authentic Feedback for All

– Commitment to Agreements and Relationship 

– Proactive Measures to Ensure Delivery

Where do your leaders, individuals, teams, partners and others show up on the trust meter?

Play to Win!

May 1, 2022
Play to Win

We are all experiencing the ‘Great Resignation’, the ‘Great Reallocation’… 

Whatever we call it, we are all feeling the effects in the workplace. Many of us are under-staffed and losing good people. We are being challenged to do more with less when so much is unknown. We are resorting to strategies like ‘stay interviews’.

So logically, many leaders are playing the retention game – playing not to lose with additional benefits, raises, shifts in responsibilities and projects, etc.

But I propose that leaders adopt a ‘play-to-win’ mindset. Below are some thoughts on how to do so.

  1. Embrace Succession Planning to empower and engage your staff.
  2. Consistently speak with a sense of shared purpose, meaning, and commitment.
  3. Think and speak with passion, and follow up by investing deeply and consistently in people’s capabilities.
  4. Be warm and gracious to all, even if they are seeking to exit. Welcome them back with gusto if they choose to recommit.
  5. Show deep and authentic empathy for the journey of others, especially in this time of great change when the future is so uncertain. 
  6. Cultivate a culture of one-ness, where we all stand distinctly separate yet loosely conjoined for a purpose of serving our customers, where it is safe to ask questions, to be curious, to fail forward.
  7. Empower people at all levels from all backgrounds to fully participate in strategy, planning, execution (where reasonable).
  8. Have the plans and strategies and tools to address problem areas, but wait until that problem area receives enough attention and urgency before taking action.
  9. Err on the side of positivity, with a growth mindset. 
  10. Celebrate your successes as much as you relish your challenges.

Let’s ALL Play to Win by strategizing collaboratively, planning diligently, and executing religiously, while embracing challenges as opportunities.

Building Engagement

April 1, 2022

Experience is that X-factor, but the goal of experience is Engagement. Engagement is the secret to recruiting, retaining, reskilling, developing, growing and advancing the workforce. And the workforce, our people, make-or-break an organization’s success.

Sure, you have to start with creating a product with high and growing demand, and yeah, you have to compensate fairly, providing ample opportunities for growth. Indeed, you need a culture where it’s safe for people to bring their full selves to work, an organization who cares about the community, sustainability, and social justice. So right that you need to inspire with the vision, mission, and day-to-day work…

But let’s say those foundational pieces are solidly in place, and leaders at all levels are well positioned to grow traction in many good ways. This does not mean that your work is done.

It means that you can focus on building the kind of engagement which makes your people proud to show up at work, eager to go the extra mile, excited to bring impact in ways inside and outside their job descriptions. Below are some best practices for building engagement in the workplace.

  1. Be authentic and true: Consistently think, speak and walk the talk at all levels.
  2. Build connections and community within and outside the organization: These intertwined connections and sense of community are the fabric which helps people stick together.
  3. Make it safe to show up fully: Model and reward engagement, inquiry, and commitment.
  4. Showcase successes at all levels of the organization: Celebrate wins and empower, encourage and reward all to contribute to these wins.
  5. Reward curiosity and out-of-box thinking: Stretching our view of what’s normal and what should be done will help us all be more agile and more innovative.
  6. Fearlessly model the way: Authentically communicating with vulnerability and transparency builds trust and culture as well as commitment and loyalty.
  7. Value the divergent mindset: Encourage serendipitous discovery – find the magic in coloring outside the lines, in unintended innovations.
  8. Focus on the why and the what and not the how: Inspire with the why, communicate clearly on the what, provide resources and support on how things get done.
  9. Provide ample access to resources, data and support: Enable outstanding execution through generous support.
  10. Connect people to the projects, connections, and technologies which would stretch them: Provide continued access to the people, technologies and processes which would help your people to grow and thrive.

The bottom line is that providing our engaged people with rich and fulfilling experiences will support everyone and make for a richer culture and better business results. The opposite is also true: providing enriching experiences will also lead to more engaged employees! 

The VUCA Reality – It’s Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous

March 11, 2022

FountainBlue’s March 11 Front Line Managers Online program was on the topic of ‘The VUCA Reality – It’s Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous’. Please join me in thanking our panelists Roxanne Dos Santos, Nancy Moreno and Sam Gupta. Below are notes from the conversation.

Manage for Success in Times of Great Change

  • Collaborate with others to deliver on product and service milestones, based on a wide range of customer-defined requirements. 
  • Embrace the discomfort in ambiguity, and do scenario planning to mitigate and manage risks.
  • Fail fast, fail forward, and be agile about shifting to another direction, plan, or strategy.
  • Accept that there will be pitfalls, and that you will likely need additional resources, different designs, more financing, etc., as things shift.
  • Quantify the ambiguous so that you can better plan for unknowns. 
  • Define the ‘good-enough’ criteria so that everyone doesn’t overthink and overanalyze when it’s difficult to know for sure what will happen.

Empower and Engage Others to Participate

  • Create a culture of psychological safety so that people feel confident about speaking up and sharing ideas and expertise. 
  • Integrate ideas and suggestions and reward those who do speak up.
  • Seek the input of a large range of people to address problem solving, decision-making and innovation challenges.
  • Welcome the input of people not-like-you, as together the team is better.

What to Expect in the Next Normal

  • There will be more collaboration to manage more complex projects.
  • There will be more modular designs, smaller building blocks for complex solutions so that the inevitable changes can be more efficiently addressed.
  • There will be shorter delivery cycles for more complex solutions.
  • Relationships with customers will be a key to success, and creating an exceptional customer experience will help build and maintain those relationships. 

The bottom line is that nobody will ever be able to predict the future, but being able to ‘roll with it’ and agilely respond to this future and proactively plan for a future will increase your likelihood of success.