Living Out-Loud

The reoccurring nightmare appears every few months to remind me of a fear I can’t fully grasp. In my dream, I’m running, from someone or something, that is rapidly closing in on me. Sometimes the circumstances change, but what always remains, is that I scream for help and nothing but a whispery-croak emerges from my throat. I have no voice, and I’m terrified.

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What are my dreams attempting to resolve? What I suspect is a deeply-rooted belief that my voice lacks substance, or weight. As an Executive Coach, the concept of finding one’s voice is part of the vernacular. Sometimes the concept is expressed as developing executive presence, discerning when to step-in and take a leadership stand, or even defining one’s vocation or purpose. My vocation is to support others to find their authentic voice. After all, what could be more important than living one’s life out-loud.

In Palmer Parker’s, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the voice of vocation, he writes of coming to a personal crossroad, a time when he recognized that he had found “a noble way to live a life that was not my own, imitating heroes instead of listening to my heart.” The prospect of a life lived from the outside-in, not the inside-out, became unbearable to Parker.

Living from the inside-out has become deeply compelling to me. Recently, for two weeks, I was on 100% voice rest following surgery. For an extrovert who experiences the world through speech, it has been both frustrating and illuminating. While difficult, silence offered time to consider questions that a busy life pushed toward obscurity.
• Am I living my biggest and best life?
• What would it take to live bigger, bolder, louder?
• How can my voice be used with greater clarity and purpose?
• What has silence taught me about living from the inside to the outside?

This time of silence has been a gift, offering space and time to listen for answers to life’s most provocative questions. Moments to consider how well my life speaks the language of my heart.

If you feel a stirring to find your voice, maybe it’s time to create the space and time to listen to your heart beat.

Contact me for a free sample session, to discuss how a coach can help.


HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is an author and president of Xponents, Inc. Her book, “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change through the Leader Coach”, encourages transparent and emotionally-connected conversations at work. Her company’s focus is to bring out the best in people by recognizing the unique talent, values, and purpose inherent in all.

The Four Success Factors of Millennial Leaders

Relay races are won or lost, based on how well the baton was passed. In 2016, some 3.6 million Baby Boomers will retire, and metaphorically pass the baton to 25% of working millennials who are slated to become managers this year. How well the baton is passed will determine if a company falls behind, stays the course, or wins the race. What are the top four strategies that will bolster the odds of a smooth transition? Below are the four things that millennial leaders want and need to run a successful race.  

shutterstock_82356412Corporate learning

Engagement surveys by Blessing White and recent research by PwC confirms that training and development is a priority for the millennial worker. Talent development is a game changer that attracts talent and accelerates readiness to move up the career ladder. 

Career progression

And speaking of career ladders, millennials want to move up and they want to do it two rungs at a time. This is great news to organizations who desperately need to accelerate the growth of high-potentials. Coach to a development and career plan that aligns an individual’s values, passion, and purpose…and then get out to the way!  

Coaching and feedback

Coaching and frequent feedback goes way beyond developing a career plan. Bersin & Associates points out that millennials want frequent and consistent feedback and coaching, and not just when something goes wrong. On-target feedback positively reinforces desired behaviors, and increases the likelihood that those behaviors will be repeated. 

Flexible schedules

Life balance and flexibility also get high marks in terms of importance from the millennial generation. Look for ways to reevaluate old ways of doing things and creatively seek out opportunities to flex. Engage the millennial leaders in finding a solution that emphasizes the end and not the means.


If you are interested in taking full advantage of your millennial leaders, check out: Leadership Lab.  Xponents’ newest program is a 90-day leadership intensive. Schedule a free consultation today and learn how the Leadership Lab can help you.




Deb Siverson is an author and president of Xponents, Inc. Her book, “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change through the Leader Coach”, encourages transparent and emotionally-connected conversations at work. Her company’s focus is to bring out the best in people by recognizing and aligning unique talent, values, and purpose.

Assuming Greatness in Others

When we look for problems we can find them. When we look for greatness, it’s there for us to behold.

Shifting one’s perspective changes everything. It takes intention and focus to look at life through a different lens. This is especially true when it comes to people. It’s easy to find fault, and look for what’s wrong with another person’s approach. Now and again, we all have to be reminded that there is greatness in everyone, and we can find it by looking for the best parts and by challenging our thinking about the worst.

Let’s do a quick experiment. Think of someone in your life, at work or personally, who you find frustrating or challenging. Got someone in mind? Good! Now identify the main thing about them that can trip you up, and that sometimes makes the relationship hard (Okay, there might be more than one thing, but pick the juicy one that is most annoying or troublesome for you). Ready for what comes next? This next bit is simple and should come pretty easily, fixate for about 30 seconds on that part of them that is difficult for you to be with. That wasn’t so hard, right? By now you should feel a heightened physical awareness, perhaps a little anxiety, tension, or anger. This is what is present when we interact with people from the perspective of “what’s wrong with them.” And don’t kid yourself, you don’t have to say a word, the message is usually delivered through micro-expressions that have the potential to impact trust and collaboration. But don’t beat yourself up; we all do it, to some extent. The key is to catch ourselves going to that judgy place and develop an approach to change our perspective and how we experience others (and ourselves). Below are tips to help you flip the perspective switch, and re-balance those troubled relationship.

Personal Inquiry and Reflection Questions:

  • Is your reaction to them, really more about you?
  • What perceived behavior in the other person is challenging a value you hold dear? Which value is it? (Harmony, Respect, Fairness, Caring, Independence, Authenticity, etc.)Which of their personal values is being emulated by their behavior?
  • Which of your needs aren’t being met? How is the other person’s behavior a reminder that you need or want something that you aren’t getting?
  • Is it possible your projecting something that you can’t see in yourself, on to them?

If the thing that is most difficult about this other person, was really all about you…hum…now what? Sometimes we judge others, without thoroughly examining ourselves and taking personal responsibility for our own reactions and responses. A theory in psychology, known as projection, happens when we defend ourselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in ourselves, and attributing them to others. Searching for our part in the behaviors that we find offensive, such as rudeness, not listening, or being opinionated and closed-minded can help us humanize rather than villainize the situation. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye.”

Sometimes relationships are challenged because our values are out of alignment, for example, we value freedom and autonomy while others value control and process. When values are not aligned the issues will be perpetual, but the relationship can still be productive and functional through discussions that build awareness, help us understand and value differences, and by designing agreements to find a middle ground for the relationship to operate from.

The first step to assuming greatness in others is to check our assumptions about their faults. Are they weaknesses, or differences? If we want strong organizations, families, or friendships, a smart practice is to look first to the best that is in people (and hopefully they will return the favor!) and to examine ourselves before questioning others.

If you want to learn more about improving workplace relationships contact me at 303-238-9733 or email me at [email protected].

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book the Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

Take Your Coaching From Superficial to Sublime

“Employees don’t have clarity around their career aspirations or drivers of job satisfaction.” BlessingWhite’s January 2013 Employee Engagement Update Report.

If you have read my book, “The Cycle of Transformation,” you know that I’m a proponent of Managers (Leader Coaches), playing an important role in employees developing the necessary clarity to focus their talent, values, and calling in the best possible direction for both the individual and the organization.

Too often today’s coaching tasks are treated like a left-brain activity, whereby managers ask a series of rote questions such as, what are your career goals, or, where do you see yourself in five years. If you recognize yourself in this example, please don’t take offense, because clearly asking these types of questions is leaps and bounds better than not caring about what others hope to accomplish.

Before setting career goals, it’s important to step back and explore the special essence that makes up each incredibly unique individual.

Talent: I’ve used Gallup Strength Finders for many years. According to Gallup, talents are innate, in the same way the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is innate; we are born with it. My top five strengths are Activator, Strategic, Futuristic, Learner, and Relator. I’ve taken the online assessment twice and you can too by purchasing the book, Now Discover your Strengths, or going to the Gallup website. The work I do is aligned well with my talents. As an organizational systems consultant, I find it deeply satisfying to look out into the future and paint a picture of possibilities. My learner is drawn in to the process of discovery so that my strategic can get busy sorting through the clutter to find the best route. My activator is impatient for action, giving me a lot of push energy. Thankfully my relator isn’t happy unless I’m deepening relationships and making them more real and intimate (which I also believe to be an advantage in my work as a coach).

Questions to help uncover talents:

  • What are you naturally good at?
  • How does that relate to current work tasks?
  • Which of your natural strengths are not present in your work today?
  • What work would allow you to more fully express your talents?
  • What talent are you over using? Under using?

Values: What is most important to us, our values, are anchored deep and are the must-haves for us to truly thrive. Creative freedom is one of my core values. I get to have it when I’m writing, or designing content, or developing a marketing strategy. I know it is one of my primaries because I need it to be a part of my life no matter what, like oxygen. When I wrote my book, I took my business to a four-day work-week for nearly a year. There was a financial impact in making that decision, but I had to do it.

Questions to help uncover values:

  • Tell me about the work tasks that you most enjoy? The ones you only tolerate.
  • What do you like best about your current position? Least?
  • What is the best job you ever had? Why?
  • Tell me what your ideal job looks like. What makes it ideal?
  • Describe a perfect work day.

Calling: I was having coffee with an old friend last week, and we were talking about things that happen in our lives that are traumatic, can become a calling, as we make our way through the healing process. For me it is about trying to take something difficult and use it for good. It’s a form of transcendence. I’m not suggesting that everyone is called to use their unique talents, values, and vision through tragic circumstances, but if we listen we are always being called to connect what we have to offer with what’s needed now. If we listen deeply to ourselves, and the collective, we can see the next step we are being called to take.

I have been “called” due to life events many times. These events have shaped me to take a stand for transparency, honesty, connection, and hope. Whether it’s through non-profit work in youth leadership or as a systems worker in organizations, I am called to see the limitless possibilities that exist in individuals and teams when we honor and value how we are each so beautifully different, and yet the same.

Questions to help uncover Calling:

  • What gives you a sense of purpose at work?
  • What’s the difference you want to make here?
  • Describe what makes this work meaningful.
  • What cause are you involved with, or that you would you get involved with, regardless of money? What makes that compelling?
  • How can you translate that in to the workplace?
  • How might it impact your career planning?

For more information on how to unleash potential in the workplace, order a copy of my book…and check out this article on The One Solution to Many Common Organizational Challenges.

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

Thanks for My Values

I had a week that spanned both sides of the continuum between effortlessness and excruciating difficulty.  The easy part was my book review meeting last Friday with my advisory group.  During the prior month as I wrote the chapter on Developing Authentic Trust, I felt like there was a flow and ease about how the content came together and placed itself on each page.  During the review meeting, I realized how blessed I am to have such wise trusted advisors and I felt so thankful that they are willing to give me such brilliant and honest feedback.  These dear friends and colleagues emulate the relationships that I cherish in my work.  The opportunity to practice creativity, open-mindedness, honesty, and connection is precious to me.  It struck me that as this book takes form, I am weaving together my values into a vibrant tapestry of everything that matters most to me.

But there are other moments that are not so easy and that I don’t enjoy in quite the same way.  I had an experience this past week that was extremely hard.  A situation happened, I won’t bore you with the details, but I made some assumptions and took action.  The outcome was not what I expected, even though I had thoughtfully deliberated and felt 100% confident that I had landed on the best approach.

At first I made up a story in my head about my own shortcomings, because as I told a friend of mine today “when something goes wrong it must be my fault.”  As I gained objectivity, I begin to consider that when we are in alignment with our values it’s easy, and when we are not it’s hard.  Was this difficulty an indication that my actions were not aligned with my values?  Why was I feeling so horrible and unfulfilled at the consequences of my actions?  Where did  my internal GPS lead me astray?

If you haven’t noticed, I will point out that this line of thinking was again another version of “my fault” and eventually I saw the slippery creature disguising itself as intellectual confusion that was messing with my perception.  I took a hard look in the mirror and I knew my conscious was clear and that beyond a shadow of doubt, my intentions were good.  As I discarded the idea that my decision was not aligned with my values, I began to wonder about something I learned from the infamous Henry and Karen Kimsey-House in the co-active leadership program:

  • full permission to act
  • responsibility for impact
  • and, stay unattached to the outcome…because who knows what is good and what is bad

Living your values, being in integrity, owning your part, letting go of control, being passionate about your stake…these things can be hard.

Fulfillment happens when you are fully present with someone who is struggling with addiction or mental illness because you value honesty, vulnerability, and connection.  Living my values means letting my heart get broken.

Fulfillment happens when you risk a friendship because you believe in authenticity.  Living my values means dancing in the fire, and knowing I might get burned.

Fulfillment happens when you just finished chapter 5 of your book and you’re sharing your concepts and ideas with people you respect, and they are cheering you on. Living my values means feeling the joy of stimulating connected conversations with others.

Being aligned with values is everything.  It is what makes us more of who we are.  It is easy and it is hard.  And it is vital.  I give thanks today that I know what is important to me.  I give thanks for being able to live my values when it is easy and when it is hard.  I give thanks for my values.

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.


What is Hope: Realistic Goals, Persistence, and Belief

I sit here in front of the fire on the first day of the year and contemplate what I can do differently to more fully live my life in alignment with my truest self.   I like New Years, as it represents turning the page and starting anew with a clean slate.  It’s also a time to slow down for a little contemplation and reflection.  As I consider the goals I set for myself last year, I’m pleased to say that the one that mattered most was met.  Achieving that big goal, requires that I take all that I learned and up the ante for next year.  While I had some success, other goals did not turn out the way I would have liked.  I find myself feeling extremely disappointed by this fact.  I have a tendency to question and second-guess myself, and frankly it takes effort for me to practice self-compassion.   If I am being completely honest, I don’t like it when I don’t meet my goals.  So today I am doing my best to wrap my head around what created this less-than-expected performance.

I recently read that C.R. Snyder, who spent his career researching to understand what is hope, which he defined as a cognitive process.  “A trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency,” or a function of setting a realistic goal, being both persistent and flexible in your pursuit, and believing in yourself.  So which part of that equation impacted my hoped for outcome last year?  How do I identify the missing element so that I can avoid the same thing happening in the New Year?

When I look back, I begin to see that my missed goal was not realistic, and it wasn’t even that well defined.  I worked tenaciously and persistently, but I wasn’t clear enough in terms of what I was doing and how often I was doing it.  I threw a lot of spaghetti at the wall, but not enough of it stuck.  And as for belief, I was hesitant rather than confident.  The relief I feel is tangible like the sigh that escapes me, when I realize the insanity can stop now.  Thankfully it’s a New Year.

As I begin to take a deeper look, I see something that makes me feel a bit uneasy.  I suspect that I may have set the goal because I felt I should, and without aligning it to the big picture and my talents, values, and purpose.  Geez…what do they say about a plumber always having leaky faucets?

What I am going to say next sounds like some broken record, cliché, whatever, but I just can’t help that.  It dawns on me that everything must be connected to a vision, and regardless of whether the vision is for my relationships, my health and fitness, or my businesses P&L without it I am like some lost soul wandering (I was going to say alone in the desert but it sounds way too dramatic) with no idea of where they are, or where they are going.  For this vision to be inspired or inspiring, it will link directly to my talents, purpose, mission, and values, or the very essence of who I am.

My husband and I recently went through a values clarification exercise as a way to align and support each other more completely.  We discovered that we shared one third of the values we individually selected.  We are in the process of creating some art for our family room that we will put on display as a constant reminder of what is most important to us individually and collectively. We decided to take this step before revisiting our individual vision and purpose.  Then we can look for alignment, set individual and collective goals, and update our relationship agreements.

We are in the process of working on vision and purpose and have decided to write individual letters and then share them with each other.  One way to revisit vision and purpose is to have your future-self write your present-self a letter. The subject line might be something like, My Ideal Life.  Set a timeframe of one, three, or five years.  I have done this in the past as a way to imagine what I want my world to look like when I wake up at some future place and time.  In the letter I describe in great detail things like; where I will live or work, what activities I am participating in, how my work has changed or evolved, the quality of my relationships, what I have accomplished, and so on.  In coaching circles we would call this a future-self exercise.  Really dig into the quality of the feelings this evokes in you.  And dream big…you can pull on the threads that make it both realistic and attainable if you decide to set specific goals and move in that direction.

It’s never too late to do the heavy lifting.  If you haven’t spent time reflecting on the progress you made this past year, do it now.  Get clear about what you want to create in the New Year.  Explore what matters most, identify what you have to offer, and envision a future that links those things to what the world needs now from you.

How are you checking in on both the inside and the outside to see if you are aligned?

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.


Strategic Planning Template: Year End Considerations

In Part 2 of my blog series on Reflection and Goal Setting, I examine the Six Considerations for Xponents as we prepare to leap into the New Year by remembering the best of who we are, what we have learned, and what we are hearing from others.  Use these six considerations as a strategic planning template, as you prepare for the next stage.  Next week in Part 3, I will explore what we will bring with us into the New Year and the goals that will support our ongoing growth and evolution.

  1.  Your Product/Service – At Xponents we can’t afford to rest on our laurels.  We will continue to develop our products based on what our customers need.  We determine customer s’ needs by listening to them and looking at consistent themes we see across various industries and groups.  There is clearly a call for more virtual programs to minimize travel expense.  Watch for announcements in the first quarter on which programs we have migrated onto a virtual platform.  You will also hear us talking more about The Power of Why; Bringing Vision, Values, Purpose, and Mission to Work.
  2. Your Customer – Customers are laser focused on minimizing cost while maximizing learning opportunities.  Requests for virtual programs are on the rise.  At Xponents we continue to look for ways to deliver virtually when it makes sense through the use of blogs, web conferencing, and other means.  We will also stay focused on ways to harness the rich knowledge and experience of the baby boomers and provide solutions to support developing future leaders.  The window of opportunity to address the leadership gap that the retiring baby boomers will create in the next several years is now.  I also see opportunities to enhance communication and coaching skills in managers to improve engagement, reduce turnover, and drive performance.  Many experienced managers today seem to be struggling to identify what is important to their team.  Teaching managers how to coach individual values is a huge opportunity that will dramatically impact results.
  3.  Your Message– In the New Year we will continue to be the company that facilitates authentic conversations in the workplace.  It is why our newsletter is called Exposed.  Authentic conversations are the key to building trust, focusing attention on the right priorities, and shifting behaviors that create transformational changes.  Our mission is to model that transparency and authenticity in everything we do.
  4.  Your People – During the planning process we identify developmental and training opportunities.  For myself, I budget each year to attend training for a new certification, or to enhance my skills to better serve my customers.   Each of us determines what we need to become more effective and successful, and while I can offer suggestions it is a personal decision.  I am in the process now of asking each of my team what they want or need in terms of professional development.  For myself, I’m leaning toward gaining certification for the Leadership Circle assessment this year.  I also would value attending the training by Christina Baldwin on circle dialogue.  Last year I attended facilitator training with Arnie and Amy Mindell and I would certainly benefit from more work with that amazing duo.  While there is always room for each of us to grow and develop, I feel confident that I have the right team in place to hit the ground running in 2012, both in terms of internal employees and through alliance partnerships that have been strengthened this past year.
  5.  Your Money – I made some purchases this year to update our systems and software.  We purchased a new server, two new desktops, a lap top, and an iPad.  We also updated all of our productivity software and our accounting software.  I have also been persistent in laying the foundation this year for our CRM and lead generation process.  We did have a substantial lift in revenue last year, and I credit that to improved consistency in our contact management strategy.  This will continue to be a focus for us in 2012.  We will also invest in the ASTD trade show this year, which will be in Denver May 2012.  That has proven to be a wise investment in years past.

I hope this strategic planning template will help you sort out what happens next to create even more success.   Schedule time now, and see how we can help with your strategic planning.


If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

The Values Lens

I’ve noticed that when I’m challenged about the choices I should make, it’s a signal for me to look at the situation through the lens of my values.  I was reminded again of this approach this week.  My husband has been struggling with a situation, and he took a stand based on what was important to him.  He said, “This does not line up with how I intend to live my life.”  I respect that, and am reminded of how easy it is to fall in the trap of making a decision, or worse yet going along with something you can’t get behind, and then regreting how it doesn’t support who you are or the kind of life you want to live.

Living one’s values in the workplace is critical.  If more people were clear about their values and used those as the guidepost for how they lived their life, in and out of work, engagment and job satisfaction would soar.  Many companies  focus on communicating the organization’s values and what the organization needs, without recognizing the impact of the individual’s personal values and needs being met at work.   And because the price they pay is hard to quantify, no one recognizes the opportunity cost of lost production.  The Power of Y is how I describe the xponential factor that dramatically impacts performance.  Why it matters is directly tied to bringing values, vision, purpose, and mission to work.

Are there work places where value-alignment just isn’t practical?  Someone recently said to me, “In a professional work environment I can see putting forth the effort as a manager, but what about in a blue collar environment, or food services, is it even realistic in those cultures?” I read a great book last year called The Dream Manager.  The author told the story of janitors and how connecting them to their life dreams increased profits dramatically.  In the parable, the company hired Dream Coaches to support employees in identifying what would most improve the quality of their lives.  The coaches would then assist in developing a clear action plan so that the goal was attainable.

At the end of the day, no matter who we are or what we do, isn’t it about living our dreams?

(Click here to order The Dream Manager now)