Colin's Blog

Three Fundamental Constructs of a Positive Team Environment


PHOTO CREDIT: juliuscaesarrock

You run a successful business, or you’re an upper level manager for a major company. In either case, you want to build a positive and successful team environment. You know full well that a positive team is a reflection of its leadership, but also in the attitude that the collective whole has.

There are three essential constructs (things that make up) a positive and successful team environment. They are:

1. Positive emotions.

2. Positive Personal Traits.

3. Positive Intuition.

It’s not always easy to establish these things, especially if you have certain members on your team who are negative, who don’t buy into the team or company goals fully, or who are seeking individual recognition, rather than success as a collective group.

There are plenty of great employees out there who are in it only for their own benefit and they can actually pose a greater stumbling block than anything else with regard to team, or company-wide, success.

Ways to foster a positive team environment with these three fundamental constructs.

In order to foster that positive attitude throughout the team, let’s take a closer look at each of these three topics in more detail.

Positive emotions. You’re not responsible for the emotional well-being of your team members, but you should find a way to harbor positive emotions and feelings when they enter their workspace. This could be allowing them personal effects, such as pictures of family, or starting the day with affirmations.

Positive personal traits. Highlight the personal strengths that your individual team members possess. Congratulate them on their successes, focus on what they do best, and avoid the negatives as much as possible.

Positive intuition. Team building is about understanding each members, identifying his or her strengths, and using them to structure each member in the most effective way possible. In other words, how would each member best contribute to the overall team?

When you focus on these three aspects, it will increase the chances of building a positive team environment.

Family Time

Healthy Recipe of the Month:
Gluten Free Chocolate Quinoa


Balancing your time between work and home can be quite the challenge. Once you have that scheduled time with your family, making that quality not just quantity time can be even more frustrating.

Families with young children usually spend the most time together because young children need a great deal of physical care and guidance. Families with teenagers may spend less time together because teens naturally want to spend more time with their friends.

A strong family finds that opportunities for quality time emerge from quantity time. Interacting with your family can take place in several ways, such as: talking about the events of the day; sharing joys and defeats; doing household chores together; and, spending some evenings popping corn and watching movies – these are all examples of shared activities. Some families even schedule one evening every week for special family activities.

Healthy families keep a vigorous balance between “too much” and “not enough” time together. They spend enough time to satisfy all family members. Children learn to bring balance to their lives when they see their parents setting aside time for what they value.

Try this mental trick to help you readjust your thinking. Practice parenting meditation; see the day and how you want it to go. Try to visualize any problems that may occur and develop solutions for them to make sure family time goes smoothly and you are not distracted.

Take a few minutes to watch this video and ask yourself if this looks familiar.

If it does look familiar, here are some ways to make family time enjoyable and meaningful.

  • Eat Together. Create special meal times with your family. Make dinner a team effort; everyone pitches in and has a job. Start making special dinners that everyone loves; for example, make Wednesday, Taco night.
  • Play Together. Sunday night can be board game night, switch it up though. One weekend, boards games, the next weekend, or shred some guitar while your son plays the drums and your wife sings. Connect with your kids using their interests and helpful technology.
  • Vacation and celebrate as a family. Some of the best memories families have are through vacations. The older your kids get, the less you will be able to plan vacations due to conflicting schedules.
  • Exercise Together. Become a healthy and fit family unit, which allows you to connect before dinner with weekly planned workouts.
  • Don’t Drive Everywhere. Use this as a creative opportunity to keep up family talk and connect over longer travel times. When we drive, we get caught up in the traffic and do not communicate. Instead, walk, take the train, subway or bus, bike rides or cabs. This way as a family you can focus on each other and the time you have.

How will you make the remaining time together in 2014 valuable and memorable within your family? How will 2015 be even better with many more memorable family moments?

Gluten Free Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

chocolate quinoa cupcakes recipe(makes 24 cupcakes)

  • 2/3 cup white quinoa (rinsed if the package doesn’t state that it is rinsed) or, 2 cups cooked quinoa(as shown on package as well)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Either spray muffin tins or use muffin cups and set aside.

Blend together the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor (I recommend using a food processor to get the smooth consistency). Add quinoa and melted butter, and blend until completely smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cayenne powder.

Pour the quinoa mixture over dry ingredients, stir and combine. Divide the batter into the cupcake tins and bake in the preheated over for 35-40 mins, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely in the baking pans before removing them.

Top with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 ( 8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix the vanilla, then gradually stir the icing sugar sugar. You can an icing bag to pip to decorate the icing. Store in the refrigerator after use.

I hope everyone enjoys. Happy Holidays :)

3 Ways to Know if You’re Coachable

honestyIf you’ve been thinking about hiring an executive coach, it’s important to consider whether you are a good fit. Here’s why…

Not everyone is coachable. Some people offer far too much resistance to their coach and that creates poor results for the coachee in the long run.

We have put together a short list of three things to consider to help determine if you are, in fact, coachable. Even if you find that you might not be coachable at this point in time, you can turn that around and become more open and receptive to new ideas, criticism, and ultimately positive change, which is what coaching is ultimately all about.

Can you honestly commit to change? Coaching is about change, so if you’re the type of person who has difficulty even thinking about change, then it may not work out in your favor in the long run.

You need to be completely honest about this question. If you don’t believe that you’re open to change, if you have a tendency to keep doing the same things you’ve been doing for ten, fifteen, or twenty years, even though they may not be the most effective or efficient, then you’re not really open to it.

Can you be open about yourself? In other words, how do you tend to respond when someone criticizes you, tells you that you’ve been or done wrong, or when you face a negative situation? Do you tend to blame others? Are you introspective? Are you open to the fact that it might be your fault?

If you can be open and honest with and about yourself, you just might be willing to be coached.

How well do you work with others? If you have a tendency to work well with others, that’s a great start to the coaching process. However, if you are bossy, rule with an iron fist, or have a ‘my way or the highway’ approach to your professional and personal life, then you will likely have challenges when it comes to your executive coach.

Tips for Providing Useful and Constructive Feedback

constructive-feedbackIt’s one thing to try and help someone by telling them the things they’re doing wrong and it’s another thing entirely to be constructive in your criticism. In the world of creativity, for example, there are plenty of people who will go around and blast artists of all types, styles, and forms, saying things like, “That’s garbage” or “What a waste of time.”

None of that is useful in any way, shape, or form for the artist. It isn’t constructive and even though the person saying it might believe they are being ‘critical’ (offering criticism of it), it’s not really feedback. There’s an adage that states: you can’t please all the people all the time.

It’s true and business leaders aren’t going to please all of their employees, team members, partners, shareholders, etc. all the time. It’s not going to happen. The goal is to maximize potential and become the best leader they can be, which is where constructive criticism, or feedback, comes in handy.

Within the business structure there are several different types of feedback: horizontal, vertical, formal, and informal. Vertical feedback comes from subordinates and makes it way up to the team leader. Horizontal comes from peers and others at the same managerial level. Formal feedback is akin to the employee evaluation. Informal might be categorized as unsolicited.

Here are 4 tips to help provide useful, constructive feedback, regardless of the type.

1. Clarify the expectation. If the expectation is off, then the individual may not deliver what is expected. Make sure this is clarified from the beginning.

2. Explain the actual perception of the performance. One person may believe the individual is performing well while another person might disagree. Explain the actual perception so the recipient of the feedback can best understand the viewpoint.

3. Offer steps to improve any issues that have been observed. Telling someone they’re doing something wrong is okay, but it’s best to offer them a potential solution.

4. Finally, review the progress on a regular basis. If you don’t review progress, then the feedback is actually wasted.

These tips should help provide more useful, thoughtful, and valuable feedback in the future.

The Fundamental Difference between Coaching and Training

difference between coaching and trainingWhen considering hiring an executive or leadership coach, it’s important to know exactly what all of this entails. Many people may confuse coaching with training.

In order to explain the difference between the two, let’s take a look at a sports team.

The Essence of Training

When athletes or any member of a competitive team are getting ready for the season to begin, they are going to take part in various training regimens. This might entail physical conditioning, working on specific skillsets, and more.

Training involves preparation. It’s about getting the team member ready for the assignments with which they will soon be assigned or tasked.

Going to college, studying, and then taking part in an internship is one example of training in the corporate world. It develops skills and experience, which are invaluable to success.

The Essence of Coaching

A coach takes the members of his or her team, determines their strengths, and teaches them about the plan, strategies, and steps they need to take in order to achieve their goals.

A coach might work with individual players as well. In that case, the coach will work with the team member to maximize his or her potential, based on their training, and determine how they can best support the team as a whole.

A coach will analyze an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, embrace the strengths, and expand those in order to reduce their weaknesses. They will mentor the team member so that he or she can contribute more effectively to the team as a whole.

On a team there may be a wide range of talents and experience levels. Some team members are going to be resistant to coaching, either because they already think they’re the best or they don’t respect the coach. Other members might not believe they any more training.

An executive coach is going to work with an individual to establish goals, determine his or her strengths, and find ways to increase leadership skills, organizational skills, and maximize the chances of achieving the company (or individual) goals.

5 Steps to Develop Strategic Thinking Skills

developing strategic thinkingMost businessmen and businesswomen are extremely busy; they don’t have a lot of extra time on hand. That means trying to barrel through a to-do list is not beneficial, or reasonable. In these cases, it may be necessary to reframe the way you approach your schedule, goals, and long-term tasks at hand.

Below are five steps that can help develop improved strategic thinking skills.

1. Align your process to your vision.

When you know what you want, when you are clear about it, when you can describe it to others in a cogent way, it’s going to be much more effective at helping you refine your focus.

Being able to think more clearly about the “big picture” will allow you to hone in on the potential and that can help you see where the potential actually aligns with your vision or goal.

2. Ask as many questions as necessary.

Once you connect with your long-term vision or goal, you need to ask more questions to help you refine the important aspects of achieving it. If you’re still not exactly clear on the long-term goal or vision you have, then try to align your process to the vision.

Ask as many questions as necessary to figure out how you get from the point you’re at now to your goal.

3. Give it time.

Trying to rush through any process will often lead to mistakes. Take some time to think clearly about every aspect of this process. Strategic thinking skills come from seeing all of the details around you and taking the time to analyze each aspect of the process.

If you rush through it, you could miss some very important details that would help you achieve your long-term goals and visions.

4. Learn to develop a plan.

A plan is about focusing on the actions you’re going to take. This includes short-term as well as long-term planning. Strategic thinking is about analyzing different potential plans to see which ones may work best for the process, for you, and for your team members.

5. Map out the plan.

Once you have an idea about a plan that could work, lay it out in a diagram format. This will help you visually see and assess the situation to determine its feasibility.

These are five steps that can help you develop stronger strategic thinking skills.

Pulling the Three Phases of Life Together through Leadership Coaching

Phasing work,family and friendsIn life, there are more things than just work. While there may be numerous times that you work overtime, on the weekends, and even canceling vacation once in a while because of some emergency, your entire life does not or should not revolve strictly around your job.

When you hire a leadership coach to improve your skills and ability to motivate your team members to accomplish various goals, you need to understand that there are three phases of life that need to come together in order to make you a stronger and better leader overall.

Those three phases are work, family, and friends.

While you likely know plenty about your job, and you are dedicated to it, you still need to make time for your family and friends as well. When you ignore family and devote 100% of your energy to work, eventually that is going to lead to significant problems in the long run.

The majority of people who tend to micromanage at work rather than leading their teams have a tendency to discount family and friends when the requirements of the job become overbearing.

Your family and your closest friends are your grounding wires. These are the people that can help you become a better person and, ultimately, a better leader. A leadership coach is going to be strictly focused on observing you and helping you develop the skills and experiences that will strengthen your leadership abilities.

While you are working with your leadership coach, keep in mind that you still have to make time for your family and friends so that you hold onto that highly beneficial and important grounding wire in your life. When you dedicate at least one evening every week to sitting down and having a nice, long, casual dinner with your family and if you spend at least one day a month with friends, even if it is only for a few hours, you will discover that your leadership abilities begin to improve.

That is because leaders connect to the people they lead on not just a professional level, but an emotional one as well. If you are focused exclusively on work and negate your family and friends, you will miss out on that essential emotional component that could make you the best leader you can be.

5 Tips to Choosing the Right Executive Coach for You

perfect ceoChoosing the executive coach that you want working with you will depend on several factors. Not every coach is going to be ideal for every executive.

Being comfortable with the coach you work with is essential to success. Below are five tips that can help you choose the right executive coach for you and your needs.

1. You must feel comfortable with this coach.

If you don’t feel comfortable with the coach, it’s going to be difficult for you to be open-minded and receptive to certain ideas that he or she expresses to you. You’re an executive; you have a good sense about people when you meet them. Use this sense when you first meet a prospective coach to determine if that is somebody you’re going to be comfortable with.

2. Experience.

You want an executive coach who has experience working with other executives similar to you. Just because they might’ve worked with people in a different industry or different type of company, that doesn’t mean they are going to have the experience that will benefit you.

3. Trust.

You need to be able to trust the person working with you. If you don’t feel that you can trust the potential or prospective executive coach for whatever reason, then the relationship is not going to work for either of you.

4. Your goals and their plan should align.

Once you sit down to discuss your goals with your executive coach, his or her plans for how to accomplish those goals should align at least somewhat with what you want to achieve.

5. They should be able to accommodate your schedule.

As an executive, you are busy. While you want to make time for this executive coach, you also need somebody who can accommodate your schedule and be somewhat flexible. Somebody who dictates hours to you and forces you to fit into their schedule may complicate things, especially if you have important deadlines or meetings that you absolutely must attend.

These tips should help you refine your focus and find the best executive coach for you.

Confidentiality in Coaching: What Your Boss is and isn’t Entitled to Know about Your Sessions

confidentialWhether you are considering hiring a leadership or executive coach for yourself, on your own, or it’s part of your company’s improvement efforts, you deserve to know about confidentiality.

Far too many businessmen and businesswomen in Toronto assume that when their employer hires and pays for some type of improvement coach, they forfeit certain aspects of privacy.

This is patently false.

When you are working with an executive or leadership coach, you are entitled to confidentiality. That means whatever you discuss with your personal coach regarding your goals, ambition, fears, anxiety, concerns, or just about anything else related to your improvement, that coach isn’t going to discuss those things with your superior or anyone else within your organization.

Things Your Coach May Discuss with Others

Your coach may have been hired by your employer to help develop stronger skills within you, and the coach may be required to update your employer regarding certain aspects of the coaching experience.

This means that he or she may discuss various strategies, tips, and other processes that they will be working with you on, but they will not be entitled to share personal information, including concerns or fears that you may have or problems you’ve expressed regarding your employer, the company, or anything else.

Confidentiality is essential in building trust within any relationship. If you don’t have trust, then how can you expect to build a strong relationship and accomplish the goals that you set out to?

If you have any specific concerns regarding certain aspects of confidentiality when it comes to leadership or executive coaching, contact The Holbrow Group today and see just what it means to gain trust, hold it, and honor it every step of the process.

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