Get Connected: btn-tw btn-ln btn-fb btn-yt




Good Grief! Do you Delegate like Lucy or Charlie Brown?

Deb_Lucy - Good GriefI must admit that, while most of my work is cool, last week provided me with an opportunity that was cooler than cool: I was invited to facilitate a delegation workshop at 20th Century Fox’s animation studios, with the teams that are making the new Peanuts movie (in theatres November 6th, by the way). Between the production teams, and the story teams, and the animation teams, and the talent teams – they’ve got a lot to do and not a lot of time left to do it.

Good grief!

So how will they get it all done? By delegating. Which is, of course, easier said than done.

Most of us are well aware of the benefits of delegating, which include lightening your workload, developing your staff, providing opportunities for collaboration, offering your team members a sense of ownership and empowerment, giving you an emergency back-up, retaining talent, as well as growing and challenging yourself (both to take on new tasks and to learn how to “let it go”). And yet, despite the myriad benefits, many managers don’t delegate well – but when they do, their style is either too Lucy” or “too Charlie Brown. (tweet this)

What’s your delegation style?

You may be a Lucy if:

  • You joke about being a “control freak” (but you know it’s not a joke).
  • Everything feels urgent to you.
  • You are addicted to adrenaline.
  • You need to be in charge.
  • You tell people not just what to do but how to do it, and don’t welcome others’ input and approaches.
  • You’re deeply concerned about credit and blame.
  • Your style is command and control.

You may be a Charlie Brown if:

  • You find yourself mired in minutiae.
  • Most of your tasks feel comfortable to you.
  • You hoard work.
  • You realize someone else could do it but so could you.
  • You worry about being seen as dispensable.
  • You don’t want to overload your team.
  • You want to protect your staff from stress or failure.
  • You’re worried about messing things up.
  • Your style is just to do it yourself.

You may be either a Lucy OR a Charlie Brown if thinking about delegating gives you hives, sweats or stomach pains (or makes you want to cling to Linus’ blanket.) Either way, delegation is a critical competency for anyone who has too much to do and not enough time to do it (tweet this), for anyone who is charged with developing and empowering others (tweet this), and for anyone who realizes that in order to move up in the organization, they need to make sure that their current work can be done by others so that they’re not stuck doing this (whatever your “this” is) for the rest of your career (tweet this).

If you’re a Lucy, it’s time to show your team that you believe in their talents, that you can be flexible, and that you’re as committed to their development and growth as you are to getting it right. If you’re a Charlie Brown, it’s time to show your team that you value and trust them, that you’re resilient in the face of setbacks, and that you’re ready for all of you to play a bigger game – even if you need to hold on to your security blanket for a while longer.

If you or anyone on your team is wrestling with delegation, you can instantly download our online 60 minute course “Delegate without Drama” and learn the eight steps to help you start giving up a little bit of control and gaining a few more hours each week without giving up your commitment to quality

When Someone’s Behavior Leaves You In the Dark

blindspotMy daughter Sophie reported that climbing Masada (she ran up the Snake Path in 25 minutes!) was one of her favorite experiences of our recent family trip to Israel.

For my son Jacob, it was the Ayalon Institute, a secret bullet factory built underneath a kibbutz.

My husband Michael and I told the kids that we adored visiting Yad Lakashish, a non-profit organization that empowers nearly 300 elderly Jerusalem residents on a daily basis by putting them to work as artisans. (Our real favorite part of the trip was how well the kids got along with one another, but we’re keeping that to ourselves.)

But one experience made it to the top of everyone’s list: our dinner at Nalagaat Blackout Restaurant. So awe-inspiring, in fact, that the lessons we learned there keep growing – and yes, this is my second article about it.

If you recall, our family had the opportunity to experience a totally dark dinner served by blind and visually-impaired waitstaff. What surprised all of us the most was that our eyes never adjusted. Not even a little bit. It was pitch black, all the time, with no relief.

When I finally came to terms with the fact that I was going to be completely in the dark until I left, I realized how many of us work with or know people whose behavior leaves us in the dark – and that far too often, we sit there waiting for something to shed light on their behavior. And that light never comes.

What do you do when you work with someone you don’t trust? Whose intentions you can’t see or whose behaviors blindside you?

Working with someone you don’t trust is like sitting in total darkness. You are desperate to see something – anything – that can help you figure out what to do next, say now, or even believe about yourself and your situation. You realize that you need to trade vulnerability for vigilance. You realize that you need to shrink your expectations from thriving to surviving. And all of that can impair the quality of your work as well as your confidence.

There’s no easy fix for working with someone you don’t trust, where you can’t see how to proceed next. But here’s what I did at Nalagaat to adjust my expectations and behaviors in the dark, once I realized that my situation wasn’t going to adjust.

I stopped blaming myself (and my eyes) for not being able to see in this situation.

I acknowledged that I had two options: 1) stay and figure out how to make this work to the best of my abilities or 2) get up and leave.

I adjusted my expectations of what I would be able to accomplish in the dark (from “enjoying a lovely meal” to “emerging without cutting myself or wearing my meal.”)

I asked for help from my team (family) for things with which, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t need to ask for help.

I offered help, unsolicited.

I recognized that each of us was struggling – both together and individually – with the circumstances.

I made small movements and sought frequent feedback from my team and from the environment as to how I was doing.

I offered positive, reinforcing feedback to the team.

I gave myself positive self-talk throughout the meal.

I took all advice from the waitstaff, who were experts in how to manage this situation.

And probably most importantly, I reminded myself that the darkness wasn’t being dark to make me angry, endangered or frustrated. It wasn’t personal. The darkness was just being what it was, and I just happened to be there for it.

Could you use a little more light shed on how to create a culture that instills a sense of trust? Join us for our webinar on Creating a Culture of Trust.

A Life Lesson Learned Over Dessert in Israel

garden_entranceShalom from Israel!

True confession: the last time I was in Israel, I was with my old boyfriend. Considering that I’ve been with my husband Michael for 18 years, it’s been a long time since I’ve been back “home”.

Of course, when I came to Israel with an old beau, I never anticipated that the next time I’d be here would be with a (different) husband and my teenage twins. And considering the inspiring and moving sites and experiences we’re having on this trip – from camel rides and rafting in the Jordan River to Havdalah at the Western Wall and a walk through Yad Vashem’s Garden of the Righteous — I never could have anticipated I’d learn the biggest life lesson at the bottom of a dessert dish.

Now, it wasn’t just any dessert dish. It was a dish of crème brulee that my son Jacob was eating at Tel Aviv’s Nalaga’at BlackOut, where diners eat their meals, served by blind waitstaff, in total darkness. The experience was startling, humbling and like nothing any of us had ever experienced. Some of us (ok, me) resorted to eating with our hands when utensils proved too tricky without a stitch of light. And by the time dessert came, we had been so taxed by the lack of visual context that we had stopped talking in order to concentrate so that we wouldn’t be wearing our dinners.

And then, Jacob broke the silence: “I’m so sad about this dessert!” he said. “Don’t you like it?” I asked him, to which he replied, “I love it. It’s the best dessert I’ve ever had. But since I can’t see it, I don’t know when it will be over!”

“Jacob,” I said, “you have just summed up one of life’s great lessons and challenges: how to truly enjoy what you have because you have no idea when it will end.”

As we thanked our blind waitress for her excellent service, we thanked God for the gift of our sight, and felt truly thankful for this incredible family trip to Israel. And while it’s the first for the four of us, I hope it isn’t our last – but no matter what, we are truly enjoying what we have because we have no idea what the future will bring to any of us.

Shalom from Israel.

Is Your Halo Hollow?

For the past two years, if you were looking for me on weekday mornings between 8 and 9 am, you would have found me at my local CrossFit – that workout regimen that combines Olympic gymnastic and weightlifting moves and high-intensity aerobic training with weeping, grunting and collapsing. This was going to be the habit that upgraded my physique! This was going to be the new activity that changed my life for the better!

Guess what? It didn’t work – and not for the reasons you might think. It didn’t work because I misplaced my halo.

For two years, I believed that if I exercised the way that professional athletes do, I could also eat the way professional athletes do. 50 pull-ups? 100 squats? 200 sit-ups? Surely that’s a recipe for carte blanche dining, right? As it turned out, it wasn’t. I had fallen prey to a behavioral halo effect bias that was hurting me both physically (100 squats!) and emotionally (feeling stuck at the same weight).

The “halo effect” is defined as the tendency for a person’s positive or negative traits to “spill over” from one personality area to another in others’ perceptions of them. My halo effect was behavioral – I was expecting the benefits of one overwhelming positive action (intensive exercise) to spill over into another area of my life (my eating habits). I thought that if I behaved beautifully in the gym, I could misbehave at the table. So maybe I could have gotten away with it a little bit, but I couldn’t get away with it nearly as much as I told myself. And as much as I tried to right-size my portions, I couldn’t shake that “halo” feeling that I shouldn’t have to work out so hard to still eat so little.

I am not alone. Have you ever worked for a manager who believed that her intelligence and talent gave her the right to explode at her direct reports? Behavioral halo effect. Do you know a major donor who thinks that the size of his gift permits him to boss other volunteers (as well as professionals) around? Behavioral halo effect.

And how about you? Do you:

  • Treat your members and customers with incredible patience at work…and then come home and blow up at your kid for leaving his shoes in the hall?
  • Give your undivided personal attention to your boss but keep one eye on your cell phone when a direct report wants to talk with you?
  • Attend every board meeting but cancel your supervision meetings?
  • Make sure your babysitter or nanny never wants for anything, while brushing aside your spouse’s needs?
  • Take care of everyone else while ignoring your own health and happiness?

If you answered yes to any of these, your halo is hollow. You’re allowing one set of positive behaviors to cast an artificial glow on others that clearly don’t deserve a spotlight. How do you fix it? Stop granting yourself permission and excuses to behave carelessly, and start giving yourself credit for the fact that you clearly have what it takes to act responsibly, considerately, and like a mensch. If you can do it somewhere, sometimes, and with some people, you can do it (almost) everywhere, every time, and with most people. Especially with and for yourself.

So how did I drop the halo and its blinding effects? I quit exercising and eating like a linebacker and started working out like someone who needed to 1) have better balance and 2) be careful about what she ate. I no longer allowed one overwhelmingly positive action to grant me permission for excess or carelessness.  By dropping the halo, I raised the bar for my behavior and dropped the excuses — along with almost 25 pounds — along the way!

The Best Way to Get the Worst Results

Last weekend, in an uncharacteristic burst of energy, I decided to tackle the piles of clutter that threatened to overtake our front entrance hall and my bedroom bookcase. Despite the fact that I knew this would thrill my (orderly and neat) husband, Michael, I decided not to announce that I was going to do it. I just did it. I managed to get the many non-book stacks of stuff off of my bookshelf and into my office/bathroom/garbage without anyone noticing what I was up to. I then went to tackle the front hall, where I had dumped everything from makeup and office supplies to spare keys and headphones (so that’s where they were!) and had promptly forgotten where they were.

This was where I got careless. I stopped being so quiet. And I got caught.

“Wow,” said Michael to me, eying surfaces he hadn’t seen in weeks. “You look like you’re on a roll!”

“Yup,” I said, “I’m getting my act together.”

And that’s when Michael committed the fundamental sin that partners, parents, bosses and co-workers make every single day:

Since you’re in an organizing mood, I have a great project in the basement for you when you’re done with this.

As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake. Big. HUGE!”

What was Michael’s egregious error?

Continue reading

When Getting Along Is Easier Said than Done

by Noa Peri-Jensch

This past Saturday, I was listening to a Bar Mitzvah boy at our synagogue. He spoke about the most important mitzvah of ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ He explained that we should love and accept others’ shortfalls just as we accept our own.

Easier said than done,” whispered the man sitting behind me. “Easier said than done.”

As a coach, I often hear from clients that life would be so much easier if only difficult colleagues, employees, customers and bosses didn’t surround them. And while it’s fair to assume that every workplace has a few challenging people, working with difficult people in your own Jewish community can be especially hard. When every aspect of our lives is deeply intertwined, from work to our personal relationships, we realize that the person we fought with at last week’s board meeting is now sitting next to us at Shabbat dinner.
A “difficult” personality is better described as a “very different” personality from us. Even a great friend can be a challenging co-worker if your work styles don’t align. But before you deal with a difficult person, you need to deal with yourself first by asking:

  • Why does this person bother me?
  • What do I need in order to feel more comfortable dealing with this person? Do I need them to listen to me? Do I need to better understand their intentions? Do I need our work relationship to be more flexible? More stable? More task-focused or more people focused?
  • What can I do to communicate this need?
  • What about me could be bothering my co-worker?
  • Is our issue resolvable? Is it worth resolving?

Early in my career, I was introduced to the Myers Briggs personality assessment. After taking it, I gained a great amount of insight into not only myself, but also my group of “difficult people.” Here are a few common examples of how our personality profiles can lead to a difficult relationship:

Introvert/Extrovert: Some people are more centered and productive when they work alone in a quiet environment. Others cannot function on a task without bouncing ideas off other people. If a very social extroverted personality tries to “think out loud” with a very introverted focused on internal processing, they will feel rejected if the introvert does not show enthusiasm and make minimal comment. An introvert trying to focus their mind on organizing their thoughts will feel frustrated, resentful, and drained by a more sociable co-workers constant “interruptions”.

Which one are you? Which one is your difficult person?

Sensor/Intuitive: Some prefer to look at the facts and details, and others are more interested in the big picture and its general impact. When a sensor watches a co-worker’s eyes glaze over as he relays all the vital data he collected, he may assume that the other person finds his report boring or unimportant. However, it can be just the opposite. An intuitive personality is often so busy trying to turn these tiny facts into a big, meaningful picture that she can become overwhelmed, lost, and shut down in frustration. On the other hand, if an intuitive person goes directly to the end result, a sensor may become anxious without seeing the data that led to that result.

Which one are you? Which one is your difficult person?

Rational/Values: As if things were not complex enough, people differ even further in how they process decisions they make. Some people make decisions and base their opinions on rational, analytical thought. They are very comfortable in the realm of cause and effect. Other people base the same choices on their personal values and how the topic at hand will affect others.

Which one are you? Which one is your difficult person?

Organized/Spontaneous: Some people can change at a moment’s notice. They are constantly adapting and changing their work to reflect the needs of that exact moment. Other people, however, prefer stability and predictability. They want to make a detailed plan of action for the next six months. That spontaneous co-worker may wrestle with the needs and demands of their hyper-organized partner. They may even feel the organized person is too rigid.

Which one are you? Which one is your difficult person?

Clearly, neither side is right or wrong. However, these differences can create challenges in working with those who are different! This essential difference in perspective can lead to a difficult relationship.

Working with difficult personalities does not need to be so challenging. Next time you encounter a difficult personality, remember that you might also be difficult for them! Look at your own personality profile and how it might be the reason for the clash.

If working with difficult people still feels “easier said than done,” register for our webinar on Dealing with Difficult People on Thursday, May 21.

The High Cost of a Single Missing Leadership Trait

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” – Henry A. Kissinger

When you think about leaders you admire – whether it’s Moses or Miriam, the CEO of your organization or the president of your Board – you likely see in them several well-known and well-regarded leadership skills and attributes: vision, passion, confidence,  strategic thinking, conflict management, results-orientation, integrity, decision-making and more.

These leadership traits make up a critical combination of competence, commitment and character – and hopefully, you demonstrate many of these yourself whether you hold a leadership title or not.

But there’s one more crucial leadership trait that, according to Harvard University business professor and social psychologist Ann Cuddy, can make all the difference between you and your organization being loved or loathed. And more importantly, it’s a trait that everyone in your organization who interfaces with customers, members, donors, or prospects needs to cultivate if they don’t have it already.

What’s in the secret leadership sauce?

The added ingredient associated with the most effective leaders of our organizations is Warmth. Warmth is the very first trait that people perceive about us, and based on that initial reading – whether we like it or not – people decide whether our intentions are positive or negative.

Warmth is considered more important and more influential than competence (our ability to do the job). And while the people with whom we work may forgive us for a breach in competence, studies show that “a single instance of negative-warmth behavior is likely to irredeemably categorize the perpetrator as a cold person.”


So what does that mean? It means that your front office staff member who gets things done but has a brusque tone is costing your organization credibility. It means that a supervisor who is brilliant at the technical aspects of her job but who is described as having an “edge” is costing you staff morale. It means that the fundraiser on your team whose numbers are good but who also rubs some donors and prospects the wrong way is costing you money.

It means that every single member of your organization needs to know that making people feel included, engaged, respected – and cared about – is a part of his or her job description.

Here are 10 ways to increase feelings of warmth among your team, in the organization, and with customers, members, donors, and prospects:

  1. Increase the number of agenda-free “casual conversations” you have.
  2. Give others your complete attention (no cell phones, emails, looking over their shoulders for someone more interesting, etc.).
  3. Be curious about other people’s work and non-work activities.
  4. Share your own personal and professional challenges with your colleagues.
  5. Demonstrate empathy for others’ challenges.
  6. Let rumors, gossip and bad news die at your desk.
  7. Be willing to apologize when you make a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings.
  8. Trust others and be trustworthy yourself.
  9. Use inviting body language, such as eye contact, smiling and nodding.
  10. Explain your intentions to others when making decisions or taking actions that affect them.


If you, your team and your leaders could use some help getting even warmer this summer, email us at

10 Blind Spots To Start Seeing Now

Now here’s a sentence you don’t hear too often the week after Passover: “I’ve dropped 17 pounds.

But I’m saying it – loud and proud.

Now of course, I must admit that the week before Passover, I was also down 17 pounds, but for me, maintaining my weight loss over a holiday not widely known for its health benefits is a victory.

I also admit that I’ve lost 17 pounds before. Many, many times. So what makes this weight loss different from all others? This time, I used the same coaching approach on myself that I teach in the Jewish Coaching Academy  and that I use with my clients to anticipate obstacles.

Whether our task is losing weight, beginning a new fundraising campaign, kicking off a professional development program, doing performance reviews, or anything that we’re starting – or starting again – we need to reflect on the common stumbling blocks that get put before us, by ourselves or others:

  1. How committed we really are to doing the work or making a change.
  2. How many other things we’re also committed to right now.
  3. How “secretly committed” we are to maintaining the current situation.
  4. How hard or complex it is.
  5. How much time it’s going to take.
  6. How many things we couldn’t have anticipated (or could have but didn’t).
  7. How much energy it requires.
  8. How quickly or easily we may get discouraged.
  9. How challenging it may be to get others on board, or who else we needed on board but didn’t realize.
  10. How powerful the voices in our head can be that stop us from being bold and moving forward.

When we skip thinking and talking about these blind spots, we increase the chances that our efforts will fail, that folks will become frustrated, and that we will have to go back to square one – again. When we consider and admit these stumbling blocks to ourselves and to others, we’re far more likely to move forward with eyes wide open and success in our view.

“Anticipating Obstacles” is only one of the 10 skills that I teach in the Jewish Coaching Academy, a 10 hour blended-learning program that teaches coaching skills through a Jewish lens to professional and volunteer leaders. Over 100 people have graduated from our program – and our next public program is on Thursday, May 7th in New Jersey.

Click here for more information.

Our early bird special ends Friday, April 17!

The Surprising Contribution That You’re Already Making

If you work or volunteer for a non-profit organization, chances are, you get excited when people make contributions. Contributions of time and talent mean that the work gets done. Contributions of ideas mean that new perspectives and opportunities emerge. And contributions of money mean that your mission and vision can be realized.

And where else should you be looking for contributions? Wherever you hear the words fault and blame.

Those two words, fault and blame, immediately put people immediately on the defensive, create divisiveness in teams, and make people feel untrusted and untrusting. Cut them out and replace them with the word contribution. When you ask people to think about what contributed to a problem, as well as how they themselves might have contributed to the problem, and who else (including, perhaps, you) had a contribution to this problem, it lowers the heat of the conversation and reminds people that challenging situations are complex, with many players. In fact, I ask my coaching clients to practice the habit of naming their own contribution first when speaking with their team or direct reports, which makes people feel more comfortable admitting their own contributions.

Contributions can range from communicating unclear expectations, setting unreasonable timelines, micromanaging (or under-leading), a lack of follow-up or follow-through, allowing scope-creep, a missed opportunity to offer feedback, ignoring the warning signs, or a failure to speak up or speak out.  Contributions can be big or small – and yet, every contribution matters. (Sound familiar?)

The next time a difficult conversation or situation arises, ask yourself, “what was the other person’s contribution to this?” AND ask yourself, “what was mine?”

Fault and blame make people want to stop contributing time, talent, ideas and money. Contribution begets contributions.

So what’s yours?

When is Climate Change a GOOD Thing?

Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything.

How to sleep, how to eat, how to work, how to wear clothes…

You may ask how did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you. 
I don’t know. 
But it’s a tradition!”  – Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof 

We all know that traditions can be sacred. We also know that traditions can be comforting. But when you think about some of the interpersonal and institutional “traditions” that our organizations uphold, they can feel crazy-making and soul-sucking.

Traditions like what?  Like:

We openly and honestly express our opinions…unless we’re talking to someone who can write a big check.”

Supervision meetings are the first to get cancelled when something’s got to give.”

We talk about the importance of work-life balance but reward those who come early, stay late, and are on e-mail ‘round the clock.”

We call these traditions our organizations’ “culture,” as in, “that’s the culture around here.” And we often say we want to change the culture, and then get defeated when we feel like it will take too long, or we don’t have the authority, or we can’t get the buy-in.

My take: stop trying to change your culture (“the way we do things around here”), and start working to change your climate (“the way I do things around here”). Think about how you speak, behave, and interact with others, as well as the mes­sages you share about your colleagues, volunteers, organization, and community, and focus on contributing something powerfully positive. Ask that the people with whom you work directly do the same. You may not be able to create a massive shift in the well-worn traditions of your organization, but you can certainly make a healthy and helpful difference right now in the work and lives of the people you touch everyday.

After all, as David Ben-Gurion remarked, “Tradition must be a springboard into the future, not an armchair for repose.


“Deb has been a respected speaker and facilitator for a number of our JCC conferences over the past few years. While I've heard about her energy, hard work in preparing, and meaningful content, it took her recent keynote speech at our annual JCCs of North America Professional Conference to make me realize what an incredible asset she is. Watching her present a content-filled, energetic, and personalized session -- without using any notes -- was very impressive. Deb is a multi-talented, serious, and impactful presenter."

– Allan Finkelstein, Past President and CEO, JCC Association of North America

Our Team is in The Media

Our team of facilitators, coaches, consultants and speakers are cited experts and contributors to some of the world’s most respected publications.


oprah   nyt   forbes

fastcompany   huffpost   fbnews